Monday, February 26, 2024

The Evidence for Evolution: Science Works

Perhaps the best evidence for evolution, is that the science works. Practically every day we see results from evolution leading to new things; inventions, patents, medical treatments, and fruitful new areas of research and discovery. These are all hallmarks of good science. If someone thinks evolution is wrong, then it is upon them to offer anew theory - a theory that can do everything the old theory can do AND MORE. 

MOST of us have seen numerous TV commercials advertizing medical trearments that derive from evolutionary theory. There is going to be a lot more of that in the next 20 years and beyond.

There were other theories of evolution before Darwin published "Origin, and none of these remain as more than the history of science. Darwin's theory has long since been surpassed and expanded, resulting in the Modern Synthesis. Darwin's key contribution is still an important part of that, and can be summarized in three words: "Selection Happens Naturally". Even the most ardent of evolution deniers, when asked if they agree with this simple hypothesis, say nothing, or accept it conditionally (and that's a good start.)

I rejoined one of those silly FB groups where claims "there is no evidence for evolution" appear several times a day. This prompted mr to finally write the down for future use, rather than typing it out every time. I should have done this years ago! 


Monday, November 22, 2021

Arguing Against Conspiracies

Taken out of context, but you will figure it out ...

First they describe themselves as a repressed minority under threat from "The Other". Next they make outrageous claims, and of course reasonable people will refute these claims as untrue. Then they point to these "attacks" on their belief as confirmation they are being repressed. There is also the thrill of righteous indignation, "knowing" they are right and standing up to The Other. 

Arguing directly does not help, but only confirms their bias and feeds their indignation. Sometimes, with much patience, you can catch them contradicting themselves and point this out. I've learned to do this with certain Christians I disagree with, but Christianity has a central belief (the Resurrection) which all understand. Not so with conspiracies, they don't have any clear definition or fixed beliefs you can pin down. Instead you need to look for Common Sense arguments. ie: If what they believe is true there should be consequences; where are the consequences? 

(If vaccines are so harmful, then why don't we see more problems among the millions of vaccinated people? Is it even possible to put microchips into a vaccine? How does that work? If they can put microchips in a vaccine then why not in our food? Avoid the vaccine won't help because they are probably chipped already!) 

DON'T argue science with them, at least not at first. Draw them out and ask questions, looking for contradictions. Make them defend their own beliefs. 

And one more time for emphasis: 


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

BREAKING NEWS: Internet headlines are Truncated

Ever notice how the news headlines, or titles of article that appear online, aren't long enough to actually tell you what the story is about? I think this MUST be intentional, because until you click on the story, Google - or whatever service you are viewing - gets no information about our interests. They make us click to actually view the content, driving traffic to the sites and stories we might otherwise avoid.

This isn't always the case, as we see in the Gizmodo article from my screencap, but it's still not very informative. The other three are perfect examples: Incomplete information about a takedown notice, American taxes, and humans outliving the universe (that last one is guessable). We are given 7-9 words to determine how to spend our time. It could easily be more, but it's not profitable to the providers to do that. They want our time and attention, because that's how they can sell ads. Actually providing news and information is only a secondary concern.

I suppose this is just another reminder that if we aren't paying for the product, they WE ARE the product. It's not surprising, but it does get tiresome.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

In Response to C. S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis Reasoning on Atheism

‎"Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God."
—C.S. LewisThe Case for Christianity, p. 32.

Suppose there was an intelligence behind the universe, a creative mind. In that case, something may have designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. 

It is only because the atoms inside my skull are arranged just so that gives me the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my thinking to be my own? 

It’s like a machine ever stamping out the same metal parts, never able to vary from its predetermined task. 

But if my thinking is not my own, of course there is no argument, about anything, for I am only what I was made to be, and incapable of being otherwise.

And therefore I cannot believe in God, or anything else. I am incapable that act. I have no reason. I have no thought. Belief ceases to have meaning. 

The point being, something independent of God must exist, some "jug of spilled milk" that has splashed itself into a map of my life, or I am nothing more than a mindless automaton. 

Take THAT, presuppositional apologetics!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Deconstructing Dembski (2005)


In his 2005 paper Specification: the pattern that signifies intelligence, William Dembski tries to give a rigorous definition to his concept of Complex Specified Information (CSI). This paper has numerous problems, the most painful of which is repeated equivocation of terms, making it very difficult to read. Once I got past the equivocation, I discovered basic errors in how probabilities are calculated and interpreted. One error in particular is very hard to swallow, and anyone with a basic understanding of probability should know better. Dembski has a master’s degree in statistics and a PhD in mathematics, therefore it is reasonable to think he knows better. How could he be so wrong?

Here's the spoiler, in case you don't care to read the whole post:

  • The concept of CSI in Dembski (2005) is based on a meaningless number, which is interpreted as probability even though it is not. As a consequence, CSI cannot have the meaning and interpretation stated. Dembski's math is wrong.
More after the fold ...

Monday, January 18, 2016

Tomatoes, More Dangerous Than Ever!


image source
“We have suffered a Code 9 containment breach,” said head biotechnologist Stewart Klein, explaining that he had used a dedicated emergency line to contact Monsanto headquarters in St. Louis, which immediately sent back a directive ordering all laboratory personnel to shelter in place until further notice. “As of now, we’ve sealed off all stairwells below subbasement 12, but this hardy, disease-resistant tomato appears to have overridden all of our fail-safe backup protocols. We have an asset on the loose, and nobody will be allowed in or out until this thing is stopped.”
Full details on this breaking story available at The Onion, America's Finest News Source.

Also, Bonus Points it you caught the Andromeda Strain reference.  :-)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ken Ham and the AiG Follies

I have a several pages of notes from Ken Ham's recent presentation, and wrote about one example of the things he gets wrong. This could keep my busy blogging for a year if I so chose, but I think it's not worthwhile making a point-by-point rebuttal to everything he said. That don't mean I can't have some fun with it!

Therefore, for your amusement, I am going to simply list all the greatly wrong points I noted. In other words, pretty much everything. Quotes are approximate, everything else is my paraphrase, but I'll try to keep them as close to the original as my notes and recollection will allow. I won't bother with the rebuttals, as everyone probably knows them all anyway. Well, maybe a few ... I will decorate with a few quips and comments [in brackets] and irrelevant images along the way.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Ken Ham and the AiG Follies!

"The church is losing two-thirds of the coming generations." [Gosh, I wonder why?] "We need to teach apologetics ... I have a radical approach - teach Genesis 1:1 and give them a foundation to understand. ... We have lost Biblical authority!" [another mystery! AND a comic book!] "Come see the Ark!" [Instead of learning something.]

"Bill Nye the Pagan Guy, Bill Nye the Atheist Guy, whatever." [I don't think he likes Bill Nye, nor is he fond of Eugenie Scott]

"Radiometric error ..."
"Molecules to Man ..."

Experiment or observational science versus Origins or historical science: "Ask them, 'Were you there?'" [The guy sitting in front of me keeps nodding his head vigorously every time he this Ham makes a point.]
Science is brainwashing
Naturalism is atheism [yawn]
"Bill Nye says the Ark park will undermine science education."
Evolution is unnecessary, "Show me one example of evolution leading to technical advancements". [OK, how about all the emerging field of Evolutionary Medicinegene therapies, and cures that are coming into use? Genetic algorithms too. Now show me one example of the Bible leading to a technical innovation.]

"Science says the Earth is round, and the Earth is millions of years old!" [Billions, actually.]
"The Bible says you are either for Christ or against." [False dichotomy, but whatever.]
I don't want to be too much like Bill Nye, but I call myself "Ken Ham the observational science ... um ... bloke. That's Australian for 'guy'."
"The Bible is God's observational science textbook." [His edition is rather out of date.]
"The seven day week comes from the Bible, proof the Bible is true." [Yes, he really did say pretty much that.]
"Watson and Crick, atheist scientists, discovered DNA." [Hey, we finally have a completely true statement!]
DNA is information. DNA is a language. [Noddy head guys is going to have a sore neck tomorrow.]
Werner Gitt says if there is no information, there is no matter. [Plugging some AiG book, I think.]
DNA proves God. Biochemistry confirms this. [I'd like the chemical formula for God, please.]

How many animals were needed on the Noah's Ark? All they needed were Kinds, or 'Min'. Horse kind, "We have a zorse and a zonkey at the Creation Museum petting zoo." [We still have the fossils!]
All the species we see today are the result of genetic recombination, loss of information, and sin! They are degenerate mutants. [Ham hates poodles too. Seriously hates them.] There are 10^2017 possible genetic combinations possible from just two perfect humans. Natural selection leads to all the kinds we see today. [Clearly some of us ended up in the shallow end of the gene pool.]
Every new mutation is a loss of information.
Every new species is a combination of existing genetic information.
It's all a loss of information! [Noddy head guy is bouncing like a bobblehead.]

[Ordinarily I would have a field day with all this misuse of Information, but I'm saving that for a special post.]

Ooh la la!
Atheists redefine terms to allow abortion, transgender men in women's bathrooms, gay marriage, our atheist President thinks Lucy was human.
Life begins at fertilization, not implantation [Ranting about abortion]

See? I told you!
Women can take their shirts off in public, because they ignore the Bible. [There could be worse things than women taking their shirts off.]

Millions of years is a problem for Christians [Billions is OK I guess.]
All creatures were vegetarians before the flood. [What about all those years between original sin and the flood?]
The world is decaying. "It's an ugly world, with a remnant of beauty." [This almost make me pity Ham. Almost.]

Erosion at Mt. St. Helens proves catastrophic floods can create all the geologic features we see.
"There is plenty of water for a global flood," because everything was nearly flat before the flood.
Grand Canyon lakes and surges deposits show the GC was made by The Flood.
The evidence is all there. [Noddy head shouts "Amen!"]

Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson fuel racism.
All people are the same color, just a different shade of brown.
Darwin is responsible for racism, because people do not acknowledge absolute Biblical authority.
Science causes evil [paraphrased]
We should be shocked by what the church believes [but not his church?]
The problem with the church is that too many accept evolution and science.
With no Biblical foundation, this leads to inconsistent beliefs.
Wrong foundation, therefore abortion!
"Run rings around the atheists with Answers!" [sales pitch for his tracts]
Get your Foundations education kit, for this special low low price, today only ...

"Now it's time to pay, err ... I mean pray." Be sure to buy my crap on the way out. [And then he ends his science lecture with a prayer.]

Ladies and Gentlemen, this concludes this evening's entertainment. You've been a great audience. Come back and see us next time!

And you know what they say in show biz - Always leave them laughing. That's not too hard when your subject is Ken Ham.