Christian news site finds Chemist who doesn’t believe in Evolution.

whystilldustFor all the talk Christians engage in about faith and how believing despite a lack of evidence is part of what it means to be a Christian, there’s quite a few of them out there that will jump at any chance to quote a scientist — any scientist — who might provide some argument in their favor.

So it is that the folks at Christian News Network came to publish the following article: Renowned Chemist Says Evolutionists Do Not Understand the Origin of Life. In it they describe Rice University professor Dr. James Tour as follows:

Dr. James Tour is a well-known professor at Rice University, specializing in chemistry, nanoengineering, and computer science. Over the last 30 years, Tour has authored over 500 research publications, and he was recognized as one of “The 50 Most Influential Scientists in the World Today” by TheBestSchools.org. Tour has also received awards and recognitions from the American Chemical Society, Thomson Reuters, Honda, NASA, and others.

Clearly he’s a Big Deal, though I’m not sure why anyone thinks getting an award from TheBestSchools.org is worth bragging about as it appears to be Yet Another College Ranking website that’s popular mostly among religious institutions.

Still, that’s not the point! Awards! He’s gotten several awards for knowing that of which he speaks! Clearly then we must take him seriously when he says things like:

“I will tell you as a scientist and a synthetic chemist,” Tour said, “if anybody should be able to understand evolution, it is me, because I make molecules for a living, and I don’t just buy a kit, and mix this and mix this, and get that. I mean, ab initio, I make molecules. I understand how hard it is to make molecules.”

Well, that depends. Has Dr. Tour actually studied evolution? This is an important question because the article then goes on to say:

Despite his experiences and expertise, Tour admits that he does not understand how evolution could account for life’s existence.

Here we run into the first problem: Evolution doesn’t try to account for life’s existence — that would fall under abiogenesis and is a separate field of study — Evolution just describes the processes that take place after it showed up.

But let’s get back to that question I asked a moment ago. Has Dr. Tour spent any time studying the Theory of Evolution? The article seems to indicate that he hasn’t:

“I don’t understand evolution, and I will confess that to you,” he says in the video. “Is it okay for me to say, ‘I don’t understand this’? Is that all right? I know that there’s a lot of people out there that don’t understand anything about organic synthesis, but they understand evolution. I understand a lot about making molecules; I don’t understand evolution. And you would just say that, wow, I must be really unusual.”

Right up front he’s admitting he doesn’t understand the theory. Though don’t lose faith in him just yet:

However, Tour says he is not the only one who does not understand how life could have arisen through natural, unguided processes.

“Let me tell you what goes on in the back rooms of science—with National Academy members, with Nobel Prize winners,” Tour stated. “I have sat with them, and when I get them alone, not in public—because it’s a scary thing, if you say what I just said—I say, ‘Do you understand all of this, where all of this came from, and how this happens?’”

The answer he inevitably receives, Tour explained, is: “no.”

“Every time that I have sat with people who are synthetic chemists, who understand this, they go, ‘Uh-uh. Nope.’” Tour said. “And if they’re afraid to say ‘yes,’ they say nothing. They just stare at me, because they can’t sincerely do it.”

Oh my goodness! Someone who doesn’t understand Evolution knows other people who aren’t studying it that also don’t understand it! That surely must prove it’s a lie, right?

Well, no. Not really. It just means Dr. Tour and some of the other scientists he hangs out with don’t understand the theory. The fact that he seems set on it explaining the origin of life, which the theory doesn’t do, would probably go a long way to explaining his lack of understanding.

The article is based roughly on an hour and a half lecture Dr. Tour gave in late 2012 on the subject of Nanotech and Jesus Christ at Georgia Tech which you can watch on YouTube by clicking here.

I don’t dispute that Dr. Tour knows his organic chemistry and is clearly an expert on nanotech, but that doesn’t mean he’s an expert on Evolution or should be expected to know much about it. The Christian News Network article also goes on to quote from one of his blog posts in which he pretty much says his understanding of Evolution is, at best, as a layman. Here’s the big the article quotes:

Fair says there is an important distinction between microevolution and macroevolution—the former is clearly observable and repeatable, but the latter has never been witnessed.

“From what I can see, microevolution is a fact; we see it all around us regarding small changes within a species, and biologists demonstrate this procedure in their labs on a daily basis. Hence, there is no argument regarding microevolution,” he wrote in a blog post. “The core of the debate for me, therefore, is the extrapolation of microevolution to macroevolution.”

There’s an important bit from the very start of the entry, however, that they decided to leave out:

Assuming that I have something significant to contribute to the evolution vs. creation debate, many ask me to speak and write concerning my thoughts on the topic. However, I do not have anything substantive to say about it. I am a layman on the subject. Although I have read about a half dozen books on the debate, maybe a dozen, and though I can speak authoritatively on complex chemical synthesis, I am not qualified to enter the public discussion on evolution vs. creation. So please don’t ask me to be the speaker or debater at your event, and think carefully about asking me for an interview because I will probably not give you the profound quotations that you seek. You are of course free to quote me from what is written here, but do me the kindness of placing my statements in a fair context.

Dr. Tour considered this important enough that he placed it at the very start of his blog entry. He goes on to say that he’s often cited as a proponent of Intelligent Design and he’d really wish people would stop doing that.

I have been labeled as an Intelligent Design (ID) proponent. I am not. I do not know how to use science to prove intelligent design although some others might. I am sympathetic to the arguments on the matter and I find some of them intriguing, but the scientific proof is not there, in my opinion. So I prefer to be free of that ID label.

The rest of his blog post outlines a couple of the issues he has with macroevolution and why that makes him skeptical of it and, overall, it’s pretty reasonable. He does go on to claim that there is some persecution of scientists who express skepticism of macroevolution, but refuses to cite specific examples of such.

What’s interesting to me about the Christian News Network article is that it’s author, 

I’m not sure why Mr. Haley seems to think that finding a scientist who is a Christian and who has doubts about a scientific theory he doesn’t personally study should be newsworthy. There are lots of them out there. Hell, the field of Engineering is rife with creationists for some reason. The fact that these people are out there isn’t evidence that the theory is false. It just shows that people who haven’t studied it much may have trouble trying to understand it.

Evolution simplified for tiny brains.

 

As found over at Atheism and Me.

Get ’em when they’re young…

Here’s a video that’ll disturb you. It shows the Answers in Genesis folks trying to counter what small kids have been taught about Evolution:

I especially love the woman who talks about how most Christians are perceived as ignorant and then proceeds to demonstrate said ignorance by saying that she prefers the Biblical explanation for life because it’s “just easier to explain to your children.”

It’s clear most of these kids barely grasp the concept of Creationism, let alone Evolution, but that doesn’t matter so long as these folks can convince them that the former is true and the latter is false. Some of them will grow up and change their minds as they’re better able to grasp the concepts and are exposed to the science, but for too many of them the nonsense they’re being fed now will stick with them throughout their lives.

And, yes, the rest of us will consider them ignorant.

Edward Current says “Evolution Shmevolution!”

Ed’s back with another devastating(ly funny) demolition of Evolution:

Watching his videos always gives me a weird feeling of deja vu.

A Christian has questions on Evolution for us atheists.

WARNING! THE FOLLOWING VIDEO HAS BEEN DETERMINED TO BE A HAZARD TO YOUR I.Q. BY THE U.S. SURGEON GENERAL. LONG TERM EXPOSURE TO STUPIDITY OF THIS MAGNITUDE CAN RESULT IN PERMANENT BRAIN DAMAGE AND A TENDENCY TO VOTE REPUBLICAN. FOR YOUR OWN PROTECTION IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT YOU VIEW THIS VIDEO IN SMALL CHUNKS INTERSPERSED WITH SEVERAL LENGTHY BREAKS TO ALLOW YOUR SYNAPSES TIME TO RECOVER. PERHAPS YOU SHOULD KEEP A COPY OF CARL SAGAN’S DEMON HAUNTED WORLD OR SOME OTHER FORM OF INTELLECTUALLY UPLIFTING READING MATERIAL ON HAND TO HELP COUNTER THE STUNNING LACK OF INTELLIGENCE FOUND IN THE FOLLOWING VIDEO CLIP.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED:

The stupid! IT BURNS!

Found via God is for Suckers.

Think this’ll shut the Creationists up? No? Me neither.

Creationists are always arguing that if Evolution is true then we should see cats giving birth to frogs or “transitional” forms such as the legendary Croc-o-duck. The fact that such things would actually disprove the theory only illustrates how they haven’t a clue what the theory actually says, but that doesn’t stop them from demanding to see such creatures.

So perhaps the news of an apparent Monk-o-Piglet recently born in China will get them to shut up:

“It’s hideous. No one will be willing to buy it, and it scares the family to even look at it!” Feng told Oriental Today.

He says the piglet looks just like a monkey, with two thin lips, a small nose and two big eyes. Its rear legs are also much longer than its forelegs, causing it to jump instead of walk.

Feng’s wife said the monkey-faced piglet was one of five newborns of a sow which the family had raised for nine years.

“My God, it was so scary. I didn’t known what it was. I was really frightened,” she said.

“But our son likes to play with it, and he stopped us from getting rid of it. He even feeds it milk.”

So what does this thing look like? It’s kinda cute in a horror movie way:

Somehow I doubt this’ll get the Creationists to stop yapping about how there’s no transitional forms though it should. It’s exactly the sort of thing they’ve been clamoring for.

Don’t Ask Bobby Jindal Anything “Sciency”

[Crossposted from Smugbaldy.com]

Here’s some more for our Republican War on Science file.  Or should that be – Idiocy in high places file?  Either way, LA Govenor Bobby Jindal demonstrated yesterday that he has no grasp whatsoever of the issues surrounding the establishment of religious dogma under the heading of “Intelligent Design” in our science classes.

Here are some areas where Governor Jindal demonstrates his willful ignorance of the underlying issues:

When asked if he had doubts about the Theory of Evolution, Jindal replied:

I don’t think this is something that the Federal or State government should be imposing its view on local school districts.  As a conservative I think that government that’s closest to the people governs best. I think local school districts should be in the position for deciding the curricula and deciding what students should be learning.

In this case that’s absolutely, positively wrong, Mr. Governor, and you should know it.  You should be aware that Federal interests trumps State and Local interests whenever constitutional rights of American Citizens are infringed.  In the case of Intelligent Design (or ID), federal courts have found that ID is nothing more than Christian Creationism with some scientific-sounding jargon.  The teaching of this isn’t just bad science (or non-science) it also violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  As such – any local school board that attempts to sneak ID into public schools is actually indoctrinating students into a “state-preferred” religion, and the Federal government has an expressed interest in keeping that from occurring.  That is, unless you all want to have your kids recite the Branch Dividian creed in Bology class.  Thought not.

Jindal goes on to say:

I don’t think students learn from us withholding information from them.  Some want only to teach intelligent design, some want only to teach Evolution. I think both views are wrong … As a parent when my kids go to public schools, I want them to be presented with the best thinking.  I want them to make decisions for themselves. I want them to see the best data.

That’s not entirely true now, is it?  The best data in human sexuality clearly demonstrates that abstinence education doesn’t work, but conservative parents like Jindal want their kids exposed to it rather than comprehensive sex-education that could save their lives.  The best data available also clearly demonstrates that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is scientific, while Intelligent Design is instead a religious-political position.  And nobody in a state like Louisiana, that has a large population of conservative Christian voters, wants to dwell on that little truth nugget.

Interestingly, conservatives are ok with science as long as it doesn’t appear to step on their religious toes too much.  For example, most parents are OK with teaching about viruses and bacteria in science classes – especially techniques for minimizing the spread of harmful ones like hand washing and food service sanitization.  Unfortunately, you can’t have it both ways Mr. Govenor.  If your more fundamentalist supporters have their way, ID would replace Evolution in science classes, and we’d also have to replace bacteriology with an “evil spirit” theory of disease.  Interestingly, in some areas (not just beloved Louisiana) this is what passes for medical science, sometimes with disastrous results.

Of course, the scariest part of this whole episode is that, Bobby Jindal is reported to be on McCain’s VP short list, which would mean he has a great shot at becoming president himself since McCain is older than, well, everyone.  Is it too much to ask that we get presidential and vice-presidential candidates that have more than a thimble full of scientific literacy?

Lizards Undergo Rapid Evolution After Introduction To A New Home

ScienceDaily (Apr. 18, 2008) — In 1971, biologists moved five adult pairs of Italian wall lizards from their home island of Pod Kopiste, in the South Adriatic Sea, to the neighboring island of Pod Mrcaru. Now, an international team of researchers has shown that introducing these small, green-backed lizards, Podarcis sicula, to a new environment caused them to undergo rapid and large-scale evolutionary changes.

TAKE THAT BEN STEIN…ER…INTELLIGENT DESIGN (whoah, those rhyme!)

Original Article: Lizards Undergo Rapid Evolution

Florida Senate passes misnamed “Academic Freedom Act.”

Seems they have a few IDiots in the Florida Senate that are hoping to have the non-theory of Intelligent Design taught in schools. After recent revisions by the Florida board of education put in place a stronger emphasis on teaching the theory of evolution the politicos sprang into action:

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Teachers are one step closer being able to openly criticize the theory of evolution in the classroom.

In a vote of 21 to 17, Florida’s State Senators adopted the evolution education bill, also known as the “Academic Freedom Act.”

[…] One subject facing scrutiny is the in-depth teaching of evolution.

State Senator Ronda Storms sponsored the legislation that would allow teachers to teach theories that contradict the theory of evolution.

The problem, of course, is that there aren’t any legitimate theories that contradict the theory of evolution. Intelligent Design certainly isn’t a theory as it makes no predictions nor does it contribute anything to science. It’s just a security blanket for people hung up on an ancient work of fiction who don’t like their cherished beliefs being crushed by reality.

The sad part is Florida is one of the states we had considered as a possible destination if the economy in Michigan continues to blow chunks. Anne could probably land a teaching job and word has it there’s plenty of technical jobs around Orlando and Tampa. If the winds of fate do end up blowing us that way then at least I can take comfort in the fact that Courtney will have graduated from high school by then.

The best joke since flat earth theory

I haven’t laughed like this in a long long time. Please take a minute to listen to this up-coming Einstein. He even made the peanut butter theory so tiny and unimportant.