SEB Mailbag: “Feel sorry for you” edition.

Got the following this morning:

From: “Baumann, Brent”
Subject: Feel sorry for you

I am a geologist who has watched the creation show a few times and I certainly have not heard any of the claims you are making but I have studied creation science and worked as a geologist in the “real world” for many years and the more I work and the older I get the stronger my faith becomes in intelligent design.  I have worked in mines two miles underground and mapped above ground throughout Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.  It all points to a creator.

Maybe in your infinite wisdom you can explain thousands of feet of coal beds supposedly laid down over millions of years of time containing “polystrate” fossils but containing no rock debris.  Or maybe you can explain why scientists are constantly finding and covering up geological anomalies in rock strata throughout the world with the convenient phrase “unconformities or non-conformities”.  You will probably have to look those words up in the dictionary.

I probably check out this site again because I am not talking to people with any credibility or desire to learn about intelligent design or a creator.  All you want to do is spout your anti-Christian point of view.

Understand this, there will be a day of reckoning and a place of judgment.  You were created in God’s image and despite the fact that you despise Him, He desires that you come to a knowledge of the truth which can only be found in Jesus Christ.

My reply is somewhat lengthy so I’ll post it after the jump.

Here’s what I sent back to Mr. Baumann:

Mr. Baumann,

Nice to hear from you. I see you claim to be a geologist, but you don’t provide any information to back up that claim. You’ll pardon me if I’m skeptical, but you use terms such as “polystrate” which isn’t a geological term and is used almost exclusively by creationists. That leads me to think that your background in geology comes entirely from reading Creationist materials, but I could be wrong and you might have a perfectly legitimate degree in geology. There’s also the fact that you do not show up in the Wyoming Board of Professional Geologists roster (http://wbpg.wy.gov/roster_search.asp) to make me skeptical, but perhaps you’ve never bothered to apply. I did notice that you have a Wyoming government email address, but you never bothered to say what it is you do for the great state of Wyoming. If you’re going to lay claim to the mantle of Geologist then it would do much for your creditability to actually say why you feel it’s a legitimate claim. Do you really expect me to just take at face value the claims of some random person on the Internet?

I make no claim to being a geologist, amateur or otherwise, as I am but a lowly computer support technician, albeit a fairly well-read one. I have read a lot of material from both professional geologists and various Creationists, which is why I recognize the term “polystrate” which you used previously. As I recall it is most commonly argued as being an example of fossilization geologists are unable to explain. The truth is that geologists in the 19th century had already figured it out (see “Polystrate” Tree Fossils by Andrew MacRae at http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/polystrate/trees.html) and the method in which such fossils come to exist is well understood. It doesn’t take infinite wisdom to figure such things out.

You go on to claim that ‘scientists are constantly finding and covering up geological anomalies in rock strata throughout the world with the convenient phrase “unconformities or non-conformities”.’ Why it’s a world-wide conspiracy! Unlike the term “polystrate” you threw out earlier, the terms “unconformity” and “nonconformity” are actual geologic terms and they refer to a gap in the geologic record usually caused by erosion. There are actually four main types of unconformity of which a nonconformity is one of them. The other three are the Angular Unconformity, the Disconformity, and the Paraconformity. You can find a nice brief write-up of each of them in the article “Unconformities: Gaps in the Record” by Andrew Alden (http://geology.about.com/od/geoprocesses/a/unconformities.htm). They really aren’t that hard to understand and are far from being a cover up by scientists.

Nice dig there at the end of the paragraph suggesting I’ll have to look the words up in the dictionary. Your presumption that I am ignorant of the topic at hand is telling of your biases. It’s interesting that you would attempt to insult my intelligence and then make such a very basic error in your very next sentence. You write: “I probably check out this site again because I am not talking to people with any credibility or desire to learn about intelligent design or a creator.” I’m guessing you meant to say that you won’t be checking out my site again. Which is fine with me as it’s clear you have nothing to offer beyond the usual cut-and-paste nonsense from various Creationist literature and assumptions as to my motivations, both of which are wrong.

Though I will posit one question to you to see if you are able to provide an answer. If Intelligent Design is a proper theory, as you and many others like to claim, then please provide me with one example of a testable prediction that it makes. Evolution has come up with countless predictions over the years, but I’ve yet to see one from Intelligent Design theory which seems to be able to offer nothing beyond “I can’t explain how this happened so it must be designed.”

And finally we come to the traditional YOU’RE GOING TO HELL closing paragraph wherein I am once again warned of my pending day of Judgment by an all-powerful creator who loves me so much he’ll send me to eternal torment if I don’t believe in him. Again you are arrogant enough to presume to know my feelings towards your non-existent sky fairy. I don’t despise God for the same reason I don’t despise invisible pink unicorns. They don’t exist. What’s truly amusing to me is how ignorant of your own arrogance you are in presuming to know much of anything about me from a single entry on my weblog. Not only do you think you’ve got geology all figured out, but you think you’ve got me all figured out as well.

That’s the problem with faith in things unseen. It leads you to false certainty without need to actually learn anything about the subjects you’re passing judgment on. You presume to know whether or not I have any desire to learn about ID or a Creator, you presume to know that I wouldn’t understand the terms “polystrate” or “unconformities and noncomformities”, you presume to know that I despise God and that I only wish to spout anti-Christian viewpoints. You are so certain of all of that after reading one blog entry and without ever having said one word to me directly. Your knowledge of me is almost God-like considering how little you’ve actually interacted with me.

Have you ever stopped to consider how that makes you look to others? Have you ever considered whether or not Jesus would approve of such an approach? I don’t know that you have or haven’t, but I’d be willing to make a guess…

Sincerely,

Les Jenkins

 

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?

“The Happening” an IDiot movie in disguise?

That’s what the folks over at IO9 are saying about it.

Note, the following discussion pretty much spoils the whole movie so if you think you might want to see it then don’t read any further. I’ll put it below the fold just in case.

M. Night Shyamalan’s critically-panned flick The Happening is Hollywood’s first blockbuster to promote the anti-evolutionary theory of intelligent design. Maybe you thought Ben Stein’s ill-fated documentary Expelled was the only movie to argue in favor of the neo-Christian idea that an “intelligent designer” created the universe. Think again. With its references to “unexplained acts of nature” and a science teacher main character who calls evolution “just a theory,” The Happening is basically a giant propaganda machine for intelligent design. Maybe science journalists are jizzing all over its allegedly realistic plants-attack-humans plot, but we talked to Shyamalan and we know the truth.

Avowed Christian Shyamalan told us that The Happening is really about religious faith, and explained that he chose Mark Wahlberg to play science teacher Elliot Moore because of the actor’s intense belief in Jesus. Maybe he also chose vacant-eyed Zooey Deschanel to play his wife Alma because she looks like a little girl who needs a big strong monotheist in her life? No comment on that one from Shyamalan.

We get tipped off to the fact that this allegedly science fictional movie is really an ID tent revival in the opening scenes where Elliot teaches his science students about evolution. He explains to them that honeybees are disappearing all over the country, and asks what some possible explanations might be. Students who say things like “climate change” and “evolution” are dismissed as being “partly right.” But then when a generally quiet student finally says, “It’s an act of nature that we can’t understand,” Elliot lights up and says that’s the best answer. That phrase “act of nature,” which sounds suspiciously like “act of God,” crops up in the movie again and again to explain why plants have suddenly decided to kill humans.

As our little band of characters flee into the Pennsylvania countryside, they gradually begin to realize that the waves of suicides might be caused by plants. We see news commentators talking about how the “attacks” probably aren’t coming from terrorists. And Elliot uses the “scientific method” to deduce that plants can “spontaneously evolve” in response to a threat. Maybe plants think humans are threats, and “spontaneously evolved” in an “act of nature” to manufacture a toxin that switches off humans’ self-preservation instincts? Why, we’d all just instantly commit suicide! You know, because God — erm, I mean nature — is mad at us! For doing things like not polluting and not having babies with our husbands.

Trying to look wise but merely looking blank and addled, Elliot ponders and looks into the middle distance, intoning, “Science will come up with a reason to put in the books but int eh end it’s just a theory. We fail to acknowledge forces at work beyond our understanding.” Well put, Mr. Science Teacher. All those atheists with that whole “evolutionary theory” thing don’t realize it’s just a theory! Probably everything in nature is just beyond our understanding. Let’s pray.

I had a sneaking suspicion that this was going to be the case when I saw the trailer and heard the “we’re dealing with forces beyond our understanding” line from Marky Mark. It’s getting a 20% freshness rating at RottenTomatoes.com and after hearing the plot details it’s not surprising as to why.

I really liked Sixth Sense, it was the second DVD I ever purchased, but it seems like with each succeeding movie release Shyamalan has drifted away from telling a good yarn to finding ways to preach to us in a somewhat subtle fashion. Signs was particularly bad about that what with the main character being a Clergyman-turned-atheist who rediscovers his faith for no apparent reason after living through the alien invasion.

Oh well, there’s still plenty of other good movies to check out this summer.

Why Intelligent Design really is the truth.

This video from Edward Current has set me straight. You just can’t argue with logic like this:

Found via Pharyngula.

 

Nova Tonight - Intelligent Design On Trial

Looks like there’s going to be a pretty good show on PBS tonight at 8pm EST called Intelligent Design on Trial.  If you can’t catch it, their going to post the entire episode online for viewing on Friday (11/16).