Thursday, April 12, 2012
Tennessee- The Origin of the Specious Argument
Tennessee recently has allowed the teaching of creation science in their classrooms. That's nice. As written here before, you cannot legislate truth. There is no basis for creation science. There are several points that show that it is a flawed theory with many holes in it. That is is simply wrong. Why teach a wrong thing?
For example, back in Newton's day he had a contemporary, Robert Hooke, who discovered the simple math rule of how springs behave. So enamored with this rule he tried to apply it to the planets. He tried to show that the motion of the planets was caused by a force from the sun that was bigger when the planet was farther away just like a spring exerts a bigger force the farther you stretch it. This is a nice idea but it's wrong. It won't wash. You can't get the proper motion of the planets under the influence of such a force. So the idea just went away as bad ideas will do in the face of the data. You could have all the votes you wanted about that and you could even have a winning vote for Hooke's spring theory. You could even force teachers to teach it in school but the planets would still behave according to Newton's inverse square rule. And, if you voted money to send a probe to the moon or Mars based on a Hooke rule it would miss by a kabillion miles.
Now then. . . Trying to explain the variety of species, extinct species, and why we have a LOT in common with fish with intelligent design is hopeless. Intelligent design is just a pandering to what a bunch of religious zealots WANT to be true and because they are zealots it's not good enough for them to think it is true they want EVERYBODY to think it is true because somehow that will make it truer.
It won't. Why does this flawed theory of intelligent design keep getting resuscitated while Hooke's theory died peacefully in it's sleep? Because, Hooke's theory doesn't challenge anything in the bible.
I won't delineate the arguments here. I'm tired of that. The more you argue back and forth the more you give the zealots a platform. Let me just paint these broad strokes.
No university teaches Intelligent Design except for these. Notice there is no Big Ten school, no ivy league school, no school with a football team. If this is such a hot theory why aren't major research universities teaching it? You'll notice that all the schools have the word bible, baptist, seminary, etc in them. Not surprising and yet where is Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Georgetown, Loyola, St. Johns, DePaul, Duke, SMU, or Baylor?
When you read intelligent design crap the recurring theme is the old (and tiresome!) argument of 'incredulity'. Arguments that begin, "I just can't imagine. . . ", "Isn't it impossible. . . ", "How could it be . . . ", etc. These statements usually then go into some feature of the biological world that they find impossible to exist without a creator. The common example is the human eye.
The only problem with all of these arguments is that they've all been answered with a cogent, complete and simple theory of evolution. This is a common ploy. To CREATE controversy where none existed before they came along. To me THAT'S creation science - to create controversy by playing to the press as opposed to publishing peer reviewed scientific papers. But they don't do that. There is no journal or scientific organization that will accept any paper on intelligent design because . . . wait for it. . . IT'S NOT SCIENCE!
Then, see. . . it's all a conspiracy!!
And, if you're going to make incredulity a test of a theory let's pick anything from the quantum world or relativity. Why aren't those being attacked? For example, I can't 'imagine' an electron that has mass and yet no size. I can't imagine a photon of light and have light also be a wave. Why are teachers being allowed to teach crazy stuff like electron science or wave-particle duality to our youngsters? Why? Because the bible skipped over electrons and light (and the big bang by the way) so the faithful don't care. Oh, and that stuff about electrons and photons stands up to experiments. What experiment would you do to test intelligent design? There is none because the theory always ends up with . . . And then magic happened. You can't test for that. And maybe that's really the crux. The faithful are a group of people who somehow NEED there to be things that "just can't be explained". Somehow that is important to their world view so it is important that there is no experiment. This is better for them than an experiment that would come out in their favor. Unexplainable is somehow better.
Please read Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin. It's clear. It's interesting. In it he not only explains how evolution works but shows how intelligent design fails miserably in explaining anything and ends up being self contradictory. For example, according to intelligent design everything is perfectly designed for its environment. Shubin shows many examples of species that plod along while NOT being so perfectly designed due to getting separated from where they first evolved. Why would a creator do this? Another obvious example is our own appendix.
The other excellent book is Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. Read it. Similar to the above it is clear, concise and cuts to the heart of the intelligent design flaws.
Also, Darwin's own Origin of Species is surprisingly readable if a little lengthy. Oh, and it's free on Kindle.
Better yet, if you run into an intelligent design person you might ask them if they've read any of these or what they have read about evolution. Be prepared for a 'no' and a bunch of arguments of incredulity. Remember, just because due to someone's lack of education, they can't 'imagine' something doesn't make it impossible. In fact, if you want an argument using incredulity? Due to my having made it through a couple of college degrees and being a skeptic I can't imagine a deity that somehow builds creatures using magic. Which is more 'incredulous'?
I swear to Newton, if I had a kid in school in Tennessee I would move and move NORTH. In true Atlas Shrugged style, what if all the smart people (there must be some) left Tennessee?