The Rise of Anti-Science

Interesting documentary here about the Creationist “science” movement. To say he blow’s their arguments out of the water, is too put it mildly. Actually, if you watch it all the through (I wouldn’t recommend it, he does begin to whaffle alot!), you’re man sort of takes it a bit too far. It’s sort of cruel in a way, almost like watching a puppy being put down!

That said the author does mention he’s from Texas, working on Biology related research, with a strong interest in Palaeontology. A Texan Palaeontologist sort of sounds like a Gay Republican, or a Catholic Orangemen (or an honest Banker/Lawyer), so you can sense a certain level of pent up frustration in his little movie.

He does make some good points thought about how creationist “science” works, i.e that its methodology is the polar opposite of science. In scientific research we assemble the facts, come up with a hypothesis and then do further research to either prove or disprove that hypothesis. Creationists start off with a conclusion (God Dunn it, okay!) and then seek out facts to support this position. Of course along the way they’ll have to crawl over a mountain of evidence in support of Darwinian evolution, which they will of course completely ignore. Finally they will come upon a tiny crumb of “evidence”, which seems to prove their point, if you look at it special way (while neglecting all facts that contradict this view). Needless to say this isn’t science, its “anti-science“.

For example, one claim of the creationist’s is to say that no so-called “missing links” between various evolving species has never been found. Not true, although this is more a matter of (probably deliberate) word confusion. Scientists don’t like to use the term “missing link” as it’s not a scientifically correct phrase. Indeed even the alternative “transitional fossil” tends to earn you a frown. Certainly, many “candidate transitional fossils” have indeed been found. But, scientists being scientists, they don’t want to declare absolutely that, say Archaeopteryx represents the transition between dinosaur and bird.

Clearly it is a dinosaur like creature, which flew (or more likely glided) and had feathers, but to make such a bold statement as to say it is the link between bird and dinosaur isn’t a very scientific statement – we could dig up an even better candidate transitional fossil tomorrow. And in all probability it represents but one small point on a long gradual evolutionary chain, and we probably don’t yet have the full chain completed. Science in short, does not work in terms of absolute truths, only verifiable facts and yet unanswered questions.

Even the position of intelligent design, the closest thing to a working scientific theory the creationists have, isn’t really justifiable. Why? Well if God designed everything, why did he make so many mistakes? Why do chickens and other flightless birds still have working wings? Why do Whales still have leg bones? Why do humans have an appendix?

The only way ID works is if:
1) All God’s plan….so presumably that plan now includes chickens taking to flight, whales are going to flop out of the water and started walking around and humans are going to go back to eating leaves.

2) That God isn’t that great a designer and what with his bad eye sight and poor memory, he frequently get’s things wrong. i.e he isn’t the omnipotent being he’s made out to be by the guys in marketing (but then again, when is marketing ever accurate!).

3) That the overwhelming physical evidence left behind in the fossil record means God is deliberately trying to trick the scientists into believing in evolution, all as part of what I assume is a huge elaborate prank he’s playing on them.
I would also include a 4) not mentioned in the film but the opinion of Alan Turing, the pioneering computer scientists, that god is a mathematician wedded to the idea of an ordered universe run by rules, not hogus pogus, nor meddling deities.

One of the other primary arguments in favour of ID, irreducible complexity, doesn’t stack up either. The creationists ask “how can something as advanced as an eye just pop into being”. The scientific response, “it can’t, nor does it have to!”

There are numerous types of organisms from bacteria to plant species with varying degrees of photosensitivity. It is not unreasonable to therefore suggest that the eye organ evolved in stages. Indeed the process of evolution is still at work as regards vision, as many animals have varying degrees of it. Many animals are colour blind, while certain predators (birds of prey in particular) have superior vision to humans, much as dogs have a more developed sense of smell than humans. Obviously in the last example, dogs need a good sense of smell more than good eyesight, so that’s what they’ve evolved with, while humans (and birds of prey) needed better eyesight, with a sense of smell being less of a priority.

As the author of the film points out it is inaccurate to state that if Christians concede the point on Creation, that this then disproves the bible and all religions. Not true, there is still room for faith and accepting the existence of Darwinian evolution (not so much does evolution work, more why does it work and not something else?), it merely rules out a literal interpretation of the Bible – which is silly anyway, as we know the bible versions accepted now are very different from those of the past.

Thought admittedly the role God now plays is greatly downgraded if we accept evolution as it means he/she has been basically MIA since the Big Bang.


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