Monday, January 4, 2010

12th Foundational Falsehood of Creationism

The 12th Foundational Falsehood of Creationism
Evaluating intelligent design creation science and their opposition to material science or methodological naturalism.
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Paleontology in its early days was a difficult discipline. We had to devise a way to test and confirm the claims that were made because 19th Century pioneers were often confused by their own preconceptions, and often made simple mistakes that went undiscovered for decades. Unwary professors were sometimes made the victims of pranks, and not every respected scientist was entirely honest.

For example, Sir Richard Owen was a celebrated biologist and the foremost authority on paleofauna in the world in his time. He was credited with the establishment of the British Museum of Natural History, and of inventing the word, “dinosaur”, but he did so by suppressing the work of other scientists and taking credit for their discoveries himself. Owen was not well-liked. He had a reputation of never admitting his own mistakes, and he was often described as dishonest, malicious, and hateful. He was devoutly religious, but he was also a leading anatomist and zoologist, respected and unrivaled in each of these fields, and he was both Darwin’s superior and fiercest adversary. Unlike Darwin, Owen believed religion should guide and even override scientific research.

Throughout history, there have been many scientists who believed the universe was “created” in the same sense that Christian proponents of natural sciences still believe today. But those men who believed in God and made historic contributions to science still relied on necessarily natural methodology because that is the only way science can progress. In many cases, they found natural explanations for things previously believed to be miraculous, and they only succeeded when they did not allow religious convictions to subvert or inhibit their inquiry. None of them were able to vindicate the Bible stories, and their efforts to do so only ever indicated another origin. Thus these men wouldn’t have supported creationism as we know it today, and many of them wouldn’t have been creationists if they’d understood evolution. But Richard Owen was a creation scientist –both in the sense that he preferred magical manifestations to material mechanisms, and because he deliberately misrepresented evidence in an attempt to mislead others into believing as he did.

For example, Darwin said that if his theory were true, then we should find a sort of proto-bird with unfused wing fingers, and two years later, we did. Confronted with this, Owen admitted that Archaeopteryx was a “peculiar” bird, but he dismissed it as ‘just’ a bird, and not exactly what Darwin had predicted. He couldn’t honestly accept or admit a transitional species. So Owen largely ignored Archaeopteryx’s saurian features and went on to argue how it couldn’t have evolved from reptiles by distinguishing its anatomy from pterosaurs rather than from dinosaurs. Thomas Huxley immediately exposed Owen’s deceptive analysis when he published his own counter examination.

Owen also promised his religious fellows that he would succeed where Linnaeus had failed, in finding some physical trait to distinguish humans from apes, whether it was really the case or not. First he presented similarities as differences, and when he couldn’t find any legitimate differences, he made up entirely fictitious ones. As if his authority would always remain unquestioned, he proclaimed amid other scientists in peer-review, that the hippocampus minor was a uniquely human lobe of the brain and absent among apes. Such an expert as he couldn’t have made such an obvious mistake, and his curious inability to concede any error except by way of evasive maneuver finally allowed Huxley to indict him for perjury.

Although Owen gave many lectures, wrote hundreds of scientific papers, and received honors, lands, and titles from the crown, he was also accused throughout his career of deliberate deceit, of “lying for God and for malice”, and even of writing anonymous letters to the press praising himself -in third person- while raving disdain against his colleagues. Finally, Sir Richard Owen was dismissed from the Royal Society's Zoological Council amid myriad charges of plagiarism spanning the entirety of his career.

Owen believed in common archetypes rather than a common ancestor, and his conduct presents an archetype of the modern creation scientists, except that they submit to peer review rarely, (if ever) and none of them are experts in anything. They’ve never produced any research indicative of their position. They cannot substantiate any of their assertions, and they’ve never successfully refuted anyone else’s hypotheses either. But every argument of evidence they’ve ever made in favor of creation has been refuted immediately and repeatedly. All they’ve ever been able to do was criticize real science, and even then the absolute best arguments they’ve ever come up with were all disproved in a court of law with mountains of research standing against their every allegation. Yet creationists still use those same ridiculous rationalizations because they will never accept where their beliefs are in error! Their only notable strength is how anyone can be so consistently proven to be absolutely wrong about absolutely everything, 100% of the time, for such a long time, and still make-believe theirs is the absolute truth.

More amazing still is how often they will actually lie in defense of their alleged truth. Every publication promoting creation over any avenue of actual science contains misquotes, misdefinitions, and misrepresented misinformation, while their every appeal to reason is based entirely on erroneous assumptions and logical fallacies. There is a madness to their method, but it is naught but propaganda.

“We don’t believe in evolution.
Evolution is an idea some people
have to explain life without God.”

No, evolution is science, and as such it’s a way of explaining life without magic; there’s a difference. Even at the kindergarten level, science is defined as a way of learning about the natural world; “natural” meaning, “in accordance with the laws of nature”. “Nature” is further defined as the sum of all forces or phenomenon in the entirety of perceptible reality. Everything that really exists has properties, and anything that can be objectively indicated, measured or tested is therefore natural. The supernatural is contrasted with this, being defined as that which is beyond the material universe, outside our reality, a transcendent dream-like dimension indistinguishable from the illusions of imagination, independent of, and even defiant of physical laws, and thus neither detectable nor describable by science. The evocation of inexplicable paranormal forces or supernatural entities to influence natural events or phenomenon are usually described as “miracles” but are also clearly “magic” by definition.

Creationists contend that they don’t believe in magic. But “speaking” anything into existence is an incantation, and the Bible is full of spells of one sort or another. Animating golems, or conjuring interdependent systems, and causing complex organisms to appear out of thin air -are each logically implausible and physically impossible according to everything we know about anything at all, yet this is exactly what religiously-motivated pseudoscientists actually promote!

How do we test these ideas? How can we tell them apart from any of the thousands of fables men have concocted for the ghosts and gods of other religions? How can we tell whether any of this is even real, and not something someone just made up? Because despite anyone’s assertions of personal conviction, it is impossible to distinguish miracles from subjective impressions imagined out of nothing. In the realm of fantasy, it’s easy to demonstrate psionic talents, astral entities, and magical manifestations. Until they do that in reality too, then science has nothing but nature to work with.

Those who know the necessity of naturalism can list millions of practical advantages that continue to come from that. So science requires a way to weed fiction from function through independent verification and the process of elimination.

Natural science works; creation science doesn’t.
That’s why faith healers don’t work in hospitals.

The National Academy of Sciences, defines it as the systematic enterprise of gathering knowledge about the world and organizing and condensing that knowledge into testable laws and theories, –a definition further endorsed by the Academic Press Dictionary of Science & Technology. Fraudulent evangelical charlatans often say that creationism is scientific, but there’s utterly no verifiably accurate evidence behind any of their assertions, and no way to construct any hypotheses to explain any of their claims because no experiments could possibly support them, and faith prohibits believers from ever admitting when their notions would be falsified. Creationists are therefore unable to add to the sum of knowledge and instead only offer excuses trying to actually reduce what we already know. They’ve no way to recognize their own flaws and won’t correct them, so they can neither confirm nor improve their accuracy. But that’s all real science is or does.

Consequently, since the dawn of rational thought, the advancement of science has been retarded by the minions of mysticism, and profound revelations have often been opposed or suppressed by the greater part of the dominant religion, because dogmatic faith is not based on reason and zealots will not be reasoned with.

“So this is a war of the world views,
and all science is creation science.
Would you agree with that this evening?
All science is...? Creation science.
All truth is ...? God’s truth!
And certainly science is the search for...? Truth!”

Science is a search for truth –whatever the truth may turn out to be, even if it’s evidently not what we wanted to believe it was. In science, it doesn’t matter what you believe; all that matters is why you believe it. This is why real science disallows faith, promising instead to remain objective, to follow wherever the evidence leads, and either correct or reject any and all errors along the way even if it challenges whatever we think we know now. But creationist organizations post written declarations of their unwavering obligation to uphold and defend their preconceived notions, declaring in advance their refusal to ever to let their minds be changed by any amount of evidence that is ever revealed. Anti-science evangelists display their statement of faith proudly on their own forums, as if admitting to a closed and dishonest mind wasn’t something to ashamed of or beg forgiveness for.

They don’t want to do science. They want to un-do science! They try to segregate experimental science from historical science, ignoring the fact that both are based on empirical observations and both can be checked with testable hypotheses. Worse, they want to redefine science in general so that astrology, subjective convictions of faith, and excuses of magic can supplant the scientific method whenever necessary in defense of their beliefs. They’re only open to critical inquiry so long as that is not permitted to challenge the sacred scriptures nor vindicate any of the fields of study to which they’re already opposed. In short, everything science stands for, -or hopes to achieve- is threatened by the political agenda of these superstitious subversives.

You can believe whatever you like. As long as you admit that it is a belief, you don’t have to defend it. But if you assert your belief as a statement of fact, then you do have to defend it! Stating anything as definitely true when there is insufficient evidence to back it –is dishonest. Making such positive proclamations without any evidence at all is a matter of faith. And promising in advance to forever defend an unsupportable a-priori preference even against an avalanche of evidence against it -is apologetics, which is all creation “science” really is.