It’s always funny when a creationist talks about biology

I try to avoid the content Jack Hudson’s blog. He doesn’t write anything of value and he hasn’t any credentials in the areas that seem to be slightly interesting to him (namely biology), but I often poke over there to see if I can find any interesting bloggers in his comments. Unfortunately, this involves me skimming his posts. (After all, if he writes about a topic that doesn’t interest me, I may not be interested in whoever might comment on it.) And once in awhile, I fully read his shorter rants. Take a look at one his his recent examples:

Often when I argue that cells are infused with information driven molecular machinery and that this observation constitutes the basis for a readily falsifiable theory on why the cell is the product of the effort of a mind, opponents will accuse me of over-extending the use of the word ‘machine’. That is why I appreciate animations like the one below – it clearly depicts a molecular motor, that has been an integral part of cells since the beginning of life. It is clearly a mechanism composed of multiple integrated and highly interdependent parts that both convert energy into work, and provide the fuel on which the rest of the cell subsists.

The ATP synthase is definitely an information driven molecular machine, and the best explanation of its existence is that it was designed by a mind.

I can be brief here: biology is all about shape. Again and again, anyone who has studied the subject will quickly recognize that the only way anything gets done is through the interaction of molecules of the correct shape. The only exception is when we’re talking about ion gradients or something sufficiently similar where the cause of action is an electrochemical gradient (or, again, something sufficiently similar). And even then, shape is often still relevant in moving stuff from one place to another.

When it comes to ATP synthase, the basic idea is that a phosphate molecule binds to an ADP molecule and causes a conformational change. This isn’t information (which, incidentally, is a concept Jack has never been willing to define in scientifically coherent terms). It’s a change caused by certain molecules of a certain shape with certain properties, coming together to form a new shape with new properties. And if we back the train up a little bit, we’ll see that that is the case for the previous molecules, and the previous molecules to those, and the previous…and so on until we aren’t talking about much more than very basic chemical bonds.

But wait! I made the mistake of reading another post (it was at the top of the page). It doesn’t have to do with biology, but I still want to address it:

I was reading a post recently by New Atheist Jerry Coyne criticizing a book by philosopher J. P. Moreland called Christianity and the Nature of Science. I haven’t read the book myself, so I can’t speak directly to Coyne’s criticisms, but I can speak to the logic of his main argument. Essentially he argues (contra Moreland) that theology has not arrived at “some truth concerning the world”. How does he know that? Well according to Jerry Coyne, he knows that because so many religions disagree on the nature of God:

Jack then goes on to quote Coyne making the point that theology has huge disagreements in it as evidenced by all the different religions and denominations. He continues:

As is typical of Jerry Coyne as well as New Atheists generally, what is missing here is logic. He doesn’t ever justify why the existence of various beliefs about some topic undermine the fact that we can know something true about said topic. Take a study like political philosophy. It has been fairly well established that constitutional democracies that respect individual rights are far superior to any number of other political systems in terms of freedom, personal prosperity, health and scientific and technical advancement. Despite this fact, many of the same political systems that have always existed still exist…

If Coyne’s logic were accurate, then we would have to conclude that nothing has been learned about what constitutes a good political system. Of course such a conclusion is absurd.

This would be risible if he wasn’t so serious. When it comes to political systems, we can measure their effects and compare them. In Jack’s example, he cites freedom, personal prosperity, health, and scientific and technological advancements. What is the equivalent in his analogy? What can we objectively measure that comes out of theology? It isn’t sufficient that we compare two things which happen to have something in common. That is, it doesn’t get us anywhere to compare theology and political systems merely because they are both varied. If that was enough, he could have just chosen Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and pointed out all the available flavors. Furthermore, it isn’t like political systems are designed to give the same results. Some are geared towards one ideal, others to another ideal. Moreover, we aren’t even talking about a common methodology or field of study which is meant to lead us to the best choice, anyway. None of Jack’s analogy works. None.

So Jerry Coyne does have a significant point. If theology was a legitimate method for arriving at truth, we should expect consistency from it from independent sources. That doesn’t happen. It isn’t like calculus where 3 people (one from Asia) were able to discover/invent it without looking at each others’ paper, or evolution where 2 people came up with the same basic idea apart from each other. No, instead we have a tiny, little field that is hardly any different from literary criticism except that its focus is smaller and less useful.

“It’s no skin off my nose.”

One of the things I like to do when one political party falls on its face is go to its primary outlets and see the freak-out. In 2008 that meant watching Sean Hannity explore every possible way the polls could be wrong. In 2010 that meant watching the sullen faces on MSNBC. And now in 2012, I am once again back to FOX and the like. Let’s take a look at “the like”, shall we?

I took a screen capture for what I called my favorite part of election night on Tuesday. It was a shot from a post by Jack Hudson predicting a “decisive” Romney win and I took it because, aside from the fact that he was so wrong, I know Jack well enough to know that it would needle him to not only be wrong, but to have his wrongness so overtly displayed. I didn’t expect him to respond to my post (nor did I care if he did), but I was really hoping someone would say something. I mean, the reaction would have to be priceless, wouldn’t it? Answer: Yes.

As it turns out, the person who said something was Mike and, as always, he kept it succinct and entertaining:

So Romney lost pretty soundly, there were several victories for marriage equality, Todd Akin got trounced, a couple states passed laws legalizing weed, and we’ve elected our first openly gay senator.

Oh well. The Lord works in mysterious ways that are indistinguishable from non-existence.

This post was 44 words long. Now look at Jack’s:

I did say I wasn’t a prognosticator.

But I appreciate your magnanimity Mike. :) I think it gives us a pretty good indication that the next four years will go pretty much like the last four years with regard to political dialogue (as well as everything else).

The irony is that it’s no skin off my nose. I have done quite well the last four years and actually stand to benefit from Obama’s reelection oddly enough. And I am old enough where all the entitlements you will be paying for will probably be available to me the remainder of my life. So I and my family are going to do fine because I have planned and provided for a variety of possible events. Others will pay for the debt which grows by the second, and I can guarantee it won’t be ‘the 1%’ who have the means to escape the pickpockets.

And while I prefer that things get better for everyone, I also know that some people (perhaps an increasing number these days) only learn when a bat is applied to the side of their collective heads, metaphorically speaking. As we start off on day one with the stock market dropping over 300pts, the country facing a fiscal cliff and absolutely no indication anything will improve or go ‘forward’ it isn’t going to be me facing regrets. I am old enough remember this all being done before, folks wading through the malaise, poverty, and violence of the seventies which followed the last attempts to remake our society according to secularist ideologies. It simply proved to that generation how bereft such ideologies are of any meaningful solutions. Of course they knew enough not to re-elect Jimmy Carter. This generation of useful idiots come along worshiping their political leader, who is supposed to move them ‘forward’ to some imagined panacea and they end up where large swaths of Europe are today.

So enjoy it while you can, you are going to be paying for it for a long time.

336 words, or over 7.5 times longer.

Oh, the butt-hurt.

Let me interpret:

Your political discourse is liberal and I sneer at it.

By the way, you fucking liberal, my bank account is almost as fat as I am. Are you impressed? You should be. I mean. I’m pretty fat. Oh, and I’m old. God damn it, I’m so old! Fortunately, despite my impending death (which is being rushed by my fatness), I will benefit from all the entitlements that I don’t think any should get. Na-na na-boo-boo! Don’t you wish you were part of the upper class? We don’t have to pickpocket people (because the government has been doing it in our favor since Reagan). But again, I wish you would raise the level of political discourse, you idiot.

Now, I know I just spent all that time bragging about how my fat bank account lets me buy all the fat guy clothes and fat guy food I could ever want, but I care about the little guy. I really do. Also, I think he is an idiot and I wish he would get smacked with a bat. Metaphorically. (Maybe.) Look, the election was well over 24 hours ago and the stock market had a bad day. That has to be that black fella’s fault. (He gets no credit for the stock market being near record highs, by the way. Don’t be an idiot, you 47%er.) But again, I’m so fucking old, so that makes my opinion way more valuable than yours. And I’ve seen this before. It’s like the 70’s when Jimmy Carter was elected to office once. Just like Barack Obama. WE’RE BECOMING EUROPE! Forget that our growth is going in the right direction, outpacing much of Europe, and we haven’t implemented austerity measures as the Republicans want. I DON’T LIKE FACTS! You idiot socialist, Nazi, communist.

So in closing, I’m really butt-hurt, but I want to make myself feel good by telling you just how awful your life is going to be. Also, bald eagles, Real America, Karl Rove, Ronald Reagan, the Founding Fathers, Christian nation, abortion is murder, gays lead to bestiality, and wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.

Liars. Liars everywhere.

To my count, I have come across four major liars in my blogging career. First up is Jack Hudson. He has the be the worst, but he also may be the dumbest. I’m not sure which part of his personality I dislike more. The next is Christopher Maloney. His lies were in the details of his writings and, to his credit, I suspect some of them were just a result of his lack of understanding of how the Internet works. Then we have Michael Hartwell. He’s a recent addition and generally isn’t guilty of being dishonest, but that doesn’t mean he’s really any better. And finally, we have braggart Roxeanne. She has mostly confined herself to misunderstanding and misrepresenting science, (did you know that because condom usage needs to improve even more in order to better combat infection rates, that means condoms are ineffective and we should advocate abstinence-only programs? Crazy, I know), but now she has ventured into plainly liar territory:

There is a reason why children are nine times as likely to be abused by their mother’s boyfriends or new husbands than by their own fathers, and why biological fathers are an impediment to abuse of children. Predators seek out the vulnerable.

Yet California, land of moonbats, decided to make it easier for non-biological “fathers” to access children. The Golden State is considering letting more than two adults have “parent” rights to a child. Now, any normal person knows that this is going to result in a lot of litigation and some serious trauma for the kid (at best) and sexual abuse (at worst), but the Left is more concerned with eliminating traditional family structures than with advancing the well-being of children. What this state has just told paedophiles is that it’s open season on little kids, and if the mother gets creeped out, said paedophile can sue to have visitation with her child. After all, the former boyfriend/ex-stepdad had a “bond” with that lovely young teen, and such a “bond” should be respected by our legal system.

Well. Isn’t that interesting. It’s like she isn’t even trying to spin her lies in a way that is even remotely plausible. Here is the actual purpose of the law:

[Representative Mark] Leno told that he recognized a “problem” in the legal system in 2011 when an appellate court placed a girl in foster care when her legally married parents — two lesbians — could not care for her.

The child was taken into state custody when one of her mothers was jailed and the nonbiological mother was hospitalized.

The court did not have the authority to appoint the girl’s biological father, with whom she had a relationship, as a legal parent. That third parent could have “benefitted the well-being of the child,” said Leno.

In other words, two people can have a child, marry separate people at some point, and all four individuals can be given custodial rights. And unlike Roxeanne suggests/lies, all the parents would have to agree before anything could move forward. There is no way some ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend couldn’t sue for custody as a result of this law.

This bill would obviously help in same-sex situations, but I think it would more commonly be applied in cases of heterosexual divorce. That’s just basic statistics. (And even if that wasn’t the case, who cares? Gay couples form families, too.) Furthermore, this would do nothing to benefit pedophiles. That argument is patently absurd and hardly deserves a response. Roxeanne isn’t the shiniest penny in the fountain, but I think she’s just barely smart enough to know she was lying.

This is a good law. Plenty of children are in situations where there are three or four parents involved. At certain times, this can cause undue problems as a result of legal restrictions. That is, a clear authority figure with the child’s interest at heart – a biological parent’s spouse, for example – may be denied from caring for the child, such as we see from the article. That isn’t fair to anyone involved and is more a snafu in the law than anything. The only reason to oppose this is stubborn denial of reality.

Butchering science

This is just a mess.

I have written in the past about Jack Hudson’s tendency to butcher science. There are a lot of examples of him doing this, but one of the most egregious was when he concluded that because fruit fly populations under laboratory conditions come to allelic fixation at a different rate and/or way than asexual populations, that must mean there is some flaw in evolutionary theory. (In re-reading his post, I’m also seeing that he concluded something else equally egregious: He said that mutations which affect mRNA structure as opposed to protein sequence is evidence that random mutations cannot lead to new traits.) In short, it is highly evident that Jack read a popularized article about a recent study, glommed a few lines from the original research, and then went about drawing inept conclusions.

And now he’s back at it.

Let me give an actual summary of this most recent study first:

Stickleback fish are found all around the world. They exist in a number of streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans due to their great ability to adapt quite quickly to their environment. This opens up a great opportunity to take a look at their genes to see just what regions are evolving.

Now, what often happens in these sort of studies is that researchers will choose selected areas or candidate genes and compare them. It’s a tried and true method, but it probably isn’t the whole picture. While researchers can grow various species (usually of bacteria), objectively know how they’ve diverged and evolved under laboratory conditions, and then compare what they know to phenotypic changes brought on by alterations in protein-coding genes, there has been a push for a long time to sequence more and more full genomes. One result has been information overload (even when the full genome of something has not been sequenced; the technology that allows full genome sequencing also inherently allows easier partial sequencing), but that’s not a bad problem to have. So for this study, the biologists sequenced 21 three-spined stickleback genomes. Their goal was to determine the underlying molecular basis for adaptive evolution in the fish: Do they evolve by way of regulatory or coding changes?

What the team found was that 147 regions vary in freshwater versus marine stickleback populations. Of these 147 regions, 17% were linked to coding genes, 41% to regulatory regions, and 42% could not be classified cleanly (though, as the neat little graph under “Proportion of regulatory and coding change” in the paper says, they are probably regulatory).

So the big conclusion is this. Stickleback evolution is dominated by regulatory changes – changes involving areas which control genes. (Coding changes are still important, but this study indicates a possible shift in focus as it becomes cheaper and easier to sequence whole genomes.) The regions prevalent in stickleback evolution are relatively few; we keep seeing the same areas get tweaked over and over, leading to independent (and often convergent) solutions for the same sort of environments.

Now let’s look at Jack’s butchery:

But these findings are actually quite contrary to the sort of evolution often advocated by Darwinian evolutionists. Instead of incidental mutations coding sequences leading to the production of new proteins (and conceivably, novel structures and systems) the researchers found that the changes were primarily to the same sets of regulatory sequences in separate populations of sticklebacks…

While the researchers continue to use the term ‘evolutionary change’, the reality is this is nothing like the sort of change described by the modern evolutionary synthesis, a theory which relies on natural selection acting on genetic mutation.

To summarize this inanity: Jack is saying that evolution predicts that changes in species should occur almost exclusively by way of natural selection working on random mutation. He’s wrong. What evolution says is that change will occur by a number of mechanisms – random drift, hitchhiking via linkage, bottlenecking, horizontal gene transfer, and others. Random mutations culled by non-random selection will result in changes, certainly. And that’s what we see quite frequently in the laboratory and nearly 1/5 of the time in this stickleback study. However, the presence of other mechanisms is not somehow counter to evolutionary theory. Indeed, I think embryologists would be rather upset to learn that their field undermines evolution since the regulation of development – not necessarily or even usually by coding regions – has a huge impact on the way species change over time.

Yet I haven’t even gotten to the kicker:

The very fact that the researcher describes these as “key genes that control evolutionary change” contradicts the ordinary notion of evolution itself, which is purportedly an unguided process.

This reminds me Mary Midgley’s complete misunderstanding of Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene. Midgley complained, chiefly, that Dawkins’ use of “selfish” was wrong because genes don’t have emotions. It was risible and I don’t know as Dawkins should have bothered responding. Naturally, I have to wonder if I should bother with the likes of Jack Hudson.

The language being employed by the scientists behind the stickleback study does not indicate that there is any guiding mechanism to evolution. They obviously are not claiming that regulatory genes direct evolution in a predetermined way. All they are saying is that these genes are a major factor in evolutionary change. It would be as if I said that my gene for lactase controls my tolerance for lactose (dairy products, more or less). That does not mean there is a little man sitting on a section of my DNA, tinkering away because he desires that I ingest milk.

Sorry to keep this going, but there are a lot of kickers in this one:

If natural selection acting on incidental mutations were actually capable of producing the radically different body plans, structures and systems we find throughout the plant and animal kingdoms, then we wouldn’t expect to see the consistent similarity of genetic modifications that we do with regard to the various populations of sticklebacks.

It would be generous to say this is a strain on logic. It absolutely does not follow that the predominance of regulatory genes excludes the importance of random mutation. Moreover, this study is not looking at millions of years, so extrapolation out that far should be constrained.

The changes wouldn’t be a matter of merely regulating extant genes, but the origination of new genetic capabilities.

Jack is, in essence, claiming that regulatory changes do not count as evolution. Unfortunately for him, we have thousands of different species of sticklebacks that attest to significant change over time – and now we know they’ve been doing it with a lot of help from their regulatory genes. So even if there was something to Jack’s claim on its own, it wholly crumbles when we hold it up to all the different stickleback populations around the globe.

Genetic sequencing continues to demonstrate that there are limits to biological variation.

This is in reference to specific creationist-proposed limitations, something not supported by an iota of this study. That is, this claim boils down to Jack saying that because sticklebacks evolve in a large number of ways by virtue of relatively few regulatory regions, species are constrained to microevolutionary changes. Again, this is a logic fail. The presence of changes by way of natural selection operating on regulatory genes does not exclude changes by way of natural selection operating on random mutation. Anyone who bothered to honestly look at this study would know that. (17% and perhaps more of the regions map to actual genes, for Christ’s sake.)

As I’ve said a few times before, what takes a creationist 30 seconds to say takes an educated person hours to untangle. And just as with my last post about butchered science, this didn’t take quite that long, but the sentiment remains true.

Incoherent views

I’ve been following a comment thread over at The A-Unicornist that has mostly revolved around the First Cause argument. In it was this gem from family-harasser Jack Hudson:

…causation isn’t logically dependent on time.

This made me literally laugh out loud. It demonstrates what is one of the most incoherent view of reality I think most Christians hold. I’ve explained how it all works on FTSOS as well as in the comment thread, but I think it bears repeating one more time what, exactly, causality is.

Newton’s third law says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Another way of saying this is, for every cause there is an equal effect. Or, to use exactly equal language again, for every force there is an equal opposing force. With that under our belts, let’s look at what force is.

Simply put, force is mass multiplied by acceleration, or f=ma. Let’s break it down further. What is acceleration? It is the change in velocity of an object over time. In other words, find the change in velocity in an object and divide that change by the amount of time it took for said change to occur and you’ve got acceleration.

I think if I left things at this point many people would be able to figure out the implications of what I’m saying. However, since I know Jack (who is obsessed with FTSOS) and other Christians will be reading this, I will spell it out. In order for something to have a force, it must have mass and acceleration. And in order for something to have acceleration, it must have velocity. And in order for something to have velocity, it must go through time. Tie it all together and we see that time is of the essence. At least to introductory physics. Without time, there is no causality. And what did we have ‘prior’ to the Big Bang? Certainly not time as we understand it. Therefore, it is logically incoherent to use the idea of causality in order to argue about how the Universe began.

If more Christians understood science, we wouldn’t have these sort of problems.

More lies and plagiarism? You don’t say.

I stopped reading Jack Hudson’s shitty blog some time ago for the most part. He’s just a bag of dishonest rubbish that churns out annoying pieces of repetitive rhetoric over and over. Really, it’s just the same thing every time: “Christians are great, atheists suck, lol. Christians invented everything good and science is premised on the Bible. lol. Also, I start every single one of my responses with ‘Well’ because I think that’s good writing. lol.”

Yet despite my aversion to bad logic (and probably more so, his horrible writing), I hopped over to his site to see what filth he had to say about Christopher Hitchens. It was about what I expected – Christianity leads to great things, atheism doesn’t, lol, well, lol, etc. Here I tear apart (for the nth time) the shitball logic of Fatty Hudson:

Upon learning that he was sick and in all likelihood dying, many skeptics expected the caustic atheist would be reviled by Christians, when in fact the opposite happened.

I have to give chubs credit here. He actually managed to hold off on the lying until his second paragraph. Rather unusual, indeed. But a lie is a lie; nobody expected Christians would shit all over Hitchens in death. We expected they would concoct phony stories of a deathbed conversion like they always do. Fortunately, Hitchens put forth a great effort to ensure that there could be no reasonable doubt that he remained an atheist and anti-theist until the very end. When Richard Dawkins’ time comes, he will do just the same for the exact same reason.

In part this might be explained by the fact that Christians are commanded to ‘love their enemies’…

Nope. False. Hitchens was a respectable man who had something special about him. His intelligence was never approached in debate (especially by Christians and Muslims), and he was the exact opposite of an intellectual coward – something I can’t say for Chunky Hudson.

Besides, let’s just apply a bit of logic here: Atheists routinely show respect when Christians of note die, provided those Christians did something worthwhile while living. And we do it for good reasons, not because we were commanded by a Sky Daddy to do it. (Indeed, how genuine can a show of respect be if it is forced from up high?)

He wasn’t petty like Dawkins, or prissy like Sam Harris…

This line, along with a second post to which I will get, is what motivated me to write. What happened to that command to ‘love thy enemy’, Jack? I guess I’m not surprised a Christian would apply parts of the Bible selectively, but I thought the normal course of action was to pick and choose several different pieces to apply selectively – not pick one piece and apply it in exactly opposing ways. (See this post on Jack Kevorkian for an example of Hudson ‘loving his enemy’.)

The affection many believers had for Hitchens undermines the New Atheist caricature of Christians.

Don’t worry, the disdain you’ve shown for two atheist friends of Hitchens has already reinforced the view.

In the modern atheist mythos, Christians are invariably dumb, deluded and dangerous.

I think I know who’s creating the caricature here.

And yet Hitchens, who himself often spoke this way about believers was often warmly received on by them.

Huh. Jack is able to write (poorly) so he must be able to read. Strange then that he apparently has never read what believers had to say of Hitchens.

Unlike atheists, Christians merely see their opponents as wrong, not fundamentally stupid or insane.

If I say I see that as a wrong, stupid, and insane generalization, does that mean all atheists see it that way?

We understand that despite his best efforts, Hitchens was no more a sinner than anyone else and no less deserving of the grace than any believer.

What condescending assholery.

If Hitchens was right about the universe, then he has passed into nothingness and will be soon forgotten – atheists have little love for history except where it serves their purposes…

Says the guy who thinks Christianity has always been the driving force behind science.

If a face and voice isn’t ever-present on the screen it soon fades from public memory. So the increasingly secular world quickly forgets its ownchampions (sic); everyone is equally unimportant and inevitably lost in a dying universe.

I like the quick change between “atheists” and “the secular world”. Clever. But no matter, it’s all premised on the continued lies of Chunk-face Hudson. Some of the greatest figures remembered now are the ones which, atheists or not, contributed to the views of many of today’s atheists: scientists. (Fatty Jack, having zero interest or educational background in science beyond a Bio 101 course 30 years ago, is unlikely to be aware of most of this.)

The ultimate irony of his life is that believers, who saw in him the Godly virtues of courage and honesty and perseverance, may have valued his life more than he did himself.

I don’t see how people who place value on magical, evidence-free thinking – thinking which culminates in the belief that there is a realm that somehow matters more than now, more than today – can even begin to understand how to value life. Their entire belief structure is premised on the devaluing of actual life in favor of pretend future life. Just take Jack. My jabs about his struggle with all the excessive weight he carries do point to something more than just my own desire to insult an obvious feature of an obvious idiot: If he really valued life, he would do something to live it. As it stands, he is more willing to stuff his face than exercise; he is willing to risk sacrificing years of life for petty pleasures. The likely result? He will die, joining Hitchens in nothingness, never having seen his children reach important milestones like graduations, marriages, or having their own children. And even if he is fortunate enough to see these important marks, he will still miss years and years of time with family and friends, not to mention the simple joys of life otherwise had. This certainly is not a problem exclusive to the religious, but it is extremely convivial to religious valuing of a pretend afterlife over real life.

This post has become longer than I intended, so I will make this last bit quick. Jack has a history of stealing material from me. He has stolen it from both here as well as the FTSOS Facebook page. Here he does it again:

Though [New Atheists] purport to derive their atheism as a result of scientific knowledge which they consider to be the ‘best way of knowing’, in practice…

The fact that their main use of what they consider the “best way of knowing” is to…

Emphasis mine.

Take a look at my About tab. “Best way of knowing” is a phrase I have used time and time again. I have used it in posts, on Facebook (where available to Jack), and even on Jack’s own blog. He has been called out on his plagiarism in the past, including his theft of this exact phrase. I would link to where that has happened, but it was on his blog and he, of course, deleted the post. In fact, the post demonstrated more than a stray phrase. At the time, I matched no fewer than 5 posts I made here with posts he made the following day or so. He used my phrasing, my ideas, and/or my arguments as premises each time. And I had only looked back at six weeks worth of material. He is a wildly dishonest thief and I would expect an apology from a better man.

Thought of the day

That’s weird. A certain someone was banned from another site primarily due to his incessant dishonesty.

At least he didn’t text anyone this time.

Punching bags

Whenever creationists get hold of a legitimate scientific paper, I groan a little bit for at least two reasons. First, I know whatever they have to say, they’re going to mangle the science. We saw that with Jack Hudson last year (and, actually on literally every post about science he has ever made). And, of course, we also saw that with all the other creationist sites from which Jack stole his material. Second, I know I’m going to have to devote some time to reading and blogging on a paper I would have otherwise missed. It isn’t that I don’t like to read these things – I do. The problem is that it’s a time-suck when the blogging is factored in. You see, unlike creationists I actually research and verify what I have to say on any given piece of science.

Let’s start with the paper in question:

Here we report exceptionally preserved fossil eyes from the Early Cambrian (~515 million years ago) Emu Bay Shale of South Australia, revealing that some of the earliest arthropods possessed highly advanced compound eyes, each with over 3,000 large ommatidial lenses and a specialized ‘bright zone’. These are the oldest non-biomineralized eyes known in such detail, with preservation quality exceeding that found in the Burgess Shale and Chengjiang deposits. Non-biomineralized eyes of similar complexity are otherwise unknown until about 85 million years later6, 7. The arrangement and size of the lenses indicate that these eyes belonged to an active predator that was capable of seeing in low light. The eyes are more complex than those known from contemporaneous trilobites and are as advanced as those of many living forms. They provide further evidence that the Cambrian explosion involved rapid innovation in fine-scale anatomy as well as gross morphology, and are consistent with the concept that the development of advanced vision helped to drive this great evolutionary event8.

The gist of the find is this. Researchers discovered very old fossils of arthropod eyes from the Early Cambrian. They do not predate complex eyes, but they do predate similar non-biomineralized eyes. That is, trilobite eyes are made of calcite, meaning the trilobites produce the minerals for their eyes themselves. In turn, their eyes are hardened (and thus more easily fossilized). So these new fossils show a different way in which eyes could become complex. Furthermore, they showed a tight packing in the lenses, much in the way that a fly’s lenses appear to be tightly packed. They also were curved to form binocular vision, meaning there was a visual overlap in front of the body. This helps for judging distances and discerning complicated backgrounds. This creature was a predator.

But here is where creationists draw issue:

Did you catch that? If you were a high school student who trusted your teachers, you’d think they had evidence for this unbelievably rapid amount of highly complex change. But they merely assume that it evolved, so it “had” to have been a great evolutionary event and another example of “rapid innovation.” [And is thus a tautology.]

This comes from Neil who, like many creationists, was taking his cue from another site. He believes that every paper that mentions evolution must provide a detailed description of why evolution is true.

His quote was a reference to this excerpt from the paper:

[The new fossils] provide further evidence that the Cambrian explosion involved rapid innovation in fine-scale anatomy as well as gross morphology, and are consistent with the concept that the development of advanced vision helped to drive this great evolutionary event.

What this is referencing is the fact that until now advanced eye fossils were almost exclusively restricted to trilobites in the fossil record. These new fossils give evidence that, as suspected, there were other marine creatures swimming around with complex eyes. Furthermore, they show a quantitative change in the number of lenses, not the sudden appearance of these sort of lenses. (But note that we can’t expect to see a perfect fossil record. We can get a good outline, but it’s silly and really very ignorant for creationists to demand to see every intermediate organism. At some point things will have to “suddenly” appear. Of course, this is in geological terms, i.e., over millions of years.) These eyes are evidence that evolution was driven in part by the anatomical changes in vision during the Cambrian.

So it is clear that none of this is a tautology. This fossil find is further evidence of the nature of evolution and the role vision played in its creation of arms races. What we see from the creationist world, however, is an immature understanding of the science. There is no doubt that Neil never bothered to read the paper from Nature, nor have many of his creationist brethren. If any of these sort of non-academics bothered to look into the literature (or even take formal courses), they would see their obvious errors. Further, even if we are to understand this paper as Neil purports it to be, he’s still in error. That is, he believes the paper is a tautology because it assumes evolution without giving evidence for why evolution is true. This is like drawing issue with physics papers because they assume gravity is true without explaining general relativity. It’s a silly complaint to make and it only demonstrates how wildly over the head of creationists most scientific papers are.


I was reading The A-Unicornist’s blog by that swell chap otherwise known as Mike when I just had to stop. Mike had earlier pointed out to me some silly comment from the king of silly comments, Jack. But as hilarious as that comment was, Jack topped himself:

Actually, [William] Craig speaks primarily from a position of reason and logic; he doesn’t simply assert God, he considers certain premises that are logically valid – that causes are necessary for things to begin to exist

This is a common error that Christians make. The idea that we can apply the idea of cause and effect to the time prior to the Big Bang makes no sense. Cause is another way of describing force. Forces are products of the Universe that we know, of the Universe that we can understand. The whole reason why we say every force has an equal and opposite force is because we can deduce as much within our framework of laws. Once we go beyond that framework (that is, beyond the Universe), all the laws we know go out the window. We absolutely cannot say the Big Bang was caused by something on the basis of our knowledge of cause and effect – we are throwing out that very basis the moment we begin to talk about anything ‘prior’ to time.

Some people just aren’t smart enough for this stuff. Mike, fortunately, is. To put what I just said in his words:

Even if the universe had a beginning, Craig has no basis for assuming that a physical process such as causality exists outside of the universe – just because things within the observable universe require a cause does not mean the universe itself does.

Even if I’m wrong and all our laws remain intact ‘prior’ to the Big Bang, there still is no valid scientific basis for asserting so. Try again, theists.

LOL, theist gets bitch slapped

I don’t like “lol”. But I really did laugh out loud at this one.

Typical for believers to jump on this without understanding the context. Here’s what one of the study’s authors had to say about the finding:

* The idea of anger toward God can be relevant for SOME (not all!) people who don’t believe in God (e.g., atheists, agnostics).
–For example, some nonbelievers have anger toward God as part of their history, and some report anger when prompted to focus on a residual or hypothetical image of God. (The thinking might be like this: “If God did exist, then he would be a jerk.”)
–IMPORTANT: ** We are by no means claiming that all nonbelievers are angry at God.

More deets:

Sorry, we’re not angry at your imaginary friend.

This comes from Mike D, one of those blogging atheists who does his homework. He was replying to a post that gave an intentionally false impression of a study about atheists. Why do I say intentionally false? Doesn’t that imply lying? Yep. It comes from the biggest liar I have ever encountered, after all. (And he has a history of distorting studies.)

(If the link to Mike D’s post doesn’t work, don’t be surprised. The liar who runs the site is a coward who hates to be embarrassed. He may delete the comment or alter the link slightly.)

To give some background, the reason for the post distorting what atheists believe is that it is a direct response to my post about Christians deep down. (My original posts seem to be the primary lifeline for that site – even if I never get credit.) In my post I made the clear point that it is not okay to say atheists are atheists just because they hate God. That’s tantamount to saying atheists really believe in God, and if that’s true, then they aren’t really atheists. It’s just bullshit rhetoric designed to create a strawman.

And that’s what that whole post goes on to do. And, as usual, it does it in a fundamentally dishonest fashion. I’m not surprised. In fact, my usual reaction is literally to just roll my eyes. But I found Mike D’s honest post to be such a thorough bitch slapping that I couldn’t help but share the joy.