still one of my favorite onion articles: intelligent falling

Rev. Gabriel Burdett explains Intelligent Falling.  © Copyright 2012, Onion, Inc. All rights reserved.

Rev. Gabriel Burdett explains Intelligent Falling.
© Copyright 2012, Onion, Inc. All rights reserved.

It’s a classic Onion article, but still one of my favorites: “Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory.”

It really sums up the “Intelligent Design” argument, and I especially love some of the titles of the professors. Note also the graphic, which has the “Intelligent Designer” flicking falling objects off their potential energy table.



no, no the dead sea scrolls do not ‘confirm’ the discoveries of the hubble telescope

Contrary to the claims of the above author, the Dead Sea Scrolls have nothing to do with the Hubble Telescope.

Dilly Award Nominee!

In what is nothing more than cheap, sensationalistic, and deliberately misleading press designed to promote a ridiculous, pseudoscientific, Intelligent Design theory about the relationship between the Hubble Telescope and the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Christian Newswire (“the nation’s leading distributor of religious press releases”) released this tripe.

ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 14, 2012 – An amazing passage concerning the universe recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls has been confirmed by the Hubble Telescope, according to a new book being released at New York City’s BookExpo America this summer.

My head is about to explode.

First, amateur wannabe stargazer theologian archaeologist “entrepreneur” J. Paul Hutchins has written a book in which he claims, “Hubble Reveals Creation by an Awe-Inspiring Power.” No, no it doesn’t. The Hubble telescope reveals to us how incredibly old the universe actually is. But that doesn’t stop Hutchins from asking deep, probing questions like, “How did Isaiah know about this unimaginable power without the aid of a space telescope thousands of years before Hubble revealed it?”

You see how this works? Hubble must confirm Isaiah because Hutchins asked the question! Case closed.

Of course, this kind of ‘discovery’ cannot remain unannounced to the world, for there is money to be made. Thus, Hutchins makes statements like:

After researching the images and data from the Hubble and Spritzer space telescopes, collected since their launch, Hutchins was compelled to write about the universe as a product of intelligent design, fueled by superior imagination.

And what are his theological, archaeological, palaeographical, or astronomy credentials you might ask?

A patented inventor and amateur astronomer, he began to notice the role imagination played in every major discovery in man’s history…Hutchins has been a businessman and entrepreneur for more than three decades, and has owned five companies. He is a recipient of the Lee County Community Development Award and has been a disaster relief volunteer. The parents of three adult daughters, Hutchins and his wife currently reside in Orlando, FL.

Then, to compound the stupidity and add to the ‘scientific credibility’ of his ‘discovery,’ Hutchins invokes the Dead Sea Scrolls. How does he do this you ask? Here‘s how:

An amazing passage concerning the universe recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls has been confirmed by the Hubble Telescope.

And the verse is question?

“To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One. “Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.” – Isaiah 40:25, 26

That’s right. Why simply claim that the Hubble telescope ‘confirms’ a biblical verse of prophecy in Isaiah when you can invoke that same text of Isaiah 40:25-26 found in 1QIsaa and 4Q56 f26:4 (4QIsab) among the Dead Sea Scrolls? See, now it’s not the Bible that ‘confirms’ Hutchins’ theory, it’s the Scrolls.

This is how to abuse science for the sake of selling a pseudoscientific book. (And it reminds me of someone. I can’t quite place it, but it reminds me of someone…)

This is nothing more than yet another example of a guy with a stupid idea, who writes it on paper in an attempt to sell it to someone, and surrounds it with talk about unrelated scientific discoveries (the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hubble Telescope) in the desperate hope that people will not realize the non sequitur and think that his idea has been ‘confirmed’ by science.

I shake my head…

on incompetent vs. intelligent design

Dr. James McGrath has an excellent post on the importance of accepting the basic scientific principle of human evolution through natural selection, especially for Christians.

If one allows that one may argue from evidence of design to a designer, then one opens up the possibility of arguing from shortcomings in design to an incompetent designer.

If you are a religious believer, and you refuse to accept evolution, then you have little choice but to blame God for the shortcomings seen in nature. You have little choice but to conclude that God wanted to leave us open to death by choking, when he made the routes for food and air converge on the same passage. And that is but one more of a very long list of examples of things that make good sense when considered the result of the slow adaptive processes of evolution, but which look ridiculous or even malevolent if considered the direct design of a divine Engineer.

Essentially, there are anatomical and physiological elements in every species that demonstrate vestigial anatomy and functionality. That is, there are things in our bodies that would never be a part of any “from scratch” blueprint of an intelligent designer. I’ve mentioned fingernails and the appendix and the optic disc (blind spot) before. Richard Dawkins discusses the laryngeal nerve as evidence of historical legacy in human anatomy.

Dawkins sums up:

A designer, an engineer, can go back to the drawing board, throw away the old design and start afresh with what looks more sensible. A designer has foresight. Evolution can’t go back to the drawing board; evolution has no foresight.

Thus, if a part of our anatomy appears vestigial and inefficient (like our appendix or blind spot or our laryngeal nerve), it probably is. It is the result of small changes over time. It cannot “go back to the drawing board” and start over like a designer. The fact that our laryngeal nerves descend into our thorax and then back up to our larynx is evidence that it was not designed (at least not intelligently) that way, but evolved that way (however inefficient it may be).

McGrath continues:

So don’t be surprised if other fellow religious believers, better informed about both science and theology, insist that you are demeaning rather than glorifying God through your refusal to accept evolution.

You are making God out to be an incompetent, not an intelligent, Designer.

a platypus’ thoughts on intelligent design

A Platypus' thoughts on Intelligent Design

A Platypus' thoughts on Intelligent Design

HT: Jim Linville. Couldn’t have said it any better.

the single greatest argument against junk science i have ever seen

intelligent_aliensthis is absolutely the best argument against ‘intelligent design,’ ancient aliens, and all other forms of junk science, pseudoscience, and sensationalism i’ve seen. in this short clip, the narrator provides a satirical argument eviscerating the popular tendency of junk scientists to bypass critical method, peer-review, and all forms of scientific evidence to make an otherwise unfounded claim. the portion of the video that compares claims of alien involvement in the development of humanity’s various technologies to the present ‘intelligent design’ movement, which uses the court system and claims of academic freedom to advance non-scientific theories under threats of violation of the equal protection clause.

why produce evidence when you can claim that your ‘belief’ is free speech, and that it should be considered just as ‘possible’ as theories that have veritable support of actual scientific data?

you see, doing science is hard work. conducting original research, writing technical papers with lots of footnotes and publishing them in reputable journals where they’ll be critically examined by other highly trained scientists isn’t exactly easy. even if you are lucky enough to make it through the peer-review process unscathed, you still have to present your work at professional conferences, where the world’s experts will pick apart your assumptions and methods to find anything that you might have overlooked in your research. why would anybody voluntarily subject themselves to this madness? i can understand doing it to get some honest feedback, but if your mind is already made up, what’s the point of exposing yourself to criticism?

this is where i believe the intelligent alien intervention institute can learn a thing or two from the discovery institute, the driving force behind the ‘intelligent design’ movement. the ‘intelligent design’ movement has discovered how to effectively bypass the protocols traditionally used to weed out junk science. just think how useful such a loophole could be.

absolutely classic!

circular reasoning, public appeal, demonizing science and scientists, the use of the court system, the assistance of politicians and fundraising, and claims of freedom of expression are all tactics used by amateurs, hacks, pseudoscientists, and sensationalists to advance their claims when they possess no data to support them.

this video makes this point succinctly and in a most entertaining fashion. with thanx to michael heiser for the tip and creator gordon j. glover, give it a look.

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