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Evolution

Charlie’s Playhouse and Evolution Toys

A few months ago, I bought the Giant Timeline Poster from Charlie’s Playhouse. I wanted to get the Giant Timeline, but I knew I didn’t have room for it (though I know better now!) and figured I could hang the smaller version on the wall somewhere so my daughter and I could have fun reading it and checking out all the crazy creatures on it. It was a great plan, but it turns out that there are very few 12-foot empty spaces on the walls in my house, so we had to unroll it on the floor.

Fortunately, that didn’t matter much and my daughter and I had a blast taking the entire evolutionary journey using the timeline as a guide. It’s a great product and made explaining evolution simple, straightforward, and fun for my daughter (who is eight years old).

A couple months after that, I bought the Ancient Creature Cards to add to the fun. The cards are huge (5.5 x 8.5) and have the same creatures that are on the timeline, but with more information about each one. My daughter took them in the car and would go through them, ordering them by period or by appearance on long drives and cracking jokes about the weirder critters. She’d still play her Nintendo DS, of course, but it was great to see her so enthusiastic about the cards, too!

Today, we got out both products and stretched out the timeline on the floor and went through the cards one by one, reading about each creature and then finding its place on the timeline, matching the card with its time period. This was all at my daughter’s request, by the way, which says volumes about the products!

Here is the resulting layout (click to embiggen)…

Charlie's Playhouse Evolution Timeline and Ancient Creature Cards

If you’ve got kids, I highly recommend these products! They’re educational and fun, which is an unbeatable combination.

Kudos to the Charlie’s Playhouse folks!

Casey Luskin cries censorship

Darwin's Dilemma Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute is all up in arms about censorship because, he claims, the Smithsonian-affiliated California Science Center cancelled its screening of the “documentary” Darwin’s Dilemma when it found out that the film was promoting intelligent design. While I agree that censorship is generally not good, Luskin seems to (again) misunderstand that a science center doesn’t want to promote unscientific ideas and that intelligent design is an unscientific idea. That’s been firmly established time and time and time and time again, but Luskin and his compatriots at the Discovery Institute can’t seem to wrap their heads around it.

Says Luskin…

As soon as word of the screening went public the Darwinian thought police started complaining about a government-supported science center renting its facilities to a group showing a film that challenges Darwinian evolution.

Why the outrage? Isn’t there academic freedom to express scientific viewpoints that dissent from the evolutionary “consensus”?

Yes, Luskin. There is academic freedom to express scientific viewpoints that dissent from the evolutionary consensus. The key word is “scientific,” however. Intelligent design is not scientific, no matter how badly you want it to be.

Luskin (and the film) attempt to use the Cambrian explosion as evidence for intelligent design, claiming that it poses a problem for evolutionary theory. I don’t want to ruin the ending, but… it doesn’t. Luskin, in true form, sets up a false dichotomy by saying that there are “two ways that modern evolutionists approach the Cambrian explosion” and lists them as follows.

A. Some freely acknowledge that the Cambrian fossil evidence essentially shows the opposite of what was expected under neo-Darwinian evolution.

B. Others deal with the Cambrian explosion by sweeping its problems under the rug and trying to change the subject.

Strangely enough, neither option is correct… or accurate… or honest. The Cambrian explosion is not a dilemma and the reason it’s not is that it hasn’t been swept under the rug, but has been openly (and repeatedly) addressed and shown to fit easily and neatly within the bounds of evolutionary theory. Evidently word hasn’t filtered down to Luskin yet.

The other concept that hasn’t reached Luskin yet is that even if science hasn’t discovered the answer for something yet, it doesn’t mean that simply asserting an “intelligent designer” is a valid answer. It’s certainly not even remotely scientific.

Luskin goes on to complain about “Darwinian elites” (envy much?), censorship, harassment, and Carl Sagan. His claims are nonsensical, including the one about a 2004 “pro-ID peer reviewed scientific article by Stephen Meyer (seriously?) and one about Richard Sternberg experiencing “retaliation” for being pro-ID (seriously?).

What it boils down to is the fact that Luskin just can’t accept the fact that intelligent design is not science… hence it shouldn’t be presented as science at science-based institutions. It’s not censorship any more than refusing to promote astrology as an alternative to astronomy is censorship.

Luskin’s closing paragraphs are where he glaringly makes my point that he just doesn’t get it.

Darwin’s dilemma isn’t just about a lack of transitional fossils in ancient rocks. It’s about how the guards of evolutionary orthodoxy will treat contrary scientific viewpoints.

Will they silence minority views, or will they grant dissenting scientists freedom of speech and scientific inquiry to make their case?

Evolutionary scientists welcome contrary scientific viewpoints. They actually debate the fine points of evolution constantly and review new scientific ideas. Dissention is welcomed, but the key word (again… and still) is “scientific.” That’s where Luskin and his Discovery Institute peers get left in the dust. They’re not scientific. Intelligent design is not science. As much as they want to believe it, saying it over and over again does not make it true and the more they do it, the more they make a mockery of themselves.

…which is something, it seems, they do on a regular basis.

AAI Convention – Impressions

Craig and I returned from the Atheist Alliance International Convention in LA last night and I’m struggling to get back into the groove of my East Coast time zone. I wanted to post my impressions of the convention, including my highlights and disappointments.

Overall, I’d have to say that I loved the entire event. There were some technical issues every now and then and a bit of disorganization here and there, but it didn’t detract from my experience at all. Almost without exception, the people I encountered were friendly, warm, polite, and fun-loving. There were smiles everywhere I looked. The event was also nearly devoid of religion-bashing, which was a delightful surprise. There were some expected jabs at creationists from some speakers (where appropriate), but that was about the extent of it.

The event was positive, informative, and socially delightful. We were privileged to have lunch and dinner with Margaret Downey, who was a pure delight. I sat next to a wonderful couple from Vancouver (whose names escape me, sadly) at dinner and we had great conversations about religion, politics, and philosophy. At the Sunday night social, I had an exuberantly fun time with Richard Haynes (of Atheist Nexus), Sean Faircloth, Trevor (not Victor), and Carla the veterinarian who delighted in explaining the intricacies of various castration techniques (OMG I hope I got her name right). Topics ranged from zombies to Hello Kitty to health care to the aforementioned castrations (which seemed to come up far too often, with hilarious results). It was wonderful.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a conference before (professional or personal) with that many openly friendly people.

As for the speakers and events, here’s a summary of my experience.

Friday

Friday was the opening day and after a live podcast for Dogma Free America (which covered current events and was quite entertaining), almost all the presentations were paralleled by two others, so it was tough to choose between the speakers (the program wasn’t always clear about the topics).

My first choice was a good one and I listened to Stephen Frederick Uhl, an ex Catholic priest and author of Out of God’s Closet, speak about ethics and morality without religion. I enjoyed his talk immensely and found much of what he had to say paralleled some of my own ideas about ethical/moral guidelines… only he explained things better and in more detail.

I wasn’t as fortunate for my second and third picks of Sunsara Taylor and Maurice Bisheff. Taylor spoke about abortion, but was way too radical in her views for my tastes… and for the tastes of most others in the room, based on the comments and questions she received. Bisheff spoke about Thomas Paine, but his presentation was terribly dry and seemed to promote Paine’s deistic views which, according to this talk, approached the level of metaphysical woo.

Friday night there was a live screening of Real Time with Bill Maher (with Richard Dawkins as guest) after which we got a hilarious presentation by Brian Dalton (of Mr. Deity fame) along with the entire cast of his show who did some of the sketches on stage. Near the end of his presentation, Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher arrived and Maher was awarded with the Richard Dawkins award for his movie Religulous. Maher then delighted the crowd with some great comedy, including a reading from Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life (you can see a clip on YouTube of that bit).

After the main convention hall events, there was a comedy fundraiser for AAI with some very, very funny comedians.

Saturday

Saturday was science day and all the speakers were directly sponsored by the Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Every talk I attended was brilliant and informative and inspiring. Some of these talks will be covered in more detail by Craig or me in separate posts, but here’s a summary.

  • J. Anderson Thomson, an evolutionary psychologist, spoke about the evolutionary foundation for morality and the studies that are being done about the brain and how it process moral decisions.
  • Lawrence Krauss, a physicist (and author of The Physics of Star Trek), spoke about the universe, its expansion, its origins, and its future… and made physics not only interesting and entertaining, but incredibly funny.
  • Carolyn Porco, a planetary scientist and the leader of the imaging team for the Cassini project, spoke about Cassini and showed some remarkable images of Saturn, including this one, Saturn eclipsing the Sun and with Earth as a small dot just above the left side of Saturn’s rings.
  • A biologist (whose name I don’t have at the moment) gave an amazing talk about stem cell research and what’s been accomplished so far, what being worked on currently, and what the future holds. His did a great job of making it all understandable to laymen.
  • Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary biologist and author of Why Evolution is True, spoke about the evidence for evolution in various fields. His talk was probably my favorite of the convention, since it’s one of my favorite topics (and favorite books) and he was a very entertaining speaker.
  • Daniel Dennett, philosopher and author of Breaking the Spell, spoke about the “Evolution of Confusion,” the interviews he’s doing with atheist clergy, and the fluff language of some theologians (like Karen Armstrong, as Jerry Coyne reminded me) who say things like “God is the God behind God.”
  • Richard Dawkins was the keynote speaker after the dinner banquet and, being on a book tour, read from the final chapter of his new book about the evidence for evolution titled The Greatest Show on Earth.

Saturday evening, there was a live music party hosted by Atheist Nexus. I was completely bushed at this point and didn’t stay around for much of it… and had a Sunday breakfast scheduled for 7:00 am with the board members of Atheist Alliance International.

Sunday

I had breakfast with Stephen Uhl (mentioned earlier) and Stuart Beckman, the current president of AAI. We gave Beckman some feedback about the convention and had some great conversations about building support in the atheist/skeptic/free-thinking community and getting rid of the stigma society attaches to atheism.

There were two headline speakers after breakfast.

  • Jonathan Kirsch, religious historian and author of The Grand Inquisitor’s Manual, spoke about the Inqusition, its origins, its methods, and how they have been used over the centuries… even up to the current day. It was a fascinating talk and he was an entertaining speaker.
  • Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education and author of Creationism vs. Evolution: An Introduction, spoke about the verbal and legal tricks that creationists use in their attempts to insinuate creationism (or intelligent design… same thing) into our schools’ science curriculums. She was warm and funny and it’s reassuring to know that she and her staff are on top of the issue.
  • Sadly, Richard Haynes, the founder of Atheist Nexus, was moved to after the closing ceremonies, so only a small crowd got to hear his talk about his story, starting Atheist Nexus, and how to help build the atheist community.  He was very friendly, humorous, and relaxed and made a great presentation. It would be great to have him as a headliner at the next convention.

Sunday night there was an informal social at the hotel bar from 7:00 to midnight for those folks who were staying over until Monday. I got there a bit early, doing some writing and drinking Diet Coke, until folks started to arrive… and then it was a phenomenal evening of hilarity, as I mentioned at the start of this post.

Overall, this was a terrific event. The minor glitches and snippets of disorganization didn’t phase me and the speakers were informative and inspirational. What really made the event special, however, was the sense of camaraderie, friendship, and warmth that was exuded by the attendees. For folks that are frequently labeled with all kinds of derogatory terms (hateful, angry, rebellious, etc), they certainly blew away that stereotype and made the convention center into a place that felt welcoming and comfortable… even for non-atheists (of which there were a few).

I’d definitely go again.

You tell her, Christopher!

Via Pharyngula comes this video clip from the movie Horror Express starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as rival archaeologists battling to stop a prehistoric ape-like creature with supernatural powers from going on a “mind-controlling killing spree.” (description on Netflix …sadly unavailable for rental)

I love it.

Newly added to my favorite blogs…

Yesterday, while searching for some information on climate change, I happened upon a blog called The Way Things Break and was delighted. Not only did I find the information I was looking for, but I found all kinds of content related to the shenanigans of the anti-science crowd.

Here is the post, titled The Land of Make Believe, that won my heart…

Science denialism involves a lot of make believe and pretending:

  • Pretend as though claims made by an individual, conclusions of a single paper, etc. are actually the underlying science, so as to hold up any disagreement or revision as though it is evidence that the core science is somehow incorrect; alternatively, pretend such ‘one offs’ are definitive rebuttals to the core science.
  • Pretend as though areas explicitly acknowledged to be in need of further study are actually the underlying science, so as to hold up any disagreement or revision as though it is evidence that the core science is somehow incorrect.
  • Pretend that a non-representative sample selected so as to give the appearance of disagreement with the conclusions of the core science is evidence that the core science is somehow incorrect.
  • Pretend that the mere presence, absence, or relative amount of a substance is somehow a legitimate rebuttal to the real world effects (if any) it has been demonstrated to have.
  • Pretend that the existence of media hype, past examples of pseudoscience, etc. are somehow a legitimate rebuttal to the science.
  • Pretend non-sequiturs [Evolution can’t explain how life started!] are somehow a legitimate rebuttal to the science.
  • Pretend lay misunderstanding of the science is somehow a legitimate rebuttal to the science.
  • Pretend that personal ignorance or disbelief of the science is somehow a legitimate rebuttal to the science.
  • Pretend that a scientific consensus is somehow akin to religious faith; similarly, pretend that there is an “orthodoxy” being enforced that amounts to religious or political “persecution”, silencing of “dissent” etc. for failing to understand/accept the science. [Bonus points for claiming such in a high-profile media outlet such as a newspaper or television show]

And perhaps most importantly of all:

  • Pretend to be “skeptical” rather than anti-science.

I think I’ve seen almost every one of those points used at one time or another, whether used to deny evolution, climate change, or vaccinations (among other things).

Pure awesome.

Assertions Are Easy

Vampire Bat Some people wonder why evolution isn’t more accepted than it is. Despite the monumental amount of evidence in multiple fields of scientific inquiry, those pesky creationists, bringing up the same tired arguments, sometimes seem like B-movie zombies. No matter how many times they get smacked down, they keep coming back to torment scientifically-minded, rational people with their brainless moaning and logic resistance.

It’s not that they have anything new. Oh, sure. Occasionally a new bit of scientific evidence will be discovered… a fossil, some DNA functionality, a new species in a remote location… and they’ll latch onto it and somehow manage to twist it into something they claim supports intelligent design or a young Earth, but it doesn’t. Aside from that, it’s the same old stuff. Why, then, won’t their arguments die?

Because assertions are easy.

For example…

Transylvania has the largest population of vampire bats in the world, which is why vampire legends originated there.

See how easy that was? Does it sound reasonable? Sure it does, as long as you don’t know anything about vampire bats (or vampire legends). It took me about 20 seconds to come up with that claim and type the sentence. How long would it take you, if you don’t actually know any data about vampire bats, to refute my statement?

The internet helps, but you have to have motivation. Wikipedia is an obvious and expedient place to visit. Here’s what you find out from the Wikipedia article

Vampire bats are bats whose food source is blood, a dietary trait called hematophagy. There are three bat species that feed solely on blood: the Common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus), the Hairy-legged Vampire Bat (Diphylla ecaudata), and the White-winged Vampire Bat (Diaemus youngi). All three species are native to the Americas, ranging from Mexico to Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.

There you go. All the known species of vampire bats are native to the Americas. What if you don’t know where Transylvania is? Another visit to Wikipedia lets you know it’s in Romania… which isn’t part of either of the Americas. So it would seem that my statement has been soundly refuted and put to rest.

Or has it?

Oh no, I say.

There used to be another species of vampire bat that was native to Romania, but it went extinct over 100 years ago. Vampire legends started well before the bats went extinct.

Now what? The Wikipedia article says nothing of an extinct species of vampire bat. There’s nothing in the Romania information that states anything about vampire bats being native to the country. If you want to do more research into debunking my claim, you’re going to have to spend a bunch of time searching the internet… to refute something that you’re 99% sure is completely bogus, anyway.

But how much time did I spend on my claim? Not much… perhaps under a minute… and if I really believe what I’m saying, I’m going to start making that statement all over the place to anyone who will give me 30 seconds of his time or to any place that will allow me to post my nonsense. By the time I’ve reached 1,000 people, you’d still be trying to confirm whether there actually was a species of vampire bat in Romania 100 years ago.

Then suddenly you’ll find that someone else is saying that vampire bats lived in Romania 100 years ago, but they’re saying that bones were found that prove it… and that the bats were as large as ravens… and a group of scientists is researching whether or not they preyed on human babies.

What… is… going… on?!?

Assertions are easy.

It’s what creationists do. They shovel on the assertions (Gish Gallop, anyone?) and then, when their assertions are left unchallenged, they declare victory… and spread the news. It takes very little time to make assertions, but gathering evidence and presenting a logical refutation takes quite a bit of time (in comparison). Even if you already know the evidence and the refutation, it generally takes more time and effort to deliver it.

It’s not just creationists, though. Politicians do it. So do their opponents… especially protestors. Scientology does it (Fair Game doctrine). Climate change deniers do it. Moon hoaxers do it. Obama birthers do it. Sometimes, to add to their pseudo credibility, they’ll actually add facts to back up their claims… but only the facts that support their arguments. They’ll leave out contradictory facts or simply leave their facts out of context. They’ll misquote an expert (or quote mine). They’ll twist words.

When moon hoaxers do it, it’s amusing (unless you’re Neil Armstrong or Buzz Aldrin). Nobody really takes them seriously. When creationists do it, it’s more serious because they want to teach our children to believe their nonsense… and they frequently want it in our schools. When climate change deniers do it, it can be dangerous in the long term… and just irresponsible.

Am I doing it right now? Sort of… but not really. These are my opinions based on my observations. I’m sure plenty of examples can be found where creationists have provided valid scientific data to irrefutably support their arguments.

*snicker* …or not.

Intelligent Design’s 8 Biggest Fails

I was just shown a great slideshow on the Discover website showing Intelligent Design’s 8 Biggest Fails. It’s well worth taking a look.

Ray Comfort and Charles Darwin!

Free books! Oh wait... what's this? It seems that Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort have decided that they want to get in on the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by giving away free copies of the book to college students. While that seems both generous and out of character, it turns out that it is neither.

They’re printing a special version of the book with a fifty-page introduction written by Comfort which “reveals the dangerous fruit of evolution.” They aren’t really giving the book away. Comfort’s Living Waters ministry is providing the books for a very low cost to churches or individuals who want to help. Those folks get to give the books away. Now, to be fair, they’re selling the book for as low as 99 cents a copy (if you buy forty or more), so it’s close to a giveaway.

Their special version also has an incorrect title.

There are a couple problems that I see here. First, it’s telling that they want to “trick” people into getting their gospel message. I suspect they know that they wouldn’t be able to attract those godless students with fifty thousand free copies of a Ray Comfort book. They have to give away a very famous book on evolutionary theory… and then they tuck away their message in the beginning of the book, decrying the book’s contents (but failing miserably).

Kirk Cameron's Crocoduck The second problem is that the message itself is absurd. Comfort and Cameron have repeatedly proven that they have absolutely no knowledge of evolutionary theory. Not only do they have no knowledge, but they’ve demonstrated willful ignorance at every turn, using the same, tired objections that have long-since died an unspectacular death by debunking. Cameron’s famous crocoduck comes to mind. Whatever shred of credibility they may have once had (if ever) vanished long, long ago.

Here’s an excerpt from the website about what’s in the introduction.

This introduction gives the history of evolution, a timeline of Darwin’s life, Hitler’s undeniable connections to the theory, Darwin’s racism, his disdain for women, and his thoughts on the existence of God. It lists the theory’s many hoaxes, exposes the unscientific belief that nothing created everything, points to the incredible structure of DNA, and the absence of any species-to-species transitional forms.

Comfort always seems to bring up the “nothing created everything” argument when discussing evolution. He also repeats his “no transitional forms” argument. It almost sounds as if he doesn’t understand evolutionary theory. I’m never sure if he really is that actively and willfully ignorant or if he really does know that his points are absurd, but he’s got nowhere else to go.

You can read the full fifty-page introduction here (pdf). After a brief history lesson, Comfort starts right into his default “a building must have a builder” shtick. The DNA segment shows a complete lack of understanding of natural selection. It gets worse from there and becomes a cornucopia of monstrous ignorance.

Kirk Cameron also narrates a video (also embedded below) which explains the program. I transcribed it so you can read the text of the video if you can’t watch. It’s also full of nonsense.

Praying in school... still allowed! Cameron disqualifies himself right at the beginning when he states “Our kids can no longer pray in public.” Ummm… what? They most certainly can pray in public. They can even pray in public schools. But Cameron has to start off with a message portraying the horrifying state in which we find ourselves. Our kids can’t pray, they can’t open bibles in school, the Ten Commandments can’t be displayed in public places… all nonsense.

But then he gets to the really horrifying stuff. In a survey of fifty universities in the United States, sixty-one percent of professors in psychology and biology identified themselves as atheists or agnostics. The horror! I would have thought it would be higher. He doesn’t mention professors of physics, chemistry, sociology, math, or history, though. I found that a bit odd.

When explaining the book giveaway, he says that they just want to “present the opposing and correct view.” Seriously? the “correct” view? He continues with the mind-numbing “both sides of the argument” plea, again showing that his understanding of what does and does not constitute “science” is lacking… or non-existent.

The main point is that they want to give away these books to university students and they need your help.

There’s a Facebook group that was created to thwart Comfort and Cameron’s shenanigans. The idea is to get your hands on as many books as you can, remove the 50-page introduction, thus restoring the book to its original form, and then re-giving them away at the same university.

There’s no mention on the Living Waters site about which universities are included, so you’ll have to just pay your local one a visit on November 19th to check. They don’t sound like they’re really targeting fifty specific universities, though. They don’t seem that organized. Anyone can order the books and give them away wherever they want, it seems. You even get a free poster with your order.

…and fifty pages of nauseating woo and ignorance.

Here’s the video. Below is the transcript.

Transcript:

Are you concerned about what’s happening to our country? One by one, we’re being stripped of our God-given liberties. Our kids can no longer pray in public. They can no longer freely open a bible in school. The Ten Commandments are no longer allowed to be displayed in public places and the Gideons are not even allowed to give away bibles in schools.

Did you know that a recent study revealed that in the top fifty universities in our country, in the fields of psychology and biology, sixty-one percent of the professors described themselves as atheists or agnostics. That’s sixty-one percent. No wonder atheism has doubled in the last twenty years among nineteen to twenty-five year olds. An entire generation is being brainwashed by atheistic evolution without even hearing the alternative and it’s radically changing the culture of our nation.

There’s only one way to change the heart of a nation and that is to change the sinful heart of the individual and that’s through he power of the Gospel. Only God can take the sinful heart of a man or a woman and cause them to love that which is right and just and good.

Now listen to this. On November 21st, 2009, the world will celebrate the 150th year since the publication of Charles Darwin’s book Origin of Species. Now when my friend Ray Comfort heard about this and that the book was public domain, he actually wrote a fifty page introduction for the book which gives the history of evolution, a timeline of Darwin’s life, Adolf Hitler’s undeniable connection with the theory, Darwin’s racism, his disdain for women, and Darwin’s thoughts on the existence of God and put them in the book.

It also lists the theory’s many hoaxes. It exposes the unscientific belief that nothing created everything. It points to the incredible structure of DNA and the absence of any species-to-species transitional forms actually found in the fossil record. It then presents a balanced view of creationism with information from scientists who actually believe that God created the universe, such as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Bacon, Faraday, Louis Pasture, and Johannes Kepler. And most importantly, this introduction presents a very clear gospel message.

On Thursday November 19th, just a few days before the 150th anniversary of the book, fifty thousand copies of this special publication will be freely given out at those top fifty universities. Now think of it. In one day, the Gospel and clear presentation of intelligent design will be placed into the hands of fifty thousand of our future doctors lawyers and politicians. And we’re working with Campus Crusade for Christ, Answers in Genesis, and the Alliance Defense Fund to get copies of Darwin’s Origin of Species into the hands of this generation. And all we want to do is present the opposing and correct view, rather than being censored, which is exactly the case at present. These students aren’t stupid. They should be given both sides of the argument and allowed to make up their own minds, right? We think that’s healthy.

This is a beautiful 304-page full color cover edition of Darwin’s famous Origin of Species book that will be given away free on the 150th anniversary of the book, so who isn’t going to take it and say “thank you very much?”

There’s nothing to fear. Ray Comfort and I are going to a local university to give away one thousand free copies ourselves on November 19th and we’re very excited to do this. Listen, for instance, to UC Berkeley’s policy right here in California. Their own website says, “Anyone is free to distribute non-commercial materials in any outdoor area of the campus.” Besides, what are they really going to do? Ban the Origin of Species? That’d be big news, especially when their own bookstore sells it for $29.99.

So get a hold of 100, or 500, or 1,000 copies for yourself or for your church and go to your university. We’ll give you a free poster and a clear and simple strategy. Go there as a team and get the gospel into the hands of this generation; the hands of future doctors, lawyers and politicians. Remember this is America. It’s still the land of the free, the home of the brave. And this is a life and death issue.

(Ray Comfort starts speaking)
We’ve had a number of requests from people asking if we could expand our giveaway from fifty to a hundred universities. If we want to be able to do that, we need to act quickly… have more books printed. Today we know of 130 yard sales that are being held across the country to raise money to try to make this happen. One millionaire has said he’ll match the biggest donation given to the project. Those that would like to help us reach that goal can get details on LivingWaters.com. Please be in prayer for us and thank you for listening.

Creation Museum – Microscarium

MicroscariumTicket One of the special presentations that Craig and I attended was called “Microscarium,” which required the purchase of a separate ticket and took place in one of the museum’s “classrooms.” The ticket indicated that this was part of the museum’s “Discover the Truth” series of workshops. I was rather dubious of that title.

The museum’s website describes the presentation with these words.

Welcome to the Microscarium! Enter the world of the microscopic with our intrepid Dr. Menton on a journey through a landscape filled with ferocious looking creatures that move rapidly through the dense jungle of the living world that is their home, hunting for something to eat. From single celled protozoa that accomplish many of the same functions that humans do with 30 trillion cells, to the more complicated creatures sucking in anything that comes near them, you will be thrilled with this trip through the wondrous [and sometimes a bit scary] micro-world created by our awesome Creator God.

Interesting, if not hyperbolic.

DavidMenton01 The presentation was being done by a Doctor David Menton, who gave us a bit of background about himself. He’s got  quite a list of credentials, which you can read about here and here if you’re interested. If not, suffice it to say that he he holds a PhD in cell biology from Brown University and the Washington University School of Medicine seems to think highly of him. It seemed somewhat encouraging.

He appeared in a white lab coat… very sciencey-looking until I noticed the “Creation Museum” logo embroidered on the front of it. Then it was just amusing.

The presentation was going to talk about all the life you could find in a drop of pond water and there was a very impressive phase-contrast microscope hooked up to a large-screen display so everyone in the room (about 30 of us) could easily see it. When we got there, we saw a pink image on the screen which turned out to be a very thin slice of rabbit tongue. While Dr. Menton was waiting for everyone to arrive, he was chatting about it. He seemed very personable, sometimes funny, and definitely happy to be there.

He talked about the tongue, pointing out the barb-like structures (mini versions of a cat’s barbs) and said that humans have them, too, which is why we can lick ice cream cones and actually get ice cream instead of having our tongues just slide off. He contrasted that by moving the slide to show the underside of the tongue which was very smooth. He also showed how the muscle cells in the tongue go every which way instead of in parallel like many muscles… because we can move our tongues all over in every direction. It was all pretty cool and his presentation was entertaining.

Then it suddenly want down the tubes. When talking about the barbs again, he said, “Can you imagine if they went the other way?” Everyone chuckled, and then he followed it up with, “That’s why I can’t be an evolutionist.” Almost everyone laughed. Craig and I were stunned. He then went on to make the same comment in relation to the tongue being upside down.

So after an introduction to some really cool material about the tongue, he lost all his credibility by showing that he had not the slightest notion of evolutionary theory… yet was quite content to dismiss it for reasons that anyone with a basic education in evolutionary biology should know are preposterous.

Craig left shortly after that (he wasn’t feeling well anyway… flu), but I stuck it out for the majority of the presentation and heard some gems.

Dr. Menton spoke about cells for a bit and said that the human placenta was a single, giant cell… the largest cell in the human body. I had never heard that before and he mentioned that he’s told that to other biologists and doctors who didn’t know that, either.

*skeptic bells go off*

Then he said (about the single-celled placenta), “You won’t hear that anywhere but here.”

*skeptic klaxon alarm blares*

Doing a bit of googling seems to indicate that the placenta is not a single cell, by the way.

That’s when what had been a somewhat interesting biology lesson turned into a high-alert bullshit-detection exercise.

He went on to show some slides of different single-cell (or thereabouts) organisms that we might see in the pond water (new pond water each time, so he never knows what he will see) such as amoebas and parameciums and the like. He got to one organism with a flagellum and my hackles went up in anticipation of a comment relating to bacterial flagellum, but no such comment materialized.

What did materialize was much worse.

flagellum He showed a diagram of the internal workings of a flagellum similar to the one on the left. His diagram was a bit more detailed but showed how it worked and how each internal piece interacted with others to create the whip-like motion that caused propulsion. It was a cool diagram and interesting information.

Then he said, “Can you imagine that just all happening by chance?”

*strike one*

He added, “There’s just so much that I know is going on there. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I know too much to be an evolutionist.”

*strike two* … *strike three* … You are SOOOO outta here.

“I know too much to be an evolutionist.”

Seriously? How can someone seriously make a statement like that with a straight face? How can someone with any sort of ethical values make that authoritative claim to an audience so anxious to hear real scientific information? The audience ate it up, though. They laughed and nodded and thought this fraud’s information was all true and accurate. After all, he was a doctor!

To give you an idea of the crowd, however, I offer this anecdote. I can’t say if this example is indicative of the entire audience, but it struck me as interesting.

When Dr. Menton asked the audience how many cells were in the entire human body, one man called out, “thousands.” Yes, he said thousands. Not even millions. Not billions. Nobody said trillions. The real answer is trillions (about 50 – 100 trillion, depending upon who you ask). “Thousands” isn’t even on the continent, much less in the ball park. Much like 6,000 isn’t close to 13.5 billion.

Dr. Mention said one trillion, by the way.

At that point, I was done. I watched detachedly as he put the drop of water under the microscope and panned around to find a couple swimming organisms, but after a couple minutes of that, I got up and left.

It was an appalling display of ignorance and abuse of authority.

Creation Museum – Men In White

men-in-whiteA truly disappointing waste of theatrical technology and flair. As with most of the museum, this “show” was well produced (totally bat s%&t  crazy) but well done. The Men In White were the angels Michael and Gabriel. By putting a “hip” spin on an old story for the sake of youngsters, teachers and scientists are comically portrayed as villainous and silly.

The show starts with a young animatronic girl named Wendy sitting at a campfire pondering her existence and the meaning of life. During her moment of lost contemplation and doubt, Michael & Gabriel show up to raise her spirits. The implication is that without a purpose from God, Wendy is lost, alone and miserable. The angels show up to persuade Wendy that God exists and cares for her and they begin to show her “proof” of his existence.  It is here that the angels begin with, ” …if you use the bible as your starting point Wendy, then everything makes sense!” ANGEL SAYS WHAT?? Imagine if your science teacher started your first class with, ” …if you just take everything I say as fact, then everything makes sense!” From the very beginning this presentation insults the human intellect. Science doesn’t require blind faith and it never suggests a “starting” point.  This is where the “machine gunning” of  “facts” begins.

When you start with the bible everything makes sense like:

1. Marine fossils found on mountain tops? Those mountains were once covered in water from the great flood.

2.Volcanic dust found in ice cores? Just think of all that volcanic ash in the atmosphere after the flood.

3. Similarities in DNA found in the cells of every living thing? Since God created DNA he made it so that all living things could live and eat in the same world.

If you believe in evolution or as the angels call it “goo to you” then none of this makes sense. According to the angels, “…evolution makes no sense without billions of years!”

-Next we move on to discredit radioisotope dating.  This form of dating is flawed because there are too many assumptions required to be accurate, say the angels. Zircon crystals have been found with helium gas in them. This suggests that they are not nearly as old as man believes because the helium gas is escaping to quickly to be millions of years old. This is refuted on the following CHRISTIAN website http://www.answersincreation.org/RATE_critique_he-zr.htm . I highly suggest you read this article. It gets all “sciencey” but it is fascinating and alot more accurate than two white overall clad buffoon like angels.

-Next we learn from the angels that the earth can’t be millions let alone billions of years old because of the salt content in the oceans. The angels (portraying high school students in a science class) smuggly challenge a teacher about the age of the earth due to the lower than they expected salt content in the oceans. This is called EPIC FAIL. This moronic notion that if the earth were millions of years old there would be higher concentrations of salt in all of the world’s oceans is wrong. Wrong for several reasons but once again I would direct you to the following CHRISTIAN website to read the refutation of this quackery. http://www.answersincreation.org/argument/G336_creation_science.htm This article explains that creationist’s salt theories are misguided and fail to account for several factors involving the mechanisms for the removal of salt from the oceans.

-Next up, the crazy dinosaur theory. Our smug little angels tell their professor that in 2005 a T-Rex leg bone was found with blood cells intact and un-fossilized. This obviously means that the leg bone could not be millions of years old, right? WRONG! Again the answers to the BS claim come from a CHRISTIAN website. http://www.answersincreation.org/rebuttal/magazines/Creation/1997/trexblood.htm . In this excerpt there is an email log from the actual paleontologist, Jack Horner, who was chiefly involved in this discovery. He goes on to explain that it is not true and that creationist are grasping at half truths and no facts.

-The angels just can’t quit. Next we find out from these two brainiacs that the earth’s decaying magnetic field would indicate that life could not have survived millions of years ago. This is again refuted at http://www.answersincreation.org/argument/G811_creation_science.htm . The angels are referring to a scientific article written by Thomas Barnes. It has been all but publically laughed at by theoretical scientists and bears no scientific weight.

-Next…lack of super nova remnants proves a young earth, say the angels. No, it doesn’t. http://www.answersincreation.org/malone_supernova.htm . I hate to keep linking after every point but since the creation museum didn’t use any real science to make their point, I figured I should.

With about thirty minutes of research on the Internet I have found tons of articles scientifically refuting everything said in this absurd display of purposeful ignorance. The men in White should be taken away and locked up by …men in white jackets. The most disheartening part of this “program” was the fact that children were in the audience being “taught”. Shame on the creation museum and shame on the parents who made their children sit through this glaring display of  stupidity.