North Texas Skeptics http://ntskeptics.org Helping people make better decisions in Dallas/Ft. Worth and surrounding communities. Sat, 14 Apr 2018 20:36:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 The Hartnett Delusion http://ntskeptics.org/2018/04/14/the-hartnett-delusion/ Sat, 14 Apr 2018 20:34:25 +0000 http://ntskeptics.org/?p=1024 Continue reading ]]>

I previously reviewed chapter 1, Energy at a Crossroads, subtitled Doomslayers vs. Doomsayers. That chapter, with a number of failings noted, is a determined argument, largely successful, that fossil fuels are a boon to modern civilization. Here I am going to cover chapters 2, 3, and 4 in a single posting, which about measures the limits of my endurance. I will post a some pertinent excerpts along with assessments.

Start with

Chapter 2, How the Shale Revolution is Changing Everything.

In fact, the shale revolution is changing everything. Forty years ago we were forecasting petroleum production to peak in the 21st century. We always knew there were vast stores of oil locked in stone—shale—impractical to extract. Advancing technology has turned that around. With liquid crude oil pumping at $40 per barrel and higher, oil from shale is now competitive.

Strangely enough, the energy bonanza has coincided with the presidency of a man hell-bent on eliminating fossil fuels to avert alleged global warming.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 602-603). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The writers (Moore and White) are, of course, speaking of liberal President Barack Obama, in office at the time the book was published. As I advance through the book, I recognize more and more the pen of writer Stephen Moore, his style and agenda coming to the surface. Here we see the calculated implementation of loaded phrasing with terms like “hell-bent” and “alleged” appearing close by in the same sentence. “Hell-bent” nods to mindless intent on the part of Mr. Obama, and “alleged” reminds us that the science behind anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is faulty, even devious. A stroll through the book will disclose that Moore and White string out a slew of true statements, which soon become undercut by a number of scientific misconceptions and blatant falsehoods. For the remainder of the book I will attribute the content to Moore for the sake of simplicity.

Yet after more than eighteen years without warming global temperatures, the president seeks to increase our dependence on these thuggish regimes and declares that global warming is a greater threat than ISIS.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 606-607). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Here Moore displays a couple of miscues:

  • His statement about global temperatures is wrong.
  • He published too early, his reference regarding ISIS now overcome by events.

This chart is “Global mean surface temperature change since 1880. Source: NASA GISS” Contrary to what Moore states, we do not seem to have experienced “more than eighteen years without warming global temperatures.” In the meantime, opposing forces, including the United States military, have driven ISIS from its world headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, and ISIS has ceased to  exist as a territorial entity. Also, contrary to Moore’s proclamations, ISIS will cease to  be an issue long before the effects of AGW have dissipated, if ever.

We know that ISIS terrorist networks are funded to the tune of $ 1 million a day through oil dollars.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 638-639). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I’m still trying to  figure out how that fact supports the intent of this book.

The oil and gas extracted in the shale fields began as small aquatic organisms in an ancient inland sea covering the central region of North America from the Great Plains to what we now call Pennsylvania. And by an ancient inland sea, we mean ancient— formed sixty million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 738-740). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

While I am prepared to concede that the vast body of oil being pumped today comes from the geological Cenozoic Period, I will not agree that 60 million years ago represents the Cretaceous Period, which ended about 66 million years ago. While this technical gaff does not bely Moore’s tale about the origin of these deposits, it does reflect on sloppy writing and a lack of deep understanding.

One presidential signature can deprive Americans of critical natural resources. In 1996, for example, President Bill Clinton designated 1.7 million acres of land in Utah’s Grand Staircase Escalante as a national monument, putting the largest store of low-sulfur coal in the country off limits. This is the least polluting form of coal and in the highest demand.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 854-856). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Obviously this signals a disconnect of priorities. The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is a national treasure, which was given protection by President  Clinton. When George W. Bush became president he revoked that protection as one of his first actions. That action produced a backlash, especially from people in  the region, and President  Bush quickly rescinded his revocation. While I concur with Moore and White that our natural resources need to be exploited for the good of all, there is bound to be something that is too valuable to put on the block.

Bringing the narrative up to the present, President Trump was elected on the strength of his commitment to put business interests first, and his Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, is proposing to again  reverse government protection of the area.

Over the last four decades, American industries have dramatically reduced air and water pollution.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Location 866). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yes, that is true. I hope Moore and White do not seek to convince us these reductions are being made voluntarily. The hard truth is that government regulations account for these reductions, which regulations, by the way, are now being lifted by the industry-friendly Trump administration.

Some of the book’s language is curious, even puzzling. Take this from the previous chapter:

Yet a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions of this magnitude would mean curtailing the use of the carbon-rich fertilizers that have fed the world since the 1950s, putting the developing world at risk of famine.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 499-500). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I hope everybody agrees that fertilizers do not contain carbon or its compounds as active ingredients. Paging through the chapter I come to  this:

Eliminating fertilizer made from natural gas would reduce the food supply— increasing the chronic hunger now suffered by five hundred million human beings.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 897-899). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yes, natural gas is used in the production of nitrogen fertilizers, but what the authors possibly do not realize is that the process uses hydrogen from natural gas. In the production of ammonia, NH3, the hydrogen from natural gas, CH4, combines with nitrogen in the air. There are many examples like this, indicating the need for some technical assistance in writing the book.

In 2015, the ethanol mandate absorbed 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop. Multiple studies now conclude the production of ethanol is a net energy loss and increases genuine pollution and carbon dioxide. Ethanol policy is a prime example of counterproductive, outdated, and ethically offensive federal energy policy.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 932-935). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I’m tossing this bit out to illustrate the number of valid points made in the book. I’m not bothering to check the facts on this one, because, if the stated numbers are not completely accurate, they are closely enough accurate. Anybody having better information is invited to challenge me here. I look for someone to dig into this more deeply.

Any good points in the book are quickly blunted by statements such as the following:

However disappointing to some who have pledged their careers to politicized climate science, carbon dioxide is not a genuine pollutant capable of harming human health. Fossil fuels— abundant, affordable, concentrated and versatile— are superior to other energy sources at this time.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 944-946). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I am going to take that as saying that all the scientists concluding that AGW is a problem are politicizing climate science. Moore and White want us to know that AGW is not a problem and also that these scientists are lying.

Chapter 3: Saudi America, How Energy is remaking the U.S. Economy

Lots of numbers get thrown around here.

The oil wells of Williston seem to be bottomless. In 1995, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated there were one hundred fifty million “technically recoverable barrels of oil” in the Bakken shale. By 2013, geologists were estimating twenty-four billion barrels. Current technology allows for the extraction of only about 6 percent of the oil trapped one to two miles beneath the earth’s surface, so as the technology advances, recoverable oil could eventually exceed five hundred billion barrels.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1003-1007). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

And I  don’t know where Moore and White get these numbers.

In April 2008, a USGS report estimated the amount of recoverable oil using technology readily available at the end of 2007 within the Bakken Formation at 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels (680,000,000 m3), with a mean of 3.65 billion. Simultaneously the state of North Dakota released a report with a lower estimate of 2.1 billion barrels (330,000,000 m3) of technically recoverable oil in the Bakken. Various other estimates place the total reserves, recoverable and non-recoverable with today’s technology, at up to 24 billion barrels. A recent estimate places the figure at 18 billion barrels. In April 2013, the U.S. Geological Survey released a new figure for expected ultimate recovery of 7.4 billion barrels of oil.

Chapter 4: The Light of the World

Let’s start with this:

Steve Moore was once quoted in the New York Times as saying that “our oil supply is infinite. We will never run out,” a statement that provoked outrage. One high school science teacher wrote, “Mr. Moore: Even my fourteen-year-olds know that oil is finite.” That teacher probably became a top science advisor to President Obama.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1272-1275). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

This is good. The author quotes himself—which quote I was unable to locate—and steps outside his area of expertise. Moore’s NYT statement is technically untrue, as no material thing in this universe seems to be infinite. Whether we will ever run out of oil is another question. A number of things can make this true, including we could all die first. Another possibility is we could reduce our consumption rate to the point we are using oil at the rate the planet is producing it.

To become more prosperous over time, we don’t want to conserve energy, we want to use it.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1288-1289). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Again a bit of over-inflated rhetoric, and I am sure Moore and White did not intend this to come across the way it did. However, I am not inclined to give them a break. Yes, we want to conserve energy. Energy consumption costs money, and if you want more money in your pocket at the end of the day you will use energy wisely. I reviewed this topic a few years back.

Yeah, a conservative site posted this, presumably to poke fun at the foolishness of energy-saving electric lamps. Here’s a recap:

If only there were any substance to it. Let’s take a look at some reality. A quick visit to Home Depot reveals the following:

$6.97 / package:
$8.97 / case:

What happened to the $6.34 each for CFLs? Where did that price come from? How long did it take the person composing the little ditty above to come up with such a number? It could have taken a while. Writing fiction can be tedious. How about the $0.42 each for incandescents? Let me know where I can get them. Home Depot has its own price:

Model # 60A/RVL-6PK
$8.77 / package

Which brings us back to “I love using liberal clichés to illustrate the absurdity of liberal policies.” By now you are beginning to think what I’m thinking. This is a joke, right? I mean, nothing goes this far off the rails without a little nudge from somebody. I’m guessing this particular somebody was thinking, “I’m bored, so what I’m going to do is have some fun with dim-witted libruls.”

All right. I concede. It was fun. If this was somebody’s idea of a joke, the joke was well and truly joined. If it was not a joke, then… Then oops! Somebody’s got a problem, and it’s not the kind of problem I’m prepared to help with. Let’s all hope this was just a wall-laid spoof and let it go at that.

Whatever it was, let me describe a bit of the real world.

  • 2600 square foot all-electric residence in San Antonio, Texas
  • Compact fluorescents installed throughout
  • Lamps purchased at Home Depot as shown
  • April last year $61 electric bill
  • July last year $105 electric bill

Since then I have replaced maybe 26 CFLs with LED lamps equivalent to 60W incandescents but consuming only 9.5 Watts.

Stephen Moore, you are going to  have to start getting serious if you want people to take you seriously.

What do we use our energy resources for? That seems like a question with a patently obvious answer, but it’s shocking how few people know where energy comes from and how it is used. When we speak to high school and college kids, we ask, “Where does your electricity come from?” And most of the kids point to the outlet in the wall. Ah, the millennials. They know everything, don’t they? For those who are wiser and know what they don’t know, here are some energy basics.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1294-1297). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

To which I respond, “In your dreams, Stephen Moore.” Public school students are connected to the same sources of information Stephen Moore is, and his humorous characterization is a bit over-played. Reading through this book leaves the impression it is Stephen Moore who could benefit from technical education.

Compounds derived from fossil fuels are the raw materials for thousands of synthetic materials. How would a zero-carbon economy replace these goods and the services they provide?

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1323-1324). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Wait. Wait! Moore is being deliberately deceptive here. Scientists say “zero-carbon,” and they are talking about zero introducing carbon (dioxide) from fossil fuels into the atmosphere. They are not talking about uses of carbon from petroleum to produce consumer products. Unless these synthetic materials are burned, their carbon (dioxide) hardly makes it into the atmosphere. True, the stuff might bloat our landfills, and it often ends up floating somewhere in the ocean, but that is not the same impact as burning fuel oil.

Moore and White venture into the world of physical science and beyond their area of expertise. Some results are amusing.

Damming the flow of rivers in order to generate hydroelectric power is an example of converting gravitational energy.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1391-1392). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The truth be known, hydro-electric power is ultimately solar power.

The muscles of human beings and animals act as a kind of heat engine to generate mechanical energy for movement and work.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1399-1400). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

No. Just no. Muscle power is not an example of heat conversion to mechanical energy. Muscle action is direct chemical to mechanical conversion.

Chemical energy is the most pervasive form of energy.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Location 1407). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I recognize this book is not intended as a technical treatise, but additional exactitude would be beneficial if sprinkled throughout. On this planet, chemical energy is not an ultimate source. The ultimate source of practically all chemical energy is the sun.

The egg stores almost as much energy as the barrel of oil!

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1433-1434). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Is there a proof reader in the house. Somewhere along the chain Moore has slipped a link. This brash statement is coupled to an external reference:

Vaclav Smil, Energy and Nature in Society (2007), Table A. 8 Energy Flows and Stores at 393.

I don’t have a copy of the book. It’s $38 for the Kindle edition, and I most recently spent my last thousand dollars on a vacation to the tropics. In any event, missteps such as this bolster the impression that precision is not Moore’s strong suite.

Throughout, Moore spells BTU as Btu. It’s BTU.

Moore takes great lengths to emphasize “power density.” For example:

Hydrogen has an energy density by weight far higher than that of any other fuel at 143 MJ/ kg,

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1465-1466). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

For the record, about ten years ago I had this discussion with another engineer, and I went so far as to write on paper, sign the paper, and hand over, my statement that the future of powered transportation, particularly automobiles, is hydro-carbon fuel. The high energy density of these fuels makes automobile transportation practical. If petroleum becomes problematic, we will need to manufacture something like gasoline from atmospheric carbon dioxide. Keep in mind that modern air transport relies 100% on hydrocarbon fuel. Since 100 years ago large military operations have been impossible without high-density fuels such as hydrocarbons. Destroy the enemy’s fuel supplies, and you win the war.

Moore gets around to attacking climate science directly.

The theories of man-made global warming and predictions of catastrophic climate change are based on assumptions about the earth’s climate system that are not confirmed by observational evidence. The empirical sciences have long understood that measurement, observation, and experiment are the essential means of validating a scientific hypothesis. Claims of consensus cannot trump physical evidence. As the renowned paleogeologist Ian Plimer, of the University of Adelaide, argues, “The theory of human induced global warming is not science because research is based on a pre-ordained conclusion, huge bodies of evidence are ignored, and the analytical procedures [climate models] are treated as evidence.”

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1496-1501). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I found this interesting, because I have prior (indirect) experience with Ian Plimer. From the newsletter of the North Texas Skeptics:

Of course, the creationists have their embarrassments, as well, and this little pamphlet has been one of them. As reported by Chris Stassen in the talk.origins archive (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/gish-exposed.html) Ian Plimer debated Gish in Australia in 1988, and the topic of Brainwashed came up. Stassen quotes from a video tape of the debate. His transcript has Plimer talking about the pamphlet:

    There is a diagram there that says, “precambrian: void of fossils.” That is a lie. The Precambrian is not void of fossils; the Precambrian is extremely rich in fossils. He [Gish] has come to the country where there are many Precambrian fossils going back to 3 thousand 3 hundred million years ago.

Plimer has long been known as a champion of real science as opposed to creationism. Moore has quoted Plimer and has provided a footnote:

Alan Moran, Ed., Climate Change: The Facts, “Chapter 1: The Science and Politics of Climate Change,” Ian Plimer (Stockade Books, Institute of Public Affairs, Melbourne, 2015).

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 4637-4638). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The book is available in Kindle, and this morning I clicked a link and had it delivered to my computer. Plimer’s section in the book is succinct, and a quick analysis is in  order. His statement, “The theory of human induced global warming is not science because research is based on a pre-ordained conclusion, huge bodies of evidence are ignored, and the analytical procedures [climate models] are treated as evidence,” is worth some analysis.

I interpret the first clause as saying that research into AGW is aimed at confirming a conclusion. That statement hangs out there with no visible means of support. None is given here by Plimer, and evidence does not support the conclusion.

It would be helpful if Plimer  would cite some of the huge bodies of evidence that are being ignored.

And finally, no. Climate models are not treated as evidence. Climate models are matched against the evidence and corrected to better conform. Furthermore, when the evidence is examined we find the planet (oceans, atmosphere) is getting warmer year after year. See the above graph.

Plimer has more to say, part of which I will excerpt:

Point (ii) has shown to be invalid on all time scales. There is no doubt that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. However, the main greenhouse gas is water vapour. The first 100 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 have a significant effect on atmospheric temperature, whereas any increase from the current 400 ppm will have an insignificant effect. Furthermore, because CO2 has a short residence time in the atmosphere, it is naturally sequestered into the oceans, life, or rocks in less than a decade. In fact, only one molecule of every 85,000 in the atmosphere is CO2 of human origin, and yet we are asked to believe that this one molecule drives hugely complex climate change systems. We are also asked to believe that the 32 molecules of CO2 of natural origin in every 85,000 molecules play no part in driving climate change.

Abbot, Dr John; James Delingpole, Dr Robert M. Carter ~ Rupert Darwall ~; Donna Laframboise, Dr Christopher Essex ~ Dr Stewart W. Franks ~ Dr Kesten C. Green ~; Dr Richard S. Lindzen, Nigel Lawson ~ Bernard Lewin ~; Dr Patrick J. Michaels ~ Dr Alan Moran, Dr Jennifer Marohasy ~ Dr Ross McKitrick ~; Nova, Jo; Dr Willie Soon, Dr Garth W. Paltridge ~ Dr Ian Plimer ~; Steyn, Mark; Watts, Anthony; Andrew Bolt; Dr J. Scott Armstrong. Climate Change: The Facts (Kindle Locations 201-208). Stockade Books. Kindle Edition.

“However, the main greenhouse gas is water vapour.” Yes! What of it?  Water vapor in the atmosphere contributes immensely to keeping the planet warm. The effect of carbon-dioxide is an add-on.

“The first 100 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 have a significant effect on atmospheric temperature, whereas any increase from the current 400 ppm will have an insignificant effect.” This statement would be helped if some substantiation were provided.

“Furthermore, because CO2 has a short residence time in the atmosphere, it is naturally sequestered into the oceans, life, or rocks in less than a decade.” [Emphasis added] This is contrary to known facts. The life span of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is in the order of 200 years.

“In fact, only one molecule of every 85,000 in the atmosphere is CO2 of human origin.” I don’t get the same number that Plimer does. Starting with 280 ppm CO2 we are now at 400 ppm, due to human activity. That’s a 120 ppm human contribution, or one molecule for every 8333 in the atmosphere. Where did the 85,000 come from?

The remainder of Plimer’s statement is an argument from incredulity, something Plimer must have seen a lot in his debates with creationists. You don’t believe something, so it must be false.

Anyhow, Moore and White choose citations from sources that fit their purpose, apparently with little regard for fact.

To oversimplify, it is said that the relatively small increment of man-made carbon dioxide added to the natural atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide since the Industrial Revolution disrupts the natural dynamics of climate. Adding more carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere could lead to some warming, but could the relatively small additional increment of man-made carbon dioxide overpower the natural variables of climate, leading to planetary catastrophe?

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1502-1505). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yes, the rise in temperature due to  AGW is small, something in the order of 1 – 3 C. People, that’s  the problem we are talking about. That is only through the end of  the 21st century, and it assumes additional concentrations of CO2. Take another look at the graph above. I see a rise of 1 C since I was born. The effects are already noticeable. Please let me know if you do not think this is a problem.

In a 2009 scandal popularly known as “Climategate,” e-mails between key authors of the IPCC’s 2008 assessment report revealed an even darker side of the IPCC: active efforts to suppress, destroy, and manipulate data, to exaggerate temperature records and to prevent the publication of works by dissenting scientists in academic journals. 32 Several investigations followed, and some leading scientists called for a dissolution of the IPCC, but the UN-driven process limped on.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1520-1524). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Really? A deeper look at the supposed scandal is worthwhile.

Eight committees investigated the allegations and published reports, finding no evidence of fraud or scientific misconduct. However, the reports called on the scientists to avoid any such allegations in the future by taking steps to regain public confidence in their work, for example by opening up access to their supporting data, processing methods and software, and by promptly honouring freedom of information requests. The scientific consensus that global warming is occurring as a result of human activity remained unchanged throughout the investigations.

AGW skeptics continue to cite this story, indicating this is one of their best arguments going. My take: a good argument must be made of stronger stuff.

For instance, the way the human body burns the chemical energy contained in food is similar to the way the internal combustion engine of an automobile burns the chemical energy in gasoline.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1544-1546). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Again, no.

This makes the concentration of carbon dioxide in human expiration about forty thousand parts per million (ppm)! The current atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is now about four hundred ppm, including man-made contributions from the combustion of fossil fuels. 39 Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide in 1850 are thought to have been about 280 ppm.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1562-1565). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

This is a strange argument. I wish somebody would explain what Moore is getting at.

The earth’s location in our solar system is also essential to its ability to support life.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1565-1566). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Really, again. And this has what to do with the discussion?

“That the sun influences our climate should not be surprising . . . when we consider that 99.98 percent of the total energy of the world’s climate comes from the sun.”

Oddly, the UN’s IPCC, whose “science” is the authoritative support for climate policy to supplant fossil fuels, largely dismisses the sun’s effect on climate. The IPCC assumes that the increased man-made emissions of carbon dioxide over the previous two centuries overpower the influence of the sun— and of all other natural climactic variables, such as water vapor, clouds, and aerosols— on climate.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1574-1579). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

The reference is to a book by Luning and Vahrenholt, and this seems to be the quote of interest.

What makes us so sure that the sun, which is dismissed by the IPCC, plays a central role in climate events? That is relatively easy to answer. Geological climate reconstructions exhaustively show that temperatures on earth have followed solar activit y for thousands of years. That is not surprising when we consider that 99.98 per cent of the total energy of the world’s climate comes from the sun. Would it not make sense to suspect that even small changes in solar energy could have huge impacts?

Luning, Sebastian; Vahrenholt, Fritz. The Neglected Sun: Why the Sun Precludes Climate Catastrophe (Kindle Locations 576-580). The Heartland Institute. Kindle Edition.

What is odd is that Moore is telling us the IPCC discounts the sun’s effects on global warming. Actually, all of AGW is due to the sun. Somewhere it has gotten lost that AGW results from the action of additional CO2 trapping additional heat from the sun.

What is not odd is the publisher of the Luning and Vahrenholt book is the Heartland Institute.

Human Activity Trumps the Power of the Sun?

To get a sense of the power of the sun, consider that it burns over six hundred million metric tons of hydrogen every second.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1592-1593). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Moore and White continue to impress us with the power of the sun, deliberately missing the irrelevance of this argument.

Major advances in the scientific understanding of energy and its engineering applications have occurred only within the past two centuries. Although we know more about how energy operates in the natural world and how it can be harnessed for human purposes, we still lack a clear understanding of what energy is. Is it a particle or a wave?

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1603-1605). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yikes! Is there a physicist in the house? Energy is a particle or a wave? Does Moore want to take another cut at that statement? Reading through the book, I get an indication of why the Kansas City Star no longer prints Moore’s contributions.

And the agent is the most fundamental natural energy conversion on the earth, commonly known as photosynthesis catalyzed by atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1617-1618). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Now we need help from a chemistry major. Strictly speaking, carbon dioxide does not catalyze photosynthesis. It is consumed in the process.

Many machines, or “prime movers” as engineers call them, that convert energy from one form to another, like the turbines used by modern thermal power plants, can convert 99 percent of the turbine’s mechanical energy into electricity.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1645-1646). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

While likely true, also irrelevant. The conversion of mechanical energy to electrical energy is a notably efficient process. The turbine turns a generator rotor, driving an electric current through the coils. What is critical to the operation of a turbine generating system is the efficiency of converting available energy from the coal (oil, natural gas) into mechanical energy. This is much less than 98%. And none of it matters to the topic under discussion.

Many senior scientists in the field conclude that it is time to declare the IPCC’s methodology and computer models a failure. A portion of the federal research funds should be allocated to those highly credentialed scientists— now marginalized as skeptics— to assess the IPCC’s work over the last several decades and to offer alternative theories and evidence.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1657-1660). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yes, get rid of the scientists who are coming up with conclusions you disagree with and get in  some of your own people. Changing the researcher is the best way to change the facts. Except, it does not work that way. The facts are going to remain the same.

Natural carbon dioxide accounts for a minuscule 0.039 percent of the atmospheric gasses we actually breathe at the tropospheric level.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1668-1669). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Yes, I know. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” However, is it too much to ask Moore not to state the concentration of CO2 is 400 ppm and then a few pages later state it’s 399? And wait! He’s calling the 399 ppm “natural CO2,” when 120 ppm of that is due to human activity. Forget about consistency.

Governments and the private sector have already directed hundreds of billions of dollars to ridding the world of carbon. Betting on the success of this effort would be a highly risky investment. Carbon, after all, is defined as “the chemical basis of all known life.” 55 Have people forgotten this fact?

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1686-1688). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

I know of one household where this is not forgotten. What seems to be forgotten by Moore is that the conversation is supposed to be about carbon in the atmosphere in the form of CO2 produced by human activity.

The global warming alarmists and many educated elites have lost their faith in man’s ability to adapt and to tame his natural surroundings. Making carbon the enemy of the planet means that mankind is the enemy of the planet. Our bones, blood, and flesh are made of carbon.

Moore, Stephen; White, Kathleen Hartnett. Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Kindle Locations 1710-1712). Regnery Publishing. Kindle Edition.

My impression: this is the level of thinking that went into  the writing of this book.

Am I allowed to take a small victory lap and then head off for a nap? No, I still have to read chapters 5 through 11. It promises to be fun. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

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The Years of Living Stupidly http://ntskeptics.org/2018/02/08/the-years-of-living-stupidly-3/ Thu, 08 Feb 2018 14:12:25 +0000 http://ntskeptics.org/?p=1016 Continue reading ]]> Reposted from Skeptical Analysis

Did I mention I previously attended meetings of a creationist group in Dallas? I’m sure I did. Here’s more of the same.

There’s a group called the Metroplex Institute of Origin Science, MIOS, and they had program meetings on a Tuesday night most every month. Often times there were presentations on why creation is true and evolution is wrong, not only wrong but usually evil. These were what I call creationists of the first type. They hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible, which is the origin of the creation story. So they need to continually confirm the truth of biblical stories, including the famous flood of Noah. Also other stories. Including the story of Joshua.

A presentation one night was a bizarre explanation of how the story of Joshua at the Battle of Jericho has been proved true. I have a copy of the handouts from the meeting, and here it is, as verbatim as my ability allows:

THE SUN DID STAND STILL

Did you know that the space program is busy proving that what has been called “myth” in the Bible is true? Mr. Harold Hill, President of the Curtis Engine Co. in Baltimore, Maryland, and a consultant in the space program, relates the following development:

“I think one of the most amazing things that God has for us today happened recently to our astronauts and space scientists at Green Belt, Maryland. They were checking the position of the sun, moon, and planets out in space where they would be 100 years and 1,000 years from now. We have to know this so we don’t send a satellite up and have it bump into something later on in its orbits. We have to lay out the orbits in terms of the life of the satellite, and where the planets will be so the whole thing will not bog down! They ran the computer measurement back and forth over the centuries and it came to a halt. The computer stopped and put up a red signal, which meant that there was something wrong either with the information fed into it or with the results as compared to the standards. They called in the service department to check it out and they said, “It’s perfect.” The head of operations said, “What’s wrong?” “Well, they have found there is a day missing in space in elapsed time.” They scratched their heads and tore their hair. There was no answer!

One religious fellow on the team said, “You know, one time I was in Sunday School and they talked about the sun standing still.” They didn’t believe him; but they didn’t have any other answer so they said, “Show us.” He got a Bible and went back to the Book of Joshua where they found a pretty ridiculous statement for anybody who has ‘common sense’. There they found the Lord saying to Joshua, “Fear them not; for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.” Joshua was concerned because he was surrounded by the enemy and if darkness fell they would overpower them. So Joshua asked the Lord to make the sun stand still! That’s right — “The sun stood still, and the moon stayed . . . and pasted not to go down about a whole day.” Joshua 10:8,12,13. The space men said, “There is the missing day!” They checked the computers going back into the time it was written and found it was close but not close enough. The elapsed time that was missing back in Joshua’s day was 23 hours and 20 minutes — not a whole day. They read the Bible and there it was -­”about (approximately) a day.”

These little words in the Bible are important. But they were still in trouble because if you cannot account for 40 minutes you’ll be in trouble 1,000 years from now. Forty minutes had to be found because it can be multiplied many times over in orbits. This religious fellow also remembered somwhere in the Bible where it said the sun went BACKWARDS. The space men told him he was out of his mind. But they got the Book and read these words in II Kings: Hezakiah, on his death-bed, was visited by the Prophet Isaiah who told him that he was not going to die. Hezekiah asked for a sign as proof. Isaiah said, “Do you want the sun to go ahead ten degrees?” Hezekiah said, “It’s nothing for the sun to go ahead ten degrees, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees.” II Kings 20: 9-11. Isaiah spoke to the Lord and the Lord brought the shadow ten degrees BACKWARDS! Ten degrees is exactly 40 minutes! Twenty-three hours and 20 minutes in Joshua, plus 40 minutes in II Kings make the missing 24 hours the space travelers had to log in the logbook as being the missing day in the universe! Isn’t that amazing? Our God is rubbing their noses in His Truth!”

The above article was copied from “The Evening Star”, Spencer, Indiana. It is verified by Mr. Harold Hill, who gave permission for reprinting, February 22, 1970.

References Cited for “The Missing Day in Time”

Did the Sun Stand Still? Tract No. 1211. North Syracuse, N.Y.: Book Fellowship [n.d., 7 pp.] *Mentions Irwin H. Linton, A Lawyer Examines the Bible.

Apologetics. By Harry Conn. Minneapolis: Men for Missions [tract, n.d., 9 pp.]

The Missing Day /Behind the Missing Day. Minneapolis: Osterhus Pub. House [tract, n.d., 4 pp.]

Harold Hill, as told to Irene Burk Harrell. How to Live Like a King’s Kid. Plainfield, N.J.: Logos International, 1974. Ch. 13, “How to Find the Missing Day,” pp. 65-75. On pp. 75-77: “Book Report ‘Long Day of Joshua’ C. A. L. Totten,” by V. L. Westberg, August 1970, Sonoma, Cal.

Joshua’s Long Day. In Five Minutes with the Bible & Science. Daily Reading Magazine. Supplement to Bible-Science Newsletter. Vol. VIII: No. 5 (May, 1978). Caldwell, Id. [2 pp.] *Mentions Robert L. Odem, “The Lost Day of Joshua,” Ministry (November/December, 1970), and J. B. Dimbleby, All Past Time.

Harry Rimmer. The Harmony of Science and Scripture. [1927] 4th edn., Berne, Ind.: Berne Witness Company, 1937.

Charles A. L. Totten. Joshua’s Long Day and the Dial of Ahaz. A Scientific Vindication. [1890] Study No. 2 of “The Our Race Series—The Voice of History.” Merrimac, Mass.: Destiny Publishers, 1968 edn. with a foreword by Howard B. Rand.

Dan A. Oren. Joining the Club: A History of Jews and Yale.New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.

“A Clergyman Insane. He is a Graduate of Yale and one of Lieut. Toten’s [sic] Disciples.” The New York Times. 26 June 1891. p.l.

“No Rest for Totten.” The New York Times. 13 March 1892. p. 4. “Lieut. Totten’s Vagaries.” The New York Times. 30 March 1892. p. 1

*I have not yet located these three publications, mentioned in works consulted. I would be grateful for information about them, and for copies of “Missing Day” fliers or tracts.

Jan Harold Brunvand Department of English University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT 84112

All right. You’ve read it. So, maybe you didn’t read it. Maybe you read part of it. Let’s take it from there. I was in the room when this presentation was handed out. There were fully functional adults in the room. And nobody laughed. Nobody. I must have held my breath. How about some Skeptical Analysis. Where to start? Let’s start with this bit of unreason:

They ran the computer measurement back and forth over the centuries and it came to a halt. The computer stopped and put up a red signal, which meant that there was something wrong either with the information fed into it or with the results as compared to the standards.

The computer stopped? Really? Why? Computers don’t just stop. They get finished, and they pause, waiting for something new to come along. The computer put up a red signal? This massively intriguing. I am, most of us are, accustomed to error messages on computers. They tend to be in the order of:

  • Unexpected “{” in line 32.
  • File not found.
  • Segmentation fault—core dumped.
  • Blue screen of death.

Some forgiveness may be due. Permission for reprinting was given in 1970, so the events preceded Windows 3.2. Maybe a red light (flashing or not) was all that was available.

Anyhow, the explanation for the computer’s stopping comes off the rails quickly. There was a missing day? Really? How does a day turn up missing? What information could the computer possibly have been chewing on to make it conclude there was a missing day? Yeah, that’s curious. Fortunately I have done some of this stuff. I took celestial mechanics and interplanetary navigation in college, and I also did a term project much like the one described above. It goes like this.

You provide the data for the simulation. There are celestial bodies with these masses in these positions and traveling at these velocities. You press the start key, and the simulation launches, predicting where the bodies will be in one-minute (or whatever) intervals. One of the inputs includes a condition that signals the simulation to stop. A condition such as “Simulate 500 hours.” You can easily run the simulation backwards in time. Just reverse the velocities of all the bodies and hit the start key. The simulation will tell you where the bodies were in the past. That is what the NASA simulation must have been doing. And NASA and astronomers and curious amateurs like me do this sort of thing. For one thing, you might want to know where the moon’s shadow crossed the Earth’s surface. Here’s one:

12 June 2000 BC 03:14:51 5 Total 1.0733 06m 37s 6.0°N 33.3°W 247 km (153 mi)

I don’t know if anybody was around to see that, but we can all be sure it happened. Celestial mechanics is a well-developed science.

And no, there is no missing day.

The remainder of the story requires scrutiny. I will scrutinize partially.

The above article was copied from “The Evening Star”, Spencer, Indiana. It is verified by Mr. Harold Hill, who gave permission for reprinting, February 22, 1970.

Permission was given in February 22, 1970. Compare that with this:

Harold Hill, as told to Irene Burk Harrell. How to Live Like a King’s Kid. Plainfield, N.J.: Logos International, 1974. Ch. 13, “How to Find the Missing Day,” pp. 65-75. On pp. 75-77: “Book Report ‘Long Day of Joshua’ C. A. L. Totten,” by V. L. Westberg, August 1970, Sonoma, Cal.

Permission was given to reprint prior to when Harold Hill told the story to Irene Burk Harrell. I will not belabor. Feel free to spot the additional discrepancies.

I was able to verify the “Totten” references appearing in the New York Times back in the 19th century. Apparently there was a C.A.L. Totten back then, and he caught the attention of the Times often. This is from Wikipedia:

Charles Adelle Lewis Totten (February 3, 1851 – April 12, 1908) was an American military officer, a professor of military tactics, a prolific writer, and an influential early advocate of British Israelism.

Finally, there is this item’s signatory:

Jan Harold Brunvand Department of English University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT 84112

We know Jan Brunvand. He’s the person who created the concept of the urban legend. Is it possible “The Sun Did Stand Still” is a sample from his studies blown up into something to impress fellow creationists? I shudder to think.

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Dino Trax http://ntskeptics.org/2018/01/31/dino-trax/ Wed, 31 Jan 2018 21:15:45 +0000 http://ntskeptics.org/?p=1011 Continue reading ]]> That Old Time Creationism

Some of us remember a few years back when creationism was the hottest thing going, and all the skeptics wanted to pile on—get out, meet the creationists, write a funny journal. Yeah, those creationists don’t get around locally so much anymore. But we still have our memories.

The above is from 1990—seems like yesterday. I heard there was this Metroplex Institution of Origin Science (MIOS) and I hauled myself over to their Tuesday night meetings, once a month at the time. About this time a guy at work gave me a pamphlet. He’s a creationist of  the first order. The pamphlet is Dino Trax, and I need to explain. That’s a cute way of spelling dino tracks, rather dinosaur tracks. The allusion is to the dinosaur tracks still visible in the Paluxy River, a few miles from where I was born.

Beginning maybe 40 years ago creationists started selling the idea there were human footprints in the limestone river bottom as well as dinosaur tracks. The implication was (is) that dinosaurs made some tracks, and people made some tracks, in the same soft limestone mud, about the same time.

The problem, of course, is that modern geology and modern paleontology inform us that dinosaurs died out about 65 million years ago, and humans didn’t show up until something like three million years ago. Were that true, it could be demonstrated, that  the underpinnings of modern science are wrong, and the creationists have had it right all the time.

Anyhow, Dino Trax is intended to provide all the straight skinny you need to convince yourself the Bible, particularly Genesis, is true, and also much of what you were taught in school about geology and the age of the earth is false. During my visits i garnered several copies of these tracts, and have since recycled them, retaining scanned copies.

What is interesting about this edition is it introduces the Percival Davis and Dean H. Kenyon creationist school supplement titled “Of Pandas And People: the Central Question of Biological Origins,” which book came out the year before. The Intelligent Design controversy was just beginning to heat up in those days. They were heady times.

This edition of Dino Trax contains a section on “MIOS Books.” They are creationist books you can order through MIOS. Pandas is included, and it lists for $18.95, including a teacher’s guide, and it’s intended for use by high school students. Here’s what Dino Trax has to say about the Pandas book:

Designed as a supplement to High School Biology text books. Provides a scientific alternative to conventional evolutionary propaganda. Its academic integrity has earned it endorsements from a wide range of representative scientists and educators nation-wide.

I note use of the term “academic integrity.” Working with creationists provided my first encounter with purveyors of fake news.

As we all know, the Pandas drama swelled before collapsing 15 years later. A board member attempted to introduce the book into the science curriculum in Plano, Texas, and much push back from parents and teachers ensued. The North Texas Skeptics weighed in on the side of the citizens, and Ginny Vaughn had produced and distributed a passel of name badges for people to wear to the public discussion. Here’s what they look like:

There was perhaps more than one school board member pushing for the Pandas book that night, and I am told the view they received was a sea of No-Pandas badges. The steam went out of that road machine, and there was not much more said about it.

The issue came to a head ten years later, when two school officials attempted to crowd Pandas onto the study list in a Pennsylvania town. This time there was a law suit, and the ACLU took the case. Federal Judge John E. Jones III, in a 129-page scorching, concluded that Intelligent design is a religious movement with no basis in science. The school district ate the cost of the trial, and the official miscreants shucked off all responsibility.

And Dino Trax was there when it all began.

The few copies I was able to snag have been scanned to PDF for all interested in viewing a bit of history. I have the copies, and I am copying them to the NTS archives. Send an email if you want to read some ancient history.

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The Years of Living Stupidly http://ntskeptics.org/2018/01/22/the-years-of-living-stupidly-2/ Mon, 22 Jan 2018 15:36:48 +0000 http://ntskeptics.org/?p=1006 Continue reading ]]> Re-posted from Skeptical Analysis

Number 2 in a series

Hot damn! This is getting good. Yesterday I kicked off this series with a review of a post (by somebody) on Evolution News, the blog site hosted by the Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture. That’s the group doing the heavy lifting to promote the Intelligent Design version of creationism in this country. It so happens I picked up on three such postings, courtesy of a Facebook friend who linked them on his time line. Here’s another:

Submit Nominations for 2018 Censor of the Year Now!

We’re about a month away from Darwin Day, February 12. It’s the great man’s birthday, celebrated by Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture as Academic Freedom Day. We prefer this alternative framing of the occasion because the freedom to debate Charles Darwin’s scientific legacy is continually endangered by intimidation, threats to careers and livelihoods, fake news and fake science, and subtle and totally unsubtle forms of censorship.

All right! This is going to be good. The language of Evolution News is picking up the tone of rhetoric in today’s political world. I particularly enjoy seeing “intimidation, threats to careers and livelihoods, fake news and fake science.” Also “unsubtle forms of censorship.” This writer is prepared to lay it on thick. Who could ask for more?

The writer is identified, something often missing. He’s David Klinghoffer, somebody I enjoy reading. Here’s his Wikipedia entry:

David Klinghoffer is an Orthodox Jewish author and essayist, and a proponent of intelligent design. He is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute, the organization that is the driving force behind the intelligent design movement. He is also a frequent contributor to National Review, and a former columnist for the Jewish weekly newspaper The Forward, to which he still contributes occasional essays.

And there’s more:

Klinghoffer has published a series of articles, editorial columns, and letters to the editor in both Jewish and non-Jewish conservative publications seeking to promote opposition to Darwinian views of evolution, stating that science can include a support for an underlying intelligent design in the development of living things and the universe as a whole, and, indeed, that some scientists hold to such views. Larry Yudelson has responded, in a piece directed at Klinghoffer, that rabbinical Judaism has accepted evolutionary theory for more than a century, and that Judaism has never rejected science. Yudelson also argues that Klinghoffer’s employer, the Discovery Institute, is a Christian think tank that is funded by organizations that seek to promote a “Christian-friendly world view”

Surprise, surprise! Yes, people, Jews do support creationism. Don’t forget, Jews invented this fantasy to begin with. Christians and Muslims since picked up the torch, and especially Christians are now the big promoters. Anyhow, David Klinghoffer has more to say from his Evolution News post. He is asking  readers to submit nominations for Censor of the Year (COTY). Here’s what he has to say about the great injustice being perpetrated:

Darwinists do not go so far as to burn books by proponents of intelligent design. However, their actual tactics in suppressing open debate are far more effective because, for the most part, they are practiced behind a veil of secrecy.

Remember, as Sarah Chaffee pointed out last week, most Darwinist censorship works via self-censorship. In academic and other contexts, the intimidation need not be explicit. It is practiced quietly, without drawing attention to itself. The victims, the censored, understandably don’t want to imperil their work, their income, or their reputation. So they keep quiet both about their doubts on Darwinian evolution and about the power structure in their institutions that maintains the informal speech code.

Yes, that’s it. Darwinists (scientists) intimidate the opposition by subtle and nefarious means, such means not being elaborated here, but perhaps in the Sarah Chaffee post that is linked above. I invite you to follow the link and read the sordid details. She tells of professors who give private talks promoting Intelligent Design, who must disclaim up front they do not speak for their academic institutions. Additionally she writes:

Or just take a look at our pictures on Evolution News of the Summer Seminars on Intelligent Design. You may see the very tops of students’ heads, no more. Not their faces, not an inch of their profile. Those we carefully crop out. This is to keep participants’ identities a secret. It’s so their career prospects will not be harmed by an association with intelligent design.

Anyhow, the issue is that people in the know who want to criticize Darwinian evolution and more so, promote Intelligent Design, find themselves ridiculed by colleagues and others. Yes ridiculed. Coerced into keeping quiet. To be sure, I have my own characterization of what’s happening:

Typically a candidate for tenure at a college or university must pass review by his peers. Tenure is almost a lifetime assurance of employment and can be denied if your peers do not look forward to working with you. I have stated elsewhere that there are only so many times you can show up for the party with your fly unzipped before you are no longer invited.

Sadly it is true. If you say stuff that is foolish enough for long enough, people around you will start to conclude there is something wrong with your thinking process. And therein lies the problem with Klinghoffer’s premise and that of the rest of the Intelligent Design  crowd. This is undue criticism, undue intimidation, only if Intelligent Design has a basis in fact. The problem for Klinghoffer et al is that Intelligent Design really is creationism dressed up to look like science. And thinking people recognize this. And they act appropriately, if unkindly, in response.

There are more of these. Keep reading.

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The Years of Living Stupidly http://ntskeptics.org/2018/01/22/the-years-of-living-stupidly/ Mon, 22 Jan 2018 15:30:55 +0000 http://ntskeptics.org/?p=1003 Continue reading ]]> Re-posted from Skeptical Analysis

Time to start a new series.

A fellow skeptic keeps posting stuff from Evolution News, and my Facebook feed picks it up. Evolution News is the blog of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, an enterprise started up by creationist Stephen C. Meyer in 1996, and he is currently the director. I’ve spent a lot of time the past two years trying to  ignore output from the Discovery Institute, but something about this post brought me back. Here’s what it’s about:

Adam and the Genome and Human-Ape Genetic Similarity

Evolution News @DiscoveryCSC January 18, 2018, 7:54 AM

In Adam and the Genome, Trinity Western University biologist Dennis Venema covers many other subjects besides what you might expect from the book’s title. We have been reviewing this material by the prominent theistic evolutionist and BioLogos author; find the series so far here.

Thus, Venema cites the high degree of genetic similarities between insulin genes in humans and other mammals as evidence for our common ancestry. He writes:

[W]e can see that there is good evidence to support the hypothesis that these two present-day genes come from a common ancestral population in the distant past … What we observe for this short segment is that the gorilla sequence is identical to that of the human except for one letter; the chimpanzee is identical except for three; and the orangutan is identical except for five. As before, this level of identity far exceeds what is needed for functional insulin, and strongly supports the hypothesis that humans share a common ancestral population with great apes. Indeed, the similarities between these sequences make English and West Frisian look like very distant relatives by comparison.

(Adam and the Genome, p. 30)

Yes, it appears Evolution News is having a go at biologist Dennis Venema’s new book (2017) Adam and the Genome. What the Discovery Institute wants to convince us is that life forms and all we see about us could not have come about by natural processes. A creator, an intelligent entity of some sort, must be behind it. That’s what’s going on here. Here Evolution News is digging at Venema’s evolutionary explanation for the similarity between the human genome and that of some of our close relations. Venema is using the origin of languages to make a comparison. I have the Kindle edition of the book, which allows me to provide the context of the above:

In looking at the sequences above, we can see that there is good evidence to support the hypothesis that these two present-day genes come from a common ancestral population in the distant past, just as “butter, bread, and green cheese” and “bûter, brea, en griene tsiis” do. The principle is the same: they are far more similar to each other than they are functionally required to be. In principle, any words could stand for these concepts in either English or West Frisian; similarly, any matched pair of hormone and receptor could function to regulate blood sugar levels in humans or dogs. Yet what we observe strongly suggests, in both cases, that the present-day sequences are the modified descendants of what was once a common sequence.

Now that we understand the redundancy of the codon code, we can see that for genes this rabbit hole goes even deeper. Many of the amino acids in insulin can be coded for by alternate codons. For example, “Leu” in the diagram indicates the amino acid leucine, for which there are six possible codons. This short snippet of the insulin gene codes for nine leucines, and eight of them use exactly the same codon in dogs and humans (and the ninth differs by only one letter). For these nine codons, there are 96 (= 531,441) possible combinations that will correctly code for just these nine leucines, to say nothing of the other 101 amino acids found in insulin, most of which can be encoded for by multiple codons. Is it merely by chance that what we observe in these two species is only one letter different for these nine codons? A simpler, more reasonable explanation (or what a scientist would call a more “parsimonious” explanation) is that these sequences come from a common ancestral population and have been slightly modified along the way.

Of course, scientists have sequenced the genomes of many other species, so we can test this hypothesis by looking at a larger data set. Humans are not thought to have shared a common ancestral population with dogs for a very long time; other species are thought to be our much closer relatives due to other shared features, such as anatomy. When the pre-Darwin biologist Carl Linnaeus (1707– 78) drew up his taxonomy of animal life (i.e., a system that organized life into categories), he famously placed humans and great apes in a category he called “primate,” from the Latin indicating “prime” or “first.” While he was certainly not thinking about common ancestry, he naturally recognized that these species (such as chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans) have a closer anatomical affinity to humans than other animals. In light of such an affinity, evolutionary theory predicts that these species share a more recent common ancestral population with humans than nonprimate species, such as dogs, do. Therefore, their gene sequences should be a closer match to human sequences than what we observe in dogs. Not surprisingly, this is exactly what we observe. Let’s return to our example of the insulin gene and extend our comparison of the same short stretch to include three great apes (fig. 2.6).

What we observe for this short segment is that the gorilla sequence is identical to that of the human except for one letter; the chimpanzee is identical except for three; and the orangutan is identical except for five. As before, this level of identity far exceeds what is needed for functional insulin, and strongly supports the hypothesis that humans share a common ancestral population with great apes. Indeed, the similarities between these sequences make English and West Frisian look like very distant relatives by comparison.

McKnight, Scot; Venema, Dennis R.. Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (p. 30-31). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I highlighted the portions the author reprinted from the original. Use of this partial excerpt is legitimate, since it does not change Venema’s original meaning and intent. What is to be found in the complete text is a fuller explanation, plus a tie-in to Venema’s language analogy.

The history of languages makes for an interesting study, and for English readers there is particular significance. The book The Story of English, by Robert MacNeilRobert McCrum, and William Cran is a companion book to the PBS television series of the same name. I have a similar book, The Stories of English, by David Crystal. It rehashes the history of English in much the same way:

We can note both of these processes happening for the Germanic group of languages during the period. In the late second century, the Goths moved into Europe from southern Scandinavia, eventually arriving in the Mediterranean region. During the fourth century, Bishop Wulfilas translated the Bible into Gothic. The language had changed so much during this short time that scholars now consider it to be a distinct, eastern branch of the Germanic family. On the other hand, the westward movement of peoples along the north European coast and into England resulted in a group of languages which had much greater similarities. English and Frisian, indeed, were so close that they would probably have been mutually intelligible for many centuries, especially in Kent. Even today, though mutual intelligibility has long since gone, English people listening to modern Frisian sense a familiarity with its expression which is not present in the case of Dutch or German. Genetic anthropologists have discovered a significant Y-chromosome identity, too (p. 31). 3

Crystal, David. The Stories of English (pp. 20-21). The Overlook Press. Kindle Edition.

I once visited the northwest coast of the European continent and was struck by the similarity. At a company cafeteria I picked up a coupon good for two desserts and had no trouble reading it, even though it was written in the local  language.

Anyhow, the background is fascinating, but the intent of Evolution News is to demonstrate that Venema is wrong—genetic similarity does not indicate common descent. Evolution News sometime ago quit identifying authors, but whoever posted this item failed to get the message. Traditionally, Intelligent Design, a concoction of the Discovery Institute, does not rule out common ancestry. These people tend to allow for that, but they also want us to know that natural, and especially random, process are not at work. The whole line of descent process was managed by an intelligent entity, yet unnamed. With some exceptions:

If the Associated Press writer confused a challenge to common descent with “Intelligent Design,” it could be because Intelligent Design proponents with the CSC on occasion do challenge common descent. For example, Ray Bohlin is a CSC fellow and supposedly a spokesman for Intelligent Design. At the Texas Faith Network conference in Dallas on 3 November 2003 Bohlin addressed a large room full of people and stated that common descent was true for all life forms, except humans. You can imagine the confusion of all in attendance.

Retired law professor Phillip Johnson is considered the godfather of the modern Intelligent Design  movement. At a symposium titled “Darwinism: Scientific Inference or Philosophical Preference,” held on the campus of Southern Methodist University in March 199, .I had a chance to talk with Johnson and get his views firsthand. He expressed some surprising points for an opponent of evolution:

n 1992 Johnson attended the conference on “Darwinism: Scientific Inference or Philosophical Preference” at Southern Methodist University (SMU). The conference was inspired by Jon Buell, a local creationist. Buell’s Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE) published the book Pandas and People, an early work pushing Intelligent Design. At the conference the departure from young-Earth creationism was stark. Johnson and Buell were standing together when I asked them the question. Their answer was significant. Yes, the Earth and the universe really are billions of years old, and yes, present life forms share a common ancestry. These were not your grandfather’s creationists.

Here is a copy of the proceedings.

Anyhow, Evolution News is now having none of that. Continuing from the post:

The obvious answer to this argument is common design — that humans, gorillas, and orangutans were designed based upon a common blueprint. This would explain genetic similarity between humans and other species quite well.

Then the author presents an additional excerpt and promptly goes off the rails with this:

There he goes again, telling God what he can and cannot do. It’s a bit of chutzpah, don’t you think? He’s also telling God what God must intend when he does certain things. In particular, Venema is telling God that if he designs two species to be similar then God must thereby intend to tell us that those species are related through common ancestry. And if those species aren’t really related, then Venema tells God that he is being deceitful.

But what if Venema is putting thoughts into God’s head that aren’t there? What if God could have entirely different purposes for designing two species as similar — purposes that have nothing to do with trying to communicate some message to humans about relatedness or unrelatedness?

Oh, Jesus! You gave away the store. Intelligent Design is not supposed to be about God. It’s supposed to be science, real science, well-researched science, science that reveals there is a Designer, not identified and definitely not identified as G*d. G*d is the word that keeps Intelligent Design out of public classrooms, which is where its proponents, despite much public posturing, in their heart of hearts want it to be. Possibly we are now seeing the offshoot of all those years of living stupidly.

That covered, there is more of interest. The post dips into  a discussion of The Language of God, a book by Francis Collins:

Francis Sellers Collins (born April 14, 1950) is an American physician-geneticist noted for his discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the Human Genome Project. He is director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, United States.

Before being appointed director of the NIH, Collins led the Human Genome Project and other genomics research initiatives as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), one of the 27 institutes and centers at NIH. Before joining NHGRI, he earned a reputation as a gene hunter at the University of Michigan. He has been elected to the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science.

In order to continue following the discussion I obtained a Kindle edition and will be covering that in future posts. Also, and free on Amazon, is Intelligent Design the Final Proof of God. Go for it. Kindle readers are free for tablets and computers.

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The Quintessence of Dumbshitia http://ntskeptics.org/2018/01/18/the-quintessence-of-dumbshitia/ Thu, 18 Jan 2018 21:09:43 +0000 http://ntskeptics.org/?p=998 Continue reading ]]> Reposted from Skeptical Analysis

Number 4 in a continuing thread

As a refresher, Dumbshitia is an imaginary world or state of mind. It’s where you go when you take on a load of dumb shit so malodorous you need to live apart from thinking people.

This came to mind a few days ago when I was cleaning out boxes stacked in my closet. Some stuff was too valuable to be relegated to the recycle bin, so I scanned it in, converting pounds of paper to milligrams of flash memory. Included were a number of news clippings from (apparently) 1994. I’m guessing that year, because these meetings were held 29 September through 2 October, and recollections are the series culminated on a Sunday.

Anyhow, we were treated to the wisdom of Thomas Warren, who I did not know at the time would come to have his own Wikipedia entry:

Thomas Bratton Warren (August 1, 1920 – August 8, 2000) was a professor of philosophy of religion and apologetics at the Harding School of Theology in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, and was an important philosopher and theologian in the Churches of Christ during the latter half of the twentieth century.

There is more. Had I known this I would have been prepared to be impressed. However, I was presented only a surface view, and came immediately to conclude Thomas B. Warren was the Quintessence of Dumbshitia. Witness the image at the top. This appeared in the local newspaper, I’m guessing The Dallas Morning News, and it promised a grand unveiling of wisdom to whomever would partake. How could I resist? I went, possibly twice, and had my preconceptions confirmed. Dr. Warren, in person, revealed to be as fact-deprived as his promotionals promised, and sanctimonious besides.

First take in, please, the implied argument put forth in the above sketch. There is a mother (human) and a baby. Dr. Warren wants to challenge biological evolution. He (cartoon and the headline) proposes a dichotomy. Either evolution is false, or there was a human baby born to a non-human mother. My observation, viewing the people who crowded the sanctuary at the Seagoville Church of Christ, was this was a dichotomy that most accepted. Little understanding and even less acceptance of modern science was everywhere evident. A few quotes from the ad will be beneficial:

It seems clear that atheistic evolutionists (who deny that creation ever occurred) have had considerable success in bringing about the situation in our public schools in which atheistic evolution is to be taught but creationism cannot be presented as a viable alternative. They have also had some success in persuading people to accept, in a docile manner, their view that human beings who are now living on the earth owe their ultimate origin (as human beings) to evolution (by purely naturalistic, non-miraculous, non-purposive, non-intelligent, non-living materialistic forces) from non-living matter.It also seems that the atheistic evolutionists have succeeded in persuading most of the creationists (people who believe that God created the first man and the first woman and that all other human beings are descendants of that first human pair) to no longer oppose with much vigor the dictums of the atheistic evolutionists.

And that is the opening paragraph. There is more. Dr. Warren posits that evolutionists (scientists) will be unable to answer a number of questions at the heart of the matter. Here are the 13:

  1. True false. A woman was on earth before any human baby was.
  2. True false. A human baby was on earth before any woman was.
  3. True false. The first woman and the first human baby came into existence at the exact same instant.
  4. True false. A man was on earth before any human baby was.
  5. True false. A human baby was on earth before any man was.
  6. True false. The first man and the first human baby came into existence at the exact same instant.
  7. True false. At least one human being now living on earth was formerly an ape (or some other non-human being), and that ape was transformed  (its very nature was changed) from an ape into a human being.
  8. True false. At least one human being who lived on the earth in the past (but is now dead) was at one time an ape (or some other non-human thing), and that ape was transformed from an ape into  a human being.
  9. True false. At least one human being who lived in the past (but who is now dead) was begotten by a male ape (or some other non-human thing) and was born of a female ape (or some other non-human female) as a human being.
  10. True false. There is absolutely nothing that has occurred in the past or anything which could occur in the future which could convince me (1) God does exist, (2) God created the first man and the first woman, and (3) that all of the rest of the human beings who have ever lived (and ever will live) on the earth are (or will be) descendants of that first man and that first woman.
  11. True false. The complete list of my own ancestry would include either (1) a male ape and a female ape or (2) some other non-human male and some other non-human female.
  12. True false. The complete list of my own ancestry would begin with (and, of course, include ) the first man and the first woman (who came into existence by the creative action  of God).
  13. True false. The various states of this nation have the constitutional right to compel the children who attend their state schools to be taught atheistic evolution as the only acceptable position while they forbid even the presentation of creationism as a sensible solution to the problem of the origins of human being on the earth.

While the author’s extensive use of italics and underlining is puzzling, the intent is more clear. Evolution (in the author’s mind) poses a dilemma regarding the origin of the human species as descended from ape-like beings. Also, states are wrong to impose the teaching of evolution, while at the same time denying students the benefits of reaffirmation of their religious belief. Lest the author think these questions are a challenge, I will submit here my answers.

  1. False
  2. False
  3. False
  4. False
  5. False
  6. False
  7. False
  8. False
  9. False
  10. False
  11. True
  12. False
  13. True

Readers having questions should contact me.

What seems to be happening here is that an educated man, such as Thomas Warren, has slipped a cog at a point in his development. His argument either ignores a large body of established fact or else misapplies any ability at rational thought. Continuing from his Wikipedia entry:

Warren’s earliest published work in philosophy was modified from the final chapter of his Vanderbilt University dissertation and was published in 1972. In Have Atheists Proved There is No God?Warren develops a version of a soul-making theodicy to answer J. L. Mackie’s argument from evil against theism. Warren’s chief claim to fame outside the Churches of Christ are his debates with Antony Flew and Wallace Matson on the existence of God, and his debate with Joe E. Barnhart on the adequacy of utilitarian ethics. The debate with Flew, a major proponent of atheism famous for his argument that theism is not falsifiable, was held at North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) in Denton, Texas, USA from September 20–23, 1976. This was an exceptionally well attended debate, and Flew describes it as the best attended of his many debates with theists on the existence of God, with audiences each night ranging from 5,000-7,000 people. The Warren-Matson Debate took place in Tampa, Florida, USA from September 11–14, 1978. Matson, a professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley was, like Flew, a long-time proponent of atheism. The Warren-Barnhart Debate took place at North Texas State University on November 3–6, 1980. Barnhart has retired as Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Texas.

Readers will recall Joe Barnhart as a long-time advisor to The North Texas Skeptics. Interesting events transpired following Joe’s retirement and move to Tennessee.

Without elaborating on the foolish nature of Dr. Warren’s dip into anti-science, I will observe it should be apparent to all, this is the Quintessence of Dumbshitia.

I may have more on this. It was a lot of fun. Keep reading.

 

 

 

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People Unclear http://ntskeptics.org/2017/12/26/people-unclear-2/ Tue, 26 Dec 2017 14:33:42 +0000 http://ntskeptics.org/?p=991 Continue reading ]]> Reposted from Skeptical Analysis

Yes, sometimes you just have to scratch your head and say, “What was he thinking?”

 Let’s take the case of the Woodland, North Carolina, solar farm:

WOODLAND – The Woodland Town Council rejected a proposal to rezone a section of land north of town to M2 (manufacturing) from RA (residential/agricultural), essentially denying approval of a solar farm.

Newly sworn in councilman Cecil Harkey voted against the motion to reject rezoning the land, while council members David Cooper, Ron Lane, and Pat Liverman voted to approve it following public comments against the rezoning.

The Planning Board had recommended the property be rezoned to allow Strata Solar Company to build a solar farm off U.S. highway 258.

Three other solar farms were previously accepted by the town council, with one now in the process of installing solar panels.

Wait. Wait! That’s not the story. Here’s the story:

NORTHAMPTON COUNTY, N.C. — Leaders in the small North Carolina town of Woodland rejected a new solar farm after residents expressed concerns that it would “suck up all the energy from the sun.”
The Roanoke-Chowan News Herald reports the Woodland Town Council denied approval of the solar farm and put a moratorium on others after citizens expressed distrust and fear of the solar panels.
One resident, a retired Northampton County science teacher, reportedly said she was concerned that photosynthesis would not happen after she said she observed areas near solar panels where plants were brown and dead because they did not get enough sunlight.
Another resident reportedly questioned the high number of cancer deaths in the area, saying no one could tell her that solar panels didn’t cause cancer.

All right! I believe I can clear up some of these concerns First of all, solar panels to not cause cancer. I don’t have my research studies close at hand right now, but I can tell you this. Just trust me.

Second, the matter of solar panels sucking up all the sun is a real concern. My several decades of research has demonstrated with close to 100% certainty that solar panels do block the sun and prevent precious sunlight from reaching crops planted underneath. Here is a warning to all you soybean and hemp growers in North Carolina; do not, I repeat, do not plant your crops in the shade of a solar panel. The stuff is going to die. Trust me.

I hope that clears things up for now. If you have additional questions, then chuck me an email. Or you can just go soak your head. Results will be the same.

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Persecution Complex http://ntskeptics.org/2017/11/01/persecution-complex/ Wed, 01 Nov 2017 21:28:47 +0000 http://ntskeptics.org/?p=969 Continue reading ]]> An addendum

Over the past few days I reviewed ten episodes of Does God Exist, a video produced by the fundamentalist Christian organization Focus on the Family. It’s offered as a DVD and is also streaming on Amazon Prime Video. In addition to the ten episodes addressing the question, “does God exist,” there is a bonus segment highlighting the challenges fundamentalist Christians encounter in a less than sectarian world. The operating title is “The Toughest Test In College.” From Amazon:

Preparing for college involves more than just buying new clothes and textbooks. Your toughest test is not going to be on paper; it is a test of your heart and mind. Can you live out your convictions and share your faith with students and professors who might not agree with your Christian worldview?

Here is a brief review. We start with Jay. “He’s on his way to college.”

What Jay and other fundamentalist Christians encountered (according to the video) is the challenge of hostile professors. Across the spectrum, these (supposedly) liberal professors go from questioning students’core beliefs to heaping ridicule on any and all who will not abandon their beliefs. We are informed these hostile professor in the video are actors paid to stand in for real people.

Prominent contenders for Objectionable of the Month include Peter Singer and Ward Churchill. Singer is polarizing for his views on the value of human life. Churchill would be controversial on any campus, but this video singles out his opposition to the Bush administration’s prosecution of the war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Churchill wants administration officials prosecuted for war crimes, a not totally un-Christian position.

Del Tackett, D.M., president (now former president) of Focus on the Family, weighs in and narrates much of the story.

Stephen C. Meyer, the main figure in the video, also appears. Meyer gained fame as an advocate for Intelligent Design as legitimate science. He was prepared to testify (but did not) for that at the Kitzmillertrial. Here all the wraps are off. Meyer is a Christian warrior, fully committed to a campaign to define what is the true faith.

And there is J. Budziszewski, Ph.D., a professor of history and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. He argues strongly against “moral relativity.” He compares it to factual relativity. If somebody advises against eating the cafeteria’s tuna salad, citing that it’s making people sick, he portrays the relativist as saying, “That’s your own opinion” (not his exact words).

Eric Pianka, is Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin. Before I proceed further I need to clear up a minor point. Despite the correct spelling of Pianka’s first name, and despite displaying graphics depicting his complete name, the producers somehow missed the point.

The controversy about Pianka is a speech he made. Wikipedia provides some details:

Pianka’s acceptance speech for the 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist Award from the Texas Academy of Science resulted in a controversy in the popular press when Forrest Mims, vice-chair of the Academy’s section on environmental science, claimed in the Society for Amateur Scientists e-journal The Citizen Scientist that Pianka had “endorsed the elimination of 95 percent of the human population” through a disease such as an airborne strain of the Ebola virus. Mims claimed that Pianka said the Earth would not survive unless its population was reduced by 95% suggesting that the planet would be “better off” if the human population were reduced and that a mutant strain of Ebola would be the most efficient means. Mims’ affiliate at the Discovery InstituteWilliam Dembski, then informed the Department of Homeland Security that Pianka’s speech may have been intended to foment bioterrorism. This resulted in the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewing Pianka in Austin.

Pianka has stated that Mims took his statements out of context and that he was simply describing what would happen from biological principles alone if present human population trends continue, and that he was not in any way advocating for it to happen. The Texas Academy, which hosted the speech, released a statement asserting that “Many of Dr. Pianka’s statements have been severely misconstrued and sensationalized.” However, Dr. Kenneth Summy, an Academy member who observed the speech, wrote a letter of support for Mims’ account, saying “Dr. Pianka chose to deliver an inflammatory message in his keynote address, so he should not be surprised to be the recipient of a lot of criticism from TAS membership. Forrest Mims did not misrepresent anything regarding the presentation.”

Some of the same names keep cropping up in the creation-evolution controversy, and one of those is Forrest Mims:

Forrest M. Mims III, who most recently wrote the Amateur Scientist column of last June’s issue of Scientific American, is out since they discovered he is a committed creationist. Mims talked to the Houston Chronicle and to the Wall Street Journal, and that’s when the watermelon hit the fan. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, in a letter to SA, asked them not to use religion as a basis for publication, and the ACLU has taken up his case. That was where the matter stood the last I heard of it.

The Skeptic editor, Keith Blanton, was able to tape record an interview with Mims on the CNN show “Crossfire,” and he has made the tape available to interested viewers. Contact Keith at one of the NTS meetings if you want to borrow the tape. Appearing in the interview with Mims was NCSE Director and CSICOP Fellow, Eugenie C. Scott. The interview was moderated by conservative Cal Thomas (substituting for Pat Buchanan) and by liberal Mike Kinsley (of New Republic).

And here is what is additionally interesting. Both Pianka and Budziszewski are at the University of Texas at Austin, a place where I once obtained a degree. If you casually watch the introductory sketches you might get the idea that students are going to show up at college and run head on into a wall of liberal bias, unlikely, based on personal observation. Creationist Robert Koons is a professor of philosophy at UT Austin, and he is also an advocate of Intelligent Design, being a former fellow of the Discovery Institute. Robert Pennock was a professor of philosophy at UT Austin  when  he published Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism. What needs to be taken away from this discussion is that students leaving home and heading to college are going to run into the real world, and the real world is not the family dinner hour.

Christian students in the video are portrayed as earnest and sincere. You would want your own children to be like these. Except… Except we see students (or stand-ins) reflecting disdain for homosexual lifestyles and even those whose only offense seems to be anti Christian.

The video includes testimonials by a litany of students regarding the disrespect they received at even Christian institutions. They recount observing lewd behavior, sexual promiscuity, and tolerance for un-Christian life styles. Individual students are generally not identified on-camera, but the end credits list names of actual students as well as names of actors who dramatized students in the video.

Students testify. What they found, even at Christian academies, was a more open attitude, one their home life had neither accepted nor recognized. There was more tolerating of sin and also an acceptance of world views that were not biblical. To that, a thinking person would have to respond, “No shit.” People, you can walk a block from  your front door, even in Salt Lake City, and find world views that are not biblical.

But this video drills down on college campus life and wants to target not only bad actors, abusive and wrong-headed faculty, but also the openness we should hope to find on campus. I notice some play with the concept of intolerance. There is intolerance toward Christian values, and there is intolerance toward uncommon lifestyles. There seems to be a lot of intolerance going around. See the case of Emily Brooker below.

We also learn we should not put our complete trust in the experts. We are reminded that experts predicted a glowing future for the American economy, just days prior to the greatest collapse in our history.

Also mentioned are predictions by “experts” a few decades back of a threatened global cooling, and also the advice from other “experts” that eugenics, including forced sterilization, was necessary for the purity of the gene pool. Particularly, the case of Carrie Buck is highlighted. She was deemed a danger to the gene pool and forcibly sterilized in what is now acknowledged to be a gross injustice and a violation of all sense of humanity:

Paul A. Lombardo, a Professor of Law at Georgia State University, spent almost 25 years researching the Buck v. Bell case. He dug through case records and the papers of the lawyers involved in the case. Lombardo eventually found Carrie Buck and was able to interview her shortly before her death. Lombardo has alleged that several people had manufactured evidence to make the state’s case against Carrie Buck, and that Buck was actually of normal intelligence. Professor Lombardo was one of the few people who attended Carrie Buck’s funeral.

A historical marker was erected on May 2, 2002, in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Carrie Buck was born. At that time, Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner offered the “Commonwealth’s sincere apology for Virginia’s participation in eugenics.”

Missing from the narrative is what position people of Christian faith took on the matter at the time.

A prominent case featured in the video is that of the student shown below.

While not identified here, her case is a matter of record:

Does a professor have the right to require his students to comply with a certain political or social view in order to pass a course? Can universities demand that students observe policies that conflict with their religious views or restrict their First Amendment rights?

A lawsuit filed by a Missouri college student may soon provide some answers to these questions–with important implications for academia.

The lawsuit, Brooker v. The Governors of Missouri State University (MSU), was filed on Oct. 30 by the Alliance Defend Fund on behalf of Emily Brooker, a student in the university’s school of social work. The ADF, a Christian legal group that advocates religious freedom, accuses tax-funded MSU of retaliating against Brooker because she refused to sign a letter to the Missouri Legislature in support of homosexual adoption as part of a class project.

Gay adoption violates Brooker’s Christian beliefs.

As told in the video, the suit was settled in Brooker’s favor, and the offending faculty largely left their positions. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a regular target of mine for their pursuit of frivolous causes:

You get the picture. Congress outlawed such practices in venues covered by US law,which would be public accommodations. In short, places open for business to the public are no longer allowed to embarrass the entire nation through the use of insulting and exclusionary practices.

Beyond that, this is a truly egregious case and one the ACLU would have taken.

It is perhaps inevitable the matter of Guillermo Gonzalez will come up in the context of campus intolerance. He is featured as one of the cases of those expelled for advocating Intelligent Design. Gonzalez was denied tenure at Iowa State University, where he taught. He contested this action, contending he was denied tenure due to his support for Intelligent Design. The faculty board that declined to offer him tenure stated the denial was due to his lack of productivity at the University. Although he showed promise early in his career, at Iowa State his publication record was sparse, and he sponsored no successful Ph.D. candidates. The National Center for Science Education published a critique of the Expelled video and included the Gonzalez case:

Gonzalez’s publication output dropped steadily during his time at ISU. The work he did publish was based on re-evaluations of data he had previously collected or analyses of other people’s data.

An assessment by the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) found that:

…a closer look at Mr. Gonzalez’s case raises some questions about his recent scholarship and whether he has lived up to his early promise. …

Under normal circumstances, Mr. Gonzalez’s publication record would be stellar and would warrant his earning tenure at most universities, according to Mr. Hirsch [a scholar who analyzed the publication record]. But Mr. Gonzalez completed the best scholarship, as judged by his peers, while doing postdoctoral work at the University of Texas at Austin and at the University of Washington, where he received his Ph.D. His record has trailed off since then.

“It looks like it slowed down considerably,” said Mr. Hirsch…. “It’s not clear that he started new things, or anything on his own, in the period he was an assistant professor at Iowa State.”

That pattern may have hurt his case. “Tenure review only deals with his work since he came to Iowa State,” said John McCarroll, a spokesman for the university.

When considering a tenure case, faculty committees try to anticipate what kind of work a professor will accomplish in the future. “The only reason the previous record is relevant is the extent to which it can predict future performance,” said Mr. Hirsch. “Generally, it’s a good indication, but in some cases it’s not.”

David L. Lambert, director of the McDonald Observatory at Texas, supervised Mr. Gonzalez during his postdoctoral fellowship there in the early to mid-1990s. … [H]e is not aware of any important new work by Mr. Gonzalez since he arrived at Iowa State, such as branching off into different directions of research. “I don’t know what else he has done,” Mr. Lambert said. …

Mr. Gonzalez said he does not have any grants through NASA or the National Science Foundation, the two agencies that would normally support his research…. He arrived at Iowa State in 2001, but none of his graduate students there have thus far completed their doctoral work

Provided that his colleagues at Iowa State objected to his views on Intelligent Design, we need to recognize there can be a problem when a fellow scientist is seen buying into wacko science. I have observed previously there only so many times you can show up with your fly unzipped before you are no longer invited to the party.

It is unfortunate that Stephen C. Meyer has allied himself with a bastion of intolerance which Focus on the Family is. Or perhaps it is fortunate for readers. His several books, including Darwin’s Doubt and Signature in the Cell, attempt to make a show of scientific validation. Not so here. Meyer goes full monty in support of religious orthodoxy. Barbara Forrest has written Creationism’s Trojan Horse as a critique of Intelligent Design, and Meyer’s religious intent is hard to hide:

Religious motivation drives all the CRSC leadership.14 Indeed, Stephen C. Meyer, the director of the CRSC, professed his attraction to “the origins debate” precisely because it is theistic: “I remember being especially fascinated with the origins debate at this conference. It impressed me to see that scientists who had always accepted the standard evolutionary story [Meyer says he was one of them] were now defending a theistic belief, not on the basis that it makes them feel good or provides some form of subjective contentment, but because the scientific evidence suggests an activity of mind that is beyond nature. I was really taken with this.”15

Forrest, Barbara. Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (p. 260). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Meyer’s pretense at academic rigor and any scientific basis for creationism dissolve completely in the video that follows this one. Also produced by Focus on the Family, its title is “Is the Bible Reliable?” A quick peek reveals that Meyer is hosting this one and is arguing for biblical literalism, or something close to it. A review is coming up next. Keep reading.

And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

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Fool’s Argument http://ntskeptics.org/2017/11/01/fools-argument-10/ http://ntskeptics.org/2017/11/01/fools-argument-10/#comments Wed, 01 Nov 2017 21:22:10 +0000 http://ntskeptics.org/?p=960 Continue reading ]]> Tenth of a series

This is the tenth in my review of the video production Does God Exist, brought to you by Focus on the Family, an agency for conservative Christian advocacy. The video is available on DVD from Amazon, and it is currently streaming on Amazon, free with Amazon Prime.

In the previous episode creationist Stephen C. Meyer delved into “objective morality.” From that point forward he leaves the world of physical science and enters into philosophy and theology. In this tenth of a ten-part series Meyer concludes by covering “moral relativism,” a matter of great concern to people who base their lives on religious teachings. The opening scene shows host David Stotts before a field of massive sand dunes. He points out that the dunes may seem fixed, but in reality they migrate over a period of time. Moral values can shift in a similar fashion, unless they are anchored by something. This episode is going to argue that religious dogma is that anchor.

This time I am not going to address Meyer’s points one by one. I will put up a selection for readers to ponder, and then I will summarize.

Moral relativism, according to Meyer and also according to most who give thought to the matter, holds there is no fixed and true morality. Moral values are at best set by societies and in the worst cases are set by individuals. Individuals who set their own moral values may become social outcasts and usually do harm to themselves, with harm being a relative term.

We apparently do not receive moral values from evolutionary biology, Meyer argues, and here he is almost completely right. I stated previously (Episode 9) that an inherited moral trait seems to be that mothers do not kill their children. This is definitely something that would be selected for in Darwinian evolution. What then, of the moral issue of not taking other people’s stuff? If you can make a good living by stealing, then you can live a good life without having to spend hours a day working, and you can get yourself a good-looking woman and send your genes deeply into the pool. Meyer makes this point, but those are my words. Let’s look at that.

There is apparently no inherited moral trait that keeps you from stealing other people’s stuff. What most likely happens is people are born with the need to survive. Then at some point in their lives they figure out that if they steal other people’s stuff, then people are going to come after them, and that is not going to be good for a long and healthy life. How, then, to explain Bernie Madoff? Obviously there is a balance.

This kind of thing is invested in other manifestations of morality. Genetically selected moral traits are drawn from the basic need to survive and are then expressed in acquired social traits. And that is as far as Darwin can take us.

But Meyer takes it further, and that’s where he loses me and also where he loses anybody who probes deeply into the matter. Meyer proposes that the Judeo-Christian ethic, given to our species by the God of Abraham, is the one and true anchor. As before, let’s look at that.

Meyer tells us we get morality from God, and I’m going to show you how that works. To do that I have concocted an imaginary tale, so bear with me. There is Fred. Fred lives with his parents, who are among a people cut off from the rest of the world for all human history. They live in the deep and dark forests of Borneo, because traditionally deep and dark Borneo the furthest place you can get from civilization.

One day Fred’s father tells him, “Son, I have evidence there’s a world outside our village that we can hardly imagine. I see streaks in the sky made by something we cannot explain. Also, from time to time I find artifacts that reflect evidence of a superior civilization.” He shows Fred an empty Diet Coke can. So Fred’s father sends Fred out of the village with the task of finding this other civilization.

So Fred sets out on a jungle trail, and he follows it past any point his people have ever gone. Eventually he comes to  a man working in a field, and he explains his situation to the man. The man says, “Fred, if you really want to see civilization, you need to go to New York City,” and he tells Fred how to get there.

Some time later Fred arrives in New York City, and it is indeed a world unlike any imagined by his father. He figures he needs to know how to get along in this brave new world, and he stops Bob on the street and explains his situation.

Bob sizes it up immediately, and he tells Fred, “I need to tell you about God and about all the stuff you are supposed to do and not to do.” So Bob tells Fred about God and also about Jesus Christ, his Lord and Savior. And this is how Fred gets morality.

So, what has happened? God did not visit Fred and instill him with morality. That’s the kind of thing that would have happened by way of Darwinian evolution. No. Fred had to wait for Bob to tell him about God and to  instill into him God’s morality. People, Fred did not talk to God. Fred talked to Bob. Fred got Bob’s morality. That is moral relativism if ever there was.

And that’s what we have today, and Meyer does not want to recognize it is moral relativism. Meyer’s Wikipedia entry only tells that he was born in the United States, so I will assume he is not from the South. In the South, even in Texas I imagine, preachers at Christian churches used to stand up in front of their congregations and remind white people that Africans were an inferior people, and enslaving, raping, and murdering them was all right. This was God’s word as much as it was Bob’s word that Fred received. Some preachers may still talk like that, but the remainder have been shamed into silence. That’s moral relativism.

An imam will stand before his followers in a mosque and tell them it is God’s command they kill non-believers. This is the God of Abraham speaking through the imam. It’s the same God that Meyer prays to. This is moral relativism.

The existence of God is not an inoculation against moral relativism. God never talks to us. God talks to priests, preachers, and imams, and they talk to the rest of us. We are not following the commands of God. We are following the commands of others, others chosen by themselves to speak for God or else others chosen by us to speak for God. This is moral relativism.

But we can skip the intermediary and go straight to God. We have God’s morality hard coded in the Bible. How is that working out? To repeat from the previous review, examples abound:

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 King James Version (KJV)

18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:

19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.

21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Some more:

Exodus 12:29 King James Version (KJV)

29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.

More:

Ephesians 6:5 King James Version (KJV)

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

More:

1 Timothy 6:1-2 King James Version (KJV)

Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.

And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.

I conclude as before—any distinction between Meyer’s presentation and an exercise in deceptive propaganda is difficult to discern.

I took a peek ahead at the “bonus extra,” which does not feature Stephen C. Meyer. It appears to be about students from a fundamentalist Christian  background encountering push back and even retribution when they venture into the liberal atmosphere of an American college. It’s a longer episode and I will have a go at viewing it and doing an appraisal later this week.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

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Fool’s Argument http://ntskeptics.org/2017/11/01/fools-argument-9/ http://ntskeptics.org/2017/11/01/fools-argument-9/#comments Wed, 01 Nov 2017 21:15:00 +0000 http://ntskeptics.org/?p=949 Continue reading ]]> Ninth of a series

This is the ninth in my review of the video production Does God Exist, brought to you by Focus on the Family, an agency for conservative Christian advocacy. The video is available on DVD from Amazon, and it is currently streaming on Amazon, free with Amazon Prime.

 The previous episode dealt with the return of the God hypothesis. Creationist Stephen C. Meyer argued that public discourse should return to accepting the hypothesis that God is behind everything. In Episode 9 Meyer abandons science altogether and unfolds his inner core argument. Judeo-Christian (Muslim, too) religious dogma is the only right and acceptable basis for human morality. He states this up front. See the screen shot above.

Meyer has formal education in science, a degree in physics and earth science, and he earlier worked down the street from where I used to work, in Plano, Texas. But then he earned a Ph.D. in history and philosophy of science at Cambridge University, and he has been involved in promoting religion since, with little attention paid to actual science. Here he waxes entirely philosophical and theological.

We are treated to the wisdom of that world-renowned thinker Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“If God is dead, then all things are permissible.”

Yes, there is a real question whether we should base our lives on the thoughts of a 19th century writer of fiction.

Meyer illustrates with some sound logical inferences, using well-grounded philosophy.

The presentation foil says:

Is ≠ Ought

Murder hurts people.

Hurting people is wrong.

Therefore, murder is wrong.

The first part I translate to “what exists is what should be.” Then comes a statement that responsible members of society will agree to, namely that killing people is bad for the people being killed. Meyer is presenting to some students, and he initially leaves the part about hurting people being wrong and just shows the last part, murder is wrong. He asks students to fill in the blank. A student provides the obvious and missing part: hurting people is wrong. The matter then lands on where we got the part about hurting people is wrong. That’s the basis of human morality. We need to figure out what is wrong and what is right. We need to figure out what we ought to do. Meyer is going to argue that this answer cannot come from logic and  reason but must come from theism—from God.

Meyer quotes a number of famous people. Here is one such.

Here’s what it has to say:

There Are No Objective Standards of Morality

“Morality … is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive end… In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate.

[Attributed to Michael Ruse and E.O. Wilson]

Michael Ruse is a retired professor of philosophy:

Michael RuseFRSC (born 21 June 1940) is a philosopher of science who specializes in the philosophy of biology and is well known for his work on the relationship between science and religion, the creation–evolution controversy, and the demarcation problem within science. Ruse currently teaches at Florida State University. He was born in England, attending Bootham School, York. He took his undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol (1962), his master’s degree at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario (1964), and Ph.D. at the University of Bristol (1970).

Edward Osborne Wilson is a biologist:

Edward Osborne Wilson (born June 10, 1929), usually cited as E. O. Wilson, is an American biologist, researcher, theorist, naturalist and author. His biological specialty is myrmecology, the study of ants, on which he is the world’s leading expert.

The statement, attributed to the two of them together, seems brash on the surface, but it contains some embedded logic. There is a view, held by me and by others, that human morality is basic. I start by observing that mothers, with exceptions, do not kill their babies. Else there would be no human race. Further, there would be no human race prior to the rise of Judeo-Christian thinking. Hence, human morality existed at a basic level for a long time without benefit of Judeo-Christian morality. I extend this line of thought to higher levels of ethics and morality.

You don’t take other people’s stuff, because if you do, then that’s going to make them angry, and they’re going to come after you, and you are going to spend your time fighting to stay alive, whereas if you left other people’s stuff alone, and they left your stuff alone, then everybody would get along and we would all be more productive.

And that’s the basis of the Ruse-Wilson argument,  Stephen C. Meyer notwithstanding.

Meyer cites additional examples. Here’s famous trial lawyer of 100 years ago, Clarence Darrow. In 1924 Darrow defended two privileged white kids who murdered a young boy in an exercise to demonstrate they were smarter than anybody else.

What Darrow did is what any good defense lawyer does. There was no doubt the boys did it, and a guilty plea was entered. What Darrow did was to successfully argue before the sentencing judge that the boys were shaped by evolution and society and should not be executed for the crime.

Meyer’s invoking of the Darrow defense might lend merit to his argument against innate morality, but he steps into a giant cow cookie while invoking Darrow. Specifically:

[Darrow] was sent by the ACLU out to Chicago to defend [Leopold and Loeb].

Absolutely false, and I have to wonder where Meyer got this. The ACLU did not send Darrow to defend two murderers. Leopold and Loeb were from wealthy families, and they did not need a civil rights lawyer to defend them. They could afford the best lawyer in the country, and what happened, according to a biography of Darrow’s life, is that the uncle of one of the boys went to Darrow’s home and pleaded, promised to pay whatever was demanded, to get Darrow to take the case.

Call me cynical if you wish, but Meyer’s reference to  the ACLU appears to be a bit of Intelligent Design. The Intelligent Design folks are not known for stand-up honesty, and the temptation  to suck the ACLU—which has confronted state-sponsored anti-evolution at every step—into the narrative was possibly too tempting to resist. Do I think Meyer and the other creationists were still smarting from the drubbing ACLU lawyers gave Intelligent Design in the Kitzmiller case? Inquiring minds would like to know.

The religious doctrine espoused by conservative thinkers, the Discovery Institute included, leans toward being highly-judgmental. The word on the street is these people recoil when they think somebody is having too much fun. “The Kinsey Reports” refers to two volumes published in 1948 and 1953 and based on interviews with a few thousands of subjects.

What’s Natural is Good

“The Kinsey Reports … have inspired sex education programs in high schools and encouraged several generations of sex therapists to tell their patients, ‘If it feels good, do it.’ [Attributed to] James H. Jones.”

Regarding James H. Jones:

James H. Jones is a Professor of History at the University of Arkansas.

He is the author of Kinsey: A Public/Private Life and [also] Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.

Meyer does not cite a reference for the Jones quote, but assume it is true for the sake of argument. A broad interpretation is that if nobody is harmed, then it is all right to do it. This is something religious fundamentalists seem to have issue with. Call me out on this if I am wrong, but my observation is that many conservatives in this country and elsewhere, in the interest of smaller government, want people to quit having fun wherever there are no consequences attached.

Meyer invokes the United States Constitution, as it is based on religious morality.

This is possibly a misstep on his part, because the Constitution, as originally adopted, was not steeped in morality and human rights:

Section. 2.

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

[Emphasis added]

 

Yes, the Constitution, adopted in 1789, had no provision for protecting human rights, and it had text particularly worded to accommodate slavery.

In the video one student is seen bringing up the matter of slavery, and Meyer is quick to respond that that was then, and this is now (my words). Just because somebody else does it wrong, or just because everybody used to do it wrong, that doesn’t mean we should not presently be doing it right. He completely glosses over his wrong assertion that the Constitution was inspired by a Judeo-Christian morality.

Once again he invokes David Berlinski. I have to go back to the video to recall what this was about.

And here it is. Berlinski is seen saying that no system that sought to ensure morality, absent religion, has been successful. Berlinski may have some support here. In a previous century I was acquainted with the late science fiction writer and acknowledged atheist L. Sprague de Camp. At a dinner gathering once he made this observation. We need religion, the fear of God, to make people do right.

While I  can possibly, based on observation, agree with Berlinski and de Camp, I have never found it necessary in my own life to require fear of the supernatural to keep me in line. That observation holds for a large gathering of my atheistic friends and family. On the other hand I note the great number of people being killed in the name of God. God’s ways are mysterious, to be sure.

Meyer concludes.

Three Key Conditions for an Objective Morality

  1. Objective standard
  2. Free will
  3. Intrinsic value of humans

I find no fault with that position. How I differ with Meyer is that an imaginary God is not necessary to attain that objective.

This entire episode has been soaked in religion and philosophy, and Meyer’s presentation quotes a number of philosophical sources, including Berlinski and Dostoyevsky. And that is supposed to mean a lot. People who know me really well are acquainted with my view of philosophy as a study and philosophers in general. God put philosophers on this planet with an eye toward making used car salesmen look good.

That said, what to make of Meyer’s argument, specifically that  we need a God, particularly we need a religion, to obtain  morality? More specifically, people did not come up with morality, cannot come up with morality, on their own. There must have been some supernatural force to inject morality into the human consciousness. It’s a proposition that does not pass the Skeptical Analysis test.

First, assuming the God to which Meyer refers is the source of this morality. Surprise! This God is a human invention. People existed many thousands of years before the Abrahamic God was introduced, and people had morality. Doubt me? Take note of this. The famous Ten Commandments existed in various forms prior to the time Moses was supposed to have brought them down from Mount Sinai. From all appearances, the writers of the story of Moses adopted these ideas, and placed them on the stone tablets.

But, let’s pretend that God really is the source of our morality. Then what a wonder of morality it is. Examples abound:

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 King James Version (KJV)

18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:

19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.

21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Some more:

Exodus 12:29 King James Version (KJV)

29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.

More:

Ephesians 6:5 King James Version (KJV)

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

More:

1 Timothy 6:1-2 King James Version (KJV)

Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.

And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.

And I can go on ad nauseam. And I will if anybody from the Intelligent Design camp wants to challenge that I am picking and choosing from the Bible. Meyer might come back to me and remind me some of these quotes are from the Old Testament, before Jesus forged a more benign morality, but Timothy is New Testament, and the Old Testament is from the God of Abraham, who created the Universe and humankind, and imbued us with basic morality, which we would not otherwise have.

Any distinction between Meyer’s presentation and a deceptive propaganda exercise is difficult to discern.

There is one more episode to review, and then there is the promised bonus extra. I should be finished in two more days.

Episode 10 is titled “The Moral Necessity of Theism, Part 2: We Need God.” From Amazon:

Dr. Meyer provides overwhelming evidence that the theistic worldview is the only one that can provide a coherent explanation for an objective and meaningful system of morality.

I can hardly wait.

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