Heroes Under Fire

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Photos are from The History Channel story about the Camp Cabanatuan raid. There’s some background.

In December 1941 the Japanese attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbor, and a few hours later they attacked American air fields on Luzon in the Philippines. A few days later Japanese forces invaded the Philippines at Lingayen Gulf in the north part of Luzon. American and Philippine forces in the islands were not able to stop the invasion forces, and it was not possible to provide support or re-enforcements to the troops there. By April of 1942 the combined American and Philippine forces on Luzon had become trapped on the Bataan Peninsula and were forced to surrender. 72,000 American and Philippine troops went into captavity and were marched to prison camps over a three-day period to camps 70 miles away. Along the way about 20,000 prisoners perished from starvation, illness or (principally) murder by the Japanese.

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Conditions in the camps in the Philippines were brutal, and when American forces invaded the Philippines in October 1944, the Japanese made plans to prevent prisoners from being rescued. Most of the survivors were shipped to Formosa (Taiwan), the Japanese islands and other locations for use as slave labor. A directive from the Japanese command ordered the murder of the remaining prisoners in the Philippines to prevent their repatriation.

After the Japanese slaughtered almost 150 Americans in a POW camp on the island of Palawan by burning them alive, the decision was made to rescue those still in the Cabanatuan POW camp before they were massacred as well.

Eleven prisoners survived the massacre, and some made their way back to invading American forces. When the Americans learned of the Japanese actions and of the planned execution of the remaining prisoners they initiated rescue missions to save prisoners at the Cabanatuan camp and at Camp O’Donnell.

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Lt. Col. Henry Mucci had recruited mule skinners (drivers) from the campaign in New Guinea, and had formed a specialized ranger corps. Intense training had weeded out all but the best and the toughest, and the result was a force of 500 as the 6th Ranger Battalion.

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Mucci was a slightly-build fighter with a flair for the dramatic.

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When he got together a group for the Cabanatuan raid he brought along a film crew.

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American forces invaded Luzon along the same route used by the Japanese in 1941, and by late January they were within striking distance of the prison camps.

On January 28, 1945, 121 Rangers left their base and drove until they were within 95 kilometers (60 mi) of the camp, where they disembarked and prepared to walk the rest of the way. About five miles out, on January 29, they met up with Captain Juan Pajota and his 300 Filipino guerrilla fighters, who provided crucial assistance and intelligence about the surrounding area. Pajota also convinced Mucci to wait another day because many of the Japanese would be leaving the area that night.

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Once started, the group had to delay for 24 hours, because a large body or retreating Japanese soldiers was close by Camp Cabanatuan. Also, a large number of Japanese had encamped with the prisoners. On 30 January two of the raiding party dressed as civilians and scoped out the camp. As dark settled in, the main party crawled on their bellies toward the camp perimeter. It was flat and open ground all around the camp, and the time between sunset and the rise of a full moon gave them only two hours to make their approach. A P-61 night fighter distracted Japanese guards by flying low and feigning engine trouble. The plan worked.

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When the attackers were close enough they opened up on the Japanese guards, and quickly suppressed all watch towers and sentries. Shots from a .45 pistol opened the lock on the main gate, and the attackers rushed the camp.

The raiders killed over 500 Japanese soldiers, annihilating virtually all the camp’s contingent. They moved to the prison huts and roused the frightened prisoners. The prisoners had no advance notice, and they suspected a Japanese ruse to justify killing the prisoners. Previously, when two prisoners had escaped, they were recaptured. 18 other prisoners were collected, and all 20 were executed by the guards.

Compounding the element of surprise, the prisoners had been out of touch with the war for so long, they found it difficult to recognize their rescuers as Americans. Uniforms were different, helmets were different, weapons were different. The rescuers did not take no for an answer. Prisoners reluctant to leave the huts were removed by force, and everybody was herded out the main gate.

Then came the long march back to American lines. Many of the prisoners were too weak to walk, and more and more local carts were obtained. Locals gladly volunteered carts until more than 100 were employed.

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Trouble came on the return when the party encountered a village controlled by communist guerrillas. The communists refused to let the other Philippine guerrillas pass through, but American rangers with machine guns waded through the communist contingent and told them not to interfere.

 

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512 prisoners were rescued. Two died on the trip. One had a heart attack almost immediately and another succumbed shortly after. Two rangers were killed, including one by friendly fire. The trek back was shorter because the American lines had advanced in the mean time. It was 70 years ago today.

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The ordeal was not over for the Philippines. The battle for Manila began within a few days. Here, ever the sore loser, the Japanese army engaged in wanton murder of the civilian population.

Subjected to incessant pounding and facing certain death or capture, the beleaguered Japanese troops took out their anger and frustration on the civilians caught in the crossfire, committing multiple acts of severe brutality, which later would be known as the Manila Massacre. Violent mutilations, rapes, and massacres on the populace accompanied the battle for control of the city. Massacres occurred in schools, hospitals and convents, including San Juan de Dios Hospital, Santa Rosa College, Santo Domingo Church, Manila Cathedral, Paco Church, St. Paul’s Convent, and St. Vincent de Paul Church.

100,000 civilians died. Within the next few weeks I will post a memorial item about the Battle for Manila.

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Stupidity Writ Large

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Thursday I caught a bit of Erin Burnett Outfront on CNN. She had an interview with Doctors Armand Dorian and Jack Wolfson. The conversation turned into a shouting match about the measles vaccine, or lack thereof.

Owing to a number of people declining to be vaccinated for measles there’s been a recent outbreak of measles, particularly in areas rich with anti-vaccine sentiment. See the map.

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California is rife with vaccine craziness, which, unlike a lot of lame brain thinking, seems to cross liberal-conservative boundaries. Wolfson, out of Phoenix, Arizona, seems to be one of those who refuse to recognize the heavier benefit of vaccination. His attitude, at least in this sector, seems to be for letting nature run its course.

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Jack Wolfson, M.D.

 

Dorian was aboard to counter a lot of Wolfson’s nonsense, but his wisdom generally got lost in the back and forth. I’m just going to highlight Wolfson’s comments, because stupid stuff is what this blog is all about. I transcribed the following from the video. There are likely mistakes in the transcription, but the gist is captured accurately. First, Burnett asks a question. Then, Wolfson responds. Burnett’s comments are in bold.

Why are you opposed to the vaccine?

What I’m opposed to is the fact that we’re injecting chemicals into our children. This aluminum, mercury, sometimes aborted fetal proteins. There’s antibiotics in there. We’re doing something that is totally foreign, that is totally unnatural to our children. We’re experimenting on our children. Our children have the right to get infections. We have immune systems for that purpose.

As the doctor previously said, there were millions of cases, and rarely did anybody die from this. These are typically benign childhood conditions. We cannot sterilize the body. We cannot sterilize our society. We need to be affected by these viruses, bacteria.

He states that he is a board-certified cardiologist.

Whether it’s chicken pox, it’s measles, it’s mumps, rubella. Listen, there’s 70 people who have it right now. 80, whatever the number is. They’re not dying. These are benign childhood conditions that, once the child gets it, they will be immune forever.

You are artificially injecting chemicals to try and stimulate the immune system. That’s not the same thing. We all had chicken pox as children, and we’re all fine because of this. It is our right, and we’re not going to inject chemicals…

[Burnett mentions pneumonia, lifelong brain damage, deafness and death.]

Bad things can happen to anybody. We can be in a car accident. We can be in a toaster fire…

My view: Breath-taking inanity.

So, I’m thinking, “What do we need a doctor for?” You got a bad heart? Maybe it’s nature’s telling you that it’s time to die.

There’s obviously more to be said on this. Here’s something from the Washington Post:

It’s 6:30 p.m. in eastern Arizona, and an energetic doctor who has gained notice due to his disdain for vaccinations has just gotten home. It’s been a busy day. He’s already spoken to USA Today. He just did a segment on CNN. And he’s closely monitored his Facebook page, which has collected 4,000 “likes” in the span of 48 hours. But Jack Wolfson always has time to discuss vaccinations — his hatred of them and his abhorrence of the parents who defend them.

“Don’t be mad at me for speaking the truth about vaccines,” Wolfson said in a telephone interview with The Washington Post. “Be mad at yourself, because you’re, frankly, a bad mother. You didn’t ask once about those vaccines. You didn’t ask about the chemicals in them. You didn’t ask about all the harmful things in those vaccines…. People need to learn the facts.”

Not inclined to being mean-spirited, it is not my wish that Doctor Wolfson ever comes down with the measles.

Bad Joke of the Week

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Not yet

What a pity kulula doesn’t fly internationally – we should support them if only for their humour – so typically South African.

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Kulula is an Airline with head office situated in Johannesburg . Kulula airline attendants make an effort to make the in-flight “safety lecture” and announcements a bit more entertaining.

Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:

On a Kulula flight, (there is no assigned seating, you just sit where you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, “People, people we’re not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!”

On another flight with a very “senior” flight attendant crew, the pilot said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants.”

On landing, the stewardess said, “Please be sure to take all of your belongings.. If you’re going to leave anything, please make sure it’s something we’d like to have.”

“There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane.”

“Thank you for flying Kulula. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride.”

As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Durban Airport , a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: “Whoa, big fella. WHOA!”

After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in the Karoo, a flight attendant on a flight announced, “Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted.”

From a Kulula employee: “Welcome aboard Kulula 271 to Port Elizabeth . To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don’t know how to operate one, you probably shouldn’t be out in public unsupervised.”

“In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with more than one small child, pick your favourite.”

“Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we’ll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Kulula Airlines.”

“Your seats cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments.”

“As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses..”

And from the pilot during his welcome message: “Kulula Airlines is pleased to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!”

Heard on Kulula 255 just after a very hard landingin Cape Town : The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, “That was quite a bump and I know what y’all are thinking. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t the airline’s fault, it wasn’t the pilot’s fault, it wasn’t the flight attendant’s fault, it was the asphalt.”

Overheard on a Kulula flight into Cape Town , on a particularly windy and bumpy day: During the final approach, the Captain really had to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Mother City. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what’s left of our airplane to the gate!”

Another flight attendant’s comment on a less than perfect landing: “We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal.”

An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a “Thanks for flying our airline”. He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, “Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?”

“Why, no Ma’am,” said the pilot. “What is it?”

The little old lady said, “Did we land, or were we shot down?”

After a real crusher of a landing in Johannesburg , the attendant came on with, “Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we will open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal..”

Part of a flight attendant’s arrival announcement: “We’d like to thank you folks for flying with us today.. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you’ll think of Kulula Airways.”

Heard on a Kulula flight: “Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing.. If you can light ’em, you can smoke ’em.

Heart of Dimness – Part 1

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I’m going to continue to steal from Joseph Conrad for a title. Could be lack of imagination. Could be all the cool titles are already taken.

Anyhow, a few weeks ago I commented on a posting by creationist David Buckna on the True.Origin Archive site. This seems to comprise four pages, the first three of which encompass 31 questions or topics for discussion. Presumably each of these is a challenge of some sort to modern science, not limited to biological evolution. Page 4 is an extensive collection of activities students are supposed to undertake, said activities having an aim toward challenging modern scientific theories, particularly biological evolution again.

I’m going to work through these four pages, creating a separate post for each topic. This is going to be a long term project, maybe stretching out the remainder of the year. Readers’ patience is requested. I will start here with the first item:

For starters, there’s a cartoon. It’s cute. I’m going to reprint it. Here it is.

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Actually, “evolution” is still a theory. Just like gravity. In science a good theory is an explanation for a set of related facts. It’s testable, and it produces useful predictions that can lead to further study and progress. Please note the “DARWIN REPORT DUE” notice on the black board.

Creationists and some others like to associate modern theories of biological evolution with Charles Darwin exclusively. Facts are that the theory of biological evolution was around hundreds of years before Darwin. People wondered at the source of the varied species on this planet, and common ancestry was considered as a possible explanation. Serious studies of the fossil record even prior to the birth of Darwin gave still more serious consideration to the idea of common descent. But nobody could figure out a natural mechanism that would produce the branching of the evolutionary tree and the development of highly refined systems, such as the eye.

Independently of Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace came up with the idea of natural selection as the explanation. Darwin and Wallace published simultaneously in 1858. Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species in 1859.

Still, the mechanism for biological evolution was unknown. Darwin and Wallace provided only on part of the puzzle. The remaining part was the theory of genetics, developed by Gregor Mendel. Mendel did his work about the time Darwin’s theory of natural selection was being debated, but it was not reviewed by mainstream science until the first years of the 20th century when other researchers independently duplicated his work, and it was discovered that Mendel had done the first studies.

Regarding the teacher’s comment:

I grant you evolution was a theory to begin with… but it evolved into a fact a long time ago!

That’s a bit of creationist posturing. Truth is that evolution was a fact from the time it started happening on this planet and possibly on other planets. Since scientists started working with the theory of biological evolution over 150 years ago, the recognition of its factual basis has continually solidified. Although there may still be legitimate debate concerning the processes involved, the fact of biological evolution is well established. No valid scientific research has ever contradicted the fact of biological evolution.

I’ve done all of this, and I’ve only got through the cartoon. I’ve not even gotten to David’s item 1 on the first page. Before I get to that I need to diagnose the matter of a quote by creationist Phillip Johnson. That’s coming next.

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

The Last Laugh

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So, I was watching cable TV, and it was an interesting news show. Then a commercial came on and it showed a woman in a supermarket. And she was talking to a milk carton. I mean carrying on a conversation with a milk carton right there in the aisle of the dairy section with people all around.

Well, that gave me a little chuckle, which is what it was supposed to do. And it got me to thinking of the kinds of things people will do for money. Like talking to a milk carton. It was humorous.

Later on I was watching a video, and it showed a man, along with some others, and he, they all were, talking to an invisible, mythical, disembodied person. And this was out on the street in front of the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. And there were people around looking on. And I thought that was humorous, as well.

Then I noticed something. The man I was looking at was a United States Senator. And I stopped laughing.

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Governors Acting Brilliantly

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Does Mike Huckabee qualify? I mean, he’s no longer governor of Arkansas. But he once was. I’m going to say that’s good enough.

So what’s Governor Huckabee been up to lately? I’m glad you asked:

During a speech earlier this month at televangelist Morris Cerullo’s annual conference, Mike Huckabee said that school shootings wouldn’t take place if public schools organized daily prayers, religious assemblies, Bible readings and “chapel services.”

There’s a video.

That’s some strong stuff. We wouldn’t have any school shootings in this country if we had prayers and Bible readings. And more. Who would have thought it would be such an easy problem to solve. The governor has a good memory about these things. He tells us how it used to be:

As a kid I remember we would have people come to our school and do assemblies and chapel services in a public school. And they would talk to us about Jesus. The Gideons would give us Bibles. And nobody got arrested. Nobody got sued, by the way. Nobody got hurt, either. Because we were bringing Bibles to school, people weren’t bringing guns to school except for the deer hunters, who left them in their trucks.

Well, that is impressive. Obviously it was a wonderful world that Governor Huckabee lived in and went to school in, so many years ago. I wonder where that was. I wonder when it was. I doubt it was over two hundred years ago in what is now Franklin County, Pennsylvania:

The earliest known United States shooting to happen on school property was the Pontiac’s Rebellion school massacre on July 26, 1764, where three men entered the schoolhouse near present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania, shot and killed schoolmaster Enoch Brown, and killed ten children (reports vary). Only one child survived.

Of course, that was an exceptional situation. That was hostile act by some Lenape warriors. How about a more real-to-life situation. How about 1850, again in Pennsylvania:

West Chester, Pennsylvania, At the Rocky Hill schoolhouse, students found their young teacher (aged about 18), Rachael Sharpless shot dead in the doorway of the school. George Pharoah, 19 years old, shot her while hiding behind a tree as she was unlocking the door.

How about 1853:

Louisville, Kentucky, The student Matthew Ward bought a pistol in the morning, went to school and killed the schoolmaster Mr. Butler, as revenge for what Ward thought was excessive punishment of his brother the day before.

Or 1858:

Baltimore, Maryland, the 15 year old son of Col. John T. Farlow (Baltimore’s Marshal of Police 1867-70), was shot to death during a Sabbath School gathering.

1859:

Oakland, California, Edward Carpenter accidentally shot himself dead while hunting on campus; he was one of the few students permitted to have a firearm at school.

1860:

Todd County, Kentucky, A son of Col. Elijah Sebree was shot dead by another student. Young Sebree was threatening the other boy and intended to kill him.

Enough of that 19th century stuff. How about modern times. 1900:

Danbury, Connecticut, After being repeatedly refused by Teacher Lillian Owen, Herbert Horton went to the schoolhouse and pleaded one last time. He then pulled out a revolver and demanded entry or he would kill himself. Miss Owen and pupils barricaded the door. Horton then shot himself in the chest.

Camargo, Illinois, Teacher Fletcher R. Barnett shot and killed another teacher, Eva C. Wiseman, in front of her class at a school.

Enough of that, as well. How about (nearly) modern times. Let’s just stick to 1952, three years before Governor Huckabee was born:

New York City, A 15-year-old boarding school student shot a dean rather than relinquish pin-up pictures of girls in bathing suits.

New York City, Bayard Peakes walked into the offices of the American Physical Society (APS) at Columbia University and shot and killed secretary Eileen Fahey with a .22 caliber pistol.

Lawrenceville, Illinois, After Georgine Lyon, 25, ended her engagement with Charles Petrach, Petrach shot and killed Lyon in a classroom at Lawrenceville High School where she worked as a librarian.

New York City, Rear Admiral E. E. Herrmann, 56, superintendent of the Naval Postgraduate School, was found dead in his office with a bullet in his head. A service revolver was found by his side.

All this time I’m wondering at what point in his public school career did Governor Huckabee enjoy a Bible-rich, gun-free life. Madeline Murray filed her suit against the public schools in Baltimore in 1960, and in 1963 the Supreme court handed down its decision banning religious proselytizing in public schools. Governor Huckabee would have been about eight years old at that time. Supposedly he lived a Bible-free existence throughout most of his public school experience.

Supposing my presumption is wrong. Suppose that, despite the Supreme Court ruling, Governor Huckabee’s schools continued to violate the law and to hold prayers and Bible readings and such. What a gun-free time that should have been. I count about 19 school shootings in the United States between 1963 and 1973, about the time the governor should have gotten out of high school.

There are two possibilities:

  • Governor Huckabee has a short (or selective) memory.
  • He tends to neglect one of the Ten Commandments.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Heart of Stupid

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This all started several weeks ago when I came across a site with a page by creationist David Buckna. The site is hosted by the Institute for Creation Research, and the page title is Should Evolution be Immune from Critical Analysis in the Science Classroom? David posted 33 questions that should be brought up in science class, presumably to embarrass various aspects of modern biological science or else to nudge students toward considering the merits of creationism.

In response I posted a piece in which I attempted to address of each of David’s questions. What I got back was a response from David, and that initiated a series of comments and responses, of which this is my most recent. I soon assigned a title derived from a story by Joseph Conrad, and I’m keeping it for continuity.

Here’s the David Buckna comment of the day:

5. The references from “At the Water’s Edge” (p. 268) to Thewissen are from 1995 and 1996; the reference to Gingerich is from 1995.

http://creation.com/whale-evolution-fraud

http://creation.com/rodhocetus

http://www.thegrandexperiment.com/whale-evolution.html

*
I’m done.

Granted, there’s not a lot of context here. However, that’s the way it’s been in my dialog with David Buckna. I’m going to pursue what I perceive to be his argument, his challenge, whatever we call it. I’m doing this because that’s what this blog is all about. If it weren’t for people like David there wouldn’t be much for me to write about.

I’m pretending I’m seeing David’s comment for the first time. That’s easy, because it’s been so long ago that I’ve forgotten my initial reaction. I’m sure his reference to “Gingerich” relates to an earlier post of mine. I was citing scientific research that demonstrates macro evolution, and Carl Zimmer’s book At the Water’s Edge provides excellent references to such research. Zimmer traced the evolution of animal life in the water to land-dwelling life followed by the development of aquatic mammals from land-dwelling life. David’s reference is to this book.

Here is the pertinent section of Zimmer’s book:

Page 268

199    In his mind, they were furry crocodiles … ]. G. M. Thewissen, S. 1. Madar, and S. T. Hussain, “Ambulocetus natans, an Eocene cetacean (Mammalia) from Pakistan,” Courier Forschungsinstitut Senkenberg 1996, 191:1-86.

200    Gingerich has found at least three contemporaries … P. D. Gingerich, M. Arif and W. C. Clyde, “New archaeocetes (Mammalia, Cetacea) from the Middle Eocene Domanda Formation of the Sulaiman Range, Punjab (Pakistan),” Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology 1995, 28:291-330.

201    They first measured the isotopes of oxygen … For living cetacean osmoregulation, see C. A. Hui, “Seawater consumption and water flux in the common dolphin Delphinus delphis,” Physiological Zoology 1981,54:430-440. For archaeocete osmoregulation, see]. G. M. Thewissen et al. “Evolution of cetacean osmoregulation,” Nature 1996, 381:379-380.

Despite David’s description, none of the Thewissen references date to 1995. These references are cited on pages 199-201. For interested readers I have posted those pages:

Here is the illustration at the bottom of page 201:

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So what’s it all about? David does not say. He points us to three links. I followed them down.

Here is an excerpt from the first linked page:

Whale evolution fraud

Another evolutionary icon bites the dust

by

Published: 12 April 2014 (GMT+10)

Museums and textbooks claim that whale fossils provide the clearest proof of evolution today (they have mostly gone cold on horse evolution because that story no longer withstands scrutiny). Three key fossils are Pakicetus, Amubulocetus and Rodhocetus, which are claimed to link a land animal with the whales known as Basilosaurids. Without these three the story collapses.

Dr Carl Werner, author of Evolution: the Grand Experiment, has checked out the claims made about these fossils, interviewing the researchers who published on them, and has discovered that none of these fossils holds up as transitional to whales. To be blunt, Dr Werner has discovered a pattern of fraud, or at the very least extremely wishful thinking and imaginative story telling that is not supported by the fossil evidence.

The short response is:

  • Ideas regarding horse evolution have not gone cold.
  • The link from land animals (Pakicetus, Amubulocetus and Rodhocetus) to whales and such has not been refuted.
  • Dr. Werner only says that he has uncovered a pattern of fraud. He has, in reality, done no such thing.

Here is an excerpt from the second linked page:

Rodhocetus and other stories of whale evolution

by

Asked for a good example of transitional fossils showing evolution, many evolutionists put forward whales. Museums and textbooks show pictures of creatures that supposedly show the evolution of whales from a land animal.

Key to this story is a fossil of a creature called Rodhocetus, which is portrayed as the first creature with legs changing into flippers and with the tail developing into a whale’s tail. Without it there is really no story, but recent disclosures undo the tale.1

Dr Philip Gingerich, who found the fossil, promoted the idea that Rodhocetus had a whale’s tail. The fossil is on display at the University of Michigan, but Dr Carl Werner noted that the part that would show the presence of the flukes (the rear wings) is missing.1He asked about the missing tail bones and how they knew it had tail flukes. Dr Gingerich replied,

“I speculated that it might have had a fluke … I now doubt that Rodhocetuswould have had a fluked tail.”2

There’s more, but one would hope that Don Batten, the person who posted this item, could make a stronger case than just a bit of quote mining.

Here is an excerpt from the third linked page:

Museum Models of Walking Whales
Don’t Match Fossils
Says Filmmaker Dr. Carl Werner

Widespread Problem Found at Top Museums
“Walking Whales”—
The Best Fossil Proof of Evolution, Overturned

Museums full of skulls, skeletons
and reconstructions that are false.

Skullduggery and False Skeletons at Top Museums

Brief Summary: Two scientists supplied the top museums in the world (AMNH, Carnegie, Smithsonian, NHM London, National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo, Melbourne Museum, Canadian Museum of Nature, Paris Natural History Museum, Naturalis Museum, Netherlands, Museo Storia Naturale di Pisa and many more) with “fossils” of walking whales, but it has now been revealed in television interviews that these “fossils” were made up. In exclusive interviews with these two scientists, they admitted (on camera) they attached whale body parts (flukes, blowholes, or fins) to land animals and supplied these altered fossils and diagrams to museums.

Because of the serious nature of this story and the institutions involved, a detailed press release documenting the interviews, the fossils and how the alterations were made has been included below.

Again, I hoped that David Buckna would have pointed me to some scientific research that refutes the evolution of land animals to whales. Instead he has handed off three links to creationist sites, sites that do not link to any serious research refuting the idea that whales derived from land animals.

Readers will note that neither have I cited any serious research, if you discount the references in the Zimmer book. My position on this is going to be: before I’m going to get serious about this issue, David is going to have to get serious. Posting links to creationist sites is not something that requires a serious response nor a lot of industry on my part.

Early when I started looking into David’s 33 questions I ran across a site that has four pages of such questions. My plan has all along been to dissect these four pages, and I will do that before I get back to the remainder of David’s comments.

Keep reading.

Bad Movie of the Week

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The interesting thing is I was so sure I saw this movie when it first came out. Apparently not. It turns out this is much your standard lizard movie, but with a twist. This time the lizard comes from outer space. It’s 20 Million Miles from Earth by Columbia Pictures in 1957.

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Lizard movie fans are in for a real treat this time. Special effects are by Ray Harryhausen, who has a cameo role.

Raymond Frederick “Ray” Harryhausen (June 29, 1920 – May 7, 2013) was an American visual effects creator, writer, and producer who created a form of stop-motion model animation known as “Dynamation.”

His most memorable works include the animation on Mighty Joe Young (1949), with his mentor Willis H. O’Brien, which won the Academy Award for special effects; The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), his first color film; and Jason and the Argonauts (1963), featuring a famous sword fight against seven skeleton warriors. His last film was Clash of the Titans (1981), after which he retired.

There’s a small Sicilian fishing village, and some fishermen are out in their boats pulling in fish when one hears a strange noise. It’s a space ship coming to make a hard landing in the sea.

20MillionMilesToEarth-03

The brave Italians rescue two from the sinking space ship, and one of them is the commander, Colonel Robert Calder (William Hopper). The other man dies in the hospital. But first the American Air Force is concerned about their space ship, which has gone down near Sicily after a return trip from Venus. A phone call. Sicilian fishermen have rescued survivors (not many). Air Force officers rush to Sicily. Meanwhile young Pepe (Bart Bradley) spots a strange object that has washed up on the beach. He hides it behind some rocks.

20MillionMilesToEarth-04

He shouldn’t have done that, because the capsule contains an alien life the space ship was bringing back from Venus. Of course, this had to happen, otherwise there would not be much of a plot. Anyhow, young Pepe takes the strange egg-like object from the capsule and sells it to a visiting Geologist,  Dr. Leonardo (Frank Puglia), who has a pretty grand daughter, Marisa (Joan Taylor). The egg hatches. Marisa and Dr. Leonardo are amazed.

20MillionMilesToEarth-05

They rush to take the specimen to the Zoological Garden in Rome. Horrors, it escapes along the road. Colonel Calder and some troops recapture the beast, now grown immensely. Of course it grows rapidly. It’s from Venus, and things like that grow much more rapidly on Earth. Else there wouldn’t be much of a plot.

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Biology kicks in. Robert and Marisa find themselves strangely attracted to each other. It must be sex.

20MillionMilesToEarth-07

The beast is taken back to the Zoological Garden in Rome. It’s really big now. It escapes. Again. This time, in true lizard movie fashion, it rampages through the city, ruining some of Rome’s famous ruins. Killing soldiers.

20MillionMilesToEarth-08

But, as you knew it would all along, the beast finally takes refuge atop the famous Coliseum.

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Robert confronts the beast and inflicts a mortal wound with a bazooka rocket. The beast falls from atop the famous ruin to the street below, but not after tank gunners have inflicted additional ruin to the famous ruin. Marisa arrives at the scene by car. “Why?” you ask. “Because,” I answer. As shocked and amazed citizens of Rome gawk at the dead beast among the rubble, Marisa and Robert race toward each other, ignoring the carnage around them. It’s getting about time for some sex.

20MillionMilesToEarth-10

This blog is called Skeptical Analysis for a reason. I did some analysis. The geography is pretty near correct. The Giardino Zoologico di Roma is across the river from the Vatican, which can from time to time be seen in the background. The ruins that get toppled are just downstream near the Coliseum. Nobody was fudging on continuity in this film. Scenes of the interior of the Coliseum are much as they are today. No surprise. This was produced in Rome.

I recorded the DVD from Turner Classic Movies. I’m bringing a copy to movie night in February.

Bad Joke of the Week

Not yet

Not yet

There once was a powerful Japanese emperor who needed a new chief samurai. So he sent out a declaration throughout the entire known world that he was searching for a chief.
A year passed, and only three people applied for the very demanding position: a Japanese samurai, a Chinese samurai, and a Jewish samurai.

The emperor asked the Japanese samurai to come in and demonstrate why he should be the chief samurai. The Japanese samurai opened a matchbox, and out popped a bumblebee. Whoosh! went his sword. The bumblebee dropped dead, chopped in half. The emperor exclaimed, “That is very impressive!

“The emperor then issued the same challenge to the Chinese samurai, to come in and demonstrate why he should be chosen. The Chinese samurai also opened a matchbox and out buzzed a fly. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh! The fly dropped dead, chopped into four small pieces. The emperor exclaimed, “That is very impressive!”

Now the emperor turned to the Jewish samurai, and asked him to demonstrate why he should be the chief samurai. The Jewish Samurai opened a matchbox, and out flew a gnat. His flashing sword went Whoosh! But the gnat was still alive and flying around.

The emperor, obviously disappointed, said, “Very ambitious, but why is that gnat not dead?” The Jewish Samurai just smiled and said, “Circumcision is not meant to kill.”

Traipsing into Banality

TraipsingIntoEvolution-01

I’ve been figuring out how to dive into this project. I bought the book a few years back and have since used it mostly as a reference. It came back to my attention recently when somebody commented on my comment on a review on Amazon. I’ve edited out some of the links in what follows. The dialogue went something like this:

67 of 93 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Read the trial transcript and the opinon instead, March 28, 2006
This review is from: Traipsing Into Evolution: Intelligent Design and the Kitzmiller v. Dover Decision (Paperback)

I bought this book to see what the ID proponents had to say that they didn’t say in court. I found little. And most of what I did find was more succinctly addressed by luskins’s and behe’s previous critiques of the decision which you can find on the internet for free. It is a quick read though.Judge Jones’ decision is a few pages longer than this book but if you want the truth about this case I encourage you to read the decsision and the transcripts of the testimony which you can find on the internet at […]Avoid the testimony of the school board members if you are a christian (pro ID or not) because a couple of the professedly christian board members got caught lying on the stand and I know that was upsetting to me. Don’t miss the expert testimony though. Robert Pennock, Barbara Forrest, Michael Behe and Steven Fuller. HIgh points (IMO) are Dr Forrest’s testimony about the writing of “Of Pandas and People” the textbook in question at the trial, and Dr Behe’s admission that the rule changes necessary to make ID science would also allow astrology.The view of the decision that you get here is not as complete or truthful as the the picture you can get by going to the source documents and making up your own mind. For instance, reading this book will convince you that Judge Jones went beyond his authority to make a needless determination that ID is not science. But a reading of the trial transcripts will show you that the one of the major arguments made by the ID forces was that ID should be taught because it is science. While a narrower opinion could have been written (with the same result that ID can’t be taught in Dover but based only on the defendants’ intent to teach a particular brand of religion in the public schools in violation of the establishment clause), the judge was well within his right to rule on the merits of all the defense’s claims.

I can only recommend this book if you are extremely interested in this debate and wish to keep up with the latest of the ID proponents’ strategies.

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our initial post: Jun 27, 2010 7:55:08 AM PDT

John Blanton says:

Your summary appears to be dead on. I bought the book to bring my Amazon order up to $25 for free shipping, and also because I was curious. My main purchase was the Darwin’s Dilemma video, which I needed in order to do a review for The North Texas Skeptics. At the end of Monkey Girl David Humes does a short assessment of Traipsing (also Godless, which I have, as well).The Darwin’s Dilemma review will appear in the July issue of The North Texas Skeptic.John Blanton
North Texas Sketpics Web master


In reply to your post on Jan 1, 2015 6:38:55 AM PST

KC James says:

I don’t believe you read the transcript. I don’t believe you even have it.If so, how many pages is it and how much did it cost?
You replied with a later post
Your post, in reply to an earlier post on Jan 2, 2015 9:31:38 PM PST
Last edited by you on Jan 2, 2015 9:34:20 PM PST

John Blanton says:

 The trial transcript is available on-line from a number of sources. Here is a link to the transcripts posted by the National Center for Science Education:
http://ncse.com/creationism/legal/kitzmiller-trial-transcriptsRegarding how any pages, you can count them for yourself, although I’m not too sure why the page count matters.John Blanton
jf_blanton@yahoo.com

Anyhow, you can see how this small part of the discussion is going. The most recent interchange got me to thinking I should do a comprehensive review, and I started reading from the beginning. I quickly began to bog down. On almost every page was something that required a response. There’s no way I can give this the complete review it deserves. That would run over a thousand pages. The book is only 123 pages.

What I’m going to do is to just pick out a few points and bear down. Detractors are going to complain that I’m picking and choosing. To those I will advise that you direct me to any issues you think I am avoiding. In these cases I will respond to the best of my ability. Please note that in my commentary I spell out Intelligent Design, and I capitalize it. That is in line with standard American English practice of capitalizing the names of religious movements.

Let me start with some background. I followed the case in the news when it first cropped up in 2004 on through the trial in the autumn of 2005. A comprehensive chronicle is Monkey Girl by Edward Humes:

That’s where the local version of an ancient conflict took root, in January 2002, when a new board member, Alan Bonsell, an auto and radiator repair shop owner with whom Casey had campaigned, announced that he was very concerned about issues of morality. He wanted to bring prayer and faith back into the public schools. We need the Bible in the classroom again, he argued strenuously, and we need to teach creationism to achieve a “fair and balanced curriculum .” More than budget cuts, more than textbooks, more than school construction or any of the other mundane but critical issues facing the district that they had all campaigned on, Bonsell seemed to care most about creationism. That, he said, was his number one issue. School prayer was second on his list.

Humes, Edward (2009-10-13). Monkey Girl . HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

This was in the Dover, Pennsylvania, public school system. Board member Alan Bonsell allied himself with William Buckingham, another board member. They consulted with the Discovery Institute and with the Thomas More Law Center. The Discovery Institute is the leading proponent for creationism in the United States, particularly Intelligent Design. The Thomas More Law Center was named after 16th century English lawyer Thomas More, who was beheaded by Henry VIII over his opposition to the Church of England. Seth Cooper, a lawyer at the Discovery Institute was in contact with Buckingham, and the school board received books and videos critical of evolution. A particular video was Icons of Evolution, based on a book of the same title by creationist Jonathan Wells, a Discovery Institute fellow.

From all of this, Bonsell, Buckingham and some other board members got the idea it would be legally defensible to teach creationism in the Dover public schools. There was opposition, a lot of conflict and some rethinking. Creationism, even the Intelligent Design version, would not be taught. The issue devolved into having science teachers read a disclaimer that said:

The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin’s theory of evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.

Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.

Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves.

As is true with any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the origins of life to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on standards-based assessments.

The science teachers recognized the wrongness of this action and refused to participate. Already eleven interested parties had joined in a lawsuit against the school. It was left to Assistant Superintendent Mike Baksa to read the prescribed text.

The case is named Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al. On 20 December 2005 District Judge John E. Jones III handed down his decision, and it was devastating for the defendants. The Judge’s decision banned promoting creationism in the school, witnesses for the defense were cited for perjured testimony and the school board was stuck with a bill of $1 million for the claimants legal expenses.

Reaction was immediate. The judge, a politically conservative appointee of President George W. Bush, received harsh criticism by conservative news commentators, his life was threatened, and he was given police protection. The Discovery Institute weighed in. This book was their response.

The authors are as follows and will be known henceforth as “DeWolf and others.”

  • David DeWolf—David K. DeWolf is a Professor of Law at Gonzaga School of Law in Spokane, Washington, and a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.
  • John G. West—Dr. John West is a Vice President and Senior Fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, where he also serves as Associate Director of the Institute’s Center for Science & Culture.
  • Casey Luskin—Casey Luskin is an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution.
  • Jonathan Witt—Jonathan Witt, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow for Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture and a Research Fellow for the Acton Institute.

The book has an introduction and four chapters. There is also a Conclusion The Need for Academic Freedom and appendices A, B and C. I’m going to take a sample from each of these parts to critique. Anybody asserting I’m cherry picking the evidence will need to contact me. I will provide additional examples.

Start with:

Introduction Judicial Courage or Judicial Overreach.

This is from pages 9-10:

The dogmatic tone of Judge Jones’ opinion is already attracting criticism from thoughtful scholars. Distinguished University of Chicago Law Professor Albert Alschuler, for one, has rebuked Judge Jones for smearing ID proponents as Biblical fundamentalists:

If fundamentalism still means what it meant in the early twentieth century … accepting the Bible as literal truth—the champions of intelligent design are not fundamentalists. They uniformly disclaim reliance on the Book and focus only on where the biological evidence leads.The court’s response—”well, that’s what they say, but we know what they mean”—is uncivil, an illustration of the dismissive and contemptuous treatment that characterizes much contemporary discourse. Once we know who you are, we need not listen. We’ve heard it all already.

That may or may not be worth noting. A lot would depend on whether Judge Jones actually smeared Intelligent Design proponents. Also whether he ever characterized them as Biblical fundamentalists. Apparently neither is the case. A search of Jones’ decision for the text “fundamental,” which would include the words “fundamentalist” and “fundamentalists,” found 16 instances. None of these references appear to be directed toward Intelligent Design proponents.

I am left wondering what the authors had in mind when making this assertion. Is this a case of somebody recognizing himself in a mirror?

The following is also from page 10:

Finally, although Kitzmiller was publicly portrayed as being about the “teaching” of intelligent design, in reality the Dover school board merely required students to hear a four-paragraph statement defining intelligent design as “an explanation of the origin of life that differs from
Darwin’s view”—a vapid description that supplied virtually no meaningful information about the substance of the theory. Students were further notified that “[ t]he reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students who might be interested in gaining an understanding of what Intelligent Design actually involves.” Such a minimalist policy was
a far cry from an intelligent design curriculum.

And why is this important? DeWitt and the others want to minimize the significance of Intelligent Design to the case. The problem is the case started out as an attempt to introduce Intelligent Design into the curriculum, and only shrank to its final scope after the suit was filed. Testimony given by witnesses for the plaintiffs detailed an earlier, nefarious intent on the part of the defendants:

During a meeting of the curriculum committee in early October , while the sole dissenter, Casey Brown , was absent, Bonsell, Buckingham, and Sheila Harkins came up with new language to replace Baksa’s in a matter of minutes: “Students will be made aware of gaps/ problems in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and of other theories of evolution, including but not limited to intelligent design. Note: Origins of Life is not taught.”

Humes, Edward (2009-10-13). Monkey Girl (p. 93). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The curriculum change, incorporating Intelligent design was sprung at a notable meeting:

But when the meeting convened on October 18, 2004, the champions of intelligent design were in no mood for compromise. In yet another wild, angry session, the board majority, led by Buckingham and Bonsell, presented its proposal just as Barrie Callahan had feared— without the usual notice to the public.

Humes, Edward (2009-10-13). Monkey Girl (p. 95). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Judge Jones cited this meeting in his ruling:

On December 14, 2004, Plaintiffs filed the instant suit challenging the constitutional validity of the October 18, 2004 resolution and November 19, 2004 press release (collectively, “the ID Policy”). It is contended that the ID Policy constitutes an establishment of religion prohibited by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as the Constitution of the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, nominal damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees.

[Judge’s ruling, Case No. 04cv2688, pp 2-3]

Protestations by deWolf and others notwithstanding, there was Intelligent Design intent, and this religiously-motivated concept was at the heart of the case.

Chapter I, Kitzmiller’s Partisan History of Intelligent Design.

This chapter has three sections:

  • A. The Ancient Origins of the Design Debate
  • B. The Modern Revival of the Design Debate in Physics and Cosmology
  • C. The Modern Revival of the Design Debate in Biology

From page 15:

A key part of Judge Jones’ ruling is his purported history of the intelligent design movement, which he depicts as the outgrowth of American Christian “Fundamentalism” with a capital “F.” It is important to note that Judge Jones cannot point to even a single doctrine unique to Christian fundamentalism that the theory of intelligent design incorporates. Indeed, he effectively concedes that ID proponents distinguish their theory from fundamentalism by pointing out that it does not involve arguments based on “the Book of Genesis”, “a young earth,” or “a catastrophic Noaich Hood.”

Lest DeWolf and others failed to notice, the plaintiff’s case chased the origins of the modern Intelligent Design movement, particularly as regards the proposed text Of Pandas and People, to the Edwards v. Aguillard case. That case involved the intent to teach Fundamentalist Christian philosophy in the public schools. Creationism was the object of contention. The Supreme Court ruled that the action of the local government in this case had a religious intent with no redeeming scientific merit. Plaintiffs demonstrated in the Kitzmiller case that the modern Intelligent Design movement in part, and the current rendition Pandas book in whole, sprang from this case.

DeWolf and others additionally make the case that Michael Behe and Scott Minnich, both proponents of Intelligent Design and testifying for the defense, are not religious fundamentalists. While it is good to know this, it is of no importance. The plaintiffs successfully demonstrated a connection between religious fundamentalism and Intelligent Design. The connection was never to imply Intelligent Design is based on religious fundamentalism. The point made was that Intelligent Design, like young Earth creationism, is aimed at promoting a religious view point. In case somebody asks which particular religious view point, the answer is the creation of novel biological features by means of the intervention of a mythical person.

Chapter II,  Kitzmiller’s Unpersuasive Case Against the Scientific Status of Intelligent Design

This also has three sections.

  • A. Judge Jones Wrongly Assumed the Authority to Decide What Science Is
  • B. Judge Jones Conflated The Question of Whether Something Is Scientific with the Question of Which Scientific Theory Is Most Popular
  • C. Judge Jones Disqualified ID As Science Only by Misrepresenting the Facts

I will just pick one point from this chapter, that Judge Jones disqualified Intelligent Design as science only by misrepresenting the facts. DeWolf and others quote from page 62 of the judge’s decision, specifically:

(1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980’s; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. As we will discuss in more detail below, it is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research.

I will summarize the book’s argument by posting the essentials of page 30. I have removed the footnotes and references to them. The quoted text is from the court decision:

1. “ID violates the centuries-old ground rules ‘of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation.”

Judge Jones makes two interrelated claims here that need to be distinguished: a. ID invokes or permits supernatural causation and b. ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science.

a. Does ID invoke or permit supernatural causation?

Although Judge Jones sometimes claims that ID either “invokes or permits supernatural causation,” it becomes clear in his opinion that his real claim is much stronger: He repeatedly insists that ID “requires supernatural creation.” Judge Jones can make this claim only by misrepresenting the actual views of intelligent design scientists, who consistently have maintained that empirical evidence cannot tell one whether the intelligent causes detected through modern science are inside or outside of nature. As a scientific theory, ID only claims that there is empirical evidence that key features of the universe and living things are the
products of an intelligent cause. Whether the intelligent cause involved is inside or outside of nature cannot be decided by empirical evidence alone. That larger question involves philosophy, including metaphysics. In addition to the clear testimony of ID witnesses during the trial on this point, Judge Jones was provided with fifteen pages of documentation
unequivocally demonstrating that ID proponents from the beginning have repeatedly argued that design theory does not rely on supernatural causation, and they have consistently maintained this position whether writing for religious or secular audiences.” Ignoring this evidence, Judge Jones proceeded to highlight a few quotations cited by the plaintiffs to
prove his conclusion that ID requires supernatural causation. However, Judge Jones distorts the plain meaning of these quotations, which contradict, rather than support, his claim.

Hopefully you have read through this argument and digested it. My response is simply “no.”  No on two points:

1. The plain fact is that Intelligent Design does require supernatural causation. An unknown, unseen, unworldly “designer” is the very essence of the supernatural. No reasonable person thinks that Intelligent Design seeks only natural causes. People are drawn to Intelligent Design because of its inference of a supernatural designer, whom the faithful recognize to mean the God of Abraham.

2. Statements by Intelligent Design proponents that “design theory does not rely on supernatural causation” are demonstrably facetious. Take special note that DeWolf and others continually refer to what Intelligent Design proponents say about their intentions. It’s as though what they say reflects the truth. Even a brief reading of the history of the movement reveals that these statements of intention are half truths at best, closely approaching outright fabrication. Instances abound of leaders of the Intelligent Design movement proclaiming rejection of purely natural processes. Professor Phillip Johnson has been one of the key philosophers of the Intelligent Design movement, and his thinking accurately portrays its core:

If we understand our own times, we will know that we should affirm the reality of God by challenging the domination of materialism and naturalism in the world of the mind. With the assistance of many friends I have developed a strategy for doing this….

Phillip Johnson, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, Inter Varsity Press. pp 91-92

Chapter III Kitzmiller’s Failure to Treat Religion in a Neutral Manner

This chapter has the following four sections:

  • A. One-Sided (Non-Neutral) Treatment Of Religious Implications
  • B. One-Sided (Non-Neutral) Treatment Of Secondary Effects
  • C. One-Sided (Non-Neutral) Treatment Of Religious Motives
  • D. An Effort to Dictate a Particular Theological View of Evolution

In this case the chapter introduction will suffice. This is from pages 59 and 60. I have not included the footnotes or the references to them:

Judge Jones based his ruling on the requirements of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, bur he failed to observe the cardinal principle of the Establishment Clause, which is that religion must be treated in a neutral manner: “The First Amendment does not select anyone group or anyone type of religion for preferred treatment. It puts them all in [the same] … position.”

Judge Jones seemed to think that the possible religious implications of intelligent design theory made it a religious theory. He reached that conclusion apparently without even considering whether the religious implications of Darwinian evolution would yield the same conclusion. Similarly, he looked to the supposed religious motivations of the pro-
ponents of intelligent design theory to establish the religious nature of intelligent design theory without subjecting the proponents of Darwinian evolution to the same test. For example, many pages of Judge Jones’ opinion are devoted to establishing the history of the “intelligent design movement” and the theological views of its advocates. He relies extensively on the testimony of Barbara Forrest, who “thoroughly and exhaustively chronicled the history of ID in her book and other writings for her testimony in this case.” There was no attempt to verify that purported history and nowhere does Judge Jones subject Barbara Forrest to an examination of whether her background or her beliefs might be relevant to the case. If Judge Jones wanted to play the motivation game, he ought in fairness to have addressed the extensive evidence in one of the amicus briefs documenting the anti-religious affiliations and motivations of many leading Darwinists, including especially Professor Forrest herself.

Again, “no.” This time on four points.

1. DeWolf and others start out trying to convince the reader that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is intended to prevent differentiation between religious sects. That is not the wording of the clause. The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” Enough said about that.

2. DeWolf and others state that “Judge Jones seemed to think that the possible religious implications of intelligent design theory made it a religious theory.” He did, and it does. Intelligent Design does have a religious base. It is a religious theory.

3. Further, “He reached that conclusion apparently without even considering whether the religious implications of Darwinian evolution would yield the same conclusion.” There are, in fact, no religious implications of Darwinian evolution. Darwinian evolution, like all valid scientific theories, is based on observed facts and objective reasoning. No religious motivation is required to support Darwinian evolution.

4. DeWolf and others state “There was no attempt to verify that purported history and nowhere does Judge Jones subject Barbara Forrest to an examination of whether her background or her beliefs might be relevant to the case.” Such an attempt, were it to be made, would have been the job of the defense attorneys. The fact that the case was not made is compelling evidence that the case could not be made.

Finally, it so curious, almost humorous, the way DeWolf and others lay religious implications into an argument that they purport to be all about science.

Chapter IV Kitzmiller’s Limited Value as a Precedent

This chapter has three sections:

  • A. Cases Deal With the Parties Before Them
  • B. An Adverse Judgment Against a Party Requires an Opportunity for Them to be Heard
  • C. The Absence Of Parties To An Appeal

It is here DeWolf and others have the best opportunity to make a point. The fact is that Kitzmiller does have limited values as a precedent. Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. filed their suit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Since the case was never appealed and taken to a higher level, e.g., the United States Supreme Court, then the court’s findings have legal precedence only within this district. DeWolf and others are also correct in asserting the only party bound by Judge Jones’ decision is the defendant in the case, the Dover Area School District.  They want to believe, rather they want readers to believe, this case has truly limited scope. To this point they assert early on (page 13):

Second, and more troubling, is the Judge’s suggestion that his determination of whether IO is science would spare Iuture judges the need to make their own determination. Judge Jones is a federal trial court judge in one particular district court in Pennsylvania. But he writes as ifhe has the right and duty to decide the question of whether intelligent design is science for all other judges in the entire United States in the future and, thereby, to legislate the question for the whole country. Lower federal court judges are bound by Supreme Court precedents, but they certainly aren’t bound by the rulings of other lower court judges at the same level. Although other federal judges can refer to Judge Jones’ decision (especially to his legal reasoning), every judge has a duty to reach an impartial and independent determination of the facts and law in the cases before him. Another federal district court judge would be remiss to simply say, “Well, Judge Jones has already decided the matter, so there is no need for me to do any fact-finding of my own.” Nor should a judge tell the parties to a new case: “I’ve decided not to allow you to present any evidence, because Judge Jones already heard the evidence three years ago.”

By page 75 DeWolf and others are bemoaning the opportunity to appeal an erroneous judgment. Again I am ignoring the footnotes:

One mechanism for correcting errors at the trial court level is the availability of the right to appeal on behalf of the party who is the victim of bad judicial reasoning. Of course, many cases are never appealed because the losing party recognizes that the adverse judgment was not a result of legal error, and therefore an appeal would be futile. In this case, by contrast, not only was the “intelligent design movement” never a party to the case, but the board members who represented the nominal defendant (the Dover Area School District) were voted out of office in the November election six weeks before the opinion was issued. The
new school board, which has the power to appeal the case, campaigned on a platform that essentially agreed with those who filed the lawsuit. Moreover, they waited to change the policy until after the judge issued his opinion-only because they wanted the judge to rule against the former board members’ policy and in spite of the legal jeopardy that they
created by waiting. As a consequence, there is no party who has any stake in correcting the judge’s errors. This is similar to a case in which a trial court makes an erroneous ruling, but before the appellate court can correct the error, the parties settle and the issue becomes moot.

A lot of this thinking is predicated on the unlikely prospect the appeal would have been successful.

  • None of the defense witnesses spoke successfully for the supposed scientific basis for Intelligent Design.
  • Plaintiff’s witnesses successfully demonstrated the absence of scientific merit for Intelligent Design.
  • Plaintiff’s witnesses successfully demonstrated the religious basis for Intelligent Design and the religious intent of the defendants.
  • The malfeasance of critical parties of the school district was demonstrated. Defendant’s witnesses testifying against this fact were found to have perjured themselves.

And appeal of Judge Jones’ decision was going nowhere. The citizens of the Dover Area School District had been misled and badly served by the principals in the case. These people had abused the power entrusted to them by the voters, and now the voters were liable for a million dollars in court expenses. The voters rejected the people who had betrayed them. Whether the District could have avoided the court expenses by abolishing the previous board’s policy is unlikely:

  • The suite demanded reimbursement of court expenses in addition to a finding of fault.
  • By the time of the election of the new board (8 November 2005), the plaintiffs had already incurred considerable legal expenses. Trial testimony was nearly complete. Closure of the case at this point would have required payment of the monetary damages.

Monetary awards demanded by the plaintiffs are noted in the court decision, pages 2 and 3:

Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, nominal damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees.

The new board could do nothing to avoid these costs by abandoning the defense. DeWolf and others are being disingenuous at the least on this point.

Conclusion: The Need for Academic Freedom

There is so much irony on exhibit here. Page 77 opens with:

Judge Jones’ opinion highlights the pressing need to affirm and defend the right of teachers and students to express honest disagreement with the claims of Darwinian evolution. For all of his concern about the illegitimacy of requiring teachers to mention intelligent design or to “denigrate or disparage”187 evolution, Judge Jones showed no similar interest in the freedom of teachers and students to express opinions that might be critical of Darwinian evolution. As a result, his opinion is likely to be used by defenders of Darwin’s theory as a pretext for censoring even completely voluntary expressions of dissenting scientific views by teachers and students.

The footnote reference seems to be to page 138 of the court’s decision, even though the actual footnote points toward page 52, which contains similar wording.

Let’s take a look at what academic freedom is all about. Academic freedom is supposed to allow scholars and students to pursue serious studies without political interference. The specter of Intelligent Design is the opposite of academic freedom. Intelligent Design is a concept developed by people often working outside the related area of study. These people seek to infiltrate the concept into school curricula, circumventing the usual review for accuracy and academic merit.

Page 77 continues:

Teachers seeking to “teach the controversy” over Darwinian evolution in today’s climate will likely be met with false warnings that it is unconstitutional to say anything negative about Darwinian evolution. Students who attempt to raise questions about Darwinism, or who try to elicit from the teacher an honest answer about the status of intelligent design theory will trigger administrators’ concerns about whether they stand in constitutional jeopardy. A chilling effect on open inquiry is being felt in several states already, including Ohio, South Carolina, and California. Judge Jones’ message is clear: give Darwin only praise, or else face the wrath of the judiciary.

“Teach the controversy” is a key phrase employed by proponents of Intelligent Design. There is a controversy. There is a controversy because proponents have created a controversy. Now that there is a controversy, we need to teach the controversy.

The problem is, proponents really would not like the controversy to be taught. Let’s see how a classroom discussion would go if a teacher actually taught the controversy:

Today, class, we are going to investigate the controversial topic of Intelligent Design. Not only is it controversial, but it is entirely worthless as an academic study.

The problem is, if an earnest teacher were required to tell students about Intelligent Design, that teacher would feel obliged to give students all the available information about Intelligent Design. The teacher would proceed to tell his students about the origins of the movement, its use of subterfuge and the lack of any serious research published in scientific journals. The teacher would also get into the mendacious methods employed by proponents of Intelligent Design. That would not go well with those seeking to use political influence to promote Intelligent Design. There is a case in point:

A Santa Ana federal judge ruled in 2009 that Corbett violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause when he referred to Creationism as “religious, superstitious nonsense” during a classroom lecture.

James Corbett, a teacher at Capistrano Valley High School in Orange County, California, responded when a student brought up the topic of creationism in 2007. The fact is that creationism is religious, superstitious nonsense, and any teacher who says otherwise is deceiving his students. Teaching the controversy would involve a lot of that and would result in a load of litigation if Corbett’s case is an example.

Appendix A: Whether ID Is Science: Michael Behe’s Response to Kitzmiller v. Dover

This section was contributed by creationist Michael Behe. Behe is a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University. He is also a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute‘s Center for Science and Culture. He is noted for his 1996 book Darwin’s Black Box, and he has also written The Edge of Evolution. He was also one of the expert witnesses called by the defense in Kitzmiller. The matter of expert witnesses was a principal weakness for the defense:

Just before the scheduled depositions of three of the experts from the Discovery Institute— Dembski, Meyer, and Campbell— they all decided that they wanted their own attorneys present to watch out for their legal interests. (The other witnesses from Discovery , Minnich and Behe, had already been deposed by that point, without their own lawyers.)

Humes, Edward (2009-10-13). Monkey Girl (p. 240). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Dembski is William Dembski, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute. Meyer is Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, the Discovery Institute zone concerned with promoting creationism. Campbell is Professor John Angus Campbell, “professor of communications and rhetoric at the University of Memphis.” [Humes, Edward (2009-10-13). Monkey Girl (p. 233). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition] His task for the defense would have been to explain the benefit of presenting opposing arguments. Scott Minnich is a fellow of the Center for Science and Culture.

With the exit of the first three, it fell to Behe and Scott Minnich to explain the benefits of Intelligent Design. As it turned out, Behe’s testimony was of little value for the defense. In this section Professor Behe wants to explain why Intelligent Design qualifies as science. He takes on specific wording in the court’s decision in a number of bullet points. The first is on page 80. Text from the decision is in italics.

1. ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation. 

It does no such thing. The Court’s opinion ignores, both here and elsewhere, the distinction between an implication of a theory and the theory itself. As I testified, when it was first proposed the Big Bang theory struck many scientists as pointing to a supernatural cause. Yet it clearly is a scientific theory, because it is based entirely on physical data and logical inferences. The same is true of intelligent design.

In this Behe is completely wrong. He has deliberately misconstrued the body and spirit of Intelligent Design. Intelligent Design has been first and foremost a religious concept. It was dredged up to provide a religion-based alternative to natural explanations.

In his point number 11 Behe discusses the debacle of the cross examination following his testimony.

The lasting image of Behe, however , came near the end of the cross-examination. The biochemist had testified that there were no published papers to explain the evolution of the immune system, which he considered irreducibly complex. Rothschild proceeded to pile a stack of books and fifty-eight peer-reviewed articles on the witness stand, all about the evolution of the immune system.

“So these are not good enough?” Rothschild asked.

Sitting there surrounded by the scientific literature, Behe said, “They don’t address the question I’m posing.”

Humes, Edward (2009-10-13). Monkey Girl (p. 306). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

In particular, Behe was asked about the claims he made in Darwin’s Black Box:

We can look high, we can look low, in books or in journals, but th result is the same. The scientific literature has no answers to the questions of the origin of the immune system.

[Darwin’s Block Box, page 138]

Behe’s point 11 includes a number of challenges, one being (page 86):

2. I was given no chance to read them, and at the time considered the dumping of a stack of papers and books on the witness stand to be just a stunt, simply bad courtroom theater. Yet the Court treats it seriously.

Professor Behe, the time to have read these papers and books would have been 1996 and before. Before you published the absurd statement that “[t]he scientific literature has no answers to the questions of the origin of the immune system.”

Appendix B: Selected Peer-Reviewed And Peer-Edited Publications Supporting the Theory of Intelligent Design (Annotated)

Since I have covered this issue in a previous post, I will just provide a link and an excerpt:

In his book about the Kitzmiller trial, Edward Humes describes the cross examination of author Michael Behe. Behe had claimed the DBB was peer-reviewed. On cross examination attorney Eric Rothschild asked Behe about reviewer Michael Atchison. Then Rothschild recounted the story behind Atchison’s review of DBB.

The book’s editor told his wife about the book. The wife was a student of Atchison’s, and she suggested that Atchison talk to the editor. Atchison had a ten-minute phone conversation with the editor and got a description of the book. Atchison suggested the book would be good reading. And that was the peer review.

[See Edward Humes, Monkey Girl. pp 302-303. Harper, 2007.]

Appendix C: Brief of Amici Curiae Biologists And Other Scientists in Support of the Defendants in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District

Creationists have the need to demonstrate legitimacy. They want to be able to demonstrate that legitimate scientists embrace creationism, so they run out long lists of otherwise intelligent people who 1) embrace creationism, or 2) have issues with modern theories of biological evolution.

Discovery Institute submitted a brief of amici curiae along with a list of 85 people supposedly supporting the case for the defendants. The introduction is on page 103:

Amici curiae are scientists who oppose any attempt to define the nature of science in a way that would limit their ability to follow the evidence wherever it may lead. Since the identification of intelligent causes is a well established scientific practice in fields such as forensic science, archaeology, and exobiology,’ Amici urge this Court to reject plaintiffs’ claim that the application of intelligent design to biology is unscientific. Any ruling that depends upon an outdated or inaccurate definition of science, or which attempts to define the boundaries of science, could hinder scientific progress.

These are people of substance and not to be considered crackpots. For starters, the list includes (page 120):

  • Richard M Anderson, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, Duke
    University
  • Phillip A. Bishop, Professor of Kinesiology, University of Alabama
  • John A. Bloom, Professor of Physics, Biola University
  • William H. Bordeaux, Professor of Chemistry, Huntington University
  • Gregory J. Brewer, Professor of Neurology, Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Cell Biology, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine
  • Rudolf Brits, Ph.D. Nuclear Chemistry, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Mary A. Brown, DVD (Veterinary Medicine), The Ohio State University
  • John R. Cannon, Ph.D. Chemistry, Princeton University
  • Russell W. Carlson, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Executive Technical Director, Plant and Microbial Carbohydrates, Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, University of Georgia
  • Jarrod W. Carter., Ph.D. Bioengineering, University of Washington
  • Mark A. Chambers, Ph.D. Virology, University of Cambridge
  • I. Caroline Crocker, Ph.D. Immunopharmacology, University of Southampton
  • Lisanne D’Andrea-Winslow, Associate Professor of Biology, Northwestern College
  • Paul S. Darby, M.D., Georgetown University School of Medicine, Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, University of Georgia
  • Lawrence DeMejo, Ph.D. Polymer Science and Engineering , University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  • David DeWitt, Ph.d. Neuroscience, Case Western University
  • Michael R. Egnor, Professor and Vice-Chairman, Department of Neurological Surgery, State University of New York at Stony Brook

That’s an impressive list. However, these are not the bright lights of biological science either. Mary Brown, with a DVD in veterinary medicine is likely not doing cutting edge biological research. There are a few on just this page who have some history. Caroline Crocker I have covered already. Also Michael Egnor.

For the rest, we may wonder what it was they signed up to to get on the list. If it’s just the wording in the introduction above, then it would be hard to fault the signatories. If they were each advised they would be supporting some creationists attempting to introduce Intelligent Design into a public science curriculum, then it would be another matter. They would have only themselves to blame.

So this is that kind of book. You’ve been complaining for years that you have this big message that will change the world, but nobody will take you seriously. Nobody will listen to you. So finally something happens, and people tell you that now you’re going to have to explain yourself. Then everybody is looking at you and waiting to hear what you have to say. You tell your story, and afterwards people say, “What? Is that it?”

Then it’s all over, and what you had to say didn’t come across the way you wanted. So, there’s nothing left to do but write a book about why you didn’t get a fair shake. And this is that kind of book.

It’s been several years now, and I’ve been putting off doing a review. There is just so much wrong, it’s hard to do this book justice. When you review a book on Amazon you can give it from one to five stars. It may surprise my readers, but I would have given this four Amazon stars. The spelling and punctuation is absolutely superb. Besides that, the authors have gone to great lengths to develop their argument. It’s not the book that’s so wrong, it’s the argument. I have a copy of Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kamph, and I can say DeWolf and others have put out a much better product.

CreationismCompeting

Governors Acting Brilliantly

Diplomystus dentatus Herring Species Eocene Epoch 50,000,000 years old Green River Formation Lincoln Co. Wyoming Diploaystus dentatus Herring Eocene period 50,000,000 years old Green River Formation Lincoln Co., Wyoming

You’ve been studying for your Phy Chem final, and you haven’t been watching the news. So to fill you in, here’s what’s been happening. Early this month two French creationists attacked a satirical magazine headquarters in Paris, murdering eight staffers and four others, besides. Another French creationist murdered a police woman and then four people at a Paris grocery store. Now the entire nation, plus countries nearby, are up in arms about people who believe in creationism coming back from war zones in the Middle East and plotting lethal attacks. Last week Belgium police raided an apartment in Verviers, killed two creationists, and took another into custody. Information is the now dead were part of a plot for additional murder.

With all this murdering and plotting going on people are starting to ask, what is it about Europe that allowed this business to get started. There is talk about Muslims immigrating to Europe and not fitting in. Some of these are creationists and take strong objection to those making light of their favorite myths. There is talk of Muslims, even those native to European countries, clustering into neighborhoods to protect their culture. Talk is these neighborhoods harbor reactionaries who take creationism seriously enough to murder for it. There is also talk of “no-go zones.” These are places where “police are afraid to go.” This is scary business.

Fortunately there are some who are taking notice. Some are calling for action. One of these is the governor of a state in the U.S. That would be Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

LONDON — In a foreign policy speech delivered Monday in London, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said that in the West, “non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can without regard for the laws of the democratic countries which provided them a new home.”

The Republican governor added that “it is startling to think that any country would allow, even unofficially, for a so-called ‘no-go zone’.”

Jindal remarks came during an address to the Henry Jackson Society in a committee room at the U.K.’s House of Commons with several British members of parliament attending.

Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want, but I find it refreshing that an American governor has the temerity to stand up and speak what we all know to be true. I’m getting the message that if Governor Jindal had his way, these creationists would soon find themselves answerable to a higher power—the local police. What is even more remarkable about Governor Jindal’s response to these creations is that he is, himself, a creationist.

Bobby Jindal: I’m fine with teaching creationism in public schools

Students should be taught “the best science,” Jindal said, including evolution, creationism and intelligent design

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says that he wouldn’t mind if public school students were taught creationism and intelligent design in addition to evolution, as long as it’s “the best science.”

In an interview on NBC, Jindal, a Republican, said: “Bottom line, at the end of the day, we want our kids to be exposed to the best facts. Let’s teach them about the big bang theory, let’s teach them about evolution – I’ve got no problem if a school board, a local school board, says we want to teach our kids about creationism, that people, some people, have these beliefs as well, let’s teach them about ‘intelligent design.’”

What Governor Jindal fails to note in his remarks is that Intelligent Design is creationism, so he’s really saying he’s OK with teaching creationism plus creationism plus actual science in public schools. Can I top that? Yes, I can. Governor Jindal holds a degree in biology from Brown University. Apparently his degree program made little of the modern theories of biological evolution, because his stock response to the big question is “The reality is I’m not an evolutionary biologist.” Piling irony on top of irony is that one of the nation’s leading supporters of teaching evolution is Professor Kenneth Miller, co-author of evolution-lace texts and also teaching at Brown University.

But enough about failed states. This is supposed to be about the governor’s acumen relating to international jihad. Here goes.

When pressed for the source of his inside track on no-go zones, Jindal eventually coughed up a January 2014 item from England’s Daily Mail.

Murders and rapes going unreported in no-go zones for police as minority communities launch own justice systems

Fortunately, according to the Daily Mail, it’s not that the police cannot go to these zones, it’s just that they do not go to these zones. They don’t because nobody calls them to come when there’s a crime. People handle problems in the ‘hood on their own. Shades of sharia law.

A further problem with the governor’s source is that its sole voice is that of Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor:

Although Mr Winsor did not specifically refer to any ethnic group, there have been growing concerns over the emergence of sharia courts in some Muslim communities.

Senior police officers said they disagreed with the description given by Mr Winsor, who became chief inspector in October 2012. He is the first person from a non-police background to hold the post.

But Chris Sims, Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, said: ‘I don’t know if he’s talking about Birmingham, but I have only had one conversation with him since he took office and it wasn’t about this.

‘His characterisation of these communities as born under other skies is just wrong. Many members of communities in Birmingham are British-born and I find that a very odd expression.’

Mr Winsor insisted that public trust in the police needed to be restored for a functioning justice system.

He said the police ‘are not a paramilitary force – they are citizens in uniform’.

A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: ‘We all rely on the police to protect our communities and this can be only done through full co-operation and partnership.”

This is the first month of the 2016 election season, and rumors are afloat that Governor Jindal may seek a presidential bid. Vice president at the least. That being, these questions are bound to come up. Some pesky reporter will try to snag the governor with the evolution question. The “I’m not a scientist, man,” is not going to fly much better than it did with Marco Rubio. On top of that there are bound to be the embarrassing questions about no-go zones. It’s possible these questions are the real no-go zone.

Heart of Stupid

I borrowed the title from Joseph Conrad. I’m holding onto it for continuity. These posts are in response to comments from creationist David Buckna. Here is a link to the previous post.

MeganFox-01

Creationist David Buckna commented on a prior post. One comment included the following three links. I have previously responded to other parts. The following is from David Buckna:

http://creation.com/dawn-of-the-mammals

http://creation.com/mammal-ear-evolution

http://creation.com/could-the-mammalian-middle-ear-have-evolved-twice

All three links are to pages on the Creation Ministries site. The first was posted last March by creationist Russell Grigg and is titled David Attenborough’s Dawn of the Mammals. Grigg sets out to critique Episode 2 of the TV series, Rise of Animals. He instructs readers on how to avoid being convinced by Attenborough’s presentation. For starters:

In order to show the alleged progress of evolution over millions of years, Attenborough’s tactic is to show fossils of animals with alleged different ‘beneficial’ characteristics in a descending order of alleged ‘long’ ages. These are not the various fossils’ real ages, but are the ages that evolutionists have allotted to the various strata in which the fossils have been found. And how is the age of any particular stratum determined ultimately? Answer: By the fossil(s) which it contains. This is circular reasoning, and such ‘illogic’ would have no validity as ‘evidence’ or be tolerated in any other scientific discipline. It is unique to the theory of evolution. Make no mistake: radiometric dating does not break this circle—there are many examples of radiometric ‘dates’ being trumped by the fossil ‘dates’, as shown in How dating methods work.

Grigg’s initial effort is apparently to cast doubt on deep time. A frequent challenge by creationists, particularly by those adhering to the recent creation of the Earth story in the Bible, is to contradict geologists’ methods for determining the ages of formations. Note Grigg’s use of the wording “alleged ‘long’ ages.” Modern science dates geological formations to the millions and billions of years old. This must be countered by creationists of the first kind.

As Grigg alludes, paleontologists determine the age of fossils by the age of the geological formation in which they are found. This is not unreasonable.

  • There usually is no method for direct determination of the age of a fossil.
  • The ages of various geological formations can be and have been determined with good assurance.

If an animal  fossil is determined to have been encased in a specific formation at the time the formation was laid down, then there is the good presumption the animal died during the time the formation was laid down. The age of the fossil is then presumed to be of the same age as the formation.

Often, geological formations, layers of rock or sedimentary material, encompass large regions. If a study of the entire formation determines there is good certainty the entire formation was laid down during the same period, then varied regions within the formation are presumed, not unreasonably, to be of the same age.

If the location of a fossil find cannot be directly measured, but another region of the same formation can be, then the reasonable conclusion is the fossil is the approximate age of the region that can be dated.

If a geological formation spans a large period of time (bottom part is much older than the top part), then the age of a fossil can be adjusted with respect to the measured point in the formation by assuming some rate of growth of the formation.

If no point in a formation can be dated, then geologists can look to formations that overlay the one in question and also formations below. If the ages of formations above and below can be determined, then the age of the formation in question can be estimated by the bracketing ages. The initial presumption is that formations on the bottom were laid down prior to formations on the top.

This sequence can be skewed, however. There is a geological process called over thrusting. Once formed, two adjacent regions can be pushed together, causing one to overlay the other. This causes some older rock to overlay some younger rock. In other cases a layer can be folded by horizontal force, causing a region to be completely overturned, reversing the order in which the layers were originally formed. Professional geologists recognize when this has happened and make allowances.

Grigg uses this much-abused argument: “These are not the various fossils’ real ages, but are the ages that evolutionists have allotted to the various strata in which the fossils have been found. And how is the age of any particular stratum determined ultimately? Answer: By the fossil(s) which it contains. This is circular reasoning, and such ‘illogic’ would have no validity as ‘evidence’ or be tolerated in any other scientific discipline.” This would make some sense if it were not false at its base. What undoes this argument is that ultimately the ages of formations are determined by radiometric dating.

Grigg needs next to attack the validity of radiometric dating. His link to radiometric dating. is not to a scientific source but to another page on the Creation Ministries International site. Following that, his link to How dating methods work is to yet another page on the CMI site. So far, Grigg has not pointed readers to any reputable sources to make his argument. I am now left with the choice of continuing to follow David Buckna’s chain of links in search of elusive validity or calling a halt to this charade. I’m going to choose the latter.

David submitted a comment to my prior post. That post stated, in part:

I’m continuing a review of comments from creationist David Buckna. I will keep the current title for this series in order to maintain continuity. Additionally the wording tends to reflect the sense of the comments I’ve been receiving.

I stated that I was not going to respond to his lengthy comment all at once, but would piece my response out in manageable bites. This led to an email dialog and the three links I noted above.

Rather than address my original statements directly, David has responded with links to numerous sources of dubious quality. If I pursue this dialog in the manner of David’s choosing I will be left with putting hours of response for each of David’s links to nowhere. My preference would be to have a dialog with somebody who has facts in hand and is willing to make an argument based on these facts. That person is not David Buckna.

Readers are invited to challenge me on this. Why am I not pursuing each of David’s links in turn and spinning out long analyses of each point in these long chains? Fair enough. If anybody reading this wants analysis of a particular claim by David or by any of the sources he has linked to, then I am eager to respond.

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

Bad Movie of the Week

MonumentsMen-01

Not all that bad a movie, and fun to watch. It’s loosely based on actual events from World War Two. It’s The Monuments Men from Columbia Pictures in 2014. So this is not one of those old movies I so often review. I first saw this while riding on an airplane on vacation, but I didn’t put on the earphones. I was trying to get some sleep, but I kept watching the images on the flickering screen and decided this was going to be worth a view. I bought the DVD.

George Clooney wrote the script, inspired by the book of (nearly) the same name by Robert M. Edsel. It’s about some art historians, artists, preservationists, who are inducted into service to protect Europe’s greatest treasures from the ravages of war. The film opens with a shot of Italians working to recover Leonardo di Vinci’s Last Supper from its bombed out building.

.

MonumentsMen-05

If you do not already know, this famous work of art is a giant wall painting in Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Our American Air Force bombed the place out, knocking down all the walls in the building except the one hosting the painting. The need to protect such works led to the creation of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program.

Other sources attest to this need. Reading through various histories of the war I came across an item by a soldier who had been commanded to shell the Leaning Tower of Pisa. American and British forces were working their way up the Italian peninsula, and when the Americans came to Pisa they were on the south side of the Arno River, and the Germans were on the north side. The famous tower is on the north side. Somebody figured Germans had positioned themselves in the tower as artillery spotters, and this business had to be stopped by putting a few shells into the structure, which was poorly constructed in the first place.

IMG_5816

As it turned out, the artillery officer in charged had no plans to become known as the Man Who Shelled the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so he disobeyed the order and didn’t fire. Eventually somebody figured out the Germans weren’t in the tower, so the historic structure was preserved.

No such good fortune befell the equally historic Campo Santo, right next door. An American bombing raid left it in ruins, and what’s there today is mostly from a subsequent restoration project.

IMG_5856

Campo Santo in 2014

The historic abbey at Monte Cassino southeast of Rome, the place of origin of the Benedictine Order from the year 529, was reduced to ruin by massive Allied bombing.

Back to the movie—Nazis are looting works of art in occupied countries, including the  Van Eyck altarpiece in Ghent, Belgium.

MonumentsMen-02

MonumentsMen-06

Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering was a notorious art collector-thief at the time.

Goering claimed at Nuremberg that it was his plan to establish a national collection of masterpieces in his name, and house them in a great gallery which was to be built on his estate near Carinhall after the war. He planned this to coincide with his sixtieth birthday. There is no doubt that this was true; a portfolio of architect’s drawings for the gallery dated January 1945 was discovered by the Americans among his possessions. 3 His collection would rival that of Hitler, whose own great store of paintings remained mostly in crates waiting for the day when a gallery could be built in Linz. In his greedy acquisition of paintings Goering was to become Hitler’s principal rival , as he readily admitted at the trial in Nuremberg.

Fraenkel, Heinrick; Manvell, Roger (2011-03-02). Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader (Kindle Locations 4866-4871). Frontline. Kindle Edition.

He raised the plunder of art to an industrial scale. Many stolen works were from private collections, whose owners no longer had use for them, since they had since been sent to die in one or more of the Nazi death camps.

Goering had appointed a Berlin art dealer called Walter Andreas Hofer to act as his agent and adviser in all matters of art. Hofer became the principal organizer of Goering’s collection, planning and tracing acquisitions for the Reich Marshal, selecting the birthday presents from industrialists, State institutions and local authorities, and organizing the Reich Marshal’s deals and purchases .

Fraenkel, Heinrick; Manvell, Roger (2011-03-02). Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader (Kindle Locations 4854-4857). Frontline. Kindle Edition.

The movie shows Goering arriving in Paris and paying a visit ostensibly to the Jeu de Paume Museum. This was the place where much stolen art was brought in preparation for shipment to the Nazi homeland. In the movie the curator is Claire Simone (Cate Blanchett), but the real-life curator was Rose Valland, a member of the French Resistance.

MonumentsMen-03

MonumentsMen-04

The Wikipedia entry describes this movie as a “comedy-drama war film,” and when Goering’s art agent orders Claire to bring them each a glass of champaign, she and her assistant take turns spitting into the glasses before pouring the champaign. Evil Nazi officer Viktor Stahl (Justus von Dohnányi) threatens Claire with arrest if she persists in working to thwart the Nazis’ plunder. A scene shows Claire discovering the art works have been removed from the museum, and she confronts Stahl at the rail yard as he boards a train with the loot. She stands stoically watching from a bridge as Stahl attempts to shoot her with his pistol.

Anyhow, the American, British and French figured there had been enough of that, so next the movie shows artsy types from all over being enticed, recruited, inducted into the armed forces.

MonumentsMen-07

They even go through basic training, including weapons training.

MonumentsMen-08

In July of 1944 we see the men entering continental Europe across the same beaches where 30 days previously allied troops had died by the thousands.

MonumentsMen-09

By artful interrogation of selected German prisoners, the Monuments Men are able to get some leads on where stolen art is being sequestered.

MonumentsMen-10

Things get dicey when the men get too close to the front lines. One scene shows two pairing up to take out a sniper holed up in a building.

MonumentsMen-11

Along with other Allied troops, the men endure the agonizing winter of 1944-1945, and March-April finds them deep inside Germany. Stahl has taken refuge as a civilian, living in his place in the country with his wife and two small children. Two of the men stumble onto him and enjoy a quiet dinner with the family. They admire the amazing art on the walls around them. In particular, one of the men is drawn to two famous works.

MonumentsMen-12

Even without formal art training, the viewer may recognize the famous Renoir on the wall behind Stahl.

Portrait of Mademoiselle Irene Cahen d'Anvers

Portrait of Mademoiselle Irene Cahen d’Anvers

It is from the Rothschild Collection, and Private Preston Savitz (Preston Savitz) takes a peek. Sergeant Richard Campbell (Bill Murray) quietly asks Stahl if his wife speaks English. Stahl is nervous and replies no. Stahl is then informed that “Rothschild” is on the back of the Renoir. By now Sergeant Campbell’s .45 pistol is out on the dinner table. We next see a much distressed Stahl riding away in a Jeep with Campbell and Savitz and a trailer load of art towed behind.

There is tragedy, as well. Attempting to keep the Germans from taking the marble Madonna and Child by Michelangelo from a church in Bruges in Belgium, British Second Lieutenant Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville) is shot and killed by German Colonel Wegner (Holger Handtke).

As the Allies drive deeper into Germany Walter Garfield (John Goodman) and Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin) take a wrong turn on a country lane and find themselves amidst a German ambush. A hail of gunfire rakes their escape, and Clermont later dies from his wounds.

MonumentsMen-13

As the Allies overrun German territory the men retrieve truckloads of stolen art. They must outrace Soviet forces to save some shipments. Portions of Austria have been ceded to the Soviet Union in a pre-invasion deal made with Joseph Stalin, and the Soviets aim to keep all the loot they can get their hands on as war reparations.

MonumentsMen-14

Meanwhile the men confront Hitler’s Nero Decree. The Nazi regime is crumbling, Hitler knows it, and his plan is to take the Third Reich down with him into the bowels of the Earth. That would include the stolen works of art. The men load up trucks with crates of stolen treasures. They also seize the entire Nazi gold treasury, hidden in a mine. Grimly, they discover crates of gold teeth,  whose owners no long need them, because they have already been gassed and cremated in Nazi death camps.

When Walther Funk, president of the Reichsbank, came to testify he was asked if he had accepted any ‘unusual’ deposits during the war. Funk answered that he did not know what the prosecution meant. He was then shown a number of photographs of gold spectacle frames, rings, watches, earrings and gold teeth, all of which had been sent by the SS to the bank from the concentration camps. The items had been found in huge quantities in the vaults.

Funk responded that many people deposited valuables and that the bank was not required to ask them how they had been acquired. This prompted a sarcastic response from the prosecutor.

‘Prior to 1939 precisely how many of your customers deposited their teeth into your bank?’

Roland, Paul (2012-06-26). The Nuremberg Trials: The Nazis and Their Crimes Against Humanity (Kindle Locations 2024-2030). Arcturus Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Hitler’s decree was thwarted first by German General Dietrich von Choltitz, in command of Paris as the Allies closed in. Choltitz was ordered to dynamite the entire city before withdrawing his forces. Instead he spared the city and surrendered to the Allies. Finally, the major task of the destruction of the Reich was given to architect and Minister of Armaments Albert Speer. During the final days, when Hitler was trapped in his Berlin bunker, Speer informed him the order would not be obeyed.

In the mean time, the movie shows Colonel Wegner carrying out the decree with vigor. His troops torch vast heaps of priceless art.

MonumentsMen-15

Hermann Goering is shown selecting stolen art for himself and for Hitler at the Jeu de Paume Museum. He will take his share of the to “Carin Hall.” Carin Hall was the mansion Goering built for himself north of Berlin. It was named for his late first wife and was a shrine that Goering continued to embellish almost to the end. As the Soviet Army drew near in April 1945 Goering removed his fabulous art collection and ordered his soldiers to dynamite the place.

Goering surrendered to American troops and was tried for his crimes and sentenced to hang, along with a number of other Nazi officials. On the night of 15 October 1946, minutes before his scheduled hanging, he killed himself with poison. The remainder of the condemned were hanged over the span of a few minutes, and all the bodies, including Goering’s, were trucked to a nearby Nazi death camp, where the ovens had been re-lit. Their ashes were dumped into a river.

This is an overall feel-good movie. My complaint is that even watching it on TV at home I had trouble following the chain of events. The Wikipedia entry takes note of fine points that escaped me. In reality the team comprised many more than shown in the movie. Clooney pared the team down to just a few. In order to cover the vast war front, the team broke into a number of detachments, and there is a separate story line for each. Including the complete historical team would have produced a massive and disconnected plot. As it is, the plot winds up comprising several story lines, each mostly independent of the others.

Production involved location shooting in a number of foreign sites. Even so, Clooney found it necessary to trim production costs through extensive use of night scenes. Night scenes show less and require less by way of sets and special props.

Read the Wikipedia entry for this movie. It’s based on actual people who performed heroic deeds. And it was all 70 years ago today.

Bad Joke of the Week

Not yet

Not yet

Kevin was a boring sort of guy. Middle aged. Single. Balding. Slightly overweight. He had a dull job in the dull offices of a dull company that produced dull products for dull people.
But Kevin had a secret passion, a hobby to which he was so dedicated that it burned inside him like a hidden fire. I’m going to guess that you assumed this would be some sick, secret fetish, but this is a family joke.

You see, Kevin’s hidden passion was tractors. He loved tractors. Loved them. He wore tractor socks to work. At work he worked on his computer, which had tractors for a wallpaper. He kept his schedule on a tractor calendar. While he went home, he played tractor-related games on his iPhone, which he kept in a tractor-shaped protector. When he went to bed, he slept under tractor sheets on a tractor pillow while dreaming dreams about tractors. He was pro-tractor. That was his angle.

The highlight of boring Kevin the tractor fanatic’s boring months was the arrival in his mailbox of his favourite journal, Tractor Monthly. While Kevin had subscriptions to all the best tractor-focused periodicals, Tractor Monthly was the best- the New Yorker of tractor journalism.

One day, when Kevin arrived home from work, he found that his next issue of Tractor Monthly had arrived. He made himself a cup of tea, and sat down, opening up the glossy cover to savour this new month’s reading. On the first page, there was an advert that made boring little Kevin’s boring little heart go all a-flutter!

The world tractor convention was coming. To his town. This year. He had always, always cherished the dream of going to WoTracCon, but he’d never been able to afford the airfares to the glamorous locales in which it was usually held.

As he read on, excitement mounting, the news just got better. Tractor Monthly, that beacon of publishing excellence, was sponsoring a competition. The writer of the best essay on the topic “Why Tractors Are Brilliant” would receive not only a free VIP ticket to the convention, but would be allowed in early to be given a tour of the convention by no less a being than the President of the World Tractor Federation!
Kevin knew that this was his life’s calling. He HAD to win. He called up work, and quit his dull job with the dull company to focus all his efforts on crafting his entry. He spent a solid month, working ten or more hours a day. Researching. Brainstorming. Drafting. Re-drafting. Proof reading. Until he had it. The perfect entry.

Of course, he won. Such dedication must be rewarded. And so the tickets and a letter of congratulation arrived. And Kevin waited for the day, six months in the future where he would receive his reward.
It was a long wait for Kevin, but finally, the day came. The ticket said to be at the entrance of the convention centre at eight o’clock. Kevin was there at six, too excited to remain home any longer.
At eight, the door opened, and the President himself came out. He introduced himself, shook boring little Kevin by his boring little hand and lead him inside, into the convention hall. Kevin’s head was spinning- he had never seen so many tractors at once. Red. Blue. Green. White. Big. Small. Any tractor your heart could desire- and Kevin’s heart could desire quite a few tractors.

The President’s secretary interrupted, saying that he had a very urgent phone call. The President apologised to Kevin and said that he should feel free to look around- but please not to touch anything, as the displays were still being finished and were a bit rickety, then disappeared to take his call.
Kevin wandered between the stands, the temptation building inside him as he gazed upon these magnificent machines. He tried his very best to keep his hands to himself.

But then he saw it. The PloughMonster 2800. The tractor, in boring little Kevin’s boring little mind, to end all tractors. He couldn’t help himself.

He ran to it.

He embraced it.

It fell to the floor.

There was crashing and screaming. Every tractor, like some sick, horrific display of dominoes, collapsed. Millions of dollars worth of machinery, destroyed in the fire of Kevin’s passion.

The President stormed in, and stared around, aghast. He became furious. He walked over to Kevin and asked for his WTS membership card. With trembling hands, Kevin gave it to him. The President tore it up and threw the shreds to the ground, then spat upon them. Security came, and Kevin was tossed out into the pouring rain.

Devastated, Kevin wandered the streets. More miserable than any man had ever been. But then a change came over him. He made a decision. If tractors didn’t want Kevin, then Kevin would no longer want tractors! He would find a new, more worthy object of his devotion.

Kevin decided that the only way to celebrate such a momentous decision was with a drink.
At 8:30am, the only bar he could find open was a total dive, a genuine hell-hole. But nevertheless, into the dim, grimy, smoke-filled bar he went. When I say smoke filled, I mean filled. He could barely breathe. Kevin’s eyes stung. But he went up to the bar.

The barman asked him what he wanted, but as Kevin opened his mouth to reply, something strange happened. The smoke began to pour into Kevin’s mouth and lungs. Faster and faster he seemed to suck the smoke down, until he had hoovered up every breath of it in this squalid tavern.

Appalled and confused, the barman looked at him and asked, voice trembling “what the hell are you?!”
Kevin smiled, sadly, and said “Me? I’m an ex tractor fan.”

Clarence of Arabia

al-Clown-Small

People who know me, people who really know me, will tell you I’m not as crass and as clueless as I pretend to be. Others know better.

Anyhow, I’m taking this opportunity to apologize for making fun of those who are about to die. Like the unfortunate person (?) pictured above. After some misdirected creationists shot up Paris last week and got themselves introduced into the world beyond life, this al-Clown person got on the Web and announced to all the world that his organization, based in Yemen, had directed two of the now-deceased to enter into their pact with the devil.

Which brings me to what this post is all about.

People, if your aim is to strike terror into the heart of the civilized world, you’re going to have to take your job seriously. You’re going to have to quit clowning around. For starters, you’re going to have to work on your image. Start by putting on a tougher face.

And I have here example number one. You want to strike fear into people who have the temerity to step on some holy person’s hem? Then find somebody who looks more like John Wayne and less like Shirley Temple. I mean, people, you need to do something to scare us. You’re succeeding in making us laugh. Do you think maybe it’s time to consider a retake? Maybe I can help.

I’ve been looking around for a better example. The first I came across was this.

YouBelongToMe

OK, maybe that’s not the ideal choice. This person turned out to be on that shrinking list of people who cannot obtain life insurance at any price.

Heart of Stupid

IMG_8503

I borrowed the title from Joseph Conrad. Maybe not quite, but still I’m holding onto it for continuity. These posts are in response to comments from creationist David Buckna. Here is a link to the previous post.

Review the history. David posted a multi-part comment, and I’m in the process of dissecting it in manageable chunks. It’s a limitation of mine. Following is a continuation of the comment in question:

Also:

http://crev.info/2014/11/fantastic-fossils-challenge-paradigms/

Giant Cretaceous groundhog (Science Daily): A large rodent that ran with dinosaurs named Vintana (“luck”) will “shake up current views on the mammalian evolutionary tree,” the article says. The original paper in Nature calls it a case of “remarkable mosaicism.” Live Science calls its ear “primitive yet specialized”. Sid Perkins in Science Magazine notes that it was no primitive creature: it was agile, fast, had a good sense of smell, and could bite with twice the force of rodents its size. Even though Science Daily promises that Vintana “provides new and important insights into early mammalian evolution,” Dr. David Krause (Stony Brook University) “emphasizes that a major question remains for scientists: How did such a peculiar creature evolve?” Noting its “super senses,” National Geographic was more confident about evolution in general:
*
http://creation.com/dawn-of-the-mammals

http://creation.com/mammal-ear-evolution

http://creation.com/could-the-mammalian-middle-ear-have-evolved-twice

I’m looking at this right now, and I have not the faintest idea what it’s all about. I need to do some Skeptical Analysis.

All right! The first link is to a page on the Creation/Evolution Headlines site. The big block of text is a quote from that page. The first sentence in the above contains an embedded link to another page on the Creation/Evolution Headlines site.. However the link doesn’t go anywhere. When I follow the link I get “Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.” So that leaves me with the fun of tracking this business down and figuring out what it’s all about.

David’s excerpt from the Creation/Evolution Headlines page includes some other links. There is one that leads to “The original paper in Nature.” The abstract is on-line:

First cranial remains of a gondwanatherian mammal reveal remarkable mosaicism

David W. KrauseSimone HoffmannJohn R. WibleE. Christopher KirkJulia A. SchultzWighart von KoenigswaldJoseph R. GroenkeJames B. RossiePatrick M. O’ConnorErik R. SeiffertElizabeth R. DumontWaymon L. HollowayRaymond R. RogersLydia J. RahantarisoaAddison D. Kemp & Haingoson Andriamialison

Nature 515, 512–517 (27 November 2014) doi:10.1038/nature13922

Abstract

Previously known only from isolated teeth and lower jaw fragments recovered from the Cretaceous and Palaeogene of the Southern Hemisphere, the Gondwanatheria constitute the most poorly known of all major mammaliaform radiations. Here we report the discovery of the first skull material of a gondwanatherian, a complete and well-preserved cranium from Upper Cretaceous strata in Madagascar that we assign to a new genus and species. Phylogenetic analysis strongly supports its placement within Gondwanatheria, which are recognized as monophyletic and closely related to multituberculates, an evolutionarily successful clade of Mesozoic mammals known almost exclusively from the Northern Hemisphere. The new taxon is the largest known mammaliaform from the Mesozoic of Gondwana. Its craniofacial anatomy reveals that it was herbivorous, large-eyed and agile, with well-developed high-frequency hearing and a keen sense of smell. The cranium exhibits a mosaic of primitive and derived features, the disparity of which is extreme and probably reflective of a long evolutionary history in geographic isolation.

Following that is a link to Live Science:

Mysterious ‘Chewing Machine’ Mammal Lived Among Dinosaurs

Examination shows this is a story about the article from Nature. It has the following graphic:

An artist's interpretation of the mammal Vintana sertichi, which lived during the time of the dinosaurs about 66 to 72 million years ago on the supercontinent Gondwana. Credit: Luci Betti-Nash

An artist’s interpretation of the mammal Vintana sertichi, which lived during the time of the dinosaurs about 66 to 72 million years ago on the supercontinent Gondwana.
Credit: Luci Betti-Nash

The link to Science Magazine is again an item about the paper in Nature.

Meet Vintana, the second-largest mammal that lived with the dinosaurs

By Sid Perkins5 November 2014 1:00 pm

The item says, in part:

Scientists have unearthed the fossilized skull of the second-largest mammal alive during the age of the dinosaurs. The creature lived between 66 million and 72 million years ago and belonged to a group of mammals known as gondwanatherians, which roamed Gondwana, a landmass that, starting about 180 million years ago, broke apart into South America, Australia, Antarctica, Africa, Arabia, Madagascar, and India. Previously, researchers knew about gondwanatherians only from teeth and bits of jawbones. But in a study published online today in Nature, a team describes a complete skull of a new species from the group.

Then there’s a link to National Geographic:

Fossil From Dinosaur Era Reveals Big Mammal With Super Senses

A nearly complete skull, found accidentally, belongs to the enigmatic group of ancient mammals called Gondwanatherians.

Dinosaurs that roamed Madagascar more than 66 million years ago had a most unusual fuzzy mammal living in their shadows—one so large, and with such strange features, that scientists say they could have never predicted its existence.

That is, until 2010, when a team of scientists looking for fish fossils accidentally collected its nearly complete skull from a site along Madagascar’s west coast.

Plus some more.

So, what’s this all about? David doesn’t say. Up to this point we are left with some links to various science journals and periodicals, all about a very interesting fossil find. This appears to be a story about scientists doing science. If this is what David wants to show us, then he has likely accomplished his intent.

Now it’s necessary to follow the remaining three links from David’s comment. Each of these links to a separate page on the Creation Ministries International site, and each is some argument against the science behind biological evolution. It’s going to take a fair amount of blog space to cover these discussions, so I’m going to save it all for a future post.

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

Heart of Stupid

Diplomystus dentatus Herring Species Eocene Epoch 50,000,000 years old Green River Formation Lincoln Co. Wyoming Diploaystus dentatus Herring Eocene period 50,000,000 years old Green River Formation Lincoln Co., Wyoming

Diplomystus dentatus Herring Species Eocene Epoch 50,000,000 years old Green River Formation Lincoln Co., Wyoming

In a prior post I acknowledged that I (almost) stole this title from Joseph Conrad. I’m holding onto it for continuity. These posts are in response to comments from creationist David Buckna. Here is an excerpt from one comment:

David Coppedge writes:

http://crev.info/2013/08/jurassic-mammal-puzzle-or-prize-for-darwin/

“Who can really believe that complex teeth or middle-ear bones evolved independently two or three times by unguided processes? Why must occult phenomena, like mythical common ancestors in ghost lineages, be invoked as if they had any real existence outside the imagination of Darwinians?”

The link is to a page on the Creation-Evolution Headlines site. I took a look at it. There’s enough here for a complete post, so I will follow up on the remainder of David’s comment in another post.

In the mean time, I took note of his “David Coppedge writes:” That’s interesting enough for some follow-up. Here is a bit of that story:

David Coppedge is a creationist who worked a long time at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. At the time he served on the board of Illustra Media. Illustra Media is a non-profit concern that is noted for presentations promoting Intelligent Design or, if not promoting Intelligent Design, then at least kicking at the underpinnings of modern biological science. I have a number of their titles, and the production quality is quite good. A short list includes:

Darwin’s Dilemma
Metamorphosis
The Privileged Planet
Unlocking the Mystery of Life

Anyhow, when David Coppedge lost his contract position at JPL he sued for religious discrimination. Yes, religious discrimination.

Judge confirms earlier ruling, sides with JPL in ‘intelligent design’ case

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Wednesday confirmed an earlier ruling that found Jet Propulsion Laboratory administrators did not discriminate against a longtime staffer when they laid him off in 2011.

David Coppedge — a former lead systems administrator on the Cassini Mission to Saturn who worked at JPL for 15 years — filed a lawsuit in 2009 against the agency claiming he was demoted, and then eventually fired, because of his Christian beliefs and in retaliation for discussing the theory of intelligent design at the NASA facility in La Cañada Flintridge.

Proponents of intelligent design contend that biological systems are so complex that they could not have arisen by a series of random changes, so an “intelligent designer” — not necessarily the God in the Bible — must have had a hand in guiding evolution.

Coppedge had sought $860,000 for lost wages and $500,000 for emotional distress damages.

The final ruling by Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige confirms his tentative ruling issued less than three months ago, which came down against Coppedge on every claim. He also overruled all objections filed by Coppedge’s legal team.

In a statement issued after the ruling, Coppedge’s attorney, William Becker, reiterated the arguments he made in court, saying a handful of “malicious co-workers hated [Coppedge’s] Christian views,” as well as his interest in intelligent design, “which they ignorantly perceived to be a religious concept.”

[Coppedge] was demoted and fired for simply being a Christian,” Becker said.

“[W]hich they ignorantly perceived to be a religious concept?” If Coppedge’s co-workers were ignorant in perceiving Intelligent Design to be a religious concept, then there is a gaggle of other people just as ignorant. In an unrelated ruling a federal court judge in Pennsylvania agreed that plaintiffs had demonstrated that Intelligent Design is a religious concept. Additionally the producers of the movie Expelled must also think that Intelligent Design is a religious concept. At one point, narrator Ben Stein, who all the while was supposed to be arguing for Intelligent Design as valid science, finally gets around to discussing God with biologist Richard Dawkins.

Ben Stein interviews Richard Dawkins

Ben Stein interviews Richard Dawkins

From the video:

Ben Stein: You have written that God is a psychotic delinquent invented by mad deluded people.

Dawkins: No, I didn’t say quite that. I said something better than that.

Stein: Oh, well, please tell me what you said.

Dawkins: Well, I would have to read it from the book.

Stein: No, please.

[Dawkins reads from The God Delusion]

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Stein: – so that’s what you think of God.

Dawkins: – yeah.

Stein: How about if people believed in God?

Anyhow, this went on for a while, and I now find myself going on for a while. I need to get back to the subject of this post, namely David’s comment.

He writes “David Coppedge writes,” and then he provides a link. So I followed the link, and it took me to a page that has the text, “Who can really believe that complex teeth…” Plus a lot of other stuff, but there was no indication that David Coppedge wrote those words. Searching the page, I could not find a link to the author. I recommend my readers follow the link and familiarize themselves with the contents.

I will dissect the page to the extent I’m able with my limited knowledge and my limited access to sources. If this all becomes tiring to readers, they should be reminded the second word in this blog’s title is “Analysis.” There’s going to be some dissecting.

First I will post the entire block of text containing the Coppedge quote, which I note is formatted as set-aside text, indicating it’s a quote from another source. I post this to give additional context, and I limit my excerpt to this block, because, if you will follow the link you will see, as I have, the page comprises a number of quotes, comments and links to other sources. This is the best I can do for now to narrow the focus. Repeating David’s link for your convenience:

Don’t you think the public should know?  Do reporters think that people are too stupid to understand legitimate debates in science?  Must interpretations from fallible scientists always be presented as facts of nature?  Why must Charlie’s idol always be propped up to save his face from the evidence?  Who can really believe that complex teeth or middle-ear bones evolved independently two or three times by unguided processes?  Why must occult phenomena, like mythical common ancestors in ghost lineages, be invoked as if they had any real existence outside the imagination of Darwinians?  Why must readers be told that evolutionary diversification is “explosive” in direct contradiction to a core tenet of Darwinism?  Why must reporters always be sycophants and lackeys for the evolutionary scientists?

The secular science sites—all of them—have bowed the knee to the Bearded Buddha, that’s why.  Because CEH adheres to a different religion, one that cares about truth, we can read these papers with a critical eye and point out the fallacies and tricks of the Darwin Party’s religion.  Their origins story has more holes than swiss cheese, more miracles than Greek mythology, more divination techniques than Babylonian religion.  Call it what it is: a secular religion, invented out of distaste for the Biblical Creator.  It’s full of imagination, storytelling and myths.  Dressing it up in scientific jargon doesn’t sanctify it as science.  Adding millions of years doesn’t make its miracles more plausible: miracles of well-adapted animals “arising” fully formed out of nowhere, miracles of “convergent evolution,” miracles of “explosive radiation.” Darwinian religion conjures up spirits, animals “trying out” unexplained and undocumented innovations, natural selection “tinkering” in Tinker Bell’s garage, a mystical life force pushing mindless particles toward the divine.  The priests of Darwin waste their time trying to force uncooperative facts into their mythical “tree of life,” that after 154 years, still looks like a lawn.  Who would believe this stuff?  Ancient Egyptian religion looks more respectable than the Darwin cult; at least its gods and goddesses acted with purpose and intent.

Don’t think for a minute that secular scientists abhor miracles and deny the supernatural.  Everyone believes in miracles.  Everyone who thinks believes in the supernatural (e.g., laws of logic not made of particles).  Nothing comes from nothing.  Choose a world view that has miracles that are intelligently designed.  Choose a religion that explains with reference to true causes known to be necessary and sufficient for the complexity observed by honest scientific inquiry.  Choose one that maintains human dignity and a love of the truth.  Those criteria weed out a lot of contenders.

I have highlighted the quoted text in the above. There’s a lot to find issue with in the supposed Coppedge quote, and I will get to that later.

For now, the page David Buckna linked to begins with:

Two recently-reported Jurassic mammal fossils can be seen as puzzles for evolutionary theory, or confirmations of it – depending on the reporter.

The quote is taken from an article in Nature. The abstract is available on-line:

A Jurassic mammaliaform and the earliest mammalian evolutionary adaptations

Chang-Fu ZhouShaoyuan WuThomas Martin & Zhe-Xi Luo

Nature 500, 163–167 (08 August 2013)

The earliest evolution of mammals and origins of mammalian features can be traced to the mammaliaforms of the Triassic and Jurassic periods that are extinct relatives to living mammals. Here we describe a new fossil from the Middle Jurassic that has a mandibular middle ear, a gradational transition of thoracolumbar vertebrae and primitive ankle features, but highly derived molars with a high crown and multiple roots that are partially fused. The upper molars have longitudinal cusp rows that occlude alternately with those of the lower molars. This specialization for masticating plants indicates that herbivory evolved among mammaliaforms, before the rise of crown mammals. The new species shares the distinctive dental features of the eleutherodontid clade, previously represented only by isolated teeth despite its extensive geographic distribution during the Jurassic. This eleutherodontid was terrestrial and had ambulatory gaits, analogous to extant terrestrial mammals such as armadillos or rock hyrax. Its fur corroborates that mammalian integument had originated well before the common ancestor of living mammals.

Following the opening quote on the Creation-Evolution Headlines page, there is additional explanation:

That’s the announcement in Nature (bold in the original) about two mammal fossils, one named Megaconus (large cusp) reported by Zhou et al., the other named Arboroharamiya (tree-dwelling haramiyad) reported by Zheng et al.  The headline of a Nature News article moans, “Fossils throw mammalian family tree into disarray.”

If you read the Nature News article you will get a deeper perspective:

Fossils throw mammalian family tree into disarray

Studies disagree on whether Jurassic animals were true mammals.

Sid Perkins

07 August 2013

Two fossils have got palaeontologists scratching their heads about where to place an enigmatic group of animals in the mammalian family tree. A team analysing one fossil suggests that the group belongs in mammals, but researchers looking at the other propose that its evolutionary clan actually predates true mammals. The situation begs for more analysis, more fossils, or both, experts say.

I will condense the discussion into a few sentences. It goes like this:

  • Scientists are finding new fossils that will require additional study. Science works that way. If we already have all the answers, then we can stop doing science. The news for science, actually good news, is we do not have all the answers, and we possibly never will. However, we do have enough evidence to make a number of conclusions, and some of these conclusions are certainly based on shaky evidence. Whenever we obtain additional evidence, we need to and we like to revise earlier conclusions.
  • Creationists and other critics of modern science see these as a weakness and want to declare on this basis that modern science is a failed enterprise. What creationists want the public to believe is that the facts of biological evolution are undercut by all of this. This presumption is not to be entertained.
  • This fossil is claimed to be a precursor to mammals. This fossil is actually not a precursor, but is actually an early mammal. The evolution of the mammalian ear developed this way. The evolution of the mammalian ear developed that way. The evolutionary development of the mammalian ear developed along multiple paths. None of this obscures the facts derived from scientific research. First there were no mammals, and now there are. Mammals developed (evolved) from earlier animals which are not considered to have been mammals. Biological evolution has occurred.

The text of the David Coppedge quote concludes with:

Choose a religion that explains with reference to true causes known to be necessary and sufficient for the complexity observed by honest scientific inquiry.  Choose one that maintains human dignity and a love of the truth.  Those criteria weed out a lot of contenders.

Although he makes a pretense of appealing to logic and reason, he concludes with an appeal to supposition. What the supposed David Coppedge is saying is that we must abandon a dispassionate view of nature and harken to our innermost prejudices. This did not provide any visible advancement in our understanding of the Universe for thousands of years. There’s no reason to believe it’s going to start doing so now.

Bad Movie of the Week

TCM-Intro-01

This one is bad. Really bad. But then, that’s what this post is all about.

It’s Hideaway from RKO Pictures in 1937 and starring Fred Stone. I recorded it from Turner Classic Movies.

Hideaway-01

Hideaway-02

Stone is Frankie Peterson, a never-do-well country bumpkin living as a squatter with his family on a farm outside of town in New York. He’s got a wife Emma (Emma Dunn), a son Oscar (Tommy Bond) and a cute daughter Joan (Marjorie Lord). The house they live in is owned by Mike Clarke (J. Carrol Naish), a New York City gangster, who purchased the property years previously for use as a hideaway in the event he ever had to take it on the lam. Hence the name of the movie.

Forest ranger Bill Parker (William Corson) has the hots for sweet Joan, but Joan’s mother wants Joan to get a job in New York City so she can make something of herself and not wind up marrying a loser like Frankie. Joan, well observant of her own father’s worth, is agreeable to the idea, leaving poor Bill out in the cold.

Hideaway-03

The gangsters, not realizing a family has invaded Mike’s property, have stolen $100,000 from a crime syndicate and plan to hide out at the farm. Things get sticky.

Hideaway-04

The gangsters pretend to be hunters looking for a place to room while hunting, and they offer $2 a day each to stay in Mike’s house. At first glance it appears to be the perfect cover for some gangsters needing to lie low.

Frankie bumbles the entire situation, letting slip there are strangers living in “his” house. One of the gangsters gets fresh with Joan and winds up in fisticuffs with Bill. Mike sends Frankie into the city to negotiate a deal with the crime syndicate and Joan tags along. Again Frankie screws up and lets slip that Mike and his gang are at the farm. Joan quickly finds out that big city employment for her mostly involves her feminine charms, and she and Frankie return to the farm.

Hideaway-05

Joan comforts poor Bill

 

Frankie takes down one of the hit men

Frankie takes down one of the hit men

When the hit men from the syndicate come out to settle matters, Mike and his gang run into them out on the road and lose the gunfight. Frankie learns everything from the dying Mike and rushes back to his house, just in time to encounter the hoods, who are slapping his family around to find out the location of the missing loot. Frankie’s shotgun, which as been inoperable the entire movie, comes to life at just in time for Frankie to defeat the outlaws and save the day. The town celebrates Frankie as a hero, and Joan and Bill get together.

A totally dumb plot, with carefully recited lines. This is Ma and Pa Kettle without all the class. I have one of the Ma and Pa Kettle movies, featuring the indomitable Marjorie Main, and I will review it soon. Keep reading.