Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ray Comfort's new book

Ray's new book says:
“I don’t claim to be a great expert on the subject of evolution, but I have quoted well-known evolutionists, who reveal in their own words, the unscientific nature of that in which they have so blindly placed their faith."

Not only is Ray not a great expert on Evolution, but he is also not a great expert on conducting simply high-school level research. As others have already shown, the quotes provided are not taken from their sources, but rather, filtered through several layers of Creationist editors, who removed the context of the quotes, removed words or phrases, or cut the sentence off before it concluded. Such quote-mining and editing is poor journalism, dishonest, and well, flat out LAZY. But hey, Ray has a ministry with it's own publicity department, and he will get followers of his ministry and other people who are already true believers to buy it, and that's what's really important to people running a ministry -- cash flow.

Ray continues:
"So it’s now up to you to make a choice as to whether you are a believer or not, and then to follow the implications. When you read this book, keep in mind the wise words of Richard Dawkins: ‘And, next time somebody tells you that something is true, why not say to them: ‘What kind of evidence is there for that?’ And if they can't give you a good answer, I hope you'll think very carefully before you believe a word they say.’”

As we shall see, Ray hasn't even followed the advice of Dawkins, which he is endorsing by quoting him and asking us to follow the advice. See, Ray doesn't know what a good answer is with respect to scientific issues -- remember, he's an admitted non-expert, and not only doesn't provide any technical documentation to back up any claims of creationism, but he simply accepted that these people he quotes actually said what they said without actually researching the quotes in their original context.

Now the quotes!

“I would rather believe in fairy tales than in such wild speculation.” —Ernst Chain, Nobel Prize winner

Interesting. But the guy was not even talking about evolution. He was talking about abiogenesis, which, at the time, was just a speculation. Here is the entire quote:

"I have said for years that speculations about the origins of life lead to no purpose as even the simplest living system is far too complex to be understood in terms of the extremely primitive chemistry scientists have used in their attempts to explain the unexplainable that happened billions of years ago. God cannot explained away by such naive thoughts" - Ernst Chain"

Chain made this quote in 1945, before Stanley Miller's 1956 experiments which synthesized amino acids from basic elements.

“The Darwinian theory of evolution is no more nor less than the great cosmogenic myth of the twentieth century.” — Michael Denton, Molecular Biologist

This is a true quote from Denton, but guess what? He no longer believes it. This quote comes from his book "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (1986)". It was used by the Discovery Institute and other creationist organizations for years, until Denton had a serious reversal of opinion. After accepting microevolution as a fact, and carefully examining the evidence in the field of biology in support of evolution, he later accepted evolution. He also sent a letter to the Discovery Institute asking them to please stop using the quotes from his older book, and to remove references of him from their website.

His later book, "Nature's Destiny: How the Laws of Biology reveal Purpose in the Universe", reveals that he fully accepts the Theory of Evolution, and he even goes on to explain it in terms of "fine tuning -- that the universe was fine tuned for life, and that life evolved because the universe was designed for it. He never has advocated biblical literalism, and is not a Christian. He is more of a Diest.

“Darwin’s evolutionary explanation of the origins of man has been transformed into a modern myth, to the detriment of scientific and social progress.” —Dr. Colin Patterson, Senior Paleontologist of the British Museum Of Natural History

Here is the whole quote:
"There have been an awful lot of stories, some more imaginative than others, about what the nature of that history [of life] really is. The most famous example, still on exhibit downstairs, is the exhibit on horse evolution prepared perhaps fifty years ago. That has been presented as the literal truth in textbook after textbook. Now I think that that is lamentable, particularly when the people who propose those kinds of stories may themselves be aware of the speculative nature of some of that stuff." "The Horse Story", Harper's, p. 60, 1984.

Patterson is not an advocate of Intelligent Design or Creationism. His quote was specifically about the horse evolution exhibit, which he said is out of order, and needs revision, because it's now inaccurate in light of new evidence. The exhibit is popular, and the museum decided to keep it as is, in spite of his protests. But he does not discredit evolution at all.

Next comes perhaps the biggest joke I've seen from Ray yet. He refers to gonzo journalist Malcolm Muggeridge as a "philosopher", which I find Hilarious!

"Philosopher Malcolm Muggeridge warned that evolution will be “one of the great jokes in the history books of the future.” Millions are convinced that the theory of evolution is a proven scientific fact, which is a sad testimony to human ignorance and naivety. Hopefully, you will “think very carefully” after hearing evidence from leading evolutionists and scientists, as they reveal the baseless and unscientific nature of the theory of evolution. "

Well, not only is Muggeridge not a scientist, or qualified to comment on science, he is kind of insane, actually. To call him a "philosopher" would be akin to calling George W. Bush a "war hero".

When he was writing about Mother Theresa, he was accompanied by a photographer, who was armed with some new Kodak 1000 speed film, which was, at the time, a major breakthough for Kodak. It was a film that was designed to get brighter pictures in low light conditions. When pictures were taken with it, Muggeridge saw the developed photos, and concluded that since they were filmed in low light, that Mother Teresa was "bathed in divine light", and concluded that he witnessed a miracle! The Photographer said that it was no miracle. He just used the right film for low light conditions, and Muggeridge was unaware of the film's existence. Nonetheless, even after being told about the film, Muggeridge kept claiming that the miracle of Heaven's light illuminating Mother Teresa was real.

So once again, we have sloppy research, mined and carefully edited quotes, and the assertion of questionable titles to people. Ray Comfort's book is nothing that will convince anyone but the true believers.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Is Ray Comfort Lying for Jesus?

I am totally of the opinion that the Christian Fundamentalists who are responsible for the lies and distortions of the creationist movement are of the opinion that lying for Jesus is totally acceptable, because if you tell a lie that "leads someone to the truth", then it's a good thing.

For the rest of Christians, including Ray Comfort and his peanut gallery, however, the answer is far less flattering -- the explanation that they are not really lying, but are simply that ignorant of science.

I mean, I honestly do not believe that Ray was lying when he made up the bananna argument. He was just completely ignorant of the history of human agriculture as it relates to how mankind has deliberately cross-bred bannana plants.

I do not believe that the vast majority of people who make the "second Law Of Thermodynamics" argument against evolution are deliberately lying -- they are simply quoting other creationists blindly, and are totally ignorant of the rest of thermodynamics, and science in general.

But the producers of Expelled, the Discovery Institute, Phillip Johnson, and others who invent the chameleonic and pretzel-like explanations of Creationism, are deliberately lying for the cause of evangelism. They are so concerned that people accept the literal meaning of the King James English Bible, as the ultimate truth, that they are willing to invent lies to get the lesser-educated Christians to have nonsensical arguments to throw around and constantly get into the news, and into Public school PTA meetings, and to generally waste the Public's government actions on.

The problem is that pretty much everyone on Ray's blog, Ray included, are just not well educated enough on science, logic, and reason to know the difference between science and junk that is made to resemble science. So far, The quotes that Ray has used -- like the ones from non-creationist biologists, are all quote-mined and cleverly trimmed out of context to say the opposite of what their authors actually wrote -- and others have pointed that out and shown the original quotes to prove it.

The problem I see is that when we show these things, and prove the lies and deceptions -- Ray and his peanut-gallery just ignore it -- because that is the standard reaction to being owned by the facts. Just ignore those who "persecute" you with "inconvenient truths" and dreaded documentation...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Expelled's "Martyrs"

Three people are profiled in "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed", the creationist propaganda film that is currently being shown to almost exclusively Christian Fundamentalist audiences. Many things are said about their cases, most of which is clearly misleading, and this article will set some facts straight.

Carolyn Crocker

Crocker's case is possibly the most distorted and factually-challeneged one in the film. The woman is a substitute science teacher at Northern Virginia Community College, whose contract ran out, and the school decided not to renew it. There was no obligation for the school to renew her contract. So Here comes "Expelled" literally claiming that she was fired just because she believed in Creationism. Well, it is true that she's a creationist, but here is the rest of the story, which doesn't get told in the film.

Guess what Ms. Crocker taught in her Biology 101 class? She showed a slide show that was literally an attack on science and evolution, and which was pretty overtly pushing biblical literalism. There was virtually no science in her presentation, and when asked if she would later present the evidence for evolution, she said "No, there isn't any, really." This presentation pretty much broke all of the rules that were laid out for the science curriculum, and most of the "facts" that she presented were overtly only half-truths at best, and at worst, outright lies.

Slides shown to her classroom:;f=14;t=5152;st=210#entry97227

What's worse is that she tried to use the classroom as a pulpit, and railed on about how Darwinism was responsible for the Nazis. This turned the class from a science course into a course on extremist politics. Because she decided to throw out the course that she was being payed to teach, and preach Christian Evangelical Fundamentalist dogma, instead, she should have been fired on the spot, but they didn't do that. They let her continue teaching, and when her contract expired, they simply did not renew it -- and they had a very good reason to do so.

The washington Post Exposes Crocker

Richard Sternberg

Sternberg's case is old news. Expelled claims he was fired from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. for his belief in creationism, when in fact, he still works there. He wasn't even an employee of the Smithsonian to begin with -- he was an intern. In his job as editor of a journal, he failed to follow the posted procedures for submitting articles into the journal, and as a result, he was simply given a talking to, and several colleagues expressed disappointment. He was never fired, nor officially reprimanded. He claimed that he lost his access, but by all accounts, he still has the same access.

He claims that he was discriminated against, but dirty looks of disapproval somehow do not sound like discrimination. So the Discovery Institute, who championed his case, had to make it sound like he was fired or that his life was negatively impacted. They lied on his behalf.

Article on Richard Sternberg from

Richard Sternberg on Wikipedia:

Guillermo Gonzales

The Gonzales case is another distorted mess. Expelled was truthful in that he was denied tenure (They did not claim that he was fired, like they said about Sternberg and Crocker), but they made it sound like not getting tenure meant something almost as bad. Tenure is a lifetime appointment at a job. It costs money. So schools use it sparingly.

Gonzales may be just as qualified in some ways as his colleagues with tenure, but one fact is a problem -- He hasn't really published much since his post-doctoral work, and that is a big problem. Tenured professors tend to be people who publish a great deal of work, and get a lot of things done as far as research goes. Gonzales did a lot of publishing and research during his post doctoral years, but hardly anything since he has been employed by Iowa State. Most colleges would deny tenure for that reason, and though other professors may have less qualification than he in terms of experience, they publish and perform more work, which is why he was passed over for someone else.

He still has his job. He still teaches at the same University. He lost nothing except a perk. He claims it's because he's a creationist, but the guidelines of the university were followed to the letter, by all accounts.

Guillermo Gonzales on Science

Guillermo Gonzales on Wikipedia:

Expelled got all of these people's stories wrong, and distorted the facts so badly that it bears no resemblence to reality. In essence, it's just example of deceit by Christian Fundamentalists.