Friday, December 7, 2007

Ben sad sad man...

How many times have I seen a tiny vial of eye drops and thought...'wow' in that Ben Steinish voice.

More than I care to remember. And I remember the days when Jimmy Kimmel was just a stooge hanging out on Ben Stein's barstool. It was an excellent show, no doubt, but the current contest is not so amusing.

Expelled the movie. What a disheartening venture. A while back I watched a trailer and it struck me as being really awesome because it looked like an honest-to-the-flying-spaghetti-monster truthful look at the purported debate between ID and Evolutionary Theory. *I capitalize ID only to distinguish it from id*

But no. No no no no no. Having updated the trailer one can only wonder what has happened to the man calling roll in Ferris Bueller's day off. He is now apparently an ID proponent. Shame on you, Ben Stein. Shame on you!!

Setting aside my deep seated hatred for the slithery wiles of insinuative religious bullshit just for a moment I would like to make a simple comment. Free speech is awesome, I love it to death and I can't see myself living in an America without it. Your opinion is yours to keep or share or whatever you choose to do with it and that is fine by me.

Science, on the other hand, does not look kindly on 'free' speech. Opinion does not have any effect whatsoever on the speed of light through a vacuum. It does not alter the planck constant nor diminish the grasp of universal gravitation. Science doesn't give a flying fuck what you think unless you can test your theory and make predictions based upon it.

Further setting aside the mounting rage that threatens my blood vessels into flirting with spectacular rupture I concede that evolution is not law. Darwin was not a prophet. DNA is not the new gospel. Moreover there are more holes in the fossil record then there are craters on the moon. (That may or may not be true, FYI)

Ha! You might say. I have fallen victim to my own incomplete theory and there is no other alternative than some dipshit intelligence that spun life into existence. I admit nothing to this except that given the choice between random chaotic evolutionary forces hammering out the ecosystem we see today and some mystical dogooder that actually had the nerve to DESIGN the world this way I would choose the one with better evidence, not with more appealing arguments.

Many creationists are quick to throw out 'Darwin recanted' Guess what? He probably did not and even if he did who gives a shit!? Not me.

I don't care if after publishing 'The Origin of Species' Darwin changed his tune and said that finches were extra-dimensional beings who traveled through time destroying the critters that they did not like. It wouldn't matter a bit.

The idea itself is what comes into question. The modern theory of evolution is not simple natural selection as Darwin observed. It kills me to see how much progress biology has made since 1859.

I also admit freely that Natural selection is not enough to explain the origin of life, the perseverance of weird critters and the genetic diversity that we see in modern life. Luckily in the 148 intervening years between 1859 and 2007 science has come a long way.

There are a number of key features about the theory some are more important to people than others but none are so important, for me, as the genetic similarity that we see between creatures of similar origins. Case in point: Humans look, act and seem very similar to our closest relatives: the great apes.

We do not derive from any modern animal stock but it is easy to see how we could have shared a common ancestor. Naturally things have changed for us, but they have also changed for our primate cousins. Now this raises some interesting questions.

If evolution is a reasonable theory then similar animals would have similar DNA. We can make this point reasonable because if a single species branches into two groups then each of those groups will continue to move apart from each other. Bigger genetic differences imply longer seperation, more mutations and less chance of interbreeding.

Now if all life was designed by an external intelligence why the hell would he/she/it (hereafter referred to as 'shit') design it with such similarity between similar species. If we do not share our ancestry with the great apes WHY THE FUCK DO WE SHARE SIMILAR DNA!?!?!

Is that not enough to make you scratch your head and wonder. What possible reason is there for this deception? What sort of creator would purposefully do such a thing?

Think about it. And then consider, just for kicks, that the great apes have 48 chromosomes. Humans have 46. Whew, that was cloes. Different chromosomes, different species right? ID says that there's not continuity between species and never has nor ever will be. Good thing right?

Wrong. For the explanation just click here.

Tricky eh? The trial that Dr. Miller is referring to related to a school district fighting ID in the classroom. Specifically they were ripping on the science teachers having to read a statement that evolution is 'only a theory' and not the only one out there.


Well they lost, a victory for reason. Here's the problem as I see it. Religious types will kindly ignore previous examples of the church smashing on controversial scientific ideas such as a heliocentric solar system, spherical earth theory and the age of the earth being a few orders of magnitude older than claimed by so called young earth creationists.

Ask anyone if the earth is flat, revolves around the sun or is suspended in celestial aether and you will probably get a laugh and a resounding no. The earth is demonstrably round, the sun demonstrably the relative center of our solar system and radioactive dating methods such as potassium-argon (read more about the process here) prove that the earth itself is billions of years old.

More importantly if you look up at night, with the naked eye, you can see stars that are older than the supposed age of the earth. That is, if you can see the stars from your house. Since the figure fluctuates with new discoveries I'll just say that we presume the universe is older than 10 billion years. I've heard everywhere from 8-15 so I try to be vague.

I have no doubt that the universe is old as balls. True I don't know the exact number of years. I couldn't possibly. We may never have an estimate of the universe's age to within even a thousand years. I personally would be impressed if we could could nail it to within a million (considering the scale of the time needed to evolve a universe) Does that mean we throw out the notion of the age of the universe and demand that only She/He/IT knows?

No! That would be retarded. We don't chuck a good theory because it has loose ends. If we did science would not accomplish much of anything. Then where would we be?

Here's where things get tricky. I agree that science should challenge the status quo. If it did not challenge the status quo then it couldn't function. The very means by which science is accomplished is antithetical to human thinking.

I agree that potential ideas should not be discarded solely because they resist our current understanding. However, ID is not rejected so wholeheartedly by scientists and teachers and people with functioning brains because of moral, political or spiritual conflicts. It is so vehemently rejected because it IS NOT SCIENCE.

Oh but they have biologists and physicists to agree with them. True enough. But contrary to popular myth lone scientists rarely accomplish much of anything. It certainly appears that they have in the past see Einstein, Newton, Galileo and all the big heavy hitters of their respective eras but these men had contemporaries and a knowledge base built from the past up until their lifetime.

Strength in modern science does not derive from loners who have labratories up in dark shady places it happens in teams. You think Intel or IBM freelances chip design out to single people? They don't. You think individuals can manufacture nanoscale equipment? Well guess what, they can't.

I love science, odds are overwhelming that most people that enjoy it are alive today because of it in part or in whole. Now just because something butts heads with the status quo doesn't mean its a valid theory. Belief in anything supernatural will never be scientific BECAUSE if it is not a natural or observable process it cannot be tested, duplicated or verified independently.

Sorry ID, you lose right there. People's insistence that we give credence to nonsensical beliefs simply due to their popularity is not now and will never be anything approaching scientific.

Obviously science does not operate in a vacuum. Most of the research that's being done on planet earth is either to further or create something with tangible economic games. Never mind the benefits to society brought about by computers they sell like hotcakes in the developed world.

Once again I realize how big a piece I have bitten off and only managed to nibble around the edges. Here I will drop a nuke towards the core of the matter. ID is no better than creationism in terms of its usefulness to humanity. Granted it's a little different but it is no better at explaining the nature of the world.

ID serves no useful purpose. It is not testable. What is the criteria for what constitutes design versus happenstance? Species are not clear cut. Life is mutable. Genes are not the sole influence upon the world. People are animals and subject to the same forces, chemicals and weaknesses as any other animal. Culture-bearing creatures or not we are fucking primates!!

What more does it take people? Now I would hope no one makes a decision based solely on an emotional plea for one side or another. Therefore, non-existant readers, I intend to take a stand against this bullshit. And I shall now make this claim that my first, perhaps only, work of non-fiction will be a condemnation of Intelligent Design.

I retain the hope that Ben Stein is just using this movie to lure people in and then blind side them with an opposing message. This I hope, but we shall see.

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