Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Intelligent Alien Intervention Institute

Gordon Glover has a new video on Youtube that is a complete howl. It takes on the "academic freedom" legislation to point out that, given that we should be open to teaching "the controversy," anything can be thought of as science. In this case, it is alien technology. This eerily reflects the testimony of Michael Behe during the Dover/Kitzmiller trial, in which he stated that, under his definition of science, astrology would be included.

The best part is the picture of Seattle in the background, which is where the headquarters of the Discovery Institute is located.

Now playing: David Lanz - Song for Monet
via FoxyTunes


  1. I find Gordons utube videos very helpful and reccomend them to anyone interested in the Bible and science!

  2. In Monday's RTB podcast, Fuz Rana said he thought that the gaps between Ardipithecus ramidus and the australopithecines were too large and there were no signs of intermediate transition (he said 'Ardi' was "radically distinct" from them, and there was "a sharp discontinuity" between them). His view was that scientists were only proposing 'Ardi' as an ancestor to the australopithecines based on chronology in the fossil record, but not because there was a morphological connection or signs of a transition. In his words, "we are not seeing a gradual transition from facultative bipedalism to a more committed form of bipedalism, but rather there's a discontinuity again."
    He said the same thing was true between the australopithecines and the Homo genus, that these various creatures appear in the record with no signs of obvious ancestors. Ardipithecus ramidus itself just appears in the record as bipedal, but we don't see any gradual evolutionary transition from a quadrupedal primate to a bipedal one in the fossils. He also made the point that almost every time a new fossil is found ('Ardi', 'Ida' etc) it seems to completely overturn our views about human evolution, possibly meaning it is not very well founded scientifically (he said "I think it highlights, from an apologetics stand point, just how speculative the whole idea of human evolution is. We get this perception from what's written in the popular press, what's written in textbooks, that these ideas are well-established, robust ideas, but yet here is a single fossil find that is literally overturning long established ideas in human evolution. And this tends to be par for the course, this is not unusual. More often than not new fossil finds tend to upset things that are oftentimes long-held views."

    What do you think of that? How would you respond?

  3. I agree. I especially like his video on how the discoveries of the New World and the southern hemisphere changed how Christians viewed other people and how it affected their theology.

  4. Alan, here is how I would respond. Whether or not Ardipithecus ramidus is a direct ancestor of the australopithecines is a question we may never have the answer to. On the other hand, by analogy, we have dozens of fossil forms of Triassic and Cretaceous dinosaurs that had feathers. Some were well-developed, some weren't, but it is clear that many different forms were headed in the direction of "bird" as a result of selection pressures. Maybe that is going on in the human lineages as well. Maybe A. ramidus is not the direct ancestor. Maybe Orrorin tugenensis isn't either. Maybe it is an as yet undiscovered form. It ought to be clear that the fact that we are discovering hominids way over in the Sahel means that the whole area probably has remains and that early hominids had adaptively radiated into a larger range than originally thought. Creationists often think in two-dimensional terms. Mr. Rana is looking for "direct" ancestry in hominid forms. What is likely being reflected in A. ramidus and the other forms is "collateral" ancestry.

    As far as the lack of continuity between australopithecines and early Homo, that is simply false. If you look at the Homo habilis specimen ER1470, the face looks exactly like a gracile australopithecine that had swallowed a balloon. The only thing that is different is the expanded cranium. The other thing is that there is a complete fossilized australopithecine vertebral column, pelvis and partial femur from the cave of Sterkfontein (catalog number STS-14)that clearly shows the "double-s" curve that is present in all modern humans and the flared ilium denoting bipedality. They clearly walked on two feet. The presence of clearly human hip remains and knee joints from other sites reinforces this.

    As to the notion that the whole field of human evolution is "speculative," I would say "of course it is speculative." We don't have nearly enough fossils to complete the picture. That doesn't mean we don't have the fossils that we have or that they don't tell us a lot about human evolution. I would also say to Mr. Rana "Alright, you explain it." Isaac Newton upset long-held views of how the universe behaved. So what? It doesn't mean he was wrong.

    This is typical creationism. About a decade back, there was crowing about how the model of the Big Bang was shown to be wrong and that maybe physicists didn't know as much about the origins of the universe as they thought they did. What was not reported was that the model that was shown to be false was one of twelve Big Bang models. As with Mr. Rana, they just hadn't bothered to do the necessary homework.

    That help?

  5. Okay, is it just me, or is there no way to contact Fuz Rana to respond to the broadcast? In fact, I cannot find an email address ANYWHERE on that site. Is it hidden?

  6. Thanks Jim for the response. The main problem I have with RTB is that because the other members seem to be all trained in physics, astronomy or similar things, Fuz Rana ends up dealing with essentially everything else. Any topic related to abiogenesis, paleontology, genetics, anthropolgy, or just about anything else sees him wheeled out as the 'expert' to give his views. Nobody can possibly be up to date on so many diverse fields and no single individual can possibly take on the entire scientific community in each of those fields. I mean even YEC organisations can at least offer a reasonable array of different scientists with some training in various fields to present a veneer of science. I kind of feel sorry for Fuz and the RTB team; Hugh Ross expects to have his 'testable creation model' up and running with research scientists and it being taught in schools. I just have no idea how he expects to achieve this.

    As for how RTB explain the hominid fossil record, they say that they are just similar to modern primates such as chimps, and that although they could walk upright, there is no direct connection with us. They simply represent lineages that went extinct, creatures created
    by God, but not with a soul like us.

    As for contacting them I am only really aware of this link - ask@reasons.org - but it appears to be more for questions that they can respond to in their podcasts and not actual direct correspondance.

  7. I would venture that this person (Mr. Rana) not only cannot stay current on all of those disciplines but, because it does not fit the narrative, does not try to. This is the case with Casey Luskin of the DI. People have corrected his misinformation to his face and he still continues to spout nonsense.

    To say that these fossils are similar to modern primates reveals a striking ignorance of the data. It is curious to me that Hugh Ross and company are meticulous about getting the science correct as it pertains to astrophysics, astronomy and cosmology but gleefully accept the most demonstrably false creationism arguments when it comes to biology. Surely the cognitive dissonance must be apparent.

  8. I'm conflicted about the satire. I enjoyed Gordon's serious work so much that it's jarring to see him in this genre.

    He makes that suit look good, though. And the hair-piece and glasses, too!

  9. AMW, Maybe he, too, has just gotten fed up with the shenanigans of the DI.

  10. Anonymous9:56 AM

    Hi, I am myself a theistic evolutionist, and I disagree with RTB and Fuz Rana about many things, nevertheless I think you have been really too harsh with him.

    Contrarily to most creationists, he always shows a great respect with those who disagree with him, recognize that evolutionists are doing good work but believe that his creationist conclusions are more plausible.

    I believe that RTB is misguided theologically and apologetically, I find their arguments for God and the Bible completely unconvincing, but I love them as brothers in Christ and nice people.

  11. Perhaps I was a bit harsh but I have a tendency to react harshly when people who ought to know better, say silly things about the fossil record that reflect a complete lack of knowledge of that same record. This is why I try to keep my cosmology and astrophysics posts to a bare minimum. I don't know beans about either discipline. Just because Dr. Rana wants something to agree with his particular theological perspective doesn't make it so. He is not addressing the evidence honestly.

    Did you see my post on Todd Wood? At least he understands the evidence, even if he rejects it (for the wrong reasons, I think).