Joined: April 2005
I see AirHeadDave is declaring victory over on his "Creator Hypothesis" thread. I am loath to contribute to that discussion, lest I lend credence to the pretense that it is a discussion. Since his deafening silence on this thread already serves as eloquent testimonial to the vacuity of his "science", I thought this would be a good place to sum up what we've learned.
First, let's keep in mind Dave's self-proclaimed reason for being here. It's not to learn, and it's not to teach. It's to gain facility in anti-evolution rhetorical technique, specifically for the purpose of inoculating children against the everlasting damnation that results from having any confidence in - or understanding of - of science, insofar as it is inconsistent with his primitive religion. With that thought firmly in mind, we won't get too frustrated with his consistent failure to recognize the solidity, interconnectedness, and downright overwhelmingness of the evidence he's so determined to deny. And we will recognize his puerile "victory dance" for what it is: another instance of the "Cordova Cockstrut"*.
*Named for Salvador Cordova, who routinely makes himself look ridiculous with displays of false confidence after having one of his creationist arguments dismantled and decisively demolished, and as a semi-formal announcement that he's abandoning efforts to defend it. See also, "Baghdad Bob"
and Monty Python's "Black Knight"
Mind you, AHD announced that that is his purpose, but the fact that he has repeatedly demonstrated that honesty - with himself, let alone with us - is not his first priority, might lead one to take with a grain of salt any statement of purpose. I suspect, too, that AHD, being human, occasionally strays from his stated purpose, and gets drawn into attempts to actually defend his "science".
Anyway, I think we should focus, not on trying to teach AHD, but on studying the substance and style of his creationist arguments.
First and foremost, of course, is his inability to separate religion and science. He claims of course, that that is not the case; that he judges science solely on the evidence, but that he regards the Bible as a perfectly sensible source of "hypotheses". But a "hypothesis", by definition, can be right or wrong, whereas AHD takes as axiomatic that the Bible can't be wrong. Go figure. The flip side, of course, is that AHD deploys the old (inaccurate) tu quoque, claiming that scientists have the opinions that they do, not because of the evidence, but because of a supposed precommitment to an "atheistic" worldview.
Now there's another interesting twist to the AHD conflation of religion and science. He thinks that we're missing an important part of life in not "getting to know our Creator" - as he thinks he does. But the creator he thinks he has personal knowledge of is one that makes specific truth-claims about physical reality, that are at odds with everything science knows.
Then there's this interesting gambit most clearly illustrated in the GULO exchange: the substitution of the assertion that the creationist explanation is at least as successful as the real-world one, for the explanation itself. Note: he never offered this explanation; merely asserted that (a) it exists and (b) it fits the data better than the one accepted by the tens of thousands of PhD's who have spent their lives studying the data. Note also we saw this same strategy deployed in the "Portuguese = Spanish + French" argument: no actual evidence offered; just the assertion repeated ad nauseam, coupled with the claim that anyone that didn't recognize the conclusiveness of the (non)evidence must be "blind".
The heart of the whole creationist enterprise, of course, is the baffling supposition that somehow any question is still open as long as some crackpot like Russell Humphreys is refusing to bend to reality. As if the tons of peer-reviewed literature and the consilience of all of science commands less attention and respect than the scattered, and inconsistent, pleadings of the odd fanatic whose religious commitment to the dissenting view is obvious, acknowledged, and absolutely central to his psychology. Even after having his nose rubbed in the mess that AiG made of the human/chimp chromosome fusion story, AHD still cites AiG (and ICR, and Dembski, and any and all creationist "scientists") as if they're just as trustworthy as the peer-reviewed journals that professional scientists rely upon and contribute to.
Is it "child abuse"? Well, I'm with Stephen Elliott and stevestory on this one. Yes, I think AHD's whole project - inasmuch as it's aimed at indoctrinating his and others' children - is a disservice. But I don't think it's more reprehensible than any a lot of other ignorance and superstition that parents and pastors attempt to impose on impressionable youngsters. Like madrasas in Pakistan: it's not how I would want kids educated, and lots of bad things will undoubtedly result. But with parents - and pastors - physically, sexually abusing kids, realistically I think society needs to pick its battles, and reserve the word abuse for the more concrete cases.
I may have more to say on the "meta-analysis" of AHD's enterprise, but that's all I can stomach for tonight. Anyway, I urge you all to think not so much of how you can show him the error of his ways, as to show others (school boards, newspaper readers of letters-to-the-editor, kids that need deprogramming...) the error of his ways.
Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.