Pharyngula

Paul Nelson in Norway

A reader sent along a few notes on Paul Nelson’s grand tour of Norway—I’ve got to say that his strategy and his talk sounds awfully familiar, right down to the vacuous thought-experiments and god-praising screen-saver that conveniently kicked in during the Q&A. Most significantly, the Norwegian audience of scientists had little patience for his nonsensical arguments, just like our audience of students.

I really wonder how Nelson gets these travel invitations. Did the Scandinavian creationist groups pay his expenses, or is the Discovery Institute funding his missionary work? I think I need some atheist organization sugar daddy to front my junkets to Trondheim and other exotic locales in my ancestral homeland—I’d willingly go into a Norwegian church to lecture on godless evilution and get hammered on by the fundies if it meant I got to visit some interesting people and places.

The summary of his talk (in English, you’ll be relieved to know) is below the fold.

…I thought you may like to hear that Paul A. Nelson recently “honoured” my country by visiting us and holding a lecture at the University of Oslo as well as other places. Nelson was invited by a small group of anti-evolution “scientists” we actually have here in Norway, a joint Norwegian-Danish organisation who calls themselves “Origo”.

I don’t know if this is of interest to you, but I’ll give you a short summary of what has happened so far, just in case.

The debate at the University on 20. September was interesting according to this website: http://www.fritanke.no/NYHETER/Brutalt_pa_Blindern/. A large group of biologists had turned up and they gave poor Nelson a hard time, I am glad to tell you! Nelson’s lecture followed the standard creationist/ID line. He opened with the ID-nonsense about “irreducible complexity”, the flagellum contra Stonehenge and the subsequent design inference (I am so tired of reading about flagella in ID-literature – wish they could come up with another example!), continued with the “Darwinism is a religious point of view” crap, commented that suboptimal design is also an option of an Itelligent Designer (although not very intelligent, if you ask me) and ended with a comment that “the one-tracked scientific method prevents us from understanding reality”!

The following debate was not a happy event for Nelson. Whenever he was challenged he tended to present complex thought-experiments, in fact he did this so much that the debate leader interrupted him and told him to stop! I don’t think it was because of these harsh word and the unfriendly treatment, but Nelson admitted at the end that ID would be seriously challenged if it was proven that evolutionary theory could explain the origin of the flagellum (I agree with that!). He further stated that evolutionary theory today has much greater explaining power than ID and that ID consequently should not be taught in schools. Well, at least he got something right!

The real revelation came at the end of the show, though. When asked if Nelson thought the designer was the Christian god he replied diplomatically that it could be God, Jahve, Allah or the Flying Spaghetti monster (my money would be on the latter – if I had the capacity for belief in supernatural beings!). However, when his screen saver turned on during the break the following could be seens flickering across the screen: “Nature is the art of God”! So much for giving equal possibillity to the numerous deities which the deisgner could be!

Even if Nelson definitely lost the debate at the University, he will continue his tour of my beloved country and I am sad to say that he will be able to poison the minds of many still basically uncorrupted young minds. Among the various places he’ll visit are high schools, student societies in Bergen and presumably Trondheim and of course various christian communities and churches. I wish I could be there and tell him what he is, but hopefully someone else will, at least in the high schools.

Creationsim is in no way as big a problem here in Norway as it is in the States, but I have always suspected that creationsim and ID is much more widespread in christian communities in Norway than most politicians and scientists like to think and one day I’ll conduct a survey of that. If you think you got it bad with the right-wing people ruling your country, know that our prime minister a few years ago was actually a priest!