Pharyngula

I’m getting too old for this. The idiots keep making the same arguments, over and over again, and they just get dumber with every iteration. Bryan Fischer makes me want to stick an icepick in my brain just to stop the stupidity coming out of his mouth.

His latest article is Defeating Darwin in four steps…and I read the title and instantly predicted what his four objections would be before I even looked at the first sentence — I’d apply for Randi’s million dollar challenge, except reading the mind of a droning cretin isn’t much of a challenge.

You really need to listen to Fischer’s awful radio show, just for the schlocky thrill of his sing-songy chant of “First Law, Second Law, Fossils, Genes”. It’s a high quality, potent emetic.

Here are his four magic arguments:

  1. First Law of Thermodynamics. This law (note: not a theory but a scientific law) teaches us that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed. In other words, an honest scientist will tell you that there is nothing in the observable universe that can explain either the origin of energy or matter. By logical extension, then, matter and energy had to come into being by some force outside the universe.

    What this means, then, is that science simply has no explanation for the most basic question that could possibly be asked: why is there something rather than nothing?

    Actually, I didn’t guess this one exactly right — I thought he’d say something about abiogenesis, that we don’t know how life started. Unfortunately, Fischer was even more idiotic than I thought he’d be: the origin of the universe is a physics problem, and is not a matter explained at all by biological evolution, so this is completely irrelevant.

    This is a common creationist claim, though, that the Big Bang violates the first law of thermodynamics. These gomers don’t understand thermodynamics so it’s silly for them to rely on it. Ask a physicist; the Big Bang doesn’t violate thermodynamics.

    This negative gravitational potential energy exactly cancels out the positive energy of the universe. As Stephen Hawking says in his book A Brief History of Time (quoted by Victor Stenger, Has Science Found God?, p. 148): “In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that this negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero.” In other words, it is not the case that something came out of nothing. It is that we have always had zero energy.

  2. Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law (note: not a theory but a law) teaches us that in every chemical or heat reaction, there is a loss of energy that never again is available for another heat reaction. This is why things break down if left to themselves, and why scientists tell us that the universe is headed toward a heat death.

    This law teaches us, then, that the universe is headed toward increasing randomness and decay.

    But what does the theory of evolution teach us? The exact opposite, that the universe is headed toward increasing complexity and order. You put up a scientific theory against my scientific law, I’m going to settle for the law every time, thank you very much.

    I knew this one was coming. Again, creationists don’t understand thermodynamics at all, and this is a beautiful example. Nothing violates the second law. Every gain in complexity in biology is matched by an even greater increase in entropy. I was once a tiny single cell, and I have increased in complexity and bulk over the years by chowing down on a mountain of high-energy food and turning it into a mountain of low-energy poop. It’s the same story with the bigger scale of evolution: it’s ultimately been driven by immense masses of hydrogen fusing in the heart of our star. Far more energy was burned by the sun than was harvested and used in all the history of life, so there is no net gain in the energy of the whole system.

  3. Fossils. Realize that the fossil record is the only tangible, physical evidence for the theory of evolution that exists. The fossil record is it. There is absolutely nothing else Darwinians have they can show you.

    As Yale University’s Carl Dunbar says, “Fossils provide the only historical, documentary evidence that life has evolved from simpler to more and more complex forms.”

    But if Darwin’s theory is correct, that increasingly complex life forms developed in tiny little incremental and transitional steps, then the fossil record should by littered with an enormous number of transitional fossils.

    Another predictable and stupid claim. We’ve got lots of transitional fossils. We look in the fossil record, and find entire ecosystems that no longer exist and have changed in radical ways. This is Fischer just sticking his fingers in his ears and shouting “la la la la”.

    The quote from Carl Dunbar is revealing. If you’re like me, you’re asking “who the heck is Carl Dunbar, and why should I care?” This one is a double-whammy against the creationists, though: Carl Dunbar was born in 1891, so once again they’re desperately scrambling to find some authority, any authority, to back up their claims. The other problem for the creationists, though, is the quote itself. Read it. Does this actually say there’s a problem with the fossil record? No, it does not. Dunbar was a well-known invertebrate paleontologist 50 years ago, who published many papers illustrating the pattern of transitions in the stratigraphic record.

    He’s probably be very surprised to hear that creationists now cite his work vaguely and with no comprehension as evidence against evolution. I guarantee you, too, that Fischer knows nothing about Dunbar’s work, and only cites him because he found other creationist sites that quote-mined him.

  4. Genes. The only mechanism — don’t miss this — the only mechanism evolutionists have to explain the development of increasingly complex life forms is genetic mutation. Mutations alter DNA, and these alterations can be passed on to descendants.

    The problem: naturally occurring genetic mutations are invariably harmful if not fatal to the organism. Rather than improve an organism’s capacity to survive, they invariably weaken it. That’s why the phrase we most often use to refer to genetic mutations is “birth defects.”

    Bryan Fischer is completely wrong here: he’s stating as a fact that mutations are invariably deleterious, and this is simply not true. Most are neutral. Some are advantageous, and all it takes is one counterexample to show that his absolutist statements are wrong. I’d say he’s lying, but I know what a lot of people would say: “he’s not literally lying, he’s just ignorant”. But this is something we need a better word for: he’s stating as a certainty a false ‘fact’, acting as an authority in a field he actually knows nothing about, and is intentionally promoting a counterfactual to advance an ideology. He’s a disinformation agent, sowing propaganda: it’s worse than lying.

That’s enough inanity. I’m done. I really hope, though, that someday someone comes up to me chanting “First Law, Second Law, Fossils, Genes” just like Bryan Fischer so I can kick their dumb ass.

(Also on FtB)