A few weeks ago I noted the fact that some Christians appear to detect design and divine control in the beauty of nature. For example, witnessing lightning and a rainbow simultaneously, one observer was driven to comment: “It reminded me that God is really in control.” Now, it appears, Dembski is thinking the same way. He notes a photo (reproduced below) “captured this week on the Idaho/Washington border” that shows a “fire rainbow”*.
Below the fold, I comment.
It’s the gratuitousness of such beaty [sic] that leads me to rebel against materialism
The email that accompanies the photo – which Dembski may have received – screams:
CLOUDS HAVE TO BE CIRRUS, AT LEAST 20K FEET IN THE AIR, WITH JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF ICE CRYSTALS AND THE SUN HAS TO HIT THE CLOUDS AT PRCEISELY [sic] 58 DEGREES.
As Snopes notes:
[A] circumhorizontal arc (or “fire rainbow”) appears when the sun is high in the sky (i.e., higher than 58° above the horizon), and its light passes through diaphanous, high-altitude cirrus clouds made up of hexagonal plate crystals. Sunlight entering the crystals’ vertical side faces and leaving through their bottom faces is refracted (as through a prism) and separated into an array of visible colors. When the plate crystals in cirrus clouds are aligned optimally (i.e., with their faces parallel to the ground), the resulting display is a brilliant spectrum of colors reminiscent of a rainbow.
The un-named designer gratuitously put together such a beautiful show for us, arranging everything so “PRCEISELY” that it is witnessed. Perhaps the designer aligned the ice crystals so that someone in Idaho would see it and take a picture which would be distributed on the tubes that are the Internets and I would see them. Perhaps the designer is trying to tell me something? Boy, I feel …. special.
You’d think the very rarity of circumhorizontal arc (and a passing familiarity with Littlewood’s law) would tell Dembski something about natural phenomena. But no. The conditions for circumhorizonal arcs are well known – near to noon near to the summer solstice when the sun is very high in the sky. You can also run software to simulate them. See, an ID research program in the making!
* As it happens, the photo was snapped on June 3rd, minor point, I know.