Friday, May 16, 2008

Creationists are bad at math

Yeah, it's nothing new, but I'm in the midst of a "discussion" with a raving creationist and he trotted out the "random emergence of life is impossible" argument. Since this stupid argument is still being used, I may as well post a simple and concise rebuttal in case anyone finds it and thinks it's useful.

This argument falls apart when you consider the central fallacy. Creationists invariably choose something, in my most recent experience an enzyme, and say that "the chance that this would appear randomly is less than 1 in 10^50, therefore it is impossible." Well, yeah. That's what evolution is for. It evolved little by little. Duh.

So next time someone tries this idiocy on you, throw this back at them:

Deal out a deck of cards, one by one, and write down the order in which the cards are dealt. The chance of dealing the first card is 1 in 52. The chance of dealing the next card is 1 in 51 (since there is one less card in the deck now). Continue this on until you've dealt out the entire deck, and multiply the probabilities to find the probability of dealing the deck in the order that you did.

You'll find that the probability is 1 in 8 x 10^67. According to creationists, that is impossible. But it happened! Whoops.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The ICR has enemies

I'm in the middle of finals week, so I'm busy studying instead of surfing the Internet and writing about things, but this is just too good. The Institute for Creation Research has posted a page decrying "Evolution's Evangelists;" Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, and PZ Myers.

Oh boy, the stupid runs pretty thick over at ICR, doesn't it?

The ICR whines that, "By stating that there is no "serious" scientific doubt [about evolution], Scott neatly eliminates the possibility that non-evolutionary scientists can provide a valid case for their hypotheses or conclusions." So many things wrong in so little words. What is a non-evolutionary scientist? One who does not accept evolution? It's certainly possible that a scientist who does not believe in evolution could engage in good science, but it would be a bit difficult to get anyone to listen to them. That's what happens when you acquire a reputation as someone who eschews evidence in a field which is entirely evidence-based.

What I think the term "non-evolutionary scientist" actually meant is a scientist who attempts to disprove evolution. Their problem isn't anything that Eugenie Scott has said or done. The ICR must think that Scott's powers rival those of their twisted conception of God if they actually believe that her declaration that "there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred" causes all evidence contrary to evolution to magically disappear. That they think anything besides reality influences whether their case (read: evidence or lack thereof) is valid reveals again how little they actually understand about what science is and how it works.

They continue on to blubber about PZ Myers (I guess he hurt their feelings), likening him to a "newly-hormonal teenager" and dismissing him with the following:

evolution is fact, evolution vs. creationism is a case of science vs. religion, science and religion are anathema to each other, therefore scientific creationism should be banished to the lunatic fringe.

No matter where the evidence leads.

Ignoring or misinterpreting evidence is not the same as the non-existence of evidence. Science and religion are anathema to each other (it's certainly possible to be both a theist and a scientist, but you can't mix the two) by their very nature, and "scientific" creationism is on the lunatic fringe. Does anybody who is credible agree with these guys? Nope.

And how cute that they've actually listened to the arguments against them and parroted them back. "No matter where the evidence leads" is supposed to be the scientists' line!