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29 August 2009

Evolutionism, Environmentalism, and Cosmic Sympathy

The latest from some right wing nut over at Renew America showing the connexion between evolution, environmentalism, and the resurgence of pagan philosophy,

I'll start with evolutionism, and that by defining my use of the term. When I refer to "evolutionism," I am not referring strictly to the principles of biological evolution — natural selection and what have you — some of which I have no fundamental issue with when speaking of adaptation at the sub-orderial level (i.e. microevolution). Rather, I am referring to the philosophical underpinning that is used to interpret our observations of the material world, and which posits that "change" in the physical world is completely naturalistic, that there is no supernatural, there is no outside Being who created or interferes in the operation of things in this universe. As such, the term "evolutionism" encompasses everything from cosmology to biology (via the unsubstantiated suppositions of macroevolution) and the philosophical hand-waving that is used to support non-theistic arguments in these areas.

Evolutionism starts from essentially the same pagan first principle as did the ancient mythologies — that of the eternal pre-existence of the cosmos as a self-contained (even if not yet in finished form) whole. To the ancients, it was an eternally pre-existent heaven and earth whose pre-existence was never rationally explained, and rarely addressed. Today, it manifests itself as a variety of competing cosmological theories, the most prominent of which are the steady-state theory of Fred Hoyle (which has fallen out of favor) and the more well-known Big Bang theory. Both theories implicitly rest on the premise of eternal pre-existence without an initiatory Creator. The steady state theory suggested that the universe has no beginning and will have no end, and will always appear to us to be the same (on an extremely large cosmological scale, of course, change and greater order are accounted for at lower levels like, say, the galactic). The Big Bang, which has largely supplanted the steady state theory, while appearing to suggest that the universe has a beginning (the singular point from which everything "banged"), nevertheless fails to explain where that point came from — meaning once again the rejection of a Creator and the positing of an eternally pre-existing cosmos in some form or another.

Read the whole thing!

24 August 2009

The Daily Ni**er Shutdown?!!

Yesterday David Drake spoke about a blog which he had found with the name "The Daily Ni**er". I had the chance to see through some of the articles, and it sounded really critical of the Hussein Obango Administration.

This morning I came to David's blog, and tried to enter the "TDN" blog, and this is what I saw:


The Big-Brother-in-Chief is flexing his socialist muscles. Where is the ACLU when we need them?!!

The text therein reads:

This website has been shutdown due to violations of DHS Cyber Security policies and the Office of the President of the United States Cyber Watch Program. This site has been determined to be not in keeping with current policies regarding truthfulness about the Administrations Health Care Reform and has been deemed a threat to National Security by inciting revolt against the policies and procedures of the Office of the President. If you are aware of any other sites that you feel violate the aforementioned policies please click here!

Imagine what would have happened if Bush had closed down a blog for expresing views that contradict him.

23 August 2009

An Honest Admission

"We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

"It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." - Dr. Richard Lewontin

Basically, he is describing the difference between "science" and "scientism" (which he wrongly conflates with science). "Science" is simply a set of investigative principles that is, by its own admission, limited in scope and ability. "Scientism", on the other hand, is a philosophical underpinning which forms the basis of evolutionism, and which refuses to accept the limitations on science that are imposed by the fact that science can only deal with physical evidences. Scientism gets around the limitation by arguing for materialism - the unsubstantiated delusion that since metaphysical and supernatural evidences are outside the strict realm of science (as it presently exists at least) to investigate, that they therefore simply don't exist. It's sort of like saying that all those people who talk about China and show you pictures from there are just raving superstitious morons since you've personally never been there. "Science" knows its limits and accepts them, since it has no stake in doing otherwise. "Scientism" doesn't accept the limits, because of its fanatical need to eliminate the non-material. The former is legitimate investigation, the later is simply a not very well-thought out attempt at justifying atheism.

22 August 2009

Much Ado About Nothing

The latest evo post over at Little Green Footballs is even more clueless about actual science than usual. In this one, Charles Johnson links a hyperventilating screed from the Reuters "science" section about the presence of an amino acid in the tail of a comet,

The amino acid glycine, a fundamental building block of proteins, has been found in a comet for the first time, bolstering the theory that raw ingredients of life arrived on Earth from outer space, scientists said on Monday.

Microscopic traces of glycine were discovered in a sample of particles retrieved from the tail of comet Wild 2 by the NASA spacecraft Stardust deep in the solar system some 242 million miles (390 million km) from Earth, in January 2004....


....The latest findings add credence to the notion that extraterrestrial objects such as meteorites and comets may have seeded ancient Earth, and other planets, with the raw materials of life that formed elsewhere in the cosmos.

"The discovery of glycine in a comet supports the idea that the fundamental building blocks of life are prevalent in space, and strengthens the argument that life in the universe may be common rather than rare," said Carl Pilcher, the director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute in California, which co-funded the research.

Glycine and other amino acids have been found in a number of meteorites before, most notably one that landed near the town of Murchison, Australia in 1969, Elsila said.

Even for a mainstream media science article, this one is remarkably clueless about the basic science surrounding this issue. The way the article reads, they found glycine - GLYCINE!!!!! - in the tail of a comet, and poof, this practically proves that earth was seeded by extraterrestrial amino acids and *poof* life appeared!

Frankly, they're just lucky it was glycine they found, and not any other amino acid.

The reason is that glycine - which the article correctly notes is the "simplest" amino acid - is also the only amino acid which does not contain a chiral centre. Now, glycine is relatively simple to produce in nature - Miller-Urey produced it primarily when they did their little "lightning in a bottle of ammonia and methane" trick that the evos usually hold up as evidence that early earth conditions could have produced amino acids, which formed proteins, which formed everything else! (I'm simplifying, of course) There's no reason to think that the input of a little solar energy couldn't have done the same thing with ammonia and methane in the tail of a comet, at least enough to produce the "microscopic traces" of glycine the article mentions.

In fact, as the article also mentions, the Murchison strike in Australia yielded evidence for extraterrestrially-produced amino acid production.

But, the problem with using that as evidence is that a number of amino acids from the Murchison strike were non-biological, and all of them, biological and non-biological alike, were present as racemates - meaning that they were present in both left-handed and right-handed chiralities. Problem is, biologically active proteins incorporate left-handed amino acids exclusively. Yet, there is no chemical reason why a protein would selectively incorporate only one handedness of amino acid into a growing polymer chain. What this means is that any proteins that did somehow manage to overcome all the other things that basically rule out the naturalistic arguments for abiogenesis, like ionising radiation in an "oxygenless early earth atmosphere" (think, no ozone layer) and the Le Chatelier impossibility of performing a condensation reaction with water as a product (such as, you know, amino acid polymerisation to form proteins) in an ocean, would still have incorporated both handedness of amino acids, and have been completely useless as evolution-bearing precursors to life on this earth.

This is why I said that the evos got lucky that only glycine was found in the comet's tail, because any more complex amino acids would - if the evidence from every other extraterrestrial source of amino acids we've found to date is any indication - have been enantiomerically mixed, and would have been useless from an origins-of-life perspective. Being achiral, glycine does not have "handedness", and hence does not present the problem for the requirement of enantiopurity that any other amino acid would.

And let's note - merely finding glycine (ONE amino acid) does not prove anything about any evolutionarily-demanded "seeding" of life on earth. You don't build proteins out of just glycine. You need other amino acids as well - and to date, the scattered few that we're found from off-planet would be useless.

Not only is the science underlying the suppositions of the article faulty, but the article itself is written somewhat deceptive, like they're trying to slip stuff past the undiscerning reader. For instance, having admitted early on that "microscopic traces" of glycine were found in Wolf 1's tail, we are later told,

"The discovery of glycine in a comet supports the idea that the fundamental building blocks of life are prevalent in space, and strengthens the argument that life in the universe may be common rather than rare."

So, they're "microscopic traces", but they're "prevalent in space" and show that life in the universe "may be common." Friends, that's not science, that's wishful thinking. And it's not even supported by scientifically-valid evidence. Find trace amounts of glycine in a comet's tail and assuming from this that life may well be common all across this universe is simply non-sequitur.

Articles like this do nothing to actually "prove" the truth of evolution, or even its likelihood. They only demonstrate the scientific illiteracy of so many of the MSM's "science writers" and those who repeat them ignorant, like Charles Johnson at LGF 1.0.

20 August 2009

Born Alive Protection Act


03 August 2009

Racist Conservatives Deface the Anointed's Holy Face


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