Thursday, September 17, 2009

The latest creationist PR

Ray "bananaman" Comfort, and his former child actor associate Kirk Cameron are trying again to indoctrinate the masses, and I have the distinct feeling that it's going to blow up in their faces.

Nobody is trying to censor them, nobody is trying to stop them. We're not against free speech.

We are, however, against lies.

That said, they have recently announced their latest PR scheme.

To correct all of the lies presented in just the first few minutes of this video would be impossible in just about any other forum. So I'm doing it here.

I also plan to make this posting available to a number of a-list bloggers in the hope that they will spread this to the widest audience possible.

So, let's begin. Each comment will be preceded with a timecode, and a quote from former child actor Kirk Cameron. The video above is exactly that which was posted, so you can verify their comments against it at any time.

Let us begin.

0:00 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: "Are you concerned about what's happening to our country?"


0:05 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: One by one, we're being stripped of our God-given liberties.

No evidence exists that your liberties were given by God. All liberties you enjoy were passed on to you by the founding fathers of this country. Founding fathers who said, among other things:

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law."

Vol. 1 Whether Christianity is Part of the Common Law (1764). Published in The Works of Thomas Jefferson in Twelve Volumes

"All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution."

Thomas Jefferson Draft Constitution for Virginia (June 1776)

0:11 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: Our kids can no longer pray in public.

Outright Lie #1. Nobody has yet been arrested for praying in public. Every attempt to do so, ever, has been thrown out of court under the very first amendment which protects your right to present any religious view you feel is appropriate.

0:13 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: They can no longer freely open a bible in school.

Outright lie #2. Students are not prohibited from opening a bible in school. They're not prohibited from praying in school. They're free to do both activities, provided, naturally, that they don't disturb the rest of the class, as clearly demonstrated by this document, endorsed by the ACLU and the National Association of Evangelicals (and imagine what a challenge it is to get those two groups to agree on anything).

Where the limit of religious expression lies is when the teacher begins to present or endorse religion on the public dollar. That's the deal we made in the constitution: if it's paid for with taxes, religion stays out of it.

Of interest is the following passage of the same document, endorsed by both the ACLU and the National Association of Evangelicals:

Students have a right to distribute religious literature to their schoolmates on the same terms as they are permitted to distribute other literature that is unrelated to school curriculum or activities. Schools may impose the same reasonable time, place, and manner or other constitutional restrictions on distribution of religious literature as they do on nonschool literature generally, but they may not single out religious literature for special regulation.

Yep. Sure seems like they're restricting access to bibles.

Remember, this was endorsed by the ACLU, the organization that fundamentalists are always insisting is trying to force religion out of schools.

0:15 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: The Ten Commandments are no longer allowed to be displayed in public places.

Outright lie #3. The ten commandments are allowed to be displayed in public places. They're not, however, allowed to be displayed on public property, nor should they be. You are perfectly, and openly permitted to display a copy of the ten commandments, or the wiccan rede, or the scrolls of Mohamed, on your front lawn, or on the front of your church, or on your office door, but you can put none of them on the steps of a public courthouse.

Speaking of the ten commandments, we're just barely over a quarter-minute into this video, and Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron has already openly, blatantly and remorselessly lied three times. Isn't there a commandment somewhere in there about "bearing false witness?"

0:22 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: and the Gideons are not even allowed to give away bibles in schools.

No, the Gideons were not prohibited from giving the bibles away. They were not stopped from handing out the bibles, or condemned by the school for doing so. In fact, the school released a statement saying that the Gideons had violated no laws whatsoever. What actually happened was that the parents of students who were given the bibles got upset, and they have absolutely every right to be upset. Imagine if you found out that Muslim extremists were handing copies of the Koran to your children, or that pagans were teaching them all about the wiccan rede, or hindus were giving copies of the Bhagavad Gita. Honestly, don't you think that would upset you just a little?

Outright Lie #4, in just over 20 seconds.

0:24 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: Did you know that a recent study revealed that in the top 50 universities in our country, in the fields of psychology and biology, 61% of professors describe themselves as atheists or agnostics?

Not an outright lie, but a very misleading use of statistics.

The study in question shows that:

Respondents were asked to select the statement that comes closest to expressing their views about God. Only 10.0 percent chose the statement, “I don’t believe in God,” while 13.4 percent chose the statement, “I don’t know whether there is a God, and I don’t believe there is any way to find out.” About 23.4 percent of respondents to our survey, in other words, are either atheists or agnostics.

A pretty far cry from the 61% Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron is quoting here, isn't it? The only time when that number comes up is when you deliberately restrict it only to the Psychology and Biology professors. In other words, subjects where the religious views of the professor would be completely and utterly irrelevant to the subject matter.

So, even if 61% of biology and psychology professors are atheists, so what?

Let's follow Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron's so-called "reasoning" to the next step.

0:38 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: No wonder atheism has doubled in the last 20 years among 19 to 25-year-olds.

Since I really don't see why this is a concern, at all, I won't bother fact-checking this one. Suffice it to say, if it's true, so what? If it's not, then Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron is lying again. I could honestly care less.

However, he associates the "high" number of atheists college professors (and not just any professors, specifically those in biology and psychology, which is a tiny minority of the college professors in total) with the increase in atheism. This is unlikely to be true, as it is still only a minority of americans who possess a post-secondary education. In order for this statement to in any way be linked to the one which proceeds it (itself, at the absolute least, a disingenuous statement of the actual statistics), one would have to establish that a sizable portion of those who become atheists during this time were college educated in psychology or biology, and were taught by the 61% of professors who profess to be atheists or agnostics.

In short, they have not established any type of causal relationship, but have implied (and at the absolute least, flirted with saying outright) that such a relationship exists.

Not quite a lie, at any rate, but close enough that it barely makes a difference.

0:43 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: An entire generation is being brainwashed by atheistic evolution without even hearing the alternative, and it's radically changing the culture of our nation.

This is a loaded statement which needs to be broken down.

"An entire generation"

At the absolute most, using the numbers that Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron himself uses, we're looking at the tiny fraction of "the whole generation" who go to the top 50 universities in the US, who are educated by the 23% of atheists in those universities, in a subject where their religious views would possibly have been pertinent (which, incidentally, would pretty much always exclude both psychology and biology), who were sufficiently convinced by those arguments to convert to atheism. Once all those necessary caveats and addendums are included, the number can hardly be considered "an entire generation" by even the loosest definition of the term.

"is being brainwashed by atheistic evolution"

So, once we narrow it down to just the professors of biology and psychology, it pretty much stands to reason that they're going to be taught evolution in some capacity or another. Psychology these days has, as one of its central principles, how evolution has molded the human psyche. Stands to reason that evolution is going to be mentioned at least once or twice.

Biology has, as its central principle, evolution. Theodosius Dobzhansky once said that "nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution."

Now, note again how Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron slyly presents two ideas, atheism and evolution as if the terms were associated, or possibly even synonymous? Dobzhansky was an evangelical Christian who could not, by any reasonable definition of the term, be considered an atheist. Francis Collins, head of the NIH and head of the human genome project is both an evangelical Christian, and an evolutionist. Kenneth Miller is Catholic, believes in God, and testified against Intelligent Design at Dover. The last three popes (not counting JP1 who died before he had a chance to make a statement on the subject) all supported evolution. I don't think I'm assuming too much by saying that all three believed in God.

Again, not quite a lie, per se, but at the absolute least Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron is being disingenuous.

"without even hearing the alternative."

Once we're only looking at the tiny fraction of the generation educated in biology and psychology, both hard sciences which should be addressed scientifically, there is no alternative to evolution. None has ever been presented which passes even the most basic of scientific rigor. Scientists have spent the last several decades asking one simple question: what is the scientific theory of creation, and what experimental test would differentiate it from evolution?

No answer so far. Until there is one, there is no place for the creation hypothesis in either biology or psychology classes.

"And it's radically changing the culture of our nation."

So the tiny fraction of students who are post-secondary educated in the subjects of biology and psychology are radically changing the culture. Note again, Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron craftily implies a causal relationship here where none has been established.

Now, I'm going to skip a few sentences here. Suffice it to say that Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron states outright that the only possible way for someone to love that which is right, just and good is to love God. I'm a huge fan of that which is right, just and good. Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron doesn't qualify. Anyhow, since Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron clearly believes this to be true, and there's no objective way to demonstrate that he's lying, I'll instead focus on those things which are objectively false rather than his statements of faith.

Depressingly enough, that doesn't reduce my workload much.

1:24 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: Now when my friend Ray Comfort heard about this, and that the book was public domain, he actually wrote a 50-page introduction to the book which gives the history of evolution, a timeline of Darwin's life, Adolph Hitler's undeniable connection with the theory, Darwin's racism, his disdain for women, and Darwin's thoughts on the existence of God, and put them in the book.

Suffice it to say, virtually none of the above assertions are true, all of them are utterly irrelevant to the veracity of the theory of evolution. It would have no bearing whatsoever on whether evolution is true if Hitler quoted Darwin every third sentence of Mein Kampf rather prohibiting libraries from carrying "6. Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (Haeckel)".

It would make absolutely no difference whatsoever if Hitler supported Darwin's work rather than, like a creationist, Hitler asserted fixity of kinds:

The fox remains always a fox, the goose remains a goose, and the tiger will retain the character of a tiger. - Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. i, ch. xi

Or, as Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron does here, Hitler argued against secular schooling:

Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . we need believing people. - Adolf Hitler, Speech, April 26, 1933

Hitler's position on the subject is irrelevant to whether that position is actually valid. Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron is trying to claim that evolution must be wrong because Darwin was a racist, or Hitler supported it. This is logically equivalent to claiming that the theory of gravity is wrong because Newton was an asshole, and falling out of a tall building can kill you. It's an argument from consequence, and a clumsy one at that.

Setting aside that it is false by any standard of the time that Darwin was racist or possessed a disdain for women, and that the absolute best you can claim with regards to Hitler is that he applied a horrendous misinterpretation of evolution (tell me again how gas chambers constitute "natural selection?"), all of these points are utterly and completely irrelevant to whether evolution is actually true.

1:48 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: it also lists the theory's many hoaxes.

Again Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron slyly implies that somehow the hoaxes (which do exist) were ever considered evidence upon which the theory of evolution rests. They are not and never were. In fact, the reason why many such hoaxes were discovered is because they could not be reconciled with the theory of evolution.

And, by the way, Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron, who found these hoaxes? Here's a hint: it wasn't the creationists of the time. It was the evolutionist biologists whose well you're trying oh-so-hard to poison.

1:51 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: It exposes the unscientific belief that nothing created everything.

No scientist, no science, and certainly absolutely no science whatsoever to which Darwin's Origin would in any way have been pertinent to the subject matter makes any such claim. Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron has now lumped evolution in with cosmology, and presented a straw-man version of the latter. Then, for reasons which surpass absurdity, this straw man is being placed in an introduction to the Origin of Species, a text which long predates the science of cosmology, and therefore has absolutely no relevance to it.

1:56 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: It points to the incredible structure of DNA

Actually, the structure of DNA is remarkably simple.

2:00 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: And the absence of any species-to-species transitional forms actually found in the fossil record.

Outright lie #5. There is no shortage of transitional forms in the fossil record. What is absent is an actual definition of what creationists actually mean by a "transitional form." Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron is fond of trotting out a picture of a "crocoduck" as if such a creature (were it to exist) wouldn't be about the most dramatic disproof of evolution imaginable.

But we don't even need to look at the fossil record to find species-to-species transitional forms. We've observed speciation by any possible definition which is pertinent to evolution in the laboratory, and in nature in the tiny part of natural history on this planet that humans have been around for.

2:06 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: It then presents a balanced view of creationism.

If their view of evolution presented above is the measure of "balance..."

2:10 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: with information from scientists who actually believe that God created the universe.

Again, we have Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron slyly (and dishonestly) implying that acceptance of evolution, and belief that God created the universe, are somehow mutually exclusive propositions.

2:15 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: Such as Albert Einstein,

Albert Einstein openly accepted the theory of evolution. Therefore, the first example Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron gives refutes the false dichotomy he is trying to construct.

2:17 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: Isaac Newton

How are Isaac Newton's views even remotely pertinent in a book which would not be published until 130 years after his death?

2:20 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: Copernicus

Again, how can you possibly know Copernicus's views on evolution, or cosmology when he died over 400 years before either was published?

2:21 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: Bacon

Who died 200 years before "Origins" was published.

2:21 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: Faraday

Whose area of research was electrodynamics, whose life long predated any work on cosmology, and who never expressed any opinion one way or the other on Darwin's theories.

2:22 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: Louis Pasteur

Who accepted evolution, and believed that God created the universe. Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron's false dichotomy presents itself yet again, and his own example disproves it.

2:23 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: and Johann Kepler.

Who died 200 years before Origin was published.

So, just to recap, each of the scientists he cites all believe in God and for all of them, at least one of the following is also true:

1) they also believed in evolution.
2) they died long before any scientific theories of cosmology or evolution (which Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron doesn't seem to realize are two different things) existed or
3) their area of research had absolutely nothing to do with any subject to which Darwin's "Origin of Species" is an even historically relevant text.

So... why mention any one of them in a forward to "Origin of species?"

2:45 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: In one day, the gospel, and a clear presentation of Intelligent Design...


I thought that intelligent design had absolutely nothing to do with creationism, and certainly nothing to do with the Christian gospel. After all, that's what the defendants at Dover, as well as the Discovery Institute insist is the case. Perhaps you should try getting your stories straight before you start handing out books.

2:57 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: And we're working with Campus Crusade for Christ, Answers in Genesis, and the Alliance Defense Fund to get copies of Darwin's Origin of Species into the hands of this generation.

Or the tiny fraction of this generation who go to the top 50 schools and study biology and psychology.

3:06 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: And all we want to do is present the opposing, and correct view rather than being censored, which is exactly the case, at present.

It takes someone truly delusional to claim that allowing the two Hovinds (Kent and Eric) to present their views in videos which are freely available, allowing Ken Ham to operate a museum which is utterly devoid of substance, and allowing Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron to make a video which contains blatant falsehoods constitutes "censorship."

3:15 Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron: These students aren't stupid. They should be presented with both sides of the argument and allowed to make up their own minds, right?

Except that Former Child Actor Kirk Cameron, and his associate Ray Comfort have never presented their side of the argument. They, and every creationist I have ever seen, always construct a negative argument. Evolution is wrong, therefore creationism wins by default. This is, put simply, false, and it is a false dichotomy. They never present "both sides" of an argument. They attack one side of the argument and make the absurd leap that they've somehow supported their own.

They fail to recognize one very simple fact: disproving one position in no way constitutes any evidence whatsoever in support of another.

For some reason, creationists have a great deal of difficulty with this very simple concept.

The rest of the video is basically a request for donations.

Am I the only one who's always found it a little strange that God always seems to need money?


Liberal said...

This is a beautiful well-reasoned rebuttal to the statements (which include clearly made-up and irrelevant statistics) of a religious NUT!
I would like to add to the statements by the founding fathers' statements:
"Ridicule is the only weapon against unintelligible propositions." (Jefferson)

"Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." (Jefferson again)

"I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved--the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!" (John Adams)

and many more which solidify the idea that many of the founding fathers were at least agnostics (if not atheists) and most importantly secularists.

Also, Kirk Cameron is fond of displaying his ignorance when he says that there are no connecting links between various species. This stupid statement has been proven wrong time and again.

In fact, even Darwin had been a true scientist when he said that if connecting links were not found, his own theory on the origin of species would have to be revisited. Finding so many connecting links has ratified the genius of Darwin more than anything else.

Keep writing! Your articles are a sight for sore eyes!

Anders said...

Good that you refute many erronous statements!

Perhaps the following arguments will be of interest to you:
It’s a proof for the existence of an Intelligent Creator: (left menu)