Friday, March 11, 2016

The Undercover Creationist


I was involved in a conversation with JBsptfn regarding a site called Science Against Evolution.  The stated objective of this site is "to make the general public aware that the theory of evolution is not consistent with physical evidence and is no longer a respectable theory describing the origin and diversity of life."  It is run by R. David Pogge, also known as Do-While Jones, who is a creationist.  By creationist, I mean someone who believes that life has supernatural origins.  But Pogge avoids using the word 'creationist' in his site.  He also avoids using the word 'God'.  In fact, JBsptfn told me that Pogge is not a creationist.  I think this is based on what Pogge himself has said.
Anyone who has read our newsletters knows that we don’t promote any religious views.  Please search all the back issues of this newsletter and see if you can find any example of us promoting a religious view. - Pogge
His site claims to be strictly about science.  Based on what I see on his site and others, there is no question that Pogge is a member in good standing of the creation science community.

I believe that Pogge advocates teaching his creationist views in public schools.  This is based on what I see in his manifesto, the Seventy-five Theses.  JBsptfn disagrees, noting that he only says "Public schools should not teach any fanciful speculation that is inconsistent with experimentally verified laws as if it were true."

That is correct.  He doesn't explicitly advocate teaching creationism in public schools.  But he does advocate some kind of change in what they teach (thesis 75).  One might reasonably ask, what are the changes he wants?  And one might reasonably conclude he wants changes consistent with these theses.

This manifesto doesn't explicitly state that there is a supernatural creator.  But if you accept the truth of these theses, they do lead inevitably to that conclusion.  The manifesto basically walks you down a path that denies a natural origin of life (thesis 19, for example), suggesting a supernatural origin as the alternative (thesis 5).  It denies evolution theory and evidence for evolution, calling it "speculative" (thesis 58, for example), and suggesting intentional design as the alternative (thesis 55).  And then it says that schools shouldn't teach the science that he has denied.  What, then, should they teach?  Pogge's site is described as an educational resource, and it presents his own version of science, which happens to be fully consistent with creationism, without actually calling it creationism.

This is precisely the tactic Intelligent Design community and other creationists have taken to avoid constitutional issues associated with teaching religious beliefs in public schools.  They feel that if you just don't say the word 'God', then they can get away with teaching all the faith-based beliefs that form the basis of creationism, and leave it up to the student to draw that final conclusion.  This is a blatantly dishonest attempt to teach religion in the guise of science.

As an example of the kind of "science" that Pogge wants to teach, I give you exhibit A: Dust on the Moon.  In this article, Pogge "proves" that there is a huge problem for evolution, because the moon has far less dust on its surface than it should have if it (and the earth) were billions of years old.  If dust accumulates slowly, the earth and moon wouldn't have built up sufficient mass to account for their size, and if it accumulates much faster, then the astronauts would have sunk deep into the dust when they landed the moon's surface.
I don't know how much cosmic dust falls on the Earth or moon. But I do know that I haven't seen a set of numbers that satisfy all the conflicting criteria. Nor do I see a way that one could construct a satisfactory set of numbers. A low value will explain the dust on the moon, but not the formation of the Earth. A high value will explain the formation of the Earth, but not the small amount of dust on the Moon. A medium value won't explain anything.
The reader is left to conclude that there must be another explanation for what we observe.  What could it be?  Well, one possible explanation that Pogge never considers might be a genuine scientific one.  During the period when the planets were forming, there was much more material orbiting the sun than there is now.  Much of that material became the planets and moons.  And then the rate of accumulation decreased significantly, because there just isn't as much of it left.  Pogge makes a bad assumption - that there should be a constant rate of accumulation - and since he knows so much more than the mainstream scientific community, he doesn't bother to find out what they have to say about about this, or any other matter, it seems.

Another issue I discussed with JBsptfn is in connection with Pogge's assertion that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics.  Pogge bases this on a confused understanding of thermodynamics and information theory, which he insists he does not get from any creationist sources.  Exhibit B is Pogge's discussion of Information, Thermodynamics, and Entropy, in which he asserts that the laws of nature would have to run in reverse in order to create DNA with increasing information content through evolution.  But both here and in other essays on his site, Pogge displays a profound lack of understanding of what is entailed by thermodynamics.  By insisting that entropy and information content can only go one way - toward disorder, he ignores the fact that entropy can and does decrease in localized situations where energy is channeled into useful work rather than freely dissipating.  And that's how structure and organized information content arises from natural conditions.  This kind of phenomenon is not mysterious or unknown to science.  We see it all around us.  It seems to be unknown only to creationists.

So where does he get his confused understanding of these things?  Apparently Pogge read a book called Decoding the Universe, by Charles Seife, that serves as his main source of knowledge of physical information theory.  This is evidenced by the fact that it is the primary source he cites in his discussion on this topic.  I haven't read the book, but it is doubtful that this book, written by someone who believes the scientific theory of evolution, leads to the conclusion that Pogge thinks it does.  He had to go to a creationist source, the only other one he cites in this article, to find corroborating information about thermodynamics in life processes, and then make that pseudo-scientific leap to the conclusion that these processes are impossible (without outside help from something that isn't natural).

I can't help but ask myself why Pogge tries to hide the creationist influence in his thinking, and pretends instead to be the bearer of real science, based on his supposed solid understanding of scientific knowledge that has somehow eluded the majority of the scientific community.  Is he ashamed to call himself a creationist?  I doubt it.  But he believes he has reason to cover it up.  I can only speculate that he favors the teaching of creationist pseudo-science.  And that means he must pretend to be driven by science rather than religious belief.

2 comments:

  1. Here is a response from Pogge:

    Thanks for bringing ScienceAgainstEvolution.INFO to the attention of your readers!

    I began publishing the Science Against Evolution newsletter in October, 1996. The Dust on the Moon article appeared in the “After Thoughts” of Volume 1, Issue 2, published the following month. The Feature Article of that issue dealt with the “evidence of life” on the “Martian” meteor, ALH84001. We claimed it didn’t come from Mars, and didn’t show signs of life. We were right. The purpose of the After Thought column was to show the uniformitarian assumption used by evolutionists is invalid. The astute reader was supposed to realize that one had to assume a radically different accumulation rate in the past. I guess we were too subtle. Thanks for making the point more clearly (nearly 20 years later).

    Every month we review the current scientific literature. Ten years ago we reviewed a book called Decoding the Universe that was getting some attention in the scientific literature at the time. We discussed what that evolutionist said about the second law of thermodynamics. Please don’t confuse his views with ours.

    If you have an issue with what we believe about thermodynamics and entropy, why not address one of the articles we wrote about OUR views on those subjects. Several people wrote to us to express their appreciation for our 2-part discussion of Thermodynamics (http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v7i1f.htm), Heat and Money (http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v7i2f.htm), in October and November, 2002. More recently, in a May 2015 article, we presented some Thermodynamic Thoughts (http://www.scienceagainstevolution.info/v19i8f.htm).

    Anyway, thanks again for bringing our vast collection of scientific articles against evolution to your readers.

    R. David Pogge

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    Replies
    1. re: Dust on the moon

      The astute reader was supposed to realize that one had to assume a radically different accumulation rate in the past. I guess we were too subtle.

      The astute reader would be aware that before 1969, it was already known that the dust layer on the moon was thin, and that when the manned lunar landing occurred, there was no surprise at all. The astute reader would realize that it is Pogge who is making this constant rate assumption, not evolution scientists. "OK. Let's assume that the rate is ..." The astute reader understands the Science Against Evolution is not not an appropriate place to get valid scientific information.

      re: Information, Thermodynamics, and Entropy

      We discussed what that evolutionist said about the second law of thermodynamics. Please don’t confuse his views with ours.

      I believe it was Pogge's words, not Seife's, stating that the laws of information theory and thermodynamics "would have to run in reverse" for life to arise naturally. I don't believe that is Seife's view at all.

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