Saturday, April 04, 2015

Pity the Poor Beleaguered Creationist

Here's a creationist I had never heard of before: John Gideon Hartnett, an Australian physicist. In a recent blog post, he makes some good points about how science is not a foolproof process, but then goes off the rails entirely.

Hartnett says, "If you say evolution happens, it is disingenuous, because you really mean that natural selection and mutations happen. This is part of operational biological science. But Darwinian goo-to-you evolution does not happen!"

This is misleading in a number of ways. First, that's not what is meant by "evolution happens". Evolution is caused by many different kinds of processes, including sexual selection, genetic drift, founder effects, and others not mentioned by Hartnett. Second, biological evolution is generally understood to include claims like common descent.

By "goo-to-you evolution does not happen", it sounds like Hartnett is claiming that we do not see 3.5 billion years of evolution taking place in 5 minutes. But this, of course, is a ridiculous straw man. We don't see mountains rising 3000 meters today either, but that doesn't mean that the theory of plate tectonics is somehow invalidated. Many aspects of science involve looking at past events that are not always easy to duplicate, and trying to understand how they took place.

Hartnett feels persecuted: "Last year I gave a lecture at my university “8 Reasons Why Evolution is Foolish” and after the event I got all sorts of negative comments coming back through my line manager. Apparently geologists and biologists (read ‘evolutionists’) complained to the Dean of the Faculty of Science, that I was even asking questions, let alone criticizing the science, in areas of biology, geology, cosmology etc., and that it looks bad for the university. It only looks bad because I was questioning their religion of science, not operational, experimental science."

Look, if you can't stand criticism, why are you in science? Criticism, even harsh criticism, is a standard part of the scientific process. Hasn't Hartnett ever attended a science conference? And if you think you're critiquing evolution by bringing up long-debunked arguments like "circular reasoning" is used to date fossils, then you're not doing science, you're just being an idiot. When you say "Information comes from an intelligent mind, not by random processes", you're just demonstrating that you know nothing at all about information theory.

Hartnett shouldn't wonder why he gets no respect for his anti-evolution rants. It's because his arguments are worthless, ignorant, and have been debunked long ago. That's not the behavior of a scientist; it's the behavior of a religious fundamentalist. Big surprise.