The following webpage will likely not last long once its ignorance has gone viral:
So, if necessary, I may later on simply add some of the most comical excerpts here for the entertainment of Bible & Science Forum readers. Meanwhile, the remainder of today’s blog is an email I sent to Cowboy Bob Sorensen after a correspondent notified me of the aforementioned rant filled with science and history ignorance. In the interest of time, I’ve not bothered to convert the raw email text into a richer format nor have I included any footnotes about the historical facts I reference. However, anyone who has taught or taken courses in the History & Philosophy of Science Department at any major university is already familiar with these basics of a typical History of the Scientific Method or similar type of course.
(Feel free to add your own comments about the “science reversals” rubbish. After all, my response here is in no way exhaustive of the profuse errors.)
Cowboy Bob Sorensen & other Young Earth Creationist Science-Denialists:
(cc: friends & colleagues)
Yes, as one would predict, Cowboy Bob Sorensen and many other Young Earth Creationist propagandists have confused the “Lucy” fossil ( 288-1) as the name of an entire species —so they think the entire “transitional form” (Bob’s term) is “about to be shelved!” I guess the few hundred other Australopithecus afarensis fossil finds around the world don’t count. Right, Bob?
I would love to hear the infamous “Cowboy Bob”explain why a stray fossil bone from another specimen getting washed into the collection of fossil bones labelled 288-1 somehow constitutes a change (“reversal” he calls it) in science! LOL. (And what about all of the other Australopithecus afarensis fossil collections catalogued over the years, which I understand number around a couple hundred, which do NOT have any stray fossil bone among them?)
But what is especially funny with Bob, did you all notice that he has converted his entire article of text into a quasi-graphic using php code that he thinks will make it impossible for people to copy-and-paste his nonsense so as to quote from it? LOL. Clearly, even Bob knows that he needs to be able to hide, retract, and deny his erroneous claims when they catch up with him. So he doesn’t want it to be too easy for people to cite his rubbish and tell others about his ignorance. (Too late. It is all recorded at the Bible.and.Science.Forum.)
Incidentally, his “unreliable, changeable science” tirade is another great example of how, because Young Earth Creationists like Bob never bothered to learn what constitutes modern science, they mine their examples of “wrong theories” from before modern science was developed! The “Philogston Theory” is a great example of why Science is so much more reliable than classical philosophy when it comes to understanding natural processes. Bob’s blunder is so ironic in what is actually one of the great confirmations of the value of the scientific method that I think I will write a few articles for my blog showcasing his ignorance.
The reason “phlogiston theory” survived for a while–despite the experimental evidence against it—was because it was first proposed BY A PHILOSOPHER AS A PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPT. The philosopher Johann Becher (in 1669, before modern science was fully defined and established as the foundation of chemistry) claimed that all substances contained three kinds of earth: the vitrifiable, mercuriable, and the combustible. If that sounds a lot like Aristotle’s FOUR ELEMENTS philosophy, then you understand how Becher was a very traditional philosopher steeped in the ancient philosophies of the Greeks and Romans. He was NOT a scientist (then called “natural philosopher”) and he had limited interest in experimental verification of his claims. It was a follower of Becher, Georg Stahl, who actually coined the name “philogston” a few years later in his writings about Becher’s philosophy.
It was during Stahl’s lifetime that SCIENTISTS started heavily criticizing Becher & Stahl’s “Philogston Theory” because those early pioneer chemists were adopting the scientific method (and thereby establishing chemistry as an actual SCIENCE) and they started TESTING various claims made by the traditional philosophers who had preceded them.
What did scientists find in testing Becher’s & Stahl’s “Phlogston” philosophy? They discovered that the ash of organic materials like wood and leaves weighed LESS than the original material—while the calx (what we know as the oxidized product) of metals was HEAVIER than the original material. So scientists effectively DESTROYED the “Phlogiston Theory of Philosophy” from the start! (Sorry, anti-science propagandists. You lost again. As the Bible reminds us, the liar shall not prosper. His sins will catch up with him.)
No doubt Bob will claim that I’m just manipulating the words “philosopher” and “scientist” to “protect the religion of science”—but the facts are against that objection. You see, when scientists published and demonstrated to Georg Stahl that actual experiments involving careful weighing of the materials and resulting ashes totally destroyed “Phlogiston Theory”, Stahl didn’t care. Stahl’s wrote that he considered phlogiston an IMMATERIAL “PRINCIPLE” rather than an ACTUAL substance. In other words, Stahl emphasized that his was the philosophy of METAPHYSICS, not Science! If one isn’t dealing with material substances, one isn’t a scientist! Stahl repeated what Becher had claimed: phlogiston was a fundamental “principle” and not necessarily applicable to the material world, the realm of Science, in actual experiments.
Indeed, Stahl was also saying that “Phlogiston Theory” was ancient “elemental philosophy” in the tradition of Aristotle and could not be expected to be falsifiable under the scrutiny of scientific experiments. In other words, “Phlogiston philosophy” was never any sort of “established scientific fact”, despite Bob Sorensen’s misrepresentations.
It is true that a few early scientists who still wanted to embrace traditional philosophy in various ways, such as Joseph Priestly, tried for a while to resurrect phlogiston and somehow make it scientifically legitimate. They failed and the entire Science academy recognized that failure. Pioneer chemist Antoine Lavoisier (in the 1780’s) did exhaustive studies on all sorts of metals and other substances and managed to explain (using the scientific method) that OXYGEN was the scientific response and answer to what philosopher’s had tried to imagine with their phlogiston theory of philosophy. No scientist was EVER able to develop, let alone publish, a valid scientific theory of phlogiston.
So either Bob Sorensen was totally ignorant about the FACT that phlogiston was a theory of philosophy that was not subject to falsification testing because it wasn’t rooted in material processes *or* Bob just plain lied and assumed his science-illiterate audience would buy into it. I leave it to readers to decide.
Of course, Bob is not alone in this dishonest strategy built upon an ignorance of both science and history. Notice that Ken Ham in the Bill Nye debate complained that “modern science” has been “hijacked” by scientists! Ham reasoned (LOL) that because the Latin word SCIENTIA meant “knowledge”, the allegedly “correct definition” of science was simply “knowledge”. (In linguistics we call that the “etymology=lexicography” fallacy. The history of a word long ago has no necessary bearing on how a given culture chooses to define it today. Yes, Science is knowledge but in the field of science it is knowledge which is based upon the scientific method of falsification testing.) By Ham’s definition of “science=knowledge”, astrology and homeopathy are “science” because each involves a collection of known ideas—regardless of their validity or being subject to falsification testing. Yet, Ken Ham knows that he must obfuscate the meaning of Science so that he can try and taint the scientific method with the errors of errant philosophies which preceded it.
Thanks, Bob. You’ve given me some more great material for demonstrating the vapid nonsense of creationist propaganda against valid science. You will be featured in an upcoming Bible.and.Science.Forum blog. Meanwhile, I suggest that you spend some time reading the Book of Proverbs. It has a lot to say about the fool who mocks instruction and the simpleton who refuses to learn.
Also, Bob, I suggest that you read up on Australopithecus afarensis so that you can consider doing what Christ-followers are called to do in this situation: Post a retraction on your webpage explaining to your readers the many factual errors of your propaganda piece. Explain to them that the extra bone fossil that was found within A SINGLE SPECIMEN numbered 288-1 (the first collection of fossil remains of an Australopithecus afarensis which is informally known as “Lucy”) and that that extraneous ancient baboon fossil has absolutely no impact on the significance of Australopithecus afarensis as an ancient species nor on anything discovered thus far about the evolution of Homo sapiens sapiens. Moreover, even if not a single fossil had ever been found of ANYTHING on the planet, The Theory of Evolution would be just as confidently affirmed by scientists because of the voluminous evidence of many different types (especially the NESTED HIERARCHIES observed for generations and more recently verified on the molecular level as well.) You should also confess to your readers that you were ignorant of the fact that “phlogiston theory” was a PHILOSOPHY and was NEVER confirmed by the scientific method and adopted by the Science Academy through peer-review. It was a continuation of ancient “philosophy of the elements” in the tradition of Aristotle’s Four Elements and some of the first chemists of modern science soundly shredded Becher’s failed philosophy as easily falsified by scientific experiments. So when you claimed that “phlogiston theory” was once “established science” and assumed to be a fact among scientists, anyone who doesn’t share your ignorance of history will think you a liar.
Using lies as one’s anti-Science propaganda may seem like a useful strategy for a while—but it will always catch up with the propagandist when a reader chooses to check the truth for themselves. The question every denialist-propagandist should be asking themselves is whether their behavior reflects well on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the reputations and credibility of those who claim to be his followers. Sadly, even though the Bible itself in no way justifies what you are doing, many readers will incorrectly assume that the Bible somehow condones such conduct. That is why I have to waste time explaining and exposing such whoppers and those of other creationist science-denialists. In no way do I want your behavior and claims to be associated with Biblical Christianity or with true Christ-followers in any way.
Science-Denialists, I hope you will all change your ways, eliminate your pathological dishonesty, and remedy your appalling ignorance of science and scriptures. In fact, even if you are truly that ignorant of science and history, you shouldn’t be surprised when the average reader has difficulty imagining such appalling ignorance and naturally assumes that you are simply committed to dishonesty. Either way, it is profoundly sad for all.
(c) 2015. Professor Tertius & the Bible.and.Science.Forum at Gmail.com.
All rights reserved. Email us at Gmail.com address for permissions on reposting and publication.