Sometimes when I’m reading something mind-numbingly stupid, a pseudo-scientific assault on sanity itself, all coming from a self-appointed “creation science” or IDist science-denier, I imagine a nightmarish scene. I see long lines of chain-ganged neurons, all stolen away from the brains of pitiable people, the unfortunate ones who can least afford their loss. Their owners are mesmerized under the incessant spell of Ken Ham, Ray Comfort, Kent Hovind and other wizards of the origins industry. The kidnapped neurons are being beaten and whipped by demons to move them ever forward in their many queues, headed towards their final neuron-frying fate, all passing under a large sign painted by Dante: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”
The following is not pretty. So sensitive readers and children under 12 are cautioned about the material which follows. This is a true story.
A few years ago, not very long after Dr. Benjamin Carson received major media attention from insulting President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast(?), I happened to read a Carson one-on-one interview proudly posted at the Seventh Day Adventist website.
As a prominent surgeon and the real-life hero depicted in a TV movie about his climb-from-the-ghetto success, the SDA church regularly reminds the public of Carson’s SDA roots and continued affiliation. I can no longer find the interview at Adventist.org but I so wish I had saved it, along with my very respectful, tactful but frank, point-by-point questioning of his many atrocious science blunders where he was trying to “prove scientifically” that God is the only logical explanation for everything we observe especially “the intelligent design” of the diversity of life on earth and our special place in the solar system.
Nothing surprising there, but rarely have I seen an interview subject excessively touted as “an obviously brilliant scientist” confidently explaining “amazing, indisputable facts of science!” which anyone who stayed awake throughout their junior high science classes could so easily shred. Dr. Carson managed to sink to being so-very-wrong that it would have taken some major editing just to bring him up to the level of appearing just plain bad at science.
My Carson science-blooper recollections include the following—I do wish I could remember many more of them—all of which allegedly proved that God must have not only created everything, he provided commentary of how each of these alleged “facts of science” shouts Intelligent Design:
(1) The earth orbits the sun at a distance of 93 million miles. That is the just-right distance for life on earth to thrive. Just one million miles closer to the sun, and we’d all be fried within minutes! Just one million miles further, and we’d all freeze to death! That can’t be mere random chance! The atheists like to ignore these simple facts because of what they tell us about the Intelligent Designer!
[In my comment-reply I posted below his interview, I asked if an important sentence or two from the interview had been accidentally dropped because “Obviously, the way you were quoted from the interview, it makes it sound as if you don’t know that earth orbits the sun in a roughly-elliptical path, rather than a circular one. Also obviously, the earth’s perihelion of about 91+ million miles takes North America closest to the sun in the winter, while in summer we are 94+ million miles from the sun. So there is an annual difference in our distance from the sun of over 3 million miles, yet we don’t boil or freeze!”]
(2) Hitler and the Nazis loved Darwin and The Theory of Evolution, so they applied Darwinism to explain Aryan superiority and to carry out genocide including the Holocaust against the Jews. Likewise, Stalin and Mao justified their genocides on the basis of evolution.
[In my reply-comment to Carson posted at the bottom of the webpage: “If Hitler loved Darwin and his theory, why did the 1935 banned book list for Germany’s libraries condemn to bonfires all of Darwin’s books and every book containing even explanations of The Theory of Evolution and evolutionary biology in general. Likewise, why did Stalin prohibit Darwin’s science as contrary to the revolution and why did the anti-evolution Lysenkoism starve untold millions over some 30 years of Soviet agriculture?”
(3) Louis Pasteur proved by actual experiments that abiogenesis would always be impossible! Years later, mathematicians also proved mathematically that abiogenesis is impossible and the probability is so low that in any other situation, atheist scientists would admit the chance of it happening was zero!
[My comment-reply asked him how a scientist could possibly design an experiment which could determine and eliminate as impossible all conceivably-relevant future experiments—and declare what discoveries would be forever impossible? All I’ve been able to find on this topic is Pasteur’s experiments depending the ancient “folk-wisdom” about how creatures like maggots and body lice suddenly appear. ]
(4) Evolution says that everything came from nothing [You know, like creation ex nihilo in Christian theology, SDA include.] and that everything came via random chance.
[In my posted reply-comment, I asked him if he was thereby saying that “everything came from nothing” meant that the Bible and Science are in agreement on that ex nihilo stuff.]
(5) A live clam was once dated in a laboratory as being 20,000 years old! So that also disproves the evolution theory.
[In my reply I asked him this: “Because you’ve read the scientific paper about that dating of a live clam, you know that it demonstrates that carbonates from dissolving rocks get absorbed by the clam and that, therefore, the carbon dating was measuring the age of the original rock the carbon came from. So then, you are saying that the 20,000 years age of the clam means that the earth must be at least 20,000 years old and the 6,000 years old earth of Young Earth Creationism is thereby incorrect for sure. Is that what you are saying?”]
As mentioned, there was a comment section at the bottom of the page containing the interview but no comments displayed, despite the interview’s posting-date from the year before. So I decided to write, very carefully, a very respectful rebuttal comment which would, hopefully, survive censure and deletion.
So I started my reply-comment with glowing praise for his illustrious career as a pediatric surgeon, his famous ground-breaking operation to separate conjoined twins, and the “inspirational” rags-to-riches, African-American success story of overcoming blatant discrimination and his own deep-seated anger and explosive temper which went with it, all which threatened his career at very important junctures. (You see, I had recalled the made-for-TV movie about his life story and basically cribbed from the old promos online.) So after a paragraph or two of my praising him profusely for his accomplishments, I hoped that the website admins would assume me a congenial, humble, and genuinely admiring fellow Christian (and perhaps even a fellow Seventh Day Adventist) who was genuinely surprised and baffled that so many basic facts of science were so clearly denied. I even tried to give Dr. Carson a respectable escape route so that he could save face, such as asking if it was possible that he was misquoted or that aggressive editing to fit the interview into the allotted space led to leaving out important context and the entirety of his remarks.
I ended my reply-comment with a very general, positive statement along the lines of this: “Jesus said, I am the way the truth and the life.” Because of our shared interest and emphasis on the importance of truth, we can surely all agree that an accurate and unambiguous expression of the scientific facts is absolutely essential, especially when alleged scientific facts are being used as arguments for the existence of God, a Creator, and/or an Intelligent Designer.
My reply-comment to the Carson interview remained on the SDA website for about three days. No other comments ever appeared. My comment simply disappeared without explanation. Neither Dr. Carson nor the admins ever contacted me.
Yet they did manage to delete the comment section code entirely from the webpage! So no future reader of the Benjamin Carson would ever be allowed to comment on Carson’s appalling science ignorance, nor would they ever see my commentary explaining his .
I have no doubt that Dr. Carson is a fine surgeon. Yet, when it comes to general science-literacy, Carson functions on a strictly don’t-need-to-know basis.
When I mentioned my experience with Dr. Benjamin Carson’s pseudo-science and amazing lack of junior-high science acumen under an Amazon book review, an online acquaintance asked for the link to see for himself. As a microbiologist who teaches evolutionary biology at a medical school, the professor was utterly stunned at the dismal state of Carson’s science ignorance, even as Carson was already preparing for a presidential run. He recognized Dr. Carson as a fellow Yale University alumnus and decided to consult his alumni directory where he found Carson’s email address. He wrote him and listed some of the same atrocious science blunders I identified above. Because Carson closed his interview with a description of his plans to write a book on these topics for the general public, the microbiologist urged him to first learn some science and if insistent on writing the book, to at least send him a draft so that he could point errors. He begged him not to embarrass their alma matter by publishing such an erroneous series of claims.
From what I was told their email exchanges were polite and Dr. Carson thanked him for his offer. He gave the impression that help with the first draft sounded like a good idea to him. However, when I asked a few months ago if there had been any further correspondence, the answer was no. Yet, perhaps Dr. Carson is entirely focused on winning the presidency, choosing his cabinet members, and fund-raising for the presidential library to be built after his terms are over.
Yes, with Dr. Benjamin Carson, remedial science education will have to wait until the future when he no longer has irritating distractions, such as the Presidency of the United States.
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