Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

How Electricity and Genetics Works

P.Z. Myers is sort of the American equivalent to Richard Dawkins. He hates God - particularly the Christianity version - and he engages in a vitriolic on-line apologetic for his extreme anti-theistic, evolutionary fundamentalism. Only he doesn't get as much play as Dawkins because he doesn't have the British accent going for him.

Over the weekend he takes BJU to task for publishing "creasyun" nonsense.

Frickin' electricity, how does it work?

He and his minions took gleeful delight in the comments hurling their scorn upon BJU, creationism, and God. Stupid Bible thumpers don't know how electricity works.

One has to labor through a good many snarky remarks (comment #287) until they find this one written by a BJU graduate in biology. (I saw it reprinted at the Sharper Iron site). Note my emphasis:

A little bit of very critical information is missing from this. First of all, what is the title of the textbook? What is the page number of this paragraph? What is the context of the information? What is the grade level to which it is written?

It's clear that this is written to young children and is not intended to be a in depth analysis of what is known about electricity. The point that it makes, however, is very valid: we really don't know all that much about electricity. We FEEL like we know a lot compared to our ancestors, but in the big picture we really don't.

I am a graduate of the BJU science department and completed my MS and PhD in Microbiology at a large southeastern university. I am now a postdoctoral fellow at a medical school as an immunologist. While I'm not a physicist and can't speak to the details of electricity with great knowledge, I can speak about Immunology and Cell Biology. We know a good bit about the cell. We've uncovered countless molecules and pathways and have answered a great number of questions. However, as I am frequently reminded when doing literature searches in PubMed, we really don't know much at all. In fact, that was one overarching theme that I encountered time and time again at the recent American Society of Immunologists meeting in Baltimore: we've learned a good bit, but we've barely even uncovered the tip of the iceberg. I spoke with a non-Christian cell biologist recently and he echoed those sentiments, that in spite of everything we've learned about the cell, we really don't know what's going on. His exact words were: we don't know anything. It is a very naive person who feels like we know a lot (and a person who hasn't studied much science). One of the oldest rules in studying science is that when you answer one question, you uncover 100 other questions. We can talk A LOT about the little bit we do know and we can trick ourselves into thinking we've got it all quite figured out...as long as we neatly avoid the innumerable molecules and pathways that we don't have a clue about. Immunology is an even bigger mess. I wouldn't presume to think that the realm of Physics is any less complex than that of Immunology or Cell Biology.

This is a very sad, lame and weak attack by someone who clearly has an axe to grind with God, Christianity, creationism/ists, or BJU (or all of the above). If you can't distinguish between what might be written about electricity in an elementary school book and what is taught at the university level, then you probably aren't that bright to begin with. Further, I can assure you that I could pick up any science textbook written to a comparable age level and present the material as absurdity.

In any event, I'll do you one better. "An Introduction to Genetic Analysis" by Griffiths et al is a very commonly used, secular, college level textbook. On page 472 in chapter 15 (7th edition), which discusses genetic mutations the authors make the following quote: "Because mutation events introduce random genetic changes, most of the time they result in loss of function. The mutation events are like bullets being fired at a complex machine; most of the time they will inactivate it. However, it is conceivable that in rare cases a bullet will strike the machine in such a way that it produces some new function." Keep in mind that the authors are/were professors at the University of British Columbia, UCLA and Harvard. This is an absurd statement in every way imaginable and even if I were an evolutionist, I would blush with embarrassment. This is what some of the best scientists have to say about the role of mutations in evolution??? If I had the time and desire, I could dig out my copies of "Molecular Biology of the Cell" by Bruce Alberts et al and give similarly absurd statements.

Unlike the authors in the quote I cited in the above paragraph, the authors of the elementary textbook published by BJU are not even attempting to explain electricity. You are trying to use it in that way, but it's clearly not what the text was being written for. They merely use electricity to reveal the complexity of nature and demonstrate how little we really know about the world around us. The reality is they could have used countless examples from every scientific discipline. Griffiths et al, however, are attempting to describe to a college level audience the complexities of mutations and how they might contribute to evolution. And the above quote is the best they could muster. Pretty sad if you ask me.

Evolutionists (and the University of Minnesota, Morris) must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel these days.

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Blogger DJP said...

Reminds me of your friend (name escapes me), who seems to want very badly to make himself feel and look okay for embracing evolution, expressing shock and dismay at my saying that scientists are "in possession of a tiny fragment of evidence."

8:35 AM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

You know of course that David will be around here sometime to tell you how wrong you are. Scientists are like the new priesthood, the true Gnostics who hold all truth in their hands. Bow before them.

9:11 AM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger DJP said...

I know, because after all, they were there, and God wasn't. Wait. I mean, they possess all the facts. Wait. I mean they have looked at all the facts they possess from every possible angle. Wait. I mean they approach the facts without preconceptions.


You know what I mean.

6:57 PM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger Matthew Christensen said...

It is people like P.Z. that give Minnesota a bad name. We have critical thinkers in this state, really! He uses a favorite tactic of evolutionists. Since evolution doesn't have a leg to stand on you just throw mud at creationists and hope some stick. Most people are naive enough to believe the evolutionists just because they cry louder and are supported by the mass media.

7:42 PM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger P.D. Nelson said...

BTW from some manipulation at BJU bookstore online I think I can safely say that book is for a fourth grader which is about the right level for the material presented.

I hold a degree, AAS in Electronic Technology, and when I was homeschooling my children I wasn't going to instruct them in Ohm's law or how to thevenize a circuit at that age. And what the critic of P.Z. said is spot on your not very bright if your babbling incoherently at a text book made for a fourth grader and evaluating it at a university level.

7:53 PM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger David said...

Wow. All of these excuses and distractions just to hide the fact that a BJU textbook did a lousy job with subject of electricity.

7:15 AM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

You meant to say, "atheists did a lousy job of presenting the facts about a fourth grade text book by citing just a portion of it."

But we'll pass on by that college level text book that talks about shooting machines with bullets that may make the machine work better.


7:26 AM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger David said...

"You meant to say, "atheists did a lousy job of presenting the facts about a fourth grade text book by citing just a portion of it."

Ah, more deflection. Now, if you have evidence that this is a fake or you can show me the text on the surrounding pages, I'd be glad to look at it and take that information into account.

According to a comment in a link that you provided, this bit has apparently been edited out of the latest editions? Wonder why.

And why include the word "atheist" in your charges? Anyone could have seen that they did a bad job of presenting electricity. We can't feel electricity? Huh?

"We'll pass on by that college level text book that talks about shooting machines with bullets that may make the machine work better."

Well, yes, sometimes mutations improve survival and reproduction. (Actually, most mutations have no effect on anatomy and physiology.) But all of that is irrelevant to the poor presentation of electricity.

8:04 AM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Thanks again.
I never cease to be amazed by your tremendous breadth of knowledge. Geology, Physics, Chemistry, Anthropalentology. You're like a genu-wine genius. We can always count on folks like you and other members of the crypto-atheist Gestapo to tell us the facts of life.

8:08 AM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger David said...

"Crypto-atheist Gestapo"?

Perhaps you have have a talk with those who experienced the real Gestapo before you makes such idiotic comparisons and statements.

Ever felt electricity, Fred?

8:16 AM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Gestapo is a very apt comparison. For biblio-skeptics and other atheists like yourself seek the destruction of the believer's soul by the means of their arguments, much like the real Gestapo sought the destruction of the Jews. If you wish for me to be "biblical" I can employ the terms "viper" or "brute beasts?"

8:29 AM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger David said...

"Gestapo is a very apt comparison."

Wow. You really need help, Fred.

10:03 AM, July 07, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you wish for me to be "biblical" I can employ the terms "viper" or "brute beasts?"

I think a dash of some Elizabethan English would help too.

10:23 AM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger Sir Aaron said...


I'm really starting to like your blog. The atmosphere is so...electrifying. Plus,it's obvious you have at least one athiest groupie. I can't wait for the upcoming argument about whether we can "feel" air.

11:03 AM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger David said...

Speaking of Elizabethan, y'all must be crushed that you can't burn heretics at the stake anymore.

11:30 AM, July 07, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Davey mused,

"...y'all must be crushed that you can't burn heretics at the stake anymore."

Nah, that's more of a Roman Catholic thing. I think most everyone here are Protestants of one kind or another. ;)

4:36 PM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Just to preempt David just so this won't turn into a back and forth on nonsense issues for up to 56 comments, protestants could be just as bad at burning heretics at the stake as Catholics could.

5:15 PM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

...And burning heretics is not the theme of this post.

5:15 PM, July 07, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


5:30 PM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thanks for posting this comment by the BJU post-doctoral fellow. It was great!

11:06 PM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger Sir Aaron said...

only 56 comments, Fred? I'm pretty sure we could have driven your count up to the magical 100 mark. ;)

2:28 PM, July 08, 2010  

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