Stacey’s Law has got it going on…

If you’re not familiar with Godwin’s Law, look into it.

A new law has been conceived along the same lines, and goes something like this:

1. In any discussion of atheism (skepticism, etc.), the probability that someone will compare a vocal atheist to religious fundamentalists increases to one.

2. The person who makes this comparison will be considered to have lost the argument.

This law was written here, and should be used as appropriately in all online discussion forums.

A sign from His Noodley Appendage

Remember this:

On top of spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.

It rolled off the table,
And on to the floor,
And then my poor meatball,
Rolled out of the door.

It rolled in the garden,
And under a bush,
And then my poor meatball,
Was nothing but mush.

The mush was as tasty
As tasty could be,
And then the next summer,
It grew into a tree.

The tree was all covered,
All covered with moss,
And on it grew meatballs,
And tomato sauce.

So if you eat spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
Hold on to your meatball,
Whenever you sneeze.

According to Wikipedia, the song was originally written by folk performer Tom Glazer in 1963.  Apparently some of his later hits attempted to teach science through folk music to young children.  This all makes me wonder, was good old Tom an early prophet for the Flying Spaghetti Monster?  Could he have been telling a tale of the FSM that had been given to him in a dream, or otherwise?  Perhaps we’ll never know, but I believe that Tom was touched by His Noodley Appendage.

Dog eats homework analogy

So I came across this post (which itself is a good definition of what proof vs. evidence is and what a creationist would need to present to have any point to their arguments) which links to this post and more specifically mentions the following comment from that post (if you didn’t follow that just read the following gem):

Regarding evidence vs. proof, I do think this is sufficiently (or at least repeatedly) misunderstood such that a more detailed example might serve.

Your completed homework is missing. You think to yourself that there are several things that might have happened to remove your homework from the top of your bedroom desk. One is that the dog ate it. Another is that your brother stole it to make life difficult for you. Another is that God removed it from the universe as a test of your faith.

Before any other thought is put into practice, these are hypotheses.

Of the three hypotheses, the first two (Dog and Brother) can be considered theories, because presumably you could test those theories and find evidence for them. The third may be significantly harder to find evidence for.

So you look around and see a very few tiny pieces of paper on the floor. These shreds, when inspected closely, look like the paper you used to do your homework, and the edges of the shreds bear what look like tooth marks.

Your brother would probably have just swiped the whole sheet and thrown it out, but it’s not impossible that he used serrated scissors to destroy it. So the current understanding of the homework dilemma is that your dog probably ate it, but that there is some chance your brother swiped it. The God hypothesis is still possible, but looking somewhat less likely.

Finally, you corner your brother and threaten him with a beating and he insists he didn’t do it. An inspection of the house’s garbage cans yields no homework, and the dog doesn’t eat as much for dinner as he usually does.

You now have one very solid theory that the dog ate your homework, you have a minority theory that your brother swiped it (a few honest, and hard-working grad students at smaller colleges are working on tests that would bolster the brother theory and eliminate the dog, but most mainstream universities are heavily funded for additional research into dog-eating-paper studies).

One think tank in the Pacific Northwest maintains that there’s nothing to glean from shredded bits of paper or the *lack* of paper in garbage cans, so God must have removed the paper from the Universe. Reports of the weakness of the law of conservation of paper would lead one to the definite conclusion that God is responsible.

Finally, one field researcher finds a pile of feces in the backyard with tiny pieces of half-digested pieces of paper in it. Three years of labored study yield 30% of a formula that your teacher confirms was the answer to question #4 of the particular homework assignment in question.

Scientific consensus reigns, the few remaining Brother Theorists relent and move on to pursue degrees on who peed on the carpet and the Nobel Prize for Biology is awarded to the field researcher for the publication of “Formulaic Reproduction of Holistic Homework Reconstruction in Canine Fecal Substrate.” The Theory of Dog-Eats-Homework appears as a “fact” in textbooks across the country, and is regularly referred to as such by scientists.

The Discovery Institute announces the founding of the Journal of Alternate Homework Stealing where the Dog-Eats-Homework “theory” is regularly repudiated, papers are peer-reviewed which deny that paper partially decomposes in dogs’ stomachs, and the theory of Intelligent Homework Removal is developed.

Irreducible Simplicity

The “theory” of irreducible complexity is that there exists biological features, systems, or organisms in nature that are too complex to be traced back through biological evolution. The claim is that anything that is irreducibly complex will shatter the theory of evolution. This fact is true, and was originally admitted by Charles Darwin:

If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find no such case.

And fast-forwarding to the present, we still do not see any such examples in nature.

Creationists like to point to the eye (which can be found in simpler and more complex forms in nature then humans), the dragonfly wing (which again can be seen in simpler and more complex forms), the bacterial flagellum (of which they’ve identified many individual sub-components that could still exist without the entire structure), and likely many more in the future. The point is that every example brought up has been refuted thus far.

Micheal Behe who developed the idea of IC in the bacterial flagellum said in the Pennsylvania 2005 court case Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District that he hadn’t read most of the fifty-eight peer-reviewed articles, nine books, and several textbook chapters that demonstrated that evolution could explain the complexity of the human immune system. If there were ever the ability to revoke a person’s PhD, I think it is warranted in Dr. Behe’s case. His glaring ignorance of the scientific method is appalling for someone who calls himself a scientist.

This all leads me to my idea of a new “theory”: Irreducible Simplicity. I’ll phrase it as follows:

Any idea, theory, or concept that is irreducibly simple and leaves no room for further investigation, thought, or a general advancement of human knowledge is utter rubbish.

I can further illustrate this through a few examples.

  1. In the late 1800s physicists were under the idea that they understood nearly everything. Had they held this belief more firmly all modern physics (quantum mechanics, photonics, relativity, etc.) would not have been developed.
  2. The theory of ID suggests that all of creation came about through an intelligent designer. Unfortunately it fails to explain anything about the designer, but merely that he/she/it was always there.

Any IS theory cannot be classified as science. Following any IS theory is dangerous as it leads the individual to easy and supposedly definite and final answers and truths. Science doesn’t provide any of these, but merely gives our best guess thus far. Surely this seems more reasonable than the easy solution of “oh because God said so.”

If I wanted to be really critical (and I see no reason not to be) I would suggest that all religions fall into the IS category. It’s just too easy to claim one (or multiple yet contradictory) holy book(s) hold all the answers to life, the universe, and everything. As Douglas Adams (author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) said:

Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?

This post is my first that has been brought about through the God Delusion, and seeing as I’m only mid-way through chapter four, there will likely be more.