Posted tagged ‘design’

179 Logical Fallacies and the Ham vs. Nye debate

February 2, 2014

A Twitter Battle

And all I did was Tweet “#Design of a biochemical circuit” in response to a paper on design in yeast cells. Okay, so I also included two anti-creationism hysteria groups, TFN and NCSE, in the Tweet, but, even for followers of irrational groups like these, I was a bit surprised at the sheer number of logical fallacies that followed for the next month and a half.

My original Tweet was back in October, 2013. The first to respond was one of the paper’s co-authors, Volkan Sevim, who Tweeted “This is not the kind of #Design you have in mind.” So, right at the start, the “Twitter battle” began with the ambiguity logical fallacy.  Something expected of politicians, not scientists, Volkan pretended that design in a biochemical circuit could mean something other than “to devise for a specific function or end.”

After Volkan’s tweet, atheists and secular humanists picked up on the thread. People with Twitter handles like “Debunking Stupidity,” “Logical Lass,” “God Free World,” etc., started to engage. And not with weapons of logic, but with a maelstrom of logical fallacies. The following is a ranking of the types of logical fallacies used. And 179 is a conservative estimate of the actual number of logical errors released from ASH’s quiver (ASH = Atheist Secular Humanist):

  1. Ambiguity (67). Equating science with history, rather than clearly distinguishing scientific research from natural history research.
  2. Strawman (59). Primarily “Creationists are against science,” and/or “science deniers.”
  3. Ad hominem (25). Cursing, but also threats of murder, including mass murder of Christians.
  4. Genetic (12). Even though someone has a PhD in science, their research “doesn’t count” if they are a biblical creationist.
  5. Appeal to authority (6). Several appeals to “scientific consensus,” even though that’s not how science is done.
  6. Circular reasoning (2).
  7. Law of non-contradiction (2).
  8. Bandwagon (1).
  9. Black or white (1).
  10. Tu quoque (1).
  11. Moving the goalposts (1). One commenter said that if the earth is young, why haven’t we found dinosaur DNA? When I showed him we have, he conveniently “moved the goalposts.”
  12. Loaded question (1).
  13. False cause (1).

I really shouldn’t have been surprised by atheists and humanists attempting to “prove” themselves using foolish statements, because that is exactly what Scripture says will happen in Psalm 14:1, Romans 1:18-26, I Corinthians 2:14, and many other places.

The Ham vs. Nye Origins Debate

So what does this have to do with the upcoming origins debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye?  Well, my recent “Twitter battle” provides a glimpse into how Bill Nye, a secular humanist, will debate. Many media outlets have reported on the debate already, and Mr. Nye has portrayed himself as the debate’s “reasonable man.” But rather than using reason, Mr. Nye will attempt to “prove” his version of history with a gusher of logical fallacies. He will try to claim that Christians are against science, confusing scientific research with natural history research. He will fail (or be willfully ignorant of) to see the obvious fact that everyone has access to the same scientific data, so this can’t possibly be a debate about science vs. anti-science. It is a debate about origins, which means it is a debate about how to interpret history. Nye thinks he is battling against anti-science zealots. What I hope Mr. Ham makes crystal clear for viewers though, is the fact that Mr. Nye is debating a straw man, not Mr. Ham.

Pray that God will use this debate to turn the hearts of unbelievers like Bill Nye to Jesus Christ. It is easier to argue using logical fallacies when hiding behind a Twitter handle, YouTube video, etc., but much more difficult to do in a live debate.  Pray also for Christians who are confused by naturalism, or who attempt to unwisely mingle Christianity with naturalism, committing the “middle ground” fallacy.

Black Skimmer

May 6, 2011

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The Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) is my favorite bird. It is a bird with incredible abilities. Below is a photo of a Black Skimmer that will help you see where it got the name “skimmer”:

Copyright 2010, David E. Shormann, PhD

As you can see in the photo below, the skimmer family (Rynchopidae) differs from all other bird families because their bottom mandible, or bill, is much longer than their upper mandible:

Copyright 2011, David E. Shormann, PhD

The longer, knifelike lower mandible, or bill, helps the Black Skimmer catch fish. The base of the bill is red-orange and the tip is black. The bird flies slowly along leeward shorelines, where wave action is less pronounced, and skims its lower bill just beneath the surface. Precision flying is required to keep the bill in the water for any distance, and the relatively long wings (up to 48 inches) of the skimmer, relative to its body (16-20 inches), help it maintain a level glide. Notice the long wings in the photo below:

Copyright 2011, David E. Shormann, PhD

When a fish hits the Black Skimmer’s lower bill, the bird’s head will automatically bend down and back, which traps the fish. The skimmer then flies up and swallows the fish. Here’s a short YouTube video by EstuaryLiveTV showing a Black Skimmer capturing a fish:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7USpTc6MUoc

If the skimmer’s fish-catching techniques are not impressive enough, consider that it also does this at night! That is why its upper surface is black, to camouflage it for night-fishing. Also, notice when its bill is open, the only color a fish that is in front of it would see is black. It would not see the orange-red section. What an incredible design!

The skimmer family, Rynchopidae, consists of only two other species, one from Africa (R. flavirostris) and the other from Asia (R. Albicollis). All skimmers look essentially the same, with slight differences in color patterns and calls. All skimmers live along rivers and estuaries, and lay their eggs on open areas like sandy beaches and shell reefs. They typically nest in colonies, often with other birds like terns. Here is a video of a small Black Skimmer colony nesting in a remote section of East Matagorda Bay in Texas. Listen for the distinct “kaup” call of the Black Skimmer, compared to the terns that are also quite vocal:

Black Skimmers, like many other bird species (and like humans are supposed to do!), mate with one individual for life. After the eggs are laid, the couple takes turns incubating them. In the following photo, the mate farthest from the camera is incubating a pair of eggs:

Copyright 2011, David E. Shormann, PhD

According to the Outdoor Alabama website, the typical Black Skimmer clutch averages four eggs.   The pair above only had two eggs, and this could be because 1) the female still had more eggs to lay, or 2) storms washed the other eggs away. Black Skimmers along the Gulf of Mexico Coast typically lay their eggs in May, and the eggs take about 3 weeks to hatch. Here is a photo of this couple’s clutch in early May, 2011:

Copyright 2011, David E. Shormann, PhD

As you can tell, the eggs are designed to be camouflaged against their shelly background. See if you can find the same eggs in the photo below. Click on the photo to enlarge it:

Copyright 2011, David E. Shormann, PhD

Give up? They are in the top right corner of the photo.

If you are not impressed by the incredible design of the Black Skimmer, then I’m afraid nothing will impress you! In His goodness, God made this bird incredibly special and unique. Some bird groups, a.k.a. “baramins”, like warblers, have more diversity since the Genesis Flood, but not skimmers. Three “species” (maybe not really species?) exist worldwide. Skimmers catch dinner by skimming their enlarged lower mandible through shallow water, somehow avoiding all underwater obstacles (I’ve never seen a skimmer “crash!”), and they even do it on the blackest of  nights! They lay well-camouflaged eggs, and the parents, who mate for life, take turn incubating the eggs and raising the young. Awesome!

Click here for a coloring page of the Black Skimmer. Remember, the Black Skimmer is black on top, so use the thin line that is beneath the eye as your border between the black and white.