googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: So Who Are The Crackpots?

Monday, July 2, 2012

So Who Are The Crackpots?

Creationists are often called crackpots, nuts, and wackos. A usual theme in the insults is that we're “science haters” or believers in “pseudoscience.” I've commented before that many evolutionists are completely unable to carry on a rational discussion without resorting to insults but my usual response is to ignore them. If I bothered to respond to every insult directed at creationists, it would consume my entire blog. And I think a blog that posts nothing but answers to insults would be about as interesting as listening to a 9 year old saying, “Nuh uh!” Having said that, though, I came across an article that casts a new light on these types of insults.

While doing my usual research (I like to call surfing the net, “research”), I came across a survey from 2008 that discussed public attitudes toward UFOs. It included some interesting demographics about the respondents. It seems only 38% of evangelical protestants say it is either "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that intelligent life exists on other planets. However, 66% of the people with no religious preference said the same thing. Given that information and the obvious attitudes of each group toward the Bible, one could reasonably conclude that the more likely someone is to believe the Bible, the less likely he is to believe in UFOs. Furthermore, less religious (or non-religious) people are almost certainly evolutionists so, by connecting the dots, I think it's safe to say that people who believe in UFOs are probably evolutionists.

Do you think I'm generalizing? Perhaps I am a little – but only a little. Evolutionists have a real stake in the existence of extra terrestrials. If abiogenesis occurs naturally, and if the earth is not unique in the universe, then it's almost a statistical certainty that life has sprouted up many different times throughout the vast universe. The late Carl Sagan made this very point and the group SETI has spent millions of dollars listening for alien radio signals which evolutionists are sure must be out there.

There are also shows like the History Channel's, Ancient Aliens. These shows interview “scholars” and “scientists” who engage in their own brand of pseudoscience and claim that ancient cultures had frequent contact with extraterrestrials. These same “experts” often attribute miraculous events described in the Bible to encounters with aliens. For example, they claim Elijah's ascent into heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11) is actually his being taken away in a space ship. Now, I haven't heard any of these people state their position on Biblical creation but I doubt they hold to the same “ordinary meaning” of the Bible that most creationists have. It's more likely that they're evolutionists.

Still another evolutionists who notably believed in aliens is the late Dr. Francis Crick. This Nobel prize laureate and co-discoverer of DNA understood that abiogenesis is so absurdly improbable that it couldn't have happened multiple times. He proposed the theory of “directed panspermia” which claims that life began somewhere else in the universe and was intentionally planted here by aliens.

The same tendency for UFO nuts to be evolutionists exhibits itself in other kook-theories as well. Cryptozoology is an obscure “scientific” discipline which aims to “study” elusive species like Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster. It escapes me, though, how anyone can “study” a species that can't be found. Why not study Leprechauns? Anyway, cryptozoology also has a firm foundation in evolution. Laypeople have suggested that Big Foot is a missing link. The more “official” position (I chuckle when using words like “scientific,” “study,” or “official position” when discussing Big Foot) is that Big Foot is another large primate and so is an evolutionary cousin to humans, similar to the way gorillas are. The Loch Ness Monster is claimed by some to be a plesieosaur-like species that became trapped in the Loch when it was cut off from the sea. A small population of the critters has survived unchanged in its little niche for 65 million years.

Now, I realize my observations are anecdotal and not a scientific samplings of evolutionists' attitudes. Nevertheless, I'm reasonably confident in my opinion. If I were a betting man, I would be willing to wager that a lopsided majority of UFO-ists are evolutionists as are believers in Big Foot/Nessie. I would even say the same of believers in ghosts. And don't forget that we're certain that the president of the Flat Earth Society also happens to be an evolutionist. Do you see a pattern here?

Please note carefully that I've been careful to not say the majority of evolutionists believe in Big Foot or UFOs. Instead, I'm voicing my opinion that the majority of people who believe in these crackpot theories are evolutionists. Do you see the difference? So you may be wondering where I'm going with this. Am I making a guilt-by-association argument? No. Am I making a sweeping generalization to imply that the few evolutionists who believe in UFOs represent all evolutionists? No. More than anything I guess I'm taking enjoyment in linking fancy unto fancy. I think it's just funny and ironic that the most outrageous beliefs are held by the people who accuse creationists of being scientifically illiterate. Who's the crackpot now?

Kidding aside for a moment, I think there are a few things we can take away from this: First, I think it's clear that “junk science” does not appeal to creationists. If it did, the ranks of UFO and Big Foot enthusiasts would be flush with creationists.

Second, no group is represented by its extremists. Unless evolutionists want to associate themselves with Big Foot hunters, they need to stop holding up people like the convicted Kent Hovind as an icon of creationists. At least most creationists are honest enough to denounce the bad behavior or weak arguments of its members. People like Sagan are mainstream evolutionists and their cohorts seem reluctant to speak a word against them.

Finally, we should acknowledge that beliefs have consequences. I've seen the photos and videos of UFOs. Is that really the best evidence for the existence of aliens? Why then do so many people believe in life on other planets? I say it's merely a consequence of believing in evolution because the theory virtually demands there must be. I've written before that a worldview that rejects God and the Bible is not rational. A person who rejects the Bible is foolish; it's no wonder then that he should embrace foolish beliefs.


Steven J. said...

Carl Sagan, while insisting on the likelihood of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, was notoriously skeptical about UFOs -- or, rather, as he put it, he noted how people always asked if he believed in UFOs, rather than asking the more relevant question of whether there was any evidence that they were extraterrestrial spacecraft (he thought there was none). He thought not: "the reliable cases are uninteresting and the interesting cases are unreliable." Sagan also mocked astronomers of a century ago who thought that Venus must be covered by jungles because we couldn't see through the clouds. Belief in life on other worlds is a different matter from belief in particular sorts of life on any particular world, whether it's dinosaurs on Venus or Zeta Reticulians on Earth.

Creationists tend to disbelieve in life on other planets because they think the universe exists purely for the benefit of human beings. That is, at best, simply a different preference in credulity -- and one harder to reconcile with the existence of scores of billions of galaxies that can't be seen without a telescope.

Cryptozoology is the attempt to confirm the existence of animals known only through folklore. This is distinct from the search for unknown species (quite a few of those, mostly beetles, but even a few mammals, turn up every year), and from attempts to study things that no one has observed. Such "cryptids" range from known living species in places they have no business being (e.g. black panthers in England) to animals that don't fit into the evolutionary tree at all (e.g. the chupacabra in Mexico); arguably not all cryptozoology is equally "kooky" (and how many creationists think there still are non-bird dinosaurs -- or plesiosaurs -- sharing the planet with us today?). I'm pretty sure that the guy who runs the "Genesis Park" website isn't an evolutionist.

More generally, you're arguing (whether this is quite how you'd put it or not) that irrational beliefs can exist alongside well-supported ones, that failures of skepticism in one area can exist alongside near-pathological skepticism in others. The view that two centuries of geology pointing to an Earth billions of years old, or an equal span of life sciences research pointing to common ancestry of humans and other species, can be dismissed as a massive conspiracy or a simple-minded mistake is, in fact, itself such a combination of absurd skepticism of some ideas combined with absurd credulity regarding others.

Anonymous said...

You said: "I think it's safe to say that people who believe in UFOs are probably evolutionists."

Except for the standard deviations from the bell curve, I agree 100%, and it's kind of ironic, since one would think that people who "believe" in evolution, would not believe in any type of life form in any other place in the universe - more on this a bit later in my response.

Note that I said believe in evolution, because science is 'usually' based on observable, repeatable and verifyable data, not believe.
Magnetism is observable, indirectly, by the effect it has on it's surroundings, for example, you can repeat the experiment and measure the strength of the magnetic field, even the invisible shapes of the field can be indirectly observed. Evolution is not observable, regardless of some evolutionists claiming that some fossils are intermediates.
We can measure the decay time of unstable atoms very accurately, some takes millions of years to decay to half it's unstable life time, some, a few seconds, but they want to tell me you cannot measure the rate of evolution because it's too slow ... please, give me a break. That is not the reason. The reason is you cannot measure something that does not happen.

Anyway, back to my intent of this response.

Suppose we are not the only life in the universe, then it's also safe to assume that the other life forms does not need to look like us, or require water or oxygen like us, or even a similar planet to live or evolve on - it depends on their makeup.

It is then also safe to assume that there is thus much more life out there than we suspected, some of them less advance than us, some of them more.
If we just take in account the more advanced life forms, that may be able to reach other planets and galaxies, it is then also safe to assume that some alien civilizations would be friendly and some would be hostile, since, as on earth, each civilization would have their own opinion on things.

Some may want to claim earth, some would want to keep peace. Some would see themselves as the law and enforcers to protect developing civilizations , etc etc - yes, it does kind of sound like a plot to a SCI-FI movie.

The point is, if there was life out there, any life, then there would be more advanced life, good and bad, and we definitely would have met them, good and bad, since the last (13.75 - x) billion years since they say the big bang occurred.

Do not even get me started on people who believe the big bang theory is something else than a useful postulate for creating bounded parameters to work within, i.e start time of universe.


Steven J. said...

I think I was distracted from the main point in my earlier reply. Here's the point: if someone tells me that he thinks the Queen of England is a shape-shifting alien lizard person (and yes, this is a real position taken by some people), I'm not going to wait to find out if he thinks the Loch Ness Monster is real, or whether he's ever hired a Feng Shui expert, before I decide that he's a crackpot. If someone tells me that he's invented a working perpetual motion machine, I don't need to ask how he feels about astrology, or if he thinks vaccines cause autism, before concluding that he buys into pseudoscience.

Creationists hold -- they are quite explicit about this -- that no possible evidence could persuade them that common ancestry of humans and other kinds is true, or that Genesis is not reliable Earth history. Insisting that evidence doesn't count -- or, conversely, that it all depends on "interpretation" and "presuppositions," so that any evidence can support any hypothesis -- is about as anti-science as one can get: under neither method is it actually possible to use science to advance knowledge.

To believe in Bigfoot or Nessie, you need to ignore large swaths of scientific knowledge about ecology (such as the need for a breeding population, and the sheer impossibility of hiding and feeding such a population in the areas where these species supposedly hang out). That is, of course, not nearly so much data, or data from so many fields, as one would need to ignore to suppose that the Earth might really be less than 10,000 years old, or to claim that "there is no evidence for macro-evolution."

If you're a creationist, you don't need to believe in chupacabras or homeopathic medicine to cement your pseudoscience credentials.

RKBentley said...


Thanks for visiting my blog. Concerning what life on other planets might look like, I wrote a post that touched on this just recently titled, Another Argument Creationists Shouldn't Use. Some creationists argue that the planet seems designed for life. Actually, the reverse could be true, namely, life is well adapted to the planet. As we're looking for signs of life on other planets, I'm not sure why scientists limit their search to earth like planets since, as you've suggested, it's possible that life somewhere else doesn't closely resemble us.

Dr. Hawking has suggested that we might want to be careful when attempting to contact alien life since, if they could reach earth, they would be far more technically advanced than we. There's no guarantee that if such an advanced race took notice of us, they would have good intentions.

But I have to say that all this is speculation. As you've said, science is supposed to be about observation. There is ZERO evidence that life exists on any other planet. The years spent by SETI listening for ET radio signals has produced naught yet they continue believing they're out there.

Thanks for visiting. God bless!!


RKBentley said...

Steven J,

You said, “To believe in Bigfoot or Nessie, you need to ignore large swaths of scientific knowledge about ecology (such as the need for a breeding population, and the sheer impossibility of hiding and feeding such a population in the areas where these species supposedly hang out). That is, of course, not nearly so much data, or data from so many fields, as one would need to ignore to suppose that the Earth might really be less than 10,000 years old, or to claim that "there is no evidence for macro-evolution."”

You've ignored the first point in my “take aways” from my post. Junk science doesn't appeal to creationists. If creationists are so anti-science, why don't they subscribe to the crackpot theories in droves? I would say it's because we are more grounded in reality than are evolutionists.

You might also think carefully about the demographics of the survey. 66% of people with no religious preference believe it's very likely or somewhat likely that life exists on other planets. That's 2/3 of everybody with no religious preference. And we know that includes mainstream evolutionists like Hawking, Sagan, and Crick, The same people who claim they don't believe in God because they haven't seen any evidence for God still insist that aliens exists!! It's crazy! Please show me the SCIENTIFIC evidence for aliens.

Statistically speaking, a belief in aliens is the default position of evolutionists even though there is no scientific evidence that aliens exist.

BTW, only 38% of evangelical protestants believe in extraterrestrial life. Wouldn't it be interesting to know how many of those also believe in evolution? I would speculate that if a fundamental, Bible-believing Christian believes in life on other planets, he will also certainly be an evolutionists.

You said, “If you're a creationist, you don't need to believe in chupacabras or homeopathic medicine to cement your pseudoscience credentials.”

You've made a No True Scotsman argument. You're saying, in a sense, “no one who understands science would believe in creation.”

I could say the opposite: evolution is a crackpot theory. A belief in evolution is a symptom of a person's gullibility and an indicator of his willingness to believe other crackpot theories. Unlike your assertion, the statistics bear out my argument. Evolutionists believe in crackpot theories at much higher rates than creationists.

Thanks for visiting. God bless!!