So there’s a creationist twit in Texas whining about how the Houston Atheists will be demonstrating at a creationist home schooling convention and at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.He wrote up a blog screed about it, dropping mental turds about Francis Bacon being a creationist and God being a necessary precondition for rationality. (Hooray for presuppositional apologetics, the most viciously circular of all idiocies!)
(Click here if you want to get to the real meat of this post. The rest is just minor evidence of deception… the real good stuff comes later.)
The bit about Francis Bacon being a creationist is dishonest at best. In his philosophical treatise Novum Organum Scientiarum, The New Instrument of Science, Bacon compiled a list of things he called “idols” which he said must be inhibited and repressed as the foundations of a natural philosophy:
Yet in this vanity some of the moderns have with extreme levity indulged so far as to attempt to found a system of natural philosophy on the first chapter of Genesis, on the book of Job, and other parts of the sacred writings, seeking for the dead among the living; which also makes the inhibition and repression of it the more important, because from this unwholesome mixture of things human and divine there arises not only a fantastic philosophy but also a heretical religion.
In Book I of the New Organon (Aphorisms 39-68), Bacon introduces his famous doctrine of the “idols.” These are characteristic errors, natural tendencies, or defects that beset the mind and prevent it from achieving a full and accurate understanding of nature. Bacon points out that recognizing and counteracting the idols is as important to the study of nature as the recognition and refutation of bad arguments is to logic. Incidentally, he uses the word “idol” – from the Greek eidolon (“image” or “phantom”) – not in the sense of a false god or heathen deity but rather in the sense employed in Epicurean physics. Thus a Baconian idol is a potential deception or source of misunderstanding, especially one that clouds or confuses our knowledge of external reality.
4. The Idols of the Theater:
Like the idols of the cave, those of the theatre are culturally acquired rather than innate. And although the metaphor of a theatre suggests an artificial imitation of truth, as in drama or fiction, Bacon makes it clear that these idols derive mainly from grand schemes or systems of philosophy – and especially from three particular types of philosophy:
III. Superstitious Philosophy – this is Bacon’s phrase for any system of thought that mixes theology and philosophy. He cites Pythagoras and Plato as guilty of this practice, but also points his finger at pious contemporary efforts, similar to those of Creationists today, to found systems of natural philosophy on Genesis or the book of Job.
He says he got in touch with the museum and asked them if they’d host an event by a group that said Hitler was right and all Jews should be killed, to which the obvious response was “of course not.” The blogger is comparing a protest of creationist bullshit with the genocide of millions of human beings… without even considering whether this is something he should actually put out into the public’s view.
His post is stupid, factually incorrect, myopic, and an extreme case of playing the victim card. But that’s really not the point of this post. No, the point of this post is a single comment chain on his blog. It all started with his reply to someone called @sircraig01:
Okay, here’s the deal. There is no “science vs. religion” battle. I am all about doing real, observable, testable, predictable science. I do scientific research on Gulf of Mexico hypoxia, and my most recent work was in 2012 (Texas Coastal Hypoxia Linked to Brazos River Discharge as Revealed by Oxygen Isotopes). What is your most recent scientific publication?
… and so on. Around 7:30 AM EST today, @sircraig01 replied with a comment that exposed Dr. Shormann as a blatant liar:
YOUR most recent work? Funny thing about the internet: One can find a LOT of things, including publications. I found your “Texas Coastal Hypoxia Linked to Brazos River Discharge as Revealed by Oxygen Isotopes” and discovered it was published and accepted in 2011, not 2012 as you claim. No big deal, except I also noticed – after reading it, of course – that the only place in the paper your name exists is on the front: You did NONE of the research yourself, merely funded the paper and got your name on it, presumably to give yourself a bit of gravitas. Tsk, tsk.
And here’s the glorious part: I took a snapshot of the whole page at that point, because I know that creationists have a certain tendency to ignore or attempt to get rid of evidence against them.
My instincts proved true: two hours after I took the snapshot, the comment calling out Dr. Shormann’s deception was deleted.
Dr. Shormann is a professional liar, creating textbooks and video series presenting science and even *math* from a biblical literalist (read: wrong) perspective, so we shouldn’t be too surprised to see his dishonesty in action.