Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Yomin turns up, defends himself by running and hiding

This is hardly surprising. In a cutpaste-heavy comment the length of War and Peace, Yomin Postelnik has only this to say in response to my refutation of his ridiculous Canada Free Press article. It's the usual "you've distorted and misrepresented me, but I don't have time to debate you" dodge.

Your distortions should be quite clear. It's amazing that you see the need to skew everything said into your narrow prism and definitions, most of which diverge greatly from their intended meaning. It's also interesting that you fail to make a proper case against the main point of the column.

If my "distortions" are "quite clear," why doesn't Yomin help us out by explaining what they are? I invite everyone here, if you have the stomach for it, to re-read Yomin's original article, to which I linked in my critique, and try to pick out where I skewed and distorted, or where I "failed to make a proper case against the main point of the column." I invite you to do this because, of course, Yomin doesn't point these things out himself. He simply declares that I have done this, then ducks under his desk.

In short, he's simply dishonest. Here's the difference between Yomin and me. When I criticized Yomin's article, I backed up my criticisms. In detail. When Yomin tries to tell me I've distorted, skewed, and failed to address his points...he can't back it up.

As far as I can tell, the "main point" of Yomin's column was to try to show that his theism was logical and atheism was illogical. But I showed, giving specific examples, where Yomin trotted out logical fallacy after logical fallacy, demonstrating that all his blustery references to "logic" were masking a lack of actual knowledge as to its principles and proper application. I also pointed out numerous other flaws in the piece, which Yomin fails to rebut except to claim I distorted him. And precisely what does he think the "narrow" definitions are that I'm presumably employing? Yomin doesn't say, making this remark yet another empty diversion. The only definitions of things I ever use are the accurate ones. If they don't support the ideologies of poseurs like Yomin, that's his problem.

This kind of rhetorical Mexican Hat Dance is typical of bad apologists. When you slam them with facts they can't counter, they simply bawl "you misrepresented me" or "you took my words out of context" or "you didn't even address my main point" (especially if you did), and then run off. And they set off smokebombs like this as a further dodge:

Unfortunately I have no time to debate in detail on every board. I will therefore copy a debate on here. Some parts, as you will see, were interrupted by clowns on your side with all kinds of fascinating personal insults and accusations. Still, you will see that it is in fact those on your side who are ignorant of science and of Darwin's theory. I critique it honestly and they can't defend it with the same honesty.

Which is, of course, laughable, given that Yomin's scientific illiteracy stands out like a cockroach on a wedding cake. I went ahead and approved Yomin's comment, despite the fact it's nothing more than an epic-length cutpaste in which he attempts his "critique" of evolution. Interestingly, evolution was not a subject talked about at all in the article he wrote that I critiqued. So Yomin is, in effect, trying to deflect my criticisms of the absurd arguments he made in one article (which was all about how atheism is "illogical") by drawing everyone's attentions to a whole new set of absurd arguments he tries to make about evolution. This is apologetics as slapstick.

As for his "honest" "critique" of evolution? Well, get ready for another collection of dusty old canards. (The guy also looks to be a global warming denier too, surprise, surprise.) Here is the salient silliness, complete with bad grammar and sentence structure, for those of you who don't want to wade through the cutpaste.

Specification is just one aspect, but it’s a leading one. If we say that order formed out of a primordial pool, without intelligent guidance, we’re saying that randomness begot intricate specificity, to the tune of billions upon billions of species, the existence of many being are interdependent.

By the way, the platypus genome is similar similar to other so-called “transitional” fossil, the Archaeopteryx. That one had fully developed feathers and nothing transitional in nature. A transitional fossil would have half scales and half feathers, etc. What we have instead is a species that’s not uniquely mammal or amphibian, but it’s not transitional.

I agree with you that the Creator can’t be physical and to my knowledge no religion believes in a physical Creator, rather, one that is higher than physicality. All I’m saying is that physicality itself points to the fact that there is an Intelligent Creator, above the physical realm. What that Creator is remains a partial mystery, in as much as we only understand the physical and have an idea of the spiritual and the Creator needs to be higher than both (as physicality cannot emanate from spirituality - more on that later). [So Yomin thinks an intelligent creator is the only logical answer, and yet when he tries to discuss the nature of this creator, we get more drunk-driver-style rhetorical meandering as this? Gee, how could I ever have doubted him? MW]

But evolution’s not a fact. It’s a theory. [Pow! — Didn't see that one coming! MW]

There are many prominent creationist scientists. Granted, they don’t get much media attention (what else is new), but their findings are challenging and profound. [Who are these scientists, and where do they publish their challenging and profound findings? Astonishingly, Yomin doesn't say! Who'da thunk it? MW]

We don’t see the platypus as a link in any evolutionary chain, just as a unique creature. The fact that all these characteristics are fully developed makes it even less likely to be part of an evolutionary chain and seems to point to it being a unique species in and of itself. [You are the weakest link — goodbye! MW]

What I’m saying is that if you want to make a valid case for evolution, you need to find some forms that document it. These are what’s referred to as transitional forms. They’d show real gradual transition from amphibian to mammal or something of that nature. This is the premise that evolution is based on and such fossils have yet to be found (a platypus has fully formed reptile features and fully formed mammal ones, nothing that shows gradual transition). [Except, of course, for all the transitional fossils that have been found. Otherwise, Yomin's point is, er, devastating. Yeah. Note to Yomin: your ignorance is not evidence. MW]

The late Steven J. Gould, who obviously had a very different take than I did on the issue of evolution, nevertheless said “the extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.” He, as did Darwin, understood transitional fossils in the way that I laid out. [Lying about Gould's position on transitional fossils is typical of creationism's dishonesty. MW]

So you see, Yomin's whole case against evolution is based on his standard repertoire of false analogies (again with the encyclopedias!), the good old argument from incredulity, and the insistence that transitional forms — which any expert biologist and paleontologist will tell you are as common as table salt and about the actual nature of which Yomin is eye-rollingly clueless — don't exist.

Verdict: he's your typical ill-educated, scientifically illiterate religious ignoramus, who hasn't been any nearer a biology class than Uwe Boll has been to the Oscars. Like his arguments for God, Yomin's arguments against evolution offer nothing new, every one of them a boilerplate canard that's been demolished again and again and again, though the facts simply never seem to sink in to the skulls of the aggressively ignorant. Rather than rebut me with his comment, he simply ducked into the punch and validated my entire critique by parading his ignorance more proudly than ever. Gold!

If any of you feel like trudging through the comment yourselves and further torpedoing Yomin's antiscience clichés, feel free. Or, you could stick with reality, and read about this week's latest news in evolutionary science's actual findings.


  1. Outstanding Martin! Although it is a little disappointing. I was hoping Yomin would bring some new arguments to the table to at least make it interesting. I know, it was a naïve hope. I swear, it is as if creationists and IDers don’t even look at the other side’s case before entering the fray. If they did, they would see these same arguments have been demolished over and over…..and over again. Note to Believers: if you are going to be wrong, please, at least be wrong in a NEW way.

    On a side note, when is the latest Non Prophets podcast going to be loaded onto the archive? The last one was May 24. Here in Cambodia podcasts are the only way I have to listen to you guys. Take care and keep up the good work!

    Bob Magness

  2. Anyone who wants to actually debate can go here.

    Why would I debate someone who maligns me personally and then skews my words?

  3. Again, you're welcome to provide examples of where I've "skewed your words," but you decline to do so even though you insist upon repeating the accusation. Feel free to point to simply one example of such skewing, with an explanation as to how I skewed it and what you really intended to say. While my opinions of your essay stand, if I have in fact made any factual errors or misrepresentations of the literal content of your writing, I will be happy to print a retraction.

    Why would I debate someone who maligns me personally and then skews my words?

    Well, it has been brought to my attention this evening that you have spent much of the day trying to find a way to contact me personally, and that you actually did contact another member of the AE blog team by telephone. So it seems you would like to have words with me, after all.

    But really, Yomin, I don't have it in for you personally. I critiqued an article that you wrote, and I critiqued it on the basis of its being full of falsehoods, fallacies, old-hat canards, and lame arguments. If I said anything by way of maligning you personally, like calling you an "ignoramus" or even an "assclown," well, I apologize if those words were personally hurtful. But again, they were reflections of my disdain for your writings. I am well aware that it's not pleasant to be ridiculed for the things you say in public. It's a harsh lesson to have to learn. I've said many things in my time that have brought me ridicule, some of it deserved, some not. But the lesson that I took from the experience was simple: if you wish to avoid ridicule, you should refrain from saying ridiculous things.

  4. I hope you get a chance to respond to my email, Yomin. I mean, for your sake, it would be ironic to claim I'm trying to censor you and as you put it "quashing debate," then ignore any questions I pose.

    Personal attacks can be quite negative and serve as a distraction to the main points (an ad hominem attack), but there is a bit more to it. In criminal trials, it is not uncommon to establish a person's character, both in behaviour and knowledge to show an abilit, inhibition or tendency towards something.

    In our case, it is arguable, then, that given you build an alledgedly logical proof of God in large part on scientific assumptions. If we could demonstrate a distinct lack of knowledge in the area of science on your part, this would give a reason to doubt much that you say (of course, only as complementary to an explanation in opposition).

    You do, on multiple occasions, clearly show a severe lack of understanding of the theory of evolution. That under consideration, your assumption that the universe needs a beginning falls under question, as you are very unlikely to understand the incredibly complex field of cosmogony. Similarly, your dismissal of abiogenesis (without any source or backing) also lacks credibility.

    Anyway, I do hope you at least get to read my email. It should be a good introduction to both the general process of evolution and the overwhelming supporting evidence thereof. I'm still waiting for your evidence of a god or gods, though. It would be very exciting to be the among the first in history to be privee to evidence of the divine!

  5. Why would I debate someone who maligns me personally

    "[Atheists] believe that not only did whole planets appear spontaneously, but also believe that the fact that these planets do not collide as meteors do, that they have gravity, that they contain the proper atmospheric conditions for life to take hold and contain sustenance to sustain this life all happened by mere fluke."

    Why would we debate someone who is either utterly ignorant, or a liar (or both)? Demonstrate one atheist who believes that "planets appeared spontaneously," let alone atheists in a general sense. You can't, for the same reason that you claim that scientific explanations are about "random chance" and that atheists can't counter your "proof" that "the universe didn't build itself": because you've never actually looked at an atheist argument, you've never done the research, you've never studied the science, and you've merely memorized (poorly, I might add) the standard set of oft-debunked and never-true apologetics. You have no idea what you're talking about, which is fairly standard for creationists with regard to science, but your inability to correctly define the anthropic principle and your muddy confusion with the other standard arguments demonstrates that you're fairly clueless about the apologetics as well.

  6. Nice link at the end, I read this about the same time that I read the article about the HS kid that discovered how to decompose plastic bags with a specific combination of bacteria. It seems to me that there is some overlap between the two experiments. I am thinking that if they isolate the plastic eating bacteria in an environment where they ONLY have plastic to eat, then over time they should evolve to a more efficient plastic-destroying strain.

  7. if you wish to avoid ridicule, you should refrain from saying ridiculous things.

    I've shamelessly stolen this comment for my latest blog motto.


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