On December 10th, 2006, globally recognised Humanist, Science buff, authour of at least ten books and captivating speaker, Robyn Williams introduced another excellent episode of Ockham's Razor for ABC's Radio National. Entitled "Apocalpse Now" the subject material was presented by Dr. John Reid, a Melbourne based neuroscientist.
It dealt with the challenges humanity faces in managing exploding populations, dwindling resources and climate change in the face of human nature and our ability to minimise cognitive dissonance. Aussies are in debt to Williams for his dedication to excellence in science and the publics understanding of the actual role, methodology and value of all sciences. The Science Show is his baby and has run since 1975, seeing Robyn prove himself as a quick witted an effective Science journalist and broadcaster.
Thus it is with considerable gratitude that many "in the know" look forward to his presence when introducing Ockham's Razor. The title is one many will immediately recognise and in doing so accurately predict the production style of the program. William of Ockham was a 14th century English monk. His contribution to scientific explanation is Ockham's Razor itself and is noted famously; Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate, which translates as entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily. The ABC website "About" page extends the philosophy to production technique clearly informing interested parties:
'What can be done with fewer assumptions is done in vain with more,' he said. That is, in explaining any phenomenon, we should use no more explanatory concepts than are absolutely necessary. Well, for both broadcasting and for science, simplicity should never be despised. Our program, named after William, consists of a short introduction followed by a scripted talk. Just that, week after week. This program allows thoughtful people to have their say without pesky interviewers interrupting, or someone of opposite views turning the exercise into a joust. There are times when a speaker needs a clear run, some proper control, and this is what Ockham's Razor provides.
More so, it is often the speakers role or intention to lay out hard evidence, proposed solutions and respected findings or predictions they have not made. At most a few sentences of reflection may be included. Hence it is with something close to disbelief I find at Creation Ministries International an article, viciously and slanderously "critiquing" the episode published on Janurary 26th, 2007. Written by Aussie Creationist, Christian Fundamentalist and enemy of reason Bill Muehlenberg, fallaciously attacking Williams, Reid and exploiting the style of presentation to claim insouciant nonchalance on Williams part. The title, Melbourne Atheist - chillingly consistent aplication of evolution gives away it's intention to bolster the theistic position that evolution is a malignant force. One that both hides the truth about "creation" and applies genocidal ideologies fit for extreme Stalinists, Nazi's to anyone who asks the hard questions and finds evidence to challenge the worth of "Mans dominion over all the Earth".
I had to chuckle. Reid opens with his skeptism - as a scientist - that humanity will find a way to manage our challenging future, through science. He claims so because people are adept at deluding themselves. Although Reid was referring to passive delusion leading to apathy and inaction - particuarly on the morally difficult issues - Muehlenberg grabs the ball and sprints over the line into the realms of malignant fantasy and reckless zealotry. All the time, trying to make the old "no God, no morals" claim. By the way I know what you're thinking. ABC Science Show, Ockham's Razor and Williams vs "Creation Ministries International" and Bill Muehlenberg? It's a no-brainer, and yes, Bill offers zero evidence to substantiate a solid refutation. But if you're interested read on.
What became truly fascinating is that every piece of Muehlenberg's article is a false and deceptive construct, built upon demonstrably false claims and invented references to "arguments" that appear nowhere in Reids presentation. In fact, Reid actually argues the opposite to what Bill accuses him of on specific points. Muehlenberg misses this or intentionally ignores it because if one is not for God, one is indeed for evil and unspeakable deeds. Bill is a true believer. He takes the bible as absolutely literal and indeed favours the shiny new toy Creationists frequently play with: Biblical End Times.
It is impossible to accept Bills piece as anything but comical, until one realises he not only claims Australia is at civil war over morality, but is also a worthy foot soldier. Jesus must return as the world ends. Why would any sensible person ignore an open invitation to paradise and attempt to save our wonderful planet?
The scriptures are clear. Redeem or be damned for eternity. Could this be the basis for such a childishly and demonstrably false piece by Bill Muehlenberg? There are over twenty demonstrably slanderous and fallacious claims about Dr. Reid, Williams, science, the production piece itself and the existence of active dynamics seemingly bent on destroying humanity. All on a piece supposedly quoting from another on how to save humanity!
"Reid is convinced that planet earth is grossly overpopulated, and unless we take some radical steps, like culling the human race, we are all doomed. I kid you not."
The only way to deconstruct Muehlenberg's Rally-to-arms against reason, is to go through his fallacious and insultingly personal attack on Reid and measure it against Reid's actual presentation transcript on ABC Radio National. This episode Firesnake does just that. Let's forgive Bill for deceptively slandering Robyn Williams: there's no way one can miss the intention of Ockham's Razor to be something more than succinct. Muehlenberg forgoes journalistic credibility to his detriment. Had Williams satisfied Bills need for hand-holding the show would lose it's impact. Bill's real gripe is that Robyn has no theistic persuasions.
Acknowledging climate change is an easier topic than population control, Reid is then at pains to stress it is birth rate, not living persons, we must reduce if we do decide we cannot sustain present growth. Reid argues that he has little confidence in civil means solving the problems. Primarily voluntary abstinence from procreation, due to the urge to do so and the belief in an inalienable right to have children - more affluent than their parents. At no time does he claim he has an alternative solution. At no time does he propose so much as plucking a blade of grass.
He refers to the findings and suggestions of international bodies and advances the calculations specific to population, ecological foot printing, sustainability and climate change. Just to be clear: all Reid's advances note the need to reduce birth rate as a documented strain on food and essential resources, land availability and care and climate change. Reid uses an entire paragraph thusly: "Let us canvass them", after noting theories and findings do exist.
Yet Bill claims "Reids talk is essentially a claim for the extermination of much of humanity". From here he moves quickly to inventing that Reid is alluding to a Nazi plan to exterminate Christians and asks if Reid will "pull the macine gun trigger", "flick the switch on the poison gas." In fact he carefully cherry picks pieces of the actual transcript to create the illusion of a different argument, and dresses it in weasel wording: "culling", "extermination", "Stalinist", "socialist", "coercive". Remember, not one iota of a suggestion human beings should so much as be touched can be found in Reid's piece.
"... will he pop a suicide pill, or take a more 'humanitarian' view, and try to take as many with him, as in a suicide bombing?", Muelenberg rants when Reid notes the redistribution of wealth would effect the affluent most and that Australia has a large ecological footprint. Does Muehlenberg understand that of course, those with more wealth will experience a greater change because of those living in abject poverty? Hard to tell, but "it all sounds good to me" he writes, before launching into textbook Wedge Strategy deception with "after all, we are no different to animals or slugs, or microbes, according to the accepted Darwinian wisdom. So, I guess there is no problem in treating human beings as a disease to be eradicated".
This is a tired trick Creationists favour. Actually, Darwinian evolution by natural Selection explains the evolution of all life on the planet and our astonishingly improbable presence as a superior primate. I don't say "improbable" as in "unlikely". I mean to point out we can calculate the probability of being born, and this includes understanding the probability of our planet forming, genesis of life, the irrefutable march of evolution, the achievements and trials of our species over 1/4 million years and finally the fact our parents "dumped" billions of suitable gametes when only two came together to achieve conception. And, how many others could either parent have conceived with?
Simply put, whilst we are just half a chromosome away from chimps and indeed higher primates, Evolution explains why we are certainly not in the same ball park as microbes, slugs or diseases. Bill has no idea of how evolution works. No religious fundamentalist can hold to their beliefs and hope to seriously comment on this brilliant scientfic theory nor the hard facts that support it. Evolution proves why Bill is deluding himself. And his response is not untypical.
Other ridiculous offences include linking only to other similar pieces on the same site and claiming Dr. Eric Pianka urged dropping Ebola virus on 90% of humanity - to a standing ovation of people like Reid. It turned out to be one person who "certainly gained that impression". It is a false claim, period. He also links to other pieces which twist the words of scientists and criticise Robyn Williams. Consider this quote from another piece by David Catchpoole and Jonathon Sarfari, "Doomsday Glee":
In other words, it seems: ‘let’s tell our young people that there’s no Creator, we’ve just evolved, and evolution is much more wonderful than if we’d been created’
. Never mind the millions of years of death and suffering, as well as false starts and extinction, that evolution (and indeed any long-age view) entails. [Source
Muehlenberg's personal attack on Dr. Reid is unmistakable and very telling about the true nature of modern Christian charlatans. Muehlenberg has attributed an entire malignant mindset to Reid based solely on his own vile mess which he then leaps into for a further four paragraphs. Bill tells us that food prices are cheaper. Global crises are not to be considered as accurate and it is actually a "birth-dearth" that has supposedly led to the challenges we face on our very trouble world. He denies globally accepted findings on climate change and insists we can easily continue to feed a population of 12 billion. His offerings include:
The overpopulation orators ignore the simple calculation that all the people in the world could fit into an area the size of England, with more than 20 square metres each. Also, a real population expert, Nicholas Eberstadt, in an article ‘Doom and Demography’ (Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2006), pointed out that the population growth of the last century was caused mainly by reduction of mortality, especially in infancy.
Contrary to the doom-mongers’ diatribes, the real problem today is not over-population but a ‘birth-dearth’. The world’s total fertility rate has declined to 2.9 children per woman, its lowest level ever. This is down from 4.2 in 1985. Bear in mind that 2.1 is necessary for a stable replacement rate. There are now around 80 countries—representing 40 per cent of the world’s population—with fertility rates below replacement level. For example, Russia, Germany and Italy now fill more coffins than cradles. Italy’s fertility rate is an amazing 1.24. In Australia the rate is 1.8.
Not surprisingly we have the "anti-Christian" theme of Reid's piece invented, and then explained to us, by Bill. He peppers his piece with taunts and insults such that one finds it hard to follow his train of superstition. Even though Dr. Reid notes that the "three horsemen of the apocalypse - war, famine and pestilence" would be both cruel and inefficient at reducing the population it is the following Muehlenberg seems to have really reacted to:
Our global footprint is worldwide.
Meanwhile, people like the Federal Treasurer promote population increase. Sorry, Mr Costello, your 'One for the wife, one for the husband, and one for Australia', will have to be changed to 'None for the planet'!
My plea is that we should face reality and begin to discuss the unspeakable. Humanity must undergo a mind-shift. If you must have a God, at least recognise he/she/it did not give humanity licence to trash the planet, whatever the Bible may tell you.
Indeed, humanity has been all too compliant with the Biblical injunction to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.
The precepts of the Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam represent the quintessential perversion of the human mind. They must be abandoned and the notion of the sanctity of human life must be subjugated to the greater sanctity of all life on Earth.
Bill Muehlenberg concludes:
Right now these men mainly propagate their ugly belief systems in the public arena. Pray that they do not take control of the political processes, or we may see their Brave New World forced on us all a lot sooner than expected.
As Dr. John Reid correctly notes;
Human beings are self-deluder's. We can convince ourselves, in the face of irrefutable evidence to the contrary, that black is white and heat can flow from a cooler to a hotter body. It is this power of self-delusion that leads us to believe that somehow we will find a way to fix the problem of our unsustainable consumption of the Earth's resources.
Or as Stephen Hawking noted in January 2007:
"Humankind must Understand The science that rules our life. Otherwise how can we meet the future if we don't know our options?"
Firesnake awards a Clear and Present Danger To Critical Thought to Bill, with a brilliant entry score of 9.2/10 for:
- creating misinformation by selective quotation
- linking selective quotes of another's work to demonstrably false claims
- attributing negative and malignant personality traits to innocent academics and supposedly those who reject his version of reality
- misleading over the facts of evolution
- cultivating and nurturing the fallacious claim non theistic views equate to genocidal ideologies
- and indoctrinating innocent, gullible or vulnerable people with an aggressively anti-evolutionary, anti-scientific and dangerously ignorant viewpoint
All articles mentioned are here.
1 hr, 4 min