Friday, January 31, 2014

Answering Kirk Hastings: Third Question for Darwinists

This post is part of the ongoing saga to answer the questions asked by Kirk Hastings of the defunct Evidence 4 Faith podcast. This post addresses the third question of Kirk's "Top Ten Questions for Darwinists."

3) Why does science demonstrate that all animal species have strict limits as to how much they (or their DNA) can change into something else, yet Darwinists continue to insist that animals can in fact change over time into almost anything?
Here, Kirk misunderstands DNA at a fairly fundamental level, apparently thinking it’s immutable. The first part of this question, ”Why does science demonstrate that all animal species have strict limits as to how much they (or their DNA) can change into something else” is flat out wrong. Science demonstrates no such limits. All life on Earth is based upon DNA, and there’s not that much difference between the various species. Kirk’s question claims a limit that is not there. Chromosomal fusion, for example, is a major change that can occur in a species that can have a profound impact upon the resulting organism. Genetic mutations, driven by copying errors, radiation or chemical interference, can have a major impact upon an organism.
Kirk’s question has to be discarded, because it assumes a limitation upon DNA’s flexibility that simply is not there. The base assumption in the question is so divorced from reality it’s not even wrong.

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Continue to the Fourth Question for Darwinists

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Publishing my writing at long last

I've finally gotten some of my writing up on Kindle. The first book, the bar guide, is published under the name Halleys Comet, because that's the name I use on the Distorted View Podcast's voice-mail line, so it's the name the podcast's fans know me by. The other two are under the pan name Matthew Wunderlich. I'm not trying to hide my identity with the pen name. There are already multiple people in print named "Matthew Miller" so a pen name makes sense so as to avoid confusion.

Unofficial Distorted View Bar Guide by Halleys Comet

What is Truth?: Second Edition by Matthew Wunderlich

My Favorite Fire Alarm: The Flaming Spotted Dick was inevitable Book 0 in the Living the Wiretap series by Matthew Wunderlich.

"Living the Wiretap" is a short story series I'm working on, based upon the Wiretap Practical joke archive which was a source of endless amusement and inspiration to my friends and I in college. I'm going for a vibe somewhere between "The Dog Who Wouldn't Be" and "Animal House." The first published short story has some profanity, but I think I'll clean that up in an updated version.

"What is Truth?" is an effort at a skeptical philosophy book. I plan to evolve it over time. It started as an effort at a parody of self-help and new age advice books, but my actual views kept creeping through.

The bar guide will be updated in time for the "Official" release date of Feb 14. The updates will consist largely of some spit and polish, a few new photos and incorporating a handful of recipes submitted by the band Le SexoFlex.

Finally, I was working on a series to respond to the abysmal apologetic writing of Kirk Hastings, famous largely for being theologically vivisected by Irreligiosophy. I decided that trying to publish it on Kindle was silly, so I'm posting the articles on this blog under the tag "Kirk Hastings."

A lot of this has consisted of tidying up writing projects I'd been plucking at for ages. The bar guide is largely a new creation in just the last few months. My new year's resolution was to average an hour or more of writing a day, and so far I've been sticking to it relatively well, even if I have to count editing and promoting as "writing."

Did Kirk Hastings Perjure Himself?

Kirk Hastings has a book on called "The Infinity Man." It's debated if it's a shoddy Superman / Astroboy mash-up, or a straight-up ripoff of the robot incarnation of the "New Gods" character "Infinity Man" owned by DC Comics. Regardless of the book's merits, or lack thereof, it inspired a parody titled "The Infinity Strain." It languished for months on, published through Createspace, doing even worse than Kirk's original book in sales.

Suddenly, Createspace pulled the book due to a copyright claim fro Kirk Hastings. Kirk then contacted the book's author to gloat about it. Check out "The Infinity Saga" blog for the full details and continuing updates on the legal battle, but the short version is Kirk Hastings apparently had to lie on the form he submitted to Createspace to get what he wanted. When the author of the parody tried to reach out to Kirk to settle, Hastings defended himself by asserting the you can only perjure yourself in a court of law. Apparently Kirk Hastings doesn't think lying "counts" unless it's in a court.

I've gotten the impression that Kirk Hastings is used to bullying others to get his way, and based upon the e-mail exchanges on the Infinity Saga Blog, having people stand up to him is something he simply cannot handle. Legal proceedings are underway, and the parody's author is resisting the book on other venues.

Good Luck Noah Miller. Be sure to contact Popehat if you need legal help or to raise public awareness of how Kirk Hastings is abusing the system to take down what appears to be a legitimate and legal parody.

Read more about Kirk Hastings at these links:

Answering Kirk Hastings: An ongoing series to answer the questions posed by Kirk's apologetic writing.

Kirk Hastings threatening people who left negative reviews of his book

Kirk Hastings, Sock Puppet

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Answering Kirk Hastings: Second Question for Darwinists

This post is part of the ongoing saga to answer the questions asked by Kirk Hastings of the defunct Evidence 4 Faith podcast. This post addresses the second question of Kirk's "Top Ten Questions for Darwinists."

2) According to Darwinism, why do living things become more orderly and complex over time, but everything else in the universe eventually descends into disorder and chaos?
This question has several problems with it. First, it makes a false claim about evolutionary theory. “Darwinism” does not assert that “living things become more orderly and complex over time.” Kirk is exhibiting a common misunderstanding of evolutionary theory, that evolution is always an upward progression, a march towards some sort of genetic perfection. In reality, evolution is merely the chronicle of how creatures have changed over time.
The evolution of whales is very well documented in the fossil record. They are spectacular creatures exceedingly well adapted to their environment. Thier ancestors however had functional legs. The loss of those legs is a loss of complexity. Whales lost the ability to walk on land. This is hardly the only example. It’s currently theorized that modern birds evolved from dinosaurs. It’s hard to argue that the modern chicken is somehow “more complex” than a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Creationists such as Kirk Hastings confuse being better adapted to an environment with being “more” evolved by some standard.
Of course, Kirk could argue that I’m focusing on semantics, because the misnomer that a better adapted creature is necessarily more complicated is not the REAL issue behind his question. What Kirk is really getting at with this question is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the law that’s probably misrepresented by Creationists more often than any other. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is a fascinating topic on its own, but for the purposes of discussing evolution the first line of the Wikipedia article on the law is a good starting point:
The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve toward thermodynamic equilibrium—the state of maximum entropy - Wikipedia
The influential Creationist site Answers in Genesis (AiG) discusses Thermodynamics in the article The Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Curse. Despite the tradition of Creationist writing using the Second Law of Thermodynamics as “proof” that evolution is impossible, the AiG article gives a fairly even handed summary of the law. It starts with a summary of the kinds of “Systems” involved.
Physicists define three types of thermodynamic systems: isolated, closed, and open. An isolated system exchanges neither matter nor energy with its surroundings. A truly isolated system does not exist as a subset of the universe, but we can approximate an isolated system very closely. A closed system can exchange energy but not matter with its surroundings. An open system may exchange both matter and energy with its surroundings.  - Answers in Genesis
The key argument used by Creationists is that the increase in entropy in an isolated system means that the increase in an organism's complexity necessitated by, for example, evolving a compound eye from eye spots, would be impossible, because everything is supposedly in a constant state of decay. This argument hinges upon the idea that the Earth is an isolated system, receiving no new energy from outside. In order for this fundamental principal of the universe to hold, and for evolution to occur, Earth would need to be receiving a steady stream of energy from an outside source, something massive, something that’s been chugging along producing energy for Earth for as long as life has been developing. What could possibly fit the bill?
Oh, right, the Sun.
why do living things become more orderly and complex over time..?”
The core misunderstanding for Creationists is the fact that the Earth is, by and large, a “closed” system. People who use the Second Law of Thermodynamics to argue that Evolution is impossible are doing so in part because they misunderstand what a “closed” system means. It means the Earth can exchange energy with the universe around it, but not matter, at least not in any meaningful way most of the time. The occasional extinction-level asteroid impact makes us something of an open system, but by and large we get a steady stream of energy from the sun. Life on Earth is able to evolve because of the energy pouring in from the sun. That energy allows for heat disparities which in turn allows for processes to thrive that generate information.
“but everything else in the universe eventually descends into disorder and chaos?”
The universe itself is, so far as we know, is an isolated system. Nothing is reaching in to pump energy or matter into the universe. Everything within it is moving towards energy equilibrium, maximum entropy. 

AiG represents, in many ways, the Creationism mainstream. As a major source of information, other Creationists get their reference points from it. Unfortunately for Kirk, even AiG is moving away from using the Second Law of Thermodynamics as an argument against Evolution. They even list the argument on their Arguments Creationists Should Avoid page. Kirk is out of step with his Creationist betters and peers in relying on the, frankly embarrassing, argument of Thermodynamics.

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Continue to the Third Question for Darwinsists

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Answering Kirk Hastings: Introduction

While I originally intended to publish the following series of short essays as an ebook, I realized the market for apologetic writing pointing out the flaws of Religion 4 Faith's Kirk Hastings is very, very small. No one is going to pay $0.99 for an book addressing the host of a defunct podcast. As a result of this realization I will post the essays to this blog as I finish them. This has the advantage of giving  Kirk's defenders, should he have any, an opportunity to respond.

First Question for Darwinists
Second Question for Darwinists
Third Question for Darwinists
Fourth Question for Darwinists
Fifth Question for Darwinists
Sixth Question for Darwinists
Seventh Question for Darwinists
Eighth Question for Darwinists
Ninth Question for Darwinists
Tenth Question for Darwinists
Now avaialbe as an Ebook on
Kirk Hastings Sorta Responds


I first became aware of Kirk Hastings when he taunted the hosts of the Irreligiosophy podcast with a copy of his self-published Christian apologetic "What Is Truth?: A Handbook for Separating Fact from Fiction in a Propaganda-Filled World" The hosts replied with a multi-episode review of the book, picking apart it’s scientific errors, logical fallacies and overall poor construction.

One of the hosts then posted a review of the book to titled There are intelligent defenses of Christianity. This is not one of them.

Kirk’s response was embarrassing. He ranted and raved about atheist conspiracies and replied to his critics not with a rational debate, but with insults. Eventually he devolved into posting the same reply to multiple reviewers. A few months later, he went back and posted a Biblically themed word soup of divine revenge fantasy to all his critics in the Amazon reviews.

Monday, January 20, 2014

My garden

Gourd or pumpkin seedlings have invaded my coffee trees. Yes, this is my garden. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Answering Kirk Hastings: First Question for Darwinists

I have a handful of writing and editing projects in the works. What is Truth? is a philosophy book I've been editing that is already available in the Kindle store. A major update is coming out on February 7, 2014. The "Unofficial Distorted View Bar Guide" will be published as a Kindle exclusive on February 14. Both books will be getting a handful of updates over the next few months before print editions become available.

One project that does not yet have a scheduled release date is "Answering Kirk Hastings." Kirk is an interesting fellow who may very well be the single worst English speaking Apologetic writer today. He has a series of Facebook pages where he posts assorted rants and then bans anyone who asks him difficult questions. I've decided it would be fun, in an MST3K sort of way, to publish replies to some of his questions. The full book will eventually be published as a Kindle Exclusive, with print and other eBook formats becoming available after I've responded to Kirk's more coherent posts. Below is a selection from the chapter "Top Ten Questions for Darwinists," where I respond to ten questions Kirk seems to think are slam-dunk "You can't answer it!" challenges.