Because of spam, I personally moderate all comments left on my blog. However, because of health issues, I will not be able to do so in the future.

If you have a personal question about LI or any related topic you can send me an email at I will try to respond.

Otherwise, this blog is now a legacy site, meaning that I am not updating it any longer. The basic information about LI is still sound. However, product information and weblinks may be out of date.

In addition, my old website, Planet Lactose, has been taken down because of the age of the information. Unfortunately, that means links to the site on this blog will no longer work.

For quick offline reference, you can purchase Planet Lactose: The Best of the Blog as an ebook on or Almost 100,000 words on LI, allergies, milk products, milk-free products, and the genetics of intolerance, along with large helpings of the weirdness that is the Net.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Creationist's Appalling Anti-Science

Earlier this month I wrote 43 Reasons to Mock Intelligent Design. The 43 reasons are the 43 variations of the mutated gene that allows for lactose tolerance. It would be a very strange intelligent designer, I argued, who would require 43 separate tries to allow one-third of the population the ability to drink milk as adults.

You might wonder what the proponents of ID have to say on the subject of lactose tolerance. Wonder no longer. Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute posted a long, if mostly incoherent, screed on their website. The Discovery Institute is the sinkhole for all religious propagandists who started out preaching creationism as a deliberate device to attack science and promote what they saw as Christian values.

The Wedge document, a widely circulated 1998 internal memo, laid out Discovery's original, ambitious plan to "drive a wedge" into the heart of "scientific materialism," "thereby divorcing science from its purely observational and naturalistic methodology and reversing the deleterious effects of evolution on Western culture." The two governing goals of the Wedge document are:

• To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies

• To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God

When straight-out Creationism became discredited, rejected by too many courts, and repellent to any but the truest of true believers, the Institute started calling it Intelligent Design so that they could insist it be taught in science classes. ID was literally Creationism in disguise. In the court battle over the threatened use of an ID-believing textbook in Dover, PA, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, the court decision showed how the word creationism had been simply replaced by the words Intelligent Design in the purported science textbook, Of Pandas and People.

Having been squashed so thoroughly and magnificently by Judge Jones in that decision, the ID crowd is trying another tact. A documentary starring Ben Stein, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, is being hustled to believing audiences in another disquieting attempt to link evolution with imperialism, the Nazis, and the Holocaust.

Alan Boyle of MSNBC wrote a highly negative review of the film, setting off Luskin's response.

Somewhere along the way Luskin trips over the lactose tolerance mutations issue. He claims Boyle cites it in his article, although I don't find it there. But he tackles the science head-on:
Boyle cites to a study which makes the trivial finding that some humans have slightly different biochemical or genetic mechanisms for digesting milk. Interestingly, the article assumes that "[h]uman adults were not designed to digest milk," and therefore "[i]t took a genetic mutation to enable humans to tolerate lactose." But what if human adults originally were designed to digest milk, and the fact that some humans have different biochemical mechanisms for lactose digestion, and that some have lost that ability, simply reflects variations or degeneration upon the original design? This evidence might show that evolution is only good at degenerating or destroying function rather than creating it.

What if, indeed? There is not now and never has been a particle of evidence that humans were originally designed to drink milk. Nobody on the planet believes this, as far as I can tell. Luskin pulls that notion out of his ass for one reason and one reason alone: a desperate attempt to deflect real science with a pathetic smokescreen of speculation.

His second paragraph shows no better understanding of the science.
Moreover, there are 2 reasons to understand that this study did not really document the evolution of something "new." Note that the article states "human adults" cannot digest milk. This is because most children can digest milk, and lactose intolerance is typically caused by environmental conditions, i.e. the less milk you drink as you age, the more likely you are to become lactose intolerant. In fact, lactose intolerance takes place when your small intestine does not make enough lactase, an enzyme used to break down lactose in milk. So the difference between a lactose intolerant person and a lactose tolerant person is not the presence of a new enzyme, but the production of more of a pre-existing enzyme.

There is no truth to the statements that the less milk you drink the more likely you are to become lactose intolerant or that lactose intolerance is typically caused by environment conditions of any kind. LI is purely genetic. You are programmed from birth to have decreasing lactase production at a certain age and nothing is know to alter that. Of course, anything that is based on genetics is anathema for a charlatan like Luskin.

Luskin's attack is pure anti-science. It is designed to confuse, to obfuscate, and to insult. He knows nothing of what he writes, except to know that real science must be discredited at all costs because it time and again shows up the pettiness, ignorance, and blindness of their narrow beliefs. They fail, constantly, as anyone who takes the time to examine even the most basic aspects of our world can understand. Although they constantly rail at atheists, it is those whose religious beliefs compel them to use the brains they were gifted with who are their natural enemies, who should be most appalled at their hate-filled mis-application of religion.

You cannot take these creatures seriously, yet somehow we must because they are dangerous to the most precious of all human abilities: thought itself. Fight them all.

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