Pharyngula

A two hour presentation was given at a local church last night by creation scientist whom I won’t name. This presentation overall lacked direction and seemed to jump from one topic to another without really stopping to make a point. About a third of the presentation was about dinosaur diversity, talking briefly about neat features that a variety of dinosaurs have. Various weather phenomena that could have caused the flood described in Genesis were vaguely presented without any solid background or logic. Fossils were also discussed, again without really any rhyme or reason.

There were two highlights thorughout the evening. The first was when the presenter enthusiastically exclaimed, “I do believe that there were fire-breathing dragons!” From behind me a women shouted an equally enthusiastic, “Amen!” The second highlight of the presentation was the time allotted for questions at the end when PZ Myers, who had been sitting quietly in the front row throughout the entire hour and a half presentation, raised his hand and fired one off. For some reason, this reminded me of the nationally televised Bush vs. Kerry campaign debates of 2004. Whenever Bush was asked a question, he seemed to stutter ignorantly all over his podium for a few moments and then say some elaborate nonsense that didn’t really provide an answer.

To me, trying to scientifically explain an interpretation of the Bible, an interpretation that may not even be accurate, completely misses the meaning of having faith. Some of my fellow neurobio students agreed with me that science and the Bible should not have to be in opposition. It’s a shame that some creation scientists deliberately ignore valid research in areas such as glacial geology and evolutionary ecology to formulate what they consider to be a scriptural explanation of how the Earth came about. The Bible does not define the chemical and genetic specifics of the origin of this planet and the life existing on it. So is creation science attempting to make the Bible say something it doesn’t? Perhaps people have been set in their interpretations for so long, that it’s too difficult to accept that current research in science (that may not jibe with these long held interpretations) does not have to disagree with the Bible.

Comments

  1. #1 Keith
    October 8, 2007

    The problem is that many creationists want the Bible to be literally true rather than just metaphorically meaningful. They crave the certainty that what they believe is validated by the real world, rather than just a collection of psychologically gratifying stories. So, they shoehorn facts (or “facts” that they have twisted out of context and into an unlikely shape) and try and use these as goalposts, saying that well if this is true (or truthy) than this other stuff we can’t even atempt to prove might be too.

  2. #2 Reginald Selkirk
    October 8, 2007

    Some of my fellow neurobio students agreed with me that science and the Bible should not have to be in opposition.

    Even though the Bible says that bats are a type of bird, that insects have 4 legs, that rabbits chew their cud, and that you can brred animals with stripes by putting sticks in their water trough? The Bible makes a great many scientific claims, and many of them are wrong.

  3. #3 zohn
    October 8, 2007

    creation “scientist”?????? are you out of your mind, lad? there is no “science” nor any “scientists” in creationism! better get your terminology straight…how can you be in pz’s class and not know who a scientist is and what science is?

  4. #4 Jay
    October 8, 2007

    The problem isn’t in the compatibility of science and faith, it’s that people of faith want everyone to believe the exact same thing they do. And if someone posits something that contradicts anything they believe, they then feel the need to prove them wrong to other people.

    Honestly, if everyone just kept their faith to themselves we wouldn’t have a lot of the problems we have today.

  5. #5 Eric
    October 8, 2007

    creation pseudoscientist

    Fixed that for ya, Blue_Expo.

  6. #6 One Eyed Jack
    October 8, 2007

    Wow. This is going to get a flogging.

    OEJ

  7. #7 The Professor
    October 8, 2007

    Honestly, if everyone just kept their faith to themselves we wouldn’t have a lot of the problems we have today.

    We wouldn’t. They would. If every skeptic on the planet were suddenly Raptured away to some scientific paradise, the believers left on earth would still find their beliefs being contradicted, on a daily basis, by reality itself. Then they’d have to start blaming each other.

  8. #8 Blake Stacey
    October 8, 2007

    The Bible says that bats are birds? Total lunacy! Everybody knows that bats are bugs.

    Come on, Calvin and Hobbes fans, I know you’re out there. . . .

  9. #9 raven
    October 8, 2007

    I doubt the people who wrote genesis ever believed or meant it to be taken literally as “science”.

    There are two creation myths within a few pages. They aren’t the same. They have had 4,000 years to edit the chapter for consistency and continuity but never bothered.

    Which makes those bronze age sheepherders look more intellectualy aware than modern 21st century creationists.

  10. #10 Sarcastro
    October 8, 2007

    “I do believe that there were fire-breathing dragons!”

    These morons really think the “Tannim” (lit. “smokers” in Hebrew) of the old testament are the same thing as the “Drakon” (“serpent” in Greek) of the New Testament?

    It’s like nobody has bothered to study Greek or Hebrew since the KJV was (mis-)translated. I mean, even the ancient Hebrews (cf. Josephus) knew that the “tannim” were WHALES for Kibo’s sake.

    These folks are actually DUMBER than the pig-ignorant nomadic yakherders who wrote this garbage down ibn the first place.

  11. #11 James
    October 8, 2007

    Oh, like I’m going to learn about bats and then write a report?! Give me a break!

  12. #12 melior
    October 8, 2007

    Science and The Star-bellied Sneetches should not have to be in opposition. It is quite possible that natural selection could result in Sneetches with zero, one, or even two stars on their bellies.

  13. #13 Sheldon
    October 8, 2007

    “creation “scientist”?????? are you out of your mind, lad? there is no “science” nor any “scientists” in creationism! better get your terminology straight…how can you be in pz’s class and not know who a scientist is and what science is?”

    Give the guy a break Zohn. He was just identifying the presentor as he probably presented himself. From the posting as a whole I think it is evident that Blue Expo knows that the presenter was not a scientist, and what science is.

  14. #14 Ethan Romero
    October 8, 2007

    Fire breathing dragons, Oh my! I wasn’t sure if we were talking about the Christian (I assume the presenters where so) Creation Concept or a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

    I agree with zohn (although it may have been phrased more gently to the same effect) that calling creationists “creation scientists” is misleading and implies that they are, at least, attempting to be objective. The only edge that the creationists have comes from their pseudo-mastery of linguistic manipulations (‘creation scientists’, ‘just a theory’, etc…); not that we scientists aren’t smart enough to make our own sloganeering campaigns, but there’s something about the willful misrepresentation of the truth that doesn’t jive with the scientific mind.

    You say: “Some of my fellow neurobio students agreed with me that science and the Bible should not have to be in opposition.” (Which is the indented quote tag, btw?). But they are, as Reginald Selkirk points out. Aseop’s fables are also in conflict with science (no English speaking wolves), but they are still lovely stories with valuable moral lessons (at least from what I remember). I think that people believe in the ‘truth’ of the bible precisely because it’s stories are so fantastical (and grotesque, macabre, vindictive); they are so hard to take on faith alone, that people demand that those stories are real, historical events. But this is getting off topic, I suppose.

    I think that one minor tragedy of this whole creationism argle-bargle is that some of those ‘creation scientists’ would have made perfectly fine reality scientists had they over indulged in religious sweets.

  15. #15 Benjamin
    October 8, 2007

    Most christians do not seem to think about this, but creationist christians who think about their own theology have a serious theological problem with evolution because it undercuts their belief in the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. I say this as a former creationist. Briefly, I left the faith of my youth as a result of my comparative studies of the Gospels, as well as insights I learned about evolution by studying embryology. However, before then, I used to study Baptist, Puritan, and Calvinist theologies, I used to study authors like Josh McDowell & C.S. Lewis, and at one period in my life, I had memorized the Sermon on the Mount and several chapters interspersed throughout the New Testament. Anyhow, the book of Romans gives the core elements of Christian theology for forgiveness of sins. To be brief, it states that sin came into the world through Adam, and that forgiveness came through Jesus. Adam is believed to be a literal human being who committed his sins just a few thousand years ago. A consequence of the theory of evolution, however, is that there could have been no real Adam.

  16. #16 Inky
    October 8, 2007

    I say that the Bible is an invalid and often erroneous source for either history or science, and yes, science is incompatible with the Bible. The basic premise of miracles as supernatural exceptions to universal laws of nature flies against the repeatability and predictability of what we observe in science.

    However, that being said, as scientific methods can never prove or disprove a deity where the rules of how God exists is not only dictated by religion, but differs between individuals afflicted/affiliated with the same religion, you can certainly choose to believe whatever you want to believe.

    Just don’t kid yourself that your beliefs are necessarily validated by science. There are many people who try to do this, digging for ways that Joshua may have made the sun stand still, or how everything on the planet was created in the chronological equivalent of a cosmic sneeze (please, everything poof into existence in 6 days??). It’s painful to watch.

    I used to say that the Bible has valuable lessons to learn about morality and such, but then I realized that really, I was just cherry-picking like everyone on the other side of the fence. The only difference between me and the fundies was that I picked the more benign passages, going by what Jesus was quoted as saying, not the Old Testament passages of throwing rocks at people committing some bizarre crimes (http://dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.com/2006/09/death-by-stoning-bible-vs-quran.html).
    I said that Jesus was really a granola-crunching hippie, preaching about peace and loving your enemies and all that.

    In the end, I’d say that the Bible is just used to validate whoever you already are, or what you want to become. People can be loving or hating creatures without any divine intervention.

  17. #17 Warren
    October 8, 2007

    All together now…

    I do believe in dragons! I do! I do!

    Wait. Wait. That was a fantasy movie from a few years ago, wasn’t it?

    How odd that I mix up the notion of a child that refuses to mature into adulthood with the statements of hard-right fundamentalists.

  18. #18 Joe mc Faul
    October 8, 2007

    “…PZ Myers, who had been sitting quietly in the front row throughout the entire hour and a half presentation, raised his hand and fired one off.”

    What was his question? How was it answered?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  19. #19 Joe mc Faul
    October 8, 2007

    “…PZ Myers, who had been sitting quietly in the front row throughout the entire hour and a half presentation, raised his hand and fired one off.”

    What was his question? How was it answered?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  20. #20 June
    October 8, 2007

    The Wizard of Oz is such a wonderfully atheistic children story. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” says the man behind the curtain. Priceless!

  21. #21 Mike from Ottawa
    October 8, 2007

    “These folks are actually DUMBER than the pig-ignorant nomadic yakherders who wrote this garbage down ibn the first place.”

    Holy galloping presentism, Batman!

    It’s too bad Sarcastro wasn’t born 3,000 years ago into a tribe of ‘yakherders’. He’d have told everyone about evolution by natural selection, DNA, the heliocentric model of the solar system and of the wave-particle duality of the electron and we wouldn’t have all this kafuffle today.

  22. #22 dcwp
    October 8, 2007

    “The Bible does not define the chemical and genetic specifics of the origin of this planet and the life existing on it.”

    But it does, and it does so accurately. Genesis clearly states that god formed people from clay and then breathed life into them. This is why we still breath today and if you cut a human, clay oozes out. Why else would Emergency Rooms be stocked full of Bondo?

  23. #23 Owlmirrror
    October 8, 2007

    But it does, and it does so accurately. Genesis clearly states that god formed people from clay and then breathed life into them. This is why we still breath today and if you cut a human, clay oozes out. Why else would Emergency Rooms be stocked full of Bondo?

    And if you dig down anywhere, you will find the 4000-year-old sediments of the global flood.

    And hasn’t it been chemically proven and mathematically calculated that sun is made of glowing coal that is a little younger than the earth? And that the stars are all similar glowing coals 6000 lightyears away? And that the Big Bang was centered directly on the Earth?

    What else is science for, if not to prove the glory of the Almighty Yahweh?

  24. #24 Reginald Selkirk
    October 8, 2007

    What else is science for, if not to prove the glory of the Almighty Yahweh?

    I thought it was for impressing the babes.

  25. #25 Reginald Selkirk
    October 8, 2007

    To me, trying to scientifically explain an interpretation of the Bible, an interpretation that may not even be accurate, completely misses the meaning of having faith.

    Hopefully the vast horde of godless Phaynguloids has by now made the point that it is not merely interpretations of the Bible that conflict with science, but the actual content as well. So let’s move on to something else. What exactly is the meaning of having faith? Inquiring minds and whatnot.

  26. #26 Christian Burnham
    October 8, 2007

    Science and religion are not in opposition at all as long as you believe that at least one of them is a made up fairy tale not meant to be taken seriously.

    Of course- you’ve got a bit of a problem if you believe both of them are true.

  27. #27 IanR
    October 8, 2007

    I agree that there’s no reason for the bible and science to be in opposition, even for religious people. Neither the authors of the Genesis stories, nor the redactors who combined the different versions, ever thought that they were working with literal truths. If they truly thought they were editing divine revelation, they would not have combined the stories. If they thought they were working with literal truth, they would not have edited and added to the stories. They knew they were working with myths of the origins of their people.

    If someone declared the Lord of the Rings to be literally true (and cited the discovery of Homo floresiensis as evidence) most people would laugh at them. But if someone said that because there’s tobacco and potatoes in an early medieval Eurasian setting (or that because it conflicts with recorded history, geography and archaeology) it’s a worthless piece of crap, most people would probably say “but you’re missing the point”.

  28. #28 Valinore
    October 8, 2007

    “If someone declared the Lord of the Rings to be literally true (and cited the discovery of Homo floresiensis as evidence) most people would laugh at them. ” Ironic that because of the floresiensis discovery there actually is more evidence out there for the Lord of the Rings to be literally ture than the bible.

    Plus how can you say that genesis was intended as a mythical story of mans creation as understood by the shepards and then go on to hold truthfull any other part of the bible. What is your basis of truth and fiction in any of it.

  29. #29 Owlmirror
    October 8, 2007

    Neither the authors of the Genesis stories, nor the redactors who combined the different versions, ever thought that they were working with literal truths.

    I should not try and make claims about the exact mindset of people who lived several millenia ago (although, really, people argue about the mindsets of people who died in historical times, or are still alive, or sometimes, their own mindsets), but I think the above assertion is wrong.

    The myths of the bible were (and are) held to be sacred. We can argue about what “sacred” means, but I think one useful definition when referring to a sacred text is “important”, “unchangeable”, and “undeniable” — they might not know what the text means, but believers can’t modify it even if it turns out to be demonstrably wrong, and they can’t call it wrong even if it is evidently wrong. The metanarrative of the bible has changed in more than a few respects since then among the various branches of the religions that hold it to be sacred, but that part of it has remained fairly stable.

    And that’s why there can be two creation narratives, and the various parts that contradict reality, and/or themselves. They’re all sacred, so they’re all not wrong, and they can’t be changed.

    There was a time when I felt that way myself, when I was much younger. I now look back on that mindset, and see it as indoctrinated delusion; a way of thinking about certain things that I grew out of.

    I may need to think about this some more. There are probably terms in cognitive psychology that I should know.

  30. #30 raven
    October 8, 2007

    I think one useful definition when referring to a sacred text is “important”, “unchangeable”, and “undeniable”

    I sort of see what you mean, but I don’t. The bible contradicts itself in hundreds of places. Two creation myths, two stories of the Big Boat.

    The 4 gospels differ a lot too even though they are about the same person. In one gospel, faith alone is enough for salvation. In another faith and good works are required for salvation. These two slightly differing ideas were partly responsible for the deaths of tens of million of Xians who killed each other during the reformation and for 400 years thereafter.

    As many theologians have noted, whoever says the bible has to be literally true, sure as hell hasn’t read it.

    Probably a good thing. It is not unusual for theologians to carefully read the book and end up atheists.

  31. #31 Felicia Gilljam
    October 8, 2007

    #9:

    I doubt the people who wrote genesis ever believed or meant it to be taken literally as “science”.

    Science as we know it didn’t really exist when the bible was written, did it?

    There are two creation myths within a few pages. They aren’t the same. They have had 4,000 years to edit the chapter for consistency and continuity but never bothered.

    Err… Genesis wasn’t written more than a few centuries BC. Certainly not 2,000 years…

  32. #32 raven
    October 8, 2007

    Science as we know it didn’t really exist when the bible was written, did it?

    Probably not. OTOH, humans have been sytematically observing and changing the world as long as we know. It is a matter of survival. So you have inventions like metallurgy, domestication of crops and animals, and so on. I’m sure that they had a good knowledge of what they considered the salient points of their environs.

    Err… Genesis wasn’t written more than a few centuries BC. Certainly not 2,000 years…

    This is what the creos say, 6k earth, 4K Big Boat, Genesis was written somewhere in this time. IIRC, many creos claim Moses wrote 5 of the bible books. Don’t recall whether Genesis was one of them.

    Most modern scholars believe the Old Testament was written or colllected somewhere in the 600-800 BC range.

    All I know, not much. For the sake of the point, whether Genesis was written 4,000 years ago by Moses or collated by same nameless Talmudic scholar in 800 BC doesn’t matter. It wasn’t meant to be a comprehensive science textbook.

  33. #33 Pablo
    October 8, 2007

    Ah, the dragons. You gotta hand it to these folks. They fall for anything.

    This is something I have noticed, and I don’t think it gets enough attention. There are religious people who believe these things, like fire-breathing dragons and all sorts of magic.

    I saw an objection to Harry Potter, once, where the person complained that Rowling had included “real Wiccan spells.” REAL Wiccan spells? That’s the problem when you abandon the ability to think, that it permeates other areas as well. Apparently, there are people who honestly believe that stuff is real, and Wiccans are running around doing hocus-pocus spells. Shoot, I don’t think Wiccans even believe that crap. But leave it up to the Fundies…

  34. #34 Steve_C
    October 8, 2007

    MIke they were IGNORANT AND MAKING SHIT UP. Period. Who cares if most of modern science wasn’t around. To point to the bible and say there’s sound science in it is just stupid.

  35. #35 Kristine
    October 8, 2007

    So where are all those reasonable religious believers that Dawkins was supposed to take on in The God Delusion instead of these figments of his “radical atheist” imagination? Because he cherry-picked his examples, right? These morons who believe in fire-breathing dragons – they’re a product of Dawkins’ own delusion, right? They don’t really exist, do they?
    /irony off

  36. #36 raven
    October 8, 2007

    Ah, the dragons. You gotta hand it to these folks. They fall for anything.

    Yep, and not just superstitious nonsense. There is a whole group of financial criminals who prey on these people. It is called an affinity group scam. There was one preacher in Tennessee who conned a bunch of them out of money for a car that ran on water.

    Plus the televangelists and faith healers. Plus the politicians like Robertson, Bush, and Dobson.

    There is nothing too stupid for them to “believe” in.

  37. #37 Michael
    October 8, 2007

    Raven, I get where you’re coming from, but I think you may be giving our iron age friends too much credit. The very probable fact that people could believe in the literal truth of the bible in a world that existed before modern science is evidenced by people who claim such a thing today, despite living in our modern scientific world.

    The human ablility to rationalze apparent contradiction is staggering. As I’ve heard it said countless times, the contradictions in the bible are not actually contradictions. The gospels are complementary. Then all conradiction can be waved away in a maze of biblical interpretation. Also remember that in those times literacy was low, the power was in the priestly class, and you believed what you were told. After that had gone on for centuries anyone who doubted would get ripped to shreds (often literally) by their peers: “Millions of people over centuries can’t be wrong!” And so here we are today.

    As for the writers themselves, everything written stands in perfect accordance with the scientific understanding of the time. So yes, it’s perfectly possible that they meant it as a literal description of how things came to be and how things are.

    As for not changing it, once the chosen books were, well, chosen, who’s going to attempt to change them? In those days, you couldn’t just up and change the perfect word of god. That would take a major priestly/social upheaval.

    In the end, a metaphorical view of the bible is a very recent thing, and we have no reason not to expect that it was origonally intended to be exactly what it claimed to be: The perfect word of god.

  38. #38 salient
    October 8, 2007

    “Some of my fellow neurobio students agreed with me that science and the Bible should not have to be in opposition.”

    To which parts of the Bible are you referring? It seems to me that wherever the Bible makes claims about physical phenomena, then the Bible is (erroneously) making scientific claims.

    If the religious dismiss these phenomenal explanations as being allegorical, then there is no more problem than with any other work of fantasy or science fiction. Anti-science polemics arise, though, when Biblical literalists insist on taking phenomenal fantasies as comprising scientific explication.

  39. #39 salient
    October 8, 2007

    Ethan Romero in #14 said: “I think that one minor tragedy of this whole creationism argle-bargle is that some of those ‘creation scientists’ would have made perfectly fine reality scientists had they [] over indulged in religious sweets.”

    I think that you [ommitted] a ‘not’.

    I find it hard to believe that creation pseudoscientists who so patently care nothing for facts, logic, or truth-seeking, could ever, by dint of these cognitive defects, have made fine reality scientists. I’m saying that I don’t think that their problem is merely that they have been taught lies since childhood, it is also that they have not the instinct for logic that enables some to escape religious indoctrination. Many of my friends describe having thought, “what a crock” as early as childhood. I don’t think that it is an accident of indoctrination that most devout creationists are also political conservatives who ignore facts so as to support their bigotted notions.

  40. #40 Michael
    October 8, 2007

    And now for the bible itself. if you ignore every scientific claim the bible makes, then sure, we can say there is no conflict there. Otherwise we’re dealing with a “firmament” (a big ice, or water, or crystal dome) that doesn’t exist and offers no evidence that it ever did. The earth is firm and immovable, which it isn’t. The earth is flat, allowing the devil to show Jesus all the kingdoms of the world from a high mountain, which it isn’t. Joshua made the sun stand still, which he couldn’t. Need I mention geocentrism?

    As it is all too obvious that this was a book written by iron age men, with iron age understandings of the universe that contradict known scientific fact, how can we say that they’re claims are not in disagreement? And more to the point, how can we say that it is a book sent down to us from the omnipotent, all-good, creator of the universe?

  41. #41 Michael
    October 8, 2007

    Ah man, my old english teacher would kill me for putting “they’re” where there should be a “their”. I’m so thankful life isn’t formally graded…

  42. #42 salient
    October 8, 2007

    “Science as we know it didn’t really exist when the bible was written, did it?”

    Which, of course, is why the Bible fails miserably as a “science text”. The humans who invented it knew no science.

    However, those who claim that the Bible is the Word of God must deliberately ignore the black and white evidence that the Omniscient Creator provided a flaw-ridden account of His own Act of Creation. Perhaps He invented LSD first.

  43. #43 salient
    October 8, 2007

    “And if you dig down anywhere, you will find the 4000-year-old sediments of the global flood.”

    Whatever we may believe about “Atlantis”, there remains ample evidence of a catastrophic volcanic eruption that almost destroyed what is now the island of Santorini around 1,650 B.C.E. The eruption has been described as exceeding that of Krakatau. I suspect that the resultant tsunami found its way into “flood” mythology. The Middle East was not far away as the tsunami flies. Tsunamis tend to knock things over and scour sediments, but would not necessarily leave the deposits expected of a static flood. Not a global flood, though it could have seemed so on the ground, but definitely a candidate for mythology inspiration.

  44. #44 SEF
    October 8, 2007

    a metaphorical view of the bible is a very recent thing

    Rubbish!

    The people closer to the actual culture (eg properly educated Jews and even some of the NT writers) knew that the stories were just stories. In a pre-literate culture (ie before the Jews wrote down the already divergent versions of their ancestral cultural myths) the only way to pass on information was orally. And the only way to do that with some reliability (among small numbers of mostly averagely thick people in order to reach the next smart one to come along some generation hence) was via stories.

    Stories could be made memorable even if their more subtle meanings were hard to grasp. Hence the later Jews having a whole traditional system of study devoted to what the correct hidden meanings were supposed to be. They’d hardly do that if they didn’t think they were metaphorical. Although some aspects of the stories were pretty simple and the same as European fairy-tales of the “the moral of this story is …” kind. There was no point in stating anything complex outright in an oral story because you could guarantee it would get mangled by the next thicko to pass it along.

    The fact that people once knew the stories to be stories is reflected in the NT, where the Jesus character always resorts to telling a story rather than giving a direct answer to a direct question. Amazingly, Christian fundies tend to miss this rather blatant built-in clue, even if they claim to know the bible and can quote much of it. So they are clearly not processing the contents at any sort of higher level than merely parroting it (as per a typical ancient tribesman).

    Meanwhile, that sort of cryptic answer by a would-be guru or prophet type can also serve another purpose – that of pretending to be smarter than you are, exactly as practised by many philosophers and quacks today. If challenged by reality, they can always pretend they meant something else by it. Similarly, a bible quoter can make the bible and even an individual story say anything they’ve decided they want it to say.

  45. #45 PoxyHowzes
    October 8, 2007

    In #42: “…even if they know the bible and can quote much of it…”

    I’d be very much surprised to find a fundie who could write out from memory, verbatim, even one whole chapter of any book of the bible. Fundies quote-mine the bible. They learn to do it at their mother’s knee.

  46. #46 SEF
    October 9, 2007

    There are still a select few who memorise (all/much of) it and quote verses, eg Fred Phelps. Perhaps there were more preachers like that in the past than there are now though. Laziness wins out.

  47. #47 Robert Melville
    October 9, 2007

    Having studied the problem of origins for the last 32 years, I have asked Richard Dawkins and the Evolution Special Interest Grpoup of Mensa for one scientifically credible shred of evidence that points towards evolution and have not been given even one!
    I can produce a HUGE number of provable, scientifically credible pieces of evidence that point away from evolutionary processes and towards a recent creation by a creator with an eternal agenda.
    Below is a very small selection of questions for those that believe the evolutionary hypothesis.

    How come all living organisms have only left-handed amino acids and man can’t make them?

    How come cultures all round the world have 7 day weeks?

    How come the Matterhorn is upside down?

    How come cultures all round the world have mythology that tells of their ancestor bringing them to safety in a boat with all the animals?

    How could whales evolve the process of suckling their young underwater?

    How could a Bombardier Beetle evolve?

    How come there is no evidence any-where of an increase in DNA information in any example of speciation?

    How did the ancient Welsh people get the drawings of dragons from China, and why did China choose the dragon to represent a year, when all the rest of the creatures chosen can be found wandering around today?

    How come I can never run out of questions that are difficult for Evolutionists to answer?

  48. #48 Dustin
    October 9, 2007

    A two hour presentation was given at a local church last night by creation scientist whom I won’t name.

    Buzzkill.

  49. #49 David Marjanovi?
    October 9, 2007

    Adam is believed to be a literal human being who committed his sins just a few thousand years ago. A consequence of the theory of evolution, however, is that there could have been no real Adam.

    Why is that a problem for a believer, as long as there could have been a real Jesus?

    I thought it was for impressing the babes.

    Some of them anyway.

    Whatever we may believe about “Atlantis”, there remains ample evidence of a catastrophic volcanic eruption that almost destroyed what is now the island of Santorini around 1,650 B.C.E. The eruption has been described as exceeding that of Krakatau. I suspect that the resultant tsunami found its way into “flood” mythology. The Middle East was not far away as the tsunami flies. Tsunamis tend to knock things over and scour sediments, but would not necessarily leave the deposits expected of a static flood. Not a global flood, though it could have seemed so on the ground, but definitely a candidate for mythology inspiration.

    Naaah. There’s no way any such flood could have gone beyond the very coast of the Mediterranean. Besides, the eruption was smaller than was long thought — Santorini already was a ring before that eruption.

    (Atlantis is most likely an account of Troy that got distorted from being translated into Egyptian and then back to Greek, but I digress.)

    How come all living organisms have only left-handed amino acids

    That’s a very good question. The only hypothesis I’ve seen is that UV light from stars is, because of its polarization, is more likely to make left- than right-handed amino acids in interstellar dust.

    and man can’t make them?

    We can make most of them, and we can’t make a single right-handed one AFAIK. Bacteria can make certain right-handed ones because they occur in their cell walls.

    How come cultures all round the world have 7 day weeks?

    That’s simply not true. Into the 20th century, AFAIK, China had ten-day weeks, as did ancient Egypt.

    How come the Matterhorn is upside down?

    What do you mean by “upside-down”?

    How come cultures all round the world have mythology that tells of their ancestor bringing them to safety in a boat with all the animals?

    Why are there AFAIK no such cultures in Africa?

    Floods happen, events get inflated in stories over time, and myths can spread. All that is well-investigated. For example, there’s a whole complex of legends shared throughout the Caucasus by speakers of very different language families.

    How could whales evolve the process of suckling their young underwater?

    I can’t see where the problem is supposed to be, as long as the baby can hold its breath (hint: the closest living relatives of the whales are the hippos, and they, too, are born underwater).

    How could a Bombardier Beetle evolve?

    The chemicals involved are outright banal. One is a quinone — we make quinones all day long in our inner mitochondrial membranes. I forgot what the other one is, and I’m too lazy to look it up.

    How come there is no evidence any-where of an increase in DNA information in any example of speciation?

    As soon as you make the mistake of defining what, if anything, you mean by “information”, I will prove you wrong, unless someone else does it first.

    How did the ancient Welsh people get the drawings of dragons from China,

    Huh?

    and why did China choose the dragon to represent a year, when all the rest of the creatures chosen can be found wandering around today?

    They did stuff like that all the time, because each animal, whether real or mythical, symbolizes something. I’ve been to the Ming tombs near Beijing. There’s a long alley flanked by statues of real and mythical animals, the mythical ones being obvious composites of parts of several real ones; each symbolizes something, and so does the precise order in which they are arranged.

    How come I can never run out of questions that are difficult for Evolutionists to answer?

    Just because you haven’t seen the research doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    (It’s also cute how you write “Evolutionists” as if the theory of evolution were an ideology.)

  50. #50 David Marjanovi?
    October 9, 2007

    Adam is believed to be a literal human being who committed his sins just a few thousand years ago. A consequence of the theory of evolution, however, is that there could have been no real Adam.

    Why is that a problem for a believer, as long as there could have been a real Jesus?

    I thought it was for impressing the babes.

    Some of them anyway.

    Whatever we may believe about “Atlantis”, there remains ample evidence of a catastrophic volcanic eruption that almost destroyed what is now the island of Santorini around 1,650 B.C.E. The eruption has been described as exceeding that of Krakatau. I suspect that the resultant tsunami found its way into “flood” mythology. The Middle East was not far away as the tsunami flies. Tsunamis tend to knock things over and scour sediments, but would not necessarily leave the deposits expected of a static flood. Not a global flood, though it could have seemed so on the ground, but definitely a candidate for mythology inspiration.

    Naaah. There’s no way any such flood could have gone beyond the very coast of the Mediterranean. Besides, the eruption was smaller than was long thought — Santorini already was a ring before that eruption.

    (Atlantis is most likely an account of Troy that got distorted from being translated into Egyptian and then back to Greek, but I digress.)

    How come all living organisms have only left-handed amino acids

    That’s a very good question. The only hypothesis I’ve seen is that UV light from stars is, because of its polarization, is more likely to make left- than right-handed amino acids in interstellar dust.

    and man can’t make them?

    We can make most of them, and we can’t make a single right-handed one AFAIK. Bacteria can make certain right-handed ones because they occur in their cell walls.

    How come cultures all round the world have 7 day weeks?

    That’s simply not true. Into the 20th century, AFAIK, China had ten-day weeks, as did ancient Egypt.

    How come the Matterhorn is upside down?

    What do you mean by “upside-down”?

    How come cultures all round the world have mythology that tells of their ancestor bringing them to safety in a boat with all the animals?

    Why are there AFAIK no such cultures in Africa?

    Floods happen, events get inflated in stories over time, and myths can spread. All that is well-investigated. For example, there’s a whole complex of legends shared throughout the Caucasus by speakers of very different language families.

    How could whales evolve the process of suckling their young underwater?

    I can’t see where the problem is supposed to be, as long as the baby can hold its breath (hint: the closest living relatives of the whales are the hippos, and they, too, are born underwater).

    How could a Bombardier Beetle evolve?

    The chemicals involved are outright banal. One is a quinone — we make quinones all day long in our inner mitochondrial membranes. I forgot what the other one is, and I’m too lazy to look it up.

    How come there is no evidence any-where of an increase in DNA information in any example of speciation?

    As soon as you make the mistake of defining what, if anything, you mean by “information”, I will prove you wrong, unless someone else does it first.

    How did the ancient Welsh people get the drawings of dragons from China,

    Huh?

    and why did China choose the dragon to represent a year, when all the rest of the creatures chosen can be found wandering around today?

    They did stuff like that all the time, because each animal, whether real or mythical, symbolizes something. I’ve been to the Ming tombs near Beijing. There’s a long alley flanked by statues of real and mythical animals, the mythical ones being obvious composites of parts of several real ones; each symbolizes something, and so does the precise order in which they are arranged.

    How come I can never run out of questions that are difficult for Evolutionists to answer?

    Just because you haven’t seen the research doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    (It’s also cute how you write “Evolutionists” as if the theory of evolution were an ideology.)

  51. #51 Luna_the_cat
    October 9, 2007

    Robert Melville — are you extracting the urine, here?

    You ARE aware that many of your questions are wrong in their fundamental “facts”, right? Right?

    People can’t answer questions that mean nothing to begin with…it’s like demanding to know why the fatness of the pig is less purple than the designated hitter rule.

  52. #52 Josh
    October 9, 2007

    How come the Matterhorn is upside down?

    Okay…I know I shouldn’t take the bait here, but I’ve got to know…what the hell are you talking about?

    You’re not really trying to intimate that because the Matterhorn consists of older rocks thrust upon younger sediments, it means that the mountain is upside down? Or, and this is even more foolish, that even if it were somehow possible for a mountain to be ‘upside down’ (I’m pretty sure it’s not), that it would have anything to do with evolution?

  53. #53 Josh
    October 9, 2007

    …it’s like demanding to know why the fatness of the pig is less purple than the designated hitter rule.

    Brilliant. *applause ringing loudly through the room*

  54. #54 Dustin
    October 9, 2007

    How come cultures all round the world have 7 day weeks?

    Round the world these days they have 7 day weeks as a matter of convention. They didn’t always have 7 day weeks, and the ones that did have 7 day weeks adopted 7 day weeks because of the number of < a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Weekday_heptagram.ant.png">visible astronomical bodies at the time.

    How come the Matterhorn is upside down?

    Are we talking about the mountain here? Are you sure you aren’t standing on your head? Because it looks like a mountain to me.

    How come cultures all round the world have mythology that tells of their ancestor bringing them to safety in a boat with all the animals?

    It’s even more telling that cultures the world round know the story of how Luke Skywalker defeated the evil Darth Vader. People tell stories, shithead, and the good ones get passed around. Other stories (and I’m about to insult your belief that all of the world’s animal life was crammed on to something smaller than an aircraft carrier and carted around during a big flood), are pretty easy to co-invent.

    How could whales evolve the process of suckling their young underwater?

    It didn’t.

    How could a Bombardier Beetle evolve?

    I’m not going to bother. If I tell you how it *could* have evolved, you’ll move the goalpost by saying I didn’t tell you how it *did* evolve.

    How come there is no evidence any-where of an increase in DNA information in any example of speciation?

    So, you admit that speciation occurs but, because it doesn’t conform to some arbitrary requirement, you think that’s a problem? I’m curious, do you know what information is? (Actually, I’m not curious, I’m lying. You’re a creationist, you don’t know what information is.)

    How did the ancient Welsh people get the drawings of dragons from China, and why did China choose the dragon to represent a year, when all the rest of the creatures chosen can be found wandering around today?

    Yeah, there sure aren’t dinosaur bones in China to inspire those kinds of legends. IT SURE IS HARD TO IMAGINE A GIANT REPTILIAN CREATURE!!!! OMG TEHERE R SO DRAGONS!!!
    I think the more important question is, since most cultures have legends about titans, where are the titans? Or sea serpents? Or griffons? Or cyclopses? Or elves? Or fairies? Or nymphs? Or witches? Evolution is doomed because it cannot account for the elves!

  55. #55 Dustin
    October 9, 2007

    Gahh, where’s my brain! Titans are so evidence of Biblical creation! After all, Noah was like 10 feet tall and, if you doubt this is possible…

    …then how is it that there are PYGMIES + DWARFS!!.

  56. #56 Luna_the_cat
    October 9, 2007

    Actually, there is a good argument that some cultures adopted a 7-day week because that is how long it takes for a human louse egg to hatch. If you comb for nits every 7 days, you keep the parasite population to a minimum. However, as has been pointed out, not all human cultures had — or even have — a seven day week. This is just the standard convention enforced by a common global trade and communication network, now.

    And not all cultures have any myth regarding a boat, either. A number of the prairie tribes, for instance, have myths regarding crawling up through holes in the ground, or down through holes in the sky. Flood myths are common to cultures on big rivers or glacial lakes, though, oddly enough….

    And we can certainly manufacture both right-handed and left-handed amino acids (sorry, David Marjanovi?) — most lab mixtures are racemic. But life only tends to use left-handed ones now because they fit together like zipper teeth when a polypeptide is being constructed — one in the wrong orientation throws the whole thing off and stops the chain being extended. How life settled on using left-handed rather than right-handed amino acids in the first place is an interesting question, and probably does have to do with marginally better stability in the left-handed ones.

    And speciation has CERTAINLY involved drastic increases in the amount of information in DNA…unless, for some unexplained and unjustifiable reason, you choose to exclude plants or rats from your definition of what can speciate, and choose to declare that the wholesale doubling of a genome doesn’t count as an increase in information.

    And so on, and so forth……

  57. #57 Rey Fox
    October 9, 2007

    I think Josh has the best idea about what Robert meant by the Matterhorn being upside-down, but I went ahead and googled “matterhorn upside-down” to see if this was some weird creationist lingo that I, as a part of the reality-based community, don’t understand. The only even close-to-relevant hit I got was one about a special Swiss stamp that doesn’t exactly bolster his Young Earth position.

    http://www.swisspost.ch/en/index/uk_mm05_marke_eicher.htm?viewId=22980
    “Stephan Eicher had plenty of ideas that resulted in the special “Thank you” stamp. It shows the Matterhorn which, upside-down, resembles the contours of the African continent. The “Thank you” is his symbolic vote of thanks to the Dark Continent. Parts of the African continental plate shifted northward millions of years ago, and their modest remains are now the uniquely shaped Matterhorn. By designing this special stamp, Stephan Eicher was able to make a boyhood dream come true.”

  58. #58 David Marjanovi?
    October 9, 2007

    And we can certainly manufacture both right-handed and left-handed amino acids (sorry, David Marjanovi?) — most lab mixtures are racemic.

    The original says “Man can’t make them” — sure we can do it in the lab, but not in our own metabolism.

  59. #59 David Marjanovi?
    October 9, 2007

    And we can certainly manufacture both right-handed and left-handed amino acids (sorry, David Marjanovi?) — most lab mixtures are racemic.

    The original says “Man can’t make them” — sure we can do it in the lab, but not in our own metabolism.

  60. #60 Luna_the_cat
    October 9, 2007

    Ah, I see. Difference in how we interpreted the statement.

    Oh, and Josh…thankyew, thankyew, don’t applaud, just throw money.

  61. #61 Owlmirror
    October 9, 2007

    When the amino acid question was thrown at me a while back, I pointed out that all life having amino acids of one particular orientation was perfectly in accord with common descent. I am not sure why creationists would think otherwise.

  62. #62 Josh
    October 9, 2007

    Luna,
    I directional info on where to throw it.

    Rey,
    Yeah, I googled a bit and came across that stamp. I still have to hope he was just kidding…

  63. #63 Arnosium Upinarum
    October 9, 2007

    That gag with the pronouncement of belief in fire-breathing dragons followed by the “amen!” refrain has much to do with a chip on the collective shoulder that proclaims, “I have the right to believe in any nonsense and sound as stupid as I like…so there!”

    That’s showing them, brothers and sisters! Show them how stubbornly infantile you can all be in your solidarity. None of you need ever again to think independently, especially since each of you are insulated by so much cozy flesh surrounding you, and you needn’t ever entertain the horrific possibility of modifying your minds to coincide with that endless avalanche of inconveniencies called “new information”.

    Oh, but one can understand the motivation, sure. That kind of peer pressure is exactly how Nazi Germany rounded up THEIR particular herd. That population struggled with a coward-vs-courage element as well.

    As the learned Eyegore(sp?), played by Marty Feldman, once cautioned, “Wait, Master! It might be dangerous!…you go first.” [Young Frankenstein]

    Quite an impressive display whenever and however it rises to the surface, each episode in its own grotesquely obscene way.

    Speaking of stupidity, how come ([sputtter..**cough**] ahem, pardon) HOW COME I observed any light whatsoever from the Andromeda galaxy last night? (I was watching for an inconspicuous meteor shower). Now, how the heck did that get there?? TWO MILLION light-years BEYOND the 6000 light-year limit imposed by YEC’s???

    I have a quantitative suggestion. I propose that the extent of a YEC’s imagination compared to that of a scientist who actually tests her conclusions against observations of the real thing is roughly proportional to the common YEC “universe” delimited by the 6000 light-year radius limit, compared to that of the real thing (13.7 billion light-year radius for the observable universe).

    To put a nice number to it, that means that the YEC imagination would be a factor of roughly 10^19 less capacious, volume-wise, than that of any good astronomer.

    Very VERY puny. They must feel secure in such a tiny space. Personally, I would find it claustrophobic in the extreme.

    Many of us happen to reject that kind of utterly unfounded restriction and are enthralled and inspired by the depth of actuality, which no religion in the (exceedingly SHORT) history of the human world has come anywhere near revealing. Being human, we scientists like to go ever deeper wherever we can. We actually LIKE to find out about fantastic NEW THINGS. Those things are discoverable in the deeps.

    The others are so shaken by terror in the face of immensity that they float like a scum on the surface, endlessly whining about their personal peril and consulting their salvation book for ways to avoid the inevitable sinking. But the salvation they seek lies in the depths, an immensity of insight into the workings of nature which religious dogma (courtesy “authority”) ably keeps from them with all manner of superstitious “just-so” tales of wonderment.

    That’s the essential difference between the two: those who are liberated by the immensity of natural reality vs those who are insecure and terrified of the wilderness – EVEN IF ITS ONLY 6000 light-years in radius! The latter need some big daddy to comfort them in their PERSONAL loneliness. In their PERSONAL mortality. In short? They’re obsessed with THEMSELVES, and nothing more, INCLUDING the “god” they constantly implore with their prayers to intervene on their PERSONAL behalf.

    To put my little suggestion in easier-to-digest perspective, 1/10^19 – one part in ten-billion-billion – is like saying we are focusing on just one miserable little star out of a throng within 50 MILLION GALAXIES like our Milky Way, each containing around 200 billion stars.

    What (stupendously) little there is of a YEC imagination must obviously be almost entirely taken up by a dominating personal estimation of self-importance, or we would not find them anywhere near so obtrusive. Or numerous. They couldn’t possibly spare any of what little they’ve got on anything else like, say, reason, logic, rational discourse, or even ethical and moral standards.

    What was that cute little 3-letter word Freud coined for that aspect of the self again?

  64. #64 AntonGarou
    October 9, 2007

    “Tannim” (lit. “smokers” in Hebrew) of the old testament are the same thing as the “Drakon” (“serpent” in Greek) of the New Testament?

    Just a little nitpick- Tannim doesn’t mean “smokers”- the word for smoke in Hebrew is “Ashan” and every word relating will have ASHN embedded in it (“Smokers” is “Me’ashnim”) .”Tannim” is “Hyenas” but I would suspect you’re talking about “Tannin” from one of the later books in the Old Testament which would indeed be either “Whale” or “Alligator”, nobody is sure but more likely the latter since the ancient Hebrews knew them both from the Nile and some other rivers(there where alligators living in Israel as late as the 19th century), and the habitats of the latter are rather far away so it is less likely they were known at ancient times in the ME.

    As to the bible and science not conflicting.well, as long as you either keep two separate and conflicting sets of assumptions, one for thinking about the bible and one for thinking about science, they don’t.But the moment you try to reconcile them you find that they don’t really mesh that well, so in the interests of lowering my cognitive dissonance I choose to believe that science is right and the bibile is just an interesting set of myths.

  65. #65 Owlmirror
    October 9, 2007

    The people closer to the actual culture (eg properly educated Jews and even some of the NT writers) knew that the stories were just stories. In a pre-literate culture (ie before the Jews wrote down the already divergent versions of their ancestral cultural myths) the only way to pass on information was orally. And the only way to do that with some reliability (among small numbers of mostly averagely thick people in order to reach the next smart one to come along some generation hence) was via stories.

    Stories could be made memorable even if their more subtle meanings were hard to grasp. Hence the later Jews having a whole traditional system of study devoted to what the correct hidden meanings were supposed to be. They’d hardly do that if they didn’t think they were metaphorical.

    I just wanted to quibble with this a bit: Jews were not monolithic in the past any more than they are now. There were plenty of factions and subgroupings and schisms and whatnot. Some were scholars who were sufficiently learned in the then-current philosophies and sophisticated enough to be aware that the bible probably wasn’t 100% accurate and completely literal. But there were also strongly literalist factions, and they tended to be the ones doing the compiling of written texts and teaching the next generation.

    While there is a tradition of interpreting oral and/or nonobvious meanings in the Bible, these are usually in addition to the literal meaning. Or to put it another way, while there are additional explanations on top of, say, the book of Exodus, it is held that God did personally inflict 10 plagues on Egypt and bring the 12 tribes out from Egypt, splitting the Red Sea, showering down manna, leading the people to Mt. Sinai with a pillar of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night, and personally giving Moses two stone tablets with commandments inscribed on them, and so on and so forth.

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