A while back, I had a guest post here by Amy Peters; in it, she described taking her son to the zoo and being awed and choking up at the similarities between us and chimpanzees — it’s a nice moment of transcendance, when a person sees a deeper connection.
One of the creationist dim-bulbs at Answers in Genesis, Georgia Purdom, read that story (by the way, it’s kind of sweet that the creationists so regularly read Pharyngula — Hi, Georgia! Hi, Ken!) and took away a very different message, one that reflects a tiresome reflexive trope among those of very little brain, and also shows that for all that religious talk of a mystical beyond and senses beyond the mundane, believers have no poetry in their souls. Ms Purdom’s take on the story? “Mother Teaches Four-year-old That Humans Are Animals”. Her response is also a complete non sequitur.
How sad! I’m choked up, too, but not for the same reason. I wonder what this mother would think if her son grew up and murdered someone. I’m sure she would be horrified. But if the Bible isn’t true and humans are animals, then she wouldn’t have a basis for saying what her son did was wrong, because after all, he’s just an animal, and morality doesn’t apply to animals.
Huh? What? How does looking into a chimpanzee’s eyes lead to a comparison with her son growing up to be a murderer? There’s nothing in a chimp’s demeanor that invites a similarity with the pathology of murder — if it’s just the low brow and the hairy face, then Ms Purdom must get a fright every time she goes into the office and sees Ken Ham. If Peters had looked at a peacock, would Purdom be sad about how her child would grow up to be a Vegas chorine? If she’d spotted a parasitic fungus, would Purdom be enraptured because the kid might grow up to one day work for Answers in Genesis? There is no connection here.
I’m always astounded, too, at how a group of pseudoscientists can have such a petty, miserable view of life. “Just an animal” is a phrase a biologist can only use ironically; show me a worm, and I’ll tell you how grand and majestic a creature it is. It does not diminish us to appreciate the beauty of our fellow travelers down the long road of evolution.
And I’ve got news for Ms Purdom: the majority of people on this planet do not accept the ‘truth’ of the Bible, and morality is not restricted to Christians. Those people who have gone a step further and rejected all holy books, and those people who have recognized the truth found in nature and see our relationship to all of life, are not less moral than the small mob of prospering frauds, liars, and incompetents in a particularly backwards corner of Kentucky. Her whole argument is bogus.
Amy Peters herself has responded to Purdom, and Tantalus Prime has chimed in, too. One amusing thing about it all: Purdom’s article only contains links to Bible verses and the AiG store, and has not one link to anything anyone she opposes has written. Way to go!