Creationists believe the darndest things!

By Phil Plait | August 15, 2009 9:05 am

Finding young Earth creationist lunacy is like walking into an elephant paddock at a zoo and hoping to find poop. All too easy.

I say this because in England, thinking the Loch Ness monster disproves evolution can help get you a job! A group there called The National Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) provides information on vocational and academic skills — they’re something like an accreditation group. They reviewed the curriculum involved in getting an International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE): a certificate granted after passing a creationist course that’s taught in about 50 private Christian schools in the UK. And what did the NARIC find? That this certificate is just fine and dandy, and equivalent to international A levels (a scholastic certificate that shows competency in a particular course).

Here’s a sample from a textbook (printed — gasp — here in the US) that is used in this course. Remember, this is part of a course being used by teenagers in the UK:

Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie,’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.

Could a fish have developed into a dinosaur? As astonishing as it may seem, many evolutionists theorize that fish evolved into amphibians and amphibians into reptiles. This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis. No transitional fossils have been or ever will be discovered because God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals. Any similarities that exist among them are due to the fact that one Master Craftsmen fashioned them all.

Riiiiight. Nessie disproves evolution. Turns out there’s a whole field of science in there I missed. Faeries disprove the ability of birds to fly! Godzilla clearly shows the surface area/volume law of biology is a crock! Spiderman flies in the face of humans breeding with arachnids!

And, of course, the irony is that creationism itself shows us that despite our highly-evolved brains, humans still cling to easily-disproven nonsense if it’s taught early enough and with fervor.

Comments (221)

  1. Sticks

    I thought Nessie was probably a seal, a sturgeon, a boat wake or tree logs

  2. Gary Ansorge

    ,,,and Santa must obviously be God, because “He knows when you are sleeping. He know when you’re awake. He knows when you’ve been bad or good, so ,,,he’s a fraking telepathic snoop,,,for Gods sake,,,

    I wonder if he watches me in the bathroom?

    As a past President of Mensa once pointed out “Just because you have a high IQ, doesn’t mean you’re not stupid,,,”

    HAving the most high powered brain around won’t do you much good if the programming is faulty. I wonder if creationists have to reboot very 10 minutes?

    Gary 7

  3. Unreal. LOL, you forgot to include the customary “The Stupid, It Burns!” graphic ;)

  4. How utterly ridiculous can the world be? I use one falsehood to support the other.

    Whoever wrote this book needs to be sacked. Not fired, I mean kicked in the sack.

  5. Mike

    The two paragraphs don’t appear to be related to me.

    You could take the second paragraph in isolation and it’s just the standard “no transitional fossils” BS. It doesn’t depend logically on the first paragraph.

    The logic is violently wrong, but if the criticism is as well, it makes fodder for a really nice ad-hominem. I don’t recommend making ammunition for such idiots….

    The REAL mistake here if you want to make some sharp criticisms is that the paragraph clearly confuses individuals with populations. Could a fish turn into a dinosaur? No. Never. Could a fish population turn into a dinosaur population given tens of millions or more of years? Yes.

  6. Utakata

    …it has been rumored that PZ Myers was riding around on a triceratops about a week ago. ;)

  7. Gary Ansorge

    Apparently, creationists have no problem thinking of their god as a great liar, as in, He put all those rocks and fossils in the ground with their appropriate radio nucleotide decay products in place to make us THINK earth was really old, when it’s REALLY only 6000 years old,,,

    See? He’s the Great Liar,,,or perhaps the Great Con Artist,,,

    GAry 7

  8. Gary Ansorge

    Ah, the joys of a compartmentalized mind, where one can believe two or more mutually contradictory premises at the same time.

    Yah know, in the 1960s, we found a way to break down those compartments. Unfortunately, it’s now illegal,,,

    Gary 7

  9. Gosh, one post has the potential to attract trolls from so many different alternate realities! You’ve got your Loch Ness monster = paleolithic survival (bonus points for identifying that filmic reference!), you’ve got your YEC (hereafter pronounced “Yecchhh!”), you’ve got your evolution misunderstanders (how could a fish give birth to a dinosaur, huh? there! just proved evolution wrong.), and of course Loch Ness is actually the watery gateway to Lemuria, so….

    Now if only you’d used the expression “embiggen” we could have the grammar fascists, too!

  10. Katie H

    I’m taking A Levels this year – what an interesting course! I might have to rethink my choice ;)

    Nah, I think I’ll stick with old fashioned physics :)

  11. This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis. No transitional fossils have been or ever will be discovered because God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals.

    Tiktaalik. Checkmate.

  12. No transitional fossils? My neighbor Ted Daeshchler would be a bit peeved. He was the discoverer of “Hynerpeton bassetti” and “Tiktaalik roseae”, both of which qualify! Ted works at the Academy of Natural Sciences here in Philadelphia…

  13. Guh! I thought the Brits were smarter than all that.
    Teh stoopid! It burns everywhere!

  14. Wesley

    I know exactly what you guys are feeling.. The science is there but the creationists just won’t believe it, they think it’s a conspiracy by “Big Science”. I dare you to try and argue it out with one, I did. I got a lot of silly science thrown at me and a buttload of personal attacks, kind of like that time I told my vegan sister that humans are natural omnivores…

  15. IVAN3MAN

    @ Richard Drumm,

    Whatever happens in the U.S. also happens in the U.K. ten years later. *Sigh*

  16. Elf Eye

    I just started reading Your Inner Fish last night and stayed up waaaaaay too late because it is such a good read. Tiktaalik was such brilliant discovery. Puts the lie to one creationist claim: that evolution cannot make testable predictions and ergo is not ‘scientific’. The scientists predicted that a certain transition would have taken place during a certain period, they went looking for evidence of that transition in sedimentary rocks laid down during that period, and they found the fossils that backed up their hypothesis.

  17. Nobody

    Even if it somehow DID disprove evolution, how the hell does it prove creationism??? Like that’s the default or something.

  18. Guh! I thought the Brits were smarter than all that.
    Teh stoopid! It burns everywhere!

    I’m sorry to report that we Brits even have our very own Creation Museum.

  19. P@J

    uhh. where do dinosaurs come in? Plesiosauri were marine reptiles, not dinosaurs. At least get your first-level facts right, then drift off to fantasy from there…

  20. Brian

    Of all the make-believe creatures to throw your lot in with, why the Loch Ness monster?

  21. @Nobody

    Even if it somehow DID disprove evolution, how the hell does it prove creationism??? Like that’s the default or something.

    Because if there is no explanation, or if I just don’t believe the explanation, then Goddidit.

    @Mike

    The two paragraphs don’t appear to be related to me.

    Good catch. “People mistakenly viewed an otter/log/wake as being a big dinosaur, therefore God created each individual fish.” Riiiigggghhhht.

    @Brian

    Of all the make-believe creatures to throw your lot in with, why the Loch Ness monster?

    ‘Cause who doesn’t love Nessie? She’s soooo adorable. Or something.

  22. cory

    Nessie? Elephants? Have you been reading National Geographic, perhaps?

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/03/0309_0603009_loch_ness.html

    as to the creationists…..well, i would say, god help us all, but…..

  23. Y’know, as mythical creatures go, the Loch Ness Monster isn’t all that inconsistent with evolutionary theory. I mean, long-necked, four-limbed, aquatic vertebrates are at least plausible even if no modern examples are known to exist. Now, if it actually did exist and lived in Loch Ness, it might give biologists a thing or two to think about. For example, how would the lake’s ecosystem support a breeding population of animals that large?

    If you want mythical creatures that fly in the face of evolutionary theory, I’d suggest the aforementioned fairies, along with Pegasus and winged dragons. Any species of six-limbed land vertebrate would be very hard to explain, given that every land vertebrate is a member of the Tetrapoda superclass. I’d hesitate to say they’re impossible but they’d definitely require a major rework of the tree of life.

  24. Tree Lobsters, you forgot angels. Somehow these beings were plucked from Earth by this Gawd and thrown up into the sky to become flying things. Or something like that. I can never keep these mythic Biblical flying things straight.

    At any rate, yes, they do seem to be swallowing seven impossible things before breakfast… unfortunately, whatever get swallowed must always come out later … and we all know what THAT means…

  25. Emily Baker

    In conclusion, god created the chicken so that his people could eat the eggs and create barbecue sauce.

  26. Sharon

    But surely all of you know that Nessie lives in a different trans-temporal dimension, and that Loch Ness just happens to be a place where you can see through to that dimension. ;-)

    I know it must be true! I read it in a book. Now if I could just remember which SF novel it came from….. (A theory that makes just as much, if not more sense, than the creationist ones.)

  27. Of course there is no Evolution. How could fish, lizards, frogs, jackalopes, whatever evolve into a series of car tyres being pulled along by a piece of string?

    http://www.rotten.com/library/cryptozoology/loch-ness/

    Of course, Nessie’s believers have their own home page.
    http://www.nessie.co.uk/

  28. Strahlungsamt

    Here in Ireland, I see the same thing slowly creeping in. See, before the “Celtic Tiger” days, we were all religious. The country was, according to the constitution, a Catholic theocracy. Then came cable TV and the Priestly sex scandals and all Hell broke loose. Suddenly most people became more liberal and stopped going to church.

    However, what I notice today is that those who still go are far more extreme right wing ideologues. You only need to pick up the free Catholic papers in the supermarket to read about why only the Bible is correct, Homosexuality is wrong and why the scourge of Evolution should not be taught to our children. They even label Obama a Communist (wonder where that came from?).

    In addition, the recent influx of immigrants (in particular Africans and Poles) has brought a tsunami of right wing fundamentalism which the Irish seem strangely oblivious to.

    Then, our education system has started to deteriorate compared with 10 or 20 years ago. Put it all together and you have a nice formula for a Creationist future.

  29. Roen

    Elf Eye Says:
    “Puts the lie to one creationist claim: that evolution cannot make testable predictions and ergo is not ’scientific’.”

    Isn’t it interesting that they pick and choose where they will use the scientific method? Seriously, use all of it or none of it, or you just further screw your credibility.

    They’re like a lame bully, who calls you down just to make themselves look like a better choice, but is so bad at it you have feel a measure of pity.

  30. As far as I can tell (Google News search on Naric), NARIC’s excuse is that although the course may be rubbish, it’s well-taught rubbish. In other words, if you want to learn nonsense, this is the course to take, but they would never dream of judging the wisdom of deciding to learn nonsense as that’s above their paygrade.

  31. In England there lives a queen who is also head of the Church, there are princes and princesses, earls, baronesses, judges that wear whigs, ancient Beefeaters that protect a castle, the subjects drive on the wrong side of the roads, etc. This country is a magic realm, so it’s no wonder people believe in gods.

  32. Svammelman

    Gary Ansorge,
    Sprinkling text with random ellipsis (“…”) is generally considered a kook sign. Using commas instead of periods (“,,,”) usually indicates a Deepak Chopra fan or something. No offense, I just thought you’d like to know.

  33. Ambulocetus? Tiktaalik? The evidence is everywhere. And if that picture @27 is real, Nessie should see a chiroquackter about those nasty subluxations.

  34. Roen

    Svammelman,
    “Sprinkling text with random ellipsis (”…”) is generally considered a kook sign. Using commas instead of periods (”,,,”) usually indicates a Deepak Chopra fan or something. No offense, I just thought you’d like to know.”

    An attack on punctuation? Please excuse me if I stepped in a pile, I thought we were supposed to be using evidence and elements that matter when we present our arguments.

  35. Screechy the Didactic Macaque

    Svammelman@32, nice catch on the “,,,”, but you missed the earlier “Yah”. It’s the most mangled word on the internets: It’s “yeah”! Why. Eee. Ay. Aitch.
    Not, “Ya” (what, are you Swedish or something?).
    Not “Yah” (only if you’re a rabbi talking to god).

    So, yeah . . . what he said, plus “yeah.” Sorry about the ellipses, but us kooks just love ‘em. (Cue Daffy Duck end of cartoon sounds).

    P.S. Man, when June Casagrande opens a grammar snob rehab center, I am SO checking-in.

  36. Darth Robo

    >>>”Guh! I thought the Brits were smarter than all that.
    Teh stoopid! It burns everywhere!”

    Fortunately it’s only taught in private fundie schools, of which there’s currently about 50 of them. Unfortunately, that number could always increase. Also, we don’t have separation of church and state, which is not a good thing if we ever got more like Ireland or the US.

    From the article:

    >>>”The National Recognition Information Centre (Naric) in Cheltenham, which advises universities and employers on the rigour of lesser-known qualifications, has ruled that the International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE) is comparable to courses such as international A-levels, the Times Education Supplement has found.”

    >>>”Tim Buttress, Naric’s spokesman, told the TES its remit did not cover the curriculum’s content.”

    So uh, they DIDN’T cover the curriculum’s content, but they DID say the course was equivalent to an A-Level.

    This is one big pile of stupid.

  37. Keith

    That’s upsetting. I thought we were smarter than that. Then again, we have such an influx of American culture that this was bound to happen. Sad indeed.

  38. cpt Jameson Lave de Reorte

    Phil, you solved the paradox of parallel universes. Congratulations. Keep an eye on the mail, Your Nobel Prize nomination is due.

    I am absolute positive now. These people are not from here. They live in another universe which resembles ours, but which has a complete different set of physical and mathematical laws. Therefor we always sense lack of logic. Their history is different too. Therefor we always sense lack of evidence. Occasionally our universes collide and things get mixed up.

  39. Screechy the Didactic Macaque

    Roen@34

    If you are vexed by compulsive grammar snobs, you will undoubtedly love these books.

    Yrs Vry Trly, Screechy

    P.S. It’s lovely here in rehab, but the scissors are all blunt.

  40. Jenita

    This article is so going on my facebook page. Phil- keep finding these things to entertain me. Thanks!

  41. Nomen Publicus

    How can anybody have any respect for a belief that seems to be based on The Flintstones?

    Of course, The Flintstones is internally consistent. If only the creationists could say the same.

  42. Gary Ansorge

    32. Svammelman

    “Ooh! Ow! I’ve done been disambiguated by the grammar nazi and the logic of my discourse has been, thereby, proven inadequate.” You sound a great deal like my ex-wife,,,note the emphasis on EX. Gee, in my college studies of physics and aerospace/mechanical engineering, some English grammar rules just slipped thru the cracks. So Solly, by golly. Yumpin yimminey, Ya Got Me!

    I’s just a igorant sowthern boy, don’t know didly, well Bo Diddly, butChaknow, somesUs jest doos the bestest we canz.

    (My poor spell checker just had a melt down.Frak!)

    If the only things a critic can find about my arguments that are questionable is my admittedly primitive utilization of this anarchic language known as American then I feel,well, Just Fine.

    The heck with it. I’m going to go knock down some compartmental walls. A single, unified consciousness is so much fun.

    GAry 7

  43. Sticks

    As far as I am concerned the only really valid scientific research that went on in Loch Ness were the trials of George Salter’s ducks, a form of wave power system.

    Anyone Creationist or Evolutionist who believes a plesiosaur lives there has not studied the loch. It could not support such a creature.

    Sometimes some people can really shoot themselves in the foot.

    Meanwhile I would like to take this opportunity to ask a question of Darwinian evolutionists.

    I don’t mean this to be sick or in bad taste so my apologies if I put this wrong.

    It is well known that Charles Darwin was deeply effected by the death of his favourite daughter, which caused him to effectively loose his faith. Could that tragedy have effected the conclusions he reached in his book Origin of Species to give what some see as an atheistic slant on Evolution

  44. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Not, “Ya” (what, are you Swedish or something?).

    Being swedish, I can [spell the insignificance of nationality with small letters and] with some degree of expertize [yeah, finally!] tell you that it would be “ja”.

    BTW, “yeah” would similarly be “jä”. (Probably, it is seldom translated.)

    disambiguated by the grammar nazi

    BTW, FWIW, proceeding along those lines, in swedish US intensive use of acronyms would probably be frowned at as bad grammar, i.e. it would be OK with abbreviations.

    Which is why I find english, or perhaps my swenglish, liberating. Knock down those walls!

  45. Gary

    If Nessie proves creationism then I say that Bigfoot proves the Immaculate Conception of the Invisible Pink Unicorn!

  46. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    opportunity to ask a question of Darwinian evolutionists

    Sorry, that opportunity passed with the neo-darwinian revolution, then those biologists disappeared.

    Passing through “the modern synthesis” and adding “near neutral drift” and other observed mechanisms, the only sense that you can make of that term is when people like Dawkins point out that their null hypothesis is selection (mostly applies to phenotypes) rather than drift (mostly applies to genotypes). Then they occasionally call themselves “Darwinists”.

    Now, it isn’t completely impossible that you can get in touch with biologists by asking for such on a science blog. But in case there aren’t any around, let me try to answer instead:

    AFAIU we know that his later experiences in no way affected his science, except maybe to make him dedicate more effort into it. That is because his ideas were logged much earlier in his diaries. He was busy with other things for decades before Wallace came to exactly the same conclusions and prompted the famous joint publication of the theory.

    [See!? It really doesn’t make sense to call evolution “Darwinian” anymore than it makes sense to call other observed natural processes, say gravitation, “Newtonian”. Eppur si muove!]

    Now, I don’t think you, as a creationist [the E spelling instantly places you], asked that because of genuine concern with science. (Because regardless of those details that makes the suggestion contradict the many evidences against it specifically, in general it is a stupid question about science, which is objective and can be shown to be.) I rather think you asked that to learn which answer you would get and how to “finesse a refutation”, as this hypothesis predicts creationist peddling the usual non sequitur as here.

    Creationists do believe, or asks, the darnedest things. None of which is about science but about politics. What a shame, and sham, creationists are.

  47. Melanie

    We have Bunyips here in Australia – does this work the same for us?

  48. Gary

    BTW the story of the “Blessed” Virgin getting knocked up by a bird has to be one of the most ludicrous ideas to come from that absurdity called Christianity.

  49. How does the Yeti factor in to all this? Inquiring minds (and quite possibly the National Enquirer) want to know.

    I wonder if these people can incorporate more cryptids into their arguments. The Jersey Devil? Drop Bears? The Hodag? How far could this go?

    I have to admit that taken to the extreme, I might buy this from the humor section at my local bookstore.

    And Gary, everyone knows that Bigfoot doesn’t prove the IPU’s immaculate conception! When the IPU (Praise be unto her) rinsed off several strands of Bigfoot hair that had gotten wrapped around her shining horn, thus was born the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  50. Mark

    Can anyone say Piltdown man?! BTW- this article was really typed by an chimpanzee on an old Royal machine that was built by an tetrapod purely by accident…..

  51. @Ivan3man

    So the Brits can be as stupid as Americans but are bit slower.

  52. MadScientist

    @Pillownaut: I think the stupid combusted so violently that there’s nothing left to see; the BA was shell-shocked by the stupidity.

    @Melanie: I prefer the dropbears.

  53. I see absolutely no contradiction here: who believes in an invisible sky god will naturally believes in a never seen dinosaur on a lake. It’s perfectly logical such a progression

  54. @ Gary (4:22 pm)

    “[…] one of the most ludicrous ideas to come from that absurdity called Christianity.”

    Actually, it’s probably inspired by the greek myth of Leda and the swann.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leda_and_the_Swan

  55. Na

    Well, if you’re going to make things up, why not go the whole hog and believe in Nessie too? The two non-science based beliefs complement each other.

  56. How dare you infer that Nessie isn’t real? Are you deliberately trying to scare off the gullible tour- er, investigative visitors? Awa’ and bile yer heid!

    Disclaimer: I am a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  57. First they need to actually understand what evolution is before they can actually rail against it. Sadly, that will never happen…

    http://factsnotfantasy.com/evolution.html

    Oh, have you seen that Poe video if the teenage girls trying to “convert” their Hindu friend? I admit, I thought it was real, but later evidence points to it actually being a Poe, and a well done one.

  58. Gary

    Carol, I did not know that about the orgins of the FSM. This coming Festivus Season I will have a new decoration. It will be the IPU and Bigfoot praying over a manger that contains the Flying Spaghetti Monster (dressed in swaddling clothes.)

  59. Bahdum (aka Richard)

    I wonder when they’ll accredit courses in geocentrism.

    Yes, that’s making a come back. From some of the same people who brought you creationism. It’s like Hollywood running out of ideas, these people are attaching ropes to dead horses hoping that everyone is fooled into thinking those animated corpses are actually alive.

    Still, the putrefied remains of creationism and geocentrism still stink all the way to the sun. That stench will make the rest of us sick, that’s for sure.

    Only Muslim fundamentalists could ever top the Christian kind. Some actually Truly Believe™ that the world is flat.

    If we’re headed back to the Dark Ages, I hope it’s after I die, ’cause I don’t wanna be around a world full of dancing decayed horses. What a stenchorama that would be.

  60. Carlos Maso

    Creationists freighten me a lot. They can be a serious threat to good Science. Remember what Galileo and Giordano Bruno faced before the Inquisition? What will happen if creationist prevail one day? – No, I don’t want to know. – I would suggest that creationists are stragglers, meaning that their brains failed to evolve like all the rest of us … Well, maybe Nessie knows best… !

  61. Mark

    Evolution is just another THEORY! Scientists still can’t adequately explain one of the fundamental forces in the universe (gravity)…discussions concerning the Big Bang THEORY devolve into such complex scientific terms as ‘cosmic soup’…there is still no evidence for the transmigration of species, therefore no ‘missing link’….everything is held together by ‘strings’, ‘bubbles’, or ‘membranes'; and atomic particles cannot be seen- only traces of their existence…the Only Fact being that ignorance still exists and science alone cannot come up with definitive answers. Give me a break!!! Could be why physicists at the LHC are searching for the ‘GOD PARTICLE’ ?!

  62. Bahdum (aka Richard)

    Mark’s right. The Flying Spaghetti Monster Diddit™

  63. Mark

    I think Richard may be onto something here (UFOs) …..lol

  64. Grand Lunar

    “No transitional fossils have been or ever will be discovered…”

    Ah, the Standard Creationist Lie(TM).

    Creationists must believe that a conscience, or the commandment “Thou shall not bear false witness” does not apply to science, or else they wouldn’t make the uninformed statements they do.

    Indeed, serveral transitional fossils have been found.
    According to a video I saw by YouTube user AronRa (a must see for anyone who likes to see Creationist claims trashed), more transitionals for humans have been found than paleotologists know what to do with!

  65. Grand Lunar

    To post #60)

    Mark,

    When evolution is referenced as a theory, the meaning is that in the scientific sense; it is not the same as the layman’s term.
    A theory in science is a hypothesis that has been repeatedly tested.
    In the case of evolution, evidence in the fossil record, observations of various species, and in genetics, to name a few, have show evolutio to be thus far true.

    Including the Big Bang theory (also a well supported theory) in a discussion on evolution is errornous; the BBT is part of astronomy. Evolution is biology.

    Probaly true that we cannot directly observe atomic particles.
    But the fact that you were able to post on this forum shows that at least one, the electron, is very real indeed.
    Again, you’re bringing in the wrong field; this tme, it’s physics.

    The name ‘God particle’ does not refer to any particular god.
    It’s just a name to convey the importance of such a discovery.
    It has no connection to any religous belief.

  66. Gary

    Mark #60, gravity is is just another THEORY too!
    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39512

  67. Mark

    Perhaps what most fail to realize- especially the evolutionists- is that Evolution, being a widely held popular belief is in fact, a Religion in itself; with firmly ascribed to beliefs and tenets. Science itself is evolving and the important thing to remember here is that ‘Evolutionary Theory’ is not a simple ‘slam dunk’, it’s an “exercise in storytelling that masquerades as a scientific theory”.

  68. Bahdum (aka Richard)

    For the creationist critters who will soon come to troll:

    Science has brought you the Internet, computers, GPS, cellphones (mobile phones, for you non-Americans), iPods, MP3s, DVDs and their players, other optical disc technologies, modern medicine, and all the other things that let you spread your disinformation, uh, I mean “message.”

    Creationism has brought us fraudsters, shyster, charlatans, and not much else. Exhibit A: Kent Hovind; Exhibit B: Ray Comfort; Exhibit F-minus: Kirk Cameron.

  69. Mark

    All that junk is the result of reverse engineering from debris discovered at the Roswell crash site on July 8, 1947! Sorry- couldn’t help myself. :)

  70. Lawrence

    Hey, at least Mark seems to have a sense of humor, which a fair number of people don’t.

    Truly though, if you’ve kept up on the research and discoveries, you’d know that the standard garbage that “IDers” and Creationists throw out about “flaws” in the Theory of Evolution are thirty to forty years out of date (minimum) with no consideration for all of the new information available (through discoveries and new technologies).

  71. Nemo

    Sticks:

    It is well known that Charles Darwin was deeply effected by the death of his favourite daughter, which caused him to effectively loose his faith. Could that tragedy have effected the conclusions he reached in his book Origin of Species to give what some see as an atheistic slant on Evolution

    (BTW, the word you’re looking for here is “affected”, not “effected”.)

    The simple answer is no. The more important answer is that it doesn’t matter, because science doesn’t work that way. The Origin of Species is not holy writ. Darwin was not a prophet. Some of what he said has in fact proved to be wrong, and we cheerfully reject it, without throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Moreover, had he never written anything at all, by now we’d still have the Theory of Evolution, in a form almost indistinguishable from the one it did take. Indeed, Darwin was almost scooped, by Alfred Russell Wallace. That sort of thing is common in science, because science is based on observation of the natural world — not the personal “revelation” of religion. The real world is the same for everyone, and new scientific theories are accepted to the degree that other people can verify them. It’s not just how persuasive they sound, or how nice it would be if they were true, but how they match up to reality.

  72. Mark

    “Ah, the old empirical data in the shoe trick, I should have thought of that! ”

    I have the utmost respect for the sciences. But alas, the more I learn the less I know and fewer answers that satisfy. Today’s dogma may be tomorrow’s joke. I marvel at the number of new species that are discovered everyday! To be a scientist is a ‘true calling’ indeed.

    A sense of humor is important- but a sense of awe and wonder is priceless…..

  73. Carlos Maso

    Let me say something very serious! I don’t see any contradiction between Science and Religion on the issue of Evolution x Creation. In the Bible it says that God created everything, however, and that is important, it DOES NOT say anywhere in the Bible, HOW God created. So, where is the contradition? Who is there to say that God could not have used an evolutionary process to create what we know today? And who says that creation is finished by now? The Bible doesn’t!

    A theory is not a hypothesis. Before a hypothesis can be called a theory it must be well tested in nature. Besides the “Theory” of Evolution is the solid base of modern Biology. After the discovery of DNA, we have even a molecular mechanism for the process of evolution. It is a highly successful theory as even Genetic Engineering can atest to it.

    Physics is the most fundamental and the most successful of all Sciences. It is true that we cannot see subatomic particles. But that doesn’t mean that they are less real. The agreement between theory and experiment in Physics is astonishing, particularly when it comes to Quantum Electrodynamics. Physics has become the basis for Chemistry since the discovery of Quantum Mechanics. And Chemistry plays a similar role for Biology.

    And just one final comment: St. Augustine said that if there was a contradition between Science and Religion one should follow Science and revise one’s interpretation of Religion.

  74. Eric Lewis

    Even IF evolution doesn’t function in gradual changes that doesn’t mean it is wrong. If ANY part of the DNA sequence is altered or mutated for any reason major changes or “jumps” in a creatures appearance can and will occur. Are creationists saying that if ANY part of the Bible is proven wrong or flawed then That proves God doesn’t exist? How does evolution disprove Gods handiwork? God is an all knowing all powerful creator. So couldn’t he have started with a perfectly designed cell or plasm that he knew would evolve into all current life forms in existance, now and future? He did create all possible environmental conditions that that life form would encounter along the way, after all. Most evolutionists deeply believe in God, very few, if any, creationists allow themselves to believe in the possibility of evolution.

  75. @Nemo,

    I agree completely. About the only thing that would have changed had Darwin not published anything is that the Creationists would be railing against “Wallacian Evolution.”

    @Mark,

    Yes, in some ways the “always right” attitude of religion is more comforting. No matter what new information comes in, the explanation (“God Did It”) is always the same. However, it is a strength of science, not a weakness, that scientists are able to say “we were wrong before” and change their theories when contradictory evidence comes in.

    Most times, what will happen is that the major points of a theory will remain almost constant while the minor points change. No major scientist in the field doubts that evolution happened over the billions of years from single cell organisms to today. There are mountains of proof supporting it (including those transitional fossils that Creationists love to pretend don’t exist). What scientists do quibble over are the finer details. Was evolution a constant process or punctuated equalibrium, for example.

    No matter which “details hypothesis” survives the scientific method, Evolution itself won’t be cast into doubt. This isn’t to say it couldn’t be, of course. But it would take an extraordinary finding to do this. And no, Nessie isn’t an extraordinary enough finding. Finding a live peliosaur would be intriguing, but it wouldn’t disprove Evolution.

  76. Carlos Maso.

    I’m pretty religious and I believe something along the lines of your post. In my view, the Torah (I’m Jewish) isn’t meant to be a historical document, but a moral one. God knew that we were very good at figuring out science and history, but weren’t that good at the whole morals thing so He gave us a nudge in the right direction.

    Yes, it details a history of sorts, but the history it tells is meant to teach a moral lesson, not be 100% historically accurate. For example, a very knowledgeable rabbi I once knew explained that there are two accounts of mankind’s creation. In one, mankind is the pinnacle of creation, made in God’s image. In the other, he’s slapped together from some mud. Why the two stories? My rabbi explained that every man should walk around with two bags on him. One should say “The World Was Created For Me” and the other should say “I’m Nothing But Dirt.” Once you balance the two statements, you’ll have the proper mixture of pride and humility.

    Using a view like this means that Genesis 1 doesn’t need to mean that God put the world together in 6 days sometime around 6,000 years ago, but that God (while possibly helping things along behind the scenes) merely wanted to tell us some tales to guide us on the right moral path.

    Side Note: To any athiests reading, this isn’t meant to imply that you *must* follow a religion to be moral. Just that people back then weren’t exactly the most upstanding folks around and needed whatever help they could get. Of course, many took the teachings and ran in the completely wrong direction with them, but I’d say that only proves how much help we needed!

  77. kurt_eh

    Marine reptiles dinosaurs!

  78. I have never understood why the creationists are so anti evolution. Are they so smart that they know the mind of God?
    I know that if it were up to me I’d set up a system that could surprise, entertain and/or amuse me (evolution) rather than set a bunch of little creatures here and there like some kind of work of art.

  79. Benjamin

    As regards the creation-by-evolution idea,

    The thing is evolution is a process that runs by itself, exhibits highly nonlinear dynamics, and so the results you get from natural selection are contingent upon chance occurrences over the period of selection. For a God to have set up the initial conditions just so that humans would arise out of evolution resembles Laplace’s fantasy; with such a highly chaotic system, even if you knew right down to the limits of quantum mechanics the positions and momenta of all the particles on Earth, there would still be many possibilities for what might evolve four billion years later. Essentially, no matter how omniscient a creator, even if It were to use the Blind Watchmaker’s power, it couldn’t specify if it wanted a Rolex or an Omega at the end.

    On the other hand there are two domains in which humans have used artificial evolutionary processes for design: selective breeding of crops and livestock, and genetic algorithms. In the former case, humans effectively created the domestic species we have today in many of their particulars, taking rather different wild types and modifying them through generations of selective breeding to be most useful to us. In the latter case, genetic algorithms are a way of solving difficult mathematical and scientific problems, where you have a computer “breed” variations upon an approximate solution and specify some fitness function which tells it which ones to select. In both these cases “design” was achieved by repeatedly breeding for the most desired characteristics.

    If god used a process like this, arbitrary adaptations would be seen in the fossil record and presumably also in existing animals. Physical processes would have had to be altered significantly to affect breeding probabilities of animals throughout history. If God specificially intended to create all of present life, we would have seen Its hand shepherding life through its entire history, and the predictions of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, based on game theory and statistics, would not fit data at all. We see no such evidence of tampering, which would represent a very strong divergence from our predictions.

  80. Sticks

    @Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    @Nemo

    I may be giving a presentation about the supposed conflict between faith and science, and evolution. (I thought evolution as in the theory of was a proper noun, I stand corrected), is always shown to be proof of conflict. I was going to concentrate of the Galileo trial, but I am not sure I can get away without a quick reference to Charles Darwin in passing.

    I had a passing thought that it might help if Charles was portrayed in a sympathetic light as grieving farther, I had forgotten about how Charles was forced to publish because Wallace was about to scoop him with exactly the same findings. Would Wallace have dealt with the fall out differently than Darwin and Huxley. Was there background politics like there was with Galileo?

    Maybe TechyDad has a better approach, as I have never come across Jewish groups being fundamentalist creationists.

    Doh!

  81. Carlos Maso

    TechyDad,

    I agree with you about the Torah. It is not supposed to be interpreted literally. The important thing is really its moral teaching.

    Now I respect all Religions and religious beliefs. Freedom of religion is very important. Intolerance and hatred are our real enemies. I also don’t think there should be any conflict between Science and Religion, although historically there has been a lot.

    Science is uncovering the secrets of nature, so it is helping us to better understand God’s work. Any contradictions between scientific discoveries and religious beliefs means only that our beliefs are not accurate and need to be improved. The religious texts are not going to change, but our interpretations of them have to change in the light of new scientific knowledge.

    I am also very religious. That has implications for everything I do in my daily life, how I conduct myself, and how I relate to other people. At the same time I have a scientific background and hope that Science be used only for the benefit of all mankind.

  82. José

    @Mark
    Can anyone say Piltdown man?

    The validity of Piltdown Man as a human ancestor was challenged from the beginning and never widely accepted by science. It just took 40 years for it to be conclusively proven a hoax.

    Perhaps what most fail to realize- especially the evolutionists- is that Evolution, being a widely held popular belief is in fact, a Religion in itself; with firmly ascribed to beliefs and tenets.

    So a widely accepted theory based on mountains of actual evidence is a religion?

    Science itself is evolving and the important thing to remember here is that ‘Evolutionary Theory’ is not a simple ’slam dunk’

    It might not be a “simple” slam dunk, but Evolutionary Theory in some form is a slam dunk.

    it’s an “exercise in storytelling that masquerades as a scientific theory”.

    What you’re referring to is called Intelligent Design.

  83. M Burke

    Low hanging fruit… literally. Why not deal with Bahnsen and the like rather than folks like this?

  84. @74 Eric Lewis: God is an all knowing all powerful creator. So couldn’t he have started with a perfectly designed cell or plasm that he knew would evolve into all current life forms in existance, now and future? He did create all possible environmental conditions that that life form would encounter along the way, after all.

    Okay, omnipotent/omniscient/omnipresent through all time and space? Yet, when Adam/Eve ‘ate the apple’, He(She?/It?) showed no sign of being present, and could not find the couple when returning. If lying about not being present, It is a liar (not to mention the existence of fossils). Or, why did She allow humans to fail to live up to their potential and have to wipe them out with a Flood?

    Of course, one can say that ‘god’ isn’t the one presented in the Bible, but then you run into basically creating a new ‘god’, basically from whole cloth (i.e. one’s own imagination).

    J/P=?

  85. José

    @M Burke
    Low hanging fruit… literally. Why not deal with Bahnsen and the like rather than folks like this?

    Because Greg (I assume that’s who you mean) Bahnsen’s arguments are just a less entertaining type of low hanging fruit. This post at least deals with something that has chuckle potential.

  86. Kea

    @78: I have never understood why the creationists are so anti evolution.

    Because evolution theory, unlike the Big Bang in cosmology, says that life evolves from a common cause, in earlier times, to more and more complex forms. In other words, at some point in the future there will be a vastly superior species to ours, which will make any god with human characteristics look pretty pathetic. In fact, let us now call this future galaxy mistress God. It follows that (a) there is nothing special about God, and (b) evolution does more than make testable predictions that have been shown to be correct: it steals God from horrendously outdated religious ideas.

    Of course, the creationists are desperately hoping that people won’t figure this out.

  87. Nigel Depledge

    OK, haven’t read the comments yet, but I will try to catch up as and when…

    First impression: OMG! Teh stoopid has come here!

    Second impression: Those two quoted paragraphs contain at least three outright lies.

    Additional stuff: the existence or otherwise of Nessie has yet to be resolved with sufficient evidence. What is certain is that (1) sightings of Nessie are all vague eyewitness accounts that lack detail of the thing that was seen, (2) pics and video of Nessie are all too fuzzy and vague to determine anything (even distance to the object), (3) sonar “contacts” could equally be schools of fish, (4) Systematic surveys that sought Nessie failed to find anything, and (5) Nessie is a vital part of the tourist industry in Inverness. Taking this information together, the most parsimonious conclusion is that there is no Loch Ness Monster.

  88. Padawanpooh

    Oh great. I’m a UK teacher and we use NARIC to work out international students’ equivalent grades in the UK system.

    *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

  89. I’m just glad you said this happens in England rather than saying the UK. For now I can close my eyes and pretend that this level of idiocy doesn’t seep across the border into Scotland. Unfortunately I know all too well that ain’t true :p

  90. JupiterIsBigTonight

    Back to the post.
    “And, of course, the irony is that creationism itself shows us that despite our highly-evolved brains, humans still cling to easily-disproven nonsense if it’s taught early enough and with fervor.”
    Phil, In my experience at Church Camps a long time ago, the ones who followed the Creation people were more the ones who believed there is a war going on. I think it’s a well demonstrated evolutionary development that human beings have a fantastic ability to think “If your not for me, you must be against me”.
    Thus they see their group threatenened and believe almost anything they are told which helps them to feel they are on the right side.
    It helped us survive, maybe not in the most humane or enlightened manner, but the group survives.
    I have only burned one book in my life – it was a Creation Science nonsense about humans riding Dinosaurs. See it made me do the same as the Nazis !
    I told my children it was a story but didn’t want anyone elses children believing it.

  91. AJ

    Phil: “I say this because in England, thinking the Loch Ness monster disproves evolution can help get you a job!”

    Y’know, I doubt many employers wil look at a CV (resume), see “International Certificate of Christian Education”, and not think “what the hell? I have no idea what that is… meh, it’s not Maths or English. I’m not hiring him.”

    What with England not being, as a whole, a massively religious country – even if, formally, we have many of the trappings of one (state church, various religious holidays etc).

  92. 46. Torbjörn Larsson, OM Says:
    August 15th, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    [See!? It really doesn’t make sense to call evolution “Darwinian” anymore than it makes sense to call other observed natural processes, say gravitation, “Newtonian”. Eppur si muove!]
    ______________

    I’m not sure this is all that true – “Newtonian physics” seems to me to be a perfectly cromulent term for describing the motions of most objects at normal speeds. For calculating the motion of a batted baseball or an orbiting asteroid, Newton’s your guy. It’s only when you get to the really big stuff that you have to delve into Einsteinian physics of warped spacetime, or the really small stuff that you have to discuss quantum physics and particle clouds. Isn’t there something analogous in discussing “Darwinian evolution?”

  93. Ruby

    Just because u say creationist believe in the darndest thing doesn’t mean it’s true. Come on!!! STOP WHINING AND START DOING RESEARCH! We are here to do work, not backbite. SHEESH!!!!

  94. One Eyed Jack

    Where do these text book authors get their facts? Everyone knows that Nessie is a myth.

    Someone should write them a letter and advise them to use Champ instead. Champ is, of course, real. He’s American.

  95. Buzz Parsec

    Sharon, I think you are confusing Nessie with mice, which are the 3-dimensional representations of 4-dimensional hyperintelligent beings.

  96. @Sticks, As much as I’d like to accept the “no Jewish fundamentalist creationists” compliment, it’s not true. I was a member of an Orthodox temple for awhile where the rabbi took a literal view of the Torah and was constantly saying “science doesn’t know anything about how the world works, religion knows everything.” Since these comments came during his sermons (the wrong time to argue the point), I bit my tongue and was respectfully quiet. (The only reason I was a member was because I was living with my parents at the time and they were members.)

    @John Paradox, The way I understand that story isn’t that God didn’t know where Adam and Eve were, but that he was giving them a chance to admit what they had done. Instead, they decided to shift the blame to each other and that was a bigger crime than eating the forbidden fruit.

  97. I find it quite ironic that the creationists are attempting to use the Loch Ness Monster to disprove Earth’s antiquity, since it was the Scottish geologist James Hutton who first proposed the idea that Earth was much older than 6,000 years.

  98. Why is it that the religionists are so threatened by the science of evolution? If you look at the holy books as allegory instead of literal fact, the two can coexist quite peacefully. If, for example, you think of God as life – not some anthropomorphic superhero, but simply as life itself, biblical story and scientific fact are not mutually exclusive but mutually reinforcing. You can say that God – as the natural progression of living beings evolving over time – “created” humans and all other creatures on the planet. It doesn’t need a designer, it doesn’t need an intelligence. It just is that process of life doing what life does.

    To me, the thought that we’re all descended from a common ancestor – every bacterium, every tree, every fish, every chipmunk, every blue whale, every other human being – is the most spiritual thing imaginable.

  99. Stupefying. Just when I think that wall of conservative cognitive dissonance can’t get any higher they prove me wrong, lol….

  100. @ J/P:

    Of course, one can say that ‘god’ isn’t the one presented in the Bible, but then you run into basically creating a new ‘god’, basically from whole cloth (i.e. one’s own imagination).

    That’s the basic premise of Robert Wright’s new book, “The Evolution of God.” He goes through a fairly exhaustive study of how the Abrahamic god “evolved” as the cultures that worshipped him changed from closed-system tribal communities to more complex societies that had to get along with other cultures.

    Of course, Wright makes the erroneous assumption that this somehow means there really is a god and his changing ways are really just a way of gradually revealing his “true” nature to lowly humans.
    He screwed up what would have been a very good book by clinging to this unsupported argument…much like the creationists.

  101. Mark

    Q: “Can you tell me anything you KNOW about Evolution? Any one thing? Any one thing that is true? “

  102. I'd rather be fishin'

    @102

    A: yes, I can. But you won’t
    a) believe it or
    b)understand it
    c)all of the above

  103. From: http://larianlequella.com/2009/08/100-solution-on-uncertainty-and-why-it.shtml That’s why I’m always astonished by religious believers who accuse scientists of being arrogant… when it’s the scientists who are saying, “Yes, we can make mistakes; no, we’re never 100% sure that we’re right,” and the believers who are saying, “I know in my heart that I’m right, and my faith is all the evidence I need.”

    So man created of dust is a scientific fact then, because the bible does give that HOW.

    I also find the “Moral Guide” argument incredibly disturbing! http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/fundamentals/bible_moral_guide.html

  104. Mark

    There are no absolute proofs for evolution. As yet….

    1: Evolution has never been witnessed…although huge quantities of circumstantial evidence exist.
    2: Science is constantly trying to prove the theory of evolution with the theory that life ‘self-generated’ into a pool of amino acids and proteins by complete chance…so far all experiments to attempt to manufacture a self replicating DNA based Molecule have come to no result. Also if successful this would pose an interesting paradox about creation…being Science creating a self replicating molecule…it did not create itself as the theory of evoloution suggests.
    3: Fossil record is incomplete, yes sure we share similar bone structures to other animals etc.. but there is no defined developmental line of slight mutation per generation to warrant it being evidence for the time being, but it is getting stronger.

  105. Darth Robo

    >>>>”Evolution is just another THEORY! Scientists still can’t adequately explain one of the fundamental forces in the universe (gravity)…discussions concerning the Big Bang THEORY devolve into such complex scientific terms as ‘cosmic soup’…there is still no evidence for the transmigration of species, therefore no ‘missing link’….everything is held together by ’strings’, ‘bubbles’, or ‘membranes’; and atomic particles cannot be seen- only traces of their existence…the Only Fact being that ignorance still exists and science alone cannot come up with definitive answers. Give me a break!!! Could be why physicists at the LHC are searching for the ‘GOD PARTICLE’ ?!”

    This is another great big pile of stupid, if one pardons me for saying so. First of all, a cute cuddly kitten has to die because yet again someone says “ONLY a theory”. Then they bring up the Big Bang and gravity which are quite separate from evolution. And then there’s the implication that if science can’t explain “X” then GODDIDIT!

    Which doesn’t really explain very much at all.

    Hint to Creationists – THIS IS WHY NO-ONE TAKES YOU SERIOUSLY.

  106. 97. TechyDad Says:

    @John Paradox, The way I understand that story isn’t that God didn’t know where Adam and Eve were, but that he was giving them a chance to admit what they had done. Instead, they decided to shift the blame to each other and that was a bigger crime than eating the forbidden fruit.

    The cover-up was worse than the crime? Hmmmm… actually, I had heard that, but didn’t go into it because I have been somewhat ‘under the weather’ recently, and am not at peak. Besides, the view I expressed is more in the ‘christian’ tradition, using the ‘interpretation’ that is most preached (from both having gone to church and worked as a broadcaster running various programs – Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Peter (RF) Popoff, et al.

    101. kuhnigget Says:

    @ J/P:

    Of course, one can say that ‘god’ isn’t the one presented in the Bible, but then you run into basically creating a new ‘god’, basically from whole cloth (i.e. one’s own imagination).

    That’s the basic premise of Robert Wright’s new book, “The Evolution of God.”

    Just reserved it at the local Public Library :) I’d finished Jesus, Interrupted a short time ago, and have several ‘religion’ books (The Mythmaker- about how Paul created Christianity as we know it, several ‘who wrote the Bible/the books of the Bible type).

    J/P=?

  107. Darth Robo

    >>>”How does evolution disprove Gods handiwork? God is an all knowing all powerful creator.”

    And for the one billionth time, it doesn’t. Evolution makes absolutely positively NO claim as to the existence (or lack thereof) of any god. The fact that there is as much evidence for the Flying Spaghetti Monster as there is for any other God or Gods is a completely separate issue.

    Creationists are (mostly) the ones who place evolution at odds with (their) God, because of their theological objections, ie Adam & Eve, pile of dirt, spare rib etc. They have no scientific objections at all whatsoever.

  108. Darth Robo

    >>>”Can anyone say Piltdown man?”

    Piltdown, Piltdown, Piltdown!!!

    Mark, if you believe Piltdown is a fake, that means you ACCEPT observed evolutionary patterns in the fossil record, and you also accept carbon dating. If you do NOT accept observed evolutionary patterns in the fossil record and carbon dating, then OBVIOUSLY, Piltdown was a REAL FOSSIL of a once living organism.

    You agree, yes?

    The youngest of your “arguments” are about fifty years old. Since Creationists never learn, and never want to, they will continue to attack something they don’t understand, with zero basis or credibility.

  109. Darth Robo

    >>>”Oh great. I’m a UK teacher and we use NARIC to work out international students’ equivalent grades in the UK system.

    *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*”

    Then I’d say: ‘Houston we have a problem.’

    Or maybe I’m thinking about this the wrong way. Maybe I should just simply go on a bunch of creationist courses and get my self a SHED load of A-Levels. And all I’d have to remember is that “Evilushun is rong cuz GODDIDIT!!!” Easy.

    :)

  110. Mark,

    You are wholesale wrong on point #1 (see http://futurismic.com/2008/06/11/evolution-observed-in-laboratory-bacteria/ and http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29040024/ns/technology_and_science-science unless you are one of those retards that thinks evolution is a frog giving birth to horse…). #2 is not evolution, that’s abiogenesis, which is a different theory (one that we have enough intellectual integrity to admit we are very unsure of. We have some good ideas that are back up by observation, but nothing as close as to how well we understand evolution.). #3, so what? All you see are gaps? Really, be a little more honest than that.

  111. 105. Mark Says:
    August 16th, 2009 at 11:50 am

    There are no absolute proofs for evolution. As yet….

    True. There is no absolute proof. Scientists have thus far failed to create their own experimental planet Earth in a lab and observe it for 4.5 billion years in order to confirm beyond all doubt that evolution happened exactly as the fossil record demonstrates. They have also utterly failed to create wormholes in the fabric of spacetime allowing them to travel back a few hundred million years and create nature documentaries about trilobites, thus confirming their existence.

    Since this is the only proof that will satisfy you, you will never be satisfied. Therefore the only question we really have to answer is why we even bother trying to explain it to you. You’re beyond hope.

  112. Carlos Maso

    Mark, @J/P, and others,

    Piltdown man is well known to have been a hoax and not scientic work. Since this was realized a long time ago, it was banned by honest scientists.

    There has been a lot archeological discoveries since the end of the 19th century that shed new light to help us understand the Bible and the ancient history of the peoples of the Middle East. For more details, see: “Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)”, by Prof. Christine Hayes, Yale University, at http://www.academicearth.org. Prof. Hayes is a leading scholar in her field. Her approach is scientific and literary, but not religious. Anyone taking the course can keep his/her religious faith, but will have to make adjustments to incorporate new discoveries. Her lectures are excellent.

    On the question of our knowledge of the World, there is a masterful work written by the British philosopher and mathematician, Bertrand Russell: “Human Knowledge – Its Scope and Limits”. This is not a trivial subject, but Russell wrote his philosophical works for the general public. His success won him the Nobel Prize for Literature. Among other topics, Russell explains the difference between ‘knowledge based on scientific evidence’ versus ‘knowledge based on faith and conviction’. This is an excellent reading for people interested in our discussion here!

    If you would like to learn about Evolution, I would highly recommend the book: “Biology”, by Campbell and Reece, 8th edition, Pearson 2009. It is regarded as one of best introductions to the subject for beginning university students. It has a good section on Evolution. I’m sure that you’ll find there lots of reliable information.

    Most of the criticisms that I see about Evolution are totally groundless. Evolution is the central theme of Biology and one of the most important scientific theories of all time. Darwin was for Biology what Newton was for Physics. Since the days of Darwin, his theory has been greatly expanded because of new discoveries, like that of DNA, for example. These discoveries made its foundations more firm than ever. Before you critisize anything it is important to know well your subject, if you want to be taken seriouly.

    Good luck! And may God bless you all!

  113. Darth Robo

    >>>”2: Science is constantly trying to prove the theory of evolution with the theory that life ’self-generated’ into a pool of amino acids and proteins by complete chance…so far all experiments to attempt to manufacture a self replicating DNA based Molecule have come to no result. Also if successful this would pose an interesting paradox about creation…being Science creating a self replicating molecule…it did not create itself as the theory of evoloution suggests.”

    Markie, what you are describing here is Abiogenesis, which evolution does NOT rest on. All it requires is for life to be here. How it started doesn’t matter. Did life arise through some natural process? Then it evolves. Did aliens start it off? Then life evolves. Did God doo it? Then life evolves.

    Life is here. It evolves. Fact. Prove me wrong.

    >>>”Fossil record is incomplete, yes sure we share similar bone structures to other animals etc.. but there is no defined developmental line of slight mutation per generation to warrant it being evidence for the time being, but it is getting stronger.”

    And the fossil record will always be incomplete. What you fail to understand is that fossilisation is a long process which does not happen to every animal that dies. Geological erosion is another problem. But with the fossils we DO have, they ALL undisputedly point to evolution. Precambrian rabbits would be a problem for evolution. A fossil with three middle ear bones and feathers would also be a problem. Why? Because evolution predicts that they won’t be found. But using the fossil record, we can make successful predictions. This was how the fossil of Tiktaalik was found. Part fish, part amphibian, found in the correct geological layer at the correct time. Not only that, but evolution is backed up by DNA evidence. You share 98% of your DNA with a chimp. Fossils fall into groups called Nested Hierarchies. And (totally co-incidentally I’m sure) DNA falls into the EXACT SAME Nested Hierarchies. Do you have an alternative explanation which can do better?

    Evolution is observed. Mutations are observed. Speciation is observed. Evolution is testable. Evolution is falsifiable. Evolution makes successful predictions. No, we don’t have a fossil for everything that ever lived. No we can’t give you a fossil-by-fossil, mutation by mutation account of the entire timeline of the existence of biological life on this Earth. But this is what you would require. What you demand though is unreasonable. And despite your ludicrous claims to the contrary, evolution works just fine.

    In the meantime, do you have a “scientific alternative” which does a better job of explaining all the evidence at hand? Because if so, I’d REALLY like to hear it. I’ve been asking it for a LOOOOOOOOOOOONNNG time, and never EVER had an answer. Thanks in advance for your enlightening answers.

  114. Maria

    Just remember, not all of us Christians are nutty like this….

  115. @113. Carlos Maso

    Thanks for the link to the Hayes link. I already have gone through various similar books/lectures (via TV or online), and have collected some shows (e.g. The Ten Commandments – a look at how they were interpreted when they were written, or other History Channel shows – – and continued to until my DVD burner gave out).

    J/P=?

  116. @ J/P:

    Also highly recommended: “The Bible Unearthed,” by two archaeologists, Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman.

    Very thoroughly researched, fact-based investigation into the actual history of how the Old Testament came about.

    Not on your average sunday school reading list.

  117. Carlos Maso

    J/P=?.

    I like the History Channel. It has very good programming. It is very good, indeed. Other good channels are: Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel. I’m sure, there must be others with good scientific or cultural programming. I like to watch them when I have time.
    Some of their series, like “The Universe”, is available in three sets of DVD’s at the stores, like Amazon, for example.

    Good luck with your DVD burner. Hope you can get it fixed, or get a new one.

  118. Mark

    Don’t get me wrong- I am not dismissing Evolution on a whole as false- that would be kind of like ‘throwing out the baby with the bath water’.

    The “fact of evolution” refers to the changes in populations of biological organisms over time, which are known to have occurred through scientific observations and experiments. The “theory of evolution” refers to the modern evolutionary synthesis, which is the current scientific explanation of how these changes occur.

    I must admit I am more intrigued by the arguements put forth by proponents of ID or ‘Intelligent Design’.

    Def: The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

    I guess I see no reason for the deliberate dumbing down of creation…or debates thereof in the public forum.

    ——————–

    Just for heck of it-

    Quote: “evolution is not observable, repeatable, or refutable and thus does not qualify as either a scientific fact or theory. Evolution must be accepted with faith by its believers, many of whom deny the existence, or at least the power, of the Creator. Similarly, the Biblical account of creation is not observable, repeatable or refutable by man. Special creation is accepted with faith by those who believe that the Bible is the revelation of an omnipotent and omniscient Creator whose Word is more reliable than the speculations of men. Both evolution and creation, however, can be compared for their compatibility with what we do observe of the facts of nature. In the months ahead, we will see that creation by intelligent design is a vastly more reasonable explanation for the origin of the complexity we see in living things than is evolution by mere chance and the intrinsic properties of nature.”

    -Dr. Menton received his Ph.D. in Biology from Brown University. He has been involved in biomedical research and education for over 30 years.

    Originally published in: St. Louis MetroVoice, October 1993, Vol. 3, No. 10

  119. Roen
  120. José

    Def: The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

    We know all about ID, and it doesn’t explain anything, let alone explain annthing better than evolution. It’s not science.

    David Menton is a lying quack.

  121. Keith

    Mr. Menton should have his Ph.D removed if he really said that.

    Actually, having googled him, only creationist websites appear. I wonder why?

  122. Mark

    Just for fun – ;)~

    To lose ourselves in the study of evolution is like the man losing himself in the constructions of a nightmare; a meaningless illusion of suffering and death. A fantasy island floating like a mirage over the true ocean of love all before him. Let that love come through by truly seeing what’s before your eyes.

    It’s time to take the red pill

    Ignoring the higher context of healing and salvation, the study of evolution is a myopic appeasement to the killing machine that is spacetime; awe-inspired applause along its wholly predictable parade route to death.

    “Ooh, look at how that yak’s coat is slightly thicker than yaks’ 100,000 years ago. How interesting! Bravo, nature! Bravo! Now be a good boy and trot on to your death, Mr. Yak.”

    “Oooh, look at how that tree frog is a slightly darker shade of green than its predecessors. How amazing! Bravo, nature! Now, hop along on to your death, little tree frog.”

    “Ooh, look how wonderfully balanced this parade is! Everybody’s dying in just the right amounts to keep it going!”

    As Einstein said, the way out of this optical delusion of an individual existence of ours—our animal existence—is to expand our circle of compassion to include all of nature. Observation and compassion are two different things. Josef Mengele made all kinds of observations.

    A movie critic watching that evolutionary parade would say, “This is the most predictable bunch of tripe I’ve ever seen. Costume changes don’t make a woefully predictable plot line more interesting.”

    Evolution doesn’t prove God exists, nor disprove God exists.

    It is a single shred of programming discovered inside a non-commutative matrix that kills everyone inside of it. Take the red pill, Nemo, and wake up.

  123. Mark

    It seems as though most scientists are uneasy with any theory that does not have its basis in the workings of a mindless nature for fear that the only alternative to this position, intelligent design, might bring back the darkness of superstition. However, many of these same scientists hope to find evidence, even historically based evidence, of intelligent life in the universe beyond our own world (SETI). Even within our own world, entire scientific disciplines, such as forensic science, are based on discovering the workings of purpose and intelligence. Clearly then, scientists seem quite confident in their abilities to detect intelligent activity as long as it has nothing to do with the origin of life or the fundamental workings of the universe and it isn’t given the label of “God”.

    It seems then that, “Design is ruled out not because it has been shown to be false but because science itself has been defined as applied materialistic [or mindless cause] philosophy.”

  124. Bill D

    I remember a good scientific study on the Loch Ness monsters published as a note in Limnology and Oceanography in 1972 (L&O is the top cited aquatic sciences journal and is available in jstor.org). The authors assumed that it was highly unlikely that the monster sighted over the last 100+ years was the last surviving individual. The main point of the article was to calculate how many such monsters could be supported by the fish production of Loch Ness. This is an interesting issue–why would anyone expect that there would be a single monster. The only possible explanation for the rather unlikely monster is that a relict population of marine reptiles somehow survived in the lake. Of course, it would make sense to estimate the orgin and age of the lake as well.

  125. Carlos Maso

    Mark,

    You can look at Science as a game where you try to find explanations for observations of the natural world without recourse to the supernatural. It works very well like this. Galileo challenged the interpretation of the Bible and won. The Catholic church rehabilited him 300 years later!… The Theory of Evolution will likewise be recognized universally some day…

    In their private lives, scientists have their own individual religious beliefs. There are those that are very religious all the way to those that are atheists. Their personal positions don’t interfere with their scientific work.

  126. Clearly then, scientists seem quite confident in their abilities to detect intelligent activity as long as it has nothing to do with the origin of life or the fundamental workings of the universe and it isn’t given the label of “God”.

    Even more clearly, scientists are quite confident in their ability to detect intelligent activity when there is in fact evidence for such.

    Thus, the difference between “science” and “intelligent design.”

  127. Bahdum (aka Richard)

    Evolution seems to be the best explanation for the variety of species of beetles. There are so many species, it’s as if the entire universe were created just for them. Some are like jewels, some are miniature war machines, and some just manage to find a home in your unopened box of Rice-A-Roni.

    From the ladybug, to the scarab (a god in his own right), to the bombardier beetle, to the aforementioned wheat weevil.

    ID attempts to classify the bombardier beetle as the herald of irreducible complexity, but does so laughably after some examination.

    If evolution is true (which it is), then you should be able to find species more closely related than others. On the other hand, if ID were true, then there should be no conceivable way to organize such a line, since they were each specially designed.

    And if ID were true (which is a fiction, at best) then some wacky designer spent so much time on beetles the It neglected to shore up the human abdominal muscle so as to not make men so vulnerable to hernias. Oh, and stomp out cannabis so we wouldn’t have to outlaw it. Just a couple of oversights there.

  128. Forgive me if this has already been mentioned in the comments – but exactly how do you go from “Nessie exists” to invalidating evolution? Leaving aside the ridiculousness of the first premise, the section quoted in Phil’s original post just doesn’t seem to show how the leap is made…

    I’m an evolutionist, and I’m all for open discussion on the topic (as that really is the only way we discover new ideas and strengthen existing ones) – but when there are huge gaps in the logic of the anti-evolutionists (okay – so there are lots of them, but at least some of them try hard to really think about what they’re saying, unlike the author of the quoted passage), it just makes me laugh.

  129. Carlos Maso

    Larian LeQuella,

    You said: “I also find the “Moral Guide” argument incredibly disturbing!”

    The use of the Bible as a ‘moral guide’ is already a significant improvement over the literal interpretation, but not enough yet, of course. In fact the Bible describes many instances of people behaving very badly – hardly a source of moral guidance. It is just the history of a people mixed with legends – just like Homer’s Iliad in ancient Greece. The word ‘religion’ does not appear anywhere in the Bible. The use of the Bible as a religious book is a much later development in its history.

    Both books are very interesting literature. The Iliad was used as the main source of education of the young by the Greeks. For more than 2000 years until today, many people in the World consider the Bible as a book of divine inspiration and a source of moral guidance. And this is not going to change anytime soon. So, what’s to be done about it?

    Well! If we look at our history we find that there has been too much fighting and killing of people over the issue of religious beliefs. I don’t need to remind you of the wars between Catholics and Protestants, the ‘Holy’ Inquisition, or the persecution of the Jews that ultimately led to the Holocaust. The answer to this situation was and still is the acceptance of the right of individuals to religious freedom and freedom of thought.

    This means tolerance of views different from our own – whether scientific or religious. Everybody must respect everybody’s views. That doesn’t mean that we have to agree with them, but only to let them think as they wish. The only exception is when people use their beliefs to justify violence or any form of hostility to other groups.

  130. José

    It seems as though most scientists are uneasy with any theory that does not have its basis in the workings of a mindless nature for fear that the only alternative to this position, intelligent design, might bring back the darkness of superstition.

    Scientists are uneasy with a theory that has no supporting evidence, as they should be.

    However, many of these same scientists hope to find evidence, even historically based evidence, of intelligent life in the universe beyond our own world (SETI).

    Yes. They hope to find EVIDENCE. So What?

    It seems then that, “Design is ruled out not because it has been shown to be false but because science itself has been defined as applied materialistic [or mindless cause] philosophy.”

    No. It has been ruled out because there is no evidence to support it, and there are mountains of evidence which support a different theory.

  131. @Mark
    Josef Mengele made all kinds of observations.
    I call Godwin’s. You lose. Time to take your pill (red or otherwise).

  132. Gareth

    Look deeper, find worse. My parents made me spend a year at a Christian school with a series of textbooks remarkably like these. On the plus side, even a child of twelve could see the obvious logical and causal defects of the texts, on the minus side it made catching up with science once back in a mainstream school a little harder.

    But what happens to people who have spent their entire education being taught such rubbish? And worse, the fact that such nonsense is supported by a system which strongly discourages such matter being questioned.

  133. Rift

    I always love it when the British that say the creationist hogwash is only an American phenomenon have to swallow their pride. How does crow tastes, guys?

  134. Flying sardines

    Finding young Earth creationist lunacy is like walking into an elephant paddock at a zoo and hoping to find poop.

    Personally, I’d rather NOT find a pile of elephant dung! ;-)

    Plus I always Nessie was proof NOT of creatinism bein’ true but instead that Dr Who was true. After all I’ve read Dr Who & the Loch Ness Monster * & that’s a lot more credible than any “ID” rubbish! ;-)

    —-

    * Third Doctor (John Pertwee), “Nessie” turns out to be a robot &/or ‘guardian pet.’ From memory I think the Silurians were behind it -or was it the Autons? Luckily not the Daleks – just imagine one of those pepperpots in a kilt w bagpipes! ;-)

    PS. Using ” …” trailoff ellipses = a crank /woo signal? D’oh! I use that & didn’t know – first I’ve heard that idea. :-(

  135. @Rift
    Chicken.
    What does hubris taste like? :-)

  136. Nigel Depledge

    Ruby (94) said:

    Just because u say creationist believe in the darndest thing doesn’t mean it’s true.

    Of course not.

    However, you have failed to notice something else: it ain’t true because we say so, but we say so because it’s true.

    Come on!!! STOP WHINING AND START DOING RESEARCH! We are here to do work, not backbite. SHEESH!!!!

    When has research ever changed the mind of a creationist?

    There are already mountains of evidence, acquired through research, that prove that YEC claims in particular (and creationist claims more generally) are so much horse-hooey.

  137. Nigel Depledge

    Toasterhead (99) said:

    Why is it that the religionists are so threatened by the science of evolution? If you look at the holy books as allegory instead of literal fact, the two can coexist quite peacefully. If, for example, you think of God as life – not some anthropomorphic superhero, but simply as life itself, biblical story and scientific fact are not mutually exclusive but mutually reinforcing. You can say that God – as the natural progression of living beings evolving over time – “created” humans and all other creatures on the planet. It doesn’t need a designer, it doesn’t need an intelligence. It just is that process of life doing what life does.

    There is also an anthropomorphic view of god that has no conflict with science – that god set everything up at the beginning to proceed according to natural laws and end up with humanity. After all, a being who is omniscient and omnipotent shouldn’t ever need to tinker with his creation, right?

    Or, more succinctly, evolution is god’s toolkit.

    Either way, that biological evolution has been happening over billions of years is a fact.

  138. Nigel Depledge

    Mark (102) said:

    Q: “Can you tell me anything you KNOW about Evolution? Any one thing? Any one thing that is true? “

    OK, assuming that this question is asked in a genuine sense of inquiry and you are not merely trolling, I have several answers:

    (1) Populations of biological entities change over time.
    (2) All life on Earth, from bacteriophages to bacteria to yeast to seaweed to jellyfish to turtles to trees to insects to mammals, shares the same genetic code. However, codon usage (i.e. where there is more than one codon for an amino acid, which codon is predominantly used in a given organism) varies across kingdoms and phyla but shows good consistency between genera and species.
    (3) The monomeric but double-size dUTPase enzyme encoded by HSV-1 arose through gene duplication from the common ancestral dUTPase monomer (in nearly all organisms, dUTPase operates as a homotrimer).
    (4) Earth’s biota have changed dramatically in the past. These changes have typically taken millions of years.
    (5) Populations of organisms change in response to selection pressures.

    I could go on, but I think this is enough to convey a flavour of the kinds of facts that have led to the conclusions that have informed modern evolutionary theory.

  139. Veridia Moonbat

    AAAAWWW C’mon guys…. everyone knows that evolution isn’t real! Charles Darwin faked his own death in 1882 and started to fake all the fossil evidence for evolution, with some help from his youthful lab assistant PZ “The Squid Master” Myers! Piltdown man was just one of their fakes that was badly done and outed. They got better and went on to create the burgess shale fossils, though all that minutely detailed work left Myers having to wear glasses. The laryngeal nerve and the leg bones in whales were the best work they’ve done so far. The heathens then went on to alchemically create Richard Dawkins, from the seed of demons, to propagate their evil atheistic evolutionary agenda.
    That great and respected international scientist Dr Kent Hovind and his friend Dr Harloon Yahoo have published much peer reviewed real science to show the total bankruptcy of evolution. C’mon now guys give it up, evolution is dead.

  140. Darth Robo

    Great. Mark’s decided to ignore everyone’s post and go on a propaganda spree. Just what we wanted – to be preached at.

    Just for the record, his “scientific alternative” appears to be: Goddidit!

  141. Darth Robo

    Rift

    >>>”I always love it when the British that say the creationist hogwash is only an American phenomenon have to swallow their pride. How does crow tastes, guys?”

    It tastes terrible. But we’ve always had it. But for the most part, until more recently that is, they’ve been more ignorable so to speak. But now, thanks to you guys and your ID nonsense, they’re thinking “Wahey!”

    Note this interesting part of the article:

    “Teenagers studying for the certificate, which is taught in about 50 private Christian schools in the UK, spend half their time learning from evangelical US textbooks.”

    For a long time now, (as noted by last year’s Channel 4 ‘Dispatches’ programme) British fundies have had support from US Creationists. A few years back, the laughably named British fundie organisation called “Truth In Science” sent out ID “information packs” with booklets, DVD’s etc to many public schools across the UK. The origin of which was the Discovery Institute in Seattle. As the saying goes, follow the money…

  142. Nigel Depledge

    @ Mark (105) – OK, it’s obvious from this post that you are a creationist troll with no interest in learning. However, I will address your whines for the benefit of everyone else out there.

    Mark (105) said:

    1: Evolution has never been witnessed…

    This is an outright lie.

    Speciation events have been recorded. Go to Talk Origins and search for “speciation”.

    The evolution of viruses happens extremely rapidly (in fact, it is so fast that the term “species” has almost no real meaning in virology) and is a significant cause for concern among medical virologists.

    although huge quantities of circumstantial evidence exist.

    This is disingenuous – you admit that there is evidence, but dismiss its power by calling it circumstantial. In fact, it’s largely not circumstantial. Most of it is direct.

    Even if it were all circumstantial, however, evolution would still be better-supported than any of the creationist accounts.

    2: Science is constantly trying to prove the theory of evolution

    Not true.

    Science is trying to refine evolutionary theory by developing a deeper understanding of evolutionary mechanisms (such as natural selection, hybridisation, genetic drift etc.). Science is also seeking to acquire a more detailed view of the history of life on Earth. But the basics of evolutionary theory are already known to be either true or a good approximation.

    with the theory that life ’self-generated’ into a pool of amino acids and proteins by complete chance…

    This is abiogenesis, which is a separate scientific endeavour (although, of course, evolutionary principles will apply at the molecular level too). Your use of the term “complete chance” is misleading (deliberately so? I wonder). The chemistry that would have occurred in whatever concoction in which life actually began would have followed the laws of physics and chemistry, so is not at all random – merely complicated. If you think about it for a short time, you will be able to see that the first self-replicator did not need to be good at what it did. It needed only to be adequate.

    Besides, the current prevailing thoughts on abiogenesis are that it all started with RNA, which can both encode information and perform catalysis.

    so far all experiments to attempt to manufacture a self replicating DNA based Molecule have come to no result.

    Please refer to the experiment that attempted to produce a “DNA based Molecule”. You see, I don’t believe any abiogenesis experiments have ever expected to produce DNA, because they don’t need to.

    Also if successful this would pose an interesting paradox about creation…being Science creating a self replicating molecule…it did not create itself as the theory of evoloution suggests.

    This is nonsense.

    What occurred according to the laws of chemistry once can, in principle, occur again, given the right conditions and enough time. However, the conditions under which abiogenesis occurred originally are no longer to be found anywhere except in labs performing these experiments. Life pervades the entire planet, yet life was not present when abiogenesis occurred. Any complex organic molecules that do form spontaneously now will quickly be ingested by a microorganism of some kind.

    Science is not telling the molecules what to do, it is providing the conditions for the molecules to do what they are bound to do according to the laws of chemistry.

    3: Fossil record is incomplete, yes sure we share similar bone structures to other animals etc.. but there is no defined developmental line of slight mutation per generation to warrant it being evidence for the time being, but it is getting stronger.

    This is rubbish.

    Morphological evidence from the fossil record is, by itself, extremely powerful. The bones in your arm, for instance, are the same as the bones in a bat’s wing, or a seal’s flipper, yet these structures perform entirely different roles. And, in addition to this type of evidence, there are also extremely good transitional sequences showing incremental changes from one form to another. For example, the evolution of the horse from its forest-dwelling ancestor, the evolution of the whale from its hippo-like ancestor, and the evolution of birds from a group of dinosaurs.

    As for the fossil record being incomplete, I can only answer that with another question: what would “complete” mean? While there are many areas where we would like to have more detail (for example, in the evolution of genus Homo from Australopithecus), the fossil record is sufficiently complete to demonstrate (1) that life has changed over time; (2) that, for instance, mammals arose from a series of ancestor species that had a mixture of mammalian and reptilian morphological features, gradually including more “mammal-like” features and fewer “reptile-like” features; and (3) that the skeletal features of modern-day vertebrates are directly comparable with those of vertebrates from 100 million years ago, or 200 million years ago, but that the differences we observe are consistent with evolutionary change and not any other proposed explanation.

  143. Nigel Depledge

    Darth Robo (108) said:

    … Evolution makes absolutely positively NO claim as to the existence (or lack thereof) of any god. The fact that there is as much evidence for the Flying Spaghetti Monster as there is for any other God or Gods is a completely separate issue.

    In fact, in TOOS, Darwin refers to creation as one or a few events that started the whole thing off.

    What seems to distinguish modern creationists from other forms of religious believers is that the creationists insist that god created living things in separate “kinds”. However, that appears to be the only thing on which different kinds of creationists agree. Including the meaning of the word “kind”.

  144. Nigel Depledge

    Carlos Maso (113) said:

    Most of the criticisms that I see about Evolution are totally groundless. Evolution is the central theme of Biology and one of the most important scientific theories of all time. Darwin was for Biology what Newton was for Physics.

    I disagree with this. Physics has no equivalent of Evolutionary Theory (yet). What I would say here is that Darwin is to biology what Newton, Einstein, Bohr and Maxwell in combination are to physics.

  145. toasterhead

    141. Nigel Depledge Says:
    August 17th, 2009 at 3:13 am

    There is also an anthropomorphic view of god that has no conflict with science – that god set everything up at the beginning to proceed according to natural laws and end up with humanity. After all, a being who is omniscient and omnipotent shouldn’t ever need to tinker with his creation, right?

    Or, more succinctly, evolution is god’s toolkit.

    Either way, that biological evolution has been happening over billions of years is a fact.
    ___________

    Ah, the anthropic principle, eh? I think Douglas Adams put it best:

    Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’

    Although it does allow for evolution, I find the idea a little dangerous. First, it’s an act of special arrogance to assume that some intelligence set the principles of DNA replication and mutation in motion 1.5 billion years ago specifically to create us. Second, though the assumption that the planet was formed to create us might inspire some to believe that we are the stewards of it and must protect it at all costs, it leads others to believe that it is ours to trash.

    The other trouble I have is that it may not be an anthropic principle at all. What if this world was NOT actually created for us, but for another species? The cockroach, perhaps, or the dolphin. Or the dodo. Or the neandertaal. Or a species that is to come 500 million years from now. If you believe that the wheels of evolution were set in motion in order to create one dominant species as stewards of this world, you must also believe in the possibility that we’re the mistake rather than the goal.

  146. Nigel Depledge

    Mark (120) said:

    Don’t get me wrong- I am not dismissing Evolution on a whole as false- that would be kind of like ‘throwing out the baby with the bath water’.

    What?

    First, if you are not dimsissing evolution, why the hell are you regurgitating long-refuted creationist arguments?

    Second, how can you dismiss parts of evolutionary theory (as you imply by your use of the phrase “as a whole”)? It’s a unifying framework. In its modern form, it either hangs together or it doesn’t.

    To which parts of it do you object?

    . . .
    I must admit I am more intrigued by the arguements put forth by proponents of ID or ‘Intelligent Design’.

    Arguments? What arguments?

    Did you mean Behe’s arguments from personal incredulity?

    Or Wells’s arguments from ignorance?

    Or Dembski’s obfuscation and equivocation?

    Or his arguments by analogy?

    Or the many and repeated strawman attacks on evolutionary theory, that rely on a false dichotomy and a pack of lies?

    Def: The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

    You can “hold that” anything you like is true, but your “definition” isn’t a definition. That sentence is merely an outcome. It does not say what “ID theory” actually is.

    ID answers no questions, unless you already believe in a creator god, in which case it merely confirms your preconception. ID raises many questions that its authors outright refuse to address. Here are a few examples:
    (1) How many designers?
    (2) How was the design actualised?
    (3) What exactly has been designed?
    (4) Why does the “explanatory filter” not consider combinations of law and chance?
    (5) Why have ID principles never been used to identify design in the real world without applying contextual knowledge?
    (6) When was the designer active?
    and the biggies:
    (7) Who or what is / are the designer(s)?
    (8) If complexity “cannot” arise from natural processes, who designed the designer(s)?

    I guess I see no reason for the deliberate dumbing down of creation…or debates thereof in the public forum.

    And yet that is what the creationists always do, and you have fallen for their tricks in reiterating their arguments. Creationists rely on argument by soundbite, because most of their target audience does not want to wade through 400 pages of text to understand the issues. Even the longest posts in a thread like this can hope to be nothing more than summaries of or brief primers for evolutionary theory.

  147. Nigel Depledge

    Mark (124) said:

    Ignoring the higher context of healing and salvation, the study of evolution is a myopic appeasement to the killing machine that is spacetime; awe-inspired applause along its wholly predictable parade route to death.

    This is complete and utter gibberish, as was the rest of that comment.

  148. Nigel Depledge

    Mark (125) said:

    It seems as though most scientists are uneasy with any theory that does not have its basis in the workings of a mindless nature for fear that the only alternative to this position, intelligent design, might bring back the darkness of superstition.

    Oh, boy, so much wrong to address…

    First off, no. Most scientists are uneasy with any theory that “does not have its basis in the workings of a mindless nature” because there is no evidence that nature is anything but mindless.

    Now, please define the term “mind” in a universally-applicable way.

    Second, ID is not any kind of alternative because it is empty. It isn’t a theory. Cutting through the strawman attacks and all the other fluff surrounding ID, you arrive at this:

    ID states that: someone, somewhere, designed some stuff in nature, somehow.

    If there were any meaning to assuming intelligence (however you care to define that loaded term) has been applied to natural systems, then science would accept this. However, ID is a meaningless whitewash of creationism.

    ID has not only no scientific merit, it has no merit of any kind.

    However, many of these same scientists hope to find evidence, even historically based evidence, of intelligent life in the universe beyond our own world (SETI).

    Yes, and notice how SETI defines “intelligence” : technology. Rather than getting into the metaphysics, they have been pragmatic. SETI is entirely based on the assumption that intelligent life will generate a technology that, at least in some ways, resembles our own.

    Even within our own world, entire scientific disciplines, such as forensic science, are based on discovering the workings of purpose and intelligence.

    Nope. Those disciplines (let’s include archaeology too) detect the workings of humans. And we know a heck of a lot about people: how they work, what motivates them, how they think and so on. In archaeology, we do not detect “design”, we detect manufacture, which is a whole lot less metaphysical and a whole lot more practical.

    Clearly then, scientists seem quite confident in their abilities to detect intelligent activity as long as it has nothing to do with the origin of life or the fundamental workings of the universe and it isn’t given the label of “God”.

    No. What is clear is that you are trying to manufacture a false dichotomy. There is nothing about forensic science or archaeology that detects “design” as an intrinsic property of anything. Scientists in these disciplines are confident in their ability to detect human activity.

    It seems then that, “Design is ruled out not because it has been shown to be false but because science itself has been defined as applied materialistic [or mindless cause] philosophy.”

    And again, you have fallen for the creationist smokescreen. Science is quite happy to accept intelligent causes wherever there is evidence to support such an explanation.

    ID falls down for many reasons, but one of those is that it has not defined a means by which we might detect “design” as an intrinsic property of a thing. Dembski at one point defined “design” in such a way that natural selection itself qualified as a design process (which it is, but it was a surprise to find that Dembski did not notice that his definition allowed NS to be included thus), but then so did a sieve so it was not a useful definition.

  149. To all those who claim that “no transitional fossils have been found”:
    Not only are there numerous fossils of transitional forms – archaeopteryx being the best known and most obvious – but there are also a number of transitional forms still alive in the world today.
    Haven’t these people ever heard of the duck-billed platypus????? What the hell is that, if not a transitional form between a reptile and a mammal? Ditto the echidna.
    Then there is also the hoatzin, which is equally clearly a transitional form between a reptile and a bird.

  150. @ Toasterhead:

    Ah, the anthropic principle, eh? … Although it does allow for evolution, I find the idea a little dangerous. First, it’s an act of special arrogance to assume that some intelligence set the principles of DNA replication and mutation in motion 1.5 billion years ago specifically to create us.

    That’s a misread of the anthropic principle.

    The AP does not state that any “intelligence” set the principles of DNA in motion specifically to create humans, or any creature for that matter.

    Rather, it makes the simple observation that any universe in which beings such as ourselves exist (like ours) must have the right conditions for our sort of life to exist. If those conditions didn’t exist, we wouldn’t be here to wonder about it.

    Mind you, some have tried to expand the simple anthropic principle into arguments that support ID or other such drivel, but these efforts are specious at best. The “principle” at its core is really just a statement of the obvious (“We’re here, so your theory better account for that.”). It says nothing about how those right conditions arose, or for that matter what they even were (and whether or not they stayed constant over time).

    @ Neil Haggath:

    I think more obvious examples of living “transition” species would be horses and donkeys. The two are separate species, but a female horse and a male donkey can successfully reproduce, but their offspring — a mule — is infertile and cannot reproduce itself.

    Clearly, horse and donkey are close enough to breed, but just far enough apart so that any actual interbreeding does not affect either population. They are transitional, relative to each other.

    This issue, furthermore, highlights a typical creationist/non-scientific view of evolution, in which the “species” we know today are seen somehow as the targets of evolution, its ultimate goals, with everything that came before somehow set on a deliberate path in order to reach this current state.

    Nonsense. As Stephen Gould so eloquently argued, the slightest chance event or changing circumstances could have turned the whole thing topsy turvy. There was no design being followed. And every fossil that has ever been discovered is just as much a “transition” as any other, in that every fossil represents a happily reproducing population, isolated from others, possibly interbreeding with close relatives (like the horse and donkey), but otherwise perfectly content to be labeled a species or not.

    @ Nigel:

    Wow. Burning the keyboard again, eh? :)

  151. Nigel Depledge

    Carlos Maso (132) said:

    This means tolerance of views different from our own – whether scientific or religious. Everybody must respect everybody’s views. That doesn’t mean that we have to agree with them, but only to let them think as they wish. The only exception is when people use their beliefs to justify violence or any form of hostility to other groups.

    As a general principle, this is fine. In any technical topic, however, the viewpoint founded on ignorance must always be of lesser value than an informed opinion. For example, if I were to discuss enzyme kinetics with the BA (for instance), I suspect that his viewpoint would necessarily be formed on information that I can convey; OTOH, if we were to discuss the hazards posed by a supernova (hmmm … didn’t someone write a book about such things recently?), my opinion is the one that has lesser value, because it is formed on less information and less understanding.

  152. Nigel Depledge

    Toasterhead (148) said:

    Although it does allow for evolution, I find the idea a little dangerous. First, it’s an act of special arrogance to assume that some intelligence set the principles of DNA replication and mutation in motion 1.5 billion years ago specifically to create us. Second, though the assumption that the planet was formed to create us might inspire some to believe that we are the stewards of it and must protect it at all costs, it leads others to believe that it is ours to trash.

    The other trouble I have is that it may not be an anthropic principle at all. What if this world was NOT actually created for us, but for another species? The cockroach, perhaps, or the dolphin. Or the dodo. Or the neandertaal. Or a species that is to come 500 million years from now. If you believe that the wheels of evolution were set in motion in order to create one dominant species as stewards of this world, you must also believe in the possibility that we’re the mistake rather than the goal.

    Well, I never said it was logically defensible (although I guess many arguments have been made along those lines), just that it does not conflict with what science has discovered so far.

    Myself, I find it hard to top the parsimonious explanation – that the universe we observe looks like it formed by the action of natural laws precisely because it formed by the action of natural laws.

  153. Nigel Depledge

    Kuhnigget (153) said:

    Wow. Burning the keyboard again, eh?

    Er … yes, although it hasn’t caught fire yet. However, there does appear to be a head-sized crater forming in my desk just in front of the keyboard.

  154. 153. kuhnigget Says:
    August 17th, 2009 at 7:58 am
    @ Toasterhead:

    That’s a misread of the anthropic principle.

    The AP does not state that any “intelligence” set the principles of DNA in motion specifically to create humans, or any creature for that matter.

    Rather, it makes the simple observation that any universe in which beings such as ourselves exist (like ours) must have the right conditions for our sort of life to exist. If those conditions didn’t exist, we wouldn’t be here to wonder about it.
    ____________

    Ok, fair enough. But it also is an unprovable tautology. Since we can’t visit any other universes, we have no way of knowing whether life can exist if, say, the gravitational constant is 6.653 × 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2 instead of 6.673, or if the speed of light is 279 million meters per second instead of 299. It’s possible that there are universes out there with every possible combination of cosmological constants, and any number of them could also create the conditions for life based on their own configuration.

    Now there’s another idea that there is no free will. That every event that has happened or will happen in the universe is a result of the vectors of the particles that formed soon after the Big Bang, from the Cassiopeia A supernova to the Chicxulub impact to American Idol, is just the natural motion of particles along predetermined vectors. Free will, then, is an illusion, and all life is preprogrammed. It’s completely unproveable, totally depressing, but still plausible (not that I’d use “my molecular vectors made me do it” as a defense in a criminal trial).

    But it fits in with the “we’re here because we’re meant to be here” concept.

  155. 155. Nigel Depledge Says:
    August 17th, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Well, I never said it was logically defensible (although I guess many arguments have been made along those lines), just that it does not conflict with what science has discovered so far.
    ________________

    True, but then it can’t conflict by definition, can it? I mean, if it were discovered that the natural laws of the universe DIDN’T support life, we’d all be in a lot of trouble…

  156. @ Nigel:

    But it also is an unprovable tautology. Since we can’t visit any other universes, we have no way of knowing whether life can exist if, say …

    I would agree with that, and I would also add that, as far as the anthropic principle is concerned, it doesn’t matter what the conditions necessary for our existence are, so long as they are present.

    As Stephen Gould also pointed out, for all we know now (or then, actually), life could be perfectly tenacious enough to form in and adapt to a pretty wide range of circumstances, meaning the anthropic principle isn’t really so much of a limiting factor as once thought.

    American Idol the result of particle vectors? Hm. Must have been some of that evil anti-matter stuff.

  157. ND

    Nigel Depledge needs a helmet :) One of those round open faced biker helmets. We don’t want you getting a concussion.

  158. @John Paradox,

    I suppose that’s the difference between the Christian and Jewish interpretations of that story. In Christianity (as far as I understand it), Adam and Eve disobeying God’s “no forbidden fruit” order is the cause of original sin which, in turn, is a big deal for generations to come (and factors into the whole Christ story). In Judaism, there’s no “original sin” concept and definitely no Christ. Instead, repentance is key. When you do something bad, the only way to be forgiven is to sincerely ask for forgiveness.

    Looking at it from the repentance angle, the interpretation I posted makes sense. Adam and Eve did something wrong and God is giving them the chance to repent. They could have said “We’re sorry. We ate from the forbidden fruit when we knew we shouldn’t have.” Instead, Adam said “It’s all Eve’s fault” and Eve said “It’s that snake’s fault.” They tried to blame someone else for their own wrongdoings instead of stepping forward, accepting their share of the blame, and sincerely saying “I’m sorry.” That is what got Adam and Eve kicked out of Eden.

  159. Uncle It

    Check This Out : God made hermaphrodites too! (The people who have both sexual organs) Oh by the way, hermaphrodites not only exist in humans, but in other species as well. So now if a person has both sexual organs, who can decide but themselves about their sexual preferences? They obviously have the genetic make up that might lead to one preference or another or even both. They exist in every race and every culture. A mistake by God or simply the way the gene pool came out? Oh by the way, female sheep have a clitoris too! What is its purpose? for procreation only or is there pleasure involved? Ask the questions to a creationist and see what their answer will be? They can’t answer or for sure they will tell you that you are not suppose to question God or He will send you a bolt of lighting from the sky and kill you for asking such a question. Hum!

    Why do millions of innocent women and children suffer each from sickness, diseases and starvation from a “God who so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son”? Or that
    just have faith and your prayer will be answered while the prayers of the millions of innocents go unanswered and plain and simply put “THEY JUST DIE!

    How easy it is just to blame everything on the fall of mankind via Adam and Eve! But wait a minute, isn’t God all knowing of the past present and future? Didn’t He already know that Adam and Eve would choose this path even before He created them if He’s all knowing?
    What is this? A big game or something? So in other words, us poor little humans were suppose to deal with and overcome some Cheribum Angel that was suppose to be the highest being next to God in power named Lucifer as the creationist say. in other words after 6000 years of creation, here we are in 2009 and can’t even solve simple issues such as discrimination, poverty, diseases, and yet we were suppose to deal with some angelic being that was so powerful until he took ” a third of the heavenly host with him when he was cast out of Heaven”. Wow and they say that “we only use about 1/5th of the power of our brain! Where did that stupid statement with no scientific basis come from anyway?

    Anyway who cares about all this stuff anyway when we’ll never be able to solve most of it anyway! LETS JUST ROCK AND ROLL! Put some ACDC on right now!

  160. Gary Ansorge

    Life:
    Definition:

    A self sustaining, self replicating pattern of mass/energy.

    Could that come into existence in a universe in which the relationship between the universal constants did not allow for matter to form galaxies and complex atoms?

    Answer:

    Beats me but the next time I create a universe maybe I should make one like that, just to see.

    GAry 7

  161. In the episode of MonsterTalk I posted yesterday (a skeptical podcast about monsters) we talked about this very issue with a long-time researcher.

    MONSTER TALK
    Glen Kuban (http://paleo.cc) has done extensive research on two cases important to monster enthusiasts. His article explaining the true nature of the “mysterious” carcass netted by the Japanese fishing vessel Zuiyo-maru and his decades long investigation into the alleged “giant humanoid tracks” in the Paluxy fossil bed in Texas both highlight the importance of a thorough investigation before assuming the remarkable is true. In the case of the Zuiyo-Mary, the carcass bore a preliminary similarity to plesiosaur remains – an animal which should have been extinct for millions of years.

    And in the case of the Paluxy tracks, the appearance of hominid tracks fossilized along-side dinosaur tracks would have given young-earth creationists a potential falsification for the theory of evolution. Glen examined that case and his work revealed that the tracks were not those of a prehistoric giant people – but rather weathered dinosaur tracks led to an interesting confrontation with the young-earth creationists.

    Glen reported his evidence actually got a retraction from a YEC proponent.

  162. All this thread needs, now, is for chuck to show up.

  163. Kevin

    I can see where the creationist thing is coming from, really. I am a Christian, myself, but I’m not a ‘the Bible is 100% correct!’ type who won’t agree to look past something that, really, is only slightly more legitimate in practice than the other pagan myths (and on that note: Why don’t people believe in Zeus or Osiris or Thor anymore?)

    I don’t imagine God wanted us all to be blindly following a bunch of writings put on paper. There is more to the Bible than just ‘this is what happened.’ I went to an amazing Bible study when I lived with my parents, the pastor taught so much more than ‘this is what the Bible says.’ He taught straight down to the very essence of every word in the book. We started the book of John the year before I went to college and by the time I came back from college, we were still only part of the way through.

    For every Creationist-Bible-is-Infallible type, there is a Look-Past-the-Words-on-the-Page type. I believe what’s important. There’s one part of the Bible that I believe never should be taken out of context, and brilliantly and dramatically illustrates the reason I am a Christian, ‘”Love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, and strength,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”‘

    I also believe that, even if it’s evolutionary, this world is still made for us. Thank God that the color of trees isn’t some garish purple, and the sky isn’t a harsh orange, and we don’t have blue skin… everything on Earth (well, almost everything) is just amazing if you sit back and look at it. Evolution or not, we live on a pretty planet.

  164. Lawrence

    But Kevin, you assume that we wouldn’t find those colors to be just as beautiful, if they were always that way. We love things the way they are, because they are that way. If the sky was Red, or the trees Purple, we would know them to always be that way – hence, there would be no difference.

    If we evolved to have three arms, it would be the way that it was – no more, no less. If dinosaurs had continued to evolve & not wiped out – humanoid reptiles could be having this conversation right now – how perfect the world was for them to be in it.

    So, it is all about context.

  165. 162. TechyDad Says:

    @John Paradox,

    I suppose that’s the difference between the Christian and Jewish interpretations of that story. In Christianity (as far as I understand it), Adam and Eve disobeying God’s “no forbidden fruit” order is the cause of original sin which, in turn, is a big deal for generations to come (and factors into the whole Christ story).

    Pretty much what the dogma of Catholic and Protestant churches push, that it was ‘necessary’ for Jesus/Yeshua to die as a sacrifice to ‘cleanse’ the souls of good people, both those who had already lived and died, and those to come.
    [oh, BTW.. count me as 11.75 years of Catholic School, including all religious classes]

    ” They tried to blame someone else for their own wrongdoings instead of stepping forward, accepting their share of the blame, and sincerely saying “I’m sorry.” That is what got Adam and Eve kicked out of Eden.

    Always interesting to hear other views (official, that is.. why I took at least one Comparative Religion class)… but the most interesting view of the Eden expulsion story is one done by ignoring all ‘official’ teachings. I actually posed the question some time ago here on BA… if you read Genesis 3:22 (translation into King James version) there seems to be concern that after eating the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve could have become immortal:
    22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

    I’d noticed this after reading one of my books about ‘who wrote the Bible?’, where the singular and plural terms alternating in Genesis were pointed out.
    I’d give you more information on the source, but the heat/lingering illness are starting to shut me down

    J/P=?

  166. IVAN3MAN

    Kevin:

    I also believe that, even if it’s evolutionary, this world is still made for us. Thank God that the color of trees isn’t some garish purple, and the sky isn’t a harsh orange, and we don’t have blue skin… everything on Earth (well, almost everything) is just amazing if you sit back and look at it. Evolution or not, we live on a pretty planet.

    Err… beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Somewhere in the Universe, there is an alien planet where evolution took a different route and all the trees have purple foliage, and those aliens will probably regard our planet, with its generally green foliaged plants, as “garish”.

  167. Chuck
  168. The question is not whether a representative of the Chucks of the world would arrive, rather do you suppose there is the slightest possibility he/she might actually have learned something about biology by now?

    And no, that is not an invitation to spew non-science from creationist websites, post quotes snipped piecemeal from someone whose book actually proves the opposite of your own point of view, or type endless screeds of tangential gobbledygook while steadfastly avoiding answering anyone’s questions.

  169. let’s have some fun and change sides .try to win it for the other side if you can. lets see who has a well useful mind

  170. PaulG

    @ Mike

    A fish could too turn into a dinosaur. God could change him if he wanted too, he just chooses not to. Instead, he chose to create morons. And they chose to create, well, creationism.

    @ Strahlungsamt

    Over here, Obama is not only a communist, he’s also a nazi! And a socialist. And the antichrist. He’s a socialist commie-nazi antichrist. And he wants to rule the whole world with his new world order black helecopter death panels. When are you Irish going to get it straight!

    @ Gary Ansorge

    Dangit Gary! Yuh cain’t be no suthun boy cuz yuh donno howda talk suthun! Yuh nothin’ but a dang lar! Yuh mus be purdy dang ignert, uhthewise yuh’d know yuh shudenoughta be bad-mouthin’ us suthunuhs cos if’n yuh do, we gonna be fixin’ tuh smack yuh raht up-side that thar haid uh yers with that thar board raht o’er thar, an weuns’ll give yuh the awfullest haidache y’ever had! An y’ain’t got no more chance uh avohdn’ that than a kerosene cayht in hell wif gasoline drawers on. Wah, yer so ignert yuh prolly don’t eeven know that “y’all” is the plural of “yuh” an that “all y’all” is the plural of “y’all.” Betcha didn’t know that thar now dija!

    @ Grand Lunar

    Creationists honor the 9th Commandment the way the Catholic Church honors the 2nd Commandment (for all of the hethens out there, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”)

    @ Iain Park

    Creationists are anti-evolution because they think that biological evolution is a scientific explanation of the origin of life on Earth. Apparently, it hasn’t dawned on them that that particular question is in the realm of chemistry, or maybe physics, but definitely not biology. See, it’s all Charles Darwin’s fault for giving his book the title “On the Origin of Species.” It was his obligation to be more clear by naming it something like “How Little Turtles Became Big Turtles After God Created Turtles.” And then we have guys like Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers (sorry, guys) who are so eager to explain stuff that they try to explain what happened rather than just say “I dunno. Go ask that guy in Chemistry.”

  171. José

    That can’t be the real Chuck. The real Chuck would never use that many capital letters.

  172. Let me toss in a quick ‘thanks’ to those who have suggested more books about religion. I just spent a few minutes looking at my bookshelf of the subject, and decided to list off a few of my ‘occasional recreational reading’ titles.

    Joseph Campbell: The Hero with a Thousand Faces
    Nag Hammadi Library (English translation)
    Myths of Religion (Fr. Andrew Greeley)
    Q: the lost Gospel
    Lost Books of the Bible
    The Passover Plot
    Paul the Convert
    The Dead Sea Scrolls in English
    Asimov’s Guide to the Bible, Vols 1,2
    Who Wrote The Bible (R>E>Friedman)
    Jesus and the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Barbara Thiering)
    Early Christian Heresies
    Oxford Companion to the Bible
    How to Read The Bible (Charpentier – trans. from French)
    Why I Am Not A Christian – Bertrand Russel
    The Mythmaker (missing – how Paul created Christianity)

    J/P=?

  173. ND

    John Paradox.

    Are there any comparisons between the various translations of the bible in different languages and churches? If so how do they treat Adam and Eve and the apple?

  174. José

    @ND
    The Nag Hammadi texts used by early Gnostics Cristians contain interesting reinterpretations of traditional Christian text, some making the Old Testament God an evil demon and Eve a hero for eating the fruit. As a bonus, Jesus is entertainingly nuts in some of their Gospels as well.

  175. ND

    José,

    “entertainingly nuts”?

    I just looked up Nag Hammadi and according to Wiki:

    “Nag Hammadi is best known for being the site where local farmers found a sealed earthenware jar containing thirteen leather-bound papyrus codices, together with pages torn from another book, in December 1945. The farmers burned one of the books and parts of a second (including its cover). Thus twelve of these books (one missing its cover) and the loose pages survive[1]. The writings in these codices, dating back to the 2nd century AD.”

    Burned?! gah! That’s a nightmarish scenario for historical artifacts.

    I got interested in the Adam/Eve post apple eating bit John wrote about and looked up the Armenian version of the bible. Here’s a text:

    Տէր Աստուած ասաց. «Ահա Ադամը դարձաւ մեզ նման մէկը, նա գիտի բարին եւ չարը։ Արդ, գուցէ նա ձեռքը մեկնի, քաղի կենաց ծառից, ուտի եւ անմահ դառնայ»։

    Rough translation, by no means academic: God said, “Adam has become someone like us in that he now knows good and evil. Perhaps he may reach and pick from the tree of life and become immortal.”

  176. @ ND:

    God said, “Adam has become someone like us …

    There are numerous instances in the old testament of Yahweh (God) referring to “us” when talking about gods.

    The passages reflect a time when Yahweh was one among many gods worshipped in Canaan by the proto-Israelites. The Yahwists did not become strictly monotheistic until many centuries after the first Yahweh mythologies became holy writ. Up until that time, the big guy in the sky co-existed just fine (albeit somewhat feistily) with other gods.

    The idea that the old testament, or the new, for that matter, arrived in one monolithic chunk of text flies in the face of the historic reality. In a rather delicious irony, religions evolve, just like everything else.

  177. Adam has become someone like us

    Maybe, to paraphrase Mark Twain, god has a tape worm.

  178. SimonC

    Mark, upthread.
    I’m fascinated by your views. Can you provide evidence of these thoughts? My wish is to publish your drivel beside my own. The two of us couldn’t fail in our mission. Hoping to hear from you soon.
    Simon.

    PS. My new friend Floyd Rubber wants to ‘meet’ you. His Love In Christ is quite memorable.

    (All credit to Mr Smoggy Batzrubble – hope I did you well)

  179. Nigel Depledge

    Kuhnigget (160) said:

    @ Nigel:

    But it also is an unprovable tautology. Since we can’t visit any other universes, we have no way of knowing whether life can exist if, say …

    I would agree with that, and I would also add that, as far as the anthropic principle is concerned, it doesn’t matter what the conditions necessary for our existence are, so long as they are present.

    Erm, you presented that parag as a quote, but I didn’t say that – maybe it was another commenter?

    Regarding the AP, I think the weak AP (that if the universe were not the way it is, we would not exist to marvel at how it is) is pretty much a statement of the bleedin’ obvious, and the strong AP (that the universe is the way it is for our benefit) has insufficient evidence to support it.

  180. Nigel Depledge

    John Paradox (169) said:

    Pretty much what the dogma of Catholic and Protestant churches push, that it was ‘necessary’ for Jesus/Yeshua to die as a sacrifice to ‘cleanse’ the souls of good people, both those who had already lived and died, and those to come.

    I think this [thread] is getting needlessly messianic*.

    * Bonus points to the first commenter to ID the reference.

  181. petrolonfire

    What – Intelligently Design that ref? ;-)

    Or do you mean *identify* it instead?

    Well, I don’t wish to play god or even demi-god so I’ll just take a guess or three at the source :

    Uh, was it the Torah / Talmud or whatever the Jews call the Old Testament bit with the Messiah (Messiach?) or “Saviour” in it maybe?

    That, or Dr Who? ;-)

    Or maybe Monty Python’s Life of Brien? ;-)

    That’s my three guesses anyway.

  182. Nigel Depledge

    Petrolonfire – sorry, no, but Monty P was your closest guess.

  183. Nigel Depledge

    Right, now to get into the meat of this one…

    The BA quoted from the creationist textbook:

    Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie,’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine,

    Which could have been a variety of other things.

    described by eyewitnesses,

    Which means nothing, as eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, especially when describing something unfamiliar.

    and photographed by others.

    And none of the photos is even good enough to prove that Nessie is an animal.

    Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.

    Wrong. Plesiosaur is just one of many speculations about the Nessie phenomenon. And there is no evidence to suggest that “plesiosaur” is a more plausible explanation than an odd-shaped log.

    Could a fish have developed into a dinosaur?

    This question is disingenuous, as it implies the metamorphosis of one individual into a completely different organism. However, if we restate the question as “could a primitive fish-like species give rise, over tens or hundreds of millions of years, to descendents that include the dinosaurs?” then it becoimes a bit closer to science.

    As astonishing as it may seem,

    This is an outright lie, because what follows is not astonishing but obvious to anyone familiar with the fossil record.

    many evolutionists

    Not “many”, all. And not “evolutionists” but “people who have studied biology and/or palaeontology”.

    theorize

    And not “theorise” but “conclude”. The theory explains how it occurs. The conclusion that the ancestors of all land vertebrates were a kind of fish-like species is a direct conclusion from the evidence.

    that fish evolved into amphibians and amphibians into reptiles.

    This is also slightly misleading.

    The implication here is that modern fish turned into modern amphibians and that modern amphibians turned into modern reptiles, but this view is false.

    Populations of fish-like ancestral species gradually turned into a group of amphibian-ish species. Some of these amphibian-ish species gave rise to the class of organisms that we now know as amphibians. Others gave rise to a group of more reptile-like ancestral species, some of which eventually gave rise to the dinosaurs and others of which eventually gave rise to what we now know as modern reptiles.

    This gradual change from fish to reptiles has no scientific basis.

    This is a second outright lie.

    There is a huge mountain of evidence – from DNA sequence information to protein structure information to comparative anatomy to comparative metabolism to sequences of fossils to extant intermediate species – that leads inescapably to the conclusion that the ancestors of reptiles were rather amphibian-like and that the ancestors of these amphibian-like reptile-ancestors were fish-like.

    No transitional fossils have been or ever will be discovered

    This is a third outright lie. Many transitional fossils exist, of which the best well-known in this context is Tiktaalik.

    because God created each type of fish, amphibian, and reptile as separate, unique animals.

    This is a fourth outright lie. If god created anything, she used evolution to do it. There are no organisms that survive unchanged from the Ordovician and Devonian periods to this day. Even so-called living fossils like the Coelocanth have changed in minor subtle ways.

    Any similarities that exist among them are due to the fact that one Master Craftsmen fashioned them all.

    Ignoring what is probably a typo, modern organisms contain too many differences and too many fudges and compromises for this to be the slightest bit credible. This sentence answers no questions and raises (and ignores) thousands.

  184. 181. kuhnigget Says:
    August 17th, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    God said, “Adam has become someone like us …

    There are numerous instances in the old testament of Yahweh (God) referring to “us” when talking about gods.
    _______________

    I’ve always thought of that as more of a “royal us” rather than a literal one. I know Arabic uses a “plural of respect,” which is why Muslims greet with as-salaamu ‘alaykum instead of as-salaamu ‘alayk, even when addressing one person. I imagine related Semitic languages like Hebrew and Aramaic have the same constructions, so it would make sense for them to be translated as plural even though they’re not literally plural.

  185. 187. Nigel Depledge Says:
    August 18th, 2009 at 5:55 am

    No transitional fossils have been or ever will be discovered

    This is a third outright lie. Many transitional fossils exist, of which the best well-known in this context is Tiktaalik.
    ____________

    Pah! You’re just not thinking like a science denier.

    Look, it’s very simple. Sure, they discovered the transitional fossil Tiktaalik. But what about the transitional fossils between Tiktaalik and its predecessors and descendants?

    And when those fossils are found, it still won’t be proof because then you’ll need to find transitional-transitional fossils between the transitional fossils and the other transitional fossils. And then you’ll need transitional-transitional-transitional fossils between the transitional-transitional fossils. And so on.

    To the science denier mind, there’s always room for doubt. Doubt is denier Jell-O.

  186. I'd rather be fishin'

    All of these transitional fossils would also have to be found in the same geological column. Any self-respecting science-denier would not even look at transitional fossils that came from other locales because there would be no ‘proof’ that the fossils were separated by hundreds of thousands of years.

  187. @ Nigel:

    Yep, sorry. Stuck the wrong name at the top of my post.

    And thanks for that “Deep Thought.”

  188. Nigel Depledge

    Toasterhead (189) said:

    Look, it’s very simple. Sure, they discovered the transitional fossil Tiktaalik. But what about the transitional fossils between Tiktaalik and its predecessors and descendants?

    And when those fossils are found, it still won’t be proof because then you’ll need to find transitional-transitional fossils between the transitional fossils and the other transitional fossils. And then you’ll need transitional-transitional-transitional fossils between the transitional-transitional fossils. And so on.

    To the science denier mind, there’s always room for doubt. Doubt is denier Jell-O.

    Heh. I was waiting for this. You fell into my trap.

    Because . . .

    all species are transitional!

  189. Nigel Depledge

    @ Kuhnigget (191) –

    Bonus points to you! You figured it out / recognised it first.

    Have a gold star.

  190. ND

    kuhnigget

    Reading the beginning passages of genesis feels like an abridged version of a longer story.

  191. @ Toasterhead:

    I’ve always thought of that as more of a “royal us” rather than a literal one

    Not always the case in the OT. And the language is less ambiguous in other places, for example, one of the most obvious examples is psalm 82, which starts off with the line, “God has taken his place in the divine council, in the midst of the gods he holds judgement.”

    Later in the same psalm, God predicts his fellows will fall by the wayside: “I said, ‘You are gods, you are all sons of the Most High.’, But you will die like mere men, you will fall like every other ruler.”

    The psalmist (Alaph, in this case) is recording the demise of the other gods kin to Yahweh, gods who had been worshipped right along with Yahweh for centuries (including in the northern kingdom of Israel), but whose worship was eventually banned outright by king Josiah as he maneuvered Jerusalem into position as the center of the new Israel and used Yahweh, as worshipped in the Jerusalem temple, as the binding agent for the various Hewbrew-speaking tribes.

  192. @ ND:

    Reading the beginning passages of genesis feels like an abridged version of a longer story.

    And depending on which book you read the genesis story, it spins a little differently.

    Again, the bible is a compilation of many texts and oral traditions, composed over many centuries. It draws upon the mythologies of many canaanite cultures, including variations on the creation myth.

    The idea that the Hebrews came into Canaan fully formed as “Israelites” is just not supported by fact, both literary and archaeological. They grew up within a very complicated and rich blend of indigenous cultures…of which they were one.

  193. ND

    kuhnigget,

    Layered on top of that is the translations from other translations.

  194. 192. Nigel Depledge Says:
    August 18th, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Heh. I was waiting for this. You fell into my trap.

    Because . . .

    all species are transitional!
    _____________

    This is where the science denier, backed into a logical and rhetorical corner, then says, “Okay, fine. Maybe coelocanths and chimps and chickens are transitional. But not humans. We’re special. We’re perfect. We’ve never been different and will never be different.”

    At which point I usually point to the genetic mutations on chromosome two which have allowed humans in pastoral regions of Africa and Europe to process lactase while leaving many humans in Asia and the Americas lactose-intolerant, thus proving that humans are indeed still evolving based on Darwin’s theory.

    And they usually respond with “but God did it.”

  195. IVAN3MAN

    Deleted by author.

  196. Roen

    @39. Screechy

    Sorry for the late, Screech. Thanks for the link… checking it out now.

  197. First, jumping back:
    138. Flying sardines Says:

    Plus I always Nessie was proof NOT of creatinism bein’ true but instead that Dr Who was true. After all I’ve read Dr Who & the Loch Ness Monster * & that’s a lot more credible than any “ID” rubbish! ;-)
    —-

    * Third Doctor (John Pertwee) Actually 4th, T. Baker (see below), “Nessie” turns out to be a robot &/or ‘guardian pet.’ From memory I think the Silurians were behind it -or was it the Autons? Zygons, actually.
    TV Version: Terror of the Zygons 8-30-75 air date, novelized as Dr.?/and the Loch Ness Monster
    From WikiPedia: This adventure establishes the Loch Ness Monster as being a cyborg weapon of the Zygons. The 1985 adventure Timelash later presents the Borad who is thrown back in time and becomes the legendary creature.

    ——–
    178. ND Says:

    Are there any comparisons between the various translations of the bible in different languages and churches? If so how do they treat Adam and Eve and the apple?

    Hmmm..none of mine do that specificallly, but I will probably be going to The Public Library (YAY!) and will try to remember to look for such. I want to find (when I get free time… I’m currently at income=0) one I’d had before that compared Creation Stories from the Bible, Navajos, etc.

    185. Nigel Depledge Says:
    I think this [thread] is getting needlessly messianic*.

    OH…….. does 192. kuhnigget win for:

    And thanks for that “Deep Thought.”
    ?

    Have a gold star. Okay… I knew the writer/source, but not the speaker[at 3AM?!] (which, BTW would NOT be the one directly referenced)
    ;)

    Summary of ‘I’ vs “we” as ‘God(YHWH)’. Both Who Wrote The Bible? (Richard Elliott Friedman) and How To Read The Bible go over this, and a quick summary from mostly memory….
    At least the Mosaic Books (first five) were composed by two different sources, referred (WWTB) as J and E, thus the two ‘creations’ (Gen 1- plants, animals, man/woman Gen 2-man, plants,animals, woman) J uses YHWH or Jehovah to ‘name’ the god, while E uses El or Elohim (plural). In total, an estimated four different sources were used… J and E, D (Deuteronomy) and P (priestly).
    Okay, enough… I have to get moving…

    J/P=?

  198. @ ND:

    Indeed. Every “believer” can translate according to his own needs, be they political, religious, social, whatever.

    The differences between the English versions alone are dramatic. (See Bart Erhman, “Misquoting Jesus”). Changes that arise when translating between two different languages are often rather astounding.

    Play the “telephone” game for two millennia and see what happens!

  199. @ John Paradox:

    It’s even more fun! “Elohim” may actually derive from an old Canaanite word describing the pantheon of gods worshipped around the area of Ugarit. In that sense, it literally means “the family of El,” El being a creator god common in Canaan at the time. His name eventually became synonymous with “god,” while his family was pushed aside.

  200. ND

    kuhnigget,

    I’m going to check out the Armenian version to see if I can make head or tails of Mary’s virgin status.

  201. 204. kuhnigget Says:
    @ John Paradox:

    It’s even more fun! “Elohim” may actually derive from an old Canaanite word describing the pantheon of gods worshipped around the area of Ugarit. In that sense, it literally means “the family of El,”

    Like Kal and Jor?

    :)

    J/P=?

  202. @ J/P:

    Yes, and Jor-El, also known as He Who Must Mumble, is the patriarch of all.

  203. Do you realize this thread has more information on the Bible than some ‘classes’ on the subject?

    Fe-ny.

    J/P=?

  204. 204. kuhnigget Says:
    August 18th, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    It’s even more fun! “Elohim” may actually derive from an old Canaanite word describing the pantheon of gods worshipped around the area of Ugarit. In that sense, it literally means “the family of El,” El being a creator god common in Canaan at the time. His name eventually became synonymous with “god,” while his family was pushed aside.
    _____________

    Now that is interesting. I thought it was derived from the same protosemitic root as the Arabic “Allah,” which literally is the definite article “al” plus the general word for a god, “lah.” The “-him” is similar to the Arabic “-hum,” which is the third person possessive pronoun. If it’s the same, it would mean “the God of theirs.”

    Of course, it could be that the derivations are completely different, since I don’t know a shred of Hebrew.

  205. Markle

    I’m amazed that this part hasn’t had any mention when it could rate top billing. I keyword searched the page’o’comments.

    The textbooks also state that apartheid helped South Africa because segregated schools “made it possible for each group to maintain and pass on their culture and heritage to their children”.

    So what you’ve got is a bunch of racial separatists promulgating their ideology to impressionable teenagers. But it is more concerning that they’re talking about Nessie as if it/he/she exists. Right.

  206. @ Toasterhead:

    I think the etymology is still up for debate. Both Hebrew (or more likely Aramaic, which is the language a large chunk of the OT was probably written in) and Arabic share the same ancestry, developing out of the linguistic Mulligan stew that was the Levant.

    In my (not so) humble opinion, that’s why the study of the history and development of religion is always more interesting and fun than the religion itself.

  207. @ Markle:

    Dr. BA’s is science blog. It is only natural that the science angle is highlighted. I’m sure you can find the political or moral aspects debated elsewhere.

  208. 101. kuhnigget Says:
    That’s the basic premise of Robert Wright’s new book, “The Evolution of God.”

    UPDATE: He was guest on The Colbert Repor(t) on Tuesday evening (watched early Wed. Morn). Not one of the best guests, however.

    J/P=?

  209. Nigel Depledge

    John Paradox (202) said:

    Okay… I knew the writer/source, but not the speaker[at 3AM?!] (which, BTW would NOT be the one directly referenced)

    Quite correct, the speaker of that line would not have been Deep Thought, but Kuhnigget got the source and scene.

    IIRC, that speaker is not identified by name (unless, of course, you consider Frankie mouse and Benjy mouse to be immortal for some weird reason), but it was indeed one of the “honoured descendents of Vroomfondel and Majickthise” who received the Answer from Deep Thought after 7.5 million years.

  210. Scott

    There is a huge freaking gap in the evolution theory. i dont care what you say you CAN’T PROVE Evolution. The same thing that lets you believe in evolution, is the same thing that let us Christians absolutely know that God Created the heavens and the earth. FAITH. So now we all know that we ALL have this thing called faith. Where does a mental bridge like faith come from? i doubt it could come from a brain that “evolves” from a lesser species. from a species that strives on survival, with no moral code. You can’t deny that on every heart and on every mind there is moral code. everyone has conscience and everyone knows right and wrong. And strangely enough, these moral codes exactly line up with God’s commandments! imagine that! The thought of atheism is TOO SIMPLE to accompany such a complex earth! Logically, there HAS TO BE A GOD.

  211. Mark Hansen

    @Scott,
    There is a huge freaking gap in the evolution theory…

    Which is what?

    …i dont care what you say you CAN’T PROVE Evolution…

    So is there any point in trying to convince you? On the off chance there is, let’s continue…

    …The same thing that lets you believe in evolution, is the same thing that let us Christians absolutely know that God Created the heavens and the earth. FAITH.…”

    Um, no. What evolution has is a little something called scientific theory. Simply put, what that means is that it can make predictions (what can happen, what has happened), and be open to falsification (Pre-Cambrian rabbits for example). And evolution doesn’t have anything to do with how the universe got here or even with how life got started on this planet. Christians (and other faiths; ever heard of them? Some predate Christianity, you know) have faith, and nothing else. Faith, whatever else it may or may not do, cannot provide answers to questions about anything. Science can.

    …You can’t deny that on every heart and on every mind there is moral code. everyone has conscience and everyone knows right and wrong…

    Said moral code seems to be somewhat deficient in serial killers, child molesters, rapists, tyrants, etc.

    …And strangely enough, these moral codes exactly line up with God’s commandments! imagine that! The thought of atheism is TOO SIMPLE to accompany such a complex earth! Logically, there HAS TO BE A GOD….

    It’s the Douglas Adams puddle hypothesis. Quote
    Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’…

    Does it look familiar, Scott? Perhaps to be fair, I ought to finish the quote:

    …This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise.

    Incidentally, evolution doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not there is a god or gods. It’s just not part of its field.

  212. Nigel Depledge

    Scott (215), seemingly determined to resurrect the oldest arguments in the book, said:

    There is a huge freaking gap in the evolution theory.

    Is there? Really?

    Have you considered that evolutionary theory predicts common descent, and that common descent has been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt?

    i dont care what you say you CAN’T PROVE Evolution.

    It depends what you mean by “prove”. Certainly, various components of evolutionary theory have indeed been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt.

    That evolution happens is a fact. The questions the theory answers are how and why.

    The same thing that lets you believe in evolution, is the same thing that let us Christians absolutely know that God Created the heavens and the earth. FAITH.

    Evolution is a fact. If you believe that physical evidence lets us say anything about the world in which we live, this is indisputable.

    Your god has no evidence. The world looks exactly the way we would expect it to look if it came about and evolved through purely natural processes. Processes that we can observe and measure today.

    So now we all know that we ALL have this thing called faith.

    No, I don’t need faith to accept the fact of evolution. All I need is the assumption that my personal sensory experience correlates directly with a reality external to my self.

    Where does a mental bridge like faith come from?

    Irrelevant.

    i doubt it could come from a brain that “evolves” from a lesser species.

    What do you mean by “lesser”, exactly?

    And I can’t believe you’re trying to make an argument from personal incredulity on a sceptics’ weblog. They never even worked for Mike Behe, and he’s smarter than you.

    from a species that strives on survival, with no moral code. You can’t deny that on every heart and on every mind there is moral code.

    And you’re even bringing in the failed “morality” argument.

    Where did you dig that one up from?

    Morality exists in every social species, to some degree or other. Morality arises from the need to have rules of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour within a group. Humans are the most social vertebrate species ever to exist, so of course we have the most highly-developed moral code.

    But notice that morality is different from one society to another.

    everyone has conscience and everyone knows right and wrong.

    This is not true. Right and wrong are arbitrary concepts – there is nothing absolute about either of them.

    And strangely enough, these moral codes exactly line up with God’s commandments!

    This is a direct lie. Some people consider lying to be perfectly acceptable; others that adultery is OK; others that one’s parents must earn whatever respect and honour they desire from you; and (the big clincher) others that there is more than one god. There’s nothing natural or inevitable about the ten commandments.

    Oh, speaking of which, wasn’t that the 9th commandment, not to lie?

    Hypocrite.

    imagine that! The thought of atheism is TOO SIMPLE to accompany such a complex earth!

    Argument from ignorance.

    Just because you don’t understand how the earth could come to be through natural processes does not mean that such a thing could not occur.

    Logically, there HAS TO BE A GOD.

    No, logically, there isn’t a god. The principle of parsimony requires that we do not assume the existence of such an entity without good evidence. All religious belief is irrational.

  213. Nigel Depledge

    Or have we been Poe-d?

  214. NelC

    John Paradox @202: The speaker would be either Vroomfondle or Majikthise, I believe, commenting on Deep Thought’s proposal to design a computer even more powerful than itself.

  215. NelC: Nope, that’s 7.5 X 10^6 million years afterwards… and in the Book version, the line isn’t used. Those who get the answer (42) are listed as Phouchg and Loonquawl. (From The More Than Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide, complete and unabridged, leatherette cover).

    I still need to find and dub the original Guide as broadcast on NPR, recorded on reel tape.

    J/P=?

  216. casey

    Where’d Mark go? He’s not as stupid as Scott.

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