Tag Archives: Creationism

The Creationist COSMOS

Ever wonder what a Creationist COSMOS would look like? Perhaps it would look like this:

Published: April 15, 2014 | Comments: 3

Ken Ham Advocates Giving Kids the Answers Rather than Teaching Them to Think

ken ham answers book

In a recent blog post titled Equip Your Kids With Answers, Ken Ham lets his young earth creationist readers know that Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum are embarking on a program to give kids the answers about the world they live in. The program is called Kids Free in 2014 and through this program every child under the age of 12 is granted free admission to the Creation Museum with a paying adult.

According to Ham:

In the same way, our goal at Answers in Genesis is to equip you to rescue your children from this evil age. How do we do that? Well, we do this through the many outreaches of the Creation Museum and Answers in Genesis. Part of our outreach is to produce great resources that you and your families will find helpful and engaging as you search for answers to the skeptical questions of the day.

Rather than teaching children to think for themselves, fundamentalists like Ham not only want to determine what the questions are but they also want to determine what the answers are.  Thinking and reasoned inquiry are discouraged. What is really important is knowing the right answers. What Ham is selling is a psuedo-science version of proof-texting. In the Evangelical church every question is answered with the appropriate Bible verse or verses and this is exactly what Ham is doing when he gives children answers rather than teaching them how to think.

This kind of thinking was on full display recently in several The Way Forward comment threads featuring a young earth creationist. The young earth creationist, educated at a fundamentalist Christian school and college, thought himself better informed about science than people who have spent their entire lives studying science. He saw himself as a science teacher to the non-creationist secular university trained scientists. His entire science training involved a couple of creationist science classes at the high school/college level, a few creationist books, and a lifetime of fundamentalist religious indoctrination.  He is a classic example of a fundamentalist who has been taught the answers but not taught how to think. His  demand for certainty cuts him off from any avenue of inquiry that doesn’t fit his fundamentalist presuppositions.

As the discussion quickly showed, it is impossible to reason with a person who is certain that they have all the right answers. In the case of Ham and his fellow young earth creationists, certainty begins when a person accepts the inerrancy and authority of God’s divine science book, the Bible. Every bit of evidence and knowledge is then made to fit the young earth creationist interpretation of Genesis 1-3. Every time secular scientists come up with new data that casts doubt on young earth creationism, the new data is reinterpreted to make it sound like it is really supporting and reinforcing young earth creationism.

The astounding thing to me is that a few secular trained scientists, like those associated with Answers in Genesis, can reject almost everything they were taught in the science classroom and instead embrace a thoroughly discredited, intellectually dishonest, and harmful theology that pretends to be science like young earth creationism. Of course, I know why this is; theology trumps science. ALWAYS! This is why when I engage a young earth creationist who objects to evolution I do so from a theological rather than a scientific perspective. (for one, I am unqualified to speak when it comes to science) I know that if I can get the young earth creationist to doubt their literalism and their belief that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God, the science questions will take care of themselves. Once the Bible is no longer viewed as a biology/astronomy/astrobiology/geology/paleoanthropology/physics/chemistry (to name a few) textbook, the science questions will likely take care of themselves. Once a person stops looking to the Bible to answer their science questions they will then, hopefully, begin to look elsewhere. And once they start looking somewhere else…who knows where their journey might take them.

Published: March 24, 2014 | Comments: 14

The Real Universe is a Biblical Universe, says Jason Lisle

According to Jason Lisle, who has a PhD in astrophysics from the University College, and is the director of research for Institute for Creation Research:

“Christians need to understand that their worldview is not merely hypothetical. The real universe is the biblical universe. Since the Bible is true, it can be used to explain and make successful predictions about what we find in the physical universe. Genetics, geology, astronomy, paleontology, archaeology, and many other sciences all show facts that are what we would expect, given the truth of the Bible”

As Lisle makes clear, the Bible is the starting point for the creationist. It has never been about the science. The creationist’s interpretation of the science is proof to them that the Bible is the supernatural book they say it is.  This is why I think the best way to deal with creationists is to attack their beliefs about the Bible. If they can be disabused of their belief that the Bible in an inspired, inerrant, supernatural book, then the science questions will take care of themselves. Until then, no amount of scientific evidence will change the creationist’s mind. When confronted with evidence that contradicts their “scientific” views, the creationist will attempt to reshape the evidence to fit their view, and by doing this, their belief that the Bible in an inspired, inerrant, supernatural book is affirmed.

The bottom line is this…until a creationist sees that the Bible in NOT an inspired, inerrant, supernatural book, there is no hope of reasoning with them. Now this does not mean scientists should not challenge the “science” of creationism. They MUST challenge it because creationists are heaven bent on creationism being taught in the public school classroom. To ignore creationists puts our children at risk. If we want a scientifically literate population, then scientists must continue to challenge and attack the false “science” of creationists. (as I must do in attacking the presuppositions creationists have about the Bible)

Published: March 19, 2014 | Comments: 14

The Church of Christ Beliefs of The Duck Dynasty Clan

church of christ salvation

Recently I stumbled upon an article in The Christian Chronicle, an international newspaper for the Churches of Christ,  about the church that the Duck Dynasty clan, the Robertsons attend in West Monroe, Louisiana.  I had always assumed that the Robertsons attended an Evangelical or Baptist church, but come to find out they are members of the separatist, restorationist group, the Churches of Christ. ( Please see other posts of mine, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty Fame Talks Out of Both Sides of His Mouth, The Week the Cracker Quacked: The Duck Dynasty Saga, Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty Clan Laughing All the Way to the Bank)

The Robertsons attend White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ, a church that believes:

…WE BELIEVE that the Bible is the inspired word of God.  The sixty-six books of the Bible make up God’s complete, final, reliable and authoritative revelation to humankind.  While other traditions, creeds and writings may be useful for understanding, nothing is elevated to the level of Scripture…

…WE BELIEVE the Holy Spirit co-exist with God the Father and God the Son.  The Holy Spirit is a gift given to physically indwell Christians when they are baptized.  He is a deposit from God the Father guaranteeing Jesus’ return.  His role in our life is to help and guide us in sanctification (holiness)…

…WE BELIEVE that salvation is by grace through faith in the gospel.  God showed us his grace through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.  It is that message that calls people to believe the gospel and its power to save, turn from their sins, confess Jesus as Lord, and be immersed in water, reenacting the death, burial and resurrection.  This is the message that was preached in the first century beginning with Acts 2 and how the people responded to this message…

Here’s what I find interesting. The Robertsons, who are card-carrying members of the Churches of Christ, are warmly accepted at countless Independent Baptist/Southern Baptist and Evangelical churches.  Facebook and Twitter are full of the masturbatory comments of excited Baptists who think the Robertsons and Duck Dynasty are prophets standing for the God in the midst of an evil world.  Right now, bar one of the Robertson men being a closeted gay, there is nothing that the Robertson clan could do that their Christian fans wouldn’t embrace and support.  Yet, it seems that no one is paying attention to what the Robertsons REALLY believe.

Let me remind the Robertson-loving Baptists that their Baptist forefathers kicked the Stones and the Campbells, the founders of the Churches of Christ restorationist movement, out of the Baptist church for preaching heresy. Every one of these Duck Dynasty loving Baptist preachers KNOWS that the Churches of Christ believe in what Baptists call baptismal regeneration; that it is through baptism by immersion that salvation/Holy Spirit/washing away of sin is imparted. This belief is diametrically opposed to what Baptists believe about salvation.

In the 1980′s, I made it my life’s mission to antagonize local Church of Christ preachers and preach against their beliefs. When I preached on Acts 2:38:

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

I sent a copy of the sermon to every Church of Christ preacher in a five county area. They would get riled up and preach sermons against the Baptists and back and forth it would go. It was all quite fun, with each side believing they were preaching the true gospel.

The difference between the Churches of Christ and the Baptists hinges on one word in Acts 2:38:

…be baptized FOR the remissions of sins

The Church of Christ preacher believes that it is through the waters of baptism that sin is remitted, but the Baptist believes that a person is baptized because their sins have already been remitted. The former sees baptism as a salvific act and the latter see baptism as a commemorative act.

church of christ unique

There is no way to reconcile these two beliefs and every Baptist preacher knows this. They stand in the pulpit on Sunday and preach against the Roman Catholic church and infant baptism. They loudly remind everyone that BAPTISM SAVES NO ONE. Then, when the announcements are read, they invite everyone to come hear Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson preach, skipping over the fact that there is little difference between the baptismal regeneration preached by the Catholic Church and that which is preached by the Churches of Christ.

I find this all quite amusing because it reveals very clearly that there are only two or three beliefs that really matter in most Baptist churches:

  • Homosexuality is the sin above all other sins, an affront to a thrice Holy God who will destroy America unless LGBT people denied justice and basic civil rights.
  • Abortion is the sin above all other sins, an affront to a thrice Holy God who will destroy America unless abortion is outlawed.
  • Evolution is the sin above all other sins, an affront to a thrice Holy God who will destroy America unless all public school children are taught creationism.

Other lesser beliefs like:

  • Returning prayer to the public school
  • Posting the Ten Commandments in every public school classroom
  • The absolute second amendment right for every citizen to own lots of guns and bullets
  • Voting only for candidates that affirm all of these beliefs

are important too, but homosexuality, abortion, and evolution are the three nails that must nail every true Christian to the cross of Jesus. Salvation? Eh, who cares. As long as a person is faithful to the above mentioned beliefs, that’s all that really matters.

The next time you see/hear the local Baptist preacher promoting Duck Dynasty and the Robertson clan, ask him, so preacher, does baptism save a person? Is a person’s sins washed away in the waters of baptism? Does a person receive the Holy Ghost in/through baptism?  I guarantee you  he will say NO! Then, oh, ever so sweetly, mention that the Robertsons say YES to all of these questions!  And then, enjoy the fun as the I am so sure of THE truth Baptist preacher squirms and attempts to extricate himself out of the theological quicksand he is in. Don’t be surprised if he tells you that you are W-R-O-N-G! He will likely even raise his voice when he says this. Just smile…knowing that he is standing before you naked.

Notes

Header graphic from the Joaquin Church of Christ website

Published: March 17, 2014 | Comments: 12

Why I Have a Man Crush on Neil deGrasse Tyson

neil degrasse tyson

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is my favorite scientist. He is an affable man with a unique ability to communicate complex science in a way that the non-science trained person (me) can understand what he is talking about. I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode of COSMOS, especially the part where deGrasse Tyson used the calendar year to explain the history of the universe. I thought, what a wonderful, easy way to explain the history of the universe.

Recently, Neil deGrasse Tyson (NDT) sat down for an interview with Bill Moyers (BM), another man I greatly admire.  The interview is quite long and the complete transcript of it can be found on Alternet. What piqued my interest was what deGrasse Tyson had to say about science, myth, and religious faith:

BM: So when a child sings, or used to sing, I don’t think they do anymore, “Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are,” it’s not twinkling. Something powerful, dramatic, and dynamic is happening to it. Right?

NDT: Well, yes, and we call that twinkling. So yeah, there’s starlight coming billions of, or millions of light years, well it depends on if it’s a galaxy, well, hundreds of thousands of light years across space, and it’s a perfect point of light as it hits our atmosphere, turbulence in the atmosphere jiggled the image, and it renders the star twinkling.

And by the way, planets are brighter than stars typically, like Jupiter and Venus. Venus has been in the evening skies lately. And if you go, “Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are,” and you, I want, you want to wish upon the star, most people are wishing on planets. That’s why their wishes don’t come true. Because the planets are the first stars to come out at night.

BM: Don’t you sometimes feel sad about breaking all these myths apart?

NDT: No, no, because I think it’s, some myths are, deserve to be broken apart. The, out of respect for the human intellect. That, no, when you’re writhing on the ground and froth is coming out of your mouth, you’re having an epileptic seizure. You have not been invaded by the devil. We got this one figured out, okay? I mean, discovery moves on. So, I don’t mind the power of myth and magic. But take it to the next frontier and apply it there. Don’t apply it in places where we’ve long passed what we already know is going on.

BM: Do you give people who make this case, that that was the beginning and that there had to be something that provoked the beginning, do you give them an A at least for trying to reconcile faith and reason?

NDT: I don’t think they’re reconcilable.

BM: What do you mean?

NDT: Well, so let me say that differently. All efforts that have been invested by brilliant people of the past have failed at that exercise. They just fail. And so I don’t, the track record is so poor that going forward, I have essentially zero confidence, near zero confidence, that there will be fruitful things to emerge from the effort to reconcile them. So, for example, if you knew nothing about science, and you read, say, the Bible, the Old Testament, which in Genesis, is an account of nature, that’s what that is, and I said to you, give me your description of the natural world based only on this, you would say the world was created in six days, and that stars are just little points of light much lesser than the sun. And that in fact, they can fall out of the sky, right, because that’s what happens during the Revelation.

You know, one of the signs that the second coming, is that the stars will fall out of the sky and land on Earth. To even write that means you don’t know what those things are. You have no concept of what the actual universe is. So everybody who tried to make proclamations about the physical universe based on Bible passages got the wrong answer.

So what happened was, when science discovers things, and you want to stay religious, or you want to continue to believe that the Bible is unerring, what you would do is you would say, “Well, let me go back to the Bible and reinterpret it.” Then you’d say things like, “Oh, well they didn’t really mean that literally. They meant that figuratively.”

So, this whole sort of reinterpretation of the, how figurative the poetic passages of the Bible are came after science showed that this is not how things unfolded. And so the educated religious people are perfectly fine with that. It’s the fundamentalists who want to say that the Bible is the literally, literal truth of God, that and want to see the Bible as a science textbook, who are knocking on the science doors of the schools, trying to put that content in the science room. Enlightened religious people are not behaving that way. So saying that science is cool, we’re good with that, and use the Bible for, to get your spiritual enlightenment and your emotional fulfillment.

BM: I have known serious religious people, not fundamentalists, who were scared when Carl Sagan opened his series with the words —

Carl Sagan, from “Cosmos”: The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.

I mean, that scared them, because they interpret that to mean, then if this is it, there’s nothing else. No God and no life after.

NDT: For religious people, many people say, “Well, God is within you,” or God, the, there are ways that people have shaped this, rather than, God is an old, grey-bearded man in the clouds. So if God is within you, what, I’m sure Carl would say, in you in your mind. In your mind, and we can measure the neurosynaptic firings when you have a religious experience.

We can tell you where that’s happening, when it’s happening, what you’re feeling like at the time. So your mind of course is still within the cosmos.

BM: But do you have any sympathy for people who seem to feel, only feel safe in the vastness of the universe you describe in your show if they can infer a personal God who makes it more hospitable to them, cares for them?

NDT: In this, what we tell ourselves is a free country, which means you should have freedom of thought, I don’t care what you think. I just don’t. Go think whatever you want. Go ahead. Think that there’s one God, two Gods, ten Gods, or no Gods. That is what it means to live in a free country. The problem arises is if you have a religious philosophy that is not based on objective realities that you then want to put in a science classroom. Then I’m going to stand there and say, “No, I’m not going to allow you in the science classroom.” I’m not telling you what to think, I’m just telling you in the science class, “You’re not doing science. This is not science. Keep it out.” That’s where I, that’s when I stand up. Otherwise, go ahead. I’m not telling you how to think.

BM: I think you must realize that some people are going to go to your show at the planetarium and they’re going to say, “Ah-hah! Those scientists have discovered God. Because God,” dark matter, “is what holds this universe together.”

NDT: So is that a question?

BM: It’s a statement. You know, you know they’re going to say that —

NDT: So the history of discovery, particularly cosmic discovery, but discovery in general, scientific discovery, is one where at any given moment, there’s a frontier. And there tends to be an urge for people, especially religious people, to assert that across that boundary, into the unknown lies the handiwork of God. This shows up a lot. Newton even said it. He had his laws of gravity and motion and he was explaining the moon and the planets, he was there. He doesn’t mention God for any of that. And then he gets to the limits of what his equations can calculate. So, I don’t, can’t quite figure this out. Maybe God steps in and makes it right every now and then. That’s where he invoked God.

And Ptolemy, he bet on the wrong horse, but he was a brilliant guy. He formulated the geocentric universe, with Earth in the middle. This is where we got epicycles and all this machinations of the heavens. But it was still a mystery to him. He looked up and uttered the following words, “when I trace at my pleasure the windings to and fro of the heavenly bodies,” these are the planets going through retrograde and back, the mysteries of the Earth, “when I trace at my pleasure the windings to and fro of the heavenly bodies, I no longer touch Earth with my feet. I stand in the presence of Zeus himself and take my fill of ambrosia.”

What he did was invoke, he didn’t invoke Zeus to account for the rock that he’s standing on or the air he’s breathing. It was this point of mystery. And in gets invoked God. This, over time, has been described by philosophers as the God of the gaps. If that’s how you, if that’s where you’re going to put your God in this world, then God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance.

If that’s how you’re going to invoke God. If God is the mystery of the universe, these mysteries, we’re tackling these mysteries one by one. If you’re going to stay religious at the end of the conversation, God has to mean more to you than just where science has yet to tread. So to the person who says, “Maybe dark matter is God,” if the only reason why you’re saying it is because it’s a mystery, then get ready to have that undone.

Published: March 12, 2014 | Comments: 7

David Attenborough on the Irrationality of Creationists

creationist protection

David Attenborough, a naturalist and BBC broadcaster, had this to say about creationists:

Every society in the world has found it necessary to produce a story to account for the fact that humanity is on earth. The Australian Aboriginals think that the first humans were regurgitated by a great rainbow serpent in the sky, the people in Thailand think the beginning of the world was a huge pool of milk and a snake was pulled by demons, and the milk coagulated and that formed human beings and there was a time, two and a half to three thousand years ago, when people on the east end of the Mediterranean thought woman was made from the rib of the first man.

If somebody says to me I believe every word of the Bible is true, you can’t argue against that degree of irrationality…there is actually a way of looking at the natural world and seeing the evidence and it’s all there. And what’s more it’s the same evidence whether it’s in Australia or Northern Europe or wherever. It’s all the same—it all produces the same answer and you can all see the evidence—if you reject that then there’s nothing I can say.

HT: Nick Sewell

Published: March 12, 2014 | Comments: 2

Fundamentalist Christian Reaction to COSMOS

Last night, Polly and I watched the first episode of COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey, starring Neil deGrasse Tyson and produced by Seth MacFarlane. As I watched COSMOS I said to Polly, boy the creationists are going to have their panties in a knot over this show.

And right on cue:

cosmos objection

cosmos objection 2

cosmos objection 3

cosmos objection 4

cosmos objection 5

cosmos objection 6

cosmos objection 6

cosmos objection 8

Carl Sagan-COSMOS Edited For Rednecks

YouTube Preview Image

Video Link

HT: Americans Against the Tea Party

Published: March 10, 2014 | Comments: 81

Faith In Science and Evolution?

evolution is just a theory

Tyler Franke, a Christian who also happens to believe in evolution, had this to say the other day on his God of Evolution blog:

I’m simply blown away by the arrogance of the evolutionists, and probably because they accuse the other side of arrogance that they themselves show in full force. Both sides are FAITH based when it comes to the origin of things, yet they argue about science…

God of Evolution commenter

For years, scientists and science writers have fought against the idea that science is “faith-based.” This is not to say that the scientific process doesn’t rely on certain assumptions. It does.

But the charge goes quite a bit further than that, claiming that science — and consequently, the theory of evolution — is entirely “faith-based,” or at the very least, just as faith-based as the belief that the universe poofed into existence a few thousand years ago, exactly according to the synopsis set forth in Genesis 1.

Through this blog, I’ve met some of the people who propagate such an idea. They’re the same folks who describe evolution as a “religion” and call scientists like Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers “high priests.” Despite anyone’s efforts to educate them into oblivion, these views seem to have only intensified over the years — surely based in no small part on Ray Comfort’s mind-numbingly bad movie “Evolution vs. God” (in which Comfort accuses biology students of having “blind faith” in their textbooks and professors).

To my knowledge, the response by those on the side of science and reason has always been to deny such faith-baiting accusations, and to explain what differentiates scientific assumptions from the tenets that animate and embody religious faith. But I’ve never been one for toeing the party line. So, without further ado, I give up, and I admit it: I have faith in evolution.

Specifically, I have faith that the vast evidence for common descent — in many different, independent lines of inquiry — is there because common descent occurred, and not because God put it there to deliberately mislead us. Similarly, I have faith that the many different radiometric dating tests that we can do consistently dates fossils and rocks as billions of years old because they are billions of years old, and not because God just wanted us to think that.

I also have faith that the steady progression of life forms we find in the fossil record going back billions of years is there because there was a steady progression of life forms over the ages, and not because, well, that’s just the way it is, so stop thinking about it so much (or because a catastrophic flood somehow neatly sorted all life largely according to the sequences predicted by the theory of evolution).

I have faith that, when astronomers observe objects in space that are millions of light years away, they are seeing these objects as they existed millions of years ago, rather than seeing beautiful illusions that God conjured up because he couldn’t figure out how to make pretty things in space without lying to us.

I have faith that, when Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace first presented the theory of evolution by natural selection, their goal was to explain evidence that — even 150 years ago — was quite overwhelming and persuasive — not to attempt to disprove God with a theory that — if true … does not disprove God, any more than modern meteorology does. In the same way, I have faith that when scientists today continue to explore and validate the theory of evolution, they do so because testing hypotheses and predictions is part of their job, and not because they are part of a massive conspiracy to undermine faith in God with a theory that — again — doesn’t even actually do that. And I have faith that, when scientists present yet further evidence — both observed and experimental — confirming the theory of evolution, they do so because finding and sharing scientific evidence is part of their duties as scientists, and not because they are big, fat liars with their pants on fire.

I have faith that when scientists, scientific academies, educators, politicians, activists and citizens of all stripes oppose the teaching of anti-evolutionary ideas in science class, they do so because they believe science curricula should teach only that which is scientifically testable and falsifiable, and not because they hate God and want to make your children into little atheist foot soldiers.

I have faith that when “intelligent design” proponents fail to receive the academic recognition they believe they deserve, it is because they have failed to demonstrate that their position is scientifically tenable and fits the criteria of scientific inquiry — in short, because they have done bad science, and not because all of academia has connived to “expel” them…

While on one hand, I run from ANY use of the word faith, I do understand and agree with what Franke is saying here. As an atheist, I would substitute the word trust for faith. I am not a scientist. What I know about science  maybe would fill a 20 page comic book. I blame my ignorance on my fundamentalist Christian upbringing, and while I am quite ignorant about science, I try, with what few years I have left, to reduce the amount of ignorance I have. I am quite willing to admit that there is a hell of a lot I don’t know.

Now, just because I don’t know this or that doesn’t mean that I have right to remain ignorantturned science or evolution into a religion. I am a rational being that is able to think critically. Because of my ignorance and because of what I DO know about science, I put my trust in people who are science experts. I read their books, magazine articles, and  websites and try to come to a reasoned conclusion. I trust that they are telling me the facts on a given subject, and when they find out that they made a mistake, I trust that they will, or their peers will,  correct their mistake. (when is the last time a fundamentalist has ever admitted being wrong and corrected themselves?)

Unlike the creationists who love to express their shallow, ill-informed science views on this blog, I am willing to admit that I don’t know. But, to use a Ken Ham cliché, I know a book, well I know a lot of books…and through the reading of these books I can improve my science literacy and make reasoned conclusions about things like evolution, the age of the universe, and global climate change. My trust in science experts is not a blind trust. I know they are fallible, make mistakes, and are prone to the same human emotions and failings as I am. Just because they are imperfect doesn’t mean I should reject the work they do. Simply put, I trust them because they have given me no reason not to.

the scientific method

Published: March 10, 2014 | Comments: 3