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(Un)blinding them with science!
January 13, 2009 6:24 PM   Subscribe

In a breathless, passionate, yet level-headed 15 part series, YouTube user, paleontologist, ex-Christian, and potential Space Coyote impersonator AronRa presents an uncommonly well-written and presented argument against what he identifies as the 14 "Fundamental Falsehoods of Creationism."

All your favorites are addressed:

1. "Evolution = Atheism" (transcript)

2. "Scriptures are the 'Word of God'" (transcript)

3. "Human Interpretation = Absolute Truth" (transcript)

4. "Belief = knowledge" (transcript)

5. “Evolution = the religion of atheism” (transcript)

6. “Evolution must explain the origin of life, the universe, and everything.” (transcript)

7. “Evolution is random.”(transcript)

8. “Mutations are rare, harmful decreases in genetic information.” (transcript)

9. “No transitional species have ever been found.” (transcript)

10. “The evolutionary ‘tree of life’ is nowhere implied either in the fossil record, nor in any aspect of biology.” (transcript)

11. “Macroevolution has never been observed.” (transcript)

12. “Creation science” (transcript)

13. “Evolution is a fraud!” (transcript)

14. “Creation is evident” Part I (transcript)

15. “Creation is evident” Part II (transcript)
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism (57 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hint: use the playlist.

I watched this series the other week and it is extremely good. The kind of mind-numbingly stupid retaliatory crap that this person receives in Youtube PMs, comments, and emails is astounding.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:33 PM on January 13, 2009


So, I clicked on the second "fallacy." Ugh, I got about half way through and had to quit.

This is just a tired and wholy unoriginal attempt to show that various religious claims are "irrational." A stunning yawner.
posted by oddman at 6:39 PM on January 13, 2009


Any relation?
posted by Joe Beese at 6:41 PM on January 13, 2009


I must agree with oddman. Truth be told, I started reading the transcript for #2 and quickly realized that AronRa was making a lot of claims with nothing to back them up, for instance:

"If there really was one true god, it should be a singular composite of every religion’s gods, an uber-galactic super-genius, and the ultimate entity of the entire cosmos. If a being of that magnitude ever wrote a book, then there would only be one such document; one book of God."

AronRa makes no effor to justify this claim. Why is it necessarily true that if there was one god, he/she/it would be a singular composite of every religion's gods?

I don't have time for that kind of logic. It's just as baseless as the religious philosophy that he claims to refute.
posted by john.m.regan at 6:44 PM on January 13, 2009


Science comes in about video 6. If you have to watch just one, give 10 a shot.
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 6:49 PM on January 13, 2009


john.m.regan, I think his point is that everyone wants to say their ideas are "The Truth," which, as he's trying to illustrate, is a semantic gaffe. Everyone's vastly contradictory truths can't all be "The Truth."

Some of these editorial statements are really just thought exercises for those unused to thinking critically. If you think what he's saying sounds like it isn't worth your time, do skip ahead in the series; there's something for everyone.
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 6:55 PM on January 13, 2009


i think what you mean to say, john, is that you have time to read up until the fourth paragraph, where you finally found something to take issue with, and conveniently ran out of time right about then...

however, if you'd bothered to continue on to the second sentence of that paragraph, you would have read this:
If a being of that magnitude ever wrote a book, then there would only be one such document; one book of God. It would be dominant everywhere in the world with no predecessors or parallels or alternatives in any language, because mere human authors couldn’t possibly compete with it. And you wouldn’t need faith to believe it, because it would be consistent with all evidence and demonstrably true, revealing profound morality and wisdom far beyond contemporary human capacity. It would invariably inspire a unity of common belief for every reader. If God wrote it, we could expect no less. But what we see instead is the very opposite of that.
now, i don't know how low your expectations are for your god, but i think he has a point: god writes a book, it should kick ASS.
posted by klanawa at 6:55 PM on January 13, 2009 [8 favorites]


And there definitely shouldn't be any easily found mistakes or redundancies.
posted by empath at 7:06 PM on January 13, 2009


This is just a tired and wholy unoriginal attempt to show that various religious claims are "irrational." A stunning yawner.

BURN THE HERATIC
posted by mattoxic at 7:13 PM on January 13, 2009


tired and wholy unoriginal attempt to show that various religious claims are "irrational."

This is like the progression of WMD claims in Iraq.

1) There are WMDs in Iraq.

Time shows that this is false. Then:

2) There were WMDs but they have moved.

Failure to be backed up, plus debunking of various theories, shows that this is false. Then:

3) Everybody knows there never were any WMDs in Iraq and to harp on this is wholy unoriginal and tired.

It's ancient history, maaaan. We need to move forward.
posted by DU at 7:14 PM on January 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


here's my thing. I don't think science and region need to be mutually exclusive on this issue. I mean it's pretty logical.

If you believe that everything that exists only exists because god either created it or allowed it to come into creation, and evolution is proven to exist, then all that's proven is that god created evolution.

I mean, the book of genesis says, on the first day, on the second day, the third day...

what if one day for god is 400 million years?
posted by tylerfulltilt at 7:14 PM on January 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


science and religion, that is
posted by tylerfulltilt at 7:15 PM on January 13, 2009


Klanawa, you're still propagating the same logic. "...god writes a book, it should kick ASS." I agree. That would be great. But there's no basis for that statement other than your own opinion. What if this god wrote a book that didn't kick ass? Would he/she/it cease to be god?

I'm not arguing about the Bible here. I'm trying to get people to open their eyes and ask questions about the statements people make. People blindly follow all kinds of cleverly-worded philosophies (religious and otherwise). If someone makes a claim, I want them to prove it to me.
posted by john.m.regan at 7:17 PM on January 13, 2009


Klanawa:
now, i don't know how low your expectations are for your god, but i think he has a point: god writes a book, it should kick ASS.
It's a very arguable idea, but it's not necessarily true in the logical sense of "necessary", which makes dropping it in there and not supporting it just as egregious an act of intellectual dishonesty as the sort of arguments AronRa is attacking. It's just flat assertion that's used as a building block.
posted by fatbird at 7:19 PM on January 13, 2009



Guys. The concept of no God or afterlife is just too discomforting for too many people. It has been that way since The Clan of The Cave Bear. - That is an acceptable source isn't it? I have met the author. She is a real live person.
posted by notreally at 7:26 PM on January 13, 2009


...so the question we must ask ourselves is, "did her book kick ass?"

Just kidding, klanawa. I hope you all have a sense of humor.
posted by john.m.regan at 7:30 PM on January 13, 2009


I'm a little more partial to Thunderf00t's Why Do People Laugh At Creationists series. But I'm always up for more stuff like this.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 7:34 PM on January 13, 2009


If I were so inclined, I could believe Elements or Principia were of divine origin, but the usual list of 'religious texts'? lol.
posted by mullingitover at 7:35 PM on January 13, 2009


You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into.

Or, perhaps I'm wrong, and this will be the series of articles to finally settle the question. That'd be cool to watch.
posted by pompomtom at 7:36 PM on January 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


"now, i don't know how low your expectations are for your god, but i think he has a point: god writes a book, it should kick ASS."

That's actually one of the things Islam is predicated on, the Koran is so beautifully written (and it is) it must have been divinely inspired.
Same thing can be applied to art of any kind though. The mathematical precision of Bach's fugues, etc. The whole truth = beauty thing.
Which is arguable, but is truth and/or beauty then God? And what, then, is not God?

The problem, I think, is not God, but (as alluded to) arguments over who should have legitimate influence over human affairs because of their interpretation of God's (or what they assert is God's) message. If such a being could said to have one or indeed have any concept translatable into language.
Hell, what's the totality of the universe all about from the macro to the micro level from general to specific and particular meaning for me and my life?

*twirls flower*
Yeah, I don't know either.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:41 PM on January 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Debunking creationism really isn't about debunking religion. Not strictly.

Creationism has obvious religious underpinnings, but what it really is, really, is an attempt by fundamentalists to do an end-run around the constitution (e.g. creating a fake science called creationism or intelligent design so they can escape the establishment clause) in order to have religious world view enshrined in public school against the explicit wishes of children, parents, and teachers, violating their freedom and constitutional rights in the process.

Arguments about the existence of god or the truth of the bible need not be brought into this.

Creationists are anti-democracy and anti-freedom and use a very focused interpretation of christianity to authorize their beliefs and actions.
posted by device55 at 7:43 PM on January 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


I've lately been having this very debate with an old friend from high school who has unfortunately become a proselytizing fundamentalist Christian on a mission to convert me and anyone else who will listen to him for long enough.

He's been silent for a while, since my last reply to him, where I talked about the ancient Greeks and Romans, who used to believe various aspects of our natural world were governed by numerous gods and goddesses because, at the time, they didn't know any better. The creationist argument of "the world is way too complex not to have had a creator" is the same kind of thinking as those early Greeks and Romans—anything we don't sufficiently understand must have been done by God(s).

The problem is, we know thanks to years and years of scientific pursuit, that the Greeks and Romans were wrong—not just misguided in their beliefs, but actually demonstrably wrong. For example, the sun isn't some deity riding around in a fiery chariot, it's a big ball of gases and such about 93 million miles away from the Earth. Any time there has been a big question mark about the natural world, the answer has always—ALWAYS—turned out to be science instead of God.
posted by emelenjr at 8:29 PM on January 13, 2009


I think the French had the right idea.
posted by empath at 8:45 PM on January 13, 2009


Why is it that people who argue about these things are so f*#($ing smarmy?

...and angry?

...and testosteroney?

Oh, bother. Someone take away web cams and iMovie, please. They're only hurting the world.
posted by ford and the prefects at 8:48 PM on January 13, 2009


14? I could get it down to fewer than that.
posted by Bokononist at 10:48 PM on January 13, 2009


Any approach which attempts to "disprove" religion as one of its opening arguments is pretty much pissing in the wind. That is, anyone who has faith (and isn't just going to church because they've always gone to church/they were raised that way) is going to be immediately turned off and view the remainder of your arguments with suspicion, regardless of their relative accuracy. It would be like trying to convince a friend to try sushi for the first time by opening with, "Now, peanut butter sandwiches basically suck and you shouldn't ever eat them. Do you know how much fat is in peanut butter?"

The complaints upthread about the fallacious nature of the "Scripture isn't divine" argument as presented in the transcript are quite valid, and the mere existence of that section shows that this particular series will just be more preaching to the choir rather than any serious attempt to teach, learn, or engage with any ideological opponents.

Frankly, I'm disappointed. If someone could write something which actually took steps to help increase knowledge and understanding instead of another shot across the bows, I'd be thrilled. Smarmy self-righteousness and unexamined philosophical positions are unhelpful no matter which side they're on.
posted by Scattercat at 11:05 PM on January 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


tylerfulltilt: If you believe that everything that exists only exists because god either created it or allowed it to come into creation, and evolution is proven to exist, then all that's proven is that god created evolution.

I mean, the book of genesis says, on the first day, on the second day, the third day...

what if one day for god is 400 million years?


The problem with this sort of thing is, while it is definitely superior to simply rejecting science, you still kind of miss the point. Sure, you can find ways to fit the stories to details - but you always could no matter what the story was and no matter what the details were. You could do it for 9 days or a hundred years or three seconds. The ultimate content of the story doesn't matter.

The question you should be asking yourself, or the faithful should be asking themselves (if you do not actually do this yourself, but were merely posing it hypothetically), is this: If your religious book was written with inspiration from a divine being who actually did create the universe and knew the precise details, why doesn't it match the observational data? It could just as easily say 13.7 billion years as seven days, and be accurate, instead of an answer that we know to be obviously wrong without freely redefining words and numbers. Why a mythical story that looks remarkably like other mythical stories?
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:25 PM on January 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


now, i don't know how low your expectations are for your god, but i think he has a point: god writes a book, it should kick ASS.

One problem -- with the exception of the extremists, no one is really saying that God DID "write" a book. In fact, what people say is that God DICTATED the book, leaving the writing to ordinary PEOPLE. And the reason why there are inconsistencies is just that people happen to suck at taking dictation from God.

The question you should be asking yourself, or the faithful should be asking themselves (if you do not actually do this yourself, but were merely posing it hypothetically), is this: If your religious book was written with inspiration from a divine being who actually did create the universe and knew the precise details, why doesn't it match the observational data?

Because, as the majority of the faithful believe, it wasn't supposed to do that. It was written by men, and men were writing down what they knew at the time. If the Bible were being written anew today, the writers WOULD write a creation story that matched the observational data.

Moreover, the Bible was never really meant to be "about" science anyway, any more than THE BOURNE SUPREMACY or BURN AFTER READING were meant to be instructional videos for the CIA. There are spies in both films, and both do touch on some elements of espionage procedure, but neither is meant to TEACH you how to be a spy. They are meant to ENTERTAIN you with a STORY about a spy.

Similarly, the Bible was never meant to be about science, it was meant to be about religion. The Creationists who believe otherwise are wrong in this belief, to my mind -- but so are the people who are trying to disprove Creationism by trying to disprove religion itself.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:26 AM on January 14, 2009


As many have pointed out, you can't disprove a religion, any religion. You can only fail to prove the truth of a religion. All religions have accomplished that.
posted by jamstigator at 5:07 AM on January 14, 2009


Mitrovarr,

Empress pretty well covered it, the christian bible was not actually written by the christian creator, it was only supposed to have been guided, dictated, inspired, however you want to put it.

So being as it is, a best guess by men to nail down god, it won't contain incredibly accurate scientific data.
posted by tylerfulltilt at 5:17 AM on January 14, 2009


Similarly, the Bible was never meant to be about science, it was meant to be about religion.

Non-overlapping magisteria is bullshit. The Bible makes objective claim after objective claim after objective claim, and nearly without exception, these claims are wrong. It's amazing how many people can blithely acknowledge the page after page of factual errors, but as soon as the principles and morals and rules for living show up, suddenly we find that the Bible is 100% accurate and reliable.

What it comes down to is that the religious are uninterested in accuracy or reality; they have their beliefs, and their beliefs make them feel good, and anything which shores up those beliefs (i.e. makes them feel good about having them) is going to be accepted while anything which denigrates or undermines those beliefs (i.e. makes the religious feel bad about having them) is going to be ignored or attacked. In this is the greatest damage that religious faith inflicts upon human beings, both believers and those who share their society with believers: it encourages the habit of evaluating not only of principles and ideas but observations and facts not based upon their merit, nor on their rationality, nor on their benefits or consequences, but on whether or not it feels good to accept them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:34 AM on January 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


That's actually one of the things Islam is predicated on, the Koran is so beautifully written (and it is) it must have been divinely inspired.

I feel genuinely obtuse when people agree the Koran is "so beautifully written" Smedleyman.

I've tried to read it (with a good commentary) & it felt like overdoing Turkish delight - too dense & flowery for my taste.

As for God surely writing an ass-kicking book, I think it was C. S. "Narnia" Lewis who tried to argue that the Bible surely had to be true, because the plot was so peculiar it had to be divine!

(He put it a bit differently in one of his insufferably condescending radio chats - but the gist was that mere mortals couldn't possibly have made up so much weird stuff!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:11 AM on January 14, 2009


AronRa gets closest to the real heart of the matter in 12 when he says, "In science, it doesn’t matter what you believe; all that matters is why you believe it." Or as Henri Poincaré put it, "Science is built of facts the way a house is built of bricks: but an accumulation of facts is no more science than a pile of bricks is a house".

The beliefs of scientists change, and the beliefs of creationists don't. Both groups view this as evidence that their way is better. Regardless, it provides a bright line between them. I feel that this is the best answer to the question, "How do you know how long a day is to God?" The answer is, the very fact that you are asking this question shows that you are NOT thinking about science, because it doesn't relate disparate observed facts into a cohesive whole.

Religious texts consistently get their facts wrong. The sky is not made of water held up by a firmament. But this doesn't matter, so much, since science has been wrong about things, is wrong today about things, and will be wrong in the future (although, as Pope Guilty points out, the track record of religions is terrible). The real issue is, how did those wrong ideas get there, and what mechanisms exist to correct them? The way that this issue is addressed (or stubbornly ignored) produces the ultimate complete incompatibility of science and religion.

I think that this issue is more disastrous then many non-creationist religious people think. It may not be troubling to you that some iron-age tribesman had a shitty knowledge of science. After all, who really cares about science anyway? And there's the whole, "bad dictation" argument. But, how can you not then apply this argument to everything in your religious text of choice? Is it really okay to sell your daughter into slavery? So much of our present morality casts off the bad dictation of the past. So, how does a religious person incorporate new knowledge? How do you discard old ideas, and link your new ideas together? Of what use today is this old religious framework?
posted by Humanzee at 7:19 AM on January 14, 2009


But, how can you not then apply this argument to everything in your religious text of choice? Is it really okay to sell your daughter into slavery? So much of our present morality casts off the bad dictation of the past. So, how does a religious person incorporate new knowledge? How do you discard old ideas, and link your new ideas together? Of what use today is this old religious framework?

The parts that you discard are the parts you disagree with and the parts you keep are the parts you agree with.

This is totally different from moral relativism because mumble mumble mumble
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:50 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Similarly, the Bible was never meant to be about science, it was meant to be about religion. The Creationists who believe otherwise are wrong in this belief, to my mind -- but so are the people who are trying to disprove Creationism by trying to disprove religion itself.

This. This is how I was taught the Bible in Catholic school and I was genuinely perplexed when I got into the world and ran into Protestants who have a wholy different perspective. There are ways to both have Christian belief and agree with science. It does take learning and some serious thought. This is why it is not very popular.

Now I'm pretty much an atheist these days (via a long stop at Paganism) but I absolutely agree that trying to attack religion as a whole is the wrong place to start in a discussion of Creationism. The only way this ideology is going to go away is if Christians start talking to their fellow Christians and explain how science and faith can coexist. Unfortunately, rational Christians seem to be content to keep to themselves and ignore the loud, obnoxious Right. Seemingly only rabid atheists have the ire necessary to actually engage the ignorant. And we end up with an unpleasant "Culture War."

posted by threeturtles at 8:51 AM on January 14, 2009


Fuck. Forgot to close the tag. Sorry.
posted by threeturtles at 8:52 AM on January 14, 2009


As an atheist I really wish there were fewer people like this who fall into the "you're not helping" category.

"But to believe in creationism, you don't have to know anything about anything, and its better if you don't! Because creationism relies on ignorance."

"creationists are making money hand over fist with faith-healing scams or bilking little old ladies out of prayer donations"

We get it. You think people with religious beliefs are either stupid or evil. Now please STFU, as you are making us all look bad.

I don't have any problem as an atheist allowing people around me to have faith. Faith is by nature irrational, which is fine. That's why they call it faith jackass. People with faith get it. You don't.
posted by aapep at 9:42 AM on January 14, 2009


the christian bible was not actually written by the christian creator, it was only supposed to have been guided, dictated, inspired, however you want to put it.

According to the Catholic Church it was authored by the Holy Spirit, and it's the inerrant word of god, without a single error or mistake.
posted by empath at 9:46 AM on January 14, 2009


According to the Catholic Church it was authored by the Holy Spirit, and it's the inerrant word of god, without a single error or mistake.

I did not know that!
posted by tylerfulltilt at 10:08 AM on January 14, 2009


There are ways to both have Christian belief and agree with science. It does take learning and some serious thought. This is why it is not very popular.

Your causation is broken.

Faith is by nature irrational, which is fine. That's why they call it faith jackass. People with faith get it. You don't.

It's not that we don't understand that faith is inherently irrational. It's that we're horrified by people who think irrationality is not only the equal of rationality, but its superior.

According to the Catholic Church it was authored by the Holy Spirit, and it's the inerrant word of god, without a single error or mistake.

I am pretty certain that this is not true. Do you have a citation for this?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:24 AM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Again (I believe I've said this before) I think the original intent and purpose of Religion--in all cultures--was to establish law and order; it was created by humans for humans, but any human who disagreed with the lawmakers could feel justified in ignoring the laws, saying "You're not the boss of me." Indeed I imagine a scenario where a parent is trying to instill some sort of self-discipline in a child, by saying "Even though I cannot watch you all the time, the sun sees you."
Clearly it worked, until the punk kid asked, "What about at night, when the sun is asleep?" and the parent (or tribal chieftain) had to keep adding attributes to an unseen but all-seeing entity, who stands in judgement of your eternal soul (so be good, for goodness' sake).
As different cultures mingled and found that their stories, while sharing some "facts" they also disagreed on others which, ironically, strengthened belief in the existence of God even as it spawned arguments between tribes about how we humans should go about living together harmoniously, because the one thing all their stories had in common was a creation story, featuring an all-powerful and all-knowing creator.
So here we are in the 21st century (CE) and we still can't get along with each other, but the number of people who recognize that the cultures and the traditions of all these different religions only stand in the way of peace, brotherhood, all the virtues and vices that we agree on in theory--that number seems to be increasing. But just as the concept of Church is being challenged, so too do I think the concept of State needs to be challenged--it's not enough to say, tear down those walls but leave these standing--if the object is (and always has been) Peace On Earth, Good Will To Men.

What pisses me off about the Science!-ists is that as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't fucking matter how the universe was created, what matters to us humans ought to be how do we get to that place where we stop killing each other, and stop destroying our life-support system. "While God waits for His temple to be built of Love, Men bring stones."--Rabindranath Tagore.
posted by Restless Day at 12:07 PM on January 14, 2009


now, i don't know how low your expectations are for your god, but i think he has a point: god writes a book, it should kick ASS.

That seems like a pretty dumb argument, because it can always be turned around on you, since god's the divine one. I mean, a five year old thinks "hop on pop" kicks way more ASS than Casablanca, but that doesn't really make the argument all that credible... Maybe you're just not opening your heart to the bible or whatever it is that believers do that allow them to see its beauty / etc.

Anyway, as others have said, the bible isn't meant as a science textbook, even if it's meant to show the truth. The truth is not always presented as a series of concrete facts - it can be presented in more fluid forms, and in the past I think the lines between allegory and history were given more room.

It's true Augustine defends the literalism of the Bible, but that means he's defending it already (in the 4th c) against people saying it shouldn't be read literally, and when he defends it he makes a big point of saying it's literal and metaphorical, i.e., god "acted out" the metaphors he told in the bible in real time, but what was important was the metaphorical meaning of them.

The catholic church has since changed its position on this, saying the stories were apparently not acted out in real time as they were told metaphorically, but that the important thing is the meaning of the stories, not the concrete history.

It's not that we don't understand that faith is inherently irrational. It's that we're horrified by people who think irrationality is not only the equal of rationality, but its superior.

But then there's the problem of faith in rationality :). Reasonableness is good. Doing the best we can is good. Working out a decent solution based on as much evidence as we can come up with is good. But being certain we have the only possible rational answer is just as scary as having faith in an unknown god. There's too much we don't understand to be sure we have it all figured out.

Evolution is a good idea that makes sense as the working hypothesis for biological studies, but I don't see a need to stand guard and shoot down every question as a matter of principle. Why not just let the scientific community work on the theory, and let anyone who wants to come up with an actual alternative theory present one? No one has yet, since "god did it" isn't actually a scientific explanation. Instead of telling these people to shut up, we should tell them to present an alternative hypothesis - not that evolution is wrong, but that their method is right. Until they can describe god's creative method, they have nothing to put on the table.
posted by mdn at 12:21 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


But then there's the problem of faith in rationality

See, this is what gets me- you're so far up the ass of your paradigm that you not only can't rationally evaluate paradigms, but the very idea that there are paradigms other than yours is inconceivable. We don't have "faith" in rationality- we examine reason and faith and decide which we prefer. The idea that the possession of a paradigm requires blind faith at one point or another is ridiculous, and it's one that only occurs in the religious paradigm.

Evolution is a good idea that makes sense as the working hypothesis for biological studies, but I don't see a need to stand guard and shoot down every question as a matter of principle. Why not just let the scientific community work on the theory, and let anyone who wants to come up with an actual alternative theory present one? Instead of telling these people to shut up, we should tell them to present an alternative hypothesis - not that evolution is wrong, but that their method is right. Until they can describe god's creative method, they have nothing to put on the table.

Now goddammit, I was happy to do this civilly, but I am sick and fucking tired of this particular lie. What you describe, speaking as though you are proposing something radical and new and untried, is exactly how science works. Creationists and ID proponents (excuse me, "cdesign proponentists") continually make this claims, and it's always bullshit. It's bullshit when konolia says it, it's bullshit when quonsar says it, and it's bullshit when you say it. "Asking questions" is what scientists do. You are not proposing some new idea, you are simply describing how science works. Your point, of course, is to suggest that there is some kind of evil THOUGHT POLICE blindly and viciously attacking any who question evolution. There is not.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:04 PM on January 14, 2009


Scientists do question evolution, and in fact the theory has changed quite a bit as new evidence came to light.

Evolution is a word that encapsulates a variety of theories that describe life forms changing over time. Darwin of course had a theory that had descent with modification and selection (explicitly more than one kind of selection too). This is what most non-scientists think "evolution" means. But the theory of evolution has changed since Darwin. For instance, we've discovered DNA and filled in a lot of blanks as to what "descent" is, and how phenotypes are inherited and modified. But also entirely new mechanisms have been postulated and come to wide acceptance. Two off the top of my head: horizontal gene transfer, and endosymbiosis. These are no piddling changes but were in fact hotly debated when they were first introduced.
posted by Humanzee at 1:37 PM on January 14, 2009


According to the Catholic Church it was authored by the Holy Spirit, and it's the inerrant word of god, without a single error or mistake.

However, ALSO according to the Catholic Church, the theory of evolution is "more than an hypothesis." As Pope John Paul II put it in here:

"...this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies—which was neither planned nor sought—constitutes in itself a significant argument in favor of the theory.

... A theory is a meta-scientific elaboration, which is distinct from, but in harmony with, the results of observation. With the help of such a theory a group of data and independent facts can be related to one another and interpreted in one comprehensive explanation. The theory proves its validity by the measure to which it can be verified. It is constantly being tested against the facts; when it can no longer explain these facts, it shows its limits and its lack of usefulness, and it must be revised.

Moreover, the elaboration of a theory such as that of evolution, while obedient to the need for consistency with the observed data, must also involve importing some ideas from the philosophy of nature."

...Calling something "true" and "inerrant" does not also mean that you're also saying it's "literal," or "devoid of the use of metaphor and simile."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:27 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am pretty certain that this is not true. Do you have a citation for this?

How about the catholic encyclopedia?

The Bible, as the inspired recorded of revelation, contains the word of God; that is, it contains those revealed truths which the Holy Ghost wishes to be transmitted in writing. However, all revealed truths are not contained in the Bible (see TRADITION); neither is every truth in the Bible revealed, if by revelation is meant the manifestation of hidden truths which could not other be known. Much of the Scripture came to its writers through the channels of ordinary knowledge, but its sacred character and Divine authority are not limited to those parts which contain revelation strictly so termed. The Bible not only contains the word of God; it is the word of God. The primary author is the Holy Ghost, or, as it is commonly expressed, the human authors wrote under the influence of Divine inspiration. It was declared by the Vatican Council (Sess. III, c. ii) that the sacred and canonical character of Scripture would not be sufficiently explained by saying that the books were composed by human diligence and then approved by the Church, or that they contained revelation without error. They are sacred and canonical "because, having been written by inspiration of the Holy Ghost, that have God for their author, and as such have been handed down to the Church". The inerrancy of the Bible follows as a consequence of this Divine authorship. Wherever the sacred writer makes a statement as his own, that statement is the word of God and infallibly true, whatever be the subject-matter of the statement.
posted by empath at 3:28 PM on January 14, 2009


...Calling something "true" and "inerrant" does not also mean that you're also saying it's "literal," or "devoid of the use of metaphor and simile."

I didn't mean to imply that it was, look back at what I was responding too initially.

Christianity absolutely depends on large parts of the old testament being read as a metaphor for the coming of Christ, for example.
posted by empath at 3:39 PM on January 14, 2009


I didn't mean to imply that it was, look back at what I was responding too initially.

Christianity absolutely depends on large parts of the old testament being read as a metaphor for the coming of Christ, for example.


Well, then, if you accept that most Christians regard THOSE sections of the Bible as metaphor, then why not accept that most Christians regard OTHER sections of the Bible as metaphor as well?

Really, the only people who are saying that the first few chapters of Genesis were meant to be taken literally are Creationists and the Creationists' most rabid opponents. Most Christians actually AGREE with everyone about Creationists being nuts, for precisely the same reasons.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:30 PM on January 14, 2009


tylerfulltilt: Empress pretty well covered it, the christian bible was not actually written by the christian creator, it was only supposed to have been guided, dictated, inspired, however you want to put it.

So being as it is, a best guess by men to nail down god, it won't contain incredibly accurate scientific data.


That introduces other problems. So, the bible isn't inerrant, and parts of it are either totally wrong or uselessly vague. If that is the case, how can you justify taking as correct unproven assertions it contains? It sounds like you're saying 'Well, ok, the parts science has disproven are wrong, but the other parts - the parts that are fundamentally undisprovable or science has not yet reached - those are totally correct and accurate." You can tell how irrational that sounds!
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:30 PM on January 14, 2009


Well, then, if you accept that most Christians regard THOSE sections of the Bible as metaphor, then why not accept that most Christians regard OTHER sections of the Bible as metaphor as well?

We're not really arguing about anything. I was just saying the Catholic Church, which is almost by definition "most Christians" officially holds that the Bible was the word of God and authored by God, not man. I didn't say anything about whether it was literal, or even true. Only that every word in it was in there because God wanted it written in exactly that way.
posted by empath at 5:01 PM on January 14, 2009


I will never again debate my misguided Creationist friends. From now on all I'm going to do is direct them to Video 10.
posted by Toecutter at 6:12 PM on January 14, 2009


I was just saying the Catholic Church, which is almost by definition "most Christians" officially holds that the Bible was the word of God and authored by God, not man. I didn't say anything about whether it was literal, or even true. Only that every word in it was in there because God wanted it written in exactly that way.

...Then I think you've lost me, because if you're "only saying that every word in it was there because God wanted it written in exactly that way," then I'm not understanding WHY you're saying that. What exactly was that point in response to? Because I missed that.

....but on a tangent:


I was just saying the Catholic Church, which is almost by definition "most Christians" ...

This may not be so either. Catholicism is the largest single denomination, yes, but that's different from saying "most Christians are Catholics." In fact, according to most studies, non-Catholic Christians outnumber Catholic Christians by about two to one. It's just that there are so many different kinds of Protestant denominations that breaking them down into their individual components, they fall short. But there are still more non-Catholic Christians in general than Catholic ones.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:53 PM on January 14, 2009


Uh what?

That link only talks about the US. World wide, Catholics are over 50% of the Christian population.

All you need to do is scroll up to find out why I posted it; I quoted what I was responding to. He said most Christians don't think God wrote the bible. I was merely saying that the Catholic Church's (which represents most Christians) official doctrine is that God wrote the Bible
posted by empath at 11:20 PM on January 14, 2009


Well, maybe rationality isn't what it's cracked up to be.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:45 AM on January 15, 2009


All you need to do is scroll up to find out why I posted it; I quoted what I was responding to. He said most Christians don't think God wrote the bible. I was merely saying that the Catholic Church's (which represents most Christians) official doctrine is that God wrote the Bible.

No, no. You said the Catholic Church said that the Holy Spirit "contained what the Holy Spirit wished to be transmitted in writing." That doesn't mean "the Holy Spirit wrote it."

Moreover, the link you gave me contains contradictory information -- the first link does seem to indicate that Catholics outnumber non-catholics, but if you scroll further down, there's a second set of stats that contradict this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:28 AM on January 15, 2009


See, this is what gets me- you're so far up the ass of your paradigm that you not only can't rationally evaluate paradigms, but the very idea that there are paradigms other than yours is inconceivable. We don't have "faith" in rationality- we examine reason and faith and decide which we prefer. The idea that the possession of a paradigm requires blind faith at one point or another is ridiculous, and it's one that only occurs in the religious paradigm.

well, i'm not religious, so that's obviously not true. If it matters, my philosophy is probably atheistic existentialism, although I am somewhat agnostic about some kind of spinozistic deism. But that is really quite theoretical ... My "paradigm" is pretty Sartrean, which is to say, I take atheism pretty seriously. And that means, rationality is a responsibility and a burden, rather than an objective certainty... so I don't know what "we" you're thinking of or what "you" you think you're talking to here.

Now goddammit, I was happy to do this civilly, but I am sick and fucking tired of this particular lie. What you describe, speaking as though you are proposing something radical and new and untried, is exactly how science works.

?Right. I know. That's all I'm saying. Ignore creationists until they start doing science. What the fuck?
posted by mdn at 7:28 AM on January 15, 2009


My very first post greeting me from the Popular feed this morning? I mean, I know it's not a contest, but WOO HOO I WIN!

Oh, yeah, and all this fabulous conversation is great, too...
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 9:08 AM on January 15, 2009


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