Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Bible Dragons

My pick for the next big creationist issue?


Sounds crazy right? (of course it is) But that wont stop bible literalists from claiming that all the talk in the bible about dragons is actually talk about dinosaurs.

It's another attempt to represent the confused mysticism of the bible as accurate scientific observation.

Another fantastic example of hindsight allowing a re-interpretation of the text to say it was true all along.

What I find disconcerting is that creationist literature is sounding more and more reasonable... not the arguments they are still crazy or just plain wrong, but the presentation is getting better.

If I had to attribute a cause I would say that the creationists have been learning from the climate change deniers. They are coming into the game with a lot of polish now and some very reasonable sounding people are realising just how much money can be made by telling people what they want to hear.

I don't for one second think that everyone espousing these view points actually believes them, mostly because much of the arguments being made are deeply flawed and that the way they are being presented shows an understanding of those of flaws and how best to hide them.

So when I see interviews like this

I have to consider that at least some of these people know what they are saying is false, but they have chosen to perpetuate a false belief system either for some emotional comfort or for monetary gain and given that these people make a direct living from presenting these beliefs I think the latter is more likely.

They even mention in this interview that there is no word for dragon in hebrew, that the word used can have several meanings including whale. And yet they use the current visual imagery of a dragon that not only did not exist until well over a thousand years AD but that has a clear and obvious evolution in western art.

Go back historically along the artistic representations of St George and the dragon (possibly the most iconic reference to any such creature) and you'll find that early images of a dragon look nothing like our current idea of the flying fire breathing beast. If anything they look more like a large lizard (don't forget that St George was actually a roman soldier from the middle east).

To assume that our modern image of a dragon is anything like the images in the minds of the biblical authors is not just a stretch It's obviously not true.

How long before the whole Jonah story gets reworked to include a dragon? Bible literalists will explain that it wasn't a whale because the actual text reads "great fish". This is mostly because it's physically impossible for a whale to swallow a person - even the biggest whales actually have tiny throats and can't swallow anything larger than a orange, plus the biggest whale stomach would not allow a human to stretch out much less stand up.

Fish don't score any better but they can always claim there is something we've never discovered yet living at the bottom of the ocean...

Of course "great fish" is only a short step away from "great serpent" and thats obviously a dragon right? Watch this space, I see a profitable book in the works for the first person to string that argument out to 80,000 words...

If, like Darak Isaacs, you can ignore the truth and have a good presentation manner about you then you too may have a long career ahead of you selling comforting lies about the bibles documentation of dinosaurs as "dragons" to gullible christians.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Ken Ham, still crazy

Just found out Ken Ham is running radio ads to promote his "Creation Museum".

He's not saying anything in them that he hasn't said before, he calls evolution a lie and says that creationists don't need scientific proof because... well... the bible says you don't!

Of course the authority he's quoting is Romans 1 which actually says:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Can't see the hand of god in all creation? Wrong! Of course you can, and if you say you can't you're lying! Says so right there in black and white "...suppress the truth by their wickedness..." See? you're not only lying you're wicked too.

This has been Ken's fall back for ages, he pulls it out whenever the mountain of evidence against biblical creation become too great for even his tenuous hold on reality to ignore.

First Ken makes the best case he can by using outdated science and bad logic, and when it fails he claims that evidence isn't needed, and in fact could never prove creation over evolution... Wait what? This man runs a website called "Answers in Genesis" whose sole purpose seems to be to hold up examples of validating the bible as literal fact. He even started a "Creation Museum" to show how he can make it all look so scientific and rational...  

In legal terms this is called a "double plea" or sometimes "duplicity" (does that sound like a good word kiddies?). It's a bit like saying "I didn't shoot that man... and if I did then it was self defence".

When I get upset at people of faith it's normally because of the harm they do to others and Ken Ham is a very harmful person. He perpetuates claims he knows are not true, and encourages people to teach these same mistruths to their children. He even discourages teaching children skills like logic and critical thinking because they might one day lead to people spotting the lies.

PS: Ken keeps throwing Romans up as his example that you don't need evidence for god, but thats not what it says. What it does talk about is that when people don't believe in god, they create their own gods and then it's just a short step to unnatural acts with animals (I'm not kidding, read the whole thing and you'll see).

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The debate that will not die...

I get tired, I really do, of people of faith repeatedly saying that there has been no solid debate to resolve the battle between creationism and evolution.

Yes, yes there has.

In fact the debates raged for decades, but most importantly there was a winner... (you guessed it) Evolution!

And lets be honest it will always win if for no other reason that they fact that it is something that we can use to predict results.

If you start with evolution you can predict the kinds of fossils you will find (and we found them) you can predict the shared genetic between living organisms (and yes, we found them too). We can eve predict the changes we'd expect to see in laboratory experiments (do I really have to say it this time?).

If you start with strict biblical creation, you get nothing, no predictions, no useful explanatory power at all. In fact the whole books only makes "sense" (I apologise for the abuse I do the word by using in this context) when people interpret it in hindsight saying "... Oh, they must have been using this really obscure (and often made up) definition of that word, that why no-body understood it before!"

Ok, that may sound a little harsh but seriously why do people think the jury is still out on this?

Do they really think that there are lot of scientists out there now doubting evolution?

The biggest list of creation "scientists" you'll find is about 200. That could seem like a lot until you learn that Project Steve has managed to get over 1200 scientists to sign up affirming evolution and it only accepts them if their first name is Steve.

Only about 25% of reputable scientists even believe in a personal deity the fraction who believe in true biblical creation is so small it's hard to calculate and most of them openly admit that they believe in spite of the overwhelming preponderance of evidence.

Every time I hear/see/read someone saying something like "Evolution can't beat creationism if schools allow fair argument" (check here for the full crazy on that one) I have this image in my mind of Monty Pythons Black Knight - Creationism got used to winning when they was no real alternative and now that its been replaced by an obviously better set of ideas it's just refusing to accept reality. Meanwhile evolution has headed off to something more productive with it's time.

I'm sure that people who demand creation be treated as a serious alternative to evolution must think they are being heroic but there comes a point when they look more deluded.

Please - Creationists, the debate is done, you ideology does not stack up against evolution as a meaningful source of knowledge or information. Stop demanding a rematch.