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Answering Questions from Creationists

[ 359 ] February 5, 2014 |

Amanda Marcotte talks about debating fundamentalist Christians here. Her post is illustrated with photos of creationists holding up questions for us smug realists. Ms. Marcotte took them somewhat seriously. I will not.

What mechanism has science discovered that evidences an increase of genetic information seen in any genetic mutation or evolutionary process?


If we come from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?

Because all this poo isn’t going to fling itself and creationists tire easily.

How can you look at the world and not believe someone created/thought of it? It’s amazing!

No, perky lady, the word you’re looking for is “amazeballs.” Please re-write your sign.

Why do evolutionists/secularists/humanists/non-god-believing people reject the idea of their [sic] being a creator god but embrace the concept of intelligent design from aliens or other extra-terrestrial sources?

They don’t. Next question.

How do you explain the sunset if their [sic] is no god?

If you get to credit god with sunsets, can I finally get everybody to admit that Satan created the raisin? I look at raisins and I am certain THERE IS NO GOD.

Are you scared of a Divine Creator?

Yes. John Waters is terrifying.


Comments (359)

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  1. ScrewyCanuck says:

    I just love your posts. Never stop doing this.

  2. There also George Carlin’s classic, “Father, if God is all-powerful, can he make a rock so big that even HE can’t lift it?”

    PS: I’d be charging you for a new laptop if I had a mouthful of water or coffee when I read that John Waters line!

    • DrS says:

      I also enjoyed Homer Simpson’s take on that line, could God heat a burrito so hot that even he couldn’t eat it?

      • efgoldman says:

        The question is medieval

        The creationists’ whole outlook is medieval.

        • burritoboy says:

          Er, no, the omnipotence paradox was well known in the Middle Ages and was taken very seriously indeed. I myself believe that Aquinas has a plausible response.

        • libarbarian says:

          Well, sort of.

          It is almost certain that, in a world where 90%+ were illiterate (and even most of the rest couldn’t read Latin) and in the absence of any other theory, most people in general did believe the only story they had been told: that God had created the world in 6 days and that Adam and Eve were real people.

          However, “Creationism” as WE know it is more than that – it is part of a larger belief set of so-called “Biblical Literalism” which is actually a 19th century invention that came about in response to the twin challenges of Biblical Criticism and the Theory of Evolution.

          From Antiquity, the idea that every single world of the Bible was “literally” correct in a narrow factual / journalistic sense, was just not on the radar. I would venture to say that a person expressing such a belief stood a good chance of getting slapped with the “heretic” label.

    • DK2 says:

      Since we seem to be the source of continual disappointment to our Judeo-Christian God, I would ask if there is a chip on His shoulder so large that even He cannot remove it. I mean, get over it already.

    • Lurker says:

      My favorite answer to this question is the Cartesian one: Yes, He can make such a rock and can subsequently lift it. God is not bound by the laws of logic, but due to His benevolence towards man, He voluntarily allows the world He created to act according to laws of logic and physics.

      • Protagoras says:

        That is conceding that the existence of God involves a logical contradiction (since any contradiction is necessarily false, saying that a contradiction is possibly true involves a contradiction). So on this view, we have as much reason to believe that God does not exist as we have to believe that contradictions are false. You can, of course, continue to insist that God exists anyway because you don’t trust the authority of logic (and feel free to also insist that 2+2=5 because you don’t trust the authority of arithmetic, if you wish), but I think it’s strange to view this as a solution to the original problem, when it seems rather to make it worse (or perhaps just make it clearer how bad it is).

        At least so it seems to me. Your mileage may vary, but “it can be logically proven that there’s no God, but I don’t care what logic says!” doesn’t seem like a very intellectually compelling position to me.

        • Lurker says:

          In my opinion, it is the only consistent solution. Christianity is full of paradoxes. The concept of Trinity cannot be reconciled with logic. Neither can the concept of the dual nature of Christ. And don’t get me started on how God’s mercy and justice could be reconciled. They can’t, if you use human logic.

          I’m merely following in the footsteps of William of Occam, who first demonstrated that logic is unusable as a tool when pondering the questions of faith. They must lie on a solid bed of revelation and paradox, otherwise they crumble.

        • efgoldman says:

          At least so it seems to me. Your mileage may vary, but “it can be logically proven that there’s no God, but I don’t care what logic says!” doesn’t seem like a very intellectually compelling position to me.

          Logic, like arithmetic, data, and facts, has a well-known liberal bias.

        • steve says:

          Maybe God can create other logics. If so, would it be possible for him to create a logic under which he could not exist and then cease to exist?

          • Robbert says:

            “`I refuse to prove that I exist,’ says God, `for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.’
            `But,’ says Man, `The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don’t. QED.’
            `Oh dear,’ says God, `I hadn’t thought of that,’ and promptly disappears in a puff of logic.
            `Oh, that was easy,’ says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.”

        • Dilan Esper says:

          I think there are plenty of great arguments against the existence of God. But the “logical proofs” don’t strike me as any better than the “logical proofs” in favor of God (such as the ontological argument). All of them depend on assuming a definition as an ipse dixit and then “proving” what they want to prove from that assumption.

          The better arguments are empirical ones. The world as we actually know it is completely inconsistent with just about any God ever posited except, perhaps, Spinoza-style pantheism or some form of deism. And it’s certainly completely inconsistent with the sorts of gods posited by organized religion.

          • Protagoras says:

            I completely agree. I’m just pointing out that someone who accepts Descartes’ logic-defying God, and by extension any logic-defying God, must accept that they are taking sides against logic. This has no bearing on any other concept of God, and I certainly have no claim to know what the authoritative concept of God should be; I’m only making a point about this particular, rather peculiar view of God. That Descartes endorsed this view of God makes me sympathetic to the (admittedly minority) view that Descartes was secretly an atheist.

            • Dilan Esper says:

              I sort of take Descartes at his word. He was aware of very powerful critiques of theism, but couldn’t bear to believe that there wasn’t a God. Whether you want to call someone who expresses belief in a God despite grave well-founded doubts about Her existence an atheist is up to you.

        • slightly_peeved says:

          The trouble with that is that most systems of logic rely on axioms such as cause following effect, and an object cannot be both A and ~A. The current state of physics would cast levels of doubt on both these assumptions.

          If in science, we’re dealing with particles that have two different states simultaneously, or objects with indeterminate position and velocity (with one influencing the other), let alone dimensions beyond the main 4, we’re already into the realm of ideas that would have been called paradoxes according to classical logic. Seems to me that we would expect the creator of such a universe to not be amenable to classical logic.

      • JazzBumpa says:

        My thought on this has always been that this kind of god has placed us in this vale of tears to play a game against a stacked deck, with arbitrary rules that are beyond our understanding, and if we fuck up we go to hell.

        That’s about 2 steps down from Moloch, IMHO.

  3. mpowell says:

    One of the scarier things about fundamentalists is that they look the world with all of its tremendous suffering and think: ‘awesome!’. Christianity made more sense when it acknowledged the world was a terrible place.

    • DrDick says:

      And have the audacity to claim that their god is merciful and loving.

      • sharculese says:

        Back in law school I actually knew one hardcore right wing fundy who didn’t believe in Hell because he recognized it was incompatible with the merciful and loving god he believed in. I could never figure out whether that was admirable or insane.

        • Shakezula says:

          Wow. I thought belief in Hell was an essential part of HCRW Fundyism.

          • Gregor Sansa says:

            There’s an episode of This American Life about how a fundy superstar preacher, Carlton Pearson, stopped believing in Hell, and was shunned from the church he’d built. He ended up with a new congregation, the kind that has a rainbow flag.

            • aimai says:

              That was an extra-ordinary episode of TAL. Mind blowing. I actually know a few AA fun dies in my town and I talked to them about it afterwards but to them–and they were all the way across country from Carlson P’s original church, the entire thing was a mystery. They told me they had heard “he went crazy.” The theological implications of what he he was saying were simply dissapeared, along with his church.

          • sharculese says:

            He was a strange dude. Like one time we were arguing about something and I put it to him that I he sounded like he would be in favor of ditching this whole democracy thing and going to rule by an all-powerful philosopher-king and he was basically like, ‘that’s fair, I’d probably be cool with that.’

          • njorl says:

            The eternal hellfire and damnation was a late development. It was a conflation of Sheol, Hades and Gehenna. You had the curse of having your body burnt as trash or burnt as an offering to false gods combined with an eternal habitation of the dead. The result was being burned eternally.

            If Fundamentalists really practiced fundamentalism, they would try to use the most accurate translations of the gospels, and would realize that their concept of Hell is inconsistent with Christianity.

        • Chris J says:

          There are parallels to that in Quakerism, actually. We make our own Hell.

          • njorl says:

            I remember discussing with a friend that a place where everyone always got whatever they needed and wanted would be heaven for the generous and hell for the greedy at the same time.

    • Anderson says:

      The catholic position, actually, is that the world *is* good, because God made it – that goes back very far, to the debates with the gnostics (who argued from the terrible world that it wasn’t made by God but by a demiurge or whatever).

      That’s the reason the Nicene Creed stresses so heavily that God made all things, “seen and unseen.” The creed gets a little more interesting when you note that every bland assertion in it was meant to counter a specific heresy (I think Paul Tillich gave me that idea).

  4. Dennis Orphen says:

    Everything written on Wikipedia is false. Everything in the Bible is true.

  5. ajay says:

    I am very pleased by the fact that, for her byline photo, Amanda Marcotte has deliberately picked not the shot that says “I am a serious thinker on policy issues”, not the shot that says “I am a young, fashionable journalist in touch with the zeitgeist!” but the shot that frankly might as well be captioned “I am temporarily awed into silence by the sheer weapons-grade stupidity inherent in your statement”. It’s a perfect combination of amusement, amazement and irritation.

  6. wjts says:

    1. Lots of them. Gene duplication, polyploidy, etc.

    2. If my ancestors came to the U.S. from Ireland, why are there still Irish people?


    4. It was the 60s, man. It was the 60s.

    5. Some kind of optical illusion?

    6. I’m too busy being afraid of the Draculas in my basement to have the time to be afraid of anything else, honestly.

    • sharculese says:

      Basement Draculas are usually more scared of you than you are of them. If you leave a little food and water out for them they’re not actually that hard to domesticate.

    • steve says:

      One day gnostic Jesus will destroy this illusionary farce, this travesty perpetrated by the demiurge and we will all transcend this imperfection and return to the true world intended for us!

    • aimai says:

      I think the accusation that athiests are “afraid” of a divine being is another example of a kind of natural human tendency to project one’s own issues onto others. As well as being something they are taught. Fred Clark at Slactivist has had a lot of little mini essays on this issue as it plays out in the way people who read the Left Behind series or follow that form of christianism assume that what is self evident to them is also, definitionally, self evident to everyone. In this reading of the “god made the world and everythign in it: obviously” shtick Jews and Atheists are just lying to themselves about what they believe–they know there is a Christian God running everything, they are just stubbornly deceiving themselves and the people around them just because.

      There are two strands of thought in the evangelical community–god loves us and we need to love god, and god hates people who don’t love him and we need to hate and fear those people lest they put us on the wrong side of god. Loveable dad god is also scary dad god. To outsiders it seems pretty clear that God is your basic authoritarian, abusive drunk Dad who is always threatening to go Galt and become Deadbeat Dad if you kids don’t shut up and appreciate him more.

      So it makes sense to project all that onto stubborn atheists and pagans and assert that they “fear” this god you yourself actually fear.

    • Bill Murray says:

      1 is also based on a misunderstanding of the second law of thermodynamics — The entropy of an isolated system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium. — the creationists apply this to the earth to say that increasing information is impossible. Of course the fact that the earth is not an isolated system rarely penetrates the surety of their correct-ness

      • Lurker says:

        Yep. The world is definitely not a closed system. We receive a very large amount of energy from the Sun, at ca. 6000 K, and radiate exactly same amount of energy away from Earth at ca. 300 K. Because
        Delta S = Delta Q/T,

        the world is really increasing the entropy of the universe at a very high rate.

        And if you estimate the decrease of entropy stored in the total biomass of the world, you’ll notice that the Earth increases the entropy of the universe by that amount in less than a day. (I wonder why no one has tried to use that to prove that God could, indeed, have created the green plants in a day.)

      • mds says:

        the creationists apply this to the earth to say that increasing information is impossible.

        And yet they love fetuses so much.

    • Galen says:


      Hey, now!

  7. DrDick says:

    Anyone who believes in intelligent design either knows nothing about biology (or any other natural process), as it is is horrifically sloppy and error prone, or else they have no respect at all for the creator. Natural processes make Rube Goldberg look like the epitome of efficient design.

  8. Bill "Not Overpaid At All" O'Reilly says:

    Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that. You can’t explain why the tide goes in.

  9. Ronan says:

    It still doesnt answer the question of ‘where is the evidence for evolution’

  10. FridayNext says:

    Her answer to the Monkey question irks me, because the answer is very simple, even simpler than Marcotte suggests. The problem is the premise. Humans didn’t come from monkeys. Humans and monkeys share a common ancestor with apes, our closest relative more close than monkeys, and we diverged from that ancestor 5-8 million years ago.

    • ajay says:

      Quite. “We didn’t; humans and monkeys both descended from a common ancestor, millions of years ago. Humans are not descended from monkeys any more than you’re descended from me”. There you go.

    • DocAmazing says:

      Then why are there still Paramecium?

    • TribalistMeathead says:

      I’m pretty sure that’s deliberate. “Humans evolved from monkeys” just sounds stupider than “Humans evolved from apes.” Much as “I take this bread, wave my magic wand, and presto-changeo, it turns into the flesh of Jesus Christ” sounds stupider than “transubstantiation.”

      • ajay says:

        “I take this bread, wave my magic wand, and presto-changeo, it turns into the flesh of Jesus Christ” sounds stupider than “transubstantiation.”

        Get in line for that processional
        Step into the small confessional
        There the guy who’s got religion’ll
        Tell you if your sin’s original
        If it is try playing it safer
        Drink the wine and eat the wafer
        Two, four, six, eight,
        Time to transubstantiate!

    • Sly says:

      Whenever I hear the Monkey question, I immediately think of Homer Stokes from Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? shouting “Is you is or is you ain’t my constituency?!”

    • wjts says:

      Humans didn’t come from monkeys.

      No, humans are not descended from any living species of monkey, but the Oligocene common ancestor of humans, apes, and Old World monkeys almost certainly looked more like a monkey than it did an ape or a human.

      • steve says:

        You trying to say my daddy was an Oligocene common ancestor of humans, apes, and old world monkeys!?

      • FridayNext says:

        But the premise of the original question is still nonsense. That Oligocene common ancestor, regardless of what it does or does not look like, isn’t still around either.

        You don’t play the other person’s game when the game is rigged, which is what you are doing when you try to answer the “If we are descended from monkeys why are they still around?” on its own terms.

        • wjts says:

          True enough. The only time I’ve ever been asked that question to my face, I responded with the joke about Irish people I made above and then gave the comic strip account of isolation -> adaptation -> allopatric speciation as it might have pertained to a hypothetical population of ancient primates. I won’t claim I convinced the guy, but he did admit that that made sense.

      • UserGoogol says:

        And “monkey” is somewhat of a spuriously defined category biologically speaking, since it’s not a monophyletic category. Old world monkeys are more closely related to apes than old world moneys are to new world monkeys. So monkey more or less means “primate that isn’t an ape” so you can somewhat plausibly say that the common ancestor of all primates (thus including humans) was a monkey.

        But all this nitpicking really supports why creationists misunderstand evolution in the first place. A key point is that according to evolution, categorization of organisms into different types is somewhat arbitrary. A lot of creationist critiques take for granted that life consists of fundamentally discrete kinds, (which to be fair, is a very natural way of thinking about reality) and thus will get worked over the moment when one type becomes another.

      • JMP says:

        One slight nitpick: humans are a type of ape, much as the morons would like to deny it, so it’s incorrect to refer to “humans or apes” as if they were seperate categories; “humans and other apes” or “apes, including humans”.

    • Hogan says:

      Global warming, sir? I’m sorry, that’s just a bunch of scientist talk. Same people who’d have you believe that my great grandfather was a monkey. If he was a monkey, then why was he killed by a monkey?

  11. Todd says:

    John Waters was more of a Divine enabler, and this also ties in to your poo reference earlier.

  12. jim, some guy in iowa says:

    I guess I need someone to explain to me why any of this matters. creationist ‘literalists’ are only worth noticing because they swing a disproportionate amount of political power. how was this ‘debate’ going to get the agnostics, freethinkers and non-loony religious together to put the creationists into the political margins?

  13. kindness says:

    Bill Nye meant well yesterday. Not sure he thought the whole thing through though. It isn’t as if he changed any minds, he didn’t. For me Nye did show that his opponent wasn’t arguing science, but actually arguing that The Bible trumps everything. Which Nye should have expected. Pharyngula had a great Cliff Notes version of the event.

    Amanda giving Creationists credit was also problematic for the same reason. I will give Creationists the credit that they believe what they say. I won’t give them any credit to discuss actual science.

    • Steve LaBonne says:

      From what I’ve read (I’m not about to waste 2 1/2 hours of my life) Nye missed some opportunities but probably did a bit better than working biologists generally do at this kind of travesty. Not surprising since (like Ham!) he’s a professional performer. But it’s still a thing that shouldn’t be done at all, since it only serves to give these fools unearned importance.

    • slightly_peeved says:

      Given, as Nye pointed out, that they’re a minority of religious believers, they shouldn’t get any credit to discuss the bible or religion, either.

  14. Sly says:

    What mechanism has science discovered that evidences an increase of genetic information seen in any genetic mutation or evolutionary process?

    This is the type of thing Creationists say when they’re trying to sound smart in front of other Creationists. If she actually knew what those words meant, she’d know that mutation is the mechanism through which genetic information is added. She’s not asking how mutation happens, which is the question Marcotte (partially) answered.

    And Wonkette’s headline captured the Nye/Ham “debate” perfectly.

    • ChrisTS says:

      Well, you answered my question: Exactly what did this woman think she was asking?

      • Lee Rudolph says:

        Since, for my sins, I have just sought out (purely for the purpose of documenting the atrocities!) a creationist webpage attacking the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and what did I see there but this:

        The information in even the simplest organism would take about a thousand pages to write out. Human beings have 500 times as much information as this. It is a flight of fantasy to think that undirected processes could generate this huge amount of information, just as it would be to think that a cat walking on a keyboard could write a book.

        So that’s, I suggest, how “genetic information” got into here question. Further than that I dare not go.

        • DrDick says:

          And, of course, that last statement is actually false. As the old example states, given enough time (the big thing creationists cannot wrap their pointy heads around), a room full of chimps with typewriters could reproduce the complete works of Shakespeare. So we can add the laws of probability to the things they do not understand and accept.

        • Anderson says:

          just as it would be to think that a cat walking on a keyboard could write a book

          Wait – Dan Brown is human???

  15. Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    The good news is that apparently even Christian Today readers said that Nye won the debate with a 92-8 split. The bad news is that Nye may not have really won it as much as Ham lost it. Nye missed some obvious opportunities that a more practiced debater would have refuted much more forcefully, and of course the whole charade helped to pad the coffers of an organization that is funding large-scale Creationism/Ark attractions. I’m torn on whether these sorts of debates are really worth engaging and definitely think that there are better candidates than Nye for the science side. But I’m happy that he did well. Jerry Coyne had a good summary on this event and the Creationist mindset in general:

    Two final remarks. After the debate I was fulminating about Ham’s performance, grumbling about his being a “liar for Jesus.” My friend said that no, Ham wasn’t lying—he truly believed the palaver he was spewing. And I realized that she was right. Ham’s brain has been so deeply marinated in his faith that that organ has simply become impermeable to facts. He really does believe in Noah’s Ark, the Fall, and talking snakes, and must reject or rationalize facts that don’t comport with his Sacred Book.

    That is a mindset that I don’t understand, and, being a scientist, perhaps can never understand. But it shows how religion can poison one’s mind so deeply that it becomes immunized to the real truth about the cosmos. Ham was not lying, but simply suffering from a severe delusion—one that should cause him cognitive dissonance but doesn’t.

    So much the worse for him, but his delusions also cause him to poison the minds of children, and that is not all right with either me or Nye. It’s simply wrong to teach creationism to children, for that is teaching them lies, and I fault Nye a bit for helping the Creation Museum raise funds by participating in this debate. By so doing, Nye was subsidizing the brainwashing of the children he so wants to reach. But I forgive him, for he did a creditable job.

    I hope that, in the future, Nye is not so emboldened by his success in this debate that he starts debating creationists. Eventually he will run into one that is not as Ham-handed as Ham, and he’ll lose badly. Moreover, as I’ve said repeatedly, debates are not the place to resolve scientific issues, and only give credibility to creationists. Would it be useful for a famous geologist to debate a flat-earther on the topic “Is the earth round?”

    My advice to Nye is this: keep talking and writing about evolution, but not in a debate format. You’re charismatic, funny, and, most important, have the truth on your side. Learn a little bit more about radiometric dating, and about the crazy arguments that Biblical literalists are wedded to—like the bizarre and unscientific concept of animal “kinds”. Talk to people about how there’s no real difference between the accuracy and value of “observational science” and “historical science.” It is the combination of eloquence and truth, not his skill in a rhetorical contest, that will bring Nye his victories.

  16. Pee Cee says:

    How do you explain the sunset if their [sic] is no god?

    And fucking magnets, how do they work?

  17. Royko says:

    How do you explain the sunset if their [sic] is no god?

    On a purely aesthetic level, I’ve always been annoyed at how incredibly _small_ creationists make their God. If there is a God, he created this vast universe and the entire framework, all of the rules, that allow it to exist and that frame our entire experience and everything we know. Yet, to them, he’s just painting pretty watercolors in the sky. What about the freaking immense ball of fusion reactions over there causing the sunset AND SUSTAINING OUR LIVES? What about light and how it travels and can be perceived? All of that’s a lot more impressive to me than a pink sky.

    • DrS says:

      That’s cause their God is created in their image and they are that small.

      Fundy personal relationship with God stuff is quite egocentric.

      • Shakezula says:

        These are both very good points and get at what God means to these people. The sheer imagination and work involved in creating the universe isn’t important to them because their God is just who’d they be if they could get away with it.

        So working out the motions of the planets and galaxies and stars and so they don’t smash into one another? Yawn.

        Making people do what you say and punishing the disobedient? Oh yeah!

        Did Everything get created in 6 human days (24 hours x 6)? Or is it possible that a God Day is whatever God says even if that’s a billion years (I mean, Dude created time)? There are even devout Christians who will point out that it is disrespectful to assume God operates on our time scale.

        Well, who really cares because this kind of Creationist can’t imagine that amount of time and really, the point is to make you agree with their point of view and stop saying things they don’t want you to say, just because they – I mean, their mean angry vengeful God who is frowning at you right now – said so.

        As a side note, there was a growing environmental protection movement in some fundamentalist churches based on the Biblical idea that humans are stewards of the planet. And maybe fucking up the nice planet Dad gave you is a bad idea that will have to be explained at some point? You’d expect that to have already been the case if they truly believed that the planet and everything on it was their responsibility. But again, the Creationists insisting that we shut up about evolution want the power to destroy, not protect or nurture.

        • Lurker says:


          In addition, if you really think that God is omnipotent and omniscient, it makes your head spin. There are 200 billion galaxies in the visible part of the universe, each created with care, according to a grand plan. Whatever wonders lie in those galaxies forever beyond our reach, it has been created as a part of the same plan as we are.

          On the other hand, God knows every single elementary particle in each of these galaxies, guiding it according to His eternal wisdom and goodness, mostly according to natural laws that make the universe comprehensible to man.

          Still, this selfsame God has time and energy to send His only-begotten Son to our planet, to sweat, defecate, cry, bleed and die. Just to save a bunch of intelligent apes who he happened to create(via the natural process of evolution, of course) here, in this part of the universe for the blink of an eye that is the Earth’s age. And He takes it for himself to mix permanently the nature of man with the nature of God. It baffles one’s mind, truly.

          And if you are an atheist, please note that I am very well aware that the above really does not make any sense at all. That’s why I believe it.

          • Lee Rudolph says:

            Which “Lurker” are you?

              • Lurker says:

                Definitely an evolved one. Evolution is, according to science, the only logical process that could have produced the mankind as it is now. There’s plenty of evidence. Good God would not make world so as to betray us on this, so evolution must be true.

                And if you really embrace the concept of omnipotency, having God guide every single selection event (i.e. every feeding, mating and death of every living being), actually presents you with such idea of God’s glory that one’s mind can only remotely comprehend its vastness.

                • Good God would not make world so as to betray us on this, so evolution must be true.


                  And if you are an atheist, please note that I am very well aware that the above really does not make any sense at all. That’s why I believe it.

                  Why betray on one and not the other?

                • slightly_peeved says:

                  having God guide every single selection event (i.e. every feeding, mating and death of every living being), actually presents you with such idea of God’s glory that one’s mind can only remotely comprehend its vastness.

                  Given that the actual observed universe surpassed my comprehension by the time I got to Quantum Mechanics at College, I’m outright suspicious of the idea (both from atheists and from christians) that God should be easy to comprehend.

            • Lurker says:

              The Finnish one.

          • efgoldman says:

            There are 200 billion galaxies in the visible part of the universe, each created with care, according to a grand plan. Whatever wonders lie in those galaxies forever beyond our reach, it has been created as a part of the same plan as we are.

            Or they could just be projected lights under the planetarium dome.

        • Steve LaBonne says:

          As a (nontheistic) Unitarian Universalist, I would also say that they have an extremely constipated idea of what religion is.

    • Raisin-ette, GHOD OF DRIED GRAPES says:

      I look at raisins and I am certain THERE IS NO GOD.


      There’s a RAISIN for everything!

      And don’t you dare listen to those Currant-ist heretics!

    • JMP says:

      It is kind of amazing that the fundies can persist in their small worldview considering how vast we have discovered the universe is; I’m surprised they don’t go back to geocentrism instead of just creationism.

      The fundamentalists’ god supposedly created the entire universe, and controls all of it. Earth is just a small rocky planet orbiting a typical star that is one of hundreds of billions of stars, which is just one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the orbservable universe, which itself is an inftesimal portion of our entire, most likely infinite, universe, and even that may be one of about 10^500 possible universes if M-theory is correct.

      Yet this god, with such a vast multiverse to control, cares if one of us masturbates. It makes no sense.

  18. Major Kong says:

    They’re obviously wrong. The Monkees haven’t been around for a long time.

    • rea says:

      Hey, hey, we’re the monkeys!

    • aimai says:

      But they were definitely the creation of a superior being and a single mind.

      • Hogan says:

        In assigning instruments for purposes of the television show, a dilemma arose as to which of the four would be the drummer. Both Nesmith, a skilled guitarist and bassist, and Tork, who could play several stringed and keyboard instruments, were peripherally familiar with the instrument but both declined to give the drum set a try. Jones knew how to play the drums and tested well enough initially on the instrument, but the producers felt that, behind a drum kit, the camera would exaggerate his short stature and make him virtually hidden from view. Thus, Dolenz (who only knew how to play the guitar) was assigned to become the drummer. Tork taught Dolenz his first few beats on the drums, enough for him to fake his way through filming the pilot, but Dolenz was soon taught how to play properly.[27] Thus, the lineup for the TV show most frequently featured Nesmith on guitar, Tork on bass, Dolenz on drums, and Jones as a frontman, singer, and percussionist. This, however, is in opposition to the lineup which would have made the most sense based upon the members’ musical strengths. For example, Tork is actually a better guitar player than Nesmith, while Nesmith had at one time specifically trained on the bass. And while Jones certainly had a strong lead voice and sings lead on several Monkees recordings, Dolenz’s voice is regarded, particularly by Nesmith, as one of the most distinctive in popular music history and a hallmark of the Monkees’ sound.

      • ixnay says:

        Don Kirschner?

  19. NewishLawyer says:

    This raises the question of whether we should engage with creationists at all or not.

    There was a possible #slatepitch yesterday about how Bill Nye lost by even engaging because it gives credence to creationists to be treated to a debate.

    I generally disagree with this form of logic but perhaps sometimes outright ignoring is called for.

    • Murc says:

      This raises the question of whether we should engage with creationists at all or not.

      Well, it’s a matter of practicality.

      It is true that debating matters of fact tends to legitimate untrue things. But if enough people believe something manifestly not true, you more or less have to engage with it if you want people to eventually stop believing it, because otherwise the concrete results are really bad.

      For example, not a lot of people feel a deep burning need to engage with faith healers, because while there are a whole lot’of em they are, largely, regarded as either deluded or snake oil salesmen. Engaging them is a waste of time. Even people who profess to buy into faith healing will usually hie themselves or their kids to a hospital when the chips are down.

      If there were numerous Senators and Congressmen who openly and ardently believed in faith healing and tried to craft public policy around that, though, and believing in it didn’t make you weird and a social pariah, and there were loads of mainstream media outfits and people of genuine influence pushing the line that we don’t really need the NIH or the CDC and Doctors are all godless heathens who are stealing your money when Jesus will cure all your ills… you have to engage at that point.

      • efgoldman says:

        If there were numerous Senators and Congressmen who openly and ardently believed in faith healing and tried to craft public policy around that….

        Aren’t there? All the TeaHadi MDs who was sure Teri Schiavo was going to come back?

      • herr doktor bimler says:

        If there were numerous Senators and Congressmen who openly and ardently believed in faith healing and tried to craft public policy around that, though, and believing in it didn’t make you weird and a social pariah

        Hence the National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine and its $120.7 million budget.

    • Ronnie Pudding says:

      Mark Joseph Stern wrote this:

      Rather than keeping creationism tucked away on the fringes of intelligent discourse where it belongs, Nye inadvertently lent his esteemed brand to one of the most despicable pseudoscientific cults in the United States

      Not sure about “tucked away.” I don’t think Creationism is going to go away by ignoring it.

      • JMP says:

        Some people are blind to the biases of their personal experience. Personally, I’ve only met a handful of actual creationists, and so like Stern could assume that creationism is just a fringe phenomenon we can safely ignore. However, I recognize thast my background is not universal, and know from other people with different experiences that it is in fact a widespread belief and serious problem in schools in other, primarily rural parts of the country.

        But some peple just presume that if they haven’t personally experienced an issue much it can’t be important.

    • Malaclypse says:

      So, I grew up in a bizarre and complicated mix of Mormonism and fundie Baptists. And here is the thing about an environment like that – you grow up being told that “real science” is this stripped-down version of Direct Observation. You grow up believing that “real scientists” can’t explain the eye, or carbon dating, or a lot of other things. And you believe that, up until the day you are in the library, and pick up a book by Stephen Jay Gould, who was fucking awesome at writing about science at a level that a reasonably bright teenager can understand, and you then and only then realize that all of these supposedly unanswerable questions had been patiently and accurately answered. And if Gould never wrote his essays, maybe I never realize that the existence of eyes is not proof evolution didn’t happen. Maybe I end up with the third of my class that went to Bob Jones. Maybe I never escape rural PA. Maybe I never really understand how very fucking amazing the universe really is, even to a dilettante like myself.

      I’m not the only person in Gould’s debt. And I’m glad Nye is picking up where Gould left off.

      • MPAVictoria says:

        Well said!

      • Murc says:

        It also seems to be a thing that you get people from such environments deciding to go into the life sciences out of a combination of genuine interest and a burning to desire to “blow the lid off the whole thing from the inside” and then after four years of undergrad they’re like “Well, shit. I can either live a lie my whole life or really, really piss off my family.”

        • NewishLawyer says:

          As an agnostic yet proud “Philosophically/Ethically/Culturally Jewish” person, I will not with appreciation that Bill Nye seemed to sincerely respect that plenty of people who identify with a religion are not the same as Creationists.

          Better than the Dawkins-troll technique.

      • NewishLawyer says:

        I admit that growing up Reform/Cultural Jewish but largely secular in a largely Jewish and Asian suburb of New York did not really expose me much to Christian Fundamentalism and that I grew up in an area not known for a large percentage of Christian Fundamentalists. There was a Mormon Church on route to my dentist and the Watchtower but they did not influence school policy. Most of the Chrisitans I knew growing up were Italian or Irish Catholic and some mainline Protestants. There were no debates over teaching evolution or relatively sex positive sex ed.

        In short, I grew up sheltered from the culture wars except distant media exposure. I also had liberal parents who didn’t mind doing things like dropping me off at a David Lynch film festival when I was 16.

        But my atheist parents still made me go to Hebrew school until 12th grade (after your bar mitzvah it basically became pizza twice a month with the rabbi.) And I know enough about Judaism to point out that it is more than “Christianity without Jesus” in an argument. It is especially fun to point out that Jews have a very different interpretation of the event when Jesus kicked the moneylenders out of the Temple.
        Also the Pharisees are held in higher esteem in Judaism.

        • John F says:

          Also the Pharisees are held in higher esteem in Judaism.

          Of course they are, it was the Pharisees’ branch of Judaism that evolved into today’s Rabbinical Judaism

      • bspencer says:

        Wow. Thanks for sharing, Mal!

    • Uncle Ebeneezer says:

      I think it depends on the circumstances. Most of the criticisms of this debate (from science proponents) weren’t saying that Creationists should never be debated, but that they should only be debated in circumstances where the playing field is roughly equal (neutral setting, neutral crowd, focused topic to prevent Gish Galloping, funds split between both sides, roughly equal stature of debaters, shared control over debate footage etc.) In this case it was that Nye was not a practiced debater, had no experience with the common Creationist tactics, the debate was in the Creationist home field, in front of their crowd and with Nye bringing most of the attention.

      I can definitely understand why serious scientists would not want to lend their credibility to Creationism/ID by participating. But that said, if one side is allowed to frame the debate without push-back and will crow “see they’re afraid of us” that’s a pretty good incentive for SOMEBODY to counter their ridiculous claims publicly.

      Also too, there’s no shortage of former believers who point to just these sorts of events (as well as the popular books, articles, blogs etc. by evolution proponents) as the final straw that finally led them to abandon their religious fundamentalism/religion/creationism altogether. So they do have some positive effect if only on a scattered basis.

  20. NewishLawyer says:

    I’m going to depressingly note how young all the people are in the creationist troll pictures with pseudo but not really paradox questions.

    They looked like they were in their 20s to early 30s. I’m guessing the culture war will be just as alive during my middle aged years.

    • sharculese says:

      While these groups are lacking a lot of young people, they are very adept at using the young people they do possess as media props, and not necessarily to the young person’s benefit. See Krohn, Jonathan; O’Donnel, Christine; Shapiro, Ben. It is easier when you don’t see young people as people.

      The left is not always better about this, but it is on aggregate much better about it.

  21. Anderson says:

    I like to quote this on the problem of evil:

    Is God happy with the poisoned cat dying alone in convulsions behind the billboard? Is God happy that life is cruel and that only the fittest survive? The fittest for what? Oh no, far from it. If God were omnipotent and omniscient in any literal sense, he wouldn’t have bothered to make the universe at all. There is no success where there is no possibility of failure, no art without the resistance of the medium. Is it blasphemy to suggest that God has his bad days when nothing goes right, and that God’s days are very, very long?

    –Henry Clarendon IV, in Raymond Chandler, Playback

    • Joe says:

      If there is a God or gods, maybe even as merely a concept (not sure about that), it would make much more sense if the all knowing/all powerful/all beneficent stuff isn’t in there.

      But, then when River in Firefly tried to fix the Bible, she was told that making logical sense wasn’t quite the point.

    • rea says:

      Are not two cats sold for a farthing? And not one of them shall die, poisoned, alone, and in convulsions behind a billboard, without your Father.

    • DrDick says:

      As an agnostic, I finally came to the conclusion that either there is no god or god is a total sadistic asshole whom I want nothing to do with.

      • Anderson says:

        The only way to finesse it, I think, is that God plays the long game, and that the worst sufferings of (say) Auschwitz are, sub specie aeternitas, less than a child’s bumped knee is to a parent.

        That is not a particularly comforting God, to be sure.

        • Anderson says:

          That got me remembering how Stephen King puts it in The Stand, where as you’ll recall the forces of evil are led by a terrifying dark wizard, and the forces of good are led by a 108-year-old black woman from Nebraska, who muses:

          God worked discreetly, and in the ways that pleased Him. It had pleased Him that the Children of Israel should sweat and strain under the Egyptian yoke for generations. It had pleased Him to send Joseph into slavery, his fine coat of many colors ripped rudely from his back. It had pleased Him to allow the visitation of a hundred plagues on hapless Job, and it had pleased Him to allow His only Son to be hung up on a tree with a bad joke written over His head.

          God was a gamesman—if He had been a mortal, He would have been at home hunkering over a checkerboard on the porch of Pop Mann’s general store back in Hemingford Home. He played red to black, white to black. She thought that, for Him, the game was more than worth the candle, the game was the candle. He would prevail in His own good time. But not necessarily this year, or in the next thousand…

          Note that I am not recommending belief in such an entity.

  22. Bitter Scribe says:

    Monkey Godwin: The sooner monkeys appear in a post, the higher ther probability that someone will mention poo-flinging.

  23. jim, some guy in iowa says:

    maybe what’s needed is the scientist version of jehovah’s witnesses going door to door with pamphlets explaining biology, etc

  24. heckblazer says:

    If there was an intelligent creator who made life in its current form, he’s a creepy fuck. Parasitic reproduction? Intrauterine cannibalism? Traumatic insemination? Duck rape? Mind control fungus? Parasitoid anything? That’s some real horror movie shit!

  25. bspencer says:

    There are few things more frustrating to me than reading through a recipe, going “yes, yes. Oooh, this sounds wonderful.” Then seeing “raisins” in the ingredients. People who put raisins in things should be severely beaten about the head and shoulders.

  26. laura says:

    I just want to put in a word to defend “amazeballs” which is a much better word than most people admit.

  27. K says:

    Its not enough to have creationists mind their own business anymore, is it? What damn difference does it make if there is or isn’t an all powerful god? He doesn’t seem to like interfering in the works of man assuming he/she/it exists. So, basically we’re arguing over what people think in the space of their own heads. Other than the field of stem cell research, creationists aren’t standing in the way of much actual progress.

  28. K says:

    If republicans actually believed in and practiced the religion they claim to, the world might actually be a better place for their efforts. Sadly, they don’t, and it isn’t.

  29. Anonymous says:

    The most recent common ancestor of baboons and creationists looked like a monkey and acted like one too.

  30. Stuart Dean says:

    Christians Against Slipknot

    You’d love it.

  31. K says:

    Also, If you are going to believe in an all powerful god, wouldn’t it make more sense to make man out of a monkey than dirt? I mean a monkey is like 98% human, if dna holds any weight, and i believe it does both here and in a court of law. If you are going to believe in an all powerful god, its not that big of a stretch to say he made man from monkeys. At this point, you lose most Christians because the bible says god made earth in 7 days with all the animals and plants and whatnot. Science has proved that false, so Christians reject science. But, the bible was written by man, who is imperfect and sometimes lies, so maybe the bible should be taken with a grain of salt. I mean, if you were to go back to the bible days and try and tell someone about how Darwin’s theory of evolution explains how man came from monkeys, and have them try and write that down, who knows what that piece of literature would read like. You have to remember, in the bible days, Christians were the progressives. They were the ones going “Ok, people, lets maybe just worship one magical being in the sky, maybe build some permanent residences instead of roaming about, and cut that human sacrifice shit out.”

    • Malaclypse says:

      You have to remember, in the bible days, Christians were the progressives. They were the ones going “Ok, people, lets maybe just worship one magical being in the sky, maybe build some permanent residences instead of roaming about, and cut that human sacrifice shit out.”

      No, those were the Jews that did that. Except the “permanent residence” thing. That was the Mesopotamians. You know, the people that Abraham ran out of Ur to escape. So, in short, you are pretty much wrong all around, because all that shit was old news by the time there were any Christians.

      • ajay says:

        maybe build some permanent residences instead of roaming about

        A belief that was rapidly rejected by the Western Church, or, as they later became known, the Roaming Catholics.

      • wjts says:

        You know, the people that Abraham ran out of Ur to escape.

        Older than that, even. Pre-Paleolithic Neolithic A settlements date to ca. 8000 BCE. Early Natufian communities, ca. 13,000 BCE, were predominantly sedentary for most of the year. There is, so far as I’m aware, no evidence for human sacrifice in Natufian, PPNA, or PPNB communities.

        • Malaclypse says:

          Fair enough. I was just gobsmacked that someone could be so pig-fuckingly ignorant as to believe that Christians, arising during the Roman Empire, were somehow early proponents of “permanent residences.” You just don’t expect to see weapons-grade stupidity like that just lying around.

          • wjts says:

            No, you don’t. But it does amuse me to imagine a bunch of early Christians exhorting Romans to stop running around and just settle down and build some buildings already. Maybe some aqueducts and fora. Oh, and an amphitheater or two. You know, for the kids!

              • aimai says:

                Not only that but A) The Jews didn’t have human sacrifice–that had ended with Abraham (if it ever existed). B) Nor did the Romans have human sacrifice, unless you are talking about the funeral games which is a bit of a stretch and also, by that time, largely the Roman equivalent of WWF. Even Christians, who know anything at all about their own religion, don’t claim that Jesus died on the cross to end human sacrifice although they sometimes claim, based on his supposed teachings, that he ended animal sacrifice.

  32. K says:

    Also, never said creationists leave people alone. Said that even if they did, that wouldn’t be enough for most anti-religion people anymore.

    • bspencer says:

      Sorry. Staunchly disagree with this.

    • aimai says:

      Sure it would be enough for “most anti religion” people–no one gives a fuck if Ken Ham wants to believe that the world is 6000 years old. Like other free riders and users he will continue to benefit from the fact that the geologists, road builders, and biologists who maintain the actual, real, world he lives in use science, evolution, and “old earth” to make the modern world function and to cure poor Ken’s diseases and get him the fossil fuel he uses to jet around lying to people. I’m just sick and tired of these assholes benefitting from science and civilization and knowledge and then turning around and pretending that they aren’t.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      Really? What do you base that on other than projection and fantasy?

      Frankly, I care as little for what keep-to-themselves creationists believe as I care for what keep-it-to-themselves astrologists believe. You wanna have silly beliefs?
      Go right ahead. You want to be fleeced on the basis of those silly things then I feel a bit sorry for you and would like to make sure that there were limits to the fraud, but otherwise, whatever makes you happy.

  33. K says:

    Well, yes, the Jews were the first to worship one god, Christians were the 3rd on that bandwagon. The point still stands that Christians were one of the more progressive groups in biblical times.

  34. […] personal favorite is B. Spencer’s unapologetically snide set of answers at Lawyers, Guns & Money, including: If we come from monkeys then why are there still […]

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