Dec 13 2013

# Worst Creationist Argument Since the Banana

Over the last 25 years I have encountered some astonishingly stupid arguments for creationism but this one may take the cake. It’s from a woman named Margaret Hunter and it purports to prove mathematically that the Genesis account is true. You might not want to drink anything while you read this or you might ruin a keyboard.

There are twelve events in the Biblical account of creation that science has confirmed are correct and in the correct order. So I ask myself, what are the chances of just guessing the correct order.
Here are the events
1. Light separated from darkness
2. Creation of the earth covered in water
3. The separation of the dry land from the seas
4 – 6. The creation of plants in a particular order – grasses, plants with seeds and fruit bearing trees
7. The placing of the heavenly bodies in relationship to the earth. This is often explained as the clearing of the atmosphere (from one composed mostly of water vapor and carbon dioxide to one with more oxygen due to plant photsynthesis) enough to see these creations.
8-11 The creation of animal life in a particular order – fish, birds, modern land animals, live stock
12. The creation of man

Think of the problem like this. Take a deck of cards. Keep just one suit -let’s say hearts. Toss out the ace. Hand the remaining twelve cards to a one year old child. Ask him/her to hand you the cards one at a time. In order. What are the chances said toddler will start with the two and give them all to you in order right up to the king? It’s a basic probability question (no, come back! forget I said anything about math.) I’ll just tell you the answer. It’s one chance in 479,001,600. (If you want the formula it’s below) In other words Moses had less than one chance in 479 million of just correctly guessing.

Hemant, who teaches math, points out one obvious problem:

Let’s start with her faulty analogy. A deck of cards *has* to be in a particular order. That’s why it’d be very impressive for a toddler to get it right. But Moses (let’s assume for a moment that he existed and wrote Genesis, both of which I doubt) wasn’t randomly guessing at this order. Of course you have to create the earth (#1) before you create animals that live on it (#8-12). Of course you have to have water (#2) before you can separate dry land from it (#3). Of course you have to create plants (#4-6) before you can create animals (#8-11).

This isn’t some shuffled deck of cards that Moses randomly guessed correctly. This is a linear jigsaw puzzle where only one piece fits into the slot in front of it.

But there’s so much more that is wrong here. Like the fact that the Genesis story has light being created on the first day before there is a source for light (either the sun or other stars, which were created on the 4th day). There is no day and night without the sun, yet the first three “days” have a day and night before the sun was created. That’s about as blatantly out of order as it could be.

And the order of the animals is wrong too. It doesn’t say that God created “fish” before birds and land animals, it says “Let the water teem with living creatures,” which would included marine mammals that evolved long after land animals. And birds did not evolve until tens of millions of years after the first land animals crawled out of the ocean. So no, the order is not even close to being correct, which makes the entire basis for this exercise in irrationality false from the start.

1. 1
##### Reginald Selkirk

<iAnd the order of the animals is wrong too. It doesn’t say that God created “fish” before birds and land animals, it says “Let the water teem with living creatures,” which would included marine mammals that evolved long after land animals.

Indeed. Whales are specifically named as aong the Day 5 water-living critters, while land animals are on Day 5.

[20] And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
[21] And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
[22] And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
[23] And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
[24] And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
[25] And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

2. 2
##### raven

Not to mention there are two Genesis creation accounts, and they differ quite a bit.

3. 3
##### colnago80

Re raven @ #2

Absolutely, Genesis 1 says that a pair of humans was created after the other animals. Genesis 2 says that humans were created before the other animals. The contortions that creationists go through trying to explain this contradiction are something to behold.

4. 4
##### dingojack

“4 – 6. The creation of plants in a particular order – grasses, plants with seeds and fruit bearing trees”

All of which are angiosperms. What of ferns, gymnosperms, mosses, horsetails and the rest?
When exactly did god make them? Was it before or after the formation of the sun (the principle source of energy for autotrophic organisms)?
Enquiring minds need to know.
Dingo

5. 5
##### thebookofdave

The greatest trick the devil ever performed is convincing people he doesn’t exist.*

The greatest trick God ever did was…here, pick a card.

*I hope I’m not spoiling things by mentioning that actual nonexistence makes this stunt easy to pull off.

6. 6
##### Modusoperandi

What the theologians fail to realize is that the Bible is written as Unreliable Narrator. It’s a historical Fight Club.

7. 7
##### Chiroptera

In other words Moses had less than one chance in 479 million of just correctly guessing.

Moses guessed what correctly? That he got the order of creation correct assumes that the Genesis account is correct. (And that the myth of authorship of Genesis is correct as well.)

(1) Assuming what you want to prove is a logical fallacy.

(2) Science has already told us that the order in Genesis is not correct, so Moses actually guessed wrong.

8. 8
##### Johnny Vector

#7 is fractally wrong. Unless you see only in the infrared, water vapor is quite transparent, as is CO2. There wasn’t particularly more water vapor in the early atmosphere. And using the phrase “composed mostly of” without considering nitrogen is interesting.

All of which is just a nice poke in the eye on top of the ligament-tearing contortion needed to interpret “Then X happened” as “Then Y happened, which, if you had been there, would have allowed you to see that X had happened a couple billion years earlier”.

9. 9
##### otrame

Not to mention that grass is actually a fairly late type of plant. Sure, they’ve pretty much taken over in the ground cover department, but IIRC only the very last of the dinosaurs were able to graze on grass.

10. 10
##### iknklast

The order of the plants is wrong, too. Grasses are one of the last plants to evolve, not one of the first.

11. 11
##### tommykey

Genesis leaves out the Late Heavy Bombardment, the formation of the moon by Earth’s collision with a Mars-sized planet, the Ice Age, microbial life, etc.

12. 12
##### dmcclean

And of course the oxygen catastrophe (her bizarre interpretation of 7) happened about 2 billion years before the evolution of angiosperms (4-6) anyway, driven as it was by cyanobacteria. Which isn’t really “more oxygen due to plant photsynthesis”, because as the name suggests, cyanobacteria are bacteria and not plants.

13. 13
##### dmcclean

I am pretty sure this argument long predates the banana video, though. (Not this specific formulation of it.)

14. 14
##### MikeMa

trying to disprove a loon is a waste of time. All objections, scientific or logical, can be easily swept away by goddidit. Once you accept that lunacy as true, nothing can stand in your way.

15. 15
##### sinned34

Actually, the argument of the “order of creation” is actually pretty old. I recall reading it in the Jehovah’s Witness “Life: How did it get here? By evolution or Creation?” booklet that they originally printed back in the mid-1980s. (Although I didn’t read that book until about 2005).

16. 16
##### Area Man

The creation of plants in a particular order – grasses, plants with seeds and fruit bearing trees

The correct order is plants with seeds, fruit-bearing trees, then grasses.

Given that all grasses by definition have seeds (and fruits!) it would be logically impossible for them to appear first.

17. 17
##### eric

I agree the piece is laughably wrong but I’ll quibble over one criticism:

But there’s so much more that is wrong here. Like the fact that the Genesis story has light being created on the first day before there is a source for light

Photons did indeed predate suns and any other material source of light…because they predate atoms.

But, let’s face it, if that is some cosmological factoid we consider the bible got mostly right, it’s record is still 1 for Many.

18. 18
##### gmacs

Even Hemant got something wrong.

Of course you have to create plants (#4-6) before you can create animals (#8-11).

I saw this and I thought “I’m pretty sure I remember the order being different.” According to a Wikipedia timeline of evolution simple animals showed up around 600 million years ago (at least sometime before the Cambrian Explosion). Land plants didn’t show up until about 475 million years ago, more than 100 million years later. There were fish millions of years before there were ferns.

Also, what science is she claiming backs this up? All the science that talks about the origins of earth and life uses methods that creationists reject. If you think the fossil record is all just things dumped by the flood, then how can you use it to back up your claim?

19. 19
##### Chiroptera

gmacs, #18:

I saw that one, too. Only my take on it was:

If you define plants as “things that photosynthesize” and animals as “things that eat other living things” (And why not? We are talking about a religious tome that categorizes bats as birds.), then I’m pretty sure that single celled heterotrophs showed up before the autotrophs. (I could be wrong, though).

20. 20
##### Mike Boni

According to the genesis account: flowering plants were created the day before the Sun, the Moon, and the rest of the stars. Since at least some stars existed 14 billion years ago, and the Sun and Moon existed 4 billion years ago, and flowering plants showed up sometime within the last 150 million years, then there’s absolutely no question the biblical order is completely wrong (at least according to today’s science).

21. 21
##### Doug Little

When did god create the fungi? No mention of mushrooms. How about viruses?

22. 22
##### Doug Little

Well I think her argument is well and truly destroyed. Do you think it will matter? Not in the slightest.

23. 23
##### zenlike

Ugh, that site is not only a creationist site, but even a young-earth ‘the world is only 6000 years old’ creationist site.

Look, I can somehow understand someone who isn’t very bright, or is very sheltered, being a creationist. But how brain-dead do you have to be to still believe in this day and age that the world popped into existence 6000 years ago?

24. 24
##### bastionofsass

The criticism of the two creation stories in Genesis overlooks one very important fact that makes your arguments useless: God can create anything in any order he wishes. He doesn’t have to conform his behavior to fit human constructs like facts and science and rationality, and indeed he frequently doesn’t. Because he is god.

25. 25
##### sqlrob

@Bastionofsass, #24

The criticism of the two creation stories in Genesis overlooks one very important fact

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

26. 26
##### Chiroptera

bastionofsass, #24:

Except that we’re not criticizing the creation stories themselves. We’re criticizing the assumptions that went into Hunter’s claim that we should be all amazed at the order in which Moses allegedly put the creation events.

The criticism of the creation stories themselves is simply the fact that they are contradicted by all available empirical evidence.

27. 27
##### caseloweraz

Margaret Hunter: Think of the problem like this. Take a deck of cards. Keep just one suit — let’s say hearts. Toss out the ace. Hand the remaining twelve cards to a one year old child. Ask him/her to hand you the cards one at a time. In order. What are the chances said toddler will start with the two and give them all to you in order right up to the king?

In addition to the fundamental* flaws in her argument, how many one-year-olds understand enough English to hand you the cards one at a time, let alone in the order desired? From what I’ve seen of children at that age, the child would likely gurgle a bit, chew on the cards, and then throw them down as something else caught its attention.

* Or should I say “fundamentalist”?

28. 28
##### colnago80

Re bastionofsass @ #24

So which creation story is correct? They can’t both be right.

29. 29
##### imthegenieicandoanything

I’m sorry, but why engage with a Literal Biblical promoter at all, even to point at in amusement? This one isn’t a politician or otherwise powerful enough to inflict, like the “Family Blah-Blah” groups, their own idiocy (and bullying dishonesty) on the public, so why give a even half a shit?

Even when most Xians say they take the Bible as fact, almost none of them do. They never give a hoot about what the Bible actual SAYS at all, they just care about SAYING they do. We know from long experience that even the few Xians who have read the Bible never bothered to think about it (or anything else). The Bible’s only purpose is to support whatever hare-brained idiocy they are trying to further at the moment.

Let people like this rot in utter obscurity.

30. 30
##### Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

trying to disprove a loon is a waste of time. All objections, scientific or logical, can be easily swept away by goddidit. Once you accept that lunacy as true, nothing can stand in your way.

Making the disproof valuable for anyone watching who isn’t ready to settle on “godidit” but is initially sympathetic to conservative religiosity and doesn’t know enough to have perspective on the argument.

31. 31
##### StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

@8. Johnny Vector

#7 is fractally wrong. Unless you see only in the infrared, water vapor is quite transparent, as is CO2.

Guess you’ve never been in a pea-souper fog or sauna then eh? Or looked at clouds?

Oh & what do they sue dry ice (Co2) for on stages at rock festivals again? Oh yeah smoke machines.

But usually well, yeah.

32. 32
##### Johnny Vector

StevoR: No, water vapor is clear, as is CO2. Clouds are not water vapor, they are tiny droplets of condensed water. Since the Earth is basically saturated with water, the amount of water vapor pretty much just depends on temperature. The amount of clouds depends on temperature differences, not on absolute level of water vapor.

As for CO2, no, nobody uses dry ice for rock festivals. It’s expensive, dangerous, and less effective than oil-based hazes. Dropping dry ice into warm water is a convenient way to make a small amount of localized short-term fog, but again it’s not the CO2 that causes the fog, it’s the temperature change. You chill the air, and the water vapor that was already there (invisible!) condenses out into tiny droplets, which you see as fog. As soon as it warms back up, the water will re-evaporate into water vapor, and you won’t see it.

33. 33
##### Ichthyic

yup clouds and fog are better described as “condensate” than “vapor:.

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