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A pox on all of their houses

I hate this article from the very first paragraph.

Public discussion of evolution often turns into a nasty debate between young-earth creationists on one side and atheists who believe science disproves the existence of God on the other. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s a dishonest setup. It’s a game: let’s pretend that scientists only criticize young earth creationists, and then we’ll set up a bunch of Christian absurdity as the moderate position! Scientists never think of attacking the positions of reasonable Christians, you know.

It’s a lie. We criticize the follies of soft and fuzzy Christianity and old earth creationism all the time, as well as that young earth creationist nonsense. And do you know why we so often have to jump on young earth creationism?

Because the ‘moderate’ Christian jackasses won’t do it.

The article is an excellent example of that: it describes a discussion and joint publication of a book via Biologos between a diverse group of Christians, including young earth creationist Baptists, the Intelligent Design creationist Bill Dembski, and the gang of mushy apologists from Biologos…and how is their interaction described? As “gracious dialogue”. Please. If you’re going to sit there with a bugnutting freaky cultist with a literalist interpretation of every word of the Bible, and not be strongly critical of their freakin’ idiocy because you both believe in Jesus, then yes, I’m going to lump you all together.

Yes, it has to be that way. I see no point in regarding intellectual cowards with greater respect than I do the total fruitloops they associate with.

And further, it is no saving grace that the Biologos crowd can believe in an old earth, when at the same time they are arguing for the existence of a literal Adam and Eve, for the logic of salvation from original sin, for the blood pseudo-sacrifice of a god-man as somehow freeing me from guilt about a disobedient distant ancestor. It’s all garbage, through and through.

We get a succession of bullshit claims that we’re supposed to regard respectfully.

Keathley also points out that for some Christians, evolution presents a problem because it implies that suffering and death have been with the world from the beginning, rather than resulting from rebellion against God.

Right. Reality is a problem for some Christians. So?

“I think everybody recognizes this is an important topic and it’s not going to do any good to simply yell at each other across the fence,” he said. “They need to hear from us on the nature of Scripture, the nature of the fall and of salvation. And we need to hear from them on the nature of modern science.”

The only thing that makes it important is that it is a set of delusions held by powerful and influential people. Otherwise, the “nature of scripture”, the “fall”, and “salvation” are simply incredible and absurd concepts given weight by repetition and dogma.

I don’t just despise the blatant stupidity of young earth creationism. I also despise the equally blatant stupidity of Christian dogma and ‘sophisticated theology’.

Comments

  1. FluffyTheTerrible says

    I think one of the few advantages of growing up in a (now) former communist country is that the church had zero influence in schools. I only learned real science, from real Biology books.

    I can’t believe these idjits are not laughed out of the room every time they start with their claims. They have no evidence, they are not scientists. WTF are they doing trying to be included in science textbooks?

    Really, let’s hope xtians in other countries don’t get similar ideas. It’s enough we now have compulsory religion classes in my country, where they learn that women are inferior, and abortion is a mortal sin. And they teach this to young children.

    [goes to shake fists in rage]

  2. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    X-tians, the entire purpose of the sacrifice of your buddy jebus hinges on a fucking talking snake and a magical apple.

    No Sophisticated Theology is required to know that is bullshit.

  3. says

    Public discussion of evolution often turns into a nasty debate between young-earth creationists on one side and atheists who believe science disproves the existence of God on the other.

    Weird how it often turns nasty when from the outset we’re condemned as Satanic God-haters for using normal standards of inference, rather than bowing to their dogma. By the IDiots, not just the YECs, too.

    Can anyone figure out why dialog with people who condemn science as Satan-inspired often doesn’t turn out happily?

    Glen Davidson

  4. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Can we get “It’s only a theory” stickers put in every Babel in the U.S.?

  5. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Gee, all the sophmoric Xian theology/apologetics can be dismissed in one word. Presupposition. If one doesn’t presuppose their imaginary deity, or that their holy book is anything other than mythology/fiction, they can’t gain any traction anywhere. If all you have is presupposition, you should close up your philosophy shop and go into another line of business…like becoming a test animal…

  6. Gnumann, quisling of the MRA nation says

    Can we get “It’s only a theory” stickers put in every Babel in the U.S.?

    Wouldn’t “It’s only highly edited ramblings of bronze-age goat-herders” be more accurate?

  7. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Today, some guy was standing on a table in a public place, kinda shouting at the crowd. I figured he wanted to discuss religion. I was right. A half hour later, he went home with a dirty look on his face and a list of Bible atrocities and logical fallacies to look up.

    Don’t think I went home empty handed though. No, I didn’t get any evidence for a skydaddy, but, I did go home with my own personal prophecy!

    How delightful.

  8. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Wouldn’t “It’s only highly edited ramblings of bronze-age goat-herders” be more accurate?

    Yes.

  9. Randomfactor says

    Can we get “It’s only a theory” stickers put in every Babel in the U.S.?

    If it wasn’t sure to be misunderstood, “Not Even Wrong” stickers would be more appropriate.

  10. crocswsocks says

    Well, of course the moderates don’t criticize the fundies. They know they wouldn’t have a case.

  11. No One says

    Falk and two other writers state respond that science tells us “there was never a time when the human population from which all modern humans descended was as small as two individuals.” Instead, they suggest the possibility that “God began a covenantal relationship with a real, historical first couple who brought about spiritual death as a result of their disobedience.”

    Making shit up as we go along. I can do that too:

    ADAM: “I’m sorry, what was it…. yaweh… right… well this is the thing see; I discussed it with the missus and she isn’t into threesomes. Really, we are flattered, but no thank you…”

    Later in the day to EVE

    “… and then he completely lost it. He started ranting about apples, snakes, virgin births, some fucking thing called “sin”, that we are nothing without his “love”, some nasty place called hell, and something called sophisticated theology.”

    EVE: “I knew he was a creep from the way he eyed me when he said “covenant”. I guess we’ll have to move out of the neighborhood now.”

    Falk, who teaches biology at Biology at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, said the dialogue has given BioLogos members a chance to clarify some of their positions.

    “I don’t think our differences are anywhere near as great as people might have thought,” he said.

    PZ called it. They admit there is little difference between their delusions.

  12. raven says

    but, I did go home with my own personal prophecy!

    LOL. So which circle of hell are you going to?

    According to a Mormon RM (returned missionary) I’m bound for the Telestial Kingdom. A bit of a disappointment but apparently the Outer Darkness is hard to get into.

  13. chrisdevries says

    Gotta love the fallacy of the golden mean. But reality is reality, regardless of how much wishful thinking is practiced. I don’t understand how moderate Christians can think that they’re going to find a “compromise position”. They follow an Authority, whose instructions are dictated by a work of fiction, that is somewhat tied to actual human history, but only in the vaguest sense. There is no contemporaneous archaeological or literary record of what, if it is true, must verily be the most important events to ever occur on planet Earth. Furthermore, people all over the world, even today, declare that they are the messiah and have groups of deluded followers; we call them cult leaders. There is no reason to suppose that this one cult leader who might have been an actual person (or based on one) matters more than all the thousands of others through the ages.

    We don’t believe in your god.

    We don’t acknowledge his divine authority because he doesn’t exist, NOT because we want to live immoral and hedonistic lives.

    We use our senses, augmented by instruments designed using our intellect to study the world around us.

    With these instruments, we have learned that the world is 4,500,000,000 years old.

    If our instruments told us that the world was 10,000 years old, we would teach this to students.

    If our instruments told us that organisms on Earth do not exhibit a changing genetic makeup which can affect the overall morphology of the organism, we would teach this as well.

    But we have, instead, gathered huge amounts of data, from several lines of inquiry, that support the evolution hypothesis, the idea that all organisms share a single common ancestor, which evolved as its progeny spread to different habitats and started to take advantage of the varying conditions around the Earth.

    We would change our mind if we had evidence that successfully challenged these ideas; WE DON’T.

    Because of this, scientists are not close-minded rationalists who would never consider that they’re wrong; scientists consider how confident they are in their theories, and study alternative possibilities practically every day.

    That’s how science works.

    We are in the reality business, and creationist ideas are not supported by reality, nor are any of the other ideas that more moderate Christians might have (that we have souls, that we are burdened with inescapable Sin, that we experience life after death): wishful thinking all.

    Give us evidence, then we’ll evaluate it; give us Bible verses and dogma that will never change because it is supposedly from an all-knowing Authority, and we will laugh at you.

    There is no golden mean, no compromise; there is only the truth.

    And Christian theology (or Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, ad infinitum) has nothing to contribute to truth; they only have lies, hopes, fantasies, fears and postulations unencumbered by actual, real-life data.

    So they can attack the straw-man atheist they’ve devised in their head, but that atheist dwells only in their artificial model world, a paradigm that shapes all of their beliefs. Scientists live in the real world (or they should), and atheists are amongst the most open-minded people on the planet, generally. Any idea can be evaluated based on how well it explains reality, and if the evidence supports it, so will scientists, and so will atheists. We may not have a religion, or religious faith in the conventional sense, but if we worship anything, it’s the truth: that which explains our world best. Our strength is that our paradigm allows us to change our mind if new data supports another theory. We aren’t tied to dogma (or shouldn’t be).

    Let them whinge and complain about the mean old atheists who are uncompromising or rigid. We don’t compromise, but we are anything but rigid. The only rigidity we display is that we demand actual, measurable data supporting a theory before we consider it might be possible. But so do most Christians, in every area of their life except their faith, which is somehow subject only to authority and experience. Please remember, Christians who might be reading this, that the truth is what matters to atheists; it should matter to you too. Many people have seen the truth and rejected their faith; you can too!

  14. says

    Urban Dictionary does not currently have an entry for “sophisticated theology”. Someone really needs to come up with a good definition for it.

  15. raven says

    Urban Dictionary does not currently have an entry for “sophisticated theology”. Someone really needs to come up with a good definition for it.

    I just call it “playing make believe” or “let’s pretend”.

  16. 'Tis Himself says

    sophisticated theology: Guesses and opinions on what the heavily edited ruminations of bronze age shamans might mean.

  17. says

    @chrisdevris:

    Well said.

    One quibble:

    The oldest meteorites in the solar system condensed out of the presolar nebula 4.567 billion years ago, give or take a few million years. The bulk of the mass of the Earth accreted within a few tens of millions of years of that. So the Earth is just a bit more than 4.5 billion years old. Trying to be more precise than “somewhere between 4.56 and 4.53 billion years ago” runs into the messy question of what you mean by “the Earth” – was the 0.9 Earth-mass object that got hit by something the size of Mars during the Moon-forming impact 4.53 billion years ago the Earth or not?

    The truth is often complicated.

  18. says

    Keathley also points out that for some Christians, evolution presents a problem because it implies that suffering and death have been with the world from the beginning, rather than resulting from rebellion against God.

    They say that like it’s a bad thing.

    sophisticated theology (n.) (1) theology. (2) bullshit. (3) pretentious bullshit. (4) from the Greek sophistḗs meaning “a person who, while professing to teach skill in reasoning, concerned himself with ingenuity and specious effectiveness rather than soundness of argument”; “theology” from the Greek logos meaning “knowledge” and theos meaning “nothing.”

  19. says

    Because Christianity’s central hypothesis is absurd and its historical claims implausible

    And because dead-guy-on-a-stick freaks me out every time I see the f@&*ing thing.

  20. mandrellian says

    Dear Team “buddy up to the nutjobs so we can all pretend to be scientists and also have a moan about the nasty old scientismist atheobots” and Team “buddy up to the heretical moderates so we can &c…”:

    The Bible is an artifact of history, not a record of it.

    Sincerely
    Team Comfortable With Reality
    Team Personal Happiness Not At All Threatened By Status As Primate
    Team Supplies Own “Meaning/Purpose”
    Team Able To Be Moral Based On Empathy, Introspection, Community Membership & Observable/Predictable/Plausible Effects Of Behaviour
    Team Not Too Fussed About Mortality/Wouldn’t Want To Spend Eternity With You Mouth-Breathers Anyway

  21. says

    They need to hear from us on the nature of Scripture, the nature of the fall and of salvation.

    A cosmic Jewish zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and drink his blood as well as telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul which he put there in the first place because a talking snake convinced a rib-woman to eat from a magical tree.

    Did I miss anything?

  22. mandrellian says

    Did I miss anything?

    Erm, “numinous” something … “ground of all being” hrm-de-hrm … “began to exist!” or what-have-you … “frozen fucking waterfall” doot-de-dooo …

    I guess that’s a “no.”

  23. says

    I like the inclusion of Kierkegaard as a response to the claim that “the central hypothesis is absurd…” Kierkegaard, of course, argued exactly that, and that was why he thought Christianity was the way to go.

  24. Menyambal --- Sambal's sockpuppet says

    So it’s a problem if God made sin and suffering right from the start, but it’s just divine if the very first people he made fucked it all up a few weeks later?

  25. truthspeaker says

    They need to hear from us on the nature of Scripture, the nature of the fall and of salvation.

    Already heard it, thanks.

  26. says

    Menyambal:

    So it’s a problem if God made sin and suffering right from the start, but it’s just divine if the very first people he made fucked it all up a few weeks later?

    Well, yeah.

    See, if God made sin and suffering right from the start, that means he’s an evil fuck. However, if the problem is with us, because we fucked it up, then God’s still good. He’s just punishing us because he made us such that we’d fuck up.

  27. says

    They need to hear from us on the nature of Scripture, the nature of the fall and of salvation.

    Actually, no. I really don’t need to hear from you guys on that subject, thanks. If I want a holiday from reality I can just get high. After all, it was clearly good enough for the author of Revelations.

  28. darwinharmless says

    Spot on, PZ. Tolerating the bullshit is as bad as believing the bullshit.

  29. broboxley OT says

    “whoa, that’s a good looking monkey” is the answer from the design folks.

  30. Menyambal --- Sambal's sockpuppet says

    From the article:

    … Adam and Eve were real people who experienced a real fall from grace with God that brought sin into the world. The concept is also central to the idea that Jesus saved the world from sin through his death on the cross.

    Couldn’t Jesus still save the 4.5-billion-year-old world from sin? I mean, I’m an evolutionist/atheist, and I’ve some plenty of stuff that he could save me from.

  31. radpumpkin says

    Yes, public debates often turn into fantastical displays of some clowns’ attempts at explaining how their fairy tale of choice clearly shows that a circle can be squared – reality be damned! Or rather, a disagreement between people who are only too eager to exclaim “magic!” when describing their view on the origins of earth/humanity/gremlins, people who are a bit more patient, preferring to exclaim “but see, all the evidence of natural phenomena clearly points to magic in the beginning” when doing the same, and a third group with far more patience than I could muster, whose modus operandii seems to be “well, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence of magic, and natural phenomena offer testable explanations.” I think my overly simplified miniature straw creations had enough exercise for the day, but I might as well ctrl c/v something I wrote a while back in response to an incredibly stupid tract the local Jehovah’s Witnesses left me.

    Before I begin, there is something quite important that I need to clear up: attempting to disprove evolution, a Sisyphean task if there ever was one, would in no way grant any credence to the nonsensical pile of crap known as creationism, and most certainly not the one involving a triune Magical Sky Pixie(TM) which happens to be its own daddy. The only way I explain the fervor with which some religious people attempt to dismiss evolution is via a logical fallacy. If one holds the erroneous view that creationism (and therefore their religion) is false if evolution is true, E -> (~C) (if evolution, E, then not creationism, ~C). However, in such a situation there are only two logically sound methods of analysis. The first one is to prove evolution, thereby disproving creationism (modus ponens). However, disproving evolution is this case does nothing, since ~E ->! ~(~C) (not evolution DOES NOT imply not not creationism). The result is basically Schrödinger’s boolean, nothing that can be accurately determined. However, there is a valid way: by proving creationism to be true (ie ~(~C)), E would have to be false (modus tollens). The inference relationship as written above isn’t established though, but that doesn’t render the line of reasoning faulty. Attacking evolution does nothing to affirm creationism. It really is that simple. Prove your own sodding mess of an idea, or just go away.

  32. John Morales says

    radpumpkin,

    I wrote a while back in response to an incredibly stupid tract the local Jehovah’s Witnesses left me

    Once you’re well and truly jaded, it’s quite credible — quotidian, even.

  33. thisisaturingtest says

    …atheists who believe science disproves the existence of God on the other.

    This is dishonest. My atheism is not based on the idea that science (AKA “rational thinking”) disproves god; it’s that neither the rational nor the irrational thinking (AKA “religion”) prove, or even really indicate, him. To me, religion is childish wishful thinking that some folks just never outgrow. It’s an impulse, an instinct.
    But, since I think it’s an instinct, I also tend to be a little more accomodating toward individual religious expression of belief- it’s hard to disallow personal expression of those instincts. I personally hate to fly, it scares the crap out of me, and no amount of rational thinking or argument will ever get me to be comfortable with it. Where I do draw a definite line, as with my understanding of most of the comments here, is the idea that that personal instinct, even when shared with a group and called “organized religion,” should ever be the basis for any public policy (ala Bachmann, Perry, etc.), which by definition affect folks who don’t share the instinct. That would be a little too much like my fear of flying being the basis for shutting down airlines.

  34. julietdefarge says

    “it implies that suffering and death have been with the world from the beginning”
    OK, could some Christian explain to us how an organism without suffering functions? Oh, I understand there’s no suffering in heaven, where everyone is a sort of glowing blanc-mange, but how do critters function without nerve endings when crawling around a forest? If there was no suffering, why the claim that carnivores were vegetarian? A deer would feel no pain while being eaten by the lion.

  35. David Marjanović says

    Wouldn’t “It’s only highly edited ramblings of bronze-age goat-herders” be more accurate?

    Plus lots of highly edited ramblings of iron-age priests.

    the Moon-forming impact 4.53 billion years ago

    I thought 4.51?

    If there was no suffering, why the claim that carnivores were vegetarian? A deer would feel no pain while being eaten by the lion.

    Good point. It’s probably because of Revelation, where the lion shall lie with the lamb and eat straw, and a little boy can herd them.

  36. Nightjar says

    If there was no suffering, why the claim that carnivores were vegetarian? A deer would feel no pain while being eaten by the lion.

    But it would die. It’s no suffering and no death, so there couldn’t be carnivores.

  37. Sastra says

    “Sophisticated Theology:” the arguments for the existence of God which atheists have not adequately addressed (see also “assuming the conclusion” and “moving goalposts.”)

    The problem with moderate Christianity is that it only encourages adherents to embrace scientific discoveries because it is defined as “a Christianity which encourages adherents to embrace scientific discoveries.” Wow. Good show. How very lucky we are that many theists opt for that one when they might so easily choose some other version!

    But how does one choose? Based on what? Special revelation that special revelation is sometimes trumped and ought to play catch-up? Christianity per se is also defined as a faith-based belief and the methods and ethics of faith are in opposition to the methods and ethics of science.

    What usually happens then with the Christians who are wise enough to see that conflicts with science entail conflicts with reality is they indulge instead in category error. “Faith” is what you exercize when you try to reach for ideals: believing in the existence of God therefore is just like trying to reach for an ideal. Right.

    And now that we have that taken care of we’ll start to pile on all the experiences and evidence that lead US to conclude that “God” is the best explanation, being careful to simultaneously promote the view that we’re not dealing with a hypothesis, we’re dealing with a moral commitment. A moral commitment which just happens to be the most significant, important, difficult and ultimately satisfying moral commitment one can make.

    I think that’s even more insulting to atheists than the more open claim that we’re wrong because we haven’t reasoned properly from the evidence. I’d take that over the view that we lack some valuable magical ability to confuse things properly and call it ‘the golden middle between extremes.’

  38. geniusloci says

    OK, could some Christian explain to us how an organism without suffering functions? Oh, I understand there’s no suffering in heaven, where everyone is a sort of glowing blanc-mange, but how do critters function without nerve endings when crawling around a forest? If there was no suffering, why the claim that carnivores were vegetarian? A deer would feel no pain while being eaten by the lion.

    I’ll bite, although I’m not sure whether I count as a Christian, because for me God is a human construct, although one that has been providing me with a useful moral philosophy ever since I was three and bellowing out “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine” at the top of my lungs in the nursery of my parents’ UCC church as well as some odd little song about a midget named Zaccheus. My husband, a scientific atheist, doesn’t seem to think I could possibly be a Christian, because I don’t accept the idea of a supernatural God. I am certainly not a “moderate Christian”: not only are they completely wrong, but they’re dangerously deluded if they think they can build a bridge between scientists and batshit fundamentalists, and they’re also spineless because deep down they still worry about both the void and the lake of fire the way teenage boys worry about going blind from wanking, and it’s that irrational fear that keeps them hostage to the batshit fundamentalists and destroys the Christian Left’s chance of making any sort of genuine progress in social justice.

    First, there is no heaven. Heaven is a pagan concept adopted by the Church Fathers to keep the barbarians inhabiting the Roman Empire from complaining about their (very real) suffering and asking too many hard, dangerous questions about power dynamics.

    Jesus of Nazareth (and don’t derail this train of thought by objecting that he didn’t exist; save it for some other out-of-control thread) and his disciples envisioned a new Heaven and Earth, essentially Jewish, that would be brought about in their lifetime by the act of “repairing” the fallen nature of the world. There is lots of beautiful, idyllic poetry in Isaiah and the other prophetic Old Testament books along these lines, where in the Utopian paradise of the coming Kingdom of God, located right here on earth, the lion and lamb and the jackal and deer all lie down together with a child leading them.

    The prophets were talking about an occupied people whose cultural institutions had been destroyed and with them all their hope and community. All the symbolic imagery in Isaiah is actually full of references to contemporary geopolitical events: the fall of the Assyrian empire and the rise of Cyrus the Great, who instituted a policy of religious tolerance throughout his empire, brought the Jews back from their Babylonian exile, and gave permission for the Temple at Jerusalem to be rebuilt and all the sacred artifacts to be returned that had been ransacked by Nebuchadnezzar’s army and hoarded in the Babylonian treasury. These things were never intended to be taken out of context by 21st-century CE Christians.

    Insisting on reading as inerrant, literal truth the texts (poorly translated) that have arbitrarily come to be known as the Biblical canon and whose authorship is still up for debate, whether one is a fundamentalist Christian using it to bludgeon nonbelievers over the head or an atheist asking intentionally plonking, juvenile questions to which he/she presumably already knows the answers, is a bit like treating the religious poetry of Eliot or Auden or Donne as canonical Scripture, or making fun of Yeats’ rough beast (“How does a beast “slouch?” How can it slouch anywhere, let alone toward Bethlehem, when it hasn’t yet been born? Please, will some Christian explain this so I can bait and make fun of them some more?”).

  39. John Morales says

    [OT]

    geniusloci, you bit nothing, since you ignored the actual question other than to pose what you imagine is a parallel question: (“How does a beast “slouch?” [...]“)

    (Answer: by ambulating in a slovenly or crouching manner)

    Anyway, yes, the babble is myth and not to be taken literally; yet you’re very confused:

    [1] First, there is no heaven. Heaven is a pagan concept adopted by the Church Fathers to keep the barbarians inhabiting the Roman Empire from complaining about their (very real) suffering and asking too many hard, dangerous questions about power dynamics.

    [2] Jesus of Nazareth [...] and his disciples envisioned a new Heaven and Earth, essentially Jewish, that would be brought about in their lifetime by the act of “repairing” the fallen nature of the world. First, there is no heaven.

    See, 1 and 2 are contradictory unless you imagine storybook Jesus was a pagan and Judaism is a form of paganism.

  40. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    @ John Morales

    unless you imagine storybook Jesus was a pagan and Judaism is a form of paganism.

    Judaism did not start out as a pagan religion?