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Creationist sophistry

Did you know that only animals are alive? Bacteria, fungi, and protists…also not alive. This is according to Henry Morris III, creationist. He makes this argument by specifying certain criteria, rather arbitrarily and independent of anything biology has to say — the four things that determine whether something is alive are:

  • It’s unique. I know, that sounds like it ought to apply to plants, but that’s not really the criterion: after saying “Life is unique”, he explains that it’s because the Bible used the Hebrew word “chay” 763 times, and never applies it to plants. Therefore, the reason plants aren’t alive is Hebrew word use patterns.

  • Life has independent movement. So things that twitch and crawl are alive, plants don’t, therefore they aren’t. Also, the Bible uses the Hebrew word “ramas” for movement 17 times, and never applies it to plants. Therefore, the reason plants aren’t alive is Hebrew word use patterns.

  • Life has blood. God sent a clear message by rejecting Cain’s offering of plants — He demands blood sacrifice, nothing else will do. The more potent blood comes from people; the blood of bulls and goats was not sufficient to take away human sins, which was why Jesus had to be sacrificed.

    OK, this argument is just ghoulish. His best argument for why plants aren’t alive is that you can’t butcher them to get blood which will magically cure sins?

  • Life has soul and spirit. So this criterion is for something we can’t see or measure in any way — if recognition of my life is dependent on having a “soul”, then I guess I’m dead already. And once again, Morris pointlessly tells us that the Bible uses the word “nephesh” 753 times and “ruwach” 389 times, never applying it to a plant. Therefore, the reason plants aren’t alive is Hebrew word use patterns.

The only thing this whole mess persuades me of is that creationists are even dumber than I thought.

But I do have to say one thing to his essay’s credit: I agreed with the conclusion.

If God designed death into creation, then death is as “good” as all other factors—and the atheistic evolutionary doctrine is right. Death is the “good” force that brings about the ultimate “fittest” in our universe. Death, therefore, is not “the wages of sin,” and our Lord Jesus’ death was not necessary for salvation—it was just the wasted effort of a deluded martyr.

These teachings cannot be harmonized. Either the Bible is Truth (capitalization intended) or it is Error. The choice is clear. The message is clear. The effect is eternal!

The answer is clear. Jesus was a deluded martyr. It is Error.

Comments

  1. Sili says

    Life has soul and spirit.

    I’m pretty sure this is heretical.

    If animals had souls, they’d be capable of learning of Jesus.

    (Yes,Virginia, dogs do indeed not go to Heaven.)

  2. says

    Life has independent movement. So things that twitch and crawl are alive, plants don’t, therefore they aren’t.

    Venus fly traps “twitch”.

    PWND

  3. Quinn Martindale says

    Can you imagine how much ridicule an atheist would receive if they made this argument? The bible teaches that only animals are alive, this is absurd, thus the bible is wrong. I’ll stick with pointing out it gets pi wrong.

  4. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    It’s unique. I know, that sounds like it ought to apply to plants, but that’s not really the criterion: after saying “Life is unique”, he explains that it’s because the Bible used the Hebrew word “chay” 763 times, and never applies it to plants. Therefore, the reason plants aren’t alive is Hebrew word use patterns.

    Sigh

    I get the feeling creationists never actually go outside. One day in a sun flower field would disprove this particular but of dumbfuckery.

  5. Dick the Damned says

    We share 50% of our genes with bananas. It appears that Henry Morris III got the full 50% of banana genes from his mother, & the full 50% of banana genes from his father, making him totally bananas.

  6. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Bah shit I quoted the wrong bit of dumbfuckery

    Life has independent movement. So things that twitch and crawl are alive, plants don’t, therefore they aren’t. Also, the Bible uses the Hebrew word “ramas” for movement 17 times, and never applies it to plants. Therefore, the reason plants aren’t alive is Hebrew word use patterns.

  7. says

    Like I was saying in The Sensuous Curmudgeon: If plants are not alive, then what’s the sense of watering and feeding them? If they have no blood and can’t move, then how does he explain leghemoglobin and the Venus fly traps and other types of carnivorous plants that move when they catch and eat insect prey? Also plants do die. If they’re not alive then what does he call withering which is what plants do when they die. Why are plants dying in areas of the country suffering from extreme drought? If that moronic Morris thinks plants are not alive, then how does he explain the verses in the Bible that tells of plants withering and dying in comparison with humanity (i.e.Psalms 37:2)? Anyone who thinks plants aren’t alive is not only stupid, but indeed worthy of great mockery and ridicule!

  8. StevoR says

    The answer is clear. Jesus was a deluded martyr.

    Not necessarily. That covers the “mad” option but there’s also the possibility jesus was misquoted or mythical.

    It is [in /an] Error.

    Usually a safe assumption for any creationist “argument” of almost any kind.

  9. hypatiasdaughter says

    Now, now. Be fair. Did you people completely overlook the rigorous SCIENTIFIC methodology he uses in his article?
    He counted each and every times the words “chay”, “ramas”, “nephesh” and “ruwach” are used. I mean, how much more analyticy and sciency does the man have to get before you show him the respect he reserves?

  10. thisisaturingtest says

    Morris obviously isn’t even trying to convince anyone that doesn’t already believe what he does. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be resorting so much to the bible to prove biological points. People who preach to the choir without even knowing they’re the only ones listening have always struck me as particularly pointless and useless people.

  11. ChasCPeterson says

    If they have no blood…, then how does he explain leghemoglobin

    That part? Not a good argument.

  12. cameronmccormick says

    So things that twitch and crawl are alive, plants don’t, therefore they aren’t

    I’d love to hear the explanation of how the entire phenomenon of rapid plant movement doesn’t count, somehow. It’ll probably have something to do with Darwin publishing on it.

    I think motile algae like Euglena would make his head explode.

    Life has blood.

    I have doubts that Bronze Age peoples would have recognized hemolymph in some arthropods and molluscs and archaeocytes in sponges as “blood”.

  13. radpumpkin says

    So if bacteria et al are not alive, am I innocent of waging a genocidal campaign against them whilst cleaning my bathroom? On a related note, if plants aren’t alive, why the hell do they cease to exist after some time and/or outside intervention? See, it’s this sort of breathtaking idiocy that makes me suspect every “professional” creationist had half of their brain removed after declaring for their garbage religious nonsense. Maybe I have those reversed though. Tell me, Mr. Morris, how the fuck do you remember to breathe?

  14. coragyps says

    Morris must not be a True Biblical Scholar, or he would have limited “what’s alive” to organisms with nostrils, as is plainly stated in Genesis 7:22.

    Oh, and Sili: “heretical” only applies to those hell-bound bastards over in that congregation, not to Mr Morris and other owners of The Trvth. I’ve seen extended arguments among fundies about soul/spirit/some third entity and whether all nostril-owners have all three or not. Opinions, or I guess The Trvth, differ according as to who is the heretic in any particular discussion.

  15. FossilFishy (Νεοπτόλεμος's spellchecker) says

    I’m willing to bet that by blood he means the red stuff found in mammals. Which of course would mean that giant squid are not alive!!11!!!! Zombie squid FTW.

  16. submoron says

    According to some sects (I forget which) animals have souls made by angels which die with the body and human souls are immortal being made by god.

  17. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    @ OP

    Life has blood. God sent a clear message by rejecting Cain’s offering of plants — He demands blood sacrifice, nothing else will do. The more potent blood comes from people; the blood of bulls and goats was not sufficient to take away human sins, which was why Jesus had to be sacrificed.

    Plants do actually form part of the religious ritual (eg: daubing the sacrificial animal with flour or tying the (human) sacrifice with willow thongs.) These things must be done exactly right, and certainly play an important & integral part in the whole ritual sacrifice thingy. On the other hand, yes, blood is important. And the blood of the god HIMself (lately masculine) is actually very important in order to fructify the earth (Not necessarily human blood – red river water (Adonis) and red wine (jeebus/Dionysus) will do.)

    I think Henry Morris is, perhaps, a little godstruck.

    @ gobi’s

    Mimosa also twitch

    Venus Fly Trap & Mimosa (From North and South America respectively. This is getting really (reverse) Mormony…)

    Cool Pffffft video.

  18. says

    Oops. No blood, etc. That means zygotes and blastocysts are not “life” in this guy’s Biblical world.

    Or wait – is it yet another attempt of the Christianist wingnuts to re define words? No doubt there are ways to move those slippery “criteria” around to suit the forced birthers. Kind of like they recently have succeeded in framing new definitions for “free speech”, “bigotry”, “bullying” etc.

    Bah. Freaking babblelot.

  19. says

    At last! A sound argument in support of early-stage pregnancy termination! Until the cells of the embryo differentiate sufficient to form a circulatory system with blood in it, there is no life in it. And this doesn’t happen till after implantation, right? Those who call Plan B an abortifacient can rest easy now, because no life is terminated. Bible-based reasoning is so comforting.

  20. says

    Isn’t this question-begging? If “chay” is never applied to plants, isn’t the more obvious conclusion that it doesn’t mean “life,” not that English is misapplying the word “life”?

  21. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    @ Ace

    “chay” and the “English”

    We need to get Walton on board here. I always thought “chay” refered to “High Tea ™ ” in English English.

  22. Francisco Bacopa says

    This is just pure stupid. At best what he should have said is that the system of classifying things in the Bible doesn’t make exactly the same life/nonlife distinction modern science does.

    This is quite true, and doesn’t necessarily reflect badly on the Biblical authors. As another example, there’s not really a word in ancient Greek that really corresponds well to our modern usage of “life”. “Zoe” usually just referred to animals, much like how Morris says the Hebrew word “chay” works. And “bios” meant a way of life, more like our word “biography” than “biology”.

    Does that mean the Greeks and Hebrews were wrong? No. does that mean modern scientists are wrong because they don’t divide the world into the same categories the Bible does? No. We are all just a little different in how we use language to describe our world. There are strengths and weaknesses to each system.

    Finally, I am sure that an ancient Greek philosopher would agree that there’s something similar and important about plants and animals and find it interesting that we had one short word to group them in that category. You could probably find an ancient Hebrew who thought the same thing.

    Morris’ problem here is worse than not understanding science, and he surely doesn’t, he doesn’t even have the imagination to understand how language works.

  23. RAD says

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with my mother when I was fifteen. She claimed that fish, birds, insects, lizards etc. weren’t animals, because they didn’t have fur.

    Now this wasn’t a case of confusing mammal with animal, she used the two interchangeably. In her mind they were the exact same thing. This was also her justification for being a vegetarian, but still eating fish and poultry.

    So I asked her, “If they aren’t animals, and they aren’t plants, what are they? Minerals?”

    I think the light finally went on… she’s full vegan now. Thanksgiving dinner is no fun any more.

  24. jimmauch says

    It seems that one of the biggest arguments in favor of religion & creation is that the alternative is uncomfortable. Do you find mortality uncomfortable, the fallacy of bible myths uncomfortable, your kinship to a chimpanzee uncomfortable? That’s fine because religion has an alternate reality that will make you feel so good. All you have to do is overlook those unfortunate problems that all that evidence seems to indicate that it is false.

  25. dmgregory says

    I don’t understand all these plants and pro-plant activists trying to undermine the traditional definition of Life by demanding plants be given “special rights” above the rest of us.

    Meanwhile, those of us who simply want to uphold the Biblical definition of Life are cast as intolerant bigots. Professing what the Bible clearly states about plants does not make me a bigot.

    In fact, many of my best friends are plants. When I talk to them they never say they want to be alive, so who is this even for?

    The few plants that are pushing for this can already get “civil animation” in many states, which gives mostly equivalent benefits of Life. That’s enough!

    A plant existence cannot and will never be a “Life.” The true Biblical definition of Life is one human egg and one human sperm!

    And, because this is the Internet, I must point out that the above is satire.

  26. totalretard says

    I had always suspected that trichoplax, jellyfish, comb jellies, and hydra were not living things. Thank you for the clarification.

  27. ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and war ॐ says

    tr, please change your pseudonym. The one you have now is hurtful to people you don’t intend to hurt.

  28. One Thousand Needles says

    So the ICR is cool with late-term abortions? After all, a fetus is attached to its mother via the umbilical and is therefore not capable of independent movement.

  29. raven says

    Even by creationist standards that is cuckoo.

    Henry Morris the first lied about everything including what the bible actually said. Creationism is a lie and all creationists are liars.

    The old litmus test of creationsits. Either the bible is true or science and reality are true.

    OK, no problem. The bible is just a kludgy old book of mostly fiction and atrocities. Millions of people take his test every year, and leave xianity behind.

  30. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    Fractally stupid.

    Also, all plants move. They just do so slowly.

    Finally, tr: what Ixchel said.

  31. says

    Death is the “good” force that brings about the ultimate “fittest” in our universe.

    No, see, death is the supreme good, as the death of Jesus saves. Evilutionists just don’t deify death like Jeebus did, which is why we’re so evil.

    As for the Biblical argument that plants, etc., aren’t alive, it’s no doubt “true.” Anima is life, animals have anima (I know this is latin derivation, not Hebrew, but they tended share beliefs in the Mediterranean), plants don’t move. Well, any plants involve movement–how else could one grow?–but not obviously like animals do.

    Jeebus is supposed to have said that the seed dies–then the plant comes alive (something like that)–in one of his parables, however, apparently running the old death theme as a good thing. I don’t know how it reads in the Greek, though.

    Morris is just running creationist “logic” deep into stupid ground. Gee, how about the genes that we share with plants, do they contribute to non-life portions of our bodies?

    Glen Davidson

  32. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    tr, please change your pseudonym. The one you have now is hurtful to people you don’t intend to hurt.

    They’ve been asked before but doubt it’ll sink in.

    Doesn’t mean it’s not worth mentioning, but past history doesn’t bode well.

    and if there is any confusion

    we’re talking about you “totalretard”.

  33. raven says

    Also, all plants move. They just do so slowly.

    True and obvious.

    Every year, we plant seeds which grow up, flower, set seed, and are then harvested.

    This simple fact feeds 7 billion people.

    If plants didn’t move slowly (grow), we wouldn’t even exist.

    FWIW, a lot of bacteria move and quite rapidly. They have rotating flagella and swim. E. coli and Pseudomas among them as anyone who ever looked at them under a microsope knows. Others have gliding motility.

  34. Gregory Greenwood says

    If God designed death into creation, then death is as “good” as all other factors—and the atheistic evolutionary doctrine is right. Death is the “good” force that brings about the ultimate “fittest” in our universe. Death, therefore, is not “the wages of sin,” and our Lord Jesus’ death was not necessary for salvation—it was just the wasted effort of a deluded martyr.

    These teachings cannot be harmonized. Either the Bible is Truth (capitalization intended) or it is Error. The choice is clear. The message is clear. The effect is eternal!

    … And yet Morris still manages to get this clear choice wrong – the evidence for evolutionary processes is overwhelming, while the creationist blather is not even internally consistent, let alone consistent with the evidence, as Morris’s own confused and scientifically illiterate argument demonstrates.

    As jimmauch points out @ 34, this is not about anything so high-minded as a pursuit of truth or a defence of personal integrity – this is about not being able to deal with realities that the likes of Morris find uncomfortable; so they will employ any pseudo-logic (no matter how distorted) and any argument (no matter how nonsensical) to protect their cherished delusions.

    Creationsts, like many other brands of theists and newage wooists, are fundamentally fearful people who are simply incapable of dealing with the universe as it actually is (seemingly mostly because they find the fact of their own mortality unbearable), and so instead retreat into religion’s tailor made, comforting fantasy that if you follow all the ridiculous rituals, hate the people you are supposed to hate and, most importantly, never think for yourself overmuch; then, if you really, really believe, and you close your eyes, click your ruby slippers together three times, and say “there’s no place like heaven”, then you get to live forever in Yahweh’s/Allah’s/Odin’s/*Insert fictional deity of choice’s* bespoke post-mortem disneyland, where there is bliss/virgins/mead/*insert favoured Pavlovian reward stimulus* on tap.

    They simply cannot conceive that there exist people who find ludicrous afterlife-myths unsatisfying, and would prefer to face the reality of the universe – with all its beauty and also all its uncompromising elements, even the inevitability of one’s own death – rather than sink into stultifying self-delusion.

  35. raven says

    If God designed death into creation, then death is as “good” as all other factors—and the atheistic evolutionary doctrine is right.

    Morris III doesn’t even get his own logic right.

    God is the all powerful creator of everything. Therefore, he did create “death”. God is in charge and he has a plan, standard fundie xian god babble theology.

    God also created satan and the demons and lets them run around loose doing whatever they do. Satan and the demons are obviously god’s agents on earth.

  36. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    @ totalretard totalturd

    What ixchel says.

    Easy really: Don’t ever use as insults based on aspects of people’s identity that they have no control over and that they do not share in common with everyone about them. (Sex, race, gender, abilities ….)

  37. robro says

    Life has blood. God sent a clear message by rejecting Cain’s offering of plants — He demands blood sacrifice, nothing else will do.

    Ergo, plants don’t have “blood” and aren’t alive? I’m no biologist, but I’m pretty sure that plants have their equivalent of blood complete with a fluid transport system. When I cut off the stem end off a fresh head of lettuce last night, white fluid drained onto the table. Pine trees ooze sap in the heat of summer in Florida. It’s collected into pans by gashing the bark of the trees and used in a variety of products. A similar technique is used to gather maple syrup. I guess poor Mr. Morris never had any on his waffles.

  38. waydude says

    Why do I suspect that this is just a preemptive strike before Nasa’s Mars Science Laboratory and Curiosity rover land with it’s more precise tools to look for signs of life? Cause then it doesn’t matter what you find elsewhere in the universe, if it aint human it aint life and thus no question of how small and insignificant we are is irrelevant.

  39. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    @ waydude

    Nasa’s Mars Science Laboratory and Curiosity rover land

    That is all about to end. Next up is:

    Nasa’s Planet Kolob Science Laboratory and Curiosity rover land

  40. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    If plants don’t have blood, then what the hell is in the juice aisle at the market?

    Maybe it’s ichor! Which means plants are gods. So if we can kill gods, then that makes us more powerful than gods. Which means worshiping them is a waste of time!

    See I can do logic too. :D

  41. Owlmirror says

    PZ would have to nerd-snipe me with this, just when I have no time to try and figure out how much full of shit Henry Morris III is.

    But I will point out that I was reminded of 1 Corinthians 15:35-38 — which I grant was written in Greek rather than Hebrew — which says:

    But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. (NIV)

    So it looks like Paul of Tarsus implicitly disagreed with the earlier bible writers on whether plants were alive.

    And as already noted, if plants are not alive, then neither are human embryos until they have blood and start to “twitch”. So “life” most certainly does not begin at conception.

  42. birgerjohansson says

    StevoR
    Beta Crucis might be a plasma-based life form!

    — — — — — — — —
    BTW speaking of death, I thought the way of Bushido was death?
    There is certainly a death cult meme in its elevation of death.
    And don’t get me started on the SS-type cult of loyality above else that is inherent in Bushido.
    When I think about it, maybe fundies and samurai freaks should join forces.

  43. chrisv says

    And exactly 23-1/2 angels can dance on the head of a pin. I know because the word “dumbass” is used 23-1/2 times in the Babble. And, now that we’ve settled those two issues, let’s discuss virgin birth. (Mumble…mumble…child support payments…cough…cough)

  44. dean says

    This reminds me of a conversation I had with my mother when I was fifteen. She claimed that fish, birds, insects, lizards etc. weren’t animals, because they didn’t have fur.

    I once asked my catholic mother-in-law why she could believed eating fish on friday was okay but eating meat was not. Her response was that “a fish is not an animal, so it isn’t meat.” She was mildly offended at my reaction, and later had the old priest at her church tell me that, indeed, a fish was not an animal. Neither could not provide support for the claim, so i never found out where their particular bit of stupidity originated.

  45. culch says

    The PC aspects of allowed insults has gotten too complicated when even nyms are subject to condemnation. So we are not allowed to use gender, sexual preference/wiring, age, body type, ethnicity, nationality, appearance, mental health status, female body parts … We can’t use “retard,” but are allowed to use idiot, moron, cretin, imbecile, stupid …? This being Pharyngula, we are allowed to insult any religious and some political and philosophical opinions. Some common and more or less legal sex acts, as well as unlikely ones, are used as insults. I see no consistency.

  46. ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and war ॐ says

    The PC aspects of allowed insults has gotten too complicated when even nyms are subject to condemnation.

    You’re making up an arbitrary complaint. There is nothing about nyms that ought to make them not subject to critique.

    Admit this, your first error, and I’ll move on to the rest.

  47. says

    Given Morris’ ignorance of real geology it’s no surprise to see his ignorance of botany. I’m trying to imagine some shriveled guy reading and counting words in some incorrect copy of ancient fables and thinking that this activity has any value of any kind. And the deluded shall rise again.

  48. Muse says

    Culch – people currently call folks with developmental delays retard. Therefore it’s an insult with splash damage. It doesn’t just hurt the person you’re trying to insult. It hurts a whole class of people. That’s not cool.

  49. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    The PC aspects of allowed insults has gotten too complicated when even nyms are subject to condemnation.

    This is just fucking stupid. It has nothing to do with this mythical PC bugbear assholes so love to claim is causing so much harm to discourse. It’s about common fucking decency in not denigrating people using words that draw fault to an unchangeable trait.

  50. carlie says

    If plants don’t have blood, then what the hell is in the juice aisle at the market?

    Carrot juice is murder

    The PC aspects of allowed insults has gotten too complicated when even nyms are subject to condemnation.

    You draw the line just for nyms? So if I used a nym like, say, “wopkiller”, that would be ok by you, especially if I’m Italian?

    We can’t use “retard,” but are allowed to use idiot, moron, cretin, imbecile, stupid …?

    What Muse said. “Retard” still has a much harsher bite than the others do, regardless of the fact that they were all coined at the same time. I think partly, ironically enough, because it was used as a clinical term for so much longer. There are still a lot of city/county programs for the developmentally disabled that have the name “retarded” as part of their name, so it has a much tighter link with a specific group of people than the other words do. And if you want to see someone who holds tight to the purist line that they’re all bad, head over to Camels With Hammers.

  51. raven says

    Given Morris’ ignorance of real geology it’s no surprise to see his ignorance of botany. I’m trying to imagine some shriveled guy reading and counting words…

    This is Morris III. The older Morris isn’t a shriveled old guy, he is past that stage i.e. dead.

    Morris III is relatively young. I looked at a picture from google and now wish I hadn’t. He even looks creepy.

    And yeah, his ignorance of biology is profound. Some plants do move. In primitive plants like ferns, there is alternation of generations. The gametophytes produce male gametes and female gametes. The male gametes reach the female ones by…swimming. I don’t know if they have tails, cilia, or flagella but they do fertilization just like a lot of animals.

    His god babble is so ignorant and stupid, I wonder why he even bothers. It won’t convince anyone with a grade school education. I suppose it all comes down to the usual…money. He makes a decent living babbling like a loon for the loons, easy work.

    PS He probably didn’t count the words himself. It’s usually done by computers using simple decades old search functions.

  52. culch says

    OK, the euphemism “retarded” is forbidden here, while many synonyms are allowed. Carry on.

  53. Gregory Greenwood says

    Muse @ 71;

    Way to totally miss the point culch.

    You write that so dismissively, in such an off-the-cuff fashion. Do not sell culch so short – this is no mere minor misunderstanding, no simple lack of reading comprehension.

    Missing the point to this degree takes work. It takes determination, training, and a fierce will to deliberately misinterpret what others write in order to score cheap points.

    This is no simple missing of the point. This is art.

    ;-P

  54. culch says

    Snide insults, while my points about inconsistency are being ignored.
    “Retarded” certainly is a 20th century euphemism for the people currently called “developmentally disabled” or “developmentally delayed,” the people formerly called imbeciles, morons, idiots, cretins. You have decided one synonym is off-limits, while others are not. Your prerogative, but I don’t have to agree that it makes any sense. It’s like saying pissing and urinating is okay, but “making water” is obscene.

  55. coragyps says

    “had the old priest at her church tell me that, indeed, a fish was not an animal.”

    Don’t even get him started on capybaras and Lent…….

  56. ChasCPeterson says

    “Retard” still has a much harsher bite than the others do, regardless of the fact that they were all coined at the same time. I think partly, ironically enough, because it was used as a clinical term for so much longer.

    Well, but wait. Unlike the nouns in the list, “retarded” is an adjective with a general meaning. In this context it was always used with the adverb ‘mentally’. ‘Mental retardation’ and ‘mentally retarded’–referring literally to relatively slow development rather than intelligence per se–were the PC terms of their time. These general phrases replaced older, often more specific terms like idiot, moron, cretin, and mongoloid, and that was good.
    I doubt that the noun ‘retard’, or even ‘mental retard’ has ever been used clinically. It’s a purely playground coinage, a slur from day one.

  57. Muse says

    Culch – please see my note about splash damage. Moron is not currently used as a slur against developmentally delayed people.

  58. madscientist says

    Here are some words I’d use on Henry Morris #3 but would never use on plants:

    idiot
    moron
    dunce
    twit
    imbecile

    … the list goes on. More proof that plants aren’t alive. Perhaps someone would be kind enough to let us know what the Hebrew equivalents are. Only one Yiddish word comes to mind: schmuck.

  59. vaiyt says

    @69: No, Jesus is Error.

    BTW speaking of death, I thought the way of Bushido was death?
    There is certainly a death cult meme in its elevation of death.
    And don’t get me started on the SS-type cult of loyality above else that is inherent in Bushido.
    When I think about it, maybe fundies and samurai freaks should join forces.

    The Bushido itself is a Shogunate era creation, made to justify the privileged position of the samurai class in a time of extended peace. In the Sengoku period (the most often romanticized era of samurai lore), samurai didn’t care one bit about codes of honor and sacrifice; with the constant wars, you either were good at killing and got far, or you got killed by the ones who were.

  60. says

    If God designed death into creation, then death is as “good” as all other factors—and the atheistic evolutionary doctrine is right. Death is the “good” force that brings about the ultimate “fittest” in our universe. Death, therefore, is not “the wages of sin,” and our Lord Jesus’ death was not necessary for salvation—it was just the wasted effort of a deluded martyr.

    These teachings cannot be harmonized. Either the Bible is Truth (capitalization intended) or it is Error. The choice is clear. The message is clear. The effect is eternal!

    The conclusion is correct. Now, I have a question: how does Morris explain where death comes from? IIRC, the Bible is pretty clear on where death comes from – it is God’s will. God designed people and animals such that they eventually die, and he was a pretty big fan of genocide too. The Flood, for example. Looks to me like Morris the Moron is digging himself a logical hole.

  61. lanetaylor says

    Re: the whole ‘fish aren’t animals’ thing (I admittedly skipped from about post 40-80), I was at a YEC presentation, where they made the mistake of giving said presentation at a university. One of the YEC supporters kept making stupid comments in support of the lecturer, when the rest of the crowd started grilling said lecturer about some idiocy or another. At one point, the supporter claimed that only ‘aminals with nostrils’ are alive. So crustaceans, fish, etc. are not considered animals..or alive…from a biblical perspective.

    My lovely, and oh so snarky, wife asked about shellfish then with ‘What’s a clam, a motile rock?’.

    I don’t think the cretinist got the humor. The guy doing the presentations eventually gave up doing them at the U, and moved to one of the local churches instead.

  62. says

    “Retarded” certainly is a 20th century euphemism for the people currently called “developmentally disabled” or “developmentally delayed,” the people formerly called imbeciles, morons, idiots, cretins. You have decided one synonym is off-limits, while others are not. Your prerogative, but I don’t have to agree that it makes any sense.

    And if this was that time in which “imbeciles, morons, idiots, cretins” were terms used with the same specific bite as “retarded”, they’d certainly be off limits, and “retarded” would likely (but not certainly) be a more acceptable term.

    Give it half a century; maybe “retard” will have the same meaning as “imbecile” does today, and no longer carry the same sting. The taboo goes away when the specific reference to the mentally disabled leaves the zeitgeist.

  63. Pierce R. Butler says

    This assertion is an old Morris family heirloom.

    From The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth (1972), by Henry M. Morris:

    … the “breath of life” or the factor of consciousness which is associated with life in the Biblical sense. …

    It is apparently centered physically in the brain which, with its fantastically complex electric circuitry and associated nervous system, is undoubtedly the most highly organized and intricately structured type of system in the universe. Its functioning, of course, depends on the blood, with its “soul,” and the “breath” with its oxygen. …

    The above considerations indicate that plants do not possess life in this Biblical sense. They are merely extremely complex replicating systems of organic chemicals. It is significant that they were “brought forth” (Genesis 1:12) on the third day, prior to the first creation of “living creatures” on the fifth day.

    The same is perhaps true of the simpler forms of what men have defined as the animal kingdom, although the exact dividing-line between conscious living creatures and non-conscious replicating systems is not yet clear, either from Biblical definitions or scientific study. … When men and animals were given instructions to eat the fruits and herbs God had created, this was therefore quite consistent with the fact that there was originally no death in the world.

  64. chigau (違う) says

    If there was originally no death in the world, that be fruitful and multiply thing would have gone very badly.
    (how was Abel getting his animal sacrifices?)

  65. Menyambal --- Sambal's sockpuppet says

    Pierce R. Butler, you’ll also recall that Noah didn’t have to take any plants on the ark. The biblical understanding seemed to be that plants don’t breath, and they’d all be fine underwater—which kinda throws a cog into the flood geologists who rave about massive sedimentation.

    The breath of life is mentioned with the creation of Adam, I think. I was told that the syllable “spir” in “respire” and “spirit” have the same origin.

    The Morrises need to get their shit in line with everybody else (and themselves).

  66. says

    So Morris thinks that death wasn’t part of the original design? Wow, it sure is amazing watching these guys try to wriggle away from logic. But even if we disregard the ecological implications and Abel’s sacrifices and so on, it doesn’t help Morris’ conclusion at all. He’s still stuck with the fact that God designed death to be part of creation. From the standpoint of his “argument” it doesn’t matter when God introduced death or why, merely that he did choose to introduce it at some point.

  67. spamamander, more skeptical-er and rational-er than you says

    Says … this… real… slow… using… small… words.

    “Retard” is unacceptable because it is intended solely as a slur for people with mental handicaps. “Retarded”, used in a clinical sense, is still acceptable, because it is still used in diagnostic criteria. Using the same word to insult something is unacceptable, as in “that rule is severely retarded”, is, again, unacceptable, as it is using mental handicaps as an insult.

    My daughter with Down syndrome, in more dated terminology, is mentally retarded. “Retarded” in this sense, is “slowed”.

    She is NOT, however, a “retard”, in the same way a gay man is not a “faggot” and a lesbian woman is not a “dyke”.

    Idiot, moron, etc are so far removed from their original clinical terms that they no longer have the specific intention of dehumanizing people with mental disabilities.

    Just shut the fuck up and grow up.

  68. says

    References
    Frankenstein. 1931. Directed by James Whale. Universal Studios.
    Newport, F. In U.S. 46% Hold Creationist View of Human Origins. Gallup Politics. Posted on gallup.com June 1, 2012, accessed on June 14, 2012.

    * Dr. Morris is Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Creation Research.

    Cite this article: Morris III, H. 2012. It’s Alive! Acts & Facts. 41 (8): 4-5.

    This I think has to be the funniest part of the whole article.

  69. chigau (違う) says

    When using family-name-first:
    Joe Blow III
    is
    Blow, Joe III
    not
    Blow III, Joe.
    (Thbbft)

  70. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Everyone’s all fretting over whether “retard” is PC.

    No one is fretting over whether it is PC, trust me.

  71. AtheistPowerlifter says

    @ # 90 Spamamander…

    I agree with you wholeheartedly, myself having worked many times (in a medical capacity) with the Special Olympics…much more fun and rewarding than the other dozens of sport events that I have worked. I don’t see any point in using – or defending the use – of this word.

    Just curious what your thoughts on this video are (from a YouTuber who typically posts vids relating to atheism):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eP6SGWU63_A

    Just a warning that video involves trying to justify the use of the word “retarded”.

  72. DLC says

    The babbling of twits. . . sorry if any of you twits are offended, but this guy is a prime example of the genus.

    Twit: twittius maximus ignorami.
    Any of the specie of blithering fool who put forth so-called theories which make no sense, are logically fallacious, or just plain impossible.
    Specie include but are not limited to Creationtwit, Vaccinotwit, (Vaccine No Twit) , Climatotwit, also known as Warmingdeniatwit, or more simply Wattus Idioticus.

    (*all due apologies to real taxonomists. )

  73. Menyambal --- Sambal's sockpuppet says

    Henry Morris III, D.Min., says:

    Poor old Dr. Frankenstein stitched together bits and pieces of various “fresh” human parts in hope that he could energize them with the terrible force bound up in lightning flashes during a thunderstorm. We know now that such an effort is silly, but less than a hundred years ago those concepts were the staple of theories that attempted to find a natural explanation for how life got started.

    We know now that such an effort is silly? So transplants don’t work, then?

    Those concepts were the staple of theories that attempted to find a natural explanation for how life got started? When was that?

  74. says

    @65

    Twining motion of vines

    My google-fu has utterly failed me on this occasion, but I recall seeing a documentary that showed time lapse footage of two competing vines growing side by side up a building wall…

    Not only could you see the vines stretching out and “feeling” their way up the wall as they grew, but each plant would shoot out tendrils toward the other and try to pull the other vine away from the wall.

    This was all happening on a timescale of weeks. The battle was imperceptible without time lapse.

    It was fascinating, if not a little creepy, to watch.
    I wish I could find a video clip of it.

  75. says

    Poor old Dr. Frankenstein stitched together bits and pieces of various “fresh” human parts in hope that he could energize them with the terrible force bound up in lightning flashes during a thunderstorm. We know now that such an effort is silly, but less than a hundred years ago those concepts were the staple of theories that attempted to find a natural explanation for how life got started.

    You do know that Dr. Frankenstein was a work of fiction right?

  76. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    @ Kagato

    Twining motion of vines

    a little creepy, to watch

    Hehe, I see what you did there.

    I am reminded of a song we learned at school:


    Tell me why the stars do shine.
    Tell me why the ivy twines.
    Tell me why the sky is so blue,
    and I will tell just why I love you.

    To which we would respond (IIRC):

    Helium fission makes the stars to shine.
    Heliotropism makes the ivy twine.
    Atmospheric refraction makes the sky so blue,
    Testicular hormones is why I love you.

    (I’m not sure the ivy bit is actually correct, but we did think ourselves extremely clever at knowing these lyrics with big, beautiful scientific words.)

    /nerd

  77. theophontes (坏蛋) says

    PS.

    The corrected version. Isaac Asimov:

    Nuclear fusion makes stars to shine,

    Tropisms make the ivy twine,

    Raleigh scattering make skies so blue,

    Testicular hormones are why I love you

  78. Kristof says

    I have simple question to Mr. Morris v3.0 – how many times the bible describes our world as “ball”, “sphere”, “globe”, or “oblate spheroid”? I would be very interested in conclusions of this particular study. :)

  79. birgerjohansson says

    Hmm…when Adam was given Lilith as a sexual mattress, he spurned her and bonked all sorts of non-human stuff. That made Lilith angry and grossed-out and she left him, requiring Yahweh to create the more subservient Eve.

    So “life” in the biblical sense might be defined as “anything Adam might have had sex with”. Adam did not bonk fish, therefore fish= not life.
    .
    Well, it is a hypthesis as good as any.

    — — — — —
    “Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus” is an old book.
    The bible is an old book.
    The bible is true.
    Therefore, Frankenstein cannot be a work of fiction.

  80. McC2lhu does not have gerseberms says

    Jews think Jesus was a deluded martyr, and supposedly they’re God’s people, so…who ya gonna believe?

    That last paragraph really changed my whole opinion. I didn’t know that capitalizing fuckwittery somehow changed its fantasy status to reality. Maybe that was Stuart Smalley’s problem. He never capitalized his whole mantra.

  81. anteprepro says

    So, this is what it comes to? A comedy website accidentally refuting creationists? For the previously mentioned vine twining, see #1. For slime molds, see #2. For plant growth during fruit decomposition, see the end of the first video in #3. Creationist sophistry might be able to count the latter two as just growth and not technically movement (which would conveniently highlight one of the major indications of life that Morris managed to completely ignore) but the vine twirling (before it finally reaches something to twirl around) clearly is movement.

    Oh creationists. Such a rich source of Error.