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Feb 09 2013

Come on, Ken, you can say it

After that silly exercise in which Ken Ham looked at a fossil and dismissed Eosinopteryx as only a bird — a bird with clawed forearms, teeth, and a bony tail — he got chewed out not just by me, but by one of his fans, who wrote in to call him on his “handwaving” and to say that it was plainly not just a bird. Ken Ham can ignore me, but when one of the faithful can see right through him, he has to repair the damage.

And it’s great! He has to say that ancient forms of birds looked different, and that it has some features consistent with modern birds and others more like ancient, extinct forms, and then he’s reduced to quoting Brian Switek in an attempt to gather support. (I don’t think Brian accepts that the earth is 6000 years old or that dinosaurs did not evolve into birds, though; I’ve restored the usual ellipses and truncations a creationist must resort to in order to use a scientists’ words.)

Even evolutionary science writer Brian Switek, when discussing Eosinopteryx, commented on the vagaries of whether to call a creature a bird or a dinosaur. Switek wrote:

Does this mean that we should stop calling Archaeopteryx the earliest known bird? Not necessarily.

‘[T]his phylogeny remains only weakly supported,’ Godefroit and coauthors caution…[and the paleontologists point out that convergent evolution among small, feathered dinosaurs might obscure the true pattern of relationships between the feathered forms. The identity of Archaeopteryx is being questioned, and rightly so, but paleontologists have yet to fully resolve which particular lineage of dinosaur spawned the first birds.]

Birds are a special lineage of coelurosaurian dinosaurs. That is a fact. But the details of when and how that transition occurred, not to mention exactly from whom, are still areas of active debate. [Eosinopteryx underscores the increasingly complex pattern of feathered dinosaur evolution and bird origins. The tiny dinosaur is another point of reference in an ongoing discussion about when dinosaurs took to the air, and which particular lineage left avian heirs to the Mesozoic legacy.]

OK, guy, you’re really reaching. This shouldn’t be so difficult. Complex lineages, ancient extinct forms, fossils with traits of an ancient form and a modern one, major changes in anatomy over time…just spit it out.

The “T” word. You know. Try it.

“Traaaaaans…”, that’s how it starts…

Transitional form! Good! You’re making progress!

Next week, we’ll work on the “E” word, that phenomenon which explains how we get transitional forms.

76 comments

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  1. 1
    David Gerard

    He NAMED YOU! Has he ever done that before?

  2. 2
    yubal

    I was always wondering how Kenny explains the mass extinction of marine life at the K–Pg boundary or the P–Tr event. Especially the P–Tr extinction that speared 30% of terrestrial life but killed >95% of marine life.

    Does he really believe all those fish, amphibians, water plants and ocean dwelling reptiles were drowned in Noah’s flood ?

  3. 3
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Does he really believe all those fish, amphibians, water plants and ocean dwelling reptiles were drowned in Noah’s flood ?

    Well, *thinking like a delusional creobot* the fresh rain water mixing with the salt water killed the salt ocean life, and the salt water mixing with the fresh water killed the fresh water life. *Oops, what about the bracking tidal water estuary life????, one stops thinking like a creobot*

  4. 4
    theignored

    One thing to remember: Creationists like those at Answers in Genesis have that statement of faith that they all must sign and promise to adhere to.

    By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.

    If Ham were to admit to a transitional form, he’d be breaking the oath of his own organization!

  5. 5
    Louis

    Creationists lie?

    WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME!? WHYYY!? WHYYYYYYYY!?

    Louis

  6. 6
    raven

    Ken Ham can ignore me, but when one of the faithful can see right through him, he has to repair the damage.

    Careful what you wish for there.

    Up until recently, “repairing the damage” for the religious meant putting people on top of stacks of firewood and burning them to death.

    I wouldn’t trust Ken Ham with a Bic lighter, some firewood, and a waffling xian.

  7. 7
    raven

    I was always wondering how Kenny explains the mass extinction of marine life at the K–Pg boundary or the P–Tr event. Especially the P–Tr extinction that speared 30% of terrestrial life but killed >95% of marine life.

    That is easy. Goddidit!!!

    That is the all purpose explanation for everything. And nothing.

  8. 8
    MissEla

    Next week, we’ll work on the “E” word, that phenomenon which explains how we get transitional forms.

    *gasp* NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Not the “E” word!!!!

    *faints*

  9. 9
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Next week, we’ll work on the “E” word, that phenomenon which explains how we get transitional forms.

    Just give us the word PZ, and splatter protect (from Hamlet’s head exploding) will be installed keep the blog safe from his residual delusions.

  10. 10
    kevinalexander

    Ken,?!?
    Are you saying that birds in the old days (3000yrs ago) were different KINDS?

  11. 11
    Eamon Knight

    @1: Well, yes — but only to point out how ruuuuuude and persecutory PZ was being, and acting contrary to the advice of a fellow evolutionist (as if arguments over rhetorical strategy were equivalent to arguments over scientific data).

    The rest is just the usual hand-waving to say that evidence isn’t evidence.

  12. 12
    Barklikeadog

    Come on Nerd

    the fresh rain water mixing with the salt water

    Don’t you know fresh and salt water don’t mix? Just look it up in the koran.

  13. 13
    Chuck

    Ken,?!?
    Are you saying that birds in the old days (3000yrs ago) were different KINDS?

    Let me give this a go: “Same kind, just displaying the inherent genetic variation within a kind that was placed there by the Almighty creator.”

    Now if you ask for evidence of that, I just have to say, “Were you THERE?!”

    Eh? Eh? How’d I do?

  14. 14
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Until today I have resisted the temptation had the good sense to not visit AIG. Now I have visited.
    Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck!
    There isn’t even the consoling thought that it may be a spoof.
    Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck!
    My eyes are bleeding.
    Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck!

  15. 15
    Dick the Damned

    I can’t imagine Ham admitting evolution is real. It’d destroy his stupid religious beliefs.

    How do people let their minds get so fucked up?

  16. 16
    eyeroll

    Hamkind is just getting ridiculouser and ridiculouser.

  17. 17
    azpaul3

    How do people let their minds get so fucked up?

    Easy. Read the bible. I don’t think it matter which one.

  18. 18
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Look, I consider the Holy Bible to be absolutely infallible.

    Also, I consider it to be complete – therefore if something isn’t in it, that something didn’t happen.

    Nowhere in it did it list someone as the ancestor of Ken Ham… therefore, he doesn’t exist.

    Any “evidence” that Ken Ham exists is just trick photography and a conspiracy of evil doers trying to bring Satan to power on earth. I even signed an oath saying so! It must be true!

    –)->

  19. 19
    Glen Davidson

    Satan’s workshop.

    How do you think the bones were buried anyhow?

    Glen Davidson

  20. 20
    Draken

    The AiG article seems to be written by one of Ken’s acolytes, Dr Elizabeth Mitchell, gynaecologist. That’s why the Unnameable was mentioned; Ken himself never would.

  21. 21
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    That is easy. Goddidit!!!

    Not only did God do it (the PT extinction event) but He apparently really had a thing for Lystrosaurus back then. I wonder how the relationship soured?

  22. 22
    Menyambal

    They get a lot of mileage out of the fact that birds are now understood to be dinosaurs. So, yeah, Archeopteryx is now a dinosaur … so’s my aunt’s parakeet. That doesn’t mean that Archeopteryx is no longer a bird.

    It occurs that the critter that started this kerfuffle could have been using his wing-ettes to scare up insects so he could eat them. See, there’s a little bit of thinking, you creationists, not just blindly taking Ken Ham’s word that it’s a bird.

  23. 23
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    and then he’s reduced to quoting Brian Switek

    Screenwipes, please.

  24. 24
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    It occurs that the critter that started this kerfuffle could have been using his wing-ettes to scare up insects so he could eat them.

    I ran across a paper (published in a book (I’ll find the book (promise!))) which presented a very good case for feathers being developed first for brooding and the long feathers to fill in the area between the manus and the body.

  25. 25
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Birds are a special lineage of coelurosaurian dinosaurs. That is a fact.

    How the hell can he quote that, regardless of what he omitted? It does not support his contention, and should make his head explode.

  26. 26
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    How the hell can he quote that, regardless of what he omitted? It does not support his contention, and should make his head explode.

    The cognitive dissonance is strong in this one. Yes.

  27. 27
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Found it!

    Dinosaur Brooding Behavior and the Origin of Flight Feathers (Hopp & Orsen), published in Feathered Dragons: Studies on the Transition from Dinosaurs to Birds (Currie, Koppelhus, Shugar & Wright, Indian University Press, 2004). Not only shows why feathers could have evolved for a non-flying therapod, but also that the odd flexion of bird wings could have evolved for brooding behaviour.

  28. 28
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    And that was Indiana University Press.

    Curse you, Tpyos!

  29. 29
    Amphiox

    Not only did God do it (the PT extinction event) but He apparently really had a thing for Lystrosaurus back then.

    Hey, didn’t I call it way back when?

    Noah was a cynodont.

  30. 30
    Rich Woods

    Not only did God do it…but He apparently really had a thing for Lystrosaurus back then.

    I adopted a Lystrosaurus once. They never write, they never call…

  31. 31
    Genius Loci

    The more I read about these people, the sadder I become. Their world is so two-dimensional. (And, to be clear, I’m a non-evangelical Christian who DOES NOT consider the Bible the inerrant word of God. I am married to an atheist and am therefore very atheism-sympathetic. In fact, I tend to consider non-atheist scientists to be a bit suspect. truth be told. As far as I’m concerned, it’s your DUTY to keep the rest of us honest by never, never straying into woo territory.)

    Let me just ask, however–instead of arguing with creationists on scientific grounds, do scientists ever try arguing with them on theological grounds? That is to say, most Christians accept that Christianity “evolved” from Judaism. (I use that term very neutrally here, not intending to imply somehow that one belief system is superior to another, but simply that they diverged). So, if Creationists readily accept that evolution occurs in the theological world, why can’t they accept that evolution occurs in the physical world as well?

    I’m not a huge fan of St. Paul–he was a homophobic misogynist, and he was annoying in that way that zealous converts can be, trying to be ever more devout than lifelong Christians and attempting to one-up them by boasting and reveling in how depraved he could be (standard shameless evangelical tactic). But he had a few interesting insights–one emerges in the famous “Love Chapter”– 1 Corinthians 13:11-12: “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” One could certainly argue that the culture that produced the creation myth of Genesis was, intellectually and spiritually speaking, rather primitive.

    And furthermore, it is Paul who raises the spirit vs letter of the law argument (2 Corinthians 3:6), and what could be more spiritually deadening than slavish devotion to an outmoded creation story? Why shouldn’t they embrace scientific discovery as a gradually increasing understanding of the divine mysteries of the universe?

    I know that appearing to make a rhetorical concession to theists is probably not the most desirable strategy and would stick in a lot of people’s craws, but it seems to me that it might be an effective way to hoist them on their own petard. I myself loathe and despise Christian apologetics, the attempt to rationalize claims that defy basic logic. If any part of the Bible makes no rational sense, or has no metaphorical or literary usefulness, then to me it is simply wrong, in the same way that medieval notions of “humours” or the “ether” are also just plain wrong–the people who came up with these hypotheses were working with the evidence they had and simply didn’t know any better. But it seems to me that one could make Ken Hovind’s head explode by arguing with him on his own turf, whether it was also one’s own turf or not.

    Has anyone attempted this?

  32. 32
    davidgentile

    Does anyone know how Ken / Kent / Ray interpret the K/T asteroid? Did YHWH send it because Dinosaurs were sinning?

  33. 33
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Draken
    9 February 2013 at 4:56 pm

    The AiG article seems to be written by one of Ken’s acolytes

    Please, never use the word acolyte in that context again. I have feeelings, you know.

  34. 34
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Genius Loci
    9 February 2013 at 7:17 pm

    ……. to be clear, I’m a non-evangelical Christian who DOES NOT consider the Bible the inerrant word of God.……….. If any part of the Bible makes no rational sense, or has no metaphorical or literary usefulness, then to me it is simply wrong

    I’m confused! Why are you a Christian exactly, if you know that the Bible is wrong?
    And why do I feel I’m going to regret asking that?

  35. 35
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Acolyte of Sagan:

    Perhaps xe is a Jeffersonian Christian? My parents are Unitarians and their approach to the Bible is about the same.

  36. 36
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Oh right,,,,,So you don’t believe the Bible, but you believe in the snippets ‘cut and pasted’ (not my words, they come from your link) from it, about a character for which there is no evidence whatsoever of his existence?
    I’m still confused

  37. 37
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Sorry, no edit facility. I meant to say ‘so your parents believe…’
    Not that it makes it any better, of course. I’m still confused.

  38. 38
    John Morales

    [OT]

    Genius Loci:

    Let me just ask, however–instead of arguing with creationists on scientific grounds, do scientists ever try arguing with them on theological grounds?

    Whyever would they?

    Theology is Calvinball — the most one can do is to point out its incoherence, that is, the question-begging, contradictions and non sequiturs — whereupon it becomes an exercise in philosophy.

    (Even serious philosophers sneer at theology)

    But it seems to me that one could make Ken Hovind’s head explode by arguing with him on his own turf, whether it was also one’s own turf or not.

    Bullshit doesn’t sway bullshitters.

  39. 39
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Acolyte of Satan:

    I don’t.

    My parents are agnostic Unitarian Universalist Christians. As to their specific beliefs, I’m not that worried about it.

  40. 40
    Genius Loci

    I’m confused! Why are you a Christian exactly, if you know that the Bible is wrong?
    And why do I feel I’m going to regret asking that?

    Sigh…OK…

    Not all Christians take the Bible literally? Many consider it full of contradictions, errors, the biases of its writers, the biases of St. Jerome and other editors and translators? Maybe some of us just think Christianity as a whole needs to grow up?

    *shrug* That’s all. We needn’t get into a long, boring, thread-derailing debate about my beliefs if that answer proves sufficient, so no need for regret. While we’re at it, however, I won’t attempt to excuse the atrocities committed in the name of organized religion by resorting to the “no true Scotsman” argument, either. Those crimes were all committed by true believing Christians in the name of God, and I am profoundly sorry for them and ashamed of them. I realize my beliefs are probably all sorts of blasphemy and heresy and apostasy, but you guys should be fine with blasphemy and heresy, shouldn’t you?

    I would, however, like someone to respond to my question if at all possible. Seems like you could have a field day with the AIG people on theological grounds. Has it been attempted?

  41. 41
    The Mellow Monkey

    Genius Loci:

    Has anyone attempted this?

    I’ve seen similar arguments in philosophy, but it’s been ages so I don’t remember any specifics other than them being vaguely along the lines of what you’re describing.

  42. 42
    John Morales

    Genius Loci:

    I would, however, like someone to respond to my question if at all possible.

    I’ve already granted your wish, O Christian.

  43. 43
    John Morales

    [OT]

    Genius Loci:

    I realize my beliefs are probably all sorts of blasphemy and heresy and apostasy, but you guys should be fine with blasphemy and heresy, shouldn’t you?

    Bah.

    Heresy is for you religious people to worry about, and there is no such thing as blasphemy except within your stupid belief-system.

  44. 44
    Genius Loci

    OK, John Morales, I didn’t see your response before I made that last comment.

    (Even serious philosophers sneer at theology)

    From what I’ve heard, even serious theologians sneer at theology. Christianity at its best is moral philosophy. Except we also have pretty music and stained glass and Gothic architecture. Which philosophers don’t.

    Believe me, I’ve tried attending a Unitarian fellowship full of atheists for my husband’s sake. It is so freaking boring. I’m sorry, but it is.

    Bullshit doesn’t sway bullshitters.

    So, then, why bother arguing with them at all, even on rational grounds? And besides, I’m not so sure. If you dump enough bullshit on them, they might swallow some of it. Especially if you catch them off guard, with their mouths open.

  45. 45
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Genius Loci:

    Hamm believes that he, and those who think as he does, has the only real Truth. Therefore, anyone who does not believe exactly the same thing about exactly the same things is not a True Christian and can thus be vilified as an apostate Satan-worshiper. Any attempt to point out the idiocy of his theology automatically means you are not a True Christian. So there really is no point attempting to engage Hammites on a theological basis.

  46. 46
    John Morales

    [OT]

    Bullshit doesn’t sway bullshitters.
    [1] So, then, why bother arguing with them at all, even on rational grounds? [2] And besides, I’m not so sure. If you dump enough bullshit on them, they might swallow some of it. Especially if you catch them off guard, with their mouths open.

    1. Because not all arguments are bullshit.

    2. You’ve never come across the expression “you can’t bullshit a bullshitter”? :)

    (You’re not so sure because you’re not a bullshitter, you merely buy into it)

  47. 47
    Genius Loci

    John Morales

    Heresy is for you religious people to worry about, and there is no such thing as blasphemy except within your stupid belief-system.

    Sorry, that was intended to be tongue-in-cheek. And to which stupid Christian belief system in particular would you be referring? There are several, actually. Never mind, don’t bother to answer that. Please.

  48. 48
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Believe me, I’ve tried attending a Unitarian fellowship full of atheists for my husband’s sake. It is so freaking boring. I’m sorry, but it is.

    I used my parents as an example of Christians who view much of the Bible as bullshit in a manifestly unsuccessful attempt to answer a question posed by Acolyte of Sagan. I did not recommend the UU fellowship to Acolyte of Sagan, or you, or anyone else.

  49. 49
    Genius Loci

    (You’re not so sure because you’re not a bullshitter, you merely buy into it)

    I have never been so insulted in my life. I’ll have you know, I can bullshit with the best of them.

  50. 50
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    There are several, actually.

    No, there are around 10,000 different versions of Christianity. Bunch of sects maniacs.

  51. 51
    John Morales

    [OT]

    Genius Loci:

    And to which stupid Christian belief system in particular would you be referring? There are several, actually. Never mind, don’t bother to answer that. Please.

    I hereby ignore your plea and so answer that: any of them.

    (You don’t want an answer? Don’t ask the question!)

  52. 52
    Genius Loci

    I used my parents as an example of Christians who view much of the Bible as bullshit in a manifestly unsuccessful attempt to answer a question posed by Acolyte of Sagan. I did not recommend the UU fellowship to Acolyte of Sagan, or you, or anyone else.

    Sorry, Ogvorbis. I’m not keeping up very well with comments and didn’t see yours until after I’d posted about the Unitarian atheist fellowship, actually. I didn’t mean to give offense! I was trying to make a point that stripping religion from religious ritual…doesn’t really leave much to work with. A congregation of atheists seems a little self-parodying to me.

    UU congregations are, as you’re probably well aware, all different. We were actually members of one for ten years that was a wonderful and very diverse congregation. When we relocated, I found the local congregation rather sterile and became an Episcopalian. My husband has renounced UUism altogether and has become an crankier old atheist than ever. But we all have our quirky little irrational attachments. I am, apparently, his.

  53. 53
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    I’m heading off for bed.

    Genius Loci, I don’t know if you noticed, but I took a shot at answering you up at #45. I have no clue if you are actually looking for a discussion or not. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.

  54. 54
    Ichthyic

    Up until recently, “repairing the damage” for the religious meant putting people on top of stacks of firewood and burning them to death.

    didn’t you hear? Using fire to solve issues with “problem” people is making a comeback amongst the religious:

    http://www.upi.com/blog/2013/02/08/Accused-witch-tortured-burned-alive-in-Papua-New-Guinea/5641360327446/

    sometimes, I start to think we really do seem to be migrating into another dark age.

  55. 55
    Ichthyic

    I was trying to make a point that stripping religion from religious ritual…doesn’t really leave much to work with. A congregation of atheists seems a little self-parodying to me.

    does the superbowl seem self-parodying to you too?

    it’s nothing BUT ritual with the removal of specific religious dogma.

  56. 56
    Ichthyic

    No, there are around 10,000 different versions of Christianity. Bunch of sects maniacs.

    I think that’s over 30 thousand at last count?

    protestantism alone has over 9000.

  57. 57
    Ichthyic

    Many consider it full of contradictions, errors, the biases of its writers, the biases of St. Jerome and other editors and translators? Maybe some of us just think Christianity as a whole needs to grow up?

    then what defines you as “Christian”?

    you realize this odd collection of mostly fictional texts has little basis in reality, is full of factual “errors” (if not just plain, intentional, lies), so if you say you base your xianity on the “teachings of Jesus” what source do you have to verify that there ever even existed such a man, that he had a specific set of teachings, and that these teachings are, or should be, the basis for any specific lifestyle?

    let me answer for you:

    you have no source. you have nothing.

    as for the “philosophy” of those alleged teachings, there is nothing unique in them, and most likely were mostly written decades after the claimed date of the “crucifiction” by Romans who thought to use them to placate the populace.

    history should be your teacher.

  58. 58
    Pierce R. Butler

    genius loci @ # 31: … St. Paul–he was a homophobic misogynist, and he was annoying …

    “Annoying” seems to be settled beyond dispute, and it speaks somewhat well of Roman tolerance that Paul carried on as he did for decades before receiving his well-earned martyrdom.

    But the most homophobic and misogynistic Epistles – such as those to “Timothy” – are held by professional historians among the ~50% of Pauline letters which (examined by a critical eye upon the earliest Greek-language versions) were obviously fakes written by others.

  59. 59
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Genius Loci

    Reading through your comments, I get the impression that you are a xtian because of the “morality” of the church. Are there any moral teachings that you are willing to claim as unique to your religion? Care to mention a few?

    {aside: I suspect this will turn into an online version of skeet. GL tosses up xtian ideas and we get to blast away at them. :) }

  60. 60
    Snoof

    So, then, why bother arguing with them at all, even on rational grounds?

    For everyone else. For the fence sitters, for the ignorant, for the misled, for the people who haven’t seen it a hundred times before, for the people who’ve never honestly thought about it before. I doubt Ham will ever change his position, he’s got too much money and status invested in it, but the people he’s scamming might some day recognise that he’s talking bullshit.

  61. 61
    Menyambal

    A lot of the “prophecy” in the Bible was just preaching. There are many places where the act of “prophesying” reads just like singing or shouting. The idea of to-be-fulfilled prophecy makes no sense in most cases.

  62. 62
    zetopan

    “… there are around 10,000 different versions of Christianity …”

    That’s a pretty severe undercount. According to a report published by the Center for
    the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, in mid-
    2011 there were over 42,000 Christian denominations worldwide, and that number is
    growing at an average rate of a bit more than 2 each day.

    Link ==> http://www.gordonconwell.edu/resources/CSGC-Resources.cfm

  63. 63
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Menyambal

    The idea of to-be-fulfilled prophecy makes no sense in most cases.

    Au contraire! In an original religious sense, prophesy would be fullfilled because it was an instruction. The priest fullfills a role such as that of a stage director in a play. What s/he says will happen does happen in the religious ritual for which the direction is given. Nothing miraculous at all, even by ancient lights.

    It would appear modern religions have lost track of their own roots and utterly confuse issues such as “prophesy”, “myth” and the like. They refer to pragmatic requirements of the trade, rather than magical prescience.

  64. 64
    Reptile Dysfunction

    I thought that most of the OT prophesy consisted of warnings,
    directed to the Israelites as a group.
    ‘If you don’t change your ways, Yahweh will withdraw his protection.’
    If the warning was heeded, the prophesy would not come to pass,
    which was the best outcome, from the prophet’s point of view.
    The idea of prophesy as an accurate prediction of the future
    is a modern extension or evolution of the original meaning.

  65. 65
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.
    No, there are around 10,000 different versions of Christianity. Bunch of sects maniacs.

    I think that’s over 30 thousand at last count?

    Thanks. I keep forgetting how many different ones there are.

    That’s a pretty severe undercount. According to a report published by the Center for
    the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, in mid-2011 there were over 42,000 Christian denominations worldwide, and that number is growing at an average rate of a bit more than 2 each day.

    Thanks for the correction.

    I stand by my assertion that Christians are a bunch of sects maniacs.

  66. 66
    Pierce R. Butler

    zetopan @ # 62: According to a report published by the Center for
    the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary…

    The link you provide leads to that center’s “resources” page, but nothing listed there looks like the report you cite.

  67. 67
    notfromvenus

    Genius Loci –

    I think Ogvorbis had it right @45. Fundamentalists would say that “true” theology has never evolved or changed, that their modern interpretation of the Bible is only correct one that ever was. If you ask them about Judaism, they’d say that the Jews were right up until Jesus came.

  68. 68
    Genius Loci

    you realize this odd collection of mostly fictional texts has little basis in reality, is full of factual “errors” (if not just plain, intentional, lies), so if you say you base your xianity on the “teachings of Jesus” what source do you have to verify that there ever even existed such a man, that he had a specific set of teachings, and that these teachings are, or should be, the basis for any specific lifestyle?

    Umm, yes, yes, I do, actually. And why should you care what I find helpful or instructive or resonant or inspiring? Why should it matter whether these things really happened, or whether or not they could be attributed to an actual man named Jesus, or some other Jewish rabbi living around that time in Palestine?

    you have no source. you have nothing.

    Again, why should you care? I’m not trying to persuade anyone of their veracity. I’m not trying to force teachers to read them aloud in public schools, or courthouses to post bits of them on their walls. And I am certainly not trying to argue that there is anything scientific about them, or that you should accept them as true and valid. Why do you care where I get my ethical motivation? So my source is different from yours. It’s probably inferior. In fact, let me just take a moment here to genuflect before your enormous, awe-inspiring, completely rational, religion-free cerebral cortex. Happy?

    Guess what? I find the history plays of Shakespeare moving, inspiring, and instructive too! And guess what else? They’re probably mostly fiction, too! In fact, Shakespeare might not even have existed! We have no real evidence that he wasn’t Marlowe, or Bacon, or the Earl of Essex, or Elizabeth I in drag! In fact, the whole Shakespeare canon was probably faked by the Spanish as a revenge hoax for the defeat of the Armada! Shakespeare scholars have been living a lie! They have nothing, nothing! Ah, I must turn to Science for consolation in my hour of darkness.

    as for the “philosophy” of those alleged teachings, there is nothing unique in them, and most likely were mostly written decades after the claimed date of the “crucifiction” by Romans who thought to use them to placate the populace.

    Interesting. Do you have a creditable source? I am certainly willing to admit its plausibility.

    history should be your teacher.

    Whose history? What do you think the writers of the various books of the Bible were considered, for millenia? Someone–Mencken or Twain or Santayana or someone or other–described historians as failed novelists. They were also PR specialists and propaganda mouthpieces. Homer, Virgil, Herodotus (the so-called “Father of Lies”), Thucydides, the Venerable Bede, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Ossian, Thomas Carlyle, oh, yes, and let us not forget reprehensible, vile 20th-century creatures like Albert Speer–all historians, all deeply in thrall to their biases and the notion that somehow they could take a cluster of more or less random events and shoehorn them into a narrative of some sort that could be used in the service of some grand overarching vision or purpose, with or without the involvement of divine intervention. And where there were gaps in their knowledge or their sources, they simply made shit up. And they’re still making shit up. Hell, even Newt Gingrich fancies himself a historian.

  69. 69
    Genius Loci

    Reading through your comments, I get the impression that you are a xtian because of the “morality” of the church. Are there any moral teachings that you are willing to claim as unique to your religion? Care to mention a few?

    Why would I need to do that? If anything, the more likely that other religious traditions have arrived more or less independently at a particular moral heuristic suggests that it might have some substance. The notion of reciprocity as an outcome of empathy, for example.

    {aside: I suspect this will turn into an online version of skeet. GL tosses up xtian ideas and we get to blast away at them. :) }

    Nope, sorry to disappoint. Someone asked me how I could consider myself a Christian and reject the inerrancy of the Bible, and I attempted to respond concisely and move on. To my everlasting regret. And that seems like it would get fairly old for you fairly quickly. Shooting actual skeet is a lot more fun.

    Honestly, I’m really just here for the righteous secular outrage. And the squid.

  70. 70
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Genius Loci

    Why would I need to do that?

    Why discuss your point of view here? No, of course you don’t need to contribute at all. You could just lurk.

    other religious traditions have arrived more or less independently at a particular moral heuristic suggests that it might have some substance. The notion of reciprocity as an outcome of empathy, for example.

    What, by Almighty Zeus, has your example got to do with religion? You might be more consequent if you noticed that one must regard such questions outside of their religious packaging to decide wether or not the “moral heuristic” has value. Your very example suggests not imaginary sky-gods but human interaction within societies.

    Nope, sorry to disappoint.

    :(

    Honestly, I’m really just here for the righteous secular outrage. And the squid.

    Well there we have it! (You could just lurk you know?)

  71. 71
    Anri

    Does he really believe all those fish, amphibians, water plants and ocean dwelling reptiles were drowned in Noah’s flood ?

    Sorta.
    The typical ‘explanation’ I have heard involved so much silt being churned up, that nothing aquatic outside of the arc could live.

    And plant’s don’t count – according to biblical tradition, they’re not living things, they’re part of the landscape.

    - – -

    Let me just ask, however–instead of arguing with creationists on scientific grounds, do scientists ever try arguing with them on theological grounds? That is to say, most Christians accept that Christianity “evolved” from Judaism. (I use that term very neutrally here, not intending to imply somehow that one belief system is superior to another, but simply that they diverged). So, if Creationists readily accept that evolution occurs in the theological world, why can’t they accept that evolution occurs in the physical world as well?

    It is my understanding that if you put Judaism and Zoroastrianism into a blender, what comes out of the other end looks like Christianity (general worldview, history and morality from Judaism, dualistic theology and afterlife concepts from the big Z.) It’s more complex than that, of course.

    My point is, that most non-fundamentalist Christians I have spoken with about this honestly seem to have no problem with it. I don’t understand why, myself. They seem perfectly happy to accept that Christianity was a clear reaction to Roman rule and local conditions, that it was a hybrid religion that sprang up, like many others, at that place and time, because of the social forces at work. While also believing that it is the revealed word of a perfect, universe-spanning changeless almighty god.

    Rather like the way that some people believe that the bible is a human work, full of contradictions and historical errors and moral horrors, and yet is still the revealed word of god.
    I don’t understand either attitude, but then I guess I don’t have to. Speaking personally, understanding that Christianity came from somewhere was a major point in my realization that it was strictly human-created – a major point in my abandonment of faith.

  72. 72
    Anri

    Guess what? I find the history plays of Shakespeare moving, inspiring, and instructive too! And guess what else? They’re probably mostly fiction, too! In fact, Shakespeare might not even have existed! We have no real evidence that he wasn’t Marlowe, or Bacon, or the Earl of Essex, or Elizabeth I in drag! In fact, the whole Shakespeare canon was probably faked by the Spanish as a revenge hoax for the defeat of the Armada! Shakespeare scholars have been living a lie! They have nothing, nothing! Ah, I must turn to Science for consolation in my hour of darkness.

    *smiles and shakes finger*
    You know better than that.
    Do I really have to point out why that’s a false equivalence?
    Ok, you’re kidding, I know.

  73. 73
    bradleybetts

    Christ, he even says “We are not saying that all extinct birds are identical to modern birds. That would be foolish.”

    Oh that would be foolish, wouldn’t it Ken? If they were different how did they get like they are today? How did they lose teeth and get beaks? How did they develop bony keels? How did they lose the digits at the end of their wings? Wouldn’t be that “E” word, would it?

    Or is this microevolution or something?

  74. 74
    Anri

    *Ahem* Ark, of course.

    It was… because of the AutoCorrect! Yeah yeah, that’s it! The AutoCorrect that’s totally on my spouse’s laptop. It is.

    …really.

  75. 75
    Pierce R. Butler

    Genius Loci @ # 68: Do you have a creditable source?

    For a good historical study of the “gospels”, you would do well to start with almost anything by Bart Ehrman – particularly Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the New Testament and Why and Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are.

    Also take a look at the books and blog posts of FTB’s own Richard Carrier.

  76. 76
    Howard Bannister

    So, on the question of ‘Can you fight Fire with Fire and engage creationists on the grounds of Theology,’ I feel qualified to answer the question. I grew up heavily indoctrinated in creationism. I was a fervent fundie for the first thirty years of my life.

    Only in the last year did I go through a slow, strange change… learning to engage my faculties. First I became critical of fundamentalism and the obvious anti-woman bias, and became a more liberal Christian. Then I became critical of the politics, and the anti-Other bias. Then the anti-Science bias. One little painful step at a time. (spoiler: by the end of that process I was an atheist, to the utter shock and amazement of nobody here)

    As I crept further and further away from where I had started, I discovered that I could no longer communicate with the people I knew and loved. Not even about theology.

    Because the minute you point out a contradiction or a place where they ignore the clear and plain words of the Bible, you become utterly INVISIBLE to them. Your words cease to have meaning, and they repeat back a memorized sound bite.

    Cognitive dissonance. To think about these things is painful to them. They have to push them out of the mind. They cannot grapple with these things.

    These days the only way I can talk to my family at all is to avoid any topic of conversation they want to talk about and any topic of conversation I want to talk about.

    So, y’know. Feel free to experiment with that. My own experience has been distinctly… unpromising.

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