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Aug 19 2013

You can tell when someone isn’t familiar with creationist cant

Darn it. For a brief moment, I thought there was a chance that Ken Ham had said one thing that was true and honest. RawStory is running this article, Creationist radio ad: Evolution cannot be debunked with reason, and Addicting Info echoes the sentiment, with Creationism Advocate Admits That Science Proves Evolution, But Says We Should Believe The Bible Anyway. They say Ken Ham has suggested this:

You cannot convince people that evolution is false with logic, according to the founder of the Creation Museum in Kentucky.

In a 60-second radio ad released Thursday, Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham admitted there was no scientific evidence that conclusively demonstrated that evolution was a lie.

They’ve completely misread his statement. What he actually said is familiar creationist dogma, and comes nowhere near their interpretation. Listen for yourself.

The hopeful rational websites are focusing on this statement:

We have solid proof in in our hands that evolution is a lie: the Bible. You see, we can’t depend solely on our reasoning ability to convince skeptics. We present the evidence and do the best we can to convince people the truth of God by always pointing them to the Bible.

It doesn’t say what they think it says. Notice the “solely”; creationists will claim that they are using their reason, even when they aren’t. Notice also that he says they “present the evidence”; they don’t, they ignore most of it and distort the rest, but they claim to be presenting scientific evidence to support their arguments.

What was also cut out of that particular quote was this little preamble: “Romans chapter 1 tells us that God has revealed himself in nature”. Ken Ham argues all the time that his view of nature and the physical evidence supports the claims of the Bible. He just also claims that the Bible itself is powerful evidence against evolution.

Look, I know that Ken Ham is an ignorant fool, and I know that his museum is a craptastical pile of lies and nonsense, but you will make no progress in an argument with creationists if you try to pull this misleading “gotcha” garbage and distort their words. Ken Ham did not say that “You cannot convince people that evolution is false with logic” — he firmly believes that the convoluted rationalizations he performs are logical (for years he’s been pushing this deadly dull book by Jason Lisle that claims to be a logical analysis of science, for instance).

He does not admit that “there was no scientific evidence that conclusively demonstrated that evolution was a lie”. Again, he is convinced otherwise. These non-scientists have deluded themselves thoroughly into believing that putting up a cast of some dinosaur bones and then saying that the animal died in the Flood means they have “scientific evidence” that evolution is false.

I’d love it if a creationist were to come right out and admit that the evidence kills creation and that they hold to their faith in spite of the evidence (one that I know of has done exactly that, Kurt Wise, but he’s an exception, and Ken Ham is no Kurt Wise). I do not think putting words in the mouths of creationists helps. I hate it when creationists twist our words (*cough*Ray Comfort*cough*), and I don’t appreciate it when people on my side twist their words. Deal with their arguments fairly, they’re easy enough to crush.

27 comments

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  1. 1
    Lars

    “they ignore most of [the evidence] and distort the rest”

    That about sums it up. Succinct.

  2. 2
    sonofrojblake

    Notice also that he says they “present the evidence”; they don’t,

    You mean… his personal testimony isn’t evidence?

  3. 3
    gshelley

    Doesn’t his Creationist museum have loads of huge posters saying evolution is what you get if you use reason and Creation what you get if you use the bible?

  4. 4
    oldgeezer

    @son of roj blake #2

    I suspect that you’re also mjolnirpants, if you’re going to post drivel, don’t continually use “The Mighty Thor” references in your monikers.

    What part of “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence!” don’t you understand?

  5. 5
    John Pieret

    gshelley @4:

    Doesn’t his Creationist museum have loads of huge posters saying evolution is what you get if you use reason and Creation what you get if you use the bible?

    Never overestimate the consistency of the YEC mind. They will happly spout presuppositionalism in one breath and tell you that science refutes evolution in the next. In fact, that is PZ’s point here.

  6. 6
    johnharshman

    I’d love it if a creationist were to come right out and admit that the evidence kills creation and that they hold to their faith in spite of the evidence (one that I know of has done exactly that, Kurt Wise, but he’s an exception, and Ken Ham is no Kurt Wise).

    I’m not sure that’s Wise’s position, exactly. He just counts the bible as evidence too, and such strong evidence that he picks it in cases of conflict. He agrees that in the absence of that biblical evidence the strongest hypothesis would be evolution.

    You also forget Todd Charles Wood, Wise’s former student, who has a similar position.

  7. 7
    oldgeezer

    oops, apologies, sonof…

    Your moniker is a Blakes 7 reference.

    But why choose the name of a fictional fighter for freedom? Is that how you see yourself? Do you think that Pharyngula are the corrupt “Federation”, and your man is the brave freedom fighter “Blake” being framed?

    Case 1: Creationism is patently loopy and there is a stack of evidence against it (it’s called science).

    Case 2: One person makes an accusation and you choose to support the accused rather than the accuser.

  8. 8
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @sonofrojblake

    Oh, fuck off. There are threads dealing with that subject; go there if you want to discuss it, rather than derailing this one.

  9. 9
    sonofrojblake

    @Thumper – it’s possible to “derail” a thread six WORDS long?

    why choose the name of a fictional fighter for freedom? Is that how you see yourself? Do you think that Pharyngula are the corrupt “Federation”, and your man is the brave freedom fighter “Blake” being framed?

    Um… no. I hate to interrupt your projection of persecution fantasies but
    (a) I do not support the accused. I don’t know the accused from a hole in the ground, so they are in no sense “my man”. I support the accusers and their right to have their accusation taken seriously, investigated and acted upon. (Also, unless there’ve been some withdrawals, your “Case 2″ is wrong – it’s not one person making the accusation. Keep up.)
    and
    (b) I didn’t “choose the name of a fictional fighter of freedom”. I see myself as the son of Roj Blake for the depressingly literal reason that my father’s name is Roger Blake and his friends called him Roj for at least a decade before that show ever came to air. That this allows me to make a geek reference in my screenname is a happy accident, nothing more.

  10. 10
    Rey Fox

    “Cant” is a funny word.

    And yes, you are derailing, Rog. Fuck off.

  11. 11
    moarscienceplz

    [Ken Ham] firmly believes that the convoluted rationalizations he performs are logical

    He does? He tells children that scientists think their grandparents looked like chimpanzees. Does he really think that’s true? I assumed that he’d convinced himself that atheism leads to anarchy and therefore that makes it OK to lie in order to get people to become xtians.

  12. 12
    ChristineRose

    I believe his stance is that the Bible is stronger evidence than, you know, reality, so that his duty is to find the least unlikely explanation for all the evidence. Like fossils came from the flood because that’s really the best thing they can think of.

    In that sense he’s a step past the old school creationists who claimed that the fossil layer suggested a flood, that all the hominid fossils were hoaxes, etc.

    He admits that the evidence is consistent with an old earth but claims that the best way to interpret it is to attempt to figure out how this stuff showed up on a young earth.

    He is stuck with a paradox here which is that he has to admit all the evidence is in fact real but he also has to tell his that it’s equivocal enough to be consistent with the Bible. Hence the speed of light changing, radioactive decay rates slowing down. He spends a lot of time talking about little oddities that don’t bother any scientists but never explains how the flood could have arranged all that dead stuff exactly as if they had evolved over time.

    I think it’s a fairly modern way of looking at it and it will be interesting to see if it outlives me.

  13. 13
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Rey Fox
    Amusingly, PZ is actually recreating an older form of the word (probably derived from chant or a French or Latin cognate), meaning the particular jargon of a specific religious sect. Latterly, it became a term for the slang of the underworld, and then expanded to a meaning akin to jargon.

    Sonofrojblake
    Take it elsewhere. Not this thread, not this blog, ideally not this planet.

  14. 14
    Bronze Dog

    With many Creationists, I’ve given up trying to sort out the ignorant, irrational, and/or liars. A lot dive into weird postmodernism to justify their claims and behaviors, which can be consistent with any of those categories. Frankly, I suspect a large chunk of them either reject or fail to understand the concept of objectivity, driven by motivated thinking and seeing nothing wrong with changing positions to match their changing motives.

    With faith involved, it’s never about proving themselves right, since that is made into a premise instead of a conclusion. For them, it’s about manipulating people into agreeing and advancing their objectives. It treats matters of fact like subjective preference and seeks to make their opinions more popular. In that mindset, many of them think lies, fallacies, and so forth are alright because there’s no need to justify a change to their subjective preference (and even then, they’ll demand the double standard that their opponents and apostates justify their beliefs or, more likely, a straw man of their beliefs). They don’t like science because they see it as raining on their “no wrong answers” epistemology by dividing factual claims into the categories of true, false, and untestable bullshit. They’ll pay lip service to the concept of truth, but it’s just another rhetorical technique to them.

  15. 15
    Sastra

    From what I can tell creationists are just using the same sort of reasoning all people of faith use when using religious faith. It’s not that there is an absence of evidence — on the contrary, there is an abundance of evidence! But you’re not going to see it, not going to appreciate it, until your mind is in the right place and your attitude is open. You need to approach the evidence willingly, without resisting the conclusion.

    Because, deep down, non-believers don’t want the conclusion to be true. That’s why it takes more than reason and intelligence.

    I see it with Young Earth Creationism, I see it with New Age — hell, I see it with alternative medicine and the Loch Ness monster. It’s a massive projection fallacy based on a story inside their heads. What if people who don’t draw the same conclusion as me are just like little kids who pretend they don’t hear their parent’s voice because they don’t want to have to come in and do chores? What if the skeptics are like people who clutch desperately at any straw they can, eager to avoid going where the evidence really goes because it doesn’t suit them, it doesn’t appeal to them, it doesn’t reflect their identity and show them as who they want to be?

    They’re afraid. If they change their minds, then they’re going to lose themselves … their arrogant, pig-headed, cold-hearted, close-minded self-absorbed egotistic egoistic selves … in order to become as open and free and loving as I am. Could be. Should be. Is.

    What if the people who DON’T use “faith” are actually acting like people who do — and the people who DO use “faith” are behaving like people who don’t?

    Hey, maybe it’s really Opposite World!

    That “leap of faith” is flexible. Sometimes it’s an amazing and unwarranted jump across all reason and evidence which is impelled by a love that passes all understanding. But most of the time — on the ground where they use it and not when employed as self-congratulatory rhetorical flourishes — it’s nothing more than that small little step of being honest even when the conclusion isn’t at first what you expected or wanted. Just being open. Biased in the right direction.

    Faith is a vice. For several meanings of the term “vice.” It clamps you down and gets you to accept the internal contradictions of Opposite World.

  16. 16
    Sastra

    .Bronze Dog #14 wrote:

    It treats matters of fact like subjective preference and seeks to make their opinions more popular.

    Yup — that’s what happens when something is a matter of faith. A correct conclusion on objective fact is going to be completely dependent on subjective preference. Bias and prejudice lead straight and true if they’re the right kind. It mixes up categories — as if facts behaved like values.

    It’s the opposite of the scientific approach, where the inner identity or hopes of the scientist isn’t supposed to be crucial (and ought to be irrelevant.) It would be like saying that the speed of light will have different measurements for different people under the exact same conditions: if you’ve secretly done something naughty or if you’re not a very nice person or if you expect the wrong answer or want another one, then it won’t work. You’ll GET the wrong answer because you were not worthy. The universe cares. And Monod’s Principle of Objectivity is shot to hell.

  17. 17
    sonofrojblake

    This post uses the word “evidence” no fewer than ten times. But apparently pointing out the variability in what it’s acceptable to regard as “evidence” is irrelevant and derailing, and I should fuck off to another planet.

    OK.

  18. 18
    believerskeptic

    Actually, I disagree with PZ when he says they don’t “present the evidence.” They do. They point at the Bible as their evidence.

    And do I rate this evidence, the Bible, particularly highly? No.

    But if a woman comes to me and says she was raped, I consider her word to be evidence too.

    And do I rate this evidence, her word, particularly highly? Yes.

    I’m not seeing what’s so hard about this.

  19. 19
    Alex the Pretty Good

    “Our Award Winning Website” … yeah … I don’t think they truly understood the idea behind the Golden Crocoduck or the Dim Bulb of the Week award.

  20. 20
    Acolyte of Sagan

    2.
    sonofrojblake
    19 August 2013 at 8:19 am (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    Notice also that he says they “present the evidence”; they don’t,

    You mean… his personal testimony isn’t evidence?

    What the feck is everybody’s problem with this? It’s obvious that he meant;

    *snark*You mean… his (Ham’s) personal testimony isn’t evidence?*snark*

  21. 21
    believerskeptic

    No, Acolyte. He was making an oblique reference to the Shermer thread.

  22. 22
    MetzO'Magic

    No, Acolyte. He was making an oblique reference to the Shermer thread.

    Ah. Now I get it too, thanks. I haven’t even been lurking here for quite a while. Lots of catching up to do…

  23. 23
    Acolyte of Sagan

    21.
    believerskeptic
    19 August 2013 at 2:24 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    No, Acolyte. He was making an oblique reference to the Shermer thread.

    Damn! I thought he was riffing on what passes for evidence in the minds (sic) of the religious.
    Mea culpa. Sorry.

  24. 24
    theignored

    In truth, I believe that it’s an honest mistake of those who think that Ham has admitted that he has no evidence…I don’t believe that they’re deliberately twisting his words. His statement is ambiguous enough that I could see where an optimistic person would believe that he’s admitted that his side has no evidence.

    I could be wrong.

    as an aside:
    I’ve dealt with Lisle and some of his flunkies before…Lisle doesn’t really get mixed up in it until page 4 really…a lot of the other stuff is presupp and “absolute morality” b.s. where one guy said that if god did order babies to be killed, it would be immoral to NOT do it because god is the absolute standard of good.

  25. 25
    kreativekaos

    Interesting about Kurt Wise. I thought I saw a video of him in Arizona, explaining the ‘evidence’ for ‘The Flood.’
    I have heard Dawkins explain Wise’s choice in the face of the evidence as presented to him via his collegiate training, but it doesn’t seem to me that he’s accepting his position on faith alone if he’s still pumping ‘evidence’ for The Flood.

  26. 26
    johnharshman

    …but it doesn’t seem to me that he’s [Kurt Wise] accepting his position on faith alone if he’s still pumping ‘evidence’ for The Flood.

    Exactly. He accepts the bible as the strongest possible evidence, outweighing any evidence against the flood. A matter of epistemology, really. Thus any empirical data that can conceivably be interpreted as compatible with a flood must be accepted and interpreted that way, and other empirical data must be considered anomalous but not probative.

  27. 27
    anuran

    Dang. I was about to preach that the End Times were upon us. The Angel had opened at least the Fourth Seal. And Ken Ham had told the truth.

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