I expressed myself about Genesis: Paradise Lost

In case you don’t want to listen to a whole half hour of this, here’s my concluding statement:

Look. I’m an atheist. This stuff plays directly into my hands — if your religion demands that every statement in your holy book must be absolutely, inarguably true, and that your entire faith hinges on a complete lack of metaphor, poetry, allusion, and analogy in that book — that it is as dry and literal and factual as a table of measures in an engineering text — then I’ve got you. I am going to win over your children to my side, and you know it.

As an atheist, I’m often told that I don’t understand your religion. But I do. I understand it better than the fanatical literalists, anyway. Religion has a long history of struggling to reconcile reality and belief, to find humanity’s place in a largely unknown and complex and frequently hostile universe. If there is any saving grace in faith at all, it is that it is an attempt to find a rock of certainty in the unpredictable chaos of life — it is aspirational, a search for truth. As such, religion changes over time. It evolves.

Where it fails is when people like Ham and the Hovinds give up on the search and the struggle and decide that they have an absolute lock on an irrevocable and ultimate truth, one that will no longer bend to the evidence, that will no longer care about the nature of reality, but only the nature of one antique interpretation of the words of a book. They will not change any more. They will cling stubbornly to this one unmoving stone of dogma, and they will insist that everything else is wrong. They will close their eyes and grasp tighter and tighter to that one illusion of certainty as it crumbles around them. By refusing to bend, they commit themselves to someday breaking.

The movie goes on like this for another hour and a half: more tiresome and tired old creationist arguments interspersed with brief episodes of bad CGI accompanied by a slow, lugubrious voice of god. It ends with another 10 or 15 minutes of fast cuts between their cast members, all testifying and preachifying about the glory of god and how lovely Jesus makes them feel.

It just makes me terribly sad. These are lost minds committed to battling against the real world.


  1. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    I “love” the statement that when purpose isn’t imposed then there is no purpose.
    Substitute “value” for “purpose” also
    Purpose and value are created by the people wanting them, and not artifacts handed down upon them.

  2. microraptor says

    slithey tove @1:

    It’s like listening to teenagers discovering nihilism for the first time.

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    slithey tove @ 1

    And what “purpose” do these geniuses often claim that their deity provides us? Why, to mindlessly obey and worship that deity. How convenient, eh?

  4. emergence says

    I’ve been thinking something about arguing with creationists. I think the reason why some creationist arguments can persist for so long is because scientists who address them don’t go into enough detail. I’m thinking that it might be harder for creationists to wriggle out of criticisms of their ideas if scientists went into the actual equations behind the principles that they’re talking about and gave detailed descriptions of how the processes that they discuss work.

  5. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Emergence, after many arguments with theists, the problem is isn’t evidence, it is presuppositional thinking that allows them to ignore any evidence that refutes their presuppositions. If one doesn’t presuppose an imaginary deity, there is absolutely no need for that imaginary deity except to fulfill their delusional presuppositions. They can’t except they are thinking about imaginary things.

  6. emergence says

    I’m just trying to think of any strategy I can to get creationists to finally drop stupid arguments that they’ve repeated ad nauseam.

    Just as an example, what if a population geneticist calculated out the required mutation rate for every species in a particular family to have branched off from each other in less than a couple thousand years? I’m fairly certain that the rate of speciation required for the ark story to work would actually require stuff like tigers giving birth to panthers and stuff like that. This “created kind” horseshit might be more difficult to defend if you show that it’s impossible with hard numbers.

    Really though, I just want to make at least some sort of headway in the battle against creationist idiocy. I hate how arguments with creationists drag on and on, and then end up repeating themselves. If what we’re doing now isn’t working, then we should try something else to try to get through to them.

  7. John Morales says


    If what we’re doing now isn’t working, then we should try something else to try to get through to them.

    As Nerd noted, facts ain’t relevant to them, and attempting to confront them on their own terms is also problematic. I like your attitude, but alas your naivety is apparent to me. I do encourage you to hang in there, though.

    (Of course what you suggest has already been tried, for decades even — check out “Panda’s Thumb”, for example.)

  8. emergence says

    So, what should we do? Do we try to win people over before creationist horseshit can take root in their brains and just let people like Ken Ham die off?

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    emergence @ # 8: … any strategy I can to get creationists to finally drop stupid arguments that they’ve repeated ad nauseam.

    Try hitting them with topics they themselves don’t bring up. F’rinstance, few will have an argument prepared for a discussion of why, among all mammals, only chimpanzees and humans can’t synthesize their own vitamin C – and why the defective gene in question occurs in the same place in both species’ DNA.

    I wish you luck – even while agreeing with Nerd of Redhead & John Morales that you’ve set yourself a steep uphill swim. Tactical advice: don’t bother trying to persuade your debate partner(s), just do what you can to discredit them in the minds of your audience. And study the videos of Aron Ra.

  10. Ichthyic says

    I think the reason why some creationist arguments can persist for so long is because scientists who address them don’t go into enough detail.

    nope. it maintains itself purely through authoritarianism and peer pressure.

    that’s it.

    there is literally NOTHING a scientists can do via presenting just evidence to change this.

    the authoritarian personality itself is what must be addressed, exactly like dealing with someone suffering from extreme Narcissist Personality Disorder.

    until we get to that level, where we both recognize and accept that the psychological differences between us are real, and have impact, then nothing will really change.

    end of.

  11. Artor says

    Emergence, the only thing you can really do is point and laugh. When they drop a zinger, let them know how fucking ridiculous their ignorant bullshit is.

  12. blf says

    If part 1 is “Paradise Lost” will part 2 be “Paradise Regained?”

    Giggles ! From the site, which I won’t link to:

    When are you planning to release GENESIS Part 2?

    We will be working on the next part of the Genesis series as God provides the funds for production. We look forward to sharing with you what God has in store as we move forward.

    Translation: If this scam makes enough money, we’ll try it again.

  13. blf says

    Sort-of related, The Earth may not be flat, but it just might be doomed:

    A rise in the belief that scientists are lying about the planet being spherical is just one aspect of an internet-fuelled, progress-threatening suspicion of facts

    Nobody likes this uncomfortable feeling of being this tiny ball flying through space, Mark Sargent, who believes that the world is flat, told the BBC the other day. I thought that was a revealing statement. I mean, don’t they? Personally, I don’t mind it. In fact, I’m not sure you can really feel it at all. […]


    But what do I know (other than that the world is round)? Mark Sargent has 43,415 subscribers to his “Flat Earth” YouTube channel.


    Sargent was being interviewed at the first annual Flat Earth International Conference, held just over a week ago in North Carolina, as part of a light-hearted little BBC website package on the subject. “Let’s take a wry look at this tiny subculture of harmless eccentrics,” was the tone. “Why do people still think the Earth is flat?” was the title.

    The answer seemed to be that they just used their gut instinct and common sense: it looks flat […] so it must be. Marilyn Teed, who’d travelled to the conference from Pennsylvania (presumably without the help of GPS), explained how she knew: I went down to the seashore, down New Jersey, and I did my own testing… you take a straight edge and you go from one end and you follow the horizon of the ocean and… it’s flat.

    Assuming no access to information other than the evidence of her own eyes, that’s a perfectly reasonable conclusion. You’d need to either have an instinctive genius for astronomy, or be as obsessively drawn to spheres as Mark Sargent is repelled by them, to stand on a bit of the world and decide it seems flat only because it’s actually a tiny, imperceptibly curved part of an unimaginably massive ball. But, in fact, she has had access to other information. As part of her research, she says she’s watched over 50 hours of video. Mainly adaptations of Terry Pratchett books, presumably.

    [… T]he conference’s website puts it: Like you, we grew up believing in a heliocentric globe-Earth model, (translation: spherical Earth orbiting sun — like in, say, reality) but After extensive experimentation, analysis, and research, we have come to know that the truth of our cosmology is not that which we’ve been told. It also states chillingly that every experiment ever conducted to prove even the simple spin of the Earth has failed.

    I’m very curious just how these übereejits explain the Foucault pendulum. However, I will strap additional pillows to my forehead before going into that sinkhole.

    That’s not true. What extensive experimentation? People have been up in a bloody rocket, looked out the window and seen that the Earth is round. […]

    I don’t really think significant numbers are going to start doubting the Earth’s shape. What worries me is how, in this bewildering internet age, every fact, however apparently undeniable, has the potential to become a subject for debate. […]

    On the Foucault pendulum question, the Flat Earth Loons have a page (which I won’t link to), Foucault’s Pendulum actually proves a Stationary Earth! The quality of the reasoning there can be deduced from the initial comment, which reads, in its entity (referring to five claims made):

    1. You made something up to match what is observed. This proves nothing.
    2. Tell that to gyroscopes.
    3. Nope. Already been covered.
    4. Nonsense.
    5. Nonsensical run on sentence.

    A different site, which I also won’t link to, babbled on for a bit and then, finally, claimed (I’ve added the embedded link):

    […] Everyone knows that the gravitational pull of the Moon is the cause of our ocean tides. Geocentrists generally believe that the stars all rotate in a kind of shell of which Polaris is virtually the centre. Just as the Moon causes a gravitational pull on our tides, this massive rotating ‘shell’ as well as the Moon and Sun causes what is foolishly mistaken for the rotation of the Earth.

    Touching on this area Maurice Allais discovered what is now termed the allais effect. Allais made two meticulous studies of pendulum behaviour during the 1950s, and repeatedly found that pendulums altered their swing by several degrees during solar eclipses. Of course this did not fit in with the sun worshippers imagined view of things and although the phenomena still persists, they like to pretend that it doesn’t!

    Ow ! I need yet moar pillows…

  14. Ichthyic says

    Assuming no access to information other than the evidence of her own eyes, that’s a perfectly reasonable conclusion.

    why, you can say the same thing about nearly EVERY FUCKING THING IN SCIENCE.

    fuck me, this is an incredibly stupid thing to say.

    it IS NOT reasonable, BECAUSE we have access to information, period.

    that’s the whole fucking point.