Would you believe some creationists think humans are not animals?


Of course you would, because you know creationists believe a lot of stupid things. I decided to answer on of their sillier assertions.

Comments

  1. microraptor says

    Yes, it’s the kind of show that’s 100% kid appropriate yet has enough higher-level humor in it that parents (or adults without kids) can enjoy it as well.

  2. microraptor says

    I’ve had a few creationists try to pull the “I’m not an animal” on me. I always ask them if they’re a vegetable or a mineral.

  3. chrislawson says

    microraptor@3:

    To be fair, the creationist could also be a bacterium, archean, protist or fungus.

  4. unclefrogy says

    well at least 50% fungus and or bacterium, maybe a simple blend of each in varying proportions depending on the variety?
    uncle frogy

  5. Nekomancer says

    Well, if they’re mineral they’re certainly not gems! And they are definitely neither precious or semi-precious, as cloying as they are in general.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    If they are golem or trolls, that would make them silicaceous lifeforms. I am not sure what domain of life that would be.
    — — — — — — — — —
    Krynoids? Triffids? At least those are carbon-based, but I suspect they would need more mitochondria than chloroplasts to move around between churches. And aren’t both man-eaters?

  7. birgerjohansson says

    They are self-replicating replicants! Their kind hitched back in time with The Doctor, when he was done fighting the Krynoids.

  8. rietpluim says

    Perhaps I misunderstood the argument, but did this guy really argue that lions aren’t capable of reason and logic because they cannot decide to become a horse?

    So far for reason and logic…

  9. mikehuben says

    Yes, that was a Gish Gallop: it’s good to identify this most common form of argument frequently to train new readers. And the focus on one point is the correct way to address a Gallop: that or ignore it and just present your side (in more formal debates.)

    But PZ, you missed his real argument about humans not being animals. To many creationists, they are not animals because the animals were created on a different day and humans were created in God’s image. This aligns nicely with a very common (to many cultures and religions) folk taxonomy of humans versus the other animals. Folk taxonomy is the key term here: there are many pre-scientific folk classifications and pseudo-explanations such as {earth, air, fire, water}, {animal, vegetable, mineral} and so on. Not to mention creationist “kinds”.

    That said, your Linnaean argument is only crushing if they are open to non-literalist interpretations, as was Linnaeus. Literalists “know” from Genesis that we are different. So chances are that this guy will not care about your argument, and rebut it with his interpretation of the Bible.

    If you’d like to see how really weird classifications could be, look here. It’s part of my ever-growing “Fallacies Of Philosophy”> page.

  10. John Morales says

    mikehuben:

    But PZ, you missed his real argument about humans not being animals. To many creationists, they are not animals because the animals were created on a different day and humans were created in God’s image. This aligns nicely with a very common (to many cultures and religions) folk taxonomy of humans versus the other animals. Folk taxonomy is the key term here: there are many pre-scientific folk classifications and pseudo-explanations such as {earth, air, fire, water}, {animal, vegetable, mineral} and so on. Not to mention creationist “kinds”.

    The actual creationist term is ‘baramins’.

    And PZ didn’t miss the “real argument” — the initial claim was that PZ was wrong about multiple things one of which is biology; PZ asked for any given thing about biology about which he was wrong, and was told that humans aren’t animals as a thing about biology which PZ had gotten wrong. The claim was not about folk taxonomy, it was about biology.

    (And I’m pretty sure PZ knows a lot more about creationist claims than I do — he was actively engaged on the topic even back in Usenet days)

    Most Christians have no problem with biology; their distinction is that humans are qualitatively different because they have souls whereas animals do not (the USA is an outlier).

  11. mikehuben says

    John: Thanks for refreshing us on the term baramins: I tried to remember it, but couldn’t.

    But I disagree about the meaning of biology to these creationists. To them, the bible is the primary source of knowledge, trumping all others, including about biology. Thus, they would think PZ is grossly wrong, and that their folk classification is biology.

    You are also right about their ideas of souls being distinctive. That adds a third reason for them to think the folk classification of humans versus animals is valid.

  12. emergence says

    What classifies an organism as being an animal is not the presence of absence of rational thought. Organisms are classified as animals due to shared characteristics of their cells, tissues, and body structures. “Animal” is not synonymous with “soulless wild beast”. Humans have animal cells. We have the distinctive set of organelles, proteins, and intercellular connections that define cells as belonging to an animal. To be more taxonomically specific, we also develop as deuterostomes, we have a chordate body structure, we have bones, including a spinal column, which classifies us as vertebrates, we’re gnathostomes because we have jaws and teeth, we’re tetrapods because we have four jointed appendages, we’re mammals because we maintain a stable body temperature, have hair, and nurse our young, and yes, due to numerous features like the structure of our hands, feet, skull, and many other features, we classify as apes. Having complex reasoning, tool-using, and communication skills isn’t sufficient to place us in a different kingdom of life.

  13. davidrichardson says

    @mikehuben #17
    I know what you mean … I worked in Kuwait in 1983-4 teaching members of the Kuwaiti armed forces English. We often finished the day with a video (usually old RAF videos about survival in the desert). One day I showed some Kuwaiti Air Force pilots a film of the moon landing in 1969. I heard tuts and mumbled ‘harams’, so I quickly switched the film off (‘haram’ is really ‘blasphemous’, so there was something in the film that attacked their religion – in their eyes). It turned out that somewhere in the Koran it says “A man may no more do [X] than he may walk on the moon” … so the moon landing never happened … Christians are like this too.

  14. Dark Jaguar says

    My big issue with this with those who say that is it’s ONLY the label “animal” they have a problem with, that specific grouping.

    None of them have a problem with being called a “vertebrate”, or “warm blooded”, and in most contexts are fine being called mammals. That’s just science, they will happily admit, and those words are just methods of categorization. Well, okay, maybe it’s because those terms are more specific. Nope, they are perfectly fine being called a “creature” too, or a “life form” if you want a term that doesn’t imply creation. That’s the broadest term possible, including everything animals does and far more.

    So what is it about that specific word?

    It’s the same way with christians that hate the word “magic”. Supernatural? Sure, fine. “Miracles”? Yeah that works. Admitting that using godly powers is essentially rewriting the laws of reality, which is pretty much the definition of magic? They’ll do that too. It’s the word ITSELF they take issue with.

    There’s an obsession with the word more than the thing it represents to them. I’ve been in conversations where a parent will yell at their kid never to say “oh I died” when playing a video game, because The Word is The Law, and they invite their own death uttering it, even though the kid is literally just using a metaphor to describe the losing condition of the game they are playing. It makes a sort of sense, since Christianity has always been obsessed with language and refer to god as “The Word” very often, but it’s frustrating since this obsession with individual words makes having any actual debate almost impossible. It’s why they obsess over “the definition of marriage” (as though the word itself actually matters), or why scientists have to constantly find new terms to refer to global warming, finding that people will agree that it’s happening so long as it’s called anything other than global warming or climate change.

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