More Zany Young Earth Creationism

| 62 Comments

Many readers and posters to PT are well versed in the sheer zaniness of Young Earth Creationism. But even after reading YEC literature for over 10 years, every now and then I’ll come across something that makes me burst out laughing and saying to myself, “No, these guys cannot be serious.”

You really have to exercise some pretzel logic (just to work in a reference to a pretty cool Steely Dan album) to buy into a 6,000 year old earth, and a boat floating around for about a year with 16,000 animals taken care of by 8 people.

A perfect example of this double-jointed mind game came to me in an email from AiG a few days ago containing a link to a PDF pamphlet penned by Ken Ham, AiG’s President. (http://www.answersingenesis.org/Hom[…]ahsflood.pdf)

Aside from offering a series of sheerly absurd explanations of how they fit that many animals on board (they took babies), fed them all (a lot of them hibernated, so they didn’t eat), ventilated the ark (without smelling like their heads were shoved into a gorilla’s armpit), and shoveled up all the poop (probably done by undocumented workers, hence not mentioned in Genesis for tax purposes), Ham also wrote a short section regarding the building of the Ark.

On page 4 under the heading “How could Noah Build the Ark,” we read that “there is no reason to believe that they could not [Noah and his sons]… build the Ark between themselves in just a few years.”

Okay, let’s see how…

First we learn that “[t]he physical strength and mental processes of men in Noah’s day was at least as great (quite likely even superior) to our own.” So Noah was stronger and smarter than us, although no physical evidence is offered in support of this claim.

Now things start to get truly loopy.

“if one or two men today can erect a large house in just 12 weeks, how much more could three or four men do in a few years?” Um… three or four men with bulldozers, forklifts, cement mixers and nail guns, or burlap-clad ancients with a mule and a few hammers?

Ah, but wait. AiG has the answer! “…their tools, machines and techniques were not inferior to the ones we have today.” (The sound you just heard was your own eyes snapping open to the size of dinner plates.)

So Noah & Sons had electricity? Internal combustion engines? Lasers and all the other tools we use today? Where is the physical evidence of this?

The truly ironic thing about this is how closely it mimics claims I’ve heard Kent Hovind make in presentations he gave at UC Berkeley during my time in the Bay Area. Hovind once showed a Power Point slide of a clay or stone carving resembling a birdlike thing, and claimed that ancient civilizations may have had aircraft.

I say ironic because AiG regards Hovind as one of those “one-man band” creationists who go around the country spouting “evidences” for creationism so absurd that AiG felt compelled to publish a section on their web page urging supporters to stop using them and making the whole movement about as credible as perpetual motion, alchemy, and Jayson Blair.

The exchange between Hovind and AiG was so entertaining it reminded me of Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd doing their Point-Counterpoint bit on the old SNL. I was just waiting for Ham to say, “Kent, you ignorant slut!”

The tract goes even further than just claiming stronger, smarter and better-equipped Ark builders. Subject your sense of reason to this little dandy.

“It is evident from examining the ‘mysteries’ of earlier civilizations that the human race has likely lost just as much (maybe even more) knowledge from before the Flood as it has gained since that time. The idea that ancient generations were more primitive than ours is an evolutionary concept.” (Italics in the original)

Well, I guess if you think Kent Hovind, Leonard Nimoy and Erich von Däniken are authorities on human history, this might make sense. However, if you’ll put the bottle down and take a sober look at real archaeological evidence… um… no.

In the last couple of centuries alone we’ve seen the industrial and information revolutions. We’ve seen the development of aircraft and space travel. Humans have built telescopes that peer to the edges of the universe. We’ve made astonishing medical breakthroughs, and more are certainly in the future. The list could literally go on for miles!

What possible physical evidence does AiG have that any of this stuff existed in a pre-Flood world? Should we be digging in the lower sedimentary layers of the Grand Canyon looking for iPods?

Mozart, Einstein, Dr. Martin Luther King, Ernest Hemingway, Leonardo da Vinci, The B-52s, French Impressionism, Shakespeare…

(If you question the inclusion of The B-52s in the above list you’ve obviously never heard Planet Claire.)

Well, I guess there is one way to see history through AiG’s lens. Just say, “Dude, pass the bong over here.”

62 Comments

What’s Leonard Nimoy have to do with this?

I think that Jared Diamond in _Guns, Germs and Steel_ makes short work of this. He is very quick to point out that “primitive” folks are every bit as smart - or smarter - than we are in developed countries, but they do/did not have the technology.

Does Ham give any clue as what these “mysteries” are?

The Coso artifact maybe?

Leonard Nimoy used to host a TV show called Ancient Mysteries that made a lot of silly claims about advanced technologies possessed by ancient civilizations and other nonsense.

Planet Clair? Rock Lobster? Love Shack - that’s where it’s at!

BTW, we shouldn’t forget Nimoy’s sterling work on In Search Of …

Pretzel Logic is one of the best albums of the 70s, on that we agree.

But, although in a very twisted way, Ham is right about one thing - the idea that earlier equals primitive (in the vernacular sense) is an evolutionary noton indeed. In fact, it is prior to Darwin - it is a Lamarckian evolutionary idea. Darwin had no trouble accepting that sometimes later equals less complex or developed. He applied this to his much loved and hated barnacles when he identified vestigial males in some species, after all.

Darwinian evolution allows that things can get worse as well as better. And science and society are, in my opinions, the result of darwinian evolutionary processes. Science in the past 300 years is the technical equivalent of a Cambrian explosion - rapid diversification based on an evolutionary novelty - where it is posited that the Cambrian is due to the evolution of sight or armour, science and technology evolved based on the evolutionary novelites of publishing and experimental testing.

This may, or may not, continue, but one thing is clear - ancient societies were not technologically advanced as we are, and largely this is because they didn’t have any means of publishing their results. When one technologist developed something, it was not passed on beyond the family most of the time. Science evolved when the medieval guild tradition opened up and results were shared.

But then Nimoy somewhat redeemed himself by appearing in the Simpsons stating: “Hello. I’m Leonard Nimoy. The following tale of alien encounters is true. And by true, I mean false. It’s all lies. But they’re entertaining lies. And in the end, isn’t that the real truth? The answer is: No.”

Intelligent Design: See the glory of …The Royal Scam

Creationism: The weekend at the college Didn’t turn out like you planned The things that pass for knowledge I can’t understand

YEC: Those days are gone forever, over a long time ago, oh yeah

Don´t forget the B-52´s´ contribution to

Astronomy: There is a moon in the sky (called the Moon) Paleontology: Rock Lobster (see post #50975) Chemistry: Hot pants explosion Biology: Big Bird / Junebug Physics: Strobe light Sociology: Channel Z Religion: Devil in my car Cooking: Quiche Lorraine Space Travel: 53 miles west from Venus Archeology: Mesopotamia

Any major dude will tell ya Ham has apparently been reading Chariots of the Gods before bed.

It does sound like Dembski could be onto something about space alien designers. They could have put a force field around the Ark to keep it together and they could have put all the animals in stasis so Noah wouldn’t have to bother with all the mess. Would space aliens use a flood to sterilize the planet and start over? Beaming up what you want to save and hitting the earth with a big rock would seem to be more practical, and we even have evidence that big rocks hit the earth from time to time and the biosphere did take quite a beating. Would Genesis survive a space alien assertion?

Well, I guess there is one way to see history through AiG’s lens. Just say, “Dude, pass the bong over here.”

Hold on just a second there. Maybe it’s same mushrooms that produced the book of Revelations, but in all my life smoking pot, I’ve never come up with the level of stupid you just laid into. That’s not pot stupid, it goes way beyond ganja-induced idiocy (plus, cheetos would have been mentioned had the bong been in use).

I love this piece of vapid special pleading:

“As Woodmorappe points out, no special devices were needed for eight people to care for 16,000 animals. But if they existed, how would these devices be powered? There are all sorts of possibilities. How about by gravity? Wind? And the motions of the Ark? Who knows what technology Noah had available to him.”

This is not ‘bong’ logic. This is ‘anox at birth’ logic.

C’mon, now, we all know the ancient people had advanced technology, and the proof is: The Flintstones cartoons on television!

Hey, a Steely Dan inspired anti-creationist thread? I can play, too…

Creationists, in general: You tell yourself you’re not my kind Gonna let the world pass by me, the Archbishop gonna sanctify me

Where did they get such a ridiculously low figure of 16,000 animals? Do they claim that all the others were able to bob around in the ocean and didn’t need to be on the boat?

Plus, strictly speaking, ‘16,000 animals on the ark’ means just 8,000 species, no?

Oh, BTW:

Hovind once showed a Power Point slide of a clay or stone carving resembling a birdlike thing, and claimed that ancient civilizations may have had aircraft.

This is the truly breathtaking thing about the YEC mindset. They consider all the archaeoogical and geological evidence of a billions-of-years-old earth completely unconvincing, and yet they’re totally open to ‘ancient civilizations’ having airplanes.

Plus, strictly speaking, ‘16,000 animals on the ark’ means just 8,000 species, no?

Species? Gak! Get with the program, man, we’re talking about kinds!

Species? Gak! Get with the program, man, we’re talking about kinds!

Hmmm… does ‘kind’ fall somewhere between ‘family’ and ‘genus’?

Or does this all have to be done in the original Hebrew?

If the Flood were only local, how could the waters rise to 20 feet above the mountains (Gen. 7:20)? Water seeks its own level. It could not rise to cover the local mountains while leaving the rest of the world untouched.

I guess Ham has identified a limit to God’s power. Who knew that God could do all those other things, but not this?

Hovind once showed a Power Point slide of a clay or stone carving resembling a birdlike thing, and claimed that ancient civilizations may have had aircraft.

Note the illustration on page 15. Clearly Noah & Sons Construction used pterodactyls to do heavy lifting.

John Wilkins Wrote:

This may, or may not, continue, but one thing is clear - ancient societies were not technologically advanced as we are, and largely this is because they didn’t have any means of publishing their results. When one technologist developed something, it was not passed on beyond the family most of the time. Science evolved when the medieval guild tradition opened up and results were shared.

Limited communications is one factor, but a larger one was probably cheap (often forced) labor. M. I. Finley remarks on this in The Ancient Economy: slave societies like ancient Greece and Rome had little incentive to come up with labor-saving devices, especially with a rentier mentality. The rapid spread of water- and wind-powered mills in medieval Europe, or the quick dissemination of mechanical clocks in the fourteenth century, show how technologies could be quickly communicated before print, scientific journals, and other modern means of communication, if people had reason to do so. For that matter, gunpowder weapons are another great example. Guild mentalities (a.k.a. protection of trade secrets, a familiar part of the modern world!) could be overcome with sufficiently large bribes. (Good reads: Jean Gimpel, The Medieval Machine, and Gerhard Dohrn-van Rossum, The History of the Hour.)

The whole idea of progress, by the way, emerged out of the seventeenth-century Scientific Revolution (though it had some 16th-century antecedents) and predates any developed theory of biological evolution. It succeeded the Renaissance notion that the summit of human achievement had been classical antiquity, and that humans should try to emulate the ancients.

Just an historical note: the idea that antediluvian humanity was superior to us was a common one for centuries in pre-Enlightenment Europe. The reasoning went like this: Adam, before the fall, had perfect knowledge. After the fall, man’s knowledge of the world began to deteriorate and has reached a pitiful state. This in part was the reason why medieval natural philosophers and physicians did not bother to do original experiments and make original observations of their own. Instead, they trusted Aristotle, Galen, and other Greek writers, because these ancient writers lived so long ago, and were that much more intelligent. Realizing that this was not necessarily so made the scientific revolution possible.

Good reads: Jean Gimpel, The Medieval Machine

I love that book. The factual information content is high, and it’s a very readable bit of scholarly history. But the thesis, roughly that the present-day industrialized West had reached a technological plateau, was about as poorly timed as an idea can be: 1976, just years before the PC revolution and the dawn of the “Information Age”.

There’s a passage in the conclusion that’s almost painful to read, when you know what’s right around the corner.

We must remember in reading this that Kenneth Ham has an undisclosed conflict of interest in this case. According to the infallible Genesis 9:22-25, after a certain breach of family values by his direct ancestor, his entire line - no exceptions recorded for Ken - have been under a permanent curse (and who could doubt that the efficacy of the immediate post-diluvian period was more potent than that of today?).

There’s a passage in the conclusion that’s almost painful to read, when you know what’s right around the corner.

Can you share it, for those of us who don’t own the book?

Was this another Francis Fukuyama moment, where an imprudent historian declared that since everything was perfect nothing big was ever going to happen again?

Can you share it, for those of us who don’t own the book?

Was this another Francis Fukuyama moment, where an imprudent historian declared that since everything was perfect nothing big was ever going to happen again?

I’d like to share, but I don’t have my copy to hand. If there’s still discussion this evening on or near the topic, I’ll put it up.

It’s more an attempt to make a parallel between the end of the era he’s discussing (the late middle ages) and the stagnating economies and energy crises of the Seventies. He confidently (and, yes, imprudently) asserts that no new major technologies can be expected to arrest the slow decline of civilization.

I’m with MAJeff: Ham and Hovind are way dimmer than the dimmest bong-head! At least–back in the day, heh heh–when we were sitting around smoking and elaborating amusingly ridiculous scenarios, we retained some vague concept that the vast majority of these Mind-Shattering New Concepts should Not Be Tried At Home!

Or, even if that crucial caveat eluded us at the time, we generally recalled it later–once we regained our capacity for independent movement–before doing something Really Prejudicially Stupid.

Thus, this key ability to discriminate between (literal) pipedreams and valid brainstorms is one that most (surviving) bong-heads seem to have, and one which–for all the reasons we have aired here before–dyed-in-the-wool boneheads like Ham and Hovind lack.

So, semi-seriously, let’s not unnecessarily constrict our “Big Tent” to leave our substance-sampling brethren on the outside for the mere sake of taking a free poke at the YEC-a-toids.

There are a lot of oral traditions from before the bible that never got written down into the bible. Like the story of Lilith. So there may well be an oral tradition of mechanistic inventions from before Noah’s time that none of us know about but has gotten itself handed down for many centuries to this one Ken Ham person. Thus he, and he alone, could have the truth about the technologies used for the Ark. Either that or he’s making it up.

Maybe he can also tell us about where the bricks from the Tower of Babel landed when it was destroyed. I’ve always wanted to know.

a modest experiment

Here’s one example: more than 200 species of dogs exist today, from the miniature poodle to the St. Bernard — all of which have descended from one original dog “kind.” All other types of animals — cat kind, horse kind, cow kind, etc. — have similarly been naturally and selectively bred to achieve the wonderful variation in species that we have today. God “programmed” this variety into the genetic code of all animal kinds — even human kind! God also made it impossible for the basic “kinds” of animals to breed and reproduce with each other. For example, cats and dogs cannot breed to make a new type of creature. This is by God’s design, and it is one fact that makes evolution impossible.

I’m new to this game, so someone will have to explain the rules to me. New species can develop over time through natural and selective breeding. But it is different species cannot cross-breed. Ergo, evolution is impossible. Did I miss something?

Well, I take pride in the fact that my post at least demonstrated one more group that does not wish to be associated with creationists: stoners.

And who could blame them?

“I say ironic because AiG regards Hovind as one of those “one-man band” creationists who go around the country spouting “evidences” for creationism so absurd that AiG felt compelled to publish a section on their web page urging supporters to stop using them and making the whole movement about as credible as perpetual motion, alchemy, and Jayson Blair.”

Whose Jason Blair?

Obviously, Noah killed two birds (presumably unclean ones) with one stone: he built a fuel cell fed with animal dung.

What seems especially silly is trying to explain the building of the ark in terms of human capabilities - albeit capabilities enhanced by Atlantis or whatever - when it’s only necessary to say it was a miracle. If nothing else less maths is required.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Skip published on October 4, 2005 10:11 PM.

Cardinal backs evolution and “intelligent design” was the previous entry in this blog.

The Pseudo-Science Amicus Brief in Kitzmiller is the next entry in this blog.

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