Ham-Fisted Rhetoric Over at Answers in Genesis

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Ken Ham, AiG’s President and coauthor Mark Looy, lead off today’s daily devotional on their web site claiming that “[e]volutionary scientists throughout America are running scared.” Even to the most casual of readers, this has got to be one of the most obviously desperately penned quips from America’s leading “Humans Plowing Their Fields Behind Dinosaurs” advocate yet.

On the heels of the catastrophic defeat in Dover, and now the domino of Ohio tumbling down, creationists from AiG to the Discovery Institute are pounding their word processors with a fury not seen since what’s-his-name broke up with what’s-her-name. I mean, this is big news!

Unfortunately for the Hamster and his fellow travelers in the anti-evo crowd, their slips are showing, and it’s not a pretty sight.

You’ve got to hand it to Ham, though, for toeing the party line in adverse circumstances. It’s tough to find any piece on their web site that doesn’t describe anyone who doesn’t share their theology as “secular humanists,” and this dribble down the chin is no exception. “The secular humanists here [Ohio] and in other states don’t want students to even know that there is observational evidence in science that totally contradicts molecules-to-man evolution.”

Really, Ken? And just where has this evidence been published? Science? Nature? Or in those little books you sell at churches with pictures of Adam patting a dinosaur on the head? Yeah, we’re supposed to read that and brush off over one hundred years of real science.

With these defeats, and the ones we know are coming, creationists are getting really desperate, and it’s getting embarrassing for them. Ken has to reach way back in the book of standard claims for this one: “If students in public schools are being taught that the origin of the universe, life, human beings, etc., can all be explained on the basis of natural processes, these young people are being taught the religion of naturalism—of atheism!”

Okay, so what we should do is stop attempting to understand how nature works, because faith should be based on ignorance. Am I on the right track, Ken? If I reject Newton and claim the planets are pushed in their orbits by angels am I better Christian? Am I closer to God if I go to a faith healer the next time I get sick? After all, the germ theory is a nothing more than an atheistic explanation of disease.

Ham calls the currently accepted definition of science “an arbitrary definition created by secularists.” There he goes again. Never mind all those scientists who go to church each Sunday, professing the full spectrum of the diverse faith here in America: they don’t believe what Ken believes, so they aren’t real Christians.

I like the closing best of all. While urging readers to contact their church leaders about hosting an AiG event, Ham says “AiG is not an activist organization in the sense that we are not directly involved in lobbying, legislating or litigating to influence school boards on origins issues…” No, that’s not their style. If you saw the PBS series Evolution, then you saw Ham standing in front of a bunch of children in a church, urging them to shout at their teachers, “Were you there?” any time the lesson includes any science that threatens Ken’s theology. Nice work, Ken, having schoolchildren do your bidding for you. Despicable.

I used to kind of like AiG, in a strange way. I liked their openness about their goals: winning souls, spreading the Gospel, and making people believe that Tyrannosaurus Rex ate daisies in the Garden of Eden. Something about the imagery of that appealed to my sense of acid-flashback -influenced fun. But now I’m as tired of them as I am the Discovery Institute. And I have to admit, I like hearing them whine.

84 Comments

Ken Ham, AiG’s President and coauthor Mark Looy, lead off today’s daily devotional on their web site claiming that “[e]volutionary scientists throughout America are running scared.”

I admit, it scares me that IDC proponents and other Creationists are attempting to flush our civilization into a new dark age, and that few politicians have the guts to stand up to them.

Have any of the prominent politicians (Bush, Frist, McCain) who have endorsed IDC openly reversed their position since the Kitzmiller decision? (Switching to “teach the controversy” rhetoric does not count)

Kicking and Screaming, they are.

No, really, those rows and rows of sharp, pointy teeth are perfect for pulling the petals off of daisies. We secularist Nazis have been blinded by Santa.

Really? I can’t find any evidence for any of them (Bush, McCain, Frist) changing their tune on ID. I’ve tried their websites, even emailed John McCain after Dover. Nothing.

Well, there’s plenty of evidence for creationism. For example, checkout this photograph: http://frylock3.tripod.com/sitebuil[…]w300h258.jpg

If dinosaurs died-out millions of years ago, then why do we have this photograph of Jesus riding a dinosaur?!?!

Here’s another one of dinosaurs at the crucifiction: http://www.beckysdi.com/biblicaldin[…]cifixion.jpg

Here’s a photograph of Adam riding a dinosaur like a cowboy! Yeee haaaw! http://www.jesus21.com/writers/beli[…]inotitle.gif

Stoopid evolutionists! Always trying to suppress the evidence. Running scared, indeed!

I saw McCain on a Sunday morning news show a while back, well before Dover, and he was mildly encouraging to me. He used none of the ID buzzwords for making creationism easier for the public to swallow, but did say things like “teach science in science class.”

My hope is that with enough input from real scientists and not hacks at the DI he’d do the right thing.

If you saw the PBS series Evolution, then you saw Ham standing in front of a bunch of children in a church, urging them to shout at their teachers, “Were you there?” any time the lesson includes any science that threatens Ken’s theology.

To which question all science teachers should answer, “No, but we have the photographs and the sound recordings of shortly after the event. The film doesn’t lie; the tape recorder doesn’t lie.”

(Yes – the COBE project at NASA has photos of what the universe looked like shortly after the Big Bang, and Wilson and Penzias won the Nobel for having stumbled on the radio signature of the radiation leftover from the Big Bang. Pictures and sound.)

The best response to “Were you there?” is “Yes, I was,” especially if the kid asking the question is only following a script given to them by AiG. AiG doesn’t prepare their zombies to respond to that answer.

Hi Skip. Are you the same Skip Evans of NCSE ?

As someone who is a member of a church that supports AIG teaching (Abbots Cross Presbyterian, here in Northern Ireland) I always check their website on most days just to see what lies they have posted regarding science. (We have had Dr. David Menton and Roger Oakland both speak at the church by the way ) It constantly amazes me that a lot of their rhetoric is reserved for other Christians. Somehow if you believe in “millions of years” then you are a compromiser and not really true christian at all. Far from strengthening my faith I find their claims nonsensical and ludicrous. In order to fit in with their way of thinking have I to give up everything I have learned in science ? In my opinion that is what they are expecting me to do.

Everything I seem to read on their site is a distortion of the truth. For instance the media spot a few days ago claims that a once popular Evangelist was destroyed by him accepting “millions of years”. Well, I’ve read a few reviews of the book “farewell to God” (written by the ex-preacher in question) and from what I recall a lot of his doubts were fueled by young earth creationism, not “millions of years” as Ham puts it.

After the sermon in my church last Sunday I have come to the decision that I may leave due to the minister’s views on creation. For example, he claimed that Cain and Abel were the fist natural human births. He went on to say that both grew up to be arable farmers since there was no meat eating before the flood (classic AIG material). I’ll be interested to know what his views are when he gets to the flood but I think I know what to expect !

The Presbyterian church in Ireland though, takes the view that as long as a person believed that God created the heavens and the Earth how and when he did it was for them to decide. I would take from this statement that someones beliefs on origins can be anything from flat earthism through to theistic evolution! It will be interesting to see what view the preacher has when I tackle him on the subject and whether or not he toes the AIG line which is completely dogmatic.( have a look at their statement of faith and how one can view science !)

Reed, that’s excellent!

And they should add, “I’ve been everywhere and seen everything. And anything I say is the absolute truth, and if you don’t believe me I’ll cast a wicked secular humanist spell on you and you’ll lose at checkers and ice-cream will taste like spinach, for ever and ever.”

Man, I should have been a school teacher. They have all the fun.

It will be interesting to see what view the preacher has when I tackle him on the subject

indeed. I’m curious as to how you will open him up to discussion on these issues?

I’ve found relatively few who feel comfortable discussing the subject, and those that did typically weren’t creationists.

Hi Peter,

I was NCSE’s Network Project Director from 2001 to 2004, and they are the finest, most honest group of people I’ve ever had the joy to work with. Genie Scott is truly the most honorable and generous person I’ve ever met.

I now run my own little Internet software company in Butte, Montana, but of course I keep up with the debate.

Frankly, three years in the trenches was enough for me, so I figure I served my time and now am back among the blinking lights of network switches and the whirring of server disk drives.

Interesstinly, regarding your point about AiG and the age of the earth, I’ve heard one of their speakers recently remark that whether or think the earth is a few thousand or a few billion years old is “not really a salvational issue.”

You can read about a roadtrip I took to the event in this part of the country at: http://venomouspenguin.com/modules/[…]7/index.html

Some nice pics to go along with the story if I do say so myself.

I think Ed’s point is very good. Everything we observe in the night sky is in the past, and some of it a very long time ago. AIG lie about this as well !

I also wonder what Ham would do if he was ever called for jury service. Was He there when the crime was committed ?

I saw McCain on a Sunday morning news show a while back, well before Dover, and he was mildly encouraging to me. He used none of the ID buzzwords for making creationism easier for the public to swallow, but did say things like “teach science in science class.”

McCain invokes the “fairness doctrine” and wants all “views” to be taught. While not specifically IDist, he’s still doing exactly what the Disco Institute likes to see.

Perhaps he’s amenable to being educated on the issue, but he’s a politician, and the fairness doctrine is a popular public viewpoint. I doubt he will ever be much of friend to science on this issue.

Didn’t Santorum himself, the author of the “addendum” to the no child left behind act, do a flip-flop after Dover?

the details are sketchy in my mind, but I’m quite sure he dropped ID like a hot potato.

Mike,

I disagree. While McCain is certainly a politician, I believe when he spoke was actually careful not to use ID friendly language.

I’m not a McCain fan, but I don’t necessarily dislike the guy either.

I do think he has the sense to make the right choices on the issue, if the scientific community presents its case to him.

I saw McCain on a Sunday morning news show a while back, well before Dover, and he was mildly encouraging to me. He used none of the ID buzzwords for making creationism easier for the public to swallow, but did say things like “teach science in science class.”

My hope is that with enough input from real scientists and not hacks at the DI he’d do the right thing.

Don’t hold your breath. My sense of John McCain is that while he is not a member of the religious right, he is quite willing to pander to that crowd shamelessly and with great gusto if he feels he needs them. McCain wants the White House real bad, 2008 will be his last chance, the conventional wisdom is a Republican cannot get the nomination without the religious right, and the religious right does not trust McCain at all. So over the next 2 1/2 years, expect McCain to say a lot of completely appalling things to appease that crowd.

What’s sad is that unlike Bush, I think at some level McCain actually knows this stuff is nonsense, but he just can’t help himself.

Hi again Skip. I thought it was you. I always get the weekly updates from NCSE although I’m not a full member (I really will have to get around joining one of these days!) I’ve heard Genie Scott speak on a number of occasions and she does come across as a very genuine and nice person. I sometimes feel that some of the creationist speakers can be aggressive and sometimes quite nasty, unlike the secular humanists who are often the opposite !

I have heard Ham say this before, during an interview on BBC Radio Ulster, that a person can believe in evolution and still go to heaven but I wonder if he really believes it ? I have also read that he believes that trainee ministers, who don’t accept a young earth should not be ordained and likewise, Christians who take this view, should not be admitted to full churh membership.

Hi again, back, Peter,

As long as we’re on the subject of Genie Scott, I have to tell this story, and I hope she doesn’t mind. (As an ex-staffer, I could fill a book with all the knee slapping times around that office, boy howdy!)

Back when I was a staffer, a member related this story to me: He had been to an event to hear a creationist speaker, who at one point in the presentation held up a picture of Genie.

It was not a photograph, but a black and white sketch drawing. I’m not sure where it appeared first, some science magazine I think, but it was making the rounds in various publications and I’ll bet you could still find it on the web somewhere. In fact, NCSE used it on some flyers, I’m quite sure.

Anyway, it was one of those hand pencilled jobbies that do not betray the subject’s age. For all a person looking at it could tell, the woman in the drawing could have been thirty, or could have been seventy.

The creationist holding up the picture called Genie just about every name in the book: dishonest, a liar, anti-God, anti-Bible, just about everything short of the devil himself (or herself I guess in this case.)

While I was relating all this to Genie in her office, she didn’t bat an eye. She’s heard it all before and it just goes right on by her. But I when I told her that the man finished his diatrible with, “but she is a pretty young thing, isn’t she?” Genie’s jaw dropped open and she shouted out in amazement, “Young?!?!?!?”

Yup, she’s a pip our Genie.

The best response to “Were you there?” is an honest “no” but followed with “I have access to several different time machines.…..”. That should get the kiddies attention. The ensuing discussion easily introduces telescopes exploding supernovae and the speed of light, the fossil record, etc. The nice PBS NOVA on amber is a good example of a time machine.

Delta Pi Gamma (Scientia et Fermentum)

The creationist wasn’t Mr.Ham by any chance Skip ? (I’m only kidding by the way !).

She does seem to feature quite frequently in his articles !

No, the creationist holding up the picture of Genie was not Ham, although you’ll notice the poor man seems incapable of typing her name not prefaced with words like athiest, or humanist, or she who must not be named, or she who probably tears up Bibles while praying to satan: general stuff like that.

Just put her name into the AiG search engine.

But I’m not saying he singles her out. Heck, I’ll bet if AiG ever refers to Abbott and Costello on their web site, it will be something like “those two, albeit funny, yet Bible-hating Vaudevillian comics.”

“If students in public schools are being taught that the origin of the universe, life, human beings, etc., can all be explained on the basis of natural processes, these young people are being taught the religion of naturalism—of atheism!”

This is something I always have a problem with.

DaveScot over at uncommondescent.com made a passing reference to the fact that if a God or Gods set up initial conditions in the universe rigged to produce intelligent life, then that means that this life did not come about by natural means.

This really begs for a new definition of “natural” then.

Who can really say that God or Gods created the universe this way or that and for what purpose, if any? But the fact remains that any observable phenomona in the universe are indeed “natural” since they reside in our universe and obey “natural” physical laws.

Once upon a time, there were many people who called themselves naturalists or natural philosophers. They surely weren’t atheists. To them Nature and Creation meant the same thing. “Natural” meant “the way God intended things to go”, naturally.

So to sit there and say that naturalism equals atheism is totally stupid.

I was recently introduced to the objections to evolution by my insurance agent. He found the fact that I am an agnostic and a find science to be more accurate in answering the questions of human origin offensive. He gave me this appalling book “The Evolution of a Creationist”, which was written by a dentist, Jobe Martin. He thought this would be significant to me since I am a dentist.

The author wasn’t very persuasive considering he knows very little about evolution, or intentionally presents straw men arguments that misrepresent evolution and science in general. He repeatedly says ignorant things like Darwin believed that animals evolve things because they want to, or that Darwin didn’t or scientists don’t know how one species evolves into another. I think a quote on page 53 of this book sums the scientific cretinism point the best, “As God’s creatures, we do not subject the Bible to science, we subject science to the Bible.” I can not think of many statements less scientific than that. Basically, there is no need for science because the God of the Bible is all powerful and capable of anything. Why look for the answers when you can just invoke the all powerful, “It must have been God.” as the answer to everything.

Unfortunately for my friend, I am well aware the myriad evidences for evolution from many branches of science. Any individual who studies ToE with an open mind has to admit that it’s predictive power is astounding. ToE has stood up to the discovery of genetics, molecular biology, etc… Considering that Darwin was not using any advanced scientific equipment, and had limited knowledge of many aspects of science by today’s standards, his insights were absolutely brilliant. I approached my friend with a rebuttal to his book and tried to give him, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” by Theodosius Dobzhansky. He, however, quickly changed the subject to what I was doing as far as retirement accounts.

I am willing to believe that secular science may eventually replace or modify ToE with a more predictive accurate theory, but ID and Cretin Science will never do that for me because it is biased from the onset and insists that scientific tests and observations are wrong if their conclusions don’t match up with preconceived notions or biblical literalism. I still actually like my insurance agent and forgive him for his ignorance of actual science, and actively encourage his pursuit of answers in the bible. I understand that he is emotionally attached to his beliefs. I am quite sure that he believes I will be going straight to hell. Oh well.

I would never, never buy any kind of insurance from a creationist, for the obvious reasons.

or a “raptureist”, at the very least ;)

Seems Mark’s surname is missing an “n”.

Sorry,

Tried to stay away. Been trying not to lurk, and not to post. Any help for this addiction?

Please follow my URL and you will see that I am an Insurance Agent (a pretty good one, if I may be so bold). You will see that I have education in microbiology and math and that I support science education as a board member of National Science Decathlon. [It just so happens almost everyone else on that board is a science-friendly theist of some sort.]http://www.sciencedecathlon.com/

Insurance Agents get a bad rap because the few who have the integrity of ID Fellows make it tough for the rest of us. Perhaps I am a little sensitive, because many people hold used car salespeople in higher regard, but I feel compelled to pipe-up when Insurance Agents are mentioned.

The insurance industry relies very heavily on people who really understand how to use statistics. Behe or Dembski (whichever one is the mathematician) would not last long at an insurance firm because their statistical shenanigans would bankrupt the company.

Adjusters have to understand engineering and related sciences enough to properly evaluate the cause of accidents and the extent of damage. They are like field biologists who have to make informed decisions about what they observe and how it fits in with the “natural world” of auto and home repair. For example, insurance companies settling claims along the Gulf Coast recently contracted the expertise of my friend the civil engineering Ph.D.

We certainly rely on current medical science when we rate candidates for life insurance.

Genetic testing is not allowed by the state insurance commissioners, yet, but I expect that the actuarial researchers are looking into its predictive capabilities.

The bad news for all insurance policy owners if ID prevails is that “Acts of God” are usually excluded from coverage. If the explanation of everything is goddidit, then no claims would ever have to be paid!

The bad news for all insurance policy owners if ID prevails is that “Acts of God” are usually excluded from coverage. If the explanation of everything is goddidit, then no claims would ever have to be paid!

My God Man!!!

that’s it!

that’s the reason behind the whole ID conspiracy:

ultimate no-liability insurance!

think of the profits!

Any help for this addiction?

nope.

sorry.

Any help for this addiction?

If you do find help, please let me know about it. Anyone have some ideas on why reading this blog is such a “must”?

Hey, my man, want a fix? First one free. Go to Panda’s Thumb.

Ham’s still out there giving speeches and mindscrewing a couple thousand children at a time.

But he only speaks to friendly audiences to begin with. The only people he is mind-screwing are those who already were mind-screwed in the first place. He just reinforces their mind-screwing. (shrug)

Politically, Ham and his ilk are nonentities. Not a single one of the various anti-evolution bills mentions Ham or any of his arguments. Nobody argues any more about “thermodynamics” or “the earth is only 6000 years old” or “Noah’s flood”. YEC has been dead for 20 years now. All the argument now is over “Dembski’s filter” and “irreducible complexity”. Indeed, the IDers fall all over themselves to get as far away from Ham and the YECs as they can.

I prefer to focus on the pirahnas rather than the minnows.

Ham is a minnow. (shrug)

Rev., my respect for you is tremendous, but as I sit here I have several papers here in front of me (study sheets for kids assigned to read Sagan’s Cosmos–horrors!) on which the kids have told me over and over that the Earth is only 6,000 yrs. old, the Big Bang is ridiculous, and Darwin recanted on his deathbed. On one I’m even threatened, though not directly, that soon “something bad” might happen to scientists that continue to guesstimate that the universe is billions of years old!

And this is in a highly-rated science and math magnet school!

Lord, give me strength!

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank Wrote:

But he only speaks to friendly audiences to begin with. The only people he is mind-screwing are those who already were mind-screwed in the first place. He just reinforces their mind-screwing.

True. And unfortunately, the average nine-year-old who’s going to those isn’t also websurfing and stumbling upon Panda’s Thumb.

Politically, Ham and his ilk are nonentities. Not a single one of the various anti-evolution bills mentions Ham or any of his arguments. Nobody argues any more about “thermodynamics” or “the earth is only 6000 years old” or “Noah’s flood”. YEC has been dead for 20 years now. All the argument now is over “Dembski’s filter” and “irreducible complexity”. Indeed, the IDers fall all over themselves to get as far away from Ham and the YECs as they can.

Yes, the politicians introducing the bills aren’t talking about YEC. But the people voting for those politicians–and the churches lobbying them and raising money for them–are still all about it.

I mean, you saw what the Dover school board said about ID. They didn’t know any more about it than about real biology…didn’t much care about probability calculations or bacterial flagella. They just knew it was the new & (they hoped) acceptable way to get creationism into the schools. Taking a stand for Jesus, as Buckingham said.

It was the same thing at the last Ohio BoE meeting. Sure, the pro-ID Board members were phrasing it all in terms of “critical analysis” and lack of transitionals. But the ordinary people that came to support them? At least half of them were there to talk about Biblical inerrancy and dinosaurs and people living side by side.

It’s true, in legislative and judicial arenas, the thing to focus on is ID or whatever it’ll be repackaged as next, because creationism’s legally out of the running. But some people also hope to convince some fundamentalists to become friendlier to science on a personal level–especially the kids, who still have a shot at learning how to think rationally before their brains fossilize for good. And to do that you have to address the things the average creationist really believes. And the picture they have in their head is Noah turning the dinosaurs away from the ark.

My wife teaches middle school science. She assigns “Expert Projects” which take several months to complete. They are essentially long research projects. They can include experiments but they don’t need to. Last year she got one on Jesus.

Jesus.

In Science Class.

Twenty pages of proof that Jesus was the son of gOD. No experiments in that one. She had to give him a good grade because he had faithfully (pun intended) done the research, written reasonably well and cited sources correctly. She made a few comments on it where things were of a truly non-scientific but it got a good grade.

Just Bob Wrote:

Rev., my respect for you is tremendous, but as I sit here I have several papers here in front of me (study sheets for kids assigned to read Sagan’s Cosmos—horrors!) on which the kids have told me over and over that the Earth is only 6,000 yrs. old, the Big Bang is ridiculous, and Darwin recanted on his deathbed. On one I’m even threatened, though not directly, that soon “something bad” might happen to scientists that continue to guesstimate that the universe is billions of years old!

And this is in a highly-rated science and math magnet school!

Yup. I’ve mentioned it before, but my wife’s taught introductory anatomy to freshman/sophomore bio/pre-med majors at a large university, and she’s had people actually argue with her in class over whether men and women have the same number of ribs.

They can’t be helped by discussing the shortcomings of the explanatory filter and the need for methodological naturalism in science. They just need someone to tell them, “Stick your finger on your ribs and count them. Then ask a friend of the opposite gender to do the same.” That seems to convince them, and–I hope–leads them to wonder about what else they thought they knew might be wrong.

Piping in yet again…

YEC is still alive and well in the land of Joe Six Pack. One of my clients gave me a stack of Kent Hovind DVDs about the age of the earth, etc. My client’s church is still on about YEC and the downfall of American morality due to the religion of Darwinism.

When my client asked me what I thought, I had to tell him that I thought Kent Hovind misrepresents the facts about evolution and what evolutionary biologists believe. My client did not reply, but has since returned the life policy I wrote for him.

I could not lie, but I’d rather the client kept the insurance. My cleint’s mistaken beliefs about evolution are troubling, and annoying when they lead to political action, but his lack of coverage is a real problem.

There are two points in this post:

1. As we have discussed many times on PT, the DI may be wearing scientific headdress, but their grass roots supporters are true creationists and often downright anti-science.

2. Even if I disagree with my friends and clients philosophically, I want them to prosper. Creationsists are our neighbors, and we still have to get along with them.

Lenny:I don’t think Ham is irrelevant at all. His science may be several hundred years out of date but he and his organisatision can fill churches and halls up and down the country.

Last year 2000 people packed one of Belfast’s largest auditoriums full to overflowing. Young earth creationism is definitely alive and well in this part of the world !

The very fact that he can do this in this age of scientific enlightenment should alarm all scientists and educators.

Actually, I think there’s benefit to pointing out, loudly and often, that the “base” of the ID movement is YEC. Dinosaur-riding, Ark-cramming, speed of light-denying YECs. The ID guys are just advertising-agency-gussied-up front men for the unwashed YEC multitude under the “big tent.” (And some of the top IDiots are pretty YECcy under the surface.)

Pointing that out constantly and publicly will irritate the hell out of the guys in ID camouflage, and will elicit responses of “Hell yeah,” from the YEC multitude. But to some of the politicians, columnists, reporters, corporate donors, and other public figures it can make a difference.

Santorum, Bush, Perry, et al might give lip service to ID, but can they to naked YECistry? Could Bill Gates donate to an organization widely known to basically be a disingenuous front for good ol’ bible-thumpin’ YECs?

I think it was in the latest issue (this week’s issue) of Science where I read a fairly long article about the pervasiveness and durability of creationist beliefs. Professors who took polls of their undergraduate introductory biology classes (!) found about 25% of the students were creationists. (In classes not concerned with life sciences, similar polls showed up to 50% creationists).

Perhaps just as disturbing, EXIT polls after an entire year of evolutionary biology showed that while students understood the material much better and performed adequately on tests, the number of creationists who had questioned their assumptions had barely changed.

The article hammered this point home with one example after another, school after school: By the time students enter college, creationist beliefs are not only widespread, but have become ineradicable. The reason college graduates have a lower percentage of creationists than the population at large is because fewer creationists attend college. It’s NOT a matter of better education->less superstition, but the reverse - those who value knowledge are more likely to seek education.

Lenny is wrong in this case. Hovind’s kiddie cheerleading sessions WORK. Jack Chick’s comix WORK. Parental dedication to the eternal heavenly fate of their childrens’ souls is very real.

Last year 2000 people packed one of Belfast’s largest auditoriums full to overflowing. Young earth creationism is definitely alive and well in this part of the world !

The very fact that he can do this in this age of scientific enlightenment should alarm all scientists and educators.

Pfft. The Scientologists can pack three times that many into an auditorium.

There will always be creationists around. There will always be geocentrists around. There will always be pyramid-power folks around. There will always be people who believe in Nessie, Atlantis, alien abductions, ESP, etc etc etc. They will always sell lots of books and fill lots of auditoriums. That should alarm scientists too.

Alas, since we live in a democracy, they are entirely and totally free to believe in any or all of those things. There’s no law against being stupid. YECs can preach and sell CD’s for the next thousand years, and I have no problem with it. As long as they don’t try to use the power of the law to force it on the rest of us, that’s their business, and not anyone else’s.

They are there. They’re not going away. No matter how long or hard we lecture them about science.

Hovind and Ham have just as much right to preach their crap as anyone else does. What they do NOT have the right to do (and what I oppose) is to use state support to do it.

I take constitutional rights very seriously. Even when I utterly detest the people who are exercising them.

But some people also hope to convince some fundamentalists to become friendlier to science on a personal level—especially the kids, who still have a shot at learning how to think rationally before their brains fossilize for good.

Well, good luck with that.

I won’t hold my breath waiting.

Yup. I’ve mentioned it before, but my wife’s taught introductory anatomy to freshman/sophomore bio/pre-med majors at a large university, and she’s had people actually argue with her in class over whether men and women have the same number of ribs.

I have seen, with mine own two eyes, this very thing happen, in North Florida, between a student and an anatomy professor.

Let me just say, we atheists LUUUUUUUUUUUVVVVVVVVVVVV christians like that.

I honestly doubt Lenny, that if Stephen Hawking or Richard Dawkins were to speak at either the Waterfront Hall or the Odyssey Centre 2000 people would turn up. I certainly would go along but knowing Northern Ireland there would probably be more people protesting at Richard Dawkins than would actually turn up to listen to him.

The fundamentalist christian lobby is very strong here, and although it doesn’t have as much political clout as in the US there are a lot of people who still believe in a young earth.

I can forgive those who haven’t had a good education or who maybe haven’t bothered at school but why so many well educated and intelligent people, and especially those within the church, fall for the AIG nonsense without even questioning it is still beyond me !

I gave up on religion and declared myself and atheist about 22 years ago. I gave up on big government and became a libertarian about the same time.

In all those years, I don’t think I’ve ever convinced anyone of the correctness of my POV. I’ve never been able to change someone’s mind.

Does anybody have a technique for getting someone else to really change their mind and move over to your camp?

Would you be so kind as to share it with us?

Would you be so kind as to share it with us?

you need your own PR company, like the Disco Institute.

money is always the best start.

other than that, you simply have to sell what you got. you have to convince folks that your POV is in THEIR best interests.

If your POV involves actual thought to arrive at the necessary conclusions, then good luck.

creationism is SOOOO much easier to sell than evolutionary theory.

'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank Wrote:

But some people also hope to convince some fundamentalists to become friendlier to science on a personal level—especially the kids, who still have a shot at learning how to think rationally before their brains fossilize for good.

Well, good luck with that.

I won’t hold my breath waiting.

Oh, I know we can’t convert the majority of the science-shy. But conversion is possible; a fair number of the science faculty and grads here are ex-fundamentalists, as are quite a few of the Students for Freethought (and they tend to be the ones who believe most strongly that we need the latter group). And my wife’s had kids from fundie backgrounds that came out sufficiently interested to change their majors to biology, which is a good sign.

These, of course, were never the most hopeless cases, as is clear from the fact that they’re attending a public university in the first place.

Spike Wrote:

I gave up on religion and declared myself and atheist about 22 years ago. I gave up on big government and became a libertarian about the same time.

In all those years, I don’t think I’ve ever convinced anyone of the correctness of my POV. I’ve never been able to change someone’s mind.

Does anybody have a technique for getting someone else to really change their mind and move over to your camp?

I don’t think I’ve ever really changed anyone’s mind on an ideological or theological matter. (Except possibly my best friend, who once said, “I don’t believe in Christianity, but I think there might be some being watching us all,” and I said, “Why would you think that? You don’t have any reason to think so,” and she said, “Yeah, that’s true. OK, atheism it is.” Not exactly a powerful conversion story).

I think I’ve made a few people more interested in and receptive to mainstream science–not really by arguing a case for it, but just by being really enthusiastic about it. The average fundamentalist has never actually met a scientist and thinks they’re all crabby infighting poseurs at best, baby-eating Satanists at worst. Some people seem kind of shocked to discover they’re simply normal human beings who happen to be immensely interested in some natural phenomenon. (Some fundies, of course, don’t like normal human beings who are interested, and depart at this point; but so it goes.)

Take the “Don’t men have one less rib than women?” question–my wife doesn’t respond by saying something like “Well, why do you think that? If it’s based on uncritical acceptance of a religious text, that’s not really valid scientific methodology.” Of course, being a teacher, she can’t say that or she’d probably get sued, but it’s also counterproductive because the fundamentalist kids are super-defensive. (She also can’t say what she’d really like to say sometimes–“Does it say anywhere in Genesis that Adam’s missing rib turned out to be heritable and sex-linked in some bizarre Lamarckian fashion?”) Instead, she says something like, “Well, you can easily just check for yourself by counting your ribs and having your friend count theirs, and there’s also a couple of skeletons here so you can see, and by the way human rib counts are actually quite variable, as are many human traits, for instance some people have extra nipples, and…”

Which makes the factual point that yes, they’re wrong, and obviously wrong; but makes the equally important emotional point that she’s not particularly interested in saying they’re wrong or pushing some Darwinist atheist communist scientist party line on rib counts. She just really likes human anatomy because it really is an interesting field–which, incidentally, apparently involves valid but non-Biblical knowledge. That may lead them to–quietly, later, when they’re not in defend-the-faith mode in front of a room of students–actually go and look up a little more about it.

Or it might not. It almost certainly wouldn’t with the kind of fundamentalist that actually seeks you out to tell you about the lies of the vast scientific orthodox conspiracy. But I don’t think there’s much of anything you can do with those guys–even if you got them to accept evolution or atheism or liberal religion or whatever, they’d miss the point and just defend it as dogmatically and uncritically as they did their former faith.

yup, it’s a doubly difficult mission;

not only are you trying to convince someone that their POV (creationism) doesn’t actually apply to objective reality, but then you are telling them that they can’t make a religion out of science, either. leaves someone who previously relied on a whole set of perceptions and mechanisms with no way to “filter” reality. It’s like forcing someone who is used to driving a car to ride a bike instead.

I think that’s why theistic evolution becomes an ideologically easier thing to sell.

basically, you seperate the two issues (religion and science), show them that folks readily function under this POV (like Miller et. al.), and leave them with at least a somewhat overarching spiritual viewpoint.

I personally would think it easier to convince a fundie of the value of this POV than atheism, at least to begin with.

Oh, I know we can’t convert the majority of the science-shy. But conversion is possible

Well, I’ve been in the creationism/evolution fight for 25 years now. During that time, I’ve seen five creationists be “converted”.

Five.

Each of them was immediately replaced by ten others.

The effort is ineffectuial, and is just not worth the payoff.

If the people on the Panda’s thumb want to know why so many students raise such ridiculous points such as “Where you there”, or counting ribs of the different sexes, have a look at Ham’s blog today. According to AIG 1000 kids turned up at an assembly at their conference in North Carolina. This is why. The whole thing seems to have been aimed at young people and students who will be well indoctrinated with YEC claims.

Science may be winning in the courts but with such influential people as Ken Ham around I don’t think they bare convincing the public at large, even on such basic principles such as the age of the Earth and why it’s not a mere 6,000 years old.

And opinion polls seem to show this.If I were a scientist or educator I’d be very alarmed at what the polls are showing.

Peter, another thing to note. (I have an inside source in the National Education Assc.) The “Blue” Schools don’t seem to be having this problem. We have Louis Palau show up and 20,000 people go see him and it’s ALL 20,000 fundies in our city of ~2 million. The reports my source gets from “red” schools i.e. farming style rural (around here anyway) is that it isn’t so much getting worse it’s that those who used to be religious but not make a point of it are suddenly making a point of it. they are getting louder and meaner. I think the leaders are scared so they are preparing their flocks for some kind of war. But in the end, their own defense will have to be isolation.

http://www.christianexodus.com If you’d been reading my blog, you’d have already seen this :)

I think I’ve read this article BWE. As you say, the YEC’s seem to be getting more vocal and I suppose unless you live there you will not really know what the situation is. Maybe the political climate in the US has encouraged them, but who knows. The next election this could cause things to change.

With regard to Louis Palau, I always thought he was non-committal on the creation/evolution debate. I’ve heard him speak on the TV/radio, and also listened to some of his interviews and he always comes over as an OK guy, a bit more mainstream than the Rod Parsley/Benny Hinn/John Hagee/Jack Van Impe brigade which we get on the TV here in the UK now. I could be thinking of Tony Compolo though. I know AIG did an article on one of them and bemoaned the fact that they weren’t YEC.

I’ve also been to hear Josh McDowell here in Belfast, a number of years ago and thought he was a very good speaker at the time. I’ve since found out that he’s now a YEC and that a section on creation in one of his books was ghost written by Glenn Morton when he was in the YEC camp.

I’ve found Glenn Morton’s testimony very encouraging by the way. This is the sort of person who would be very persuasive to an indoctrinated YECer, in my opinion, since he hasn’t become an atheist although he has had a crises of faith.

I think long term, the YECers will damage the church. I can’t take any YEC speaker seriously now !

I had to tell him that I thought Kent Hovind misrepresents the facts about evolution and what evolutionary biologists believe.

This happened to me once, too. My response was,”Kent Hovind is a lying bastard.” But only because I had, by that oint, lost all patience with my aquaintence’s cretinism.

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This page contains a single entry by Skip published on February 15, 2006 3:42 PM.

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