Creationists and Stage Magic: A Nice Analogy

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Update: I am advised that the video linked below won’t be up for much longer, so if you want it, grab it now.

Once in a while an analogy comes along that deserves wide dissemination. I got one such this afternoon on the Ohio Citizens for Science list, and I’ve got permission to quote it from Joe Hern, its author. Joe was musing on the video of Michael Schermer interviewing Georgia Purdom, creationist geneticist at AIG. (I don’t know how long that URL will be good, so grab it if you want it.) Joe, who IIRC is a former YEC himself, captured the creationist mindset perfectly:

The psychology behind why Creationists seem to make up stuff that fit their theology is best understood by recognizing precisely how we feel when we see a magician pull a rabbit from its hat in a magic show. We do not need to know how it works to “know” it is not really magic. We do not entertain ideas that we may be ‘missing’ a step in our epistemology. We would roll our eyes at anyone who insists to us we are not thinking critically to accept that there may be true magic involved. The key component of this thought process is that we ‘know’ we do not have to look into it… it’s a foregone conclusion that there is no magic involved.

To the creationist, this is the exact same thought process. They ‘know’ God is real, that what he wrote is literal, and there is no reason whatsoever to even begin to entertain the idea that the ‘evidences’ for evolution are really evidence. It’s a foregone conclusion that such ‘evidences’, regardless how intellectual or damning they sound, are “simply” ways man makes data fit their own ideas, as Dr. Purdom stated.

She said it best when (the only part in her talking with which I agreed) she said that once a Christian moves away from the scriptures in one area (the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, etc) then it is a slippery slope to using the same kind of logic about Mary being a virgin and giving birth or Jesus rising from the dead. I will add other biblical claims as well, such as the miracles of Jesus, his divinity, and the existence of God himself. In fact, Dr. Purdom’s point is one used by many former Christians (now atheists) who wonder why some Christians believe some of the stuff in the bible, but ignore other aspects of it. Nonetheless, Dr. Purdom goes the opposite direction by saying one must accept that evolution is not real since it’s already a fact that the virgin birth and Jesus’ resurrection occurred. “Clearly” there is no issue with agreeing that Adam and Eve began the human race ~4000 years ago.

That really is what we’re up against: presuppositionalist thinking vs. evidential thinking, in Purdom’s terms. As I remarked in my AIG creationists on the jury post last week, for creationists evidence is not a means of testing presuppositions: evidence must be interpreted so as to corroborate them or one will fall into apostasy. Therefore any ‘interpretation’ of the evidence that doesn’t corroborate them is a false and mistaken interpretation, and to accept such a false interpretation is to risk one’s salvation and that of one’s children. (For more on creationist fears in this respect see here and here.)

67 Comments

Okay, within the first 3 minutes of that video, I heard what amounts to “It’s still just a bacteria”, and “were you there?”.

Move on. Nothing to see here, folks. Move on.

Good old Ken Ham, as crazy as he may be, says the same thing.

Ken says: You start with the Bible as being true. Then you put on your Bible Glasses and view the world through them.

Maybe I’m just not squinting hard enough.

*squint*

This may explain the behavior of very education-deprived creationists, for whom I have some sympathy.

But what about the more educated ones? Why would chemists, lawyers, philosophers, and so on make the pre-supposition that the Bible is literally true, and then somehow, coincidentally, all misread the Bible in exactly the same way? How is it that they all “pick and choose” what “serves their purpose”, as you concede, in exactly the same way?

Why do they all always claim that only the most harsh, punitive passages, and the most metaphorical-seeming ancient myth passages, are “literally true”, while blatantly ignoring the more common passages that exhort honesty, compassion, and humility?

Why do they distort even the passages that they claim to “interpret literally”, for example, the common distortion of claiming that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah condemns homosexuality, when read literally, it shows God condemning gang rape (actually attempted gang rape)?

Why do they all come to harsh social and political conclusions and ally themselves with the political far right?

I offer a different hypothesis.

I hypothesize that these educated creationists are essentially sadistic authoritarians. They know they can’t persuade very many people to condone their sick fantasies through reason or routine emotional appeals.

Noticing that the Christian Bible is widely regarded as a source of ethics and wisdom, they decide that it will be clever to insist that the Bible commands that everyone submit to their dystopian vision for society. Their hope is that people will hold their noses and submit if they can be tricked into believing that “God commands” the brutality which they desperately yet impotently fantasize of imposing.

My hypothesis may be controversial and difficult to test, but it offers one huge advantage.

It more completely and consistently explains the full pattern of creationist behavior.

can someone explain why i profoundly hate presuppositionist then?

id like to figure out a way i to shrug off their grandiose ideology (“I have the one true faith, the rest of the world is a test and dont actual know reality”) that faith is greater then evidence. and yet they still use modern devices of science

can anyone help? and please no “..find jesus” jokes :)

Yeah, I think you’ve understood the creationist mindset. It’s certainly the way I was taught to think growing up, and the way my parents still think. It’s sort of the equivalent of a mathematician doing a math problem but coming up with an answer that 1=2. That’s obviously a bad result, and the mathematician would immediately know that some error was made *somewhere* in his calculations because 1=2 is not a correct result. Same thing with creationists (and YECs in particular). If you (as a YEC) looks at science and it tells you something that is a “known” false result (for example, that the earth is older than 6,000 years old or that the global flood didn’t happen), then you immediately assume that some error was made somewhere in the science, because “the Bible is wrong” is simply an impossible result.

harold said:

I hypothesize that these educated creationists are essentially sadistic authoritarians. They know they can’t persuade very many people to condone their sick fantasies through reason or routine emotional appeals.

I would disagree with this. The most violent authoritarians in history have been socialist/communist and many were atheists. I know “christians” that are authoritarian and others that simply tell me that they pray for me (because I’m an atheist).

The reason you may have come to the conclusion you did is because the ones that force their religion on you, are generally the biggest asshats. I grew up in a small religious community and I know and work with a large number of Christians. They come in all sorts. The uneducated authoritarian is dismissed as an idiot, and the educated Christian passivist isn’t noticed.

I would disagree with this. The most violent authoritarians in history have been socialist/communist and many were atheists. I know “christians” that are authoritarian and others that simply tell me that they pray for me (because I’m an atheist).

I think you are not thinking in terms of what smarter people do with religion and rhetoric. Mussolini’s regime, for example, called for religious orthodoxy and used rhetoric that is nearly identical to today’s “family values” discourse.

This was very, very calculated. Bob Christian on the Street took all this at face value, and figured Mussolini shared his devotion to Jesus and Mary and the Family and so on, when actually it was about gaining and keeping totalitarian power.

The same sort of thing went on in the Inquisition. The rhetoric of the day established a Low Other (this group included gays, hags, redheads, jews), and blamed all the social ills on them, all couched in religious rhetoric. This dehumanized the victims and made it OK to imprison and torture them.

The rhetorical parallels today are quite frightening, if you examine the argumentative devices that politico-religionists are using to justify legislating their narrow, selective view of scripture. Make no mistake, it is about setting up a discourse that they’d like to be the dominant one, and using that to acquire political power. The Dominionists actually say this outright, and lay out their plan for social control.

This is why it is necessary to oppose politico-religionism not only where it attempts to hijack and discredit hard science, but also where it attempts to legislate scripture in other areas as well. And people of faith should take note, too–suppose the government were to actually underwrite the current theosophy of the evangelicals–what would happen to the religious freedom of every other brand of belief?

torbach,

The main reason that presupposionalists are so annoying is that they act like they are willing to have a real discussion and then they just keep up with more and more ridiculous stuff. They aren’t interesting in discussion, because it is absolutely impossible that you are correct. They just want to convert you. This is far more true with presups than it is with other types.

At to the education issue: Education has disturbingly little to do with peoples actual epistemology or willingness to alter that epistemology. Never underestimate the human mind’s ability to rationalize away things it finds uncomfortable. Indeed, presuppositionalism takes some of the worst cognitive biases in existence and makes them explicitly good things. It is in some ways a view that is so warped it could only have come from the modern era when we understood how bad the human mind is at reasoning.

Mnemonic, harold didn’t say that the worst authoritarians were Christian fundamentalists. He said that at least some Christian fundamentalists are attracted to fundamentalism because it offers a way of expressing their authoritarian sadism and of extending their power over others. To them, Biblical fundamentalism is a means to an end, and the end, for them, is the realisation of their sadistic domination fantasies. They would not, of course, ever acknowledge this in public, or even, in most cases, to themselves.

I think he is right. Authoritarians with sadistic tendencies naturally would use what means are available to them. It might be political parties or movements on the extreme right or left. But it might also be fundamentalist dominionist religion, with its appeal to absolute unquestionable authority.

This authority is in fact nominal. To Lenin, or Stalin, or Mao, authority was nominally found in the writings of Marx or the dictatorship of the proletariat. However, since it was they who interpreted this, it was actually they who held absolute authority - which was always their object. The same for the extreme fundamentalist leaders (and would-be leaders). Their authority is nominally the Bible - but it is they who interpret it. Not surprisingly, they interpret it in the way most likely to enhance their own power. They’re authoritarians and would-be dominators. That’s what they do.

I believe that this also explains the present strong identification of fundamental Christianity with right-wing politics, but that would require a full essay, and would hardly be on-topic.

DistendedPendulusFrenulum said:

I would disagree with this. The most violent authoritarians in history have been socialist/communist and many were atheists. I know “christians” that are authoritarian and others that simply tell me that they pray for me (because I’m an atheist).

I think you are not thinking in terms of what smarter people do with religion and rhetoric. Mussolini’s regime, for example, called for religious orthodoxy and used rhetoric that is nearly identical to today’s “family values” discourse.

This was very, very calculated. Bob Christian on the Street took all this at face value, and figured Mussolini shared his devotion to Jesus and Mary and the Family and so on, when actually it was about gaining and keeping totalitarian power.

The same sort of thing went on in the Inquisition. The rhetoric of the day established a Low Other (this group included gays, hags, redheads, jews), and blamed all the social ills on them, all couched in religious rhetoric. This dehumanized the victims and made it OK to imprison and torture them.

The rhetorical parallels today are quite frightening, if you examine the argumentative devices that politico-religionists are using to justify legislating their narrow, selective view of scripture. Make no mistake, it is about setting up a discourse that they’d like to be the dominant one, and using that to acquire political power. The Dominionists actually say this outright, and lay out their plan for social control.

This is why it is necessary to oppose politico-religionism not only where it attempts to hijack and discredit hard science, but also where it attempts to legislate scripture in other areas as well. And people of faith should take note, too–suppose the government were to actually underwrite the current theosophy of the evangelicals–what would happen to the religious freedom of every other brand of belief?

I agree that religion has historically been used as a tool to obtain power. It has not been the only tool, nor the most destructive in terms of lives. I also agree that it needs to be kept out of government as well as schools for the very same reasons that you state. That is quite a bit different than saying that educated creationists are sadistic authoritarians. I would agree that many a sadistic authoritarian used religion as a means to power.

i know this is bit OT but i hear a ton of this, some struggle trying to stack as many *ists or *ians into the “Hitler” pile to prove once and for all _insert_philosophy is worse than another

there is a palpable need to categorize faithful or atheists (mainly) as worse, when current large scale events seem to be increasingly at the whim of non denominational forces. true? has this come up anywhere ?link?

one of things im thinking about is an ascension of power around consortiums such as wall st/banks or a corp’ that seem to dominate more of our lives then anything. If one is to accept the current evidence of (dramatic)climate change, humanity has (mostly as a whole) collectively created its own impending “biblical flood”(catastrophe) across many cultures/belief patterns etc

torbach said:

i know this is bit OT but i hear a ton of this, some struggle trying to stack as many *ists or *ians into the “Hitler” pile to prove once and for all _insert_philosophy is worse than another

“Reductio ad Hitlerum”, sometimes known as “pin the tail on the Nazi”. I run a message board of my own and anyone who tries to play that game gets severely treated – I don’t care what side they’re on.

Cheers – MrG / http://www.vectorsite.net/gblog.html

I recently did a video on Youtube on the same topic “Putting Creationism Into Perspective”, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZCGYyNHRUQ

although I tend to characterize it as “fundies see science as atheist see the bible”

Ray, that’s not a good analogy. At least with most atheists I know, if there were strong evidence that the Bible was divinely inspired they’d likely believe that.

A bizarre coincidence - a few days ago a friend and I were discussing creationists and religion. I told him that when people see David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear, most know that there is some trick and accept the entertainment as such, even if the trick isn’t readily apparent. But the creationist mindset actually believes there may (or must) be some supernatural ability involved. Those heavily invested in religion are more open to supernatural causation, even with a magic trick. There are still many who believe Criss Angel has supernatural powers. Funny - that name - Angel.

As for why educated people can be easily duped by (and believe in) “magic”, I think it’s more of a general inherent ideological makeup. There appear to be those who find extraordinary comfort in groups of like-minded people, needing to “belong” to feel secure or fulfilled. The same group tends to seek authoritarian leadership - they’re followers. They need rules to maintain the status quo. They’re the opposite of independent thinkers, who they feel they must convert or at least control. Belief in the supernatural is their opium.

although I tend to characterize it as “fundies see science as atheist see the bible”

Comparing apples to oranges here. Science is the basis of our modern civilization. It works. It works even if you don’t believe in it.

Try not to believe in the Theory of Internal Combustion. Even if you don’t, your car will start up in the morning.

Fundies hate and fear science because it contradicts 2 pages of their mythology. OTOH, without science, at least half of them would be dead by now. Few would really want to go back to the Dark Ages.

QED said: Belief in the supernatural is their opium.

or is it their placebo?

I’ve heard of Presupposilitionism before. It sounded like crackpottery, an attempt to torture reality to fit your delusions. Dumb.

It isn’t science and it isn’t a successful way of dealing with reality.

1. The slippery slope argument is lame. The first known skeptics of Genesis as fact were the founders of the xian church. St. Augustine and several leading theologians thought it was allegory in 400 AD. Fast forward to 2009, and xianity is the largest religion on earth with 2 billion members. The data say this is totally wrong.

2. The slippery slope is lame for another reason. For every weak mind you scare into believing War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and the Earth is 6,000 years old, there are more who you scare away. Making believing in lies a litmus test works both ways. The brighter and younger just shrug their shoulders and leave the cults for a better life.

3. The slippery slope also doesn’t really exist. The majority of xian sects dropped the mythology is real viewpoint about evolution, the flat earth, and geocentrism, long ago. Including the largest sect, the RCC and also some evangelicals and pentecostals. They still call themselves xians. The Death Cult fundies call them Fake Xians™ or the churches of satan and the antichrist. But who cares what they say?

Any idea how this woman ever got a doctorate?

Gary Hurd said:

Any idea how this woman ever got a doctorate?

AFAIK she legitimately earned it, as did Marcus Ross in geology from the U. of Rhode Island (IIRC) and Kurt Wise in paleontology from Harvard under Gould.

She has two publications on Microphthalmia Transcription Factor, neither as first author, and was apperently associated with the Department of Molecular Genetics at Ohio State University. Her chairman was Michael C. Ostrowski, who presumably knew she was insane when he awarded her degree in 2000.

Don’t they have any standards?

What is it about YEC that makes most “Darwinists” (sometimes I feel like the only exception) get “amnesia” about all the other forms of creationism???

Clearly Purdom is a person either operating completely under Morton’s Demon, or exploiting an audience that is.

harold Wrote:

Why would chemists, lawyers, philosophers, and so on make the pre-supposition that the Bible is literally true, and then somehow, coincidentally, all misread the Bible in exactly the same way? How is it that they all “pick and choose” what “serves their purpose”, as you concede, in exactly the same way?

But they don’t misread the Bible in exactly the same way. Some interpret it as old-earth-young-life, others as old-earth-old-life, and some, like Michael Behe, even concede that it is not to be taken literally. Of course they all still “pick and choose” what “serves their purpose” of promoting uneasonable doubt of evolution. And they increasingly dismiss their irreconcilable differences as “insignificant”, even though that alone demolishes any pretense that what they are doing is “following the evidence where it leads.”

Ironically, the fundamentalist presupposition here actually involves starting with the assumption that the rabbit does get out of the hat by magic, and then resisting all natural explanations; continuing to believe that the magician really does have magic powers, even when every trick and sleight of hand is explained.

Stephen Wells said:

Ironically, the fundamentalist presupposition here actually involves starting with the assumption that the rabbit does get out of the hat by magic, and then resisting all natural explanations; continuing to believe that the magician really does have magic powers, even when every trick and sleight of hand is explained.

That might be how an OEC thinks. A YEC might go even further and insist that the rabbit is really a bird. Whereas an IDer would say that it’s not necessarily magic, only the work of a designer. But even if shown every trick and sleight of hand, the IDer will insist that that “pathetic level of detail” cannot explain how the unidentified animal exited the hat.

The minister at my Unitarian Universalist church here in NYC preached her evolution sermon this past Sunday. The reading she chose came from Darwin’s Autobiography - here is an excerpt:

“Nor must we overlook the probability of the constant inculcation in a belief in God on the minds of children producing so strong and perhaps an inherited effect on their brains not yet fully developed, that it would be as difficult for them to throw off their belief in God, as for a monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.”

I don’t think he’s trying to create atheists, here. He just trying to point our how difficult it can be for people to give up what they were raised to believe, no matter how strong the evidence to the contrary.

PZ Myers on Presuppositions

I posted this in another thread but it is relevant here. When we are asked, “What are your presuppositions?”, we should respond with something like this, quoting PZ Myers, hopefully with his permission:

“It’s true, I do have some presuppositions. I think that explanations should deal with as much of the evidence as possible; they should avoid contradictions, both internal and with the evidence from the physical world; they should be logical; they should make predictions that can be tested; they should have some utility in addressing new evidence. “

Read his great article here: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/[…]ivalence.php

Read about AIG presuppositions here: http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/440/

“The authority of the Bible is the main emphasis of Creation Ministries International. We don’t try to ‘prove’ the Bible with science; rather, we accept the Bible’s propositions as true without proof, i.e. as axioms or presuppositions. There are good reasons for accepting the axioms of Scripture as true, because it can be shown that they lead to a consistent view of physical and moral reality, which other axioms can’t provide.

Genesis contains a number of Hebrew grammatical features that show it was intended to teach a straightforward history of the world from its creation. Genesis, backed up by the rest of Scripture, unambiguously teaches that:

The heavens, Earth and everything in them were created in six consecutive normal days, the same as those of our working week (Exodus 20:8–11).

Earth is about 6,000 years old, since Jesus said mankind was there from the ‘beginning of creation’, not billions of years later (Mark 10:6).

God judged the world by a globe-covering Flood, which Jesus and Peter compared with the coming Judgment (Luke 17:26–27; 2 Peter 3:3–7). This destroyed all land vertebrate animals and people not on the ocean-liner-sized Ark.

God then judged the people by confusing their language at Babel—after they had refused to spread out and repopulate the Earth after the Flood.

It’s important to realize that all ‘facts’ of science do not speak for themselves, but are interpreted within a framework.”

QED said:

A bizarre coincidence - a few days ago a friend and I were discussing creationists and religion. I told him that when people see David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear, most know that there is some trick and accept the entertainment as such, even if the trick isn’t readily apparent. But the creationist mindset actually believes there may (or must) be some supernatural ability involved. Those heavily invested in religion are more open to supernatural causation, even with a magic trick. There are still many who believe Criss Angel has supernatural powers. Funny - that name - Angel.

As for why educated people can be easily duped by (and believe in) “magic”, I think it’s more of a general inherent ideological makeup. There appear to be those who find extraordinary comfort in groups of like-minded people, needing to “belong” to feel secure or fulfilled. The same group tends to seek authoritarian leadership - they’re followers. They need rules to maintain the status quo. They’re the opposite of independent thinkers, who they feel they must convert or at least control. Belief in the supernatural is their opium.

Oh the irony!! I admit it: I’m a true fantasy geek - I read the Lord of the Rings just about once a year, I played D&D as though it were a vocation back in the 70s and 80s (and even into the 90s), I did fantasy CRPG reviews for an online game mag for a year, I play Lord of the Rings Online MMO now, I even got to know D&D’s creator Gary Gygax and we became good friends (wasn’t that hard…he lived about 15 minutes away from my inlaws) - I was born and raised to believe in magic and fantasy, and yet all that remains ‘fantasy’ the moment I step away. The world I know has none of that supernatural interaction - it is solely a rational place. How in the world did I not end up buying into the Megachurch message?

Robin said:

How in the world did I not end up buying into the Megachurch message?

Because the Bible dosen’t have elves in it.

;)

Robin said:

Oh the irony!! I admit it: I’m a true fantasy geek - I read the Lord of the Rings just about once a year, I played D&D as though it were a vocation back in the 70s and 80s (and even into the 90s), I did fantasy CRPG reviews for an online game mag for a year, I play Lord of the Rings Online MMO now, I even got to know D&D’s creator Gary Gygax and we became good friends (wasn’t that hard…he lived about 15 minutes away from my inlaws) - I was born and raised to believe in magic and fantasy, and yet all that remains ‘fantasy’ the moment I step away. The world I know has none of that supernatural interaction - it is solely a rational place. How in the world did I not end up buying into the Megachurch message?

Everyone knows D&D is a tool Satan uses to lead people away from Christ!

Matters not an authoritarian jot what flavor of creationist delusion a bunny will promote…cos tis usually the one that appeals uniquely to their own prejudices anyway…but it is the common goal of eradication that is important…that is why differences b’twixt ‘n’ b’tween the various brands are inconsequential rendering it a mute point of very little moment… the commonality of mission by and large out weighs their glaring theological juxtapositions!

The goal of eradication is, of course, the despised enemy doctrine of Evolutionary theory!

That is and always has been the one science they must destroy completely…and they are still trying…this is not 18th century apologetic naivete this is as real as it gets!

It has doodly squat to do with Atheism or moral imperative or the dozen or so other trite and insulting nonsense claims they dream up to accuse atheism of …cos by and large if folks what to go to hell that is their party…if other Christians are bothered let them do the evangelizing…it is just the abject fear that Evolutionary theory will sweep away the dogma and the need in a god…of any stripe style or hue…

They see already their precious god jammed into the gaps left in natural phenomena explanations …and it appears he is getting a damn good crushing as they watch necessitating a jump to other gaps every now and then to breath…they fear that one day all the gaps will be filled with science fueled in some esoteric way by evolutionary theory!

So get rid of evolution and their omnipotent all powerful all omniscient all singing all dancing god can get his dignity back!

And thus save their blushes for being naive and ignorant plebs for believing in a pathetic mythology to start with let alone a brand of delusion so disparate and desperate as to having to ditch all rationalism to actually achieve functionality!

MememicBottleneck said:

The most violent authoritarians in history have been socialist/communist and many were atheists.

I know I’m both a little late and a little off-topic here, but I had to respond. I seriously doubt that this is true unless, maybe, you’re just going by sheer body count, which is misleading.

I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading the last few years in medieval European history and culture, another of my amateur interests (like evolution). I’m in the middle of Barbara Tuchman’s majestic A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. The level of authoritarian sadism and brutality that was commonplace in that age beggars description - in societies that were, of course, soaked in Christianity and led by Christian theocrats. The treatment that the authorities accorded their political or theological enemies and/or social “inferiors” staggers and occasionally nauseates even an official Angry Atheist like myself, who has many times casually invoked the Crusades and the Inquisition and pogroms and witch hunts against claims of Christian kindness and moral superiority. Tuchman notes more than once the ability of nobles and knights to casually commit the most heinous of acts and then fall to their knees praising the God of love and mercy, literally in the same minute, without batting an eyelash or seeing any apparent contradiction.

I’m one of those people who suspects strongly that the only reason the Christian kings and knights and popes of the Middle Ages didn’t slaughter and torture vastly more people than Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot put together, was that they didn’t have the technology.

I agree it is worthwhile for we atheists to remember that at least nominally godless regimes showed themselves capable of stunning brutality throughout the 20th century. But as put in the way it’s stated above, this is an old Christianist canard, and I’m disappointed to see a fellow atheist pulling it out and dusting it off.

I feel a desperate need to scrub myself clean after watching that ignorant woman.

gypsytag said:

I feel a desperate need to scrub myself clean after watching that ignorant woman.

But she’s not ignorant gypytag. She’s extremely clever, with a PhD in molecular biology (no mean feat in educational terms) which makes the thing even sadder. Someone who really should be making a name for herself in the world of science instead of peddling Ham’s nonsense.

She’s extremely clever, with a PhD in molecular biology (no mean feat in educational terms) which makes the thing even sadder.

And it also underscores something illustrated by the likes of Wise, Wells and others, and by several studies I’ve read - Education does not cure creationism! So I found it equally sad to read that the percentage of creationists entering college biology programs was only barely higher than the percentage of creationists graduating with biology degrees. We keep re-learning that convictions not based on evidence can’t be modified by any amount of conflicting evidence; the two are conceptually non-overlapping.

So I chuckle at the attempts made here and elsewhere to show that creationist doctrines are flat wrong on the merits. Those cases of effective deprogramming I’ve seen don’t rest on evidence, but on the observation that creationists consistently display moral failure; that they are are violating not the rules of science (irrelevant), but rather violating the rules of ethical conduct within their own value system. That their approach necessarily relies on dishonesty and sowing confusion and misunderstanding, and generally trying to trick people into “right belief”.

The analogy with stage magic is apt, so long as we understand that it’s aimed at an audience primed from early childhood to swallow it as “real”.

This thread is old, but the attempted analogy in the post is so wrong, and I seem to see no refutation when quickly browsing the comments, that I have to comment briefly.

Of course no empiricist have to take the naive philosophy road of “epistemology” in lieu of entertaining facts. There are ample of physical (and social) reasons why magic has disappeared as a viable hypothesis; it is debunked long since. Which of course is why we normally speak of illusionists instead of ‘magicians’.

Perhaps Joe Hern is another of many ‘recovered’ hard core creationists, that observably has decided to junk a belief for another putatively in order to merely get rid of the more obvious cognitive dissonance?

I believe that this also explains the present strong identification of fundamental Christianity with right-wing politics, but that would require a full essay, and would hardly be on-topic.

That’s funny, since the fundamentalists are almost always the topic.

Dungeons and Dragons leading people away from the Bible? Cool. I thought it was just nerd crap.

Presupposition: See story where James Randi fools audiences with FAKE fortune tellers and then lets them know it was all FAKE. Many still refused to believe it was fake.

Fundies and Rightwing Republicans - Venn diagrams overlap. Both on the wane.….

Enjoy.

Well, as I see it, in order to make the analogy really work it would be necessary to also posit that in all of the history of magic shows there has never been a case of proven trickery, slight of hand, misdirection or chicanery. It would have to be the case that every careful and rigorous examination of a magic show would have concluded that true magic had taken place. It would also have to be the case that every time an investigation had shown that there was no Magic that the investigator was either very sloppy or intentionally fraudulent. Not only would those assumptions have to be granted, you would also have to assume that Magic was part and parcel of everyday life, each and every thing in the world would perform some type of Magic to accomplish each and every action. The analogy only maps to our universe if Magic is the normal state of affairs and Naturalistic processes are completely unobserved and discredited.

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