Snopes.com yesterday verified that a “science” test (below the fold) given to 4th graders at a sectarian school is in fact real. Answers in Genesis, meanwhile, vilifies anyone who objects to such nonsense being taught as science, calling them “intolerant atheists” who “viciously attack [a] Christian school.”
Recently in Bible as Science Category
On the topic of how kangaroos got to Australia after Noah’s Flood: at 2pm tomorrow, April 16 Answers in Genesis will hold a live chat at Facebook about AIG’s marvelous Super-fast Ice-Age Timeline and Map (which has the Ice Age lasting from about ~2220 to ~2115 BC, and all recorded human civilization post-2100 BC). I predict that any pointed questions they receive will be deleted quickly and permanently, so if you want some entertainment you will have to monitor it live. You may want to copy and archive any choice questions they receive before they’re deleted.
I presume that AIG’s “2:00 pm” is Eastern Daylight Time (=1800 GMT). Diogeneslamp0 has some representative questions one might ask at the linked comment.
Todd Wood has just announced that Bryan College is discontinuing support for the Center for Origins Research (CORE). I am actually kind of sad about this. Wood was almost the sole representative of critical thinking in the creationist movement. He also had the virtually unique trait of understanding what modern evolutionary biology actually said before opening his big mouth about it. I can’t think of a time when he quote-mined Gould’s punctuated equilibrium quotes or blamed Darwin for Hitler or used the other careless, bottom-of-the-barrel tactics ubiquitous with creationists of the ID or AIG varieties. And I can think of many times when he called shenanigans on creationists engaging in those sorts of sins.
One creationist claim that's commonly laughed at is this idea that 8 people could build a great big boat, big enough to hold all the 'kinds' of animals, and that those same 8 people were an adequate work force to maintain all those beasts for a year in a confined space on a storm-tossed ark. So the creationists have created a whole pseudoscientific field called baraminology which tries to survey all of taxonomy and throw 99% of it out, so they can reduce the necessary number of animals packed into the boat. Literally, that's all it's really about: inventing new taxonomies with the specific goal of lumping as many as possible, in order to minimize the load on their fantasy boat.
In the past, I've seen them argue that a biblical 'kind' is equivalent to a genus; others have claimed it's the Linnaean family. Now, Dr Jean K. Lightner, Independent Scholar (i.e. retired veterinarian), has taken the next step: a kind is equivalent to an order, roughly. Well, she does kind of chicken out at the Rodentia, the largest and most diverse group of mammals, and decides that those ought to be sorted into families, because otherwise she's reducing the number of animals on the ark too much.
Dan Phelps, author of a recent PT article on the Creation “Museum”, sent us this link to a “documentary” on “replicating” the Ark. The “documentary” is a three-part series and has supposedly been produced for PBS stations.
Mr. Phelps says he could not find any PBS stations that are actually airing the “documentary.” Can any reader point to a PBS station that has shown it or plans to show it?
***Update, October 10: Joe Sonka, in an article for the Louisville newspaper LEO Weekly, reports that PBS has no knowledge of any documentary. He quotes Ken Ham, however, as saying that PBS had agreed to three documentaries. Perhaps Mr. Ham is exaggerating.
The director of the “documentary,” Johan Bos, incidentally, is associated with an oddball outfit that offers classes in film production and guarantees, “This class is a Christian safe environment. This class does not teach secular or worldly views.” A Christian-safe environment. I had no idea that Christianity was so fragile.***
I recently acquired the new book “The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood” by David Montgomery. It’s a splendid read, and very much applicable to the readership of Panda’s Thumb. The book has some excellent pictures and discussions regarding Siccar Point in Scotland, “…celebrated as the place where Scottish farmer James Hutton discovered geologic time..” Siccar Point graces the cover of Montgomery’s book.
Just last Thursday, I cited Siccar Point in a lecture on the Flood for our new social studies class at New Mexico Tech in Socorro. (See slides 56-58). I have resolved to visit Siccar Point - it’s on my bucket list.
That’s why I found this announcement from the Facebook group “Save Siccar Point” to be quite disturbing. They are alarmed that developers are “ruining the geological mecca of Siccar Point, the location of Hutton’s unconformity.”
More info here:http://www.savesiccarpoint.co.uk/
From the site comes this urgent plea:
The deadline for objections has been extended to 23 September 2012 - the day before the application is considered. If you want to lodge an objection you have some time to do it. Please don’t forget! …
It still not too late to object…keep them coming.
You can object by email if you want. Here’s how:
- In the Subject Line put “12/00929/FUL Objection Comment”
- Add your comment in the email body
If you want to CC anyone else into your email, you might want to consider:
I have sent along my objections - will you?
(Don’t forget to be polite!)
Dan Phelps, right, armed for battle, with his new friend, Ken Ham.
On July 28, 2012, Answers in Genesis (AIG) held a “Behind the Scenes” event at the Creation “Museum’s” Legacy Hall. The event was free but with RSVP required via the Ark Encounter website. I made it a point to register well in advance and ask for a space for a guest. I invited reporter Joe Sonka from LEO Weekly to come along since he has done numerous critical news articles and blog postings on the Ark Park. Indeed it was Joe who asked Governor Beshear and Ark Encounter representatives some embarrassing questions revealing that the Ark would have dinosaurs on it when the project was announced in December, 2010. What follows is my account of the event and summary of the status of the proposed park.
I wish I had thought of that title, but it is actually an article by Joe Sonka in the Louisville newspaper, LEO Weekly. According to Sonka, the Ark Park (properly known as Ark Encounter) will have to raise $22 million before it can even start construction, and $44 million an additional $22 million to complete the project (it was unclear to me whether that is an additional $44 million, above the first $22 million). Sonka further estimates that the project will take at least 3 years to complete, and an estimated $53 million will have to be invested over the next decade. If the project takes that long to complete, however, they will presumably lose at least some tax incentives.
But cheer up! There is hope: If you invest $100,000, the minimum investment, they project a 20.6 % return on investment. At this point, I am torn between a quotation attributed to P. T. Barnum and a myth concerning the sale of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Ken Ham, the driving force behind the Ark Park, claims that PBS will air a documentary this fall, but I could find nothing on the PBS website besides this broadcast, a year ago. According to Sonka, Ham claims that the PBS documentary will net the Ark Park 2 million visitors per year, an attendance that Sonka says would rival that of a big amusement park in Cincinnati, a city of roughly 300,000. Grant County, by contrast, has a population of around 25,000 and is located at least an hour’s drive from any major metropolitan area.
One of my favorite bloggers is The Sensuous Curmudgeon. He exemplifies the holy writ of curmudgeonhood, “The Curmudgeon’s Handbook,” a compendium of extracts from historical curmudgeons (Mencken was prominent among them) that I read more than four decades ago and can no longer find. I can only dream of aspiring to the heights SC regularly reaches. He recently vented about creationism in a post titled The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Creation Science. (Well, he actually vents regularly, but this one is a keeper.) Highly recommended!
LEO Weekly, an alternative weekly published in Louisville, Kentucky, reports that fundraising for the Ark Park has gone virtually nowhere since last May. Groundbreaking, if it was ever planned at all, has been postponed and postponed and postponed until next spring at the earliest.
LEO Weekly reports that the Ark Park has raised only about $1 million since last May and has raised a total of $4 million altogether. Its goal is to raise approximately $25 million. A representative of the Ark Park says, “Funding is progressing, a little slower [sic] due to the very slow economy.” He says further that they are 3-4 months behind schedule and adds, “We are considering a few options to help speed up the construction and possibly open to guests earlier than our original schedule. Once we have more information developed I’ll update you – probably by the first of the year.” LEO Weekly estimates that at the present rate groundbreaking might be scheduled for 2024.
My own estimate is that their timescale is skewed by their belief that the Earth is around 5000 years old. It is in fact more like 5 billion years old. Thus, if we take 3-4 months and multiply it by the ratio of 5 billion years to 5000 years, we estimate that the groundbreaking ceremony will take place in 3 million months, or 250,000 years.
Anyone who wonders where the money may be going in the meantime might consider the review by a volunteer named Roxy, posted at Charity Navigator. Additionally, comments to the LEO article claim that the Ark Park itself is a for-profit venture, but the Ark Encounter Website is not completely clear (to me, at least), and I cannot independently verify the claims. I cannot, however, find Ark Encounter in IRS Publication 78 .
I have read the entirety of Hamza Andreas Tzortzis' paper, Embryology in the Qur'an: A scientific-linguistic analysis of chapter 23: With responses to historical, scientific & popular contentions, all 58 pages of it (although, admittedly, it does use very large print). It is quite possibly the most overwrought, absurdly contrived, pretentious expansion of feeble post hoc rationalizations I've ever read. As an exercise in agonizing data fitting, it's a masterpiece.
Here, let me give you the short version…and I do mean short. This is a paper that focuses with obsessive detail on all of two verses from the Quran. You heard me right: the entirety of the embryology in that book, the subject of this lengthy paper, is two goddamned sentences, once translated into English.
We created man from an essence of clay, then We placed him as a drop of fluid in a safe place. Then We made that drop of fluid into a clinging form, and then We made that form into a lump of flesh, and We made that lump into bones, and We clothed those bones with flesh, and later We made him into other forms. Glory be to God the best of creators.
Seriously, that's it. You have just mastered all of developmental biology, as taught by Mohammed.
Looks like the cartoonist Wiley Miller has started a series of strips on teaching the “controversy.” He’s got the age of the dinosaurs wrong, and carbon dating does not work that far back anyway, but, hell, the strip is called Non Sequitur. The money quote so far is, “Um, just as an F.Y.I., saying ‘facts’ would be a lot less offensive if you used air-quotes.”
The fact that the winner of the Miss USA competition (Miss California, yay) supported evolution, whereas most of the other contestants did not, has gotten a lot of attention in the newspapers and blogs. But I’m not sure how many people have actually watched the answers that the Miss USA contestants gave to the evolution question. Here it is:
I haven’t watched every last answer yet – gotta go to post-Evolution 2011 bar-hopping – but I wasn’t amazingly impressed with even Miss California’s answer (she is at 1:52 if you want to skip there). Sure, she says she’s a science geek (and she used the words “history geek” in answer to another question…good line I guess), and supports evolution. And unlike most responses she doesn’t do a “yes, teach evolution, but teach both sides” sort of answer. But I guess it would asking too much for one of the contestants to say, “Actually, I’m a [scientific field] major and I know that evolution is the central organizing theory of biology, and everyone should learn it as part of a complete basic science education.”
Anyway, it is educational for us evonerds and academics to watch the video. The answers are closer to the kinds of default answers you get when journalists spring the evolution question on politicians. The Miss USA contestants are much closer to where the general American public is at than we are.
PS: Lauren Carter, Vermont, at 13:20 has the only decent answer I’ve heard on this video.
Hat tip: My friend Ashley Eden, who’s awesomer than this whole collection put together.
Most of our readers are no doubt aware of the recent near-expulsion of William A. Dembski from the ranks of true believers. This story in the Florida Baptist Witness covered it in some detail. The basics:
1. Dembski, now a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote an apologetics book in which he suggested that one can reconcile an old earth with the initiation of natural evil by a literal Fall of a real pair, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden in the recent (~6,000 years) past by positing that the Fall echoed backward in time to tarnish all 4.5 billion years of earth’s history (or some such blather). Dembski mentioned en passant that Da Flood was probably a local event, not a global deluge.
2. Dembski was criticized for his apparent old earthism and deference to actual science in a book review by a faculty member at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dembski’s former employer.
3. After some to-ing and fro-ing involving (among others) the Presidents of the two seminaries, both of them young earthers, Dembski issued a clarification reiterating his belief in an inerrant Bible, etc., etc.
One thing I found of interest in this tempest in a theological teapot was Dembski’s comment on his treatment the local/global flood issue. He was quoted as writing
“In a brief section [of his book] on Genesis 4-11, I weigh in on the Flood, raising questions about its universality, without adequate study or reflection on my part,” Dembski wrote. “Before I write on this topic again, I have much exegetical, historical, and theological work to do.”
Um, Bill? You might consider that you have much geological work to do. After all, a putative global flood is geological event and geologists have been gathering relevant data for, oh, say, three centuries or so. And this is all about the science, isn’t it?
I’ve said in several venues that should the theocrats win, the next day blood will flow down the aisles and under the pews (one hopes only metaphorically, though that’s by no means guaranteed). We see that metaphor scenario playing out in a number of venues in contemporary Christianity. Ken Ham rails against theistic evolution, arguing that its acceptance of an old earth/universe erodes the authority of scripture, and now Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (William Dembski’s former employer), all but accuses Francis Collins’ BioLogos Forum of apostasy (or so Darrell Falk interprets it) on much the same grounds, while endorsing the venerable appearance of age notion to account for the data of physics, geology, paleontology, and evolutionary biology.
More below the fold
I think sometimes academics and bloggers who oppose creationists don’t really fully get the cultural and emotional context that the creationists are living in. You need to watch this May 20th episode of TBN’s “Praise the Lord”, devoted to creationism. Featured interviewees include Sean McDowell (son of Josh), Eric Hovind (son of Kent), Hugh Ross, Ray Comfort…and well-known non-creationist, Stephen Meyer. But the first 15 minutes of the show gives you some idea of just how far this is from being an academic issue.
In the beginning of years, when the world was so new and all, and the Animals were just beginning to work for Man, the Lord created the Reptile. And the Lord, for a lark, covered the earth with a blue dome that stretched from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. And the dome caused the humidity to rise and the plants to grow without limit. And the Reptiles ate of the abundant plants and were fruitful and multiplied and every moving thing that lived was meat for them. And terrible Lizards grew to gigantic proportions and drove Man to the edges of the earth, to the wilderness of Zin, where the humidity was low. And the Lord saw that the dome was not so good and became wroth with himself and said oops. And the Lord removed the dome, and the Lizards died (save those that were covered with feathers). And Man was fruitful and multiplied and colonized the earth, and every moving thing that lived was meat for him (except for the Pig). And God said let the sky be blue* as a token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations.
* It is not known whether God made the sky blue at the same time as he made the rainbow.
Dedication. I dedicate this essay to Robert Byers.
How did all those “kinds” of animals survive aboard the Ark during Noah’s Flood? Ken Ham has a novel answer. See below the fold.
Via John Pieret’s excellent Thoughts in a Haystack blog I learn of an ongoing controversy about the teaching of evolution at Adventist Universities. (See also this Sept. 1 article from Inside Higher Ed.) The latest event is that the board of trustess of La Sierra University in Riverside, California, voted to endorse young-earth creationism:
La Sierra’s board of trustees last week unanimously voted to endorse Adventist beliefs that the world was created in six 24-hour days and said the teaching of evolution must be “within the context of the Adventist belief regarding creation.”
The board also proposed that all 15 North American Adventist universities develop a curriculum that includes a “scientifically rigorous affirmation” of Adventist creation beliefs.
At first glance, it is confusing that this is news. Those of us who are familiar with the history of creationism and have read Ronald Numbers’ classic The Creationists, and learned that the Seventh-Day Adventists were virtually the only fundamentalists who produced major advocates supporting belief in a young earth and global flood in the early 20th century – based on the literalist visions of Adventist founder and prophetess Ellen White. It was only in the 1960s that the young-earth/global view became dominant within American fundamentalism/conservative evangelicalism in general, primarily through the efforts of Henry Morris and John Whitcomb in The Genesis Flood.