Conspiracy road trip with creationists: Noah’s Ark and other LOLz

A few months ago the British film company Renegade Pictures flew me to Arizona, where I was to take on five British fundamentalist creationists (four Christians, one Muslim) as part of the “Conspiracy Road Trip” t.v. series. Three of these hour-long episodes have appeared or will appear on BBC3 television: one on UFOs (to come), one on the London 7/7 bombings, and the show I helped with—the one on creationism.

I was part of a group of scientists, including Don Prothero, Gregg Wilkerson, Michael Russell, and Tim White, chosen to participate in “Conspiracy Road Trip: Creationism.” The hope was, I guess, to try to change the mind of these diehard British creationists (Brits, if you don’t think they exist in Old Blighty, just watch this hour-long episode!) and bring them around to accepting evolution.

When I was asked to participate, I replied there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of real young-earth creationists coming around to Darwinism, but I went along for the fun of it.

My assigned task was to debunk the myth of Noah’s Ark, which I was supposed to do while floating on a boat on Lake Powell. That would seem to be an easy task, but not if you’re facing five people whose whole worldview would crumble if they didn’t see the entire Bible (or, for Abdul, the Qur’an) as literally true.

Anyway, the host, Irish comedian Andrew Maxwell, was an engaging guy with a deep respect for science as well as the ability to move things along and get a group of the faithful with a chip on their shoulders to talk to a group of deeply suspicious scientists. Here’s the Renegade Pictures blurb:

Comedian Andrew Maxwell takes 5 British Creationists to the West Coast of America, to try to convince them that evolution is true and their ideas are, well, crackers.  Stuck on a bus across 2,000 miles of dustbowl roads with these religious fundamentalists, Maxwell tackles some mind-boggling ideas.  Could the Earth be only 6,000 years old, did humans and T-Rex live side by side?  It’s a bumpy ride, as he’s confronted with some very unchristian behaviour along the way, but by the end could he possibly win over any of the Bible-bashers with hard scientific fact…. And keep a straight face?

I think I posted on this before the program came out, but this is just the second day the program’s been available, and the first time I’ve seen it. Enjoy the video below (I appear about 12 minutes in):

(I’m told that Brits can’t access this, but maybe there’s another link that a reader can find. Maybe this one will work.)

Young-earth creationists are almost all intransigent, be they British or American. It’s just ineffably sad to see a group of intelligent young people so readily reject the evidence of their senses. And note this as well—who are the militant ones here: the creationists or the scientists?

Andrew started this trip with high hopes, but you can see his increasing frustration, and his abandonment of “objectivity”, as the program proceeds. I could have predicted that.

After watching this show, I see it more as a sociological document—as a collision between incompatible cultures—than as a show about evolution.  If you maintain that science and faith are compatible, you’ll have to rule out these five creationists as practicing “true” religion. That’s what Steve Gould had to do to prop up his NOMA hypothesis that true religion is compatible with true science.

To see the real creationist mindset and the cognitive dissonance it inspires, listen to the dialogue between JoJo and Bronwyn starting at 47 minutes in.

In the end, JoJo, with whom I had a really nice one-on-one conversation on the boat (I’m sending her my book), was the only person who budged even a millimeter when given the evidence for evolution. If you can face the row of skulls that Tim White set up, and pretend that they don’t show evolution, you’re hopeless. (Look at Abdul’s ridiculous response.)

h/t: Several readers

161 Comments

  1. Atom
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    I saw it last night on BBC iPlayer. Loved it! I moved from the bible belt in the states (Mississippi) to Belfast, Northern Ireland… So the insanity continues over here!

    Anyways, the show was good fun! I wish I could see an uncut version!

    Btw, that Phil guy is insane! Haha.

    -Atom

  2. Miles_Teg
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    There’s always hope. I used to be a YEC.

    • RFW
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      Then tell us something very important: what triggered your movement from YECism to an acceptance (not “belief in”!) evolution, the geological age of Earth, and suchlike topics?

      I keep hoping that someone with serious credentials in psychology will reveal effective methods for cracking the shells of the intransigents. Failing that, a first hand account of a spontaneous conversion will certainly help us understand the creationist mindset and how they got that way in the first place.

      As I’ve gotten older and older, religious belief has become more and more a mystery to me: how can anyone take all that stuff seriously? If you can shed a ray of light on the matter, please speak up.

      • lulu_footloose
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        I think the answer to your question was discussed by Dr Coyne and Andrew in the show itself.

        It is easier to believe one “simple” book than to read several “difficult” books.

      • gluonspring
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

        Most people get that way by indoctrination as a child. I was raised a YEC but I can’t tell you the trick to getting out because it is, indeed, a psychological knot, one reinforced by strong social pressure.

        It certainly helped that I was interested in science. Even so, as a kid I actively avoided reading about evolution or even biology because I found it too threatening to my faith. I couldn’t help but be exposed to this information anyway as a side effect of my other science interests. I wanted to be a space explorer as a kid and liked all things related to space. That seemed safe enough for a fundamentalist boy at first, but eventually all that unused real estate starts to be unsettling to literal Bible world view, and the distances and time scale keep impinging on you. My interest in space made Cosmos a must watch TV series. It came on right after Sunday evening church! And yes, we went twice on Sunday. It was quite a contrast, to listen to emotion laden fear mongering from the pulpit and then to come home and hear this nice man calmly lay out the case for an alternative view. I didn’t instantly embrace it, but it made a big impact on me. Over time, the calm dispassion of science juxtaposed with the hysteria of religion had a cumulative impact. Still, it was probably another five years after watching Cosmos before I admitted to myself that I didn’t believe the Bible any more. It wasn’t a decision, of course. I just noticed that, as a point of fact, I no longer believed it. It is probably impossible for someone not raised as a fundamentalist to understand how terrifying that realization was. All of the rational part of my mind knew it was a fairy tale, but there was a frightened child part of my mind that reacted with terror: “Oh, no, now I’m going to Hell because I don’t believe!”. That sentiment alone speaks volumes about what is going on in the minds of believers. I don’t believe it, and AT THE SAME TIME I experience the fear that I’m going to go to Hell for not believing it. It took me probably another couple of years before I became internally comfortable with the realization of my unbelief so that it didn’t bother or worry me. It was years more before I would confide this fact to my wife and closest friends. I still do not talk about it with the rest of my family. Whatever I might say about it, all they would hear is that I’m going to Hell. That’s the main reason I don’t use my real name here. I don’t want to have to deal with my family Googling my name and then having to listen to my mother cry at me on the phone. Call me a coward, but I’m just not up for that.

        I’d like to think this long agonizing journey could have been compressed in the age of the Internet. In a small town with only network TV, it took me many many years to accidentally encounter and then absorb all the various arguments against religion, something you can achieve in a lazy Saturday afternoon now on the Internet. But I think for anyone sufficiently invested in religion it is going to be a long process because it involves not just receiving and absorbing information but also totally remaking yourself. It involves scrapping who and what you thought you were and forging a new identity from scratch. It involves cutting yourself off from your community, your friends, sometimes your family (mentally, if not physically). It involves overcoming the inculcated fear that you’re being misled by Satan, or that you will become a bad person. It involves the knowledge that people you hold dear will react to you with horror if they knew. Have you ever had a friend react to you with horror, as though you had committed some dark crime, as though you are yourself a representative of some dark force? If you’re recovering from religion you have, or you know you would if you had the courage to face it. That long process of remaking oneself is never going to be easy.

        • Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

          Again, a perfect example of cognitive dissonance.

          You held a belief in the Bible and you had a lot invested in that belief; it was an integral part of who you were.

          Science caused you pain, because it contradicted your belief in the Bible. If science is true, then the Bible isn’t, and if the Bible isn’t true then you were a dumb person for falling for the lie. And it hurts to admit, especially to yourself, that you’re a dumb person who fell for such an obvious lie.

          So, at first, you lessened your pain by simply avoiding the subject. You probably also had some defense mechanisms that helped you tear down science in your mind so as to lessen the damage it did to your faith.

          But burying the pain, of course, didn’t make it go away. And, eventually, the pain became so great that letting go of your adherence to the Bible, as painful as such a letting go must necessarily be, was less painful than reinforcing your conviction of your stupidity for believing such palpable nonsense.

          When Jung wrote that there is no coming to consciousness without pain, this is exactly what he was referring to — though, of course, Jung preceded Cognitive Dissonance Theory by decades.

          We all always strive to reduce the pain caused by cognitive dissonance. There are really only two ways of doing so: by retreating from reality in order to lessen the pain it causes, or by abandoning the false position that’s the source of the pain in the first place.

          When the used car salesman sells you a lemon, you can pretend it’s a great car and ignore its problems, or you can acknowledge that it’s a piece of shit and do what you can to clean up the situation. The former option lessens the short-term pain but maximizes the long-term pain; the latter, the reverse.

          Maturity comes from learning how to identify and prefer the long-term solutions to problems.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • gluonspring
            Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

            Yes, exactly.

            • Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

              …which is why, if we are to liberate society from the clutches of religion, it will be primarily by increasing the painful cost of persisting in religious belief.

              The accommodationists are all about lessening the discord between science and religion, which is entirely bass-ackwards. Instead, they should be noting that the Bible is all about enchanted gardens with talking animals and angry wizards…and, well, you get the idea.

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Paulo
                Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

                It makes sense. But I can imagine creationists saying that atheists want to torture believers…

              • Posted October 11, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

                But I can imagine creationists saying that atheists want to torture believers…

                To a Cretinist, arguments from an atheist do indeed constitute torture.

                First, there’s the actual pain of cognitive dissonance. And then there’s the torture that Satan will mete out at Jesus’s command for those who choose reason over faith.

                It’s not hard to understand why they hate us so much….

                b&

        • gluonspring
          Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

          I’ve been thinking about the people I know who have left religion. The most obvious pattern among them is that they are almost all scientists or engineers. The few I can think of who are not scientists or engineers are musicians or artists. Curious. Obviously being exposed to science exposes you to better ways of thinking and to correct explanations the world. That might be all there is to it. I suspect that it provides more than just information, though. People in science or engineering have another peer group they can identify with who are not religious, another identity they can switch over to as they leave religion. Ready made backup friends! My sample size is tiny, so it’s as likely to just be coincidence or selection bias, but it is perhaps possible that the musicians and artists I know who left the faith also benefitted from having a backup identity in their art and among their artist friends (or maybe they are just used to being oddballs).

          • Posted October 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

            My childhood has parallels with yours: church twice on Sunday, hellfire and damnation evangelists, etc. Yet somehow in my late teens I had become embarrassed by the foolishness of it all. I give some credit to science fiction: I was a bookworm and those sci-fi stories were filled with ideas that my parents and church would have thought shocking. And it piqued my interest in science, after which religion seemed so boring and such a waste of time.

            • Posted February 15, 2014 at 9:24 am | Permalink

              I can relate to that, although i only stopped believing in it in my 4th year of medicine, by which time i was an emotionally wreck, and it took me a long time to rebuild

        • Miles_Teg
          Posted October 11, 2012 at 12:28 am | Permalink

          I was 16 when I became a YEC, no parental pressure. I thought I knew better than all those godless scientists. I loved maths, physics and chemistry and hated biology (I dissected a mouse in a science class when I was 12, which put me off biology for 25 years). Because I knew almost no geology or biology it was easy to be a YEC. When my scientific interests broadened in the late Eighties I learned more about that stuff and soon gave up on creationism.

      • Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        I used to be a YEC, and I did not really question the answers I was giving out, even into my 20s, after I stopped going to church, I still came out with things like “There are no transitional species” or “If evolution happens, then why are there no half monkey half people”.

        Not because I thought about it and decided it made sense, but because I had heard these things said so many times by people who were “authorities” that it was an automatic response.

        What did it for me finally, was watching Attenboroughs “Life on Earth”, it suddenly dawned on me how simple it really is to understand. By this point I was a year into Uni, and felt really stupid for not looking into this myself before. Now, the more I find out about geology, archaeology and biology in general, the more fascinating I find it. (I am studying Environmental Biology).

        Tellingly, I sent my dad “Life on Earth”, not to convince him, but because I think the programme is one of the most amazing ever made and everyone should see it, but he was not allowed to watch it because “Attenborough is an evolutionist”. So, it is mostly by not letting people see actual factual documentaries, and by telling them what they should read and watch, and by telling them how to interpret the bible that YEC perpetuates.

        I am slightly unusual as I am a European ex-YECer, and most people here have never met anyone who actually believes anything like that.

        • Miles_Teg
          Posted October 11, 2012 at 12:20 am | Permalink

          I also adore Attenborough’s work. And I also like Michael Ruse’s books. I noticed his book Darwinism Defended in a library back in 1982 when I was still a YEC and bought a copy so I knew what the other side thought. It didn’t start the process of turning me off creationism – physics did that – but it did help later on.

          • HaggisForBrains
            Posted October 11, 2012 at 2:09 am | Permalink

            On a similar principle, I’m currently reading my way (tediously) through the bible, to see what the other side thinks. It has been said often here before, but does any one of them actually read this crap for themselves. So far my reading has persuaded me that god is badly in need of a good strong editor. I don’t mean to edit out the genocide, fratricide and all the other -cides, but simply to get rid of all the tedious repetition.

            Don’t worry, there is no chance that reading the bible will convince me that I should change my mind and become a YEC (or is that Yechh!). Watching “Life on Earth” or “Cosmos” is in a different league altogether.

            • Miles_Teg
              Posted October 11, 2012 at 4:27 am | Permalink

              If you think the Bible is tedious try reading the Koran. Defines repetition.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted October 11, 2012 at 12:33 am | Permalink

          Life on Earth is the most memorable natural history series I’ve ever seen. It was such a huge jump in terms of the images and photography over anything that had come before.

          Anyone who has an interest in natural history should see it.

        • Posted October 11, 2012 at 12:51 am | Permalink

          “he was not allowed to watch it”

          Who stopped him?

          /@

          • HaggisForBrains
            Posted October 11, 2012 at 2:10 am | Permalink

            God, of course (through his earthly representatives presumably).

          • Robin Brown
            Posted October 11, 2012 at 2:13 am | Permalink

            I have always liked Dennett’s comment that the one thing which unites “toxic” forms of religion, as he puts it, is the enforced ignorance of the young.

          • skepticalsquirrel
            Posted October 11, 2012 at 3:34 am | Permalink

            My mother…she also has a rageface on if he watches certain TV shows. She gets her “approved list” from what the elders say.

      • Miles_Teg
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

        Physics.

        I became a YEC in 1974, aged 16. In 1987 I came to the conclusion that the universe was a very old place, say 13 billion years old. But I thought some smaller portion, say the solar system might still be young, say less than 10,000 years. As time passed and I kept thinking about this stuff the “special” part got smaller and smaller, untl by 1994 I’d given up on creationism completely. It helped that an elder at my church was a geology professor who was scathing about creationism but also a believer. He is the one who said he thought that the conditions of the universe were such that the evolution of intelligent life were inevitable.

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted October 11, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

          It’s like a bubble of inflationary spacetime, only in reverse; the post-Genesis world shrinking away in size before blinking out.

      • artistabby
        Posted November 9, 2012 at 7:01 am | Permalink

        For me it first required the abandoning of the belief that the Bible is the inspired and infallible Word of God, and that the only correct interpretation of it is a literal one, albeit taking into account literary genre.

        I believed that if you didn’t take the Bible literally, then you could justify any sort of crazy conclusion by twisting the plain meaning of words. So it seemed obvious that God would want us to interpret it literally for His Word to carry any authoritative weight for His subjects.

        It wasn’t until I started reading a lot of philosophical and science books, e.g., ones that also addressed the existence of God, like Victor Stenger’s, as well as the historical inaccuracies in the Bible, that I begrudgingly came to the conclusion that for all of the evidence to conflict with a plain meaning of the Bible that either the Bible was inaccurate or its author was capricious for allowing and/or creating a world where all of the evidence points to His non-existence.

        At that point I had to acknowledge that any perceived conviction I had previously felt, which I thought was from God, that authenticated the veracity of the Bible could be explained by purely psychological means.

        In summary, once the Bible crumbled and a belief in the God of the Bible, then, finally, all of the pieces could fit in place and the mental strain of cognitive dissonance happily dissipated.

  3. Griff
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    The original link works

    • Griff
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      from the UK that is

  4. Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    I think this episode suggests that persuasion depends rather more on the persuadee’s personality than the persuader’s tactics. Here’s the iPlayer link, for Brits:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01n8ls6

    • Posted October 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Couldn’t agree more with this. People will accept a flattering lie than a confrontational truth every time. It shouldn’t matter but it does. I touched upon this in my review of the show.

  5. pktom64
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Didn’t they do one about 9/11 as well? I think I saw it and was very happy to see two (?) of the 5 changed positions once they heard reasonable explanations for things they thought only the Truthers™ could explain.

    It was also sad to see the others, who didn’t want to change their mind. I remember a girl who thought that phone calls were not possible from the plane and thus the conversations between passengers and their family were fake. Even after speaking to the mother of one of the victim, she still could not accept it as true…

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      No. Episode 1 was re 7/7

      • pktom64
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        Well, you made me look for it :)

        Definitely 9/11, same presenter, same show.
        I don’t know if this is another series/season tho.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      This is where I took my information from:-

      http://www.renegadepictures.co.uk/program/Conspiracy-Road-Trip_745.aspx

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01nbt65/episodes/guide

      Both list 7/7 then creationism then UFO’s
      However the 9/11 programme aired in September last year so that was either a one-off that became a series this year or was a previous series
      Either way I apologise for doubting you

      Can you pass the thermite please?

      • pktom64
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        Either way I apologise for doubting you

        You man of little faith… Good for you!!

  6. Egbert
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    It is interesting that those who question the 7/7 attacks, let’s call them ‘conspiracy theorists’ are framed as no different to deluded religious followers or believers in aliens visiting our planet. Nice bit of propaganda that.

    • Jeremy Pereira
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Well they are. One of them went through what looked like a crisis of faith when shown what home made explosives could do to a bus.

      • Kieran
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        To think that there was a conspiracy beyond some terrorists involved in 9/11 or 7/7 involves the magical thinking that the government is capable of keeping secret an operation that would have included hundreds of people and yet they can’t get trains to run on time.
        Next there is someone covering it up or making money from it. Anti-climate change people. There are distinct similarities between creationism, anti-vacination, anti climate change and even holocost denial. Similar structure of argument, cherry picking and vague notion that someone is trying to cover it up or make money out of it.

  7. Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    I think you’re too pessimistic. jojo was clearly a theistic evolutionist by the end (I hope we can agree that’s major progress), Bronwen was wobbly and going to learn more, and the minister’s son is, if I read his body language right, all set for a “road from damascus” moment.

    Three things we saw clearly worked (I know we only saw thin slices). Tim White getting Phil the arch-Creo to put hominin skulls in sequence, the really offputting Church of Homophobia, and Phil’s utter nastiness as polarising agent.

    • Dominic
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

      Tim White was great – I would love to see a lecture by him.

  8. Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Into my iPhone this goes right now.

  9. Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    “… then I have to accept that everything else is a pile of crap.”

    Yes. That’s pretty much it!

    /@

  10. Posted October 10, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    I watched it (thank you Michael Fisher for the YT link) and was not surprised, but still dissapointed, to see the creationists discuss only very briefly the points Dr. Coyne made against the ark before taking refuge in attacks on his tone and word choice. How immature.

    “Remember that point he made about whales?”

    “Yeah…no, let’s not think about that. Let’s talk about what a jerk he was. He used the word “perverse”!”

    “Yeah! Somehow this means he’s wrong!”

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      Phil the creationist bigot highlight:-
      “I’m sorry, but is this a gay church?”

      • RFW
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

        To which the snark-answer might be “No, it’s not a gay church. Many of the congregation are believed to be gay, but the church itself? No.”

  11. lulu_footloose
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    From my own experience, recognising the fact of evolution did not come from some expert explaining or showing to me the facts of evolution while I was still a committed Christian (although not a YEC…I was an OEC, but did not believe in evolution– I believed that God “put” mankind in our present form on earth after the dinosaurs). I had to learn about it for myself (through talkorigins.org, this website/blog, PZ Myer’s blog, visits to the Natural History museum– which is my favourite museum, David Attenborough’s documentaries, etc), and I suppose it was easier to accept the evidence because I actually searched for it. I think that if someone showed the evidence to me (while I still thought that evolution was false), I would be very skeptical (haha, how ironic) of their agenda and will think that they are actually trying to brainwash me into believing a “lie straight from the pits of hell” (to quote that American politician (?)). I’m not saying that the efforts of Dr Coyne and co are futile because they can never convince anyone by talking to them. In fact, the availability of his and the work of others has helped people like me to learn about it ourselves.

    Has anyone else had a similar experience?

    • Egbert
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      I think you’re referring to this:

    • Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      “…I would [have] be[en] very skeptical of their agenda…”

      Many of the conservative religious types I know describe themselves this way, that is, as skeptics who are being careful not to be taken in by agendas and spin. But they only apply this “scrutiny” to information from a very narrow set of sources. They don’t realize skepticism doesn’t work that way.

      They are not being skeptical, they are being defensive; and as you note, I think the tendency to be defensive is greater when dealing face to face, in person.

      I wonder if “defensive” is a better way of describing how you would’ve felt if confronted in person by someone trying to show you the error of your ways?

      • lulu_footloose
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        I think so. Since that would mean that my beliefs are crap (like what JoJo said in the show) and that I was wrong all along. It’s not easy for people to admit they’re wrong…

      • apucalypso
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

        There have actually been studies, that showed that people who are invested in a certain belief or position, when directly confronted with evidence contrary to that belief or position, end up holding to it more strongly than before.
        So my money is on the woman who said she was going to look into more stuff when she got home, to eventually end up accepting evolution. Provided she actually does take the time to do it.

  12. Nathan
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Somebody has to do a documentary about a 450 foot wooden boat jam-packed with 16,000 animals!

    Dr. Coyne, you should have also brought up that Noah was 600 years old when he set sail! [Genesis 7:6] and [Genesis 7:11]

    That is the litmus test. If they believe a man was 600 years old shacking up, cleaning up, and feeding 16,000 animals then there is nothing that can change their (perverse) minds!

    • Nathan
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      I have an idea. Make this Noah’s Ark experiment a reality. Somebody needs to start an indiegogo fundraiser. We’ll need at least a million to pull this off. Construct the 450 foot wooden boat. Find a really old man (at least 90) to be the sea captain (he’ll have to be a YEC with God on his side). Load the boat with the 16,000 animals. I would call it animal cruelty but they have to be thrown in cages. Pile all the food and water onto the boat. The 90 year old man will be responsible for feeding, cleaning up, bathing, and caring for all the animals!

      We will have to have another boat with EMT, and probably a helicopter for emergency airlift operations.

      If the 90 year old man is successful then God and the Noah Ark story are real.

      If a single animal does not survive or gets sick, or the EMT has to board the ship, or the ship crumbles, or the helicopter for emergency airlifting has to be used then the mission is a fail.

      This will be a tough mission. But I am sure there is a 90 year old man somewhere in the south that is up for the task!

      • Bric
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:00 am | Permalink

        As we saw from the programme, they would simply say ‘God could do what we can’t’. BTW where does the 16,000 animals figure come from? – that wouldn’t cover the beetles . . . There were two of every unclean kind and seven of every clean, I think we are looking at millions.

      • JMP
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        Why only 16,000 animals?

        • whyevolutionistrue
          Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

          Well, there are millions of species, but the creationists get around the impossibility of having all those on the Ark by saying that the Bible mentions not species but “kinds.” There is in fact a whole subarea of creationism devoted to finding out how many “kinds” there are and which ones they are (e.g., “the cat kind”). It’s called “baraminology,” and is one of the funnier endeavors of creationists (check the Wikipedia article). Needless to say, the 16,000 “kinds” figure is completely arbitrary.

          • Harry
            Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:26 am | Permalink

            Kent Hovind, the arch-idiot of creationism, was asked how all those dinosaurs, gigantic whales and elephants could be taken onboard the Ark, and he had a reply that somehow was satisfying without talking about “kinds”. He simply said that God placed BABY animals on the ark.

            • Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

              …thus the incredible aptness of Jerry’s question in the video of wondering why God didn’t just shrink all the animals down to a tiny size and then re-embiggen then at the end of the voyage. After all, if you’re going to start relying on miracles, why hold back?

              (Because, of course, that then becomes an open admission that it’s an exercise in bullshit — but that would increase the cognitive dissonance to unacceptable levels, which must b avoided at all costs.)

              b&

              • Kieran
                Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

                Didn’t Phil Senter show that evolution must occur using baraminology http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1420-9101.2010.02039.x/abstract

              • Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

                “re-embiggen”
                LOL!
                +1

                Reminds me of the Jehovah’s Witness tracts that talk about God’s “backup disc” for Judgment Day.

              • Posted October 11, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

                This is actually a reply to Kieran. It is worse than that – from what I understand of the calculations, they show that not only is evolution required, but ironically much faster evolution than is observed. So the baraminologists shoot themselves in the foot quite horribly. (Recall that one of the reasons that they hold – supposedly – is that “there isn’t enough time”.)

              • Posted October 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

                Keith, the problem the Cretinists face is that they’re trying to cram ten pounds of shit into a five-pound bag.

                In order to be able to fit all the animals onto the Ark, there had to be a small number of animals.

                In order for there to have been sufficient diversity on the Ark to keep from requiring insane rates of “micro-“evolution, there had to have been a huge variety of animals on the Ark.

                Thus, Cretinists are left to simultaneously argue for a small-sized Ark that only held a small sampling of species, but that sampling was representative of all the variation we see today because there hasn’t been any significant change since then, but the change that there was was more than enough to produce (for example) all felids from a single pair of proto-cats, even though the Ark had samples of all the cats because Evolution doesn’t happen, and certainly not at a rate sufficient to create that kind of diversity after only a few generations.

                It’s a wonder that Cretinists don’t get bulk discounts from chiropractors, what with all the whiplash they give themselves. That, and quacks of a feather and all that.

                Cheers,

                b&

      • mlm
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink

        Not a documentary, but a new reality show. The heck with the 90 year old dude, put in Honey Boo Boo and the cast from Most Dangerous Catch. We need ratings, people.

        Heck, the whole first season, can be just building the dang boat using the most advanced science known. And prayer.

        The second season can be rounding up the animals, and the third can be a year-long voyage.

        This is so easy, I scare myslef.

      • Draken
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

        Your 450 ft wooden ship won’t even survive the loading. The exercise ends right there. The thing Johan Huibers built is floating on LASH carriers.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Don’t forget that Noah had three sons and their wives to help! Just as well, since they only had seven days to round up all the animals [Genesis 7:2-4].

      Why does everyone seem to forget that we are all apparently descended from Noah and his wife (never mind Adam & Eve)? This narrows the family tree somewhat. And was not all this flooding done to get rid of sin? So why did Christ have to die to atone for the original sin, which had already been wiped out in the flood.

      And has anyone tried submerging a live olive tree for six months, to see if a branch would survive to be brought back by the dove. Indeed, what would Noah and his family have to live on after the entire land had be submerged for six months.

      I guess this Sophisticated Theology™ is beyond my simple mind.

      • NoAstronomer
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        “And was not all this flooding done to get rid of sin?”

        Well that was was the main idea, yes, but unfortunately god f*cked up and not all of the eight people who he selected to live was as pure as the driven snow.

        That’s why we still have gonorrhea and why god had to go with Plan B – Jesus. Which, you may note, isn’t working out so well either.

        Mike

        • koseighty
          Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

          Jesus wasn’t even Plan B. From a literal reading of the Bible we get the following:

          Plan A
          God creates paradise where humankind was to live in peace and happiness and wonderfulness forever and ever and ever. But Eve fucks that up. New Plan.

          Plan B
          Save everybody by telling them to be righteous. (It’s not clear that “righteous” was ever explained. But they were expected to be it.) But sin overtakes the world. New Plan.

          Plan C
          Flood the world and kill everything except a chosen few. Once that’s done, save everybody by telling them to be righteous (not like those fools killed in the flood). But sin again overtakes the world. New Plan.

          Plan D
          Mix up the languages. By creating more languages people will be inspired to be righteous. Why? Because…. something. But sin again overtakes the world. New Plan.

          Plan E
          God gives up on saving EVERYBODY. From now on God chooses to concentrate on one guy and his family: God will save Abraham and his descendants. But something shitty happens which I can’t recall right now. New Plan.

          Plan F
          God gives up on saving ALL of Abraham’s descendants and will concentrate on Jacob (one of Abraham’s grandsons). Jacob has 12-ish sons who become the 12-ish Tribes of Israel. God will concentrate on saving them. After a while he gets around to giving them “The Law” — so now they actually know what “righteous” is. So there shouldn’t be any more fuck ups. But God forgets to put a bell around the necks of 10-ish of these tribes and loses them. New Plan.

          Plan G
          Unable to find 10-ish of his chosen tribes, God combines the 2-ish remaining and calls them Judah. From now on, God will concentrate on saving the Jews. But then God knocks up a teenage girl without actually doing it and fathers himself. New Plan.

          Plan H
          (The origin of “Jesus H. Christ”?)
          From now on, God will concentrate on saving people who accept his son as the one and only savior of mankind.

          The most important thing to take from all of this is that God “is the same from all eternity to all eternity”, “never changing”, and all that — so you can really count on him.
          :-)

          • Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

            +1!

            …and let’s not forget that Jesus has already foreseen the future and that his first effort is destined to be such a complete and utter failure that he’ll have to come back and wipe the slate clean again in the battle of Armageddon. He better hope that Plan I, wherein the 100,000 virgin Jewish male survivors make a new start of it in Heaven, has better success than the previous several plans….

            Cheers,

            b&

          • HaggisForBrains
            Posted October 11, 2012 at 2:17 am | Permalink

            +1 – Brilliant! I love the connection to Jesus H Christ.

          • Posted October 11, 2012 at 2:52 am | Permalink

            Bonus points for the “12-ish” tribes. :) Ever notice that when Revelation lists the twelve tribes, they don’t quite match the Old Testament tribes?

            • koseighty
              Posted October 11, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

              I know. The inerrant word of god is a wonder, isn’t it?

              • Posted October 11, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

                If you enjoyed the confusion over the identity of the tribes, you’ll get a kick out of trying to figure out who the disciples were.

                But even that’s nothing compared to the question of who was Joseph’s father!

                Cheers,

                b&

              • koseighty
                Posted October 11, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

                12-ish tribes, 12-ish disciples

                It’s all very symbolic and wondrous. Mostly Wondrous.

      • John K.
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        Well, the wives of the sons were supposedly not related to Noah and might broaden the gene pool a little bit. Not nearly enough to be realistic, though.

    • Gordon Hill
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      Posing, “How many species are on earth?” to ask.com returned this:

      “There is estimated to be 8.7 million species on Earth. The estimate is broken down into 7.77 million species of animals, 298,000 plant species, 611,000 fungi species, 36,400 protozoa and 27,500 chromists, which include different algae and water molds.”

      My question is, “Did Noah get them all on the boat and if not, from whence did they come?”

      • Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        Oh, of course Noah didn’t load up some sixteen million species on the Ark.

        You see, crack theologisticians have determined that there are “really” only a few thousand kinds, or “baramins” of animals, and that’s what Noah loaded onto the Ark.

        Then, in 2348 BCE when the flood waters subsided (a few years before the end of Fifth Dynasty Pharaoh Unas’s reign and the start of the Sixth Dynasty with Pharaoh Teti), the single pair of orphaned proto-cat kittens that Noah brought on board rapidly micro-evolved into the lion, the serval, the tiger, the bobcat, the jaguar — and, of course, the African Wildcat that the Egyptians had domesticated at least a few thousand years earlier into the housecat and which was already being worshipped as divine. It is unclear when, exactly, this rapid microevolution slowed its pace to the practically-unobservable levels we see today.

        See? Makes perfect sense.

        Cheers,

        b&

  13. Nathan
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    “SHIP OF FOOLISHNESS”

    http://www.skepticblog.org/2012/10/10/ship-of-foolishness/

    [img]http://www.skepticblog.org/wp-content/uploads/149700_431392830212581_1853741041_n.jpg[/img]

  14. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Steven Jay Gould’s original NOMA essay seems even more simplistic than outlined even here, not so much for its philosophical problems as its sociological ones.

    Rather than wax extensively (a la Karen Armstrong) on “true” vs. “false” religion, Gould seems to take it almost as self-evident truth that !*most*! religion (never mind good or bad, true or false) is !*only*! concerned with questions of meaning and value, that Biblical literalists are an insignificant minority and he equally thinks it is self-evident that !*most*! scientists are cautiously religion-friendly.

    Even troubling statements by Pope Pius that Gould quotes from are treated generously as not really representing official Catholic teaching, and Gould admits he prefers this interpretation because he is concilitory-minded.

    That said, I can testify as someone who has worked two years as a substitute teacher that around here, Catholic schools are doing a much better job of teaching evolution than some public schools, and it sounds like the Catholic scientists that both Gould and Carl Sagan met together at a gathering at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences which inspired Gould’s essay were fairly solid scientists.

    But I think Gould needs to look at the wider spectrum of religious attitudes to science. Carl Sagan could be generous and cordial to many religious folks but was much less naive.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately, Gould is no longer able to look at anything anymore.

  15. Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I apologise for Phil. Not all Norn Irelanders are so totally devoid of humour, self-awareness, humility or knowledge.

    • Andrea Collins
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      I love the Norn Irish. I even married one! (Didn’t last long, but I got 2 lovely kids, one of whom – my daughter – is one of those typical long legged, ginger (oops – strawberry blonde) girls.) Who, incidentally, having left school @ 16, is now a mature student doing nutritional science!

      • John Scanlon, FCD
        Posted October 11, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

        Off topic and TMI here, I’d have thought.

  16. Nathan
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Good Noah’s Ark Debunker Video:

    • Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      The standard Cretinist position is that the Flood killed all the dinosaurs, so they’d laugh at the suggestion that Noah had to take the on board.

      Really, about the only sane response to somebody who believes in the Ark story is to laugh, incredulously suggest that they’re not stupid / young enough to still believe in that sort of thing, ask what they’re smoking, that sort of thing.

      Thee’s no more point in trying to either explain or debunk the Ark story than there is in trying to explain or debunk Paul Bunyan’s carving of the Grand Canyon.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • RBH
        Posted October 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

        Nope. In fact, Answers in Genesis insists that dinosaurs survived past the Flood, and include the “dragon” purportedly fought by St. George. See this study guide from AIG.

        • Posted October 12, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

          Wha…? You’ve got to be shitting me.

          [clicks link]

          Holy fucking shit — you’re not!

          God damn, but the Hamster is an idiot.

          And how the Hell am I supposed to caricaturize something already so batshit crazy? It’s like Poe’s Law on steroids….

          b&

  17. Alex Shuffell
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    It’s weird how the got you to exploit your knowledge of boats. It would have been fun to ask them how we came from 16,000 species to the millions we have today. AiG are very careful in choosing words that mean the same thing as evolution but are different. Or how they got to the destination (marsupials Australia, Penguins Antartica, etc). Then Phil could have told us the creationist ideas (land bridges fix everything!) and we could all have had a good laugh at that arrogant child.

    Is there anymore footage of your talk with them?

  18. Jim Jones
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    It’s not just religion. Crackpots and their ‘ideas’ are everywhere.

  19. Michael Warren (@MrMWarren)
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    It made me wish I could have pretended to be a creationist so I would be taken on a trip like that – great locations and great scientists. Coping with Phil would have been a test though.

    • Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      I think a better format would have been to put equal numbers of Cretinists and rationalists on the trip, and have had equal numbers of Cretinist and rationalist experts pitch their stories.

      That way, the Cretinists wouldn’t feel that they were being ganged up upon…and the stark difference in the quality of the expert explanations would have been shockingly apparent.

      Can you imagine ordering hominid skulls in the morning and hearing Ken Ham blather nonsense about a pig’s tooth in the afternoon? Or what about Behe complaining that he’s too stupid to understand the evolution of the flagellum in the morning and Jerry giving a condensed presentation drawn from his book in the afternoon?

      b&

  20. Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    I just finished watching the programme. All in all, it was well done.

    My biggest disappointment was that they asked the guy who, literally, wrote the book on why Evolution is true…to talk about Noah’s Ark. I would so much have preferred that they had instead asked you to talk about the truth of Evolution than debunk a faery tale.

    That one really nasty character who tried to lay down the law for the other Christians? That was a textbook display of cognitive dissonance. From the very beginning, the evidence was landing real body blows, so he doubled down and fought back as best he knew how, lest he be forced to admit that he’s fully aware that it’s all bullshit.

    Also, as a side note…they never did give a good shot of the ground they were standing on at the Grand Canyon, but what I saw sure looked like Lippan Point, where I was at for the Eclipse. If so, the geologist was standing right about at the spot the guy had the big telescope, and I was a bit farther to the north behind some bushes.

    Cheers,

    b&

  21. Nick260682
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Thumbs up to whoever said they would like to see an uncut version of some of these interviews. I bet there’s some really interesting stuff in there, but (understandably, I guess) they have to make it confrontational and controversial, for tv purposes, therefore presumably leaving out some informative stuff in favour of the arguments.

    Phil was a dick. Did anyone else notice the burning irony of him complaining of the director’s bullying, then running off to bully and intimidate the crap out of the others into doing as he did, while simultaneously being competely bigotted.

    Also, loved the very definition of cognitive dissonance when the girls where discussing the evidence.

    • Harry
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Phil was scary. He looked like someone who would defend his beliefs with a gun if necessary.

      • lulu_footloose
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        Not just scary…he was a big fat liar too. When asked if he told the others not to discuss their faith, he denied it and said that he thinks the others are free to discuss what they like. But a few minutes before that, he clearly told them not to

      • Andrea Collins
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        Fairly certain he would defend beliefs with a gun! He’s a Belfast proddie, remember – and from the look of his home, a fairly extreme one!

    • marcasoduinn
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      “It stresses my head” is a good summary of what cognitive dissonance does to you.

  22. Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    The psychology of JoJo, that is, her emotional attachment to her ‘religious’ experience while she was terribly ill was very moving and therefore, her treatment by this group, anger producing. Her vulnerability is being cruelly used. That is the aspect of religion that is so ugly to me, that effective psychological help is not given, because of the respect that society gives to religion.

    Another psychological aspect is their personalities–her religious focus is one of gratitude and inclusiveness while the others is of domination, ego-stroking, and tribalism.

    You still have not gotten your book off to her? :-)

    • Posted October 10, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      I think it would help to let JoJo know that the experience of an illusion is still quite real. Just because the voice she heard in her head was some form of an hallucination doesn’t mean that she didn’t hear it and doesn’t mean that she didn’t draw strength from it.

      And the fact that she drew such strength from some part of her mind playing tricks on her is to her credit, not shame.

      Do we not cheer on the child who who keeps riding the bike long after dad has let go, even though she thinks he’s still right behind her? And isn’t the child even more deserving of praise for the fact that she’s doing it all by herself — as opposed to her brother who still can’t ride a bike without training wheels?

      JoJo, if you’re reading this, please consider what I’m writing. Jesus didn’t heal you; people did, especially your doctors — and you played no small part in the cure. Don’t let a childish belief in a faery tale take away the credit for that amazing accomplishment. Your doctors and you are the miracle-workers, not some character from an ancient anthology of faery tales.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • truthspeaker
        Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        Well said, Ben.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      My paws have been insouciant, but I will when I get back.

  23. Jeremy Pereira
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Overall I thought it was an immensely enjoyable programme. I was particularly amused by the fact that there were only four Christians on the trip, but they still managed to have a schism.

    However, I have a question about the editing. In your piece, you made a remark about where they kept the whales on the Ark. Why did nobody come back with the obvious counter to that? Was there previously a discussion on salinity and its effects on marine organisms? Or what?

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted October 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      Oh yes, we talked for at least an hour and a half, and I pointed out that the waters were not only brackish, which would kill most organisms, both marine and freshwater, but also loaded with silt and at near boiling temperature (as calculated by creationist geologists, and imputed to the intense volcanic activity supposedly occurring then). Nothing could have lived in that brackish boiling soup of silt, and I made that point clearly to the five. The creationists’ answer, or at least Phil’s, was that “God could do anything”.

      I asserted that all marine organisms had to have been on the ark if they survived.

      • Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        Did you only talk about the Ark or did you also get a chance to…well…discuss why Evolution is true?

        That whole “God can do anything” argument is such a non-starter, too. If God can do anything, then he could certainly put in a personal appearance and argue his side of the matter — and do a much better job at it than Phil, no? So who does Phil think he is, trying to upstage God?

        b&

        • whyevolutionistrue
          Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

          Nope, my brief was to discuss the Ark only, so I spent a long time boning up on the arguments and, of course, rereading my Bible. I didn’t talk about any of the evidence beyond shipbuilding, maintenance of species, whales in big aquaria, etc.

          • Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

            Ah, well — too bad. The Beeb missed a golden opportunity.

            But, at least you got a free trip to Lake Powell!

            b&

      • Jeremy Pereira
        Posted October 11, 2012 at 3:04 am | Permalink

        Thanks for that. I did note the bit about “God could do anything” which just raises the question, as you pointed out on the programme, of why he didn’t shrink all the animals down to microscopic size or maybe just zap all the humans with lightning leaving everything else untouched.

  24. Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I had no idea about this so thanks for giving us the head’s up. I’ll have a watch when I get the time. And for the record, I’m a Brit and the link worked fine for me.

  25. georginacblog
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Just finished watching it. Jerry, you were brilliant and I am amazed you could keep your cool so well with people talking over you the whole time. Very interesting programme but I have a headache due to their lack of logic and aggressive religious attitudes.

  26. Adrian
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    I thought the answer given to Phil at the Grand Canyon about “creation scientists; “I don’t regard them as scientists” was perfect.
    The look on his face had me laughing out loud.

    • Posted October 10, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      That was a good TV moment, sure…but at least the final cut of the broadcast missed out on a golden opportunity and instead showed the scientist to be a bit of an insensitive authoritarian.

      Yes, “Creation scientists” aren’t scientists. But why not? What is it that qualifies one person investigating the history of life on Earth to that title that disqualifies another from it?

      The answer to that question gets right to the heart of the whole matter and illustrates just what the true problem with religion really is.

      Cheers,

      b&

  27. Harry
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    When Jerry sends his book to JoJo, he should invite her over here to take part in this conversation. It would be very interesting to hear what she brought home after the trip. Ben Goren’s post to her above is kind and respectfully expressed and might be thought-provoking enough to make her sit down and examine her beliefs, and maybe share them here.

  28. Miss May
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Excellent! You look so cute! Bonus – three Cake songs in the soundtrack and Andrew wore some pretty cool t-shirts.

  29. Andrea Collins
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for reminding me of this! I watched both tonight and yes, the Belfast guy was vv worrying. Do you think he’s so agaInst it because the Catholic Church accepts evolution and he’s obviously a Prod? BTW I only recently found your blog – science and cats, what’s not to like??? (With a recent bonus of food and wine ;) ) Haven’t bought WEIT yet but as a non scientist I found River Out of Eden fascinating. Oh, btw, the 7/7 conspiracists got pwned!

  30. Harry
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    The Phil guy is in fact Phil Robinson, spokesman for Creation Ministries International. He has his whole life staked on a 6000 year old earth, so that explains his hostility in the programme. He’s been on TV before:

    • Posted October 10, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      Oh, man…teh schtupid…it burns! Get it off! Get it off! Get it off!

      b&

    • Posted October 11, 2012 at 6:42 am | Permalink

      I thought I recognised him! Thanks for the link

    • bric
      Posted October 12, 2012 at 12:45 am | Permalink

      In that case his constant refrain of ‘why can’t we have Creationist experts to explain the other side’ looks pretty lame. Shouldn’t he have some arguments of his own?

  31. Kevin
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    What a dog’s breakfast of a program.

    Why does the presenter appear to roll his eyes at the singing of the US national anthem? Even if it is only an edited juxtaposition, it introduces extraneous political opinion to what should have been an intelligent discussion.

    An intelligent discussion, for example, about the “evolution of morality” being something that has no objective existence.

  32. Kevin
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Color me “hopeless” on the row of skulls, by the way.

    You know that science is hard work, and yet you expect a non-evolutionist to look at a row of skulls and hear a few words of testimony from one man in the space of a few minutes and accept that that proves we are related to the chimpanzee we saw a few minutes before?

    Come on! I have seen and heard more “evidence” that 9/11 was an inside job.

    The program itself spent more time on the personality conflict between the two Irishmen.

  33. Drew
    Posted October 10, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    OMNI magazine http://www.omnimagonline.com

    A couple issues of that as a 16 year old was all I needed to “see the light”, that what the parents had been teaching me about life and the world, was hilariously off base. I especially remember the one little snippet that clearly showed a photo that looked like Jesus in the clouds, and then went on to say it was nothing other than a random image of e-coli (that the mind intentionally looks for patterns that don’t necessarily conform to rationality). Many friends and family members I showed those issues to caused them to raise their voice, foam at the mouth and even start yelling for “Satan to be banished” from me (my own sister as a matter of fact). I actually had to check the mailbox regularly so my mom wouldn’t trash each “unholy” monthly issue.

    I’m still not an engineer – actually a working artist – but logic is all that is needed, and some like myself are lucky enough to learn to recognize logic over the supposed “mystery of faith”.

    Wonder what they’ll say when I send them this video? I guess I’ll have to find out… ha!

  34. Posted October 11, 2012 at 4:16 am | Permalink

    So how to summarize what this video reveals? Religion makes people belligerently stupid.

    • gravelinspector
      Posted October 11, 2012 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      Religion makes people belligerently stupid.

      Much though I detest religion in general, I couldn’t pick up that broad a brush. I do have a small number of friends who have the religion disease to moderate degrees. My best friend (a computer/ network engineer) has an unhealthy sensitivity to “ghosts” and a slight inclination to Buddhism. But that doesn’t make him belligerently stupid – “loopy juice” does that.
      The people chosen for our entertainment on that programme were belligerent (mostly) because they knew that their beliefs are utterly at odds with both the facts of science and the methods of science, and they know that the facts of science AND the methods of science have been increasing their dominance of thought and public affairs for centuries. They’re dieing out, and they know it. That fear of the loss of their culture group drives the belligerence.
      I didn’t find it in the least bit surprising that the most aggressive (and obviously, the most afraid) of the group was the one with the strong Ulster accent. I don’t recall it having been said, but from having met a fair number of Ulstermen (and women [EVIL GRIN]) over the years, I’d be pretty sure that he was a Protestant Ulsterman. As you’ll know, there has been an essentially religious war in Ulster for most of the last 50 years (possibly stopped now ; but it’s a generation or so too early to say that with confidence), and during that time, the Protestants have been losing both political/ economic power AND their majority status. And some of them feel very threatened by it.
      While I was watching, I was wondering how closely related that “Paul” character is to Ian Paisley (pere et fils), who have a good fraction of the responsibility for “the Troubles” on their shoulders. I see the same belligerent intransigence in both Paul’s religion and the Ulster Protestant’s refusal to countenance justice for their Catholic neighbours. The bitterness at the “betrayal” of Paul by the people who didn’t unquestioningly follow his lead was also very familiar. (Abdul’s attempt at schism / ostracism fell hilariously flat too.)
      What a repellent little specimen.
      (One of the more amusing moments of my first trip to Ulster was being asked by the policemen who’d just arrested me at gunpoint “Yes, but are you a Protestant Atheist, or a Catholic Atheist?” ; I’m pretty sure that he was making a joke, because he’d put his gun away by that point.)

      • John Scanlon, FCD
        Posted October 11, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        (That’s one of my favourite jokes, didn’t know it was a true story)

        • gravelinspector
          Posted October 11, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

          (Using the “reply” function through the “notifications” page seems borked.)
          Life imitates art. Or is it the other way around?
          It was definitely “one of those” evenings. The ones that end up with you being arrested at gunpoint and strip-searched usually have “other events” associated.
          I wonder what has happened to Roxy? Last heard of re-populating Madrid with Ulster-accented Guiness-swillers.

      • Posted October 11, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        Religion certainly makes some people belligerently stupid, but like you I have some friends who are educated and definitely not stupid, yet they are defenders of Christian doctrine. Sort of like FRances Collins I suppose.

        • Griff
          Posted October 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, but why? I have a load’a respect for Ken Miller. Less so for Collins (50% through “evidence”, where was the evidence?)

          I just don’t get it.

  35. Posted October 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    JoJo knows. And so does Phil. It’s interesting to see their very opposite reactions to that knowledge.

  36. Posted October 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Fleeing Nergal, Seeking Stars and commented:
    Jerry Coyne’s televised attempt to convince creationists that evolution is true. Does he succeed? Read and watch to find out!

  37. kelskye
    Posted October 13, 2012 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    Just watched this. I exclaimed “oh my god, they are fucking morons!” on more than one occasion.

    • kelskye
      Posted October 13, 2012 at 1:37 am | Permalink

      I think Jerry’s assessment of it as a sociological documentary is spot on (like a documentary version of Among The Creationists). It was a shame that it was more about the personalities than about the evidence, but that’s TV I suppose. I do think the presenter set it up unfairly by putting people against immediate opposition – putting people on the defensive is about the worst possible thing one can do if they want to get people to change their minds.

      It did make me realise that I’m pretty well versed on creationist talking points; I’ve come across creationists using all those rhetorical tricks. The worst point was when after talking to Jerry the creationists were complaining how unfair it was that they were coming from a point of ignorance as compared to Jerry’s knowledge – and that’s the whole problem! They don’t have knowledge yet they believe that something they have no knowledge in is wrong.

      The other thing that was pathetic was Phil’s “explanation” for why scientists try to make up things about the universe; it’s one of those views that I’ve heard Christians say on a number of times, but not something I hear from atheists. Indeed, Phil should know as well as anyone that if people don’t like his fire and brimstone God that they can keep their God and not their fire and brimstone by seeking out a different denomination or reasoning themselves to a more forgiving view of God. There aren’t atheists who say they are trying not to be held accountable, but there are Christians who say that God isn’t the monster that Phil believes in. And because of that, Phil doesn’t need to seriously engage with the proposition at hand – he already has a sufficient explanation for any potential conflict.

      Abdul seeing himself as the voice of reason on the trip was kind of ironic given that he was willing to strip scientific explanation away to nothing any time it seemed to suggest otherwise. That he found Islam the only plausible view was about as shocking as Phil not changing his mind.

      Also, it was quite funny when Sam was trying to explain his view while constantly looking for Phil for approval of that view. “I’m trying to make sure we are all in agreement” while his eyes were fixated on Phil. lol

  38. tinwoman
    Posted October 13, 2012 at 4:00 am | Permalink

    Phil strikes me as a real authoritarian fascist, a very dangerous kind of person. His political and social beliefs are almost certainly reactionary–just in general the kind of person I try to stay away from. He wants to RULE and the fundie con game is his ticket.

  39. tinwoman
    Posted October 13, 2012 at 4:30 am | Permalink

    Two words for the “perfect intelligent design” crowd.

    Tooth decay.

    Discuss.

  40. Chris
    Posted October 14, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    I was wondering if Phil’s increasingly hostile and aggressive reactions throughout the show might have been some kind of defensive action, perhaps because some of his fundamental beliefs had been seriously challenged or shaken by the things the five of them were shown, but that he wasn’t ready to accept it at all, at least not in front of a camera. The thought occurred to me at the time he approached that elderly couple in front of the church asking if it were a “gay church”; this move struck me as so extremely ridiculous and grotesque that it felt like he was desperately trying to prove something to himself, perhaps that he – despite all the evidence he had been presented with – was still true to his beliefs or whatever.

    On the other hand, in the light of Harry’s comment regarding his previous TV appearance – maybe not. :-| (And might as well be that I didn’t get everything right ’cause I’m no English native speaker.)

    After all it’s probably just my scientist’s hope that no-one could ever be such an ignorant, die-hard fanatic that he can never be changed anymore… Sad.

    • Posted October 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      Oh, there’s no doubt but that Phil’s cognitives were dissonating quite hard from the get-go, and that they only keep dissonating more with every minute of the show. Unfortunately for him, there’s little chance that he’ll ever find the sane exit to that mental trap.

      b&

  41. John
    Posted October 23, 2012 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    Yes, let them believe nothing made the universe out of nothing by the hand of nothing instead. Now that’s real science LOL. sorry should have said religion and magic and blind faith that evolution boils down to.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 23, 2012 at 3:35 am | Permalink

      Are you really a week behind everyone else or do you just think you’ll get the last word by sneaking in on a thread long after everyone’s moved on?

      A bit like walking into an empty hall after the meeting is over and shouting “I win”, no?

      Well congratulations, you win – nothing.

  42. Sarah
    Posted October 27, 2012 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    I just want to say that whether or not you agree or disagree with Christians there is never really any requirement to be so rude about what they believe. I watched this program and thought that it was the most ridiculous program ever. If you want to discuss creation v evolution level the playing fields, take Ken Ham with you he could wipe the floor with your scientists, who also have a faith, a faith in science.I wonder are you the scientist that asked how Noah fitted the whales on the boat. Just a quick observation, WHALES LIVE IN WATER, dont think they need saved from drowning and before some smart alec tells me they need salty water, due to the sheer volume of water there would have been alot of volcanic activity which creates steam, steam dissolves minerals and salt is a mineral. I am a christian, who does not have all the answers, I believe that God sent his Son to save me from my sins and one day I will be with him in heaven, I do not deserve it no one does.

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      No; it’s a social good to ridicule ridiculous beliefs.

      Ken Ham isn’t fit to wipe the floor for scientists.

      Scientists have faith in science because it works (see Cox, Hawking, xkcd, &c., &c.). It is a justified belief. Religious faith is just pretending to know things you don’t (that is, for which there is no evidence).

      Science certainly doesn’t have all the answers (“else it’d stop” [Dara Ó Briain]). But science continuously finds more and more empirically validated answers about the cosmos, which in turn shows that more and more of the “answers” Christianity (and other religions) are completely bogus.

      You’re welcome to believe any daft thing you like, but when you die you’ll simply cease to be, just like the rest of us. So, stop worrying, and enjoy the only life you’ll ever have!

      /@

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 28, 2012 at 3:32 am | Permalink

      “WHALES LIVE IN WATER, dont think they need saved from drowning and before some smart alec tells me they need salty water, due to the sheer volume of water there would have been a lot of volcanic activity which creates steam, steam dissolves minerals and salt is a mineral.”

      Wow. Just… wow.

      Is this a poe? It’s just so comprehensively wrong.

      The Flood would cause volcanic activity? ‘Steam dissolves minerals and salt is a mineral’? Well so does water, actually, but this doesn’t indicate just where all the salt would come from…

      The only thing I’m not sure of is the whales. I know some marine life is quite sensitive to salt levels, but whales are air-breathing mammals – are whales in fact sensitive to salinity?

      • tinwoman
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        I don’t know but such upheaval would certainly wipe out all fish.

    • Sarah
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      So I have listened to many different scientists discuss the complexities of the human body and the beauty found in nature and on one occassion Richard Attenborough commentted that watching nature he would almost believe that there was a designer, almost believe…… I know God exists I dont simply believe it. I never see the air that I breath but I feel it I sense it and I feel the effects of it.The same as God, i feel his presence, I know he is with me and I feel the effects of His actions. I am so opposed to alot of things that people have said on here but I would never think that it is my place to ridicule. The point about when I die I cease to exist, you are free to believe this but one thing I know is that if you are right I have lost nothing as I live a very full and satisfying life however, if I am right you stand to loose everything.But yet again your free to choose this. Oh and by the way you clearly know Ken Ham very well in order to make such a statement.

      • Posted October 29, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

        David Attenborough actually thinks that your gods don’t exist, and that, if they did, the evidence is overwhelming that they’re powerfully evil.

        Cheers,

        b&

      • Posted October 29, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        Hmm… WordPress just ate a much longer comment, which I haven’t time to recreate just now.

        The highlights:
        • David (not Richard) Attenborough has made similar comments elsewhere, as have others. Why is God’s Creation so inimical to human life?
        • Air cannot just be felt but is amenable to inter-subjective empirical investigation and behaves in a predictable way (PV = nRT, &c.). God is not.
        • How do you distinguish between the God you feel and a delusion? See Feynman on fooling yourself.
        • So what is this “soul” that survives your corporeal death? Since, if it exists, it must interact with your bloody brain, how does it do so and why can’t we detect it?
        • If you find it satisfying to live beholden to the writings of Iron-Age tribes, knock yourself out.
        • I’ve seen or heard enough of Ham to know that he either has a woefully poor grasp of science or wilfully misrepresents it for rhetorical effect.

        /@

        • Sarah
          Posted October 30, 2012 at 3:59 am | Permalink

          “You see, evolutionists really cannot handle any dissent from their view of human origins—their religion—the religion of evolution and millions of years. So they resort to questioning people’s credentials and refusing to acknowledge their abilities and qualifications as scientists if they disagree with their evolutionary beliefs.” Ken Ham

          This point says it all, I have not resorted to saying that anything you say is ridiculous or attacking you and your delusions. Ken Ham accepts that scientists are intellectual and recognises their qualifications but from what you are saying unless someone believes exactly in your kind of science then they are not worthy to be listened to. I do not know Ken Ham but from reading things he has written and the things you have written on this blog he has displayed significantly more humilty than you, most likely because he certain of what he believes. Also I assume you believe in gravity, so you listen and believe in something discovered by a scientist who believed in creation. If you dont like Ken Ham how about Stephen Meyer, probably you feel the same about him. Ask yourself is it because they put slight doubt in your mind even if it is only for an instant. I never mentioned in previous posts, the soul yet you seem to want to talk about it. I simply stated that if I was right you lose everything. Yet you latched on to it. Unless you have God in your life you will never be sure of his existence. You have to step out in faith. Science is based on a similar step. I advise that you visit Ken Hams site and read a little about historical and observational science. I dont hold all of the answers and would never try to claim to.

          • Posted October 30, 2012 at 5:06 am | Permalink

            If Ken Ham wishes to demonstrate that his ideas have any validity, he is welcome to submit them for peer-reviewed scientific publication. He never has, partly because he is not a scientist, and partly because his ideas are not just wrong, they’re dishonest as well as crackpot.

            Science is not some monolithic structure – the first person to disprove a scientist will be another scientist – it’s a competitive business.

            “Also I assume you believe in gravity, so you listen and believe in something discovered by a scientist who believed in creation.”

            – I presume you refer to Isaac Newton? Newton also had some funny ideas about alchemy and the occult. Just because he was nearly right with gravity (until Einstein improved on it), does not mean his ideas of creation are still good – the appeal to authority fallacy is a common creationist trick, claiming centuries-dead scientists as their own when, at the time, they had no evidence to contradict creationism. We now do….loads of it.

            “if you are right I have lost nothing as I live a very full and satisfying life however, if I am right you stand to loose everything.”

            – Pascal’s Wager – shown to be a fallacy for centuries, because of the false dichotomy of Christianity and atheism. It takes no account of other religions – i.e. both may be wrong.

            “Unless you have God in your life you will never be sure of his existence. You have to step out in faith. Science is based on a similar step.”

            – So to believe, you have to first believe? Science is based on what we can show, not what we believe we know. They are not the same.

            “I advise that you visit Ken Hams site and read a little about historical and observational science.”

            – That’s a new invention of Ham’s. So tell me, if I observe the extremely distant galaxy MACS 1149-JD, estimated to be 13.2 billion light years away, am I performing observational or historical science? I can see it right now, yet those photons departed that galaxy 500 million years after the origin of the Universe. This demonstrates that a dichotomy of observational and historical science is false – scientists recognise no such distinction. It is, like so much of Ham’s material, a fabrication.

            “I dont hold all of the answers and would never try to claim to.”

            – nor does anyone here. Just because we don’t know everything does not mean we don’t know anything. Ken Ham is wrong, on nearly everything, and we can demonstrate it. We can suggest that the millions of dollars flowing into AiG every year have something to do with his refusal to change his position – he knows he has a gullible pool of victims like you to exploit for your money, and does not want to kill the golden goose.

            • Sarah
              Posted November 1, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

              yet again another assumption, one I am not gullible and two Ken Ham has never recieved any money from me. But of course scientists dont make assumptions………………good one.

          • truthspeaker
            Posted October 30, 2012 at 5:24 am | Permalink

            Ken Ham? Really?

            • Posted October 30, 2012 at 5:31 am | Permalink

              There’s one born every minute, and Ham knows it. Third-rate pseudoscientist, First-rate charlatan.

          • Posted October 30, 2012 at 5:39 am | Permalink

            Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?!

            Of course evolutionists can handle dissent. That’s why the theory of evolution today is different from Darwin’s.

            But dissent is held up against empirical evidence; any dissent which is falsified by the evidence is necessarily rejected; any which is reliably validated is accepted into the canon. Ham’s dissent falls into the former category.

            From Laplace onwards, science has found no need of God or any other supernatural agency to explain how the world (cosmos) works. There is no evidence for such “hypotheses” — and, indeed, much evidence against them!

            “Epistemic humility — the recognition that we could be wrong — is a virtue in science as it is in daily life, but … mechanistic explanations and an abandonment of supernatural causality proved enormously fruitful in expanding our ability to predict and control the world around us. The fruits of the scientific revolution … allow us to send probes to Mars and to understand why washing our hands prevents the spread of disease.” [Brian Leiter and Michael Weisberg]

            What are the fruits of 2000 years of Chistianity?

            And I hardly think that Ham’s implicit claim to know God’s intentions is the epitome of humility!

            No, I don’t “believe” in gravity. I regard gravity as true because it is empirically demonstrated and because it is evident that our models of how gravity works are reliable enough that we can send probes to Mars. What Newton thought about creation is neither here nor there. I’d note that his pursuit of alchemy was woefully misguided. Neither delusion makes one iota of difference to the reality of gravity.

            I don’t know Meyer at all, but nothing Ham says puts the remotest doubt in my mind.

            No, you didn’t mention the soul explicitly. My lost longer answer would’ve made the segue clear: I assume that you believe that it is your soul that survives after death. If not, what?

            The only thing that you can be sure about God is that you believe that what you believe is true. You have no way to distinguish that surety of God’s existence from delusion. (If you disagree, you must tell us how. It’s one of da roolz of this website.)

            Science doesn’t require faith; advances can be made by informed intuition or wild guesses, but everything must be empirically validated. The path towards our best models may meander and involve missteps, but ultimately science can give us reliable models. We trust in science because it works.

            Ham’s distinction between historical and observational science is just a rhetorical artefact; no such distinction exists in fact.

            /@

          • tinwoman
            Posted November 1, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

            LOL Sarah, sarah, sarah.

            So you’re saying you might as well believe because you haven’t got anything to lose. An insurance policy for the soul of sorts?

            I would argue that there is indeed a great deal to lose if you are living such an intellectually dishonest life and not only living in ignorance but promoting that ignorance, just for what—to make sure your nonexistent soul is “saved”?

            That’s a shame dear. Yes, you are losing something by clinging to superstition and mythology—you are losing out on a great deal. I hope you figure it out.

      • tinwoman
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        Sarah–if you’re wrong–and you are– then your entire life has been a lie and you’ve wasted it wallowing in ignorance and promoting a con man. And you think that’s “losing nothing”? Come on girl, you can do better than that.

  43. Sarah
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    It seems I am causing people to think a little too much as it seems I am not able to post comments, with my original details.

    • tinwoman
      Posted November 1, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      oh goody, now here comes the persecution complex “you’re all out to get me and blocking my posts”. Yawn.

  44. Sarah
    Posted November 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    I believe in a sovereign God, and I always will. Nothing you or anyone else will say can ever shake my faith. I posted originally to highlight how unfair the program was although on posting I have clearly entered a forum of people who are not even willing to show respect to the intellectual abilities of others. Everyone will know the truth someday I simply hope and pray that, that day is not too late. Posting anymore responses will not convince you of the reality of my God.

    • Posted November 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Oh, we’re perfectly willing to respect the intellectual abilities of others, but respect has to be earned.

      Your comments so far have shown you to be credulous, close-minded (“Nothing you or anyone else will say can ever shake my faith”), and with a poor understanding of evolution and genetics (our host’s book, after which this website is named, could remedy that!).

      Contrary to your suggestion, we could be convinced of the reality of your God, if:
      • You can describe your God coherently.
      • You can provide reliable, authentic evidence for His reality.
      • Such evidence validates the reality of your God and falsifies the reality of all other gods.

      Post away!

      /@

  45. Susan
    Posted November 8, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    I have lurked on this site for a long time. I’ve found it a very valuable place to visit, and I have never commented, but Sarah, you have beat me out of the bush.

    >I believe in a sovereign God, and I always will. Nothing you or anyone else will say can ever shake my faith

    >I have clearly entered a forum of people who are not even willing to show respect to the intellectual abilities of others.

    Intellectual abilities have nothing to do with a proclamation of “knowledge” that can never be swayed by reason or evidence.

    >It seems I am causing people to think a little too much

    No. You have given up thinking. You are conviced that you know the truth and are emotionally committed to the idea that it is an intellectual excercise to force (and/or ignore) the evidence from your assumptions. If you find that people calling out that approach as ridiculous, you don’t know the first thing about the scientific method. One doesn’t have to be a scientist to respect the standards and results of cience.

    (Sorry o interrupt. Thanks to JAC, WEIT and all its contributors.)

    Sarah:

    On exactly what points could Ken Ham wipe the floor with scientists? (Notice. I didn’t call you rude. I simply asked you to support your assertion.)

  46. Susan
    Posted November 8, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Darnit. I can’t find the editing features on this site, so am unable to correct my numerous typos.

  47. Posted May 9, 2014 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    I too watched this programme with a growing sense of frustration at the blatant stupidity of the participants. Fire and brimstone Phil seemed to have another agenda apart from looking objectively at the science and threw a tantrum when the rest of the participants did not go along with his views. Sam didn’t seem to even understand the bible stories he was defending and Muhammad seemed more interested in posturing than participating in an objective view of the science. Jojoba and Bronwyn seemed less hostile and more willing to engage in reasoning but realised that if they surrendered to the science their faith would be badly damaged. It is said that creationism is incompatible with science but more likely creationism is incompatable with common sense – a virtue us British are supposed to excel in!


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