What we’re up against: Weekly roundup of creationist comments

It was a big week for creationists trying to comment on this website (there was lots of other craziness too), so I can present only a short selection:

From creationist dentist Don McLeroy, once head of the Texas State Board of Education when it was trying to purge evolution from state biology textbooks. I asked him to present the evidence he had for the existence of God.  Here’s his answer, in an attempted comment on my post “The New Cosmos”:

Don McLeroy

Sorry for not getting back sooner. For a starter I will give you the first apologetic (EVIDENCE) that I teach my fourth grade Sunday School class: Look at the Jew. There is no naturalistic explanation for their prominence in world affairs today. Check out Deuteronomy 28-30–especially “That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee.” Deu 30:3 This is pretty amazing!

Yeah, look at the Jew! No naturalistic explanation for their prominence in world affairs? What about the cultural emphasis on education and achievement?

***

A reader commenting on the post “The tracks of a ghost“:

Spike

where is the recantation by the faithful followers of Darwinian evolution?
the Tiktaalik was hailed as the “missing link” of transitional form from sea creature to land animal by Darwinian evolutionary scientists (oxymoron). Now that tetrapod tracks were found “20 million years before the Tiktaalik”, proof to a Darwinian evolutionary scientist that the Tiktaalik was NOT “the missing link”, and that Tiktaalik was just a fish similar to fish in our days (just as it was Designed), we can confirm again that there is No evidence for Darwinian evolution.
Darwinian evolution is just a Non-Scientific Belief of no God, with No Observable Scientific Evidence, created by the imagination of men to avoid their accountability to our Creator.

We’re not sure about those earlier tetrapod tracks, and even if they are real, Tiktaalik wasn’t touted as the one species all of whose descendants were the tetrapods, but simply as a transitional form that may have been related to that one common ancestor. But surely Tiktaalik was more than a fish; if you don’t see its transitional features between fish and amphibians, you haven’t read Shubin’s book Your Inner Fish. And “Spike’s” claim that there is no evidence for Darwinian evolution shows him to be profoundly ignorant. To fix that, all he has to do is read either my book or Dawkins’s on this topic.

***

A reader commenting on, ironically enough, March 29’s “Weekly craziness from readers“:

John Voris

Evolution has many logical gaps that science ignores in their overly zealous energy to promote atheism.

Science is about visible, physical evidence, while we live and die for the invisible and abstract ideas. This is obvious to anyone which is why the world looks to religion for answers.

Most know that science left objective reporting long ago. Real facts have been filtered by Liberalism before reaching the public. While the physical sciences have performed miracles in pharmaceuticals evolutionists have lost credibility in explaining the human condition. Our humanity and psychologism tell us that evolution is misleading if not wrong altogether. (Where are all the missing links)

Yeah, where are all the “missing links”?  What you mean, John, is “transitional forms,” and there are plenty of them. Have you done the slightest bit of investigation, or has your religion blinded you to their existence. If you’re open-minded, try here. I’m curious, though, how our “humanity and psychologism” show that evolution is misleading.

***

A reader commenting on “Trigger warning for EVOLUTION at children’s science center“:

Don

I believe that evolution is science trying to explain what GOD does. And as far as atheists go: they don’t believe that God exists. But as far as God is concerned, atheists DON’T EXIST!!!

I don’t know; I just looked in the mirror and I’m pretty sure I’m here. Can’t God see me? I’ve heard this comment before about God not believing in atheists, and I’ve never understood it.

***

Finally, a reader concerned with the afterlife comments on “‘In Heaven, everybody’s young': a new movie proving Heaven“:

Anne

I’ve read several accounts where in Heaven everyone is young? The exact age is unknown? But I am with you, Liz! I am looking forward to seeing my loved ones again, no matter what age we are. Thank you very much for sharing Joe’s book as well. Looks fantastic.

No comment.

***

The common theme of these and many creationist comments seems to be the lack of “missing links”, which of course are nearly impossible to find because they represent a single species whose descendants split into the two “linked” groups: say, humans versus other apes. But we don’t need to find a single species. As I discuss in my book, “transitional forms” that occur at the right time, and combine the characteristics of the two linked groups, are great evidence for common ancestry. And those we have in surfeit: intermediates between early fish and amphibians (e.g., Tiktaalik), between early amphibians and reptiles, between early reptiles and early mammals (the “mammal-like reptiles”), between theropod dinosaurs and early birds, between ancient artiodactyls and early whales, and, of course, between early humans with characteristics intermediate to those of ancient apes and modern humans. Australopithecus, for instance, had a head with the brain about the size of a modern chimp sitting atop a postcranial skeleton that was distinctly similar to that of modern humans. How often do I have to say this, and show the fossils, before people listen?

But of course their ears are stopped with verses from the Bible. ~

99 Comments

  1. Grania Spingies
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I also sometimes wonder what “God doesn’t believe in atheists” is supposed to mean to an atheist.

    Possibilities:
    1. a poorly thought-out neener-neener-neener.
    2. it strikes fear into their hearts so they assume it would makes atheists fearful too
    3. thinly veiled threat, guess what happens to you when you die?

    All probably quite convincing to someone who thinks exactly like they do, all utterly meaningless to someone who doesn’t.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      I’m going with #1 and it’s supposed to hurt our feelings when we hear it.

    • Sastra
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      It’s not necessarily meant to be a threat. To people who believe in a Loving God atheism can seem like low self-esteem and defeatism, a sad little cry that “nobody loves me, really.”

      Thus, when they say “God doesn’t believe in atheists” it’s meant to be reassuring. He still loves and believes in us.

      But other times yeah, it’s snark.

    • Newton's Bucket
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      I think there’s a fourth option. I think these people are equivocating with the phrase “believe in.” Atheists are using a definition like “to be persuaded of the truth or existence of” whereas the people that repeat this phrase are using a definition like “to have faith in the reliability, honesty, benevolence, etc., of.” It’s almost a deepity. You’ll often see similar equivocations when theists dicuss the definition of the word “faith.”

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

        +1 on that. They’re making (what they think is) a clever play on words.

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      I’m going with #1 too, as in “I know you are, but what am I?”

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      …or, “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”

    • Larry Smith
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      Another common neener-neener-neener is “I feel sorry for you,” upon one’s atheism being revealed. If meant sincerely, I can understand it and it doesn’t bother me. It’s like saying “Based upon my experiences, I would expect you as a fellow human to also enjoy what I find meaningful” to someone who has never experienced the joys of you-name-it. But as a knee-jerk reaction, it can be intended as a childish, hurtful, and decidedly un-Christian comment.

    • gbjames
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      It is interesting to ponder the notion that characters in fiction can believe in things.

      Would it make sense to say something like “Tom Sawyer doesn’t believe in hybrid cars.”?

      • Posted April 12, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

        Horse and petrol?

        /@

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 13, 2014 at 12:05 am | Permalink

        Characters in fiction can certainly believe in things.

        The classic example would be Terry Pratchett’s Discworld where the power of a god was in direct proportion to the number of its followers. I also rather like Doug Adams’ Electric Monk whose job it was to believe in things thus saving his employers the bother of doing so.

        Those are examples where the fictional characters’ beliefs are defined by the author who created the character. Tom Sawyer and hybrid cars is a different category in that you’re extending his beliefs to a concept not mentioned by the author who created him. And someone else could argue that TS would believe the opposite. But either belief would be fictional, just like the character. I suppose the real debate would be whether it would be “in character” for TS to believe in hybrid cars or not. “Believe in” in this context meaning, does he think they’re a good thing or not, as opposed to does he think they exist.

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted April 13, 2014 at 6:29 am | Permalink

          Ooh, I just read both those books this week (reading Discworld for the first time, envy me!)

          In recent years, creationist websites have got excited over the discovery of fossil snakes with legs, as if it somehow confirmed Genesis but not (in far more detail) evolution.
          Lists including Archaeopteryx and Tiktaalik should routinely also mention Pachyrhachis and Cryptolacerta.

          • js
            Posted April 13, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

            Oh yes, I am envious.
            You have much to look forward too.
            I only started reading them a few years ago. I reckon in a few more I will read them again as my terrible memory will allow me to enjoy them as if for the first time.
            The BBC have made two adaptations that I know of. There could be more.
            They are ‘Going postal’ and ‘The Hogfather’ and are both excellent and follow the books very well, unlike that bloody awful movie based on THHGTTG. The old TV series is great though.
            Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years ago but is still pumping out books here and there.
            His recent book ‘Dodger’ was good although not a Discworld novel but it did make me read the book he mentions in the afterword called something like ‘Londons labour and the London poor’. If anyone ever talks to me about the good old days I will get them to read it which I’m sure would disabuse them of the notion.

            • js
              Posted April 13, 2014 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

              ‘forward to’ not too. I am blaming autocorrect.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted April 14, 2014 at 2:16 am | Permalink

              I haven’t seen ‘Going Postal’, but the Beeb also made ‘The Colour of Magic’ and ‘The Light Fantastic’ as one combined adaptation.

              • Posted April 14, 2014 at 2:48 am | Permalink

                The Beeb had nothing to do with any of these. They were made by an independent company, The Mob, and were first broadcast by Sky.

                /@

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted April 14, 2014 at 4:54 am | Permalink

                OK, I was just following on js’s comment where he said the BBC made them. Apparently we were wrong.

              • Posted April 14, 2014 at 5:34 am | Permalink

                I meant to reply to that earlier, which would have saved you the embarrassment …

                /@

              • john frum
                Posted April 14, 2014 at 6:37 am | Permalink

                They were so good I just assumed the beeb had made them.

              • Posted April 14, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink

                ‼️

              • john frum
                Posted April 14, 2014 at 6:42 am | Permalink

                The adaptation of Going postal is truly wonderful. It was in two parts I think.
                Moist Lipwig was played excellently and it’s such a great name.
                Imagine having a prenom of Moist.
                He returned in one of Pratchetts latest novels too.

        • gbjames
          Posted April 13, 2014 at 6:43 am | Permalink

          Perhaps the question is whether fictional characters can believe in things that exist outside their fictional worlds.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted April 14, 2014 at 2:55 am | Permalink

            I’m not sure the question has any meaning. I’d assume fictional characters can (fictionally) believe in anything they like, as can real people. The object of that belief doesn’t have to have any existence in reality.

            • gbjames
              Posted April 14, 2014 at 4:35 am | Permalink

              It is idle pondering.

              It would seem that being a character in fiction would limit the bounds of your interactions. You would have a hard time “conceiving” of things that don’t populate their imaginary universes. Fictional and real-world entities can’t really interact. Which is why the common believer’s comment “You are an atheist because you hate god” doesn’t really work.

  2. gbjames
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    The stupid runs deep.

    I’m mildly amused by Anne who is looking forward to “seeing my loved ones again, no matter what age we are”. I wonder is she’s considered the possibility that they all would be infants. Or maybe pre-birth fetuses or something.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      Stephen Fry was ejected from Salt Lake City for finding “seeing loved ones again” funny.

      Clicky

  3. jimgorton
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Maybe the “prominence” of Jews is related to gentile’s practice of neutering their best and brightest by making them celibate – “fail”ing the fit.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Don’s argument was so weird. It reminded me of “consider the lily” and this funny sketch.

    That “prominence in world affairs” sounds a little like “the Jews run everything” – the conspiracy theories that neo nazi types like to tout.

    • js
      Posted April 13, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      That was great.
      I’d never seen them before.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted April 14, 2014 at 2:41 am | Permalink

      Aaaaaah!

  5. Gordon Hill
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Oxygen… I need oxygen…

  6. Heath
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Delivered the right way, “God doesn’t believe in atheists” is a decent joke. But since religious people generally lack a sense of humor on the topic, it turns into just another rote string of words used to insulate their beliefs from doubt(ers).

    Hey, it’s easier than thinking.

  7. Sastra
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Science is about visible, physical evidence, while we live and die for the invisible and abstract ideas. This is obvious to anyone which is why the world looks to religion for answers.

    Another common theme of these comments is the theistic inability to deal conceptually with abstractions. Love, Liberty, Meaning, Morals, Purpose. What the heck are these things? You can’t hold them in your hands — but they’re not a bunch of fake illusions either. They’re real and they’re important. What to do?

    Hey, I know! I bet there’s some realm in between objects and thoughts which is where all the Thought-Objects live! Atheists must only believe in physical substances, but WE can believe in IDEAS. Mental things are supernatural!

    Concrete Thinkers meet Abstractions: it gets ugly. It gets Spiritual, and sometimes it gets Religious too.

    • Posted April 14, 2014 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      Worse than that, it presupposes that science is only about what we can see, which is absurd. Anyone who has contemplated quarks or societies, genomes or economies, has contemplated something very much invisible. But there’s ways to connect those to indicator hypotheses. Unlike gods …

  8. Posted April 12, 2014 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    How do you explain this simple fact? (Quoting G. K. Chesterton)

    “Christianity, which is a very mystical religion, has nevertheless been the religion of the most practical section of mankind. It has far more paradoxes than the Eastern philosophies, but it also builds far better roads.”

    If true, shouldn’t Christianity have a positive impact in society?

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam gets men in prison off drugs.

      Hamas provides a lot of charitable social services in Gaza.

      It still doesn’t make either of their belief systems true or worth recommending.

    • Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      Positive ? Positive ? !

      Here’s a positive: I have positively – and repeatedly – received back from my fourteen – year – old, Texan grandkiddo, J’o, that: i) under no.no.no circumstance is he ever going to go for science – based care for his mouth to a dental “scientist” of the ilk of which you are and ii) because science is his favorite topic in school, every day he encourages and promotes his classmates to have nothing to do with the WOOISH ABUSE which you, in either “dental science” or in “Texas schoolbooks,” … … ( try to ) PERP.

      As with evolution, here is yet another positive: J’o also believes Grandma Blue when, over a decade ago now, I then taught him that 2 + 2 equals … … ! O m’gawdess ! that, 2 + 2 weally.weally.weally does and throughout all evidences now, and ever before, known to humankind … … .truly. does equal 4 !

      Blue

      ps, McLeroy: I know what a doctor – entitling of one who actually has earned — and has during her or his lifetime continued to maintain — a TRUE scientific doctoral or doctorate degree actually IS.

      You are not of .it. You are not of this effort.

      Thus, I cannot and do not give you said title.

      • Posted April 12, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

        pps, McLeroy: Moments ago, the following book e – order — ! with free shipping even ! — I placed for yet another grandkiddo ! One who resides — with her siblings to whom she every day reads aloud — in the same state at where its author this very afternoon at 4:30pm / USA Central is … … lecturing ! I had been planning for months now ( because of timing – to – her – receipt – thereof ) to specifically get this ordering placed this very day … … of your posting: heh.heh.heh.

        O, yeah: I positively ordered and have had directly shipped to her, to Mz I’s, the following … … ! TEXT ! … … book as a BIRTH – ing day ! gift ! for her upcoming NINTH one: The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really … … T.R.U.E.

        Based upon your woo – thinking, if you do thus, then “likely” you can “positively” and “evidentially” have the shipment now on its way and incoming to her, and her siblings’, brains … … halted: pray.

        Cuz nothing “positively” and “evidentially” works like prayer, not ?

        Blue

        • Posted April 12, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

          O yeah: yet one more .positively. … … T.R.U.E. story, McLeroy: She, Mz I’s, and all of her siblings ( two > ) are … … far out on The Prairie here ? HOME – … … schooled.

          By my godless kiddo and his gawdless wommin. O yeah, by her atheist Mama und Papa.

          … … gasp*choke*gnash*!@#$%^&*()*&^%$#!
          Blue

    • Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      But Christianity doesn’t build roads, does it? People build roads. Engineers and workers, governed purely by scientific principles, faith not required.

      We have a saying, coined by Ruth Hurmence Greene, “There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the Dark Ages.”

      • Achrachno
        Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

        I’ve read the whole Bible, cover to cover, twice and I’m quite sure it contains no useful tips on road construction. Are sermons delivered on the topic? I think not.

        I suspect we’re witnessing the blowing of smoke.

    • Filippo
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      I’m reminded of someone (I forget who) imagining G.K. Chesterton falling on a sheet of tin. Would that be a “positive impact”? ;)

    • Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      GK Chesterton, for those who don’t know, was born in and lived through what was possibly the British Empire’s peak empire-building phase (1870s-1930s). He saw Victorian Britian increase its global economic and military power dramatically during Victoria’s reign and later be the last Empire standing after defeating fellow Christian empire Austro-Hungary and the Muslim Ottomans in the 1914-18 war.

      I find linking Christianity to a period in world history marked by naked British imperialism and subjugation of countless “primitive” races from the Middle East, Africa, Indian sub-continent, Canada, Pacific Islands, New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia to be very appropriate. Christian missionaries and their forcible/coercive conversions of indigenous people (and, at least in Australia, state-administered, decades-long programmes of removing mixed-race children from their indigenous mothers and essentially imprisoning them in church-run compounds to be educated “as whites”) were part and parcel of Britain’s imperialism.

      And it didn’t begin or end with Britain: other imperial European Christian powers (actual “Christian nations” like Spain, Holland, France, Portugal, etc) had been exploring the world and subjugating “the natives” with the sword and the Bible since the invention of trans-oceanic sailing ships (the damage done by Spain to South America four hundred years before Chesterton scarcely needs a re-telling here; suffice it to say it was one of the darkest periods in Christian imperialist history since the Crusades).

      Mr McLeroy, if you, like Chesterton, accept on behalf of Christianity the responsibility for the building of roads – clearly an acid test for “civilisation: – you must also accept its role in enslaving, destroying and paving over ancient cultures in its efforts to quite literally take over the world.

      • Dave
        Posted April 12, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        A few other “parts and parcels” of British Imperialism: Parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, a free press, functioning economies and social infrastructure, education, sanitation, etc. etc. etc.

        The British Empire was overwhelmingly a force for good in the world. Those countries that have maintained its legacy – like India – have flourished since gaining independence. Countries that have trashed it – like many of the former African colonies – have descended into poverty and chaos.

        But hey, what did the Romans ever do for us?

        • Dave
          Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

          And one more thing I forgot to add – if the British were such exploitative, racist, imperialist monsters, it’s surprising how many of our former colonial subjects have come over to live with us during the past 50 years or so. Given how evil we were, you’d think they’d want to keep well away.

          • Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

            Given how evil we were

            My emphasis on the “were”. You realise we’re talking about history here, right? Stop taking this so personally.

          • Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

            re “how many of our former colonial subjects have come over to live with us during the past … … or so:” turns out it is actually … … not “that” many. We do … … “ keep well away. ”

            reference: Chapter Nine by an author with dual residency in both England and the USA — —

            “Abigail Adams to her husband John: ‘I desire you would remember the ladies, and be more favorable to them THAN YOUR ANCESTORS: Put not such power in the hands of husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could.’ They could, and they did.

            The machine of the patriarchs ground on, CRUSHING women, children and native races as it went, consigning the flower of its youth to dusty death miles from home, making those same women, children, youths and natives THE EXCUSE for all its own self – serving, self – deluding obsessions,” writes the verse of the prophetess, Dr Rosalind Miles, on p 215, “Dominion and Domination: The Rod of Empire,” of her “ holy scripture,” The Women’s History of the World, 2011.

            Blue

        • Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

          African nations have been exploited for their resources with infrastructure more or less installed to aid the removal of said resources (both human and material) since time immemorial. Once a colonising power makes a subject population dependent on it for everything and then suddenly leaves (often when the resources run out) or is forced out it’s little wonder political and societal chaos ensues. Your victim-blaming has been noted though.

          India’s flourishing is it? Is that why there are tens of millions of people including orphaned children living, literally, in garbage dumps?

          My point, which appears to have sailed so far over your head that it’s leaving vapour trails, was that if McLeroy was approvingly quoting Chesterton to paint Christianity as a beneficent civilising force in the world, he should both know the global context in which GK made that comment (and GK’s ignorance of it) and be able to accept the inhumanity carried out by Chesterton’s ruling classes.

          You can claim British Imperialism was God’s gift until you’re blue in the face; it does not excuse the stratospheric body count, naked theft of resources and unjustifiable destruction of cultures that took place in its service.

          And I do wonder why you’re taking this so personally and being so defensive. Britain as it is today is obviously nothing like the Imperial vandal it used to be (why, some of my best friends are Britons!); most of us in the former colonies understand that history, even if parts of it need to be acknowledged for the crimes they were, is still history (however, in the case of kidnapped mixed-race Aboriginal children, there are still people alive who remember their children or themselves being taken away all too well).

          Just as historians today note the advances provided by the Roman Empire while not ignoring the horrors it perpetrated, the same must be done with Britain’s past (which is still, for countless people, within living memory).

          • js
            Posted April 13, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

            There are also aboriginal women still alive that as young women were sent to a Christian run school to be trained as servants. There are photos of these women all done up in lovely clothes and you would initially think what a grand life that must have been but they only got to wear them for the photos. I was listening to the radio a few weeks ago and heard one of them say that they remember putting the dress on and then taking it back off for the next girl to wear.

        • Kurtis Rader
          Posted April 12, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

          And Italy under Benito Mussolini made the trains run on time. So what?

          P.S., I know my point is silly and not actually true. It’s myth. That’s the point. Every political leader and nation prefers to highlight the good they’ve done and ignore the harm.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 13, 2014 at 12:41 am | Permalink

      About as silly a statement as I’d expect from Chesterton (or was he being satirical?)

      The earliest prominent road-builders were the Romans, who were anything but Christian. After them, as Christianity spread, it took a a millennium and a half for road-building to get back to the same level of proficiency.

      And of course, on the subject of roads,
      the Nazis built the first true motorway system (the autobahns)… but then they were admittedly Christian… maybe not something to claim credit for.

      Myself, I doubt there’s any correlation except an accidental one, between road-building and religion. So I doubt if it’s a fact and if it is, it’s meaningless.

  9. Posted April 12, 2014 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I wonder if to a creationist a transitional fossil really would be something akin to a crocoduck or fronkey. They really would expect to see such fossils.

  10. Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    … the lack of “missing links”, which of course are nearly impossible to find because they represent a single species whose descendants split into the two “linked” groups …

    Jerry, is it good tactics to give the colloquial term “missing links” that precise definition? Isn’t it better to interpret it as referring to transitional fossils in general, and thus reply that “missing links” have been found in abundance?

    Afterall, that’s what the creationist is asking about: in their own mind they aren’t asking about a speciation event, they’re asking about transitions between “kinds”.

  11. Sastra
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    Look at the Jew. There is no naturalistic explanation for their prominence in world affairs today.

    Okay, this one is especially silly. Retrofitting prophesies is one thing. But in order to actually use the Jews’ “prominence in world affairs today” as evidence for the supernatural you have to point to a particular step in history which has no possible natural explanation. You have to find a clear and obvious supernatural event.

    And of course they can’t do that. Every small change followed reasonably and thus naturally from what happened before it. The smaller you go and the tighter you look, the more the connection makes sense.

    This is like insisting that God is proven because you met your future wife at a party and you don’t usually go to parties but the tv was broken that night so you said ‘what the heck’ and went. So there is just no naturalistic explanation for your marriage! Look at all that had to happen!

    Don McLeroy probably has no idea how his EVIDENCE looks to grown adults who aren’t actively trying to learn and accept his faith.

    • Posted April 12, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      On a minor but related note, he probably has no idea of the problematic nature of the phrase “the Jew”. There’s a lot of historical baggage associated with referring to Jews as a singular personage (thus associating certain traits, behaviours etc with all Jewish people) which shouldn’t need an explanation.

      • Achrachno
        Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

        It shouldn’t, but I’ll bet it does. :-(

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted April 13, 2014 at 8:16 am | Permalink

        Yes and his “prominence in world affairs” phrase wreaks a bit of semitism and carries the same problematic nature of which he probably doesn’t understand or really intend.

        • Posted April 13, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

          I suspect if he properly understood things like words and how they work he wouldn’t be a creationist.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted April 13, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

            Yeah but I can’t fault him since I see I wrote “semitism” instead of “anti-semitism”.

  12. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Don McLeroy [...] For a starter I will give you the first apologetic (EVIDENCE) that I teach my fourth grade Sunday School class: Look at the Jew.

    Don obviously has no idea what the word “evidence” means. But he’s also a debater of a level of skill I haven’t seen for a long time. Most people who are that bad at something (e.g. debating) rapidly stop doing it where other people can see them. Don is plainly cut from a different cloth.
    Doesn’t Texas still have some good old time traditions like lynching? Don should turn his rhetorical skills to arguing against it’s revival.

  13. Larry Smith
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Re: transitional forms: There was a witty “Futurama” episode where a creationist and evolutionist were arguing their cases in a courtroom setting. The creationist kept saying “there is no transitional form between species A and B.” The evolutionist “attorney” would then present a transitional form midway between the two, let’s say A1, and then the creationist attorney would reply, “Yes, but there is no transitional form between A and A1…” This went on for hundreds of examples… sort of a Zeno argument “proving” that you can never get from here to there, and therefore evolution is impossible.

    • Posted April 12, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Dawkins’s line of mothers and daughters standing hand in hand across Africa comes to mind …

      Every parent is a transitional “fossil”!

      /@

  14. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Don McLeroy’s tireless efforts to trash Texas educational standards would suggest that he’ll find idea that Jew’s cultural emphasis on education and achievement to be too novel to get his head around.

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Let’s fix that: …he’ll find the idea that Jew’s cultural emphasis on education and achievement are responsible for their disproportionate impact to be too novel to get his head around.

  15. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    John Voris : Science is about visible, physical evidence, while we live and die for the invisible and abstract ideas.

    Speak for yourself, Johnny-boy, but I live and die for very visible and concrete ideas like money, sex, and world domination (fast!).
    Or are people not allowed to have different ideas to you in your new land of Gideon?

  16. Josh Lord
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    What I find utterly fascinating from a psychological perspective is how these people’s standard of evidence ocilliates so dramatically depending on whether some evidence is thought to support or undermine their existing beliefs. We’re all differentially critical of information that fits with our existing beliefs/ideological predispositions to varying degrees but creationists (and most religionists and ideologues in general) take this tendency to incredible extremes. Massive amounts of convergent physical evidence sufficient to create a consensus within the scientific community (which is so prone to disagreement in general) doesn’t persuade them that evolution is even a *viable* explanation for the complexity of life, whereas some assertions in an ambigous, internally-inconsistent ancient text along with being unable to think of a non-supernatural account of Jewish acheivement apparently serve as grounds for unwavering conviction in the biblical account of creation! Extreme credulity is exhibited whenever information is congenial to priors (or can be made to appear to be if one squints hard enough) and yet extreme incredulity is exhibited whenever information conflicts. What makes this belief-sustaining psychological mechanism (otherwise known as “motivated reasoning”) so interesting is that it operates beneath conscious awareness. Most creationists really *feel* as though they’re being objective, I suspect.

    • Achrachno
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

      Yes — massive evidence for evolution, but they still don’t believe it; almost no evidence that “Jesus” is a historical person, yet they believe fervently. It’s really weird.

      If one could count up bits of evidence suggesting/confirming evolution as a real phenomenon and likewise for “Jesus” the ratio could hardly be less that 100K:1. Jesus buried in a landslide.

  17. Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Dr. Coyne: I do not understand how “cultural emphasis on education and achievement…” accounts for the return of a nation after thousands of years and then that nation having such an an importance in world affairs. But, if the Bible is true and God prophesied it to take place, I do understand it. Can you help me understand how all this is a result of educational emphasis?

    • azhael
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      “if the Bible is true and God prophesied it to take place, I do understand it”

      How? I mean, seriously…what do you understand? What is there to be understood about magic? You have no mechanisms, no acquired insight on the process that produced the observed result…nothing. If the bible is true and your god magicked the jews into what they are today, you don´t understand a fucking thing about it. Then again since the bible is clearly and demonstrably a collection of bronze age myths i don´t have to worry about gods doing magic.

      • Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

        McLeroy:

        if the Bible is true and God prophesied it to take place, I do understand it

        is just a grownup way of reciting that gradeschool Ham-ism:

        “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.”

        Meanwhile, back in the world the rest of us inhabit:

        Put simply, any culture or civilisation that emphasises education comparatively more than a competing culture or civilisation will have an advantage in a world where being educated is a positive trait. Our world is such a world; you can look broadly at economically & technologically comparable nations, compare their educational systems and compare such measurable outcomes as overall happiness, average wage, GDP etc. You can do the same on a cultural level: simply, Jewish culture has always prioritised education; hence the appearance of a disproportionate influence on world affairs by Jewish individuals.

    • Taz
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      I hate to break it to you Don, but if God is responsible for the re-establishment of Israel, then the mechanism he used was centuries of abuse and oppression culminating in the holocaust.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 13, 2014 at 12:50 am | Permalink

        Yeah. Funny way to treat His chosen people. Speaking as an Englishman, thank the daylights he didn’t pick us!

    • Kurtis Rader
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      As a starting point I recommend listening to “The Modern Scholar: Six Months That Changed the World: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919″ by Margaret MacMillan.

      http://www.audible.com/pd/History/The-Modern-Scholar-Audiobook/B002V1C8R4

      God had nothing to do with it. World War I and the “great” powers of the time had a lot to do with it.

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

      See? What did I tell you? (#14) McLeroy as been trying to shove ignorance down the throats of children for many years – he clearly can’t understand that science, supported by REAL evidence, might actually be important to teach children. He has no idea how an educated populace – educated in reality, that is – might be essential to making a nation successful.

    • imajr
      Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:29 am | Permalink

      And the thought that the Jews went there because their big book of mythology told them that they had rights to the land doesn’t occur to you? Something about self fulfilling prophecy?

      No you’re right, magic man is a better answer.

  18. sbridge
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    So … does that mean God is blessing the Jewish people in this life but not so much in the next? Since they don’t accept Jesus as their savior they can’t be saved. Or do they get a bye?

  19. Pete Moulton
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    “To fix that, all he has to do is read either my book or Dawkins’s on this topic.”

    And, of course, that’s exactly the one thing “Spike” won’t do.

  20. Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Don McLeroy is quite a twit, isn’t he? “Look at the Jew”? Why yes, look at the Jew, who makes macaroni art for Moses….

    It’s always great when TrueChristians show that South Park nails their stupidity completely.

  21. Posted April 12, 2014 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    oh and “Don”? it’s rather hilarious that you insist that your god doesn’t think atheists exist, but your supposed magical book shows that you are lying. I guess that commandment about not bearing false witness means nothing to you. It’s wonderful that Christians do their best to show that they don’t believe in the bible either.

  22. articulett
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    I always ask creationists what their competing explanation for evidence is (evidence like Tiktaalik, the fusion of the number two chromosome, the vitamin C peudogene, etc.)

    I’ll say,

    “Does it by chance involve an invisible 3-in-1 magic man made of nothing who poofs everything into existence… because if so, you can see why scientists are unlikely to take it seriously. Not only do you need an explanation that explains the evidence BETTER than evolution AND leads to further discoveries like Tiktaalik… it also must be an explanation that is distinguishable from magical explanations and myths. Othewise, as far as science is concerned– it’s identical with those sorts of explanations– useless for those who are interested in what is true.”

  23. mfdempsey1946
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    The Catholic Church has an old, self-congratulatory expression: “invincible ignorance.”

    To the church, it refers to those unfortunates who are incapable of seeing the light about God and the One True Religion no matter how idealistically and selflessly its adherents try to “save” them from a likely berth in eternal hell.

    Instead, albeit unintentionally, it is a dismayingly perfect description of what the people quoted in this post about evolution and the afterlife embody.

  24. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Look at the Jew? Huh, look at the American. There seems to be no Biblical authority for their prominence in world affairs, in fact so far as I’m aware, USA isn’t even mentioned in the Bible…

    • js
      Posted April 13, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, but Joseph Smith set that right. :-)
      I mean honestly, how do these people tie their shoe laces in the morning.

  25. Diane G.
    Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    sub

  26. Posted April 13, 2014 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    Wikipedia has an interesting article on the subject of Ashkenazi Jewish intelligence

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jewish_intelligence

  27. ronnyo
    Posted April 13, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    If evolution is “fact,” then why don’t creationists have huge mouths and no ears, since they spend all their time spouting nonsense and none of it actually listening? Checkmate, “Science!”

    Wait…I forget what my point was…

  28. Posted April 13, 2014 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I fairly sure that the god doesn’t believe in atheists is angling towards the idea that we all know in our hearts that there is a god.

    But we are very angry with him, for some reason, and only claim to be atheists because we are so angry.

    God However, being all knowing, knows that we all secretly believe in him.

    • Kurtis Rader
      Posted April 13, 2014 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      “We”? Please don’t speak for me or anyone else who is an atheist. I do not secretly believe in “him”. I do not “only claim” to be an atheist. Note that I cannot be angry towards an imaginary being (something you should understand given your interest in RPGs). I am angry at trolls (a term I suspect describes you) and devout Christians who desire to impose their religion on me.

      • Diane G.
        Posted April 13, 2014 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

        I took Konrad’s remark as sarcasm.

        • Kurtis Rader
          Posted April 13, 2014 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

          Diane, you might be right that Konrad was trying to be sarcastic. But if so he needs to hone his skills. Too, a “/snark” or similar indicator is usually a good idea given Poe’s law.

          Konrad please don’t mistake me for a humorless atheist if in fact you were trying for sarcasm/snark. Your comment was just a trifle too realistic; especially your first sentence with its odd grammar. In hindsight I realize that your linking to your Google+ profile was a giveaway that you were in all likelihood posting sarcastically.

        • Posted April 13, 2014 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

          I didn’t think it was sarcasm: I took the last two paras were written as if from the position of someone that would say, “God doesn’ believe in atheists”.

          It‘s a rhetorical technique that Sastra uses frequently, but we quickly recognise because we’re familiar with her point of view, whereas Konrad is a new(ish) poster.

          /@

          • Diane G.
            Posted April 14, 2014 at 2:24 am | Permalink

            Well, yes, “Sastra’s technique” would have been a better description of my interpretation. :)

            Only Konrad can tell us who’s right here, but I still go with the above for now.

  29. Friendlypig
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    In 1992 I was fortunate enough to have to undergo a coronary angiogram during which I experienced, although I was unaware at the time, sudden cardiac death. Well, instantaneous cardiac death, a well documented but thankfully rare occurrence; and too rapid for me to develop hypoxia – non of those pesky hallucinations that people suffer when they die a little more slowly.

    From personal experience there is nothing there, no people, so sound, no light at the end of the tunnel (not even a bailiff with a torch!).

    Science brought me back from across the great divide – a swift jolt of electricity across the chest, and excellent medical and nursing practices.

    Looking up the theatre sister’s nose was the best sight I have ever seen! Incidentally the angiogram was negative, as was the one I had in February 2014. Great stuff! Unfortunately I still have to have the mitral valve repair in just under three weeks and ablation to prevent further atrial fibrillation.

    Now what does the bible say? Oh yes, must get some oil to anoint my body, and just where will I find those elders to prey(sic) over me?

    • john frum
      Posted April 14, 2014 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      You know, I think that’s the first time I have ever seen someone (sic) on themselves.

      • john frum
        Posted April 14, 2014 at 6:46 am | Permalink

        *themself

  30. Friendlypig
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    There’s a first time for everything.

    • gbjames
      Posted April 14, 2014 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      Excluding things that never happen, of course.

  31. Posted April 14, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Is this really the D. M. from _The Revisionaries_?


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