Science vs. Faith: no conflict!

Faith-friendly historians of science (viz., Ronald Numbers), as well as many accommodationists, hasten to reassure us that there is no real conflict between science and religion. It’s all illusory, and insofar as it doesn’t seem illusory (i.e., the 46% of Americans who are young-earth creationists), well, it’s just a small misunderstanding.

That is, until you see something like this, which is not a Photoshop job. It’s a church sign from Fort Worth, Texas:

Forth Worth Texas

“Facts don’t count.”  Can you get much more irrational than that? I’d love to put that on the cover of my book, but will refrain.

But do you suppose the congregants at Victory Tabernacle Holiness Church accept God as a Ground of Being rather than a Disembodied Person Who Cares About Them? Damon Linker and David Bentley Hart: are you listening?

At any rate, reader Barry, who sent me the photo and did a bit of legwork, also sent me a few tw**s by one Joseph O Morrow, a Christian from Philadelphia. This also demonstrates that a) some Christians do rely on evidence for their beliefs, and b) the standards of evidence are, well, a bit thin. . . .

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67 Comments

  1. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    The historical existence of the garden of Eden is much more widely documented than the entire life of Julius Caesar.

    Widely, but not accurately. It’s in Jackson County, Missouri, right?

    • Kevin
      Posted January 17, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Wikipedia:
      Garden of Eden (Eng) – ~7 pages
      Julius Caesar (Eng) – ~30 pages

    • Jeffery
      Posted January 17, 2014 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      This guy is really DOWN with that, “Facts Dnt Count” thing, and he doesn’t know the proper use of the word, “document”, either- he’s using it to mean “published, printed, or disseminated”, when the dictionary definition of it as a verb is:

      (1) To furnish with a document or documents.

      (2) To support (an assertion or claim, for example) with evidence or decisive information.

      (3) To support (statements in a book, for example) with written references or citations; annotate.

      You’ll probably notice that the Babble in NO way satisfies (2) concerning the Garden of Eden, unless you’re running in that mental circle of, “The Babble is the literal word of God because it says so, right in the Babble” thing.

  2. gbjames
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Citation required. I gotta see that wide documentation of The Garden!

    • NoAstronomer
      Posted January 17, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Well the documentation is in pretty much every hotel room in the country. How much more widely do you want?

      Mike.

      • gbjames
        Posted January 17, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        You have a point.

      • Notagod
        Posted January 17, 2014 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        That might qualify for widely distributed documentation but not widely documented.

        And I might be wrong as one of the definitions for documented is:

        To furnish with a document or documents.

        So ok, but I think that meaning is intended to mean “given a document”. Such as being served with a court order.

        Used as the christian is using “documented”, seems intentionally deceptive, or in other words, true christianity.

  3. NewEnglandBob
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Oy Vey!

  4. dunnfjfrancis
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    //

  5. bric
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    One’s mind is in a state of boggledom.

    • Merilee
      Posted January 17, 2014 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Boggledom: that must be the State containing the Garden o’ Eden?

      • bric
        Posted January 18, 2014 at 1:54 am | Permalink

        I learn from Google that Boggle is a game of some sort in the USA, unknown over here where it is ‘To confound, bewilder; to amaze, astound. Now chiefly in to boggle the mind: to be bewildering, astounding, or mentally overwhelming’

  6. Sastra
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    But do you suppose the congregants at Victory Tabernacle Holiness Church accept God as a Ground of Being rather than a Disembodied Person Who Cares About Them?

    No, I suppose that the congregants at Victory Tabernacle Holiness Church accept God as a Ground of Being IN ADDITION to a Disembodied Person Who Cares About Them. They downplay the former view but are perfectly happy to accept it as a background assumption. The two fit together … somehow. Praise Him and Glory!

    Just as the Sophisticated Theologians play up the Ground of Being God and at the same time still believe that God has major implications for how we understand and live our lives on earth, invoking our capacity to care for each other as one of the signs that God exists. Or “exists.”

    The ability to hold two opposing thoughts in one’s mind and feel undisturbed is one of the sporting events at the Theology Olympics.

    • Richard Olson
      Posted January 17, 2014 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Follows dinosaur roping & branding, and is just before Christian vs Demon free-style wrestling.

      • JohnnieCanuck
        Posted January 17, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        Gone are the days when the gods preferred Greco-Roman style wrestling. Legendary, it was and now they are too.

    • marcusa1971
      Posted January 17, 2014 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      “The ability to hold two opposing thoughts in one’s mind and feel undisturbed is one of the sporting events at the Theology Olympics.”

      It’s also the top billed act at Bullshitpalooza.

  7. Barry Lyons
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Yes, the standards of evidence are a bit thin. But only just a bit.

  8. Posted January 17, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    I just cannot see past the unashamed butchery of the language.

  9. Posted January 17, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    §

  10. Robert Seidel
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    You know, even if the bible WERE true, it would be a more sketchy account on Eden than anything Caesar wrote about his campaigns.

  11. krzysztof1
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    “Facts dnt [sic] count.” But that’s what they really believe! It goes all the way back to Martin Luther, and he got it from the Bible!

    • Larry Gay
      Posted January 18, 2014 at 3:38 am | Permalink

      It bothers me that people can go through a school system somewhere in the USA and really believe facts don’t count. Can’t we do better?

      • Timothy Hughbanks
        Posted January 18, 2014 at 8:29 am | Permalink

        When people are told from the day they’re born that the quality of the their character and their fate in eternity depends upon accepting the proposition that facts don’t count, it may be unfair to blame the schools.

      • krzysztof1
        Posted January 19, 2014 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        The answer is yes, we can do better. Will we? I’m not so sure. The philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt aptly defined bullshit as “lack of concern for the truth.” That sums up the age in which we live, it seems.

        • Posted January 20, 2014 at 10:34 am | Permalink

          What reassures me (very) slightly is that Frankfurt got an audience in the popular media somehow (_The Daily Show_ had him on).

  12. Ken Pidcock
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    What amuses me is how Linker ridicules atheists for their simplistic understanding of God without expressing any concern whatsoever about how many believers share that understanding. I mean, those people are fundamentally wrong about something very important, are they not? You’d think it’d be treated as a spiritual crisis.

  13. Posted January 17, 2014 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    If conservatism is an ideology that puts more value on ‘conserving’ traditions, despite evidence that certain things don’t (or do) work- does that make it inherently anti-scientific? That being the case, why aren’t more people against such a movement?

  14. Hempenstein
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    You suppose when their Buicks need work, these clowns go to their Tabernacle or a competent garage?

  15. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Well, lucky for us, the UR faith is only a small, insignificant sect whose membership appears to be dwindling every year.

    Facts thus appear to be safe, for the forseeable future.

    • abrotherhoodofman
      Posted January 17, 2014 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      By the way UR is the name of their god, which I believe stands for Ultimate Redneck.

  16. Posted January 17, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Another exaggerated claim is the 42/10 trope – 42 eyewitness accounts for Jebus and only 10 for Tiberius – Roman Emperorzombiefication of.

    Accomplished by ignoring large pieces of evidence for Tiberius and defining eyewitness as a 150 year window post zombiefication of HeySuess

  17. John Harshman
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    I was once buttonholed by a creationist missionary who started his spiel by informing me that there was more evidence for the life of Jesus than for the life of Julius Caesar. I told him we had books actually written by Caesar and many references to him in books written by contemporaries, and he said he’d have to carefully consider my claims. And that was the end of that. I wonder what happened to him.

  18. Posted January 17, 2014 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    ooopy

  19. Posted January 17, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    “The existance of the garden of eden is much more widely documented than the entire life of Julius Caesar”

    I suppose it is if you are one of the ‘mericans with four or fewer books and none of them include Caesar’s Gallic Wars.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 18, 2014 at 1:26 am | Permalink

      Total number of Bibles (O.T.) printed: 6,000,000,000
      Total number of Gallic Wars printed: 47,500

      See? Waaay more evidence for the Garden of Eden.

      (By the way, I made up the number for Gallic Wars).

      • Posted January 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        Don’t forget to count books by Ham, Hovind, Gish and Morris. They document it in even more detail than the bible does. (;P)

  20. Achrachno
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Stupidity vs. Faith: no conflict!

  21. Doug
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Thirty years ago I read in Plain Truth [a fundamentalist magazine] that “the resurrection of Christ is better documented than the assassination of Julius Caesar.” This line (or variations on it) is evidently a standard response trotted out whenever a Christian is challenged by a skeptic.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 18, 2014 at 1:08 am | Permalink

      Arrgh! Plain Truth. We used to have that lying around (I think because my grandfather was a Methodist or a Baptist or a Presbyterian or a Congregational or one of those Protestanty things). Being a compulsive-addictive reader of anything printed I copped the occasional dose of nonsense. I think I soon decided that going ‘cold turkey’ on my reading compulsion was preferable to reading anything in ‘Plain Truth’.

      • Robert Bray
        Posted January 18, 2014 at 7:12 am | Permalink

        Herbert W. Armstrong/ Garner Ted Armstrong/Radio Worldwide Church of God/Ambassador College/’Plain Truth’ magazine–

        all add up to one of the most popular and wealth-inducing (and effective?) evangelical outfits in the period of ca. 1936-2003. That’s when the son, Garner Ted, died. He had broken with his father years before when the patriarch took exception to the son’s drinking, gambling and whoring. GTA splintered the church and founded his own–gotta kill the father, you know–and had a great and lucrative run until his death.

  22. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 18, 2014 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    But that’s an absolutely accurate statement, isn’t it?

    (By the way, he obviously has a shortage of ‘O’s – so fortunate he managed to spare one for ‘count’. Not…)

    • Posted January 18, 2014 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      That’s what I saw, too. It was fun thinking of the quandry that fundy was in.

  23. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted January 18, 2014 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    “Facts don’t count.” Can you get much more irrational than that? I’d love to put that on the cover of my book, but will refrain.

    But do you suppose the congregants at Victory Tabernacle Holiness Church accept God as a Ground of Being rather than a Disembodied Person Who Cares About Them? Damon Linker and David Bentley Hart: are you listening?

    But, but, … if facts don’t count, there is no Being to Ground!? Because last I checked, reality is a fact.

    Or should I take the combo as a NOMA proposal, that L&H means we should take Being (and its Ground) on faith? But then why do they claim that atheists doesn’t tackle their “best argument”? If existence isn’t a fact claim in their woo world, the only beef we can have with their argument is, besides that it is wrong (O.o), that it supports irrational thinking and religious woo.

  24. marcusa1971
    Posted January 18, 2014 at 2:39 am | Permalink

    I wonder if Mr O Morrow is lying about the Garden of Eden? That is, is he knowingly telling a falsehood? Or he does he actually believe that the “historical evidence” for his garden are greater than that for Julius Ceasar?
    I guess what I am trying to say, is he a liar or just an idiot?

    • gbjames
      Posted January 18, 2014 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      Lying. He may lying to himself as well as to the parishioners. And he may be enforcing his belief by avoiding information contrary to the fairy tale. But he’s clearly lying for Jesus.

    • Jeff L
      Posted January 18, 2014 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      I vote ignorant. I’ve known enough creationists personally to know that they really do believe all this stuff, since most of them have been indoctrinated into it their whole lives, and because most people in general tend to uncritically accept statements that don’t contradict something they already know.

      • Doug Richardson
        Posted January 18, 2014 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

        I believe that it is easy for religious people to convince themselves that because something
        “ought” to be true, then it is. Look at how many insist that Darwin rejected evolution “on his deathbed.” At first I wondered how Christians could repeat something that was obviously untrue; if they really believed in their religion, didn’t they think that God would be angry at them for lying? I finally concluded that they don’t see it as lying; for them it is a small step to go from “I wish Darwin renounced evolution,” to “he probably did,” to “he did.” If you’re going to rely on wishful thinking (which you have to do when you’re religious), where do you stop? It is no harder to believe that the Garden of Eden is better documented than the life of Julius Caesar than it is to believe in the Garden in the first place.

        • Posted January 18, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

          Also, I think a lot of people drift through life vaguely absorbing ideas from their surroundings but never attempt to organise them within their minds as a coherent world view.

  25. Hempenstein
    Posted January 18, 2014 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    This just in. Per CBS News, John Peter Smith Hosp in Ft Worth has cancelled elective surgeries to make room for flu cases. Maybe the facts of the dangers of the flu season didn’t count either?

  26. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 18, 2014 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Hey, Caesar is known widely as a salad now. You can’t say that for Eden & I bet it had a lot of vegetables in its garden too!

    Caesar 1, Eden 0

    QED.

  27. DrBrydon
    Posted January 18, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    What would count as documentation of the existence of the Garden of Eden? An Eviction Notice?

  28. Posted January 18, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I’m enjoying a running debate with a biblical literalist troll by the name of Heddle, who admits that there’s no rational proof of God; you just get a message. If you don’t heed the message, you’re a “jackass” or an “idiot.” (Well, at least, per heddle, I am.)

    Mr. Heddle doggedly refuses to answer straightforward … err, “simplistic” questions like, “is God Love?”, or “was it wrong for God to command genocide?” Instead, he tells us what the “actual question” ought to be, then refuses to answer even that, pleading that it’s all so very “nuanced.”

    Despite Heddle’s mad dodgeball skillz, he did finally let it slip that exterminating the Amalekites, or nuking Sodom & Gomorrah, or children being mauled by bears, is piddly dink compared to the eternal fires of hell. So quit y’r whinin’, QED.

    And if you simplistic jackasses can’t see that, it’s not heddle’s fault.

  29. Posted January 18, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    This sign was photographed this morning by my former boss, as he was taking a morning jog in Santa Monica.

    Cretinism… it’s not just for fundies, anymore.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 18, 2014 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Oh dear & from Lutheran’s too!

      • Posted January 18, 2014 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        …where all the children are above average.

        Nice, agreeable, folksy types. If pushed on the point, you know the nice peoples will gently chide you for not being able to take a joke. And then when talking to other members of their flock… it’s not entirely a joke all-of-a-sudden. It’s a win-win.

    • Richard Olson
      Posted January 18, 2014 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      If evolution should produce a third arm for a mom, does that mean evolution is the process where the human female generates a third arm upon giving birth?

      This additional limb presumably only sprouts upon the first successful childbirth event, or the sign would say evolution results in a new arm for the birth mother each time a child is born, instead of stating specifically just 3 arms for mothers.

      Clearly the male gender is not affected by this feature of biology, because it doesn’t say so on the sign. Meaning if evolution is true, families with children should all have two-armed fathers and three-armed mothers.

      I’ve yet to see a single married couple who fits this description. Therefore: hard to argue with the Lutherans.

      I wonder what the guffaw to cringe ratio will be tomorrow among church attendees? Who knows, maybe somebody will say “That’s it, last straw,” turn around, drive away and never go back again.

    • John Taylor
      Posted January 18, 2014 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      I don’t get it.

      • GBJames
        Posted January 18, 2014 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        What don’t you get?

      • Posted January 19, 2014 at 4:20 am | Permalink

        Near as I can tell, it’s a nice, folksy, heartwarming truism that highlights the hard-working virtues of motherhood (they need extra arms, those super-moms) whilst circling the cultural wagons against the obvious falsity of (Lamarckian?) evolution. It’s the kind of humor that colorless, robotic, determinist, shrill, secular, atheist types are unable to appreciate… like the humor in the first 2 minutes of this Simpsons episode. Kind of like the folksy Lutheran humor in this article.

        • Richard Olson
          Posted January 19, 2014 at 7:34 am | Permalink

          My face is so red sitting here right now. This explanation for the sign text completely escaped me, fixated as I was on something repugnantly stupid recently said by a YEC evolution denier, and it is the obvious explanation. My apologies to the Lutheran church sign author for selling you short; I believe your intent was to pay tribute to harried moms, and that’s not a bad thing.

  30. Surangika Senanayake
    Posted January 18, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I am a Buddhist and therefore has no issues with religion and science as Buddhism is scientific. Buddha ( a mere human being) was the only religious leader who said not to take it just because he said it but to find out about it; he said ” come, question me”. He also said it does not matter how this world or the universe came to be but what matters is how you live your life. Live in the present/ now, is what he preached and practised; (don’t dwell in the past,only take a lesson from it; don’t make too many plans for the future). Buddhists didn’t have an issue when the then flat earth became spherical and don’t have issues, most importantly, with evolution.

  31. Jon Bagge
    Posted January 19, 2014 at 5:13 am | Permalink


    Interesting documentary by entirely atheist historian about the ‘real’ garden of Eden. Of course it’s not what you think.
    The other two episodes in this little BBC series are better I think.

  32. Posted January 20, 2014 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Here´s the historical orgin of “Faith/reason” non-conflitous relation, while for greeks there was no opposition at all?

    http://www.scielo.gpeari.mctes.pt/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0874-13362009000200004#.Utr5TxtWDxY.facebook

    (hope you can translate the page)
    Here´s Averrois represented in A Well known painting http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Averr%C3%B3is)

  33. Posted January 20, 2014 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Except miracles…


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