Creationists avow their creed

As it’s Darwin Day, I’ll try to devote all of the posts to evolution, though I’m sure a cat will slip in here and there.

Here is a 4.5-minute clip of creationists talking about their beliefs in the recent HBO film, “Questioning Darwin,” a show that the readers didn’t much like, and not because it contained creationists like these.  You can get a glimpse, in this video, of some of the psychological reasons why people reject evolution, which they hold as equivalent to atheism.  Note that at least two people make the frightening statement that no matter what the evidence against creationism may be, they’d still embrace the Genesis view.  For those people there is no harmony between science and faith. BioLogos, why have you failed us?


  1. Bruce Gregory
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.” — Jonathan Swift

  2. bonetired
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    “But madam, you did it yourself. And it only took you nine months!” JBS Haldane

  3. marksolock
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  4. µ
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Brian: “… You’ve got to think for yourselves! You’re all individuals!”

    Crowd: “Yes! We’re all individuals!”

    Brian: “You’re all different!”

    Crowd: “Yes, we are all different!”

    • NoAstronomer
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      Loner : “I’m not”

      Crowd : “Shush”

  5. Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Chuck D. came up to me and said, “Yes we can.” I said, “We share a common ancestor and god be damned.”

  6. Niek Beaujean
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    That these are the things they say about themselves shows the deep divide here. To most of us, dismissing evidence is anathema. But these people take pride in it.

    I cannot comprehend them. They cannot comprehend me.

    • Sastra
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      Yes we can. We can think of analogies where we would dismiss contrary “evidence.” Sophist arguments which try to make us doubt our own existence; sly lies designed to trick us into condemning an innocent friend; pseudoscience which contradicts the findings of genuine experts; propaganda from a totalitarian political group; difficult situations which make it hard to want to keep on following our ideals.

      The difference is that these analogies are bad analogies. We can work out why they don’t resemble the situation where you reject the discoveries of modern science in favor of the Bible. But the religious have been encouraged to adopt a world view where no, these are good analogies. Creationism is like doing those things.

      They would agree that it’s shameful to dismiss reliable evidence. Man’s evidence is not as reliable as God’s.

      • Niek Beaujean
        Posted February 13, 2014 at 12:39 am | Permalink

        I like your comment.

  7. bucksgravitar
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    This show was a cop-out from a scientific perspective. It was extremely light on the evidence, and virtually no explanation of natural selection processes.

    I felt like I was watching Breaking Amish, it was sad.

    • Ralph
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      I thought the show seemed to be entirely about the incompatibility of science and religion, and not so much about arguing the merits of the truth claims of evolution and creationism.

      We had the modern evangelicals explaining their world view; and the Darwin segments were mainly speculation about the conflict in Darwin’s own mind between his Victorian relgious/philosophical background and his scienctific understanding of the true nature of the world.

      In that sense, what the show really lacked in balance was not so much and explanation of the theory of evolution, but commentary from the likes of Biologos, Ken Miller, or similar, who do claim to be able to reconcile their religion with their science.

  8. ChrisKG
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    HHMI is doing a lot today including posting videos, teacher’s guides, lectures and more. When one of the largest medical philanthropic organizations dedicated to the advancement of medical research is promoting evolution disagrees with your (creationists) views, maybe it’s time to pick up another book.

  9. John Schneider
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I do not think BioLogos is equipped to administer cognitive therapy.

    • Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      John – completely agree; however, folks like these are impervious to rational thought.

  10. pktom64
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Did Ken Ham say that there exist bones with brain tumors on them??
    I’m no biologist (or scientist even) but that doesn’t seem right…

    • Dale
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      I caught that too! I didn’t know that dinosaur bones had brains! No wonder they grew tumors. LOL for real!

    • gluonspring
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      I have no idea what he said or what point he was trying to make but it doesn’t sound a priori crazy to me. Metastasis is the process where cancerous cells detach from the tumor origin, move around the body, and start a new tumor somewhere else. I am unsure if this happens with brain tumors specifically but it definitely happens with many kinds of tumors so that it is possible to have, for example, a tumor made up of breast cancer cells in your lung. Sometimes knowing the tissue of origin has treatment implications (e.g. some breast tumors respond to blocking estrogen receptors).

      • pktom64
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        Thank you.

        Can we know from a fossilized tumor where do the cells come from? (this may very well be an incredibly stupid question).

        So maybe Ham didn’t say something crazy in this case after all. Damn… that’s a change!

      • Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        I do not know of the broader context of Ham’s comment, but ‘tumor’ can be any abnormal growth, not just cancer. If a bone is broken and it heals poorly it will often leave a lump of extra bone tissue. Even Sue the T. rex has tumors on its fractured ribs in that sense. Of course it is not bone but stone now.

      • Sastra
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

        If this makes sense and Ham is trying to account for it, then my guess is that at some point or other an evolutionist used it as an argument and it caught him by surprise. Never again: now he brings it up in order to enfold it into his narrative.

    • gluonspring
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Oh, we’re talking fossils here? That does sound crazy (Sorry, I’m using a restaurant wifi and they block video sites for some reason, so I can’t watch the clip). Well, I don’t know how you would know a fossil bone tumor came from brain cells. That usually requires some kind of molecular test in living tumors.

      • pktom64
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        Seems like you answered my above question right here… 🙂

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      @1h33m36s in the Ham/Nye debate we see Ken Ham flash an image on the screen of a display from his Kentucky creationist “facility” [to use Nye’s word] entitled This dinosaur had a brain tumor! I’ve cued up the moment JUST HERE so that you can see the image ~ although it’s worth watching from 1h32m42s where Ham starts his spiel regarding The Fall & how it brought meat eating, death & disease into the world.

      Ham is referring to THIS REPORT from 2003:-

      Scientists reported today they had found the first evidence of a brain tumour in a dinosaur, in the fossilised remains of a creature that lived 72 million years ago in present-day Montana.

      “Although we haven’t conclusively identified the type of brain tumour found in this specimen, we are sure the tumour impaired the mobility of the dinosaur,” said Rachel Reams, a veterinary pathologist at Eli Lilly and Co. who participated in the research.

      “It almost certainly affected its balance and locomotor function,” she added.

      The announcement was made in Indianapolis by the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research.

      Evidence of the tumour was found in a fossil of a 7.6 metre predator called Gorgosaurus, a meat-eater closely related to Tyrannosaurus rex, the announcement said. The fossil was discovered in 1997 at the Two Medicine Formation in western Montana’s Teton County.

      Peter Larson, co-founder of the Black Hills Institute, said the tumour was likely cancerous, “but we can’t say that for sure. … We do know that it was life-threatening, and if it did not directly cause death, it led up to it.”

      He said the finding was significant because it was the first brain tumour found in any kind of fossil – dinosaur or otherwise – and it showed problems like brain tumours had been around basically forever.

      The ball-shaped mass was about five cms in diameter in a brain that was about half the mass of a human brain. The tumour took up almost all of the cerebrum, the part of the brain that processes higher thought, and was pressing against the brain stem, Larson said

      While I believe the report I would like to point out that [from what I can tell] both the Children’s museum & Larson’s Institute are commercial operations who don’t appear to be in the business of research.

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        Just like to check something…

        The Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, Inc. website. Looks commercial rather than research orientated or is that the same thing these days in the era of big money dino fossil auctions?

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

        ‘doh. I feel foolish. When the OP mentioned a brain tumor in bone for some reason I reflexively thought of a non-skull bone like a femur or a rib. I don’t know why. There is no way you could know that a tumor on a femur was a brain tumor, but a tumor in a skull, sure, why not? I’m no expert either but it does not seem like a stretch to imagine a brain tumor affecting the skull or even spreading to the skull. True or not in this case it seems unremarkable.

        Ham’s only use of this seems to be just to illustrated that bad things existed at some point in history of dinosaurs, as if T-rex teeth and Triceratops armor hadn’t already told us that! But sure, if you want to drive the point home with tumors, great.

        I honestly can’t watch more than thirty seconds of this at a time… it’s like a PTSD response from my time in the asylum…

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 12, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

          No. As per my original post in this thread Ken Ham claims that meat eating, disease, suffering & death only came into the world at the time of The Fall. SEE THIS HAM WRITTEN AiG POST Extract:- “The Bible teaches (in Genesis 1:29–30) that the original animals (and the first humans) were commanded to be vegetarian. There were no meat eaters in the original creation. Furthermore, there was no death. It was an unblemished world, with Adam and Eve and animals (including dinosaurs) living in perfect harmony, eating only plants.

          Sadly, it did not stay this way for very long. Adam rebelled against his Creator, bringing sin into the world (Genesis 3:1–7; Romans 5:12). Because of this rebellion, Adam, and thus all of his descendants (you and me), gave up the right to live with a Holy (sinless) and just God. God therefore judged sin with death.

          The Bible plainly teaches from Genesis to Revelation that there was no death of animals or humans before Adam sinned. (Consider just a few of the many passages, such as: Romans 5:12; Genesis 2:17; Genesis 1:29–30; Romans 8:20–22; Acts 3:21; Hebrews 9:22; 1 Corinthians 15; Revelation 21:1–4; Revelation 22:3.) This means there could not have been any animal fossils (and no dinosaur bones) before sin.

          After Adam’s sin, animals and people started to die. It was now a different world, one of death and strife. A world that was once beautiful now suffered under the curse placed upon it by the Creator (Genesis 3:14–19). But a promise was given (Genesis 3:15) that God would provide a way for the penalty of sin to be paid so there would be a way for man to come back to God.”

          • Larry Cook
            Posted February 13, 2014 at 2:20 am | Permalink

            Gee whiz, what did God have against plants? I doubt plants felt like they were “living in perfect harmony” in an “unblemished world”. Why make the distinction between different types of life? And think of the poor plants rooted in place and unable to flee those predators.

            • Michael Fisher
              Posted February 13, 2014 at 4:50 am | Permalink

              Larry ~ I’m afraid the creationists saw you coming! The Hamster’s Answers in Genesis Kids Answers section on corruption & death explains that plants aren’t “alive.” Here’s a quote from the above link:-

              “Throughout the Bible, the Hebrew words nephesh chayyâh are used to describe human and animal life. When referring to mankind, nephesh chayyâh means “living soul” or “soulish creature,” and when it refers to animals, it means “living creature.” However, this word is never applied to plant life. […] Their death is not the death of a “living soul” or “living creature.”

              Included with plants are possibly invertebrates, since they too were excluded from the nephesh chayyâh creatures.”

            • gbjames
              Posted February 13, 2014 at 6:41 am | Permalink

              That’s why plants evolved defensive poisons! Oh, wait…

          • Dermot C
            Posted February 14, 2014 at 5:54 am | Permalink

            @ Michael Fisher
            Posted February 12, 2014 at 6:06 pm

            Ho, ho, Ham doesn’t know his Genesis. The word ‘sin’ isn’t even mentioned in the Fall story. The ‘penalty’, contra Ham was toil, not death and strife. All you have to do is read the words on the page. It’s not complicated.

            Assuming of course that Ham’s translation is accurate: and assuming that the story is exactly the same in the Masoretic, Samaritan, Qumran Scroll and Septuagint traditions. There are significant differences between them: knocks biblical literalism into the long grass where the serpents will bite you.


  11. gbjames
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    This just makes me sad.

  12. JPC
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I think it’s a little late to “ask Mr. Darwin to try God.” Hearing these godbots is depressing.

    • Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      And he *did*, and was unconvinced.

      • gluonspring
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        Growing up we were led to believe that Darwin was a life long atheist just looking for some excuse to prop up his atheism. The Darwin described from pulpits in churches is a man determined to “rebel against God” and justify his own immorality. You’d think he was engaging in every kind of debauchery.

        It was, of course, a bit of a jolt to read about the real Darwin.

        • Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:25 am | Permalink

          Darwin was pretty cagey about his beliefs in this area, but he did write in a letter that an ‘agnostic would accurately describe his present state of mind’ (to paraphrase). Other written comments from him indicate that he pretty much avoided the whole issue. He never hinted at atheism to my knowledge.

          • gbjames
            Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

            This seems like a hint to me.

            “I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother, and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.”

            I don’t think he was suggesting that some alternative religion (Islam, Hindu, etc.) would be better.

    • gluonspring
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Cheer up! The more absurd their claims the better. Their treatment of Darwin as some kind of lifelong atheist determined to find an excuse not to believe in god is just a lie and people don’t like being lied to. Long before I was sure Darwin was right about evolution it had become obvious to me that I was being lied to by preachers and other religious leaders. This overt lying made it a lot easier for me to leave religion.

      • Sastra
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        That’s exactly what the accomodationists are afraid of. They want to make it easier to stay in religion.

    • kennyrb
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      When this woman said all we have to do is try God, the type of argument and the look in her eyes made me think of someone telling me to try heroin.

  13. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink


  14. Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Posting that video is just outright cruelty to your readers… Now you might as well post the original Hungarian version of Gloomy Sunday.

    • gluonspring
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      The most disturbing thing about such videos, for me, is that they (mostly) look perfectly normal. It’d be less unsettling if they all had a twitch or were missing front teeth or something to give you a heads up.

      • Ralph
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        The most disturbing thing is that many (a majority?) of the US Republican leadership espouse similar evidence-free views. Mike Huckabee, for example, was a credible contender for the presidency. I think people outside of the US just don’t realize how much of the country is mired in superstition (accompanied by the standard bible-thumping bigotry), and that these people are proud and assertive of their beliefs.

  15. Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Cats are inevitable.

    ‘Theology … is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn’t there’
    Robert Heinlein

  16. Alex Shuffell
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    When Angel Dague (the second person) said that she “can’t even fathom this little thing that that crawled on the ground, to apes, to being human…” I thought she was talking about human babies growing up.

  17. Alex Shuffell
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    On Ray Comfort’s FB page this morning he shared this delightful little insight:

    “Ask most people if they are well and you will find that they’re not. They have headaches, canker sores, heartburn, join pain, digestive problems, and 101 other complaints, from small annoying things right up to terminal diseases. So, if we are the result of evolution, it didn’t do a very good job. It produced eyes, birds, flowers, the seasons, the sun, the moon and stars, love, laughter and life itself, and yet this place is a mess—from our physical health, to mental sickness, to hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and death. If it’s the fittest supposedly that survive, why is it that no one ultimately will survive. In time, death will take ten out of ten.”

    • pktom64
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      Oh the irony!

    • Curt Cameron
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      So, if we are the result of evolution, it didn’t do a very good job.

      …and if we’re the result of God, then…

    • NoAstronomer
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Perhaps people just need to eat more bananas?

    • NoAstronomer
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Also …

      “It [evolution] produced … the seasons, the sun, the moon and stars …”

      Someone is seriously in need of a 5th grade science class.


    • Old Rasputin
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      I just spent several minutes perusing the RC Facebook page trying to ascertain whether or not the page and the comment were legitimate (perhaps it had been hi-jacked or something… didn’t he have something like that happen with his Tw***er account?).

      It’s as if someone said, “If evolution is true, then why does our genome appear to be built on the frame of our so-called ancestors’ genomes with many sections (which were apparently functional in our “ancestors”) no longer in use today? Evolution has no explanation.”

      • gluonspring
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:52 am | Permalink

        Thanks for the due diligence because that is…. astounding.

        Hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes? Holy crap! Even the fundamentalist preachers I grew up with, liars for Jesus every one, were not so stupid as to wonder aloud why evolution didn’t clean up the hurricanes.

        It’s like he did the Of Pandas and People trick and took an argument he found against god did a find and replace with god->evolution?

      • Alex Shuffell
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

        I thought it may get taken down after too many people start correcting him. So I took a screenshot.

    • Larry Gay
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      At least Ray Comfort is not our (USA) wacko-bird. He’s bad even by American standards.

    • Sastra
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      Creationists often don’t seem able to tell the difference between secular humanism and New Age — or science and Spirituality. If Nature is not controlled by a loving God, then it must BE a loving God. They don’t seem to realize that no, we lump them in with the New Age neo-pagan woo-sters.

  18. Dale
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:04 am | Permalink


    “Dr.” Charles Bonner doesn’t think people are animals! After all, if people are animals and god made people in his [gods’] image, then that would mean that god was an animal!


    Mr. Bonner obviously spends all his time in his cartesian theater and very little in his body…such as it is.

    • Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Ironically, at least for the thomists, Aristotle at one point says that god *is* an animal (albeit one without a body, it seems).

    • gluonspring
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Don’t insult the animals.

    • krzysztof1
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      His Cartesian theater needs someone to come in and clean out the popcorn and candy wrappers.

    • Sastra
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Gee, if Bonner was wise he would know that our bodies are animal bodies, but our “higher” mind was formed in the image of God. This is theistic evolution. Grant science the material world — but then call dibs on anything you can get away with lumping into the ‘spiritual’ category.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      The good Dr. apparently never grasped Ambrose Bierce:

      Piety, n. Reverence for the Supreme Being, based upon His supposed resemblance to man.

      The pig is taught by sermons and epistles
      To think the God of Swine has snout and bristles.

  19. Andrew B.
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    LOL at 2:20:

    “I would love to encourage Mr. Darwin, and others that feel just like him to…try God.”

    I don’t think he’s going to get your message, lady.

    • gluonspring
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      Aside from the whole being dead thing, how does one try god any way? Or, specifically, Christianity? Ask a Christian if you can be a Christian without believing Jesus was a real person, or believing that he was raised form the dead. They’ll say, “Of course not, you have to believe.” Well, how do you try that? I mean, I can try to believe that the moon is made of cheese, I suppose, but I’m going to fail. This is always one of the oddest things to me about how Christians talk. They talk as though what you believe about the world is a choice, like choosing to put your left shoe on first instead of the right. But what you really believe about the world doesn’t work like that. You can’t just suddenly decide to believe something you don’t.

      • Sastra
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        Some people seem to be able to ‘fake it till you make it.’ Studies have indeed shown that if you act as if you believe something, it eventually does start to feel true. That’s when you either use reason to figure out what happened and get out of it — or use reason to justify the new truth and dig in deeper.

        • brotheryam
          Posted February 13, 2014 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

          I need to start fake being thin…

    • Daniel Oberer
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      I think she confused Darwin with Dawkins.

      • krzysztof1
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

        They both start with “D”. That’s all the farther she needed to look!

      • Sastra
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        I think you’re right. At least, I hope so.

  20. pochelie
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    “If the bible says 2+2=5, then I would have to accept it.” This gentleman, actually all of these individuals, could help themselves by reading about Galileo.

    • µ
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Or perhaps we should ask him whether he prefers, in the hypothetical event that one of his children becomes brain-traumatized in an accident, that the brain surgery be done by a surgeon who believes 2+2=4, or by a surgeon who believes 2+2=5.

  21. Layden, Mike
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Dr. Charles Bonner say that he was made in the Image and likeness of god. Well if that is true, god better start eating right. Mmmmm? Maybe that explains the Big Bang.


  22. Andrikzen
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    How easy is it to hold a belief that doesn’t kill you immediately, like smoking cigarettes won’t kill you, in spite of the evidence to the contrary?

    Our society-culture shelters us to the extent that we can hold nonsense and maladaptive beliefs with little or no penalty, or harm; with no cost, and still make a living. It’s easy to believe in the supernatural, in magical thinking, transcendental nature of the human psyche, gods, angels and unicorns with little or no cost sitting in our living rooms.

    If your god takes a personal interest in you and will intervene on your behalf, let’s get real. The Bible – the literal unambiguous word of God- says you can drink poison with impunity (Mark 16:18). So I say drink a large glassful of some deadly poison, or stop a few bullets fired at your chest (Penn & Teller excluded). Jump off of a very tall building without using any prophylactics (Mathew 4:6-7, Jesus could have ended the debate right then and there). Jump in front of a speeding train and then come talk to me, by the way, if you happen to live, do it a second time to rule out chance

  23. Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Hoping that one of Professor Coyne’s Darwin Day posts will be about Darwin Awards – seems to me the hands-down [or maybe the hands-blown-off] winner would be the self-elimination of the suicide bomb trainer.

  24. Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Isn’t it time that we considered that two totally separate definitions of belief should exist? One for us and one for the bigoted. There’s the one used by scientists which we all understand and there is the meaning attached to belief which the evangelicals use. Thinking about it, the latter is probably an expression of a state of mind which has its evolutionary roots in our hunter gatherer ancestors. To prevail against the foe these small bands of brothers would need a singularity of purpose born of a need to defeat and not be defeated by their neighbors. The modern day equivalent might be the rioters in the South African Marikana miners’ riots. They were convinced by their witch doctors that they would be immune from the police bullets and this factor alone contributed to the inevitable death toll. This ability for their intellect to be collectively enslaved by their own mental chains would be a tactic used only by the Hymenoptera (ants and bees etc.) Well not exactly but you get the idea. I know that this is getting close to a group theory analysis but since the events actually happened there might be some need for explanation.

    Coming back to the definition of belief for the religious minded, is it more accurate to describe their state of mind as just that – a state of mind? They use the word belief but eschewing all aspects and elements of literal truth. Perhaps we are witnessing the ultimate irony in that it is perhaps Darwinian evolution that has caused this confusion. Now all we need do is get really serious about our own church. Whose for a crusade of we Pastafarians?

    • gluonspring
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      The religious do use “belief” in a funny way. For them “belief” is some kind of choice. To me, it’s not choice at all. I can’t choose to believe the moon is made of cheese, that Zeus exists, etc.

      This is an important distinction in the process of losing religion. There came a point where I said to myself, “I am going to believe what I believe”, by which I meant that I was going to acknowledge what I actually do believe, in my gut, rather than try to pretend to myself that I believe things I don’t. Choosing not to pretend is a choice, and that choice was the choice that ended my own time with religion.

      • Posted February 14, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        I’ve wondered (not being completely bilingual) whether “croyance” has the overtone of religion more than “belief” does in some contexts in English. I remember my (departed) friend Raven saying she didn’t believe anything when we were talking about epistemology, and what was meant is that she had no religious beliefs (which in her case was debatable, but …). Since she’s first language French (after a fashion), I sort of wondered.

      • gbjames
        Posted February 14, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        I think what they mean when they talk about choosing to believe is actually choosing to act like they believe. They are less interested, I think, in one’s thoughts about the matter than in whether one participates in the activities that demonstrate faith. That’s what Pascal’s wager (one of the world’s dumbest arguments) is all about. These guys are specialists in make-believe.

        • gluonspring
          Posted February 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

          Maybe. I suppose it depends on what you mean by ‘activities that demonstrate faith’. At a minimum you have to claim to believe certain things. For example, in the church my wife attends, to become a member you have to sign a statement affirming a bunch of stuff that you believe. There is one god, Jesus is his son, etc. It’s an explicit attempt to elicit your thoughts on the matter. If, later, you stand up and say you don’t believe these things, then you’d be removed as a member. A big part of this is, of course, just to make sure that you’re not going to cause trouble, but I don’t that is all there is to it. I think they really do care what you believe in your mind.

          Or another example, I have a friend who ‘came out’ as an atheist and admitted that he hadn’t really believed for the previous ten years. All that time he participated fully in church, attended every sunday, contributed money, led singing, read Bible verses, taught classes, prayed in both public and private, went on mission trips, etc. When he finally threw in the towel and admitted he didn’t believe it, hadn’t believed it for years, it was a scandal. People not only were shocked at his admission but they were very scandalized that he had ‘pretended’ all of these years. They felt betrayed and angry at him. They felt they were misled into believing he was a Christian when he really wasn’t. It wasn’t uncommon to hear mutterings about ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing”. All of the rest of his Christian actions, even his willingness to keep on doing the things he had been doing, didn’t matter. I suppose you could argue that they only cared that he kept up the pretense and didn’t rock the boat by saying out loud what he was thinking. As a practical matter no one knows what you are thinking so pragmatically that is true. You are never ostracized for your pure thoughts only for letting them leak out. But I’m pretty sure they really do care what your thoughts are. Christian sermons focus heavily on your thoughts. Merely pretending is considered sinful. OTOH, they do tolerate people “having doubts”. I think, however, that is only in small doses and only so long as you treat it as a weakness that you are actively working to rectify.

          Anyway, it’s an interesting topic because there is definitely something odd going on with their idea of ‘belief’. In some way they seem to both mean a particular ontological state of mind but also something that you can somehow just simply ‘accept’ or ‘choose’. I think Sastra has said something very insightful about this before that I swore to remember but, alas…

        • gbjames
          Posted February 14, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

          I think your examples make my case, as you’ve described. The outraged congregation would have been as happy as clams if he had gone on with the lie. Him coming out broke the rule. That act violated the “behave” rule.

          Christians have no way of telling a true believer from a false believer who simply acts as if he believes. They are happy with either of these. The victims are, of course, the people living in the closet, pretending to be what they aren’t. They know they are lying.

          I can understand the congregation’s outrage at learning that they’ve been fooled for so many years. Unfortunately, I’ll wager they took the wrong lesson from this event and didn’t ask themselves why someone would feel compelled to live in the closet in the first place.

  25. Posted February 12, 2014 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    If you’d “believe” that 2 + 2 = 5 if Jesus tells you so, then I have absolutely no sympathy nor respect for you. You’re a tool, a complete and total blithering fucking idiot, and a menace to civilization.



    • darrelle
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Thank you. I couldn’t have expressed my thoughts on this any better myself.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      What I’ve always found the most pernicious is this obsession with humans being above all animals. It has led to all sorts of vicious treatment of animals in the past and the poor treatment of the environment.

      Honestly, many people are not as nice as my dog so they can suck it!

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

        Yeah…if I had to choose between throwing Baihu or any number of, say, Tea Party politicians under the philosopher’s trolly car, Baihu would remain firmly upon my shoulders.


    • Hempenstein
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      Yet (as I keep saying) when their Buick needs work, do you suppose they go to a competent mechanic or their preacher?

  26. krzysztof1
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    My wife and I were just talking a moment ago about Creationists like that guy in the first video clip. Many of them say they accept all science except for evolution. The problem with that is that the theory of natural selection is arrived at through the same method of inquiry as the rest of science! So they either do not understand how science works, or they are being selective in their acceptance of its findings.

    I’ve often suspected that they would accept evolution if Homo sapiens could somehow be the exception to the rule. But I think that they understand on some level the impossibility of that, and so they are forced to dismiss natural selection entirely (while still allowing “micro-evolution” that can produce small variations within species.)

    • krzysztof1
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Actually, being selective in which findings of science one accepts ENTAILS the failure to understand how science works. If you do science right, you have to be prepared for results that go against what you might prefer to be the case.

    • krzysztof1
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      For example, if scientific inquiry were to confirm the existence of God, which would happen if the hypothesis (God does not exist) were disconfirmed, scientists would have to accept it. It would thereby put to rest the foolish notion that scientists WANT for God NOT to exist.

      • µ
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        Exactly! Scientists would accept it, I agree, if there was indeed such mathematical proof.

        As a scientist, I think it actually be cool if some god-like entity were to exist (we could study it; figure out its properties in a rigorous way).
        I just hope that it is not the jealous, vengeful god of Judeo-Christian teachings (and all those teachings derived from that).

    • gluonspring
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      They are simply ingrates, suckling at the teat of science, availing themselves of all the good things science brings them, while pissing on it’s shoes.

      • krzysztof1
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        That’s true! They don’t think about how science has impacted every aspect of their lives. There is just this little core of belief that they keep walled off from all inquiry and reason.

  27. Steven Obrebski
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    I saw a sign on a pickup some years ago which said
    “God Said It, I believe it, and that settles it.”
    That summarizes the statements made by all those people in the video. I suppose if some of them were exposed for some time to the evidence they might change their minds, but their mental sclerosis is much in evidence.

    • krzysztof1
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      Another sign frequently seen on pickups: God, Guns & Guts [is what made America great]!

      I saw an Obama sticker on a pickup too . . .

      • Hempenstein
        Posted February 12, 2014 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        My pickup had an Obama sticker, and it still would except that it was poor quality and deteriorated.

  28. darrelle
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    “If the bible says 2+2=5, then I would have to accept it.”

    These people are liars and their behavior regularly demonstrates their mistrust and disrespect of their god. Doesn’t that mean they are going to hell?

    “Sanctimonious Pricks” was the first thing that crossed my mind. It is all a contest to see which of them can weave the blingiest mantle of righteousness for themselves, while by any reasonably decent ethical standard they fail to measure up far more frequently than the people they are so intent on elevating themselves over.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      It’s actually really sad. They feel they are bad if they question anything from their god & they force themselves into blind obedience.

      • darrelle
        Posted February 13, 2014 at 6:38 am | Permalink

        But notice that they are also blind to their own disobedience of their god.

  29. Mattapult
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    “Of you read Genesis, you get the idea of a perfect world; no death; no disease.”

    …and one hell of a booby-trap placed by the Omniscient One.

    • Matt D
      Posted February 13, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

      I know, he’s such a snake.

  30. Sastra
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I think the main question which highlights the psychological impasse here is this one:

    If you are wrong about what you believe is true, would you want to find out?

    The religious want to answer the question with a “yes.” They know what is right, they know they make mistakes, and they know that they want to correct them. The question is in one sense an easy one. Yes.

    But you’ve introduced a disturbing element: being wrong about God. This translates into God being wrong. It has to. Otherwise, they’re toast. So they try to get this question on their own imperfection to turn into a question on the perfection of God. They’ve blended faith in God’s existence with faith in God’s reliability and lost themselves and their humanity in the process. We’ve gotten down to the nitty gritty here.

    Incidentally, it’s not just Creationists and fundamentalists who panic over this question. If anything, the liberal and ‘spiritual’ freak out even more. I’ve occasionally gotten a “yes” response from a confident creationist: they’d be willing to change their minds. As far as I can recall, though, all the liberal theists ever do is try to change the question, usually to something about why I feel the perverse need to ask them a question like that.

    • gluonspring
      Posted February 14, 2014 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      “They’ve blended faith in God’s existence with faith in God’s reliability and lost themselves and their humanity in the process.”

      Yes, I think this kind of deep category error really is a key element of much religious experience. Something like this is behind their strange use of words like ‘belief’. They clearly mean for ‘belief’ to describe some ontological state of mind, not mere pretending, but at the same time they talk like it is something you can simply choose (a la Pascal’s wager). But who can choose to believe the moon is made of cheese, even if their life depended on it? They don’t just mean ‘pretend’ to believe either, because that would be seen as deceitful and sinful in it’s own right (as I describe my friend’s story in a reply to #24). I think you describe here a big part of what is going on. They conflate ‘accepting as really existing’ with ‘trusting this person’, and this category error is so deep, the mixture so complete, that they can go back and forth between the two incompatible meanings without apparent dissonance.

      • Sastra
        Posted February 14, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        Yes. “I believe in God” is a kind of deepity, with multiple interpretations. I think it’s interesting that some of the more sophisticated of the theologians seem to want to completely bypass the “I believe that God exists” meaning and go straight to the “I believe in how wonderful God is!” I’m not sure if that is faitheism (an atheist in love with faith)… or a mental tactic to avoid rational analysis.

  31. Diana MacPherson
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    When I hear “god made us in his own image”, I always envision South Park’s rendition of god.

  32. Posted February 12, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    If God created man in his own image, that speaks extremely poorly about God.

    It is men who created God in their own dysfunctional and psychopathic image.

  33. Zetopan
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    From saint Ignatius Loyola, idiot founder of the Jesuits:

    “Thirteenth Rule. To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, …”

    Obviously, this conclusively shows that science and religion are not in conflict.

  34. derekw
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Looks like the young-earth creationists in the video were asked a question that characterized God as a ‘deistic’ one. That he created the Big Bang and had no more interaction in the universe (and naturalistic evolution was a future outcome here on earth.) The question is clearly loaded to exclude theistic evolution or old-earth creationism as alternatives. Both groups would have also disagreed with the deistic proposition.

  35. Toni
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    This is one of the most depressing things I’ve seen in quite a while….

  36. Posted February 12, 2014 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    I find this to be so terribly sad. Surely these people are aware that the Bible was simply stories orally making their way all over the middle east for hundreds of years before they were put to paper. They have to be aware of the genocides, the advice to kill disobedient children-eaters of shell fish-women who commit adultery-advice to give your daughter sexually, to a mob coming for your male guest, this incident is told twice the Sodem account and one other where a man gives up his concubine and daughter to be ravaged by a mob then cuts up the concubine into 12 pieces come morning-killing your daughter and husband for marrying outside the faith-etc etc etc. then we have all the mistakes and conflicts, Christ telling his disciples that he would return in their lifetimes, claiming 666 to be evil when it was simply Hebrew alpha-numerical code for Nero,a leader that fiddles while Rome burned. Nevertheless, these folks pick the Bible above knowledge tested, retested, reviewed and accepted by the world at large. The scientific director (a PhD.) of the Kentucky creation museum was interviewed asked a about the mythical flood, 7000 yr old earth and replied “If information conflicts with the Bible, it’s wrong, I will always side with God”. Incredible picking a damaged book that disagrees with itself, filled with error over discovery and knowledge, reason and truth. There is no hope for this crew.

  37. Kelton
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    I laughed when the Blondel woman said she invites Darwin to “try God”. Does she not realize Darwin was almost a Unitarian minister?

    • Kelton
      Posted February 12, 2014 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

      *Blonde* Stupid autocorrect.

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