Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ pseudoscience

The new Jesus and Mo strip called “gross”, came with a caption,

“Have you ever seen a creationist making fun of a flat-earther? It really happens!”

It amazes me sometimes how even supposedly enlightened Christians refuse to accept the Adam and Eve story as a man-made fiction. The Catholic Church, which everyone thinks is okay with evolution, still insists that Adam and Eve must be seen as the literal ancestors of all humanity, not just as a metaphor, while Templeton-funded BioLogos, which tries to convince evangelical Christians that evolution is true (without much luck!), ties itself in knots trying to figure out how to sell some kind of “real” Adam and Eve that comports with evolution, to those evangelicals. They’d be better to write off the story as something humans just made up, but can’t bring themselves to. They can easily reject Jonah’s ingestion by the Big Fish, but not Adam and Eve. Curious, that.

We’re still in the infancy of our species, and faith is a major factor in our infantilization.

29 Comments

  1. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted July 12, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Well, the fact that a spherical Earth had been well established before Jesus may have something to do with Christians accepting it.

    On the other hand, Western Christianity’s commitment to the troubling doctrine of “original sin” binds them to a more or less literal Adam and Eve (but where was Cain’s first wife from??). Augustine was a great champion of allegorical interpretations of the Bible, but was definitely committed to a real Adam.

    • Frank Bath
      Posted July 12, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Original sin must be one of the most hateful religious doctrines, it makes life a misery for believers and hands them over to a manipulative clergy.

  2. Mark Reaume
    Posted July 12, 2017 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been watching Jordan Peterson’s Biblical lecture series recently and I’m having a hard time trying to determine if he actually believes these stories or not. He is quite critical of atheists like Sam Harris who (according to Peterson) is to dismissive of the biblical stories which he finds to be profound. My sense is that he is reading way too much into these stories.

    I can’t seem to stop watching it though…

    • Mark Reaume
      Posted July 12, 2017 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

      This seemed relevant to this post at the time I wrote it but now I’m not so sure. 😦

      • Posted July 12, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        Becoming confused about what’s relevant seems to be an occupational hazard of busying oneself with Jordan Peterson.

        • James Walker
          Posted July 12, 2017 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

          Indeed. I knew of Peterson years before pronoungate because he used to pop up now and then as a panelist on TV Ontario’s The Agenda. He’s always struck me as someone who says things just to get a reaction so that people will pay attention to him. I don’t think he really believes most of what he says.

    • darrelle
      Posted July 12, 2017 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      I just can’t get by my penchant to categorize anyone who finds the biblical stories profound as not to be taken seriously. I’ve read a lot of stories, from The Epic Of Gilgamesh to the most recent Hugo & Nebula award winners, and the bible stories are just not very good even when compared only to other ancient stories.

      The only way I can see that people could come to consider the bible to be profound is that either they’ve never read it, for example they’ve only read a few bits their pastor has had them read along with in church or perhaps more modern popularizations of some bible stories, or they have a strong prior commitment. Or, and this seems to have a strong correlation in my personal experience, they live in a very small world and have an impoverished imagination. They’ve been conditioned to believe that the bible is great and profound and so they are sure that nothing else could compare.

      • Mark Reaume
        Posted July 12, 2017 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        I tend to agree with you on this.

        I think his main point is that the people of biblical times were attempting to understand human behaviour and nature and humanity’s place in nature. This was humanity’s first great attempt at doing so. I think that is fine as it is but then he goes too far by mapping his 21st century understanding back onto these stories. If that makes any sense.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted July 12, 2017 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      @Mark Reaume Peterson claims to be “deeply religious”, but nothing I’ve read/heard from him conforms with that. He also doesn’t seem to hold with most standard Christian theology [3-in-1 god etc.].

      I think he’s one of these people who defines words as it suits him at the time. He has become popular very quickly & I think he’s riding that wave while he can! I’m sure his book, *12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos*, due out in January will be a huge success. I’m also sure it will be as utterly useless as all the other rules-based, self-help-from-a-guri-father-figure books that we’ve seen over the years. It will be tosh on the same level as Malcolm Gladwell, Deepak Chopra, John Gray etc. etc.

      Here are his own words on his Bible lecture series – you will note the use of meaningless words such as “Being” & how he covers the angles re what is true!

      “The Bible is a series of books written, edited and assembled over thousands of years. It contains the most influential stories of mankind. Knowledge of those stories is essential to a deep understanding of Western culture, which is in turn vital to proper psychological health (as human beings are cultural animals) and societal stability. These stories are neither history, as we commonly conceive it, nor empirical science. Instead, they are investigations into the structure of Being itself and calls to action within that Being. They have deep psychological significance. This lecture series, starting with the very first book, will constitute an analysis of that significance.”

      • Mark Reaume
        Posted July 12, 2017 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, you all have convinced me to jump off this bandwagon. 🙂

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted July 12, 2017 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

          @Mark Reaume

          Peterson is getting $52k/month from Patreon [55k donations from 5k ‘patrons’ minus 5% to Patreon].

          I just looked up some of his videos & noticed he does a Jungian take on Harry Potter & another one on The Lion King! FFS!!

          Psychologist uses Jungian archetypes, shadow, anima, collective unconscious blah, blah on clickbait titles shock horror. It’s all alarm bells that this guy is following the money.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted July 12, 2017 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

            “$55k/mnth donations from 5k ‘patrons’ minus 5% to Patreon”

    • Posted July 13, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      I agree that some of them (including Adam & Eve) are profound, but they are profound as fiction, not as fact.

  3. Fernando Peregrin
    Posted July 12, 2017 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    To reconcile me with Jerry after the “fight” over the octaves and the female voices

    I’m sure Jerry will like it
    (Shocking! Interwiew about gene editing and translation not edited by me. Sorry, no time for it)

    Interview published in La Vanguardia (Barcelona) July 11, 2017

    Jennifer Doudna, co-creator of the Crisp system, which facilitates and makes cheaper the genetic editing

    What does your genetic editing technique allow?

    — The possibilities are limitless and become realities at a speed that is leaving behind citizens and politicians.

    For example.

    — With our Crisp / Cas9 technique you can now edit a baby’s genes; Modify them at will – that would not mean creating a monster at all – implant the fertilized egg in a matrix and make the first genetically modified human born.

    Has it been done perhaps secretly?

    — I am opposed because, although there is a technical possibility, we are not prepared to apply it safely. Genetics is ready; Ethics, no. We have not yet maintained the ethical, legal, social, democratic debate to make it an acceptable reality.

    Well, genetics is fast going.

    — And this technique, perfected with Dr. Martínez Mojica – by the way, Spanish, Dr. Charpentier and our teams, makes the genetic edition considerably cheaper and easier. Now you have to discuss your limits.

    Something that can be applied without fear?

    — I like to grow tomatoes.

    Well, good harvest, doctor.

    — Now it will be better. Because among the hundreds of laboratories that are already applying our method of genetic editing, one has managed to separate at last two crucial genes for the production of tomatoes. The one that increases it and the one that causes them to have weak branches.

    Until now could not be separated?

    — When you changed the tomato, the tomatoes grew, but soon fell to the ground because the branches were broken. By separating these two genes, we have now achieved sturdy and durable branches well laden with tomatoes.

    Let’s see if they do not lose flavor.

    — They do not have to. Our technique only affects the genes we edit and the rest of the organism grows exactly the same as before. It is very important to explain it.

    I guess in humans it’s crucial.

    — It allows correcting genetic mutations and thus curing diseases such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and many other hereditary diseases.

    I do not see what is debatable about it.

    — In that nothing, but there are other genetic techniques to cure diseases more questionable.

    If we save lives …

    — With our Crisp method we can edit, crispear we say, easily and cheaply, for example, the genes of the anopheles mosquito to achieve one that does not transmit malaria and that these copies reproduce and propagate their modification to all the anopheles that exist .. And to liquidate the disease.

    That’s great.

    — But it is also to modify the chain of life. What if someone uses the same technique to sterilize all anopheles?

    I suppose that is to amend the evolution.

    — And why not sterilize all mosquitoes? After all, they are annoying …

    For us, yes.

    — That’s what worries me, that our technique puts a huge power in many hands. What would happen to the entire ecosystem if we eliminate mosquitoes? Would the animals that feed on them survive?

    The trophic chain would be modified.

    — And who knows what consequences for the planet and humans. That is why the Gates Foundation and the Tata Foundation in India are now studying the implications of changing the genetics of anopheles. We’ll see what they say.

    There should be a debate about whether or not we want mosquitoes in the universe.

    — But there is not. Society tends to believe that they are only futuristic and that technology is yet to reach that point, but the reality is that it is already here. It’s ready. And I am in favor of waiting until the ethics necessary to apply it are ready.

    I may have to wait a long time.

    — No, because I also warn that if politicians and society do not catch up on genetics, they will face fait accompli and not always pleasant.

    They say you have a lot of character.

    — My father was writing speeches for politicians. That’s why we lived in Washington, where I was born. And in the end we left.

    It is a fact.

    — We moved to Hawaii. And there I had to experience the unpleasant feeling of being marginalized by my race.

    What race?

    — The Hawaiians had suffered much discrimination from their settlers for being so, and then blamed Western whites like me, who was a child.

    How did you react?

    — Well, rejecting marginalization and resisting, but also trying to understand why I was marginalized. And I resisted many assaults, but I think in the end they respected me.

    Did discrimination make you a geneticist?

    — It made me reflect on how differences enrich or confront us. It depends on how we interpret them in the chain of history. And hate engenders hatred. And forgiveness begets forgiveness and respect and love.

    Does that look in the genes?

    — In the genes diversity is seen, but that does not imply superiority of anybody

  4. Randy schenck
    Posted July 12, 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Attempting to buy in to the Adam and Eve story is similar to believing the Russians did not assist the Trump Campaign to defeat Clinton. Fortunately for Adam and Eve, they had no emails but maybe a KGB snake?

    • Posted July 13, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Many Christian theologians claim that the snake was a disguised Satan, despite the total lack of evidence in the Genesis text. A Satanic snake is almost as anachronistic as a KGB snake!

  5. Bill Shipley
    Posted July 12, 2017 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    The doctrine of original sin is different than most other theological concepts for Christians because “existence” of original sin, somehow genetically transmitted to all humans from Adam and Eve, is essential to “justify” the death and resurrection of Jesus. If one denies original sin then there was no justification for the “sacrifice” of Jesus, since there was no sin to “erase”. If Adam and Eve were not the first humans then, even if they did commit the original sin, and even if this was transmitted to all of their descendants, this means that the could be people alive today that were not their descendants and so don’t need Jesus to save them. Of course, the whole logic of the doctrine makes no sense even without these problems: All-knowing and all-powerful God created everything knowing that original sin would occur. He lets this happen. Then he blames Adam and Eve for what He had done and punishes, not only them, but all of their descendants for the rest of time. Then he decides that he wants to forgive them, but can’t seem to allow himself to do this without receiving a perfect sacrifice. He then sends Himself to Earth so that He can sacrifice Himself to Himself, so that He can allow Himself to forgive humans, except that this sacrifice only works if these humans “believe” that he did all this… Wow.

  6. Liz
    Posted July 12, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    It’s an okay effort by BioLogos. The organization is trying to build a bridge to open up space for further discussion. Of the two models, the Retelling Model and the Homo divinus Model, the Retelling Model is the stronger one. While both models address Adam and Eve, the Fall from god is necessary for both.

    The Retelling Model points out that the Adam and Eve story of Genesis is open to interpretation and is to be considered in that light. “A new mammalian species does not begin abruptly, and certainly not with one male and one female…The Fall then becomes a long historical process happening over a long period of time, leading to spiritual death… Much depends on how exactly the Genesis accounts of Adam and Eve are interpreted.”

    In the Homo divinus Model, god chose a couple of early humans, Adam and Eve, to be his representatives. It became a community of early humans in connection with god. Adam and Eve were then disobedient to “the expressed revealed will of god.” The Fall happens all at once instead of over time as in the Retelling Model. “Just as a hydrogen bomb explodes with ferocious force, scattering radiation around the world, so sin entered the world with the first deliberate disobedience to God’s commands, spreading the spiritual contamination of sin around the world.”

    It is unfortunate that the story of Adam and Eve is a central topic in both models. It’s arguably worse that sin is a requirement for both of them. Although the BioLogos paper was mildly painful, I can see how it might open up some avenues for more rational ideas.

    Thank you for sharing the paper.

    • loren russell
      Posted July 12, 2017 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      Liz — How does ANY of this ‘open avenues for more rational ideas’? It’s irrational all the way down!

      • Liz
        Posted July 12, 2017 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

        At least in the Retelling Model it is saying evolution is true but only that sin “evolved” in conjunction with the process. It takes away the Adam and Eve scenario which is a plus. It then comes down to debating whether or not sin is part of the evolutionary process. It’s better than the belief that evolution is false. It’s sort of like a compromise you make with your kid sister when picking out a movie when you are 10 years older. It’s the best attempt I have seen and better than anything I have come up with to communicate. Sin being a part of the evolutionary process can be argued in terms of morals, consciousness, psychology etc. It’s a little hokey but maybe something with which to work.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted July 12, 2017 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

          @Liz I would have put the quote marks around every instance of “sin” rather than the poor old, innocent & true word ‘evolved’ 🙂

          • Liz
            Posted July 12, 2017 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

            I see your point and obviously agree. There are so many references to sin and the fall in the paper that I diidn’t touch those. In the follow-up comment it didn’t seem appropriate to group sin with evolved so I put evolved in quotes. Agreed though and thank you.

            • Liz
              Posted July 12, 2017 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

              didn’t*

  7. Posted July 12, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t there an “is” missing from the first sentence in the third panel?

  8. loren russell
    Posted July 12, 2017 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Our species may be regarded as “in its infancy”. But keep in mind that in all species only a few — to a vanishingly few — infants survive to maturity.

  9. nicky
    Posted July 12, 2017 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    I gather that ‘Eve’ as well as ‘Adam’ existed. The ‘mitochondrial Eve’ and the ‘Y-Adam’. Unfortunately (for the religoous that is) they were part of a greater -albeit small- population, and were with near certainty separated by generations, possibly thousands of generations.

  10. Bob
    Posted July 13, 2017 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    There are so many rules in religion.

    Jews have 613. Christians have ten. I find only three are necessary.

    1. Don’t be a dick.

    2. Clean up after yourself.

    3. Pass the salt and pepper together.

  11. Posted July 13, 2017 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    (Re BioLogos):
    —They can easily reject Jonah’s ingestion by the Big Fish, but not Adam and Eve.—

    A little girl did not believe the story of Jonas and the whale, and when the teacher insisted she should because it truly happened, she said:
    – When I meet Jonas in heaven, I’ll ask him.
    Maliciously, the teacher said:
    – What if Jonas went to hell?
    Upon which the girl replied:
    – Then you ask him.
    End of class.
    .-


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