Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – more low hanging creationist fruit

Fruit. See what I did there?  😀

Unsurprisingly, Ray Comfort, the fellow who thinks oranges are evidence for his version of the Christian god, is now trying to glom onto actual science again and insisting paleontology shows his myths are true.

And of course he’s trying to make money from repacking the same old creationist lies. Ray wants to claim this: “Why did the dinosaur disappear? Contemporary scientists have their theories:

  • Was it a massive asteroid?
  • Was it violent volcanic activity?
  • Did the dinosaurs kill each other?
  • Was it simply a matter of survival of the fittest?”

Hmm, just who are these “contemporary scientists” who think the dinos killed each other to the point of extinction or that it was “simply a matter of survival of the fittest”? That would be none. We do have evidence that it was likely a massive asteroid with some activity from massive volcanic areas known as traps.

Ray’s new video “Why did the dinosaurs disappear?” has a lovely trailer with a lot of rather ignorant people having no clue about dinosaurs and then Ray’s minions insisting that there has to be a designer.

That’s it. They tout a new discovery in Wyoming that supposedly agrees with their version of the bible.

Let’s take a look at that discovery.

First, it’s not new. Wyoming is a treasure trove of fossils thanks to where it is on the continent. It has one formation, the Morrison Formation, that has a lot of fossils in it. It’s made up of various beds of different sedimentary rock from conglomerates (big grain size) to siltstones (very small grain size) and limestones (chemical deposition and shells of critters). This indicates that there were different environments that deposited each layer. These layers were deposited within the Jurassic.

What Ray et al try to do is claim that there was their magic flood, and this was the reason dinos died. What they are too willfully ignorant to note is that there were dinos in other times too, the Triassic and Cretaceous. They weren’t the same ones as in the Jurassic.

There’s also the problem that massive floods don’t make layers like the Morrison Formation. Potholer54 does a great experiment to show this, an experiment that any child, or willfully ignorant theist, can do.

But heck, if you are going to invoke magic for one thing, why not insist that magic makes layers too?

What’s actually going on is that there is a thing called Mission Jurassic, where a lot of money and a lot of paleontologists will concentrate on a part of the formation thanks to the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis. Here’s a good article on it:

It’s not surprising Ray et al want to try to spread their lies by hanging onto the coattails of science. Creations keep claiming “real soon now” that they’ll have evidence for their god being the one who created dinos and everything else. It’s rather like how they insist that their bible describes dinosaurs and that their god killed those same beasts, lots of false claims.

It’s rather quaint to see Ray try to claim that the behemoth described in Job (you know, where this god works with Satan to murder a family) is really a large herbivorous dinosaur. Let’s look at what the bible says and how Ray ignores what it actually says to invent his lies.

“Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eats grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moves his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron. He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. He lies under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. Behold, he drinks up a river, and hastens not: he trusts that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. He takes it with his eyes: his nose pierces through snares” (Job 40:15-24).

The italics are Ray’s claims verbatim.

This was the largest of all creatures He made. It was plant-eating (herbivorous).

Alas Ray is too lazy to know about blue whales, eh? Dinos didn’t eat like oxen as far as the evidence shows.

It had its strength in its hips.

Loins, Ray, not “hips”, this bible critter had strength in its penis. And what the heck is this supposed to actually mean? The dinos had a lot of strength everywhere in their bodies. Being that dinos are likely from eggs, no navels either.

Its tail was like a large tree (a cedar).

Ray has to directly ignore the bible here. The bible says “He moves his tail like a cedar” which indicates that somehow the tail moves like a tree. Not that the tail is the size of a cedar. We also have evidently a bible beast that has testicles with sinews that are wrapped together.

It had very strong bones.

Yep, so do humans and so do cows.  The bible says that the bones were bronze tubes, not “like” bronze.  Rhinos may have the strongest bones.

Its habitat was among the trees. Drank massive amounts of water. His nose pierced through snares. Then Scripture says, “…He that made him can make his sword approach to him.” In other words, God caused this, the largest of all the creatures He had made, to become extinct.”

Again, Ray has to lie about what his bible actually says. This beast supposedly drinks a river, the Jordan. Now that is a rather pitiful river, not wider than a creek here in the eastern US, but drinking a river is not just drinking “massive amounts of water”. Again, whales.

We can also see that the NRSV version of the bible doesn’t agree with Ray’s version. It’s so cute to see this god bragging like any child in a playground ““Look at Behemoth, which I made just as I made you; it eats grass like an ox.16 Its strength is in its loins, and its power in the muscles of its belly.17 It makes its tail stiff like a cedar; the sinews of its thighs are knit together.
18 Its bones are tubes of bronze, its limbs like bars of iron.19 “It is the first of the great acts of God— only its Maker can approach it with the sword.20 For the mountains yield food for it  where all the wild animals play.21 Under the lotus plants it lies, in the covert of the reeds and in the marsh.22 The lotus trees cover it for shade,  the willows of the wadi surround it.
23 Even if the river is turbulent, it is not frightened;   it is confident though Jordan rushes against its mouth.24 Can one take it with hooks  or pierce its nose with a snare?”

Sounds rather like a hippo or rhino.   Alas, Ray and conservative Christianity fail again.


Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Science can’t explain how imaginary things work, therefore gods exist, a review of a God Squad column

jesus-with-a-dinosaur-1In this past week’s God Squad column, Rabbi Gellman addresses “intelligent design”, the term invented by creationists to hide the religious origin and source for their attempts to have their myths taught in the classroom as the truth. (note: the column in my paper was severely chopped in comparison to the one in the link)

The querent this week asked if the Judeo-Christian god created the universe in seven days, where do the dinosaurs fit in.  They note that the fossil record shows that humanity and the dinos were separated by “millennia” (a millennium is a thousand years).   Of course, the fossil record shows that the dinos and us are separated by many many millennia, around 65,000 millennia aka 65 million years.

Gellman notes that there are various kinds of creationists.  The most ridiculous are the young earth creationists (YEC) who believe Bishop Ussher’s claim that the universe was created on October 22, 4004 BC  in the evening, etc, etc.  There are old earth creationists (OEC) who believe that the universe is older, from just a little older than Ussher’s claim to as old as the current data from cosmology shows, around 14.7 billion years for the universe, and 4.5 billion years for the earth.   These creationists also vary in what they believe about evolution.  In general, YEC are sure that their god created all the animals as we know them today, all at once. They often also claim that all animals were vegetarians until the magical “fall” of mankind.  OEC can vary on how much they think evolution played a part, from none at all, to essentially indistinguishable from an atheist, though they claim that their god started the whole process, very much like a Deist.

neil degrasse tyson scienceWe also have a very sad quote from Kurt Wise, Geology Ph.D,  who decided that he had to decide either the bible was true or science was, and he threw out science because it dared counter the nonsense in the bible.  Alas, this is what fear and arrogance does to people, sure that they will be punished if they don’t believe “correctly” and that they do believe correctly.  He’s also as good as our Christians apologists here on the website for not being able to provide one iota of the scientific evidence that he claims supports him.  Wise also seems to think he can pick and choose the science he finds to be true.  Alas for him, all science is based on the same method.  If it works for it all, then you can’t decide which is true and which isn’t.  The same science that supports evolutionary theory supports modern criminal forensics,  medicine, computers, internal combustion engines, etc.

It’s also great to note that YEC theists and OEC theists are absolutely sure each other are wrong, and both again have no evidence to support their nonsense but are sure that they and only they are the TrueChristians (examples: it’s a sin to be an OEC, per a YEC who is trying to scare everyone, and and Pat Robertson the OEC saying that the YEC position is “nonsense” ).

Gellman correctly notes that this quote from Wise presents a false dichotomy, that one has to accept one or the other fully.  He unfortunately claims that one of the possible other answer is “intelligent design”, the idea that some magical force had something to do with how the universe works, e.g. how it is designed.  Intelligent design can be either YEC or OEC, because it simply says one can see design in the universe, it does not require evolution as science knows the term.  It can also be of any religion, since there is no way to know which god/force, if any, was the creator.  It has been cloaked by theists in claims that it could also mean that aliens could be the creator but that does nothing but push the essential problem, who was the original creator, one step back.    It is entirely a religious concept,  and almost entirely a Judeo/Christo/Islamic concept, no matter the attempts to claim it otherwise.  One can see how the claims played out in the Dover case.  Even a conservative judge knew the claims of ID supporters to be were lies, nothing more than certain sects of certain religions trying to get their religion forced on everyone.

Gellman takes refuge in claiming that “Darwin’s hypothesis was more theory than scientific fact.”  That shows that the rabbi has no idea what those words mean in the scientific context and that he is very unfamiliar with evolutionary theory as it stands today.  Darwin, as nifty as he was, got some things wrong.  And science, has shown that, not religion.   Gellman says that the reason he knows that evolution is wrong is that it cannot explain human consciousness.  Alas for the rabbi, his argument depends on the assumption that it will *never* be able to explain it.  It also depends on the assumption that if we never find exactly why human consciousness happened, somehow all of the evidence that supports evolutionary theory is wrong.   I do hope that the rabbi will stop taking antibiotics since the science used to make them must be wrong and he must believe that they simply can’t work.

He does acknowledge that ID is “more religious belief than scientific fact” because it cannot explain how intelligent design works.  It simply says “god/magical force did it”.   He claims “each side got some things right and some things wrong”.    And this is nothing more than pandering to the theists.  There is no evidence that they have gotten anything correct about the origin of the universe by anything other than luck. There is evidence that they got things wrong over and over.

Gellman says that “evolutionists” are right in pointing out the bible isn’t a science textbook.  What he neglects to mention that it is also not a history book, and has very little, if anything, unique in it.  He claims that the bible is “very old and very young”,  that the parts about love and forgiveness are the “young parts” and the parts about a geocentric universe, the earth is flat, and the universe being created 5774 years ago (Jewish calendar) on October 23 at 10:30 AM, are the “old parts”.  So we are not to believe them because they are old (not to mention silly), but the new parts are somehow magically true?   It seems that the rabbi is not so much Jewish as Christian if we are to believe those new parts, including that new part about the messiah having come and resurrecting.

He says that science has “changed” and that tethering faith to “ancient and discredited science only assures us of an ancient and discredited religion.”  Which shows that science leads and religion follows.   Unfortunately for the rabbi, there wasn’t science in the bible, discredited or not, only baseless stories about magic and events that never happened, in both the “young” and “old” parts.  It is still an ancient and discredited religion.

Gellman says that the creationists and “intelligent design-ites” are right in pointing out the “utter uniqueness of human consciousness – something that appears nowhere else in nature.”  Of course, this again assumes that what we know will not change.   Rather than saying “yet”, the rabbi thinks that science will stand still, as he seems to think that evolutionary theory has stayed still since Darwin and has not changed.  That’s why ignorance is not a good place to start when trying to defend your position.

He makes the common theist claim that our brains can be products of evolution but how we think, pray or forgive cannot be, that they must be some magical thing.  Unfortunately, neurological research moves ahead and the theist remains behind, desperate to cling to ignorance to save his belief.   He also makes yet more claims that depend on his belief that nothing will change or will be discovered.  No, Rabbi, evolutionary biologists haven’t been able to fully describe how forces shape us, but that appears to be just a function of time.  They haven’t been able to fully describe things *yet*.  Your faith depends on a false belief that we will never find out anything else.  That is the classic god of the gaps argument.

Gellman also makes the baseless claim that “the laws of nature explained by evolution are not only insufficient but they are also the opposite of what we truly are as spiritual beings” e.g. the moral human argument for a god.  He of course does not say how they are insufficient and how he knows we are “spiritual beings”, a conclusion he has reached based on his belief that we somehow *must* be something “spiritual”, based on his religion, a religion that has nothing to support its claims.  He claims that “even ID” gets this wrong and only “faith” gets it right because nothing else supposed explains why we are “at our best compassionate and reflective” while nature is “amoral and bloody”.   Humans are certainly amoral and bloody too, as is the Judeo/Islamo/Christian god as described.

Finally, as so many theists have claimed, Gellman claims that the “higher purpose” of our human existence is with his god and that no scientist can begin “to understand or describe” the way to his god. Evidently no other kind of theist can either, which is what they say about their gods too.  What this purpose is, the rabbi doesn’t go into details, though his bible does.   If his young/old bible is right, this higher purpose could be several things, death with nothing else, a heaven that isn’t that much different from this life, an eternity of endlessly praising this god, or a city of gold and jewels on a new earth.   I suppose it depends on how he cherry picks this too: is it just the silly old bible with its silly claims or the shiny new one, with its silly claims?  Evolutionary theory may not be able to explain the origin of the human soul.   In that no one can show that it exists or agree on what it is or how it interacts with a physical body,  etc. that’s not surprising.