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|How Many Creationists/biblical Literalists Can Fit On The Head Of A Pin?
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Posted by S.H. Le on December 1, 1999 03:22:32 UTC
A friend of mine forwarded some arguments against creationism. I've decided I've defended evolution long enough. So here they are... some arguments on the offensive. I don't mean to offend anyone, but I don't believe in hiding behind the guise of politeness either. I basically, copied and pasted it, so it may look messed up.
"Things Creationists Hate"
...has all those embarrassing laws, like decay rates of isotopes, the non-decaying speed of light, the refraction of light to produce rainbows, etc., which have to be ignored, twisted, or denied to defend Genesis.
The Scientific Method
Creationists detest it so much that they've apparently invented their own, improved version, with the following highly logical rules:
Take as a given fact all those parts of the Bible we tell you to. Use not the null hypothesis; make no attempt to disprove any creationist hypothesis; report not any negative findings. Quote as authoritative anything a fellow creationist writes, regardless of his qualifications or subsequent discrediting of his methods or results. Misquote or quote out of context famous "evolutionists" so that they appear to admit evolution isn't real.
Old-Earth creationists think the Young-Earthers are too zealous and dogmatic even for them. Young-Earthers know the Old-Earthers and Multiple-Catastrophists have given in to "liberal" (if not to say Satanic) influences. Some years there are multiple "Ark-hunting" expeditions to Turkey, each of which thinks the others are obstructing the progress of "Bible science".
...just refuses to be found. Or it's been found too many times, in completely different locations. A dozen different people claiming to have found the Ark in a dozen different places is even more embarrassing than not finding it at all. For some reason that escapes creationists, it just won't be found and stay found.
The Holy Bible
That old Book persists in saying things that the creationists, who claim to take it as literal truth, have to admit are metaphorical (like the "doors" in the firmament that let the rain through). That means, of course, that they have to arbitrarily decide which parts are literally literal, and which are only metaphorically literal (and can't they twist the English language). I've never yet read a justification for who gets to make that determination and how, so I'll summarize it thus: Everything is literal except things that even we can't stomach.
Even worse, the "scientifically accurate" Bible reveals not a single fact about nature that wasn't commonly known at the time. If only it had revealed the atomic structure of matter, or the inverse square law, or the existence of bacteria--or even the heliocentric solar system!
Somehow, quite perversely, they changed from "fowls" to mammals between the time Moses (according to literalists) wrote the Pentateuch and now.
The Human Mind
...just to be ornery, has moved from the heart, where it resided through New Testament times, into the brain.
...somehow have grown a lot bigger and moved much farther away, so that by now it seems foolish to expect a sizeable fraction of them to fall to Earth, as predicted in Revelation.
...on the other hand, to test Man's faith in the literal veracity of scripture, has shrunk to become much smaller than the sun, and has taken to circling the latter, instead of vice versa, as originally established. Furthermore (confirming its sinful nature), it has floated up off its pillars or foundations, lost its four corners, and become a silly ball, on which there just is no possible mountaintop from which one could see all nations of the Earth.
Since this is such a new development in geophysics, creationists don't seem to have much to say about it yet. (They haven't been told yet that they can't believe in it.) Though they may not have heard it excoriated from the pulpit yet, it surely makes them uneasy, since it just doesn't jibe with young-Earth or Flood geology.
Creationism is about believing without question a particular interpretation of scripture. Indeed, in a belief system of that nature, any questioning or original thought about the revealed knowledge is not only incorrect, it is sinful.
...has inexplicably changed its value from a nice, neat 3 (reflecting the trinity, no doubt) in Solomon's time, to a messy 3.14159... today. Despite some legal attempts in some southern states to return it to the divine purity of 3, pi has hardened its heart and refused to conform to the biblically prescribed norm.
Although "just a theory", universal gravitation continues to be, well, universal. It holds true in all places, under all conditions, so it renders the brainless quip about evolution being "just a theory" a bit specious, at best.
Why did they have to show up? They're never mentioned in the Bible at all, so creationists have to do some creative rewriting of Genesis to account for their day of creation, and their presence or absence on the Ark.
Very inconvenient! They have to have occurred since the Flood, since, according to creationists, the surface of the Earth was reworked by the Flood (to create, for instance, the Grand Canyon practically overnight), which would have messed up all those marks of glaciers on the landscape. That means mile-thick ice sheets had to advance and retreat again and again, across half the Northern Hemisphere, with the speed of freight trains.
Size of the Earth
...has obviously expanded greatly since Noah's day, when he could, in a short period, collect pairs of all animals and birds from all over the world, without the benefit of modern air transport. Then after the Flood, the critters all had to migrate, at the double-quick, to their present habitats in Tasmania, the Galapagos, the coasts of Antarctica, Patagonia, the American Southwest, or wherever. It's clear the Earth was no more than a few hundred miles across, probably flat, and with no inconvenient oceans like, say, the Pacific.
The Slow Rate of Evolution
Having some time ago abandoned the completely silly proposition that Noah could actually have accommodated pairs--let alone sevens--of every animal species on Earth aboard the Ark, creationists have fallen back upon the rationalization that he collected not species but "kinds". They never, of course, clearly define "kind", because any such definition would create more problems in biological classification than it solved (and reveal how little they know about species diversity). Be that as it may, if a pair of the bovine "kind" walked off the Ark a few thousand years ago, they have had to evolve into all 24 present species and uncounted varieties of wild and domestic cattle since then. (Creationists: you really don't want to know how many species of the bat "kind" there are. And don't even think about beetles.) Creationists, then, are in the awkward position of believing in a much faster rate of evolution than is possible in nature, while detesting the term itself, and generally refusing to call diversification-since-the-Ark evolution (Lord, how they hate that word)!
The Number of Species in the World
There are just way too many of them! There are so many that we still don't even have a solid estimate of exactly how many--but five million is at least the right order of magnitude. That's so many that creationists have given up trying to stuff them all into the Ark (see above). A vanishingly tiny percent are even mentioned in the "scientifically accurate" Bible. Whole orders and phyla are left out. Of the few mentioned, there seems to be some slight confusion over such seemingly simple things as whether a bat is a bird or mammal, how many legs a grasshopper has, and who chews cuds and who doesn't. There's even embarrassing mention of creatures unknown to science, such as unicorns.
My humbly-offered solution: Since the Bible is "scientifically accurate", then when it was written there were just a few hundred species! They could all fit onto the Ark. After the Flood (take your pick):
They speed-evolved into the millions we have now. God made a whole bunch more, just to test our faith in Holy Scripture. Satan made a whole bunch more, just to ruin our faith in Holy Scripture. (I vote for this one, since I've been told recently by several good creationists that Satan invented evolution!)
...has evaporated. In Adam's time it was clearly a solid dome, a "firmament", which could separate waters above it from those below on the Earth. By Noah's time it was still solid enough to have windows in it that had to be opened to let the rain through. I think that creationists that try to rationalize (weasel) their way out of this one by calling it metaphor have given in to the godless materialists! The Bible really is literal, in the true sense of the word. The sky was a hard firmament with windows in it--but some time since then it evaporated. Anybody who says different is a mealy-mouthed evolution-sympathizer.
...have always been a thorn in the side of creationism. First of all, extinct creatures shouldn't even exist in a perfect Creation, since their very extinction implies that they were not so perfect. And there are so darn many of them, of so many different kinds. Every excuse they come up with for why there even are fossils of extinct organisms makes creationists look silly. And the very fact that they've come up with so many different, mutually exclusive explanations would seem to indicate that, essentially, they're clueless. I have personally been offered all these sound, creation-scientific explanations of what fossils are and how they got there:
Dinosaurs were too big to go on the Ark, so they got buried in the mud of the Flood.(How about extinct smaller creatures--and what about the "fact" that Noah collected pairs of all animals?) Extinct creatures were on the Ark. They died out later. (How many seismosaurs, T. rexes, mastodons, and megatheria can you fit on the head of a pin?) Fossils never were animals. They're a hoax by Satan and/or materialistic science. Fossils never were animals. They're a hoax by God to test your faith. (And I will go to hell for falling for a trick pulled by the Almighty Himself? Doesn't that seem just a bit petty?)
...can't possibly exist, since nothing ever gradually evolved into anything else. Less sophisticated creationists handle the issue by merely spouting the slogan "There are no transitional fossils". They heard that from a good born-again fundamentalist, so it must be true--no further research necessary. The few who are vaguely aware of the vast range of fossils that have been found, including beautiful examples of transitional series, merely draw lines: everything on that side of the line is ape, and everything on this side is human. If another fossil turns up with features exactly between the two, no problem--just assign it to one side or the other. No matter how fine the gradation, creationists will never admit seeing transition, because they know ahead of time that it can't exist. Amusingly, however, in series such as the hominid line leading to us, different creationist "experts" draw the line between ape and human in different places!
...especially very small ones, actually have tails and gill slits. So do all mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, and fish embryos. One would almost think they are related somehow. Thank goodness for modern Creation Science, which has taught us how to ignore, deny, or find some rationalization (anything at all will do) to explain away this and all other evidence of evolution.
...with such birth anomalies as being born with a tail, or covered with fur. Tails are more common than most people realize, since they are, of course, surgically removed immediately, and often the child himself is never told. For furry people, refer to the famous Mexican family, several of whom are circus performers. These would, of course, be some of the "throwbacks" which creationists assert must, of course, occur if evolution is real. But since evolution is, of course, not true, the good creationist, upon being presented the very evidence he demanded, will, of course, not be fazed in the slightest.
A small footnote: back in the good old days, when everyone was a literal-creationist, and religion was science (known as the Dark Ages, with good cause), such babies were identified as the spawn of Satan, and killed instantly, along with their mothers, who were, naturally, witches.
In the Sunday School stories, most of us imagined one pair, or at most two African and two Asian, on the Ark; and we assumed those few were Noah's biggest problem. But he could probably have wedged them in somewhere, among the handful of other large mammals always shown in the picture books. Somehow the elephants were always waving their trunks over the side, and the giraffes poking their heads up over the deck house. Then we grew up (most of us) and found out that there used to be things like mastodons and wooly mammoths. As a matter of fact, if we did just a little research, we could have found out that there are some 160 species of probiscideans, living and extinct, many of them wildly, grotesquely different from modern Jumbos. Then the problem arises of whether or not all those guys were on the Ark. All 160 species, with their months of fodder, obviously could not have been aboard, especially if we realize that other large mammal "kinds" also have myriad extinct species. As I see it, there are several explanations. Choose your favorite from the list below:
158 of God's perfectly-created elephant species had already died out before the Flood. Only one pair of the elephant "kind" (are they "clean" or "unclean"?) were aboard, and immediately afterward evolved into 160 different species, 158 of which immediately became extinct. 158 species were simply left off the Ark, and got killed and fossilized by the Flood--and Genesis is just exaggerating about all beasts being aboard. There never were more than two species of elephants--all those fossils of extinct ones, including whole, frozen mammoths that modern people have actually dined on--are merely a trick of Satan. All animals were on the Ark, just like Genesis says. Shut up and don't ask.
Thanks to Oren Grossman for informing me that there are actually three species of living elephants, including the smaller African bush elephant. Thus creationists only need to account for 157 instant extinctions... but have to accommodate at least six pachyderms on the Ark!
Nasty stuff. It's really a shame that it had to turn up and confirm predictions of relationships made by evolutionary theory perfectly. And what a dirty trick to have human DNA fit right into the distribution, right next door to the chimps'! It's just not fair. It almost looks like Someone arranged the whole thing just to make evolution appear to be true. Worse yet, this ultimate blueprint for building entire human beings turns out to be just plain chemicals, with nothing magical or even particularly unusual that sets humans aside from other living things. And those geneticists can even tinker with the stuff, and build new creatures. They can replace defective genes in people, and even put human genes into pigs. Why wasn't something put into Leviticus to forbid such ungodliness?
Their Own Coccyxes
...when examined closely via X-rays or a prepared skeleton, look disturbingly like the vestigial remnants of tails. They certainly serve no purpose nowadays, and if you've ever broken yours, you've probably wondered why we were Created with such a useless source of potential agony. (Besides, coccyx sounds downright obscene.)
Honesty and Moral Behavior
...among evolutionists. It must really irk creationists that the great majority of us "evolutionists" are basically upright, moral folks. We shouldn't be, because belief in evolution "destroys our faith in the Bible", so naturally we have "no moral guide" and "no fear of eternal damnation", and since "we think we came from monkeys", we see ourselves as "animals with no eternal souls". I'll confess it right now: my basically upright, honest, cleanly-lived life is all a sham. I'm part of the One World Government Evolutionist Conspiracy (OWGEC), and my apparent morality is merely a deception to lure unsuspecting young creationists over to the Dark Side!
...human ribs, that is, present a real problem. I've been told, on good authority (by creationists, whose scientific authority is the Bible, and what could be more authoritative?), that men have one less rib than women, because one of Adam's ribs was removed to mold into Eve. My creationist informant has generally become confused upon being asked if that means one less pair of ribs, or just one rib missing from one side. Then my instructor in human origins becomes red in the face and defensive, if not to say hostile, when asked if he has ever actually counted ribs on male and female human skeletons, living or deceased. None that I've met have ever actually tried this simplest of scientific experiments, which could go a long way toward proving a testable prediction of creationism. (For members of the Republic of Texas Militia: men have exactly the same number of ribs as women.)
NEWSFLASH: I've just been informed by a rock-solid creationist that the latest discovery of "creation science" is that men used to have fewer ribs than women, but they don't anymore! Perhaps creationists have unearthed a whole bunch of ancient skeletons, with all the males being short a rib. An appeal: PLEASE reveal this evidence to the rest of the world, so that we all can be brought into the Light of True Bible Science!
LATEST NEWS from Joseph Armstrong in Australia: I don't supposed they (gasp) evolved the extra rib? Is this a classic case of cretinist "micro-evolution"?
Viruses hardly fit into the creationist's view of the world at all. In the first place, nothing even remotely like them is even remotely alluded to in either Testament. About the only "biblical" disease that anyone can remember is leprosy (a bacterial disease), and there's no clue that any of the writers that mentioned it knew that it was caused by any sort of micro-organism, let alone a virus. Egyptian cattle suffered a "murrain"-- with no apparent cause other than a divine curse. A blight on crops is mentioned in a place or two, which, if it were naturally caused, might be a viral disease, but again only the disease is mentioned, not any organic cause. Then there are the "emerods" (hemorrhoids) with which God afflicted some folks he was miffed at. I have been told both of the following by "creation scientists":
The Devil created viruses. Viruses are not in the Bible because they are "imperfect".
But the really disturbing thing about viruses is that they occupy the twilight zone between living and dead, a zone that would seem ought not to exist in a creation in which creatures were "given life", or have "the breath of life". Of course, the creationist may arbitrarily assign them to either the "living" or "dead" category, but either assignment is a forced fit. Can they be alive if they don't move, breathe, eat, excrete, or metabolize at all, and can even be crystallized, like other non-living chemicals? Can they be dead if they can self-replicate (reproduce) using the same basic methods as other living things, parasitize other creatures, and are made of nearly the same proteins and nucleic acids as we are? Evolutionary theory doesn't demand that there be a sharp distinction between living systems and nonliving molecules. That's the premise of abiogenesis, which creationists insist on lumping in with evolution, so what the heck... we'll take it. Evolutionary theory can also explain where viruses came from, or why they exist. The fact that there are presently several tentative explanations in no way threatens the structure of evolutionary theory; we're perfectly happy with hypotheses until the preponderance of evidence clearly favors one over all others. In evolutionary theory (with abiogenesis) there should be some hazy area between living and nonliving, and viruses are dwellers of that twilight zone.
The Cause of Cancer
And who wouldn't hate that? But I don't mean the carcinogens that set it off, like tobacco tars, asbestos, or ultraviolet light; I mean the root cause that makes it possible for things like those to start cancers growing. And that cause turns out to be evolution in action! A cancer starts when a carcinogen, or sometimes just a random accident, causes a mutation in a gene of one cell. That mutation "switches on" genes that are normally "off", and makes the cell start reproducing wildly, as though it were an embryonic cell, and not a dedicated part of an adult body. A mutation is one unit of evolution. In this case it is harmful, but the ability to mutate is so valuable to DNA--it lets it adapt to new conditions--that that mutability cannot be given up, even if it sometimes produces fatal cancer. It is perhaps significant that cancers in people are very rare until after their peak reproductive years.
The Hair on the Backs of Their Necks
...which stands up at the very thought that their children might actually be exposed to an evil-lutionist at school. When they stop to think why the hair on the backs of their necks should stand up, at that or any terrifying situation, the only explanation that makes sense is that it's a vestigial reaction inherited from our mammal ancestors. Other mammals' hair rises in response to "hair-raising experiences" as a defense. It's a warning sign of aggression, and may make the animal look bigger and fiercer. We've apparently given up that signal, maybe in favor of words or other body language. About the only trace left is that creepy feeling about nape of the neck and scalp, which is almost impossible for others to see. (suggested by Ron Tolle)
The Order of Creation
...is a bottomless can of worms for literal creationists, especially if one takes literally and in their most obvious meanings both Genesis 1 and 2, which don't match in many particulars. But consider just a couple of minor difficulties in the first chapter. For one, the light of day is created before the sun from which it comes. If we assume it was some divine form of light, requiring no material source, then what need of the sun? In the same curious order were plants created before the sun, which is needed for photosynthesis (especially confounding to the day-age folks). (suggested by Ron Tolle)
(the bumps, not the books [although many creationists hate those "occult" books, too]) Goosebumps were obviously "created" to erect and "fluff up" the hair or fur on a hairy or furry mammal ancestor, thereby improving its insulation value against the cold. Since most of us nowadays have so little body hair as to render it useless for insulation purposes, goosebumps are another vestigial reaction whose tool (fur) is no longer with us.
...which have so many generations of nasty babies so often that in just a few years they can change. Those ugly boll weevils, for instance, develop resistance to pesticides; and those filthy peppered moths in England (Darwin's home--coincidence? I don't think so.) change the shade of their camouflage. Evolutionists want to call those piddlin' changes "evolution"--which just shows that they don't even know what the term means. So we creationists have to tell them that "evolution" means apes popping out human babies. You'd think them evil-utionists'd have that straight by now. (For folks who trust Rush Limbaugh to ever get any facts right: the above is sarcasm.)
...especially human ones, which creationist "investigators" keep discovering in the same strata as dinosaur bones or footprints, and paleontologists keep demonstrating are nothing of the sort. It's been my experience that creationist authorities (oxymoron) usually end up admitting that they weren't really human prints after all. But they are somewhat lax in passing that information on to their flocks of True Believers., with the result that your average grassroots creationist is under the impression that the fossil record is replete with human footprints, clear back to the beginning (suggested by Floyd Waddle).
Creationists have to hate those pesky asteroid craters which are found all over the planet, throughout all geological strata. The Bible is strangely silent on such devastating impacts as Meteor Crater in Arizona, the Ring Lakes in Quebec, and that biggie that likely dusted off the dinosaurs and created all that beautiful beachfront property on the Yucatan penninsula (suggested and borrowed nearly verbatim from Jason Bowes).
Anybody notice that in the last few years astronomers, using improved techniques and instruments (like Hubble), have begun to discover other planets around other suns? Have we noticed that several of those solar systems are at several of the stages of planetary-system evolution hypothesized for the creation of our own system? To further increase the squirm factor for our reality-challenged fellow citizens, perhaps they would be kind enough to locate the passages in the "scientifically accurate" Bible which acknowledge that there are, in fact, other worlds.
"In our image"
That's how God made man, according to Genesis, and therefore according to creationists. But every moderately bright 8-year-old immediately comes up with two questions which are never satisfactorily answered. If any answers are offered, they are usually cobbled-up rationalizations from outside the Bible. Generally, the kid gets the message that he's better off not asking such things.
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