This Must Be What They Teach At Creationism School

I love how Creationist “logic” works when faced with someone armed with the facts…

First, a Christian website posted this ridiculous cartoon:

Of course, we know the two situations are completely different.

Snakes don’t talk. Neither do amoebas. We do, now, after billions of years of evolutionary progress. You’re crazy if you think a snake actually existed and actually spoke to an actual Adam and an actual Eve.

Several commenters point this out to the author of the post, C Michael Patton. Let me direct you to one commenter in particular, Sean R Reid:

Then, Patton responds to Reid (and others) and Reid writes back:

Umm… a single-celled organism *doesn’t* talk. Not like humans do.

But Patton continues…

… and then puts it to a stop.

Got it? You can’t make this about evolution and creation because that’s *so* not what the comic was about. Even though the reason it makes no sense has everything to do with how evolution works.

So, to summarize:

  • A Creationist posts a comic that makes no sense.
  • Someone who understands evolution points out that the comic makes no sense.
  • The Creationist puts his fingers in his ears and goes, “LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” and then shuts down all discussion because it’s making him look bad.

It’s easy to believe in nonsense when you refuse to listen to voices of reason.

  • Rich Wilson

    I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s not a point you can make. There is nothing you can show Patton that will make him realize, that even if he doesn’t accept evolution, there are ‘non silly’ reasons for other people to accept evolution.

    Even on here, with the teacher who was not fired for teaching creationism, some people thought he “wasn’t taking sides” and just “presenting arguments”.

    It saddens me, as I assume some Christians are saddened that I don’t find Jesus. But evolution is such a beautiful and remarkable thing, that I feel like anyone who doesn’t get it is missing out on such wonder.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    There are many things sillier about a talking snake than a talking human which is descended from single-celled organisms. But you know what, maybe that doesn’t matter so much. Reality can be quite silly sometimes.

    What’s really silly is taking an ancient book as evidence for a talking snake.

  • Nakor

    This is why I like the model-dependant theory of reality concept put forth by Hawking in The Grand Design. It provides a clear, understandable explanation for what does and does not make a good theory, and allows you to compare theories by those standards, while inherently including in that comparison the fact that no theory can be said to truly and certainly study reality (rather only our observations of it).

    In essence, it is the perfect tool with which to say, “though it is true that nothing can be known with absolute certainty, clearly some methods of judging our universe are better than others — here are the standards, and here is why evolution is astronomically better than creation.”

  • brent

    the artist’s mistake was that he or she didn’t realise they were making the assumption that talking snakes is as credible as amoeba evolving into humans.

    they’re also making the mistake that just because they’re too stupid or willfully ignorant to understand something that automatically means that people with an ounce of intelligence or curiousity find their ignorance convincing.

    Here’s a clue for creationists – we don’t respect your ideas as much as we respect evolution because your ideas are completely irrational. Something has to be rational before it can be compared to evolution.

  • http://pinkydead.blogspot.com David McNerney

    Is this not a Pharyngulation (sorry) opportunity? I just wonder how high the “Like or Dislike” value on “Sean R. Reid” can go.

  • http://hoverFrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Rich Wilson

    I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s not a point you can make. There is nothing you can show Patton that will make him realize, that even if he doesn’t accept evolution, there are ‘non silly’ reasons for other people to accept evolution.

    While this is undoubtedly true I still think that making the point is worthwhile. Someone else may read it and realise the error that Patton has made even if he doesn’t.

  • Cag

    Well, it more or less seems to me that the author thought it would be an opportunity where he’d get his ego stroked by people pointing out how right he is. At the very least, our body is made of cells working together, more or less, while snakes never had tongues capable of speech.

  • Claudia

    While this is undoubtedly true I still think that making the point is worthwhile. Someone else may read it and realise the error that Patton has made even if he doesn’t.

    Exactly. Debates don’t get the people engaging in them to admit they were wrong on the spot, particularly when they involve deeply held beliefs that are based in emotion and not rationality. However people who are watching (or reading) the debate and are maybe less invested in the belief, and don’t have their pride on the line because they’re lurking, can be open to persuasion or at least planting the seed of doubt. People brought up creationist can and do come to their senses in many cases, and they do in part because those of us on the side of scientific thought don’t write them off as lost cases and fight creationism.

  • http://shadowgm.diaryland.com Bob

    But evolution is such a beautiful and remarkable thing, that I feel like anyone who doesn’t get it is missing out on such wonder.

    They’re still struggling with the whole tides-come-in/tides-go-out thing. Give ‘em time. ;D

  • http:www.mountaintrail.us Joel Justiss

    Well said, Claudia. I was taught creationism, but I learned evolution.

  • Luther

    What is hard to swallow is that evolution is messy; that an amoeba evolved into a creationist. But that is scientifically verifiable.

  • Secular Stu

    For the sake of clarity, I am going to close the comments least this turn into an evolution vs. creation thread….which is not the point.

    “The point is not evolution vs. creation, the point is evolution is silly and I’m not allowing any arguments to the contrary. Even though I asked ‘Are they really that different’ in the title.”

  • TychaBrahe

    The only thing I think I need to take Sean to task on is his statement, “At no point is [Genesis] meant to be taken as historical fact….” I have never heard of a creation myth that wasn’t intended to be taken as historical fact by those who believed in it. Is Sean actually suggesting that religionists believe that God sent Jesus to bring humans salvation, or an angel appeared to Mohammed, or Krishna wrote the Baghavad Gita and not believe the other stories that are part of those traditions?

  • Jeebus

    Patton took his ball and went home. Nice argument for creationism genius.

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    It’s by no means impossible for a snake to talk, it would just require millions of years of evolution in the right direction in order to do so. And by then the snake ancestor would probably not so much resemble a snake anymore.

    He would also need opposable thumbs to build the time machine and go back to talk to Eve in the 1st place.

  • Jeff

    For the sake of clarity, I am going to close the comments least this turn into an evolution vs. creation thread….which is not the point.

    Translation: “You’re forcing me to confront the contradictions in my belief system, and it’s scaring the crap out of me.”

    Meanwhile, the name of the blog is “Reclaiming the Mind”. From their “Visions & Beliefs” page:

    We believe that God has called us to have a impact on the church and culture by taking back what rightly belongs to God – the mind. We live in a time of anti-intellectualism, skepticism, and confusion. Our goal is to reclaim the mind by energizing the church providing resources for intellectual engagement.

    Right. Then, of course, the usual blather about everyone else going to hell, yadda yadda – ’cause it’s what they live for.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – fundies have absolutely no sense of irony. They are the least introspective people on the planet.

  • Jeff

    And one of their videos just crashed my browser.

    I’ve discovered, in middle age, that I’m a segregationist. We need to have a separate area of cyberspace for these people. We could call it “IdiotWeb”.

  • GregfromCos

    I’ve discovered, in middle age, that I’m a segregationist. We need to have a separate area of cyberspace for these people. We could call it “IdiotWeb”.

    Hell no! That’s what makes the interwebs so wonderful. It makes us talk to each other. And no one may have changed C Michael Patton’s mind, but I guarantee others who read what he was saying thought differently than they had before.

    The internet is The Great Rationalizer, even if the religious feel the need to cut off comments at times. But most people like to let their thoughts be heard, which ultimately leads to discussion, which ultimately leads to more rational discussion for many.

  • Jeff

    People don’t change. The only people I’ve ever seen really “change” were already leaning in that direction to begin with. I’ve never seen a hard-core fundamentalist change his or her mind. I’m convinced it’s neurological.

  • Thegoodman

    Typical religious site. Their comments are heavily moderated and apparently they don’t like posts that are not inline with their views.

    I posted an argument against the authors claim that “Atheism is the most irrational worldview.” I feel like I had a well thought out post that wasn’t threatening or rude in any way. The post was taken down in minutes.

    The irony is that it was in a thread that encourages christians to study and challenges atheists; apparently atheist challenges are not welcome.

  • Nordog

    Actually, the second is very believable because it’s demonstrable in real life.

    Yeah…I think strictly speaking this is not true.

  • walkamungus

    If you remove the “Are they really that different?” tagline, the cartoon’s actually kinda funny, even if ridiculously reductionist in the lower half.

  • ACN

    Yeah…I think strictly speaking this is not true.

    In the most literal reading, as in, “I watch large scale speciation happen before afternoon tea” yeah, it isn’t true. In the sense of, there used to be these things but now there are these other things that are deeply linked through the fossil record, his claim is obviously true. Especially if you include his 2nd sentence where he clarifies what he means.

  • http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog C Michael Patton

    Thanks for the link friendly. Were I to do this over again, I would not have posted this!

    It is funny, when I created it, the fear from others was that creationists would get mad because I was saying that snakes talking was so bizarre. My point was not to make any truth claims either way. I was not attempting to imply the validity of either snakes talking or evolution happening. My point was that the world is full of bizarre things. Even if evolution was God’s means in creating the world (which I have no problem with), it is bizarre. And to laugh at one without laughing at the other is comical, in my opinion. Conceptually they are not THAT different.

    However, with the history of the debate, I can understand how people would automatically see it as an attempt to belittle evolution.

    Oh well, mark this up to one of those posts you wish you did not post. I just need to get out of the comic buisness. Blast you iPad!

  • http://www.unmails.com Tyler

    Wow, this blog is a quote GOLDMINE. The first article I pulled up: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/03/a-warning-to-young-apologists-take-breaks-from-the-battle/

    Atheism is about the most irrational worldview that there is. I truly believe that. But if I did nothing but hang around atheists with no intellectual contact with fellow believers, I would begin to see dinosaurs moving in the trees. Don’t laugh. You will too.

    From the comments,

    Thanks for this artical, I was getting onto CARM’s websight too often and debating the atheist there, Many Christians do not do to well there talking with those guys, and i was really getting weary, so I took a break, and dove into some Christian apologetic material, Giesler, Strobel, ICR, ect. “Hangin” with atheist DOES wear you down, ya feel “Vexed” and your mind gets twisted with their “Scientific evidences and arguments” Then when they call themselves the “rational” ones. Taking a break and walking closer to God is such a rest!

    Aww his poor brain was doing too much thinking, he really needs to stop thinking for awhile.

  • Jeff

    Aww his poor brain was doing too much thinking, he really needs to stop thinking for awhile.

    If you rub a butter knife against a brick, it doesn’t turn into a carving knife. All you end up with is a dull butter knife.

  • http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog C Michael Patton

    Tyler,

    I think you missed the point of the Dinasour illustration! I doubt that you hang too much with those who believe in dinasours that are alive today (and they are out there!). This does not mean that you are closing your ears to their arguments does it? In all studies, one has to moderate. Obviously you do come here to help confirm some prejudices. That could be interpreted as obscurantism on your part!

    The point of the article is that if kick the cooler of even the most irrational worldviews for too long, you will find yourself thinking the same irrational thoughts, but that does not make the worldview any more warranted. Moderate your time in plausibility and don’t neglect fellowship with those who agree with you.

  • http://badchristian.org Sean R Reid

    The only thing I think I need to take Sean to task on is his statement, “At no point is [Genesis] meant to be taken as historical fact….” I have never heard of a creation myth that wasn’t intended to be taken as historical fact by those who believed in it. Is Sean actually suggesting that religionists believe that God sent Jesus to bring humans salvation, or an angel appeared to Mohammed, or Krishna wrote the Baghavad Gita and not believe the other stories that are part of those traditions?

    Actually, you have to take Genesis, particularly the first few chapters, and compare them to other Ancient Near Eastern myths. Jumping straight to Jesus is leaping over a LOT of literature in between that spans a multitude of genres/modes.

    Genesis shares many traits with other ANE creation myths. The key difference would be that God exists outside of creation, whereas others have the gods as part of creation. Unfortunately, the YEC crowd seems to miss this point entirely and instead adheres to a literal (read: word-for-word) reading that tries to force a scientific/historical angle that was never intended (or present).

    I absolutely believe that you can read Biblical text and treat each of the books as they were intended. Accepting the historicity of one area doesn’t necessarily require every story be read as history. For example, I’m of the opinion that most of the Old Testament is rooted in civilization myth imagery. From what I understand that would make it consistent with some of the other tribal writings/oral traditions of that time.

  • http://badchristian.org Sean R Reid

    In the most literal reading, as in, “I watch large scale speciation happen before afternoon tea” yeah, it isn’t true. In the sense of, there used to be these things but now there are these other things that are deeply linked through the fossil record, his claim is obviously true. Especially if you include his 2nd sentence where he clarifies what he means.

    That’s pretty much what I was getting at when I made the first statement. Obviously, I didn’t mean “drop a single-celled organism in a petri dish at 9 AM and have a human by midnight!” However, I see how that single statement could be read as such.

  • http://blog.noctua.org.uk/ Paul Wright

    Patton isn’t an idiot, from what I’ve read, though I stopped reading Parchment and Pen when it seemed to be becoming more populist and doing more cheerleading for theism, as it’s clear that I’m not the intended audience.

    Anyway, in this case, the question is, if think that a talking snake is at first sight absurd and reject the idea on that basis, why are we not also justified in rejecting evolution if we find it at first sight absurd? The snake-rejecters seem to be engaged in special pleading, assuming they don’t also reject evolution.

    It seems to me that CMP is correct to say that if one rejection at first sight is justified, the other is, but this ignores what we learn if we dig deeper.

    In Absurdity Heuristic, Absurdity Bias, Yudkowsky has it: the absurdity heuristic fails when “we have information about underlying laws which should override surface reasoning.”

    In this case, we do have evidence for evolution and, if we don’t have theological pre-commitments which bias us, we accept it as very probable on the basis of that evidence even if it initially seems unlikely because we personally have never seen an amoeba evolve into a person.

    So Patton is wrong to say, given the total evidence available to us, that “neither is more likely” or “neither is more scientific”: we have never seen a snake talk and getting deeper into the scientific evidence would presumably show us why that was biologically unlikely; we have never seen an amoeba evolve into a person, but getting deeper into the scientific evidence gives us overwhelming reasons to think that is what happened.

  • http://badchristian.org Sean R Reid

    I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that I am actually a Christian. I just happen to not be much of a fan of YEC and find that posts such as the one I commented on actually do more to splinter Christianity and discourage critical thought.

    That particular site claims to be in favor of critical thought. However, the cartoon would suggest otherwise. So, I allowed myself to be goaded into commenting on it accordingly.

  • Nordog

    In the most literal reading, as in, “I watch large scale speciation happen before afternoon tea” yeah, it isn’t true. In the sense of, there used to be these things but now there are these other things that are deeply linked through the fossil record, his claim is obviously true. Especially if you include his 2nd sentence where he clarifies what he means.

    Like I said, strickly speaking it is untrue.

    Any “demonstration” of the development of man from single celled life forms would be a secondary and equivocal use of the term.

    It’s one thing to demonstrate the merits of a given inductive argument based on known evidence, it’s quite another to perform a scientific demonstration.

    To say that single cells becoming talking men is “demonstrable in real life” is overreaching considerably.

  • http://badchristian.org Sean R Reid

    To say that single cells becoming talking men is “demonstrable in real life” is overreaching considerably.

    If you read through the entire statement I clarify my point a bit:

    There is no shortage of evidence tracking evolutionary changes, even from species to species, while we have yet to find a talking snake.

    Perhaps to be more accurate I should have said that the evolutionary process has enough history to demonstrate how things progressed over time. I wasn’t referencing performing an actual on-the-spot scientific demonstration when I said “demonstrable.”

  • http://www.bluefrogdesignstudios.com/thebluefrogsays/ The Big Blue Frog

    I’ve stopped arguing with people who think “the Flintstones” is a documentary film.

  • martin

    So according to the cartoon people aren’t born through reproduction, anyone who is a talking man has always been a talking man, no fertilization of an egg, no infanthood, childhood, puberty, etc. A talking man cannot come from a single cell. AMAZING!!!

    And this completely answers someone’s statement that “To say that single cells becoming talking men is “demonstrable in real life” is overreaching considerably.” because we demonstrate it every time we track someone’s pregnancy to adult hood and not even creationists argue against development.

  • misguided

    I saw a billboard today that lead me to a site called Friendly Atheist. What a misnomer! I am on the fence about some issues, but found nothing helpful on this blog, but I did find a lot of hateful name calling about people who have a different set of beliefs. The billboard I saw seemed like it was going to lead me to something helpful. The wording “You don’t need God – to hope, to care, to love, to live.” After reading this and other blogs, I see that nobody on this site cares about anything other than convincing others of their point of view by referring to evidence, but not quoting the location or source of evidence. That is not helpful. I was hopeful for a short time that this site could offer a way to carry out the statement on the billboard. I am not finding it. The only love I see evidence of is love of self, not for others. Maybe I don’t need God, but at this site I did not find hope, care, or love that I can use to live. Oh well, off I go on my search.

  • ButchKitties

    From Patton’s first comment under the cartoon:

    “I am simply comparing which one is more bizzare, without speaking to the truthfulness of either…”

    The problem with this is that the answer to the final question in the comic “Are they really that different?” is that, yes, they really are that different, and the truthfulness of the respective claims is precisely what makes them different. Evolution is demonstrable. Changes in allele frequency in a population over time have been directly observed. Speciation has been directly observed. Evolution is a fact.

    Talking snakes have never been directly observed, unless you think that terrible Conan O’Brien sketch about the Bronx Zoo cobra counts.

    Patton seems to be arguing from the misapprehension that we dismiss talking snakes just because they’re weird, but that’s not the case. The idea of a bird that can precisely imitate the sound of a chainsaw is bizarre, but I accept it because I’ve seen video evidence of it. Talking snakes aren’t dismissed just because they’re bizarre. They are dismissed because unlike evolution, the claim of their existence runs contrary to all available evidence.

  • Nordog

    So according to the cartoon people aren’t born through reproduction, anyone who is a talking man has always been a talking man, no fertilization of an egg, no infanthood, childhood, puberty, etc. A talking man cannot come from a single cell. AMAZING!!!

    And this completely answers someone’s statement that “To say that single cells becoming talking men is “demonstrable in real life” is overreaching considerably.” because we demonstrate it every time we track someone’s pregnancy to adult hood and not even creationists argue against development.

    This is a fail. Human reproduction requires two cells.

  • Rich Wilson

    Sean R Reid: “I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that I am actually a Christian.”

    For me there’s a huge difference between people who believe in a god or gods, and acknowledge established science, and those who reject said established science in favor of their own particular story. I’m fine with God starting life, or giving humans souls at some point. Or anything else that isn’t demonstrably false. What bothers me is when someone says “everything in the universe revolves directly around the earth, so nothing else can have moons” or “the earth is < 10K years old” or “humans were created in their present physical form”.

    The places where we still have gaps in our scientific knowledge, I really don’t care if people fill them in with god. It’s when we can (or should be able to) deduce the answer based on the evidence in front of us, and yet we reject it for faith, that sadden me.

  • walkamungus

    “Human reproduction does require two cells.”

    After fertilization, the zygote is a single cell. Nine months and some years after that, you can indeed have a talking man. Or woman.

    Modern single-celled amoebas, on the other hand, are happy to remain so.

    Dawkins does point out in The Greatest Show On Earth that if you go back far enough, yes, the common ancestor was a single-celled something-or-other.

  • Ed Babinski

    Michael-”conceptually they are not that different”-Patton, should read more biology, starting with the evolution of the larynx which is based on more evidence than exists for “talking serpents.” Laryngeal evolution can be traced from fish to amphibian-like fish (Tiktaalik), to amphibians, to reptile-like amphibians, to reptiles, to mammal-like reptiles, to mammals, monkeys, chimpanzees (upright hominid species in the fossil record) and humans. The embyrological development of the jaw and larynx is also very similar in all such cases, arising from the same pharyngeal pouches in the embryo. BUT IT’S THE DIFFERENCES that alert one to the larynx’s evolutionary origin. Why does the rear of the jaw bone develop into the three middle ear bones? There are reasons traceable through evolution beginning with amphibian-like fish like Tiktaalik through transitional mammal-like reptile species. But one potent reminder of the evolutionary origin of the larynx from fish to mammal to human is the way the recurrent laryngeal nerve dips down into the chest and then has to go all the way back up to the larynx, even in the case of giraffes! See the book, Your Inner Fish for starters and also google layngeal evolution or larynx evolution in Google scholar or some other scholarly database. Find out why the evidence for evolution is more than “just a concept.” Also, the evolution of the larynx (especially in humans with their upright posture) also is related to such things as the mammalian threat of choking and suffering sleep apnea. The larynx evolved at a cost, because human evolution like all evolutionary processes, resembles a tinkering process.

  • http://stopthemeter.ca brynn

    Yeah, most creationists use circular logic, which I can’t stand at all. Ever seen the contradictions in the bible picture? http://atheistcolby.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/BibleContradictions-ReasonProject.png

    I’m 100% for the logic, and I’m not sure much about anything religious, but isn’t the snake supposed to be the devil/Satan? Would that explain the talking [because talking demons are much more likely than talking snakes...?] ?

  • Siamang

    This is a fail. Human reproduction requires two cells.

    Biology class fail, Nordog.

    Look up “zygote”.

  • Nordog

    Yeah, show me a zygote that came from one cell with nothing added to it.

    Ya need two.

  • Me

    There are cases where you get a whole animal from one diploid cell only. It’s called parthenogenesis. The problem is that it limits genetic diversity and is not as advantageous as sexual combination of haploid cells produced through meiosis.

  • Pseudonym

    Doesn’t everyone know that amoebas didn’t evolve into humans? Amoebazoa is a sister kingdom to animalia, not an ancestor.

    In fact, the mere existence amoebas disprove a central thesis of intelligent design: It shows that the information capacity of an organism’s genome is essentially unrelated to its biological complexity. Polychaos dubium, for example, is a single-celled organism whose genome is 200 times the size of homo sapiens.

  • Fribnit

    if you ever met my ex-fiance you would have no trouble believing snakes talk.

  • http://www.saintgasoline.com Saint Gasoline

    While I respect Sean for taking the time to defend evolution, I must say that I cringed when he brought out the “No one believes in evolution anymore than they believe in gravity” argument. I don’t know who invented this argument, but it has become quite prevalent and it makes no sense. I believe in evolution. I believe it is true because it is supported by a vast accumulation of evidence. The idea that scientists don’t “believe” things and that facts can’t be “believed” is silly. Why do people think this is an effective argument? Just because people “believe” in God doesn’t mean all belief is faith-based, any more than the fact that some theists claim there is “evidence” supporting God’s existence means that “evidence” can’t be applicable in a scientific arena.

    /pedantry

  • http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog C Michael Patton

    Here is a link to an update on the comic. Hopefully this will clarify what I was trying to communicate: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/04/snake-talk-and-evolution-comic-some-clarifications/

    • Sean

      people get the point…. no one could miss it, we get that you’re trying to say both things are equally unlikely/bizarre, which is just simply not the case.

      They are not equivalent in weirdness/unbelievability, one is 100% for sure unbelievable/impossible, and the other is 100% believable, possible, and provable.

      Your prevarication, and insistence that people just aren’t getting the point is ridiculous – an ignorant child could get the point, you’re drawing a line of equivalence between the two ideas/concepts, which is an incorrect thing to do, because one is a matter of myth and fable, and the other is a matter of solid factual evidential truth. No equivalency exists, there is no “hah what irony, you believe something weird but refuse to believe this equally weird thing.”


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