Rebutting Ken Ham’s Response

So you remember my Why I Am An Atheist post from last week? Apparently it came to the attention of Answers in Genesis researcher Dr. Georgia Purdom. She wrote a blog post bearing the title Answers in Genesis and Libby’s Journey to Atheism in response, and then Ken Ham himself picked up my story and wrote his own response. I will respond to each, starting with Dr. Purdom’s post since it came first.

1. Creationism is only based on the Bible, physical evidence is irrelevant

Libby seems to have things backwards. It’s not that “we know the Bible is true because young earth creationism is true,” but rather because the Bible is true we can believe what God said in Genesis about the time frame in which He created.

It seems to me that I was taught it sort of like a circle. We know creationism is true because the Bible says it, yes, but the scientific truth of creationism in turn confirms the Bible and proves we can trust it. After all, Answers in Genesis continually emphasizes that Genesis is the foundation of the Bible, and that without a trustworthy and accurate Genesis, the Bible itself falls apart. And the foundation of Genesis, of course, is creationism. If evidence doesn’t matter, if all that matters is what the Bible says, then why does Answers in Genesis has its own “research” journal? Why does it fill its popular magazine with articles showing how animals couldn’t have evolved, and new evidence for creation?

In other words, if evidence didn’t matter, shouldn’t Answers in Genesis just stick to “the Bible says it, so you should just believe it”? But that’s not what they do. Instead they wave around evidence that supposedly disproves evolution and speak of creationism as though it confirms the Bible. And without creationism, they insist, you have no foundation. See the following image:

Dr. Purdom is right that I was taught that creationism was true not just because the Bible says it, but also because the physical evidence we have confirms it. And, based on what I was taught by AiG, I believed with all my heart that the physical evidence that we have confirms creation, not evolution. If this is not what Answers in Genesis teaches, well, it needs to end the false advertising and stop pretending to care about evidence.

List to this clip, for example. Ken Ham is clearly discussing evidence. Seriously, listen to it. Evidence, evidence, evidence. Furthermore, he says “many scientists just don’t want to believe in a worldwide flood, because it means, well, the Bible is true.” If AiG doesn’t care about evidence, it needs to stop being deceptive like this. What’s probably going on here, to some extent, is the divide between evidentialism and presuppositionalism. I sometimes wonder if Answers in Genesis really knows which it is.

But regardless, what was crucial to my deconversion was that I was definitely taught by Answers in Genesis that if creationism is not true, the entire Bible and even Christianity itself falls apart. And Dr. Purdom concurs.

2. I never truly “understood” creationism

Although she read AiG resources, attended AiG conferences, and came to the Creation Museum, I have to wonder how much she really understood what she was reading and hearing. The very idea of God creating in six literal days, 6,000 years ago, and the global flood comes from Scripture (and of course the scientific evidence confirms it)!

I should have figured this would be the argument used. It’s the No True Scotsman fallacy. I get it with my atheism in general – “you were never really saved, you never really understood grace, you never truly knew Jesus,” and on and on. Why is this argument used? Because they cannot conceive of someone truly believing as they do and then leaving it. Many Christians cannot conceive of a Christian leaving the faith, so any time they meet a Christian who left the faith they justify themselves by saying that person was never truly “saved.” That’s what’s going on here, too. Dr. Purdom cannot conceive of someone truly understanding what Answers in Genesis teaches and then accepting evolution instead. So she justifies, saying I must not have truly “understood,” because if I’d “understood” I never would have left.

Except that Dr. Purdom is wrong. I was pretty much the AiG poster child. I knew my stuff, backward and forward. I read and studied and learned. I knew how to defend my views, I knew the reasons behind them, I new the evidence and arguments. I was like an AiG fighting machine. And creationism wasn’t just incidental to my beliefs, it was crucially and centrally important. I was extremely passionate about it. I had my own creationist library, bought with my own money. The idea that I never really “understood” is laughable, and would have been laughable to anyone who knew me.

3. I shouldn’t have been sent to a secular college

Libby doesn’t say whether she attended a Christian or secular college. Sadly, in the USA today there isn’t much difference between the two types of schools concerning Genesis—and even the authority of the Bible—as surveys in Already Compromised showed. Either way, she was challenged, fought for a while, and gave up. It’s difficult to say why, but she does seem to have some misunderstandings about Genesis and the Bible despite her exposure to creation apologetics.

I want two make two points in response. First, if the only way to preserve your creationist beliefs is to not have them challenged – i.e. not attend a college that teaches any contrary view – that says more about your beliefs than anything else. If creationism is true, someone raised as I was should have no problem defending it. See, for example, this Jack Chick tract, or this chain email. If your beliefs can’t stand up to scrutiny, you need to rethink your beliefs. If cutting yourself off from anything that might ever challenge your beliefs is the only way you can keep them, you have a serious problem.

Second, I find the last part of this paragraph a bit insulting. Dr. Purdom doesn’t know me, and she wasn’t there when I was in college. The idea that I “fought for a while” and then “gave up” is ludicrous. I “fought” for months. And it wasn’t a college professor I was “fighting,” either. It was another student in my dorm, a student who found science and evolution fascinating and was himself fairly agnostic. I spent almost an entire year arguing with him about creation and evolution daily, and I continually went back to my sources, reread my books, and made sure I was using every young earth creationist argument in the book. I even took him to an Answers in Genesis conference. That’s not fighting “for a while.”

In the end, I didn’t “give up.” Rather, I realized I had been wrong. There’s a big difference there. And once I saw that creationism didn’t actually hold water, and that evolution was supported by the evidence, I had the intellectual honesty to change my mind. Why? Because that’s what you do when you realize you were wrong.

And that last sentence? After studying at Answers in Genesis’ knees for years, after attending their conferences and reading their literature, after searching the Bible and reading other creationist resources like the Institute for Creation Research and Henry Morris, I simply “misunderstood”? I simply had “exposure”? Dr. Purdom is wrong, very, very wrong.

4. Dr. Purdom’s solution

As I read her plea to parents and the instruction of their children, I couldn’t help but think of my daughter Elizabeth. However, for me Libby’s words had the opposite effect of what she desired. I realized that I can expose Elizabeth to all the creation and biblical apologetics in the world, but if she doesn’t actually understand it then it is useless. She needs more than simply exposure to these things.

I need to start asking her questions and she how she responds and not just assume she knows the answers. I need to start giving her more detailed understanding of these issues so she can answer effectively when those around her question her beliefs. I decided to start with the topic of dinosaurs. We are doing all the dinosaur questions from Answers Books for Kids and then we’ll move on to Dinosaurs for Kids. We are truly blessed to have all these great resources to train our children to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

Does Dr. Purdom think I didn’t read those books too? Does Dr. Purdom not think my parents’ house was awash with creationist literature from early on? Does Dr. Purdom think that my parents never “asked questions” to make sure I really understood what I was being taught? If so, Dr. Purdom would be wrong, very, very wrong. Creationism was discussed at the dinner table, while working on family projects, and on car rides. My parents always discussed sermons with us after church, and our church frequently taught creationism from the pulpit using AiG materials.

We used to hold mock debates with each other. We discussed this point and that point, went over the AiG resources we were reading together. I’ve written before that my dad and I were close. One of our favorite topics was creationism. We read creationist books together, we took them with us on family vacations so that we could “refute” what the park rangers and signs said. I found creationism fascinating, and so did my father, and we spent more hours discussing it than I can count.

How is this simply “exposure”? I wasn’t simply “exposed” to creationism!

Ken Ham’s Response

In his own blog post, Need More Than Just Exposure, Ken Ham quoted at length from Dr. Purdom’s post and added some observations of his own, many of which mirrored hers.

Dr. Georgia Purdom—AiG speaker, researcher, and writer—recently wrote a blog item I wanted to share with all of you. It is a warning—even to parents who bring their children up on AiG apologetics resources.

Is it just me or does Ken Ham sound like my testimony made him nervous?

As I read her blog post, I thought of these main points:

1. We need to be reminded that we can do our best to bring children to the “door” of the “Ark,” but we can’t force them through—only God does that.

In other words, we can teach our children the Truth but can’t make them accept it. Because, apparently, that’s what happened to me? My parents did their best to bring me “to the door of the Ark” but I simply refused to go through? What a very strange interpretation. As if I hadn’t wanted creationism to be true. As if I didn’t fight tooth and nail for something that was at the foundation of my faith. As if it wasn’t hard to admit I had been wrong and to see my entire understanding of the world shift.

2. As we train our children, we need to do much more than just expose them to resources like those produced by AiG; we need to make sure they understand them correctly and are taught to be able to answer questions logically.

Here Ken Ham is echoing what Dr. Purdom wrote. And again, it’s insulting. I did understand and I was taught to answer questions logically.

3. We can undermine a lot of what we have done if we send our children to the wrong institution (e.g., a compromising Christian college or even a theologically conservative one that does not teach them why they believe what they do—and how to logically defend the Christian faith and so on).

Again, echoing Dr. Purdom. Because, apparently, if creationism is exposed to criticism it shrivels and dies. And for what it’s worth, when I left for college, I had taken more years of apologetics courses than I can count, had memorized more Bible verses than essentially anyone my age, and had read more AiG resources than I can even remember. I also had formal experience with debate and logic. If anyone knew how to logically defend the Christian faith, I did.

What Does All This Mean?

I can understand how my testimony could unnerve Ken Ham and Dr. Purdom. If someone could be as trained in creationism as I was an then reject it and accept evolution, what does that say about their ministry? But rather than taking another look at their beliefs, they’d rather just blame my change of views on the college I attended, or on the ludicrous idea that I was “exposed” to creationism but never “understood” it. Or the first point Dr. Purdom made – the idea that evidence is irrelevant and that we should believe creationism based only on the words of the Bible (again, if AiG wants to make this their actual argument, they need to change their approach and marketing).

And the solution Ken Ham and Dr. Purdom make? Double down. That’s pretty much it. Teach the same things, just more. Oh, and isolate yourself and your children from other points of view – oh the dangers of the state college or “compromised” Christian college! Interestingly, I see the same thing happening with all too many homeschool families. They say their goal is to “teach god’s truth” and “shelter” their children from bad influences, but what they really mean is indoctrinate and isolate. And that, quite simply, is what Ken Ham and Dr. Purdom are advocating.

The funny thing is, I don’t plan to do any such thing with my daughter. I’m not afraid of her hearing other perspectives or arguments or evidence. I’m not afraid of her hearing and digesting different viewpoints. My goal is not to teach her to believe one specific thing, but to open her mind and teach her to think critically and come to her own conclusions. Ken Ham and Dr. Purdom, though, refuse to do that. Because, apparently, exposing children to a variety of viewpoints and teaching them to think critically and make their own decisions is dangerous.

I wonder if Ken Ham remembers the little girl in braids who stood in awe in his presence and eagerly asked him for his autograph all those years ago. Probably not. But that little girl, that little girl fascinated by science and ever eager to find truth, she’s still here. She’s just sitting on the other side of the fence now.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • ScottInOH

    Great response. You deftly rebut a common type of argument from spiritual leaders (plus a nice kick at the end!).

    These leaders want to have it both ways. In this instance, “both ways” is (1) it’s all faith, and (2) the evidence shows the faith is right (as Purdom herself says at the end of her point #2!). This allows them to shift the field of debate whenever it’s convenient–if they feel like they have evidence, they’ll pretend it’s a scientific discussion, but if not, they’ll retreat to “you just have to believe.”

    Then, if you walk away, they’ll say you never really believed in the first place. The thing is, as you’ve pointed out several times, plenty of people who walk away have desperately tried to believe for years.

    • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

      Think of AiG as marketing a product (which they are, literally: their materials and metaphorically their ideology). This is basically like the corporate spokescritters for, say, an aircraft maker stonewalling and insisting that all those crashes were due to pilot error — never mind the NTSB reports, the eyewitness videos, and the engineering analyses showing that the wings fall off spontaneously in flight because they were stuck on with chewing gum.

  • AnotherOne

    You’re a more gracious person than me. I admire you for speaking with such civility in response to people who make patently false claims and assumptions about your experience. But I’m glad you responded. And the part about Doubling Down is so true and insightful. They’ve got nothing else to offer.

    And is it just me, or did Purdom’s whole “I happened upon Libby’s post while reading an atheist blog” spiel not come off as disingenuous? I have a hard time believing that she “happened” upon something like that. Either she was actively searching for stuff related to AiG, or someone brought her attention to it. Not that there’s a problem with either; it’s just that if that’s the way it happened, why not say it straight out?

    • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

      Feh, I’ve got the impression AiG has someone whose job description includes trawling the atheist and skeptical blogosphere for stuff to argue against. Ham has responded to Pharyngula postings often enough. And as usual, they don’t link to it, either (I think they use the “But there’s naughty words there!” excuse.

    • Ibis3

      Because they don’t want to admit that they read Pharyngula (at least) every time AiG or Ham is mentioned. It would come across too much like they care what PZ thinks of them. This way they can pretend it was like they were just walking down the street minding their own Christiany business and happened to see this horror in a store window.

    • JayArrrr!

      “…did Purdom’s whole “I happened upon Libby’s post while reading an atheist blog” spiel not come off as disingenuous? ”
      Yep, it sure did. One of the favourite opening lines used by trolls over at ex-christian-dot-net is “I was just surfing the web and stumbled across your website here and I’m SHOCKED at how much you people hate Gawd!”
      It’s code for “I just got an action alert email to come check this site out.”.

    • Old Prof

      >“…did Purdom’s whole “I happened upon Libby’s post while reading an atheist blog” spiel not come off as disingenuous? ”
      >

      Yes! Dr. Purdom has mentioned various of my online posts in rants published on Answers in Genesis. She seems to find them wherever I happen to include her full name OR the latest AiG article title. It is obvious that they trawl for everything said about them, but they NEVER provide a direct link. That way they can quote-mine and not allow the reader to see the broader context where the AiG position was exposed for what it is.

      I too am an ex-YEC. And I too was a very active and enthusiastic campaigner for the “creation science” cause. I even debated against ‘evilutionists’, probably before Georgia Purdom was ever born (based on the comparative ages of our children.)

      Oh, I just mentioned her again. So she’ll be along here in a day or two. Hi, Georgia! How’s the hubby and kids? Nice to see you again. Sorry I haven’t mentioned you in a while. I just get tired of repeating myself. Plus, let’s face it, Ken Ham is just a lot funnier to pan!

    • davem

      It’s very easy to locate references to your own website – I do it myself. Just set up a Google alert, and you can get a daily report on everywhere that google has indexed that mentions your website.

  • http://www.freeratio.org/ Brian63

    In coming years, it is going to get harder and harder for fundamentalists to continue to spread so much misinformation, and to keep their children from being exposed to other worldviews, as we are becoming so connected online to other people with different beliefs. Also, the atheist portion of the population is expanding, and as more atheists come out of the closet, then existing stereotypes and caricatures that others had been told about them will break down. Groups like AiG just will not have the control, influence, and power that they used to.

    Brian

    • plunderb

      @Brian63
      I wish that were true, but online connectedness cuts both ways. Not only can AiG and other creationist groups use the internet to consolidate their support and present themselves as legitimate scientific enterprises, the internet also contributes to the isolation Libby describes. Pre-internet, all sorts of isolationist groups were somewhat limited by geography, but now, they can link up with like-minded people across the globe. A homeschooling family that might have interacted with local homeschooling families of somewhat differing beliefs can now isolate itself more completely, interacting online and at conferences/meetups with people of very similar beliefs. Groups like AiG are growing, not shrinking.

      • http://www.freeratio.org/ Brian63

        I do disagree, as prior to the expansion of the internet people such as atheists had little or no contact with each other en masse, but now do. Creationists on the other hand, as Libby has done herself, frequented conferences, had large organizations, more access to books advocating their view, and could meet with other like-minded people (mostly, if not entirely) on a weekly basis at their churches. So while creationists can meet with other creationists online, there is less to gain for them than there is for atheists who can now meet with each other online, and so we are going to be expanding much faster. Previously, it was easier for creationists to be secluded and to largely interact with other like-minded people, while now it is harder to avoid coming across people who are strongly critical of their views.

        Brian

      • Bruce H

        I suspect you are both right. The internet has and will continue to be an enormous boon to the budding atheist community. At the same time, the very same technology will allow the creationist camp to solidify around their orthodoxies, police their heretics, and generally further entrench and isolate themselves. They do not use the internet the same way we do. They do not seriously examine beliefs that contradict theirs — examining the arguments and updating their ideas when evidence suggests they should — but instead look for small errors and gotcha moments they can use to attack entire scientific disciplines.

        So, while our movement is growing in size and influence, theirs is shrinking but growing more calcified and recalcitrant; which means they aren’t going away any time soon, and they won’t get easier to deal with.

  • dj pomegranate

    You did a wonderful job with this post! I too came from a creationist upbringing, fought for it through college, and finally–when I was a grown woman!–sat down with the evidence and realized I was just plain wrong. Thanks for writing so well about this transition.

    No True Scotsman happens a *lot* in my discussions about this. When I say, “I read the evidence and changed my mind,” the response is either, “You must not understand the creationist argument,” or “You obviously just wanted to fit in so you gave in to peer pressure and probably didn’t’ really believe it in the first place.” Things get really weird when I say I’m actually still a Christian because those two beliefs are mutually exclusive to many hard-core creationists. In my opinion and experience, this is a good example of a much larger problem within evangelical/conservative Christian circles: the total inability to empathize with anyone else’s journey by taking their statements at face value.

    • bismarket

      Well put, here in the UK Christians have no problems with Evolution & it’s considered weird & cultish to believe in a 6 day creation story. these people will become a smaller minority in the US, but unlike some people commenting here i think that will leave them pretty irrelevant & ignored. Now is just the start of their decline into obscurity. Although i’m Atheist, i can at least respect your intellectual honesty & unlike Dawkins et;al could actually spend time, happily in your company. If only all Christians in the US would be so reasonable, we would all be better off!

  • http://www.ayoungmomsmusings.blogspot.com Melissa@Permission to Live

    And then there’s me. I’m still not convinced on the millions of years thing, but I can’t refute all of the evolution ideas anymore, and I used to sell the creationist material at homeschool conventions and I believed it fully! I will say, that for me the homosexual behaviour and porn came before I ever had doubt over creationism, and somehow I have managed to hold onto my marriage, standards, lawfullness and meaning in life, so his tablets in the picture make no sense. Great post!

    • http://www.ayoungmomsmusings.blogspot.com Melissa@Permission to Live

      And also, even if there is a God who created everything and the earth is only a few 1000 years old, I still don’t see what that has to do with me living my life according to a christian systems perfectionist standards. So I guess I lost my faith regardless of the creationism/evolution debate.

      • rsv

        not millions, billions (4.6). See the Earth Story documentary.
        http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCC34C1A18994CED8
        It takes time, and it slowly develops how people came to the conclusions of the old earth, but it is an eye-opener.

      • Caravelle

        Wow. I am almost done watching the Earth Story documentary rsv linked to, it’s an 8-part series of 45 mn episodes so take your time, but you should all watch it because IT’S AMAZING !

        There are stunningly beautiful pictures, clear and comprehensive explanations of the science that put the discoveries in the historical context. You also get a feel for the everyday work of geologists* and the excitement that came with the various discoveries they talk about.

        More to the point, I consider myself very well-informed on matters of science but I learned A LOT from this documentary. I very highly recommend it.

        *Although I don’t believe they actually spend their time hitting rocks with that little hammer. Hey, geologist, you’ve got tons of rocks lying around, why do you need to chip one off with your little hammer ? And why are you all using the same hammer ? Admit it, the filming crew brought that in and asked you to act in the most stereotypical geologist way you could think of, didn’t they ? :p

    • MadGastronomer

      If I may ask, how are you not convinced on the planet being millions of years old?

      • http://www.ayoungmomsmusings.blogspot.com Melissa@Permission to Live

        Honestly? I have no idea. It is probably mostly leftover brainwashing and fearmongering, because the more I learn about science the more sense evolution makes. I don’t think creationism is believable at all, none of those old arguements make any sense anymore. I feel like they are all made up to support their perception of the bible somehow. But I guess I still have this lingering doubt that we really understand it all yet, that we really KNOW how everything took place over such a long period of time in which we weren’t even around to observe. Maybe I’m a die-hard agnostic, after all, what can we really “know”? I find myself rather tired of people or groups who insist that they “know” everything. If there is observable proof, fine, if it’s hypothesized, I’m going to take it with a grain of salt. That said, I am looking forward to learning more about it all. I haven’t had much exposure outside of the creationism mindset that was drilled into me as a kid other than the self-study I’ve managed to do in the last few years. And I have 4 kids that keep me plenty busy, and other more pressing things to research, such as human sexuality.

      • MadGastronomer

        Well now, properly scientists don’t “know”, they have really pretty good deductions based on the evidence. And they change those deductions if new evidence comes to light that disproves, or even casts strong doubt on, them. Generally, that’s what they’ll tell you, too. But there is an awful lot of evidence for it. Just at the most basic level, there’s simply too much that happened for it to have happened in much less than that.

      • Steve

        “Observable proof” doesn’t mean an eyewitness account. By that logic criminal forensics for example would never lead to a conviction in court. Or lead to other, more direct, evidence. Yet it frequently does.

        Radiometric dating is very reliable and doesn’t require gigantic leaps of faiths or taking hypothesis for granted. But it alone blows YEC out of the water.

      • Karen

        Melissa, we know about age because the rocks tell us so. Many kinds of rocks can be radiometrically dated; such dating methods are ballpark, but when you’re talking millions (or billions) of years, the ballpark is pretty small. The creationist tripe about radiometric dating isn’t true, it really works! Generally, to get a really reliable date, two or more different isotopes with different decay rates are dated. If you get the same date with both, you’re in the ballpark. Think of it as a graph with different lines that intersect.

      • Budding Geologist

        Caravelle: As a student studying geology I can very much confirm that geologists do in fact use their geological hammers when examining an outcrop. It is used to produce a fresh surface from which a better idea of the rock can be observed. The observations can be more trustworthy as less structures can be eroded away on a fresh surface than on a weathered one (i.e. the face that’s left open to the environment). It’s also important to remember that the hammer is a handy tool for giving scale whilst doing a sketch of the outcrop. ;)

    • africaturtle

      I hear you Melissa… i too have journeyed far from the spiritual absolutes i embraced and defended for my entire life. These changes are relatively recent for me and though Evolution seems to be in the foreground in so many “deconversion” stories….well, for me, it just doesn’t make all that much sense or hold much importance to me. What has meant more to me (been more disturbing) is no longer seeing the Bible as infallible and definitely not able to hold a litteral interpretation of it. This has been enough to turn my world upside down. A couple times i have sat down to read more on the evolution debate ( i did a HS research paper in favor of young earth creationism). And frankly, i just cant get into it. And i, like you, keep thinking “but you weren’t there!” , “how can you be so sure?” I guess to me it just seems irrelevant to my life at the moment….i’ve got more pressing issues to worry about.

      That said, Libby Anne, I am SO glad you decided to write your response to all these “accusations”…love hearing your point of view (which i was already pretty sure would not agree with being told you had simply “misappropriated” your “exposure” to teh AiG materials!

      • Caravelle

        And i, like you, keep thinking “but you weren’t there!” , “how can you be so sure?” I guess to me it just seems irrelevant to my life at the moment….i’ve got more pressing issues to worry about.

        That is absolutely fair; if you don’t have an inclination to learn about evolution or you’ve got more important things going on in your life there isn’t much wrong with not researching the question. That takes time and effort, and nobody has unlimited time and effort.

        That said, on the “how can you be so sure ?”, that is a question that has an answer. It requires researching so I can’t blame you for having better to do with your life, but don’t ask questions you don’t have the time or brainspace to listen to the answers to as if it were a rhetorical question.

        What you are saying, when you use that question in a rhetorical sense, is that you think the person you’re speaking to is too sure of their position – whatever their level of certainty is, it’s higher than the evidence warrants.

        Now surely you’ll agree that when you don’t know the evidence, and you aren’t steeped enough in the debate to know exactly how certain the other person is, you can’t in fact say that they’re too certain.

    • Ibis3

      But I guess I still have this lingering doubt that we really understand it all yet, that we really KNOW how everything took place over such a long period of time in which we weren’t even around to observe.

      Everything we do observe tells us this. Not just radiometric dating, but everything from tectonic plate movements and the formation and erosion of mountains (just think about how long it must have taken for Mt. Everest to get pushed up into the sky by India colliding against Asia!) to the fossil record, to ice core samples, to the records of our DNA. And the thing is, all the data corroborates all the other data. Counting tree rings matches up with carbon dating which matches up with dating by volcanic ash residue and so on. There is more evidence for the age of the Earth and for evolution than there is for gravity. The more I learn about what we know the more amazed I get.

      Maybe I’m a die-hard agnostic, after all, what can we really “know”? I find myself rather tired of people or groups who insist that they “know” everything.

      Science doesn’t claim to know. Not in the way theology does. They don’t start out with a “divinely inspired” notion that will stand no matter what. Scientists observe what happens in the world and deduce patterns and causes which they then test by more observation. If a new observation doesn’t conform to expectations, the explanation must be revised. This means that as time goes on, the models and explanations get better and better. We “know” as best as we can right now and we’re sure to understand things even better in time.

      I’m pretty sure you don’t feel queasy about accepting such provisional knowledge in other spheres (e.g. that the Earth orbits the sun, that germs cause disease, that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light).

      If there is observable proof, fine, if it’s hypothesized, I’m going to take it with a grain of salt.

      There is observable proof. Mountains of it. We’ve had enough evidence of an Old Earth for about 200 years to convince scientists studying it. We’ve had enough evidence of evolution for scientists to largely accept it for well over a century. And every day we just get more.

      I know you have other priorities(!), and understanding and accepting the scientific consensus on these topics is not necessary, but if you’re interested in learning more, I suggest watching
      potholer54′s Universe Made Easy series on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDB23537556D7AADB&feature=plcp or if you have a bit more time The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins. Both cover not just what we know, but how we’ve figured it out.

    • Besomyka

      For me, answering the question of how do we know? is one of the most intellectually rewarding pursuits. I remember being in physics in high school, learning the math and facts, but then applying it to predict arcs of objects, or timing how long it takes for something to fall, or charting air pucks colliding. Taking the things just stated as ‘this is what we know’ like F = MA, and then revealing why we think that’s true and applying it.

      The age of the Earth (and the universe itself) is a bit less hands-on, and if you’re not really that interested then I can’t blame you. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But if you are curious, talk origins has a good summary with links to dig into: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-age-of-earth.html

      the TL;DR is that dendro chronology (tree ring counting, mainly) is incredibly reliable and goes back to about 15000-17000 years.

      That overlaps with carbon dating, which is based on the ratio of radioactive carbon that’s created in the atmosphere and incorporated into living bodies. Once they die, no new carbon is added, so the age can be calculated based on the current ratio. The validity of carbon dating was checked against tree tings to make sure it was accurate.

      Other radiometric dating overlap with carbon, and so on and so on. They all overlap, they all agree. When we test the age of an asteroid, it’s the same age as when we test the oldest rocks on earth. Different isotopes, with different decay rates, all overlap and agree.

      Anyway, it’s all fascinating to me, and like most science the answers are knowable and understandable.

      • David Evans

        Just a minor correction. We don’t yet have any asteroid material to test – that’s a mission I would really like NASA to be doing. We do have radiometric dates for the Moon and meteorites, and as you say they are consistent with those for the oldest rocks on Earth.

      • Steve

        @David
        JAXA’s (Japanese space agency) did an asteroid sample return mission. In 2010 Hayabusa returned about 1500 micrometer-sized particles from the asteroid Itokawa

  • Rachel

    There is so much blaming going on in both of their posts — both of you (“she never understood it well enough”) and of your parents (“her parents must not have done their job correctly”). It’s a really…abrasive way of going about it. Turning you into propaganda, instead of hearing your story: they don’t see or hear you, but just what you represent. Their responses coached in supposedly sympathetic terms, but they’re toxic. This is a very thorough and thoughtful rebuttal.

  • http://www.pasttensepresentprogressive.blogspot.com Latebloomer

    Libby Anne, you are my hero. I’m another one who went to all the conferences and devoured all the materials, only to realize as an adult that it couldn’t stand up to scrutiny. Thank you for writing this!

  • Amin

    I’m rather intrigued with Purdom’s and Ham’s “criticism”. The underlying thought patterns are really interesting!

    They both talk about “understanding” creationism. I’d love to know what exactly they mean by this! Mere understanding in terms of mentally grasping a concept and being able to correctly apply it to problems like the Pythagorean theorem, or some special kind of “understanding”, that is only granted to those selected few that are “forced” through the “door” by God, as Ham’s first response might perhaps indicate? (Someone else seeing a problem with God forcing and free will? Just sayin’)
    If it were the latter case, I’d then wonder whether someone who “understands” creationism is then seen as immune to the influence of non-creationist teachings or could still be brought down. I suppose it’s the second option for that further diminishes any responsibility of creationism itself – which is what this game is all about.

    This rhetoric basically allows them to immunize creationism – and therefore themselves! Let’s not forget this little detail! – from criticism while at the very same time laying the blame on (hostile?) outside sources: mis”understanding” unbelievers and non-creationist institutions.

    I really have to say, I am seriously impressed by such an amount of passive-aggressive responsibility/blame shifting! Kinda neat, in a very fucked up way… *chapeau*

    PS: My favorite line from the song “Violator” by Machinae Supremacy: “What you teach is so impossible you cannot trust the world to not convince them otherwise.”

    • Sarah

      Amin, I suspect they’re just mirroring back at us with the understanding thing. Evolution is pretty hard to really thoroughly understand, and creationists generally don’t understand it. So they’ve decided two can play at that game and accuse people of “not really understanding” creationism. When the whole point is that there’s nothing to understand in creationism.

  • http://www.pasttensepresentprogressive.blogspot.com Latebloomer

    Libby Anne, you are my hero. I’m another one who went to all the conferences and devoured all the materials, only to realize as an adult that it couldn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    Thank you for writing this!

  • kagekiri

    Nice breakdown, Libby Anne! I’m also a former YEC, and though I gobbled up AiG stuff, I was mostly scared to debate it.

    Once I started falling away, I was more ready to debate it in the name of finding truth. I tried debating for creationism, and my more open mind combined with thoroughly reality-based evolution arguments led me to realize all of AiG’s evidence was lacking and their arguments were therefore useless.

    I “understood” the ideas in all of their arguments, just like I might “understand” the system of magic in a fantasy book, but “understanding” a theory is a far cry from “believing it’s what actually happened according to the evidence”.

  • Leni

    This is probably stating the obvious, but I think the thing that galls me about their responses is how easy it is for them to point the finger at the person, preferring to find fault there instead of with their own bankrupt ideas.

    To some extent we all do this, particularly with politics, but it’s more understandable in that arena because it’s a bit more wishy-washy in that it has a great deal more to do with personal preferences and styles than it does with “evidence”. And I also understand how common it is and how much easier it is to just blame a person’s failures rather than a faulty ideology, but I find it galling and repugnant just the same- especially when it’s done for such transparently self-serving reasons.

    It’s just more of the same really. When you aren’t as “pure” as you are expected or when that “purity” doesn’t end up helping your marriage, it isn’t the idea that gets blamed, it’s the “sinner”. It’s just more of the same pattern that we see from the authoritarian fundamentalist crowd: everything is about blame, everything is about how horrible people are, everything is about how we deserve whatever bad things happen to us and about how we are “selfish” if we can’t mold ourselves into likenesses of the ridiculous, unattainable cardboard cut-out versions of humanity they offer us. I will never, ever call these people pro-life. They just aren’t.

  • AnotherOne

    I would have said I was a YEC until sometime in my teens. But, I was homeschooled before the internet, by parents too poor to systematically buy curriculum even on basic subjects, let alone supplementary stuff on YEC. So the gist of my knowledge was that evolution was BAD and RIDICULOUS, and YEC was RIGHT, and BIBLICAL.

    Actually, on some stuff like this, I wonder if it’s worse to come from a CP/QF/HS family that functions reasonably well than it is to come from a highly dysfunctional family like mine. My sense, Libby Ann (from you and others I know) is that coming from a fundamentalist family that functions with a modicum of kindness and happiness really ups the disillusionment ante down the road. My disillusionment came much earlier, from the abuse and the dysfunction and the relative poverty, and so I was never whole hog invested in my parents’ philosophies and religious beliefs. Like Melissa, I had bigger fish of fuckedupness to fry than YEC. The upside of that is that I didn’t feel the very personal sense of disillusionment that comes from being systematically deceived, and buying the deception whole hog due to having been educationally and intellectually taken advantage of.

    To this day my science education is so piss poor that I can’t argue in any sophisticated way for evolution or YEC. And like Melissa, I’ve got other stuff to worry about before I can fill in those gaps. But I pretty much take evolution as a given, mostly because I have gifted scientist friends whom I know to be scrupulously honest, and I take their word for it. Another thing is that even though I don’t know evolutionary biology and paleontology, I have some idea how the scientific community and academia in general work. Needless to say, it’s nothing like Ken Hamm et al suppose. There is no great conspiracy. Research scientists and academics in general *LIVE* to disprove hypotheses and theories. The peer review process of publishing research is one that encourages new ideas and controversy (as long as it’s well supported). My takeaway is that scientific consensus on the broad outlines of evolutionary theory is actually quite meaningful. It means that the data are overwhelmingly in favor of evolution. Anyway, that’s been my process.

    Libby Ann, again, I think your reply was wonderful. Respectful but unyielding. Your experience is yours, and they can’t take that away from you, no matter how uncomfortable it makes them, and how much they have to make themselves believe anything but the fact that you *did* know what they taught, inside and out, that you were completely committed to it, and that through research and intellectual honesty you realized it was a crock. Good on you.

  • Noelle

    Good for you, striking a nerve (or 2).

    I know I’m an atheist now and all, but I’m pretty annoyed at hearing that my old Christian high school (7-9th grades were the only years I wasn’t in public school) and my small Christian college were both “compromised” because we learned real science in both. Ken Ham can bite me. Those are still my people.

  • http://phoenixandolivebranch.wordpress.com Sierra

    Nicely done. :)

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    First, if the only way to preserve your creationist beliefs is to not have them challenged – i.e. not attend a college that teaches any contrary view – that says more about your beliefs than anything else.

    Word.

  • Libby

    Thank you, Libby Anne! I too was raised in a church, that when faced with questions to which there were no common-sense answers told me that I just had to believe. I did some questioning while still in the church, then promptly judged myself for my lack of belief. I too wondered why, if all the things they taught were the absolute truth, my questions or experiences were such a threat.

    I was taught in the church school that scientific tools such as carbon datingwere 1) of the devil and 2) made up things ungodly scientists (and weren’t they all?) built around their false beliefs. It’s still a little scary for me to let go of the desparate, “I just have to believe”, but I think I’m doing better with it, and it’s blogs like yours that give me a safe place to do that.

    I really enjoy your blog. Thank you!

  • Rilian

    Teach them why they believe what they do?
    Um. What. How can they say things like that and not stop and realize how stupid they’re being?
    “You believe this because …” And I know what you believe and why you believe it because, I guess, I can read your mind or something?

  • Pingback: Creationists Talk Trash About Libby Anne but Her Response is Fantastic

  • http://enigmamyjourneyofselfdiscovery.blogspot.com Sarah Enigma

    Awesome Response Libby Anne! I HATE the “well than i guess you never really understood it” argument. It’s such a cop out. On a side note, did your family ever listen to the Jonathan Park tape series? It’s a vision forum thing. Dramatized audio books about a kid and his family who travel around the world battling evil evolutionists and winning souls for Christ….

  • Pingback: Rebutting Ken Ham’s Response « Fr. Griggs

  • http://muirnin.wordpress.com David Norris

    Having grown up with Ken Ham’s Creationist ideology, I can relate VERY much to this. Well said, all around! That first image of the outcome of the two “authorities” is right on, and absolutely absurd! It’s only after over 20 years of listening to that nonsense that I finally woke up and realized how full of logical holes the Bible and Creationism is. But on that point Mr. Ham and I agree completely: Genesis is the foundation of the entire Bible and the Christian faith, and without it everything after it falls apart. Once I understood that there was no Garden and no Original Sin, atonement theology evaporated away like the myth that it always was.

    And I still get the “You just don’t understand it” response from my Christian friends to this day, even though they know that I used to be a fundamentalist, Evangelical Christian who studied theology and the Bible.

  • http://incongruouscircumspection.blogspot.com Incongruous Circumspection

    Try this on for size:

    If the Bible is true and thus biblical creation is true, then, anything that is found to discredit the Bible should be discarded as false. By this same standard, a creationist cannot then attempt to discredit evolution, which evolutionists believe is true, because anything that discredits evolution should be discarded based on the presupposed beliefs in the science.

    Obviously, it’s ludicrous.

    Noah’s Ark anyone? How did they shovel the shit. Boom! Bible discredited.

  • http://www.purplenoize.com Veronica

    I wrote a short blogpost referring back to your posts and made a few comments myself.
    http://www.purplenoize.com/2012/05/no-true-creationist-fallacy.html

    Most of all I find their answers weak and revealing. Especially appalling was the attempt at the end to play on your emotions by stating that your parents must be so disappointed of you.

  • http://leavingfundamentalism.wordpress.com Jonny Scaramanga

    Libby Anne, thank you so much for your “Why I’m an Atheist.” Your story is similar to mine, and it’s encouraging to know I’m not the only one.
    And I just applaud you for responding to Ham so well. Better than they deserve. You were too good for them.

  • Colin

    As always of course, AIG websites never allow comments, just like the majority of xian sites. Mustn’t allow the rubes to see dissenting views backed up by science.

    Well done Libby, a great rebuttal to the AIG loons.

  • Gluon

    “What Does All This Mean?”
    It means that Ken Ham and Dr. Purdom are cowards. That is the real motivation behind their efforts. They are simply too afraid to face the world as it is rather than as they want it to be. The simple word for that is cowardice.

    Thanks for writing this. I was myself a devout fundamentalist for about twenty five years. I made it through secular college with my fundamentalism somewhat intact. Frankly, it wasn’t challenged there. A jillion hours of reading on my own, mostly apologetics first, but eventually the opposition, did my faith in (I have a suggestion for Ham, et. al. If you want kids to stick with the faith, discourage reading of any sort… even creationist literature… and don’t talk to them about it either… the lying by apologeticists was an early crack in my own faith, something that might not have happened if they’d kept their mouths shut…). It was very painful for me to realize that my faith was based on nothing, that the Earth was old and evolution true. I wished it was true for probably another ten or fifteen years (I no longer do because the doctrine of Hell so many subscribe to is wicked). My life would have been easier, in many ways, if it were true. My family are all fundamentalists, most of my friends are. The bottom line, though, is that I can’t make myself believe things I don’t believe. I can no more believe the earth is young now than I can believe that the moon is tethered to the earth with rope.

  • Johan

    //And the foundation of Genesis, of course, is creationism.//

    Wow there is so much wrong with this sentence, I don’t even know where to begin. Creationism is not the foundation of Genesis, creationism is but one of many interpretations of the creation account in Genesis. Which in and of itself only takes up a few sentences in the book of Genesis.

    Johan

    • markr1957

      If a book begins with an obvious falsehood how is anyone to be expected to take the rest of the book as factual? Creation is covered in the first verses of Genesis, starting at “In the beginning…” Since creation clearly did not happen as described in Genesis then the Bible begins with patently obvious falsehood. It is reasonable to accept that primitive tribesmen of the ancient Near East convinced themselves their story was true but such stories belong in the past, along with the many other silly beliefs of primitive peoples.

      • Proterozoic Pastor

        And the Bible talks about Abraham, David, Solomon, Cyrus, the “Hittites”, and the land of “Canaan.” Hogwash… none of those people or places ever existed. Right? Oops. Only the ignorant or the defensive draw such harsh “all or nothing” lines and even then with such strict definitions as “obvious falsehoods.” I’m somewhat surprised to hear from your post that the earth had no beginning… (speaking of obviously false…)

  • Proterozoic Pastor

    Thanks for writing this. I think it’s sad that the terminology is that of “creationism” vs. “evolution.” This presupposes the belief that if God is doing it, natural selection is wrong, OR if natural selection is right, God ain’t doing it. Does anyone else find this sad? Don’t you think you can be a “creationist” who recognizes the beauty of the world God created and still scientific in your understanding of how the world came to be?

    • Mistletoe

      “Don’t you think” is rarely the start of a question to which you actually want to know the answer; questions that begin “don’t you think” are more often statements with a question mark stuck on the end. You’re not asking a question. You’re making a statement. You’re saying, “I think you can be a ‘creationist’ who recognizes the beauty of the world God created and still scientific in your understanding of how the world came to be.”

      That said, no, I don’t find it “sad”; and yes, people can think what they want, but that doesn’t make one’s thinking correct.

  • Johan

    //If a book begins with an obvious falsehood how is anyone to be expected to take the rest of the book as factual?//

    If the author of Genesis intended for the creation account to be interpreted figuratively, or allegorically, then Genesis wouldn’t be false, if a literal interpretation turned out to be false. This is just straight forward logic. In fact, creationism as is understood today, is a fairly recent development, ancient theologians such as Augustine did not think the creation account in Genesis was meant to be interpreted literally, and this for theological reasons.

    Johan

  • Johan

    //Don’t you think you can be a “creationist” who recognizes the beauty of the world God created and still scientific in your understanding of how the world came to be?//

    The word “creationist” like “evolution” is slippery, it has different meanings, sure, all theists are in one form or another “creationists” in so far as they believe God is the source of being, but old and young earth Creationism is something different, this begins with a particular interpretation of religious texts, then tries to defend this interpretation and interpret the scientific evidence within this framework.

    You talk about natural selection as if this is some “beautiful process” the process that evolutionists have in mind, when they speak of evolution, yet according to them this process is purposeless, blind, mindless, unguided, and wasteful, not exactly the thing that is compatible with Christian theism which holds that God’s glory is reflected in the things that are made. Someone is wrong.

    Johan

    • MadGastronomer

      sure, all theists are in one form or another “creationists” in so far as they believe God is the source of being

      Nope. There are religions in which gods arose as part of the universe, and did not create it. In the Greek story of the beginning of the universe, first there was Chaos, which, while sometimes treated narratively as a person, was not at all a god. Out of Chaos arose Gaia and Uranos, the Earth and the Heaven, and they had lots of kids together that turned into much of what we see. But neither were “created” in the Christian sense, and their children were only “created” in the same sense that any children are created by their parents. In Norse myth, all the world was ice until a giant cow came along and licked it away. And there are people who still worship these gods, myself included, and while we do not take our myths literally (generally speaking, I’m sure there are a handful of exceptions), these are our religious stories.

      My gods didn’t make the universe, they’re part of it. Don’t say “all theists” when you mean Christians or monotheists (which is implied by the use of “God,” singular and capitalized) or some other subset of theists. It is counterfactual.

  • Paul

    I have discovered something early in my reading of christian websites and it has happened here too, no one ever links to the contentious sites that they discuss and Purdom and Ham have done exactly that here. Purdom makes it even more difficult to do a search by referring to you by your first name only. Sceptical pages always link back to the source but it seems not to be so in the christian world. Why make it easy for the sheeple to read for themselves and make up their own minds? Just the writer’s interpretation is important, that’s all, there’ll be no discovering here thank you!

    Control the message every step of the way.

  • Caitlin

    When I was in college (secular), I was assigned to review a book of Ken Ham’s, “Evolution: The Lie.” The saddest thing to me about the book was Ham’s inability to actually use the truth to support his argument. I looked up all of the sources he used to make proponents of evolution look like racists or anti-disability advocates, and he had quoted all of the sources out of context. There was little in the book that made any sense if one did not start from an assumption that the Biblical creation story was true.

    • Steve

      Which is why Creationism and Intelligent Design aren’t science. They start with a preconceived conclusion and then try to find “evidence” to support it while ignoring everything else. Or try to poke holes in evolution and then say “god did it”. But they don’t offer any independent ideas or conclusions

    • Christine

      A friend of mine read that book (Evolution: The Lie). (I think his pastor might have suggested it). We were housemates at the time, so I looked through it myself. We both agreed that it was a great argument in favour of evolution, i.e. if these are the best arguments against evolution then why wouldn’t you believe it.

      The part that boggled my mind the most was the argument that if evolution was true then Genesis was false, and if Genesis was false, how could you trust the Bible. If you can’t trust the Bible, then there is absolutely no argument against homosexuality, and you wouldn’t want that, would you?

      It’s sobering to realize that there are people for whom that is an actual argument.

  • RickK

    Hi Libby Anne,

    Thanks so much for making the effort to stand up to AiG on their own terms, to highlight the vast moral gulf between your integrity and their dishonesty, and to share your thoughts and results with us.

    To Melissa and others who are still wrestling with creation versus evolution: when you’re picking a voice you believe to be God’s, please be careful that you’re picking the right voice.

    Men wrote, edited and translated every word of the Bible. And now Ken Ham is providing an interpretation of those words.

    But no man put the millions of fossils in the ground. Man didn’t create evidence of extinct species, man didn’t create radioactive decay or plate tectonics or genetic mutations or biogeography or endogenous retroviruses or mitochondrial DNA or any of the other billions of data points (words) telling us that we evolved over a vast period of time.

    If you believe our world is God’s creation and you’re curious how He did it, then which evidence (which words) will you believe to answer the question? I prefer the story told by science and evidence.

    Science tells us that the universe came into existence through a cataclysm of immeasurable power, so strong that the heat from the event still warms the universe 13.5 billion years later. Science tells us of stellar birth and death, events so explosively energetic that they can strip the atmosphere off planets from 1000 light years away. Science tells us of minerals created in the vast atomic forges in the center of giant stars. Science tells us of a massive, glorious dance of the heavens over billions of years, and of the creation of our precious planet among billions of trillions of other stars and planets. Science tells us of an incredibly simple, elegant process of gradual change driven by the reproductive success, leading to stunningly varied, adaptable, resilient life – life so vibrant and sweeping that it changed the very nature and composition of our planet.

    The creation story of the Bible takes a few short verses, and hasn’t changed in 2000 years. The creation story of science consumes entire libraries, is supported by warehouses of samples and evidence, and is growing every day. The creation story of science challenges the comprehension of even modern, educated men and women, and science freely admits the story is not yet complete or fully understood. The quest of science is one of discovery, to improve understanding, not to defend status quo.

    The Bible tells us that we’re important because God says so. Science tells us we are important because our existence is so vastly, terribly improbable. If you grasp how many combinations of molecules and genes never become people, how many trillions of trillions are never born, then you can truly appreciate how lucky you are to be alive. You have a glorious, unique chance to think and love and dance and play – and it is today, NOW, that you should cherish because it is such a phenomenally rare privilege.

    The Bronze Age campfire stories of Biblical creation pale in comparison to the story written in the evidence.

    Treat the Bible as poetry, not journalism, and make sure you’re listening to the right voice. It has a wondeful story to tell.

  • Old Prof

    >“…did Purdom’s whole “I happened upon Libby’s post while reading an atheist blog” spiel not come off as disingenuous? ”
    >

    Yes! Dr. Purdom has mentioned various of my online posts in rants published on Answers in Genesis. She seems to find them wherever I happen to include her full name OR the latest AiG article title. It is obvious that they trawl for everything said about them, but they NEVER provide a direct link. That way they can quote-mine and not allow the reader to see the broader context where the AiG position was exposed for what it is.

    I too am an ex-YEC. And I too was a very active and enthusiastic campaigner for the “creation science” cause. I even debated against ‘evilutionists’, probably before Georgia Purdom was ever born (based on the comparative ages of our children.)

    Oh, I just mentioned her again. So she’ll be along here in a day or two. Hi, Georgia! How’s the hubby and kids? Nice to see you again. Sorry I haven’t mentioned you in a while. I just get tired of repeating myself. Plus, let’s face it, Ken Ham is just a lot funnier to pan!

  • Johan

    //Which is why Creationism and Intelligent Design aren’t science. They start with a preconceived conclusion and then try to find “evidence” to support it while ignoring everything else//

    This is as absurd as saying archaeology or SETI is not science since it starts with a “preconceived conclusion” that ancient scribes existed, or that aliens exist, and then try to find evidence to support it while ignoring everything else. ID is not trying to prove the existence of God anymore than SETI is trying to prove the existence of aliens. If anyone is starting with preconceived conclusions, it’s the people who believe nature is all there is, and then interpreted all the evidence on the basis that this metaphysical presupposition is true.

    Johan

    • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

      The connection between ID and religion (and creationism) is absolutely clear to anyone who is acquainted with the history of the movement. The Discovery Institute (the primary group pushing ID) wants to establish a “theistic science” (Google: “Wedge Document”), Bill Dembski has called ID “a ground-clearing operation for the Gospel”, and whenever some local school board has tried to insert ID in to the schools, proponents in unguarded moments have a tendency to start talking about “creation” and “Jesus”. The scientific content of ID has been shown to be either bogus or empty and increasingly, the public claims of ID merely echo those of old-school creationism. ID is nothing but an attempt to fly religious creationist ideas into American schools under the Constitutional radar.

      • Steve

        ID is just re-branded Creationism without the explicit references to god. See Kitzmiller v Dover. It’s a direct result of earlier court decisions that declared the teaching of Creationism in schools to be unconstitutional. During the transition they even reprinted some of the very same books, with just slightly changed wording.

    • MadGastronomer

      Also, your examples are preposterous. We know from many sources that ancient scribes existed, and indeed an entire ancient world (archaeology is about far more than writing). It’s not a preconceived conclusion they’re trying to find anything they can use to claim as proof, they’re just finding out more about the ancient world. And SETI is working well within the scientific method. They started with a hypothesis — extraterrestrial intelligent life exists — and developed an experiment to see if they could prove it, by looking for radio waves that showed patterns that indicated an intelligent source. Both of these things are entirely different from what YEC and ID proponents do, which does not follow the scientific method in any way. They pick over real scientists’ work and look for facts that they can twist or lie about until they say what they want them to say. And, you know, they do lie. A lot. They don’t consider any evidence against their hypothesis, which both archaeologists and the scientists involved in SETI do (SETI is still searching because absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, and because they’re not done with their experiment yet). That’s not science.

      Johan, seriously, do you understand what the scientific method is, and what YEC and ID proponents actually do? Because they are genuinely miles apart.

  • Johan

    //Nope. There are religions in which gods arose as part of the universe, and did not create it.//

    I was referring to classic theists/philosophical theists/monotheists, not polytheists.

    Johan

    • MadGastronomer

      These days “theist” is used — especially on atheist sites, such as this one — to refer to anyone who believes in any god or gods. You might wish to keep that in mind if you use the word again, just to make certain you’re clear.

  • Johan

    //These days “theist” is used — especially on atheist sites, such as this one — to refer to anyone who believes in any god or gods. You might wish to keep that in mind if you use the word again, just to make certain you’re clear.//

    My point stands, small technical trivialities aside, “creationist” has different meanings, and someone can be a “creationist” even when this person believed God used an evolutionary process for depositing us here. Young and old earth creationism is something entirely different, and I’m quite baffled by the fact that people such as Libby turned atheist or at least thought Christianity must be false for concluding that “Creationism” as in young or old earth creationism was false.

    Johan

    • Steve

      Nope. The correct term for that is “theistic evolution”. It’s basically the official position of the Catholic Church.

    • Paula G V aka Yukimi

      That wasn’t the only reason she became atheist. That’s simply why she started questioning it. She clinged to her faith for some years after that and even was catholic for a while until she realised nothing of it made sense and she couldn’t convince herself to believe in fairytales anymore. If you are going to make blanket statements, first inform yourself.

      • Johan

        Paula, Libby wrote:

        “I didn’t “give up.” Rather, I realized I had been wrong. There’s a big difference there. And once I saw that creationism didn’t actually hold water, and that evolution was supported by the evidence, I had the intellectual honesty to change my mind.”

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Yes, yes I did write that. I was talking about transitioning from believing in young earth creationism to believing that the world came into existence through a long evolutionary process. That is absolutely not the point when I became an atheist. You have read my deconversion story, so you would be dishonest to say that it was.

      • Paula G V aka Yukimi

        The fact you can’t admit you were wrong even when the person who knows it best, Libby Anne, has said so herself and has linked you to proof of older posts when she explains so herself makes me never ever want to discuss ANYTHING with you. You seem to be unable to accept stuff that goes against your preconceptions or maybe simply hate to be wrong.

      • Paula G V aka Yukimi

        where she explains*

      • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

        Johan appears to have reading comprehension difficulties. Yes, I’m frustrated.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Paula is right, Johan. I would suggest you read my deconversion story or my piece on how creationism drove me out of the church, which explains the complexities of my journey. You might also read my two part series on “the fractured church,” if you’re interested.

      • Johan

        Fair enough Libby

        I thought you meant this was the reason why you became an atheist? I must have misread you, apologies for that.

        Johan

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Just reread the links. Realizing young earth creationism was bunk was the beginning of my spiritual journey, not the end.

      • Johan

        //Just reread the links. Realizing young earth creationism was bunk was the beginning of my spiritual journey, not the end.//

        Interesting, my views evolved also somewhat, starting with theistic evolution, to young earth creationism, now I’m simply a teleologist.

        Johan

  • LittleMrsV

    Ok. . . if they were so convinced that they were right and knew that their evidence was correct, why is their only assumption that you changed because you “didn’t understand” ? That is incredibly insulting and worse- incredibly UNscientific and just makes them look like desperate idiots who can’t handle the idea that people might change their minds once they’ve reviewed and researched enough evidence. . . it’s like they’re saying the evidence in and of itself is evil! I mean what the heck. . . honestly I don’t know why they don’t all move to some far away country or something where they can REALLY shelter their kids from the “evil world” which might convince them to believe something different than what they were raised by (thinking “the village”). *sigh*

    • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

      desperate idiots who can’t handle the idea that people might change their minds once they’ve reviewed and researched enough evidence. . . it’s like they’re saying the evidence in and of itself is evil!
      Bingo! When you pull back the curtain, that’s an exact description of YECism. All else is just a smokescreen.

  • RickK

    Jonah said: “ID is not trying to prove the existence of God anymore than SETI is trying to prove the existence of aliens.”

    Sadly, Jonah’s statement is absolute bunkum.

    Proponents say: “Intelligent Design is the scientific search for evidence of design in nature.”

    In theory, that may be true. In practice however, ID is an advertising campaign and a tool for fundamentalist Christians who see it as a wedge with which to drive Genesis back into science classes and public policy.

    Actions speak louder than words, and the actions of the ID “researchers” are not the actions of scientists seeking actual truth. They do not attempt to convince their scientific peers with weight of evidence. They treat criticism as an attack, as a shunning, rather than as part of the gauntlet that any new scientific idea must run. The ID proponents appeal directly to the public with scientific-sounding books like “Signature in the Cell”, using math and terminology that the vast majority of the general public is not equipped to critique.

    And they use lawyers and press releases. The Discovery Institute in Seattle is promoting intelligent design with a media machine that is churning out several press releases every week. Using funding from Young Earth Creationists, the lawyers and politicos who head the Discovery Institute keep the ID “manufactroversy” in business.

    If there are any actual honest ID “scientists”, people actually trying to study something scientifically and trying to devise actual falsifiable tests, they are lost in sea of bamboozle and mis-direction that is the heart and soul of the “Intelligent Design” lobby.

    The pseudo-scientific advertising machine of the Discovery Institute most closely resembles the ad campaigns by Big Tobacco in the late 60s. But where Big Tobacco were (by their own admission) marketing doubt in the science that showed smoking causes cancer, the Discovery Institute (by its own admission) markets doubt in the materialist science of evolution.

    These are not the ACTIONS of people of science. They are the actions of people of politics and religious ideology.

    So let’s not confuse what Intelligent Design should be with what Intelligent Design is.

    • Johan

      //In practice however, ID is an advertising campaign and a tool for fundamentalist //

      You seem to conflate ID as in the concept of intelligent design, with the ID movement, whatever the motives or agendas of people within the ID movement, this has no baring on the validity of ID itself, a concept which can be traced back to Plato, Socrates, and even before that, the only thing I care about is whether this concept of ID is true.

      Johan

      • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

        ID is without evidence, has been for at least 150 years, and can be safely consigned to the “FALSE” bin. All that’s left is the propaganda.

  • Johan

    //They started with a hypothesis — extraterrestrial intelligent life exists — and developed an experiment to see if they could prove it, by looking for radio waves that showed patterns that indicated an intelligent source//

    You missed my point, and no SETI does not start with a pre-conceived conclusion that aliens exist, SETI wants to see if there is evidence for the existence of aliens, the answer to this question is either, yes or no. To dismiss this question as “non-science” because you say “they start off with pre-conceived conclusions” is absurd for the same reason it’s absurd to dismiss the legitimacy of ID’s scientific questions. ID asks an important scientific question, the answer is either yes or no.

    Johan

    • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

      ID asks an important scientific question, the answer is either yes or no.

      The ID hypothesis seems to be: Entity or entities (whose nature is left carefully unspecified), influenced the history of earthly biology at unspecified times* in unspecified ways for unspecified reasons. To the extent that it’s possible to respond to such a vague and ill-defined claim, that response is: “No, there is no evidence for that”. Thus, we see lots of noise on the PR side, but when you probe the science there’s no “there” there.

      * Exception: Michael Behe has stated that malaria pathogens resistant to the standard drug must have been intelligently designed at some point in the last few decades. People who know genetics have stated that Behe is confused. Lots of other people wonder what kind of cosmic bastard Behe thinks the designer is, and whether it’s identical to the one worshipped by Behe’s church, ie. Roman Catholic.

      • Johan

        //The ID hypothesis seems to be: Entity or entities (whose nature is left carefully unspecified), influenced the history of earthly biology at unspecified times*//

        ID is in no way committed to an interventionist God, as Dembski explains:

        “Intelligent design is compatible with just about any form of teleological guidance. Its concern is not with how a designing intelligence acts but with whether its action is discernible. Intelligent design therefore does not require an interventionist conception of design.”

        ” ID is not an interventionist theory. ID is, in the first instance, concerned with the detectability of design. But detecting the activity of a designing intelligence says nothing, without further investigation and evidence, about how the designing intelligence acted, whether by discrete interventions or by continuous infusions of information or by front-loading of all the necessary information”

        Johan

      • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

        Johan, are you arguing with me or agreeing with me? Either way, you’re continuing to miss the point. I’ll (somewhat desperately) try one more time.

        Refusing to commit to some view of — even to seriously consider the question of — the nature of the designer(s), eviscerates ID as a serious scientific hypothesis (contrast this with archaeologists, who want to know all about the intelligent agents who created the relics they are sorting through). It reduces to mere claims to “detect design”*, which reduce to “Darwinism is wrong” which reduce to long-debunked claims from the Creation Science joke book. “Pure” or “minimalist” ID is empty. And that is just one reason (the others being a whole trail of smoking guns left by the history of the movement) for concluding that ID was never anything but a propaganda exercise, just another flavour of Creationism.

        * Neither Dembski nor Behe can do this, contra their claims.

    • MadGastronomer

      In theory, sure. In actual practice, no, not at all. In actual reality, no one claiming ID is actually practicing the scientific method or showing any actual scientific rigor. There is no testable hypothesis, because there’s always the “it’s really there, the Creator just hid the evidence!” excuse. Not science. ID is, de facto, an attempt by YEC proponents to claim some scientific validity.

  • Johan

    @Eamon, I’m arguing against you, you were saying:

    “The ID hypothesis seems to be: Entity or entities (whose nature is left carefully unspecified), influenced the history of earthly biology at unspecified times*”

    ID is not the study of intelligent causes, rather ID studies *signs* of intelligence, the marks left behind by intelligence. ID is not the study of when an intelligence acted, the only thing ID is concerned about is the question of whether we can detect signs of intelligence in nature if a designing intelligence left such signs behind, nothing more, nothing less.

    //contrast this with archaeologists, who want to know all about the intelligent agents who created the relics//

    Archaeology is the study of patterns in nature best explained as the product of intelligence, the reason, ID is compared with archaeology is because archaeologists employ reliable design detection methods which allow them to tell, when a shape or rock pattern was the product of intelligence or merely the product of unguided natural processes.

    //just another flavour of Creationism.//

    ID is an effort to empirically detect whether the “apparent design” in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists (including the staunchest of Darwinists) is actual design or merely the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations. Creationism is focused on defending a literal interpretation of religious texts. It’s simply intellectually dishonest the equate the two.

    Johan

    • MadGastronomer

      ID still does not have hypotheses based on evidence, nor is a vague hypothesis of an intelligent designer one that can be tested. Without these things, it is not science.

    • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

      *bangs head on wall*

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  • Christine

    You are my hero. What a brave, intelligent human being. You have given me hope that even the most ardent and deluded theist can come to their senses. Thank you!

  • Bob Seidensticker

    My own hypothesis is that education is asymmetrical. Learning new things can make an atheist into a Christian or a Christian into an atheist.

    But it doesn’t work that way at the upper end. More education can make a very well educated Christian into an atheist (consider the Clergy Project). But more education can do nothing to a very well educated atheist (that is, someone who well understands both sides of the arguments) except solidify that person within atheism.

    “I Used to be an Atheist, Just Like You”

    • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

      I would suggest cultural factors contributing to the proliferation of atheism in education. Many are routinely told not to ask certain questions in other social, particularly religious, venues, and by divesting oneself of a religious identity, one is able to create a safe space for questioning and learning which often does not exist elsewhere.

      I have rejected many things which some equate with being Christian simply because of my education, yet I continue to identify as such by virtue of posing the question, “What if this was not essential to my understanding of God?” rather than assuming that the idea in question was indeed essential, even though it is observably false (for example, the idea of homosexuality as a choice, the idea of evolution instead of creationism, etc.)

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  • Heather G

    Creationism is barking up the wrong tree. It’s a great path towards making atheists out of believers.

    Libby, have you ever read anything from Progressive Christian thinkers such as Peter Enns or Jared Byas? You might find them refreshing.

    Also, have you ever read the Biologos website?

  • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

    Reading that first picture seems like a pair of “which of these doesn’t belong?” puzzles like you might find on Sesame Street. It is too bad that Ken Ham is too far entrenched in cultural presuppositions to be able to solve such a puzzle.

  • TLC

    “After all, Answers in Genesis continually emphasizes that Genesis is the foundation of the Bible, and that without a trustworthy and accurate Genesis, the Bible itself falls apart. ”

    They need to go back and read John 1:1-5. “In the beginning the Word ALREADY EXISTED. . .”

    The basis of Christianity is NOT the Bible, or the book of Genesis. The basis of Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Yes, you can read the Bible to learn how all of this came about (or should I say evolved?) But the fact is, you can be a Christian even if you don’t have a Bible! How do people think we got through the first 1900 years of Christianty, before Bibles were available to most people, and most people could read them?

    I tried to go to the Answers in Genesis website to look around and check them out. However, my gag reflex kicked in and my blood pressure started to rise, so I had to leave.

    The whole premise for this ministry and its focus on Genesis is idolatry. Our faith should be based on Jesus, not Genesis!

  • Miranda

    Dr Purdon is blinded by her extreme bias. Rather unusual to see her interviews & claims – making sure all her ‘science’ fits her young earth creationist beliefs. Kind of creepy really.

  • disqus_2FliHaulkg

    Oh Libby…. you’re out of your league.

  • Scott Wallace

    A moving and beautifully clear testimony. Thanks, Libby.

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