Al Mohler on Adam and Eve vs. The Facts

Phil Plait just linked back to a 2009 post of his that’s a favorite of mine. “I’m skeptical of denialism” discusses the important distinction between a skeptic and a denier.

It’s helpful to understand where Plait is coming from. He’s an astronomer and the veteran of an epic battle with moon-landing deniers. Those are the folks who claim that human beings have never walked on the moon — that the Apollo missions were a giant hoax and that Armstong, Aldrin and the rest were really filmed at a top-secret government sound stage somewhere.

Moon-landing deniers don’t call themselves that. They call themselves moon-landing skeptics — thus laying claim to the mantle of science-y critical thinking.

Plait — who is himself a scientist and therefore, professionally, a skeptic — won’t let them get away with that:

Skepticism is a method that includes the demanding of evidence and critical analysis of it. That’s not what Moon hoax believers do; they make stuff up, they don’t look at all the evidence, they ignore evidence that goes against their claims. So they are not Moon landing skeptics, they are Moon landing deniers. They may start off as skeptics, but real skeptics understand the overwhelming evidence supporting the reality of the Moon landings. If, after examining that evidence, you still think Apollo was faked, then congratulations. You’re a denier.

A skeptic, as Plait says, engages the evidence carefully without imposing or requiring any foregone conclusions about what it may or may not indicate. An especially skeptical skeptic may insist on a very high standard of proof, but is still open to the possibility of such proof. A skeptic, in other words, follows the evidence as far as it leads. Skeptics may refuse to go beyond that evidence, but they will never refuse to accept such evidence if it is credible and honest.

And because of that, skeptics themselves are credible and honest.

Deniers are neither.

Deniers are not open to following credible evidence unless it leads to where they want it to lead. They will accept any evidence — no matter how flimsy — if it seems to support their foregone conclusions, thus displaying a credulity incompatible with skepticism. And more importantly, they reject any evidence — no matter how incontrovertible — that goes against their foregone conclusion. Because deniers adamantly refuse to accept such credible and honest evidence, the deniers themselves cannot be regarded as credible or honest.

Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. The evidence for that is overwhelming and beyond any reasonable doubt. That some people cling to un-reasonable doubts does not earn them the right to be called skeptics, it simply makes them deniers.

Deniers don’t care what the evidence says. They believe what they want to believe, and if that belief is proven false they simply deny that such proof exists. Hence the name.

Most deniers don’t want to acknowledge that this is what they’re doing, so, like the moon-landing deniers, they prefer to call themselves skeptics. That adds another layer of dishonesty and it’s an insult to actual skeptics — an insult to the people who are principled in their care and respect for evidence so that they can be as honest and accurate as possible in their relationship to reality.

All of which is why I’m grateful to Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Seminary. Mohler is the one denier I know of who owns up to his denialism. Heck, he brags about it.

Mohler makes no claims to being a “skeptic” about evolution or the rest of science. He simply, forthrightly rejects it. He denies it as contrary to his preferred interpretation of the Bible. And he doesn’t deny that he’s a denier.

That doesn’t make Mohler’s denialism any more credible or honest than any other form of denialism, but it’s refreshing to encounter one denier who is at least honest about his dishonesty.

Evangelicals Question the Existence of Adam and Eve” NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty reports, citing several devout evangelical scientists who say that the biblical story of the Garden of Eden should not be regarded as a historical account.

Asked how likely it is that we all descended from Adam and Eve, Dennis Venema, a biologist at Trinity Western University, replies: “That would be against all the genomic evidence that we’ve assembled over the last 20 years, so not likely at all.”

Venema says there is no way we can be traced back to a single couple. He says with the mapping of the human genome, it’s clear that modern humans emerged from other primates as a large population — long before the Genesis time frame of a few thousand years ago. And given the genetic variation of people today, he says scientists can’t get that population size below 10,000 people at any time in our evolutionary history.

To get down to just two ancestors, Venema says, “You would have to postulate that there’s been this absolutely astronomical mutation rate that has produced all these new variants in an incredibly short period of time. Those types of mutation rates are just not possible. It would mutate us out of existence.”

Al Mohler is having none of that. It’s not that he’s skeptical of “all the genomic evidence that we’ve assembled over the last 20 years,” it’s just that he doesn’t care that it exists and thus prefers to pretend it doesn’t.

“This stuff is unavoidable,” says Dan Harlow at Calvin College. “Evangelicals have to either face up to it or they have to stick their head in the sand. And if they do that, they will lose whatever intellectual currency or respectability they have.”

“If so, that’s simply the price we’ll have to pay,” says Southern Baptist seminary’s Albert Mohler. “The moment you say ‘We have to abandon this theology in order to have the respect of the world,’ you end up with neither biblical orthodoxy nor the respect of the world.”

Mohler likes to focus on “the respect of the world” because that’s easier than talking about his towering disrespect for the world. God so loved the world. Al Mohler doesn’t even like to look at it, let alone study it, learn from it or learn about it.

If I hadn’t been reading Mohler’s writing for years, I might suspect that Bradley Hagerty was unfairly cherry-picking a quote that would make him seem ridiculously self-congratulatory and egomaniacal. But that’s actually a restrained and relatively humble statement there from Mohler, whose central theme whenever discussing his rejection of science is that his denialism is a noble act of great courage — that he is bravely making himself a martyr by boldly preferring unreality to evidence, fact and truth. If a brave defense of his peculiar notion of “biblical orthodoxy” demands that he turn his back on the facts as we know them to be, then very well, Al Mohler, Bold Champion of “Biblical Orthodoxy,” will deny whatever truth needs to be denied. Al Mohler, Brave Protector of Mohlerian Mohlerianity, will happily deny that which is undeniable.

That might make him a self-aggrandizing delusional blowhard, but at least he doesn’t try to pretend that he’s just a “skeptic.”

I want to return to this NPR story on Adam and Eve in another post, but for now let me just highlight Amy Julie Becker’s excellent response, which begins:

I read the Bible literally. Which is why I don’t believe in an historical Adam and Eve. …

We need to get some English majors involved in this debate. Reading Genesis literally does not necessitate an historical Adam and Eve. It does necessitate respect for the text itself. It requires us to let the text tell us how to read it.

Yes. Mohler and the others demanding a historical Adam and Eve aren’t just denying and abusing science, they’re also denying and abusing the Bible. They are rejecting what the text says about itself, imposing on it a reading that it does not readily allow.

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  • Anonymous

    off topic, 

    You are posting far more articles than you did before, I feel uneasy knowing that that is because you are jobless right now,
    But I am hoping that you will find a new job soon.

  • U.N. Owen

    Mohler may not care about the respect of the world, but is he the kind of Christian to push for the world to accept Adam and Eve in biology class?

  • Reverend Ref

    Two quips immediately come to mind.

    First, as a friend of mine is fond of saying, “Episcopalians take the Bible far too seriously to take it literally.”  The Bible expresses truths that are not necessarily factual, and there are facts that are not necessarily truth.  The facts would seem to indicate that humans evolved over millions of years.  But the truth is that we are created in the image of God.

    And second, that same friend is also fond of saying, “The opposite of faith isn’t doubt; the absence of faith is certainty.”  Now I don’t know if she made that one up herself or if she pulled it from somewhere else, but I really like it.  Faith isn’t eliminated by doubt.  It may be challenged and pushed, but from doubt comes great faith (see Thomas).  And once you move into the realm of certainty, you’ve lost faith.  Your faith has become nothing more than reciting selected verses designed to squash any argument/discussion while claiming that Jesus said it, Paul wrote it and King James printed it.

    Once you hold to the certainty of the infallibility of the printed word you have allowed fear to control your spiritual life.  You have, in essence, moved from Christianity to Mohlerism.

  • picklefactory

    The Bible expresses truths that are not necessarily factual, and there are facts that are not necessarily truth.  The facts would seem to indicate that humans evolved over millions of years.  But the truth is that we are created in the image of God.

    Wait, what?
    If something is true, isn’t it then a fact that it’s true? Is there such a thing as an untrue fact?

    And since we’re being skeptical today: if we’re created in the image of God, what evidence do you have in support of that truth?

  • Evilkate

    Your “image of god mention” reminded me of a favourite quote of Voltaires’,
    Si Dieu nous a faits à son image, nous le lui avons bien rendu.

    Or, in the English,

    If God has made us in his image, we have returned him the favor.

    Though these days I don’t think it applies to all believers, just far too many.

  • Alex

    I believe, and Revered Ref may certainly correct me if I’m wrong, that he’s separating transcendent Truth from empirical Fact.

    Fact: Humanity evolved over millions of years from primate ancestors, who in turn etc. etc.  This is a conclusion from empirical evidence that is not up for debate, only analysis.
    Truth: Regardless of how it physically came to pass, we are created in the image of God.  This is an article of faith that cannot be confirmed or denied by evidence.

    That’s how I would reason this out if I were still inclined to accept the concept of transcendental truths in the first place, at least.

  • Reverend Ref

    And now that I’ve gone to the trouble to try and restate what I originally wrote, I see you’ve done it in a much more concise and elegant manner.

    Thank you.

  • Reverend Ref

    If something is true, isn’t it then a fact that it’s true? Is there such a thing as an untrue fact?

    Let me see if I can’t clarify what I’m getting at here.  A fact is something that can be verifiable and proven.  Things such as 1+1=2 or that I am the genetic offspring of my biological parents or that I went to a particular university.  Those are facts.

    A truth expresses something deeper and more profound.  1+1=1 is a truth (mother+father=child; man+woman=marriage [just a particular example, not advocating for DOMA]; we are made in God’s image). 

    So it’s not that a fact isn’t true, but that a fact isn’t necessarily a truth.

    And since we’re being skeptical today: if we’re created in the image of God, what evidence do you have in support of that truth?

    The only evidence I have is pretty much the same evidence everyone else has — gleanings from the Bible and my own personal faith.

    And a correction from my original comment:  “The opposite of faith isn’t doubt; the absence opposite of faith is certainty.”

  • Green Eggs and Ham

    What kind of evidence would you like?  I am not sure that the claim is even a truth-functional proposition.

  • picklefactory

    The way Alex put it makes sense to me.

  • Samantha C.

    If it helps, I understand it in theory the way I do Truths in Fiction. It might not be a factual true fact that Frodo and Sam went to Mordor with the One Ring, but it is a Truth that friendship grants incredible emotional strength, as illustrated in the fictional example. It’s not a verifiable falsifiable scientific sort of truth, and it can be contradicted by a thousand examples of times when friends let you down. But that’s the sort of Truth I think is beign talked about.

  • Anonymous

    All right, you want English majors involved?

    Right here:  B.A. (English) in the house!

    ::Ahem:: Adam and Eve are metaphorical objects constructed to embody and explain both the loss of innocence that every child goes through beginning with the recognition of one’s own mortality, and why so many adults are such dicks.

    Sorted.

  • Anonymous

    Not a B.A. in English, but I just like it and took a lot of English classes even though I didn’t need them. One prof. gave us an interpretation of Adam and Eve that I liked because it was different than the usual “loss of innocence/mortality” metaphor. She thought it might be about humanity moving away from a simple agrarian/nomadic life of plucking what was needed from the trees, and into a more complex world, and the problems that accompanied that transition. It wasn’t a perfect metaphor, but it wasn’t the interpretation I had always heard. I can’t remember exactly how the prof. explained it, though, so … yeah. I didn’t think it quite worked but I did think it was interesting. 

  • Evilkate

    It’s particularly annoying when certain religious folk (not only fundamentalist) use the old anti-gay spiel of “It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!” – bleh.

    It shows a staggering lack in their knowledge. Adam, from the Hebrew, is not gendered. Rather, it’s a generic term for humanity. A equivalent of the modern form ‘Mankind.’ It only became associated as being a male name much later, after several translations.

    I’ve read some quite interesting accounts of what Eve might have stood for, as either metaphor or translation and, though none of them has completely convinced me, it’s good to see such scholarl work being undertaken.

  • Panda Rosa

    Well, ironically Darwin would be on the side of the fundies; technically an “Adam and Steve” would not get anywhere genetically. I seriously doubt anyone’s going to play up the father of evolution as an ally. 

  • Evilkate

    Oh but I never argued we decended from Adam and Steve – merely that the pointbeing made by those that use that argument is inherently flawed, since there is no gender reference implicit in ‘Adam’.

    On the matter of Darwin – just because he came up with the theory of evolution does not mean it got everything right. The theory, while still attached to the original theoretic framework, has come some distance since. That’s what science does – where it finds inconsistencies or inadequate elements, it looks for alternatives and, if none are found after exhaustive examination, the theory itself is abandoned. However, if such alternatives are found, then the theory evolves. Kind of cool in the recursive aspect there ;)

  • Anonymous

    “Adam and Steve” can absolutely succeed genetically, if you have an actual understanding of natural selection that goes far beyond the straw-man that others have set up.  It’s a complicated process with many factors, and homosexuality could be genetically beneficial in many ways.

  • Anonymous

    “Adam and Steve” can absolutely succeed genetically, if you have an actual understanding of natural selection that goes far beyond the straw-man that others have set up.  It’s a complicated process with many factors, and homosexuality could be genetically beneficial in many ways.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    Well, ironically Darwin would be on the side of the fundies; technically an “Adam and Steve” would not get anywhere genetically. I seriously doubt anyone’s going to play up the father of evolution as an ally.

    An Adam and Eve wouldn’t get anywhere genetically either. One couple is far too small a genetic base for the entire human race. Even if you suppose they had no genetic defects that would become deadly when their children mated with each other, there would probably be far too little variation to cope with changing environments and diseases, and even if the population survived, also far too little to produce the full scope of humanity as we know it today. There was a reasonably large population of humans throughout our species’ history, and in all likelihood there were at least some homosexual members of the population at all times.

    As for Darwin, if you asked him about homosexuals during his lifetime, he probably wouldn’t know what you meant. If you asked him about sodomites, or pederasts, he probably have expressed negative views typical of most of Victorian English society at the time. (We are creatures of our times, after all.) It’s possible he might have, in the later decades of his life, read the publications of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs and been convinced that being a lover of men was not a perversion or a aberration, but it is admittedly unlikely. So what? Darwin also came up with the concept of gemmules, and that was wrong. He believed in the inferiority of other races, and that was wrong, although it should be noted that he detested slavery and believed that though inferior, they were nonetheless human and deserving of respect and freedom. He accepted, as many biologists did at the time, that acquired characteristics could be inherited, and that was wrong. Darwin was wrong about many things. I don’t really see what point you’re trying to make.

    If we went back in time and said, “Good Mr. Darwin, do you believe sodomites should be given the right to marry each other instead of women,” he would likely say no. If you brought Darwin forward in time, explained the changes in history, allowed him to learn about everything we discovered about biology and in the process the fact that sexual orientation is largely determined by genetic and/or developmental factors, and is not an aberration; if we also explained that people wish to be able to marry those that they love and that forbidding this is seen as a grave injustice; if we further explained that studies have shown that same-sex couples are equally capable of raising children; if we finally offer him examples of loving same-sex couples living normally together as a family — well, what would he do then? I can’t guess — it’s all a question of whether what he learned in his life in Victorian England would influence him more than the new information he had been given. It’s an entirely moot point in any case, as whether he would have been an ally is completely irrelevant to gay rights in the 21st and 1/10th century.

  • P J Evans

     I actually ran into a mid-19th century description of someone who was either gay or bi:
    Cleveland was hush! hush!  Twas said he hadn’t slept with his wife for fourteen years.

  • P J Evans

     I actually ran into a mid-19th century description of someone who was either gay or bi:
    Cleveland was hush! hush!  Twas said he hadn’t slept with his wife for fourteen years.

  • Hawker Hurricane

    “It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!”

    Proving that Steve wasn’t created, and is either the common name for the Holy Spirit (Yahweh the Father, Jesus the Son, and Steve the Holy Spirit), OR Steve is the fourth member of the Trinity.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    Evilkate:

    I believe that Eve comes either from Hebrew word חוה (chawah) “to breathe” or the related word חיה (chayah) “to live.” (Then again, I’m copying this from Behindthename and am not a Hebrew scholar, so I may well be wrong.)

  • Evilkate

    I’ve seen that among the several “translation” theories and it’s prolly, at that basic, got something going for it. Most take it from there into a morass of speculation which is inconclusive.

    But yeah …. Adam => Humanity and Eve => Life/To Breath – kind of adds some interesting dimensions to the truth within the metaphor.

  • Steven T Abell

    If true, this is another interesting overlap in mythologies: look up Lif and Lifthrasir from Norse Myths (wikipedia has a good article). Interesting difference: these are the two humans who survive Ragnarok at the end of this cycle, not the two at its beginning.

  • Al Mohler

    My, but isn’t it fortunate that the abstract reasoning skills I happen to lack have been proclaimed illegitimate by God himself. 

  • Evilkate

    Fred said you had a certain arrogance but I, having not read you (I have since) had little evidence to either agree or disagree.

    However, I have come to a point where I must disagree with him on teh claim that you are arrogant. You sir, are not arrogant at all, you are beyond that – deep into the realm of hubris.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1573898041 Thad Harroun

    “The moment you say ‘We have to abandon this theology in order to have the respect of the world,…”

    How twisted. WHY did you lose the respect of the world?

    Science says: ‘We have to abandon this theology because there’s a mountain of evidence against it.’
    Al Mohler would say: ‘I refuse to abandon this theology despite the mountain of evidence against it.’
    And for THAT you have lost respect of the world.

    No one argues that you should abandon the theology for the purpose of the world’s respect; stop hiding behind that straw-man argument. You abandon it because it’s the reasonable conclusion of the evidence. Not abandoning it in light of the evidence is unreasonable.

    I know Al don’t care about the respect of the world (noble him), but to get to that point, he must be truly honest and admit that he’s denied all science, evidence, observation and reason.

  • Al Mohler

    No, no, no, you’ve got it all wrong.  Real men are filled with Olympic self-regard, everyone knows that.  And it’s not arrogance as long that self-regard is projected on your nation, religion, ethnic group, or ideology instead of directly on yourself. 

  • Evilkate

    By that reasoning, I can list any number of men who projected such ‘self-regard’ onto their respective nations – leading, in each case, to terrible crimes or wars or horrors, such as massive genocides, or varied combinations of such.

    Not merely limited to the obvious one, indirectly referenced by the very World War II posters that Fred is so fond of.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-McDonald/610556997 Matthew McDonald

    I’m almost certain that isn’t Al Mohler, but a regular’s sock puppet trying/failing to be funny. Not because it’s offensive, mind you, just not funny yet.

    Love. Peace. Metallica.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Something tells me you’re not the real Al Mohler.

    Did someone buy Monoblade a new hat?

  • Kish

    I don’t really see Monoblade making fun of himself like that.

  • Anonymous

    Becker is exactly right here – a literal, fundamentalist reading of the Bible does not mean a blind acceptance of the Scofield Reference Bible Commentary. I managed to sneak an entire semester on Genesis while doing my BA in English and it is fascinating, but clearly not a history book.

    Mohler has always been very forthright about his reasoning: he is a Christian, and for him the literal Adam and Eve and all the rest is a package deal with the death and resurrection of Christ. No amount of empirical evidence is relevant in any way, because God has decreed it and that’s the final word. Obstinate, yes; malicious, no.

  • picklefactory

    Robyrt: No amount of empirical evidence is relevant in any way, because God has decreed it and that’s the final word. Obstinate, yes; malicious, no.
    To paraphrase: “My interpretation of the Bible says that God has decreed it, so that’s that.”

    I think that this is not even a line of reasoning. It’s like William Lane Craig defending Biblical genocide: God said to do it, so it’s OK. “I read it in a book, so I will wall myself off from my own humanity in order to defend it, no matter what the cost.”

  • Flying Squid with Goggles

    In a way, the Mohler comment about the respect of the world is correct. Respect doesn’t come from simply accepting facts, so merely changing one’s position into open consistent with the data is not enough to earn respect. What might instead earn more respect would be a willingness to use a modern understanding of behavior and medicine to reduce the rate of teen pregnancy and suicide, to stop trying to convert gay people into straight people through generous application of guilt and pressure, and to be honest about the evidence they would teach their own children (and others’ children through influence on school boards).

    But the Southern Baptists are not famed or respected for any of these things and do not have the courage to try them in opposition to the traditional elements of their culture.

  • SeniorMom

    Ref to Marcus Borg’s book “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time”.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    An especially skeptical skeptic may insist on a very high standard of proof, but is still open to the possibility of such proof.

    I suspect that deniers — moon-landing deniers, to take the forgoing example — consider themselves “skeptics insisting on a very high standard of proof.” If asked what that high standard involves, they would probably smarm, “high enough to convince me!”

    Alternately, they have a very high standard of proof: they have to see it to believe it. If they’d been there, maybe they’d accept the evidence of their own eyes. But having missed the train, they’re free to insist the destination doesn’t exist.

    “We need to get some English majors involved in this debate.”

    You rang?

  • SeniorMom

    Perfect!

  • Steven T Abell

    “Adam and Steve” aren’t a problem to a Darwinian outlook. All that matters for that outlook is a lot of successful generation, not universal generation. If one looks at secondary effects, such as a statistical preoccupation with cultural issues, a certain amount of homosexual population may actually be helpful to organisms like ourselves that are capable of deep culture.

    The fear presented in many anti-homosexual arguments is that, if we allow this at all, then it will take over our generative capacity. What bunk! I don’t know about you, but for me, homosexual sex is simply not an option. No amount of choice is any kind of inducement. The only homosexuals I have reason to fear are those very few who won’t accept No. Personally, I’ve never run into one of those. So I have to wonder at the people who use this argument: rather than making a useful case, they seem to be indirectly telling us something about themselves.

  • Evilkate

    “What bunk! I don’t know about you, but for me, homosexual sex is simply not an option.”

    *lol*

    As is perfectly reasonable for a heterosexual personness :P

    I feel exactly the same way just inverted – hetero sex is just simply not an option for me. I just really glad my girlfriend feels the same way ;) – oops, I mean my fiancee. She only proposed in February and I’m still getting used to the change in terminology :P

  • Steven T Abell

    Congratulations! I hope you have a long and wonderful life together. <}:-)

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    Seconding Stephen’s congratulations to Evilkate & fiancée.

    TRiG.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    To Evilkate and her fiancée:

    Congratulations and felicitations! I hope you have a long, happy life together!

  • chris the cynic

     I mean my fiancee. She only proposed in February and I’m still getting used to the change in terminology

    Congratulations.  May the blessings of Steve be upon you.



    By the way, why is it always Adam and Steve never Eve and some other woman?  Is it just because it’s hard to come up with a Female name that sounds as much like Adam as Steve sounds like Eve? Or because they’re worried that the prospect for primordial lesbians won’t squick people out?  Or something else entirely?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    By the way, why is it always Adam and Steve never Eve and some other woman?

    It’s because women don’t matter, duh.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GVT7C7S6IP2OC44PFUZGAJ4OBM JohnK

    Come up with a generic Western-European female name that rhymes with “Adam” and I’ll see if I can find some fundamentalist blogs and spread it around.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Ada and Eve?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GVT7C7S6IP2OC44PFUZGAJ4OBM JohnK

    Okay, come up with two more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    By the way, why is it always Adam and Steve never Eve and some other woman?

    It’s because women don’t matter, duh.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve occasionally heard “Madam and Eve”, but mostly I think it’s just the general disappearing of lesbians when it comes to topics of homosexuality.  Lesbians aren’t as threatening to the Patriarchal hierarchy, and they also tend to blend in more than the stereotypical gay man.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve occasionally heard “Madam and Eve”, but mostly I think it’s just the general disappearing of lesbians when it comes to topics of homosexuality.  Lesbians aren’t as threatening to the Patriarchal hierarchy, and they also tend to blend in more than the stereotypical gay man.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    Chris the cynic:

    I think it’s the problem of not having a rhyming name. You could say, “God created Adam and Eve, not Madam and Eve,” but that’s still a title rather than a name.

    Also, I’ve run into quite a lot of people in my life–in fact, many of them were my high school teachers–who didn’t believe that lesbianism was anything more than a smear leveled at intelligent women. I recall at least three who told me quite earnestly that women who were reported to have been lesbians (like Sappho) couldn’t POSSIBLY have had women as lovers, because two women didn’t have the right…equipment. 

    Yes, they were dead serious.

  • Anonymous

    Steven T Abell: The only homosexuals I have reason to fear are those very few who won’t accept No. Personally, I’ve never run into one of those.

    And ironically, heterosexual men who won’t accept ‘No’ seem to be in altogether excessive abundance.

  • Steven T Abell

    Yes, there’s this fearsomely frail and splintery fence between Being A Man and Being a Jerk.

  • Conscience

    In my experience, homosexual men who won’t accept no, loudly proclaim that they’re not homosexual, homosexuality is wrong and perverse, and you need to learn to take a joke.

  • Conscience

    In my experience, homosexual men who won’t accept no, loudly proclaim that they’re not homosexual, homosexuality is wrong and perverse, and you need to learn to take a joke.

  • Evilkate

    Now onto the more relevant topic of deniers in general, I think the argument presented above explains a lot about many climate change ‘skeptics’ – or a least the many I’ve had robust engagements with.

    So often, after politely arguing the details back and forth, it comes – that glint in their eye, a nervous twitch and a slight pause as they physically place a few more steps between themselves and the heretic (aka, moi) and then announce something akin to “No amount of evidence you can argue or offer will sway my resolve on this matter.” True, they generally say it a little less haughtily than that, but the message remains consistent.

    That they call themselves skeptics and yet refuse to engage in the slightest modicum of critical thought has often bewildered me.

    Now, of course, I understand – the ‘know’ the right answer so have no need to ponder the question further. Classic.

  • http://twitter.com/shay_guy Shay Guy

    That doesn’t make Mohler’s denialism any more credible or honest than any other form of denialism, but it’s refreshing to encounter one denier who is at least honest about his dishonesty.

    “Have you got a plan yet?”
    “Yes, I do.”
    “Are you lying?”
    “Yes, I am.”

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    If something is true, isn’t it then a fact that it’s true?
    Not necessarily.
    Facts tend to belong to the realm of the objective, meaning all persons are able to percieve them equally and identically. (roughly speaking)

    Truths can be objective (the sun is shining on a cloudless day) or subjective. (I find today’s weather very nice) Objective truths are factually-based. (“it’s a fact that it’s true that the sun is shining on this cloudless day”) Subjective truths may contain objective facts, but can only be stated as subjective principles. (“Because the sun is shining, I feel today’s weather is nice.”)

    Allegories are a good example of non-factual truths. There has never been a race between a talking fox and a talking turtle, but the underlying meaning is not rendered invalid because of this.

    “Is there such a thing as an untrue fact?”
    Depends on how you define fact. The skeptical, scientific standard for facts is that they are objective, verifiable observations, from which conclusions (true or untrue) can be drawn.

    “I washed my car yesterday” would be an example of a fact, “it rained today” would be another, but “washing my car made it rain” is a false conclusion based on two true facts.

    If an observation cannot be verified, or if it’s nature is subjective, then it’s no longer a fact, but an opinion or a matter of perspective. Stating a matter of opinion or perspective as fact would be an “untrue fact”, in that it is not a fact.
    So the Bible can express subjective truths (truths that are not necessarily factual, such as “God is Love”), it can express conclusions based on facts that are not necessarily truthful, (‘the sun and moon move across the sky’ is a fact, but ‘the earth is stationary’ is an untrue conclusion) and it can make subjective observations that appear to be facts except that they cannot be verified and/or are subjective. (“Jesus is the physical avatar of God” is not a fact, but it is stated as though it were)

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    I’ve always liked the idea of “Justice” as a truth that is not a fact.

    (From Terry Prachett’s Hogfather)

    ‘All right,’ said Susan. ‘I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.”

    “REALLY?
    AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE
    HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE”
    ‘Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little- ”

    “YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES”

    ‘So we can believe the big ones?”

    “YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING”

    ‘They’re not the same at all!”

    “YOU
    THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER
    AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF
    JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET– ” Death waved a hand. “AND
    YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS
    SOME… SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED”

    ‘Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—”

    “MY POINT EXACTLY”

    ———————————————–

    That bit has always struck me as so very, very true.  There is nothing in the universe by itself that is suggestive of justice.  In spite of that – it remains a truth.  Inescapably, inexplicably, and devoid of factual evidence one can point to there is, nevertheless, such a thing as justice.

  • Anonymous

    Well, ironically Darwin would be on the side of the fundies; technically an “Adam and Steve” would not get anywhere genetically. I seriously doubt anyone’s going to play up the father of evolution as an ally.

    *Sigh…*Admittedly, I don’t know about Charles Darwin in particular, but the common theory, when last I check, is that a certain subset of homosexuality is useful for communal species, specifically because they do not breed.  This means that they contribute to the group offspring without adding to the ‘expenses’.Either that or it’s simply the result of hormonal imbalances.

  • Evilkate

    Hey! – My hormones are so well balanced they ran off to join the circus … My hormones are so well balanced I nicknamed them “Chequebook” … My …

    Okay … I stop nows ;)

    >.>

  • Anonymous

    Dear Evilkate,
    Please receive this well-balanced performing internet, for that made me chuckle into my drink.

  • http://profiles.google.com/anoncollie Anon Collie

    “Me, I’m dishonest. And a dishonest man you can always trust to be
    dishonest. Honestly. It’s the honest ones you want to watch out for.
    Because you can never predict when they’re going to do something
    incredibly… stupid.”  – Captain Jack Sparrow.

    People like Al Mohler are dishonest. And like the good captain said, you can always trust a dishonest man to be dishonest. It’s the rest of honest folk who are constantly rethinking ourselves that have the capacity to do something incredibly brilliant or stupid.

  • Anonymous

     I’m not religious so I don’t have a dog in this fight. But I always feel sad how people like this make God in their image, and it’s such a small, cramped, petty image of God.

    I’ll never forget seeing a huge spread of the Lascaux cave paintings in Time Magazine as a kid. It’s the closest thing I’ve had to what I’d call a religious experience, it was like I was filled with light seeping through the cracks in my mind and the world got so much bigger and amazing and older than anything I could understand. It was glorious, here were paintings done by my ancestors. It was more moving and profound than anything that had ever happened to me in a Kingdom Hall.

    I think one of my favorite things Fred ever wrote was “To create is to love” and that’s the stone cold truth. One of Bachmann’s latest bits of hatefulness is supporting the view that the filthy humanist Renaissance spoiled the Godly and devout Dark Ages, for serious. Of course she would hate art, art makes me you, art is how to declare to the universe “I was here and this is what I saw”, art is immortality, and it’s an immortality free from God. Of course fundamentalists can’t stand it.

  • http://timothy.green.name/ Timothy (TRiG)

    Yes, the fundies seem to be scared of a big world. They want their God to be a small god, one they can easily understand.

    TRiG.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes, “Evidence is easy, proof is hard.”  

    That said, “Boom-de-ada, boom-de-ada, boom-de-ada, bood-de-ada!”  

  • Anonymous

    Hey guys,

    There’s a petition out now calling on the Montreal police and the RCMP to take Dennis Markuze seriously.

    I’m not sure how effective an internet petition can be, but I thought I’d point it out since he used to harass the old site.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Now you’ve done it… he’ll be here in the next 24 hours ><

  • Anonymous

    Now you’ve done it… he’ll be here in the next 24 hours ><

    Oh crap, does he google himself?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GVT7C7S6IP2OC44PFUZGAJ4OBM JohnK

    No, but like evil supernatural beings, he can sense when you say his name. May God — if there is a God — have mercy on our souls — if we have souls.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Well, I remember several times on the old site someone would say his real name or handle and then BAM, there he’d be, spamming away.  I’d assume that means he Googles himself frequently, but it’s possible it’s coincidence.  Still, I do remember people mostly taking up the habit of calling him “he who must not be named” for awhile.  Then again I was only on the old site for ~2-3 months before the move (as an active commenter – I lurked quite a bit longer)

    Err, long story short – probably.

  • Hawker Hurricane

    An internet petition isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

    Sorry, politicians tend to ignore the internet.  Too easy to spam signatures.

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    An internet petition isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.Sorry, politicians tend to ignore the internet.  Too easy to spam signatures.

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/todays-paper/Police+finally+take+notice+Twitter+threats/5238610/story.html:

    Bombarded with “a few hundred” screen shots of various Twitter threats alleged to have been issued by a St. Laurent man – and by more than 3,200 email complaints from all over the world so far this week – Montreal police said Wednesday they have begun a criminal investigation.
    The threats apparently include death and decapitation.A fast-growing online petition launched Monday demanding Montreal police “Take ‘Mabus’s death threats seriously” quickly swamped police email facilities, spokesperson Lt. Ian Lafrenière acknowledged: “It was kind of crazy.”

    Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/Montreal+police+start+probe+Twitter+threats/5238610/story.html#ixzz1UlEJojE3

  • picklefactory

    I saw that pop up on PZ Myers’ blog earlier this week and thought, “It’s that same guy with mental problems that shows up on Slacktivist and pastes in incoherent threats!” I didn’t know he was an equal opportunity threatener. Hopefully he will get some psychiatric help.

  • Hawker40

    I sit corrected.

  • Anonymous

    Adam and Eve are metaphorical objects constructed to embody and explain both the loss of innocence that every child goes through beginning with the recognition of one’s own mortality, and why so many adults are such dicks.

    And also why snakes don’t have legs.  That’s critical too.  Although it always seemed like a dick move for God to curse an entire suborder just because Satan happened to choose a member of that group for his disguise.  If A&E had been tempted by a panda bear, then today you could go to China and see thousands of fuzzy white-and-black legless balls rolling from place to place, and it’d be the most adorable thing ever.

    One of Bachmann’s latest bits of hatefulness is supporting the view that the filthy humanist Renaissance spoiled the Godly and devout Dark Ages, for serious.

    Another fun thing about pandas is — [record scratch] — wait, back up.  She said what?  Is there a link I can follow to learn more about this, because, dang.  My coworker once opined that America should go back to the policies that made the Roaring Twenties so great (forgetting, I guess, how that era turned out), and I thought that was pretty regressive, but dang.

  • Anonymous

     

    And also why snakes don’t have legs.  That’s critical too.  Although it
    always seemed like a dick move for God to curse an entire suborder just
    because Satan happened to choose a member of that group for
    his disguise.  If A&E had been tempted by a panda bear, then today
    you could go to China and see thousands of fuzzy white-and-black legless
    balls rolling from place to place, and it’d be the most adorable thing
    ever.

    To be fair, I think the bigger dick move was punishing all women with the pain of childbirth forever, although I might be biased because I’m a woman and not a serpent.

    But some literalists actually don’t believe the serpent was Satan.  It was actually kind of a recent thing that all the bad guys in the Bible got conglomerated into the one Satan.  Some people believe the serpent was just simply a talking serpent and nothing more.

  • chris the cynic

    Some people believe the serpent was just simply a talking serpent and nothing more.
    If you read the text in isolation, that’s really how it seems to be.  If there’s anything in the Adam, Eve, Serpent, Steve, Panda story that implies the serpent was anything more than a talking serpent, I’m certainly not familiar with it.

    @facebook-752002772:disqus 
    That had occurred to me.

  • chris the cynic

    Some people believe the serpent was just simply a talking serpent and nothing more.
    If you read the text in isolation, that’s really how it seems to be.  If there’s anything in the Adam, Eve, Serpent, Steve, Panda story that implies the serpent was anything more than a talking serpent, I’m certainly not familiar with it.

    @facebook-752002772:disqus 
    That had occurred to me.

  • Anonymous

     

    And also why snakes don’t have legs.  That’s critical too.  Although it
    always seemed like a dick move for God to curse an entire suborder just
    because Satan happened to choose a member of that group for
    his disguise.  If A&E had been tempted by a panda bear, then today
    you could go to China and see thousands of fuzzy white-and-black legless
    balls rolling from place to place, and it’d be the most adorable thing
    ever.

    To be fair, I think the bigger dick move was punishing all women with the pain of childbirth forever, although I might be biased because I’m a woman and not a serpent.

    But some literalists actually don’t believe the serpent was Satan.  It was actually kind of a recent thing that all the bad guys in the Bible got conglomerated into the one Satan.  Some people believe the serpent was just simply a talking serpent and nothing more.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    If A&E had been tempted by a panda bear, then today you could go to China and see thousands of fuzzy white-and-black legless balls rolling from place to place, and it’d be the most adorable thing ever.

    … distracted… by the… cute… mental imagery… 

  • Rikalous

    And also why snakes don’t have legs.  That’s critical too.  Although it
    always seemed like a dick move for God to curse an entire suborder just
    because Satan happened to choose a member of that group for
    his disguise.  If A&E had been tempted by a panda bear, then today
    you could go to China and see thousands of fuzzy white-and-black legless
    balls rolling from place to place, and it’d be the most adorable thing
    ever.

    Now we couldn’t, because the silly buggers would have got themselves extinct even faster.

  • Rikalous

    And also why snakes don’t have legs.  That’s critical too.  Although it
    always seemed like a dick move for God to curse an entire suborder just
    because Satan happened to choose a member of that group for
    his disguise.  If A&E had been tempted by a panda bear, then today
    you could go to China and see thousands of fuzzy white-and-black legless
    balls rolling from place to place, and it’d be the most adorable thing
    ever.

    Now we couldn’t, because the silly buggers would have got themselves extinct even faster.

  • Anonymous

    One of Bachmann’s latest bits of hatefulness is supporting the view that
    the filthy humanist Renaissance spoiled the Godly and devout Dark Ages,
    for serious.

    *gibbers* What? What in the name of sweet little fishies is she thinking? Just…. WHAT? *googles* Here.

    Bachmann also adores Schaeffer follower Nancy Pearcey, a prominent
    creationist whose recent book is “Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the
    Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning.” That’s Leonardo as in “da
    Vinci,” whose famous drawing of “Vitruvian Man” shows a human being
    inscribed within a perfect circle and a perfect square. The artist made
    the ungodly error of putting humanity at the center of time and space.

    @Vermic:disqus
    : That’s it, the first thing I’m doing with a time machine is going back and convincing the devil to use a panda instead. (Why are you looking at me like that?)

  • Leo Tokarski

    This seems as good a post as any in which to quote Augustine of Hippo.

    Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.

    I’m not sure if it’s amazing or depressing how well those centuries-old words still apply today.

    EDIT: On second though, I’m going with depressing.

  • Leo Tokarski

    This seems as good a post as any in which to quote Augustine of Hippo.

    Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.

    I’m not sure if it’s amazing or depressing how well those centuries-old words still apply today.

    EDIT: On second though, I’m going with depressing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002351929256 Katie Lewis

    It always amazes me that people can insist that a ‘literal’  reading of Genesis means that Adam and Eve were the only people, when Cain later goes off and marries a woman from another group of people.  Where these people came from isn’t explained, of course.  There are reasons for this, but all of them involve accepting that Genesis isn’t the literal truth.

  • Cathy W

    My 13-year-old (atheist) daughter is reading the Bible for the first time – she identified it as a gap in her basic cultural literacy. “Where did Cain’s wife come from?” was her first question. 

    I’d hazard a guess that a lot of “literal” readers of the Bible spend a lot of brain power on not thinking about that too hard.

  • Anonymous

    I think some fundamentalists have gone so far as to say that Cain married his sister, but it was ok because God made it ok.  They’ll say that God put some magic in their genes so the normal inbreeding problems wouldn’t arise.

    It is my understanding that the biblical creation of Adam and Eve was meant explain the beginning of Yahweh’s specific chosen people.  There are two different stories and the first one is about plural gods creating everything, including man and woman.  Then their specific God created Adam and Eve.  I think the Jews believed during OT time that all those other gods actually existed, but they just weren’t supposed to worship them.  So they would have read the story of Cain with the understanding that other people existed, but they were the creations of other gods.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    Cathy W:

    There are a couple of stories about Cain’s wife, actually.

    According to the Midrash, Cain had a twin sister and Abel was one of triplets (the other two were girls). Cain married his twin and Abel married one of his sisters. The third sister, not the sacrifice to God, was the cause of the fatal quarrel: Cain used the eternal big brother argument of, “I should have this ’cause I’m the oldest,” while Abel was all, “Yeah, but she was born with ME.”

    The Muslim version says that Cain was
    born with a twin sister who was named Aclima, and Abel with a twin
    sister named Jumella
    . Abel wanted to marry Cain’s twin while Cain married his. Cain didn’t like that idea. The two of them sacrificed to God to see who would get to marry Aclima. God rejected Cain’s sacrifice as a way of saying, “At least marry a girl from a different litter!” Cain got pissed off, killed Abel, then ran off with Aclima. Jumella  eventually ended up marrying Seth, according to this tradition.

  • Matri

    That all still doesn’t change the fact that they’re just retconning their holy books to fit their narrow interpretations.

  • Matri

    That all still doesn’t change the fact that they’re just retconning their holy books to fit their narrow interpretations.

  • Anonymous

    This is rather fascinating.  I’d been reading the story of Cain as the conflict within a civilization going from hunter-gatherers to settled agriculture, but this is an interesting take as well.  It’s also interesting that the two versions have very different morals.

  • Anonymous

    The antagonism between agriculturalists and pastoralists is actually a very strong theme in Genesis (Abraham vs. the Cities of the Plain, Jacob vs. the Canaanites and Hebrews vs. Egyptians are prominent examples).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

    What about “the Land of Nod”?  It has a population specifically enjoined from killing Cain (is “Killing Cain” a band name?).  Where did these people come from.

    And who did Seth marry?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

    Answered above — duh!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

    Answered above — duh!

  • Anonymous

    It always amazes me that people can insist that a ‘literal’  reading of
    Genesis means that Adam and Eve were the only people, when Cain later
    goes off and marries a woman from another group of people.  Where these
    people came from isn’t explained, of course.  There are reasons for
    this, but all of them involve accepting that Genesis isn’t the literal
    truth.

    Oh, no, never underestimate the capabilities of creationists to talk themselves round to positions that squick other people out.

    Answers in Genesis says:

    The Wife

    If we now work totally from Scripture, without any personal
    prejudices or other extrabiblical ideas, then back at the beginning,
    when there was only the first generation, brothers would have had to
    marry sisters or there wouldn’t have been any more generations!

    We’re not told when Cain married or many of the details of other
    marriages and children, but we can say for certain that Cain’s wife was
    either his sister or a close relative.

    By “close relative” they mean niece.  By their argument, Cain can’t have any aunts or uncles, so aunts and cousins are out.  And unless Cain has got children outside of marriage, she can’t be his daughter.

    God, they say, allowed incest in these first generations, and only later did he outlaw it, and presumably only after he outlawed it did it become repellant to most people.

    They also poo-poo the idea of a “‘race’ of women.”  I think they’re making an error of the same sort as Ray Comfort makes when he says that a male elephant and a female elephant (his example) had to have evolved separately, but close enough in time and space to get together and propagate their species, but I can’t explain exactly why they’re wrong.

  • Aliaras

    The thing that weirds me out is, if you READ THE BIBLE, you notice that there are not one but *two* creation stories, one right after the other. Genesis 1:1-2:3 does the seven days thing: earth, night, and day on day 1, heaven and earth on day 2, land, water, and plants on day 3, sun and moon and stars on day 4, fish and birds on day 5, animals and humans on day 6, and then of course God rests on day 7. It’s very unclear how many humans were created, just that there were male and female humans.

    Then, in Genesis 2:4, creation happens in a day, not a week. God creates a man first, then plants (in the Garden of Eden), and then animals, bringing each animal to the man to name. He then puts the man to sleep and makes a woman out of his rib, and the rest is the familiar story of Adam and Eve. 

    Those are both different. You can’t take them both literally, unless you sort of smooth over that and mush them together. 

  • chris the cynic

    I feel like it can work, you just have to assume that there’s a flashback involved and Eve isn’t created alone.

    The Adam and Eve story starts when there are not yet plants but there is already land.  I think that puts us at day three in the first chronology.  (Specifically it puts us somewhere between the end of 1:10 and the beginning of 1:11.)  So to me it reads like a flashback that means we’ll be seeing what we just saw from a different angle.  (The Bible as Vantage Point, I suppose.)  There isn’t really any big problem in combining the two until you get to the creation of Eve, if we are to take this as being the sixth day then there should also be a male created at this time (for lack of a better name, call him Steve) but he is left out of the more detailed story.  Poor guy.

  • Nomuse

    I respect that, too.  As a long-time follower of the fight against the anti-Apollo nitwits, I’ve become far too familiar with the goal posts on casters; the evidence these “skeptics” are waiting for is always (conveniently) the one piece of evidence they are sure they will not be shown.  When it turns out they underestimated the ability of reality to provide just that piece of evidence, hilarity ensues.

    (An oft-quoted Apollo Hoax believer comment; “I meant, BESIDES Doctor James Van Allen…”)

    But in specific regards to Creationism, ID, Flood Geology, and all that rot, it confuses this non-believer greatly why these are considered a good thing.  An actual omnipotent supernatural entity creates the Earth as it likes, without having to work around inconvenient chemistry or cosmology.  The “God” of Creationism is the do-nothing god; in as many places as possible, this god is shown to be superfluous and the processes are shown unfolding naturally.  Am I not understanding the meaning of the term “miracle” here?

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    When fundies deny evolution in the face of the evidence they call God a liar. Words can be figurative and we know from the Gospels that our God is fond of using allegory. Empirical evidence is something else.

    I like Origen’s thoughts on the Genesis creation story myself.

    “What person of intelligence, I ask, will consider as a reasonable
    statement that the first and the second and the third day, in which
    there are said to be both morning and evening, existed without sun and
    moon and stars, while the first day was even without a heaven? […] I do
    not think anyone will doubt that these are figurative expressions which
    indicate certain mysteries through a semblance of history.” 

  • Rikalous

    When fundies deny evolution in the face of the evidence they call God a
    liar. Words can be figurative and we know from the Gospels that our God
    is fond of using allegory. Empirical evidence is something else.

    Or as someone put it: “Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the rocks.”http://www.echoschildren.org/CDlyrics/WORDGOD.HTML

  • Rikalous

    When fundies deny evolution in the face of the evidence they call God a
    liar. Words can be figurative and we know from the Gospels that our God
    is fond of using allegory. Empirical evidence is something else.

    Or as someone put it: “Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the rocks.”http://www.echoschildren.org/CDlyrics/WORDGOD.HTML

  • Rich D.

    Just to chime in on the science side all humans CAN be traced back to a single woman using genetics, by examining mutations in mitochondrial DNA which is passed down from the mother to children.  All humans can also be traced back to a single man,  by examining mutations in the Y chromosome that is passed down from father to sons.

    However this does not imply that there was a single man and woman ancestor of the entire human race, and in fact Mitochondrial Eve is older than the estimated range for Y-Chromosomal Adam (he’s still being searched for) by about 60,000-14,000 years.

  • Rich D.

    Just to chime in on the science side all humans CAN be traced back to a single woman using genetics, by examining mutations in mitochondrial DNA which is passed down from the mother to children.  All humans can also be traced back to a single man,  by examining mutations in the Y chromosome that is passed down from father to sons.

    However this does not imply that there was a single man and woman ancestor of the entire human race, and in fact Mitochondrial Eve is older than the estimated range for Y-Chromosomal Adam (he’s still being searched for) by about 60,000-14,000 years.

  • chris the cynic

    There is in fact an ancient Jewish book, considered canon by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which tries to explain Cain’s wife.  According to the book of Jubilees Cain married his sister Awan.

    Awan sounds like a good name, and apparently it’s female.  So I propose “Awan and Eve,” even though it doesn’t rhyme.  Presumably Eve named her daughter after he lover.  As for why the incest afterward, I’ve got nothing.  God should have created a much larger population, perhaps around 10,000.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002351929256 Katie Lewis

    Thank you for reminding me of the traditions that try to explain where Cain’s wife came from, and why incest isn’t icky when God says that its ok.  I’d forgotten about them, although, to my mind, the explanations show that the Bible-by itself-is contradictory and illogical, and needs human agency to make some sort of sense of it.  A ‘literal’ reading causes as many problems as it solves.

  • No-one

    So we’re made in God’s image? Behold!!

    uggc://zrqvn.cubgbohpxrg.pbz/vzntr/Fnvybe%20Ohoon/geryvbe/cbfgre70008354.wct

    ROT13’d because, seriously! Also, brain bleach from the stall by the exit, $40 per gallon.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Bah, Sailor Bubba is taaaaaaaaame.  Srsly.

  • Matri

    I dunno man, that thing is just wrong!

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    Meh.  Having seen stuff like (DO NOT GOOGLE – Very NSFW) Meatspin, Goatse, Lemonparty and worse… not to mention having a thing for crossdressing* I just… don’t find anything remotely disturbing about it.

    I mean it’s a bad cosplay sure, but I’ve even seen worse than that to be honest.

    Maybe the internet has left me jaded *shrug*

    *Sailor Bubba ain’t my type though.

  • Anonymous

    So we’re made in God’s image? Behold!!

    uggc://zrqvn.cubgbohpxrg.pbz/vzntr/Fnvybe%20Ohoon/geryvbe/cbfgre70008354.wct

    ROT13’d because, seriously! Also, brain bleach from the stall by the exit, $40 per
    gallon.

    and

    I dunno man, that thing is just wrong!

    Sorry, I at least don’t appreciate the fat-shaming and othering in your comments.

    Dude, you’re being a dick. Knock it off.

  • Anonymous

    I just thought of a question. If there’s no Adam and Eve, wouldn’t that mean there’s no original sin? Do all Christians believe in original sin? Or only the ones who read Genesis “literally”? (This isn’t exactly on topic, but I’m clueless and curious now.)

  • Joshua

    As I understand it, Augustine’s doctrine of original sin is quite commonly believed across most of the western church – Catholics, Protestants, not just fundamentalism. I’m sure most people update it a bit, since theology has marched on and some of the steps in his reasoning seem to suffer from bad translation into Latin and prescientifc ideas of inheritance that seem silly to most of us now, but the basic idea frequently still holds.

    I don’t really know how theologians who don’t take the story literally adapt the doctrine to fit. My lecturer on the subject admitted the difficulty, but I can’t remember what he said after that, and don’t know what anyone else may have said.

  • Lunch Meat

    I don’t really know how theologians who don’t take the story literally adapt the doctrine to fit. My lecturer on the subject admitted the difficulty, but I can’t remember what he said after that, and don’t know what anyone else may have said.

    Paul uses the example of Adam in Romans, comparing Adam to Jesus. He says, basically, that just as sin and death came to humanity through one man, salvation and life also came through one man. Because of one man’s disobedience, all of humanity, and the earth itself, were changed; because of one man’s sacrifice, all of humanity and the earth itself have been redeemed. My interpretation is that just like we don’t all have to be descended from Jesus to receive the benefits of salvation, we don’t all have to be descended directly from Adam to receive the consequences of (and the tendency to) sin. And just as Jesus’ death affected those who were alive at the same time as well as those who came after, Adam’s sin affected the rest of the human community alive at that time, as well as those who came after.

  • Anonymous

    Okay, I’m sort of following you. But not quite. Without “the fall”, what’s the explanation for the general cruddiness of mankind, if we were created by God? I’ve always heard the interpretation of the story as Eve being tricked by Satan and sin being a result of that. But I’m not religious so what I know is mostly what I’ve gleaned from, um, pop culture, I guess.  

  • Lunch Meat

    Without “the fall”, what’s the explanation for the general cruddiness of mankind, if we were created by God? I’ve always heard the interpretation of the story as Eve being tricked by Satan and sin being a result of that.

    Oh, I understand what you’re asking now. “The fall” is actually a different doctrine from “original sin”, and is probably much more common in Christianity. And there are some ideas about the Fall which could correspond to non-literal interpretations of Genesis; for instance, there’s the scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey (I think? Or is it a different one?) with the aliens helping the apes evolve further. So you could say God allowed humanity to evolve to a certain point, and then came down and revealed Godself to them, breathing life into them and making a kind of proto-covenant, with very simple rules (whether it was a literal fruit, or just “be nice to each other”), and God helped them create a community in which they had everything they needed and did not need to fight. The fall would be them choosing to fight and compete anyway.

    That’s my unstudied, untested attempt at a symbolic interpretation of Genesis that agrees with science, anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    Original sin is definitely not a universal concept in Christianity.

  • Anonymous

    It didn’t seem like it could be, with all the different ways of interpreting things, but it’s a concept that I’ve heard over and over, so I wasn’t sure. Thanks. I realize original sin isn’t really the topic of the post, but I was confused.

  • http://scyllacat.livejournal.com Scylla Kat

    This is a delightful thread.  

    Congrats to Evilkate and fiancee.I’m still laughing at the legless pandas and the thought of a mere talking snake.

    And everyone has covered any points I had, so there’s a liberal sprinkling of Like through here.

  • Pthalo

    Congrats to Evilkate and fiancee

    Thank you. I’m lucky to be marrying her :D

  • Evilkate

    Noooo – I’m the lucky one. You can be ucky, I’ll be luckiest :D

  • Matthew Funke

    Some people go one step beyond the mere denialism that Fred and Dr. Plait described and attempt to make their ridiculous standard of proof evidence that anyone in the audience can use to claim that the Big Bad Thing can’t possibly be true.  I’m thinking specifically of challenges like Kent Hovind’s “prove evolution to me to my satisfaction and win a big pile of cash” challenge.

    Of course, once you look at the terms of the challenge, you realize some key things.  First, that the challenger has no idea what their philosophical opponent is claiming.  To win Kent’s prize, you needed to demonstrate that, for example, “Early life forms learned to reproduce themselves” and that “Time, space, and matter came into existence by themselves” — neither of which are things that the Modern Synthesis of Evolution even addresses.  Second, you have to prove it to the challenger — and, as noted countless times, people can be remarkably stubborn with respect to simple things like evidence and logic.  You can’t convince someone who won’t be convinced(*).

    Before anyone mentions the JREF’s million-dollar prize for evidence of paranormal activity, I should note that the JREF hires a third party to act as moderator.  Both the claimant and the JREF determine what kind of evidence will be permissible.  You don’t have to prove your claims to someone who won’t be swayed; all you have to do is produce evidence that you agree beforehand should be producible to a third party.

    In my experience, when you ask a dyed-in-the-wool creationist what kind of evidence would cause them to reconsider their point of view, they have one of three responses: (1) production of something that evolution never claims would exist (e.g., a mermaid — no, seriously, I got that once!); (2) some kind of supernatural event that cannot be produced on demand (God would have to come down and tell them that they’ve got the Bible wrong); or (3) no evidence at all would cause them to reconsider.

    (*) And that, in a nutshell, is exactly why science exists.  People are obscenely good at coming up with weird explanations for things, or cockamamie excuses for why you should still take their claims seriously in light of evidence or more parsimonious explanations.  There needs to be a way to test empirical claims systematically, to weed out the errors and keep what still appears to be true even after our best efforts to prove it wrong.  That’s science.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I like the “Compromise Theory” proposed in Science Made Stupid:  Adam and Eve were created by God, and their sons married women who evolved from hominids via natural selection.

  • Hawker Hurricane

    I always liked the “Two creation stories, two creations”.  Since 1st and 2nd Genesis have many contradictions with each other, each is a seperate creation event.  Cain, descended from A+E (2nd Genesis) married a woman descended from humans from 1st creation (1st Genesis).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    I always liked the “Two creation stories, two creations”.  Since 1st and
    2nd Genesis have many contradictions with each other, each is a
    seperate creation event.  Cain, descended from A+E (2nd Genesis) married
    a woman descended from humans from 1st creation (1st Genesis).

    There are in lot of interesting ideas about that in Documentary Hypothesis. Of course, it operates on the idea that the Pentateuch was written by humans rather than dictated to Moses, so it’s obviously a product of Ebil Intellectualism.

  • Anonymous

    I always liked the “Two creation stories, two creations”.  Since 1st and
    2nd Genesis have many contradictions with each other, each is a
    seperate creation event.  Cain, descended from A+E (2nd Genesis) married
    a woman descended from humans from 1st creation (1st Genesis).

    What’s wrong with the Lilith story? Adam and Lilith were created simultaneously, then Adam decided he was meant to rule over Lilith, or alternately, Lilith decided she was sick of missionary position, and the other one objected, and Lilith stormed out of Eden, and God created Eve to be more subservient…and that’d be what’s wrong with it. Lilith remains awesome, though.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    EllieMurasaki:

    Did you ever read about Adam having three wives?

    According to the Midrash, after Lilith left, God created another woman for Adam. She never had a name, poor thing. (I’ve always thought of her as Miriam, because her fate was a bitter one.)

    Adam saw her being  created, with all the organs and muscles and things being put into her. “She was full of secretions and blood,” says the Midrash.

    And Adam wouldn’t touch her. He was creeped out by all the squishy stuff inside her.

    What happened to her–well, stories differ. Some say that God destroyed her, which I do NOT like. Other versions say that God allowed her to leave the Garden alone.

    So when God created Eve, says the story, He put Adam to sleep so that he wouldn’t see all the gooshy parts going into this third woman and get grossed out again.

    Neil Gaiman put a version of this into the Sandman series, but yeah, it really is based on rabbinical commentaries on Genesis.

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    EllieMurasaki:

    Did you ever read about Adam having three wives?

    According to the Midrash, after Lilith left, God created another woman for Adam. She never had a name, poor thing. (I’ve always thought of her as Miriam, because her fate was a bitter one.)

    Adam saw her being  created, with all the organs and muscles and things being put into her. “She was full of secretions and blood,” says the Midrash.

    And Adam wouldn’t touch her. He was creeped out by all the squishy stuff inside her.

    What happened to her–well, stories differ. Some say that God destroyed her, which I do NOT like. Other versions say that God allowed her to leave the Garden alone.

    So when God created Eve, says the story, He put Adam to sleep so that he wouldn’t see all the gooshy parts going into this third woman and get grossed out again.

    Neil Gaiman put a version of this into the Sandman series, but yeah, it really is based on rabbinical commentaries on Genesis.

  • Anonymous

    A quite belated congratulations to EvilKate and Pthalo!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeff-Lipton/100001171828568 Jeff Lipton

    A quite belated congratulations to EvilKate and Pthalo!  — from me too.

  • Amaryllis

    I always liked the “Two creation stories, two creations”.  Since 1st and
    2nd Genesis have many contradictions with each other, each is a
    seperate creation event. 

    If I recall my catechism classes correctly, one reason to regard the two stories as two different ways of looking at the same event, was to underline the fact that all human beings share a common descent– are the same family. No one gets to say that their ancestors were a separate creation, an earlier creation, a more later, perfected creation; we’re all the same. The answer to “who is my brother, or sister?” is “All of us.”

    In an earlier thread, I was reminded of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, and now I’m reminded again. In that novel Pi tells two stories about his life, one with animals behaving as animals will, with no blame to them; and one with people behaving very badly indeed. And he asks the listener, “Which do you prefer, the story with animals or the story without animals?”

    Mohler and his ilk prefer the story without animals. They prefer the story in which humans with no kinship at all to other animals freely choose evil and bring death upon themselves, to a story in which humans inherit their physical nature with all its capabilities and susceptibilities from the animal “base class,” so to speak.

    But really, the story with animals in it is a much better story. It’s got many more possibilities in it.

  • Dan Audy

    If I recall my catechism classes correctly, one reason to regard the two
    stories as two different ways of looking at the same event, was to
    underline the fact that all human beings share a common descent– are
    the same family. No one gets to say that their ancestors were a separate
    creation, an earlier creation, a more later, perfected creation; we’re
    all the same. The answer to “who is my brother, or sister?” is “All of
    us.”

    That is a very important detail that I feel doesn’t get the proper historical context necessary.  Today we still have significant tribalism but our ‘tribes’ are greatly expanded in size and breadth.  In an era without a reliable government providing many basic services there was no social safety net so you relied on your family to care for the infirm and elderly, without a fair legal system you relied on your family to take revenge against the family of someone who wronged or killed you, and making business deals outside family was extremely risky.  By declaring everyone to be your brother or sister, Jesus was bringing everyone into the trusted inner circle which was HUGE for the day when much of human rights would be scoffed at.

  • Nomuse

    Apropos of that, I’ve a technical question. 

    Many of the Creationist arguments about Noah’s Ark make a big deal about the Pact.  As in, there were no meat-eaters, and probably no other inconvenient things like parasites until after the Ark had safely landed.  Basically, t. rex and fluffy bunnies and humans were all one big happy family, and they kept those teeth and claws safely engaged in cracking coconuts all the way from the expulsion from the Garden until the water drained from the Flood.

    How does this work, with the Fall being the whole out-of-the-garden thing?  Does it take 2,000 years for the result of Adam’s sin to percolate down to wolves and liver flukes?  

  • Amaryllis

    Me, last night: “a more later creation”? I must have been more tired than I thought.

    On another site last night, I was waxing condescending about a particular blogger’s writing skills. Does that internet law about pots & kettles apply even across blog universes?

    @Dan:disqus Audy: you’re right about context, of course. The creation story predates Jesus by a few thousand years, and the ancient Israelites knew a thing or two about tribalism, I believe. Still, they could come up with a story in which everyone is “The People.” Maybe not “God’s Chosen People,” but still his creation.

    I don’t know enough about Biblical sources to say, and it may be that the two creation stories are modifications of myths in which Yahweh did create his people separately, and Cain’s in-laws in the Land of Nod were the children of some other god. Still, by the time we know it, the story had been modified enough to provide a basis for “we’re all in this together.” In the same boat, so to speak. Or Ark.

    @Nomuse:disqus : Do the YECs really say that there were no predator animals before the flood? It sounds unlikely to me! After all, “God made the animals according to their kinds,” and the “kind” of some of them is to be carnivorous. Are they claiming that God modified his Creation? That seems to leave a door open, doesn’t it…

    Anyway, I prefer to regard the Noah story as a tale about good zookeeping.

    Since this is turning into the Life of Pi thread (at least for me; once you see a relationship you go on seeing it)…anyway, Pi survives for months lost at sea in a lifeboat, in the company of a Bengal tiger, by a combination of good luck and good zookeeping. Now you can regard this tall tale as a straight-up adventure story, or you can imbue it with all sorts of metaphorical meanings– but either way, it’s a better story when the tiger is allowed to be a tiger, not a vegetarian pussycat.

  • Matthew Funke

    Nomuse: How does this work, with the Fall being the whole out-of-the-garden thing?  Does it take 2,000 years for the result of Adam’s sin to percolate down to wolves and liver flukes?

    Don’t ask me.  These are the same people who think that the bombardier beetle’s defense system is extraordinarily good evidence for optimal, divine design.  One might easily ask, since this is supposed to be a defense system, what this design was for when all potential predators were created vegetarian.

    (It’s more complicated than that, of course; many bombardier beetles are themselves predatory.)

    Rather than being one of the best evidences of optimal, divine design, I take the bombardier beetle as one of the best evidences that creationists don’t do their homework.  Some species have fully-formed wings under fused carapaces, giving support to common descent and arguing rather powerfully against this kind of design.  And the actual line — popularized by Duane Gish, and repeated endlessly by the gullible faithful — that bombardier beetles would explode if they didn’t mix their defensive chemicals just right, is one that can easily be tested, since the chemicals in question are easy to obtain (hydrogen peroxide from a pharmacy, and hydroquinone from a camera store).

    The whole problem being, of course, that creationists aren’t the slightest bit interested in testing their “knowledge”.  So I wouldn’t expect any kind of thoughtful or well-corroborated answer to when Adam’s evil managed to percolate properly through the rest of biology.

  • JH

    In the very unlikely event you would really be Al Mohler, no. You really do lack scientific understanding.

  • GentlemanScholar

     I am a former student of Dr. Mohler.  And YOU, clearly, are not Dr. Mohler.


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