People have not always had domesticated camels. Or tomatoes. Or science.

It was a warm summer evening in ancient Greece. ...

Today, we have science. We’re so accustomed to this that we assume we’ve always had science — that we have always referred to and accounted for nature through the lens of science. But we didn’t always do this. We didn’t always have this any more than Italy has always had tomatoes or Israel has always had camels. [Read more...]

Why young-Earth creationism needs to be killed with fire (part 1)

Also too, that's not a brontosaurus. Turns out there's no such thing as a brontosaurus.

Reality still matters, so the proper response to a debate between science and anti-science is not to say that some think the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and some think it is 6,000 years old, so let’s all be reasonable and say it’s 2,250,003,000 years old. [Read more...]

Teaching young-Earth creationism is a sin


A much-publicized “debate” between science advocate Bill Nye (“The Science Guy”) and young-Earth creationist Ken Ham is set for this evening. That’s only half the debate that needs to happen. Yes, Ham’s “scientific creationism” is a wretched counterfeit of real science, so it’s good that he’s being challenged on the facts of science by someone well-versed in those facts. But Ham’s nonsense is even more a wretched counterfeit of Christian theology, and he also needs to be challenged on the facts of theology by someone well-versed in the Bible and in orthodox Christian teaching. [Read more...]

Redistributing falsehoods isn’t the same as finding truth


In the worst-case scenario, the total cumulative level of delusion and deception remains unchanged. You’ve convinced me to abandon one falsehood, but you’ve allowed me to retain the other — and now I’ve convinced you to adopt it with me. All that achieves is a slight redistribution of wrongness. We remain, collectively, just as far from the truth as when we started. [Read more...]

Cain’s wife and Tubal-cain’s sonic screwdriver


“Who did Cain marry?” you asked back in Sunday school. And what you may have been told was an odd babble of legends, half-remembered allusions to other legends, and improvised-on-the-spot ideas. You were probably given an “explanation” that involved Cain marrying some previously unmentioned sister — followed by some reassurance that this would have been perfectly fine due to some mumbled rehash of a pulpit myth mangling both genetics and Mosaic law. [Read more...]

‘Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’


“Homo sapiens evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago, and then humans expanded out of Africa 60,000 years ago, after which they interbred with Neanderthals and Denisovans. So, yes, many people on Earth today are have direct ancestors that were Neanderthals. Some have direct ancestors that were Denisovans.” [Read more...]

You can’t have a 10,000-year-old house in a 7,000-year-old universe


American evangelicals tend to like the idea of “biblical archaeology,” seeing the discovery of new artifacts in the lands of the Bible as evidence confirming the truth of their scriptures. But these evangelicals do not like biblical archaeology when it finds things like a 10,000-year-old house in Eshtaol, because many American evangelicals have got it fixed in their heads that the Bible must be read in such a way that it teaches that nothing is 10,000 years old. This house is 3,000 years older than their universe. Yet there it is. [Read more...]

I think that I shall never see a theology lovely as a tree


This isn’t a dispute about the meaning of facts, but rather a dispute about whether or not there can be any such thing as facts. The sort of Christian fundamentalist most likely to embrace young-Earth creationism is also likely to be the sort of person who rails against “post-modernism” and who insists on the essential importance of “absolute truth.” Yet scratch the surface of any young-Earth creationist and you’ll find an epistemology more radically skeptical than anything Hume or any of the French deconstructionists ever imagined. Far from the defenders of “absolute truth” they claim to be, young-Earth creationists actually embrace a philosophy that says nothing can be known about the world around us. [Read more...]