Kittens and Creationism. (FULL KITTEN UPDATE 2)

Kittens and Creationism. (FULL KITTEN UPDATE 2) December 6, 2015

(Housekeeping: I apologize for not using donotlink on some of these following links; for some reason I can’t get into the site. I’ve used “nofollow” instead and hope that works. I don’t like rewarding awful people for saying things that aren’t true.)

Very late last night Mr. Captain and I were getting ready for bed when we heard this huge WHUMP noise from the kitchen. Immediately we looked at each other, then toward the kitchen, and were up like shots to find out what’d happened.

That noise did not bode well. Bother figured out how to jump onto the counters the other day, you see, and she’s very proud of her new ability. Instead of jumping onto the counters where she has plenty of room, however, she’s decided that the best place to do her new trick is right next to the tea shelf containing the fancy teacups and myriad of tins and cartons, with no space at all for a frantically-scrabbling little kitten.

This is what we found.

Seriously. It took the amount of time between the noise and us running into the kitchen to find Snow here.
OMG WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY

The kittens had tried to climb up on a shelf I keep cat supplies and pantry stuff on. By the time we got out there Frick and Frack had already scattered, leaving Lord Snow to claim his new prize: a torn-open bag of catnip. He must have been standing directly under them while they climbed Mount Pantry Shelf, because he had catnip all over himself. (The joke was on them, though, because the Evil Monster Vacuum Cleaner got deployed in response and it was like Kitty Rapture shortly after this photo was taken.)

I’m not that surprised that Snow was on hand. He and Monster hated each other, though they were littermates; they did nothing but hassle each other. By the time Monster died, they had very grudgingly worked out a time-share program for the house. Now there are two kitties in the house that only want to be Snow’s friend. He seems downright baffled by their effusive and constant efforts to involve him in their life plans.

Despite his considerable concern about these kittens, they are starting to thaw him out.

I think this is Bother. And that was Snow's chair.
I think this is Bother. And that was Snow’s chair.

It clearly bugs Bumble to no end that there is anyone in the house who does not completely love and adore him. He goes out of his way to be around Snow. He paws the older cat, rubs up against him (carefully), even head-bonks him sometimes. Sometimes Snow bats at him, but more and more often he lets it happen. It’s hard not to notice that Snow could leave if he wanted–he could walk away, or hide, or chase them away–but he doesn’t.

They were like this for a while.
They were like this for a while. If you’re wondering, Snow’s 18 pounds; Bumble just got weighed at 4.5. Bother is a very delicate 3.5.

Their latest charm offensive is sleeping on Snow’s butt. They regularly do that with each other, but both of them have been seen cautiously approaching Snow while he’s sleeping and wrapping themselves around his rear end. At first their efforts got them swatted six ways from Sunday (with a velveted paw), but now he just looks at them quizzically like he’s not totally sure what the heck they think they’re doing back there.

He’s been seen playing with them too–playfully chasing them around and being chased, and batting toys around with them.

When we took the kittens to the vet for their booster shots, the whole office turned out to see their onetime fosterlings–it was like a party! They reveled in the attention, too, the little hams. They are in radiant health, and we’re going to do everything we can to keep them that way. I brush their teeth once a week because I know that bad teeth can cause serious problems later in life for cats. They’re not thrilled with the procedure but they put up with it like champs–I wish Snow would let me do this for him too.

So much for Creationists and their “perfect design,” hmm?

Oh, that’s right, I forgot: “The Fall” must have magically and instantaneously caused all the physiological and biochemical changes required for mammals to become susceptible to tooth decay, just like it magically and instantaneously changed herbivorous animals’ teeth, musculature, stomachs, brains, digestive tracts, claws, and instinctual behaviors to be what we observe in carnivores today. Don’t get me wrong; Creationists have no idea what the actual mechanism of change might have been other than “abra-cadabra!” but the alternative, as that site puts it, is far worse and they know it (emphasis mine):

Young-earth creationists believe that the biblical account of creation is incompatible with an earth history of billions of years. One reason is that if the fossil record represents millions of years of Earth history, it has to be said that God’s method of creation was both cruel and wasteful. It was a long, drawn-out process of violence and carnage, involving the suffering and death of billions of animals over millions of years. The scriptures we have looked at make it quite clear that this could not have been the method God used in creating what he pronounced to be a ‘very good’ creation.

In response to this assertion I have two things to say:

Nothing says "I was totally created by magic and meant to eat plants originally" like a cat's body, does it? The swivel ears, the fangs, the eyes so well-suited to hunting at all light levels, the stereo vision, the claws.... yeah, all this critter needed was a god telling her to start hunting now. Nope, no way cats evolved over millions of years.
Nothing says “I was totally created by magic and meant to eat plants originally” like a cat’s body, does it? Nope, no way cats evolved over millions of years. (I bet it was a big surprise for the first cats to instantly grow those claws and fangs!)

First, that if one takes the Bible literally, then yes, actually, their god is clearly totally fine with destroying billions of animals and putting them through extreme suffering for no good reason at all.

The Fall itself doomed many billions of animals to horrific deaths from predators–including humans–and those deaths continue even today. Most humans eat meat, and I’m guessing these Creationists’ horror at all that “violence and carnage” does not extend to them becoming vegetarians as some fringe 19th-century movements did for various reasons, and as many Christians do even nowadays at least sometimes. I’ve never met a Young-Earth Creationist who eschewed meat out of concern for animals, nor took particular pains to ensure their well-being. After all, “God’s” curse upon Adam and Eve fell upon every organism on the planet, not just the humans, and and every one of those other organisms is innocent of doing a single thing to deserve what was coming for them (though arguably, so were the humans). If this god cared so much for sheep, why did he make them prey animals? And if it’s okay to eat animals because of the Fall, then why can’t other changes be made (like, oh I don’t know, equal marriage)?

The horror of death by predation is one thing, but the Christian god is also responsible for a number of utter catastrophes that claimed many animals’ lives. The Great Flood destroyed every single animal on Earth save for the ones that were on the Ark, along with all the other humans who’d angered that god so much. Every natural disaster that Creationists think is the result of the Fall also kills innocent animals, and one would think that the future Tribulation they think is coming humanity’s way Any Day Now™ will do so as well. How many animals will die during Armageddon, do you suppose? How is all that death not cruel and wasteful? How is that level of inflicted suffering not violent carnage?

And we’re not even getting into this god’s love of animal sacrifice. If he cared that much about the suffering of animals, then why would he ever have told his people to slaughter innocent animals for every occasion to placate his bloodlust? Or hey, let’s talk about how he gave Satan permission to slaughter innocent Job’s equally innocent animals just to give him man-pain–that was a really loving, benevolent thing to do, wasn’t it?

So no, sorry, Creationists. “Cruel and wasteful” about covers this god. “Violence and carnage” is the slogan on his business card. What Christians think he considers “very good” should absolutely repulse and repel any compassionate person.

Bear in mind that I’m not rejecting the Bible’s literal truthfulness because I’d be sad if it were literally true, but because there is no evidence that it is so.

Here, have some kittens. The Flood didn't happen. It's just a horrific myth that Christians don't think about really.
Here, have some kittens. There’s no reason to think the Flood myth really happened. Nobody decent would ever blame such sweet babies for anybody else’s crimes, or hurt them for any reason. It’s okay. Also, PAWS.

Second, and speaking of which, these Creationists’ assertion is a perfect illustration of the logical fallacy “argument from consequences.”

In an argument from consequences, the person making the argument doesn’t actually engage with the claim at hand. Instead, the person tries to make the case that if the claim is rejected or turns out to be untrue, then something bad will happen, so the Creationist’s argument must hold true.

“We wouldn’t like this idea to be true because oh my gosh that’d be just the worst” is a pretty pathetic substitute for credibility, but that’s about what Creationism seems to amount to, and one sees the argument everywhere in their writings and sermons. Creationist leaders use a variety of threats to scare their flocks out of seriously examining their claims, like this Christian I wrote about a while ago who thinks that if science keeps getting taught in public-school science classes, secularism will prevail and there’ll be rape, rape, rape in the streets.

I’m mentioning this because one of the big names in Creationism, Evolution News (which is affiliated with the staunchly Creationist Discovery Institute), just started a new series called “Animal Minds” in which they purport to examine animal sentience and intelligence. The first of these posts just went up recently–“What Can We Hope to Learn About Animal Minds?” There you will find a host of other logical fallacies and other such distortions, starting with their equivocations and false dilemmas. Most of it is a criticism of “naturalism,” which is itself one of their equivocations, and parroting that old canard about life arising out of totally random chance. Don’t make a drinking game out of Creationists’ disingenuous ploys or you’ll hurt yourself.

Look in vain for them to present any actual facts. They still think that if they bash the idea of natural selection enough, then maybe their own brand of pseudoscience will start looking more credible. One can’t blame them; that’s pretty much how apologetics squabbles get sorted out. I note that another story on that site involves what a bad spokesman they think Neil deGrasse Tyson (he whose mustache smells like cinnamon) is for atheism, even while they snidely concede that he is on record as saying he is not an atheist (they are psychic, too, it seems, because they have apparently decided that he is a liar; they put his chosen designation, agnostic, in scare quotes)–and without ever presenting a single bit of evidence for their own views. Strange how they don’t realize he’s not a spokesperson for atheism, but for science itself–but then, they keep insisting on painting their puerile war on science as “Christianity vs. atheism,” when in fact it is only “a particularly narrow-minded segment of ignorant, science-denying religious extremists vs. people who actually understand and accept scientific facts.” He vehemently debunks their pseudoscience every chance he gets, so obviously they cannot accept him as a spokesperson for science.

The rest of us will be waiting for them to pony up any real evidence for their assertions. I’m sure they’ll have some Any Day Now™. Yep. For sure.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

While the Creationists are trying to pick apart established science by offering fallacies and points-refuted-a-thousand-times, over here in Reality-Land we’ve been figuring out yet more stuff about cats’ genetic past–namely, about why they can taste bitter substances but not sweet ones, and how they might have lost that ability. It’s fascinating stuff, and I’m sure you’ll be shocked to discover that “instantaneous magical transformation as a result of human beings’ misdeeds” didn’t actually show up as a reason for how cats’ taste buds might have changed over the eons.

We’re also finding out how cats got to Australia. You’ll be surprised to find, no doubt, that that one YouTube guy’s guess that I saw once, “they got flung there by volcanic eruptions after the Ark landed,” didn’t figure in at all as a hypothesis. Nor did Answers in Genesis’ completely unfounded guess, in what has got to be one of the worst in a long line of completely unfounded wild guesses, that cats got to Australia by riding on “vast floating logs” from the Southeast Asian mainland to Australia. Instead of going with ad hoc flailings that don’t actually rely on evidence and have none whatsoever for themselves (and for that matter cannot be falsified at all, much less verified), we’re tracking down real evidence for our theories about how cats migrated to other continents. There are a few different theories gaining ground right now, and one of those explanations will win or another entirely will emerge based on how much factual support is observed for it–a sort of natural selection!

We’re looking at how exactly cats groom themselves to pick up tips for keeping our future space rovers, spaceships, and robots clean. Apparently all that fur adds up to make a cat’s total surface area about the size of “a ping-pong table,” all of which most cats manage to keep impressively clean and tidy.* Finding out how they do it may help us invent easier-to-maintain machines.

We’re wondering if bright clown collars will help protect birds from preying housecats, and we’ve found out something many pet owners already suspected: that cats may be able to pick up humans’ emotional cues to some extent, though they either don’t notice or don’t care much of the time.

And last for today, scientists are finding support for something else almost every one of y’all already knew: looking at cat photos and videos online genuinely makes us happier, gives us more energy, and dispels negative thoughts. Who’d have thunk? The pleasure gained from looking at these images and videos outweighed whatever guilt the respondents might have felt about avoiding their responsibilities. Now researchers are wondering if cat pictures could form a sort of “pet therapy” for viewers.

So consider this post part of my gift to the world this beautiful weekend.

Destroy_your_stuff_Bumble
Relevant. Oh, so very relevant.

* But there’s a saying: “Cat’s aren’t actually clean. They’re covered in cat spit.”


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