David Barton and Ken Ham aren’t mistaken, they’re just lying

David Barton and Ken Ham aren’t mistaken, they’re just lying October 18, 2011

Karl Giberson and Randall J. Stephens, who we discussed a few weeks ago in “Evangelicals vs. Science,” have an op-ed column in today’s New York Times on “The Evangelical Rejection of Reason.”

The Republican presidential field has become a showcase of evangelical anti-intellectualism. Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann deny that climate change is real and caused by humans. Mr. Perry and Mrs. Bachmann dismiss evolution as an unproven theory. …

The rejection of science seems to be part of a politically monolithic red-state fundamentalism, textbook evidence of an unyielding ignorance on the part of the religious. As one fundamentalist slogan puts it, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” But evangelical Christianity need not be defined by the simplistic theology, cultural isolationism and stubborn anti-intellectualism that most of the Republican candidates have embraced.

This is a real phenomenon and Giberson and Stephens are right to be concerned — both for their own evangelical Christian community and for the nation as a whole, given that this “rejection of science” has become a prerequisite for seeking the Republican nomination for president.

Some Republicans have been — quietly, and without much success so far — pushing back against the anti-science, anti-reality ideology dominant in their party’s primary campaign.

[Former Republican Sen. John] Warner, a former Navy secretary, now travels the country for the Pew project, making speeches and appearances at military bases, and calling attention to the national-security concerns of climate change and fossil-fuel dependence.

Working with Warner on the Pew climate-change project is George Shultz, President Reagan’s secretary of State, who helped advise George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign and who remains an influential Republican voice. Last year, Shultz, who now serves as a distinguished fellow at Stanford University, cochaired the “No on Prop. 23” campaign in California, which successfully defended California’s pioneering climate-change cap-and-trade law against an oil-industry-led effort to overturn it.

“My own opinion is that this problem is very real,” Shultz told National Journal. “I recognize there’s a lot of people pooh-poohing it. Whether they like the science or not, there’s a huge problem coming at us. There’s a huge melt coming in the Arctic regions. There’s melting taking place.” Of Republicans like Perry who deny climate science, he said, “They’re entitled to their opinion, but they’re not entitled to the facts.”

That — from Coral Davenport’s National Journal article, “Retired Republicans Quietly Try to Shift GOP Climate-Change Focus” (see also this from Phil Plait) — is a positive sign. George Shultz is a significant figure. Unfortunately, though, he’s a significant figure from the past. In the present, people like Bachmann, Cain and Perry have much more influence in the Republican Party and, despite what Shultz says, they seem to think they’re entitled to their own facts.

Herman Cain’s proud ignorance about sexuality, Michele Bachmann’s endorsement of anti-vaxxer hysteria, and Rick Perry’s repeated assertions that climate change is a hoax cannot be separated from their shared embrace of the anti-science ideology of “creationism” and dismissal of evolution.

Creationism is indefensible on the evidence. The facts are against it. That leaves its proponents with no option except to go meta, attacking the very idea of “evidence” and “facts” by following Pilate’s example and shrugging off the evidence by asking “What is ‘truth’?” Opposed and refuted by overwhelming scientific evidence, they are forced to attack science itself, suggesting that the whole endeavor and the very possibility of learning about the natural world is somehow illegitimate.

Once you’ve taken that leap and made that ideological claim, there’s no reason not to apply the same no-standards standard to sexuality, medicine, climate science or economics. You’re no longer bound by science, by facts, by reality, by what is. And once that’s the case, you’re free to assert whatever foolish absurdities you calculate will be most politically expedient. You can say that you chose to be heterosexual. You can say that vaccines cause autism. You can say that carbon doesn’t trap heat. You can say that reducing demand leads to economic growth.

And since hermeneutics is also a kind of science — a way of seeking after the truth and determining, as best as possible, the facts and reality of the matter — embracing the ideology of anti-science also means you’re free to say that any text means anything you want it to say. To be unbound by facts is to be unbound by texts as well.

Again, the issue here is not questions of belief in things which simply have not been proved. It’s perfectly reasonable to believe in something despite a lack of compelling proof or evidence that it is certainly true. But it is not reasonable to believe in something in spite of compelling proof and evidence that it is certainly not true. To do that is to say that reality itself does not matter.

And once you’ve said that — as Bachmann, Cain and Perry all have, in public, on television — then you have, as Giberson and Stephens say, “rejected reason.” You’ve left your senses and no longer make sense, only non-sense.

I cannot know or guess whether Bachmann, Cain and Perry have truly embraced the nonsense they claim to believe or if those nonsensical claims are something more cynical. I cannot know for sure if they are deceived or deceivers. But I think we can know which is the case with two of the evangelical leaders discussed by Giberson and Stephens: David Barton and Ken Ham. Barton and Ham, they say, “have been particularly effective orchestrators — and beneficiaries” of the evangelical “parallel culture” that rejects science and reason:

Mr. Ham built his organization, Answers in Genesis, on the premise that biblical truth trumps all other knowledge. His Creation Museum, in Petersburg, Ky., contrasts “God’s Word,” timeless and eternal, with the fleeting notions of “human reason.” This is how he knows that the earth is 10,000 years old, that humans and dinosaurs lived together, and that women are subordinate to men. Evangelicals who disagree, like Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, are excoriated on the group’s website. …

Mr. Barton heads an organization called WallBuilders, dedicated to the proposition that the founders were evangelicals who intended America to be a Christian nation. He has emerged as a highly influential Republican leader, a favorite of Mr. Perry, Mrs. Bachmann and members of the Tea Party. Though his education consists of a B.A. in religious education from Oral Roberts University and his scholarly blunders have drawn criticism from evangelical historians like John Fea, Mr. Barton has seen his version of history reflected in everything from the Republican Party platform to the social science curriculum in Texas.

Barton and Ham are not deceived. They are deceivers. They tell lies that they know to be lies. They tell lies for money.

Barton doesn’t merely misread and misquote the founding fathers due to careless scholarship and ideological blindness. His misreadings and misquotations reveal too much care and craft for that to be the case. His distortions are composed with painstaking care. They are deliberate, intentional and knowing. He devises and markets conscious falsehoods — false claims that he knows to be false. He does not believe what he says. He does not mean what he says. He says what he says only in order to deceive others and thereby to separate them from their money.

The same is true for Ken Ham. Ken Ham is a liar, a charlatan, a con-man, a bearer of false witness. He lies for money. Like Barton, he has been personally and publicly corrected innumerable times over many years, confronted again and again with the demonstrable, undeniable falsehood of his statements. And like Barton he makes no correction and offers no apology for those false statements. With an astonishingly cynical contempt for his audience, he simply assumes that his critics have no influence among those he has been fleecing, and he willfully continues fleecing them, continuing to make the very same claims and statements that he has been shown are false, continuing to say things that he knows are not true. Because he can get away with it and because it’s profitable.

David Barton and Ken Ham are not fundamentalists. They are not in denial, defensively retreating from a bewildering world they do not understand except as a vague threat to their faith. No. Fundamentalists in denial are their prey, their mark — the goose that provides them with golden eggs.

It’s considered rude to state this so bluntly. That’s what they’re counting on. Their ability to continue this lucrative con depends on a misplaced notion of civility that mistakenly presumes that the presumption of good faith is absolute and impervious to evidence. That warped idea of civility is what creates the space in which they are free to act in bad faith with impunity, to lie without any danger of ever being called to account for lying. Refusing to call liars to account is not civility, it’s aiding and abetting — becoming an accomplice in their scam.


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  • Seanjw20

    The great irony of this is that it seems to be evangelicals who are forever moaning about ‘postmodernism’. Are they so oblivious to what the term actually means? They seem to have embraced a postmodern approach to reality that is pretty much like the worst possible caricature of PoMo. Ken Ham’s scientific papers, footnoted with quotes from the bible rather than academic papers, could easily be a religious version of the Sokal hoax. 

  • Matthew Funke

    Robyrt: I remember reading a bunch of books as a child in the vein of Darwin’s Black Box, which were pro-creationism but not anti-science at all. The argument went like this: Evolution is impossible for reasons X, Y and Z. Scientists simply need to take their blinders off and realize it. Once this happens, everybody will agree on creationism and the Bible will be proven right through the scientific method.

    I was a young-Earth creationist for years, and I read many books like that myself, so let me be blunt.

    These arguments are still anti-science.

    First of all, because X, Y, and Z are demonstrably not obstacles to evolution, or are simply untrue.  Creationists — or their more politically savvy brothers-in-arms, “Intelligent Design proponents” — continue to insist on ideas like “Conservation of Information” (even though no such principle exists in information science) and the “irreducible complexity” of the flagellum, the immune system, and the human eyeball (even though thse have long since been demonstrated rather conclusively not to be irreducibly complex); more banal arguments (e.g., invoking the Second Law of Thermodynamics) have been debunked for decades.  Inventing principles for which no corroborating data exists, or insisting that something is true that has for a long time been discredited, is not science.

    Second, even if these arguments did present obstacles to evolution, discrediting evolution is not the same as providing evidence for creationism.  If you show evolution to be false, you have done nothing to show creationism true whatsoever.  The scientific method doesn’t work like that.

    In other words, these books pretend to be amenable to science, but they end up changing the definitions of “science” and “the scientific method” (at minimum) in order to make it appear as if this is true.  They have to pretend that there are only two alternatives to answering the question, and that discovering the correct answer can be accomplished through debate and pleasing rhetoric.

    Aaron Peercy: Evolution is based not on an atheistic worldview, but on the scientific method.

    True.  Evolution makes no statement about God one way or the other.  The best one can do is to say that evolution is agnostic about the involvement (or existence) of God.

    But that has no impact on whether or not evolution is true.  Television repair is just as agnostic.  But we can still repair televisions with surprising regularity.

  • WingedBeast

    About Evolution.

    I think the big beef Creationists have with Evolution is that, for a very long time, the question of “how is it that we came to exist as we do” had only one answer.  To be faithful, you could be a believer, but to be reasonable, you at least had to be a Deist.  Not that there weren’t atheists, but the idea of us coming to exist in our current state without the direction of God in the view of the general public was a non-starter.

    Then comes Evolution.  Evolution, among other things, knocks God off of the default status.  Creationists seem to think that, if only Evolution would go away, God would be the default status again.

    Of course, they also seem to think of Evolution as a theory that applies to anywhere the God of Gaps could also preside.  It’s a view of Evolution not as a theory of the change of characteristics in a population over generations, but Evolution as the Theory of Not God.

    Most atheists in America will have had the experience of someone trying to prove to us that God exists by disproving Evolution.  Some of us have responded by saying “okay, I stipuate that evlution is false, now prove God” and getting no intelligible response.

    Whatever damage to faith the Theory of Evolution has done is already done and the bell can’t be unrung.

  • Anonymous

    Living in the Midwest I see the effects of global warming on a daily basis. I have fought very hard to keep the subject of “creationism” out of our schools. When it comes to injecting newborns and infants with bolus doses of a short-chain alkyl mercury compound, that’s where you lose me. 

  • Anonymous

    Are we mocking Herman Cain this morning? Can I play?

    Electric fence was a joke, says Cain…

    …unless you’re into that. – Stephen Colbert

  • Michael Busch

    Two points, because this thread is focused on the need to acknowledge reality:

    1.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thiomersal_controversy  Enough said about that.

    2.  The Gardasil HPV vaccine that Bachmann has been lying about is given to patients between the ages of 9 and 25, with preference given to vaccination by age 12 to vaccinate everyone well before they become sexually active.  And it doesn’t contain thiomersal, or any other mercury-bearing compounds.  Once again Wikipedia has done the research for me: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gardasil

  • Michael Busch

    It is true that Bachmann is now distancing herself from her statements during the Repulican presidential debate, after being called out on them, saying that she “had no idea” if what she had said was true.  But that doesn’t make her saying them in the first place justified.

    I am particularly annoyed about the anti-vaxxer nonsense, since I experienced pertussis in grade school (that vaccine isn’t 100% effective, and small clusters still occur).  A week spent coughing and drinking foul-tasting erythromycin solutions on a regular basis is a powerful lesson in the virtues of preventative medicine.

  • Apocalypse Review

    I think the USians in charge of things were unduly influenced by the special circumstances of World War Two. The Germans had been so utterly defeated that they welcomed any return to normality, and the Japanese, once shocked into defeat and surrender, took that as their cultural cue to learn from the victor.

    These are not typical reactions of defeated peoples. Especially not those who perceive their occupying authorities as being about as good as the government they used to have.

    That being said it’s like the USA’s military and civilian leaders (Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al) seemed to go out of its way to purposely screw up the Iraqi occupation as badly as it could. By refusing to waive regulations so as to allow Iraqi workers and companies first crack at rebuilding the infrastructure – by refusing to protect culturally important artifacts – by reopening Abu Ghraib and reusing it for its old function* … the list goes on and on.

    It’s like they took the Morgenthau Plan and turned it Up to Eleven.

    And then refused to bother paying attention to the consequences because they don’t have to worry about actual facts, whatever they make up is the truth.

    * parenthetically I’m sure the East Germans were unimpressed when the Soviets reopened camps like Sachsenhausen to use as labor camps.

  • Emcee, cubed

    Maybe it is just me, but I don’t see an ethical or a practical difference between “telling people something you know to be untrue to make them believe it” and “telling people something you know to be untrue because they want to believe it.” Defining whether a person is a liar or not by how his audience reacts to the truth doesn’t make any sense.

    Barton & Ham are not politicians, pundits or laypeople. They claim to be experts in their field. They need to be very familiar with their fields to put out what they do. But if they are familiar with those fields, they couldn’t come to the conclusions they do. So either they are lying about being experts, or lying about their conclusions.

    This is no different from the guy that Al Franken pwned during the Senate hearings, who claimed that a study showed that same-sex couples were bad parents. The “expert” was redefining “nuclear family” as “family with opposite-sex parents”, when the actual definition posted in the study was “family with two natural and/or adoptive parents”, which included same-sex parents. Yes, a layperson or someone unfamiliar with the study might make a mistake like that. But this was supposed to be an expert who was testifying before Congress. And definition of terms is one of the most important parts of reading any study. That makes the odds of it being a mistake much smaller, and much more likely that he was, in fact, misrepresenting the facts, or lying.

  • Emcee, cubed

    When it comes to injecting newborns and infants with bolus doses of a
    short-chain alkyl mercury compound, that’s where you lose me.

    Because using fancy words and scientific terms is scary? Because other than that, there has been no evidence of it being a bigger problem than what it is solving.

  • Anonymous

    I never said Gardisal contained mercury. What I’m refering to is the 12 mercury injections administered in the 1990’s to children at birth, 2, 4, 6, 12 and 18 months of age. That’s when my flag was raised. Gardisal uses aluminum as an adjuvant which is another story in itself. This was in the placebo for all safety studies. Get it? There have been over 23,000 adverse events reported with Gardisal. Over 9,000 required emergency hospitalization. Over 100 cases of encepholapathy (brain damage) have been reported. Mental retardation may have been the wrong words to use but it’s not much different than permanent brain damage. In case you missed it, it was recently reported that out of 20,000 cases of whooping cough reported in California last year, over 92% of cases were in fully vaccinated 8-12 year olds. I’m sorry you got whooping cough but I think your’re barking up the wrong tree. Wikipedia? Are you kidding me?

  • Yep, yep, yep.

    “If we build enough schools the people will stop being mad that we blew up their children”.

    (Not putting words in FS’s mouth here; he didn’t say that. But there’s an attitude that suggests a military can expect to buy gratitude after inficting warfare on civilians. Drives me crazy)

    That would be putting words in my mouth, yes.  :)  

    The place I am coming from with this is to correct the tendancy of politicians to want to go into a war with no clear exit strategy, no thought beyond “Charge!”  As has been pointed out, the U.S. has an overwhelming force of arms, but the problem with their deployment is not a case of needing even more force still, but the fact that once we have occupied any territory, getting out of it again is difficult without something worse flowing into our exit wake.  The need to make a territory secure in the long term without extended U.S. occupation is a real concern.  

    The longer the military maintains a presence in an occupied territory, the harder it will be to remove them, and the longer the symbol of what just blew them up will be triggering resentment.  We cannot buy gratitude, but making the effort not do lasting damage will still pay some dividends.  

  • Michael Busch

    I use Wikipedia as a reference because its editors have done a very complete job of researching both of these topics.  The Wikipedia articles themselves are nowhere near as important as the sources that they reference.

    As I said, Wikipedia’s coverage of theomersal is quite complete, and there is no point in my repeating the evidence for why it does not cause any known harm.

    I am quite aware that whooping cough cases happen primarily among children who were vaccinated.  That’s simply because the vaccine is not 100% effective.  But it is effective enough for herd immunity to prevent epidemics, and so I was part of a cluster of maybe six kids rather than the entire population of my elementary school.  Alas that I am too old to have escaped chicken pox, but I am very grateful that I did not have to experience measles or mumps.

    And, most importantly: using Wikipedia’s terminology: CITATION NEEDED on all of your statements above on Gardisal.  Using the references in the Wikipedia article, which again is here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gardasil :

    -Gardisal contains _aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate_ as an adjuvant to improve immune response to the vaccine.  This is the same technique as is used in many other vaccines, and no interactions or disease associations have been demonstrated beyond increasing the vaccines’ effectiveness (although the use of some aluminum salts as adjuvants have recently been proposed to increase the risk of autoimmune disorders later in life, there is no adequate demonstration of this – and I now reach the limits of my knowledge of biochemistry).

    -Out of 23 million doses Gardisal doses administred between June 2006 and December 2008, 12421 adverse effects were reported through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.  The only effects that were greater than background rates were fainting and venous embolism.  While several tens of patients have died after receiving the vaccine, those deaths cannot be causally connected to the shot, since that rate was indistinguishable from background.

    -All of the above means that no deaths, and also no serious side effects, can be attributed to Gardisal.  Not even those patients who died from embolism can be attributed to the vaccine, although there were more embolisms overall.  The data back up Merck’s advertising: Gardisal prevents cancers, and saves lives.

    And now I am done, since I doubt Fred would appreciate my completely derailing his comment threads.

  • Anonymous

    The book lumped in abiogenesis and the Big Bang with evolutionary theory.

    The icing on the cake was the comic, which even to a YEC kid with no external information, was pretty dumb:  The “evolutionist” bends down looking at the dirt saying “I came from the mud and slime.”  The creationist looks up into the sky and says “I came from God’s divine design.” Um…doesn’t Genesis 2 have God making Adam from mud?

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Whatever damage to faith the Theory of Evolution has done is already done and the bell can’t be unrung.

    I’m not sure why the ToE is supposed to ‘damage’ faith at all.

    “And the king said to the squire: “THAT WHICH CAN BE DESTROYED BY THE TRUTH, SHOULD BE!””

  • WingedBeast

    It damages faith from a Creationist POV by making God no longer the default proposition for any answer.

    “Why do humans have four fingers and a thumb on each hand?”

    Answer that used to be the default.  “The Creator wanted it that way.”
    Other possible answer now.  “We evolved from fourlegged ancestors with a need for power multipliers, turning capacity, and stability proferred by the four fingers.  As our ancestors evolved in the trees, longer fingers allowed for stronger grips and longer thumbs made more stability of grip.”

    Notice how that other possible answer doesn’t even mention God.  We can argue God’s necessity in other aspects of life, but now God is an unneeded hypothesis for any explanation.

    “Why do humans walk upright?”  “Evolution.”
    “Why does Spring follow Winter?”  “Earth’s tilting axis.”
    “Why does the earth exist in the first place?”  “Accretion discs around a forming star.”

    I think that Creationists and other RTCs view the ToE as harmful to faith becuase, whether true or not, they see ToE as the first usurpor of God’s position of “ultimate explanation.”  Most can’t complain too much about things like Germ Theory, but for some odd reason there is a Flat Earth Society.  So, every science that has to be wrong in order for their personal God to be right is labled Evolution.

    Go ahead, do a search, you’ll find creationist websites denouncing “Geological Evolution” and “Celestial Evolution” as well as conflating Evolution with Abiogenesis.

  • The icing on the cake was the comic, which even to a YEC kid with no external information, was pretty dumb:  The “evolutionist” bends down looking at the dirt saying “I came from the mud and slime.”  The creationist looks up into the sky and says “I came from God’s divine design.” Um…doesn’t Genesis 2 have God making Adam from mud?

    The comic authors do not seem to understand the mentality of scientists.  According to Carl Sagan, we came from stars in the heavens.  Everything after that is just shifting atoms into structures.  

  • Anonymous

    Not all mercury is equal. Much like how small amounts of methyl alcohol will kill you, while equivalent amounts of ethyl alcohol do essentially nothing; Ethyl mercury is essentially harmless, while methyl (The kind that was never in vaccines) is quite deadly.

  • Joshua

    It damages faith from a Creationist POV by making God no longer the default proposition for any answer.

    “Why do humans have four fingers and a thumb on each hand?”

    Answer that used to be the default.  “The Creator wanted it that way.”

    Well, yes, maybe. Maybe it’s just the limitations of my knowledge, but I’m unaware of people actually doing that much prior to modern science.

    Church authors, which I have studied to some reasonable depth in the 0-500 period at least, were perfectly able to distinguish those kinds of questions as being outside their area. The most relevant quote I can think of is the St Augustine one quoted here before a number of times, to paraphrase in modern terms, “The Bible doesn’t teach us the answers to scientific questions [in particular, I think it was the shape of the earth or something], and to claim it does just makes us look like idiots to those who are educated in that area.” Since he was motivated to say that, I guess there must have been some Christians with a tendency to say otherwise, but I don’t recall reading any.

    Pre-scientific natural philosophers, on the other hand, seemed to more often take their cue from the body of Greek learning. They didn’t, to my knowledge, rely on a literal understanding of the Bible because a literal understanding of the Bible is a modern invention. Maybe Galileo would disagree with me, but he did live in a very extreme time and place.

    So I don’t think, on the whole, that “God did it” was really the default answer before Darwin. People back then were plenty smarter than that.

  • Mergle

    In case you missed it, it was recently reported that out of 20,000
    cases of whooping cough reported in California last year, over 92% of
    cases were in fully vaccinated 8-12 year olds.

    Okay, that you seem to be using this to suggest that vaccines aren’t effective/shouldn’t be used is a actually really good example of why we need to work on teaching people how to use their basic math skills together with critical thinking to understand real-world problems. We don’t do a good job of that at all, which is a shame, and probably is at least _part_ of why these misunderstandings persist.

    Let’s say we have a disease, badatunderstandingproportionsitus. It’s a sufficiently common disease that unvaccinated, 50% of the population will get it in their lifetime. However, say vaccination reduces the lifetime chance of infection to 5%.*

    Suppose we have one million people, and 92% are vaccinated. We expect that of the 920,000 vaccinated people, 5% or 46,000 will contract badatunderstandingproportionitus in their lifetime. On the other hand, of the 80,000 unvaccinated people, 40,000 will contract the disease.

    That means that over half of the cases in the population occur in vaccinated individuals, even though there’s a massive reduction in risk conferred by the vaccine.

    I pulled these numbers out of a hat so we could look at a simple example and see how only knowing what percent of infections occurred in the vaccinated population does not give you a very good idea of how much benefit we get from vaccinating the population.

    *(This is not the same as saying the vaccine is 95% effective, mind you — that number is computed based on how the vaccine reduced risk relative to the control population. In this example, VE=(.5-.05)/.5×100=90%)

  • Joshua

     the generals were advising against entering into this asymmetrical warfare but were overruled by politicians

    Point taken. Certainly, Petraeus seems like a smarter guy that GW Bush. Low bar to clear, obviously.

    Let’s all say it together now: Don’t start a land war in Asia. How many world empires have sent armies to their grave in Afghanistan? Britain, the USSR, the USA. It goes back further, I’m sure. At least Alexander the Great had the good sense to turn around and go home.

  • I think they care about as much for Carl Sagan as they do for the Bible (not much!)

  • WingedBeast

    Two important nits to pick.

    1.  We have to understand the difference between the intelligencia and the educated, which in St Augustine’s time was quite the minority, and the general populace.  In many ways, the mythological was still the default answer to the average subject.

    You know that supersticion about throwing salt over your shoulder?  It spawned from a belief that spilling something as pure as salt would call the attention of a demon.  The way to respond was to take some of the salt in your right hand and toss it over your left shoulder.  The left hand side being the sinister side, it was the one where demons and evil hung out.  That, by the way, was why even the educated higher classes punished children who wrote with their left hand.

    We can speak on the leaders and the nobility and that Ceasar and his advisors most likely didn’t literally believe that man controlled fire due to Prometheus.  But, to the average peasant who’s education is derived entirely from parents, apprenticeship, and what a friend of a friend once said to him.

    2.  We are talking about RTC perception here.  Most Creationists look to the 1950s and think it was great because of everybody knowing their place, as opposed to the New Deal and public works projects.  They also look to a percieved time, whether or not this time actually exists, in which their own faith was the center of all society, a time in which they fit in and weren’t oppressed by people taking prayer out of schools.

    We can debate a lot of the reality of Evolution, in both its scientific understanding and the history thereof, but there’s no doubting that it has a mythology built up around it.  That mythology started right from the beginning, when things like “accelerated evolution” entered fiction.

    For a great many, of which Creationists aren’t the only members, Evolution has a reputation as the “Theory of Atheism”.  A part of that mythology is a world of believers where the only dangers around were witches, devil worshippers, and heathen Tribes before something even more evil than wrong beliefs swept the land, nonbelief, which, by the mythology, swept in on a philosophy that tells that we are animals and, therefore, there’s nothing wrong with anything.

  • Joshua

    Well, for (1) it looks to me like you’re arguing from negative evidence. Your “average peasant” didn’t leave written works behind for us to be able to understand their attitudes. The written evidence we have, at least that I have read, indicates that ancients were plenty smart enough to notice when mythology is being misapplied to answer questions that it couldn’t. Sure, that evidence only covers a small fraction of the total number of people we’re talking about, but as is so often the case in ancient history, the small fraction you get is better than nothing at all.

    And sure, your average peasant may have had a more simplistic understanding of things than those who wrote works that were widely read and copied, but I would be extremely surprised if they resembled RTC attitudes today much at all. What’s a simple and obvious understanding of a myth can differ greatly between cultures, and does differ greatly between any post-Enlightenment culture and any pre-Enlightenment culture.As for (2), your use of phrases like “used to be” and “no longer” led me to think that you were talking about how Christians really did think prior to Darwin, not how RTCs imagine it to be. The two couldn’t be more different – RTCs in my experience are no better at history or theology than they are at biology. So maybe we are talking at cross-purposes here.

  • Joshua

    I actually had more line breaks in there, but they seem to have disappeared. Must be the gnomes in the computer again. Sorry.

  • JosephU

    the article says:
    “Creationism is indefensible on the evidence. The facts are against it.”
    Q. What does the Biblical creation account say?
    A  The Biblical creation account tells us that God created all the various plants and animals”according to their kinds” (1)
    Q. What does the scientific evidence say? What does Cutting-Edge Science tells us?
    Cutting-Edge Science tells us:
    – Molecules-to-man evolutionism violates the Law of Biogenesis:  Life does not come from non-life.
    – The specific complexity of genetic information in the genome doesnot increase
      spontaneously.    Therefore,
      there is no natural process whereby reptiles can turn into birds, land mammals into whales,
      or chimpanzees (or any other supposed common ancestor) into human being.” (2)
    The Biblical creation account and Cutting-Edge Science are in agreement:Creation … Yes.Evolution … No.
    (1) Genesis 1,2 etc.     http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=according+kind&qs_version=NIV1984
    (2) What Does Cutting-Edge Science Teach about OriginsFromCreation Doctrine
    http://www.kolbecenter.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=83:creation-doctrine&catid=19:creation-doctrine&Itemid=81What Does the Catholic Church Teach about Origins?http://www.kolbecenter.org/images/kolbe/pdfs/what_church_teaches.pdf

  • Anonymous

    If “Cutting-Edge Science” says so, surely you have some studies that prove it. Let’s say, five of them. You cite ’em, I’ll read ’em. Meanwhile I’ll just link you to talkorigins.org and call it a day.

  • Anonymous

    Wait, wait, there are Catholic young-earth creationists? *boggle*

  • WingedBeast

    Honestly, where it’s coming from is a little from option A and a little from option B.  It’s partly what I think of the general “ignorant villager” stereotype.

    One thing we do know from more recent observation as well as writings of the literate about the peasants of the middle ages is that literacy was in the minority.  A smaller village was likely to have a scribe handle things like the reading and writing of communications, but even that scribe was unlikely to have access to anything so grand as a library or any of the musings on the origins of life.

    That said, whatever the reality of religious domination prior to Darwin, it’s both exagurated and idealized inside the minds of Creationists.

    The reality is that the basic ideas of natural selection had been considered by many minds prior and Darwin just got to be the name for evolution because of some lucky timing.  Evolution was bound to come out with one name or another.  The evidence was there and the thinking that looked at God and said “I do not need that hypothesis” was present before the ToE made it’s breakout.

    But, what we’re talking about is partly the reality and partly the mythology that goes into a common Creationist website.

  • Rikalous

    – The specific complexity of genetic information in the genome does not increase spontaneously. Therefore, there is no natural process whereby reptiles can turn into birds, land mammals into whales, or chimpanzees (or any other supposed common ancestor) into a human being.”

    One drink!


  • Rikalous

    they said science did not…bring the joy of discovery

    It’s like reading that someone doesn’t feel happier when they pet small fuzzy animals.

  • Rikalous

    And now I am done, since I doubt Fred would appreciate my completely derailing his comment threads.

    Derailing comment threads is the second most popular Slacktivite activity, barely edged out by ovine murder.

  • Guest

    Again, the issue here is not questions of belief in things which simply
    have not been proved. It’s perfectly reasonable to believe in something
    despite a lack of compelling proof or evidence that it is certainly


  • Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens.  From Conservapedia: “Generally speaking, leading evolutionists generally no longer debate creation scientists because creation scientists tend to win the debates.” http://www.conservapedia.com/Poe%27s_law

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    A week spent coughing and drinking foul-tasting erythromycin solutions on a regular basis is a powerful lesson in the virtues of preventative medicine.

    Even better? Cracked ribs, detached corneas or blown blood vessels. All occasional side effects of the pertussis cough. (That and the death)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    JosephU has been posting almost the *exact* same comment on blogs all over the shop for months. Either a bit or an extremely limited creationist.

  • Bruce Heerssen

    FearlessSOn, it sounds like that may be PZ Meyers or, more likely, Richard Dawkins.

  • Corvus illustris

    No, there are indirect references in the word “truthy” (or its abstract-entity derivative) to such elements in USAmerican life as “chocolatey” meaning “imitation-chocolate flavored,” “buttery” meaning (same for butter), etc., that would be missing in the apparent Latinate synonym.

  • Parasum

     “His Creation Museum, in Petersburg, Ky., contrasts “God’s Word,”
    timeless and eternal, with the fleeting notions of “human reason.””

    ## This is the mistake Saint Thomas Aquinas devoted a tidy slice of his work to fighting against. And if one writes him off as a benighted mediaeval with nothing to say to moderns or Evangelicals, the quoted words do not do justice to the Bible, which uses “human reason” constantly. Mr Ham’s “contrast” is torpedoed by his star witness, Scripture itself. Quite apart from being suicidal epistemology.  

  • Aaron

    Hey, well said comment.

    Would you mind editing though to remove my full name? I made the mistake of posting this a while ago, and I’m trying to go back and fix this posts of mine for privacy.



  • Andrew Gale

    Abuse is not evidence. I have read over 50 responses to my inquiry “can anyone tell me when the law of bio-genesis was disproved.” I have yet to see a convincing answer to the question. Until you can disprove a scientific law, abusing someone who mentions it only shows you are rude and unscientific!