Newsflash: AiG staff’s brains dissappear!

17 01 2007

Every once in a while I surf on over to Answers in Genesis, perhaps the most “respected” group of creationists despite their apparent constant desire to show themselves up when it comes to errant claims. Normally I just roll my eyes and move on, but today two articles linked from the main page wonderfully depicted just how circular and frantic their logic has become. The first is called Evidence of dinosaurs at Angkor, suggesting that a 800-year old civilization in Asia depicted a dinosaur in their architecture. The pictures provided are small, letting the viewer see little detail, and no clear pictures of the other bas-reliefs are available to see, so it’s plain to see that AiG isn’t really being forthright as far as disclosure goes in this case. The author stumbles on about how we know from other cultures that dinosaurs/dragons existed in recent times, but apparently he never looked at the “Natural History” books before Darwin’s time. Aristotle, Pliny, and others surely compiled natural history books, but rarely did they actually go to look at many of the creatures they described, Aristotle writing that mother bears would literally lick their cubs into the proper bear shape. Pliny’s work seems to contain just a few strands of truth in a book largely consisting of heresay and fantasy, including that in Africa there were people with faces like dogs but bodies like normal humans. Such texts were the “references” for Medieval works on natural history of well, of course including dragons and the like, so of course there are going to be all kinds of wacky stories if you go back long enough. This issue is never addressed or identified by AiG as far as I can tell, and their poor scholarship never ceases to amaze me.

What is most striking (and idiotic) about the article is the Editorial note at the end, which states

[Ed. note: Some have questioned the authenticity of the relief. However, even if the relief is found to be fraudulent, the position that man and dinosaurs lived together just thousands of years ago does not rest on this one evidence—it is based on the unchanging Word of God. Further, there are many other petroglyphs and legends that support the true history of the Bible…]

So, if this case of a “dinosaur” in a bas-relief work is found to be false, AiG is still correct and the fact that they use this feature as one of the primary evidences for dinosaur/man co-existence doesn’t matter at all. Sheesh, there’s no reasoning with people who believe they are the sole owners and upkeepers of Absolute Truth. The next article that caught my eye was The “new atheists”, focusing on the glut of atheist literature out on the market today (primarily The God Delusion by Dawkins). I read some of Dawkins’ book while in Baltimore and overall I wasn’t very impressed; he seemed just as angry and evangelical as the people he was railing against, and such is the reaction I’ve got from many people. This isn’t to say he hasn’t got some good points or ideas in the book, but overall Dawkins is so antagonistic that he almost defeats his own purpose by being as unyielding as the fundamentalists he talks about. In any event, AiG has of course picked up on this and written an article in response, and I found this “call to action” part of the article rather disturbing:

Some people might say to me, “But there’s no way Americans will go for atheism. Most people believe in God, even if they don’t take the Bible seriously as AiG does.” Think back to the 1950s. What if someone back then said to you, “Beware, the homosexual movement is on the march—if we don’t do something, ‘gay’ marriages will be legalized across the country.” Almost all of us at that time would have said that there’s no way Americans would ever accept this. Most people believe that marriage is one man for one woman, so, no, this will never happen in America.But as you know, it has happened—and continues to happen!

Interestingly, these new atheists liken their growing movement to that of the gay activists. One stated: “We’re in the same position the gay movement was in a few decades ago. There was need for people to come out. The more people who came out, the more people had the courage to come out. “That’s the case with atheists. They are more numerous than anybody realizes.”

AiG doesn’t cite where it got this quote from, not does it cite the cut-and-paste quotes featured at the top of the article, but it was interesting to see them equate atheism to the gay rights agenda that is so controversial today. Most of the anti-homosexual agenda of AiG is secondary, coming through as the “God created them man and woman”, therefore implying that such a union is the only kind that is permissible, but I can’t say I’m shocked that they would come up with something like this statement either. You’ll have to pardon my French, but I guess I’m on the AiG shit-list too, being that I’m an “appeaser”, being a Christian and staunch defender of evolution as science, not knowing that deep down in my very DNA the genes that code for atheism are getting more and more influential, until one day I’ll fully go through mutation (as caused by the atheism virus, transmitted directly from touching any evolutionary book) and become a rabid atheist and Marxist. Give me a break.

In explaining the culture shift or sudden discussion of atheism, AiG never for a second thinks “Hey, maybe we evangelicals are a bit too condemning. Maybe we should love people as we say God does and be graceful to those who disagree with us” or “Yeah, a lot of people have questions about God that have no easy answers; maybe we should be honest and teach love and acceptance rather than simple submission to Law.” No, they blame it all on evolution (who could’ve guessed?)

As we’ve been saying for years, there’s been a change in this culture—at a foundation level. Generations have been indoctrinated by the secular education system and media to build their thinking on human reason, not the Word of God. And at the base of this is the creation/evolution issue.

Evolutionary indoctrination has produced generations (even in the church) who doubt the Bible. Barna Research discovered that of teenagers today who call themselves born-again Christians, only 9% believe there is such a thing as absolute truth. These young people are ripe for “secular evangelists” like Dawkins and Harris.

So unerring submission to an interpretation of a book (distinct from the book itself) by a group such as AiG is the way to go. Sure, we all may be fallible, but apparently they’re less-fallible than everyone else, continuing to breed the condescension and condemning attitude that turns so many people off to God; if God’s people are so nasty, why should I want any part with their deity? Such is the battle of fundamentalists, but AiG is correct in that there are some atheists who are so militant in their own way, with most people in the middle not allying with either side. Has religion done some horrible things? Surely, but I am not reductionist enough to accept metaphysical naturalism even though I accept methodological naturalism. I actually wrestle with this topic often, saying to myself “Well, wait… you say that everything that exists is open to science, but we have no empirical evidence of God, how can this be?” This is difficult, very difficult, and while driving to work every morning such thoughts usually cross my mind, but I can’t shake my belief just as I would be unlikely to prove to Richard Dawkins that there is in fact a God; it’s something that I feel I know through personal experience although it currently defies any explanation I may come up with, hence I do not try to put it into context of things we absolutely know. Such answers may not be acceptable to many, but life in an intellectual and spiritual journey where absolute answers for everything are few and far between- how could I ever know or understand the mind of God? If nothing else I believe that it is of the utmost importance to be honest, be it in academics or during the unremarkable rhythms of a workday, and even though it may seem to be an “easy out” to some I am not afraid to say “I don’t know” when I honestly don’t have the answers; how could I possibly even begin to obtain them?

Maybe Hogzilla knows where Sasquatch is….

4 01 2007

When I was in middle school I was absolutely enthralled by the idea of lake monsters, drawing renditions of “Nessie” in my free time and reading every book on the topic from the school library at least twice. Needless to say, I was a nerd and didn’t have many friends during this time, which only gave me more opportunity to degrade my vision by staying up to all hours reading accounts of various cryptozoological critters. These days, despite the debunking of various myths, documentaries still are being made about various legendary creatures, often involving chubby guys out into the middle of the woods on the anniversary of the night they saw bigfoot. Such was the case with a show I caught last week (I forget what channel) about the mythical ape-man, involving a local reporter going out into the middle of the woods with a bunch of “country gentlemen” to the same spot where they reported saw the Sasquatch. Odd that not long after arriving they start seeing things and rocks or purportedly thrown at the group (although this is never caught on film, all we see are the reactions of the people after the fact) and then one of the brilliant lot decides to fire off a few rounds from his pistol into the woods. This is followed by a film crew being led into the woods by a Native American and his brother, stopping and saying “You smell that? Stink? You smell it?“, then pointing to a tiny speck on a mountain far away, claiming the thing is Bigfoot. At least it’s good to know that if I fail at all else in life I can start a business leading “Genuine Bigfoot Tours” in a good portion of the lower 48.

I followed this up with a National Geographic documentary on “Hogzilla,” a boar that was supposed to be 12 feet long and weigh 1000 pounds shot in Alapaha, Georgia in 2004. To say the least, this was not the best work done by NG. Much of the documentary is spent talking about how big a threat escaped pigs are to North America and the large sizes attained by pigs in different parts of the world, the actual science filling up the last 15 minutes of the program. By the time the body of the hog is exhumed for study (the same point at which I had almost forgotten the show had any scientific point), the NG scientists finding that “Hogzilla” only weighed about 800 pounds and was approximately 8 feet long. The hunter who shot the pig, Ken Holyoak, claims that the corpse shrunk after burial, the same effect seen in raisins, and therefore the NG scientists just duped everyone for some reason that you’d probably have to ask Ken about in order to get all the conspiratorial details. This explanation doesn’t hold under scrutiny, however, as if you look at the picture, figuring that Ken is approximately 6 feet tall, the pig couldn’t have been any more than 8 feet from nose to rump. The story just doesn’t add up, and NG could have made the tale much more compelling by starting with the exhuming of the body and then showing what the scientists actually did to arrive at their conclusions. Much was made of the pigs “legendary” status as well but if I remember correctly no mention is made about the “legend of the giant pigs” other than one of the local farmers taking people out to shoot huge boars. This was truly a shame as I was looking forward to seeing the documentary for months (I missed it the first time) and when I finally saw it the actual scientific content could have been expressed in a 5-minute clip and so the premise was stretched a bit thin to fill up an hour. I love NG, I really do (the night before I saw the amazing documentary Relentless Enemies about “swamp” lions that specialize in hunting buffalo in Africa) but I have been a little disappointed by some of their programs as of late, showing the same sensationalist trend that turned me away from the Discovery Channel.

Stories about lake monsters, aliens, sasquatch, killer pigs, and other things are fun to hear from time to time, especially to fans of bad b-movies like myself, but I am dumbfounded by the amount of time and money spent looking at crackpot claims. Sure, there are plenty of animals that we have yet to discover and truth is nearly always stranger than fiction, but I’m a bit hard pressed to believe that there’s an extant primate with psychic powers roaming around North America, leaving no trace of its existence other than a few tossed stones.

That’s the last straw, Sasquatch

3 01 2007

Here’s an brief overview of what’s been pissing me off lately…

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