The Creation Museum, Six Years On

Interesting bit of trivia that I was reminded of yesterday: Today is the sixth anniversary of my visit to the Creation Museum, at which I took quite a lot of pictures for a photo essay and also ended up writing up a long think piece on the visit. The think piece is here; the slide show, still on Flickr, is here. The layout of Flickr has changed in six years, so after you click on the first picture, the text accompanying the pictures will be at the very bottom of the screen (you may have to scroll a tiny bit to see it). It’s my understanding that the layout of the Creation Museum has not changed much in the six years since I’ve been there (which makes sense as we are dealing with immutable truth), so it should still be relevant.

Naturally, if you happen to be a young-earth creationist and/or believe that religious beliefs should never be mocked, especially if they have touch points with your own, you may want to sit both of those out. For my part, I don’t particularly believe that belief in creationism is the same as belief in Christ (nor do many of the Christians I know), and I’m on record as a fan of Jesus, so I’m pretty comfortable poking fun at the Creation Museum. In any event, as I am fond of saying, if you want me to treat your ideas with respect, get some better ideas. Creationism is, shall we say, not a great idea.

People have asked me if I plan on returning to the Creation Museum at any point, and my answer is, really, no. There’s not a whole lot for me there. Also, the last time I went I raised more than $5,000 for a charity committed to the separation of church and state, which I felt zeroed out the $70 or so (tickets for myself and two friends) I dropped in the place. I would feel obliged to raise a similar amount for any repeat visit. And no, that’s not a challenge.

111 thoughts on “The Creation Museum, Six Years On

  1. @ Mr. Scalzi:

    Minor typo alert: “since” instead of “sense” up there.

    Also, I love to read and reread that post. Gives me a laugh every time–and the FSM knows that I need a lot of laughter, the way my college applications have been going!

  2. That original post was classic! Unfortunately, 45% of Americans believe in young earth creationism, with no sign of any trend of that number going down, and enough of them seem willing to visit and fund that silly operation.

  3. Okay that was funny–the piece you wrote on the museum. I might add there are catholic priests who used to tell us in high school the bible was not a literal interpretation of things. It was written by people who had no understanding of the universe, so why would you expect them to talk except in terms they would understand–back, say, two thousand or more years ago? So, yeah, creationism. Horseshit.

  4. Unfortunately, 45% of Americans believe in young earth creationism, with no sign of any trend of that number going down, and enough of them seem willing to visit and fund that silly operation.

    You have to love the idiots who are so self-unaware that they argue with such people as biology professors about the evidence, and make themselves look like fools in public in the process by showing they don’t understand basic science or even statistics.

  5. “For my part, I don’t particularly believe that belief in creationism is the same as belief in Christ (nor do many of the Christians I know), and I’m on record as a fan of Jesus, so I’m pretty comfortable poking fun at the Creation Museum.”

    Possibly the worst thing about Young-Earth Creationism is the insistence that they are the same. Using a bunch of easily debunked lies as a fundamental cornerstone of your religious worldview is a very bad idea, because you will encounter the discrepancies between YEC beliefs and reality sooner or later. At which point, many YECs abandon Christianity altogether, or – and this is much worse – double down on the lies and shut out the reality. It’s a very unfortunate false dichotomy.

  6. Thanks, John, for that Flickr tour. I learned so much! Adam was sure a dick, hunh? I had no idea that, in addition to losing the lease on the Garden, he was responsible for turning things poisonous, predation and the eventual heat-death of the universe. Wow. Of course, for the Big Guy who created him to have set things up with such awful consequences does seem pretty twisted, but hey, ‘mysterious ways’ and all that, I guess.

    Did they ever explain Noah’s failure? I mean, the obvious absence of dinosaurs in my neighborhood suggests he blew the whole gathering of species on the Ark before the Flood, right? Oops, there I go, thinking again. I gotta cut that out.

  7. Then I’ve been watching this blog for about 6 and a half years, because I originally got drawn here by your dare to go to the Creationism Museum. Funny. Doesn’t FEEL like it’s been that long…not that it’s been a bad ride.

  8. @ biggerbox: That “god” guy is a deranged, homocidal/genocidal psychopath and an unapologetic racist. Plus a totalitarian dictator.

    Sounds a lot like Hitler to me (pardon the Godwin).

  9. I teach a non-majors’ biology class for college freshmen. The number of openly confrontational creationists has gone down in recent years, but I still get students sometimes who say that they think I did a great job of explaining evolution and why it is a scientific theory and creationism is not, but they still “have” to believe in creationism because of their religion.

    Often, the religion they cite (Roman Catholic with a couple such students) require no such belief in creationism. And even if they did, of course, this is America. No one “has” to be any religion.

    But it’s not my place to tell them what to believe either, or to interpret their faith for them, so I smile and tell them I know it’s hard, while hoping I’ve planted some seeds at least. If we have a generation of creationists coming up through the pipes who at least are more receptive to the notion that Church and state should be separate, and who believe that people need to be exposed to scientific theories in school so they can make up their own minds, then at least we’ve made some progress.

  10. There are two creation stories in Genesis. One attributes the creation of the world to the Elohim, or Pantheon. That’s the “Lord” who makes things happen just by willing, with the “let there be”s, and makes humans male and female from the very beginning.

    The second story is the Yahweh story, and that’s the one with Adam and Eve (except it was really Steve—a great thing to say to YECs).

    I’ve heard it preached that the second one was distorted and reversed from its original intention, which was a story about escaping from an oppressive ruler. A close reading does tend to support this; after all, Adam is told by Yahweh that he’ll die the day he eats of the Tree of Knowledge, and the serpent says “no you won’t.” And Adam lives hundreds of years after that. So who’s the good guy here?

    But neither creation story was intended to be science, or take the place of it. The stories about humans. were never intended as history—the idea of writing things down exactly as they happened hadn’t been invented (not that most of the Bible was written down for the first couple of thousand years it existed anyway). The Egyptians were the first to do that as far as I know, and even they edited out whole Pharaonic reigns if the next Pharaoh didn’t like the previous one (and if the previous one reigned for a short enough period to get away with it).

    I remember the stupid, offensive TV show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, which was quite comfortable making hash of other people’s religion stories (what the narrowminded call “myth”) and painting other people’s gods as ridiculous. It began every episode by explaining that this happened back “when the ancient gods were petty and cruel.” Well, no god is pettier or crueler than the Old Testament Yahweh; if you read the bits about Pharaoh it’s just stunning how sadistic Yahweh is—though He then turns around and chides the Israelites for rejoicing over the fall of Pharaoh’s army. (This reminds me of the scene in The Rocky Horror Picture Show where Riff-Raff laughs, and Magenta laughs with him, then he suddenly stops and yells “SHUT UP!!!”)

    In the Christian part of the Bible you get yet a third God, who is called The Father (“abba,” or “Daddy” in Aramaic). He’s the one who’s kind and gentle and concerned with the well-being of humans; a “god of the living, not the dead,” the one who, we’re told, never uses natural disasters to punish people for their sins (this is in sharp contrast to Yahweh, who…well, two words: The Flood). Then of course there’s Jesus, who is God too…sort of. And the Holy Ghost, who comes along later to round out the three.

    SelfAwarePatterns, I’m not a Christian, but I’ve been hanging out with progressive Christians for a really long time. It’s hard to believe 40% of Americans are YECs. Could you tell me where you’re getting that? If it’s true, it’s awfully depressing…and explains a lot about recent elections.

    wagnerel, can you get away with telling the RC students to talk to their priest? Because you’re right, the RCC has been quite explicit about their teachings being entirely compatible with evolution. They’re still not quite on board with everything you might want your students to believe, but theistic evolution is better than none.

  11. @ Xopher: I wrote a character who, despite being a complete sadistic psychopath, is better than god. Sure, she does horrible things in overreaction to people who hurt those she cares about, but she never expects anything, much less ridiculous acts of faith, from those she cares about.

    I was intentionally modelling this character (a heavily genetically and physically modified human, effectively immortal and invincible) on god, but got tired of writing an abusive, sadistic creep halfway through and decided to give her a little more personality, so that it seemed more like mental instability or a nonhuman perspective on the world than outright evil.

    @ Jenna Bowman: You’d be surprised how much you can learn at the Creation Museum. There are actually three things:

    1. Tree nails are a thing.
    2. Ken Ham is a gargantuan asshole who lies to children for profit and built a multimillion-dollar monument to his ego and his illogical beliefs.
    3. Ken Ham deserves some credit for sheer audacity. Maybe a +1 chutzpah bonus, which doesn’t come close to countering out the -5 blatant arrogance penalty and the -20 you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-with-this-horse-shit penalty and the -10 really creepy infopanel about Lot penalty and the -5 creepy/low-quality displays penalty.

    (I should note that I have had very bad experiences with creationists and similar fundamentalist types. They always try to dominance-ploy me because I’m under 18, even though I knew more about EVERYTHING than they did when I was 8)

  12. @Floored by Scalzi’s awesomeness

    I have enough problems with the heated debating over “the one true religion” in my own life that I wanted to keep my comment perfectly lighthearted. That, and I already knew the second two, so the treenails are the only new thing I learned today. :P

  13. @Xopher:

    That’s a good idea. Generally, priests are the last people I want to send people for scientific discussions, but it might make sense in this case. I sort of wonder if that’s where they’ve gotten this crap, though. I’m not a Catholic, so I don’t know. But I get the impression that priests are a mixed bag, from being very progressive to antediluvian in their thinking. Which kind of priest you have growing up will likely affect your theological underpinnings later in life. Most mainline protestant Churches are also not creationist, but Episcopal, Methodist etc. pastors rarely remind their denomination that the “events” they’re describing are metaphoric either.

    I think creationists get sucked in early. Most of the Biblical stuff makes entertaining Sunday School lessons is from the Old Testament. When you have kids make Noah’s Ark from Popsicle sticks, you’re probably not reminding them that it’s just a story. I remember reading an article years ago that the main reason for this museum is children. Its creator was concerned that they were losing too many kids to all those secular Natural History museums and their cool dinosaur displays. He wanted something that would pull another generation of kids into creationism via the wonder of dinosaurs. Really, the museum isn’t about converting adults into being YEC.

  14. I was raised (and still am) a devout Roman Catholic and at no time did anyone, not my priest, not my devout father, ever try to tell me the world is 6,000 is years old. Even today my priest simply says “Faith is believing God created the Universe, science is figuring out how He did it.” and that about sums up how I feel.

  15. Even today my priest simply says “Faith is believing God created the Universe, science is figuring out how He did it.” and that about sums up how I feel.

    The problem is that science says “looks like God is not necessary”. Not disproven as such (how exactly do you disprove a nebulous concept?), but “not necessary”.

    Which means your Faith tends to wind up believing in a God that made Itself redundant – operationally no different from atheism. This is a concept John Fowles explored in “The Aristos”.

  16. I would feel obliged to raise a similar amount for any repeat visit. And no, that’s not a challenge.

    So…errr…just on a theoretical basis, how *much* would be enough?

  17. Well, no god is pettier or crueler than the Old Testament Yahweh

    I realize we’re getting a tad bit off track, but: have you studied ANY mythology? I mean, hello, Zeus, for starters. (Also, way to drop a shallow Christian gloss on the Old Testament.)

    I wonder if the museum is actually supported by visitors’ admission fees, or whether it’s more of a folly and a vanity for extremely rich people who actually believe all this YEC stuff.

  18. Sigh, it is rather unfortunate that once again a posting is made that is hateful to those with a weird belief (not one I subscribe too either). I love posts about world events, writing, weather, family times, etc. But occasionally something pops up that is would be taken very poorly if it was targeted at some other group. Yes it is satire and mocking, but when the same is applied to other groups then words such as hater, ****phobe, etc are directed are the person. Even this post, if it survives (doubtful) would receive much scorn. Just the other day much flaming was made over OSC and his crap. Just my observation.

  19. There I was, looking through your Flickr pics and wondering if I should indeed make plans for a road trip full of spectacle and wonder, when I saw that dragons may have been dinosaurs that survived the flood.

    o.0

    That explains so much.

  20. @ Mythago: Zeus never exterminated the first-born children of an entire country, slowly, while making their parents watch, just because some king was being a typical ancient despot. Despite being god of murder, Odin never committed genocide. The worst thing that Loki ever did (before Ragnarok, of course) was kill Balder. One murder, from a primary antagonist of the mythology.

    How many people does the devil kill personally in the bible? Maybe 5. This whole thing is creepily like the setting of the Stargate universe–where, given the evidence, it is more likely that the “big good” Ancients are actually ancient slave emperors who are covering their asses–I mean,what sort of ostensibly benevolent precursor species makes multiple superpowered soldier species (Wraith, Asurans, probably the Goa’uld) and a species of less intelligent, less advanced beings that cannot operate the Ancient tech?

    In the same vein, what sort of benevolent deity just destroys everything a guy has just to test his faith? What sort of ostensibly loving deity annihilates multiple ethnic groups just for believing in a different deity?

  21. I thought this thread was about the Creation Museum? If so, yes it is a waste of money that could be spent doing other more productive (and even religious) things. I hadn’t read that first thread from 2007 but it was most enjoyable.

  22. Flood:

    False equivalency does not make your point a good one, I’m afraid. You’re also incorrect that it is hateful. I don’t hate people who are creationists (there might be people I dislike, who are also creationists, but that’s something else entirely), not would I dissuade them from being creationists if such is their joy. That doesn’t mean I am obliged to treat creationism with respect, however. It’s horseshit.

  23. I grew up in a fundamentalist church, though I don’t remember ever hearing anyone claim that the earth was only 6,000 years or so old while I was there. My parents were rockhounds and collected all sorts of stuff that would take a LOT longer than 6000 years to fossilize, so I grew up with a pretty healthy disregard for what has since become known as the “Young Earth” theory.

    Later, I was involved in another church and a popular college minister, who was well respected, and I were having a discussion one day and somehow it became obvious that he was a big time younger earther; when I expressed my opinion that, having grown up around things collected by my parents that couldn’t possibly fit into that theory, he told me that “God put those things in the ground to test your faith”. I pretty much lost all respect for him after that discussion, his having fallen into the “load of horseshit” category for me at that point.

    I’m not sure I understand how our country has fallen so far into this cesspool of ignorance, but it scares the crap out of me.

  24. I, as an agnostic-atheist, am usually reticent to comment on religion. I mean, I’ll bow my head out of respect when someone is saying a prayer, and I’ll never engage my religious friends in an unwinnable and pointless debate.

    That said, I’ve been to the Creation Museum when a friend & I were on a road trip. It was equally hilarious and infuriating. People riding dinosaurs? Really? Oy. I can respect the idea that people find some amount of comfort thinking that there’s a better existence after we die, but don’t be an anti-science idiot about it. And DON’T elect people who wish to insert their own brand of religion into our laws.

  25. @Floored : @ Mythago: Zeus never exterminated the first-born children of an entire country, slowly, while making their parents watch, just because some king was being a typical ancient despot.

    Oh, it’s worse that that – Exodus 7:1-5.

    The God of the Bible made sure the Pharaoh would act like a despot, because He needed an excuse to show how AWEZOME!!! He was.

    Remember Bill Hicks’ routine where he talks about Jack Palance’s gunslinger telling some farmer to pick up the gun, pick up the gun, PICK UP THE GUN!

    *bang*

    “You all saw him – he had a gun!”

    (the consensus here is that Hicks was misremembering “Shane”).

    Now imagine that written by some Bronze-Age Jew who thought Palance’s character was teh hero…

  26. Of course the 45%-ish number is not going anywhere. Why would it change when you get foul-mouthed lovelies like JS and others here on the one hand trashing YEC as “horseshit” and at the same time prohibiting generalized God bashing.

    Picking and choosing which beliefs to bash and which to protect is an inherently authoritarian, and of course asshole, move. Liberalism is tolerating and if necessary ignoring horseshit. That’s the point of it. “Being a fan of Christ” means nothing, it is literally, a statement without the context of belief or action behind it, and making inane statements like it are a show of illiberal thinking (as well as inviting ridicule in the first place).

    In situations such as this, it is helpful if you remember that you are the radical, not the YEC gang. Yours is the idea that is new, disruptive, and brash. The entirety of human history, until perhaps the 1930′s or 1940′s, was built for and by people who believe in the literal truth of YEC. Until just a generation ago it was more likely to find a person believing in YEC than not.

    You are the new, slight majority. Don’t overreach. There is a such thing as flying to close to the sun, fable or not.

  27. JS, with regards to response to Flood, it is a fair response. I would agree that it is wise not to hate people who are living their joy without affect your own.

    But you may need to rethink whats going on here. While not hateful, five years ago and again today you have gone – quite literally – out of your way to rain down scorn and ridicule on people who are doing the exact thing which was intended for in this country. These people have not excised the Constitution, and made their brand of religion the State religion of America. Nor have then gone out of their way to come to your doorstep and scorn you. But the implication on that thread and here on this thread is that we must keep the YEC group out of power, an idea that is just as anti-American as establishing a state religion.

    It appears, so far as I can tell, that the YEC people are happy warriors telling their story and trying to win converts. Horseshit, not horseshit, they stand for something, they are promoting it, while you blithely talk about “being a fan” of Jesus Christ like it’s a sports team.

    They haven’t ask you for, or demanded, that you respect them. But it is, quite literally, the only measure that we have to demonstrate you are a liberal at heart.

  28. But you may need to rethink whats going on here. While not hateful, five years ago and again today you have gone – quite literally – out of your way to rain down scorn and ridicule on people who are doing the exact thing which was intended for in this country. These people have not excised the Constitution, and made their brand of religion the State religion of America.

    Not for lack of trying, however.

    It appears that you’re not aware of the long history of creationists in this country. They DO go out of their way to scorn you. They DO try to impose their religion (their narrow VERSION of their religion) on everyone. And they most certainly are subverting and destroying this country’s science education.

    They are EXTREMELY hateful people who hold non-Christians (and, again, a very narrow definition of Christianity) in contempt and hatred.

  29. They DO try to impose their religion (their narrow VERSION of their religion) on everyone. And they most certainly are subverting and destroying this country’s science education.

    Your first sentence says the word “impose”, but what i think you mean is “evangelize”. That is akin to saying that JS is trying to “impose” Christianity as a sports team metaphor as a religion on people by posting that he is a “fan of Christ” on his blog. So far as I know there is not plot engaged to “impose” YEC on people as a religion. To the extent that there is, that is anti-American.

    And they most certainly are subverting and destroying this country’s science education.

    This may be the case, I can’t say. But you are inherently saying something inaccurate. There is no such thing as “this country’s” science education. We are not a country with a standardized educational policy or curriculum. The closet thing we have is common core, which is not a national mandate, and is privately created and locally adopted. In this country, we have a proud and long tradition of deciding our education policy at the level of government where the majority of education funding is generated. Typically at the district level. What you are saying is that the YEC are bad because they are attempting to have their beliefs democratically represented That is not the tradition of this country.

    The idea of having a centrally controlled, science-based curriculum is ahistorical in American history. Having a Christian in Bradford, OH give direction to the taxpayers of Texas on how to educate their Children is a radical and new idea, one that has not been ratified by Americans.

    I think what you are complaining about is that the 45% of Americans who are YEC or YEC friendly, or anti-evolution friendly, or whatever have successfully organized themselves into political entities that can exercise their legitimate democratic power to influence local education policy to reflect their majority views. The view that this power is illegitimate because of the content of their views is, itself, radical one.

    It’s fine to have a radical, new, progressive and liberal agenda. But you must remember – you are the agent of change. The burden is not on the YEC gang, or the anti-evolution gang, or anything of the sort. The burden is on the radicals.

  30. Not believing in six-day creationism is about as “radical” as not believing in a flat Earth.

    In the Jewish calendar it’s the year 5774; despite this, neither I nor any other Jewish person I know believes the universe (or Earth) is only 5774 years old.

  31. Dpmaine – the YEC viewpoint was under serious revision a century before that, in the 1830s. The unfortunate resurgence of a completely wrongheaded view is limited mainly to evangelical christianity in the US in the 1920-30s.

    I personally am in favour of equal time – you get 6 days, we get 4.5 billion years.

  32. dpmaine: No, modern “Young Earth” creationism has NOT been the dominant theological/social/scientific hypothesis for this planet’s existence until the 1930s and 1940s. For crying out loud, the “4004 BC” claim was made by Bishop Ussher back in 1650 – and it was one of a number of similar attempts at the time to apply the kind of thinking which would become formalised as “science” to the subject of religion. Bishop Ussher, to put it bluntly, was the kind of nerd who today would sit through movies on space flight and correct the physics. He was a man of the cloth because that was how you got an education back in the 1500s and 1600s – you were either born into a wealthy enough family to pay for the books, or you took holy orders in order to gain access to the libraries.

    Most creation myths cross-culturally, in fact, tended to be very vague about when the actual creation of the universe occurred – “some time before the start of history” is about as close as they’re going to pin it down to. But then, for a lot of people, the exact details of who, what, where, when and how creation occurred don’t really matter: it happened, let’s deal with the now.

    The people for whom these questions are interesting, oddly enough, are the people who tend more to the theoretical, philosophical and scientific mindsets. They’re the ones who go looking for evidence, who go looking for answers to these big questions. And by about the 1800s, we were starting to have an accumulation of this evidence which was starting to challenge the assumption of a young earth. Geologists were digging deeper, and finding rocks in strata which were, for example, more than 6000 years old. Mainstream science (according to the article on YEC in Wikipedia) had pretty much abandoned YEC as a serious hypothesis by about the 1830s – there was just too much evidence pointing in the other direction. Of course, once you abandoned the idea that this planet was at most 6000 years old, it opened up the gates to a lot MORE evidence pointing to an older planet; enough that this evidence is now considered overwhelming.

    So, bring your contention back a century or so, and you’d be right. It’s the 1830s when the “young earth” hypothesis got discarded, and the various “thinkers” involved with young earth creationism haven’t managed to show appropriate evidence for their position since then in order to get it brought back as a believable starting point for scientific thinking. The various “just so” stories presented by Young Earth creationists as “evidence” tend to be rejected because in order for them to be accurate, we’d need to basically ignore at least a century’s worth of interdisciplinary and intersectional information across a range of scientific disciplines. For example, if the earth is only 6000 years old, why do we have evidence here in Australia of continuous human occupation for over 40,000 years by our Indigenous population, as proven through dating systems based on accepted physics and chemistry?

    (To be honest, I have a lot of trouble accepting the arguments of a group of people who accept the bible as inerrant fact in all details. The gospel of Luke gives dates for the conception and birth of Christ which amount to Mary having been pregnant for eleven YEARS; maybe it’s just extra grounds for her sainthood?)

    To be honest, changing and discarding theories to comply with the evidence is a core principle of scientific thinking. The YEC mob want us to discard evidence to fit their theories, which is precisely the other way around.

  33. PS: In reply to dpmaine’s argument from the majority regarding YEC:

    During the time of Christ, the majority of people in the world were NOT monotheists, and the historical majority of people prior to that era had not been monotheists either. Should we be discarding Christianity on those grounds?

  34. Yeah, I don’t mind what cockamamie stuff people believe–and I wholeheartedly support their right to believe it, if not the belief itself–but when they try making that stuff into civil law? Yeah. Not so much.

    Religion is a personal, individual right. One’s right to believe and practice as one will begins and ends with the individual. When the practice of a belief starts involving others, it’s no longer a right. I don’t care if some dude’s religion thinks he shouldn’t be within 100 feet of a menstruating woman. That doesn’t excuse locking up women in the period hut to avoid him getting on his god’s bad side.

    And that’s the key problem with the YECs and similar. They think that since their religion requires them to involve unwilling others in its practice that that trumps earthly laws to the contrary, and thus go about trying to change those earthly laws to allow for forcing everyone else to obey their (interpretation of) their god’s rules. So yes, damn right I’m going to take issue with a set of beliefs that encourages that kind of action, because it’s making my own life harder.

  35. s. The view that this power is illegitimate because of the content of their views is, itself, radical one.

    It is illegitimate because they want to substitute truth with lies.

    Again, you are NOT familiar with creationists. You speak from ignorance. Wiping out the central organizing principle of biology from high school textbooks is NOT benign.

  36. Chris–

    You wrongly assert that it is “you” versus “me”. It is not so.

    Regarding the view of YEC in the period between 1830′s and 1930′s, I will defer to your knowledge. The prevailing point of view, across the Western Christian world, was that of a Biblical worldview, until really quite recently. If there are breaks and ebbs and flows in those beliefs, in terms of YEC and all that entails, that is really besides the point.

  37. Also: I really wish these folks would stop wasting time and money trying to change state and local laws in a way that violates the Constitution. They’re never, ever going to win those things on a federal level unless they either repeal the First Amendment or stack SCOTUS with people favorable to disregarding the establishment clause, so that’s where they should be focusing their entire energy. Otherwise they’re just tilting at windmills and wasting vast amounts of taxpayer resources in the process.

  38. Megpie-

    If you are trying to draw a distinction between YEC of today, I guess so called “modern YEC”, which another poster pegged at 45% support as a general principle of support, and what was the prevailing western opinion for most of Western history, it is indeed very thin gruel. Throughout western history the presumption has been that a God of David and the Jews created everything, as Genesis described.

    I have not seen what another poster referenced to generate the number of roughly 45% support for YEC, but I presume it was not a recitation of each facet of YEC, but more of a generalist belief in Genesis as something that actually happened.

    And that fundamental reality is not something that has changed, from 1830, 1930, or, for almost half of Americans, today.

    You do not have to support or defend or bring down or refute YEC to acknowledge that this was the operating theological basis that pervaded almost all of recorded human history. And that, proposing to separate Americans from this ideology is fundamentally, from a historical perspective, radical.

  39. @Scalzi: Your write-up on the visit to the CM was the first thing of your I ever read. Since then, I’ve read many of your books and much of whatever. Even when I didn’t agree with something your wrote, you made me think. All I can say is thank you.

  40. Megpie–

    Regarding your question from the majority, this has nothing to do with the validity of Christianity, monotheism, or anything of the sort. I am not suggesting or asking you to do anything. This is not an opportunity to show everyone what a great job you are going to do demolishing a YEC or Christian or anything of the sort. Richard Dawkins will not be proud.

    The statement was made, in lamentation format, that 45% of Americans believe in YEC. And my response is related to why that it is. It is that way because it takes a long time for people to change, and, the number is sticky, because YEC people are organized, dedicated, and effective in ways that demonstrate that they know how to exercise democratic power.

    Contrary to what JS and others will tell you, making blog posts that pepper a very large minority of people with dozens of profane versions of horseshit, while going out the way to bring down ridicule, is simply masturbatory. In the last five years that everyone has been congratulating each other on the $5k raised, the YEC crew have been organizing, winning school board elections, and exerting influence to democratically preserve their views and put them into action.

    Going back to the start of this country there is a tradition, as well as legal codification, that education is a local matter, decided upon at the taxing authority level. Another poster intimated as a national education policy, which is being corrupted by the YEC gang. This is not the case. The case is that we have many thousands of educational policies, each under the direction of taxpayers and citizens who have been elected to represent constituencies.

    Lamenting the fact that YEC has a strong grip on a large portion of the country, or that YEC is destroying education, or anything of the sort simply means that you are lamenting the fact that in a democracy the best organized, most dedicated, and most persistent tend to win.

  41. gwangang–

    “It is illegitimate because they want to substitute truth with lies.”

    This is simply your opinion. It may be a reasoned opinion. It may be the right opinion. It may even be a fact. But this is not a country that recognizes the right of children to be educated with only the truth. This is, instead, a country where powers not delegated to the Federal government are left to the state or the people respectively. And that means that people, with all their odd beliefs, idiosyncrasies, fairy tales, myths, and all of that get to democratically decide in what manner to educate their children and live their lives. If they want to live their lives in total ignorance that is the profound, deep, and uniquely American right and obligation to do so.

    “Wiping out the central organizing principle of biology from high school textbooks is NOT benign.”

    I never claimed it was. However, what you are failing to grasp is that you, yourself, wherever you are, are not in a position of power to dictate what any school district in some other part of the country must or must not teach to their students. That is a power reserved, for the entire history of this country, for the local government who is responsible for that education. Education does not flow from a central authority in this country, it is, at present, a grassroots locally controlled matter.

    I sense that you are not understanding that your idea, that teaching whatever truth is, to students, is not a right that has ever been recognized.

    It is 100% fine and acceptable to say, “I do not recognize that rights were bestowed by the creator on people, and that they are inherently distributed without regard for government or authority.” It is okay to say “education policy should be set based on sound scientific principles and not subject to the whims of a democratic or representative form of government”, but those of those statements are profoundly, amazingly, and disruptively radical to the American system of government to date. Recognizing that is a key to understanding how 45% (or whatever the number is) of Americans have some agreement with YEC.

  42. Shawna–

    You wrote:

    “And that’s the key problem with the YECs and similar. They think that since their religion requires them to involve unwilling others in its practice that that trumps earthly laws to the contrary, and thus go about trying to change those earthly laws to allow for forcing everyone else to obey their (interpretation of) their god’s rules. ”

    What is the basis of laws that force me to use recycled water to water my lawn?

    What is the basis of laws that prohibit me from marrying two women at the same time (as a man)?

    What is the basis of laws that presume that a child of a divorced set of parents is preemptively best served by custody by the mother?

  43. It isn’t really that 45% of Americans believe in creationism. A large number of Americans are simply really hazy on what exactly the theory of evolution consists of and how scientific research and theory are conducted. They also believe at least vaguely in a God creator, although they may not go to a church. So depending on how you word the questions in a survey, you are likely to get a lot of people, for instance, believing that a belief in creationism means you believe in a God creator and they say yes. A lot of people don’t think the world is 6,000 years old and humans lived with dinosaurs, but they’ve heard there’s a lot of controversy about parts of evolutionary theory, so they say they don’t believe in evolutionary theory.

    The number of people who are real, believing creationists in the U.S. is more likely to be around 18%, which is the regular number for extreme fundamentalists in the U.S. on any far right metric. That’s still a lot of people of course. A lot of younger creationists drop the belief when they get to university and encounter more education in science.

    The main thrust of creationism is that carbon dating and geological and astronomical dating methods, including with fossils, which tell us that the Earth is considerably older than 6,000 years and the universe older than that, are erroneous. This would mean that entire disciplines of science that we use for everything from finding oil in the ground to designing new medicines to launching rockets would be erroneous. But creationists pretend that the process of scientific research isn’t connected, that all that other science can stay and effect their lives, but this one tiny patch can be isolated and declared null and void.

    The Creation Museum is steadily running out of money due to declining attendance and have added zip lining and a new bug exhibit to try to boost revenues. Anyone who was interested in seeing it has gone by now. You can bilk only so much money from the faithful and the curious. So it might not make it to a tenth anniversary. But if they manage to turn their whole operation into a theme park, they might be able to survive.

  44. This is simply your opinion.

    It is not.

    You seem to have a problem with what creationists are doing and saying. You should check them out. (This is, again, the third time I’ve suggested it to you). They repeat silly lies about sciences as diverse as biology, geology and physics and want to impose that in public schools.

  45. The description of how many people believe in YEC, or just some hazy version of it, sounds right. It is an inexact measurement to label and categorize people who are intellectually not committed to an ideology.

    18% or 45%, it’s still millions upon millions of people, unequally distributed across the country in pockets of majority strength communities.

  46. gwangung–

    You wrote:

    “They repeat silly lies about sciences as diverse as biology, geology and physics and want to impose that in public schools.”

    It doesn’t matter, not at all, what they do or not believe. It is simply irrelevant. There is no such thing as the right curriculum for a public school. There is no requirement in law or history that we teach children what is accurate, or complies with gwangung’s position on what is scientific fact or is factually true. Your opinion on the matter is, for every local education district except your own, entirely irrelevant.

    If you would like to, for the first time, impose a national standard for educational teachings, than by all means work on it, and organize. But be aware – that is profoundly radical.

  47. Re: the basis of laws:

    All the laws you cited have an earthly basis centered around the best way to maintain a civilized society (and in the lawn-watering case, how to maintain the planet in such a way that our species will survive on it.) I would argue that the conventional wisdom underlying the latter two is outdated and needs to be modified to reflect new information, but still, there are secular reasons behind those laws. Those laws may also appear in religion but so do laws against murder. Sometimes both religion and empiricism have the same idea. Doesn’t mean the latter exclusively gets it from the former. Human nature is such that different cultures across history have come up with similar codes of conduct, even if their versions of theology are radically different.

    Laws based entirely in religion, with no secular basis at all, are violations of the establishment clause (and similar in other countries with religious freedom.) For instance, a law banning daytime eating during Ramadan would be a violation, because there’s no secular argument for it.

  48. Also re: schooling.

    Public schools, as government entities, are required to abide by the constitution, which means that teaching religion in any way other than as a cultural survey of beliefs is a violation of the establishment clause.

    Private schools can teach whatever they like, but public schools cannot teach religious beliefs as fact on the taxpayer’s dime.

  49. “For instance, a law banning daytime eating during Ramadan would be a violation, because there’s no secular argument for it.”

    False. There is no reason that *you accept*. Eating during the daytime causes weight gain. There is a secular reason. But you don’t accept that reason.

    What you are saying is that the basis for laws restricting freedom are only okay if you agree with the reasons – namely, that they are secular – and that you like them. This is fine.

    What you are forgetting is that there is a thing called custom that is both not-secular and not-religious. Virtually all government institutions at all levels are shutdown on Christmas. This does not mean that there is a state religion. It is the custom of Americans to refrain from non-essential work on Christmas. It is not religious, but it’s customary expression is certainly tied to religion. How is shutting down the local tax collectors office on a normal business day not a violation of the 1st amendment, but banning printing content into text books regarding Jesus riding a T-rex is? Do not use the word “truth” in your answer.

    Empiricism, as you put, implies that there are those who make the rules. In a democracy with representative legislative agents, these are the people who elect the representatives.

    You are arguing that because you don’t like the results, that we cannot trust the people to elect representatives to carry out their will. That’s fine, it’s just distinctly radical.

    Why is that you can’t admit that your views on this topic are radical? Have American liberals become so weak that you can’t even admit that your ideas bend against the grain?

  50. Shawna–

    “Public schools, as government entities, are required to abide by the constitution, which means that teaching religion in any way other than as a cultural survey of beliefs is a violation of the establishment clause.”

    Really, where do you find that? Is it in case law or black letter law? I’ll put it another way, which of the following statements establishes a state religion:

    “Jesus was a man who lived and was written about in the Bible.”

    “Jesus is a man who lived and was written about in the Bible, and who was raised from the dead by the power of God.”

    “Julius Caesar is a man who lived and wrote a book called ‘Commentarii de Bello Gallico’”

    “Julius Caesar is a man who lived and became a god upon his death, and was worshiped by Roman citizens”

    In what scientific experiment can you prove or disprove any of these four statements as either true or untrue?

    “Private schools can teach whatever they like, but public schools cannot teach religious beliefs as fact on the taxpayer’s dime.”

    Which of the following is a religious belief?

    “George Washington could not tell a lie.”

    “Jesus is the son of god.”

    Be specific.

  51. This is veering off-topic, so no more answers from me after this, but:

    1. History is not science and is not taught as such. However, empiricism can be applied to history and other humanities to ensure that the data in question is as accurate as possible.

    2. Religious faith cannot be verified in this manner, because there are no means of independent verification of the claims. One can consider religious texts in a historical and cultural context, but if they are the sole source of evidence for a given claim, that claim cannot be taken as fact.

    3. This is especially true if those claims are superseded by information that IS verifiable. For instance, if I were to make the claim that Obama didn’t salute the flag during a given ceremony, and there are multiple videos, photos, and eyewitness accounts of him actually doing so, my claim is demonstrably wrong, and cannot be taken as fact. One would have to believe in a perfectly orchestrated conspiracy of epic proportions to believe my claim over that of all those other reliable sources.

    4. Information taught as fact that is later superseded by further research can change. This is perhaps the most important distinction between fundamentalist faith and empiricism. Faith requires that scripture is and always will be the complete truth regardless of any data to the contrary. Empiricism allows for changes based on new information. There are literally thousands of cases in point about this, but some of the most famous are the classification of Pluto as a planet and our changing understanding of what wiped out the dinosaurs. Proponents of faith over education tend to fight against the discovery of new information. Empiricism welcomes it.

    Beyond all that: Information about historical data doesn’t comprise a religion. Last I checked, there were no Hail Marys or genuflecting required for people to believe that Julius Cesar lived and had influence on the development of Western culture and politics. Because beliefs about the unknowable, and the everyday rituals and practices related to those beliefs, are so personal and encompassing, a civilized society that respects individual freedom must allow for variance in religion. It cannot do that if the power of government is being used to impose a given set of beliefs and their accompanying rituals and practices. Therefore, the only fair and reasonable thing to do is to stick to facts which can be independently verified by multiple sources, and which don’t have an indelible connection to personal lifestyle and moral practices.

  52. One last answer:

    Empiricism, as you put, implies that there are those who make the rules. In a democracy with representative legislative agents, these are the people who elect the representatives.

    This is true. However, the superseding foundation of this democracy (republic, actually) is the constitution. If the people want a law that violates that, they have to go change that first. And lemme tell ya, that’s a) not easy and b) not going to happen in the case of religious freedom.

    As I mentioned above, people trying to establish religion on the state level are wasting everyone’s time, because they’re never going to get that shit past SCOTUS. If you don’t like the rights the constitution hands out, change the constitution. Don’t just keep making unenforceable law that violates it.

  53. Shawna–

    You have displayed an amazing lack of courage. You have not, nor I suspect can you, define the difference between the establishment of religion, and the secular recognition of religiously grounded customs and practices.

    The local and customary practices of Americans varies with the time and place of each community. Closing a government office in customary deferral to the Christian holiday of Christmas is not the establishment of religion, nor is the placement of mats for the customary removal of shoes by Muslims, nor is the installation of mediation rooms for the customary practices of Wiccans. None of these acts establishes a state religion, and none are violations of the 1st amendment

    Neither is teaching or allowing to be taught, at the discretion of the same citizens who empower and fund local schools, that which they deem to be customary, appropriate, and Constitutional.

    You may consider yourself the arbiter of what is, and is not, empiricism, but as an empirical thinker, you have failed entirely to establish the logical difference between why it is okay to teach in the name of empiricism. You have failed to even take a swing at answering on what rational basis you label something religious, as opposed to customary. You elected to bring up faith, which is entirely irrelevant. Simply put, any person belief in Christmas does not make the cultural deference to Christmas any more or less the establishment of state religion.

    This discussion is entirely relevant, because many here, including the host JS, believe it is appropriate to mock, scorn, and rain ridicule upon YEC or others who are not inline with their own poorly defined religious beliefs, which appear to be a mix of Facebook metaphors and al-carte Christianity. Those who meet the ill-defined litmus test that JS promulgates are safe from mockery, so long as they sound reasonable.

    Bringing faith, or fundamentalist beliefs, or any specific piece of teaching or faith into the discussion is entirely irrelevant. The scorn against YEC or any other group with differing religious beliefs and customs is besides the point. The remedy that is proposed here is that YEC must be uniformly suppressed from schools, in favor of a centrally-dictated or centrally-agreed upon science based curriculum. The means to do that is both inherently tyrannical, and therefore anti-American, as well as illiberal. Liberalism, quite basically, means a tendency against hierarchy.

    You cannot at the once scorn the YEC believers who organize, democratically effect local control over the community standards that are transmitted to students and at the same claim the mantle of empiricism as the pedagogy to transmit to our children. Your weak attempts to foist empiricism as the reining epistemology assumes that your own pet belief system has been ratified by Americans as a group. It has not. The rights of citizens in Oklahoma, or Maine, or Vermont, or California to educate their children as rationalists, as empiricists, as classicists, or even as traditionalists should not be infringed on the basis that your own preferred option has won widespread popular acclaim and acceptance. Absent this ratification, and in light of the tenth amendment which carries equal weight to the first, we must presume that local communities are both willing and able to investigate, weigh, and decide what community standards define their customary pedagogy. Whatever interest you have as an American to have children educated in your own intellectual mold is handily outweighed by the local communities independent prerogative to make the decisions that you would presume to hand down from on high.

    The Constitution clearly protects an individual from being coerced or co-opted into religious expression or belief against their will. It does, however, promise a society which conforms to your own religious customs, whatever they may be. If there is a YEC on your local school board, or many, I encourage you to do your part to make your own views known. I congratulate your zeal to change the status quo. But make no mistake – your view is not the historical norm, and was not the model that this country was founded on, or has operated on, until perhaps the very recent past. Changing the status quo is rewarding, but it makes you the radical, and puts the burden of convincing people on you. And that, in long form, is why calling YEC’s attraction horseshit a few hundred times is neither smart, nor effective.

  54. Shawna–

    Finally, on your last post, you wrote:

    “As I mentioned above, people trying to establish religion on the state level are wasting everyone’s time, because they’re never going to get that shit past SCOTUS”

    For whatever laws are proposed or passed that establish or nearly establish a state religion, surely they are dead-ends.

    But do not be so sure that the SCOTUS or any other court will do what you think. There is not nearly as much depth to 1st amendment case law as you seem to think. Van Orden v. Perry established that religious material with both secular and religious purposes are not a violation of establishment doctrine.

  55. Jesus, people. Aggregate your posts, already. All these multiply sequential posts by the same authors make me want to delete every comment since my last one, if only on organizational grounds. You’re making my OCD get all twitchy.

    Also, it seems to me the conversation has wandered far afield into general conversations only tangentially related to the topic, so let’s tighten up and stick to the topic at hand, please.

    Also, the conversation is showing a drift into rudeness, most obviously on the part of dpmaine’s condescension to others in the thread. Let’s rein that in as well, or I’m going to start Malleting.

    dpmaine:

    Your initial argument boils down “You should be nicer to creationists or otherwise you’re a not a good liberal.”

    One, I couldn’t possibly care whether I fit your definition of a good liberal or not, not in the least because by all indications your definition of liberal appears to be “someone whose personal politics makes them ineffectually polite because that’s what I think they should be irrespective of the actual history of liberalism in the United States,” and to the extent that I am a liberal, why would I agree to such a dunderheaded definition. “Liberal” does not equal “murmuring patsy.”

    Two, a quick look at the site disclaimer will disabuse you either of the notion that I am nice, or that I am anything less than authoritarian when it comes to moderating comment threads here.

    Three, you’ve apparently misapprehended the original piece as something written to convince creationists to change their beliefs, or otherwise apparently believe the people who believe creationism to be complete horseshit should tread lightly when they express the opinion. Either way: No. It’s neither my job nor my interest with the original piece to change minds, nor do I feel obliged to be polite about a belief I think is pernicious, ridiculous and irrelevant either to a real world description of the universe or an understanding of Christ.

    Four, regarding your opinion that my comment on being a fan of Christ means nothing, first, I said “Jesus,” not “Christ,” (there’s a difference), second, who made you the arbiter of such things because I want to see your credentials on the matter, and third, kiss my ass. I neither want nor need your approval as regards my relationship with Jesus, either as a man or for that matter as the Christ. You don’t get a vote on that.

    Five, “there is such a thing as flying too close to the sun”: Dude, are you fucking kidding me? If noting that creationism is complete and utter horseshit qualifies to you as flying too close to the sun, you really need to get out more. I can’t wait to see how you describe a belief in germ theory as opposed to bad humors.

    To sum up: You made poor arguments and also the wrong set of arguments on the wrong guy.

  56. YEC has nothing to do with Christianity. It is a folk myth – like 90% of the nonsense that gets written about the Book of Revelation – that is believed by some people who are fundamentalist-ly Protestant. In all my years in the Catholic Church and Catholic education system as a child, the only references I heard to YEC were as examples of what mistakes “they” made.

  57. Y’know, I first came here after Boingboing (I think…) posted about the Creationism Museum piece. Six years, eh? Seems like a good excuse for cake.

  58. It occurs to me that this thread has the potential to be quite contentious and that today I don’t have much time to caretake it, because I’m trying to finish up a book, so what I’m going to go ahead and do is close it off until this afternoon, when I’m done with my writing for the day and have time to focus on it. So if you have something you want to add to the thread, come back in the PM.

    Edit: Comments back on for now.

  59. So far as I know there is not plot engaged to “impose” YEC on people as a religion

    That’s an interesting alternate history world you live in, but in real American history, the Scopes Trial was a teacher who was put on trial for violating Tennessee Butler Act which made it illegal to teach evolution in any state funded school..

    The Butler Act stated

    That it shall be unlawful for any teacher … to teach any theory that denies the Story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals

    So, the only way I can figure someone can say there is no plot by creationists to impose YEC on people is if they live in an alternate universe or they don’t know squat about actual history.

    You have displayed an amazing lack of courage. You have not, nor I suspect can you, define the difference between the establishment of religion, and the secular recognition of religiously grounded customs and practices.

    This is smoke and mirror. You have not, nor I suspect can you define ANY sort of Creationism custom or practice that needs to get secular recognition, that needs to be adopted by the state. The only “practice” that Creationists are ever interested in is the “practice” of forcing the teaching creationism in public schools.

  60. Beat me to the punch again, Greg. Damn it, I’m getting slow.

    @ Passive-aggressive troll: Creationism is religious bullshit, and it always will be. It is inherently unscientific, has been disproven millions of times, and has absolutely no redeeming value whatsoever. Attempting to put it into schools and/or spread it is at best unethical and at worst highly illegal and in violation of the Constitution. Please be passive-aggressive somewhere else, and take Mr. Scalzi’s instructions to aggregate. Because, dude, the only thing more annoying than the Gish Gallops that you’ve been going on is seeing Gish Gallops take up 16 posts in a row.

  61. Greg–

    Thanks for your constructive notes.

    1. You reference Scopes, which was indeed real and a big deal. And it was also, as you might remember, very close to 100 years ago.

    2. You also say this:

    “You have not, nor I suspect can you define ANY sort of Creationism custom or practice that needs to get secular recognition, that needs to be adopted by the state.”

    That is correct, I cannot. And neither can you. But the question is not can, or can you. The question is, who makes that decision. Is it you and on, making it, and imposing it uniformly across the country, or is the communities, setting community standards, and dealing with it democratically at the taxation unit level.

    The answer is important. The lamentation here up the discussion was that YEC and other anti-science forces are still far too strong, essentially. It is very important to understand why.

    From a perspective of governance, permitting local governments to decide how to handle Christmas as a holiday is exactly the same as allowing them to make a judgement respecting the customs and practices of YEC. Either you trust the power, reserved to the people, or you do not.

    The argument is, we can’t possibly allow the smallest democratic units to make the decision, because too many are making decisions we disagree with. I, personally, am fine with that. But I also recognize that that is a radically new, undemocratic, and untested theory of American governance, and that changing over to a centralized model has the potential to be both unpopular and unsuccessful.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with being nice to creationists, respecting them, or anything else of the sort. It does has to with recognizing that convincing people to cede control to a central educational authority is unlikely when every word other word of your mouth is “horseshit”. If we are uninterested in persuasion, that leaves only force, and in the words of Meatloaf, no, no, I won’t do that.

  62. PS: JS, thanks for pointing out your terms. Unless I misspoke, I am not implying that you should do anything different with your comments. I am pointing out that pushing a radical change in governance, which is the essence of what several others have intimated, and that you somewhat appear to support, is authoritarian, and illiberal. It has literally nothing to do with politeness, and instead, has to with removing local control over educational policy. Unless you are willing to simply disenfranchise the YEC gang, the primary way to effect centralization of educational policy will be persuasion. It is somewhat unlikely that you convince people, with whom you disagree, to hand over local control over their education policy, when you and many others seem to go out their way to rain down ridicule and scorn upon.

    That is the essence of my flying to close the sun argument. If your goal is simply to be a caustic asshole, then by all means, carry on. But it does seem that many here have a more robust goal.

  63. @ Our Host: May I tear into the troll, please? I have about 6 pages of takedowns for every creationist argument imaginable, and my inner paleontologist wants out.

    (I should note that paleontology is my personal passion, and I read vert paleo research papers for bedtime reading, so you can be guaranteed of my very best)

  64. dpmaine:

    “I am pointing out that pushing a radical change in governance, which is the essence of what several others have intimated, and that you somewhat appear to support, is authoritarian, and illiberal.”

    Which in fact has absolutely nothing to do with anything that I wrote, so this concern of yours, as applies to me, is all in your head. Which means the essence of your argument is genuinely aside the point of the piece and this thread, so please go ahead and wrap it up, as I have already suggested. Thanks.

    (Everyone else, go ahead and wrap it up as well, as dpmaine, as noted, has constructed a strawman, and we know how those distract from the actual discussion at hand. Floored, you have your answer.)

  65. @ Mr. Scalzi: Understood, sir. I will go reread “Redshirts” now and weep bitter tears that I have no excuse to run out and get signed copies of all of your books.

  66. dpmaine: And it was also, as you might remember, very close to 100 years ago.

    Oh really? Then let us return to the major point of your first post on this thread:

    it is helpful if you remember that you are the radical, not the YEC gang. Yours is the idea that is new, disruptive, and brash. The entirety of human history, until perhaps the 1930′s or 1940′s, was built for and by people who believe in the literal truth of YEC. Until just a generation ago it was more likely to find a person believing in YEC than not.

    So, if you’re going to reference “the entirety of human history” as supporting your position then you cannot fucking turn around and say “but that was 100 years ago” when something undermines your position. It’s called cherry picking history, and you are fucking doing it in spades.

    From a perspective of governance, permitting local governments to decide how to handle Christmas as a holiday is exactly the same as allowing them to make a judgement respecting the customs and practices of YEC. Either you trust the power, reserved to the people, or you do not.

    Tennessee, just as an example, is not a nation. It is part of the United States of America. And as such, Tennessee is bound by the State Constitution and the US Constitution. Tennessee agreed to follow BOTH. So, if Tennessee passed a law that was viewed at the federal level as establishing a religion, then it violates the US constitution, which means it violates one of the sets of promises that Tennessee promised to keep to its people.

    Unless you are willing to simply disenfranchise the YEC gang

    What is this nonsense? The YEC gang isn’t being disenfranchised. Their right to vote isn’t being taken away. What’s happening is that YEC’s are losing their overall majority at the national level, and so they are attempting to retreat to the local level where they might still have a majority.

  67. @Floored, I’m happy to discuss comparative mythology with you, but I will have to ask that you go back and actually read it first, “The Bible sucks because I have to deal with a lot of Christian dominionist assholes” is about as good an argument as “Shakespeare sucks because everybody knows nobody in Denmark talked like that and fairies don’t exist.”

  68. JS – Sorry, comment was not at you particularly (that you hated anyone) rather I was stating that when someone disagrees with another persons lifestyle (homosexuals in particular) and mocks them or in some other way judges them then that person is labeled a hater or homophobe. That being the case it seems that if one mocks or judges the belief of a creationist then they as well are haters. Looks like a double standard. I for one do not agree with the creationists but they are what they are.
    The only thing I would say about this site in particular is that it frequently mocks or bashes people of faith either directly or indirectly.

  69. mythago, I know quite a lot of mythology, as it happens. I do know that Zeus is a major asshole in most of the stories (not to mention being a rapist).

    I stand by my statement as regards Yahweh.

    And btw I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Christian.

  70. @Greg Leon Guerrero –
    “there are catholic priests who used to tell us in high school the bible was not a literal interpretation of things. It was written by people who had no understanding of the universe, so why would you expect them to talk except in terms they would understand…”
    You know who *else* thought that? (No, not Hitler this time)
    Galileo. Of course.
    First they laugh at you, then they lock you up, then they make your defense part of what they teach kids in school. The last part is the part that takes brains. Can the Genesis people match that? Hint: only if they want to.

  71. @ Mythago: Actually my argument is that god kills and brutalizes several thousand times more people than the devil (the primary antagonist) ever does. If the supposedly benevolent deity is more evil than the supposed force of evil, maybe you should go back and double-check your beliefs to make sure that you’re not worshiping the wrong guy.

  72. As a general rule, it is never beneficial to argue with someone whose entire argument can be debunked within 5 minutes on Google. They don’t care about “facts” or “reason”, and you will just get frustrated when logic doesn’t break through the faith element.

  73. I have to wonder how Noah knew enough to give the ark the hull of a modern supertanker complete with bulbous bow. You know, that big sticky-out thingy under the waterline on the pointy end of the boat, the one which is designed to reduce the water pressure exactly at the point where the bow wave forms on a vessel under power when it is operating at its designed cruising speed and which is actually inefficient at any other speed? Exactly how does a bulbous bow work when the vessel is unpowered? Other than to add weight, waste construction materials and take up space on the building slip, I mean.

  74. Kilroy: They don’t care about “facts” or “reason”

    Well, they do if it suits their goal. I remember years ago when the whole creationism-in-public-schools thing flared up again, getting into these Alice-In-Wonderland type conversations with creationists about the “science” behind creationism. They will gladly quote the Second Law of Thermodynamics completely out of context and completely without any understanding of what they’re saying, because they think it proves they’re right. When you get enough levels of that sort of nonsense, it becomes a whole new kind of surreal. It’s like someone spiked the punch with some really funky mushrooms. Trippy. Not exactly a good kind of trippy, but trippy.

    If I were ever in the neighborhood, I might take a tour of the Creation museum just to see how far the rabbit hole goes.

  75. John: as with others – your field trip to the creation ‘museum’ was what lured me to your site (and your work) initially (link on Panda’s Thumb IIRC) – I’m pleased that I found your site and your work – so Happy Anniversary to me.

    re: the troll, and trying to argue with creationists – a fruitless exercise – the words they use have different meanings to them than they do to the rest of us – it is almost as if we don’t speak the same language.

    from the Big Bang Theory (tv show):

    Sheldon Cooper: No, this is my home now. Thanks to you, my career is over and I will spend the rest of my life here in Texas trying to teach evolution to creationists.

    Mary (Sheldon’s Mom): You watch your mouth, Shelly. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

    Sheldon Cooper: Evolution isn’t an opinion, it’s fact.

    Mary: And that is your opinion.

  76. I might take a tour of the Creation museum just to see how far the rabbit hole goes.

    Me, I’ll take the red pill and stay away from it. Whole buildings full of concentrated stupidity make my head throb with pain, and I’m afraid I’ll literally* have a stroke.

    *And I mean ‘literally’ LITERALLY.

  77. Jessica: I have to wonder how Noah knew enough to give the ark the hull of a modern supertanker complete with bulbous bow.

    Have you noticed that UFO sightings generally report spaceship design on par with human notions of technology and space travel? UFO’s a century ago were described as being riveted together. In the 50′s, they were apparently made out of chrome.

  78. @Kilroy: Yeah, my typical response is “Yes, evolution is a theory, just like gravity. You want to ‘teach the controversy’ about gravity?”

  79. Floored:

    The problem with your argument is that it ignores issues like that the Old Testament came from the Jews who didn’t have a devil and had a very different version of their god, and the New Testament came from early Christians who borrowed stuff from everybody else’s religions, and then the Christian Bible has been altered, amended, cut and filled with contradictions each time somebody does a new translated Christian Bible. So trying to keep score of who killed who according to the Christian Bible is a rather pointless enterprise, and doesn’t have much to do with actual Christianity. (As is cherry picking bits of it, giving them your interpretation and calling that being “literal,” as the creationists like to do.)

    Likewise, Zeus — seems like a bad guy, raping, cheating on Hera, causing general destruction, killing his dad (who tried to kill him,) etc. But that’s only because every time the cult of Zeus came to a new village, the religion absorbed all the local religious stories, which then became part of the story of Zeus. The only reason Zeus raped/had sex with so many ladies is that he replaced the old head god in each story.

    Religion is partly (some say wholly,) cultural. It evolves. There are many interpretations of the Christian Bible by Christians, who range in their beliefs from the extreme left to the extreme right. Many scientists are Christian, and many people who comment here regularly — and who are critical of far right and far right religious positions — are Christian and other people of faith.

    Creationism has nothing to do with being people of faith. It has to do with a minority group of Christians who have decided on a particular interpretation of the story of genesis in various editions of the Christian Bible. Most of us would probably not know that these people have these beliefs or care except that they decided to turn it into a political movement. Their intent is to use secular law not only to force non-Christians to be taught creationism religion instead of science in public schools but to force other Christians to be taught as well. This isn’t a battle between religion and science, or really has much to do with science at all. It’s a battle between an authoritarian religious sect and the rest of the world over what they see as humans’ place in the universe first off, and political control.

    The attempt to get creationism into public schools in the U.S. via getting on school boards with textbooks has largely failed, though they keep trying. The attempt to get creationism into public schools via the courts has failed completely. They’ve been successful in cutting funding for science, but that’s been because of other causes and has had more impact on environmentalism than studies in evolution. The Creationism Museum was simply another attempt, and it is failing. Politicians will sometimes pay lip service to creationism to appeal to their extreme base, but at the federal and most state levels, it’s a dead issue. But it is still a large group of people who keep trying to break the First Amendment of the Constitution.

  80. Synchronicity Alert! Slate magazine has an article on Ken Ham’s (of Answers in Genesis) sales of unrated, less-than-junk bonds to finance his “Ark Encounter” theme park!

    tl/dr: True Believers can lay down their money on bonds secured solely by the Ark Encounter project with no obligation for AiG to repay in the event of default. You can’t sell them to anyone else. If it’s really successful, they get to recall them at their discretion, and if they don’t, you get 6 or 7% return. And if it fails – say, if all the money gets spent on wages, hookers, and trips to Vegas – you lose everything.

    Sounds legit…

  81. “I have to wonder how Noah knew enough to give the ark the hull of a modern supertanker complete with bulbous bow.”

    As much as I’d love to mock them with you for including anachronistic and poorly applied modern naval architecture concepts, Jessica, I’m pretty sure you’re looking at that boat backwards, because it’s a rudder. Actually, yes, join in the mocking: that rudder is tiny, and, on that tub of an ark, I don’t think it’d steer *anything* … especially, since, as you noted, without power.

  82. I live near the Creation Museum, and have considered going just to see what the deal is, but there’s no way I’d pay for entrance to such a place! I think will review the slideshow with my husband instead. All of the fun, none of the funding creationist nonsense.

  83. In the beginning there was a singularity of infinite density…

    Huh?

    Do you know what a singularity is?

    No. What’s infinity?

    Okay, let’s try something else. Over billions of years I, from my perspective outside of space and time, pruned possible histories until a matrix of silicate clays and amino acids commingled into the first self-replicating precursors to RNA….are you getting all of this down.

    *rustles scrolls* Yes, Lord. But…Lord?

    Yes, Moses?

    What is are-in-eh?

    *sigh* Okay, I guess I better make this intelligible to the context of the audience. You know how clay is used to make pottery?

    *relieved* Sure.

    Well, you see…

    If the Bible was divinely inspired, then God could have simply delivered the whole shebang stone tablet-style. Instead the Bible claims authorship by prophets. Therefore, even in the unlikely event that it was divinely inspired, it was written down by humans in human languages and therefore was filtered through the contexts and understandings of the writers. Everyone who reads it, interprets it, even the so-called fundamentalist evangelicals.

    To claim one’s own interpretation is the same as one’s God is tantamount to claiming to know the mind of one’s God. When that interpretation is based on a narrow requirement that it follow irrational reasoning that ignores the preponderance of evidence for processes as elegant and brilliant as evolution and cosmology in favor of dumbed-down half-assed “theories” that fly in the face of reality by rejecting observation-based science, the most probable explanation is that it is the interpretation of someone unwilling or unable to abide a God that works by miracles as ingenious as those discovered by science. If you do believe in God, then that’s staggeringly arrogant. As unlikely as I find it, if there is in fact a God, I complement Him or Her or It on dumbfounding idiots with an astounding Creation.

    @Floored

    I mean,what sort of ostensibly benevolent precursor species makes multiple superpowered soldier species (Wraith, Asurans, probably the Goa’uld) and a species of less intelligent, less advanced beings that cannot operate the Ancient tech?

    I don’t recall anything about them being benevolent. At best they were indifferent and manipulative, with one group (the Ori) going outright Big Bad. However, that other part is just making stuff up. The Wraiths were not made, they evolved after the Iratus bug fed on an Ancient colony and incorporated their DNA into its own. The Goa’uld symbiotes/parasites began by taking the Unas of their native planet P3X-888 as hosts and deciphering the stargates whereupon they began spreading through the galaxy and stealing technologies from advanced civilization, leveraging their extremely long lives and hereditary memory to gain advantage. Then they discovered Earth (as shown in the flashback in the original movie), which was explained later in the series as being a “second evolution” of humans, not one created by the Ancients. There’s not evidence that humans existed beyond Earth in the Milky Way until the Goa’uld abducted them to seed other planets. The only species the Ancients are actually shown to have made are the Asurans, which they created as a last-ditch gambit to fight the overwhelming onslaught of the Wraith in the Pegasus galaxy.

    @dpmaine

    Picking and choosing which beliefs to bash and which to protect is an inherently authoritarian, and of course asshole, move. Liberalism is tolerating and if necessary ignoring horseshit.

    Do not mistake tolerance for agreement. Tolerating a ridiculous belief does not preclude ridiculing it. If you truly believe criticizing fellow citizens’ beliefs is tantamount to authoritarianism, I can only assume you are a very poor student of history.

  84. @ Gulliver: How the fuck does a backstabbing species like the Goa’uld that needs sentient hosts to do anything and appears to have paranoid schizophrenia as a defining species trait get to the Goa’uld level of tech without help from someone more advanced? To me, it looks like the Ancients created humans as a slave species, realized that they were outnumbered after their slaves revolted, and created the Goa’uld to cover their asses as they nipped off to the astral plane. Furthermore, on a more fundamental level, what sort of blithering idiot actually TRIES to create supersoldiers (ie Asurans)? Why make a new lifeform with free will when you can just make another unstoppable superweapon (which the Ancients seem to have just left lying around like trash)?

    I say this because SG canon is more nonsensical than Christian canon. It just doesn’t add up. Which System Lore makes the most OPed technological advancements (IE Kull warriors)? Anubis, who got Ascended by an Ancient. Which System Lord has the most grandiose manners and the most megalomaniacal plan? Anubis. Which System Lord is apparently unfamiliar with the word “subtlety” and the word “simple”? Anubis, who, yes, has had MUCH more contact with Ancients than the other dudes have.

    Also, the likelihood of the same species evolving twice on different planets in different galaxies hundreds of thousands of years apart is so astronomically low that the mere EXISTENCE in the show of both humans and ancients strongly suggests that humanity was made to farm some ancients’ fields while the supertech got left to the space people.

    Sorry, Stargate is a franchise with great characters and a Universal Union-style setting.

  85. No, that’s wrong. I’m using the word “horseshit” and using it repeatedly for specific rhetorical effect. You may not like the specific rhetorical effect — and that’s fine — but it’s incorrect to say it doesn’t add something to this specific argument.

  86. So, uh, what are the semiotics of “horseshit” vs “bullshit” in AmericanSpeak?

  87. @ Phoenician: Horse shit sounds more exotic and educated, I guess.

    @ Magda: My apologies, the whole Goa’uld thing was always a major pet peeve of mine. How the heck does that species still exist, much less rule the galaxy? They all act like third-rate Bond villains trying to imitate Blofield and failing. Except for the handsome dude in the vampire cape, who actually tried to be clever (and fails).

  88. John, you’re missing a heck of an opportunity if you don’t hurry back RIGHT NOW. There’s an exciting new exhibition called “Dragon Invasion”, which (among other things, I’m sure), lets you “examine armaments that may have been used by valiant dragon slayers”. How could you miss that???

  89. @Floored

    Oh, I see, you’re trying to analyze the Stargate universe with reason :-/

    Okay, so why does a species so advanced need slaves for menial labor? They were presumably as advanced as the Asgard, and those guys could magic up anything they wanted from thin air. Still, I like your talent for finding the worst in any mythology. I predict you’ll go far in life :D

    The difference between the writers of Stargate and the Christian Bible is that the Stargate writers never took themselves seriously.

  90. Floored: Actually my argument is that god kills and brutalizes several thousand times more people than the devil (the primary antagonist) ever does.

    First of all, you’re trying to use logic to disprove a religious belief. That’s like trying to use logic to disprove some conspiracy theory. Anytime logic disproves some aspect of a conspiracy theory, the most common conspiracy theorist response is to simply widen the conspiracy to account for whatever “disproved” the theory.

    And B, you are running into a standard moral argument used to justify wars. We must kill a small number of them so that a larger number of us are not killed. We must fight them over there so we don’t hav eto fight them here. And the thing you’re not taking into account in weighing the scales of who dies, is that religions often take into account an eternity of damnation in the afterlife, which weighs quite a lot on those scales of who dies and who lives. And like the conspiracy theory issue, any time you tell some religious zealot that killing all those people is wrong, they can merely increase how much carnage they’re avoiding for everyone in the afterlife, and therefore tip the scales back to justify their behavior.

    You are trying to use the steel rod of logic to leverage a religious argument based in sand and water. In other words, you’re not going to get nearly as much traction with that as you think you should.

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