Young Earth Creationists don’t have a monopoly on thinking they know better than the academy.

I find this fascinating: Some of the same people who criticize Young Earth Creationists for thinking themselves qualified to deny and correct the conclusions of the academy in matters of biology, paleontology, physics, and geology, nevertheless deny the conclusions of 99% of historians when it comes to the existence of Jesus.

Yes, it’s just another brand of denialism.

I’ve found that arguments against Jesus’ existence usually start with “lack of contemporaneous witnesses”, even though that has never been a historian’s “standard” for separating myth and historicity!

Of course, if that were to be adopted as the ultimate standard, most historical figures from the ancient world would thereby be labelled non-existent. I’d give some examples (e.g., Euler, Euclid, if I recall) but my reluctance to exert myself on a very lame topic just doesn’t motivate me to do someone else’s research for them.

Yet, the topic reminds me to investigate whether a former colleague who was pursuing a second Ph.D. in folklore followed through on his proposed dissertation topic. He told me how the non-existence of Jesus rarely got much serious traction until the Internet cultivated an “everybody knows that” type of meme outside the academy–if I recall his wording. He had an interesting hypothesis about how such ideas take hold, and he developed classifications similar to those used in the academic study of popular “conspiracy theories”, apparently because the driving force behind the non-existence idea was that the academy’s admitted consensus was based on various “evil motives” similar to creationists’ claims that “they’d all lose their jobs if they dared express doubts of Jesus’ existence.” (Yeah, right.)

Since retirement I no longer attend the relevant academic conferences so I don’t know if there’s been any important papers which have studied the development of this Jesus-never-existed idea amongst the general public. Nevertheless, I will say that the Jesus-never-existed denialists come very close to annoying me almost as much as Kent Hovind. Yes, it puts me in a very foul mood.

So I will restrict myself to just one admonition: If you find yourself tempted to promote any Jesus-never-existed nonsense, please investigate why the academy shows so little interest in Robert M. Price, who describes himself as a “Christian atheist.”

Even a Wikipedia-level of research on the “historicity of Jesus” and “the Christ myth theory” will get you started. To my knowledge he’s not listed in the Encyclopedia of American Loons but if they were to broaden their definition of “loons”, I think a place could be found for him.

And if you are wondering if I considered providing any footnotes for this essay, the answer is no. My advanced age brings me few special privileges but I will declare myself eligible for the privilege of declaring, “Jesus-never-existed denialists don’t deserve that kind of exertion.”

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As everyone celebrates the amazing photos & data from Pluto…

…sent back to earth by the New Horizon Spacecraft,

…and as all of the scientists at NASA,

…and the scientists working in association with NASA,

…all take their rightful bows,

…let’s not forget TO ALSO GIVE CREDIT to the many “CREATION SCIENTISTS”–who skillfully made use of the scientific principles which could ONLY have been discovered by means of “creation science” methodologies unique to that discipline–who made today’s discoveries possible.

So would the following “creation scientists” rightfully sharing in these scientific discoveries and milestones of today–AS WELL AS the many “creation scientists” who will be making important new discoveries in the months ahead as they carefully analyze the massive quantities of data coming from Pluto–WOULD YOU ALL please stand and TAKE A BOW as I announce your names one by one:

???_______________???

…and with very special recognition, we also acknowledge the teams of “creation scientists” at AIG and ICR whose perpetual whining and moaning about Oort Clouds make the New Horizons Spacecraft’s milestone such an excellent opportunity to contrast real science from pseudo-science and how pseudo-science purveyors exploit their followers for more donations.

LIKEWISE, let’s not forget TO ALSO GIVE CREDIT to the many INTELLIGENT DESIGN SCIENTISTS—who skillfully made use of the scientific principles and discoveries which could ONLY be discovered through the ID methodologies unique to that discipline—and who took part in this historic and very successful mission:

???_______________???

With great anticipation we also look forward to the many DISCOVERIES and NOTABLE CONTRIBUTIONS TO SCIENCE about to be made by the attorneys and propagandists of The Discovery Institute as they analyze the many gigabytes of data beamed back to earth by the New Horizon Spacecraft. Would you also PLEASE STAND and TAKE A BOW as I announce your names one by one:

???_______________???

Hmmm. Huh. That all went much more quickly than expected. And without further adieu, this special recognition ceremony draws to a… …what?

What’s that commotion in the back of the auditorium?

There appears to be a man with a white beard screaming.

What??

What’s he saying? Newton??? Something about Newton? …and Galileo?

Oh! I recognize him now! Officers, you can uncuff him.

(Just watch him carefully. He’s basically harmless, as long as he doesn’t get close to a radio microphone or a local school board. And definitely keep him away from impressionable children. You know. That moronic “Were you there?” nonsense.)

Yes, Ken Ham. I understand your question. We’ve been through this countless times before. Remember?

Think carefully. Yes, Ken. That’s right. Newton and Galileo were creationists. But they didn’t depend upon their creationist beliefs in making their contributions to science. They were good scientists who knew how to use the scientific method to make important discoveries. Newton did not depend upon Young Earth Creationism to figure out the Laws of Motion nor did Galileo to discover moons orbiting other planets much like the earth orbits the sun.

You see, Kenny, many scientists–holding all sorts of personal beliefs about theology and philosophy–made important scientific discoveries which made today’s milestone possible. What they ALL shared in common was the Scientific Method.

Now, if you promise not to hurt yourself or others, the nice officers will take you back to:

The Creation Mausoleum, “Where Bad Science Goes to Die” (Trademark, AIG)

___________________________
(c) 2015. Professor Tertius & the Bible.and.Science.Forum at Gmail.com.
All rights reserved. Email us at Gmail.com address for permissions on reposting and publication.

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Donald Trump Failed to Prepare for Alien Attack. (Miley Cyrus Makes Species Argument)

ANNOUNCEMENT: We invite all comments from everyone, positive or negative. Unlike most origins ministry websites, we do not censor. (We also don’t put posters on moderation unless replacing their vulgarities with asterisks takes the admin took much time. WordPress sometimes puts comments on moderation, even ours! So don’t be insulted if your comment is delayed. We will only delete obvious spam. In rare cases we may ask a commenter to resubmit their comments after vulgar language is removed. We don’t censor content.)


Get it? Clever, huh? Right? Remember, a while back?

This blog got huge traffic because I mentioned Ken Ham talking about Miley Cyrus. So combining Donald Trump with Miley Cyrus should do even better. And “alien attack” is a sure fire classic! Every tabloid publisher knows that “alien” is a magic word. Even antiquarian professors know that.

Ken Ham said that Miley’s choice of only having sexual relations with members of her own species made no sense at all under The Theory of Evolution. I kid you not, folks. If you didn’t read the Answers in Genesis webpage where The Ham Man made that Dunning-Kruger worthy challenge nor the BSF blog about that blooper, I will tell you everything that you need to know about that in order to understand this blog’s headline. You see, Miley’s sexual preference for her own species makes for a “species argument”. Get it?! Pretty good?! Huh? Right? Ya know, like a “specious argument”? OK. I suppose you’d have to be there. Or here. I happened to like it. (I love it when Ham opens his mouth and makes it soooo easy. Next thing you know, Ham will ask why evolutionists would logically choose to have sex.)

Fortunately for Ham, we’ve found a group working hard to topple Ham and his origins industry empire from the leading loon top spot. The Sensuous Curmudgeon blogged about the story and the late night comedians will soon be joining the laughter:

http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/internacional/en/world/2015/07/1652603-a-group-proposes-to-the-portuguese-government-the-construction-of-an-embassy-for-extraterrestrials.shtml

Yes, they want governments on planet earth to build embassies and grand residential facilities for greeting and housing aliens from outer space.

Now, do be careful what you say about aliens. Look what happened to Donald Trump.

If I were Donald Trump about now, I would be watching for aliens very very carefully! I wonder if Trump thinks aliens from outer space would look green, as in those old sci-fi movies. Hey, do you think Trump would get on his bully pulpit again and demand that those outer space aliens all get green cards? [LOL! Right? Get it? LOL? Oh, come on now!] I can just imagine Trump standing at the landing field next to the alien embassy. The alien ship opens up and Trump is standing there with a bullhorn saying, “If you don’t have a green card, go back to where you came from! I’m going to put up a force field around the earth and make you aliens’ government pay for it!”

Ok…back to my story. I crawled into bed last night and got to thinking about this embassy plan. I imagined that we decided to build that welcome center. The first alien visitors from outer space land and are welcomed with great fanfare. But they want nothing but to check-in to their hotel rooms and get some rest. After all, they’ve had a very very very very [add exponent to the Nth power of “very”] long trip.

So, as I pondered these things, I found myself nodding off…. zzzz…. dreaming about such a place and event…. zzzz… and what it would be like… ZZZZZzzzzz…… zzzz. ….dreamed about aliens checking in at the hotel…

…I dreamed…alien check-in…would go … like this…ZZZZzzzzzzzz..

The front desk’s staff has trained intensively for this historic day but the Residence Center manager decides to step up and handle the first check-in himself. He says to the leader of the group, the very first outer-space alien in line for check-in, “Welcome, sir. So pleased to have you stay with us! I will process your registration. First, may I see some identification, please?”

The alien looks a bit perplexed–which is very hard to do with just tentacles and a bunch of unidentified orifices and/or sensory origins–and it asks, “What do you mean?”

The desk manager says, “Any kind of official identification card will do. If you don’t have a driver’s license….er…pilot’s license, perhaps you’ve got an ID card issued by your employer?”

The alien looks up hopefully, “How about my union card? After all, I’m here on business.” [How did it manage to “look up”? I don’t know. It’s an alien! Just shut up and read the damned story. It will go faster that way for both of us.]

The desk manager says, “Sure! That will do just fine, Sir.”

It is clearly evident from the resumption of the flow of green drool from the elephant-trunk-like excretory tube (which the alien drags behind him) that the first-time guest feels relieved by the desk manager’s answer. [Relieved, get it?? Pretty clever, huh?]

While the alien is lost to his thoughts, all while flexing his antennae to absorb the delightfully new flavors of the earth’s quaint and exotic mixture of gases, the desk manager punches up the intercom mode of the PA system and announces so all could here: “Clean-up at front desk. Clean-up at front desk. Be sure to bring the Wet-Vac. Er… Make that three Wet-Vacs…Hell, just bring all of ’em!”

Just as the manager restores reciprocal optical-sense-organ contact with his guest, the alien resumes the conversation. “I really love the atmosphere of this place.”

The manager smiled proudly and said, “Thank you, Sir! We try our best. And our florist daily brings…” as the alien resumed its praise and interrupted him in mid-sentence:

“It’s quite wonderful! Your atmosphere has the delightfully subtle essence of those oxidation wisps…ya know…those wisps you get near a freshly fallen meteorite on most any moon of Uranus? Oh my…the mix so punctually graces those earthy, full-bodied undertones you can only get from a very high-nitrogen air mixture. Yet all blended so splendidly and playfully with hardly a hint of those pretentious, low atomic-number gases ya always find on Jupiter. No thank you! I’ve never liked that place. Not one bit. I just can’t quite put my tentacle on it, but something really bugs me about Jupiter. [Get it? You know, like “Can’t put a finger on it?” Jupiter has no solid surface? Just gases? Get it now? Oh well…] On earth here I was expecting the argon but was very surprised by the low altitude hints of ozone and ….don’t tell me…. let me guess…. ..uhhhhh… halogen gases … and a very rich mix of partly oxygenated hydrocarbons and… and… yes! There’s even a few organometallics! Is that it? Gastro? Where is Gastro? He’s my assistant. Oh, there he is. Right behind me! Gastro, didn’t I say the moment we opened the hatch that that just had to be argon, sulphur, and a few organometallics?”

Another bundle of tentacles sprawled out in all directions just behind the alien seemed to tense up slightly and somehow expelled the words, “Yes sir. That is what you said.” as one of the creature’s sensory organs seemed to do a full revolution of rotation within its socket, as if to ask a question which the manager may have heard only by telepathy: “Why I did I volunteer for this mission? I actually endured 200 parsecs of this blowhard?”

Realizing that the top alien was begging for a compliment, the manager smiled widely and said, “Very good, sir! You must be something of a connoisseur of fine atmospheres! A trained gaseous sommelier perhaps?” The manager bit his tongue as he remembered one of the cardinal rules of his training, regularly voiced by his instructor: “Stay away from puns, turns of phrase, and unintended jokes. Too risky!” Yet, before he could worry too much, the alien replied:

“Oh, thank you, but it’s nothing! I tended air-bar at my uncle’s country club during summers, all through college. Great tips. … Oh! Excuse me. You had asked me a question. What was it?”

The manager politely reminded him: “I had asked you for an ID and you said: ‘How about my union card? After all, I’m here on business.’ ”

“Yes! Yes! The card…” The happy alien laughed so heartily, although it was difficult to determine exactly where the voice was coming from, and how does he speak without lungs to propel the air? The desk manager didn’t know, but he was starting to wonder why the noxious pulses of pungent odor seemed to correspond in sync with each new belly laugh. Is it actually possible that the alien had a club sandwich with extra garlic and onion on his last in-flight meal in the space ship? Or perhaps 10 to 30 hours ago? He didn’t know. Indeed, no one on planet earth could know. Whatever the case, any unfortunate earthlings living downwind were about to learn what the embassy staff already knew. Well.

The alien reaches into his pocket in the back of his fourth tentacle and pulls out his wallet faster than you could say “Take me to your leader.” He grabs the union card inside it with a single, dexterous motion of the first suction-cup of his ninth tentacle and deftly hands it to the desk manager. He thanks him and scans it into the Universal Reader-Translator. [Why does the alien speak English but didn’t plan and bring a legible ID card in the local language? Do you really think I wanna make this any longer by adding a backstory for every gap in the plot points? Just sit still and read the nice story. Slow down your thinking. You know. Like a young earth creationist conference speaker.]

The machine spits out its translation. The manager reads it aloud:
“Galactic Brotherhood of Intelligent Designers, Local #351”

He pauses and says, “Apparently the machine couldn’t figure out your name. It says ‘Boundary error. Char strings exceed limit.’ What is your name, Sir?”

The alien smiled [Don’t ask!] and said, “That last name is DodFaasuznmxzyuaaqqnmadlkjadsaf. Yes, I’ll save you asking: my grandfather was indeed a Faasuznmxzy immigrant, came over on the Sarminian xenocrafts of the Second Therminian Dynasty. It was just after the Splantaric Rebellion and his was one of the first incubation vats to be reactivated with full power by the Darmifian mercenaries, because they thought they could hold the ovapods inside for ransom. They had no idea that he was just one more metamorphosis away from growing up to be their master. So, yes. Everybody always asks me when they hear the name!” as it laughed and smiled even more widely, a feat made all the more remarkable because of the fact that it didn’t seem to have anything resembling a face. “So telepathy might be communicating the alien’s emotions directly into my brain….” thought the manager as another wave of stench made his eyes begin to water, much like one gets when peeling onions …. and perhaps evolution developed such telepathy to accommodate their consistently maintain a personal space between them of around 50 meters. Or at least that was the suggestion of the panel of scientists which kept up a steady stream of color commentary and speculations appearing on the text crawl at the bottom of the large CNN TV screen the manager couldn’t help but see hanging high on the opposite walls.

He realized that his extensive training on reading body language provided little help when one isn’t even sure what body parts to read. So he resorted to the fallback rule for intergalactic culture shock: gush and fawn. Well… …that’s…that’s very impressive, Sir!” gushed the desk manager as he struggled for words while collecting his composure, “And a celebrity deserves special accommodations so I’m going to give you an upgrade to the VIP suite.” (Of course, at intergalactic embassies, everyone gets a VIP suite–and all UFOs get free valet parking.)

“Thank you. Thank you. But no, I prefer to be treated just like everyone else. And I’ve never felt like a celebrity, despite the famous surname. To everybody else, my grandfather was Seventh Supreme Overlord of the Xzyl-Razmoid Empire, Merciless Slaughterer of the Klyqedfjdiiel Resistance, and Grand Puba of the Galactic Council. But to me and my brothers…he was just Pops.”

Getting better at handling the unexpected, the manager asked, “By the way, speaking of VIPs did any of our staff outfront tell you that we have valet parking? It’s free to our VIP guests.” The manager chuckled to himself and thought about being remembered as the first human to make a joke to an alien. He could take the chance because he learned in his training that the aliens had been monitoring earth’s TV broadcasts for years and the scientists who had communicated with the aliens in the months leading up to the landing said that the aliens not only understood the English language quite well, they had an excellent sense of humor. For them, the 1950’s TV shows premiered just 15 years ago and they loved the sitcoms. So despite his training to avoid humor, he had gone ahead and asked if the alien wanted valet parking for his space ship.

The alien replied without any indication of mirth, “Yes, somebody among your staff out front asked me if I wanted that kind of parking service you say you have, so I said yes to take advantage of it. After all, my vehicle–I heard you earth people call it a UFO–is quite large. I was afraid you wouldn’t have enough space to accommodate it. So I was very happy to bring the guy on board to help out and we found just the right place to park.”

“Sir, it sounds like one of our staff was just making a friendly joke by offering you valet parking, a service where our people out front can park the guest’s vehicle in a special place. But, back to reality, with your… uh… vehicle. It will be quite safe because our military will be guarding it no matter where you parked.

“Yes, I do understand what you mean! I never saw so many soldiers and military vehicles surrounding us. And they welcomed us with so many sirens and lots of people running and screaming and shrieking. It was much like Elvis in the building as you say.”, it explained. “We felt so very welcomed. I really do appreciate the parking service. We were lucky. My spacecraft just barely fit in the parking space. Very beautiful hills on both sides.”

The desk manager tried to hide his confusion, and asked the alien: “Barely fit? Hills on both sides? Where exactly did you park? Did our employee actually direct you to the spacious valet parking area? Did he say if it was a specific valet parking area? We have an east and a west valet parking lots. Did he say which valet parking lot?”

“Hmmm….Oh! Yes he did!”, exclaimed the alien, “I remember now. The young man happened to mention it was San Fernando Valley parking. I’m not sure that they were expecting us but it will do just fine.”

The manager froze for a minute but realized this was the very type of situation he was trained to handle. “Keep your composure throughout” was the rule of operation at all times. But before he could think for very long, the alien continued:

“Oh! I should get back to your question that I never fully answered: The first name is Ieiwzmoiqewmmiuasdfuiqwemmskfjaskdf. Ieiw for short, pronounced like ‘Iiieeeiooooew” but remember that the second ‘e’ and the third ‘o’ are silent except when used in the vocative case. So the full name is Ieiwzmoiqewmmiuasdfuiqwemmskfjaskdf Adsoiuxy Dodfaasuznmxzyuaaqqnmad. You can feel free to save space and use a middle initial instead of Adsoiuxy. That’s fine.”

The alien could tell that the desk manager was overwhelmed by the name and it surmised that the manager was going to have difficulty with the spelling. So after a brief silence, the alien said, “I am Ieiwzmoiqewmmiuasdfuiqwemmskfjaskdf Dodfaasuznmxzyuaaqqnmad. But why don’t you just call me ‘I.D.’ for short.”

Obviously relieved, the desk manager exclaimed, “Excellent! Now I’m sure I have heard of you.”

The manager asked the alien, “Sir, I mean, Mr. I.D., would you like a smoking or non-smoking room?” As soon as he speaks the words, he realizes again that the alien has no lungs–because it absorbs gases directly through its slime-covered, yet reptilian-like skin. “I beg your pardon for my not thinking that through, sir. You see, we’ve never checked anybody into the Embassy Conference & Living Center Annex before. You are our first guest alien. I’ll just go-ahead and give you a non-smoking room. … Let’s see…what else…uhhhh…. Oh! Would you like a bellboy, or perhaps even two?”

The alien replied, “No. No thank you. I had a really big lunch on the flight.”

It paused a moment and resumed: “And then they always hand out those endless bags of nuts. Insufferable nuts. We beamed them up from Seattle and Kentucky before we knew what we were getting ourselves into.”

The desk manager remembered his training and tried really hard not to react as the alien continues.

“Plus, I really need to lose a few pounds and work on my cardio. My wife hassles me about it. Keeps reminding me that my father died of congestive hearts disease. All five of them. It got to where his hearts wouldn’t even grow back anymore. What a sad and slow way to die. So I’m trying to do a better job of taking care of myself. After all, ya only live thrice. Maybe four times, tops.”

“Always good advice, Sir.” The desk manager replied while still trying hard to react as little as possible. After all, he was specially trained for this. He recalled countless hours of extensive study and practice, all in preparation for this historic event, and that schooling included a thorough practicum in intergalactic cross-cultural interactions. The manager regained his composure and continued:

“Oh! Almost forgot… Sir. Do you have any pets that will be rooming with you?”

The alien answers, “As a matter of fact I do. Just one.”

The desk manager smiles and nods affirmatively, “Very good, sir. And what type of pet would that be?”

The alien replies, “I don’t know what you earthlings call them but on my planet we call it a luskin.”

__________________________
(c) 2015. Professor Tertius & the Bible.and.Science.Forum at Gmail.com.
All rights reserved.


If you like Professor Tertius’ brand of humor, or you simply like to see YECist “creation science” shredded while the science-denialists cringe, or you just love to see reminders that a theologian-linguist-Bible-translator-professor-minister sage-wannabe doesn’t have to agree with Ken Ham’s wacky pseudo-science and Bible-illiterate shenanigans to be a “genuine Christian”, than we’ve got a Professor Tertius classic for you: The April Fools Day Massacre & the Seven Deadly Questions YECists Dread.

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Translating YEC Propaganda: Anti-Evolution Equivocation Fallacies Sound Even Stupider in Another Language

Ever since the Hollywood trades announced the greenlighting of a Disney film about Charles Darwin and the epic voyage of The Beagle, rumors of a creationist boycott have cheered comedy writers for the various late night TV talk show hosts. After all, this is a topic with everything a comedian could possibly want. Well… perhaps not literally everything a comedian could want in a current events topic. But it’s got literally clueless, science-illiterate young earth creationists. And that beats a maximally flexible modern-day-dinosaur (also known as a rubber chicken) any day of the week.

I do hope the Disney movie will include the public’s reaction to Darwin’s theory, especially the various Christian ministers who praised Darwin “for explaining how Our Creator chose to fill the earth with wondrous creatures”, among whom was one of the great heroes of fundamentalist Christians, Dr. Benjamin Warfield, “the Father of Biblical Inerrancy.” And that’s something they won’t pick up from any Ray Comfort video.

When the movie portrays how Darwin’s journey gave him first-hand observations of the horrendous treatment of African slaves and ignited his life-long impassioned opposition towards slavery, I also hope they mention how Darwin’s royalties from sales of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life funded the printing of scripture-filled Abolitionist tracts written by the various Christian ministers Darwin also generously supported. Then perhaps Ken Ham can explain to his followers how he and other millionaire origins ministry entrepreneurs justify their pathological lying about Darwin supposedly being such a rabid “racist.” (Yeah, right. We all know how “creation science” purveyors are always so conscientious about setting the record straight and publishing errata compilations when caught red-handed in their lies.)

That would also give linguists and lexicographers like me yet another opportunity to explain to overly trusting Hamites that in 19th century English the word race meant “variety of organisms”, as in this updated title translated into 21st century English:

On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Varieties of Organisms in the Struggle for Life.

Indeed, today’s readers of recently translated editions of The Origin of Species in other languages have this potential advantage over most English-speaking readers stuck with Darwin’s original text: New translations generally bypass (and re-word accordingly) the archaic features of Darwin’s language from a century and a half ago and thereby avoid the reader’s likely misunderstandings which would have accompanied that outdated language from another era. Of course, that general observation fails if the translator(s) have limited working knowledge of 19th century English. Yet, the best publishers understand that potential problem and assign translator contracts accordingly.

After all, between Darwin’s day and our own, inevitable changes in English language vernacular rendered many Bible translation editions seriously “outdated” (and Bible paraphrase editions even more so) within a generation or two, if maximal reading comprehension accuracy trumps all other translation goals. (Despite the accusations of Bible critics that profit motives drive every new Bible translation edition, even an often cynical “insider” like me–one who regularly calls out the disingenuous spins and the duplicitous misdeeds of every “side” in most such conflicts and controversies–must agree that most modern day English translations pass their prime in twenty years, at most.)

Considering how Ken Ham and many other YECists and IDers regularly exploit such equivocation fallacies as exemplified in the “…the Preservation of Favoured Races…” clause, I’ve wondered how such language-dependent equivocations “underwhelm” the non-English-speaking audiences and readers of their anti-evolution propaganda. AIG, CMI, and many other organizations in the origins propaganda industry proudly brag about the numbers of foreign language editions of their books and videos. Yet, I wonder if any of their multilingual staff or donors have ever explained to them how and why their many equivocation fallacies only “work” in English (and perhaps sometimes with a few other related Indo-European languages with similar words and cognates.) Indeed, this “Darwin’s evolution book has a racist title!” argument of nonsense makes even less than zero sense in Mandarin Chinese, Tagalog, and Hindi. [Yes, I do enjoy exploiting the irony of illustrating the total nonsense of this particular example of Ham’s propaganda rubbish through “repayment in-kind”!]

Frankly, the more I think about the difficulties of conveying such English-based equivocation fallacies in other languages, I realize that an honest translator of YECist and IDer propaganda would find it extremely difficult to explain the argument in another language without also debunking the argument at the same time! Think about it: A typical Ken Ham tirade-filled, anti-evolution sermon would sound even more ridiculous in translation, depending upon and varying with the particular target language involved. “The Theory of Evolution is only a theory, not a law” already evokes a bored “Duh!” from science-literate English speakers. Yet, when translated into a language which lacks the word coincidence of theory=hunch and theory=scientific explanation, one gets a double-Duh! In other words, with this dishonest attempt to fool readers and audiences, the English language ploy only works in the target language if the target word’s semantic domains closely parallel the source word’s semantic domains.

Ham’s favorite violations of the “EtymologyLexicography” maxim could similarly fail. In the Bill Nye debate, Ham pompously tried and failed to bolster his arguments with “The word SCIENCE simply means KNOWLEDGE” when it would have made more sense to say “The Latin word SCIENTIA is where English gets the word SCIENCE.” Obviously, such etymological histories of a word do not necessarily dictate what the word actually means. [In fact, sometimes a word makes a 180-degree turn over time, such as the word AWFUL, which originally meant what its component morphemes would suggest, that which makes one feel full of awe but which now means extremely bad or inferior. Because of that negative shift in meaning, English speakers today often rely upon AWESOME to convey their sense of being awed by something.]

Of course, Ham resorts to this lame etymological argument (a subcategory of the Equivocation Fallacy argument) when he wants an audience to believe his claim that “Atheist and materialist scientists have hijacked the word SCIENCE from its former meaning of KNOWLEDGE.” because he is employing the same tactic Michael Behe tried to defend in the Dover Trial. If what one is trying to “sell” is obviously not science in terms of being supported by the Scientific Method, one can only hope to somehow appropriate the natural appeal of modern science as well as the authority and prestige which comes with it in the minds of general public. The propagandist must pretend that the word SCIENCE is a far broader term than those ‘materialist scientists’ have defined it. Yet, I would suggest that this “Science is simply a collection of knowledge” argument from English and Latin etymology would sound even sillier in languages which lack similar Latin pedigrees.

I’m over-emphasizing and redundantly pounding this observation of “Arguments based on equivocation fallacies don’t always translate well into other languages” into the ground because (1) I think it would make a fascinating doctoral dissertation topic for a linguist or religious studies candidate focusing on the difficulties and obstacles of taking any such propaganda global when trying to appeal to an international audience; (2) I wonder if Ken Ham’s finds it much more difficult to generate a following (and donors) in countries where the language translation dynamics deprive him of some of his favorite logical fallacies. [Fortunately for Ham, some European languages probably share enough cognate vocabulary and a similar scientific heritage heavily dependent upon English language publication and terminology so as to allow some of these ruses to survive translation. I’ve not spent any serious time and effort investigating many of the most popular equivocation fallacy examples, but I’ll bet that some of Ham’s crowd-pleasing spiels which get strong audience reactions and laughter in the States produce “dead air” and blank looks overseas when he preaches one sentence at a time with a live translator.]

But let’s get back to those rumors of a Christian boycott of the Darwin movie. I’m neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet but I’m willing to make at least one prediction about this: Based on Hollywood’s reputation for strict historical accuracy in all of its bio-epics, I expect the Disney movie will have just about as much science content and educational value as a summer internship at the Creation Museum. Or a Ken Ham documentary based upon his authorized biography. Or a graduate degree from the Institute for Creation Research.

{Even though it should be obvious, I’m told that some Ken Ham biggest fans/groupies are angrily denying the following satire–because the fact that it is simply satire went right over the heads. Yep, just like most science. Apparently they don’t quite grasp the meaning of words like “fictitious” and the comedy which is based on Ken Ham’s well documented long history of litigation.

Hey, did you ever wonder why there is no such book as Young Earth Creationism for Dummies?

Answer: Intellectual property infringement. Ken Ham threatened to sue. That’s already the title of the Answers in Genesis New Employee Handbook. (There’s also a new employee orientation film of the same name and based upon the book. Can you imagine being a docent for the Creation Museum or the upcoming Ark Park?) Yes, this paragraph is satire. There is no such handbook, even if there should be.

Speaking of fictitious Ken Ham lawsuits, the newest edition of Ken Ham’s Answers in Litigation: Building a Mega-Ministry Through the Courts is soon to be released. All nine volumes. {Satire alert!} Several of the chapters of previous editions have been greatly expanded with updated material, including my personal favorites:

“Sue Ain’t Just a Dinosaur”
“I for an I Justice”
“Persecute Them Before They Persecute You”
“Bloodletting in the Courtroom: The Legal Way to Play Chicken”
“Ham on Nye”
“Who Peed in My Gene Pool?”
“Always Be the Underdog by Building Up the Boogeyman”
“Every Protagonist Needs an Antagonist”
“Propaganda: If It Makes Sense, You Ain’t Doing It Right”
“Jurassic Justice and the Jurassic Dark Arts”
“Dr. Who’s On First”
“How I Won the Dover Trial: Winning Without Even Playing the Game”
“Fighting to Repeal the Laws of Thermodynamics: We’s In It Till We Win It”
“Recognizing Satire When You Read it”

Some people don’t know when to quit. I do.

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Speaking of Favorite YEC Hecklers: How to Copy-and-Paste Cowboy Bob’s Hilarious Howlers

I’m a big fan of Young Earth Creationist, Cowboy Bob Sorensen. His antics assure us all that Poe’s Law remains alive and well.

Indeed, when I first came upon his Piltdown Superman website, I assumed him to be just another Bible-hating troll who thought it was original and funny to mockingly portray the ultimate caricature of the science-ignorant, scripture-illiterate, rabidly angry creationist. [Contrary to these hyper-angry-creationist stereotypes which get all of the attention online, most rank-and-file YECs are neither as rabid nor as ridiculous. Please, readers: Do not assume that all YECs are like the leaders and the loudest activists of the creationist anti-evolution movement. Most YECs are good people who are simply naive and prone to be overly trusting of the wrong people, but they are neither  intentionally deceptive nor mean-spirited, and certainly not as arrogant as the millionaire entrepreneurs who have built the lucrative origins industry.]

Yet, after a few forum exchanges with Bob, I began to suspect that he might actually be the real thing, the angry YEC activist. As it turned out, I was late to the realization of Bob’s angry campaign’s against science: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Bob_Sorensen

The Cowboy’s entertainment value goes beyond his self-contradictory rants. Anyone wishing to share with others his most comic nuggets of “wisdom” soon realizes that he’s so insecure about his own rubbish that he tries to make his text unavailable to the user’s clipboard copy-and-paste sequence. (As mentioned in the above link, he often gets caught red-handed in terms of deceptive quote-mines and pseudo-science so he vainly tries to retain deniability by re-editing his biggest bloopers once they are exposed. Accurate quotations from his websites being archived and later used against him are among his greatest fears.)

How to Copy-and-Paste a Cowboy Cowpie

There’s a number of nifty ways to work around Cowboy Bob’s fear of being quoted. Yet, rather than provide a lot of detailed procedures for the many kinds of browsers or promoting various software utilities, I’ll give you a crude but easy-to-remember means of copying-and-pasting Bob’s latest bumbling blooper that should work in most Windows computers and their browsers. (The same general principle can be applied to virtually any OS and its browsers.)

0) To practice this procedure, use your browser to visit:
http://www.piltdownsuperman.com/2015/04/scientific-facts-keep-getting-reversed.html

1) Read down the webpage and find two of Bob’s very typical fibs:  “Lucy is about to be shelved” or how about:

Many think that science is the ultimate source of truth, and they
forget (or do not even know) that many indisputable science facts have
been discarded over the years. Take a look at phlogiston, f’rinstance.

You can use either of those science-denying blunders for what follows–as you learn how to copy-out and paste the text using the procedures described below.

{By the way, readers of this blog as well as anyone with a basic history of science background know that “Phlogiston Theory” was never a theory of modern science. It was an ancient philosophy based on the even more ancient concept of elemental humors, which also produced the ancient practice of bloodletting. The pioneers of modern chemistry used the scientific method to debunk all such derivations of ancient philosophy. This particular lie along with the Lucy-misrepresentation was debunked in the Bible.and.Science.Forum’s blog article: An Open Letter to Young Earth Creationists Who Misrepresented the News About Lucy.}

2) Notice that–thanks to paranoid Bob–you can’t highlight and COPY the text, as you routinely would, when you wish to share such texts with others.

3) With your mouse pointer positioned approximately at the text you want to copy, do a right-mouse-button click to bring up the browser’s sub-menu.

4) Take note of the words/phrase which introduce the text segment you wish to copy.  (You will need them later on to find the text in the source code for the page.)

5) Select (by clicking on or by means of the indicated keyboard character) the menu-choice View Page Source

6) You should now be viewing the source code behind Bob’s insult to your intelligence (i.e., the evolution-hating webpage.)

7) Use the Find command (I use ctrl-F) to find the words/phrase you remember from Step #1 above. [Remember that the words/phrase may occur more than once on the webpage and in the source code.]

8) Use your routine copy-and-paste command sequence to copy out the segments of text you want to paste into your word-processor or email.  

[I strongly recommend that Windows users replace the wimpy Windows clipboard with a freeware utility like Ditto, my personal favorite. It not only let’s me see and utilize my last ten clipboard contents, I can edit them there and know that all of them get permanently archives for later recall.]

[You may want to copy the texts along with the coded commands and then use your word-processor or email editor to eliminate everything but the desired text segments.]

9) Now you can share Cowboy Bob’s detritus with others.  (Keep in mind that some browsers let you choose Paste or Paste as Plain Text. Always use the latter–or disable the RTF feature.) 

Most Young Earth Creationist websites carefully censor and ban anyone who dares to comment in any way which disagrees with the “creation science” party line–or even to ask an embarrassing question which exposes the holes in their pseudo-science and tradition-based Bible interpretations. Of course, many disable comments entirely. Yet, Cowboy Bob Sorensen takes that paranoia much further–not wishing his own words to be used against him.  [Until I started looking at his source code, I thought he might be using a text-to-graphic converter–which would have made this simple procedure ineffective. I should have realized: never over-estimate Bob.]

Hypocrisy At Its Best

Cowboy Bob also entertains through irony and self-contradiction. Here’s an example of Bob’s hypocrisy as he complains about a commenter on a Worldview Warrior forum:

Unfortunately, Haywire is a proven liar and incapable of reason. He loves to twist words…

So, let us all fully grasp what Bob is saying here: He changed Ashley Haworth-Roberts’ name from “Haworth” to “Haywire”–and then Bob complains, “He loves to twist words.” Isn’t that classic! And that’s a big …

“Tu quoque to you too!”

Now our readers can appreciate why Professor Tertius’ is so entertained by yet another clown-prince of YECdom. Yes, Bob’s only an amateur but the guy really does try his best to keep up with the Hovinds and the Ham Man.

Yes, while living in a glass house, your complaints about “a proven liar” and “incapable of reason” have a hollow ring.  Yet, many will hope you will continue to do what you do. Your impassioned troll tales try just as hard to discredit Young Earth Creationism as anything produced by Kent Hovind or Ken Ham. Those professionals just have the unfair advantage of much larger audiences and the bank accounts to match. In the amateur category, you at least deserve an Honorable Mention. After all, everybody loves an underdog.

Sadly, some will assume that Bob’s behavior is based upon and endorsed by the scriptures. Not at all. However, you can find plenty of similar people in Jesus’ day. The Messiah dealt with lots of hypocrites. He didn’t hesitate to call them what they were: “white-washed sepulchers.”

Just as in the first century, the loudest enemies of Jesus’ teachings continue to appoint themselves the final judge of all others by saying “Those who disagree with us/me are of Satan.” Yet, Jesus said, “By their fruits you shall know them.”

Accordingly, whenever YECs like Cowboy Bob call Professor Tertius “an atheist masquerading as a Christian”, the legalists who trust in their favorite traditions remind us that pharisees don’t change their strategies as the years go by.

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Young Earth Creationist Hecklers Are My Favorite Hecklers.

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Many who think they are familiar with the Bible are only familiar with particular types of traditional interpretations of the Bible. I see that often with the Young Earth Creationists who protest my articles and think that they are going to instruct me in interpretations that I’ve never heard before.

[To be fair, there are also those at the other end of the belief/non-belief spectrum who think that they are going to tutor me on Biblical studies and religious studies factoids I’d somehow never heard of. A few of those hecklers even tell me that all religious studies professors joined university faculties in order to proselytize for their religion. When I point out that my department chair was an atheist who faithfully attended synagogue every sabbath and that there is basically no evangelism (i.e., proselytizing) in Judaism, they go into brain lock.]

Pointing out the exegetical errors as well as the theological bloopers and scripture-illiterate side-splitters of famous Young Earth Creationists gets me a lot of nasty emails from “creation science” fans. Yesterday a Ken Ham groupee rebuked me with what he apparently thought was the very worst of insults: “You make friends with atheists!” Considering that he probably assigns atheists to a contempt scale at least one step below “publicans and sinners”, I asked him if he thought Jesus would make friends with atheists. He wrote back and said: “Of course Jesus would make friends with atheists. But you are even lower than atheists because you are an evil compromiser!”

At least he didn’t call me a son of Satin which still remains my all-time favorite insult from an angry Young Earth Creationist. (I assured the exasperated fundamentalist lady that my late father was a life-long farmer and never had any ties to the fabric industry. Perhaps she thought him guilty of the mixing of fabrics as in Deuteronomy 22:11. We raised sheep but not flax, and the government bought most of the wool in those days.)

I considered telling my critic that compromise can be a good way to encourage harmony because it recognizes the wisdom of choosing one’s battles wisely. Yet, I would also tell him that affirming what is known to be true about the evolution of life on earth is not compromising the truth. It is recognizing the truth–and didn’t Jesus tell us to seek the truth and embrace it? But I knew that that wouldn’t do any good in convincing him of anything. You just can’t out-pietize a self-righteous YEC who thinks he’s on a roll. (Just as a rolling stone gathers no moss, you can roll a YEC in evidence and he will gather no insights.)

Then I recalled something a wise man said about the ballistics of nacreous calcium carbonate crystals produced by mollusks when targeting a particular type of even-toed ungulate. So I sent the first sentence of this paragraph to him as my reply.

Haven’t heard from him since.

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If you enjoyed this blog article, we think you will also like:
Evolution-Denialism: It’s About Feelings, Not Just Facts
An Open Letter to Young Earth Creationists Who Misrepresented Lucy News

 

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Even when mocking Miley Cyrus, Ken Ham embarrasses himself by exposing his ignorance of evolution.

{In a matter of just a few hours, this blog article by Professor Tertius has already brought the largest reader-visitor volume by far in the entire history of the Bible.and.Science.Forum. We gladly welcome so many new readers and encourage everyone to also check out the very popular draft of Prof. T’s in-progress autobiography. As reviewer Steve Poole described it, “Everyone’s favorite ex-YEC, ex-octogenarian both entertains and educates readers through his first-person account of the darkest day in the history of creation science and YECism.”  Share this link with friends and foes alike:

The April Fools Day Massacre & the Seven Deadly Questions YECists Dread.

“We should all challenge those annoying, science-illiterate fans of the ‘Question Evolution Project’ with Professor Tertius’ hard-hitting, creation-science-destroying barrage at the Bible.and.Science.Forum blog.  He conclusively demonstrates that the Bible says nothing to deny evolutionary processes and billions of years–and that angry, origins-industry entrepreneurs misleading so many science-illiterate Christians must end their obsessions with popular traditions and start paying attention to the Hebrew Bible text, thereby ending their unnecessary war on science.”}


TODAY’S BLOG:  Ham doubts The Theory of Evolution’s explanation of Miley Cyrus’ sexual preferences.
[Looks stupid as a result. Film at 11.]

 

Miley Cyrus recently declared that she was apparently willing to have intimate relations with most anybody of legal age–but not an animal.   Ken Ham thought that made no sense and insisted on chiding Ms. Cyrus in a rambling rant. [I know. The AIG website is composed of very little other than rambling rants which make no sense.]

Here’s Ham’s core complaint:

Question for her: Why not involve an animal? On what basis does she decide that? Besides, if there’s no God and she’s just a result of evolution, then she is merely an animal anyway. And those she interacts with sexually are just animals—so why not any animals? In other words, she has decided to draw a line for some reason—but what reason?
— https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2015/06/10/miley-cyrus-which-ark-is-she-rejecting/

Well, Ken, if you would actually bother to learn a little bit about evolution, you would discover that it has much to do with survival and reproduction. And, believe it or not, evolution has made all animals, including Homo sapiens sapiens, desire to have sex primarily with others of the same species. (Ken would probably prefer the word “kind” and in this case I won’t argue the issue. When it comes to sex, it takes all kinds. And no doubt Ms. Cyrus will find hers.)

All of this is obviously new to Ken, so I’ll say it again: evolution explains a lot about survival and reproduction. Why do you suppose that is, Ken?  I would bet that it is because only sex with another of the same species is going to produce viable offspring which can also reproduce and pass along genes.

So, Miley Cyrus’ preference for sex with other humans but not with other kinds of animals makes complete sense in evolutionary terms.  Not sure why Ken finds it unexpected. Yet human-with-human sexual relations also makes complete sense in terms of the Book of Genesis as well!  So why are you complaining, Ken?

We can’t help but notice that this is yet another instance where the Bible and Science simply have nothing to fight about and Ken Ham really should just chill out and accept it: Humans prefer sex with other humans and not other species of animals. I’d say that her ruling out sex with non-human animals makes complete sense for anyone who understands The Theory of Evolution and for anyone who understands Genesis in the Bible.

But as for whining origins ministry entrepreneurs…not so much.

(c) 2015. Professor Tertius & the Bible.and.Science.Forum at Gmail.com.
All rights reserved. Email us at Gmail.com address for permissions on reposting and publication.
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If you enjoyed this blog article, we think you will also like:
Evolution-Denialism: It’s About Feelings, Not Just Facts
An Open Letter to Young Earth Creationists Who Misrepresented Lucy News

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Rev. Tony Breeden “knows” the “clear, plain meaning of Genesis.” Does he really?

Today the Bible.and.Science.Forum was cc’d on a rather condescending and dismissive email from Rev. Tony Breeden, who directs yet another Young Earth Creationism ministry, this one apparently called Defending Genesis.  The first link I clicked on the ministry’s History page took me to a West Virginia “creation science group” where an apparently not so current event page announced that they would be viewing some Kent Hovind DVD at their January meeting. (Rev. Breeden appears to consider all other Christians with any other view on origins to be “compromising” Christians, or worse, and seeing how he does not hesitate to take cheap shots at everyone he can, I’d wager that he gets lots of cheap shots in return, with the Kent Hovind and the West Virginia associations being much like red flags and “Kick Me!” signs for those who are prone to respond to his cheap shots with cheap shots of their own.)

I found myself dissecting Rev. Breeden’s cheeky email in a detailed reply and even decided to send a reciprocal “REPLY TO ALL”, although I doubt if many of the infamous YEC ministry “celebrities” and organizations in the address list ever read emails which might possibly educate them on science or the scriptures, especially when it comes from a “compromising Christian” foe like me. I may share excerpts of my email reply in the future but today I just wanted to react to one of the lamest of Young Earth Creationist justifications that I found on his Compromise Creation webpage at https://siriusknotts.wordpress.com/creationevolution/compromise-creationism/.   [As happens on occasion, WordPress is refusing to let me insert a link, so I apologize for the raw address that is not automatically clickable. I gave up on retries.] Here’s what he said:

“This page is dedicated to posts dealing specifically with Old Earth Creationism [OEC], such as Thesitic Evolution, Progressive Creationism, Gap Creationism and similar Creationist stances which compromise the clear, plain meaning of Genesis to try to account for the long-age assumptions of uniformitarianism and which attempt to incorporate evolutionism into God’s Creative process.”

Considering how many interpretations/views can be found even among Bible-believing Christians of remarkably similar doctrinal positions, I find this claim remarkable. Moreover, how likely is it that a modern-day reader of an English Bible translation (of a several thousand year old Classical Hebrew text from a very different culture) will easily know the “clear, plain meaning of Genesis”?

Now I’m not saying that understanding an ancient text in translation is beyond any hope of comprehension, as some post-Modernists might claim. Yet, most of us have lived long enough that when someone insists on prefacing a statement with “Everybody knows that…” and “Without any doubt…”, we usually have reason to be cautious about what an author declares so presumptuously.   Moreover, especially when dealing with scripture, what is the “clear, plain meaning” may only be “clear” and “plain” only to the person making the claim–and the proclamation is obviously (!) a not-so-subtle attempt to convince the reader that anyone questioning the writer’s confident declaration is obfuscating what is allegedly beyond all doubt. (One might just as well say “Even the youngest of children can see that what I’m saying is true!”)

I do believe that there are many “clear and plain” meanings to be drawn from countless Biblical texts. Indeed, I consider Genesis 1 to be among them! However, the “clear, plain meaning” which I draw from Genesis 1 is not at the level of detail of Breeden and other YECists. To me it’s simplest, clearest, plainest, and even obvious meaning is that Israel’s God created everything and is superior to the deities of neighboring peoples.

What is not so obvious to those who are not familiar with Hebrew language and culture is that the ancient Hebrews were far less temporally/chronologically-oriented. (Their language didn’t even have the kinds of verbal tenses which we would expect.) Therefore, I seriously doubt that ancient readers gave much thought to Genesis 1 as being focused on the details of what the creator did so much as on WHO did the creating. I will not explain this further in this article because that topic deserves its own treatment.

Yet, I will say that if I were pressed for my personal view on Genesis 1, I would say it is basically a “Hymn of Tribute to the Creator” and that the author uses a seven day week to put the power of God ELOHIM into human perspective:  God can create the universe [expressed in Hebrew via the idiom “the heavens and the earth”, i.e., “everything above and all that is below”] in a single week.  This in no way denigrates the text and the same fundamentalist Christians who are fine with similar literary genres elsewhere in the Old Testament nevertheless on a rigidly literal interpretation of Genesis 1 as an “obvious historical description” [even though it lacks many of the features we would expect and includes various features we wouldn’t expect] because their Young Earth Creationist traditions demand it.

Nevertheless, my primary purpose in this article on the “clear, plain meaning of Genesis” is to explain why we must be careful about such simplistic and presumptuous claims.

Foremost among our cautions is the simple fact that language translators are often forced to make difficult choices which may make the end result look far more “plain and obvious” in translation than in they knew the text to be in the original language.  To illustrate that reality, I cite an example shared by a fellow Bible translation conference speaker of years ago. Unfortunately, I can no longer recall his name. Yet, I know that he did a lot of work with Wycliffe Bible Translators/Summer Institute of Linguistics and he said that this was from the experiences of one of the field translators whom he assisted as a regional consultant. Over the next thirty years I’ve cited his example countless times as it illustrates that a literal translation sometimes distracts from and even contradicts the intended meaning of a text and reminds us of the dangers of the “clean, plain meaning” of a Biblical text.

When Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock….”, the plain and simple meaning to a typical modern English reader is: “A friend wants to see you.”   Yet, in that Amazonian rainforest culture, “the plain and simple meaning” was obviously this:

1) There is an enemy at my door.
2)  He is knocking to determine if anyone is within the home.
3)  If nobody responds to his knocking, he will assume that he can go in and steal my property OR he can burn down the home and get revenge for something without being seen by anyone inside.
4) If somebody responds to his knocking, he can run away before anybody catches him or accuses him of being a thief.

Again, those interpretations of “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…” are the obvious clear, plain meaning of that familiar English Bible passage among many of the peoples living in the Amazon River basin when the Bible translation team was doing their work there.

Moreover, despite the naive claims of some fundamentalist Christians, the Biblical languages and cultures entail many of the same kinds of language complexities, ambiguities, and difficulties.  The myth that Biblical Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic are somehow immune from such problems and are “perfect languages” [whatever that means] is yet another “everybody knows that” factoid that misleads the naive and linguistically uninformed.

Obviously, if reading and interpreting the Biblical text of Genesis 1 was “clear, plain, and simple”, we could at least expect Christians (if not all English readers) to agree on the meaning–but it isn’t and we can’t.  Indeed, most of us prefer to live in reality and most Christians are honest enough to admit that legitimate disagreements exist. So unless one is going to insist that “my view is automatically the correct one and all others are wrong”, one must admit the complexities and potential ambiguities of the various Biblical texts. Accordingly, the “clear, plain meaning of Genesis 1” remains one of the lamest of Young Earth Creationist arguments.

What did the Bible translator decide about “Behold, I stand at the door and knock”?  Because a literal rendering of the well-known evangelism passage would be so misleading, he chose to go with a dynamic equivalent type of translation philosophy:  “Behold, I stand at the door and call.” In that culture, a visiting friend would never knock like a thief. He would call out the name of his friend and politely announce his visit. Yet, the change would probably mystify most people–until someone explained the cultural issues.

Very complex topics often strike the uniformed person as remarkably simple. When one knows so little about the massive evidence for billions of years–and that radiometric dating is just one of many scientific methodologies for determining the age of geologic strata and fossils–it is incredibly easy to assume that all of the world’s brilliant scientists are ignorant and that a science-illiterate pastor is fully qualified to chide them for their errors and magnanimously tutor them on where they went wrong. If the Kruger-Dunning Effect ever needed a poster-child, Rev. Tony Breeden would have a very good shot for a full-ride scholarship. Ignorance of both scientific and scriptural evidence remains the best qualification for starting one’s own “creation science” ministry organization. Smug condescension towards “compromising Christians” and overbearing hubris and dismissive scorn towards those annoying “materialist scientists” are not explicitly stated in the “creation science” ministry leader’s job description but they don’t have to be.  Although not totally essential to do the job, those “skills” are easily mastered.

After all, there are so many other science-denying YEC leaders to emulate.  Rev. Tony Breeden’s websites will show the young aspiring origins ministry entrepreneur how to preserve man-made traditions while ignoring the Biblical text and to never let scientific and scriptural evidence get ahead of traditional YECist dogma. After all, anything else would be “compromising”.

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THINKING SMALL. (Ken Ham: Rejecting the actual past, yet stuck in the past.)

I’m neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet. (The Bible.and.Science.Forum is a non-prophet organization.) Yet, I’m willing to make a prediction.  Ken Ham’s Ark Park will be the sinkhole that sinks his ship, financially speaking.

Ken Ham is stuck in the business models of the past–think post-WWII Disney Land but without any of the more than can-be-seen-in-a-day variety and wonder–and is determined to pursue a frighteningly expensive theme park that has no chance of succeeding without enormous ongoing cash infusions. 

Considering the huge price tag of the project, the sure-to-balloon cost overruns, and the enormous maintenance and operational costs of whatever the result, the tourist attraction’s mediocre location makes it unsustainable. (That is already the case with the Creation Museum but Ham will continue to cover that from donations and mail-order revenue.) Even a prime location wouldn’t help all that much. Moreover, prime locations tend to come with huge price tags and Sinai-sized property taxes and impact fees.

If not for the ego factor and traditional thinking, Ham could perhaps be prodded to think more broadly, to prioritize his ultimate objectives, and to consider a cost-return analysis of the various ways he can convince the general public to accept (or at least consider viable) “creation science” and his brand of Young Earth Creationism. I wonder if anyone has told him: “Investigate where Internet-based technology is headed and invest your money in intersecting with it 5 and 10 years out.” Wouldn’t both common sense and likely impact-per-dollar-spent point away from a perpetual budget-straining, brick and gopher wood tourist attraction and towards far more exciting technology reaching a far larger audience? For starters, how about something far more exciting and cutting-edge than AIG’s bland websites? And why not escape the constraints of physics and biology by leaving the real world entirely behind (while nevertheless appearing to deal with it) using virtual reality and the next wave of 3D realism?

While the Internet remains the best way to reach the most eyeballs, Ham could, for example, invest in “technology-based tourist attractions”, using the IMAX theatre business model. Imagine airport concourse advertising and highway billboards inviting visitors to Branson (MO), Colorado Springs (CO), Dollywood, and other evangelical Christian regional Meccas as well as more traditional theme and amusement park destinations shouting “Live the Bible: Experience Ken Ham’s Noah’s Ark Encounter!” (Branson would be a good trial location. Link the attraction to a steady calendar of AIG “creation science” seminars and a steady stream of conference traffic–such as Christian Booksellers Convention and homeschooling conferences–and the cost-return comparison would blow any Ark Park out of the water.)

Executed well, you’d even see some of the celebrities of the ID and YEC movements permanently move to such a place just as many music entertainers purchased homes in the Branson area so they no longer have to tour. (Their audiences come to them.) Add some real estate developers marketing “the ultimate Young Earth Creationist retirement community” and you’d have a fundamentalist Promised Land.

Even if Ham spends the anticipated $150 million on an Ark Park where everything falls into place beyond his wildest expectations, once Christian vacationers within 1200 driving distance have visited, few will return. After perhaps five years or so, operational/maintenance costs will outstrip admission revenue. But imagine what $150 million invested in virtual reality 3D “tours” of Noah’s Ark: under construction, ark loading, the first day of rain, another routine day of ark life, and “rest at Ararat”. [New readers of this blog: I’ve got no beefs with the ancient text–but I have lots of complaints about “creation science” spin.]

Of course, even a few million dollars could beef up the AIG website to produce something far more impressive than the text-heavy, uninspired, and (I’ll say it) amusing but repetitive jukebox of tiresome old songs. (There’s only so many arrangements and styles of “Historical Science Blues”, “Were You There?”, and “Same Data. Different Interpretations” before the monotony turns maddening.) Yet, if Ham really wants to turn Americans to “creation science”, why doesn’t he invest $150 million in actual scientific research–and produce the kinds of milestone scientific discoveries that could give him credibility.

Yes, I may not be a prophet but it’s fun to imagine an alternate reality where Ham cares about actual science.

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“The silly Bible even errs in counting the number of legs on a grasshopper!”

“The Bible even errs in counting the number of legs on a grasshopper!”

“Is it horribly impolite to point out that insects actually have six rather than four legs?”

Not impolite. Just a little naive.

It is a viewpoint based upon cultural myopia. We are all guilty of this at one time or another. When we don’t understand another culture–but think we do–we often assume that they are terribly “wrong”. Imagine an anthropologist of another culture of the distant future unearthing one of our newspapers and saying, “What a primitive and unscientific people! When they heard heavy rains pounding on their roofs at night, they actually claimed that it was raining cats and dogs! They actually thought that common domesticated animals could be found in clouds.”

Many don’t realize that people from other cultures might laugh and point at someone for actually thinking that “an insect has six legs” when “Everybody knows that insects have 2 striders, 2 walkers, and TWO legs!”

This is just one of many types of linguistic confusions which I’ve had to cover quite routinely, both in articles and in the classroom. Does it really seem likely that an ancient people dependent upon agricultural sustenance and ever fearful of the next plague of locusts wiping out their food supply would never have noticed how many legs/appendages/limbs/etc. such insects have? They were capable, after all, of counting to six.

How many legs does a grasshopper have? It depends on the culture and the language involved. Some may count 2 “jumpers” and 4 “walkers”. Some refer to six appendages. Indeed, some languages have had no word for bodily appendage, at all. A culture may not even have a word for leg. Instead, it might have a word for foot and the “scope” of that word ends just above the knee.

Yet, we face similar confusion in our own culture. We distinguish between fingers and toes. Yet in our medical literature, phalanges refer to both fingers and toes. So, in isolation, the word phalanges may strike some as too ambiguous. Yet, all descriptions in a text may fall short of the expectations of a reader. (Which phalange is the author talking about? The index finger? The big toe? The thumb on the right hand?)

In the classroom I usually explained such “mapping phenomena” in terms of Venn diagrams on some display medium. In doing so, the Hebrew word commonly translated as fish would be shown as a Venn circle larger than the English word fish per se because the Hebrew word includes many other aquatic creatures.

Semantic domains differ between languages, especially those of different language families. Nomenclature often differs because classifications of common things differ between cultures. That is why semantic mappings between the lexemes of different languages are often not one-to-one.

This complaint about ancient texts–and making fun of their imagined ignorance of an obvious “fact”—is seen in the popular complain “The Bible [actually, just the KJV] says that a whale is a fish” when ignoring the fact that ancient Hebrew was not English. To render the “exact” meaning of the closest ancient Hebrew word for fish would require clumsy, overly wordy English translations that required lots of burdensome phrases in place of single words, such as “fin-equipped, aquatic creature”, a description which entails not just piscatorians but cetaceans as well.

And to make matters even more complicated one may find that the semantic domains of a particular Hebrew word may have “broadened” by the time of the post-exilic literature of the Old Testament, so that the “fin-equipped” aspect was no longer required. So even some renowned Biblical scholars err when treating particular Hebrew words as having rigid, unchanging definitions despite the fact that the Old Testament texts span many many centuries. A word like awful has a very different meaning today [opposite meaning, actually] than at the time of the Shakespeare or the King James Bible. Yet, that is a mere four centuries of time span.

When I was still teaching undergrads, I would even give classes of non-majors some of the popular and traditional “Bible errors” compilations where the two aforementioned examples are always cited. Students were often surprised and nearly always entertained to learn just how ignorant were many of the traditional complaints. By the end of the course even the poorest students began to understand why the “Bible contradictions” academics write about at such length are usually quite a different list than so many of the best known but entirely lame entries on websites like the Skeptics Annotated Bible.
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If you enjoyed this blog article, we think you will also like:
Evolution-Denialism: It’s About Feelings, Not Just Facts
An Open Letter to Young Earth Creationists Who Misrepresented Lucy News

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Yes. Nearly all Americans of European ancestry are descendents of slaves.

I try not to be surprised at the ignorance of politicians and journalists. Nevertheless, I admit a mild case of astonishment when I heard these soundbites on a radio program:

“Obviously, very few white Americans have any slaves in their ancestry.”
“Let’s face it: Europeans never suffered from mass enslavement.”
“We all know that white-skinned people enslaved dark-skinned people and not the other way around.”

Incredible. Students of European history know that a lot of “white persons” have ancestors who were slaves. The first clue is the word slave itself. Many slaves in the Byzantine Empire (fourth through eleventh century C.E.) were Slavs, speakers of the Slavic languages from central and eastern Europe, so the words slave and Slav became virtually synonymous.

Virtually every European language has at least one word for “slave” that is derived from “Slav.” Yet, Slavs were hardly the only slaves in the history of the continent.  Far from it. And I’m not just talking about the Islamic Moors of North Africa (dark-skinned peoples) bringing slavery (and white-skinned slaves) to Muslim Spain. (That’s not to say that no slavery existed there prior to the Moors, but they definitely greatly expanded the trade.)

The Slavic peoples were hardly the only “white person slaves”. In the days of John Adams, enslaved Europeans and even some Americans labored throughout the nations of north Africa and the Middle East. The Marine Corps Hymn mentions “the shores of Tripoli” because American troops were sent to the distant land we call Libya in order to stop the Barbary pirates, who (among many other crimes) were kidnapping Americans and Europeans–and had been enslaving their victims for over three hundred years.  And they certainly were not the first slave-merchants from Africa and Asia to consider European slaves a lucrative commodity. Young monks and other clergymen were especially valuable because they were literate and often had other rare skills, such as accounting/bookkeeping.

Slavery was common throughout the Roman Empire, the Germanic tribes, and on the British Isles. Irish slaves helped settle Iceland. Viking raids sent thousands of Celts, Anglo-Saxons, and Franks, as well as German, Baltic, Latin, Finnish, and, yes, Slavik thralls (the Norse word for “slave”) all over the then known world including the Middle East and as far as central Asia. Obviously, many of these “white” slaves eventually became the property of “black” slaveholders and merchants.

Slavery in general (and not just indentured servitude) was extremely common in western Europe until about the year 1000, when serfdom became pervasive.

I’ve never tried to calculate how many “white persons” in America today had slave ancestors but by any reasonable estimate, they number in the many many millions. By any measure, the chances of any white American of European ancestry today not having slaves somewhere in their family tree is virtually nil.

I share this information because history matters. What lesson or lessons we draw from the facts of history is yet another matter.

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Duodecimal Metric System: If only we had evolved with one less finger per hand!

{It’s Flashback Friday, when Professor Tertius’ comments from long ago get logged into the Bible.and.Science.Forum blog. Today’s flashback links Base 12 numerals, the Metric System, a Base 12 Metric System, algebra, and fear of Communism with the glory days of the early Young Earth Creationist movement in America. Enjoy.}

The following will never happen, but in an IDEAL WORLD, I would advocate a change not just to a Metric System but one based on Base 12 instead of Base 10 arithmetic. It would provide all of the usual advantages of the Metric System plus the natural advantages of more/simpler integer factoring and divisors.

If one works in Base 12, it is very simple to divide items in many ways without having to use complicated math and notations:

Half of 12 is 6.
One quarter of 12 is 3 and three quarters of 12 is 9.
One sextile of 12 is 2; two sextiles is 4, three sextiles is 6, etc.

In practical use, consider eggs, which are already sold in dozens:

To divide 12 eggs among various groups:

6 groups of 2
4 groups of 3
3 groups of 4
2 groups of 6

Compare that with dividing 10 eggs among various groups of people:

5 groups of 2
2 groups of 5
That’s it! It is very “indivisible”. And that is why the use of dozens has been popular since ancient times. The only reason we use a Base 10 number system is because of tradition, based upon the fact that we have 10 fingers and 10 toes. (Obviously, we call both our numerals and our finger “digits” because of their natural association in counting.)

Base 10 is very limiting. The only factors are 5 and 2. It makes dividing into equal parts of various sizes difficult and it requires long decimal numbers even for simple fractions. Consider in Base 10 that:

1/2 of 10 = 5 is not too bad, but….
1/3 of 10 = 3.33333_ never stops
1/4 of 10 = 2.5 not so simple
1/5 of 10 = 2 not too bad
1/6 of 10 = 1.66666_ never stops;
1/7 of 10 = 1.142857_ never stops
1/8 of 10 = 1.125 requires 4 digits to express

Consider the same fractions of 10 (i.e., 12 in Base 10) in Base 12 notations. However, first you must consider the need for two more “digits”. In my grade school days, computers were not yet changing how we looked at numbers. So most arithmetic books used “t” for ten and “e” for eleven. But there are many advantages to the notations used by computer scientists when dealing with hexadecimal numbers. So we will use the “A” for ten and “B” for eleven. So, counting in Base 12 means 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,A,B,10,11,12,13, 14…..19,1A,1B,20,21, etc. So now we can consider that in Base 12:

1/2 of 10 = 6 (remember, this is Base 12, where 10 is 1 dozen.)
1/3 of 10 = 4 still no fractional notations needed!
1/4 of 10 = 3 still no fractional notation needed.
1/5 of 10 = 2.497_ This is our first repeating fraction
1/6 of 10 = 2 no fractional notation needed!
1/7 of 10 = 1.86A35 _ Another repeating fraction.
1/8 of 10 = 1.6 only two digits needed

So, let’s compare them:

Base 10 produced:

2 simple integers
1 instance of 2 digit notations
1 instance of 4 digit notation
3 repeating fractions

Base 12 produced:

4 simple integers
1 instance of 2 digit notations
2 repeating fractions

Had I used examples of 2/N instead of the 1/N of the examples above, you would have seen similar savings in digits and avoidance of fractional notations.

CONSIDER THE ADVANTAGES OF A DUODECIMAL “METRIC SYSTEM”:

I won’t walk through the actual names of units but consider these facts:

1 egg
10 is a dozen eggs
100 is a dozen dozens of eggs

So you still have the advantage of adding a “0” to multiply the number by the base: 12. But “real world” division requires fewer fractions because of the phenomena we already observed in the 1/N examples.

You have nothing but whole units when dividing into two groups, three groups, four groups, and six groups! That is, you end up dealing in whole units (integer amounts) instead of fractions in those cases.

By dropping Base 10 and moving to Base 12, you lose the ability to divide 10 into 5 groups of 2……but in Base 12 you gain the ability to divide the NEW “10” into 6 groups of 2, 4 groups of 3, 3 of 4, 4 of 3, while still having groups of 2 (that is, 6 groups of 2.)

I hadn’t looked around before to see what was going on with DUODECIMAL (Base 12) METRIC SYSTEMS but here are some interesting examples of typical proposals:

Dozenal Metric Systems:
http://www.dozenal.org/drupal/content/dozenal-metric-systems  as presented by The Dozenal Society of America.

Here are some examples of proposals for Time, Linear Measure, and Weight:
http://duodecimal.net/archives/duodecimal/duodecimal.html

WHAT IF WE HAD EVOLVED WITH ONE LESS FINGER PER HAND?

Suppose that humans had evolved with three fingers plus a thumb on each hand. That would mean each human would have had two hands, each with four digits per hand (each hand consisting of three fingers plus one thumb.)  Assuming the usual symmetries, each foot would have had one big toe and three smaller toes. That’s a total of 4+4+4+4=16 fingers and toes for counting.

In that case, there would be a natural emphasis on the integers 1,2,3,4,6,8,12, & 16 because all of those come up naturally in counting by means of one’s available “digits”. So if that had been our evolution—where we had one less finger on each hand—I think we would have naturally gravitated toward the development of a Base 12 (duodecimal, aka dozenal) number system.

That’s just my spur-of-the-moment hypothesis. I haven’t looked to see if anyone based a dissertation on it.  (By the way, I think cartoon artists always use this 8-finger standard because it makes a cleaner cartoon image.)

 In the early 1960’s I recall some Young Earth Creationists also denouncing the Metric System as a “Communist plot” and “just as dangerous” because it would open up America to foreign imports. Does anyone else remember that?

So what does all of this have to do with evolution?

Believe it or not, in the early 1960’s I recall some Young Earth Creationists also denouncing the Metric System as a “Communist plot” and even “godless” because it would open up America to foreign imports, such as inexpensive Asian automobiles which could try to destroy Detroit’s prominence in supplying the world with automobiles! And later in that same decade, public education in the USA was “revolutionized” by what was touted as a major change in how mathematics was taught. Reformers called it “The New Math”. It was claimed to be a better foundation for teaching students algebra once they reached high school. But The New Math also included several mathematical concepts not previously taught at the elementary school arithmetic level. Among those were the alternative bases number systems.

All of these “radical changes” were way too much for many Fundamentalist Christians of the American Bible Belt, coming as it did right in the middle of the Cold War, fallout shelters, campus unrest due to the rising body count of the Vietnam War, and a series of shocking assassinations which further elevated the tensions and fears of the era.

Considering how Morris & Whitcomb’s THE GENESIS FLOOD (1961) had warned Young Earth Creationists of the dangers and evils of The Theory of Evolution and “billions of years”, YECs were told that they had the “authority of Science” (i.e., “creation science” and all other “valid” Science) behind them.  Yes, conservatives were flexing their muscles and the Civil Rights era brought huge losses to the Democratic Party (i.e., the entire South went Republican.)

So if one takes into account the context of the times, it shouldn’t be too surprising that the Metric System would be looked down upon by so many American conservatives, especially Bible Belt Fundamentalist Christians. So when their children brought home their math homework and parents had no idea how to help them do Base 12 arithmetic, you can imagine how a Duodecimal Metric System would have been considered a diabolical Communist plot right up there with The Theory of Evolution!

Those were the good ol’ days indeed.

(c) 2011. Professor Tertius & the Bible.and.Science.Forum at Gmail.com.
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