Sunday, July 17, 2011

Were you there?

The Flammarion engraving

I was going to write a completely original blog post this time, free of references to Answers in Genesis and the likes, but this one is just too easy. It is entertaining sometimes to see how many mental hoops Christians have to go through to justify their strongly-held convictions. Let's see what we're dealing with today.

When teaching children, we tell them they should politely ask the question “Were you there?” when talking to someone who believes in millions of years and molecules-to-man evolution.
The first thing that creationists must realize is that evolution is not something that solely happened in the past. We still see all kinds of evolution - even drastic changes within our own lifetimes - and to approach the subject this way is just setting yourself up for failure.

If someone replies by asking the same question back, we say, “No we weren’t there, but we know Someone who was there, Someone who cannot lie, who knows everything, and has always existed. And this One has revealed to us what happened in the past in His history book called the Bible. Are you interested in reading God’s history book to find out what the Word of One who was there tells us about the true history of the world?”
I'm not interested, but thanks for the offer. I've read the book and I don't find its sections pertaining to science and history trustworthy enough to consider authoritative. Consider the image above - this is the image of the world as the people who lived at the time of the Genesis story saw it. The idea back then was that there were multiple layers to the heavens (the first of which being crawled under by the man). This layer was called the firmament - it was like a curtain, it held up the stars, and had windows so that the sun and moon could travel through it and so that rain could fall upon the earth. We can see this view expressed in the Bible in such passages as Genesis 1:6-8 and Isaiah 40:22. This is just one of the many ways that this supposed holy book disagrees with well-established modern science.

It's hard to argue this against Christians, however, because many of them do hold the view that their god is omniscient and cannot lie. It's very odd to me to try to imagine how a person can justify the idea that a person or being both cannot be wrong and would never lie. I mean, how could you ever know? If I claimed that I was infallible, it would only take me being wrong one time before you could be totally convinced that I was a liar. With the Christian god, however, there's a different standard. When science disagrees with what their thousands-year old book says, their book takes precedence. If it said that some people can telepathically communicate with rocks, there would be many Christians who would profess to be able to do so. If it said that putting striped sticks in front of your cattle would make them bear striped offspring, they'd be trying to add that to our science textbooks. If it said we should be cutting parts of little boys' penises off, we'd probably be doing that too. Actually, wait, those last two actually are in the Bible. My bad.

In a nutshell, we have a much better reason to believe what modern science says about our world than the bible for a few reasons. Mainly, because science requires evidence and explanations and creationism just requires faith. Christians have the right to believe that Yahweh created everything in 7 days just like I have the right to believe that the Invisible Pink Unicorn created this world just five minutes ago and implanted our brain with the memories of everything past that time. It doesn't mean that either of our beliefs would be valid. The fact that AiG would appeal to an old book to verify their story instead of everything we already know about the universe automatically forfeits any rights they have to say that their view of history has any academic merit.

And that's why you always use facts.