God-centered geography: A world of stupidity


If you had thought the God-centered math courses first exposed in the Bathtub to be the apex of Christian of religious folly, sit down; buckle up. Take a deep breath.

Did you know God sculpted Antarctica to look like a trumpeting elephant? Did you know God did it for political reasons?

Dr. Pamela Bumsted of Grassroots Science alerts us to this website, God’s Geography, which should contain enough abuse of scripture to offend all Christians, and Jews and Moslems, too. The site steals good maps from good sites — but the accuracy in geography stops there.

Consider Antarctica: Antarctica, from U of Texas Library, Perry Castaneda Collection

This is the map God’s Geography borrows from the University of Texas Libraries (to their credit, giving close to proper attribution), Antarctica (small map) from the Perry Castañeda Map Collection at the University of Texas Library.

Argh: Here’s what the site says:

Why is Antarctica shaped like an elephant’s head? I believe it is to illustrate a global political system. Nations typically have an animal or bird as their national symbol (such as the American eagle), but no single country owns Antarctica, although about 40 nations have made claims. So let’s think of these 40 nations as one nation, living in peace, and their symbolic animal is the elephant because it is the largest beast on earth.

* * * *

A global government means all nations cooperating together for the benefit of mankind, and not for the benefit of God or the King of kings. And as the world’s largest terrestrial animal it makes a perfect symbol of the world’s largest government.

So the elephant gives us a visual clue as to what a global political system looks and acts like. It’s very formidable, and can not be defeated except by God Himself. It’s futile to fight against it, but we shouldn’t want to because it’s part of our heavenly Father’s overall plan. He’ll guide the elephant where He wants it to go, and He’ll take care of the ivory towers, as it’s written in Amos 3:

13 Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord GOD, the God of hosts, 14 That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground. 15 And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith the LORD.

It’s crazy enough to send you to the law books to see if you can find a loophole in Poe’s Law, ain’t it?

I don’t object to the use of mnemonic devices. Remembering Italy as the peninsula and nation “shaped like a boot” seems to cement the identity of country into the minds of students otherwise a bit weak on European geography.

God’s Geography passes over the line into pure fantasy, into false claims about geography. The religious claims also far exceed any rational claim from Christian theology. I can’t imagine serious Christians not being offended at the religious messages the author claims to find in the simple shape of geographic entities.

My second complaint is that the religious claims tend to obscure reality, also. Again, on the Antarctica page, we find a gratuitous note about Elephant Island, which is off the tip of the archipelago this guy sees as an elephant’s trunk:

Near the tip of the elephant’s trunk is an island called Elephant Island, although I’m sure it wasn’t named for elephants, but rather for the largest member of the seals, the Elephant Seal.

Elephant seals were sighted there in the year of its discovery. But every description of the island I’ve ever seen notes that the island’s profile resembles an elephant’s head, and that’s how it was named. The island provided scant refuge, but enough refuge for the crew of Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated ship Endurance in 1916, so it is relatively famous among history, exploration and geography buffs.

So contrary to the history books, the author of God’s Geography claims Elephant Island is not named because it looks like an elephant’s head. Fantasy is just one egregious problem with this site; gross error is a second. In a game where one strike equals an out, this odd site has three strikes against it: Whole cloth invention, offense to scripture, and geographic error.

And may God save us from God’s Geography’s description of the island of Lesbos.

Watch out: This is the sort of stuff that might excite Texas Education Commissar Don McLeroy.

Serious resources:

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53 Responses to God-centered geography: A world of stupidity

  1. skeet says:

    The borders of Persialook like a woman on her knees.
    France looks like a someone kneeling by a pond.
    Arabia looks like the head of an axe.
    Australia looks like the a tree cut down.
    The Jordan looks like a womans………….

    There’s a whole lot of peope out there seeing things in the clouds as well.

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  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Joe, there was a paper out a few weeks ago about a bit of exciting evolution witnessed in some E. coli colonies. Some creationists, the bunch that put together Conservapedia, were skeptical.

    The lead researcher is Richard Lenski. If you want to cut to the chase, you can just read his latest reply to the creationists, here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/06/lenski_gives_conservapdia_a_le.php#more

    At that site, you’ll find links to the preceding events and letters.

    What do you think?

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  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Hope you had fun camping. Our Cubs are back from Day Camp, our Scouts are back, our mission trip was off yesterday (I’m missing it this year). I agree nature is a great place to commune with God. That says nothing against evolution, but, in my opinion, much in evolution’s favor.

    Sure, matter is a cause of gravity. And gravity, then, is the cause of stars. No need for intervening actions.

    What causes matter? The expansion of the universe allowed the cooling so the energy could form sub-sub-atomic particles, then more cooling to sub-atomic particles, then more cooling to atoms of hydrogen. Then gravity caused the hydrogen to coalesce into spheres of gas. Big enough spheres formed fusion reactions, and all the rest of matter comes from that.

    From the initial expansion to stars, galaxies, planets and most of the elements in the periodic table, all explained by wholly natural forces without need for supernatural intervention.

    Lewis was a brilliant professor, but not of science. It seems clear to me that he simply was not familiar with chemistry or physics, nor much of higher biology. Whether or not the Christian faith is reasonable, Lewis doesn’t show much familiarity with science. Christianity’s reasonableness isn’t at issue — I think it’s inherently unreasonable, and the drive to make it appear reasonable a blasphemous abomination, but that’s probably beside the point. All I’m saying is that Lewis’s creationism is not informed by science. It’s not a position he got to by studying Darwin.

    Lewis’s credibility is fine with me. I don’t think he’s much good on science. Lots of experts are no use outside their fields. That’s no knock.

    Were I you, I’d worry about Lewis’s theology, which I believe supports evolution and the Jesus stories. I’m especially fond of The Screwtape Letters, which conclude with Wormwood condemned to be consumed by Uncle Screwtape, because, as Screwtape explains it, Wormwood made the mistake of thinking that a human, conceived in a fit of lust in a bed of passion, would not choose to act nobly in the crunch.

    That’s the Jesus story in a nutshell — isn’t it? — that great things, especially in human endeavor, come from extremely humble and perhaps ignoble beginnings. Jesus is about the human potential for good and greatness more than anything else, I think. The King of Kings was born in a stable, not a palace, and slept in a food trough for lack of a bed. There is power in that story. Evolution says the same thing — the most amazing things come from a single cell. I think creationists are vexed, at heart, about that type of story, where the last can be first, where the scum of the Earth turn out to be the saving grace, the hero of the story. But that’s my experience talking. In any case, I find Lewis’s theology general fine. Was he a creationist? I see not a scintilla of evidence that stand was based on anything other than a rudimentary misunderstanding of science and nature.

    Fish may have been first with the amniotic egg (there may be something before fish); reptiles came up with the hard eggshell, which is what I thought you were working out with birds. The evolution of amniotic eggs is a small-step by small-step process. My point was that eggs come long, long, long before birds. Each step in the development of eggs is a small, easily made step. If we ask which came first, some species of bird or its egg, I think it’s fair to say the eggs were being produced by ancestors of birds long before they were birds.

    It sounds to me you’re looking for great leaps in development, and you’re not going to find them. Evolution is, most of the time, a very long, small-step process.

    Try this site:

    http://tolweb.org/tree?group=Amniota&contgroup=Terrestrial_Vertebrates

    Please make note that on that one, not-heavily footnoted site, there are more citations to more research than there is in the entire history of creationism. At some point, it seems to me, if one wishes to argue that one is influenced by reason, one must give some weight to the overwhelming abundance of evidence for evolution.
    Here’s another site:

    http://faculty.plattsburgh.edu/thomas.wolosz/pre-dino.htm

    And from there, you’ll ask about the origins of eggs with yolks. I’d have to look that up, too — way far afield from my work and reading. But try this one:

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIC1aUsingparsimony.shtml

    What does the Bible say about amniotic egg evolution?

    Bret and I have gone several rounds in this debate. I think it’s clear that Darwin was no stereotype. Especially, however, he was not the stereotype creationists need to impose on him. Darwin did not “hate God.” Darwin never spoke a public word against the church. Darwin didn’t avoid the church. Darwin bore no ill will against Christianity per se, just against the abominations some claim as tenets of Christianity.

    To the extent anyone falls away from Christianity when studying science, I think it is more often because someone had told that person that science was wrong and evil; study showed that to be not so. In my experience, many kids raised as devout creationists stop attending church and fall away once they get to college and learn that things are not so simple. They are appalled that they were given tall tales, and from many I’ve spoken with, they are angry that they were “lied to” about science and what evidence there actually is for things like evolution and the Big Bang.

    And, ultimately, that’s why I can never endorse creationism. It seems to me many on your side are willing to excuse any lapse in Christian behavior — lies, misleading children, lying to children, hampering the search for cures for disease, whatever — in order to keep up opposition to evolution. No evil is too evil, if it helps oppose evolution.

    So we get hundreds of false claims: “No transitional fossils;” “No missing links;” “Evolution from molecules to man;” “Evolution from goo to you, by way of the zoo;” “Lots of hoaxes;” “Lady Hope took Darwin’s recanting of evolution;” “Radioisotope dating doesn’t work;” “God made light appear to come from far away over billions of years, but it doesn’t;” “God made it appear that the Earth is old, but it’s not;” “Scientists disagree about evolution;” “Lots of scientists oppose evolution;” “Kettlwell lied about moths and natural selection;” “The ‘Cambrian Explosion’ disproves evolution,” and so on.

    It’s interesting that you think study of nature is “obsessing with one idea.” It’s interesting because we’re talking about thousands of ideas, in far-flung areas of science — astronomy, chemistry, paleontology, archaeology, nuclear physics, botany, zoology, genetics, meteorology, geology, and history. It’s difficult to obsess on one idea with so many thousands of ideas in play. And it glosses over one of the most powerful testaments to evolution: Separate findings, from radically separate ideas, in vastly-separate areas of science, all corroborate evolution.

    Creationists obsess with their ignorance of science, and it leads them to do evil things, like tell lies about science and scientists. The longer they are obsessed with their failure to understand basic science, the deeper they go into rationalizing this destructive behavior as really the work of God.

    So Darwin’s salvation isn’t the issue. The issue is whether creationists will continue to lie, cheat and steal, then deny reality and deny their own actions, while claiming to do it for Jesus. I don’t need to tell you that when one becomes accustomed to lying, cheating and stealing, those are just gateways to even more horrible behaviors. Hannah Arendt’s observations on the banality of evil apply here in spades — in the end, it doesn’t matter what Hitler believed. There were millions of Christians who went along, who didn’t object, who took the authoritative view that what they saw with their own eyes was not so.

    Creationists say we cannot observe nature and learn what it really is. From there they argue that science lies, and then they start inventing stuff.

    Have you seen the flap in Mount Vernon, Ohio? (My concerns, with links to more complete accounts) A creationist teacher was fired last week. First he taught creationism. Then when he was told to stop, he started injecting the Bible into everything. They fired him for abusing students — he was using a Tesla coil to brand crosses on students. How far would such behavior go without someone yelling “stop?”

    Atheism is no sin, and atheism should not imply a lack of morality. Would Darwin have become atheist? So what? He was, and he remained, a good, moral man. He was a loving father, a great husband, a friend better than some deserved (Darwin stood up for Pasteur against the church, even after Pasteur had betrayed Darwin). Are we dedicated to good character, to good morality, to good decisions? Or are we dedicated only to putting the “correct” labels on things and people, regardless their character or morality?

    Are we dedicated to the truth? Or are we dedicated to proving Darwin a lout, regardless the cost to our own morality? I’ll stick with the truth, with Darwin, and the scientists. As a Christian, I can do no other.

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  4. lowerleavell says:

    Ok, well I’m back from a fun church camping trip. I know we are weird, but we actually praised God for the beauty that we saw. I know that’s blasphemous for a Christian to do so, but IMHO, only an amazing God could have made a way for those mountains and trees, and deer, etc. to exist. We need to get out more. Maybe that’s why I never heard of a tribe of Native Americans who were atheists…

    Ed, I think you and I are arguing two sides of the same coin when it comes to gravity. I don’t think Lewis would argue against what you’re saying, and neither do I. All I am saying is that gravity relies on the existence of matter in order to exist. Therefore, matter is the cause and not the effect of gravity. Perhaps you could take it a step farther and say that they could not exist without each other, which could very well be, but still, gravity is dependant on matter to exist, not the other way around. So then the question is, what caused matter? Again, with the discussion of cause and effect, you are either left with “In the beginning God” or “In the beginning dirt” because one of the two is the cause.

    “You were right; it appears that Lewis was creationist. It also appears to me that he got to that position out of ignorance of nature and science, not through divine belief or careful study of nature.”

    Which is a rather strange thing for a brilliant atheistic professor to do. Could it be that perhaps he could run rings around you and I mentally and that he really was convinced that the Christian faith is reasonable? It could be also that knowledge of nature was a little bit less in the mid 20th century? Or perhaps his Christian faith is reasonable enough for even an atheist to consider. It’s funny though how you totally respected the guy when you thought he agreed with you, but then when you were proven that he held to creationism, all his credibility went out the door. Could it be that instead of looking at it in the light you give, perhaps not all creationists are as dumb and horrible as you make them out to be? Perhaps even some brilliant men have held to a ltieral Genesis.

    “Females of all vertebrates produce eggs, but the reptiles “invented” the eggshell — a device that could keep the egg from drying out and allow reproduction away from water (or, at least, from extremely moist environments).”

    None of the web-sites that you quoted talked about the amniotic egg at all (unless I just missed it). It talked about the “evolution” of sex, but that’s not really the same thing. Maybe it’s not just me that couldn’t find an evolutionary answer to how amniotic eggs could have evolved. Again, talkorigins doesn’t seem to have an answer either. Maybe some young hot shot with his new PHD could get some recognition by coming up with a plausible hypothesis because it seems like something that there’s not been a lot of accessible research done on. Again, maybe it’s just me who can’t find it, which is possible. Or maybe the Bible provides the answer, but that could never be, could it?

    Regarding Ediacaran’s “telling” post, it tells me 1) that evolutionists can’t agree on Darwin’s theological leanings. You see him as a Christian while atheists see him as an agnostic with an overbearing wife who he tried to please with his going to church. 2) It reminds me of the many, many, many professing Christians who have started well and have fallen to the lie of “molecules to man” evolution and have given up all faith in God because of it. If the only thing that a Christian has left is Fideistic faith (which I believe you have Ed) and Pascal’s Wager, then there really is no real (think of this word’s meaning) reason to believe in God. 3) It tells me that the longer you spend time obsessing with one idea, the more you will believe it, and the more you will become like it, even if it is a lie. How else do people justify horrible things? That’s why in counseling I rarely spend time getting people to focus on their failures. Deal with them yes, but get them to understand how they can succeed with Christ and usually they will, because they are not obsessed with their failure. Darwinists obsess with evolution and getting rid of the Bible’s God for so long that the longer they go the more antagonistic towards God they become. Sum up, even if Darwin never did become an atheist, I think it probably would have been only a matter of time with the direction he was heading.

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  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Joe, this guy gets at part of what I’m saying so badly over here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2008/06/why_good_medicine_requires_mat.php?utm_source=networkbanner&utm_medium=link

    “Good medicine requires materialism.” Interesting way of phrasing it.

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  6. Ed Darrell says:

    Bret, we’ve had this discussion before, I think. I’ll allow as how Darwin had difficulty with the fundies of his day, and as a very real matter, I suspect he had a lot of difficulty with Christian theology to the extent that it calls for damnation of virtuous people for non-sinning activities such as not being baptized. However, by today’s standards, Darwin remained a faithful Christian to the end of his life, supporting the church financially, serving on committees of his local parish to do good deeds (contributions to missionaries, books and Bibles to overseas missions, support to buy things for orphans, support for rehabilitation of imprisoned criminals, and so on).

    Every time Darwin expresses disbelief, it is disbelief in a specific tenet that someone claims for Christianity, which is not necessarily a Christian claim — in the famous passage, for example, he’s condemning the supposed doctrine that God offers eternal salvation for murderers and thieves because they were baptized, while condemning to hell good people of high morals for failing to be baptized — as you well note. On that score Darwin’s views rest with George Washington’s, Thomas Jefferson’s, John Adams’s, Ben Franklin’s and James Madison’s, among many others. If Christians wish to divorce Darwin from Christianity on such a view, it’ll be a massive divorce that will leave Christianity much poorer.

    Huxley invented the word “agnostic” about this time. Darwin applied it to himself, but in a fashion that would be unfamiliar to today’s fundamentalist Christians. Darwin clearly didn’t believe in a vengeful God who acted for petty and unjustified reasons. Still, he raised his children in the church. He worked hard not to offend the church (though not necessarily church authorities), surely out of deference to Emma, but I am not convinced he left his faith completely behind. That would make a true mystery of his participation in his parish for the latter 20 years of his life, at least.

    In the end, Darwin lays out the case against divine design and against divine intervention in a world of so much suffering. I’d love for someone like Joe Leavell to take the time to look at that evidence and provide an answer that incorporates Darwin’s careful delineations of the world, without summarily dismissing Darwin’s views as incorrect. This is a penultimate test of faith, to me, if not an ultimate test. I know of many scientists who have labored long over where is there room for God in the world as it is presented to us, and have arrived at faithful answers — though never answers that can be said to based on any kind of evidence. It is ultimately a leap of faith.

    I see nothing wrong with such a view of religion.

    I know many others who look at the evidence for the world and dismiss it, generally finding some point where they fail to understand, or making some misunderstanding, in order to deny that Darwin could have faith, to deny that scientists can be good people, or to deny reality is as it is.

    Assuming a God as Jesus describes in the New Testament, would that God be happier with Darwin’s agnosticism, or with the claim of sure evidence the fundamentalist gives? There is no case to be made for departure from reality, it seems to me. Darwin would be considered the better servant by far. His concerns about the abominable doctrine are realistic and valid, it seems to me.

    Joe says he finds your post telling. I wonder what he thinks is being told?

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  7. lowerleavell says:

    Ediacaran’s post is very telling…

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  8. Ediacaran says:

    Ed writes: ‘Don’t ever confuse “Bible-believing Christian” with “creationist.” Many of the great lights in evolution theory development have been Bible-believing Christians, including Darwin and Wallace, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Asa Gray, and more recently, Francis Collins, who just stepped down from heading the Human Genome Project, a project which he said confirms evolution theory exactly.’

    Good advice.

    I would hasten to add, though, that while Darwin was a bible-believing christian early in his life, including his time aboard the H.M.S. Beagle, he gradually became an agnostic, and ultimately disbelieved both the claims of the bible and of christianity. As he wrote in his autobiography:

    “Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished.

    And this is a damnable doctrine.”

    http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?viewtype=side&itemID=F1497&pageseq=87

    His wife Emma was a christian, and was concerned for him because of his disbelief, as one can see in her letters recounted in Darwin’s autobiography (Nora Barlow, editor).

    For a fuller recounting of Darwin’s religious views, see the passage starting on page 85. I know he makes a metaphorical reference on being deserved to be called theist in regards to some inspirational feelings he had, but he finally declares himself an agnostic (and makes clear his disbelief in earlier passages).

    Thanks for all your work on this blog, Ed, I always learn something new.

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  9. Ed Darrell says:

    Gravity is a property of matter. If matter, then gravity. Everything that exists that we can see has gravity — and much of what we can’t see. Again, science reveals a reality that goes well beyond the poetic license. This isn’t semantics, it’s physics. Gravity isn’t motion. Gravity is the force that makes things move, the proximate cause. It’s a faith statement to say God is behind the design of gravity. It’s a faith statement I’m comfortable with, but creationists often deny, or confuse, as Lewis did. Gravity causes much that was formerly attributed to God and the angels –motions of the planets, for example where Newton “banished God from the heavens,” to phrase it as the creationists worry (which makes their attempted adoption of Newton ironic as well as tinged with dishonesty). With no force other than gravity (and the weak force and the strong force that affect the structure of subatomic particles), we get the universe we see without intervention from God.

    You were right; it appears that Lewis was creationist. It also appears to me that he got to that position out of ignorance of nature and science, not through divine belief or careful study of nature.

    I’ll see if I can find a good site that lays out when eggs arose first — but this is a classic area of faux denial for creationists. Birds evolved from egg-laying animals. Birds don’t have to reinvent the process each time a new species arises. All vertebrates use eggs, including humans; this is from the Birds of Stanford site (http://www.stanford.edu/group/stanfordbirds/SUFRAME.html):

    Females of all vertebrates produce eggs, but the reptiles “invented” the eggshell — a device that could keep the egg from drying out and allow reproduction away from water (or, at least, from extremely moist environments). With the exception of the platypus and echidna, mammals provide the developing embryo with a suitable environment within the mother’s womb. The other major group of reptile descendants, the birds, not only have continued the reptilian tradition, but have evolved eggs of an improved design in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and textures.

    Bird eggs are virtually self-contained life-support systems. All they require for the embryo to develop properly are warmth and oxygen. Oxygen diffuses into the egg through microscopic holes formed by the imperfect packing of the calcium carbonate crystals that compose the eggshell. There are not many of these pores — for example, they make up only about 0.02 percent of the surface of a duck egg. Carbon dioxide and water vapor diffuse outward through the same pores. Birds can lay their eggs in even drier environments than reptiles, because when the fatty yolk is broken down to provide energy for the developing embryo, water is produced as a by-product. Reptile eggs primarily use protein as a source of energy and do not produce as much “metabolic water.”

    Copyright ® 1988 by Paul R. Ehrlich, David S. Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye
    (http://www.stanford.edu/group/stanfordbirds/text/essays/Eggs.html)
    See the Royal Albert Museum site on eggs, too:

    http://www.royalalbertamuseum.ca/vexhibit/eggs/vexhome/evol.htm

    So the question about owl eggs has a simple answer. Owls lay eggs because their ancestors did. Eggs were developed millions of years before birds.

    And now, after looking at a couple of simple explanations for bird eggs, notice how creationists deftly avoid saying much of anything while implying with headlines and book titles that there is some huge mystery to hen’s eggs:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2008/05/billions_of_missing_links_part_2.html

    The deeper origin of eggs is inherently linked to the advantages of sexual reproduction in providing new combinations of genes to aid a species in survival (see here, for example: http://www.dorak.info/evolution/sreprod.html) The issue is probably buried in paleontology journals. I’ll see if I can find a good source.

    Here are some places to check:
    Bernstein article: http://www.jstor.org/pss/2460461 (esp. if you have JSTOR access for the full article), and here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3324702?dopt=Abstract
    Shelled eggs in female dinosaur: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/308/5720/375
    Origins of sex: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14604184?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=4&log$=relatedarticles&logdbfrom=pubmed

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6209512?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    Your library can probably get this on interlibrary loan:

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  10. lowerleavell says:

    Just as an additional note; going back to Lewis’ quote, he wasn’t talking about gravity but rather the law that for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction. This is cause and effect, not just the law of gravity.

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  11. lowerleavell says:

    I think is almost semantics and perception in this discussion. Again, gravity is powerless unless there is matter. It is a star/planet/matter that causes things to gravitate towards them. Gravity does nothing but directs how and why matter gravitates toward planets/stars. It is the matter doing the action, not the law any more than the speel limit arresting someone rather than the police man. Unless there was some force to produce the gravity, gravity wouldn’t exist. I think again you are right that Lewis was trying to demonstrate the need for an ultimate cause, but I don’t think there is anything to dispute here except that you see that gravity is the cause, Lewis says that something must have started the perpetual motion. You claim it to be the Big Bang; He could conclude it to be God. What’s to debate here?

    As far as the bird comments go, would you like to answer my previous question as to where eggs came from? Not just fowl eggs, but amniotic eggs and even eggs in general. Again, talkorigins doesn’t have zilch on it. Wikipedia is scant, and after doing google and ask.com searches, it was very difficult to find anything at all on the subject. I’m asking because you seem to know where to pull books out on many subjects and this is one where I couldn’t find any clear, detailed diagram on the evolution of the egg. So, again, Lewis’ argument stands. Which came first, the insect, lizard, fish, worm, etc. or the egg? Forget the chicken, because it goes waaayy beyond the chicken.

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  12. Ed Darrell says:

    No, gravity doesn’t require an action. Gravity causes objects to be drawn toward each other. Gravity doesn’t just govern the movement — it makes the movement.

    Something causes things to move, yes. Gravity, often, is that something. Rain doesn’t fall because it’s pushed by elves, angels, or God’s finger.

    Lewis ultimately would argue for an ultimate cause, I think. But gravity is a solid proximate cause for much of what goes on in the universe. Other laws cause other actions. For the first 200,000 years or so the universe was so hot there was just energy. As it cooled (a physical reaction that occurs spontaneously with expansion, or if room exits before, with time), subatomic particles formed, and as it cooled more, atoms appeared, almost exclusively hydrogen. There is some mystery about the clumping — had there been absolutely perfectly even distribution of matter the universe would have stayed in that state — but gravity took over from there. Clouds of hydrogen formed, drawing more hydrogen because of greater gravity. When the masses get great enough, fusion takes place spontaneously, and we have a start of fusion, and a star.

    Gravity isn’t motion. It’s the force that causes the motion.

    And all I’m saying is that Lewis wasn’t particularly well educated in the natural workings of the universe. His analogies suffer. The owl egg example is a stumper if one doesn’t understand at all the origins of sexual reproduction at least 100 million years prior to the origins of birds. Eggs are a feature of almost all sexual reproduction, in plants, insects, lizards, fish, worms, mammals and birds. We had eggs long before owls. It’s a philosophical stumper only if one assumes no evolution. That’s a bad assumption.

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  13. lowerleavell says:

    Gravity would be powerless if there wasn’t anything to gravitate towards something else. I think that’s what he was saying by using the billiards example. For there to be a reaction, there must first be an action. Gravity doesn’t cause action; mass does and gravity governs that movement. Gravity is the enabler to the action the action, but it didn’t cause it; the planet/star did. Without either an unexplainable Big Bang, or God, you have an infinate regress of causes until you get to the primary cause.

    I wouldn’t look too deep into his statement. I think he was just trying to say that objects don’t simply move on their own but something causes them to move. Gravity doesn’t do it; gravity is the vehicle that the something uses to make it happen kind of like a car wouldn’t move without gas propelling it, but the motion didn’t cause the motion.

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  14. Ed Darrell says:

    Oh, one more thing. Lewis’ point wasn’t to say that nature’s laws don’t govern events, it was that laws of nature don’t CAUSE events. Two totally different things. Therefore, there had to be a cause.

    What causes the streams to flow, what causes the rivers to flow to the seas?

    I think Lewis simply shortchanges gravity. Gravity will be the proximate cause of much of the phenomena we see in the universe — the coalescing of a hydrogen cloud, the compression of the hydrogen, the initial “spark” of compression that starts the fusion reaction. That’s what I mean by “laws of the universe” in this sense. Lewis would call it “cause.”

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  15. lowerleavell says:

    Oh, one more thing. Lewis’ point wasn’t to say that nature’s laws don’t govern events, it was that laws of nature don’t CAUSE events. Two totally different things. Therefore, there had to be a cause.

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  16. lowerleavell says:

    C.S. Lewis was a professor and a philosopher, so therefore his arguments are greatly philisophical. Ravi Zacharias had a really good thing to say about philosophy in that he said he could excuse any ignorance of science because he was a theologian but that would be the same as an evolutionist excusing a philisophical argument and so he wouldn’t do it. Or something to that effect.

    Anyway, the point of those quotes wasn’t to get into another discussion but rather to prove that Lewis indeed did not hold to Darwinian evolution, for better or for worse. For someone so self-proclaimed as keen on accuracy in history and science, you’d think you’d get it right on someone from just the last century. That being said, Ed, congratulations, you’re fallible. That means you can and have made mistakes, which is nice to know that we’re not debating a super-human here. :-) I think that’s why God tells us not to lean upon our own understanding but in all ways acknowlege Him so that He can direct our paths. I’m fallible and make mistakes and so are you. (You don’t know how many people I’ve asked in order to illustrate the point, “How many of each kind of animal did Moses bring on the ark?” 9/10 times I get two of each kind! — um, Moses didn’t bring any animals on the ark, it was Noah. See? Our minds are fallible and we make mistakes!) If I can’t trust God and His Word, then there is nothing to trust as certain because I know of no man who hasn’t made mistakes.

    You said “I’m not sure why y’all assume that morality is separate from nature.” I wasn’t going to press the point until you said that murder is outside of nature (i.e. separate from nature). If morality is from nature, then surely immorality would be from nature as well, would it not? If that is true, then perhaps Darwin was incorrect on morality being a product of evolution.

    Two other things that I can’t pass up commenting on (and I will try to be quiet and try and finish responding to your post on “peppered moths”). First, is that you said, “Evolution has been observed in the wild and in the lab.” I think you misunderstand the level of evolution that creationists have a problem with. What is observed in the wild and in a lab is fine; nothing to debate there. That being said, I wasn’t aware that we had seen molecules turn into living, breathing, sexually reproducing, mutation advancing, living beings before. Maybe that has changed in the last 50 years as well. If so, then this whole millions of years thing isn’t really necessary and if you can prove that molecules to man has been observed, I’ll begrudgingly appologize.

    The second thing is the egg comment Lewis was making. I think you misunderstand that he isn’t just talking about a chicken or an owl, but rather which process came first. I think this is an attempt at an “irreducibly complex machine” by Lewis (which goes to show that 9lbhammer was right that the theory totally predates Behe and the 1990s, but wasn’t coined as such until Behe). Doing a quick search indicates that the problem of the chicken and the egg was first addressed as far back as Aristotle in in the 300s BC! That’s a few yeaars older than Behe! Aristotle is quoted to having said, “If there has been a first man he must have been born without father or mother – which is repugnant to nature. For there could not have been a first egg to give a beginning to birds, or there should have been a first bird which gave a beginning to eggs; for a bird comes from an egg.” (wikipedia.org- chicken or the egg) After doing some research on the evolution of the egg for over 1/2 an hour here, there is scant evidence that I could find for how the amniotic egg evolved with a yolk, venting system, etc. all fully intact. There are some theories, but perhaps the web isn’t the best source for finding out how eggs evolved because I couldn’t find much of anything. Talkorigins doesn’t even address the subject at all!

    So, whether it falls apart or not, I would wager that the fossil record does not show how the egg process evolved but rather it shows up fully functioning early on in the fossil record. You could not have a 1/2 an egg and half live birth. It must be fully formed in one generation. Lewis’ argument is still a strong one even though you state dogmatically that the egg came before birds. However, you did not address where the egg originally came from or how it came into being or how? How could an egg exist without coming from a living being? How could a living being dependent on being born from an egg come into existence without an egg? Lewis’ argument stands.

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  17. Ed Darrell says:

    So in Lewis we have a triumph of religion (not faith) over reason. I’m not sure that’s a great example to follow.

    The “universal evolutionism” Lewis refers to is not evolution theory. In fact, it’s quite contrary to evolution theory in that it assumes an ultimate goal and a “progress” of evolution, things Darwin didn’t observe, didn’t pose in the theory, and things which are usually noted as errors of expectation today. Evolution doesn’t have a goal; evolution can work in reverse.

    The second criticism Lewis offers, of maladjustment, is a criticism of Freud, not Darwin, and has nothing whatever to do with evolution. Lewis’s objections about birds and eggs is rather pointless in evolution terms. Eggs came before birds. What’s the problem?

    Watson’s claim that evolution can’t be observed was probably disproven 50 years before he said or wrote that, but it is absolutely incorrect today. Evolution has been observed in the wild and in the lab.

    Back to birds and eggs. It seems that Lewis doesn’t comprehend evolution theory at all. Dinosaurs, including those from which birds descend, also laid eggs. Eggs are very old adaptations. If Lewis thinks that’s an argument against evolution, he just doesn’t understand zoology.

    Lewis assumes that free will cannot exist if humans evolved. I don’t understand why he assumes that, I don’t know why you think it’s a good argument, and it’s rather irrelevant to evolution theory.

    Lewis assumes a scale of “goodness” that evolution theory doesn’t suggest. He’s set up a straw man, earlier, complaining of the end goal of evolution, and here he tries to knock it down.

    I suppose a “naturalist” might say all ideas of good and evil are hallucinations, but that’s philosophy and not science. It’s not something inherent in evolution theory. Lewis assumes, without any evidence, that humans don’t need morality. As Darwin argued in Descent of Man, morals are necessary to the survival of humans as a species. Lewis appears unfamiliar with Darwin’s work, or anyone else’s work, on the evolution of morality.

    I’m not sure why y’all assume that morality is separate from nature.

    Lewis also appears unfamiliar with physics and astronomy, especially gravity, in the latter comments. Maybe unfamiliar with chemistry, too. The laws of nature govern events. The initial event, the Big Bang, sets things in motion. All the rest grows from that. If he wants to argue we don’t know the cause of the Big Bang, let him argue. So what?

    Lewis worries about evolution philosophically, and he worries about things that are known to be false, and he worries about things that, if he knew a bit more science, would seem silly to him, I think.

    In any case, he’s not making an argument for creationism that can stand up to scrutiny, especially today.

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  18. lowerleavell says:

    heartofflesh.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/ravi-zacharias-on-atheistic-evolution/

    BTW, I found this on the front page of wordress. Have you seen this?

    The link gets put in the filter when I post this, so the link won’t work, but the address is here if you want to copy and paste.

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  19. lowerleavell says:

    http://heartofflesh.wordpress.com/2008/06/03/ravi-zacharias-on-atheistic-evolution/

    BTW, have you listened to this? I found it on the front page of wordpress.

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  20. lowerleavell says:

    Ok, here are some quotes as promised. A couple are lengthy, so I hope you like reading. BTW, all quotes are taken from “The Quotable Lewis” edited by Wayne Martindale and Jerry Root.

    “By universal evolutionism I mean the belief that the very formula of univresal process is from imperfect to perfect, from small beginnings to great endings, from the rudimentary to the elaborate: the belief which makes people find it natural to think that MORALITY SPRINGS FROM SAVAGE TABOOS (emphasis mine), adult sentiment from infantile sexual maladjustments, thought from instinct, mind from matter, organic from inorganic, cosmos from chaos. This is perhaps the deepest habit of mind in the contemporary world. It seems to me immensely UNPLAUSIBLE (emphasis mine), because it makes the general course of nature so very unlike those parts of nature we can observe. You remember the old puzzle as to whether the owl came from the egg or the egg from the owl. The modern acquiescence or universal evolutionism is a kind of optical illusion, produced by attending exclusively to the owl’s emergence from the egg. We are taught from childhood to notice how the perfect oak grows from the acorn and to forget that the acorn itself was dropped by a perfect oak. We are reminded constantly that the adult human being was an embryo, never that the life of the embryo came from two adult human beings. We love to notice that the express engine of to-day is the descendant of the “Rocket”; we do not equally remember that the “Rocket” springs not from some even more rudimentary engine, but from something much more perfect and complicated than itself–namely, a man of genius. The obviousness or naturalness which most people seem to find in the idea of emergent evolution thus seems to be a pure hallucination.” (C.S. Lewis “The Weight of Glory, Is Theology Poetry?” [1944], para. 22, pp. 90-91)

    “The Bergsonian critique of orthodox Darwininism is not easy to answer. More disquieting still is Professor D.M.S. Watson’s defense. “Evolution itself,” he wrote, “is accepted by zoologists not because it has been observed to occur or…can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible.” Has it come to that? Does the whole vast structure of modern naturalism depend not on positive evidence but simply on an a priory mataphysical prejudice? Was it devised not to get in facts but to keep out God?”
    (The Weight of Glory, “Is Theology Poetry?” para. 22, p. 89)

    “An egg which came from no bird is not more “natural” than a bird which has existed from all eternity. And since the egg-bird-egg sequence leads us to no plausible beginning, is it not reasonable to look for the real origin somewhere outside sequence altogether? You have to go outside the sequence of engines, into the world of men, to find the real originator of the rocket. Is it not equally reasonable to look outside Nature for the real Originator of the natural order?” (God in the Dock, “Two Lectures” [1945], para. 10, p. 211)

    C.S. Lewis, on the problem with survival of the fittest: “[This is] a truth which the incurably evolutionary or developmental character of modern thought is always urging us to forget. What is vital and healthy does not necessarily survive. Higher organisms are often conquered by lower ones. Arts as well as men are subject to accident and violent death.” (English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, bk. I.I.I, para. 68, p. 113)

    This quote gives legitimacy to my argument on the peppered moth’s thread, because he does such a good job of saying what I’ve been trying to say! The man was brilliant! “When men say “I ought” they certainly think they are saying something, and something true, about the nature of the proposed action, and not merely about their own feelings. But if Naturalism is true, “I ought” is the same sort of statement as “I itch” or “I’m going to be sick.” (It simply “is.”)

    This quote you’ve GOT to read!

    “The Naturalist (he calls atheists and evolutionists ‘naturalists’ many times) if he chooses, brazen it out. He can say…’all ideas of good and evil are hallucinations–shadows cast on the outer world by the impulses which we have been conditioned to feel.’ Indeed many Naturalists are delighted to say this.
    But then they must stick to it; and fortunately (though inconsistently) most real Naturalists do not (this is what I’m trying to say about you not being consistent Ed). A moment after they have admitted that good and evil are illusions, you will find them exhorting us to work for posterity, to educate, revolutionize, liquidate, live and die for the good of the human race….they write with indignation like men proclaiming what is good in itself and denouncing what is evil in itself, and not at all like men recording that they personally like mild beer but some people prefer bitter. Yet if the “oughts” of Mr. [H.G.] Wells and, say, Franco are both equally the impulses which Nature has condtioned each to have and both tell us nothing about any objective right or wrong, whence is all the fervour? Do they remember while they are writing thus that when they tell us we “ought to make a better world” the words “ought” and “better” must, on their own showing, refer to an irrationally conditioned impulse which cannot be true or false any more than a vomit or a yawn?
    My idea is that sometimes they do forget. That is their glory. Holding a philosophy which excludes humanity, they yet remain human. At the sight of injustice they throw all their Naturalism to the winds and speak like men.” (Miracles, chapter 5, para. 6-8, pp. 36,37)

    Again, please read this one!

    “There is no escape….If we are to continue to make moral judgments (and whatever we say we shall in fact continue) then we must believe that the conscience of man is not a product of Nature. It can be valid only if it is an offshoot of some absolute moral wisdom, a moral wisdom which exists absolutely “on its own” and is not a product of non-moral, non-rational Nature.” (Miracles, chapter 5, para. 10, p. 38)

    That would be awefully close to saying that God is the source of morality!

    Lewis on “cause and effect.” The laws of physics, I understand, decree that when on billiads ball (A) sets another billiards ball (B) in motion, the momentum lost by A equals exactly the momentum gained by B. This is a Law. That is, this is the pattern to which the movement of the two billiards ball must conform. Provided, of course that something sets ball A in motion. And here comes the snag. The law won’t set it in motion. It is usually a man with a cue who does that. But a man with a cue would send us back to free-will, so let us assume that it was lying on a table in a liner and that what set it in motion was a lurch of the ship. In that case it was not the law which produced the movement; it was the wave. And that wave, though it certainly moved according to the laws of physics was not moved by them. It was shoved by other waves, and by winds, and so forth. And however far you traced the story back you would NEVER (emphasis mine) find the laws of Nature causing anything.
    The dazzingly obvious conclusion now arose, in my mind: in the whole history of the universe the laws of Nature have never produced a single event. They are the pattern to which every event must conform, provided only that it can be induced to happen.” (God in the Dock, The Laws of Nature, [1945], para. 4-5, p. 77)

    I’m not saying C.S. Lewis was a YEC, but I’m saying that he had a lot of questions and critiques about evolution. He started out as one, but then he rejected it after he became a Christian and began to really study the issue. In “Christian Reflections, The Funeral of a Myth”, he says about evolution, “It appeals to every part of me except my reason…” He then went on to say, “I believe in it no longer.”

    C. S. Lewis was awesome. You are correct that he did not ever dissavow any science. He very elloquently pointed out that evolution does!

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  21. Ed Darrell says:

    There’s a difference between taking Genesis literally and finding the Bible to be true, and most “Bible believing Christians” belong to sects which do not follow a literal Genesis belief and have no problem with evolution. Metaphor doesn’t make “untrue.” Jesus taught in parables. Surely you’re not suggesting that Jesus’s teachings are inaccurate since they are not literally true, are you? See the difference?

    Newton’s views on scripture were quite a bit more complex that “Bible-believing Christian” allows. I suspect many of today’s Southern Baptists would call to have him burned as a heretic.

    I weary of people who claim to have looked at the facts and then make fantastic, non-fact-based claims. How can you claim to believe in a literal Noachic flood if you’ve looked at even Agassis’s geological explanations? Have you looked at what Agassis said? The gravel moraines in Europe were from glaciers, not a flood. No geologist claims fish fossil in the Alps are equal to fish on the mountains from a flood. What evidence have you looked at from which you draw a different conclusion?

    You regard my response as patronizing. When I give you the full bore, you accuse me of calling you a liar. Fine. Take the opportunity to explain you views fully. If you don’t think you’ve been handed a bill of goods by someone, I gotta say that’s not a view I think you can arrive at through reason, and so it’s unlikely I’ll reason you out of it. If you’re a Presbyterian, stick to the Presbyterian views on evolution, I’ll be content.

    Answers in Genesis is little better than a hoax site. Those guys don’t do research, and each of them long ago left the realm of science. Holding a Ph.D. is not the same thing as being a practicing scientist. Moreover, I regard AiG’s theology as heretical, as it requires God to be a great deceiver in his creation of a universe that provides evidence that, according to AiG’s odd views, misleads scientists. I don’t dismiss them out of hand. I dismiss them when they depart from reality.

    AiG’s view I would summarize like this: The universe isn’t as old as it says; the galaxies and stars lie about their age with red shift. The planets were not created as the universe shows. The planets lie about their ages. The Earth lies about its age as demonstrated by sedimentation and movements of rocks. Life on Earth lies about its age as demonstrated by fossils, development, sedimentation, and DNA. Radioisotope dating lies about the age of the rocks, too. So everything in the universe, from the most massive formations we know to the very atoms of existence, tell false tales.

    Is there anything a true creationist finds accurate and true in creation? Please tell me what.

    And if, as AiG argues, nothing is true, what does that say about the nature of God, who created it all that way? How can such a God be squared with Christian theology?

    I suspect you’ve not checked the footnotes at AiG as I have. I find that often the articles there would fail a footnote check in the college classes I teach, and I’d be tempted to fail one of my high school students, too.

    But don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself. Evolution is not difficult to understand. The science doesn’t require an advanced degree or advanced understanding. Checking the footnotes requires a strong stomach, though, if you desire honesty in reports on nature. See the title of this podcast, “The peppered moth, it’s a fraud!”

    Natural selection in action is what the peppered moths show. Creationists will tell tall tales about Bernard Kettlewell’s research on it. A recent seven-year project by one of the top moth guys on the planet found that Kettlewell was exactly correct in his conclusion. Do you see that on AiG’s website anywhere? No, instead you find repeats of the old canards — each of which I regard as a scurrilous, contemptible lie — pushed on innocent children.

    I dare you to find anything accurate in that report. If you have access to a decent science library, you’ll discover that AiG’s view is exactly at odds with the research, and has been for years.

    That’s a good example of someone lying to you. Is it patronizing for me to point that out? Then you need some patronizing. There is nothing virtuous in that AiG podcast, and good Christians should avoid such dishonesty, I think. There’s no commandment anywhere that says Jesus needs falsehoods to advance the church.

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  22. Here are your exact words:
    ‘It also would be error to think any scientist from 1500 to the present believed the Bible to be literally accurate…’ So, as you can see, I DID represent your position correctly in that instance.

    I have grown weary of your strawman arguments that have nothing to do with what I wrote and your sweeping, unsubstantiated assertions that are unaswerable. It is peculiar that you accuse me of that very thing. I must have written three or four times that I DO look at the facts; I have studied evolution/ creationism for years. I come to an opposite conclusion than you–that does not automatically mean that I am ignorant or stupid.

    As for being a victim, I find that accusation quite patronising, to say the least. But, as I stated in an earlier post, evolutionists simply cannot believe that Christians/ creationists have the capacity for independent, informed thought. We don’t agree with you, therefore we must be idiots?

    What is clear is that you have lumped me in with the Darby/ Scofield pretribulation, rapture, dispensationalist, premillenialist camp of Christianity, of which I am not. I am a Bible-believing, Reformed, 5-point Calvinist, amillenialist Presbyterian who adheres to the Westminster Standards. Although we believe the same Gospel, trust me, we have many departures in doctrine which affect our weltanschauung, so to speak.

    I would love to see you go head-to-head with some of the numerous PhD geologists, astronomists, physicists, etc. over at Answers in Genesis. They have answered all of your charges and postulations with great authority and alacrity. Again, I would suggest you (and others) visit the Q&A section of the web site (http://answersingenesis.org/home/area/qa.asp). But, much like a physicist friend

    But then, they are creation scientists and must be dismissed out of hand, right?

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  23. Ed Darrell says:

    Looking forward to the Lewis quotations.

    I gave a defense for that which you never replied to and yet you are still going with the same failed story. What’s up with that?

    It’s not a failed story at all so far as I can tell. You’ve got somebody who says Genesis 1 is older than it is? I’ll dig back to see if you offered that argument.

    This is much like everything else creationism does to people. Somebody, 150 years or so ago, said “No missing link!” Scientists pointed out that Neanderthal was known even before Darwin published. “No missing link!” was the reply.

    And with each discovery of another linking, transitional species between modern humans and our ancient, proto-ape ancestors, creationists have published a book or 30 saying “where is the missing link?”

    Now there are 20 different species known in the chain of human evolution, Joe. Just this week I got another response from a guy who said “No missing links!”

    Denialism isn’t a response.

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  24. lowerleavell says:

    Ed, forgive me for jumping in here, and after this post and a few quotes from Lewis I’m gone, but 9lb hammer isn’t the first to have a discussion on Genesis with you. Frankly, I’m pretty dissapointed that after our discussion you’re still touting the same “propoganda” (do you like the usage?) :-) and STILL haven’t replied to my theological questions or my defense of a literal Genesis. Basically, I have found it interesting to see you in a different discussion with another creationist and are purporting the exact same thing as if you haven’t read anything from our discussions that you didn’t reply to. Especially this stuff about Genesis being a 6th century Babylonian hybrid. I gave a defense for that which you never replied to and yet you are still going with the same failed story. What’s up with that?

    As far as Lewis, I have a Lewis dictionary at the office chalked full of quotes on evolution. I’ll provide a few when I get to the office today. Maybe that will help since it seems that you at least give Lewis some credit as being intelligent (which he certainly was!) It’s too bad that the Bible can’t speak for itself in your case, but Lewis will do.

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  25. Ed Darrell says:

    9lb said:

    You’ve made some pretty sweeping statements. First, there is one creation account; Genesis 2 is merely a repetition of the first detailing the specifics, a not uncommon literary style among the ancient Hebrew writers. The argument of differing accounts has been dealt with (and dispatched) quite some time ago.

    The two Genesis accounts were written at much different times, by much different tribes, for much different purposes, and collected into the canon differently as well. Genesis 2 is an ancient account common to several areas of the Middle East; Genesis 1 was written by the priests of the Israelites held captive in Babylon not as a scientific history, but to keep alive the faith of the Israelites while incorporating the best science of the day into it. Genesis 1 is the Babylonian creation account with this twist: Each of the things the Babylonians held as gods is recast as a creation of the God of the Israelites, a justification for the captives to keep their faith. In other words, it’s the best Babylonian science of the 6th century B.C. The question I have for creationists who argue this is somehow sacred and literal is this: Who crowned the astronomers of 6th century Babylon as prophets? And if they were not prophets, why would we choose 6th century B.C. science over 21st century science?

    That the two accounts in Genesis conflict is at least a 3,000 year-old understanding of scripture — and in fact, the ancient claim of literalism was rebutted with the question of what became of the woman created in Genesis 1 (with Adam), and what happened to her that in Genesis 2 Adam is suddenly alone? The literalists’ answer then was the origin of the Lilith tale. Now, while I don’t vouch for the Lilith story as a good, solid addition to scripture, it just shows that the creationism distortions of scripture are a long-standing set of problems. Denial of evolution is one more type of odd story not worthy of adding to scripture, as the Lilith story is. One is 4th century B.C., the other is 19th century in origin, neither is scripturally based, and neither is good theology, and both are lousy science.

    This is a case where I think Christians do better to seek after the truth regardless what the truth is. There is absolutely no scripture which ever suggests Christians should take an invented tale over the testament of God as shown by nature. If nature shows evolution and we don’t like it, that’s not justification to reject what God’s creation shows us.

    The claim that Genesis 2 is details left out of Genesis 1 is a recent, and to me unholy, distortion of scripture. In no version can that story stand. The orders of creation are dramatically different — as the Lilith story notes, with Woman created alongside Man in Genesis 1, but created later in Genesis 2; with animals created before Man in Genesis 1, but after Man in Genesis 2; with Woman created as a complement to Man (or vice versa) in Genesis 1, but other animals sought out as mates for Adam in Genesis 2. Those discrepancies appear in the oldest and most authoritative versions we have. They point out that we shouldn’t take the stories as literal, nor as science, and perhaps not as straight history, but instead as holy scripture.

    Other versions of the creation story are sprinkled throughout the Bible, and they don’t vouch for a literal reading of either Genesis story. The version in Job differs according to the translation used, but generally in chapters 38 to 41 (such as in the CEV, or the NIV), where God Himself describes the creation of the Earth, in a story that scholars recognize as the Marduk creation story — “Marduk” being another dialectical word for “God.” Notably, the story features no Adam, no Eve, no Eden — and if it were literal, it features “storehouses” for hail and snow (Job 38.22). If you wish to take scripture literally, you’ve got problems with modern meteorology as much as biology — maybe moreso. You’ll find other references in Proverbs (8.22-31, for example), and Ecclesiasticus 24, Baruch 3.9-4.4, Wisdom chapters 9 and 10, and John 1.

    None of these stories is particularly corroborative of any of the others on the scientific basis for any of the creation stories. That’s only a problem if one is trying to use scripture as a science text, a purpose for which it was not intended — especially by God, if one puts credence in 2 Timothy (circa 3.16), right? It’s not a problem for people who use scripture for theological purposes. Theologically, all of the creation stories pretty much agree: Regardless the exact methods, the exact “how” of creation, God is the ultimate mover, and God created out of love.

    Frankly, I like that message a whole lot more than the Darbyist version modern creationists subscribe to, which is that if the Earth is truthful (and Christians should take that as an article of faith, since the Earth is from the hand of God), and evolution is right, there’s no need for Jesus.

    Where did that come from? Not from scripture, not from science.

    I had assumed you were familiar with this stuff, but it’s becoming clear to me that it’s news to you. I regret that you take offense at my stand for integrity among creationists. If you’re unfamiliar with the facts of the matter, you may have been victimized by well-intended people who fed you incorrect information. That doesn’t make you a liar, as I tried to note before — it makes you a victim. Now, if you get apprised of the difficulties, and then spread the false information, that’s another matter. You’re probably not aware that the old claim about Newton is a hoary old piece proposed by creationists 30 years ago and recycled countless times since, never coming close to the facts of Newton’s life (when I said he might count as an alchemist, I wasn’t kidding). More Harry Potter than Jerry Falwell.

    The central argument (at least as I see it) is that we see the same evidence and come to different conclusions. I see the geological record and it seems quite harmonious with the global flood account. Perhaps you would admit that there are widely differing interpretations of the evidence even among evolutionists.

    There is no credible evidence of a world wide flood. That was disproven at latest with the publication of Lyell’s encyclopedia of geology, circa 1831-1833. That’s not a different interpretation — it’s denial. I suspect you’ve gotten the data from religious sources, not geologists, yes?

    To say that no scientist from the last five hundred years (not even ONE?) did/ does not believe in the accuracy of the Bible is quite an argument.

    Hold on. I said few believed in a literal reading of either story in Genesis. Don’t inflate my words way beyond what I said, please.

    I haven’t spoken with every scientist from the last half millenium, have you? Besides, such a statement is verifiably untrue–there are scores of scientists within that time frame who did–and do–believe the Bible to be in inspired, inerrant Word of God. (I would again point you towards Answers in Genesis.)

    Again, I said a literal reading of Genesis is the issue. Inerrancy has a specific definition in theology that you’re not using here, I suspect. It does not mean “literal.” In traditional Christianity, inerrancy means the scriptures do not mislead on theological issues. It does not mean the Bible is accurate scientifically, since its inaccuracies have been acknowledged since the beginning of the collection of the canon.

    As for irreducible complexity, again, Behe might have coined the term but it simply does not follow to assert that no one thought of it (by any other name) before he. Quite frankly, you can’t prove that negative.

    But neither will I accept that assertion without some evidence. Newton didn’t make any argument close to irreducible complexity, I can assure you, especially for biological entities. To assert he did is whole cloth fabrication. No, I can’t prove a negative, but I recognize prevarication and fantasy when I see it. The standard rule of discussion is that he who asserts must prove — if you wish to argue that anyone prior to 1994 “believed in” irreducible complexity, please offer evidence.

    The Bible makes no such claims, and consequently, finding a scientist who was Christian or otherwise subscribed to the faith is far short of establishing that they were creationists, especially when their work negates much of creationist doctrine, as Newton’s work does.

    And, for every professing Christian you can name who believes in evolution (of whatever stripe) I could produce probably as many former evolutionists whose studies have led them to the creationist position (C.S. Lewis comes immediately to mind).

    Please point me to anyplace Lewis disavowed evolution. His faith was faith, not a conclusion based on science, and I do not believe Lewis ever disavowed any part of science. Most Christians, even the most faithful, do not.

    If anyone purporting to be a Bible-believing creationist insists that fossils don’t exist, they need to remain silent. As I wrote before, I have studied the topic for years and, while I am no scientist (I hold a M.A. in history from Texas A&M University), I draw completely different conclusions than you or others who agree with you. That’s not quite the same as being a liar, however. (Nor is saying falsehoods are ‘required’ to believe in creationism very fair, either.)

    I invite you to suggest to me any tenet of creationism which is truthful on the science. Please. I know of none, and I’ll wager anything you put in that category is there because you do not have the contradictory evidence.

    I think you may want to reconsider writing/ speaking in such broad, universal terms regarding creationists. There is a great deal of diversity among us; just look at how many different denominations of Christian churches there are who all say that we follow the Bible!

    As for the argument that evolution is a religion, the American Heritage Dictionary defines ‘religion’ in part thusly:
    ‘A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.’

    That’s one definition, and it’s not adequate here.

    As it is, I believe we have reached the point in this discussion where we will just have to agree to disagree. (I don’t like being called a liar.)

    I didn’t call you a liar. You may be misinformed. Tell us what you’re claiming is true in creationism, we can give you the facts. Then, whether you cross over from being not informed to being a prevaricator is a choice you can make.

    Don’t choose ignorance without at least exploring the facts.

    Like

  26. You’ve made some pretty sweeping statements. First, there is one creation account; Genesis 2 is merely a repetition of the first detailing the specifics, a not uncommon literary style among the ancient Hebrew writers. The argument of differing accounts has been dealt with (and dispatched) quite some time ago.

    The central argument (at least as I see it) is that we see the same evidence and come to different conclusions. I see the geological record and it seems quite harmonious with the global flood account. Perhaps you would admit that there are widely differing interpretations of the evidence even among evolutionists.

    To say that no scientist from the last five hundred years (not even ONE?) did/ does not believe in the accuracy of the Bible is quite an argument. I haven’t spoken with every scientist from the last half millenium, have you? Besides, such a statement is verifiably untrue–there are scores of scientists within that time frame who did–and do–believe the Bible to be in inspired, inerrant Word of God. (I would again point you towards Answers in Genesis.)

    As for irreducible complexity, again, Behe might have coined the term but it simply does not follow to assert that no one thought of it (by any other name) before he. Quite frankly, you can’t prove that negative. And, for every professing Christian you can name who believes in evolution (of whatever stripe) I could produce probably as many former evolutionists whose studies have led them to the creationist position (C.S. Lewis comes immediately to mind).

    If anyone purporting to be a Bible-believing creationist insists that fossils don’t exist, they need to remain silent. As I wrote before, I have studied the topic for years and, while I am no scientist (I hold a M.A. in history from Texas A&M University), I draw completely different conclusions than you or others who agree with you. That’s not quite the same as being a liar, however. (Nor is saying falsehoods are ‘required’ to believe in creationism very fair, either.)

    I think you may want to reconsider writing/ speaking in such broad, universal terms regarding creationists. There is a great deal of diversity among us; just look at how many different denominations of Christian churches there are who all say that we follow the Bible!

    As for the argument that evolution is a religion, the American Heritage Dictionary defines ‘religion’ in part thusly:
    ‘A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.’

    As it is, I believe we have reached the point in this discussion where we will just have to agree to disagree. (I don’t like being called a liar.)

    Like

  27. Ed Darrell says:

    Don’t ever confuse “Bible-believing Christian” with “creationist.” Many of the great lights in evolution theory development have been Bible-believing Christians, including Darwin and Wallace, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Asa Gray, and more recently, Francis Collins, who just stepped down from heading the Human Genome Project, a project which he said confirms evolution theory exactly.

    It also would be error to think any scientist from 1500 to the present believed the Bible to be literally accurate, since that was not the position of most Christians at any time in the past 500 years, and it’s unlikely scientists like the Rev. Adam Sedgwick, or Sir Charles Lyell (both of whom were creationists) would have defended Genesis 1 as accurate over Genesis 2, Job 29, or any of the other differing creation accounts in the Bible (you are aware, I trust, that there are no fewer than four different versions in the Bible), nor especially as accurate literally over the record they said God reveals in the rocks of the Earth, which many of them regarded as a testament of God direct from God’s hand, not troubled by human interpretations and misunderstandings.

    As to irriducible complexity, I think it’s clear that they never gave a thought to it, since Behe only published his book in 1994.

    Any creationist who says fossils don’t exist, who says that there’s no evidence for evolution, who claims evolution is religious thought, who says the “geologic column is a lie,” or any of the other hundreds of falsehoods required by creationism, is a liar, yes. If you hold creationism despite all the contrary evidence, that’s one kind of denial. But most creationists don’t have that kind of character.

    I haven’t discussed this with you for ten minutes yet. You’re getting close when you trot out Newton as a creationist, and pose him as a stalking horse for intelligent design. I’d let you get away with “wayward alchemist,” but that wouldn’t make your case at all.

    I don’t know: How much of the creationist fabrications do you espouse? Any?

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  28. Newton and Pasteur were, to the best of my knowledge, Bible-believing Christians, so I would think it would be safe to infer they believed the Creation narrative. Likewise, I don’t think there is any way that it can be proven that they did not ‘ever give a thought to irreducible complexity.’ They may not have left a record of having done so but that is not the same as saying they never thought about it.

    I also am a bit taken aback by your accusation that Creationists are liars. Would that include me?

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  29. Ed Darrell says:

    Neither Newton nor Pasteur qualify as a creationist. Neither one of them endorsed Paley over Darwin. Newton was dead for 82 years when Darwin was born, 132 years when Origins was published. There is no evidence Newton held any notion about a young Earth, nor that Newton would have had any disagreement with Lyell’s geology. Calling Newton a creationist is simply mislabeling.

    Nor did either of them ever give a thought to irreducible complexity.

    Belief in God isn’t the issue. The question is whether there is evidence to support a case against evolution. So far, in two well-known federal trials where testimony was taken under oath, creationists have admitted they don’t have the evidence. In one, Behe admitted there was no evidence for irreducible complexity.

    Don’t be misled by the creationists peddling Kool Aid that tastes bitter. No Christian has to drink that stuff to be saved. If they’ll lie to Christians about that, what won’t they lie about?

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  30. lowerleavell says:

    http://www.godsgeography.com/index.html

    I wish I could say that this site was a hoax, but there’s nothing to indicate that it is. :-( This is a time where many Christians shake their heads and say “um, we don’t know them. Please don’t associate Christ with them.” The same would be true about groups like Westboro Baptist Church, those who would blow up abortion clinics, etc.

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  31. I am usually reluctant to cite specific scientists in a forum such as this because, human nature being what it is, Creationist scientists (such as Isaac Newton and Louis Pasteur) are usually dismissed a priori as having drunk the Bible Kool-aid and dismissed out of hand. That being said, the folks at Answers in Genesis (www.answersingenesis.org) write very lucid and educated articles in this realm of discussion. There are numerous other books and articles which I have read over the years as well in that regard.

    Rest assured, however, that although I am a firm 6/24 literal Genesis, Bible-believing, Reformed Presbyterian, I came to my conclusions honestly. Many evolutions (most?) have difficulty believing that a Christian can be a thinker; yet I continue to research and study the creation/ evolution debate with a willingness to be shown my error, if there be any. It is my belief that if you cannot defend your position, you don’t really understand it.

    Still, though I enjoy discussion, at some point it is wise to cede that I have a polar-opposite presupposition than those on your side of the aisle. When you reach the point in which discussion and debate becomes ad hominem or personal attacks, it is usually time to agree to disagree and move on. (For the record, I have not felt attacked personally here.)

    Like

  32. Ed Darrell says:

    Ninepoundhammer:

    1. ID advocates refuse to entertain the “theistic evolution” stance that natural processes are designed. They insist the products must be designed. There’s a difference.

    2. Trying hard not to be snarky, but I’ll call you’re bluff: Name half a score of the scientists, and half a score of irreducibly complex items claimed. I know of seven claims of irreducible complexity, all advanced by Michael Behe, and all of them thoroughly disproven. That’s one scientist with seven bad claims. I’d be interested if you’re holding out the goods on us and letting Behe twist in the wind.

    3. But in the case of DNA, often the media and the information are one and the same. Worse, DNA is also the printing press, the paper boy, the occasional editor, and sometimes the writer. The Shannon model of information as an electronic signal in a wire does not apply to DNA. Analogies sometimes help to understand, but IDists use analogies to obfuscate, and this is one example.

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  33. Ah, but can you definitively assert that the ‘natural processes’ we observe are not designed?

    In addition, I know of scores of scientists who would disagree with your sweeping (and unverifiable) statement that ‘we’ve found nothing irreducibly complex.’

    As for DNA, explain as you will the form and function; can you explain the origin of the information contained therein? It is akin to identifying the forest from which the pages were made to print and the shop in which it was bound but it is quite a different matter to explain where the story of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ came from. The media and the information contained in it are not one and the same.

    Like

  34. Ed Darrell says:

    That hammer guy: Let’s keep him around.

    Joe said:

    Btw, the “if it looks designed, it is” is a lot more detailed than that. The reason it is different is because no one contests that Italy is in the shape of a boot whereas we have “genius” scientists who adamately contest the universe is not designed.

    I disagree that there is much to the argument. I’ve noted before that this is the classic Potter Stewart claim (‘can’t define obscenity, but I know it when I see it’). The difficulty with such a claim is that it is not scientific. It’s not specific. I can’t tell my graduate students to go and look for Potter Stewart’s obscenity, or Bill Dembski’s design, because ‘I know it when I see it’ is standardless. It’s relativism run absolutely amok. It’s philosophically bankrupt as well as scientifically vapid.

    Italy accidentally and coincidentally looks like a boot. There was no intervention by God to make an image of a book that can only be seen from orbit. A salt crystal only coincidentally looks designed — in fact, that’s the way salt crystals always grow. Nothing that looks “designed” in nature has ever turned out to have anything other than a natural explanation, sans intelligent designer.

    In fact I can instruct my graduate students (if I had them) what to look for in the natural world that creates the appearance of having been designed — minerals that grow crystals, water that erodes to the magic number of 42, DNA that creates symmetrical development in living things. So far, we’ve found nothing irreducibly complex, nothing where the appearance of design cannot readily be explained by natural processes that are confirmed in field observations and in the lab.

    Italy’s looking like a boot doesn’t make it a boot.

    Like

  35. Therein lies the crux of the matter! The argument is backwards: It is boots that are designed like Italy. :)

    Like

  36. lowerleavell says:

    “This creationism-style geography uses the same kinds of arguments creationism and especially intelligent design advocates use. What’s the difference between “If it looks designed, it is,” and “If Italy looks like a boot, it’s because God’s got a message about a foot somewhere?” Nothing that I see.

    I didn’t overtly mention creationism. Interesting that you pick up on it that way, Joe.”

    If I read too much into it, then I appologize. I may be getting paranoid that every time you attack anything that has the word “Christian” in it, you are attacking both ID and Creationism. If you were not trying to make the link, I’ll definitely back off because I don’t see a link myself.

    “If it looks designed, it is” argument is different than “if Italy looks like a boot, it’s because God’s got a message about a foot somewhere” argument. Btw, the “if it looks designed, it is” is a lot more detailed than that. The reason it is different is because no one contests that Italy is in the shape of a boot whereas we have “genius” scientists who adamately contest the universe is not designed.

    Like

  37. Ed Darrell says:

    btw, not that it’s too crucial, but it is good to check sources: the link you provide doesn’t take you to the article, but rather the front page of the blog. I couldn’t find the article by using the search engine. Could you post a link to the exact article?

    Odd, a link fell out. There should be a couple of links there now. Thanks for the heads up.

    Like

  38. Ed Darrell says:

    Not quite how stupid creationists are. Some of them are brilliant, but ignorant, or blinded.

    This creationism-style geography uses the same kinds of arguments creationism and especially intelligent design advocates use. What’s the difference between “If it looks designed, it is,” and “If Italy looks like a boot, it’s because God’s got a message about a foot somewhere?” Nothing that I see.

    I didn’t overtly mention creationism. Interesting that you pick up on it that way, Joe.

    Like

  39. lowerleavell says:

    btw, not that it’s too crucial, but it is good to check sources: the link you provide doesn’t take you to the article, but rather the front page of the blog. I couldn’t find the article by using the search engine. Could you post a link to the exact article?

    Like

  40. lowerleavell says:

    Ed said,

    “If a guy showed up at an atheist’s convention spouting stuff like this, do you think the atheists would smile wanly and pass him by?

    What if he shows up at the next general assembly of [pick a Christian sect and insert name here]? Would the Christians hoot him down?”

    Well, you’re 2 for 2 (or 3 for 3 including yourself) of Christians who are going to be shooting this Antartica comment down. Perhaps there really are just some (though well meaning) people out there who just shouldn’t be in the teaching profession whether its on the creation side or the evolution side. This may be a good example.

    Knowing many, many pastors across the country in different denominations, I can’t think of a single one who would accept what this person has said about Antartica as legit. It was just plain wrong.

    The straw man is that you built up this argument to show how stupid Creationists are. That’s not appropriate to generalize like that, even if you are correct on how wrong these comments are.

    Like

  41. Of course, I meant to write ‘messenger’ instead of messager. It makes no sense. And it’s kind of creepy.

    Like

  42. mark says:

    Does the site explain why Florida is shaped like a flaccid penis with no balls?
    Hey, I saw the same elephant profile on a grilled cheese sandwich…or was it a profile of Madonna?

    Like

  43. Mr Darrell, I am confused by your accusation of ‘railing’ (if I understand your post correctly). I was–in a calm tone, I thought–merely pointing out that one should not confuse the messager with the message. For example, music as a discipline/ art form should not be maligned because of acts like Britney Spears or Starland Vocal Band–there is always the Beatles and Merle Haggard.

    I get just as incredulous (and sometimes incensed) by ridiculous, uneducated rantings of professing Christians (John Hagee, call your office). But, again, to argue against a premise based upon the incorrect assertions of a supposed adherent makes no more sense than to denegrate Pythagorus because I can’t balance my chequebook.

    If we desire ample examples of ‘railing’, I would suggest we look no further than the original blog of this topic and the resulting comments. Ad hominem attack after ad hominem attack. It is simply not enough to disagree (rightly, I might add) with the act of equating the Antarctic with the GOP, many here have levelled insults (‘stupid’, etc.) at all Christians because of the acts of a few.

    If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that Christians hold no monopoly on being ‘stupid’ and insensitive. Physician, heal thyself.

    Like

  44. milkcartoons says:

    There’s more: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7359258.stm

    Religion should just stay away from science.

    Italy is shaped like a boot because God decreed they shall have good leather and shoemakers.

    The UK is like a rabbit because God decreed in ancient times the Romans shall introduce them.

    Iceland is shaped like a squashed cat because there is a lot of roadkill.

    Like

  45. pinstripebindi says:

    The stupid, it burns! I thought for a second the trumpeting elephant was going to be used as proof that the GOP is God’s chosen party.

    p.s. It’s a relief to find rational posts in the “Religion” section of WordPress, since 99% of them are composed of crazed religious ranting. Kudos!

    Like

  46. Ed Darrell says:

    If a guy showed up at an atheist’s convention spouting stuff like this, do you think the atheists would smile wanly and pass him by?

    What if he shows up at the next general assembly of [pick a Christian sect and insert name here]? Would the Christians hoot him down?

    I’m a teacher. On the one hand we get hammered daily by people who complain that kids come out of high school not knowing stuff, like geography.

    On the other hand, here’s this guy doing the work of Joe Stalin, Mao ze Dong and Osama bin Laden, dumbing down kids, and claiming it’s the work of the Lord.

    Ninepoundhammer: Isn’t a Christian required to do more than rail at atheists when Christians perform like this God’s Geography guy?

    Like

  47. Don’t confuse Christians with Christianity. I am sure some of you brighter sceptics would not wish to be held accountable for the nonsensical ravings of the lesser among you. Christians are imperfect (though, admittedly some might argue otherwise); yet God’s truth does not hinge upon the lucidity of His (professing) followers’ arguments or ruminations.

    Like

  48. Abyssal says:

    Wow. Absolutely mind boggling.

    Like

  49. madmonq says:

    I posted something like this a few weeks ago. For many of the religiously impaired, stupid is the new smart

    http://madmonq.wordpress.com/2008/04/22/stupid-is-the-new-smart/

    Like

  50. Onkel Bob says:

    And The UT Library appropriated the map from the CIA.

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ay.html

    Very distinctive cartography is produced by the CIA. They always eschew relief and topography, making the world very flat and “simple.” Speaks volumes on how to lie with a map. (Which is a very good book by Mark Monmonier.)

    Like

  51. QrazyQat says:

    Shouldn’t it be shaped like a Blue Whale? This God fellow, he’s a blunderer, isn’t he? I mean, according to the God’s Geography folks, that is.

    Like

  52. j a higginbotham says:

    didja notice that the reunited united kingdom is a five legged lion?

    Like

  53. Bug Girl says:

    Holy crap. This stupid, it really does burn……

    Sheesh.

    Like

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