‘Creation Museum’ Demands Equal Airtime to Refute Scientific Facts in ‘Cosmos’ Series

I blame Bill Nye. Several weeks ago, Nye thought it’d be a fine idea to debate a well known creationist and founder of the Creation Museum, Ken Ham. On debate points and grasp of reality, Nye absolutely won the debate.

But ultimately, Ham was the real winner.

Not only did the debate send the loud but unspoken message that creationism was worthy of equal time with science but, it turns out, the debate was a huge money-maker for Ham’s ridiculous museum — inside which it’s okay to instruct children that the universe is 6,000 years old and that humans rode on the backs of tamed, domesticated dinosaurs. The debate also helped to raise much-needed funds to greenlight “Ark Park,” a theme park based around the fable of Noah’s Ark.

I’m sure Nye had the best of intentions. Perhaps he thought he could convince a few skeptical creationists about the reality of evolution, while reinforcing the validity of it with those of us in the choir who don’t need any convincing. That said, there are some things that are unworthy of equal time. Ken Ham’s ideas are fine in the context of a Sunday morning homily, but they don’t belong in science class. Nye, for all of his good intentions, invited creationism into his classroom.

And now, with Neil deGrasse Tyson’s reboot of the Cosmos miniseries airing every Sunday night on Fox, Ham and his organization believe they deserve equal time on television in order to balance the visibility of the purely scientific documentary series.

It’s possible that this would’ve occurred irrespective of whether Nye had debated Ham, but clearly the success of the debate for Ham and his ministry has emboldened them to do more.

On a program called The Janet Mefferd Show, a spokesman for the Creation Museum as well as Ham’s other outfit, “Answers in Genesis,” complained that his group deserves equal time with Cosmos.

Danny Faulkner told Mefferd, “Consideration of special Creation is definitely not open for discussion, it would seem.” Well, sure it does — in church — not as an equal or even valid counterpoint to facts proven through the scientific method, which are then peer-reviewed and agreed upon by almost unanimous consensus.

The host of the show doesn’t really care about the scientific consensus thing, saying, “Boy, but when you have so many scientists who simply do not accept Darwinian evolution, it seems to me that that might be something to throw in there, you know, the old, ‘some scientists say this, others disagree and think this,’ but that’s not even allowed.”

The percentage of scientists who disagree with evolution? One tenth of one percent — 0.1 percent. Once again we have no choice but to invoke Lloyd Christmas from Dumb & Dumber: “So you’re telling me there’s a chance! Yeeeaaaah!”

So-Youre-Telling-Me-Theres-a-Chance-In-Dumb-and-Dumber-Gif

You can find a narrow cross-section of kooks and weirdos who believe in the Sasquatch as well as the malarkey about how the moon landing was faked in a Hollywood studio. That doesn’t validate either myth nor should such validation warrant inclusion in science classes. Likewise, the popular conspiracy theory about “chemtrails” doesn’t deserve equal time in aviation courses.

There’s neither scientific validity nor consensus behind any of it. That’s not to say believers in any of the above conspiracies and myths aren’t allowed to launch websites like InfoWars or to discuss religious matters from the pulpit, and it doesn’t forbid Ham from hosting a “God Is In The Gaps” website like the “Answers in Genesis” website. The Constitution allows such freedoms, but it doesn’t mandate equal time with empirical reality.

Regarding Ham’s website, it’s essentially dedicated to raising doubts about evolution while offering creationists various handy-dandy (yet easily debunkable) talking points to refute science. Whenever a science news story breaks in which one or more details remain unclear, Ham’s site offers it up as evidence that science is flawed and therefore inferior to the teachings of the Bible. If we can’t explain everything, according to Ham and others, then we have no choice but to admit that the Bible fills in the gaps.

The site also features an online store where the recommended publication is an e-book titled Noah and the Last Days, Featuring Ray Comfort. If you’ve followed the online surge in creationism for the last ten years or so, you’ll recognize the name Ray Comfort and how he represents Ground Zero for everything that’s silly about the movement.

Comfort was, and maybe still is, the sidekick to teen-heartthrob-turned-born-again-evangelist Kirk Cameron. Cutting to the chase, Cameron and Comfort once hosted a video in which Comfort explained how the banana was intelligently designed by God. See, it comes pre-packaged in its own biodegradable wrapper; it fits perfectly in the human hand; it has a pop-top like a soda can; the cylindrical meat of the banana glides smoothly into the human mouth; and it’s “curved toward the face.”

I know what you’re thinking. Eureka, right?

Of course, at the time, Comfort didn’t want his congregation to know that the banana he discussed was a modern store-bought banana that’s been selectively bred to look like it does — not unlike Tyson’s Cosmos segment about “artificial selection” with dog breeds, developed and bred by humans to form the wide variety of dogs that exist today.

Should Comfort’s explanation for why bananas look like bananas be taught in agricultural and biology classes? Should it be given equal time with any serious science? Should Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack or the folks from Dole routinely debate Comfort, giving his cringe-worthy banana theory an equal platform?

Not a chance. Why? Because it’s not science. It’s not anything other than a belief — a very, very wild belief. But I’m sure more than a few suckers bought the banana story (the “atheists’ nightmare”) all the way. If you’re predisposed to believing in intelligent design, why the hell not? Yet a cursory group of believers can’t possibly justify equal time or prove any real evidence to contradict the documented fact that, yes, through modern agriculture and selective breeding, the wild banana changed significantly over the years to its current recognizable form.

By the same token, can we please stop debating creationism on equal terms? I’m looking at you, scientists. And it might be too late, but let’s hope that Fox doesn’t decide to air a seven part “documentary” miniseries abut creationism. Though, yeah, it’s Fox, so anything’s possible.

While we’re here, let’s be perfectly frank about an even broader issue: any constitutional argument in support of creationism in science class based on grounds of religious freedom should expect to be met by a backlash in which secular ideas are forcibly injected into church matters. Indeed, the Establishment Clause door swings both ways. Opening the door to allow religious dogma to be incorporated into the secular world frees secularism to intrude upon the pulpit; be it scientific evidence shoehorned into sermons for the sake of “equal time,” or taxes imposed upon churches. Hence, the door should remain firmly shut and padlocked, for the benefit of both science and religion.

As I’ve written before, not all people of faith are stupid or naive. They’re not. However, when some of them try to pass off their faith as science, they very often seem that way. Fooling oneself into believing that an article of faith can be proved by empirical analysis and scientific methodology only makes one look as silly as Ray Comfort and his banana, or Ken Ham and his saddled triceratops. Faith isn’t science and science isn’t faith. Conflating the two is indeed far worse than comparing apples to oranges — it’s more like comparing apples to hobbits. Awkwardly struggling to couple these two vastly different realms only breeds confusion, fear and resentment. And it needs to stop.

The sooner people of faith accept the “wall of separation” between science and faith, the sooner these ideas can coexist, each in their own appropriate non-intersecting spheres.

  • arirutenberg

    Bob nailed. It. When Neil Degrasee Tyson and Billy Nye get equal time on the pulpit, then religion can have equal time in science class and on Cosmos. Till then stop whining.

    And really since they don’t “believe” in it (not being clear that science is a method and not a system of dogma), all those who try to refute science must immediately turn in their iPhones, cars, refrigerators, and laptops, cancel their facebook and twitter accounts, not to mention getting rid of all credit cards and any other technology they rely on. Jesus will provide new ones if they pray enough and hate gays enough, right?

    Otherwise even though they might say that scientific facts are debatable with religious nonsense, ask them to explain how Jesus created Twitter and Satellite TV…

    • aynwrong

      “all those who try to refute science must immediately turn in their iPhones, cars, refrigerators, and laptops, cancel their facebook and twitter accounts, not to mention getting rid of all credit cards and any other technology they rely on.”

      I would add to the list “their” AR-15 and their Desert Eagle. These too are technological tools that function in accordance with the laws of physics. Unless of course the gunpowder in the bullets is comprised of the powder of a ground up horn from a unicorn.
      Every one knows this.

  • nathkatun7

    This is something that has always puzzled me about the Genesis story regarding the Flood and Noah’s Ark. Assuming there was actually a devastating flood, of Biblical magnitude, in West Asia, did that mean that flood also covered all of Africa, East Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the Americas (North, central, South and the Caribbean Islands) and all of Europe?

    • feloniousgrammar

      When having to listen to Revelations in church when I was a kid I always figured that for your average person of that time the world was pretty small. Many people probably never left their village. So, if the Roman army came through your village, killed the men, raped the women, and salted the fields, that would probably qualify as the end of the world for any survivors.

      I did have fun helping with a vacation bible school class of four and five year old children once. The Flood was my lesson. I handed out paper and crayons and said, “Let’s draw the animals on Noah’s Ark.” No need to get in the weeds with it.

      • D_C_Wilson

        That’s one of the things that always killed me about the Noah’s ark story. God commits global genocide and kills everyone except one family, but churches all over the world treat it like a cute kid’s tale because it has animals in it.

        • feloniousgrammar

          Kids can grow up and reevaluate what they’ve been taught. The ubiquitous feeling of being born in sin is more difficult to dismantle.

  • http://www.osborneink.com/ OsborneInk

    The challenge to scientific civilization lies in the word “believe.” Humans have invested far too much power and respect in that word. To say “I believe” is to admit your mind is made up against evidence, fact, or method. Remember the X-Files poster that says “I want to believe”? There is an element of agency and will in that statement. One might as well admit that they want flying saucers to exist, and that they therefore will themselves to see UFOs as alien craft no matter what science says about them. The object on that famous poster is in fact one of the most thoroughly debunked and disproven photos ever taken of a UFO, yet the photographer who took it remains a very successful cult leader not in spite of, but *because* of scientific opposition. Which raises another point: people who define their identity by strength of belief will always treat our empirical truths as an attack on their identity. They will not see a debate as a fair presentation of alternatives, but as a validation of their belief system. That might be fine if not for the fact that we are all subject to a single set of laws. Belief in a soul that attaches itself to a fertilized zygote becomes state regulatory attacks on abortion access. Belief in Ladder Curves becomes austerity budgeting. Belief in “god-designed” AIDS becomes a challenge to public health spending. Jenny McCarthy BELIEVES her son became autistic because of vaccinations, so now we have disease clusters for pathogens that had been unknown in America for a generation. As an American, I understand why we are free to believe what we like, and I celebrate that freedom…but I also understand that this same freedom has the potential to annihilate mankind.

    • Daniel Flam

      That is a reply worthy of a blog post.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go Bob Cesca

      Nicely written, sir.

      • http://www.osborneink.com/ OsborneInk

        Thank you, great post sir.

  • muselet

    There’s no way to win an argument against with creationists.

    If the reality-based community doesn’t engage them in debate, the loons claim that’s because those evil secular Hitler-loving God-hating Darwin-worshiping evolutionists are afraid to pit their puny ideas against The Truth That Is Creation. The public—unfamiliar with, and incurious about, the evidence supporting evolution—decides the reality-based community is being arrogant and so the loons win the argument by default.

    If the reality-based community does engage them in debate, the loons bury any rational debate under megatonnes of hooey while looking smug. The public, not knowing any better, decides the loons won the debate, or at the very least raised enough questions to make a credible case for their position.

    Rock, meet hard place.

    Now, if the loons are serious about wanting a multi-part television show made about creationism, they can do what the would-be creators of other proposed shows have to do: present a compelling idea to a studio or network, and convince the right people that there would be an audience for such a show. If they did that, the loons probably wouldn’t be laughed out of very many offices, although they also probably wouldn’t get a show out of the endless round of meetings (not even on Fox). That’s the way the business called show is done.

    Alternatively, they can make their own series and shop the finished product around to the various networks and cable channels. Again, they wouldn’t get laughed out of many offices, but they also probably wouldn’t get the show aired.

    The loons won’t do it, though, because they’re not actually interested in getting such a show made and broadcast, they’re interested in reinforcing their collective martyr complex. Whingeing is easier, not to mention more lucrative.

    Faith isn’t science and science isn’t faith.

    Couldn’t agree more.

    –alopecia

  • Where’s the Beef?

    What “Equal time”, Fox is not GIVING away anything. The producers created the show and are paying to air it, and reaping the rewards of commercial advertising during the showing. Let these imbecile cretins go create their own show and try to schlock it around to see who will advertise on it. I can hear the phones ringing now for any stupid moronic company that would actually advertise on this dumbsh|t of a show. Hysterical.

    • Lauren

      Yeah, this was my reaction. It’s not a democracy. You want “equal time,” go make your own show.

  • JozefAL

    And now, with Neil deGrasse Tyson’s reboot of the Cosmos miniseries airing every Sunday night on Fox, Ham and his organization believe they deserve equal time on television in order to balance the visibility of the purely scientific documentary series.

    Someone may have already brought this up (I’ve yet to finish reading the main article so obviously I haven’t read any of the comments at this point) but Ham’s chances of getting “equal time” are non-existent (much like the validity of creationism). And it’s all thanks to Ronald Reagan’s getting rid of the Fairness Doctrine. If Ham wants “equal time,” he’s going to have to cough up the cash and produce a series and sell it to a network (and if, by some chance, Fox should air Ham’s piece without going through the official process, then I’d hope McFarlane and the other Cosmos producers sue Fox to recover the cost of producing the show).

    • P.Yew

      Equal time was never a part of the Fairness Doctrine, so the producers would only have been obligated to provide a brief summary of the opposing viewpoints.

  • Christopher Foxx

    any constitutional argument in support of creationism in science class based on grounds of religious freedom should expect to be met by a backlash in which secular ideas are forcibly injected into church matters.

    That’s exactly how to deal with stupidities like this.

    — Religious nuts insist on nativity displays in court houses? Insist on a Festivus display. An a wiccan display. And a shrine to the Great Spaghetti Monster.
    — They want legalize discrimination as part of “religious freedom”? Start discriminating against Christians.
    — They want to put Creationism in the science classroom? Insist evolution be taught in Sunday School.

    Make the message clear: You’re free to do what you want in your church, but start to fuck with our science and we will mess you up.

    • feloniousgrammar

      Start discriminating against Christians.

      No, a thousand times no. They’re heavily armed and many of them are organized for whatever their flavor of Armageddon and Civil War II. Many of them are unstable and made paranoid by Fox News and their Holy Conspiracy websites. Paranoia is a dangerous state. Look at them now, when they’re being entirely too tolerated and treated as if their rantings are just the other side of the coin of truth writ large in holy writ.

      These people don’t know what a fact is, but they sure know what they hate and want to eliminate. They are shameless in their eliminationist rhetoric, virulent racism, misogyny, burning hatred for the poor, and violence. If they were really to be discriminated against, then I imagine the narcissistic wounds could make them snap and make everyone else pay for their antisocial proclivities

      White Christian males are the ruling class, and the fundamentalists are a subset of that. They can’t be dominant enough. Their passion to gain power for the purposes of kissing up and kicking down is madness. I’d like to know what percentage of these fundies want to stone women to death.

      What would best marginalize them, I think, is other Christians. The Moral Monday’s movement is growing fast and is quite motivated. Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church (Rev. King’s church in Atlanta) and other activists are not just making noise and scenes, they have plans and commitment. I’m pretty sure that members of this movement aren’t going to reject atheists who want to be a part of the movement, and I have faith that they don’t have time to waste with people who want to express to them how stupid they are and how deluded their religion. I’m betting that only the serious, focused, and disciplined need apply for their most serious planning and actions.

      There are also stable community organizations all over this country— President Obama has been praising their work and working with them since he’s been in office. He talks to people who get things done, cooperate, negotiate, and communicate with people from all walks of life; which is something that requires to put one’s personal pets by the way.

      The fundamentalists are organized and are determined and/or obsessive enough to get elected to positions in organizations and government from the P.T.A. to the Chamber of Commerce to all manner of city an state government in proportions far higher than their actual number.

      Aside from the midterms, liberals really do need to start focusing on long-term goals and visions. That’s what the GOP does. And they vote in every election. That and the fact that liberals are lackadaisical to moronic about voting is how the GOP rules. We need to do better, reliably, for life.

      Liberals don’t need to fight fundamentalists, we need to replace the ones who use their fanaticism to impose on others so they can go find something else to do.

      • Christopher Foxx

        No, a thousand times no. They’re heavily armed and many of them are organized for whatever their flavor of Armageddon and Civil War II. Many of them are unstable and made paranoid by Fox News and their Holy Conspiracy websites.

        Yes, a thousand times yes. Giving in to bullies never works. And suggesting that one shouldn’t oppose them because they’re armed, or unstable, or likely to strike back is to say they should be allowed to continue as they have been because they might hurt us. Yes, they might. But allowing them to continue as they have been out of fear is making sure it will continue.

        The efforts of Moral Monday, Warnock and/or religious folks and organizations that are inclusive and oppose fundamentalists are to be lauded. And I could have been clearer that my “Start discriminating against Christians” was aimed squarely at those “Christians” who are discriminating, but the target of my ire was already fairly obvious.

        Liberals don’t need to fight fundamentalists, we need to replace the ones who use their fanaticism to impose on others so they can go find something else to do.

        We need to do both. We need to oppose fundamentalists AND get them out of positions of influence. “You’re not going to be allowed to do that right now, and we’re going to make sure you can’t do it in the future.”

        • feloniousgrammar

          I didn’t say to “give in”. I said don’t “discriminate” against them; it would just play into their pathologies and we could go round and round til the sun burned out. Not discriminating does not address the issues and the issues are civil rights, not “God”. Not discriminating also does not mean giving them unconditional positive regard, or being complacent. A group of atheists are perfectly capable of being just as imposing, mercenary, and harmful as an uber-godbother. The issues are boundaries, checks and balances, equal protection under the law, etc.

          One thing I’ve noticed about a lot of hard-line atheists is that a lot of them are misogynistic men who, for instance, use the specious field of sociobiology to argue that women should not make a political issue of race because evolution. Looking for scientific explanations for rape is just bullshit.

          I see a bad habit among liberals lately of putting “science” on a pedestal. Scientists have implicit biases. Scientists can be as blind to realities that are right in front of them than anyone else. It can also be used as a weapon to maintain the status quo that benefits them and to deny the realities of others.

          The Hobby Lobby case is coming up in the Supreme Court— that’s an enormous fight. And shouldn’t it be getting pretty obvious at this juncture that “personhood” laws that, in some states, not only make it difficult to impossible for women to get an abortion in that state; but are closing down clinics so that women can’t get any affordable reproductive care at all, much less birth control. See: Texas

          Blacks, students, other minorities and the poor are being disenfranchised in red states. Children are getting poorer. Almost half the states in the U.S. are not allowing MEDICAID expansion.

          This is an election year that could give Republicans the Senate and let them keep the house. I don’t understand why creationism is on the radar at all. How is this important right now? Why give a fuck? Nothing’s going to cut the Gordian knot. They’re a distraction.

          One might think that liberal men would be a hell of a lot more interested in the discrimination that women minorities, and the poor up against right now, because the threats are profound.
          I’m not saying that we can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, but I don’t see the kind of energy that arguments over science and religion gets going into discussions of very real and Constitutional issues that women are facing right now.

          And I don’t mean saying words about right wing men, I mean talking about women, and children, and minorities in depth, show support by learning how to talk about it and write about it with some depth. Ask questions. Evolution can take care of itself right now. You want to put up a wall between church and state then you have to have a majority as allies. Isn’t being an ally to the people who may be falling under the wheel more important than this little science/god sword fight the menz keep getting into?

    • nathkatun7

      I agree with you 100%!

    • AntiSocialSailor

      This is being done by a few intrepid souls ahead of their time.

      The rotunda in Tallahassee Florida was graced in 2013 with a Festivus Pole made from empty PBR cans.

      • Christopher Foxx

        That is the way to do it.

        The Supreme Court decision last week that it’s OK to start gov’t meetings with a prayer is another place to show folks what that actually means.

        If you’re going to allow prayers at the start of gov’t meetings then Rabbis, Imams, Wiccan priestesses, high priests of Ba’al and Pastafarians should all ask to give the prayer at the next meeting.

  • ssj

    Let’s say “yes” if they all agree to give science equal time in all the churches in all the land.

    • Badgerite

      Very good. They call it ‘creationism’ to cover up the fact that what they want to do is teach a Bible story as science. They criticize evolution as a ‘theory’ while relying on a story in a book that involves ‘miracles’ like the Sun standing still in the sky, etc. Which, of course, cannot happen. Unless you are on drugs.

      • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

        Well, I have heard that the author of Revelations (St. Patmos?) might have been doing shrooms….which would explain a lot! If my trip was like that, I think I’d pass on those shrooms….locusts with human faces spewing fire….yech.

        • nathkatun7

          Irish Grrrl, what exactly is “shrooms”? is it some kind of “blessed weed”?

          • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

            Mushrooms with hallucinogenic properties, so more like “blessed fungi”

          • nathkatun7

            Thanks for clarifying this for me.

        • feloniousgrammar

          The most disturbing thing to me in that neck of the King James is the description of a heaven made of precious metals and gems. It’s a vulgar Roman orgy of auto-erotic depravity.

          • Aaron Litz

            Like freaking Las Vegas in the sky.

            I HATE Las Vegas; so gaudy. If Heaven is as guady as that I want no part of it.

          • feloniousgrammar

            Who wants a cold hard heaven?

    • Where’s the Beef?

      Actually, you have a great point, since it is the CHURCHES that do get the FREE RIDE from society, they should be the ones opening up the houses to other thoughts, since society is paying their bills.

      • http://drangedinaz.wordpress.com/ IrishGrrrl

        I’m ALL for churches paying taxes. Can you imagine how much more revenue we would have? There are a few faiths that require tithing…the Mormon church for one. The rest of us have to pay to play.

        • Badgerite

          Well, the theory is that the power to tax is the power to destroy.
          Or something. Too much ‘entanglement’. They seem to be fine with education vouchers, though, don’t they?

          • nathkatun7

            As far as I am concerned, if churches/religious institutions don’t want to be taxed, they should stay far away from politics and government. They should stop trying to impose their backward and intolerant religious views on all Americans.

  • CL Nicholson

    Dear Lord! Here’s the thing, Francis S. Collins, former the head of the Human Genome Project, believes in evolution AND God!! I know, mind blowing. I suggest that Kirk Cameron and his crew go and check out Collins’ Book where he accounts his own faith and the radical work he’s done in evolutionary biology. One of my personal favorite books.

    Or better yet, check Dr. C. Jimmy Lin He’s a personal friend of man and possible the smartest man I know. He’s not only a brilliant researcher into the evolutionary nature of cancers, he’s also has an MDiv and serves a deacon his church. Oh, and the school where I study evolutionary biology was a Catholic university.

    The sad part is that too many people listen to these clowns not realizing that these Answers in Genesis fools make up very small minority of the faith community.

    • D_C_Wilson

      Ken Miller, the biologist who has written the biology textbooks most often used in American high schools, believes in evolution and is a devout Catholic.

    • Badgerite

      Tell me about it. I was first taught evolution in a Catholic school. And it made perfect sense to me. And still does.

    • feloniousgrammar

      Remember after 9/11 when there was an uproar over some Muslim students in a graduation ceremony wearing white and essentially offering their education in one of the hard sciences to Allah for his blessing so that they would use it wisely. The image spread like wildfire among people who were sure that they were preparing for a terrorist attack. Religion and sciences aren’t two forces of human perspective that are necessarily in conflict.

  • missliberties

    Why can’t the creationists put up for their own show?

    Sure they can air their views, but they can do it on their own documentary. You know the one their ‘free speech’ money pays for.

    • D_C_Wilson

      They already have Fox News. Of course, they don’t really want “equal time.” Their end game is to go back to the Scopes Era when legislatures could decide which ideas were science and which ones weren’t.

  • dukesirius

    See, I disagree: I think people of faith are stupid to a man. In fact, I would argue that believing in something with absolutely no compelling evidence whatsoever is essential to being stupid in the first place.

    • feloniousgrammar

      Guess we could use more of the stupidity of Ghandi and Dr. Martin Luther King, then.

      • Treading_Water

        But less of the stupidity of the Inquisition and the Salem witch trials.

        • feloniousgrammar

          Or Year Zero, or the Long March, or the Rwandan genocide.

      • dukesirius

        In what way is believing in human equality a religious position? Honestly, it’s like you’re not even trying to understand.

        • feloniousgrammar

          Ghandi and the Reverend Martin Luther King were both religious.

          • dukesirius

            Again, so what? So they acted toward human equality and self-determination (which aren’t explicitly religious principles in the first place). How does this possibly justify their massive stupidity in believing, without any compelling evidence, that a god exists?

          • feloniousgrammar

            Religious people don’t need to justify their belief in a deity. They should be accountable for their actions, but as far as “evidence” goes, in case you haven’t noticed, the existence of a deity is not falsifiable, and generally speaking, it’s none of your business. When they’re getting in everyone else’s business and try to make their meddlesome shibboleths law, then their beliefs aren’t the problem, it’s their power hungry control issues.

            Christian fundamentalists of the GOP are authoritarian, hateful, and dedicated to group think; this doesn’t describe most people.

            According to Wikipedia, atheists comprise 2.01% of the world’s population and it’s 2.0%. What, exactly, is the value of alienating 98% of humanity?

            Personally, I’m agnostic. I feel no more need or desire to declare a god to be existent or non-existent than I feel compelled to believe that the universe is going to expand infinitely or contract and start again.

          • dukesirius

            You’re right, it’s none of my business except that the generally accepted level of benign stupidity in the world sets the stage for the growth of the malignant kind. And religious faith is fucking stupid. Given the absolute lack of evidence, yes, they do, because as I’m sure you’re aware it’s not my job to falsify, it’s the job of the person putting forth the hypothesis to make a case.

            The hypothesis is: deity exists, and the null hypothesis is: it doesn’t. So far, there isn’t any evidence whatsoever that a deity does, as most people understand that term.

            So until someone provides a framework, with evidence, that stands up to scrutiny (I’ll even say the barest scrutiny) I’m going to continue to feel perfectly fine saying that the faithful are stupid to a one, at least in that particular area.

          • nathkatun7

            I am sorry. but you just as guilty of atheistic dogmatism as those who are dogmatic about the existence of God.

          • feloniousgrammar

            I hear you, you have no idea what an idiot you are. If thinking most of the people on this planet are stupid and that you are not because you believe that papers have to be written in order for something to be rational or legitimate then you are very poorly educated.

            The universe has been around a lot longer than humans, and our lofty degrees, methods of inquiry, statistics, and paper. Reality ain’t sitting around waiting for itself to be revealed by a mere individual human and much of the foundation of today’s sciences was built on careful observation and careful thought, not writing a linear, math-based paper.

          • Sabyen91

            I think believing in a God with no evidence is illogical but religion isn’t about logic, it is about emotion. If that emotion is love for other people I am just fine with it. Those types are not the ones that want some sort of theocracy.

          • feloniousgrammar

            Science can be a religion.

          • nathkatun7

            So, are you saying that Ghandi, Dr. King, and even Pope Francis are stupid? Look, I am not a deeply religious person, but I also know for a fact that people like you and me have yet to produce “compelling evidence” that God does not exist.

          • Treading_Water

            “Proving” non-existence is impossible. The burden of proof should lie with the person making the positive statement of existence.

    • CL Nicholson

      I guess Pascal, Einstein and Newton are morons as well.

      • dukesirius

        In this particular area, yes, yes they are. Now, if Einstein hadn’t done any work to come to his theory of relativity, but instead basically just decided that the Universe worked this way, that would have been equally stupid. But he didn’t, he did the work and gathered the evidence, and his theory has been validated repeatedly.

        And let’s ignore the fact that Pascal and Newton both did exactly the same thing for their accomplishments: they did it scientifically, and then they demonstrated its truth.

        Do you understand the difference? Do you see why one is stupid and the other advances humanity? Hmm?

        Jesus, I am so aggravated by this defense of “oh, someone known for science also had faith, therefore faith is sensible;” no, it isn’t. It is retarded in the most specific use of the word, in that it is the anchor of our species, constantly slowing our progress and always ready to drag us down.

        And as a stand-in, the word “stupid” is just as useful.

        • CL Nicholson

          Well, congratulations, you’re officially an atheist strawman that religious nut jobs use to bash people’s heads with.

          Its utterly absurd to think that faith means one’s irrational anymore than think non-belief makes one an immoral reprobate.

          • dukesirius

            How are those two things remotely equivalent? One is directly connected: irrational belief means that you’re demonstrating your irrationality, or at least your capacity for it.

            The other is assuming a set of behaviors or attitudes which are not in evidence.

            In fact, holding that second opinion only reinforces your obvious irrationality.

            And if you mean that I’m a strawman in that I look down on people of faith as intellectually inferior in that area of their lives, I’m proud to wear that label. Because, not to put too fine a point on it: people of faith are, in at least one area of their life, unbearably stupid.

            They can be brilliant mathematicians, like Newton, who waste a good chunk of their lives trying to work out the secret mysteries of Christianity. Think about how much Newton accomplished, and then imagine what he might have done if he didn’t have the albatross of faith around his neck; he might have even lost his virginity!

            Also, if you asked me to do calculus, I would fully admit to being stupid in that area; I can’t do advanced math to save my life. However, at the very least, I’m not retarding the progress of humanity by failing an incredibly simple test of my critical thinking prowess.

          • CL Nicholson

            And how is faith and spirituality in and of itself degrading the scope of humanity’s reach. Did you know, for example, that Einstein was inspired to study general relativity based upon his Gnostic beliefs? And, as an obvious viewer of ‘Cosmo’, you know that Newton’s pursuit of physics was partially inspired by his desire to understand God? Some of our greatest (and scariest) scientific and philosophical beliefs are based upon religious text, either proving or disproving their tenets. If it weren’t for a hardcore religious whacko, we may not know how to read a map (Descarte was brilliant mathematician, theologian and philosopher).

            Like it or lump, faith and spirituality are part of the human condition, just as much as reason and violence. Take a course on scientific philosophy and see just how ‘out there’ some of our greatest minds were. You wouldn’t write off half of the world’s great minds as idiots, would you?

            Yes, religion has inspired some of the world’s most egregious crimes and has held on to old world thinking that should have been dead centuries ago. But, its also given people order in chaos, served as a (although flawed) yardstick for personal morality, given hope in utterly hopeless situations and inspired men to do great things. Like all human inventions, its both good and bad.

            You don’t believe in God? Great, wonderful, its a free country. Has religion been used to justified evil, horrible things. Absolutely, but so has science (actual as well as pseudo). Am I going to try to prove God to you? I gave up the whole ‘case of Christ’ debates after college. They’re fun and everyone learns something. But they’re not gonna convince anyone either way. Hermeneutics stuff is fun for PBS talk shows or a weekend conversation over coffee – not a blog. Are you going to convince to give up on Church and start ‘faithfully’ (pun intended) reading Dawkins? Nah, probably not.

            But, its somewhat presumptive and a little ridiculous and arrogant (we’re talking Alex Jones level ridiculous) to write off 98% of the world’s population because they don’t think like you do.

          • dukesirius

            Cite me some papers to read that support your assertions regarding Einstein, as well as precisely which incredible scientific discoveries were driven by religious tenets. As for Newton, I give him a pass based on the fact that he lived in a time where they hadn’t begun to truly understand the scientific process yet, and the Church was dominate, violent and not believing would have pretty quickly lead to death.

            And again, again, fucking AGAIN, smart people accomplish things, but they can also be stupid. Believing in something with absolutely no evidence is stupid, and it is one of the core pieces of detritus from the childhood of our species.

            I don’t care if you start reading Dawkins–I don’t even read Dawkins–it’s about examining your beliefs critically and rejecting those which have no evidentiary basis. I ceased believing in chiropractic after I had to examine it critically in the face of evidence that it is complete nonsense.

            And this is exactly why people of faith are fucking stupid, because they won’t do that. Doesn’t matter if you lead the human genome project (which required the kind of critical thought that I’m talking about), invented calculus (ditto), or discovered the speed limit of the universe (ditto x2), if you won’t apply that same process across your life, you fail.

            Don’t like being called fucking stupid? Then provide some evidence for your beliefs.

          • CL Nicholson

            I was joking about the whole Dawkins thing. Just saying.

            As some else pointed out, Einstein was a Spinoza gnostic and like Spinoza, his view of world was driven a lot of his research. I don’t think dude was lighting incense when he was working out the gravity between stars and light speed, but he wasn’t some sort of robot.

            Anyway – critical thinking and reasoning aren’t exactly magic bullets that make ideas irrefutable. There are plenty of bad ideas and beliefs that are completely rational. Pure Marxism is completely rational, as is Objectivism.

            Your beliefs are based upon empirical data only. OK, you can say that, but its not really true. There are somethings you believe because you just believe in them. No one purely believes in reason or does things based upon the empirical analysis. Its fine, having ideas and beliefs is part of what makes us human.

            Frankly, I can’t prove God to you, nor can you layout a definitive proof that God doesn’t exist.

            You can think that I’m sort of Bible thumping weirdo, I’m not. Otherwise, I wouldn’t hangout with you Yahoos. ;-) My entire point is that writing off all religious people as stupid or irrational because you can’t put God in a beaker is equally irrational and stupid. That’s it.

            ** As an aside, if God exists, the fact that humans feel he has ‘show himself’ or define his action to we mere mortals is kind of weird to me personally. God would be an infinite being from our standpoint. He no more has to prove himself to you than a little kid needs to state his intentions to the inhabitants of his ant farm.

          • feloniousgrammar

            Christ, show us the paper that proves that your mother loves or loved you?

            You’re a simple-minded bigot on this account. Neither religion nor science is monolithic nor static. Religions evolves just as much as any other human pursuit.

      • feloniousgrammar

        And Dostoievsky. God this, God that. It’s a wonder he could hold a pencil.

      • David L.

        Well man, Blaise Pascal’s Wager is a big huckster’s joke (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YIBCkOpOIA ), even if he was a brilliant mathematician; Albert Einstein was a Spinoza-inspired deist, which has absolutely nothing to do philosophically with theism (Einstein never believed in a G-d, although some people like to claim so with misquotations or misinterpretations of his metaphors of the Cosmos); and as to Isaac Newton… well, Newton lived in an era where opposing or questioning the Church, however slightly, would give you a pretty good chance of multiple torture and a not-so-swift death. After all, up until very recently, the number one factor in the expansionist spreading of monotheistic religions has always been coertion.

        Anyways, I won’t be the one to say that someone who believes in God is stupid, because as y’all correctly point out there were quite a few geniuses who also believed in the sky fairy. Cool. But I do think that believing in a Supreme Being is extremely irrational, at least on that abstract level, and cognitive dissonance definitely allows for very intelligent people to overlook the logical flaws in the theistic proposition in order to hold on to something that either gives them comfort or they have been born into (or both).

        Just curious, CL, why do you believe (as I think you say in a comment below) that equating faith with irrationality is that absurd? Most faithful are proud of that fact, because believing in something blindly no matter what seems to me to be the exact definition of faith. Maybe you use another definition of faith, one that seems rational to you; if you do, please let me in on it, because if you can rationally argue for the value of faith in an omniscient, omnipresent and all-powerful supernatural entity I swear I’ll voluntarily sign up for a baptism at your local church (seriously). My own atheism stems largely from the fact that since age 9 or so my brain just couldn’t reconcile the myths I was being told with the reality I experienced (much like Santa & Co.).

        Look, I don’t feel condescension towards theists, consider myself superior, or think that you’re barely functioning idiots; because luckily being irrational in one aspect of life doesn’t mean irrationality in every other one (except when we,’re dealing with fundamentalists, a whole separate breed). I’m glad there are progressive Christians like you who study something as utterly fascinating and beautiful as evolutionary biology and aren’t part of the reactionary American Taliban. We can have cordial debates on Banter or other sites and compare POV’s, without the slightest need for insults or immediate defensive touchiness on either side.

        The thing is, I think I’m simply wired in a way which makes me constitutionally incapable of putting myself in a religious person’s shoes and imagining what it would feel like to sincerely believe in a god (and trust me, I’ve tried; I’ve been studying world religions for over a decade and love comparative mythography; plus I went to a Catholic school, although I never once had the tiniest urge to question my complete lack of faith). In the end, whatever works for you, great; simply don’t shove it down my secular throat (and I know you don’t want to implant a theocracy, CL, I’m referring to the esteemed Republican Party).

        But I am also sensing a very protective/defensive stance by you and fg that suggests a strong aversion to atheists or atheistic statements, and I’m sorry if you’ve had bad experiences with asshole atheists; but I never know if it really is about atheists being too impolite about their atheism, or maybe it goes deeper than that… I know and can understand that no religious person likes to have their beliefs questioned. But I think someone needs to question them. It’d be very boring if everybody believed the same stuff. Anyways, I repeat that sure, I am pretty hostile towards Christianity (and Islam and Judaism and all their subdivisions and factions and sects), but not necessarily hostile against all the people who belong to those groups, since there certainly are some who do more good than bad (MLK would still be a hero whether he prayed to the Lord or to C’thulu).

        Wow, that got long. Have a good one!

        • Sabyen91

          True, Pascal’s Wager is a study in illogic in so many ways.

    • nathkatun7

      I totally disagree with you! Some of the most brilliant people are also people of faith. Unlike fundamentalists, they just don’t subscribe to the literal interpretation of all the biblical stories.

  • Badgerite

    Here is the way it works in the commercial world. They can put on any show that someone is willing to fund and advertisers are willing to pay for.
    I believe Seth McFarlane is the producer of Cosmos. Maybe they should contact him as to their creationist ‘equal time’. It would be good for a laugh.
    But seriously, it is bad enough that Cosmos has to be interrupted by commercials.
    No, they do not get ‘equal time’ to poop all over Cosmos with stupid crap like, ‘Behold, the banana.’

  • D_C_Wilson

    Regarding Ham’s website, it’s essentially dedicated to raising doubts about evolution while offering creationists various handy-dandy (yet easily debunkable) talking points to refute science.

    The one thing you won’t see on his website, though, is any empirical evidence or even a testable hypothesis. And most of the “doubts” they raise about evolution are outdated ideas that scientists have debunked ages ago. But they keep raising them over and over again, because their goal is not to help us expand our knowledge and understanding, but to convince people that evolution is a “theory in crisis” that is about to be overturned and only the stubborn dishonesty of scientists is propping it up. All of their arguments are from a negative. They claim that evolution can’t explain this or that, so therefore, the Bible. That’s why creationists have lost every court battle in the last fifty years. Courts, like science, deals with evidence, not faith and not who can tell the most comforting story. The real problem with creationism, though, is not that it’s based on religion, but that it does nothing to advance our knowledge. It tells people that the answer ot every question about the nature of life, the universe, and everything is “Goddidit” and you shouldn’t ever try to look deeper.

    • feloniousgrammar

      .

      Why’ s that guy looking at that baby with such unvarnished glee?
      .

      .

      Because it’s stupid, babies will believe anything.

      • Where’s the Beef?

        Why are there straps on the saddle? The THEORY of “Gravity” does not exist in the Ham World of dinosaurs and people. It is only a theory.

  • Razor

    But I thought the Fairness Doctrine was communism?

  • feloniousgrammar

    It’s not unusual for evangelist to equate “knowledge” with evil. Eve ate from the tree of knowledge and that made Adam’s dick—

    never mind. I was thinking of bananas.

    • swift_4

      Because the cylindrical meat of it glides smoothly into the human mouth; and it’s “curved toward the face.”, right?

      • feloniousgrammar

        No. That wasn’t it. I don’t know what I was thinking. Adam’s diorama, perhaps?

        My brain must be bleached from spring cleaning.

    • nathkatun7

      “never mind. I was thinking of bananas.”

      Yea right! Who are you trying to fool?