a satire for creation literalists

Lord God, Creator of All, caught thousands of Sumerian farmers and mathematicians somewhat off guard.

in perhaps one of the greatest news websites on earth, the onion posted an article entitled, ‘sumerians look on in confusion as god creates world,’ which juxtaposes the supposed chronology of a literal six-day creation from the bible with archaeological evidence of sumerians, who existed more than a thousand years earlier than the supposed creation of the earth. it’s worth a read for the humor, but also to highlight the fact that so few people are even aware that ancient cultures existed and even thrived before the supposed 4004 bce creation of the earth.

(just a note of clarification: the sumerians are real. they existed long before bishop ussher dated the creation of the earth to 4004 bce. the joke is that we have modern, archaeological, factual, real, verifiable evidence of sumerians working, reproducing, writing, and thriving long before 4000 bce, the supposed creation of the earth.)


the single greatest argument against junk science i have ever seen

intelligent_aliensthis is absolutely the best argument against ‘intelligent design,’ ancient aliens, and all other forms of junk science, pseudoscience, and sensationalism i’ve seen. in this short clip, the narrator provides a satirical argument eviscerating the popular tendency of junk scientists to bypass critical method, peer-review, and all forms of scientific evidence to make an otherwise unfounded claim. the portion of the video that compares claims of alien involvement in the development of humanity’s various technologies to the present ‘intelligent design’ movement, which uses the court system and claims of academic freedom to advance non-scientific theories under threats of violation of the equal protection clause.

why produce evidence when you can claim that your ‘belief’ is free speech, and that it should be considered just as ‘possible’ as theories that have veritable support of actual scientific data?

you see, doing science is hard work. conducting original research, writing technical papers with lots of footnotes and publishing them in reputable journals where they’ll be critically examined by other highly trained scientists isn’t exactly easy. even if you are lucky enough to make it through the peer-review process unscathed, you still have to present your work at professional conferences, where the world’s experts will pick apart your assumptions and methods to find anything that you might have overlooked in your research. why would anybody voluntarily subject themselves to this madness? i can understand doing it to get some honest feedback, but if your mind is already made up, what’s the point of exposing yourself to criticism?

this is where i believe the intelligent alien intervention institute can learn a thing or two from the discovery institute, the driving force behind the ‘intelligent design’ movement. the ‘intelligent design’ movement has discovered how to effectively bypass the protocols traditionally used to weed out junk science. just think how useful such a loophole could be.

absolutely classic!

circular reasoning, public appeal, demonizing science and scientists, the use of the court system, the assistance of politicians and fundraising, and claims of freedom of expression are all tactics used by amateurs, hacks, pseudoscientists, and sensationalists to advance their claims when they possess no data to support them.

this video makes this point succinctly and in a most entertaining fashion. with thanx to michael heiser for the tip and creator gordon j. glover, give it a look.

does the pill make women want less manly men?

an interesting study by researchers at the university of sheffield suggests that women’s taste in men has shifted from more rugged-looking men to more boyish looking men since the contraceptive pill became available to women 40 years ago. here’s how it works:

Researchers say leading Hollywood actors from forty years ago like Sean Connery and Steve McQueen (top) appear more manly than modern leading men like Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp (bottom). This transition from stronger, angular men to softer, boyish looking men may be due to women's use of the birth control pill.

Scientists have long known that a woman’s taste in men changes over her menstrual cycle.

During the few days each month when women are fertile – around the time of ovulation – they tend to prefer masculine features and men who are more assertive.

On these fertile days, women are also more attracted to men who are ‘genetically dissimilar’, Dr Alvergne said. Picking a partner whose genetic make-up is unlike their own increases the chances of having a healthy child.

On days when women are not fertile, their tastes swing towards more feminine, boyish faces and more caring personalities, researchers have shown.

However, if women are taking the Pill they no longer have fertile days.

That means they no longer experience the hormonal changes that make them more attracted to masculine men and those with dissimilar genetic make-up.

the researchers explain that this is why leading hollywood actors have slowly transitioned from rugged angular confident/cocky men to boyish, softer, men in recent decades. evolutionarily, it makes sense; if you chemically alter a woman’s hormonal drive, she will not be as (dare i say it?) horny as she would be (consciously or subconsciously) as she might be were she not on the pill. i agree with the researchers that much of human sexuality is still very carnal; despite our cerebral and rational development, we are still the product of millions of years of genetic evolution, driven by the single attribute that all living things share: reproduction. scent and non-verbal signals may be dulled or ignored by our rational processes, but they still exist and play a role in mate selection and reproduction. because genetic diversity is a selective advantage (vs. the extreme alternative, incest), women still (again, consciously or subconsciously) seek out males that can protect, care for, and provide for them (and produce children) regardless of how far the women’s liberation movement has progressed. as a strong, powerful, progressive hollywood leading lady once told me at her dinner table, ‘confidence is very, very attractive, but women can still smell arrogance a mile away.’ likewise, men still seek out (again, consciously or subconsciously) women who can care for, provide for, and comfort them. for both sexes, producing offspring always lies at the heart of the species.

however, the findings could also have something to do with the fact that as women have earned their rightful place alongside men as equals, they began finding attractive men who were not the traditional domineering type. women began to prefer men who treated them as equals, not subordinates. these men may have tended to be less aggressive, less angular, less traditionally ‘macho’ men, who were comfortable with their masculinity and were not always out to show off to the other males in the room – a trait where being big, strong, hairy, and angular is stereotypically and evolutionarily advantageous.

i agree that the transition has taken place. the question now is whether the transition from strong, domineering, tough guys to smart, sensitive, cute guys is the result of birth control, or the result of the continued march of social evolution, gender equity, and technological progress that makes reliance on tough, strong guys less needed. and is the transition a bad thing? as one who has been described as a mountain metrosexual (looks like a mountain man but speaks and acts like a civilized urbanite), i don’t really care. ;-)

what to make of the new ‘missing link’ fossil

This 95%-complete lemur monkey is described as the eighth wonder of the world

This 95%-complete 'lemur monkey' is described as the "eighth wonder of the world"

according to alex watts of sky news online,

Scientists have unveiled a 47-million-year-old fossilised skeleton of a monkey hailed as the missing link in human evolution.

so now what to make of this:

on the one hand, non-evolutionists always shout, ‘show us the link between humans and other primates.’ and when that link is shown, they then look at the now shortened gap between humans and the new fossil and say, ‘show us the link that goes there, between humans and primates.’ and then when that fossil is discovered, and the gap is shortened even more, they claim, ‘show us the link that…..’ well, you get the picture.

on the other hand, this fossil was discovered by an amateur fossil hunter, and spent 20 years in the private collection of an unknown collector. sound familiar? it was then sent to another private fossil dealer, who showed it (finally) to scholars.

question: should the academic community publish it? it appears to have been first revealed to the pubic via the popular media. i certainly have not read about the discovery, and the first academic account is apparently only being published today.

so to my colleagues i ask: given the rules for unprovenanced antiquities, should we publish papers about this fossil? should this fossil be held in suspicion? and will evolutionists be as eager to accept the proposed implications of this missing link as many christians are to believe sensational claims made about archaeological discoveries stemming from unprovenanced finds bought on the antiquities market??

i’m curious to see the response.

on the occasion of charles darwin’s 200th birthday



Charles Darwin (photo: Smithsonian)

today is charles darwin’s 200th birthday. 200 hundred years. it seems like so long ago. and yet, we’re still so far away.

 many people of faith understand the so-called father of human evolution to be some incarnation of satan, sent to earth to tempt the faithful away from the truth of a biblical creation. others, the atheist fundamentalists on the opposite end of the spectrum, worship darwin as he who rang the death knell for a still believed modern myth. and somewhere in between, there are those of us who see darwin for who he was: a deeply moral man who asked a lot of questions.

darwin used his eyes and his brain. he observed and he thought. and he had the courage to ask questions. and once he did, he set in motion a revolution that was nothing less than an alternative way of understanding the world, or at least its origin. until darwin, many people simply believed what they were told despite what they saw, and feared social alienation or physical harm for failing to do so. but darwin took the next logical step and asked whether or not we had to blindly accept how the church understood the origin of the earth. in a sense, darwin is not unlike martin luther, who dared to question the catholic establishment’s authority over the interpretation of the world. thus, darwin was to the church what luther was, well, to the church. they both dared to ask the question of why we must accept what tradition tells us.

200 years later, people of faith are still wrestling with the question of whence we came. those with a fundamentalist understanding of the bible argue that if even a single part of it is not historical truth, none of it can be. they invoke a slippery slope argument in an effort to hold on to what ‘we’ have always believed, instead of asking questions, searching for truth no matter where it lies, and relying on faith to see them through. as an unfortunate result, much of science has been denied, or worse yet, ignored, in an attempt to cling to how a pre-scientific text explains the earth’s origins. and in its place, a pseudo-scientific amalgam of intelligent design and irrational archaeology has been exalted for the full viewing of the faithful.

so while, on lincoln’s 200th birthday, we can celebrate the fact that an african american has been elected president of a nation that once enslaved his like, we cannot yet celebrate a true reconciliation between science and faith. fundamentalists cling to a literal six day creation today like they clung to biblical teachings of ‘slaves obey your masters’ during the civil war. and like slavery, fundamentalist christianity and its black and white understanding of the bible must be overcome.

i am hopeful that just as we overcame a religious opposition to an equality among races, so too will we of faith one day embrace an interpretation of the bible that allows science to explain the ‘how,’ and frees the bible to provide a word as to ‘why.’ until such a time as this, those of us who have dedicated our lives to scientific inquiry, and who happen to live lives of faith, must continue to speak boldly and offer a hermeneutic for both science and the bible that asks the hard questions, follows the data, and lets the truth fall where it may.

so as we celebrate darwin’s birth, let him not be a lightning rod for controversy, but let him be a reminder that we should commit ourselves to observing and thinking about our world and our faith. for like the human species, our understanding of the bible changes over time, and so too must our faith. for both humans and their faith are endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful, which from so simple a beginning have been, and are being, evolved.

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