In praise of flip-floppers

In a recent post titled “Down the Creationist Rabbit Hole,” I remarked that I grew up creationist and later changed my mind due to the evidence in favor of evolution. Regarding the difficulty of getting people to seriously consider evidence, a commenter replied,

I wish it was just a matter of presenting the evidence and waiting for it to sink in for most people; unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case. I do understand that nobody wants to look like a fool and nobody wants to lose face while debating, but it seems like people should eventually let other superior opinions seep in and change their mind… perhaps I’m being to idealistic.

And why is that so rarely the case? We can talk about cognitive dissonance or the theological implications of evolution (for one thing it makes nonsense of Paul’s main argument for the necessity of the atonement; see Romans 5:12 and following–meaning that there’s a whole worldview at stake for believers who know their Bible), but another big part of it is that in our culture, changing one’s mind is seen as a sign of weakness and unsteadiness. And the bigger the issue, the more the change bothers other people.
We need to challenge this attitude. Continue reading

Down the creationist rabbit hole

I don’t normally go to creationist blogs looking for fights, but when a church posted a little animated video yesterday, titled, “Evolution is impossible, really funny!!” temptation got the better of me. At any rate, it’s an opportunity to share something really cool (if you don’t already know about Tiktaalik roseae, the “fishapod”) and to say something about the peculiar style of argumentation that’s become common among evangelicals.

The post is here, with a video that features a cartoon fish who gets the idea to jump up on land and evolve into humans. As the fish flops around helplessly on dry land, the ‘camera’ pulls back to reveal the bones of other fish who have apparently tried the same thing.

Ha, ha! See? Evolution is impossible! A fish would die on dry land!

I rolled my eyes. I grew up with this kind of pat-yourself-on-the-back ignorance. Continue reading

We are all stupendous badasses

I’m reading Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson’s 1999 book that’s been described as the “ultimate geek novel.” Apropos of nothing, Stephenson begins a chapter with a surprisingly funny and concise summary of evolution. Enjoy: Continue reading

A dose of C.S. Lewis’s intellectual snake oil

Here’s a quote posted recently by The Armchair Apologist:

There’s a time to suggest politely, “While I don’t find Mr. Lewis’s logic entirely persuasive…,” and there’s a time to point out that this is what passes for a reasoned argument from a man who, fifty years after his death, remains one of the most respected Christian intellectuals out there. Continue reading

Bill Nye, and why creationism will not go away

Bill Nye, via Wikimedia Commons

Last week the Creation Museum responded to Bill Nye’s recent video, “Creationism Is Not Appropriate for Children,” with one of their own, and yesterday the Huffington Post reported Nye’s response. (Short version: Creationism is not science.) I wrote favorably about Nye’s video and received a long comment from a fellow blogger known as “The Janitor,” who argues that Nye’s remarks are a “jumbling mess of assertions that are ambiguous and don’t make much sense.”

Arguments in a blog’s comments section usually aren’t post-worthy in themselves, but I want to look at one part of this comment because it’s a good example of some things I’ve noticed when Christians argue about science.

Janitor complains that Nye is hopelessly vague in his terms:

But Mr. Nye never actually tells us what he means by “evolution.” In these sorts of debates the “creationist” side has been careful to specify exactly what they are denying and what they are not denying with “evolution.” Continue reading

Why creationism is bad for America: we aren’t the only game in town

Dan Colman at Open Culture has posted a link to a two-minute video in which Bill Nye (The Science Guy) explains why teaching creationism to kids is a bad idea. It’s a good, concise explanation of the real-world consequences of failing to grasp the unifying theory of biology.

But one of Colman’s own comments is worth repeating:

Now you might be inclined to say that America has always had creationists, and that didn’t stop the country from becoming an economic and military superpower. Perhaps that’s true. But you need to recall this. America reached its zenith when every other power had blown themselves to smithereens. We were the only game in town. And it almost didn’t matter what we thought, or how much we thought. We just needed to show up to work. Nowadays, we don’t have that luxury. We face stiff competition from ambitious nations that take science and education seriously. A country that scoffs at scientific reasoning, that dismisses it all as “elitist,”  has only one way to go, and that’s down.

Open Culture is such a cool site. A few days ago they posted a link to this killer Aretha Franklin concert from 1968, and today it’s the Talking Heads from 1975. (Just in case you’re not in the mood for anything sciencey, like blowing up asteroids with Neil deGrasse Tyson.)