Friday fun: Hearing the color brown, big butts and more

Hooray, you made it another week. Now, enjoy our regular round-up of funny evolution/creationism-related news and other ICYMI stuff.

Another meme about ‘observable’ evidence for macro-evolution

brown-meme

Continuing a meme series I officially started a couple weeks ago, I present another installment you can file under “Here’s why Ray Comfort’s demand for ‘observable’ evidence of macro-evolution makes no sense.”

If (OK, when) a young-earth creationist tries to pull this one on you, sure, you could talk about Lenski’s bacteria, or stickleback fish, or the many other examples of evolution in action that have been observed, both in the lab and in nature. But they’ll just say that’s not evolution.

So you could bring up the fossil record, or nested hierarchies, or genetic homology, or the many other lines of evidence that point toward macro-evolution and common descent. But they’ll just say that evidence is not observable. And around and around you will go.

I say, save yourself some time and frustration, and just point out how the entire line of questioning is D.O.A., because it is taking a process that happens slowly and gradually, and asking for evidence of it happening quickly and abruptly. Such evidence would not prove Darwin right; it would prove him wrong.

That’s right, sports fans: Those who put forth this argument are ultimately demanding evidence that would only exist if the theory were false. So call them on it. And if (OK, when) they persist, tell them you’ll provide such evidence when they demonstrate how rain can chair fences blue.

Ken Ham likes big butts? And he cannot lie?

"The Venus of Willendorf." Photo by Don Hitchcock, via Wikimedia Commons.

“The Venus of Willendorf.” Photo by Don Hitchcock, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Sensuous Curmudgeon shares Ken Ham’s thoughts on why women tragically no longer look like this fertility statue, thanks to that wretched Eve and her sin. SomanyjokesToomanysongtitles

Anyway. Though funny, the article fails to capitalize on two glaring weaknesses in Ham’s argument. First, Genesis 3:16 does not say God would increase the pain of childbirth for all women; it says he would increase it for one woman. The one who disobeyed. And who, therefore, deserved punishment. Sounds fair, eh?

Secondly, the text doesn’t teach, as Ham claims, that — absent the “curse” — the woman would have had no pain in childbirth. Quite the opposite, actually; it says God would “increase,” or “multiply,” her pain. The Hebrew word, “rabah,” is the same one used in Genesis 1 when God instructs birds and fish and humans to “multiply” and fill the earth. It speaks to an increase of something already in existence, not the appearance of something entirely new (“multiplying” zero by anything is zero).

So, even if you interpret this particular text entirely literally, it does not conflict with the biologically based suggestions for why humans have painful childbirths (to which Ham was originally responding), because all it says is that one woman in history experienced a greater degree of pain in birth than she was already going to.

Because the Curmudgeon is not a Christian and makes no claim as such, he can be excused for overlooking these biblical teachings. Ol’ Hambone, not so much.

More:

Author and educator Karl Giberson talks about his journey from Christian fundamentalism and literalism, and why he argues so strongly against it today: How Christianity cast Adam as the original sinner

Ken Ham finally explains why I get uncontrollable urges to cheat on my wife every single time I think about the theory of evolution: Ken Ham Says Christians Who Accept Evolution May Also Falsely Justify Adultery and Other ‘Sinful Tendencies’

James McGrath shows what Genesis 1 would have to say to line up with what the “literalists” claim it says: Genesis 1 (Fixed It For You)

Tyler Francke is founder of God of Evolution and author of Reoriented. He can be reached at tyler@godofevolution.com.

  • Far be it from me to defend anything from the Pork Posse, but given Genesis’ role as a formative, primordial, cultural myth, it could be that, in a very tertiary way, the text is “explaining” to the audience why childbirth is so painful

    However, this isn’t just a formative myth about the world in general, it’s a formative myth about Israel. We’re to see in Adam and Eve the prototypical Israelites whose lives are full of trial and suffering in every respect. It’s meant to make sense of either the Egyptian captivity (if Moses wrote it) or the Babylonian exile (if… uh… that guy wrote it). It’s meant to answer the question, “How could the specially chosen people of God be suffering so much?” This is the story of we got to that point.

    The irony here is that when Ham Radio turns it into a “Why Women Have Pain in Childbirth” story, he is pretty much declaring Genesis a myth, because that’s what myths do. Along with “The Day Snake Tricked the First People” and “The Magic Apple Tree.”

    • Far be it from me to defend anything from the Pork Posse, but given Genesis’ role as a formative, primordial, cultural myth, it could be that, in a very tertiary way, the text is “explaining” to the audience why childbirth is so painful

      I agree, it is a plausible interpretation. It’s just certainly not definitive, based on nothing but the text and its “plain meaning,” which is contrary to Hambone’s claims.

      However, this isn’t just a formative myth about the world in general, it’s a formative myth about Israel. We’re to see in Adam and Eve the prototypical Israelites whose lives are full of trial and suffering in every respect. It’s meant to make sense of either the Egyptian captivity (if Moses wrote it) or the Babylonian exile (if… uh… that guy wrote it). It’s meant to answer the question, “How could the specially chosen people of God be suffering so much?” This is the story of we got to that point.

      Completely agree. As much as I believe these stories were also meant to (and do) contain and convey theological truth for the ages, they were also intended to encourage and reassure a people who were, at the time, enslaved by the mighty Babylonian empire. Ignoring that is like ignoring how Jesus crafted his messages based on those to whom he was speaking, whether they were his beloved disciples, uneducated farmers, or the Jewish leaders of the day.

      The irony here is that when Ham Radio turns it into a “Why Women Have Pain in Childbirth” story, he is pretty much declaring Genesis a myth, because that’s what myths do. Along with “The Day Snake Tricked the First People” and “The Magic Apple Tree.”

      Yeah, but I honestly don’t think Ham has the first clue about what myths do.

  • I put this in a separate comment because it’s on a separate topic in your article and I like seeing my own name in print.

    I have often brought up Lenski’s bacteria when someone asks for observable evidence for evolution, and I invariably get the response that it’s not evolution-y enough.

    Other Dude: But they’re still bacteria, right?

    Me: Well, yeah, but now they can digest and get nutrition from something that used to kill them. It’s a species differentiator. You asked for evidence of something evolving into a different species. There you go.

    Other Dude: I hardly think that qualifies as macroevolution.

    Me: It might not seem very macro to you, but don’t you think being able to eat something that used to kill you is a big deal? I mean, what if human beings were someday able to make a meal out of lava.

    Other Dude: They’re bacteria with a slight change. I’d need to see something more dramatic.

    The goalposts are always moving, whether it’s transitional fossils (Ok, you showed me a fossil between A and C. But what about between B and C? You got nothing, right?) or how much something has to evolve before we label it “macroevolution.”

    Lenski could have an iteration of bacteria that started breathing fire, and it still wouldn’t be enough

    • Exactly.

    • I think it helps that they don’t recognize how vastly different two bacteria can be. That’s the good thing about kinds – they can be made up to suit whatever you want to believe, so bacteria is a singular kind despite being more varied than the animal kingdom.

      YEC science is all about perception and not about facts. In fact, I could use their own logic to argue that dogs and cats are of the “4-legged kind” and no one could argue with it.

      • I’ve always thought it was funny how YEC proponents pretend like the biblical meaning of “kind” (Hebrew: “min”) is so mysterious. They’ve even created an entire bogus field of “science” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baraminology) supposedly dedicated to understanding what the “kinds” are all about.

        The flood account makes it perfectly clear what the kinds are about and how they’re defined: It’s along reproductive lines. So, roughly, the species level. So there’s no “dog kind” and “cat kind.” If an animal (like a tiger) can’t reproduce with another animal (like a house cat), they aren’t the same “kind.”

  • Butbutbutbut, Tyler… the circular arguing is the fun part.

    Do I get off on this too much?

    (The answer is yes. Yes I do…)

  • Hammy must be stroking himself to that!

    I had to say it. There is no way around the implied X-rated cracks that Ham left himself open to on this one.

    • BrianKeene

      I pray that you get decades of therapy, Nicky.