GOE’s top 10 posts of 2013

GOE's top 10 posts of 2013

It’s the tail end of December, that lovely time when people you see often will suddenly remember how cute it is to say, “See you next year,” and when newspapers, magazines and blogs across the country take advantage of a slow news cycle by publishing graphic-heavy “Year in Review” pieces comprised almost entirely of things they already wrote.

2013 wasn’t a particularly monumental year for “the clash” between fundamentalist Christianity and mainstream science, but the Disco Tute didn’t let that stop them from recycling their previous articles into a “Top Ten Evolution Stories” series, so I won’t let it stop me from conducting a similar review.

What follows is simply and lazily the 10 most viewed articles on GOE from the year 2013.

Topping the list, coincidentally, is another “Top 10.” But if I learned anything from this exercise, it would appear to be that blogging about our pal “Banana Ray” Comfort is a sure way to get clicks. Unfortunately, I can only stomach so much of ol’ Comfy, and I really must think of my health first, regardless of the glorious number of page views I may be missing.

Without further ado, I present GOE’s top 10 posts of 2013. Please feel free to share your favorites in the comments below!

— Tyler Francke

1. The top 10 signs that you don’t understand evolution at all

Evolution can be confusing...especially if you make no effort to really understand it.

Evolution can be confusing…especially if you make no effort to really understand it.

According to the most recent Gallup poll of Americans’ views on evolution, almost half of all respondents rejected the mainstream view of human origins. The number — 46 percent — has not changed meaningfully in more than two decades.

It’s anyone’s guess as to why that is. But to understand my theory, I offer an analogy, which actually involves individuals from the opposite side of the fence.

When I’m talking with atheists or agnostics who are passionately against any and all religion, I sometimes find that they have inaccurate (or just plain wrong) ideas about the teachings of the Bible, the nature of the Christian faith and the qualities of the God I believe in. In other words, some of those whom I’ve encountered have a poor understanding of the very thing they think they oppose.

Read more.

2. Christian review of ‘Evolution vs. God’: Ray Comfort is the world’s worst scientist

It’s official. If “we are all scientists,” as T.H. Huxley once argued, then Ray Comfort is the world’s worst scientist. I can conclude nothing else after watching the New Zealand-born street evangelist’s latest movie, “Evolution vs. God.”

In it, Comfort approaches several evolutionary scientists and university educators (along with a bunch of undergrads and people on the street — we’ll get to them in a bit), namely P.Z. Myers, Gail Kennedy, Peter Nonacs and Craig Stanford, and demands they provide evidence for evolution. And they do, even in the highly edited version that was released for public consumption (we can only guess what support for evolution they offered in the portions that were cut out, since RayCo has refused to release the raw footage). Myers, for example, suggests Comfort check out Lenski’s experiments with bacteria or look up the significant changes that have been observed in isolated populations of sticklebacks.

Not good enough, RayCo claims. “They’re still fish,” he says. “There’s no change in kinds.”

“What do the bacteria become?” he wants to know.

And this is why Comfort is a terrible scientist. While a real scientist analyzes the results of an experiment or a finding in the field to see what conclusions may be drawn from it, Comfort waves away historical evidence as irrelevant and contemporary evidence as meaningless. He, in fact, demands evidence that the theory in question never predicted would be found.

Read more.

3. ‘Evolution vs. God’ denigrates science using technology that science makes possible

Ray Comfort (public domain)

Ray Comfort (public domain)

Today is a big day for evangelist Ray Comfort. Comfort is known in Christian circles for his books and The Way of the Master ministry, while non-Christians will remember him best for…well, this.

Following the same lines of logic that led him to declare, in that infamous clip, that modern bananas (which have been domesticated over hundreds of years by selective breeding) are “the atheist’s worst nightmare,” Comfort has in recent years begun an all-out war against evolutionary theory. In 2009, the native Kiwi “celebrated” the 150th anniversary of“On the Origin of Species” by distributing thousands of copies of the book to college campuses, with a special introduction he wrote that espoused information about the gospel and intelligent design. (Then a student at the University of Maine, I responded to Comfort’s ploy in a column in our school paper. Here’s a link, if you’re interested.)

Banana Ray is firing off another salvo today, as his latest effort, a video called “Evolution vs. God,” becomes available for download. From what I can tell, Comfort took inspiration for both the name of the project and its low regard for science from the 2004 film “Alien vs. Predator.”I can hardly wait for the sequel, “Evolution vs. God: Requiem.”

Read more.

4. Ray Comfort explains why True Christians can’t believe in evolution, or the water cycle

Despite some evidence to the contrary, I really don’t spend much time on the Facebook pages of Ray Comfort or Ken Ham. Honestly, I avoid those pits of childish fallacies and moralistic, martyrly drivel like I avoid “The O’Reilly Factor” and Glenn Beck. My sanity can’t take it.

But, nevertheless, I did brave the descent to the Facebook domain of none other than Banana Ray this morning, at the suggestion of one of our clandestine operatives whose constitution is apparently much stronger than mine. Our operative said ol’ RayCo had recently posted a nugget of his world-famous wisdom that he thought we might find interesting, and boy was he ever right.

You see, Ray Comfort — crusader for justice and reason in a dark world that refuses to recognize that the bananathe lack of a crocoduck, and the fact that you can’t be stopped on the sidewalk and make a rose appear out of nothing, is all proof of God’s existence — is again trying to help me fix my fringe view that Christianity and evolution need not be mutually exclusive.

Confronted with the reality that his latest film, “Evolution vs. God,” is so mind-numbingly terrible that even fellow evangelical Christians can’t stomach it, RayCo has pivoted to employ a brilliant tactic called the “no true Scotsman” fallacy. Rather than defend his apparent belief that selectively editing scientists to make them look stupid and using the “Jesus of the gaps” argument are great evangelism techniques, RayCo simply outs his religious critics as not True Christians™.

Read more.

5. 3 seriously bad theological implications of young-earth creationism

The Vredefort crater: evidence that A) the earth is extremely old and Gen 1 is not a history textbook or B) God is an extremely big liar. (public domain)

The Vredefort crater: evidence that A) the earth is extremely old and Gen 1 is not a history textbook or B) God is an extremely big liar. (public domain)

Sometimes, in evangelical circles where young-earth creationism is the dominant view, “believing in” evolution is seen as a theological handicap. Those who accept the overwhelming evidence from virtually every field of science just might experience the following none-too-subtle patronism from our YEC brethren:

“I think you can (lots of emphasis on the can) believe in evolution and be a Christian,” they say, “but it weakens your theology.” And as they say this, it’s entirely possible that they are also hearing in their heads the words of Romans 14 and praying silently that God would come alongside their weaker brother or sister.

Problem is, a non-evolutionary form of creationism has some seriously bad theological implications all its own — ones that any believer should find distasteful. Now, I’m not saying creationism caused the Holocaust or anything like that; I would never lay the blame for one of the most horrific crimes against humanity ever perpetrated on something as simple as one’s perspective on the origin of species. That would be ridiculous.

Read more.

6. Thoughts on Ken Ham, biblical inerrancy and Batman

It was a peaceful Saturday evening, or so the hero of our story, Ken Ham, thought. He was enjoying a bit of quiet study in his library at Ham Manor, when the night’s tranquility was shattered by the blare from his home’s high-tech alarm system.

Recognizing that sound only too well, our hero dashed to the window of his study to see what he already knew he would find: the Ham-Signal was shining a bright distress call over the skies of Petersburg.

“Oh, no,” Ham muttered to himself. “The Bible is in trouble.”

Read more.

7. Raised by ‘theological conspiracy theorists’: How I lost my faith

A Gutenberg Bible (photo by Flickr user JMWK, via Wikimedia Commons)

A Gutenberg Bible (photo by Flickr user JMWK, via Wikimedia Commons)

Editor’s note: What follows is the personal account of a young woman who lost her Christian faith after learning, in college, that the young-earth creationism view she had been raised in was based on scientific and factual untruths. All emphases were added by the editor.

You know that photo of the kid’s 4th-grade creationist science test that’s making the rounds online? That represents to a T what my science education background was, up until I was 16 and left my home school for community college.

People think that test is fake; sadly, every bit of it rings true to what I was taught for years, and I believed it because that view was presented to me by people that I knew were “real Christians” (biblical inerrantists who had a “personal relationship with Jesus”). For ages, I didn’t bother to check to see if their claims were true because a) “real Christians” would obviously not teach bad science or misrepresent the facts; b) everyone in my community appeared to believe in young-earth creationism; and c) I didn’t have easy access to non-creationist scientific resources on the topic and even if I had, reading them would have been seen as a sign of distrusting God’s word — a lack of faith.

Read more.

8. The faith card: ‘I know evolution isn’t true because I’m a better Christian than you are’

Chances are you know all about the race card, but you may be less familiar with the “faith card.” Generally an evangelical phenomenon, the True Christian™“plays the faith card” when he or she attempts to bludgeon his or her opponent into submission by the “vastly superior” strength of his or her faith. It’s essentially a trump card, of the theological variety. Here’s how one might use it in a sentence:

I was trying to show Bob that the universe must be more than 6,000 years old because we can see starlight that took billions of years to reach our planet. But he played the faith card, so there was nothing I could do.

In short, it is exactly the kind of spiritual one-upmanship and Pharisaical arm flexing that not only makes me want to facedesk, but really, really turns people off to Christianity.

Read more.

9. The strongest biblical evidence for young-earth creationism, refuted

Do the 10 Commandments contain the death blow for old-earth theology?

Do the 10 Commandments contain the death blow for old-earth theology?

The young-earth creationists face an uphill battle in their righteous war against heresy. For one thing, the text they believe relates the history of the world ismostly out-of-whack with everything we know about the history of the world. What’s more, the text they say MUST BE READ LITERALLY actually has most of the reliable markers of a figurative text: obvious metaphors like trees whose fruit has magical powers and talking animals whose ability to speak isnot treated as a miracle, characters who have no names (Eve is known only as “the woman” until the end of Genesis 3; Adam essentially has no name, since his name means “the man”), an indeterminate time and place (yes, the text seems to make an effort to describe its setting; then again, the description doesn’t fit any geographical location that we know of), etc.

Read more.

10. 4 reasons why I don’t believe in marathons

If you believe in marathons, prepare to have your faith shaken. Marathons are a lie. They don’t exist. You may be saying, “That’s not true! Marathons are real. They happen all the time.”

How deceived you are. Did you ever stop to consider that that’s just what the running establishment and the media want you to think? Look at the facts!

Read more.