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Arguing over irrelevances.


There is a zoo in Bristol called 'Noah's Ark', and with a name like that you just know it's going to have a religious connection. Which it does. The fundamentalist wing of Atheism are up in arms about it because apparently, this zoo is 'pushing a creationist agenda'. Well, here's what I think of that:

I couldn't give a damn. At all. Netiher could around 95% of the population, if they're honest.

Okay, I'm a scientist and I'm not religious. Not religious at all and that includes 'humanism'. So, if push comes to shove, I'd say evolution sounds more credible that creation BUT that's because I don't believe in a God and therefore it would be illogical to believe in creation. I don't 'believe' in evolution either. If I was to 'believe' in something, that would then be a religion. I'd then be no different from certain scientists and science mags who work the word 'evolution' into every discussion of every subject even if it's about machinery, computers or kitchen utensils. I don't study evolution. My work does not depend on evolution being true. What I've seen of it leads me to think it looks about right but I have not studied it in detail and have no intention of doing so. I have other things to do.

It doesn't actually matter, you see, whether the world was created 6000 years ago, formed by random chance a few billion years ago, popped into existence this morning with all of us in place and all our memories intact, was sneezed from the nose of a Chihuahua with swine flu, is a Sims-like computer game played by a five-dimensional being which will end when his mum calls him for tea, or is nothing more than a vast publicity stunt by Lego. It doesn't matter.

Okay, if you're determined that you must have a Truth, pick one. Pick whichever you like. The sun will still rise in the morning, the Brown Gorgon will still be working to destroy us all, the taxman will still empty your pockets and you still can't enjoy anything without being told it'll kill you. Someday, something will, unless you're one of the Perfectly Healthy People, in which case, one day you'll die of nothing. Whatever you believe about the past will not affect the future. It only affects what you think that future will be, and since nobody has yet come up with a way to accurately predict the future, what anyone believes about the past is of no real consequence.

Tomorrow matters to me. Yesterday does not, other than as a reference for future decisions. I'm not going to argue with you if you think the Earth is flat, cubic, toroidal or banana-shaped. I'll just nod and smile and let you believe just what you like. I don't have time to explain to everyone I meet that Salmonella is not a virus, that antibiotics will not cure the flu, that you cannot catch a hereditary disease, that those paper masks will not protect you from swine flu, that Campylobacter in raw chicken is not really a surprise and not that much of a problem unless you're completely incompetent in a kitchen, or any of it. I get paid to explain that stuff to companies. I used to get paid to explain that stuff to classes, when there were such classes here, and I don't want to do it in my time off because I want to do something that isn't work.

For most people it really doesn't matter at all anyway. The rabid atheists insist that the creationists are warping the minds of the public and filling them with disinformation. Here's what the Humanists have to say:

The Noah's Ark zoo farm, in Wraxall, near Bristol, was accused by the British Humanist Association (BHA) of misleading tens of thousands of annual visitors and "threatening public understanding".

Threatening public understanding? How can you threaten something that does't exist?

The public are putting their home addresses on Facebook and advertising when they'll be away on holiday. The public are up in arms because they imagine drawings of fruit depict sexual images. The public don't understand that the Gene Collectors are more of a threat than a hairdresser. Many MPs don't understand this either and the police don't understand that if you put explosive-grade peroxide on your hair, you won't just bleach it, you'll spontaneously combust. CCTV operators call the police if someone is taking photos of trains, and the police chase the poor sod all over the country. The public now harass smokers, drinkers, the overweight, photographers, any single man in a park, anyone they're told to harass and without ever, once, questioning why they're doing it. 'Threatening public understanding' is an impossibility. They don't have any. If you can't explain to people the connection between a cow and a hamburger, how do you expect to explain the theory of evolution to them?

Waste of time.

There was a spoof, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, set up to take the mickey out of religion by a couple of scientists. Guess what? There are now people who actually believe there is a flying spaghetti monster religion. They didn't get it. They never will. Hang around and chat with some average-IQ folk who do jobs that have nothing at all to do with science. You'll be amazed at how many of them can't grasp concepts like 6,000 years, never mind six billlion. They don't need to. That information is of no value to them because it does not affect their lives one jot. It would be like trying to explain to me about the intricacies of volleyball or the aerodynamics of a weaver's shuttle. I don't care. I'll smile and nod and think about something else until you stop talking.

Look at yourself. You are on the Internet but you're not currently surfing for porn or spending ten hours a day playing 'dragonstomper' or some other game. You're reading blogs. Furthemore, you're reading blogs that don't have naked people in them. That puts you in a small group, you realise? If you get through the waffle I spout in these posts, you have a way above average attention span. The rest of the country is not like you. They don't want to read more than a paragraph and if there's no picture, they won't read at all. They will not even consider the arguments between creation and evolution, but will pick a side and stick with it. They need no reason or logic. Just a charismatic narrator. These people are forced into making a decision they really don't care about and will agree with you just to shut you up.  They have not ben convinced of your argument. They don't want to argue at all. It simply doesn't matter to them. Once they've made their choice they stick with it because changing their minds is too much trouble - the subject is of no real relevance to them and they don't want to be bothered thinking about it any more.

I'm not talking about stupid people. I'm talking about just about anyone who is faced with a subject they consider of no relevance to them.

Humanists are concerned that the zoo in Bristol has signs telling people about creationist ideas. I am not at all concerned about that because few will read the signs. They are there to look at the animals, and that's all. They don't care about philosphical discussion, they just want to see the monkey throw poo at someone.

What concerns me is that twenty percent of the population can't read the signs.

Now that really is something worth worrying about.
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Comments

( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
27th Aug, 2009 21:44 (UTC)
The Flying Spaghetti Monster
May you be touched by his noodly appendages.

from a durum pastafarian
leg_iron
28th Aug, 2009 01:09 (UTC)
Re: The Flying Spaghetti Monster
I hear there is trouble brewing between the Durumites and the Wholewheatites, and between those who think the meatballs are beef against those who think they are soya protein.

Ah, those factions. It's what religion is all about.
(Anonymous)
27th Aug, 2009 21:56 (UTC)
Wraxall Zoo
I live seven miles from this Zoo, I have taken my kids to it, and nephews and nieces there. I am aware that it is run by a Christian Group, but you would not know it. I reject their creationism but the animals are great. No doubt this is something else that must be 'banned' for the sake of orthodoxy
leg_iron
28th Aug, 2009 01:18 (UTC)
Re: Wraxall Zoo
I see no reason to ban the creationist part of the zoo as long as it's privately funded. I don't want to pay taxes to promote an argument that I don't think matters at all so I don't want to pay to support either side.

If the animal-care part is paid from taxes, fine with me. I'd rather pay to feed chimps than chavs. If the creationist-leaning signs are paid for privately, then that's fine too.

It's an opinion. I don't think it's right but I don't know for certain that it's wrong. I wasn't there when the Earth formed and neither was anyone else. Maybe it did all pop into existence this morning and everything I remember from the last half-century was just implanted memories. How could I ever be certain that didn't happen?

It's late, I have a bottle of Isle of Jura after tasting it in the pub last night and I'm getting needlessly philosophical now.

Although, a friend and I once went on a pub crawl from Prestwick to Ayr (in the early 80s, when there were more pubs) and solved the riddle of life completely. It was flawless, it made perfect sense and it was irrefutable.

Trouble is, we can't remember what it was.

Perhaps that's why we aren't allowed to drink so much - it sets the mind on non-State-approved tangents.
fatbigot
27th Aug, 2009 22:12 (UTC)
Ah, the second Mr Mous, I have to disagree. It's not orthodoxy but uniformity. The goal posts of the one truth path shift all the time but the determination of the Righteous to squeeze everyone (except themselves) between those posts remains firm. That they shift means there is no orthodoxy, simply a series of temporary Righteous fads that can be discarded and replaced with something even sillier at the drop of a hat. (That phrase will have to go, you'll get a fixed penalty notice for dropping a hat.)
leg_iron
28th Aug, 2009 01:29 (UTC)
Indeed, you can get tazered for dropping a hat especially if there's a cigarette, a miniature of whisky and a pie in it. That breaks all the laws that matter.

The shifting goalposts are a brainwashing techinique. Example:

"You can't call those people black. Ypu have to call them coloured"

"Uh, okay."

"You can't say blackboard. it's racist. Use a whiteboard instead. that's not racist."

"Whu-uh, I suppose."

"You can't call those people coloured. It's offensive. You have to call them non-white. If you cal them coloured, you're racist."

"But you said -"

"No I didn't. calling people coloured is racist, you racist."

"Okay. I'll call them non-
white."

"Oh? You're implying whites are better than those who aren't white? Racist Nazi bigot. Those people are black."

"But...but..."

"You're a racist Nazi bigot and you hate everyone because you can't help yourself. It's in your genes. You are naturally racist and need help to overcome that."

"But I... but... Oh, please
just tell me what to say!"

A precised version but that's how it works. Beat them down by moving the goalposts every time they think they have it right, until they beg for guidance.

Then tell them who to hate.

It only works with captives but as New Labour knew from the outset, they have a very big captive audience.
ext_198521
27th Aug, 2009 22:40 (UTC)
Once again a great post.
(Anonymous)
27th Aug, 2009 23:13 (UTC)
Humanists are the biggest danger to our freedom?

"Threatening public understanding? How can you threaten something that doesn't exist?"

Great comment. Has there ever been a dumber general public?

The Humanist religion demands that people believe it because they claim their faith lies in science. But here's the rub - it is based on their *interpretation* of science.

I would disagree on one point though - if Creationism is true (as I believe it is), then it is mega important for obvious reasons.

OK, two points - the fruity fruits. I have a different take on my blog re. the mindset of Daily Mail readers.

Stewart - www.realstreet.co.uk
leg_iron
28th Aug, 2009 02:05 (UTC)
Re: Humanists are the biggest danger to our freedom?
Okay, if creationism is true then there are obvious reasons why it's important, but then even if it's wrong then those reasons are not lessened for you. It just means you got the dates wrong.

Unless you go with seven literal days (impossible anyway since the sun was created on 'day' four and before the sun there could be no 'day' as we know it), then you have infinite time to allocate to each 'day'.

Secondly, Adam was created immortal and counted no years during that time. Why would he? Indeed, how could he since Eden was unchanging? So the time of Adam's life can only be counted from the point at which he became mortal when Uriel, God's Bouncer, denied him entry back to Eden.

Therefore, evolution and creation are different arguments. You can argue that humanity appeared six thousand years ago when Adam got the boot, although there are anthropologists who will fight you, but the dinosaurs, the trilobites and all the rest could have happened while Adam was still in Eden. A million years is no inconvenience to an immortal.

I don't see why evolutionists and creationists are arguing at all. If there is a God, he's surely going to make life in such a way that it can adapt and continue in the face of changes.

The killer, for me, is the animals. Adam, Eve and the snake were booted out of Eden. The rest of the animals were not.

Therefore the ones we see now didn't come from Eden. They came from somewhere else.

Oh, and Enoch, Adam's grandson, built a city. Why? If Adam and Eve were the only family generators, they wouldn't need a city.

Logical thought (which is all I do, really) suggests that, assuming Adam etc was real, there must have been humans outside Eden when he was ejected. Let's suppose they were grunting cavemen and Adam and Eve had the Tree of Knowledge in them. They'd be running the show within an hour. They'd be educating and advancing those cavemen very quickly. Soon they'd need to set up a city and a system of government and churches etc. But the cavemen would not be destined to become humanity. They were the soil the seed grew in, so to speak.

Cain and Abel had wives. Sisters? Not under Mosaic law! (which came later, granted, but was and is central to Jewish, Christian and much earlier teaching, otherwise we'd all have six fingers and play the banjo). There must have been a 'seed stock' of some kind and they must have ben compatible.

Now, let's argue omnipotence and all-knowing. God must have known that Eve would eat that apple and that Serpent would tell her to. He planned the test from the start. Otherwise he would simply have placed that tree out of reach or not created it at all. He didn't need it.

So he knew it would happen. So he was ready when it did. The seed stock was prepared.

Why?

Who can say? One reason could be that, if Adam and Eve had not left Eden, they'd still be there. We wouldn't exist. Adam and Eve did not have real free will. They could not decide for themselves whether God existed. They spoke to him every day. That is no test of faith.

So, to test faith, God would have to send them out to spawn a race who did not know him face to face.

My theology is based on science and logic and not faith. I consider what could have happened while having no belief in what did or did not happen. I don't set out to offend but I don't much care if I do.

It's just an opinion. Thoughts in the wind. To be considered or left to blow past as you wish.

I am certainly not trying to start any kind of spinoff religion! L. Ron Hubbard tried that and it didn't come out too well.


(Anonymous)
29th Aug, 2009 01:09 (UTC)
Re: Humanists are the biggest danger to our freedom?

You raise some interesting points. Shish, don't you always?!

"If there is a God, he's surely going to make life in such a way that it can adapt and continue in the face of changes."

Exactly, and that's what evolution does. It had to happen after the animals left the Ark and migrated all over the planet. Different climates and food sources demanded evolution. What it doesn't do is change a dinosaur into a bird. So I believe.

Adam and Eve had 'sons and daughters' so must have interbred. I think by the time Enoch built his city there could have been quite a population.

The way Creation science goes, the human genome was perfect at the start (there was no death or disease in Eden), therefore there were no inherited diseases to start with. As time went by in this now fallen world, genetic copying mistakes increased and of course so did the resulting diseases and 'conditions' and thus the point came when the Almighty had to introduce new laws.

I'm sure the 'Plan' was for one man (Adam) to start sinning which caused enmity between humans and God and so one man (Christ) had to be sacrificed to enable mankind, Adam's children, to be clean enough to return to the presence of the most holy Creator.

Like you said, there was no test of faith in Eden. It seems that today, people want to put ALL their faith into scientists and philosophers (how many schools of philosophy are there?) and yet deny their very own God-given capabilities of discernment and the type of wisdom that doesn't come from science.

I have had so many experiences that provide justification for my faith in a living and loving God, full of patience and grace. Science can neither prove nor disprove them, because it is *faith*.
(Anonymous)
29th Aug, 2009 01:10 (UTC)
Re: Humanists are the biggest danger to our freedom?
P.S. That's from me, Stewart.
leg_iron
29th Aug, 2009 03:43 (UTC)
Re: Humanists are the biggest danger to our freedom?
The way Creation science goes, the human genome was perfect at the start (there was no death or disease in Eden), therefore there were no inherited diseases to start with.


Now that is a very interesting point indeed and one which has not figured in my previous evaluations. Gene errors increase over time but must have started, by that very evaluation, from a 'correct' genome.

I'll have to think about this further when I sober up (to paraphrase Bomb 20 from'Dark Star').
ambush_predator
28th Aug, 2009 04:49 (UTC)
These people are just trying to get some publicity for their group.

I hope.

The alternative is that there are people out there that aren't content with freedom of their own religion, but who want to stifle everyone else's. That's not true, surely?

JuliaM (http://thylacosmilus.blogspot.com/)
(Anonymous)
28th Aug, 2009 08:18 (UTC)
Consensus is boring anyway
Wow, check that out: I disagree with practically everything you just said. This is probably a good thing as our little community does sound a lot like an echo-chamber most days.

First off, evolution -whether you care about it or not- is an important area of scientific endeavour. Aside from telling us where and we and every other living thing got to where we are, it is integral to the study of disease(and consequently drug resistance to existing treatments)- figured you'd be on top of that one. You reckon people don't care about it, well who cares what people think. People mostly don't care or understand about gravity and electricity; people are morons. Doesn't mean that public opinions contrary to reality(as far as reality can be observed) shouldn't be challenged in public, does it?

And the reason science magazines are always banging on about evolution is because, Yank-side, every inbred and his chum is trying to have evolutionary biology replaced with superstition in the classroom. It wasn't the scientific community that started that particular fight - evolution doesn't conflict with religion in any real way at all, but it does conflict with Genesis(which even the pope considers metaphor)as you've already mentioned.

I agree that the Christian zoo should be free to say what they like, but equally I have no problem with the humanists taking them to task for peddling bullshit. Especially as zoos are a perceived authority on their exhibits, where people generally take their kids to be educated as well as entertained. And I don't recall anyone calling for a ban of the zoo; and if they did, well, they're bansturbationary arseholes.

Seriously though Leg_Iron, how the blue buggery can you have Fundamentalist Atheism? What 'fundamentals' are they religiously holding onto in the face of contradictory evidence? How is Humanism a religion? What articles of faith to they have?
Humanism is a poncy, more acceptable word for Atheism, originating in a country where Atheism is a swearword (the US).
Atheist = don't believe in God.
That's not a religion, that's the default setting.

Bloody hell. I've spent all week arguing for vaccinations, fluoridation and now this.
I am righteous, hear me roar.
ext_122648
28th Aug, 2009 08:19 (UTC)
Re: Consensus is boring anyway
Ah for fucks sake! This is me again.
Change to blogger, before i do myself an injury
ambush_predator
28th Aug, 2009 12:30 (UTC)
Re: Consensus is boring anyway
Yeah, I keep forgetting to log in too :)

I agree that the Christian zoo should be free to say what they like, but equally I have no problem with the humanists taking them to task for peddling bullshit.

If they were just 'taking them to task' (i.e. railing about them in their magazine or blog) I'd have no problem. Free speech, and all that.

But they are actually trying to get the government to coerce them into something, and the local tourist boards to drop them from their list of attractions.

And that's going too damn far.
ext_122648
28th Aug, 2009 12:38 (UTC)
Re: Consensus is boring anyway
Well quite, see my other comment.

Ideologically, I generally agree with them;
Practically, they do my nut.
leg_iron
28th Aug, 2009 13:21 (UTC)
Re: Consensus is boring anyway
I suppose I'm an atheist because I don't believe in any kind of God, but I think I'm more of a 'don't care' than a 'don't believe'. Billions do believe and that fascinates me. If so many people believe in something, I'll take a look.

The difference between atheist and fundamentalist atheist, for me, is that a atheist does not actively deny the existence of God, but simply doesn't follow those teachings to the letter because they don't believe there's anyone up there. A fundamentalist atheist actively denies religion and - this is the key part - insists that everyone else has to deny it too.

I don't believe in the Loch Ness Monster but I don't go around demanding that people stop visiting Loch Ness to look for it. I'm not going to write books, organise meetings, or go on lecture tours denying its exitence. I'm not going to organise trips where we all go to Loch Ness and stand with our backs to the water. If people want to go and look, that doesn't affect me at all.

Lkewise, if people want to go to church on Sunday and pray, and genuinely believe those prayers are heard, that doesn't affect me either. I'm not going to tell them they're wrong, not least because I can't prove they're wrong. There's always the possibility they're not wrong, you know. I don't think they're right, but maybe they are, so I have no conclusive argument to present, so I let the matter alone.

Teaching in schools is a different matter. Creation should be taught in religious studies class, not science class. Science has not studied creation so there are no scientific results to present. Putting creation into science class makes science a subject that students are expected to just believe, and that is not science.

If science teachers have to teach creation as an alternative to evolution, then priests should be made to point out, during sermins on Genesis, that alternative theories exist and explain what they are. It's only fair.

Religion, I have no problem with.

Indoctrination, in any form, I have a big problem with. Whether it's science teachers pushing religion or fundamentalist atheists pushing non-religion, it's the same to me. It's pressuring someone to believe something just because you believe it.

The zoo, though, is not indoctrination. Nobody is forced to go and those who do are not forced to read the signs, and those who read the signs don't have to pass an exam on it. So as far as I am concerned, the zoo is no threat to 'public understanding' at all.

Besides, those signs sound like they have a lot of reading on them. If you stay in one place too long, the monkeys will throw poo at you.
(Anonymous)
28th Aug, 2009 23:17 (UTC)
Creationism in science classes

"Indoctrination, in any form, I have a big problem with."

But you've just written that Creationism should be kept out of the science class. This leaves teachers free to indoctrinate children with the Theory of Evolution.

Why does the Council of Europe want Creation science (yes, there's loads of it!) out of the science class? Because it threatens their 'equality' agenda.

It's all political.

Stewart - www.realstreet.co.uk
leg_iron
29th Aug, 2009 04:00 (UTC)
Re: Creationism in science classes
Science class is not, or should not be, indoctrination in any form. None of my science classes through school or university were. None of those clases discouraged questioning or alternative hypotheses.

Evolution is a theory and is presented as such. It's actually a pretty good theory in scientific terms but it is not a law.

Gravity is a law. You throw a thing up, it falls down. Always and without exception. Everything that goes up, comes down, so it's a law.

Evolution is not a law. Species are not forced to mutate into other species. They can take the alternative routes - live somewhere else or die out. Evolution is pot luck. Your offspring might or might not be suited to the changes happening in your environment. If they are, they move on. If not, they join the T. Rex club and we oooh and aaah over their bones.

If anyone is teaching science of any kind in a way that requires blind belief, then they are not teaching science.

Science is all about 'But what if that's wrong?' followed by discussion of what might happen and whether it's likely.

Take that part out and you don't have science any more. All you have is indoctrination.

It would be nice if certain scientists realised that.

leg_iron
29th Aug, 2009 04:41 (UTC)
Re: Creationism in science classes
Sorry to be blunt, Stewart, but creation science is not science. Creation science starts from the premise that creation=true and works to prove that.

Science would start from the premise that creation might or might not be true. It would consider also that the Big Bang might or might not be true but would not exclude the possibility that neither is true and that the origin of the universe might be something previously undetected. So, to science, proving that creation is wrong would not prove that the big bang is right, and vice versa.

If you can present proof that evolution is wrong then real scientists would drop the theory of evolution - but they would not immediately accept creation because there are other possibilities which have not been explored. Also, there is always the unknown, and science doesn't know what that is and states as much. Very little of life is absolute and most of reality is open to question.

I understand that this is a difficult mindset to grasp. It was a difficult mindset to adopt.

Schools don't even try to teach this any more.
leg_iron
29th Aug, 2009 13:39 (UTC)
Re: Creationism in science classes
n the interests of balance, the rantings of fundamentalist atheists are not science either. They also start with an absolute conclusion based purely on their personal beliefs.

Science can't work like that. Science never regards any subject as being completed and closed to further discussion. You'd think gravitywas a pretty settled subject, right? Well, there is still considerble research into how it actually works and whether the inverse-square law that applies to gravity on Earth would also apply over the huge distances of space. Even gravity is not a closed subject.

Neither is global warming. Once someone declares the matter closed to discussion, they declare that they are not a scientist.

Science cannot prove the existence of God, nor can it disprove God because science has no method to test this. Until it does, God remains a matter of personal belief, and those fundamentalist atheists are a religion.
(Anonymous)
28th Aug, 2009 08:54 (UTC)
"the apes who care for apes MUST UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES express a belief in an invisible ape in the sky, who made apes."

- Zoo signage sponsored by the British Humanist Society.
ext_167039
28th Aug, 2009 09:45 (UTC)
Good quote in the Telegraph's account:

British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums director Miranda Stevenson said: ''I find it extraordinary that an organisation that I thought promotes free thinking appears to want censorship.''
ext_122648
28th Aug, 2009 11:29 (UTC)
Was going to argue that this wasn't the case, but it kind of is (http://www.humanism.org.uk/news/view/346).
Well they're trying to get the council to stop promoting the place anyway.
The problem with defending atheist, humanist or sceptical groups (if you've ever been to meetings of them you'll be able to attest) is that they are such utter fucking goons.
Which never really help my arguments, to be fair.
(Anonymous)
28th Aug, 2009 11:41 (UTC)
Rob
Humanists - love humanity, loathe actual humans.
henrynorth
28th Aug, 2009 20:47 (UTC)
Literacy
Male illiteracy is rife.

The average benefits claimant cant read or write

They are just Eloi Being herded by television...

And being herded into a nice enclosure and being forcibly vaccinated...

Its the 20 percent who cant read that's the real tragedy
(Anonymous)
28th Aug, 2009 21:33 (UTC)
The rest of the country is not like you.
Now I understand. There is no hope.
maisy_babe
29th Aug, 2009 09:25 (UTC)
Woof!
Speaking as an expert on this subject, I resent the swine flu' tag! No chance I'm gonna catch this virus.

As for the rest, you are spot on. Doesn't the 'Noah's Ark' bit give more than a hint? Anyway, as long as the animals are well looked after and happy, who really cares?

Time for a kibble I reckon.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )