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Bible: "What, Me Wrong?"
2006.02.09 (Thu) 23:20

Stop us if you've heard this one before (we bet you have). A while back, we posted about those wacky nutjobs over at the WorldNetDaily. We know, that's like shooting fish in a barrel, but sometimes we can't help it. Believe it or not, they had published a highly dubious piece about a book they were hawking claiming that miracles save 3,000 lives every 25 seconds, and yet they failed to provide even the tiniest shred of evidence to back up this claim (other than the "it really happened!" defense). As an aside, we also mentioned a DVD (which the WorldNetDaily is also hawking) that claimed the following:

Not only has Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" powerfully affected the faith of millions of viewers, but according to a new documentary by an Emmy-award-winning news veteran, it has also been instrumental in bringing about real miracles.

This should be stamped on all Bibles
That's right, Mel Gibson's movie apparently brought about real miracles. We can't make this stuff up, folks. The person who created the DVD can, but we can't. To say the least, what we read about the DVD seemed to indicate that it was just exactly as emphatic in its wild claims as it was completely silent in the supporting evidence department. In short, it was the typical wingnut Christian bullshit.

Enter Jody. A few months after we published our piece, someone claiming to be the producer of the DVD we mentioned graced us with her presence. She took exception with our analysis of her work, and proceeded to whip out every single credulous argument in the book in support of her fantastic assertions while still managing to avoid providing any actual evidence to backup her claims.

In brief, she built a small army of straw men based on wildly inaccurate assumptions about atheists and critical thinkers, she showered us with arguments from authority (including beginning her diatribe by proclaiming that she was "a for-real journalist"), she emphatically repeated the oh-so-convincing "it really happened" argument more times than we can count, and she dazzled us with anecdotes of atheists who witnessed miracles and fell to their knees in recognition of the awesome power of god. Not content to stop there, Jody spent some time trying to shift the burden of proof to us; compared us to flat-earth proponents; threatened to produce a veritable mountain of evidence supporting her claims (but — imagine that! — she never did); explained that our apparent anger and our use of profanity rendered our arguments somehow moot; accused us of being unscientific because we didn't give her anecdotal arguments from authority their proper weight; explained that the scientists who proved that the earth was round believed in god, and therefore by the transitive property of science and religion, showed how Christianity is plainly the key to the scientific process; accused us of really believing in god and just hating him (you know, the ever-popular "admit it" argument), told us that we were somehow wasting her time despite the fact that she was proactively coming to our site to argue with us, and assumed (quite incorrectly — you'd likely be amazed how incorrectly) that we had never read the Bible. She then started in on evolution, explaining how there are no transitional fossils, and she tossed in the old "Darwin recanted on his deathbed" canard for good measure. The only thing missing was the "why're there still monkeys?" crap. But we're bracing ourselves for that one if she returns.

And after all this, she chastised us for not welcoming open debate and discussion. Go figure.

Anyway, that's not why we decided to post this Rant. Instead, we'd like to specifically call out the following statement made by Jody:

And nowhere in the Bible does it suggest the earth is flat, nor is there anything in the Bible that conflicts with a single scientific principle or fact. I'd like to see your evidence to the contrary. (PLEASE bring up the theory of evolution...)

Hey, we had ten minutes to kill as well as a link to the Skeptics' Annotated Bible in our bookmarks, so we figured what the heck. Here's our reply to that portion of Jody's comment. Feel free to reference it if a similar moron pesters you with a similar "challenge":

— • —
Oh, you silly, stupid, simple creature. You can't possibly be serious. Now, it's important to note that if you read the Bible as what it is — a book of fictional stories — then it no more conflicts with science than does, say, a Flash Gordon comic book. Both are wildly inaccurate when it comes to hard science; but then, both are fanciful stories about people and events that aren't real, though they may be inspired by history or by speculation about the future. It's only when delusional people start thumping on the Bible as "the Word o' God" that the problems begin. However, in order to meet your scary, frightening "Oh-you-got-us-now!" challenge to prove your statement wrong, we'll need to go with that literal truth approach to the "Good Book," so bear with us.

Sure, we could point to the entire creation myth and how it flies in the face of science on every count (not to mention contradicting itself far more than a few times), but what fun would that be? Even you must know that evolution denial and Biblical creationism is an indefensible position from a scientific perspective. And if you don't know that, please don't bother us with your unforgivable ignorance — go to TalkOrigins.com or the Panda's Thumb to educate yourself first.

We could even be despicably picky and point out that the value of π is not three, despite the Bible's opinion on the matter. But you'll start whining about how approximations are "good enough" for a primitive civilization, and we — in a theatrical show of gallantry — won't point out that a "scientifically accurate" Bible written or inspired by an omniscient deity should try a little harder than whole number "guesstimates," particularly on such an easily calculable math problem. So we'll just lowball you, here, and point out the really obvious ones.

Now, if stories like Noah's ark, the Virgin Birth complete with migratory star, and Jonah and the Whale (or big fish, as God thinks of whales, apparently) aren't enough to convince you that the Bible directly contradicts science, we can also provide numerous other examples. Sure, some of these examples are interpretations — like the incredible number of references to a flat earth with four corners resting upon pillars rendering it motionless in the heavens, and the firmament that holds the stars in the sky — but concepts like the flat earth, geocentrism, and other silly and blatantly false concepts were believed and violently argued by Christians throughout history based on these same verses. It's funny how Christians used to lean on the Bible as proof of these things, but now that there is no rational way to believe these fantasies, these phrases magically no longer mean what they used to mean. Odd, that. It gives one hope that someday, and very soon on the geologic scale, creationism will go down the same tube, Jody. And hey, if you want to argue that all of these examples are merely metaphors and creative imagery and not the literal word of god, just remember: that's exactly our point!

And let's not forget the references throughout the Bible to hordes of mythical creatures. Heck, at a glance we see unicorns (Numbers 24:8, 23:22, Deuteronomy 33:17, Isaiah 34:7), dragons (Deuteronomy 32:33, Psalm 74:13, Isaiah 13:22, 27:1, 34:13, 43:20, 51:9, Jeremiah 14:6, Revelation 12:4), cockatrices (Isaiah 11:8, 14:29, 59:5, Jeremiah 8:17), and satyrs (Isaiah 13:22, 34:14), just to name a few. Oddly — and we hope this doesn't come as news to you — these creatures aren't real. If even these examples aren't good enough for you, there are also some very straightforward statements made in the Bible that are 100% scientifically wrong. Here are a few examples:

  • Apparently, God believes that bats are birds (Leviticus 11:13-19, Deuteronomy 14:11-18), an assertion that modern science would seem to refute. You know, since bats are mammals and all.
  • Then there's the old standby — despite having created all creatures, God seems to be blissfully unaware of that fact that rabbits are not ruminants. Why do we say this? Because the Bible twice mentions that hares and coneys "chew the cud" (Leviticus 11:5-6, Deuteronomy 14:17). Sorry, God, you don't win the toaster oven.
  • Here are a few more little ones: snails don't melt, ostriches are known to be attentive parents who do not abandon their eggs or their young (which kind of screws the whole "God didn't give animals wisdom" argument in el Libro de Job, huh?), the mustard seed is not the smallest seed on the earth, and no matter how hard we pray — and believe us, we were pulling for this one — having goats copulate in front of streaked rods won't make them give birth to streaked babies. If only that worked for people....

Anyway, that's just a smattering of the scientifically inaccurate data to be found in the Bible. We didn't even get around to historical inaccuracies and self-contradictions — hey, that's a whole different response to a whole different loon, Jody. If you want to read more, the Skeptics' Annotated Bible is a great source, which links to unaltered Bible verses and provides commentary on the side. Go. Read. Learn.

And before you "explain away" all of these problems with your beloved Bible, allow us to yawn and say that we've heard all of the excuses many, many times before. We've listened to people like you go on and on about interpretations, and alternate meanings, and metaphors, and whether a passage is related as a vision, and every other excuse under the sun, ad nauseam. But at the end of the day, either the Bible is the infallible and literal word of God...or it's not. (In case you needed a clarification on that, we choose "not.").

— • —

If we may say so ourselves: pretty thorough, though by no means all-encompassing. We were also nice enough to include links to each of our examples. Note that every link is to an actual Bible passage (with the critique in the sidebar), and that none of the material came from peripheral sources that argue against the Bible. In short, we used our own research through the Skeptics' Annotated Bible to come up with this list.

And what was Jody's reply to our well-researched response?

It's clear you have read some criticism of the Bible, But it is obvious that you have not actually read it yourself. If you are going to vociferously criticize a piece of literature, wouldn't the scientifc method imply that you read and even study it?

You also need to know that much if not all of the scholarly work you present regarding the Bible has been wholly discredited on basis of historical and archeological evidence. Hard science. Those "scholars" are talking way out of turn and are doing so in the face of science which contradicts their assertions. Most of those writers are threatened by the implications of "what if I'm wrong?" These men and women cling to their own version of ontology, cosmology, epistemology-- and even history and archeology-- despite overwhelming and compelling scientific evidence to the contrary. This is well documented in academic literature from all spectrums of religion and culture. Basing your life and worldview on faulty data is dangerous.

She apparently didn't even bother to read what we wrote or to click on our links! Instead, she just figured that we read someone else's book, never picked up a Bible, and regurgitated what someone else said. Without bothering to check on any of these things, she pronounced that our sources (if you're keeping track, our only "source" here was the Bible itself) had been contradicted by science. "Hard science," even. How pathetic.

Apparently, according to Jody, science has proven that bats are birds and that if goats fuck in front of a striped rod they will have striped kids. Science has also established that dragons, unicorns, satyrs, and cockatrices actually exist, and that the earth is flat, with four corners, sitting on pillars, motionless in the heavens, with the firmament hanging over our heads to hold the stars in place. Man, where were we the day science made those discoveries? We must have been off somewhere secretly hating God and not reading the Bible. Our bad.

Jody is the kind of person we're talking about when we say that it isn't just stupidity that we're dealing with here, but astonishingly arrogant stupidity. These morons aren't just blissfully uninformed, they wallow in their blissful ignorance and actually try to throw their stupidity in the faces of the critical thinkers around them, like monkeys flinging their feces at zoo visitors. (Given that behavior, why are there still monkeys? Readin' their scriptures and hurlin' their excrement...we should really do something about that.) There's no way to ever get through to people like Jody, especially since they don't even bother to listen to those who don't agree with them (Jody freely admitted that she had no intention of even reading our replies — see for yourself); and the scary thing is that they often have lots of children that they can indoctrinate at will. It's a daunting scenario.

In the long run, at least we can get a good laugh out of loons like this. We especially liked her admonition that "basing your life and worldview on faulty data is dangerous." Finally, Jody — something we agree on.


— • —
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Comments

Eve, 2006.02.10 (Fri) 15:51 [Link] »

Kudos to you for answering Jody's direct challenge so directly! I envy your critical thinking and clarity of communication, since I tend to get so angry when confronting such obstinate people I literally can't find the words to respond.

I'm just beginning to find my voice as a skeptic, so I know I've got a long way to go before making a significant contribution to these conversations. I'll be reading you on a regular basis to pick up and sharpen skills.

Please keep up the good work; I'm finding that sites like yours give me great examples of critical thinking.



PB27, 2006.02.13 (Mon) 12:36 [Link] »

Lovely rant!--particularly your exposing of "astonishingly arrogant stupidity"!

Hopefully the indoctrination of such extremists' children will be tougher for them to accomplish in this new Age of Information/Communication. (On the other hand, the potential for little bible-beaters is twice as scary too.)

Anyway, loved the post. As you guys so eloquently mentioned, arrogance is the primary problem here (as opposed to logical capabilities). Thus, isn't it ironic that humility is what Christianity supposedly espouses???



PB27, 2006.02.13 (Mon) 12:39 [Link] »

...But Christians never have let a paradox stop them before.



Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2006.02.17 (Fri) 18:34 [Link] »

Eve: As far as we're concerned, anger is normal when dealing with people like this. Many times, it's merely the fact that we have time to compose our responses in writing that helps to somewhat filter out the angry overtones. You should read some of our first draft replies — yikes!

In the end, what people like us have on our side that people like Jody don't have can be summed up in one word: FACTS. Try as she might (and she didn't, by the way), Jody had no chance of coming up with facts to refute what we said. Put bluntly, she has no facts supporting her version of reality — she only has blind faith in an oh-so-flawed book. In the end, that's why people like her will lose.

Remember that, and you'll have no problem knocking down nutbags like Jody.

PB27: Yup, it's the arrogance that really gets us. Stupidity is one thing, but being so damned cocky about that stupidity is just incredible. Sadly, as you say, the irony seems to escape humble Christians like Jody.



Eve, 2006.02.17 (Fri) 20:36 [Link] »

Thank you very much for the advice and encouragement, guys! It helps a lot. Have a great weekend!



LJR, 2006.02.21 (Tue) 11:50 [Link] »

I find it disturbing that you would liken Jody to feces throwing primates. They have a reason - they're in prison.

People like Jody are "strange attractors" and I propose we find a cliff nearby and hang a glowing jesus about ten feet out. She'd no doubt go straight for it and take her weakminded brethren with her.

We could sanctify her with a special category of the Darwin award.



Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2006.02.28 (Tue) 21:09 [Link] »

True enough, LJR. We didn't mean to disparage monkeys like that. Let us know if you need help building the glowing Jesus.



paul, 2006.11.07 (Tue) 00:52 [Link] »

Robyn Williams (an Australian science writer not the comedian) called what people like Jody suffer from as "proud arrogance" There is no point arguing with them. there is no cure either. I once got bailed up by a refried jesus weazing nut bag at a street fair and when he couldnt counter my arguments he began yelling that I was an evil man (quite loudly).
Just to make matters worse (sorry I am digressing)
one of my best friends is starting to sprout ID bollacks. He says that there is no evidence to back up evolution.When you point out the mountian
of converging evidence from many streams of science he doesntwant to hear.He may go fundie any day now.should he be put down?
Anyway just wanted to say how I enjoyed your rant.




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