Thursday, 23 February 2017

When science and faith clash - losing and finding faith

I have a confession to make. Even when I was a dogmatic YEC, a small part of me sensed that there was more to evolution than the creationist parody of evolutionary biology that my creationist books routinely dismissed. In retrospect, when I had my first crisis of faith in 1985, a large part of that sudden collapse of belief was due to long-suppressed doubts finally breaking free. When that happens, the positive feedback loop of doubt eroding faith creating more doubt can very quickly destroy faith. Ironically, this collapse often is more dramatic among the young believer from devout, conservative faith communities who are highly invested in their faith tradition and have spend an inordinate amount of time in apologetic activities. The ones who seems the strongest often fail the most dramatically.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Nephilim and dinosaurs and humans, oh my! Answers in Genesis embarrasses Christianity yet again

The Answers in Genesis Ark Encounter theme park has already attracted justifiable criticism for its pseudoscience and blurring of church-state boundaries. Now, Ham has published a series of pictures of a new diorama to be added to the Ark Encounter park which depict giant nephilim, humans, and dinosaurs fighting in an arena. Seriously.

Monday, 20 February 2017

A wasp that parasitises other wasps - a ghoulish argument against special creationism

Darwin's statement that he could not see how a loving God could have created  wasps whose larva "grew with the express intention of...feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars" remains to this day a considerable problem for special creationists who appeal to beauty and elegance in nature as proof of creation. Desperate attempts by special creationists to explain away the problem by declaring that they were designed by God to control insects ignore both the fact that less ghastly methods of insect control (swift predation such as seen by mantises) already exist, and that at least 40,000 species of parasitoid wasp have been described. The creation of one species that plies its trade by laying its eggs within the body of another so that its young can devour the host alive poses serious moral issues. For this to be repeated tens of thousands of times multiplies this dilemma even more so.

The problem for special creationists becomes even more profound when we consider the crypt-keeper wasp, Euderus set. This parasitoid wasp lays its eggs inside oak tree stems inside which another parasitic wasp, the crypt gall wasp is maturing. The crypt keeper wasp is not able to gnaw its way out of the oak tree, so it relies on the crypt gall wasp to do this. The way in which it does this is particularly gruesome.

Friday, 17 February 2017

New Atheism and the myth of the "Medieval Gap"

Even though the "conflict hypothesis" model of the relationship between science and Christianity has been discredited by historians of science, some anti-theists still assert that Christianity has been implacably opposed to science, going as far as to argue that during the approximately 1000 years between the fall of the western half of the Roman Empire and the start of the Renaissance, scientific knowledge was lost, plunging Europe into a 'Dark Ages'. This 'Medieval Gap', to use the term employed by Carl Sagan in the companion book to his justly celebrated Cosmos television series, as anyone familiar with James Hannan's excellent God's Philosophers would realise exists only in the minds of anti-theists. Far from retarding or suppressing science, Christianity preserved and extended scientific knowledge.