The following reviews of this unintentionally appropriately titled volume may be read aloud in a fake, broad, Paul Hogan-esque Australian acZero stars
The following reviews of this unintentionally appropriately titled volume may be read aloud in a fake, broad, Paul Hogan-esque Australian accent to great comedic effect. One may also choose to make the accent slightly more nasal and "Kiwi" in character so that you can imagine an alternate universe in which Ray Comfort wrote this book instead, if that makes you more comfortable.
If God did not mean what He said in Genesis, then how could one trust Him in the rest of the Scriptures?
That's the question that drives "Doctor" Ken Ham's anti-evolutionary evangelism, and it is basically the same question I first heard from my father at age 9 or 10 when I brought the Time-Life book on human evolution home from the public library. That's when I was personally introduced to the evolution-creation "debate," a formative moment in my spiritual and intellectual life.
Remember, public libraries are part of Satan's anti-God plan to expose your children to more than one book!
I'll refer the interested and truly open-minded reader to Ancient's review of the book, because it makes all the points I want to make with clarity and wit. That said, and since this is after all my review of the book, I will follow "Dr." Ham's lead and make a few rambling, and possibly incoherent, observations.
Ham is profoundly inconsistent in his application of skepticism. As Ancient notes, Ham approaches the science of evolution with a level of skepticism befitting David Hume, constantly reminding the reader that scientists, just like creationists, have biases and presuppositions which inform their interpretations of the evidence at hand. Fair enough, and also obvious enough to someone who has been exposed to cultural anthropology, contemporary philosophy, postmodernism, and/or critical theory. The difference between Ham's biases and those of "evolutionists," though, is that his biases aren't really biases because they are based on the Bible, which is a transcript dictated by God, and not merely a collection of human opinions and interpretations. (That would come as a surprise to any actual Bible scholar, who knows that, whatever else the Bible is, it is a collection of texts from dozens of human authors, inspired or otherwise, spanning a millennium or more.) In other words, he's 100% skeptical of anything "evolutiony," and 0% skeptical of his understanding of the Bible (though, in his defense, he is at least open and honest about this double-standard). His cynical exploitation of the "loopholes" in open-minded and tolerant approaches to truth reminds me a lot of modern so-called conservatives, with their, "Well, if you aren't tolerant of my intolerance, I guess that means you aren't so tolerant after all, nyuk nyuk nyuk."
Available most everywhere through Satan's devious interlibrary loan program.
Ham displays the ignorance of the either-or, black-or-white, zero-sum thinker. Either it is Godless "molecules-to-man" evolution or it is a literal six, 24-hour day creation with God at the drawing board.
Either one is a Christian who believes precisely what Ken does, or one is adrift on the confusing sea of mere human opinion. Either one believes in the moral absolutes of the Bible (as interpreted and promulgated by white people in the mid-20th century) or one is a kid-raping, antinomian, "if it feels good do it," Satanic, secular, evolutionist pagan. Seriously.
Or Christians and evolutionists could, you know, find middle ground with one another in love, friendship, and our shared basic humanity. And a couple of drinks never hurts.
The book is riddled with these Manichean dichotomies, between "human opinion" and "God's word," or between "secular presuppositions" and "Christian presuppositions," which is perfectly fine if you're reading this to make yourself feel good about your inane belief system in a world that is leaving you behind (i.e., you are "under massive attack") but not so good if you actually want to engage with complex issues facing a complex society made up of not simply Christian creationists and secular evolutionists, but also Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Daoists, and all sorts of other people with their own different, nuanced understandings of human and cosmic origins.
It's as if you believe that all people in the world live either in New York City or in Los Angeles and nowhere else—it is well within your rights to believe that, as demonstrably incorrect as it may be, but when you tell the folks in Newark, NJ, that they actually live in LA because they don't live in NYC (or vice versa), and then try to update everyone's maps accordingly, you'll encounter some justifiable pushback (i.e., "bashing" in the fundie lexicon) from the folks in Newark, NYC, LA, Rand McNally, and elsewhere.
And don't forget that the Bible is the sole basis for determining what is right and wrong! Here, for example, is the Biblical basis for right and wrong as practiced in the antebellum South:
Ham makes all sorts of patently absurd claims, like insisting repeatedly that racism is a result of Darwin's theory of natural selection. I guess as an Australian by birth, Ham didn't know that the Confederate States of America justified its racist slave society by appeals to Christianity and the Bible, and not Darwin. Or he's simply full of shit.
Notice the lack of reference to Darwin in this Biblical "vindication of Southern racism slavery."
I wonder if "scriptural" here refers to On the Origin of Species or to that whole absolute Christian morals thing Ham keeps harping about.
And there is no mention made of Darwin or evolution or millions of years here either. Weird. I guess they hadn't read Ham's book yet.
One might suspect that this image of the good Southern Christians he discussed has been Photoshopped to insinuate that they did not support interracial marriage on the Biblical grounds that there is only one human race, all children of Adam. But you would be wrong. This is a picture of staunch Southern evolutionists with their anti-Biblical racism! Tricked ya!
Ham claims that logic, uniformity and morality are uniquely Christian principles, which would come as a surprise to Greek and Indian philosophers who invented logic and were pondering ethics for centuries before the Son of Man first wet his manger. Ham actually refers to these Greeks as "evolutionists" because they believed in a bunch of gods rather than in a single God; yeah, that kinda lost me too. He also wants to "de-Greekizify" (or something) modern secular evolutionist types, though, which I guess means getting them to accept all the evidence that the Bible is a book and Ham thinks God wrote it. Or something. This book was like a fucking fever dream, honestly.
Ham insists that the only justification for marriage and monogamous fidelity is the Christian Bible, and that without it, we would just be rutting in the streets. That's news to my wife of the past fifteen years, an atheist who believes strongly in monogamy and fidelity. I guess Ken Ham hasn't heard of love or commitment, or if he has, he wrongly thinks they originated with the Bible.
This species of birds developed life-long, monogamous, Christian marriages after being prayed over (and preyed upon) by Christian missionaries.
He asserts that the Biblical story of the Flood is more plausible than similar Babylonian stories because it is self-evidently sensible (LOL!), instead of grotesque and silly. He actually cites an AiG "research" paper which "proves" that Utnapishtim's ark, The Preserver of Life, couldn't have worked, unlike the highly plausible gopher wood floating zoo which schematics are detailed in Genesis. Stoopid Babylonians!
In short, he's like the infantile Christian chuckleheads who sidestep the implausibility of a talking snake in Genesis by noting that the Bible actually says talking serpent, as if that nitpicking attention to semantic detail somehow lends credibility to the whole "talking animal" stumbling block part of the story.
Review #2 The author could have saved a great deal of time and paper by reducing his argument to the following:
1. The Bible is true and accurate in all matters.
2. Anything which contradicts the Bible is false.
3. Evolution/millions of years contradicts the Bible, therefore evolution/millions of years is false.
4. All evidence that clearly supports the facts of evolution/millions of years is invalid because it contradicts the Bible.
5. The Bible is the basis of everything good and right. All other religions, philosophies, and worldviews are all more or less the same "secular, evolutionist, anti-God philosophy."
6. Without the Bible, there is no basis for any sort of value judgments; the sole alternative to a morality rooted in Biblical young earth creationism is "anything-goes" nihilism.
7. All conservative shibboleths (e.g., abortion, gay marriage, smoking grass, thinking for yourself, refusal to kowtow reflexively to authority, etc.) result more or less from evolution/millions of years and its "anti-God" philosophy.
8. To keep young people Christian, and therefore morally conservative, there must be an "all-out war" on evolution/millions of years, which means an assault on education, on science, on critical thinking, and on the modern secular worldview that holds such things in high esteem.
The more I read this book, the more contempt I felt for the Bible, for the kind of Christians who believe this shit (including my folks—sorry 'bout that, please stop giving me these books for my birthday), and for conservative "thinking" in general. Good job Ken! If you keep going, you'll end up creating more atheists than Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens combined. Woot!
The cartoon below, from the book, illustrates Ham's view of science, in which we all see the same evidence, except that the "evolutionist" sees it through a filter made of "human opinion" while the creation "scientist" sees it through a commitment to the proposition that the evidence must concur with the Bible.
This next cartoon illustrates my take on the difference between real science and creation "science." In real science, conclusions are arrived at more or less a posteriori, in reliance on observations, data, inferences, and otherwise uncontroversial basic facts about material reality; in creation science, by their own admission, it is the reverse, so that the observations, inferences, etc., must conform with the foregone conclusion that the Bible is 100% accurate.
Here's how the difference between those two views plays out, in general. Does one of these seem basically saner than the other?
Of course scientists have biases, of course career and social pressures keep some scientists from confessing all of their own personal beliefs, and of course paradigms change. Scientists are people with jobs and concerns other than pure research, and science itself is not about absolute proof, but about plausibility and making as much sense of evidence as one can without recourse to additional hypotheses (like God) whenever possible. (Without any irony, if you know the history of science, you can blame that approach on a Christian, and not on an evolutionist.) Scientists also have to provide evidence for the claims they make; simply because the rest of us don't know about or understand that evidence doesn't make it any less valid. And the creationists out there really need to get a handle on the words "theory" and "theoretical," which don't mean "something I pulled out of my ass." This video, a bit inflammatory and grouchy I admit (though after reading this book, I'm more grouchy than normal), reveals how absurdly Ham's ilk must twist the facts of the matter to reach agreement with the Scripture. And how the facts really do support evolution over creation, unequivocally.
So glad I could finally throw it across the room when I finished. ...more
Instead he had this youthful fantasy of writing a fantasy epic, like Tolkien, only Tolkien as written by someone without a graduate education in Old English and Norse mythology. So he wrote a sequel which starts off in a very off-kilter way, (view spoiler)[with strange critters stupidly dubbed "lobstrosities" biting off most of one of his hands and his guns getting more or less ruined in seawater (hide spoiler)], but quickly gets into the tale of a new character, a junkie from relatively contemporary NYC who is acting as a gangster's drug mule. Then there's a black (she prefers the term "Negro") woman (view spoiler)[actually, it's two women in one body; one is dignified and proper while the other is a lunatic caricature of a black woman scorned (hide spoiler)], with no legs, from the 1960s. Finally there is a bad guy who is sort of the main bad guy and sort of not.
The first of these stories, about the junkie Edward Cantor "Eddie" Dean and how he revealed himself a gunslinger born (he engaged in a gunfight while in the nude!), is my third favorite part of the series.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Something like a psychoanlytical visual poem about absent fathers, angry sons, and stealing across the generations told in the terms of a science fictSomething like a psychoanlytical visual poem about absent fathers, angry sons, and stealing across the generations told in the terms of a science fiction war across time. Hard to tease out if it was relatively shallow or relatively deep. Possibly worth a 2nd read....more
Takes the mind-blowing qualities of its inspirations, Edwin Abbott Abbott's classic Flatland and Charles Hinton's "An Episode of Flatland," and takesTakes the mind-blowing qualities of its inspirations, Edwin Abbott Abbott's classic Flatland and Charles Hinton's "An Episode of Flatland," and takes them to the next level. (Sorry. Couldn't resist.) Instead of generally exploring worlds of lesser and greater dimensionality than our own, Dewdney seeks to create a two-dimensional world with internally consistent rules of physics, chemistry, biology, and technology, and succeeds admirably. That he is also able to tell a funny, touching story about the computer science professor and his students who discover this alien world just adds to the enjoyment. Highly recommended for those who like expanding their minds, and especially for those seeking to create their own fictional worlds....more
"In the first book, A Place Beyond Man (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1975), two other sentient beings who have long shared our solar system, and have been"In the first book, A Place Beyond Man (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1975), two other sentient beings who have long shared our solar system, and have been anxiously watching us destroy our world, decide it’s time to introduce themselves and help us right our course. However, humans' shortsighted nature dooms this initial effort to failure."
Hippie-esque SF novel, written by a female author and involving weird romance elements, that features two very different alien species trying to teach humanity an ecological perspective, about the limits to growth, in order to keep us from destroying our world. ...more