Skepticism, Religion Archive

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

John Gray Misrepresents New Atheists in Vox Interview

John GrayI like Vox in general, but it recently published an interview with John Gray criticizing New Atheism. Now, I'm not enamored with the label of 'New Atheism', but I suppose that if I had to choose where my views mostly align, New Atheism would be it. Now maybe I'm not as closely aligned with New Atheism as I suppose, but I have to say that many of Gray's criticisms, and those of the interviewer, Sean Illing, just don't reflect my own views at all.

I'll start by giving my own understanding of New Atheism. Because the existence of gods is an objective question, the best tool to try to determine whether or not any gods actually do exist is science 'loosely defined'* - the systematic and rational study of evidence. Despite some apologetic waffling, most people actually do approach religion looking for evidence - written scriptures, archaeological confirmation of their scriptures, miracles of the divine directly interacting in the world, etc. But I think most people fail in the systematic and rational evaluation of such evidence (and since religions are mutually contradictory, most people are necessarily wrong).

My disagreement with the Gray interview started with the headline itself, "Why science can't replace religion: John Gray on the myths the New Atheists' tell themselves." This is a theme that he repeated throughout the interview - science replacing religion. But that's not the New Atheist position. Yes, science is great at what it does - answering objective questions. It's by far the best method humanity has developed for this purpose. And that does conflict with many of the objective claims coming from religions. But, addressing objective claims is science's only purpose. Science has nothing to say on right or wrong, beautiful or ugly, awe-inspiring or mundane. For those types of concerns, we turn to other fields - ethics, philosophy, art, etc. Setting up the debate as science alone vs. religion is a false dichotomy. (I've written about this in much more detail on Quora, including some passages I lifted verbatim for this paragraph.)

Moving on to the article itself, I'll start with a quote from the introduction, from Sean Illing.

Although they were right about a lot of things, the New Atheists missed something essential about the role of religion. For them, religion was just a protoscience -- our first attempt at biology and history and physics. But religion is so much more than a set of claims about the world, and you can't fully understand if you don't account for that.

Illing is making the New Atheist position seem much less nuanced than it is. Of course New Atheists recognize that there are a huge variety of approaches to religion and varying beliefs among the religious. When it comes to other religions outside of theism, some New Atheists actually embrace them. There are plenty of atheists in Unitarian Universalist church pews. Some atheists even practice non-supernatural versions of more traditional religions such as Buddhism (including Sam Harris, one of the 'Four Horsemen' of New Atheism). It's simply misrepresenting the New Atheist position to say that they see religion as simply a protoscience with no other roles.

New Atheists do tend to focus their criticisms on more literal forms of Christianity, but that's because a) New Atheists tend to live in places where Christianity is the dominant religion, and b) literal forms of Christianity tend to be the more harmful versions in those places (other brands of harmful religion just don't have the same influence in those places). Paraphrasing what I've said before, if religion was all soup kitchens and homeless shelters, or even just spaghetti dinners and Christmas bazaars, New Atheists wouldn't have nearly as much to get worked up about.

Moreover, it's the fundamentalist religionists who are making "a set of claims about the world", so of course New Atheists are going to respond. And to be clear, fundamentalist Christians aren't some fringe group. Somewhere around 38% of Americans are creationists, and many of them push to get creationism taught in schools. So, with only so many hours in a day, of course I'm going to focus my criticisms on those types of religion, rather than more innocuous or nebulous religions that don't so clearly contradict reality or cause as much harm in society.


Something as ancient, as profound, as inexhaustibly rich as religion or religions can't really be written off as an intellectual error by clever people. Most of these clever people are not that clever when compared with really clever people like Wittgenstein or Saint Augustine or Pascal -- all philosophers of the past who seriously engaged the religious perspective.

This seems to be a standard complaint from religiously sympathetic philosophers - New Atheists don't take religion seriously enough. If we did, we'd grapple with the profundity of it all. But yes, smart people from the past really can be mistaken, no matter how much serious thought they've given to problems. Geocentricism was respectable up until the Copernican Revolution in the 1500s. That's millennia of serious, very intelligent philosophers having such a profound mistake about something as simple as the motion of celestial bodies. So I don't think it's hard to imagine they could be wrong about religion, as well, considering the societal pressure and the motivated reasoning of wanting to avoid Hell, and especially considering trying to make sense of the world in a pre-scientific age.


These New Atheists are mostly ignorant of religion, and only really concerned with a particular kind of monotheism, which is a narrow segment of the broader religious world.

Now, maybe Gray is comparing New Atheists to PhD philosophers, but New Atheists tend to be more knowledgeable of religion than the general public. Here's an article describing a poll from a few years ago, Survey: Atheists, Agnostics Know More About Religion Than Religious. Atheists on average knew more about the diversity of religions than believers (e.g Christians knew very little about Buddhism), and atheists even had better knowledge of the Bible than Christians as a whole (but not quite as good as white evangelicals).


I can't resist quoting this statement. It's not wrong, per se, but it does seem like a stereotype of an overly-wordy philosopher:

If Darwinism is right, and I think it's the best approximation we have to the truth about how humans came into the world, then all aspects of the human animal are shaped by the imperatives of survival.

That's like calling heliocentricism the best approximation we have to the truth about how celestial bodies move in our solar system, or a NASA created globe the best approximation we have to the truth about the geography of Earth. I mean, sure, everything we know about the universe is an approximation at some level, but in normal conversation, can't we simply say that certain things are just true? Couldn't he have just said something like, "Since we evolved..."


A bit later, he was making arguments in line with the headline.

There's this silly idea that we have no need for religion anymore because we have science, but this is an incredibly foolish notion, since religion addresses different needs than science, needs that science can't address.

And then this:

Even if everything in the world were suddenly explained by science, we would still be asking what it all means.

That's where religion steps in.

But why religion? Why not secular philosophy? Or ethics? Just because people claim that religion addresses these other issues doesn't mean that it addresses them adequately or gives good answers. Heck, there's no guarantee that there even are satisfying answers to some of these questions no matter how you want to address them.


For example, there are still people who treat the myths of religion, like the Genesis story, as some kind of literal truth, even though they were understood by Jewish thinkers and theologians of the time as parables.

Genesis is not a theory of the origins of the world. It's not obsolete, primitive science. It's not a solution to the problem of knowledge. Religion isn't like that. Religion is a body of practices, of stories and images, whereby humans create or find meanings in their lives.

I get a bit tired of hearing this style of argument, let's call it the Philosopher's Religion, that religious believers of the past were all these sophisticated philosopher types who 'obviously' didn't take their scriptures seriously on a literal level, and that it's only modern day simpletons who corrupt scripture and take Genesis at its word, or even New Atheists misrepresenting the religious to try to make them look more primitive.

Let's take a look at what Saint Augustine had to say about some of the claims of Genesis - one of those 'clever' deep thinkers Gray mentioned earlier in the interview.

They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.

He also wrote extensively about Adam and Eve in formulating his views on Original Sin. And he clearly saw Adam and Eve as two real-life people. (more info - Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas on Original Sin and Augustine's Literal Adam)

So, it seems that Saint Augustine was taking the general history from Genesis pretty seriously. Granted, he thought the seven days were metaphorical, but only because he believed God created the universe in an instant. And yes, ancient theologians did have varying views of the degree of metaphor vs. literalism in interpreting the Bible (and not necessarily mutually contradictory, if they thought the Bible could be interpreted on multiple levels), but it's not like theologians who took the Bible as literal truth were a rarity. (I actually cover a bit about the age of the universe and how many theologians accepted a 6,000 - 8,000 year age in a Quora answer.)

The point is, plenty of very smart people throughout history have interpreted the Bible fairly literally, as an actual history of Earth and civilization. Without outside context, there's no obvious reason not to. I wish people like Gray would quit insisting that the 'Philosopher's' interpretation was the original, widely agreed upon view.


There's no doubt that religions have contained many ideas that have caused humans harm. There's not the slightest doubt about that. All human institutions cast a shadow which comes from the evil they carry within themselves.

[skipping ahead a bit]

At the same time, we should remember that many of the secular religions of the 20th century condemned gay people, for example.

Homosexuality was illegal for most of the time that the Soviet Union existed. Doctors who performed abortions in communist Romania could be sent to prison, and in some cases even subjected to capital punishment. Many of the worst features or the worst human harms inflicted by monotheism have been paralleled in the secular religions of modern times.

So ideas do have consequences. All we can do is try to embody these traditions as much as possible. There isn't some form of life, not even an imaginary type of pure liberalism, that is free of these terrible consequences.

Gray's point about 'secular religions' is a good one, but also one that New Atheists would agree with. When looking at the example of Soviet Russia, the problem was the authoritarianism and forced dogma. Lysenkoism is an oft-cited example of how rejection of evidence can lead to horrible outcomes. So yes, New Atheists promote critical thinking and following evidence. They tend to be skeptics first, and the atheism is just fallout from following the evidence. If you merely reject gods but don't follow the critical thinking and evidence-based reasoning, you may be an atheist, but not really part of New Atheism.

Moving past secular religions, Gray's observation that secular institutions have done bad things is entirely unremarkable. That's human nature. The question is not whether all the ills of the world are attributable to religion, because they're obviously not. The question is whether religion is a positive or negative influence on balance, remembering that it will depend on the particular religion. (And even this would only a consideration for how vigorously atheists should criticize different religions - it doesn't change whether or not they're true.)

Let me put it another way. Many secular pursuits are a blank slate as far as morality. They'll take on the morality of the society around them, but they're morally neutral. Religions propose to define morality. They're not neutral. They don't just take on the morality of the surrounding society, but also shape that morality. And when you have a set of scriptures like the Bible, there are a lot of distasteful moral lessons. I mean, do you really think there would be anywhere near as much discrimination against the LGBT+ community without Christian 'morals'?

So yes, as humanity increasingly leaves behind traditional religion (e.g. 5 key findings about the changing U.S. religious landscape), members of society will have to ensure that we don't simply let religion be replaced by non-supernatural alternatives. But given the numerous studies on the topic (e.g. Secular Societies Fare Better Than Religious Societies, I don't think that's something we need to be overly concerned about.


I think you've put it very closely to the way I put it in the book. Most forms of organized atheism are attempts to fashion God surrogates. In other words, one of the paradoxes of contemporary atheism is that it's a flight from a genuinely godless world.

I'm most interested in the atheists who've seriously asked what it's like to live in a godless world. Not to construct some alternative God, like reimagining humanity as some collective agent that manifests itself through history or science or some other redemptive force.

I'm not really sure how Gray thinks atheists should be responding to a godless world. Are we supposed to be more solemn once we realize there's no god running the universe and looking out for us? Going around in a funk because we're on our own and there's no cosmic justice? Or are we supposed to be happy once we realize there's no cosmic tyrant who can condemn souls to Hell on a whim, or for the crime of doubt? It really all depends on your viewpoint and which conception of god(s) you're considering.

And what about that last sentence? Many people I know would like for all people to work together to try to make a better society. It's a goal, an aspiration we hope to accomplish. And yes, we often talk about 'society' as a collective, and we'll use collective terms like 'zeitgeist' in our discussions of society. Are New Atheists supposed to ignore these social aspects of humanity and become misanthropes, and leave all that social cooperation to the religious? You can recognize that groups have collective behaviors and emergent properties without pretending there's anything mystical or 'redemptive' about it.

I don't know what more of a reaction there should be to a godless world other than saying that the universe is what it is, and it's in our own hands to fashion society how we want it to be.


I think we should regard religions as great works of the human imagination rather than pictures of the world intended to capture what is empirically true. Any atheism that fails to do this will invariably miss what is most essential and enduring about religion, and probably make the mistake of smuggling religious assumptions into their secular alternative to religion.

I would challenge Gray to visit First Baptist Church here in Wichita Falls on a Sunday morning and poll the parishioners about their religious beliefs. Would they be okay with describing Jesus as merely a 'great work of the human imagination'? Does it matter to them whether the crucifixion and resurrection were 'empirically true', or would it be fine if those were metaphorical myths built up over the years? I'm willing to bet a very large sum of money that these religious people actually do care a great deal about the empirical truth of their religion.


I think we have to own up to it, because the danger of thinking that science can provide values has been demonstrated many times. What often happens is that science simply validates the ruling values of the time, and in the 19th and 20th centuries, those were racist values.

Refer, again, to what I quoted from myself up above. Science neither defines nor validate values. It's an attempt to determine objective truth. Values come from other parts of humanity outside science.


Aside from the many mischaracterizations of New Atheism in this interview, what always gets me about views like these is the conception of what religion should be, the Philosopher's Religion as I termed it up above. Gray's not just criticizing New Atheists, he also seems to be implying the 'right' way to be religious. Granted, there are plenty of people who view religion in this more metaphorical, values-only way, but it's not the mainstream view of the masses. Most religious people actually do literally believe in gods and spirits and all the other supernatural elements. Sure there are emotional reasons that motivate people to accept religion, but people aren't accepting the purely emotional reasons and then rejecting all the empirical claims. They take their holy books at least somewhat at face value. They don't see the claims as 'as great works of the human imagination'. They really, honestly believe that many of the events described did indeed literally happen.

But even then, the emotional answers that religion gives aren't always the best answers available. As I've said numerous times throughout this response, there are better approaches than religion to these more subjective aspects of our lives, such as philosophy, ethics, and art. Do you really want people getting their ethics from books written thousands of years ago by anonymous authors with unknown motivations? Or would you rather they did a little bit more applied thinking on the issues?

Image Source: BBC

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*That definition comes from the evolutionary biologist, Jerry Coyne. Speaking of which, he's written his own response to this interview. I purposely avoided reading it, though, until I was done with this response, to make sure I wouldn't be biased by what he had to say. But if you want to ready what Coyne had to say, you can follow this link:
John Gray and Sean Illing go after New Atheism for the bazillionth time, but offer no new (or incisive) arguments

Monday, April 30, 2018

Annoyed at Headlines - Star Trek Wasn't Prophetic on Brain Death

Starfleet LogoI know that science reporting ain't what it used to be. And even in the 'old days', when newspapers had decent sized science departments, headlines could be misleading. Still, the reporting on a recent study has irked me enough to become a cranky old man and call it out here on my blog.

Here are a few examples of the coverage. Pay attention to what those headlines are implying.

Here's how Vice summarized the findings of the study.

[Jans] Dreier works at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, one of Germany's leading university hospitals. In February, the 52-year-old and his colleague, Jed Hartings, published a study that details what happens to our brain at the point of death. It describes how the brain's neurons transmit electrical signals with full force one last time before they completely die off. Though this phenomenon, popularly known in the medical community as a "brain tsunami," had previously only been seen in animals, Dreier and Hartings were able to show it in humans as they died. Their work goes on to suggest that in certain circumstances, the process could be stopped entirely, theorizing that it could be done if enough oxygen is supplied to the brain before the cells are destroyed.

About 2/3 of the way through that Vice article, you find the following interview question and answer with the study author.

So how did you find out that an episode of Star Trek had predicted your findings 30 years ago?

My colleague, Jed Hartings, brought it to my attention after watching the scene and noticing how similar it is to our work. My best guess is that the creators of Star Trek must have found research at the time that detailed a similar process in animals. The first person to research these sort of brain waves was a Brazilian neurophysiologist who conducted studies on rabbits in the 1940s. All we've done is show it in humans, which has taken this long because medical research in general is an incredibly slow process.

So in reality, this is a process first studied in the 1940s. The big innovation in this study is that it was done on human subjects, rather that non-human animals, but it shouldn't be a shock at all that human brains function the same as other mammal brains. So, Star Trek's writers back in the '80s were just using an already known phenomenon in their script. You could praise the writers for getting the science right (because they didn't always), but it's not like they made some profound prediction that science is only now catching up with.

All this isn't to say that the new study isn't fascinating. Of course it's interesting to do this study on actual people instead of other animals. But it doesn't sound like it found anything that wasn't already expected.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Real Story of the Resurrection (maybe)

For Easter weekend, I'm going to recycle a relevant answer I recently wrote on Quora. The question was, If Jesus wasn't resurrected, where did his physical body go? Below is my answer, with a few edits.

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I just finished reading Bart Ehrman's book, How Jesus Became God : the Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, and Ehrman makes a good case for the empty tomb story being invented in the decades after Jesus's death, not one of the earliest Christian beliefs. In other words, there's no need to explain a mystery of what happened to Jesus's body, because there's no credible story of it ever going missing.

The earliest Christian writings in the New Testament are the seven authentic letters of Paul. Paul doesn't discuss an empty tomb in any of his writings, nor make any mention of Joseph of Arimathea. The empty tomb story doesn't show up until the gospel of Mark, which was written decades later.

Ehrman also points out that it would have been very unusual for the Roman authorities to allow a criminal who had been crucified to have a decent, private burial. The "exception that proves the rule" was that crucified criminals were allowed to be taken down during celebrations for the emperor. The author who documented this (I believe it was Philo) made a point to say that it was an unusual occurrence for such celebrations, implying that it was very uncommon, otherwise. And Passover was a Jewish holiday, and one associated with Jewish unrest towards Roman authorities, so it seems unlikely that Pilate would have made an exception in Jesus's case.

Ehrman thinks that the resurrection came to be believed originally because a few disciples and apostles had visions of Jesus after his crucifixion. Ehrman makes some attempts to stay neutral on whether or not the visions were true, but he also cited some studies showing that somewhere around 1 in 10 people claim to have had visions of deceased loved ones. Such visions aren't uncommon. In fact, doing some research on my own, I found an article about these "post-bereavement hallucinatory experiences" (PBHEs). Per the headline, Six in ten grieving people 'see or hear dead loved ones'*. (Just to be clear, these visions of the disciples were likely private visions by a few individuals, not the extensive interactions of the gospels.)

So, a plausible scenario is that Jesus was arrested and crucified in Jerusalem by the Roman governor, Pilate, because of Jesus's claims to be king (whether Jesus was talking literally or implying something more heavenly wouldn't have made much difference to Pilate). His corpse was likely treated like any other crucified criminal's - possibly left up for a period as an example, possibly with his final remains going into a mass grave. Jesus's closest followers, meanwhile, would have fled back to Galilee, and not been in Jerusalem to see the ultimate fate of Jesus's body. In Galilee, a few had visions of Jesus, and became convinced he had been resurrected. From there, legends grew up around Jesus, including the story of a specific grave subsequently found empty.

Of course, not all scholars agree with Ehrman, even among non-Christian scholars. Personally, I find Ehrman's arguments persuasive, but we're talking about an event 2000 years ago, that wouldn't have been particularly noteworthy to most people when it happened, and where the people for whom it was significant would have been illiterate and not making written records of what they saw (those written records wouldn't come for at least a few years later with Paul, and many years later with the gospels). I doubt we'll ever know for certain the exact details of what happened.

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I'll add that Ehrman's interpretation makes Jesus's story incredibly heart breaking, which is especially poignant nearing Good Friday when the crucifixion is commemorated. At least in the orthodox version, Jesus was fulfilling his destiny and doing what he'd come to Earth to do. And in the mythical Jesus hypotheses, the whole crucifixion story may be made up, anyway. But thinking about an actual human preacher, arrested, tortured, and crucified, while his followers fled in fear back to their hometowns, is a very, very sad story.


*If you have access (I don't), here's the study that article was about:
Post-bereavement hallucinatory experiences: A critical overview of population and clinical studies.

For a good bit more detail, but still far short of reading the book, here's an article on Huffington Post:
How Jesus Became God

And here's an interview with Ehrman on NPR:
If Jesus Never Called Himself God, How Did He Become One?

Friday, February 9, 2018

Response to Email - The New Lord's Prayer

Praying HandsI recently received the type of chain email that I couldn't resist responding to. It was titled "new Lord's prayer....awesome", but it was really a play on Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, not the Lord's Prayer. At any rate, it was all about how students supposedly aren't allowed to express themselves religiously in schools any more (and for good measure it threw in some of the sinful things they are allowed to do).

Just to give a taste, here is the first stanza of the poem. The full email can be found below the fold.

Now I sit me down in school
Where praying is against the rule
For this great nation under God
Finds mention of Him very odd

This poem simply doesn't reflect the law. Here's an article from the Washington Post explaining the issues:
Can students pray in public schools? Can teachers say 'Merry Christmas'? What's allowed -- and what's forbidden.

For something more official, here's the guidance from the U.S. Department of Education:
Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools

In fact, here's a short excerpt from the DoE page:

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the First Amendment requires public school officials to be neutral in their treatment of religion, showing neither favoritism toward nor hostility against religious expression such as prayer. Accordingly, the First Amendment forbids religious activity that is sponsored by the government but protects religious activity that is initiated by private individuals, and the line between government-sponsored and privately initiated religious expression is vital to a proper understanding of the First Amendment's scope. As the Court has explained in several cases, "there is a crucial difference between government speech endorsing religion, which the Establishment Clause forbids, and private speech endorsing religion, which the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses protect."

In shorter terms, teachers, principals, and other government employees can't push religion while on the clock and representing the government (though they're free to do so on their own time), while students are perfectly free to exercise their religious rights, including praying or reading the Bible.

Invariably, there will be isolated incidents of schools not understanding the law and restricting students' rights, but these are usually curtailed pretty quickly. Multiple examples can be found on the ACLU's website. It's just that cases of government employees overstepping the law by improperly endorsing religion are far more common than government employees overstepping the law by restricting the free practice of religion.
ACLU Defense of Religious Practice and Expression in Public Schools

I'd also note that events like See You at the Pole are not rare. You can go to their Facebook page to see photos of students from all across the country gathering to pray on school campuses. Here are some photos specifically from Old High here in Wichita Falls. And here's a photo from my high school Alma mater up in 'liberal' Maryland. And on a personal level, at all of the high school graduations I've been to in recent years for nieces, nephews, family friends, and my daughter, there's always been at least one student speech religious in nature or including a prayer.

Finally, here's an open letter from an evangelical Christian as food for thought (on World Net Daily of all places), Why I'm Against Pre-Game Prayers. Basically, he was in a community where Buddhism was the predominant religion, so a Buddhist prayer was recited at the Friday night high school football game. It gave him a completely different perspective on what it's like to not be part of the majority religion when prayers are offered at public school events.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Continue reading "Response to Email - The New Lord's Prayer" »

Friday, September 29, 2017

Creationists' Weird Concepts of Hyper-Evolution

Note: This entry adapted from Quora.

While some creationists may be of the sort convinced by the saying, "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it," many more want to show that the their beliefs are rational and supported by evidence. In this search for rational explanations, many of the more intellectual creationists actually do accept evolution in certain forms, though they'll often refuse to say so. For example, here's an example from Answers in Genesis, Speciation, Yes; Evolution, No. The title says it all. The writer comes out and says that certain phenomena that are part of evolution actually occur, but then denies that this is 'evolution'.

It even included this figure:

AiG 'Adaptation', not 'Evolution'
Image Source: Answers in Genesis, Click to embiggen

It looks almost like the branching pattern you see in mainstream biology textbooks, with the big difference being that they've decided to stop going back any further than the 'kinds' that were created in the Garden of Eden.

In fact, for creationists who take the Noah's Ark story seriously, and have given any thought at all to what it would take to fit representatives of all the world's animals on the ark, it becomes very obvious that there's no possible way to fit every single species. So, they focus on the word 'kind', claiming that kind is more akin to families instead of species, and that Noah only had to take representatives of the different kinds. Then, once the flood waters dried up, the descendants of those rescued animals would go on to 'adapt' (not evolve, of course) into many new species.

Here's another example from Answers in Genesis, this one from the page, Reimagining Ark Animals.

AiG - Cat 'Adaptation', not 'Evolution'
Image Source: Answers in Genesis, Click to embiggen

Yes. Creationists are proposing that all living cats have a common ancestor.

And here are a few photos people took at The Creation Museum:

AiG Horse 'Adaptation', not 'Evolution'
Image Source: RationalityNow.com, Click to embiggen

Image Source: RationalityNow.com - Creation Museum Part 5

AiG Dog 'Adaptation', not 'Evolution'
Image Source: GasFoodNoLodging.com, Click to embiggen

These particular creationists are proposing some rather large 'adaptations' over the generations.

Granted, it does get a little hard to explain creationist rationale since it's not always fully coherent. For example, in that first article I linked to (Speciation, Yes; Evolution, No), the writer says that this type of adaptation is possible thanks to a large gene pools with already existing variation. In fact, I'll include one last figure to show the claim:

AiG 'Adaptation', not 'Evolution'
Image Source: Answers in Genesis

And creationists are very fond of saying that no new information can be created through genetic mutation. But look at the types of adaptation Answers in Genesis was proposing for all those animals after the flood. Even with clean animals that had 7 pairs instead of just 1 pair, there's no way their genomes would have had all the variation necessary to produce the varied offspring Answers in Genesis is claiming. And the time scales they're proposing (remember - the flood was only a few thousand years ago) are far more rapid than anything from actual science. It's almost funny that the creationists who deny 'evolution' so vehemently, go on to propose this type of hyper evolution.

But even with this hyper evolution, creationists claim that adaptation can only go so far, and that animals of a certain kind will only ever go on to have descendants of the same kind, as if there's some kind of magic stop sign in the genome.

Anyway, many creationists don't actually deny certain evolutionary principles. In fact, many creationists amp those principles up to 11 to deal with other inconvenient facets of creationism. But, they'll steadfastly refuse to acknowledge that it's 'evolution'. I mean, one breeding pair of cats evolving into lions, tigers, ocelots, bobcats, jaguars, and all the other cats in a mere 6000 years is perfectly reasonable. But a common ancestor between cats and dogs would just be silly.

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