Cretinism or Evilution? Nos. 4&5
Edited by E.T. Babinski
Ed Babinski's "Cretinism or Evilution" Speech
Ed Babinski's "Cretinism or Evilution" Speech
at Dragon-Con in Atlanta, June 1996, or "There is no joy in Eden, for creationism has struck out"
Hi! I'm E. T. Babinski. Welcome to CRETINISM OR EVILUTION. I'd like to begin with a warning. The following presentation will cover mature subject matter, like God's invention of the penis. The name of "Darwin" will be spoken aloud, and it will be assumed that the books of the Bible were written by a pre-scientific people who believed their god reeeeeeeally loved to sniff burnt goat flesh [Gen. 8:20 "and the Lord smelled the soothing aroma;" see also, Num. 15:24 & 29:28], a common divine addiction back then.
First, a little about myself. During high school and college and a few years afterwards I was a Bible banging, born again, Baptized as a believer, dyed-in-the-bloody-wool-of-the-Lamb Christian. I was elected president of the most evangelical group on my campus. And I lectured my fellow biology students and professors on the errors of EVILution.
After college I engaged in a mental tug-of-war with several former believers, trying to win them back to the fold. But instead of winning them back, the struggle made me think about what I believed and why, and I grew to question those beliefs and their basis in the Bible. As I took my first steps toward leaving the fold the transition period was unsettling but afterwards I felt alive and full of curiosity - just as I was before I entered the fold. It was like being born again, again.
I figured that people needed to hear the stories of those who had left Protestant Christian fundamentalism and why. So I edited over three dozen personal recollections and put them in a book, Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists (Prometheus Books, 1995). Billy Graham's best friend is in there. There's even a few quotations from science fiction writers, Robert Anton Wilson, Robert Heinlein, Philip Jose Farmer, and Orson Scott Card.
I also produced three newsletters. The most recent one is Cretinism or Evilution? I didn't come up with the word "Cretinism," my spell checker did. It lacks the word "creationism," so each time it encountered it, my computer asked if I was trying to spell "cretinism," which my Webster's dictionary told me referred to "a congenital deficiency resulting in idiocy."
My Webster's also said that the word, "cretin," originated as a variant pronunciation of a French word meaning "Christian." So, the meaning of "cretin" changed over time from "Christian" to "congenital idiot."
I'm only guessing, but such a radical alteration in meaning might have occurred during the days when the French heretic Voltaire took to flinging his wit at Christian heretic-hunters, telling them, "In my life, I have prayed but one prayer: Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it."
As for the word, "EVILution," Bible believers have dubbed many theories "evil" over the centuries. The theory of Copernicus, that the earth moved round the sun, was dubbed "evil," because the Buy-Bull says that God "hangs the earth" solidly, but "moves, guides, and leads" the sun, armies of stars, and constellations across the sky. Some creationists still argue that the Copernican theory is the root of all modern evil, and they'd like to see teachers spend "equal time" teaching about an earth-centered cosmos, along with Copernicus' "rival" theory. I produced a whole issue on such folks, some of whom have Ph.D.s, but who believe the Bible's literal words speak clearer than modern astronomy.
Newton's theory of gravity was considered "evil" because it "took from God that direct action on his works so constantly ascribed to him in Scripture - like `hanging' the earth and `guiding' the sun, moon, and stars - and exchanged the truth of God's direct action on His works for the lie of mere material mechanism." They said that Newton "substituted gravity for God."
Creationists employ a version of that argument against evolution, saying the theory of evolution is "a substitute for God's direct action of creation which is constantly ascribed to him in Scripture." (Of course, they should tell that to the Pope or to C.S. Lewis who both left room for the theory of evolution in their Christian theologies.)
Relieving pain through anesthetics was also dubbed "evil." God must be allowed to "punish" whom He will with whatever pain they "deserve." That's why God created pain and the many diseases that generate it. Genesis even says that God deliberately cursed woman by "increasing her pain in childbirth." So who are we to seek to overthrow "God's plan" by allowing humanity to feel less pain?
Even Ben Franklin's marvelous invention, the lightning rod, was condemned as an insult to Almighty God, or at least, to his aim. For the Bible says God "sends forth lightnings...He covers His hands with the lightning. And commands it to strike the mark. Its noise declares His presence...Under the whole heaven He lets it loose, And His lightning to the ends of the earth...Whether for correction, or for His world, Or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen." [Job 36:27-33 & 37:1-13 & 38:35] Ben's little invention drained a lot of the ancient fear out of lightning bolts flung from "God's hand." It diminished "God's power," and the "direct action of punishment which is constantly ascribed to God in Scripture."
And let's not forget the terrible "evil" of "working or playing on Sunday." For centuries Christians passed laws that made the working man's one day off a day when he or his family could not visit grocery stores, restaurants, parks, lakes, beaches, libraries, museums, nor play sports with his own children, nor go boating (and if someone was caught out at sea in a storm on Sunday no one was allowed to go out and try to save them), nor fix the house, nor sew clothes, nor even buy some medicine.
And what about Bible believers' opposition to the evils of "card playing," "dancing," "masturbation?" The list goes on...
Considering the benefits to humanity in the way of education, relief of suffering, and pursuit of honest pleasures, that have come from things that learned Bible believers have labeled "evil," it would appear that the term, "EVILution," has a lot to commend it. Therefore, if someone asks you whether or not you're an evolutionist, you ought to reply, "Evolutionist? Heck no, I'm an EVILutionist and damn proud of it!"
As for equal time for creationism in school, I'm all for it. But since creation only took six days, and evolution took billions of years, the equivalent time spent teaching creationism should only be one pico-second for every four years spent teaching evolutionary science. (A "pico-second" is approximately the time it takes a beam of light to travel the width of a human hair.)
But all kidding aside, let's get to the big questions. The biggest one is, "Are there intelligent beings elsewhere in the cosmos?" The cosmos as it is presently known, contains over 50 billion galaxies, each galaxy containing between 100 to 200 billion stars. Recent advances in telescopic magnification have allowed astronomers to detect rings of matter and planets that circle stars other than our own. It is conceivable that intelligent beings exist, or have existed in the distant past, or will exist in the future, on planets other than the earth. Are we the only intelligent beings who have evolved in the cosmos' vast dimensions of space and time?
Even a "Biblical creationist" might find himself unable to believe that we are the only intelligent beings "God created" in a cosmos of countless blazing stars and (who knows how many) planetary bodies? So much cosmic "real estate" going to waste. Doesn't sound very "purposeful" does it?
Yet, if intelligent beings exist on other planets, how are they going to react to the "Biblical creation account?" Are they going to believe that the cosmos was created in "six days" as measured from one planet's perspective, the earth's? Such beings might well wonder why the cosmos wasn't created based on the length of a "day" on their own planet, rather than ours.
Neither are they going to believe that five out of the "six" days of creation, or, five sixths of the "creation period" was focused solely on the earth, during which its seas, dry land and sky, and the plants and animals on it, were created. The "rest" of the cosmos with it's 50 billion galaxies, and it's unknown multitude of planets, including the one these other beings live on, took only "one day" out of "six" to create? They'd be on the floor laughing at such earth-centered viewpoints in the very first chapter of the Bible. Only one planet, the earth, took five sixths of God's creation time to complete? No intelligent being inhabiting another planet is going to believe that!
Or, how about this for a "worst case" scenario after meeting a technologically advanced being from another planet: (Being from another planet speaking with Billy Graham's son) "So, you say, five sixths of God's `creation time' was spent on your pitiful little planet full of natural disasters and turmoil and idiocy, and God only spent one sixth of that time creating the rest of the cosmos, including what was to become our vast pan-galactic civilization whose history stretches back before the first pitiful little Biblical book was scrawled on goat skin parchments?"
Hence my next big question, ARE THERE CREATIONISTS ON OTHER PLANETS? Do they quote from a book somewhat like our earth-centered book of Genesis? And, supposing that the name of their planet is "Zontar," does their book read something like this...
In the beginning God created the heavens and ZONTAR, and the spirit of God moved on the face of the waters OF ZONTAR and God said let there be light, and there was the first evening and morning. And God separated the waters and caused dry land to appear ON ZONTAR, and there was a second evening and morning. And God made the land bring forth green plants and fruit trees ON ZONTAR, and there was a third evening and morning. And God made TWO GREAT LIGHTS, one to rule the day ON ZONTAR, and one to rule the night ON ZONTAR, and he made the stars also, and set them in the sky to light ZONTAR and for signs and seasons, and there was a fourth evening and morning. And God made animals ON ZONTAR, and there was a fifth evening and morning. And God made beings IN HIS OWN IMAGE, and he visited them in the garden where He and they left slimy trials as they moved and talked to each other via their antennae, and there was a sixth evening and morning. And on the seventh day God "rested" from creating the heavens and ZONTAR.
Of course, we earthlings, being raised on the Bible, would know that God needed to "rest" after creating ZONTAR, so He could regain enough energy to trek to another part of the cosmos (near one of those stars he'd created "to light ZONTAR") and create a place called "earth." Once there, He had to "separate light and darkness again," "separate the waters," make dry land appear, create plants and fruit trees, make two more "great lights" to "rule the day and night" on that planet, create animals, and create beings in his own image, this time more ape-like than the intelligent snail-like beings of ZONTAR.
Then, after creating the heavens and the EARTH, God "rested" a second time. (The first time God "rested" was after he'd created ZONTAR, remember?)
Returning to the strictly Biblical picture, it says in Exodus 31:17, "In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed." According to learned editors of a Bible published in 1774, the true meaning of the Hebrew is, "on the seventh day He rested, and fetched breath."
Which reminds me, what does God do when He "rests and gets refreshed?" What does He do in His spare time? Isn't it an insult to depict an infinite Being getting so worn out from six day's work that He needs to "rest and be refreshed?"
(But then, it's also silly for the author of the Biblical book of Job to depict God "handling" lightning bolts like the Greek god Zeus used to be depicted. Needless to say, there were lots of similarities between the ways men depicted the gods back then, like the way everyone assumed the aroma of burnt animal flesh was a feast for the gods after which they'd either calm down or grant man some special request.)
Returning to Genesis, check out 1:16 where it says the sun and moon are "two great lights" ("great lamps" in the original Hebrew) created to "light" the earth, "for signs and seasons" on earth, to "rule the day and night" on earth. But Mars has two moons (raising her total of "great lamps" to "three," obviously God felt that Mars needed lamps to brighten its nights too). Neptune has four moons, Uranus has eleven, Jupiter has sixteen, and Saturn has at least eighteen moons (or, in Bible-speak, "nineteen great lamps!") The earth gets only one great night-lamp? And even that "rules the night" so badly (during part of its lunar cycle) that for 3 nights out of every 28 it abdicates its "rule," and doesn't "light" the earth at all, and we bump into folks in the dark...like creationists.
In Galileo's day there was also some debate over the nature of bright "wandering stars" which did not move across the night sky in unison with all the other stars. With the aid of his telescope it was finally concluded that these "wanderers" were not stars at all, but solid objects like the earth, which merely reflected light from the Sun.
This scientific recognition introduced another disturbing notion. As one theologian put it, "If the earth is a planet, and only one of several planets, it can not be that any great things have been done specifically for it as the Christian doctrine teaches. If there are other planets, since God makes nothing in vain, they must be inhabited. [The idea of so much planetary real estate specially created just to go to waste was an appalling alternative, suggesting a lack of purposefulness that theologians had a difficult time reconciling with the strictly purposeful actions of the Creator in the Genesis account. - ED.]; but if these other planets are inhabited, how can their inhabitants be descended from Adam? [Adam and Eve were the first and only couple God says he created when he "made the heavens and the earth." Furthermore, Eve is called the `mother of all living.' - ED.] How can they trace their origin to Noah's ark? How can they have been redeemed by the Savior?"
Good questions! Of course, to "Biblical astronomers" it was Galileo's claims that were absurd, never the Bible's. They poked fun at Galileo since his name sounded similar to the ancient province of "Galilee": "Oh, men of Galilee, why do you stare up at the heavens?" [from the book of Acts, where Jesus has just ascended "into the clouds"]. Such was the refusal of some to peek through "the devil's instrument" and see the many "lamps" specially created for uninhabited worlds.
Other questions for creationists relate to smaller, more intimate aspects of creation.
Like when God created Adam's naughty bits. Might not God have said to Gabriel, "Hey Gabe, could you toss me fifty of those extra-sensitive nerve endings?" Gabe answered, "Fifty extra-sensitive nerve endings for that little flap of skin? You only put five nerve endings in each buttock!" And God said, "But I've got to ensure that Adam fills the earth with his kids. On second thought let's add another fifty, I want them calling out my name while they're doin' it."
Which makes me wonder what Adam said right after he'd bitten the forbidden fruit and noticed Eve was "naked." I bet he said: "Stand back, Eve! I don't know how big this thing gets!"
Speaking of which, a drone honeybee's genitals explode as soon as the queen bee opens her sting chamber to receive him. The drone dies soon afterwards. I wonder if Adam knew that and feared for the safety of his life when Eve first crooked her finger in his direction?
Which raises another question, "Is there an absolutely powerful, infinitely knowledgeable, universe-spanning entity that is deeply and personally concerned about my sex life?"
And what about the sex lives of insects? Insects are just supposed to be God's little soulless machines. So it's not a matter of them having the "free will" to come up with stuff God never intended, especially ugly or dirty habits that mock his brilliance or the perfect sexual codes that supposedly keep the Creator most happy.
But then, why is the common male bedbug (Cimex lectularius) armed with a long sharp penis that he uses to stab-rape female bedbugs in their abdomen and then ejaculate into their body cavity (ignoring the usual genital opening in the female)? "The sperm travels through her blood stream to special receptacles, where she can store it until her time of ovulation." [David Quammen, The Flight of the Iguana]
This slice of sadomasochism in the insect world is apparently a method of getting around the "mating plug" which glues the female's genital tract shut after she has been inseminated by one male. Thereafter, competing males can't inject their sperm into her. By stabbing the female in the abdomen, and then having her store the injected sperm inside her "special receptacles" more than one male gets a chance to inseminate a female bedbug. (Exactly how "special" the "receptacles" are that the sperm collects in, is another matter. Could they be normal parts of the female bedbug's anatomy that eventually got used in a novel fashion to store sperm?)
Was the abdominal-stabbing technique of insemination "created?" The "Grand Designer" must be quite a tinkerer and fixer-upper! A little duct tape here, some abdominal-stabbing there, just because "He" didn't want to pull out the "mating plug" he'd "created" earlier?
One species of bedbug (Xylocaris maculipennis) has taken this method a step further. The males of that species stab-rape other males. In fact a male of that species may be assaulted by another male while he is copulating with a female. "The sperm of the rapist enters the vas deferens of his male victim and is used by the victim during copulation." [Adrian Forsyth, A Natural History of Sex] Which is not to say that the sperm of the rapist is injected directly into the raped male's vas deferens with accuracy - the sperm simply "migrates in the recipient's blood to his testes," and hence to the vas deferens tubules attached to his testes, where the rapist's sperm is then pumped out of the penis of the raped male, and into the female. [MacQuitty & Mound, Megabugs]
Creationists may conclude this is "God's design," but I doubt that any creationist wants to believe in the kind of God who "specially created" the behavior of Xylocaris maculipennis with the express intention that males stab females in the abdomen to insert their sperm (or males stab other males in the abdomen, and then their sperm shoots out the raped male's penis into a female being stabbed in the abdomen).
Evolutionists view such behavior as another example of the intensity of nature's competition to pass along one's genes rather than those of a rival. Male bedbugs jumped at their evolutionary opportunity. They seized the day, even if it meant stabbing females in the abdomen because the female's genital opening could be sealed by a "mating plug;" and even if it meant seizing another male and becoming a pain in his arse (as the British say).
Having studied nature with nearly as much single-minded ferocity as a male Xylocaris maculipennis studies a rival male's backside, I've grown convinced that nature's God must be a libertarian. There are hermit species and social species, herbivores and carnivores, animals that mate for life and some that live to mate...and some that eat their mates.
In nature there's also mothers who eat their sons and daughters; fathers who kill other father's children; daughters who eat their mothers, sons that mate with their mothers, and brothers and sisters who kill and/or devour each other in the womb! [For examples see the following article, "Why We Believe in a Designer!"]
But let's get back to the "Good Book." According to the Bible:
"The young lions roar after their prey,
and seek their meat from God..."
Sounds noble, but what if that "meat" is a Christian in a Roman arena? Furthermore, a male lion will kill other male lions, and/or eat the offspring of another male after he gains control of a pride. And the female will eat her own runts or deformed cubs (most mammals do). But, to continue with the Psalm...
"O Lord, how manifold are thy works!
in wisdom hast thou made them all...
both small and great beasts...
These all wait upon thee;
that thou may give them their meat in due season."
[Psalm 104, KJV]
How blind the psalmist was to nature's ways! He left out that "the Lord" either gives lions "their meat in due season;"
Or has them be eaten by their own mother;
Or has them be eaten by a rival male who has taken control of the pride;
Or has them be killed by a rival female with a parenting disorder usually caused by inbreeding;
Or has them starve because their parents fail to bring enough food home, or die trying, or are taken by hunters;
Or makes young lions the "meat" of some other predatory species that catches them off guard;
Or (if they are male) has them grow up and be killed in combat by another male seeking territory or mates;
Or makes them the "meat" for a parasite and/or disease organism.
It's all the same to "the Lord."
In 1994 one thousand lions, one-third of the population of East Africa's Serengeti park, died from painful convulsions by a virus that attacked their blood cells, lungs and brain, i.e., the Canine Distemper Virus. The lions probably picked up the virus from hyenas who picked it up from domesticated dogs that lived just outside the park. (Also in 1994, a tenth of the 500,000 western gray kangaroos in South Australia and the 2.8 million gray kangaroos in neighboring New South Wales, went blind due to a mystery virus.)
And consider all the parasitical worms, leeches, flukes, mosquitoes, lice, fleas, crabs, ticks, mites, cancer cells, bacteria and viruses that "wait upon God" to "feed them" the quivering "meat" of human flesh. The leech grabbing on beneath the water to suck your leg. The mosquito piercing your arm for a taste of the alluring fluid. The worm coiled inside your colon eating your unconsumed food. The flea that jumps 130 times it's own body length, repeatedly, just to press its hungry mouth against your hot itching skin. These are some of the many species that live the "easy life" by literally sucking the life out of other species.
There's a creation-science textbook that says, "How marvelous is your body. Nothing about its working has been left to chance. Everything works just as planned by God. Only He had the wisdom to design the blood-clotting mechanism." [Investigating God's World by DeWitt Steele; part 2 by Herman and Nina Schneider; Beka Book Publications, a division of Pensacola Christian College, Florida; 1977, page 144].
This is the kind of textbook creationists want "equal time" for. It's authors are careful not to mention some of God's other marvels, like "the polio virus - perfectly designed to attack healthy children and kill them or leave them crippled for life. Again, everything works just as planned by God. Only He had the wisdom to design the polio virus." [Orson Scott Card]
Speaking of the human body, 70% of us suffer lower back pain, since our vertebrae are better designed to function as horizontal suspension bridges for our internal organs rather than as vertical supports for a bipedal mammal.
Other marvels of human body design include flat feet, weak ankles and knees, varicose veins, heart failure, dangerously thin portions of the skull, teeth that are impacted (or crooked and badly crowded), hernias, hemorrhoids, allergic reactions, eye problems, appendicitis, gall bladder disease, prostate problems, "female problems," danger of choking (because our breathing passage, eating passage, and speech box are all right on top of each other), not to mention countless birth defects. (Does Jesus really "love all the little zygotes in the world?" - not enough to give them all a whole and healthy start in life).
Walk into any hospital, doctor's office, or televangelists' healing service, and see for yourself "how marvelous is your body and how nothing has been left to chance."
And what about cancer, where your body starts eating itself alive? Cancer cells whose extreme genetic instability snowballs into such a variety of genetic alterations that even if one tumor cell survives therapy, there is a good chance it will now be resistant to the therapy. What a "wonder of design" is a cancerous tumor.
Throughout the length and breadth of nature we see "designs" that defeat other "designs," exactly as Darwinism predicts. Animals and plants dine on their fellow creatures or slowly suck the life out of them. "Why did God make tigers so good at catching prey, and at the same time make prey so good at getting away from tigers? You'd think that if God wanted one thing or the other to happen he'd have engineered it rather better. Maybe he enjoyed the spectator sport?" [Richard Dawkins, video lecture, "River Out of Eden."]
Immunologists say our bodies are involved in an internal "arms race" just like the one in the world of prey and predators at large. Bacteria and viruses are constantly mutating, trying to out-maneuver and overtake our body's immune system. They say the immune system works on the basis of, guess what, random mutations and natural selection. There's "Darwinism in your blood," without which you would die of the common cold in a few hours. As soon as an invading microorganism is detected, your body starts producing antibodies with random key codes, and only a small percentage of those keys fit the invader's lock. At first it's a "loose fit" but it's good enough to be able to lock onto a few invaders. Then only those key-codes that had some partial success are used to make the next generation of antibodies and some additional random features are added to those. And only those sets of random codes that fit best are reproduced again, in greater numbers, with a few more random changes, until an exact key is finally produced that fits the lock of the invaders.
That's what's happening in our bodies all the time as they struggle to fight off an invading cold or virus. They are using random mutations coupled with natural selection of whatever "works," to discover just the right complex key to fit the exact lock and thwart the invaders. Meanwhile bacteria and viruses are mutating to avoid having their locks picked!
Of course, every once in a while some voracious and quickly reproducing microorganisms mutate a new lock that's very hard to pick, and millions of people die, as in the plague that killed about half the population of Europe before it subsided in 594 A.D.
That was followed about 700 years later by the bubonic plague that killed about 30 million people in Europe in just three years (1347 A.D. to 1351 A.D.). Estimates vary as to whether a quarter or a third of Europe was killed by the plague, but it was quite brutal and led to a lot of witch burnings in retaliation. (For instance, in Calvin's city of Geneva the plague is estimated to have killed 9 out of every 10 people who contracted it, and one year the rulers burned twenty people for being witches and afflicting the city with plague. Calvin, being a Buy-Bull believer, believed in witches and was involved in their prosecution).
Prior to plaguing Europe, this deadly bacterium had killed about 45 million people in Asia. The disease was carried by fleas that lived on rats. It wasn't until 1893 that the first effective vaccine was developed against bubonic plaque. Still, the disease continued to claim lives. The United States had a bout with bubonic plague around 1900. And in 1910 in Siberia about 60,000 people died from it. Even as late as the 1960s-70s about 10,000 people died from it in Vietnam. A bacterium called Yersinia pestis was the source of bubonic plague. (And Yersinia bacteria - along with many other kinds that hunted human beings more successfully in the past - continue to grow immune to modern antibiotics.)
It was diseases like smallpox, measles, mumps, influenza, cholera, malaria, typhoid, typhus, diphtheria, and scarlet fever, introduced for the first time into the New World by European settlers, that killed most of the Indians in North and South America. (Though some Europeans nudged the process along by giving Indians "gift" blankets that had been wrapped around disease victims.) So, diseases, not guns, killed most of the Indians.
The world's worst known case of the "flu" - an influenza epidemic - struck between 1918 and 1920, making half the world's population sick and killing from between 20 to 40 million people. Five hundred thousand people died in the U.S. New York city was quarantined, nobody allowed in or out. And in San Francisco it became illegal to exit your home without wearing a surgical mask. That same epidemic also killed more soldiers in World War One than the war did.
It's also nice of the Designer to make it so that when some diseases reach the stage where they are contagious, they make us sneeze, which helps pass the illness and suffering along to more human hosts.
Diseases also work together, one weakening the body, the other killing it. What "purposeful design!" I'm not speaking only of AIDS, but measles. In the developing world, up to two million children die each year from diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea after they get measles. The measles virus blocks the release of an important chemical from a type of white blood cell. That chemical is critical to the activation of an important immune defense mechanism, leaving the body open to death from the next infection that comes along. ["Measles; Immunology: One Less Mystery," Vaccine Weekly, July 29, 1996, http://www.newsfile.com] Cholera is another disease "specially designed" for destruction, the cholera bacterium working hand in hand with a virus that transmits the gene for a deadly toxin to other cholera bacterium, making them lethal.
An estimated one-third of the world's population is infected with latent tuberculosis bacterium. Each year 8 million people develop active cases; nearly 3 million of them die.
The Ebola virus, a "hot" virus, that was in the news after it had killed a number of people in Africa, is a pretty creation. It causes severe headaches, backache, nausea, fever, vomiting, turns the eyes blood red, then causes blood clots in the liver, kidneys, lungs, hands, feet, and/or head, wipes out one's personality, and then the person vomits a bucketful of blood followed by unconsciousness. "Then...[Then? Yes, there's more, as in the case of a Mr. Monet who died in a Nairobi hospital from Ebola]...came a sound like a bed sheet being torn in half, the sound of his bowels opening and venting blood from his anus, those mixed with intestinal lining. He sloughed his gut. Having destroyed its host, the virus was now coming out of every orifice, trying to find a new host. Now I ask you, isn't it possible that the Designer could have made this guy suffer just a little bit less? Maybe just bleed out of his nose?" [Corey Washington in the Craig-Washington debate, published on the SKEPTIC'S WEB]
Creationists should study the wide variety of "nature's ways," including all the "designs" that exist simply to defeat other "designs." Maybe they could use the time they spend praising God for the "beauty and wonder" of "His designs" to study some of the less praiseworthy aspects of "God's creation?" They certainly appear to be ignorant of "the rest of the story."
Did God design the bacteria that infect the food we eat? Even prayed over leftovers from Thanksgiving Day? Microgram for microgram, the poisons produced by some bacteria in our food are more potent than all other known poisons on earth. It is estimated that one tenth of an ounce of the toxin produced by bacteria causing botulism would be more than enough to kill everyone in the city of New York; and a 12-ounce glassful would be enough to kill all 5.9 billion human beings on the face of the Earth. (The same goes for the toxin that causes tetanus.) Pretty powerful stuff. Is that God's handiwork? Creationists - if they thought about it - must imagine God working overtime in His own personal biological warfare laboratory.
Did God design the sawtoothed grain beetle, angoumois grain moths, Mediterranean flour moths, scale insects, cabbage worms, corn earworms, corn rootworms, cutworms, tomato fruitworms, etc., that destroy 30% of U.S. food crops by voraciously devouring leaves, fruits, grain, and also by spreading fungal and bacterial plant rots as well? Are we supposed to praise the Lord for designing such insects whose proliferation leads to human starvation?
Which reminds me of a joke about a preacher who was visiting a farm and said to the farmer, "God's been mighty good to your fields, Mr. Farmer." "Yes," the Farmer replied, "But you should have seen how He treated them when I wasn't around."
Should we also praise God for designing a species of roundworm that is found almost exclusively in human appendixes? And for designing three species of tapeworms found only in man, one of which can grow up to sixty-feet long. Worms designed with hooks and suckers to anchor them in our intestines, and designed with the ability to absorb food directly through their skin? And should we thank God for giving us a species of flea and three species of lice, that are designed to live only on man? Humans even have their own species of mites that are found on everyones' bodies. Or thank God for mosquitoes - a popular host to killer diseases, efficiently spreading them around with its "neatly-designed" wings and biting mouthparts, thus leading to the deaths of more people than have died in all the wars that have ever been waged by man? Or for the many species of flies that freeload off sweat, garbage, corpses, and fecal matter? The common housefly moves from garbage and excrement to our kitchen tables and faces, where they spit up material from their last meal, spreading harmful germs. Flies buzz, sting and bite people, even those already suffering from diseases that God has designed to torment them, and then those flies pass those diseases along to others.
The screwworm fly of South America and Africa aims straight for a wound (since it can't drill through the skin all by itself), even one as small as a tick bite, and lays five hundred to three thousand tiny eggs in it. They hatch and the maggots tear away with their sharp mouth hooks on the human [or cow] that is their host. As they feed, they produce a toxin that prevents the wound from healing, so infection quickly sets in. In a matter of a week, the maggots [each grown to about half an inch long] can enter the lungs or brain and kill the person [or cow]. Screwworms have been a major economic problem in livestock-producing areas. Glory be to God?
Mankind hunts many noxious and overabundant species of fly and kills them without hesitation; also the flea, the spider, the rat, the snake, the disease-germ and a thousand other creatures that "God designed." Heaven forbid that such creatures be found crawling about in a church, even one that preaches creationism! Such "miracles of God's design that demonstrate He is the Creator" are killed without hesitation by the janitors or church ladies who dust, sweep and disinfect "God's sanctuary."
As a fundamentalist "I felt it was my duty to praise all of God's works with fervent enthusiasm. At the same time I killed flies in my house in a spirit of hatred, exasperation and contempt. My praise to God for all his works was dishonest, the act of killing the fly was honest." [Mark Twain]
In 1999 the two small stocks of smallpox virus left on earth (stored under heavy guard in laboratories in Atlanta, Georgia and Novosibirsk, Russia) will be put into an autoclave and heated until they are "dead." Let's all shout hallelujah that one of "the Designer's" most deadly and damaging creatures will soon be eradicated.
Since 1967 the World Health Organization has been immunizing people to smallpox in even the remotest regions of the globe. The last person who died of smallpox was a medical photographer working in a lab who was infected by accident in 1978. But smallpox killed more than 60 million people in Europe between 1650 and 1750. And during the 1950s eight-million people a year continued to die of smallpox. Millions more were blinded or permanently disfigured by it, even though Dr. Edward Jenner had developed a method of immunizing people to the disease as early as 1796. Researchers are hanging on to millions of doses of smallpox vaccine, just in case someone has hidden away some smallpox virus in a secret freezer and threatens to use it in biological warfare. Researchers are also hanging on to a few segments of smallpox DNA that cannot cause infections, but might contain valuable information about how viruses function.
The next target for eradication is polio, another virus whose only reservoir is humans. In 1985, the Pan American Health Organization started a drive to eliminate polio from the Western Hemisphere. By 1994, after a vigorous immunization campaign, the Americas were declared free of polio for the first time. But the virus persists in Africa and Asia.
- The Race Against Lethal Microbes: Learning to Outwit the Shifty Bacteria, Viruses, and Parasites That Cause Infectious Diseases, a report published Aug. 1996 by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Speaking of such horrible illnesses (more of which can be found in the section, "Why We Believe in a Designer!"), shouldn't the churches be given over, every now and then, to justifiable indignation meetings? If God will listen to a prayer request, won't He also listen to a complaint? It might please Him to find man growing more self-reliant and eager to question things, using the brains God gave him.
And what in the end,
caused Jehovah's plagues
was it theology
or medical science?
[Two hundred years ago the French naturalist, Buffon, noted that "half the children born never reach the age of eight" - because doctors back then didn't know how to deal with smallpox, scarlet fever, measles, mumps, the flu, cholera, tuberculosis, meningitis, chicken pox and a host of other deadly infections like tetanus and staph. Why is nature "designed" to kill such a huge proportion of infants and young children? - ED.]
The Bible doesn't teach
As a means of education,
Scripture is a loss.
The substance of its
is just that God's the boss.
[Barbara Smoker, Good God]
Darwin looked at nature and noticed things like the way a sunfish sometimes lays three hundred million eggs. And Darwin wondered as we all do, "What the hell is that creature trying to prove?" A single bacterial cell that divides every twenty minutes, will multiply to a mass four thousand times greater than the earth's in just two days. That doesn't happen, because of the inconceivably huge death rate of bacteria. If all the eggs from one mother housefly lived, she would produce more than five trillion offspring in just one season. A single oyster, left to its own devices, produces more than one-hundred-twenty-five million eggs in a season. That's more than enough oysters, if none died in eight years, [10 to the 89th power number of oysters] to crowd the water out of the oceans and make it cover the earth.
A female sea turtle lays a hundred or more eggs, but after they hatch in a nest buried beneath the sand on the beach, only a handful of baby sea turtles make it to the safety of the ocean.
About one hundred million sperm cells are found in each cubic centimeter of human ejaculate. Yet only one sperm lives to fertilize the female's egg. The rest die. And many fertilized eggs never reach maturity.
There are equally bountiful numbers from the world of seed-bearing plants. Why such an over abundance of seeds and sperm and fertilized zygotes, born only to die?
Some Creationists say that death is a result of "the Fall of Adam." But if everything is only supposed to be "dying, decaying, and diminishing" that hardly explains enormous increases in local plant and animal populations, and the sometimes explosive evolution of new species from the same early stock to occupy very different environmental niches.
For instance, see the article on "Observed Cases of Speciation" in the Talk.Origins Archive.
Or see the new book, Darwin's Dreampond by Tijs Goldschmidt, that discusses the "explosive" evolution of hundreds of new species of cichlid fishes with different body types and behaviors that evolved in just a few million years in lakes in East Africa.
Or, study the incredible variety among the more than 800 species of fruit-flies that evolved on the Hawaiian islands (and nowhere else on earth) in just five million years. Moreover, the percentage of genetic similarity (and differences) between some of those species of fruit flies is about equal to the percentage of genetic similarity (and differences) between man and chimpanzee.
So, strike one for creationism, and its "dying, decaying, and diminishing" explanation.
Other creationists say the over abundance is there to "preserve" each "kind" of creature. But that doesn't explain why many "kinds" that have lived on this planet are now extinct. If God "designed" the overabundance to simply ensure the "preservation" of all the "kinds" He'd created, then He's failed miserably. The fossil record boldly attests to such a failure.
Strike two for creationism, and its "preservation" explanation.
What explanation is left? It seemed to Darwin that nature's riotous plentitude of life and death, especially when spread out over hundreds of millions of years, would make large scale evolution of highly divergent species inevitable. Species diverge, populations eventually losing the ability to interbreed with one another, and the divergences often continue, making species grow further away, not nearer, to the original genetic stock. Death is simply the price paid for evolutionary change throughout time.
Or, as the songwriter, Jackson Browne put it,
With its beauty and its cruelty
With its heartbreak and its joy
With its constantly giving birth to life
And to forces that destroy,
And the infinite power of change
Alive in the world.
["Alive in the World" on his Looking East cd]
According to evolution it took billions of years for an amoeba to become a man. This seems laughably implausible to creationists who cannot believe that God would design a system of evolution whereby an amoeba becomes a man in any length of time. But a single cell becomes a human baby in nine months and they call it "God's miracle." If only they would consider evolution in a similar light.
Furthermore, cells from a woman named "Helen" - who died a couple of decades ago from cancer - continue to thrive in laboratory petri dishes all over the world exactly as if such cells were single-celled organisms. They even "out-compete" some other single-celled organisms when placed in the same petri dish. So, single human cells retain some of the characteristics and abilities of our single-celled ancestors!
Lastly, creationists ignore the many clumsy, as well as hideous,
adaptations for survival, poetically alluded to in the following song:
All things dull and ugly,
All creatures short and squat,
All things rude and nasty,
The Lord God made the lot.
Each little snake that poisons,
Each little wasp that stings,
He made their brutish venom,
He made their horrid wings.
All things sick and cancerous,
All evil great and small,
All things foul and dangerous,
The Lord God made them all.
Each nasty little hornet,
Each beastly little squid,
Who made the spiky urchin?
Who made the sharks? He did.
All things scabbed and ulcerous,
All pox great and small,
Putrid, fouled and gangrenous,
The Lord God made them all.
["All Things Dull and Ugly," from the Monty Python movie, The Meaning of Life]
Pigs have two toes on each foot that don't touch the ground when they walk. Male primates have functionless nipples. The new born giraffe falls a couple of feet and lands on its head at birth. There have always been plenty of reasons to doubt the "design explanation." (See, "Why We Believe in a Designer!")
Strike three for creationism.
Which reminds me of a joke. A man was having a pair of pants made by a Jewish tailor. But the man grew impatient over how long it was taking the tailor to finish them. The man complained, "It only took God six days to make the world, but it's taken you over a month to make the pair of pants I ordered." The tailor held out the man's pair of pants with pride and said: "Dat may be so, but take a look at the world...den take a look at dees pants!"
Let me end with two ways to reconcile the "God of the Bible" with the theory of evolution:
According to evolution, everything evolved "in the beginning" out of the simplest atomic elements, like hydrogen and helium. Isn't it amazing then, that in the Bible, God is designated over and over again by a big letter "H" followed by a little letter "e," (He) which is the symbol for "helium!" [from the video, Galaxies in Collision]
It also says in the Bible that a thousand years to man is but a day in God's eyes. That idea has me worried. What if things in the cosmos are happening too fast for God to see? What if six billion years passes every time God blinks? "Strange," God muses to Himself, "Whenever I drop a single-celled organism onto a pretty blue planet, the planet explodes into thermonuclear dust."
E. T. BABINSKI
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