Contact DisComforting Ignorance

Have thoughts, comments, criticisms, requests, or proselytization? Email

No prayers. (Why not?)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Behemoth Inferences

With his two latest posts (here and here) we get another science lesson from the science expert who brings you such gems as evolution created gravity and light is invisible. In this post I will touch on a few points: YECs' (Young Earth Creationists) views on dinosaurs, largest animals, the sources Ray uses, interpreting the Bible for science statements, and prophecies. Will any of this dissuade people like Ray using such ludicrous arguments? Of course not. Whenever things like facts and evidence get in the way, they play their trump card (God) and dismiss it. It reminds me of the homepage of my favorite creationist geocentrist site:
This site is devoted to the historical relationship between the Bible and astronomy. It assumes that whenever the two are at variance, it is always astronomy—that is, our "reading" of the "Book of Nature," not our reading of the Holy Bible—that is wrong. History bears consistent witness to the truth of that stance.

Young Earth Creationist views on dinosaurs.

YECs, like Ray Comfort, have a few competing conjectures (they aren't theories) on dinosaurs. For those individuals who think the Earth is somewhere around 6,000-10,000 years old, have you ever wondered what they have to say about dinosaurs? I remember being a kid and asking my father -- a well read and well versed man -- about dinosaurs; his answer was thoroughly unsatisfying. For him, the Bible is the Word of God and that's all there is to it. Accounting for dinosaurs is unimportant. What he had to say is he figures they were created and then killed off before Adam.

So, what do others have to say on it?
  1. Dinosaur bones were put there by God to test our faith (just like the light from distant stars were created en route).
  2. Dinosaur bones were put there by the devil to subvert our faith.
  3. Dinosaurs lived alongside man until the Flood, wherein they were killed.2
  4. Dinosaurs lived alongside man and Noah gathered them into the Ark. They slowly died off after the Flood.3
  5. Dinosaurs lived alongside man and Noah gathered them into the Ark. They still live today in isolated areas of the world.4
If you ever have time to read about creationist views of dinosaurs, I highly recommend it for the levity. The probability of coming across the line "Scientists are baffled about what killed the dinosaurs. For creationists, it's really quite simple" is about 90%. If you look into it, be sure to also read about Flood Geology. Answers in Genesis has articles on most topics.

Ray does not state in his posts which of 3-5 he accepts.

Largest Animals
Ray commits a very subtle logical fallacy in his second post, if you can spot it. By his own dubious sources (see the section below on sources), he claims that the largest whale is 171,000kg (188 tons) and 90ft in length. He claims the longest whale is "over 110ft." The source where he got those numbers from says that the blue whales are the biggest animals to have ever lived, even bigger than dinosaurs. Ray makes the note of:
They are wrong about this. See the below quote about how dinosaurs are bigger
The quote below it says that the dinosaur (it makes no claim about it being the largest) was 100 tons and 120ft in length. Where is the fallacy? The reader to whom he is responding and also the statement in the source to which he is responding is claiming the largest creature. He challenges this by offering a longer creature.

The largest animal, which any fourth grader knows indeed, is the blue whale. Why does Ray reject this in favor of the dinosaur? Because it contradicts his "theory" that the biblical creature in question is a dinosaur, the largest animal.
Blue whales are the largest animals of all time. Females grow to a length of 79 to 89 feet, weighing well over 100 tons. The heaviest blue whale ever weighed was more than 190 tons, and the longest ever measured was more than 108 feet long.
-- Smithsonian Institute
The sources Ray uses.
I find the sources Ray chose to be rather comical. If I were looking for a website from which to cite a statistic, if I find it on a site, I would first ensure the accuracy of the information. In this, Ray has found a statistic for the blue whale, but the sentence which immediately precedes it contradicts exactly what he is arguing! Why in the world would you use a source which offers a statistic for your argument which has the entirely opposite conclusion? If you believe the first part of a statement is wrong, why would you trust the second part?

Behemoth and the Bible
I won't debunk the arguments specifically he uses. I will touch on a few of the logical problems of some, but there is a more general counter-argument below.

To justify the statement that the behemoth eating grass is a dinosaur, he makes the statement
What Did Dinosaurs Eat? "Although some fans of carnivorous 'Tyrannosaurs rex' and 'Velociraptor' may find it a bit disappointing — the vast majority of dinosaurs were plant-eaters. Most plant-eating dinosaurs had peg-like or broad, flat teeth designed for snipping or stripping vegetation."
But, vast majority (if that's accurate), is not all of them. Here is one of my biggest gripes with the whole dinosaurs living with man conjecture:

T. Rex: 43ft long & 7.5 tons
Giganotosaurus: 43ft & 6.2 tons
Spinosaurus: 59.1ft & 9.9 tons
Carnotaurus: 30ft & 1.76 tons
Carcharodontosaurus: 44ft & 3.20 tons

These are just five large carnivorous dinosaurs. Now, if dinosaur really lived alongside man, don't you think there would be a bit more than the obscure mentions of this behemoth? Do you know how many times behemoth is mentioned in the (New American) Bible? 2 times. Do you know how many times ass is mentioned? 84 times. Ox? 81 times. Cattle? 61 times. Lion? 111.

If these monstrous carnivores really lived alongside humans, don't you think it would merit a few more descriptions, given the Bible's propensity for such? Oh no, there are these giant dinosaurs eating our animals and our people, but that hardly warrants inclusion in here over the 84 mentions of the ass.

We don't even need to go into the scientific problems with this. Dinosaurs predated humans, grass had just shown up when the sauropods were in decline (and thus couldn't have eaten grass like an ox), etc. Plus, the description of the behemoth says that it eats grass as an ox. An ox chews cud. But the sauropods have no teeth, meaning they can't chew. But far be it for pesky little things as facts and details get in the way of YECs. If they broadly dismiss the overwhelming scientific evidence of dinosaurs not existing alongside humans, why can't they just as simply dismiss the scientific evidence that they could not chew? Behold: the never-ending supply YEC White-Out.

Interpreting the Bible for science statements.
What I find humorous is Ray's fellow YECs Answers in Genesis urging people to stop reading scientific knowledge into bible verses. Have you ever seen a list of science facts of the Bible? If not, I urge you to Google for it and spend time at Christian sites reviewing such lists (Ray wrote a book about them). Prepare to be underwhelmed.

Seeking to validate the Bible, they read scientific knowledge into passages in the Bible to misconstrue them into revealing some profound scientific knowledge millenia before it was discovered. This is just what Ray has done with dinosaurs and behemoth. Let me lay a few of my favorites on you from the same book that Ray has plucked evidence for dinosaurs from. I will give you the verse and see if you can figure it out before looking beneath it. (verse/answers pairs taken directly from a Christian site)

Job 38:19 "Where is the way where light dwells?"

Stumped? "Modern man has only just discovered that light (electromagnetic radiation) has a "way," involving motion traveling at 186,000 miles per second."

Job 38:22 God says: "Have you entered into the treasures of the snow?"

Stumped? It wasn't until the advent of the microscope that man discovered that each and every single snowflake is uniquely a symmetrical "treasure."

Job 38:35 (God Himself speaking): "Can you send lightnings, that they may go and say unto you, Here we are?"

Stumped? The Bible here is saying a scientifically ludicrous statement -- that light can be sent, and then manifest itself in speech. But did you know that radio waves move at the speed of light?

People plucking things out of the Bible and trying to read scientific knowledge into it reminds me of people who try to validate the ramblings of "prophets" by reading historical knowledge into it. For example, take one of the most famous by that marvel of all marvelous prophets, Nostradamus:
Volcanic fire from the center of the earth
will cause trembling around the new city:
Two great rocks will make war for a long time.
Then Arethusa will redden a new river.
Stumped yet? Clearly, he is predicting 9/11.

No comments: