Tag Archives: Creationism

Star Craft.

Anatomical Man, Les Très Riches Heures du duc ...

Image via Wikipedia

My Life for Ire.

For the last few days, an amusing little news report has caught the attention of a large number of believers and non-believers alike; apparently the Zodiac, and therefore all astrology, is inaccurate, according to the research of an astronomer from Minnesota.[1] Because we didn’t know that astrology was hocus pocus nonsense already. In fairness, the relevant point being made by the Minneapolitan is that the moon’s gravity has such an effect on the earth that the Zodiac used by astrologers is one month out of sequence with reality, and, as a bonus inconsistency, they are also ignoring a 13th sign. The original article which brought this to light does mention that astronomers and astrologers have known of this disparity for decades, but have remained silent on the issue as, well, it hardly matters, does it? It’s astrology, who cares?

What is your major malfunction?

I thought little of this debate, it is nonsense after all, until I came across several articles which essentially hope to calm the fears of believers[2]; their signs, contrary to the hurtful words of the bad scientist man, have not changed, according to the helpful and foresight-gifted astrologers, who are in no way economically dependent on sustaining a system of belief which has no true predictive properties but still manages to draw a good deal of money from the gullible. The general theme was one of “Don’t worry”, which should have been followed immediately by “all this Zodiac stuff is an edifice carefully constructed, yet still utterly meaningless, from monkey filth, and the monkey who made it is lying to you”, but, sadly, all the reports clamour to point out “you star-sign hasn’t changed”. Because that’s the key piece of information to take from the debate. A Leo is still a Leo, and has all the inherent attributes of a Leo gifted to them by the stars, because Western astrologers follow a tropical system. Point missed; well done Media. This is a non-story; the first article was entertaining, and possibly illuminating to some, but to allow astrologers to retort grants them a level of credibility they should not be given.

Science, it works…

Nicolaus Copernicus portrait from Town Hall in...

Image via Wikipedia

Astrology and astronomy were one and the same thing for most of human history, just as chemistry was once alchemy, and medicine was witchcraft. But then, things changed; the Enlightenment took hold. From ill-conceived half-truths and unsupported conjectures we derived theories and facts; we separated the chaff from the wheat, the nut from the shell. It was a defining point in human history.The valuable stuff that made the cut became science, the detritus became fashionably ‘alternative’. Reason and academic rigour were born and gave rise to the modern scientific, secular, world. Nonsense masquerading as science has survived both on the fringes of society, and in popular culture, in tabloids, and, increasingly, on the Internet. Copernicus hammered the first nail in the coffin of geocentric religion with his heliocentric model of the solar system, and, building on that, it was eventually discovered that we live on a small planet in the middle of nowhere in a very big somewhere. After hundreds of years suffering under the tyranny of Ptolemy’s unchanging modal of the universe, which the astrologers still adhere to like barnacles, a new system emerged which used observation, mathematics, and reason to design a modal which had true predictive value. Conveniently, when Copernicus and his ilk carved the pith of nonsense from the flesh of facts, they not only shook faith in a supreme deity to its core, they also divided astronomy from astrology. Taking data, building a theory, and then testing it through observation, and then of course refining the theory, provided us with a neat and practical modal of how the universe worked, which is far more useful than making stuff up based on broad generalities and coincidence. Astronomers dumped everything else, everything that made no sense, that couldn’t be proved, that couldn’t be falsified. Stars are enormous balls of gas and fire, they don’t care if you were born in July, they can’t predict if that Libra you met online is the person you have been waiting for, they won’t give you next week’s lotto numbers, and they don’t want you to be happy. Stay out in the sun too long and you’ll see how much a star likes you.

Unnecessary Atavism.

This minor conflict between astrologers and astronomers is indicative of a larger issue. People believe in astrology, a lot of people; one would be too many. It is a strangely popular ailment, it appears in countless newspapers and magazines. On the other hand, it is not as insidious as religion, and there’s a church, synagogue, mosque, or some kind of temple in every city and village in the world. Astrology is not unlike alternative medicine, except I’ve never heard of anyone dying from astrology. It doesn’t appear to be a ‘bad thing’. Astrology in the same vein of tedium as tarot reading and ghosts, superstitions which endure, but still not as damaging as other such nonsense, like creationism and faith-based ‘science’, which seem to be increasing in popularity. This may be a response to the increasingly secular and rational world we live in, another omen of which is the rise in religious conservatism and extremism. There is a war on science waged by ignorance, and astrology is an accessory to this crime. You may think I am exaggerating the dangers of this zodiac fantasy, but it is a symptom, an awkward itch, of a greater and ever more virulent disease; the trend towards the alternative, no matter how daft it is. It’s one thing to read your star-sign in the paper for fun, or the Bible as literature, another thing entirely to actually believe it; chicanery paraded as fact is to be regarded with contempt. Fairies and star-signs, humans and dinosaurs living side-by-side, a ‘museum’ dedicated to Noah’s Ark, homeopathic ‘remedies’, ghost-hunters on TV, men in dresses who pontificate about morality, conspiracy theorists; delusion and ignorance are laying claim to the world, and they must be resisted, and driven back to the abyss.

A Subtle Heresy.

As a final note, if you are a member of any of the major Christian faiths (and probably Judaism and Islam too, but I’m not entirely sure), and you believe in astrology, you are a heretic. Astrology is paganism, possibly even borderline idolatry. According to the Bible, astrologers are bound for Hell, Isaiah 47:13-14 “Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from [these things] that shall come upon thee. Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame…”. On the other hand, the three Magi were astrologers, so clearly the Bible has mixed views on the issue. Either way, one’s a myth and the other is a superstition, and it doesn’t really matter which is which.

Ceterum autem censeo, religionem esse delendam.


[1] http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/style/113100139.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12199980

[2] http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/13/no-your-zodiac-sign-hasnt-changed/
http://edition.cnn.com/2011/LIVING/01/14/zodiac.signs.identity.crisis.online/index.html?iref=NS1
http://www.ecanadanow.com/lifestyle/2011/01/15/new-astrological-signs-2011-13th-sign-added-update/comment-page-1/

There are many, many more such articles and posts decrying this radical idea of astrology not being true… I do quite like the sarcastic tone of this one though –

http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/01/13/horoscope-hang-up-earth-rotation-changes-zodiac-signs/

Advertisements

Creationism, Fuck Off?*

Creationism is stupid. Intelligent design is an imprudently oxymoronic term.jesusdinosaur While belief in a divine creator is, in my opinion, misguided at best, it is not necessarily stupid; many intelligent people believe in some kind of God. God should be a matter of opinion, but sadly it is an instrument of institution and oppression. I can allow for this latitude concerning divinity as, speaking scientifically, there is a possibility, an exceptionally remote possibility, that God is real. On the other hand, speaking philosophically, I can happily and unequivocally announce that there is no God. This is a debate that will never be resolved. Creationism, and its misshapen child, Intelligent Design, however, is indisputably without any intellectual or scientific merit. While those who believe in it may have been led astray or not truly understand the nature of the argument, those who advocate Creationism/ID are committing acts of a most profound and disturbing level of intellectual deceit and moral repugnance. Creationism is quite literally a preposterous proposition; it stupefies me that people believe in it.

In the last few days (May 26th) it came to light that a minister in the Northern Ireland parliament asked a museum to, among other things, to create exhibits which displayed alternative views of the creation of the universe in the name of equality. One might hope this to mean that he wanted competing versions of string theory, planetary accretion, and the provenance of certain species, but sadly this was not the case. He was seeking out a space for the fatuous fallacy of Creationism. It seems some people need reminding of some very basic principles; Facts don’t care about equality, the Truth is not often politically correct, and Reality doesn’t give a damn about your feelings and opinions. The Creationists and ID cretins of Europe are using this new tactic of demanding equality for their farcical notions because their attempts to be accepted on the merits of their arguments have failed. Sadly this is not true of parts of America, such as Texas. Sure, they can have their exhibits in museums, but only if there is a laughing-track playing at all times, or a large sign saying “We apologise for the obvious idiocy of the exhibit but the law demands equality, and those Creationists kicked up such a fuss… Next week Geocentrism Rediscovered!”

James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh (4 January ...

Image via Wikipedia

Creationism and Ireland have an interesting connection.A man from Dublin by the name of James Ussher (sadly a bishop, but I forgive him for reasons which will become clear presently) decided that the world was created on the night preceding Sunday, October 23rd, 4004BC.You might at first think that this is a bizarrely accurate date, and then laugh at the preposterous proposition, but it is not as crazy as it first seems. First of all Ussher was writing in the early 17th century. The Enlightenment had not begun, the Scientific Revolution had barely begun to gain the momentum which would transform the following centuries; Ussher was operating under the accepted paradigm of the day. Hutton (father of modern geology) was over a hundred years away from proposing that the Earth was really, really, really old, and Darwin was over two hundred years away from pointing out the small fact of evolution. Ussher had no other option but the account found in the Bible. But even then Ussher, a great academic to whom historians and the Irish owe a great debt to for his exemplary work on our history, did his research. He didn’t just pull a number out of the air, he investigated many Christian and Jewish texts, he made exceptions for the inaccuracies of ancient dating systems, and he came up with the best answer for the data he had. You can’t blame him for making an omelette when all he had were eggs, even if what you really want is cake. Ussher’s academic achievement and impressive research might even lead one to think that he would dismiss his own theory, had he possessed all the facts.

Creationists who use this man’s work, or anyone’s work which came before the 18th century, are ignoring over two hundred years of scientific progress for no good reason. They are committing the crime of anachronism; they are taking the data out of context to suit their own personal beliefs. They then wish to impose their beliefs on others in a puzzling display of equality, a concept granted to them by the profoundly anti-clerical Enlightenment. Creationism was a perfectly reasonable idea before the Enlightenment, but to maintain a belief in it in the face of staggeringly overwhelming evidence from a variety of unconnected scientific fields is beyond ludicrous, somewhere in the region of the assuredly absurd. The desire to return to an age before science is utterly baffling, an era where most people died before the age of six, you were considered lucky if you reached your fifties, an era when a simple infection could kill you, and the diagnosis for epilepsy was demon possession.

In the modern, rational world we resolve conflicts with words. Creationism is the intellectual equivalent of anal leakage, a symptom of a serious issue that needs to be resolved promptly and most effectively with the aid of qualified experts. It is what toxic effluent is to a delicate eco-system; viciously corrosive, harmful to all forms of life, and it takes decades to repair the damage. Those who maintain their belief in Creationism, or its infectious offspring, must surrender all claim to the benefits the modern world has bestowed upon them; everything from antibiotics to the i-pod. Every scientific, medicinal, and industrial advance since the 18th century should no longer be available to them, as they are all founded on the very same principles from which we derive evolution, geological time, archaeology, and other such things with prove their crazy theories to be nothing but abject nonsense.

In this day and age, Creationism is a stupid idea which has no reason to be held by any individual. It was a valid notion at one point in time, like trepanning, and it did once fit within a paradigm which was widely accepted, but we have moved on. We found better, more elaborate and elegant ideas, and more interesting and stimulating answers for questions its proponents could never dream of. So, Creationism, and all your adherents in all their various guises, it’s time for you to join the absurd theories of the past, and become a historical oddity, a relic of ignorance. It’s time you left us alone. It’s time for you to just fuck off.

Ceterum autem censeo, religionem esse delendam.

*While some might find the use of such language offensive , I believe that it is the only language one can use when dealing with such an abhorrent and insidious ideology as Creationism and its spawn.