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Jesus is Dead, Elvis is Dead, and I Don’t Feel so Good Myself September 29, 2019

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Parables, Responses.
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Lately I’ve heard a lot of apologists try to argue for the reliability of the NT accounts of Jesus.  And they seem flummoxed when non-believers are not willing to accept their assertions about this.  So instead of talking about the gospels for the moment, first I’d like to talk about Elvis Presley. (more…)

Instruction Manuals and Genomes March 18, 2012

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Parables, Rants.
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I recently had a Fundie say this to me in a comment on another blog:

 “Of the 5,000 best-known human genes, 75% have matches in the worm (see “A Tiny Worm Challenges Evolution”). Does this mean that we are 75% identical to a nematode worm?”

Then he also said “Theoretical(sic) a worm has 75% of your brain”

 Really.  Yeah, apparently the hard-core creationists really teach their sheep to say stuff like this.  I gave him a quick answer, but over the next few days a new Parable started rumbling around in my head.  With a little assistance from UbiDubiKid#2 on some of the details, here is:

The parable of the Instruction Manual.

If I went to a builder, “How do I build a nice large house?” I might expect his response to be to pull out a set of blueprints.  If I asked “how can I build a small townhouse?” he’d pull out a different set, and the blueprints for a mansion or an office building or a shopping mall would also be different.  At first glance, these plans would not resemble each other very much at all.

But the blueprints are actually only a tiny part of the information needed to build a house.  To really know how to “build a house from scratch” you would need to turn to the Complete Instruction Manual on House Building for that house, which is a multi volume set.

Volume 1, Lumber, has instructions for cutting down trees, which kind of wood is good for what kind of use, what size boards should be used, how to frame walls and doorways, how to do fancy woodwork, and anything else having to do with wood.

Volume 2, Bricks, has instructions on selecting clay, making different kinds of bricks, and firing them.  It has instructions on how to lay bricks, and a long section on the manufacture and use of mortar.

Skipping to Volume 27,  Hand Tools, we find chapters on how to make all types of hammers (with cross-references to Volume 1, Lumber, and Volume 13, Iron Smelting for the materials).  Additional chapters have instructions on screwdrivers, saws, and drills.  Volume 28 continues with Power Tools.

Other volumes discuss the manufacture and installation of wallboard, wiring, plumbing, concrete foundations, etc.  Two large full volumes concern construction vehicles, one on manufacture, and another on use and maintenance.

In each Complete Instruction Manual on House Building, the specific blueprints take up only a few pages.  Most of the rest is pretty much identical information, regardless of what kind of building you are constructing.  Sure the Manual for stately homes may have more about marble quarrying, but most of the information is the same.

 The human genome is a lot like that.  Most of the information on how to build an organism is about assembling the required proteins to build all its different cells, and other information keeps the cells running and functioning together.  Only a small part of the genome is devoted to how many of each type of cell there are, or how they are arranged, or how to grow the complete organism from a singe cell, the part we might call a “blueprint”.

 Since the c. elegans worm that the fundie was talking about is an animal, made of eukaryotic cells of various types, as we are, since it moves and eats and breathes, as we do, we would expect it to be made out of the same basic stuff and share most of its Complete Instruction Manual on Organism Building with humans.  As it does.

 Except, if the Complete Instruction Manual on House Building were really like our genome, you would find a few surprises on reading it.  For instance, the chapters would not be in a neat logical sequence, but scattered about and broken into pieces. The chapters on Nails, for example, would be broken up and scattered in with Heat Systems, Carpet Manufacture, and Paint.  For some reason, all the building manuals would still include instructions on wattle-and-daub wall construction and thatch roofs, even though nobody builds those any more. (Those instructions are full of accumulated typos, anyway, and impossible to make out completely.)  For some reason there are whole pages of gibberish, including pages that say nothing but the word “toothpaste” repeated over and over again.  Sometimes those gibberish pages fall in the middle of  important instructions.  And there are sections full of casserole recipes, and a list of video game cheat codes, which appear to be totally irrelevant.

 Since we are made of the same stuff, it would be astonishing if we did not share most of our genome with worms, or any other animal for that matter.  Trying to twist this into a reason to reject evolution is intellectually dishonest, and that’s the politest way I can put it.

The Parable of the Meadow March 15, 2012

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Parables, Rants.
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2 comments

I recently responded to a blog comment that used the old “burning building” metaphor that the Fundies use as a justification for their high-octane evangelism.  I decided to respond with a metaphor of my own, and I thought I’d share it with you. (I posted this on ex-christian.net in January, but now that I have my own blog, I thought I should post it here too.)

 

Once there was a Humanist sitting in a beautiful meadow on a sunny day. The meadow was full of wildflowers and butterflies, and she was enjoying a cool glass of lemonade.

Suddenly, a True Believer ran up to her and yelled “FIRE! RUN AWAY! YOU ARE WALKING INTO A BURNING BUILDING! YOU’VE GOT TO RUN AWAY NOW!!!”

 The Humanist said “What? I’m just sitting here, I don’t see any building, and where’s the smoke?”

 Just as the True Believer was about to answer, another True Believer ran up to her and shouted “DON’T LISTEN TO HIM, HE’S WRONG! IT’S NOT A FIRE, IT’S A FLOOD!!! YOU ALL HAVE TO COME WITH ME IN MY BOAT RIGHT NOW OR YOU’LL DROWN!!!”

 Before the Humanist could say anything, a third True Believer came up. “THEY’RE BOTH WRONG!! IT’S NOT A FIRE OR A FLOOD, IT’S A TORNADO! ALL OF YOU HAVE TO COME IN THIS BUNKER WITH ME RIGHT NOW OR YOU’RE DOOOOMED!!!”

 The Humanist said “Wait, you can’t all be correct. And I can’t do all those things at the same time! How do I know which one of you is right?”

 They all three said “BECAUSE IT SAYS SO IN MY ANCIENT BOOK!!!”

 The Humanist said “That’s no help, you all have different ancient books. How else can I know?”

 They all three said “A VOICE IN MY HEAD TOLD ME! AND I FEEL IT IN MY HEART!!!”

 “You still all sound the same. How about some real evidence? There’s no smoke, there isn’t a cloud in the sky, and it hasn’t rained in a week. Until one of you can show me something real, I’m going to have to assume that none of you is correct.”

 They all three said “THE OTHER TWO ARE LYING TO YOU! I’M THE ONLY ONE WITH THE TRUTH! YOU JUST HAVE TO TRUST ME!!!” Then they began fighting amongst themselves, still yelling, and beating each other over the head with their books and holy symbols. Then more True Believers arrived, each variously proclaiming tsunamis, hailstorms and onrushing trains, and joined right in the fight, each bellowing that they had the only truth, and attacking all the others.

 The Humanist stood up, picked up her lemonade, and shook her head. “I’ve had enough of this. I’m going to go find a quieter meadow.” And she sadly walked away from all of them.