Christians vs Dinosaurs
The conflict between faith and reason is an old one. It took the Vatican 400 years to apologize to Galileo, for having shown that Earth really wasn’t the center of the cosmos. I don’t recall the Church extending the same sentiment to Giordano Bruno, tried by the Inquisition and burned at the stake just ten years earlier, and for the same thing. The battle rages no less fiercely today. There’s a pretty troubling anti-science attitude shambling its way through the political landscape these days, with creationists, climate deniers, or literalists who take the Bible word for word. None of them take much stock in science, and all too many seem oblivious to anything resembling rational thought. They must think the Earth travels through space on the back of a giant tortoise or whale (that’s nonsense, of course; how could a tortoise or whale breathe in the vacuum of deep space?). Taking the latest bold steps into the extreme is a group calling themselves Christians Against Dinosaurs, and thanks to my friend Leon for telling me about them. Please pay attention, as there will be a quiz at the end.
They came to internet attention when a user was banned from the parenting forum Mumsnet, for hijacking the narrative to a diatribe about dinosaurs being a hoax, “perpetrated on the public by paleontologists in exchange for millions of dollars, a pat on the back, and a big high-five from all the feminists who want to kill their babies and scream at their bodies.” (this is similar to the climate deniers’ claim that the scientists have been lying to us all this time, just to get more government funding). Their website became known, as well as their CADministry to uncover this conspiracy that dinosaurs ever existed.
They’ll be glad to tell you that nobody had ever heard of dinosaurs before the 1800s, when they were invented by curio-hungry Victorians. “Only ‘renowned’ scientists ever find these alleged dinosaur bones, never some farmer or shopping mall developer,” which is apparently suspicious. “I used to believe in dinosaurs. We all did. We were all raised on the dinosaur lie, so we don’t question it.”
Let’s ignore for the moment that in nearly every case, dinosaur remains are found by farmers, land developers, or the like, after which scientists are brought in to identify the remains. But as a woman explains on their You Tube video, “A fossil is not actually a piece of bone. It’s actually a bone that was once in the ground that has been filled with limestone, calcium, and other stone-like deposits, so at the end of the day it’s a rock made of rocks. So , , , you have a rock that’s maybe six-and-a-half inches long and you hand it to a paleontologist, who chips away at it until you have something looking like a bone — and that is the fossil.” Wait a minute; it’s not actually a piece of bone, but it’s actually a bone that was once in the ground?
They have a Facebook page, too. There you hear about one mother who says she’s sick of having dinosaurs forced on their children. I suppose I wouldn’t either, at least in the literal sense. Why would she object if dinosaurs don’t exist? She doesn’t want the idea of dinosaurs to be taught in school. “Nothing about dinosaurs is suitable for children, from their total lack of family values through to their non-existence from any serious scientific point of view . . . Consider what you’re actually telling our children with these tall tales — stomping about the place, making loads of noise and mess is great and cool, being aggressive, shouting and biting people is to be applauded, being cold-hearted will win you the world for millions of years (doesn’t she mean thousands?).” I am personally offended that she would impugn the family values of dinosaurs, but that’s another discussion.
One mother tells of a young boy after been having been exposed to the dinosaur lie, who ran around the room, roaring and biting classmates. She claims to have disowned her sister, who “foolishly gave my two youngest some dinosaur toys for Christmas. After telling her to get out of my house, I burnt the dinosaurs. My children were delighted because they know that dinosaurs are evil.”
As I began wading through this new theology, another group of religious outliers occurred to me: the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Members refer to themselves as pastafarians, wear colanders on their heads, and finish their prayers with “Ramen.” This began as a spoof obviously a spoof, then gained a serious following. Last year in Austria a man took his case to court, and won the right to wear a colander on his head for his drivers’ license photo, claiming it to be sacred headgear. So, is one person’s spoof another person’s religion? It’s getting harder to tell, and that brings me to the quiz. It’s only a single question: Christians Against Dinosaurs – – – good satire or a genuine movement? I think it’s the former, but who knows anymore? In 2005 Nathan Pope was in a debate on such things, and formulated Poe’s Law: “Without a clear indicator of an author’s intended sarcasm, it becomes impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism.”
I think most of our Christian brethren (and sistren) are decent, sensible folks. I would say the same about Muslims, Hindus, or non-believers. I know a few real Christians and they simply follow the teachings of Jesus and try to do good when they can. We never hear about them. The screamers, knuckle-draggers, mouth-breathers, and other assorted lobotomites, these are who grab the headlines. It’s the empty wagon that makes the most noise, as my dad used to say. But when people this deranged achieve positions of power, I get a little queasy. On September 27, 2012, Rep. Paul Broun R-GA), publicly said: “All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.” At the time the Congressman, who is also an M.D., sat on the House Science Space and Technology Committee. That makes me nervous. At least until they take over and crucify the rest of us, they make us laugh.
Meanwhile, there’s more comedy ahead. Ted Cruz recently became first to officially declare his run for the presidency in 2016. Yes, the same guy who read from Green Eggs and Ham during a senate filibuster. You’re going to be seeing a lot of him, and he perfectly illustrates the empty wagon metaphor. But don’t misunderestimate him, as George W. Bush would say, this guy’s no dummy. He’s dangerous.