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Friday, August 27, 2010

You should not read this post unless you have a strong stomach.

As you all know by now, you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than Conservapedia,* but that doesn't mean that they aren't occasionally funny. The most recent proof of that humor comes to us courtesy of- believe it or not- the gulf oil spill. Yes, folks: a gigantic ecological catastrophe is, apparently, proof of God's love:

Or, in plain text:

God provides after mankind struck out: "New microbe discovered eating oil spill in Gulf."

Now, for those who are curious, they're referring to this story that describes the discovery of a previously unknown type of microbe that appears to be breaking down the oil in the gulf. Needless to say, I'm pleased as hell that this is happening, though I somehow doubt that it's going to be a magic bullet that instantly reverses all the damage. Yeah, the real world just doesn't work that way. What the article does not do, however, is give the credit to god, presumably both because that would be highly inappropriate for a scientist, and because that opens up all kinds of theological issues. Fortunately, we have Conservapedia to blunder into that one for us, and the discussion on the talk page is absolutely hysterical. I don't want to cover the whole thing, which is mostly dumb, but two selections should suffice to give you the flavor. Let's start with the genesis** of the discussion:

Or in plain text:

How can someone NOT see the hand of Divine Providence in this? How can such things be dismissed as "coincidence?" --Benp 11:57, 25 August 2010 (EDT)

Liberals will doubtless give their stock answer, "evolution did it," conveniently ignoring the powerful counterexample to evolution that this new microbe provides. DavidE 13:58, 25 August 2010 (EDT)

I suppose it makes up for what he did to Pakistan MickeyD 15:24, 25 August 2010 (EDT)

Your consistency argument is superficial and does not withstand scrutiny. Flooding is disorder, while the oil-eating bugs are highly ordered. The two examples are not similar, but opposite. Disorder is the absence of order, not similar to it.--Andy Schlafly 16:51, 25 August 2010 (EDT) [user signatures underlined for clarity]

Okay, I'll be honest, I included this partially because it just made me laugh. First, you have to love MickeyD for pointing out that god appears to be remarkably inconsistent in his actions and perhaps it's unwise to chalk up all good natural events to god and the rest as... you know... natural disasters.*** But then, hilariously, Schlafly attempts to respond by making some sort of weird "flooding is disorder, microbes are order" argument. Now, I know why he's doing this- it's because he's obsessed both by the notion that god is somehow perfectly ordered and by the weird intelligent design notion that life equals order- but it comes across as a non sequitur. Never mind, however, that what MickeyD actually means isn't that flooding and microbial action are similar (whatever the hell that means) but that attributing one to god opens the way to attribute the other. But, really, I suppose we have to award points to Schlafly here since, really, if there's one thing he definitely believes, it's that god would never, ever flood something. Way too much disorder for Jehovah.

Believe it or not, though, it gets funnier:

Or, in regular text:

"I suppose it makes up for what he did to Pakistan".

Interesting that you take the same illogical tact as most liberals and atheists, MickeyD. Instead of looking at it that way, would it take any extra effort on your part to ask what is the more pertinent question, "What has man (or the Pakistanis) not done to prevent such wide-spread devastation"? Imagine what the damage would have been like if instead of wasting billions of dollars on nuclear weapons and maintaining them, and giving millions to the Taliban and terrorists, they had invested in their own people, invested in flood control projects!

God gave man free will. Put the blame where it belongs. --ṬK/Admin/Talk 17:34, 25 August 2010 (EDT)

I want to thank Lucy for her insight above: arguments that presume the motive or methods of an infinitely greater intellect (God) -- rather than simply observing the designer's results -- are logically suspect. I don't know how Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, but I can marvel at its intelligent design.--Andy Schlafly 17:45, 25 August 2010 (EDT) [bolding original, underlining added to user signatures for clarity]

Oh, where to start? We have TK basically blaming the Pakistanis for a flood. Let me say that again: he's blaming the victims of a natural disaster for the natural disaster. Now, you might say that he's not so much saying that they caused the disaster, as that their suffering is their own fault since they didn't prepare for it. I suppose you could advance that argument, but by the same token if I go out and shoot someone in the chest, can I then blame them for their pain since they didn't bother to wear a bullet proof vest? I'm guessing no. And then we have Schlafly, who suggests that we can't know the motives or methods of god, but can marvel at how well he designed everything. Okay, let's go down that road:

This is the Guinea Worm:

It's a parasitic worm that lives underneath the skin, can grow to a substantial length, and has to be removed by gradually winding it around a sick. I'm told the process is excruciatingly painful. Then there's Ascaris Lumbricoides:

Which may infect up to 25% of the human population and can cause malnutrition and death, among other things. And, if you're interested in non-human welfare, how about Cymothoa Exigua:

This helpful little guy eats the host fish's tongue and replaces it with himself, thereafter deriving nutrition either from the food the fish eats, or directly from the fish's blood.

I could go on, but there's no real need. It's theologically dangerous to invoke the argument Schlafly does for the simple reason that if all life on Earth is intelligently designed, then a rather horrific proportion of that life is little more than terrifyingly ingenious engines of pain and misery. Sure, we can set aside our notions of god's motives and methods, but Schlafly's own beloved bible**** states in Matthew 7:16 "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?"

Maybe we can't know the motives of Schlafly's god but, if his alleged works are any indication, we're in deep trouble.

* I don't care what that Ben Kenobi says! He's just a crazy old wizard, anyway.

** You bet your ass the pun was intended.

*** Ironically, the insurance industry refers to these negative happenings as "acts of god." Make of that what you will, but I'm pretty sure insurance companies are NOT run exclusively by atheists. And if they are, why the hell aren't I getting better rates?

**** Actually, his most beloved bible is probably his own absurd Conservative Bible. If we check Matthew Chapter 7 in it, however, the verse is pretty similar: "You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?"

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Blogger scripto said...

There are already all sorts of oil eating microbes. There's been oil in the water for as long as there has been oil. I imagine that before long someone will figure out how this one evolved. If the mechanism for genetic change is identified does god still get the credit? I don't get these guys. What's the point? If God set it up for this thing to evolve than God is controlling everything. And if he's controlling everything he's responsible for the bad stuff, too.

Sunday, August 29, 2010 7:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Christians and evolution. They keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

True story: At the local Chik-Fil-A, there was some "Drive-in" film out back, and they were showing a Christian Comedian* making fun of evolution. While kids wearing abstinence rings laughed the hollow, unsexed laugh of virtuous victory.

* I blurted out, "Is that a real thing?!"

Sunday, August 29, 2010 11:04:00 AM  

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