AIG Explains Why You are Scum

A few weeks ago, the creation scientists at Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis (AIG) — described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page — posted this article: Dear Atheists, from Bodie Hodge. Here’s AIG’s biographical info on Bodie.

We intended to ignore Bodie’s article because we don’t debate or even discuss atheism around here. Besides being off-topic for us, it was a particularly absurd article. Look how it begins:

Are you tired of all the evil associated with the philosophy of atheism—Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, and so on? After all, most murderers, tyrants, and rapists are not biblical Christians, and most have rejected the God of the Bible.

[…]

Do you feel conflicted about the fact that atheism has no basis in morality (i.e., no absolute right and wrong; no good, no bad?) If someone stabs you in the back, treats you like nothing, steals from you, or lies to you, it doesn’t ultimately matter in an atheistic worldview where everything and everyone are just chemical reactions doing what chemicals do. And further, knowing that you are essentially no different from a cockroach in an atheistic worldview (since people are just animals) must be disheartening.

Perhaps we should have written about it. After all, AIG says pretty much the same thing about those who accept the theory of evolution. Anyway, our oversight is about to be corrected, because AIG received an email complaining about it, and they respond to that email here: Feedback: Responding to the Logic of an Atheist. This one is written by Mark Looy — a co-founder of AIG. It begins with the email they received, which is rather long. Here’s a sample:

The first paragraph fails to deliver any message of any value to the intended audience. It gets sidetracked first by associating all atheists with a few murderous dictators — who may or may not have been atheists. Then, it goes deeper by associating us with all murderers, thieves, rapists. Then it completely goes off the rails …

[…]

I don’t associate my values or goals with those of dictators or criminals, I don’t share their beliefs or their behaviors. I don’t consider my life worthless because I am, as we all are, another leaf on the tree of life. Life in the moment, doing our best day to day, without hope of reward or fear of punishment, is sufficient.

You get the general idea. Although Looy’s response doesn’t explicitly say so, we assume he’s also talking about those who accept the theory of evolution and reject creationism. They always lump us together. Here are some excerpts from Looy’s answer to that email, with bold font added by us for emphasis

Please note that in our web article, AiG did not say atheism causes murder, which you imply we stated. Instead, as we often declare on our website, AiG believes that in a meaningless, purposeless world, people can justify any action they want, including killing others.

Hey — that’s neat. Because ours is a “meaningless, purposeless world,” we can justify anything! We can even try to match those who perpetrated the nightmare of the Inquisition and who justified the millions of deaths in various religious wars. Let’s read on:

If there is no absolute authority, people are free to make up their own rules. In fact, suppose someone considered your personal views to be dangerous and sought to harm you? Why shouldn’t they hurt you if that’s their wish and there is no absolute standard of behavior to prohibit them from doing so? So, no, we are not “slandering” all atheists when we point out the connection between evolution and bad behavior.

There you go — he tossed in evolution, treating it as interchangeable with atheism. And so, dear reader, Looy says we desperately need “absolute authority,” and he is ready to provide it. The AIG article continues:

You did not offer a basis for the beliefs you presented in your email. You thus helped make the very point of our web article. In logic, your argument is called “affirming the consequent.” That is, you are assuming arbitrarily the very thing you believe.

And of course, creationists never arbitrarily assume the things they believe. That’s why their website has a Statement of Faith, the preamble of which says:

In order to preserve the function and integrity of the ministry in its mission to proclaim the absolute truth and authority of Scripture and to provide a biblical role model to our employees, and to the Church, the community, and society at large, it is imperative that all persons employed by the ministry in any capacity, or who serve as volunteers, should abide by and agree to our Statement of Faith, to include the statement on marriage and sexuality, and conduct themselves accordingly.

Here’s more from Looy’s article:

Why bother to write a harsh email if people are merely chemicals reacting with each other, like vinegar and baking soda? Ultimately, since in the atheistic worldview all people will cease to exist, what’s the point of doing anything, including taking care of your family members or bothering to send us an email?

Yes, dear reader — you’re nothing but a bunch of chemicals, so what’s the point of doing anything? Moving along:

As to your comment that you believe in science and technology, I reply that so do we. I point out that we have several full-time staff with earned doctorates who enjoy their pursuits in science and technology.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Another excerpt:

Do you have meaning and purpose in life? When your head hits the pillow at night, do you fall asleep knowing that your life has meaning even if there is no life after death? Furthermore, do you ponder the point of anything you did that day if you believe there will be a time (from your atheistic perspective) when no consciousness will exist to know or remember anything? It will all have been nothingness, even with your statement that you “don’t consider my life worthless because I am, as we all are, another leaf on the tree of life.” I’m sorry, but what is the ultimate meaning of that tree?

Powerful stuff, huh? Let’s skip to the end of the article:

Regardless, I hope you will continue to check our website from time to time, and we pray that one day you will come to realize that the Christian worldview is rational and defensible and then receive Christ as Savior. I would also welcome you to tour our Creation Museum near Cincinnati; I would be happy to meet with you and offer you a complimentary ticket.

Wowie — a free ticket to the Creation Museum! That’s a real life-changer. We are overwhelmed.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “AIG Explains Why You are Scum

  1. Do I know that life has meaning even if God doesn’t exist?

    Of course I do. Even from an atheistic, evolutionist standpoint, life has a great deal of meaning. AiG and its compatriots absolutely adore insinuating that evolution means “kill others to survive.” But look at the many, many examples of cooperation and mutual assistance in the animal kingdom. The hymenopterans, for instance (ants, bees, and wasps in layman’s terms) are huge, interconnected families that share, cooperate, and work together to survive.

    And even if you argue that yes, they all share a common parent, then consider vampire bats. Vampire bats have a strong sense of altruism. If a member of their roost doesn’t get enough blood in one night, it’s extremely common for a “buddy”- a non-familal member of the roost- to aid them by regurgitating some extra blood into their mouth. Similarily, many apes and dogs will also share food. Why would this happen in an inherently selfish, evil, “fallen” world that AiG and others insist we live in? And, even more mind-bendingly (to them, anyways), why would such behaviour persist in the horrible, Godless, murderous world that evolution apparently creates? If you help others, you’re helping preserve the survival of your species. From a purely minimalist, Darwinistic perspective, if you’re kind to others, they will be kind to you and help you when you need it, thus increasing your likelihood to survive. From a more traditional perspective, it’s simply the right thing to do- as the proverb says, “do unto others as they would have them do unto you” and the many variations thereof.

    (… it should also be noted that Hitler was a fairly devout Christian…!)

  2. No, Hitler’s beliefs were constantly mutating and changing. If you think he was a “devout Christian” hasn’t read “Hitler’s Table Talk.” He was apparently a theist of sorts, but no Christian, at least in the years after Mein Kampf. His religion was German Nationalism.

    He was a weird guy, that Hitler. But most of us probably already knew that.

  3. A couple of observations:

    People invent religions, then live by the codes for their religion. They have done so throughout history, in numerous diverse ways. If morality comes only from the Christian god, how is it that people seem to have an endless capability for inventing other religions, moral codes, systems of laws, and the like? Atheists, in particular, are no different than religious folk in their capacity for morality and meaning – the only difference is that they do not feel the need to invent a religion to justify their values, or impose them on others.

    The second observation is, once freed from the delusion that the meaning of one’s life is to prepare for an afterlife, a person can turn to creating meaning in their present life. Rather than hoping for a heaven after death, a rational person attempts to create the best world possible during his own life. Imagine for a moment that all the money citizens contribute to their churches was instead contributed to organizations that built schools, parks, libraries, museums, and so on…think of how much better those communities would be. Think of the time wasted by religious folk in churches, on missions, in religious schools, etc, that could have been usefully employed. The diversion of time and treasure into religious pursuits is a great loss to our society, probably totaling billions of dollars every year.

    Finally, science is probably the only tool we have that we can use to change the planet – feed the world’s population, ensure water supplies, mitigate global warming as much as possible – but many religious people, particularly in the U.S., deride science and actively oppose it’s use. Why is this? It is because science sometimes conflicts with the made-up stories of the various religions, and to a religious person it is more important to believe the religion they ascribe to than to know the truth. Because of this, and their opposition to the advancement of knowledge when it is uncomfortable, everyone else suffers, including themselves. AiG’s “culture war” is a war against knowledge, based on religion, and it a war in which the crusader will suffer just as much as everyone else.

    end of rant

  4. Grum writes: … But look at the many, many examples of cooperation and mutual assistance in the animal kingdom. …

    Yes, we even evolved the the capacity for a self-induced dopamine reward for cooperative behavior, thus enabling large communities of individuals suppressing their self-interest for the benefit of the group. It is a highly successful survival strategy, but it leads to some very curious extremes. For instance, a group calling itself Answers in Genisis.

  5. Some day my descendants may even evolve the capacity to spot misspellings before they post.

  6. Misspellings is an evolved method to keep people humble. To force people to look beyond the well worded to the well thought and to give creationist something to comment on when you back them into a corner.

  7. The transcendentalists must be rolling in their graves…

  8. A journalist once wrote a article comparing a north american news paper editor to a chinese news paper editor. While the north american editor developed ulcers to insure that no typo’s made it to print, the chinese editor wisely left a few in to allow for the readers gratification in finding them.

  9. retiredsciguy

    Ed, you called your extremely well-thought essay a rant. On the contrary, it is one of the best, most concise pieces of writing on the subject I’ve ever had the good fortune to read.

    Perhaps it resonates so strongly with me because of the Methodist upbringing that we share, and evidently, moved beyond.

  10. retiredsciguy

    TA: “Some day my descendants may even evolve the capacity to spot misspellings before they post.”

    Well-played!

  11. retiredsciguy

    @Dean: I wonder what a typo in Chinese would look like?

  12. @RSG: Statisticans worked out such a description long ago. We refer to it as the cuneiform distribution. 😉

  13. Retired Prof

    TA’s comment that AIG is a product of evolution is right on the money. Like chimps, bonobos, and gorillas, human beings evolved in small groups with hierarchical structure. Hierarchies generate competition as individuals strive for higher status, but individuals cannot survive without the help of others. So there is always tension between competition and cooperation.

    Apes and people evolved enough brainpower to manage this tension by adapting their behavior to prevailing conditions, and persuading everybody to behave more or less similarly. That is, we have evolved the capacity for culture, so that members come to share a common understanding of how they should navigate their environment and interact with one another. For example, some bands of chimps crack nuts with rocks, others don’t. Some are excitable and violent, others laid-back, and they may change when a new top ape displaces the previous one. Of course, our own species is the culture champion. We have developed more complex sets of behavioral rules, and a wider variety of them, than any other species of ape.

    Here’s the thing. Just every code of behavior our species has developed has been intertwined with religious belief. Religion is not an inevitable culmination of our evolutionary development. It is not the only cultural means to unify a society and promote smooth relations. But a look at anthropology lets us see it predominates. Therefore I cannot entirely join Ed in condemning wholesale “The diversion of time and treasure into religious pursuits.” The habit is too ingrained.

    Perhaps instead there is a way to channel religious institutions and the religious impulses of their members toward the goals Ed and most other citizens value: schools, parks, libraries, museums. They do not have to be as detrimental to society as the Creation Museum and the creationist schools endorsed by AIG. After all, some of the finest paintings, architecture, and musical compositions our species has produced were commissioned by the Catholic Church, or by Buddhists or Hindus. Some of our finest universities were founded religious organizations.

    (Full disclosure: I am an unbeliever, myself.)

  14. Something I find interesting about Hambo is his central thesis that if his brand of fundamentalist Christianity isn’t true then we are faced with the pernicious fact that our finite existence will be snuffed out and our existence was entirely without meaning. I’d gladly take this over the theological house of cards Hambo insists on building. Fallacy is built upon fallacy to escape the onerous reality that we don’t endure forever. While the human mind seems to be hard wired to established a purpose that need not be anything more than rearing children or pushing back the curtain of ignorance. Life’s solution to the harsh reality of a finite existence is reproduction. It is the joy of being a member of a family and a member of humanity that we should harness to give our lives meaning, not the literal interpretation of ancient myths to save our individual egos.

  15. Retired Prof says: “Perhaps instead there is a way to channel religious institutions and the religious impulses of their members toward the goals Ed and most other citizens value”

    The Founders had the right idea. First, detach religion from political power. That was absolutely brilliant. Then, without government subsidies, let them compete in the marketplace. If a sect can attract members who support it, fine — it’ll flourish. If not, then adios! There’s nothing like competition and free markets.

  16. Ceteris Paribus

    @Retired Prof: Your mention of AIG and bonobos in the first two sentences of your opening paragraph entirely wrecked my ability to focus on the remainder of yours, and other excellent posts.

  17. Retired Prof

    Yes, SC, of course. To preserve freedom of religion we can’t write regulations to make churches follow more “socially responsible” (whatever that may mean) programs. However, we can shine a light on them–at least on the most harmful ones–the same way you do with this blog.

    Sometimes that approach works. I have been following one case in which a prophet was predicting Armageddon and demanding money from his followers so that he could warn the world, even if they had to go into debt or sell property to do it. Actually he was using their tithes and offerings as his own personal piggy bank to finance luxury cars, shopping sprees, and European pleasure excursions for himself, his wife, and his grown children. Somebody set up a Web site to report his activities; alarmed church members notified the IRS; the prophet was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for tax evasion. Fraud would have been a justifiable charge, but impossible to prosecute because ministers of the gospel are not subject to fraud claims for false prophecies even when the pronouncements are no more than a cynical ploy for self-aggrandizement and -enrichment.

    So maybe the ridicule here will alert would-be contributors and shrink the funds donated to AIG and the DI.