Creationist Wisdom #609: The Mummy Again

Today’s second letter-to-the-editor appears in the Arizona City Independent, a bi-weekly published by Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc. of Casa Grande, Arizona. The title is Our Marvelous Universe. The newspaper has a comments feature.

We don’t like to embarrass people (unless they’re politicians, preachers, or other public figures), but we’ll do it in this case. The letter-writer is
Pastor Jim Mumme of the Evangelical Methodist Church located in Arizona City, Arizona.

That’s a familiar name to our regular readers. We’ve written twice before about letters from that same preacher to that same newspaper. The first was #418: Arizona Preacher. Then we wrote #431: The Mummy Returns. Now he’s back again. We’ll give you a few excerpts from his latest letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

After starting with a scripture passage — always a good beginning! — the rev says:

The science magazines that I read regularly have interesting articles about black holes, dark matter, string theory, mysterious radiation sources, intellectual guesses about what is being observed (not always seen, but recorded electronically), and interpretations such as, “The universe is about 14 billion years old.”

The rev has impressed us with his efforts to absorb up-to-date information. Then he tells us:

The Hubbell [sic] Telescope that orbits the earth, and that has a clear view into deep space that is not hindered by pollution and moisture in our atmosphere, exists partly to get a longer view into space, and maybe find the boundary of the theoretical Big Bang that many scientists believe was the beginning of our present universe. If there was a Big Bang, then there should be an outer limit to it, or boundary. They haven’t found it yet, but many scientists persist in their faith that it has to exist.

Yes, the Hubble Space Telescope has been a failure. It hasn’t located the Great Boundary of the universe. Then the rev gives us the competing theory:

The biblical view of the universe is that a Supreme Intelligence (God) created a fully functioning, mature universe in the short interval of six 24-hour days. In other words, that the objects in space began their existence simultaneously, already growing, receding, radiating, appearing, disappearing, etc. The celestial objects began their existence thousands of light years away from us and from each other. They didn’t originate in a tiny spot of condensed matter that exploded thousands, maybe millions, maybe billions, of light years ago to account for their present locations in space.

That sounds good — as long as he doesn’t worry about how those distant stars were visible on Earth during Genesis week. Let’s read on:

The biblical view of living beings is that fully functioning mature (adult) humans, animals, insects, birds, fish, plants, etc. were created, and that life didn’t originate from non-life. No scientist has ever succeeded in creating life from non-life in laboratories, though many have tried, and none have observed it happening in nature.

Science fails again! The rev continues:

It is easy to see that either theory of the origin of the universe requires a great deal of faith.

Well, yeah! Science is all about faith. Here’s more:

The obvious existence of order and design in the universe supports the existence of an intelligent Creator for those who have faith in Him. For those who have a distaste for recognizing an authority greater than themselves, the search for contrary evidence must go on.

Right, that’s what drives those foolish scientists. Moving along:

So far, this search has proven to be very disappointing, although believers like Carl Sagan hang on to every new thread of hope through new discoveries in space.

Sagan is still hanging on? The rev’s letter began by mentioning all the science magazines he reads, but it seems that he has fallen a bit behind. Carl Sagan died in 1996.

The last paragraph is a bunch of bible stuff, so this is a good point at which to leave the rev’s letter. We can’t wait for the next one.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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18 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #609: The Mummy Again

  1. I think the problem here is that be be ordained or get a doctor of divinity degree, you only have to master some books and unlike lawyers, the books do not have to make any sense nor is there a huge collections of case law to consult. Consequently, you just have to sound like you understand what is in these relatively few books. You don’t have to do original research, nor do you have to test your work at all.

    In other words, Reverend Bubba don’ gotta be too bright. Just like the days when really intelligent women were trapped in jobs as teachers, nurses, and secretaries, it used to be there were only three professions (law, medicine, and the clergy) and “professionals” were limited and confined to those, so quite a few bright ones were to be found in each. Now that there are interesting and lucrative careers for this same audience, the one of the three with no objective standards has fallen on hard times. Can you guess the one, boys and girls? Yep, Reverend Bubba ain’t too bright.

    If they would just confine themselves to visiting sick parishioners in the hospital and the like, there wouldn’t be a problem, but all of these newly frocked idjits gotta go writin’ to the newspapers. Lordy, lordy, we in for it now!

  2. @Steve Ruis
    unlike lawyers, the books do not have to make any sense
    Really, lawyers and law books and laws have to make sense?

    And as far as doing original research, that is what we see – making stuff up. The culture of the Ancient Near East had no concern about the relationship between species. It takes making stuff up to discover proof texts about that in the Bible.

    Back to the letter –

    The creation of a fully functioning, mature universe, that sounds to me like Omphalism.

  3. …the search for contrary evidence must go on.

    Creationists do not seem able to imagine what is like to think independently. Creationism is a mind set that assumes everything other people do is either for or against god. In this case, the evil atheists doing science not to learn things but to find evidence against god.

    I used to think people just made up stuff like that, and some do – such as Ham pretending that secular science is a religion – but I think this writer and other true believers actually cannot imagine any other way of thinking. They are, unfortunately, beyond any logical argument.

  4. Ed says: “I used to think people just made up stuff like that, and some do – such as Ham pretending that secular science is a religion – but I think this writer and other true believers actually cannot imagine any other way of thinking.”

    That’s one of the reasons why we should never debate with creationists. The opponent is either someone like Hambo or else it’s someone like this rev. Either way, it’s hopeless.

  5. > “The science magazines that I read regularly
    > have interesting articles about black holes, dark
    > matter, string theory, . . . ”
    —————-
    String theory is not a theory – it’s not even an hypothesis. It’s speculation at best and there is zero evidence for any of it. There aren’t 20 dimensions – only 3 plus time.
    —————
    > “The Hubbell [sic] Telescope that orbits the
    > earth, . . . exists partly to get a longer view into
    > space, and maybe find the boundary of the
    > theoretical Big Bang that many scientists
    > believe was the beginning of our present
    > universe.”
    ————–
    Liar. First of all “Universe” is capitalized, rev. And the Big Bang idea is a theory, but you are implying the non-scientific definition of theory – you know that, you dishonest buffoon. Secondly, looking for the external boundary of the Universe is not the raison d’etre of the Hubble Telescope. We’ve known for the a long time that the “boundary” is not in the present observable Universe, a sphere which is calculated to be 93 billion light years across.
    ————–
    > “They haven’t found it yet, but many scientists
    > persist in their faith that it has to exist.”
    ————-
    Liar. No scientist says that. Even if it was found, it would be by scientists, not by the likes of you. Scientists do not have “faith” when it comes to observing and interpreting nature. We use evidence and logic and objectivity.
    —————
    > “The biblical view of the universe is that a
    > Supreme Intelligence (God) created a fully
    > functioning, mature universe in the short
    > interval of six 24-hour days.”
    ———–
    Provably wrong. By the way, “Biblical” is capitalized, you top shelf English major.
    ———-
    > “objects in space began their existence
    > simultaneously, already growing, receding,
    > radiating, appearing, disappearing, etc.”
    ———–
    Zero evidence for that. Abundant evidence against that.
    ———–
    > “The celestial objects began their existence
    > thousands of light years away from us and from
    > each other. They didn’t originate in a tiny spot of
    > condensed matter that exploded thousands,
    > maybe millions, maybe billions, of light years
    > ago to account for their present locations in
    > space.”
    ————-
    Yes they did – the evidence says so. You don’t like that? Tough.
    No scientist has ever said anything close to the “tiny spot” having existed thousands, maybe millions of light years ago. The origin of the Universe has been understood (for a long time now) to be a billions of years ago event.
    Oh Rev – you’ve mixed up distance and time units. Did you even graduate from junior high school?
    ———-
    > “The biblical view of living beings is that fully
    > functioning mature (adult) humans, animals,
    > insects, birds, fish, plants, etc. were created”
    ———
    Provably wrong.
    By the way – you’re not a good creationist. Don’t you know that creationists believe that insects and plants aren’t life forms? That’s why they weren’t on the original (non-existent) version of Ken Ham’s waste-of-wood-and-money ark.
    ———
    > “No scientist has ever succeeded in creating life
    > from non-life in laboratories, though many have
    > tried, and none have observed it happening in
    > nature.”
    —————
    Two lies here. There is no science experiment that has ever tried that.
    And it has been observed in nature. 4.0 billion years ago (check the rock record yourself) – no life on Earth. 3.5 billion years ago (check the fossil record yourself) – life in the form of bacteria. Life from non-life! Presto! Right there in the rock record, you ignorant moron.
    ————–
    > “either theory of the origin of the universe
    > requires a great deal of faith.”
    ————-
    Liar. Rev – your idea is not a “theory”. Never has been. Never will be. Science is not based on faith of beliefs – it’s based on facts.
    —————
    > “The obvious existence of order and design in
    > the universe supports the existence of an
    > intelligent Creator”
    —————
    Your logic is flawed. Read a book. Take a science class.
    ————–
    > “For those who have a distaste for recognizing
    > an authority greater than themselves, the
    > search for contrary evidence must go on.”
    ————
    Liar.
    I do indeed have distaste, disdain, and scorn for “authorities” (read: politicians) who claim to be greater than the rest of us. They are anything but great – they’re painfully-obviously the bottom of the barrel.
    But, scientific investigations of nature have nothing to do with any of that gibberish. Any claim otherwise is provarication.
    ————-
    > “believers like Carl Sagan hang on to every
    > new thread of hope through new discoveries in
    > space.”
    ————
    Sagan and many others revel in the wonders of the Universe and all of the new discoveries and interpretations that scientists make. We try to communicate the awesomeness & wonderfulness to the general public, with the goal of maybe having them appreciate how amazing life in the Cosmos is. You sir are willfully wallowing in the pick muck of Bronze Age superstitious nonsense. Shame shame shame.

    Whew. That felt good.

  6. @James St. John

    Your post should be read in the voice of Lewis Black, for full effect. 🙂

  7. Curmudgeon says: “That’s one of the reasons why we should never debate with creationists. The opponent is either someone like Hambo or else it’s someone like this rev. Either way, it’s hopeless.”

    I agree that statement is true as far as public creationists go and for debating in general. Yet I don’t think that everyone in that category of “creationist” are irrational dolts. If they are to Mumme’s or Ham’s point of irrationality, they are beyond hope. However, I’ve had several friendly conversations with people who generally didn’t know much about the issue and just thought creationism was true by default. (These conversations were all started by the other person too.) When they asked about the evidence and I told them everything that only makes sense in light of evolution and a scientific cosmological and geological time scale, they seemed to genuinely change their mind or at least seriously and honestly consider it.

  8. Mummy, eh?

    The newspaper group’s title “Casa Grande” translates as “great house”. Retranslated into ancient Egyptian, it comes out as “Pharoah”. Coincidence?

    I think not.

  9. If there was a Big Bang, then there should be an outer limit to it, or boundary. They haven’t found it yet, but many scientists persist in their faith that it has to exist.

    No “outer limit” is necessary. The observable universe is moving outward on the wave front of the Big Bang, expanding like the surface of a balloon so that objects not gravitationally bound to one another move apart. (That’s why balloons grow pale as they expand: the tiny specks of pigment on their surfaces move apart.)

    What’s inside the balloon? We don’t know (yet), but maybe the answer is “nothing,” since even space and time are expanding at that same wave front.

    Oh, and by the way, nothing existed “millions of light years ago”–because the light year is a measure of distance, not time.

  10. As James said, scientists have not tried to “create life”. But, not many are even researching the area. Grant money for very basic research dried up about thirty years ago. Agencies now must see a more immediate connection between your proposed research and some benefit to society, in order for your project to be funded. You have to be at Harvard and already have a Nobel prize to get funded for things like modeling pre-biotic scenarios.

  11. It is the oddest argument for “intelligent design” for life, to point to the lack of progress in designing life.

  12. Steve Ruis minimizes the value of studying toward a Doctor of Divinity degree. Simply holding the credentials can also reduce one’s cred, as the classic limerick suggests.

    A theology student named Fiddle
    Refused to accept his degree.
    He answered the riddle:
    “Bad enough to be Fiddle,
    Without being Fiddle, D.D.”

  13. Steve Ruis wrote:
    think the problem here is that be be ordained or get a doctor of divinity degree….”

    Wow. I must admit that I have no idea what you could be describing, so I will assume you are speaking of something said about Pastor Jim Mumme somewhere other than in the SC’s blog, or perhaps a past blog. Unless I somehow missed it, I didn’t notice any mention of a Doctor of Divinity (which is very rare among pastors in the USA) and, for that matter, I have no way to know if the pastor is ordained.

    As I re-read your comments I wondered if you might be describing terminology that applies somewhere other than the USA or the UK or Canada, for that matter? In the USA ordination and the Doctor of Divinity degree have absolutely nothing to do with one another, per se, although a lot of D.D.’s may happen to be ordained because of their being a minister or a professor at a seminary or Bible college. In the USA a D.D. is strictly an honorary degree—and I think the Federal government (largely for IRS purposes) even legally defined the Doctor of Divinity so that it would NOT be confused with actual academic degrees.

    Ordination is conferred at the denomination or “fellowship of churches” level and doesn’t necessarily require ANY sort of degree—although there are certainly plenty of denominations which assume applicants for ordination will have at least an M.Div. (the most commonly held degree by pastors in the USA) or perhaps a Bible College degree.

    In the USA the Doctor of Divinity is strictly an honorary degree given to somebody who some school wants to honor or (to be honest) suck up to in order to get donations or take advantage of the affiliation. (For example, Billy Graham has a D.D. even though I think he only has a Bachelor’s degree from Wheaton.)

    In the U.K., on the other hand, I assume the D.D. is still what I would call a “super-duper PhD.” It usually goes to someone who earned their Ph.D. years before and has since then done a lot of heavy-duty, peer-reviewed publishing of his/her research and so it is a big accomplishment to go through the review process (of all of one’s published works as well as one’s PhD dissertation of years before) to earn the D.D.

    In Canada, to my knowledge, you can still find various of BOTH kinds of D.D.s, although, obviously, the UK kind of D.D. is not all that common because it is not easily earned. I’m just assuming that the mix of the two types of D.D.’s there is due to some coming from the USA and some from the UK.

    I think the Roman Catholic hierarchy has some sort of D.D. title that comes with the office of bishop, but I don’t think it is much more than another honorific—but I’m really no authority on this. It almost came to me as an afterthought.

    Now I suppose it is entirely possible that the UK type of D.D. has changed since my day and I should be careful about making assumptions from long ago. But the Brits are usually quite traditional on things academic so if I had to gamble, I think my description would still apply.

    …. you only have to master some books and unlike lawyers, the books do not have to make any sense nor is there a huge collections of case law to consult.

    The more I read the more I’m confused. Are you perhaps talking about a degree and/or a situation more common in, perhaps, Australia or South Africa? All of this sounds totally foreign to me.

    I confess to sometimes seeing the humor fly right over my head—so my hunch, as I reconsider, is that this is some sort of inside joke and I”ve totally misunderstood your comments. Obviously, in the USA the honorary D.D.’s don’t involve books at all and in the UK the D.D.’s are like a super-difficult PhD program on steroids, so I admit to being stumped on this. As to “case law”, I don’t know why case law would be a concern with Doctors of Divinity. In the UK D.D., there would be an analogous demand in the sense that elite Biblical Scholars basically need to track all of the relevant commentaries and published papers which are important to things like the exegesis of the First Epistle of John, so that for any controversial or difficult passage of the Bible, the scholar can recite its history through the centuries in how theologians have explained it and why and how the various top scholars are positioned on it nowadays.

    Obviously, the Doctor of Divinity in the UK makes the average J.D. (Juris Doctorate) held by lawyers in the USA look like a walk in the park. And the Doctor of Divinity might even be awarded to an attorney who makes a big donation to a school! Speaking more seriously, a better comparison to the British D.D. would be some of the higher level degrees offered by some law schools beyond the J.D. level.

    Consequently, you just have to sound like you understand what is in these relatively few books.

    Some pastors earn a D.M. (Doctor of Ministry degree) but those can range anywhere from barely more than a diploma mill sheepskin to VERY difficult, research and practicum degrees that are much more akin…. well, I’d better avoid comparisons. It is easy to offend people who are certain that their particular type of degree was the hardest to earn on the planet.

    You don’t have to do original research, nor do you have to test your work at all.

    There are some easy-to-earn D.M. degrees in the USA which pastors and presidents of Bible colleges “earn” that are little more than a few classes over Christmas break and a couple of term-papers but nobody in academia has any respect for them. At the other end of the spectrum there are some solid D.M.’s that the average pastor would find difficult to qualify to enter.

    In conclusion, perhaps I’ve missed what Steve Ruis describing. (I missed whatever/wherever the Pastor Jim Mumme had a D.D.) So I confess to being totally stumped by his comments.

  14. RetiredProf is certainly correct about the Doctor of Divinity being ignored in academia—since in the USA it is solely an honorary degree given by schools to big donors and people they wish to impress or befriend—because nobody studies for an honorary degree.

    Yet, seeing the limerick reminded me of a story which I’ve always assumed to be true because of its source, a friend who had attended Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.

    The late Jerry Falwell had a reputation for handing out Doctors of Divinity degrees like they were candy. Lots of donors to the school were given their honorary D.D.’s but also lots of Falwell’s church pals. In fact, a friend who attended the Thomas Road Baptist Church (I think that was the name??) said that virtually every ELDER and OFFICER of the church had been awarded a D.D. And my friend said it was funny to see how various kinds of people reacted to the “award”. Some actually used the unwarranted “Dr.” on things like their telephone book entry and others avoided the title entirely. My friend said that there was one guy who just liked to have fun with the title and his real name actually was “John D. Fiddle.” So, as the story goes, he had his checks printed to say “The Very Most Reverend John D. Fiddle, D.D.

  15. Professor Tertius, your learned comment about the Doctor of Divinity degree has me thinking. Perhaps I’ll add Doctor of Drool to Curmudgeon University‘s offerings.

  16. I think Doctor of Dribbling a tad more euphonious

  17. The SC and Megalonyx have some excellent ideas. And speaking of the euphonious among us, perhaps a D.E. would be another possibility: Doctor of Euphony.

  18. D.D.: An expert at making Divinity, a nougat-like confection made with egg white, corn syrup, and sugar.

    (A really bad stretch would be D.D.: Bette Midler’s physician. You know — “Divine Miss M.”)

    All that aside, I seriously doubt that Pastor Jim Mumme has any degree at all. His letters lead one to suspect he didn’t even complete high school.