AIG Says: Behold the Sloth

This appeared almost ten days ago at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. It’s titled Sloths: Slow on Purpose. It was written by Sarah Eshlema, about whom we know nothing. Why are we just now getting around to it? Because they haven’t come up with anything better lately.

Wikipedia’s article on the Sloth says:

Sloths belong to the superorder Xenarthra, a group of placental mammals that’s believed to have evolved in the continent of South America around 60 million years ago. … Anteaters and armadillos are also included among Xenarthra.

Interestingly, sloths, anteaters and armadillos are all native to the Western Hemisphere. We’ve previously wondered how the sloth managed to travel from Noah’s ark, which landed somewhere in the Middle East, all the way to South America, so we’re surprised that AIG is writing about them. Anyway, here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Bits of sunlight stream through the thick rainforest canopy, settling on a ball of fur clinging to a branch. Slowly, ever so slowly, the ball of fur uncurls, blinks once or twice, then slowly, ever so slowly, reaches for a nearby branch, and slowly, ever so slowly, begins munching. Several minutes later, it blinks and, slowly, closes its eyes to take its 17th nap of the day, not even 100 feet from where it woke up that morning.

[…]

Named in the early 1600s for one of the Catholic church’s seven deadly sins, the sloth has been saddled with a bad reputation for centuries. Only in recent years have scientists uncovered research that has been incredibly contrary to our initial impression of these lollygagging sleepyheads. Turns out, the three-toed sloth is a complex creature which serves as a testimony to the resourceful and highly imaginative Creator God.

Most of Sarah’s post is merely a textbook description of the creatures, so we’ll ignore that material. But we can’t omit this:

The truth is that the sloth is not so much lazy or sleepy as it is efficient. Because the sloth has such a low metabolism and only about 25% the muscle tissue of other animals, it moves only when necessary, clocking in around 10 feet per minute. … In general, it exerts the most energy during its weekly (yes, weekly!) descent to the base of its tree to defecate. It can burn up to 8% of its energy in just one bathroom trip!

Obviously that’s the high point of the sloth’s week. Then she says:

Because the sloth retains its food for so long and only empties its bowels once a week, its stomach and intestines are perpetually full and heavy. This could be a problem for an animal that spends most of its time hanging upside down. However, in his good plan, God designed the sloth with fibrous connectors anchoring its stomach, liver, and kidneys in the abdomen. Without these anchors, the organs would press against the diaphragm and lungs, making it a struggle to breathe, thus expending valuable energy that the sloth doesn’t have to spare.

Truly, it’s a miracle of design! After that she tells us:

Though sloths are harmless, they are also easy prey in our fallen world. But God designed camouflage as the sloth’s first line of protection. Like a moldy shag rug flung in a tree, the sloth grows green algae on its back, allowing it to blend into its arboreal habitat and become virtually invisible to predators and even to researchers. (This is one of the reasons that scientists don’t have much data on sloths — it’s difficult to spot and catch them.)

It’s one miracle after another! Sarah continues:

The sloth is much more than just an adorable, sleepy ball of fur. Its features and habits could only have come together by the design of an imaginative Creator whose diverse creation includes the cheetah and peregrine falcon — two of the fastest animals — and the pokey sloth.

Then she takes a swipe at evolution:

The evolutionary worldview favors the fastest and strongest, expecting the slowest and weakest to go extinct. In God’s plan, however, every creature is purposefully designed to serve a purpose.

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] That’s why there are no extinct species. And now we come to the end:

The next time you grow impatient at slow people or get frustrated at someone who isn’t exactly like you, remember that God created all kinds of creatures and people. No matter how fast or slow, each has something to offer, and each has a purpose — to glorify the Creator.

That was thrilling. It’s a good thing Noah saved the sloth (and the anteater and armadillo) from the Flood. We’re sure there’s a good explanation as to how they found their way across the Atlantic. Perhaps Sarah will explain that in her next post.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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35 responses to “AIG Says: Behold the Sloth

  1. Michael Fugate

    “In God’s plan, however, every creature is purposefully designed to serve a purpose.”

    Great sentence, Sarah!

  2. Derek Freyberg

    LinkedIn tells us that Sarah is the web content editor for AIG, and has been so since the beginning of 2016. Prior to that she was a content writer and writing instructor at Pensacola Christian College, where she obtained a BA in Professional Writing in 2008. She also has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Converse College.

  3. “The evolutionary worldview favors the fastest and strongest”
    My eyes are at last opened! Up to now, I mistakenly thought that being well adapted to whatever situation one lives in would be favoured by selection.

  4. Doctor Stochastic

    Behold the sloths of the forest; they neither spin nor toil, but the wear really nice fur coats.

  5. Not only would I like the creationists to explain how sloths got to South America so quickly after the flood, I’d also like to know how the first few generations survived without trees to live in.

  6. Ross Cameron

    I`d like to know why human sloths still believe in religion. Will the march of evolution force them to become an endangered species?

  7. Ah Jim Roberts, I was going to point out slothful Sara’s misunderstanding of evolution, but you beat me to it. I shall have to repent my slothful reading habits.

  8. Charles Deetz ;)

    Came across a blog post about Osage Oranges today. These big bumpy, not quite fruits fall to the ground this time of year, and are uneaten, because the ground-sloths and mammoths that ate them are extinct.

    So, Sara has to account for the uselessness of the osage oranges, as well as why its original consumers are extinct. So sure she is that everything has a purpose, here are two dead ends, both kind of sad.

  9. Michael Fugate

    A creationist opines: If evolution were true, then it would favor intelligence, athletic ability and attractiveness. After examining their own attributes, creationist concludes evolution is false.

  10. Ceteris Paribus

    “Slowly, ever so slowly, the ball of fur uncurls, blinks once or twice, then slowly, ever so slowly, reaches for a nearby branch, and slowly, ever so slowly, begins munching. Several minutes later, it blinks and, slowly, closes its eyes to take its 17th nap of the day, not even 100 feet from where it woke up that morning.”

    and

    “In general, it exerts the most energy during its weekly (yes, weekly!) descent to the base of its tree to defecate.”

    I can personally vouch for the fact that these cute critters must have been truly “purposefully designed by god.” If you don’t believe me, I can post some photos of my in-laws during their annual two week family reunion stay every summer.

  11. Just to add to Derek’s comment: Eshlema lists her prior-to-college education as “A Beka Academy.” I have no idea if there is a brick and mortar institution connected with “A Beka Book” but as a victim of their home-schooling materials, I’d opine that it is almost certainly just a euphemism for “home-schooled.” “A Beka” is strict YEC; strict “Confederates were wronged in the war of northern aggression,” et cetera wrongheaded silliness.

    The “A Beka Book” publishing imprint is also in-house at Pensacola Christian College where this obviously outstanding scholar *wink wink* got her bachelor’s.

    Ken Ham recruits the best.

  12. Paul D. wonders how the sloths got to South America so quickly after the Flood. I wonder how they got to the Ark quickly enough in the first place before the Flood.

    Ah! Perhaps a pair were in a gopherwood tree and hung on tight as it was chopped down and transported to the ark construction yard. Yeah — that must be it. Either that or they were flown in on the back of a pterosaur. (Hmm. Carrying that idea a little farther, maybe that explains how they got to S. America after the Flood. And since the pterosaurs were no longer needed for the purpose of transportation once that job was done, G.O.D. let ’em go extinct. Explains everything.)

  13. Sarah writes,
    “Only in recent years have scientists uncovered research [concerning sloths’ slow metabolism]…

    Yes, some scientists have notoriously disorganized offices. Those sloth research papers must have been buried for years under piles and piles of books, papers, Subway wrappers and partially eaten lunches before being uncovered.

  14. Dave Luckett

    We can laugh all we like, but how to counter the basic idea behind this nonsense: “It fits a particular niche and economy perfectly; therefore it must have been designed for it”?

    Yes, yes, I know how laughable an error this is, really. But it’s intuitive, and the people for whom this piece was written, think intuitively. To counter it, you have to change not only what they think, but how they think. I must admit I don’t see an answer.

  15. One possible reply to the claim that a form of life fits well …
    Is the argument that life requires divine intervention to exist. Some law of nature, maybe the 2th law of thermodynamics, or the conservation of complex specified information, shows that life is not fit for this world.

  16. Brilliant article, because it defeats Ol’Hambo’s mission.

    “The sloth takes a considerable risk leaving the safety of its tree and exposing itself to predators.”
    “Though sloths are harmless, they are also easy prey in our fallen world.”
    So Ol’Hambo’s god designed the sloth in such a way that it never could have made it to the Middle East to enter the Ark. Neither could it have survived the Great Flood. The sloth only can exist because the Great Flood never happened.
    Thank you so much, SarahE.

    DS is in love with sloths like me: “but they wear really nice fur coats.”
    Alas, no. They are not strokeable.

    Sidenote: me insisting on articles about the sloth probably contributed greatly to AIG’s Dutch counterpart Logos.nl to disable comments.

    DL asks how to counter “It fits a particular niche and economy perfectly; therefore it must have been designed for it”?
    Don’t. This is theology, not science. The problem with YECers (and with all creacrappers) is not recognizing design (so do Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins), the problem is rejecting science while they lie about it.

  17. The evolutionary worldview favors the fastest and strongest, expecting the slowest and weakest to go extinct.

    Of course, as people here know, evolution does no such thing. It favors those who produce the most offspring who themselves produce the most offspring.

  18. Accordig to Wikipedia, some sloths supplement their diet by eating insects and small reptiles and birds. This is someting which must have arisen after the good design at the beginning, as a consequence of sin. Can sin have a consequence of good design?

  19. @Dave Luckett
    The YECers I have talked to who have been able to come around to a scientific view point describe a slow process that started with actually looking at the evidence. The church teaches them to resist through guilt (for rejecting Jesus), fear (of punishment after death), encouraging echo chambers (“the only way to be a good Christian is to only associate with other Christians”), and dismissing problematic evidence amongst others tactics.
    The converts I know took years to come around and needed a great deal of respectful patience from educators.

  20. @Eric Lipps
    And I thought that creationists complain about evolution being a matter of chance, rather than directed. If it’ were a mater of fastest and strongest, then it wouldn’t be chance.
    @mnbo
    I disagree about what is the outstanding problem with YEC etc. I suggest one of the following:
    1. Rejecting science without having anything to replace it.
    2. The internal contradictions.
    Both apply, in particular, to their use of the word “design”.

  21. DL: The puddle’s argument, as narrated by Douglas Adams and anticipated by John Updike quoting my late friend the chemist Bob Shapiro; https://paulbraterman.wordpress.com/2017/03/23/the-little-puddlian-philosophical-society-and-the-fine-tuning-argument/

  22. So why didn’t the Designer design an arsehole on the poor critter’s back, so it didn’t have to climb down to take a dump?

  23. David? Douglas!

  24. Douglas indeed. Brain still confused by time change

  25. Michael Fugate

    When humans can imagine better organisms than the ones that exist, then why would anyone believe current organisms to be designed by a god?
    Oh, of course, the Fall explains it. The sloth originally could move really fast and could poop from the trees, but Adam’s sin slowed it doooowwwwnnnn and made it unable to poop in place.

  26. I’m still puzzled by the concept of a omnipotent omniscent creator of all designing. Does God have a drafting board, drafting paper, compass, square, French curves? Does he use pencils and erasers, or maybe art crayons, or does he work in ink? Does he use a slide rule for his calculations?

  27. Doctor Stochastic

    Only an ineffable designer would run a sewer pipe through a recreational area.

  28. Doctor Stochastic: and make the air and food pipes cross, ensuring a proportion of his dearly beloved choke to death each year.

  29. @Paul Braterman
    Please gve a citation for “irreducible complexity” in “”Roger’s Version”.

  30. Not irreducible complexity; the puddle argument from how well prepared Earth is for life (though Kriegman does identify the perfection of conditions for rotifers and does mention cilia and an impression of spinning); p 299 in my Penguin Classics edition). The Shapiro book, which Kriegman is following here, is Life beyond Earth, 1980; don’t have the page offhand

  31. Dr Maturin of Master and Commnder fame brings a sloth on board HMS Surprise and after an initial period of surprise it adapts rapidly to the frigates forest of masts and spars hanging happily from fore topsails and top gallants. So the ark must have had a mast!!!!

  32. @Paul Brateran
    In your reference you say, “irreducible complexity (though Dale does not use that term)”, which led me to believe that the character Dale, while not using the term “irreducible complexity”, did refer to the concept (which would not be surprising, giving the number of people who thought of that – Updike was well-read).

  33. I didn’t mention Dale, but Dale does refer to “a purposeful Intelligence” in connection with fine-tuning (p 15), and (p 75 on) refers to “a purposeful and determining intelligence behind all phenomena” (emphasis in original), the absence of links in the fossil record, the amount of information and improbability of making a protein, the lack of Precambrian fossils, the trilobite eye, the implausibility of Urey-Miller conditions on the early Earth, and so on. Dale also cites criticisms of the evolutionary account from 1940. Now of course Updike thinks Dale is misguided, but he lets Dale make a far better case than the ID crowd ever have.

    “Well-read” doesn’t begin to describe Updke; Kriegman’s exposition ranges over quantum foam, the puddle argument, Cairns-Smith’s Clay Life Hypothesis (brag time; I published with Cairns-Smith), and more.

  34. Thank you. I misunderstood you. I don’t know how long ago that I read “Roger’s Version” – it is 30 years old!

  35. Skeptical Servant

    The biblical flood is scientifically impossible making all their claims null and void.