Beware! Scientists Practice Idolatry!

The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom — is on a crusade to save the world from idolatry. A month ago we wrote ICR Says Science Is Idolatry. Now they’re at it again.

Their latest anti-idolatry post is titled Subtle Idolatry in Modern Science. Like the earlier one, it too was written by Brian Thomas, about whom we’re told: “Dr. Thomas is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his Ph.D. in paleobiochemistry from the University of Liverpool.” Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

Engaging in worship seems unavoidable for humans — even the atheistic thinkers who dominate modern science. [What?] Reverence and adoration lie at the heart of worship. Scripture tells us the ancient Egyptians, Canaanites, Israelites, and other cultures worshiped idols. [Foolish people!] They imagined their idols held power and could sway personal, political, or physical events.

But it’s not only people in ancient times. Brian says:

Ironically, some of the scientists who scoff at the way our ancestors gave god-like attributes to inanimate objects follow similar patterns today. [They do?] Each person should examine their heart to root out subtle idolatry.

After that shocker, he tells us:

Even the areligious can fall prey to idolatry without knowing it. Idolatry is so damaging and pervasive that God listed it first in His Ten Commandments. [Brian reminds us with a footnote: “You shall have no other gods before Me”] Modern scientific minds commit idolatry when they revere and adore natural forces for crafting creatures instead of the God of all creation who actually made them.

That means you commit idolatry all the time, dear reader. Don’t deny it; it’s true! Brian continues:

Scientists Mark Hallett and Mathew Wedel authored the academic book The Sauropod Dinosaurs. In it, they wrote:

[Brian quotes from the book, with his bracketed inserts:] From osteoblasts that evolved millions of years earlier to originally give ancient fish protection from sea scorpions, natural selection evolved bioarchetectural marvels of strength and lightness to support vast weight and yet enable flexibility and movement [in sauropods].

These authors replaced the Creator with evolution by natural selection. [Gasp!] Does this differ so much from the ancients who revered their idols’ supposed power over physical events?

There’s no difference — it’s all idolatry! Let’s read on:

Make no mistake — sauropods show exactly the kind of exquisite design that only God could craft. Wedel and Hallett sprinkle design terms throughout their book. They describe “very lightly constructed short skulls,” but who is the constructor? [Yeah, who?] In reference to sauropod vertebrae, they write, “Each elegant, sculpted-looking shape played a part in providing the giant animals with the most support needed with the least amount of bone.” Will the real sculptor please step forward? [It ain’t Darwin!] Terms like “constructed” and “sculpted” imply a purposeful, personal, powerful, and perceptive otherworldly architect. [Right!] The God of the Bible meets all those criteria. Natural processes do not.

It couldn’t be any clearer! Another excerpt:

Has anyone seen or recorded natural processes such as climates and predators behaving like architects or engineers who design and build marvelous buildings or machines? [Of course not!] As an actual Person, God qualifies. Nature qualifies as nothing. [Nothing!] It has no mind, being, or agency, just like all those nothing idols. Thus, whoever ascribes architectural and engineering marvels to nature — whether called natural selection, evolution, or physical processes — robs God of the credit only He deserves.

Feeling foolish, dear reader? Well, you should! Here’s more:

So, what steps can we take to root out naturalism’s idolatrous tendencies? [Tell us, Brian!] When we see words that describe design, we need to keep the real Designer in mind. We need to recognize when scientists make unscientific statements and ask for evidence that shows natural processes can actually perform what naturalists say they can.

That’s good! And now we come to the end:

Finally, direct your expressions of reverence and admiration to the real Maker every chance you can!

That’s great advice. Thanks, Brian!

Copyright © 2020. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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40 responses to “Beware! Scientists Practice Idolatry!

  1. Michael Fugate

    Has anyone seen or recorded gods such as Yahweh, Brahma, Pangu or Atum behaving like architects or engineers who design and build marvelous buildings or machines? No human was there, were they?

    Not to mention, we have seen selection craft phenotypes – many, many times.

  2. Another dimwit too st00pid to read or understand the book o’BS references the 10 really bad suggestions, and I bet money they have no idea which idiot rules are actually called the 10 commandments!

  3. Wow,,,This is GREAT stuff. GREAT…I have taken many exams in the physical sciences and always struggled with how to inject a supernatural mystical entity into my equations and calculations. I certainly;y hope Brian can provide us with some science supporting his claims about magical interventions in nature by his supernatural entity, WHICH, unlike all the OTHER supernatural entities out there, is NOT an idol. WOW.

  4. Agreed. Wow. Creationists must be getting tired of their usual talking points. This one just reeks.

  5. Dave Luckett

    L.Long, fair go, as we say in my country. I admit some of Moses’s top ten are crocks, but four to ten are pretty good ideas, and even three has definite merit. Not that they didn’t exist long before, mind you. There are something like 600 others in the Book, though. Some of them are crazy, and some of them are good, and some of them reflect only the society of the time and place – the various restrictions on slavery, for instance, which apply to fellow-Hebrews only. These days civilized people restrict slavery by not having it at all, for anyone. Are we better or worse than the ancient Hebrews, or anyone else, for that? I tend to doubt it.

    As to idolatry, I also doubt that any ancient people worshiped the statues or representations of their gods as if those were gods themselves, any more than a current Roman Catholic actually worships those in their church. The images were representations – wholly inadequate, but evocative – of the deity, serving perhaps to focus the mind, and be an object for reverence of the deity, and a repository for offerings.

    Human minds need and use symbols to represent things of value to them, that’s a fact. I suppose the essential difference is to know that the representation is a symbol. I’m pretty sure that most pagans knew that perfectly well. The real snarl in the Hebrew panties was that there were many pagan gods, not one. Yes, well. Problem of evil, anyone?

    Words are among the symbols human beings use – which implies that when describing things that matter to them, words must be used extremely carefully. I understand that a scientist might wish to give an impression of elegance or utility when describing the skull of a sauropod or the osteology of ancient fish, but to use words like “sculpted” or “constructed” of them only offers malicious opportunists like Thomas an opening. Like all processes and structures in living things, the elegance and utility are the result of the interaction of blind natural forces, selected by environment for efficiency in a particular function. There is no sculptor, no constructor. To use words that imply them is an error in itself. Sure, sure, it’s a literary device called “personification”, and it’s as natural as breathing and common as dirt, but scientists have to learn to avoid it, at least when writing professionally.

  6. There are technical terms like: hydrophilic, hydrophobic, lipophilic; meaning: water loving, water fearing, fat loving. Yet no one ascribes emotions to substances. Some of these terms have a history in alchemy.

  7. Dave Luckett

    TomS: If it were to the advantage of creationists to ascribe emotions to substances, they would do it. The only reason they ascribe intellectual qualities like “sculpture” or “construction” to inanimate processes is because it profits them to do it.

    I don’t think even Thomas is dim enough to believe that the paleontologists he is quoting are saying that Someone sculpted or constructed the skulls of sauropods. It merely suits him to behave as if they had implied that, when all that they were guilty of was a somewhat loose metaphor. But he pounced on it because it gave him an advantage. That reflects on his ethics, of course, but the advantage remains.

    It’s difficult and demanding, requiring rigour and precision, but nevertheless, one objective of scientific writing, especially in the life sciences, is to avoid giving creationists an advantage.

  8. Charley Horse X

    It’s obvious that idolatry is being practiced by the Darwinists’ crowds seen viewing and bowing before the idol displayed at

  9. Has anyone ever seen the ceremonies of the Olympic Games?
    Dare I mention ceremonies for the American flag? (I have to give credit to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.) Christmas trees and crèches, Ten Commandments.

  10. Dave! We don’t have slavery? Then you will be happy to work minimum wage?

  11. Brian Thomas doesn’t know the half of it! There are some thoroughly pagan people out there called Environmentalists, who seek converts to join them in worshipping a goddess named Gaia, and celebrate a pagan festival known as Earth Day. This must be true, because I read it in a homeschooling textbook published by Bob Jones University,

  12. @DaveL I only disagree with the second half of the last sentence of your first comment (and perhaps not even that):

    “at least when writing professionally.”
    Rather when communicating with the public.Like all subsets of populations scientists develop their own terminology. The public may get confused, dishonest folks like creacrappers may abuse it.

    @LLong: for almost a year I actually have worked for half the minimal wage, thanks to the soulmates of our dear SC (VVD), the christians of CDA, the (not so) social liberals (D66) and the former social-democrat Dutch Labour Party (PvdA). No matter how pissed I still am, no, that was not slavery. ‘Cuz the company I worked for did not buy me, did not owe me and could not sell me. Actually you pulled off the same stoopid rhetorical cheapo as Brawny Brian with “who is the constructor?”

    @TomS: “ceremonies for the American flag”
    You mean like this?

    @PaulB: Make sure to sit down a comfy chair before reading on, because I have terrible news for you. The Netherlands don’t have one environmentalist party, not two, but at least three. Two of them are represented in Dutch and European parliament, the third one only in a few local councils.

  13. @FrankB, that could actually be good news. There is bound to be a party of virtue signallers who call you a fascist if you even attempt to discuss nuclear, fracking, Roundup, or GMOs, so perhaps you have, as we all badly need, rational alternatives to talk about slowing down extinctions, and abating human-caused global warming?

  14. docbill1351

    There is but one god and her name is Bastet! I live with two of her acolytes, and Mr. Q. (Of course my cat has a website!) I feed her acolytes several times a day and service their litter box. It is my privilege as a humble servant. All hail Bastet!

  15. @docbill1351
    A curious fact about the Bible: there is no mention of cats. Lions, yes.
    There is no mention of any species of fish, either.

  16. @Apparently PaulB missed my sick irony: “that could actually be good news”.
    As a radical left guy I’m also an environmentalist, of course. Though I know from first hand that not all socialists are environmentalists, so I’ll forgive you for misunderstanding. It only saddens me that Dutch environmentalists are so divided. The real bad news is that their results in The Netherlands are utterly depressing. Headline from Dutch newspaper Trouw:

    “Nederland investeerde 11 miljard tevergeefs in natuur”
    “The Netherlands invested 11 billion in natura to no avail”
    Since friggin’ 1990. A typical picture:

    I’ve seen such things with my own eyes, not far from where I live. Add an ammonia crisis to the picture and you’ll understand that Dutch environment is seriously (bleep!)ed.
    Let me still answer you question:

    “badly need, rational alternatives to talk about slowing down extinctions, and abating human-caused global warming?”
    Killing off 90% of Homo Sapiens would probably suffice. All other measures are patchwork. And again, in case you don’t recognize my preference for bad jokes: no, my proposal is not going to happen. But the second sentence is serious. We’re past the point of no return, unless ….. Hence my bad sense of humour.

  17. PS PaulB: I’m an active member of

    which is one of the three I had in my mind. I think my party too moderate; not green enough and not social enough. It’s still the best where I live. Before I was member of the Political Party of Radicals, one of the four pillars. Plus I participate in actions organized by XR. My son – and I’m very proud of him – is very active in XR.
    So could you please keep that in mind the next time I can’t resist the temptation to make bad jokes?

  18. @FrankB, I think you underestimate human ingenuity. For example, who would have thought a generation ago that fibre optics would greatly reduce the need for copper, or that using Roundup-ready crops would reduce the need for ploughing, and hence slow down soil degradation and reduce CO2 emissions? I have read that there are interesting developments with nuclear fuels, where each pea-sized particle has its own individual graphite shell. And I think I did understand your irony, but was being ironic in return, while voicing my own highly nuanced support for environmentalism

  19. @FrankB, I have a lot of sympathy for the Scottish Greens, but deeply deplore their outright opposition (generally seen in Scotland as progressive, and shared by the SNP, which dominates our politics, and which I also otherwise sympathise with) to GMO and nuclear. The Scottish electoral system is such that minor parties such as the Greens can get significant representation, while it is very difficult for any one party to have overall control of the Scottish Parliament, though SNP did achieve that for a while, and will probably do so again when the Scottish Conservatives go down the tubes at the next election (if you’ve been following what happens in the UK, you will understand why I can make that prediction)

  20. @FrankB
    One thing to keep in mind. And I know that I sin against it. One should be careful in one’s language, especially in public, for others are on the alert for language which they can cite. I just recently read an opinion piece which, while complaining about the anti-science of the usual, eventually complained about some of the extreme language of the pro-science folks. I don’t know whether the citations were meant seriously, but they were taken seriously by this essayist.

  21. docbill1351

    @TomS No wonder my cat’s an atheist. It’s a grudge.

  22. @docbill1351
    One takes care of a dog, feeding, etc. so a dog thinks that you are a god.
    With cats, that convinces them that
    they are gods.

  23. Michael Fugate

    As if Roundup were the only means to protect soil…
    Cover crops might be a better solution or even moving toward perennial grains.
    My concern about GMOs has never been about human health, but about seed monopolies, industrialized farming, monocultures and biodiversity.

  24. I echo these concerns. They are not, however, at all GMO-specific

  25. @Paul Braterman
    I assume that by “nuclear” you mean “nuclear power generation”, not “nuclar weapons”.

  26. Indeed. But Scotland is an occupied country, with nuclear armed submarines based here against the population’s will

  27. Dave Luckett

    Paul Braterman: Same here. We have three fifths of the planet’s supply of Uranium, a considerable tech base, the most stable geology on Earth, and places so remote that anywhere in Europe would look like Piccadilly on a Saturday night, but nuclear power is a complete no-no. Mentioning it to any pollitician produces a reaction similar to that of the actors in the “Blackadder” episode on hearing the word “Macbeth”.

    To be fair, we have gone in for domestic solar in a big way, and incoming battery technology might make a big difference to how viable that is – but we’re still burning coal.

  28. @PaulB: “but was being ironic in return”
    Well, then you got me.

    “I think you underestimate ….”
    Perhaps. First see, then believe. And in my native country I see nothing positive.

    “their outright opposition to GMO and nuclear”
    GMO is hardly an issue in The Netherlands.
    As for nuclear, as long the problem of waste is not solved it’s an outright threat to environment, so what do you expect? Let me put it this way. As soon as you think nuclear waste safe enough to abandon the NIMBY attitude I’ll become an enthusiast.

    “One should be careful in one’s language”
    Good advise and completely contrary to my character. I like to take chances and in general see two possible consequences:

    1. I feel safe and trust other commenters, so in case my jokes go wrong (and it’s inevitable they sometimes do) I’ll get the chance to rectify.
    2. People want to make me feel unsafe, so that I can’t trust them; then I don’t care what they think of me and whether they misunderstand or misquote me. If they dominate a blog or forum it’s time to say goodbye.

    As for your example, I’m not a scientist.

    @DaveL: “the most stable geology on Earth”
    And you can guarantee that it will remain so the next ten thousands of years? That disasters a la Fukushima always will be limited? Or do you prefer, apparently like PaulB, to gamble with the safey of future generations?

  29. Dave Luckett

    The Fukushima reactor was a folly, placed on a very active fault line in a densely populated region that experiences earthquakes daily, and major destructive earthquakes once every generation or so. The Archaean craton of the mid-west of Western Australia has been geologically stable for 3.5 billion years, and it is practically uninhabited. Yes, I’d prefer nuclear to coal, if that were the choice.

    My family, two generations back, was Glamorgan Welsh, and coalminers. My grandfather had a pit face fall on him, and he never walked straight again, but he was reckoned lucky, because five other men died in that accident. My ancestral village is about sixteen kilometers from Aberfan, where the tailings heap rolled down the hillside one wet October day, and through the village school, killing 106 people, mostly children. That one coalmining disaster killed more people than all generation of nuclear power, ever, and yes, that includes Chernobyl and Fukushima. In an average year, about 3000 miners die winning coal, and hardly a peep is heard. Blood and bone is the price of coal, and that’s not all it costs.

    Perhaps, as I noted, the means are coming on line now to store the energy we can harvest directly from the sun and the wind, and thus make those sources viable. I do what I can in that respect – our rooftop solar cells feed net power into the State grid, most days, even in winter. But we still need coal-fired power stations to even out the load. I will rejoice with you when it is no longer needed. But that day has not yet come.

  30. @DaveL: “The Fukushima reactor was a folly”
    Thanks for explaining why I’m a skeptic regarding nuclear energy.

    This applies here as well – given enough time and enough plants the probability that such a folly, with disastrous results, will happen approaches 1. It’s sometimes called Murphy’s Law.

    “But that day has not yet come.”
    In the meantime climate change and the sixth mass extinction continue. This is why I wrote above that we’re past the point of no return.

  31. If we’re past the point of no return, isn’t the rational choice to give up?

  32. @FrankB, The rational answer to the waste disposal problem Is to drop it into mid-ocean sludge, where this is accumulating, and from which it would never escape until subducted. As for NIMBY, I regarded opposition to the Yucca Mountain depository as unreasonable while I was living in Albuquerque

  33. “from which it would never escape”
    Never is a very, very long word ….. not even Dutch dike builders use it. They are happy with a mortality of 1 person in 100 000 years due to floods.
    So you produced propaganda.
    Add to this the expecta a disaster with nuclear waste is going to be much worse. Unfortunately for you nuclear enthusiasts I understand a bit about statistics. Not only the probability matters, also the expected “profit” (which is very, very negative.
    So you increased my skepticism.
    Also my question was not about Yucca Mountain depository but about nuclear waste. The latter is far more dangerous. The fact that you refuse to answer this directly again raises my skepticism, assuming you don’t have a “mid-ocean sludge” in your backhard.
    In other words: you realize it’s dangerous but need to downplay it to maintain your position.

    PS: my skepticism goes the other way round as well. Anti-nuclear activists (and I used to be one) never tell how to fully satisfy the human need for energy. Given, I repeat, the fact that climate change simply marches on in the meantime has made me conclude 5 – 10 years ago that we are (bleep!)ed. Thus far nobody, from both sides, has shown me an exit strategy, only wild ideas based on wishful thinking.
    Like you.

  34. Okay, from which (barring unspecified geological phenomena of a kind that have yet to be observed) it would never escape because the rate of arrival of fresh sludge is greater than the rate of diffusion through this strongly adsorbent material.

    And I agree with you that my claim requires investigation. My rhetorical point is that no one Is prepared to even consider it

  35. @FrankB
    Are you assuming a human need for energy something like the present use, or even an increase (such as everyone using as much as a comfortable American uses)?

  36. @TomS: largely yes; at the moment nothing suggests otherwise. To add to my pessimism, my personal need for energy always has been considerably lower than the average. It’s one reason my income is at the absolute Dutch minimum; to a significant extent it’s my deliberate choice, made about 30 years ago. Still my need for energy is not as low as it should be eg in terms of the ecological footprint.

    @PaulB: “no one Is prepared to even consider it.”
    I am. Like I suggested I’ve given up my resistance against nuclear power, though not for noble reasons: I consider it a lost cause (see especially France). Still this means that to win me over I demand a reliable solution. From my point of view at the moment the only rational solution for the waste problem is shooting it into space (I have no moral issues with this). However that makes nuclear energy very expensive.
    There are also several minor points. See, I do assume that Homo Sapiens is capable of learning from disasters like Fukushima and also to find remedies for stupidities (DaveL called them “follies”) like

    But you know, rather safe then sorry. Nuclear energy enthusiasts in my eyes still have a lot of work to do.

  37. Also, remaining totally rational: after killing off 90% of Homo Sapiens nuclear energy won’t hardly a problem anymore.
    Which shows that claiming rationality in this discussion is empty rhetorics.

  38. Michael Fugate

    The problem as always is that capitalism favors externalizing costs; we have never paid for energy what it actually costs. Short term profits and conveniently going bankrupt and of course buying lawmakers are good strategies for never needing to take responsibility.

  39. @Michael Fugate
    I don’t know: does capitalism also necessitate expansion? As in increasing the use of resources, like energy?