Evolution-friendly young folk proffer questions for creationists

February 7, 2014 • 1:08 pm

Matt Stopes, from BuzzFeed, asked both creationists and evolution-accepters at the Ham/Nye debate to write messages directed at the other side. The other day we saw 22 messages from creationists; but Stopes also collected 22 messages from evolutionists. They’re all here, but I’ve chosen a few to show below.

The quality of the messages is mixed (I’ve left out the lame ones), but if you were depressed at young people espousing creationism, here’s an antidote:

This is an excellent question:


I love this; somehow she reminds me of what Tina Fey would say:


As Ham implied, facts are mostly irrelevant to creationists:


This question may seem naive, but it makes a good point: do creationists think that all evolutionists (and many of them are religious) are either deluded by evidence or perhaps (misled by Satan?) are in some huge conspiracy to either manufacture evidence or interpret it as supporting evolution? Yes, science has been wrong before, but there’s now so much evidence supporting evolution that it falls into the “unlikely to be proven wrong” category:


Short, sweet, and telling:


Creationists: “We don’t talk about that stuff”:


Ah, the evidence  from vestigial organs. How do creationists deal with “dead genes,” such as the nonfunction yolk-protein genes of humans, or the hundreds of nonfuncitonal olfactory-receptor genes in cetaceans, the remants of smelling in their landlubber ancestors? Pity that Bill Nye didn’t bring that up; I’d be curious what Ham would say:


Okay, so there’s always one of these in our crowd:

One of these

Of course accommodationists say that “the Bible isn’t a science textbook” (I translate that as “the Bible is wrong”), but Ken Ham certainly used it that way!:
Last one

h/t: infinitimprobabilit

65 thoughts on “Evolution-friendly young folk proffer questions for creationists

  1. Re the snake one: easy they had legs prior to Genesis 3, and then:

    “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed … upon thy belly shalt thou go …”.

    1. I’m making bread and accidentally put too much salt in. When its done baking I’m going to curse it for having too much salt. I’m perfect and can’t make JeebusStakes.

      The christian gods are so obviously warped. How could anyone want to live with one for eterity?

      1. God is truly mysterious 😉

        As @perth_atheist pointed out in one of his tw**ts:

        “god makes penises, hates foreskins
        god makes pigs, hates pork
        god makes people, hates homosexuals”

      1. That’s an anuran forelimb (and shoulder) projecting from the region of the snake’s stomach, because the snake was clobbered after swallowing a frog.

    2. Also, if thus cursed to crawl on their belly, why are sea snakes having such a tremendous good time swimming?

      Why are most of them so magnificently adapted to a fully aquatic life?

  2. Those first two really do capture it all. “How do you know that (especially when others with similar standards come to wildly different conclusions)?” combined with, “Grow the fuck up, already!”



  3. The more of this open “discussion” of religion the better. Make it a topic of serious debate, especially among the young.

  4. If anyone’s interested, Ethan Siegel, the astronomer who writes “Starts with a Bang!” has taken a crack at answering the 22 pictures more seriously here. This is not to say that some of those pictures don’t deserve a tongue-in-cheek reponse – they do. But Ethan is trying to reach out, and, well, you can read his reasoning for why he thinks the outreach is worth it on the linked page.

  5. My biggest problem with Christianity is the fact that God didn’t really sacrifice anything – which is apparently the whole point of half the Bible. I’d let you beat and crucify me three times in a row if it meant I got to be king of heaven with 100% certainty afterwards. A real sacrifice would be god trading Satan Jesus for the souls of all mortals from the past and future.

    1. The whole sacrifice concept is nothing more than stone-age magic thinking: “big problems require a big effort to fix.” Um, no they don’t. Often not for us humans, and certainly not for an omnipotent God. The “fix” for the fall and the redemption of humanity should have gone like this:

      New testament, book 1.
      Verse 1: God snaps fingers.
      Verse 2: Humanity is redeemed.
      Verse 3: The end.

        1. It’s inevitable, and self-defeating, too.

          What’s more impressive than a god who brings the rains? A god who brings the rains and who makes the volcanoes erupt. And, once you’ve agreed that your god does both, you can’t very well go backwards, now, can you?

          But “the power more powerful than any other power” is, itself, as incoherent as “the number bigger than any other number,” and for pretty much the exact same set of reasons.

          So, you’ve climbed as high as you can go, only to find that there’s no “there” there. But, at the same time, you can’t climb back down again.


          Sucks, don’t it?



  6. Most of them are very good.
    In my view, the most powerful are

    No. 1 “Why is your religion more true than all the others?”

    This has been the classical argument of skeptics confronted with the multitude of religious beliefs among humans.

    Montesquieu launched the Enlightenment with his book “The Persian Letters” (1721) and the question: “How can one be Persian?”.
    Which can easily be turned into “How can one be Moslem”, and then “How can one be Christian?”. The visiting Persians in Paris see in the Christian Pope only a “great magician”.

    If you’re not born and trapped in a major established religion, the spectacle of so many religions can only surprise and confound. Each one considers all the others as so many fables and delusions. Why should any be more truthful than the next?

    And No. 5 “READ more than 1 book”.

    That is the beginning of critical thinking. You have to look at all the pieces of evidence, all the interpretations, and start assessing them by comparing them, evaluating them for explanatory power, pointing to strengths and weaknesses, one by one, both the pros and the cons, and defend your final choice as convincingly and cleverly as you can against competing interpretations.

    Just proclaiming all the time, like a monotonous litany, “There’s a book”, à la Ken Ham, spells the death of thinking, the death of critical evaluation, the death of rationality.

    1. Reading other books is much harder than I think non-fundamentalists might appreciate. It’s not only a matter of your own narrowness but also of social pressure. When I was growing up it would have been regarded by my peers as something shameful to even own a book like WEIT and people would have staged interventions and prayed over me if they’d seen me with a copy of The God Delusion or God is Not Great. A key part of the indoctrination is to learn to have a terror of any kind of information that might cause you to “fall away”. From the inside the perspective is that reading the wrong books is an insane flirtation with an eternity in Hell, a fate so awful that it’s not worth even a tiny risk that your mind (they’d say heart) would be contaminated. Even reading the ‘wrong’ version of the Bible can, in many fundamentalist circles, engender pitying looks, sneering comments, and other kinds of shaming behavior.

      Once I escaped this mindset I almost forgot what it was like until I went to a party at an old friends house attended almost entirely by fundamentalist friends. There was a copy of Karen Armstrong’s History of God laying out on an end table (which in fundamentalist circles signals apostasy right there in the title). People shook their heads at each other when the host was in another room and whispered to each other wondering questions about whether or not our host had “gone off the deep end.” It was a jolt to realize that while I had moved on to other books, no one else had. They were actively afraid of the book, like it was a grenade that might go off at any minute. The reaction is not much different than you might imagine if he had left a stack of porn magazines out on the coffee table. It really was that kind of atmosphere of scandal. The knowledge that people will whisper and distance themselves from you if you don’t hew close enough to the party line is a powerful social force. In some ways these people would handle it better if he had left a stack of porn magazines out, because Christians can handle the ordinary sinner. Those who question the delusion, however, send everyone scurrying away, plugging their ears, and closing ranks to assure themselves that they are ‘safe’. Which, once again, is what it’s about… fear.

      I assume the internet is really challenging this dynamic, though. It’s much harder to shun people based on their internet reading than on the books they own, so I assume there really is a lot more reading and eye opening going on than there was twenty five years ago when I hid all my religiously unorthodox books from visitors.

      1. Fascinating. As you point out, it’s very difficult for people (like myself) who’ve never been part of the religious hive-mind to understand their thought processes and to appreciate what it feels like from the inside. For that reason, a perspective such as yours is especially valuable.

      2. Terrific witness.

        It reminds me of my first visit to the reading-room of a synagogue in Manhattan (yeshiva?) in the East 60s. The door was wide open (off the sidewalk), and I was intrigued by the sight of men (only men) reading huge black books while wearing funny black clothes.

        The supervisor greeted me kindly, appreciating my curiosity. He explained, they were all studying the sacred Jewish books.
        I asked to look at one, there was the Hebrew text on one side, the English translation on the other. That page discussed the degree of purity in dates: something like 15 or more degrees of purity. It left me with the simplistic idea for a long time that Judaism was an obsession about purity.

        I asked what other books they were reading in that room. Did they have the Septuagint in Greek and English? No way, the supervisor explained: All students were strictly forbidden to read anything else than the Hebrew books, to prevent their “contamination”.

        This kind of intellectual protectionism was very similar to the stern lectures of Jewish priests and later rabbis in Antiquity for Jews to avoid reading the “Greek books”, an interdiction which continued throughout the medieval ages.

        In all the European countries where the Jews settled, they practically never opened schools in their community to learn the local language (Polish, Russian, German, Ukrainian, Dutch, Italian, Spanish), so that they couldn’t communicate with the host nationals (nor get jobs outside).

        When Joseph II, the Austrian Emperor who was open to the Enlightenment ideas (and a passionate fan of Mozart) decided that the best way to combat the poverty and misery of all the Jews in his Empire was to open schools for them to learn German, so few responded that the project was abandoned.

        And in fact, the ancient Hebrew priests and European rabbis were right. As soon as the few wealthy Jews started learning German, their children got interested in this new vast open world of science, art, travels, that they were discovering. They also started abandoning the Jewish faith. The Mendelssohns are well known as typical enlightened members of the HASKALAH movement (education, intellectual liberation). Albert Einstein is also well known. Wikipedia has an interesting article on “Haskalah”.

        The movement sparked a discovery of the outside intellectual and cultural world by the Jewish elite. Many of these names made a mark in science and in art, in Germany, England, and the US.

        But they did so after having abandoned the Jewish faith .

      3. The internet, and e-readers. Difficult to tell what someone is reading based on their screen saver. 🙂

        Still, very interesting story. Thanks for sharing.

      4. Yes. This is what it was like in the Mormon church where I grew up. They were fond of quoting First Thessalonians: “avoid the very appearance of evil”. Which of course meant the illicitness of reading a book like WEIT went without saying; you should not even own such a book, should not have friends that own such a book, should not be seen in the section of the library where such a book is kept!

  7. All the atheist sites had a field day answering the 22 Questions from Creationists.

    I wonder if the Creationist sites will do anything similar with this group?

    I would think so (and can imagine many of the responses) … but creationists are not necessarily linked in to groups which disagree with them. This protective bubble always surprises me when I find it because my experience is that many evangelicals eagerly engage in debate, whether its on Creationism or Christianity. It’s one of their good traits — especially if it forces them into the habit of listening.

    I also wonder if the Creationists who asked the questions saw or responded to the thousands of answers. Kudos if they did,I think, because there were a lot of people calling them idiots and that must have been hard. They gladly agreed to the publicity when they were safely surrounded by like minds. The internet — and the real world — can be a shock.

    1. I really wonder how the fundamentalism I grew up survives the internet. My sect LOVED to debate with other Christian sects but I can’t recall any instances of debating with nonbelievers or scientists. They loved to tell stories of Christians debating atheists professors and such, but it was all just preacher stories not the actual deal. I honestly can’t imagine the church of my youth encouraging people to attend a Creation/Evolution debate where they might actually hear an evolutionist present their side. We were indoctrinated to “guard our hearts” against all the “false teachings” in the world, and this meant constructing a very airtight bubble indeed. That kind of bubble was somewhat easy in small town Texas in the 1970’s, but I don’t see how it could survive now. OTOH, the internet has proven a double edged sword, matching it’s power to connect people with different views with it’s power to connect people with an ever more narrow set of their clones. I suspect that many people from my childhood church guard their internet browsing as closely as North Korea and make sure to see or hear as little contrasting information as possible. Amazing as it sounds, I think is not inconceivable that at least some of the people in those photos will never see them online.

      1. My introduction to the internet involved chatrooms — specifically, religious debate chat rooms on IRC.

        You would regularly get religious arguments going on in a room with maybe a dozen Born Again Christian evangelicals, a handful of Catholics, some liberal theists, 3 or 4 Mormons and/or JWs, a Muslim or two, a bunch of pagans/New Agers, a knot of Calvinists, some spiritual-but-not-religious, and about a dozen atheists.

        Now THOSE were debates.

        Theological sophistication ran the gamut, on every side. You eventually figured out who could pull an argument and who could only convert. Many of the Christians were, I think, initially excited and eventually disheartened. This was not what they were prepared for. But they were also entranced. Not just the variety, but the enthusiasm. Some odd friendships formed over time.

        There was only one JW regular, who lived in Australia. He claimed that JWs from other countries were told to stay off the internet debate rooms. It wasn’t … fruitful.

        1. Who-boy did those Calvinists love to debate!
          They would actively seek out atheists to try to pull the rug out with their presuppositionalist arguments. And no set of Christians were so reliably haughty and sneering in their tone as the Calivinists. But…what fun! (Well…ok…maybe the newer Thomistic Aristotelians are as bad or worse).


  8. Creationists claim God’s power created the universe. My question has two parts:

    a) What are the units of God’s power?
    b) How many units of this power are contained in one electron?

    Show your work.

    1. a) What are the units of God’s power?

      Byp= Brake yahwehpower.

      How many units of this power are contained in one electron?

      1/1836 Byp.

  9. As a former fundamentalist believer, I can answer many of these with the Christian viewpoint (not that they are correct).

    1) Christianity is not more true than any other religion. It is the Truth. The Bible is a series of books/letters/documents that were written over the course of thousands of years that is in perfect agreement with itself.
    (Obviously, this answer was before I read Genesis 1 and 2 as the two immediately contradict each other)

    2) Dinosaurs were extinct well before Jesus, however; it is true that they existed and were created by God before the Fall. We don’t find the fossils because the geological column is a fallacy created by science and because dating methods are extremely inaccurate.
    (Even though dating methods are much more accurate than Christian literature states and that common sense alone can show that the two were never side-by-side if one studies the fossil record.

    3) The facts are written in the Bible as previously mentioned. There is plenty of evidence that shows Jesus really existed and plenty of people confirm the accounts. After all, how could people be willing to die for faith if Christianity wasn’t true.
    (The martyrdom of the saints – even in early Rome and if true – does not prove Christianity. If that is the case, Mohammad was also really a Prophet because people continually give their life for him in Jihad regularly. As far as whether Jesus existed, it is possible as he is mentioned in a couple outside sources, but no source shows Him as the Son of God except a Bible which becomes a circular reasoning and self-fulfilling document.)

    4) Evolution is only a theory that cannot be proven. It is simply a belief and a worldview and becuase it goes hand-in-hand with atheism it’s all a ploy from Satan so people will not go to God. Besides, it does not matter if something is true or false, there can be plenty of disciplines that arise from it.
    (As I studied more books – more on that below – I realized that there is mountains of evidence through various fields that prove evolution to be true. Also, a simple understanding of what a scientific theory is helps!)

    5) There are plenty of books that I have read. I mean there are tons written by other Creationists and IDers that can show evolution is not true while my speculative ideas are.
    (this is something I realize as I look back at my past. Almost everything I read was simply a book to confirm what I already believed instead of challenging what I believed. It was not until I moved back to America from being overseas about 5 years ago that I started to think critically.)

    6) God commanded the Israelites to do certain things because He wanted them to realize how powerful He was and also did that as an order of justice to those who didn’t believe. However, God also gives people a sense to come to Him through Jesus Christ.
    (This really proves to me that Christianity cannot as a whole be a good gauge for morality. It only shows that people believe God is good no matter what He is willing to do.)

    7) Snakes have no legs because God cursed them after the serpent in Eden convinced Adam and Eve to eat the apple.
    (I really believed in a talking snake? What was I thinking?)

    8) No! There is no reason to think Pastafarianism is true. There is history that proves the events of the Bible actually happened. Various archaelogical finds alone prove this along with various Biblical studies on how we can know the Bible is true.
    (The Bible was historical literature, we can expect to find certain archaeological finds, however; none are before any Israeli dynasty. Also, there are plenty of books that are set in New York – Great Gatsby as an example, in 2000 years, people will still be able to find evidence of New York but it doesn’t mean the books like Gatsby were true.)

    9) The Bible is a textbook that needs no revision.
    (Actually a Bible has been revised many times. Revisions are the reasons for multiple Genesis stories. Also, it is proven that there are multiple additions added to the Gospels as far as 300 years after the earliest manuscripts were written. There are also plenty of books/letters/documents that people in Jesus’ time used as Scripture that we don’t today. These were removed because of various reasons. The Bible has been revised often and will continue to be.)

    For anyone who has made it through this comment, obviously my beliefs have changed much. Could there be a god? Possibly. Could there be many gods? Possibly. Will we find evidence for those gods? I highly doubt it!

    However, I am sure that science will continue to shows us unbelievable things and benefit humanity as a whole. We discover a new theory of abiogenesis, we may discover new habitable planets in distant places, we may find the evolutionary links between species, we may learn how DNA and genetics can assist in curing cancer, AIDS and other diseases. Will this all occur in our lifetimes? Probably not, but it is a much more exciting field to look into than theology for me. The unknown shouldn’t be about mystery but discovery!

    1. Those answers sounded authentic. I think a Creationist would be pleased with them (and puzzled at the additions, did you not just see the answer?) Well done.

    1. Uh yeah. They should read all 66 books. If that doesn’t turn them into an atheist, they’re probably hopeless.

  10. I wanted to comment that these people look more normal than the pictures of people holding up the religious posters….but then I spotted the pastafarian!

    For noodle’s sake !

    1. “Normal?”

      I thought they all looked normal. The second group seems a little more academic, perhaps.

      It would be interesting to switch the faces around (don’t show clothing) and see if anyone can pick out ‘who is the Creationist?’ My guess — no.

  11. My favorite vestigial body part is the human tailbone. Why would we have that and why are some babies born with tails? That stumps them

      1. Yeah mine gave me appendicitis when I was a kid but my kid immune system fixed it before it got evacuated from my body. For now, I’ll keep him. 🙂

  12. Pastafarians and creationists will always stick together if you don’t wash the starch off the pasta. The starch is the Holy Spirit which binds all believers and unbelievers together.

  13. Concerning the last one :

    Of course accommodationists say that “the Bible isn’t a science textbook” (I translate that as “the Bible is wrong”), but Ken Ham certainly used it that way!:

    TTBOMK, the Buybull is only around 2500 years old ; parts of it like the “Jeebus’n’Paul Guide to the Eastern Mediterranean” section not even 2000 years old.
    I’ll grant them plagiarism from the Babylonians to get another few centuries of antiquity for the Utnapishtim Flood. But that still doesn’t get them to 4kyr.
    Heck, (I’m being polite. -ish.) we’ve got Chinese divination records a full millennium older than that, and some change.

    1. Never mind the Chinese…2000 BCE, Ham’s / Ussher’s dating of the Noahic Flood, is the tail end of the Eleventh Egyptian Dynasty. I don’t think they even noticed any unusual rainfall….



      1. I don’t think they even noticed any unusual rainfall….

        Isn’t the word “unusual” superfluous there? As in, for a lot of Egypt, any rainfall is unusual.
        (OK – my personal experience of Egypt is limited to 14 hours waiting in to change flights at Cairo, in two visits, and with no access to a transit lounge (I don’t know why ; tickets organised in a rush because someone needed to get home in a hurry for his first child’s birth. Weird routing.)

        1. Egypt is pretty arid today, but remember that humans couldn’t have invented agriculture in a desert, and Egypt is one of the oldest (there are older) major agricultural centers. Indeed, the whole Middle East is still referred to as the “Fertile Crescent,” even though it’s been mostly (but certainly not entirely) a desert wasteland for uncounted generations.

          And the reason why the Fertile Crescent isn’t anywhere near as fertile as it was in generations past is because of over-farming — depletion of groundwater reserves, depletion of nutrients in the soil, buildup of salts in the soil from irrigation, loss of topsoil due to erosion, all that sort of thing. That’s driven macro-scale climate changes in the area as well leading to decreased local rainfall, further accelerating the desertification of the region.

          That…and the Nile hasn’t flooded once in my lifetime….



          1. A few points :
            (1) I’ve never heard serious suggestion that the Egyptians invented agriculture. Most archaeology that I’ve heard on this point are pretty sure they imported it as a package from Mesopotamia.
            (2) There’s fairly good evidence that the “proto-Egyptians” were nomadic pastorialists with hunter-gatherer habits (probably cattle pastorialists) in the “Sahara” before about 7-8kyr ago (think “Maasai”, for a crude analogue). Drying of the Sahara associated with climatic changes marking the end (well … there’s a topic itself) of the ice age forced them into the Nile valley, where they encountered (how? good question!) people with a Mesopotamian agricultural “package.” And the next thing we know is that there are warring chieftainhoods, burial rites in cultural continuity with what we have found in the Sahara .. and along comes King Narmer, smiting his enemies and the start of Egyptian history.
            (3) Nasser must have had his eye on Rammesses II when he ordered that dam built. Even Ram-2 would have had to recognise that dam as a “reasonably substantial” bit of construction.

            1. I certainly did’t mean to suggest that Egyptians invented agriculture — thus the “(there are older)” parenthetical. But they’re certainly amongst the oldest of the agricultural civilizations.

              And, yeah. I don’t think there’s a single Pharaoh who wouldn’t have fallen to his knees in terror at the sight of either Aswan Dam. Considering what those Pharaohs did makes you appreciate that bit of construction all the more.

              …and then there’s the Suez Canal….


              1. I don’t think there’s a single Pharaoh who wouldn’t have fallen to his knees in terror at the sight of either Aswan Dam.

                I doubt that many Pharaohs did the “falling to the knees in terror” thing – and certainly not Ramesses The Great, who was, but Pharaohonic standards, Great. But I’m sure they’d have recognised Nasser as having a suitable Pharaohonic approach to rebuilding the scenery, smiting of enemies, etc.
                Sticking to the Ramesses – Nasser conversation :”I bit off too much with those [rude words] Canaanites.””Yeah. Kadesh! Not fun.””That’s what [propaganda departments ¦¦ stone masons] are there for.”

              2. I dunno…a low-altitude flyby from a 747, or a line of Abrams tanks from horizon to horizon (as described by that ex-Marine friend I’ve mentioned who was in Desert Storm), or even just a Cat D11 in operation would likely make even Ramses a bit weak in the knees. And seeing the Nile itself stopped up? The implications of that (no more flooding) would likely scare the shit out of him.

                Why it doesn’t scare the shit out of everybody else, too, is a bit beyond me….


              3. I’ll leave that last question to be answered by commentators from … Los Angeles would be a good example.
                Or anyone who lives around the Aral Sea. Just as a f’r instance.

              4. I used to live, for many years, about as far from the Sky Harbor VOR as said VOR is from the end of the runway. They don’t get many 747s there, but, at least for a while, there was a British Airways one that was on a very predictable schedule.

                Holy fucking shit.

                Nowhere near as earth-shaking as the various fighter jets taking off, though, even though they’re a lot smaller.

                My dad’s a (long-since-retired) commercial pilot and flight instructor, so I’m quite familiar with how aerodynamics works. But, I swear, there’s absolutely no possible way that any force of nature could possibly get something the size of a 747 to keep from falling out of the sky. That they (usually) don’t is the surest proof of the existence of magic there is.



        2. …tickets organised in a rush because someone needed to get home in a hurry for his first child’s birth.

          You’re not supposed to fly during the 9th month.

          Glad it went well.

          1. Silly bleeder should have told us that his wife was due to besprog before we sent him out. I had 8 weeks on the job (in lovely surroundings, I admit) then only 2 weeks back at home before being sent back to relieve him and send him home to attend to his family life. I was not best pleased (nor was my wife). But we had no-one else with a suitably prepared immune system and the willingness to go into the Somali pirate’s back yard.
            I don’t bother to un-pack my rig bag. I’ve had too many of the 05:00 phone calls.
            To quote Frank Zappa : “You’ll love it. It’s a way of life!”

  14. I did a Facebook share of Ethan Siegal’s honest answers to the creationists’ photographed questions to see what kind of response I would get from my steadfastly religious family and real friends. I have never declared my atheism on FB because . . . well, mainly because I am not quite capable of properly rebutting all the silly declarations my friends and family would make. I continue to marvel at Dr. Coyne’s impeccable insight and clarity of vision concerning the inappropriateness of religious institutions and the stances of their champions. I am reading Dawkins, Pinker, Barker, Grayling, Harris, et.al. in an effort to learn as much about atheism as my unscientific mind can grasp. I felt this post by Siegal was very straightforward and could serve as a good entry point for me. So far, after 8 hours, one friend and one cousin have responded. My friend thought the scientific explanations Siegal provided were quite good but he still could not fathom the universe not being made by God. My cousin made the declaration that god created evolution. Amazing.

  15. That question about the snake showing evidence of once having legs could bit her in the ass when the creationists counter with: just proof that god cursed the snake to crawl on its belly after it tempted Eve….. LOL

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