The bottom of the creationist barrel: the Argument from Photoshopped Cow

August 16, 2014 • 10:47 am

This does not appear to be a joke, but a picture of a Photoshopped cow that, according to the website Creation Moments, is good evidence for the Great Designer:

While doing some research on the Internet recently, we came across this photo of a cow bearing a detailed map of the world on its hide. Was the cow born with these markings or are the spots the handiwork of a skilled Photoshop artist?


Given the presence of Madagascar, New Zealand, Cuba, Japan, and every other feature of the globe, the parsimonious explanation would be Photoshop. Only a creationist would leave even a tiny bit of doubt about that hanging in the air. But even if it’s just a put-up job, it’s still evidence for God!

Obviously, this cow’s spots were put there by a designer. But our question for evolutionists is this: If you agree that the cow’s spots are designed, why won’t you agree that the actual cow – which is so much more complex than the arrangement of its spots – was designed as well?

Evolutionists and atheists will agree that the pattern of the cow’s spots was designed, but they will not agree that the cow itself was designed. That’s because they are committed to their faith – yes, faith! – built on the premise that there is no Designer. Though they can see the complexities of nature all around them, they say that everything was the result of mindless, natural processes.

And that’s why Darwinists have a cow whenever they hear a Bible-believing Christian say that things which appear to be designed actually are designed! If they weren’t so biased against God, they’d know that the cow’s spots reveals the incredibly huge blind spot in their own minds.

The response is short: we have a good theory for how something complex like a cow could arise via purely naturalistic processes. And we have evidence for that theory. We have no good naturalistic theory for how a cow could develop a perfect replica of a world map on its flanks.


h/t: Steve

127 thoughts on “The bottom of the creationist barrel: the Argument from Photoshopped Cow

      1. I once posted that on my FB page with a comment like “this dog looks like a piece of toast”. It drew the wrath of a friend who said such a post was beneath even me. Accomodationist fellow (non-believer who eschews the label “atheist”) couldn’t deal with a discussion of pareidolia for fear of offending believers.

        1. Who was it who noted that sacred cows make the best hamburger? I bet your friend wouldn’t turn down a really good bacon cheeseburger under normal circumstances, but would be horrified were you to make mention of the picnic barbecue menu at work within earshot of Jerry for fear of offending his delicate Jewish dietary sensibilities.


          1. Exactly! Though I’m not sure how somebody wound up staring at a dog’s butt long enough in the first place to notice the semblance…still…it takes all types….


              1. I’ve only had one cat who did that, and she only did so when she would lay on my stomach in bed. Fortunately, her dimensions were such that it wasn’t too hard to get her reasonably positioned…her paws over my navel, my hand on her paws, and her head on my hand — which kept her other end at a comfortable distance from my face….

                Baihu, fortunately, prefers to use my cheek as a pillow. And he almost never drools….


      2. I just *knew* which photo that would be. What just struck me, though, was the realisation that Jesus’ face is actually the pooch’s asshole. How unfortunate…

    1. NASA’s fake Moon-Landing site?
      (Entrance fee is a bruise on your nose looking like Buzz Aldrin’s fist. Did no-one tell the man that fists are for soft bellies, and faces need a knee or boot. Or a pre-John Barrowman Glaswegian Kiss.)

  1. Funny thing is, the cow quite literally WAS designed.

    It was designed by people, using artificial selection over many years to produce the best possible cow for the production of the best, tastiest milk or beef or whatever. From there we can delve into the exponentially larger timescales and population sizes that allow for natural selection to do its thing but…well, tilting at windmills, I suppose.

    It’s a bit like Ray Comfort’s infamous banana bit; cultivation and selective breeding are tricky concepts for folks who believe the world was created essentially as-is 6,000 years ago.

    1. WideWorldofDonuts: I was a way this weekend, so I just read this. I was about to post essentially the same comment on artificial/natural selection when I saw you had done it already. Good work!

  2. Oh, but the cow was (partially) designed too… by generations of milk farmers. It’s wild ancestors didn’t have spots, and sported intimidating horns instead.

  3. Does everyone see the lost island of Atlantis on the neck and face? I’m sure there’s profound meaning there too…
    *makes twilight zone theme with nose pinched*.

  4. Not soooo holy this particular Holstein.

    For us lovers of All Things Bovinae, has for many, many years now offered up — with no collection plate – fee either, ie, @ no ¢charge¢ to any of its communicants — the use of this specific species of mooooving greetin’ to those wanting to send to others any sort of ‘univers’al sentiment ‘artistically done up’ by one Royce B McClure, its “Geography Lesson” e – card of .


        1. I’m guessing roughly one percent of WEIT readers know who Marshawn Lynch is. I appreciate the reference, though. Alternatively, you could’ve said something about “giving objective reality The Heisman.” Don’t know how many people would get that one either.

          1. I got neither reference…but Google did.

            Marshawn Lynch is an American football player with a reputation for aggressiveness on the field.

            The Heisman Trophy is awarded each year to that year’s best college football player. The trophy itself depicts a player performing the move Lynch is fond of using.


  5. The spot pattern is not, in fact, any more complex than any other pattern. It’s remarkable solely because it corresponds to a pattern meaningful to humans. The cow itself has no such correspondence.

    1. a pattern meaningful to humans

      … at this time and state of sea-level, and in a particular geometric projection.
      Some people care deeply about map projections, whether the clockwise or anti-clockwise pole is positioned at the top (I specify rotation directions to remind people of the arbitrary nature of the designation.) Others care (with more reasoning) about the way that the popular Mercator projection exaggerates the apparent size of high-latitude areas compared to low-latitude ones (e.g. Africa and Europe appear to be comparable sizes) ; there is no shortage of “equal area” projections to choose from instead of Mercator. Sea-level is a variable too. Fairly small changes (such as have happened during the history of anatomically modern humans) considerably alter the areas of coastal plains (by today’s standards) inundated (by today’s standards) or continental shelves (by today’s standards) exposed (by today’s standards).
      Now, if someone showed me a picture of a cat with a map of the world in Peter’s (Peters’ ?) projection, then I’d be convinced. That some Aussie has learned how to PhotoShop cats.

        1. errr, “Gesundheit!” ?
          (Googles : Yeah, that’s one of the beasts.)
          I really should take my skull back to the whipping post and try to beat it into working out how to do local displacement coordinates into UTMs and geographics. it’s been a headache for 10 years now, but to be honest, I’ve never really needed to actually do it in the wild.

  6. This is on par with the “peanut butter argument”:

    The “peanut butter argument” (Reductio ad Arachis hypogaea) for intelligent design is a claim by Chuck Missler that states that, as life does not evolve spontaneously in sealed jars of peanut butter, it is absurd to assume it evolved spontaneously on the primordial Earth.

    Presumably these are the best arguments that creationists have and are really just an admission of defeat by creationist idiots.

  7. I would say that we also have good evidence for how an image of a cow (not the actual cow) would come to have spots representing a map of the world on it, and given enough cows perhaps one like this would appear naturally.

  8. There is a possibility that the cows were confronted with some sort of arboreal magic as per Genesis 30. This is how to create patchy looks upon thy flock

    (v. 37) Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches.

    (v. 38) Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink,

    (v. 39) they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted.

    1. So…this cow’s mom grew up eating Rand McNally maps, and her father National Geographic magazines? But that should have made her a billy goat…I’m so confused….


        1. Because I’m confused? This Bible biology is so hard to keep straight…cats and dogs living together on a boat…bird-bat hybrids…four-legged hexapods…talking asses — and not just the political animals!


  9. Obviously the cow’s spots are designed, so the actual cow – which is so much more complex than the arrangement of its spots – must be designed as well. And the cow’s designer, being so much more complex than one of its creations, must be designed as well. . .

    1. Sir, I do believe that the Noodly Appendage is reaching towards you. Go towards the Noodles ; a rum punch awaits you!

  10. Actually there is nothing preventing an real cow having such markings in a coincidental manner. Its possible, just very very improbable. The difference here is that we know there exist ways to produce that image that are far more likely to be true.

    If this cow really existed in a world where humanity (or any other sentience) had not evolved, the odds that this was a natural occurrence would be significantly greater than they are now.

    1. A cow, especially an holstein, naturally evolving anywhere else in the Universe, would be so mind-blowingly improbable that Matrix-style conspiracy theories would instantly become credible. As would the evolution of any cow analogue (an organism that provides great benefit to another species at great cost to its own independent survival abilities) without intelligent breeding or other genetic manipulation efforts.

      Yes, we’ve seen examples of co-adaptive evolution many times, with the famous example being that flower that gets pollinated by the moth (bird?) with the insanely long tongue. But the type of adaptations we see in domestic plants and animals pretty much demands intelligent design as opposed to random-pumped genetic algorithms.


              1. Merilee Posted

                And a gnother gnu was k-neeling gnext to him.

                But was that gnu really wishing that he could gnash his teeth at gyou? You really ought to gnow a who’s a gwho! Call me “bison” or “okapi” and I’ll sue.
                Gnor am I in the least like that dreadful “hartibeast” / Oh gno, gno, gno, I’m a gnu.

                Sorry, but I was word-perfect on ‘Hat’ and ‘Gnother Hat’ before I went to secondary school.

              2. Oh, damn. I forgot the gnash!! A chocolate ganache would be nice, though.

                (another classic line: His innamorata adjusted her garter)

              3. … “And sang her this sweet serenade (in Russian!)
                Glans, Glans scubbly something incomprehensible.”
                The wife, being Russian, doesn’t get F+S. But my limited Russian does identify “Гланс” фы damn try again … as a technical term for unconsolidated clays. Colloquially, “Mud!”
                “He’ll gamble (gambol? they change lyrics!) no more on the banks of the Nile
                Which Nasser is flooding next spring.”
                I heard that as “NASA” flooding the banks until I was well into my teens, which lead to some highly confused scenarios.

  11. If there was a real cosmic God then why didn’t it think of miraculously creating cows looking like this ? Maybe because Bible God’s imagination is mighty limited when it comes to thinking outside the box ? Such a map of the world, if provided 2000 years ago, would have enabled the Old World to discover the New World much sooner and let them enjoy the crops of the New World.

    Maybe then Jesus would have been made to say, ” Man shall not live on bread alone – he needs potato crisps, tomatoes & chocolate, so get thy ass over there double quick, to go without chocolate is kinda thick ”

    Then we would not have been able to write a parody on John 3v16; ” For god so loved the Old World that he deprived them of chocolate for most of recorded history except for the last 500 years ”

    Also when it comes to a lack of imagination, how is it that the author of Matthew 27v48 didn’t think to make Jesus say a quick prayer to turn the wine vinegar he was offered on the cross into fine wine, or maybe Jack Daniel’s would have been more effective ? Also how come Jesus didn’t saturate the wine with morphine ? Or why not have Jesus say a quick prayer for himself to miraculously remove all the pain? Why didn’t the heavenly father think of administering palliative care ? So in fact that grief was entirely avoidable. Is God his own worst enemy ? Self inflicted grief ?

    Quite an interesting article on Wikipedia about shortages of Morphine in some countries – could be solved by allowing Afghan farmers to provide poppy seeds. Probably some cons with that idea ( I have no idea if the article is correct )

    Global shortages :
    Morphine and other poppy-based medicines have been identified by the World Health Organization as essential in the treatment of severe pain. However, only six countries use 77% of the world’s morphine supplies, leaving many emerging countries lacking in pain relief medication.[73] The current system of supply of raw poppy materials to make poppy-based medicines is regulated by the International Narcotics Control Board under the provision of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The amount of raw poppy materials that each country can demand annually based on these provisions must correspond to an estimate of the country’s needs taken from the national consumption within the preceding two years. In many countries, underprescription of morphine is rampant because of the high prices and the lack of training in the prescription of poppy-based drugs. The World Health Organization is now working with administrations from various countries to train healthworkers and to develop national regulations regarding drug prescription to facilitate a greater prescription of poppy-based medicines.[74]
    Another idea to increase morphine availability is proposed by the Senlis Council, who suggest, through their proposal for Afghan Morphine, that Afghanistan could provide cheap pain relief solutions to emerging countries as part of a second-tier system of supply that would complement the current INCB regulated system by maintaining the balance and closed system that it establishes while providing finished product morphine to those suffering from severe pain and unable to access poppy-based drugs under the current system.

    1. Maybe because Bible God’s imagination is mighty limited when it comes to thinking outside the box^H^H^H^H Levant ?

      Supply of morphine isn’t a materials problem, it’s a political one. The hassles of complying with regulations intended to prevent the illicit drugs industry from moving it’s raw material around simply mean that non-opium sources of opiate core molecules are the easier starting point for morphine production, rather than poorly-QC’d poppies grown by illiterates in a war zone.

  12. This atheist does NOT “agree that the pattern of the cow’s spots was designed”. Instead, they are a representation of the arrangement of the Earth’s land masses after hundreds of millions of years of plate tectonics. Just an image of the Earth at this point in time.

  13. And of course, with the fundamentalist proclivity for seeing His Handiwork everywhere, this idea that maps on can appear on (sacred) cows is just projection. Mercator, I think.

  14. That’s because they are committed to their faith – yes, faith! – built on the premise that there is no Designer.

    I always love it when the faithful argue that scientists, sceptics, atheists etc. are committed to “faiths” because the clear implication is that faith is something negative.

    In other words, they don’t say, my position is more rational than yours; instead they say, yes, my position is totally irrational but so is yours.

    Apart from being false, why is that supposed to be an argument for creationism?

  15. I have an illustration of a similar cow from an art show in the late 70s. What’s interesting is that it takes people a while to see the map. In mine the continents are larger relative to the cow. I’ve assumed that it’s due to the dark area on maps traditionally being water. It’s hard for our brain to see white as water and dark as land.

    1. That’s almost enough to get me heading across the alps and alms with a couple of spray cans of black and blue to deal blows to the faith of Austria.

  16. A better answer would be this: if there were environmental pressures for cows to exhibit patterns that resemble the continents, then suuuuure, you might get cows with such patterns. The image is surprising and unbelievable precisely because we know of no selective environment in which cows with the continents on them probabilitistically survive better than those without. Duh.

  17. C. Dennis McKinsey in his ” Encyclopedia of Biblical errancy ” notes on p 95 that Mark 15v23 has Jesus on the cross offered wine mingled with myrrh yet Matthew 27v34 has the vinegar mingled with gall. Mark has no tales about Wise men or shepherds but Matthew has the Magi / Wise men offer Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh. Strange then that Jesus refuses to drink the myrrh/ gall which were both considered to be analgesics ( gall is claimed by some to be derived from opium ) So is this a case of two many cooks spoil the broth ? Was the author of Matt 27v34 trying to link the drink to Psalm 69v21 where David is offered gall ? Yet Psalm 69v20 says, ” I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none. They put gall in my food { as if an act of enmity } and gave me vinegar for my thirst. ” Well in the gospels it would be possible to claim that the person offering Jesus the myrrh/gall were being sympathetic and trying to comfort him / to relieve pain. So this undermines the attempt to link to psalm 69. I think you can see that Matthew wanted to change the myrrh to gall to fit psalm 69.
    The priests of Matt 27v42 made a good point, ” Jesus saved others, but he can’t save himself…”

    Could the gospels have been something like :
    Crowd: Jesus, here is some myrrh & gall to lessen your pain
    Jesus: No, I’ve read in the newspaper that those drugs can be addictive
    Crowd: Jesus you are likely to die in the next day or two so that doesn’t matter
    Jesus: Oh, I never thought of it like that, well now that you say, it does seem more sensible to drink it really, extra strong please.

    Could Matt 27v46 ” My God why have you forsaken me ” be read as, ” It seems like there is no God, could that be because there is in fact no God ”
    Yet in any case Jesus has rejected the pain relief offered to him as a birth present. He also does nothing to help increase the pain relief medicine cabinet for humanity. He could have identified substances to use as medicine – both promoting the use of opium and mentioning aspirin from willow bark or beaver castoreum. He could have show cased how to suffer severe injury without pain.

    Anyway it’s probably fairy tales

    1. Just a second while I set this one up …
      <B>Eric</B> (for it is he) : <I>”But it’s turtles^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H cows all the way down!”</I> <P><B>muwahahahaha</B>
      OK, set up done. Not that I’m putting words in the mouths of people, but all together now, and in chorus (baritones hold back by a minim), 3, 2, 1 :
      And what does the cow stand upon, Eric?

        1. Nice try, but the relationship “upon” requires a spatial dimension to the cow::non-cow relationship.
          [In voce : John Cleese as Mr Creosote’s waiter] “One tiny wafer-thin carapace, Monsewer?”

  18. “While doing some research on the Internet recently, we came across this photo of a cow bearing a detailed map of the world on its hide.”

    It says a lot about the sort of sites they visit when doing their “research”.

  19. A pile of rocks is far more complicated than, say, the Nike symbol; that was designed, as was the pile of rocks. Some just try to suppress the truth of the rock-goblin in their heart. QED.

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