(From TrollArt.com, via Google Developers, Google+, used w/o permission.)
From my point of view, it's the live ammonite in the pickup and pterosaur flying out of a cliff face. Neither has been around for about 65,000,000 years. That's quibbling, though.
I think most folks recognize fanciful embellishments: including folks who are still in elementary and high school. Sometimes a little playfulness makes a picture more memorable.
That's why this cartoon is the sort of illustration I'd like to see in science textbooks. It's a clear illustration of a fairly complicated set of data.
Not everyone shares these views. The third, sixth, and seventh comments responding to a post on Google+ reflect two all-too-common ways of thinking:
#3The "Two errors" comment might be trolling. The seventh, where "believer" is misspelled, is almost certainly an honest expression of belief. So, I think, is the one that ends with "safely ignore you."
"Two errors in posted image:
1) The dates are significantly too long ago.
2) The Flood, which caused the immediate burial of dinosaurs, etc needed for good quality Fossilization, is absent."
"Not sure if serious or trolling.."
"Please cite the Bible as your source, so that everyone can be keenly aware you have made no distinction between mythology and science, and thereby safely ignore you."
"As a beliver in the one true God who created all things, who is over all things even science, and logic....."
(Google Developers post, Google+ (October 11, 2013))
By then the discussion of "mythology and science" had marched down a well-worn path.
Followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster criticized the "wild and uncanny ignorance" of those who believe in the "god guy."
The other side said that Earth had to be as old as they think it is because "the Bible is God's word and not the work of fallible people, we know it is correct."
The conversation was fairly coherent, as such things go.
Emotions tend to run wild when folks who passionately believe that religion is nonsense argue with folks equally convinced that God agrees with a 17th century Calvinist.
Perhaps I'm being unfair: or, not.
My hope was that someone would see my comment and get curious about my beliefs. Besides, pouring oil on troubled fires occasionally pushes back the darkness.
(From "The Three-Story Universe," © N. F. Gier, God, Reason, and the Evangelicals (1987), via Nick Gier, University of Idaho, used w/o permission.)
Oddly enough, folks who sincerely believe that Earth didn't exist before 4004 B.C. don't seem troubled by transpacific airline flights and other evidence of a spherical Earth.
If the imagery we find in the Bible was literally true, as read by a post-Victorian American, we'd be living between "the waters beneath the earth" and "the flood waters stored on high." (Genesis 1:7; Exodus 20:4; 1 Samuel 2:8; Job 9:6-7; Job 26:11; Psalms 33:7; 75:4; Sirach 43:10)
I knew one fellow who said that our sun goes around Earth, not the other way around: because the Bible says so. (Joshua 10:12-13) Even he didn't seem to have trouble with thinking that Earth is spherical.
I suppose implications of around-the-world cruises and international long distance telephone service1 made believing in a flat Earth too much for all but the most - devout?
Biblical imagery uses ideas from ancient Mespotamian cosmology. Back then, many folks assumed that the ground we walk on rested on huge pillars, with vast expanses of water beyond the deepest wells and on the other side of the sky.
I don't think Psalm 150:1 is 'mere poetry.' On the other hand, my faith wasn't shattered when Voyager 1 didn't crash into a celestial dome on its way to interstellar space.
Eratosthenes observed the sun's angle at noon on the summer solstice and calculated Earth's circumference. His results weren't entirely accurate, but pretty good for a rough approximation.
Since then, we've learned that the universe is vast and ancient on scales far beyond those measured by Eratosthenes. I don't mind. If anything, the overwhelming scale of creation increases my awe of the Creator.
My willingness to say that Ussher was wrong could brand me as one of the "disrespectful atheists." I'm not, but I do not expect the Bible to follow American, or even Western, cultural norms.
I take the Bible very seriously. As a Catholic, I have to. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 101-133)
Believing that the Bible is the Word of God is literally Catholicism 101. Since I can't believe that God is a liar, I think that what's in the Bible is true.
But since I also believe that God isn't an American, I don't have to assume that the Bible was written by someone with my culture's profound lack of appreciation for metaphor.
I've written about this before:
- "Genesis, Optimus Prime, and Victorian America"
(April 10, 2012)
- "When to Call Tech Support, When to Read the Bible"
(January 14, 2011)
- "God's Creation: He Seems to Think Big"
(September 23, 2010)
"The Church 'forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.'112"If that's not what you've heard, I'm not surprised: and that's another topic.
More about Sacred Scripture, what it is and what it isn't:
- "Understanding the Bible"
Mary Elizabeth Sperry, Associate Director for Utilization of the New American Bible, USCCB
Why all the stuff about science and technology in a 'religious' blog?
I am fascinated and delighted by what we're learning about God's creation. I enjoy sharing what I learn: even if — particularly if — it's not what my high school science textbooks said.
The goofy notion that science is against religion has been fashionable on and off since around the middle of the 19th century. I can see why folks who don't want God to exist sometimes claim that religion is an illogical set of 'unscientific' superstitions.
What's remarkable, and sad, is that many Christians say roughly the same thing: using different terms and invoking verses like 2 Timothy 2:15.
My faith doesn't depend on an interest in science, but it's not threatened by knowledge.
I think God exists, and created everything. I am also quite certain that God knows more than folks who lived more than a thousand years ago: or anyone living today.
Honest study of this universe cannot get in the way of faith. Since God created everything, including the physical world, nothing we learn about this creation can interfere with faith. (Catechism, 159)
(image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)
"Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth."Related posts:
(Dei Filius (1870), quoted in Catechism, 159)
- "Chesapeake Bay Crater; the Moon's Early Years"
(September 27, 2013)
- "Tracing the Y Chromosome, Studying Fossil Proteins, Seeking Truth"
(August 16, 2013)
- "Science isn't a Four-Letter Word"
(January 29, 2012)
- "My Take on the News: Stem Cells, Science, and 'The Man with the X-Ray Eyes' "
(November 18, 2011)
- "Home Schooling, Religious and Moral Instruction, and American Culture"
(March 6, 2010)
1 "International long distance telephone service?!" Think about it: anyone calling someone in another country either knows about time zones before dialing; or learns by experience.
2 I routinely update a link list of 'science' posts: