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A Skeptic in Creation Land

by Michael Shermer, Mar 17 2009

I visited the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, run by Answers in Genesis, the young-earth creationist organization run by Ken Ham, an Old Testament looking figure if ever there was one. I will be writing more about my experience in my monthly column in Scientific American (May 2009), but the highlight (also discussed in the column) was my interview with Dr. Georgia Purdom, the museum’s “research scientist” who explained what type of research one can do at a young-earth creationist organization, and why she thinks Francis Collins is wrong in his evolutionary understanding of the human genome.

128 Responses to “A Skeptic in Creation Land”

  1. SocraticMammal says:

    Shermer’s patience with her is impressive. He never challenges her directly but raises points for her to respond to.

    I tried counting the number of times she either contradicted herself or criticized claims as wrong because of their starting point but lost count around the halfway point. “We know from scripture the earth is around 6000 years old, so any evidence that says it’s older is wrong.” “We’re not interpreting, we’re just reading…” “That’s not what that verse says, that verse means…” “You don’t use Greek to interpret Hebrew.”? Guess we should just ignore Josephus, Philo, Paul, etc… If we didn’t have Greek reinterpreting Hebrew (or at least taking a solid interest in doing so) we wouldn’t have Chistianity.

  2. Doubting Foo says:

    After seeing Shermer in Jacksonville last month I meant to tell him that I thought he had a lot of patience, way more than me, to be able to sit through the ridiculous babble that the other people were spouting that night. But then, he does get paid to do this, so…

    Watching that interview was painful. Talk about cognitive dissonance!

  3. Max says:

    At 3:50, Shermer calls Ken Miller an Evangelical Christian. Last time I checked, he was Catholic.

  4. 25 minutes of Michael asking questions and getting variations on “Bible said so” as an answer.

  5. Mike says:

    I always enjoy Shermer’s interviews. He’s never antagonistic and almost seems compassionate. He intuitively knows when to step back and give them rope while at the same time giving them an ‘out’. He’s funny, humble and very personable.

    Well done.

  6. Paul says:


    Catholics are Christians by definition, and there are many Catholics who would be considered evangelical. The two categories are not mutually exclusive.

  7. Mike B says:

    Yet another reason I’m embarrassed to say that I live in Kentucky ;-(

  8. Max says:

    The quote is “… Evangelical born again Christians like Ken Miller and Francis Collins.” Francis Collins maybe, but not Ken Miller.

  9. FishNChimps says:

    This very sad woman has the God filter nailed behind her eyes. I agree with the observations about Michael Shermer. Such patience!

  10. Max says:

    “It’s not about interpreting it, it’s about reading it for what it says.” -Dr. Georgia Purdom

    Isaiah 66:1: Thus saith the Lord: Heaven is my throne, and the earth my footstool

    Ok, so God rests his feet on the earth.

  11. SeanJJordan says:

    Thanks for posting that entire interview instead of an edited version — it’s interesting to hear the entire discussion in context, and to hear her arguments. I used to be a creationist myself, and I never felt that the position was unintelligent because I believed in the literal truth of the Bible.

    But as to Michael Shermer’s implied point about how eukaryote cells could have been made by god from prokaryote cells… why do creationists have such a hard time believing that a deity wouldn’t start simple and use his basic ideas to design bigger and better things? The position of god taking a simple cell, shaping it into more complex cells, and then using those as Lego blocks to build things might be fantastic, but it’s at least somewhat logical compared to the idea that god spoke, everything happened at once, and the day was over.

  12. SeanJJordan says:

    (I should add that I am no longer a creationist, and I can’t believe I used to believe in that stuff. But that’s because I also no longer hold the Bible to be the source of truth. Science does a much better job.)

  13. Max says:

    Sean, why did you stop believing the Bible? Because of science, or for an unrelated emotional reason?

  14. I started to watch this the other day when PZ Myers posted it on Pharyngula. I couldn’t get past the 7 minute mark because she was giving me too much of a headache with her pretzel logic. I’ll agree with everyone else and say that Mr. Shermer has the patience of a saint. There is no way I could have interviewed her with a straight face.

  15. doofus says:

    I know SHE thinks she makes sense, but c’mon.

    It’s kind of like biblical Spinal Tap. “These go to 11.”

    Any time Michael asks about data that contradicts a biblical account, “that data is being interpreted incorrectly”.

    It’s fascinating.

  16. M. Zawerbny says:

    While watching this video I couldn’t help but think of the Monty Python skit where the two knights do battle. Even with her arms and legs cut off by this debate she still claims she’s able to continue the fight. What will it take for these people to concede that they are wrong? I guess we have to wait for the evolution of the human mind.

  17. Bob Muller says:

    Shermer does indeed, have amazing patience.

    Why do American creationists only compare science with one set of myths? If science is not valid, then damn near any mythological explanation for anything is equally valid. Where are the comparisons to creation myths of other cultures?

    Love the Spinal Tap and Monty Python references above (although creationists are more ridiculous than the mentioned fictional characters).

    As for waiting for the evolution of the human mind, Jonah Lehrer’s “How We Decide” touches on the recent development of logic in humans and how we still use more of our primitive mind — some more than others, of course.

  18. Mark says:

    What is the Mt. St. Helens dating stuff she’s talking about? That’s a creationist argument I haven’t heard before. Does anyone know what she’s talking about and what the real story is?

  19. Carolyn says:

    This fascinating interview (thank you, Michael, as always, compassionate but penetrating interview) shows how closed and circular the human mind can be. It is frightening to think that a trained scientist, exposed presumably to thousands of pieces of evidence during her reading, class and lab work, for the origins and evolution of life on earth, can remain so completely unconvinced. I sometimes despair for the future of humankind if we continue to have people like these contributing to our gene pool.

  20. bill babishoff says:

    WOW! Great interview Mr. Shermer. You totally exposed another fraudulent person. This is exactly why I no longer debate christians, they just ‘know’ without thinking. She kept referring to ‘gods word’ but who wrote it down? The ‘word’ had to get filtered through their brains, written in a man made language of the time and later translated into our current languages. Many men and possibly a couple of women wrote the bible. If the word came from god and was put into the minds of the biblical writers then they were no different than psychic interpreters. I doubt that is a very accurate method of transferring data.
    I thought it was interesting how she said man didn’t sin until he ate from the tree of good and evil. Prior to that event man didn’t know what a sin was therefore he couldn’t sin. In other words if you don’t know it’s a sin, it isn’t. Sounds like the 60’s all over again!

  21. Alton says:

    I have long appreciated, yet loathed Michael’s patience. His ability to sit back and calmly absorb the mindless drivel of someone like this woman without falling off his chair is admirable. I couldn’t do it. But just once, I’d just love to see his eyes widen as he proclaims, “Lady, you’re just plain nuckin futs!”

  22. Spencer says:

    Despite all that I have seen in life, I am still dumbstruck on how people like Dr. Purdom can believe such things in the face of overwhelming contrary scientific proof. Why do we believe the written words of bronze age writers who had no knowledge of modern science and merely made up these things in order to make some sense of their world?
    As Bill noted above, what we have today that constitutes the bible has been over the thousands of years translated and re tanslated many times. We really have no idea on what the original text said or looked like. The modern rebirth of the Hebrew language has shown that many key items in the bible were really mis-translations. Two quick examples are “born of a virgin”. In Hebrew it means born of a young woman..not virgin. Also, in the 10 is not “thou shall not kill” but is “thou shall not murder”.

    When are people going to wake up and use some common sense to realize that none of this stuff ever happened?

  23. Richard says:

    Mark..In a nut shell Dr. Steve Austin and his associates at the IRC collected a piece of rock from the 1986 eruption of Mt St Helen and attempted to date it by improperly using the K-Ar method. The results for the age of the rock were all over the map and he used the inaccurate results to try and discredit the K-Ar dating and many other dating methods. This link explains it in much more depth.

  24. Ken says:

    I agree a very insightful interview. These people are dangerous.

  25. I don’t know about anyone one else but I generally come to my conclusions based on facts and evidence, not my starting opinions. It seems to me this lady is clearly delusional. When the facts change she doesn’t change her view AT ALL! I mean damn, the oldest living tree is 9,550 years old ( so, at the very least, she should add a few thousand years to her creation time line!

  26. opinionated old fart says:

    So the Bible doesn’t approve of slavery? That’s a new one on me. Take a quick search of an online Bible to see how many times it mentions and accepts slavery, even in the New Testament. Then try finding any condemnation of the institution. Of course God didn’t want his chosen people to be slaves in Egypt, just as any white plantation owner wouldn’t want Africans owning white slaves. Slavery itself is not condemned no matter how you read (interpret) it.

  27. John says:

    Fundamentalists will never be swayed by evidence – even mountains of it. It seems to me that the skeptical movement is going to be as much about damage control as it is about enlightenment, but despite it being forever an uphill battle, I think it’s worth the fight, so I’m grateful for people like Shermer, Randi and other leaders of the movement.

  28. I enjoyed the interview. It was all very familiar to me since I was raised and still live among fundamentalist Christians. I had a very similar discussion with our pastor’s wife just recently.

    I noticed that Dr. Georgia Purdom gave an excellent “witness” or “testimony” about the requirement to recognize and confess sins, then accept Jesus as Savior and Lord as a requirement to be restored to the family of God.

  29. Bill H. says:

    I felt sorry for Michael Shermer while he was doing this interview. He has a huge amount of patience, and this woman has a huge mental tumor. It’s frightening how she seems to just lapse right back into the delusion that she’s not “interpreting” what scripture says, “it’s just God’s word.” Anyone who disagrees with her is “interpreting” but she’s not… yeah, uh…..WHAT?! This is a really Narcissistc view of how she sees the world, “God Thinks What I Think, or I Think What God Thinks, OK?”
    She’s obviously not dumb, or her claim to have a PhD is bogus. It’s another example of selective ignorance, though to the Nth degree. Scary!

  30. Richard says:

    Michael is indeed very patient, but he has had a lot of experience, and I guess it is better to be calm. However, I think he should have pushed her more on some of the molecular evidence. Such things as duplication pseudogenes, chromosomal rearrangements among humans and apes, etc. The incredible thing is that she could could have gotten a degree in molecular genetics without much (if any) exposure to evolutionary thought. That is a crime, and her graduate program should have its butt kicked, if what she said is true.

  31. RockDoctorJ says:

    I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. My biggest problem is when she states that while working on her Ph.D. at Ohio State, she never really encountered evolutionary theory. If her Ph.D. is in molecular biology and she never encountered evolutionary theory, my opinion of ‘The’ Ohio State University just shot craps. I wouldn’t send a dog there if that is a true statement!

  32. RockDoctorJ says:

    Sorry, I must correct myself, her Ph.D. is in Molecular Genetics. Again, what kind of genetics scholarship can proceed forward, especially when investigating the pathogenic nature of bacteria. Bacteria may evolve into new species of bacteria and still be bacteria…I am appalled that this person has a Ph.D. and even more appalled if her statement about evolution being a part of her Ph.D. at Ohio State is true.

  33. Paul D. Wilson says:

    All communication is made up of a transmitter, a medium and a receiver with SYMBOLS in the media. The symbols have to be decoded or… INTERPRETED by the receiver. It does not matter if the transmitter is a man with a hammer and a chisel, the medium a pice of stone and the receiver an anthropologist who sees the symbols chiseled 4000 years later or the transmitter is god himself, the medium the bible, the receiver the faithful and the symbols god’s words. Those words have to be decoded by the brain. That is interpretation.

    Michael is a hero of mine but there I times when I loose my patients with his patients. I know his way is probably best because there is virtually no chance of ever “winning”. These people are gorilla warriors. As long as they keep fighting they cannot lose.

    I do wish I could witness someone take this woman to task about the notion that anyone who disagrees with her starting point is interpreting incorrectly but she and her kind know. The arrogance is astounding! Not.

  34. Brad says:

    She mentioned that there are several dating methods that show the world isn’t billions of years old. Any idea what dating methods she talking about? I’m not aware of any dating methods that say that… unless you count Genesis as a scientific dating method.

  35. Doris Green says:

    What an idle exercise! A total waste of time to attempt an intelligent discussion with someone whose mind is closed. My evanglical brother challenged me to a ‘debate’ by suggesting we throw all preconceived notions from our minds. OK by me! But then he stated “We both agree that the Bible is the inspired word of God.”
    Whoa! Not anything I can agree to. Discussion closed, thank you.

    He has since approachd me with the admonition, “Now, Sis, you are getting up in years(80) and will soon have to make a reckoning with your Creator.” I told him I have no concerns about what the future may hold for me. You just have to let people BE wherever they are in their own evolution. Very little is gained with confrontation, until a person begins to question for themselves their falacious beliefs.

  36. Garry Grofcsik says:

    Wow! This woman was awarded a PHD in anything?! We are in trouble.

    I can´t help but wonder how she will react to her performance in this interview if she looks at it 30 years from now. ??

  37. Gayle Kenny says:

    How can someone do a PhD in molecular genetics and not realise that the basis of that study is evolutionary theory? What is Ohio State university doing there? Clearly their PhD’s are worth nothing. Perhaps some philosophical training might help this deluded woman to at least begin to understand the notion of consistent and coherent critical thinking.

  38. Bill H. says:

    Really? REALLY? A PhD in Molecular Genetics from Ohio State University? I can just imagine this woman sitting in an undergrad Genetics course and thinking(sic) to herself “I wonder what Genotypes Adam and Eve were? What were the Phenotypes of Cain and Able (and their magically appearing wives)?” It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall of her PhD Thesis Defense interview.

    When ‘scientists’ like her speak publicly it just adds fuel to the lame argument that creationists have recently begun spouting about “there is an increasing number of Scientists who support special creation and intelligent design.” A person could count all of the credible scientists who fit this category with both hands and still have a few fingers left over.
    Looks like Hell’s gonna be crowded, if she’s right. Even a small child is a condemned sinner, eh? Really? Whatever.

  39. Ron says:


    I’m sure she’ll just “Give It To God” in 30 years lol.

    I’m confused also about how she could even be considered a molecular scientist and still believe these things. There should be a rule that your PHD gets taken away automatically the minute you demonstrate that you believe in “Creationism”.

  40. Paul D. Wilson says:

    Her being a PhD in molecular biology and a rigid, my way or the highway, we are right and everyone else is wrong creationist is a classic example of humans capacity to sometimes compartmentalize emotions and beliefs from the. scientific process. Despite her own words to the contrary!

  41. Willem says:

    So according to her Biblical view, the radius of the universe is only 6,000 light years? But our galaxy is 100,000 light years across, and there are billions of galaxies, how does she explain that?

  42. Phillip Conwell says:

    I have just witnessed the greatest demonstration of patience I have ever seen. My hat’s off to Mr. Shermer for sitting through that mindless babble and not laughing. It’s so sad that someone graduated from one of our universities with a P.H.D., and yet is such a blatant idiot. I’m beyond trying to have a logical discussion with “true believers”. It’s easier to kick water uphill.

  43. Incredible! I laughed as I recounted how I used to use the same nonsensical arguments that are essentially just believing in Santa Claus even though you found the box with the price tag still attached.

    Religion really sucks: it ties up tso much time, talent and treasure for a little good (kindness) and a whole lot of convoluted b.s. that realyl hurts people. Youi can be kind without the guilt and manipulation of religion.

    I hope we can eradicate religion as quickly as we can get rid of AIDS. They are both dealy viruses: one for the body and one for the mind.

  44. Darren Tidwell says:

    It’s always interpreting when you don’t come to the same conclusion.

  45. Mark W. Budwig says:

    “[W]hy do creationists have such a hard time believing that a deity wouldn’t start simple and use his basic ideas to design bigger and better things?” This is just a version of the basic question of why creationists (and not just the Young Earth type) cannot take the view of someone like, say, Francisco J. Ayala (the Catholic evolutionary biologist and geneticist at the University of California) and believe that God would use evolution as His means of creating humanity. The only answer I can come up with — and granted, I’m a nonbeliever — is simple vanity. They are not about to accept the notion that they are cousins, however distant, to “monkeys.” Secondarily, their God — one committed to miracles and other flashy effects — simply would not do it that way. Not special enough, and they’re not about to let God decide for Himself what way is best.

  46. Jim Mears says:

    Wow! Magnificent interview. Just put her on display and let her talk. I was fascinated by the way she is so certain about knowing exactly God’s intentions and others wrongly interpreting them. Wow. She doesn’t even detect her own bias about her beliefs being absolutely correct and approaching all things from that perspective. A M A Z I N G! Especially, she has such an elaborate web surrounding her beliefs.

  47. Mat in Sydney says:

    A great training video. It gives me an idea how to approach my ultra-christian sister and open up a discussion without getting in an ugly argument. Keep smiling, let her finish talking, laugh at myself, and don’t attack, just let her explain her beliefs and gently focus in on the inconsistencies, circular logic, etc. Be a termite, not a bulldozer. Ensure she’s willing to have more chats, rather than dreading the subject.

  48. Michael Shermer’s patience is at the same time extraordinary and maddening. He seems to be unaware of some points that I would like to see this pitiful “PhD from OSU” be asked. (In any case, I’ve never seen Michael present these points in any form or forum.) Here are three:

    (1) I am guessing that the PPhD adheres to a Protestant faith. The number one Protestant is Martin Luther who wrote “Die verfluchte hure, Vernunft!” (That damned whore, Reason!”) in his screed “Lies of the Jews” around 1540 along with “Reason be Damned!” and many unprintable assaults on anyone who is reasonable. LOTJ is a “Wedge Document” of Protestant fundamentalism that needs to be exposed more. Does the PPhD support it? If so, why is she risking damnation by appearing to reason and getting a PhD? If not, why not?

    (2) The Bible quite clearly states that the Earth is flat (actually “dome shaped” in accordance with prevailing mythology) in at least two verses. Does the PPhD support this? If so, when will literalists build a Terres-Flatus Museum to save more souls (and cut down on airline crowding). If not, why not?

    (3) A good MRI or any neuropsychology text will expose the human lower limbic picean-reptilian-mammalian system (fish brain, viper brain, rat brain). It is fully functional at birth and appears to be the source of anger, fear, and other 7-deadly-sins while the higher brain is the source of the 7-liberal-arts but only after extensive education. Given the PPhD’s childish responses can we assume she supports the former and disavows the latter? Does an angry and spiteful God (our supposed image) have a gigantic limbic system? If not, how not?

  49. lslerner says:

    I look forward to a flood of the young lady’s publications on the evolution of pathogenicity. Is it too early to set aside the 2020 Nobel Prize for her?

  50. E. J. Calvin says:

    As a professor of philosophy who has subscribed to and enjoyed eSkeptic for years now, I’ve got to say that, judging from some of the comments left by many on this blog, I’m (sadly) as impressed by the readership of eSkeptic as I am the readership of “Answers in Genesis.”

    I find it ironic that on the same string, I read posts praising Dr. Shermer for his intellectual humility, and at the same time, demonstrating the height of academic hubris by denigrating and casting aspersions on the legitimacy of an earned Ph.D in molecular biology from a respectable, public university. I wonder how many of such posts actually came from readers who themselves hold Ph.D’s in anything, let alone molecular biology.

    I also find it frightening that a person claiming academic/intellectual/moral enlightenment could make such sweeping and frankly, Himmler-esque statements about religion. You may disagree with their conclusions, but at least most religious people today would eschew on ethical grounds “eradicating” a whole population based solely on their intellectual convictions, or lack thereof.

    But yes…funny video.

  51. Stacy Kennedy says:

    E.J. Calvin — Who is talking about “eradicating a whole population”?

    “Himmler-esque”? Sheer hyperbole.

    We’d like to see poor reasoning eradicated (quixotic as that hope might be), not people.

  52. mach1matty says:

    I argue that there is no requirement to “believe” or accept as true the subject matter for any particular college degree. The standard to recieve the degree is simply based on an an individual demonstrating the minimum level of knowledge. Has anyone ever heard of a course of work requiring a pledge of allegiance? I haven’t.

  53. Two things struck me in particular about this woman’s rant. One is that while she describes the process by which evolution takes place (using terms such as natural selection, mutating, changing over time, etc.), she refuses to admit that it actually is evolution, as though that were some kind of dirty word.

    The other thing she said, one I found quite precious, is that there were no evil bacteria “before the fall.” I guess they must have had a piece of the apple?

  54. jeff t says:

    i can’t believe what i’m hearing. michael, why do you waste your time with these people?

  55. jeff t says:

    hold on…..the universe is only 6000 years old? is this comedy?

  56. Skepacabra says:

    That moment at the 11:00 minute mark has got to be the greatest creationist quote EVER! Priceless!

  57. AtheistMD says:

    That woman is deliberately misrepresents science!
    I can not imagine how PhD in genetics (with required biology education) would use “man’s ideas” terminology talking about Evolution – established scientific theory!? She must know that “idea” in science has a specific meaning, and it’s wrong to misrepresent a theory – as being “man’s idea”! And where to men “insert” it, unclear from her talk…
    And also “starting points/opinions” affecting research interpretation?! That’s true of theology, not science, as science has built in correction mechanisms – that she must know about and use.
    I don’t remember in the whole interview, that she would refer to animals as species, calling them “kinds” instead…Blatantly discards various scientific methods…
    Her whole talk was very similar to talks I have with church wariers knocking on my door – NO science, NO sense, NO logic. Bible babble, very pathetic from scientific fellow…
    It made me think that her woman’s idea to get a PhD might was for the sole purpose to have it as a badge in her religious endeavour.

    I think Michael Shermer should clearly point it out to her – that she misuses terminology, misrepresents scientific research techniques, and basically deliberately misinforms public! This would do more good for watching people, than discussing fine pro/eucariotic cells.
    Patience is fine, but blatant lies needs to be addressed convincingly!

    P.s. I never use the word ‘believe’ in a sense other then “accepting without evidence or proof”. This word so overused and misused that leads to confusion in general public. People hear “scientists believe”, and then say – well, scientists believe in science, we believe in god/s. It gives uninformed undeserved endorsement of their beliefs.

  58. Dan says:

    We KNOW such and such is true because the Bible says so. Then why bother gong to school? What a waste of her time and money.

  59. Marku says:

    With all the knowledge and evidence provided by the scientific method, the bible seems more the handy work of Satan (if there were such a thing), rather than some so-called loving god. Promoting Bronze-Age knowledge as a valuable contradiction to modern science is no different than lying, at least to me. Creationist are evil.

  60. tim says:

    God didn’t seem to make us very well if most of us are such screw ups. God made me an atheist, what a silly thing to do. I must say though, i thought Purdom did alright. She could almost convince idiots like me if not careful. I wanted Shermer to scrape the bottom of the barrel and go for “who created god”. Its a classic. Oh yeah, who else thinks that its a tad unfair to be a bit of a sinner for our short time on earth and then go to hell for eternity?

  61. Bill H. says:

    While Calvin(above) has a point about playing nice, his claim that most religious people would not promote elimimating other people is pollyanna-ish, at best. Throughout history many groups have used a belief system as justification for atrocities. Calling on God, Allah, The Buddha, whoever to help us eliminate the heathens/infidels/whatever has been a widely accepted battle cry. But that’s not the point, here.
    As far as this woman’s PhD, it may very well be legit, and I know that O.S.U. is a fine institution. I would send my kids there in a heartbeat, but they wouldn’t waste the education they received.
    Also, one does not need a PhD to have the ability to see the waste or misapplication of a PhD. I’ve “only” got a M.S. in Science Ed., but that doesn’t mean I’m immune from criticism from those with a “lesser” degree. Wisdom does not require letters after your name.
    Again, kudos to Michael for his calm, smiling demeanor in the face of ridiculous babbling.

  62. Mike says:

    Shermer has to be that patient in order to get them to the table to open up, and by that he is exposing their faults. I understand some are frustrated he doesn’t attack, but if he was known for that, they’d never open up their idiocy in the first place.

    The basic presumption of science is objectivity. That’s why we call them theories. A person who believes in blind faith, by definition, can not be objective. I am willing to admit their MIGHT be a god. Religulious people are not willing to admit their might not be a god. They can not be reasoned with.

    Thank you Shermer!!!

  63. David S. says:

    I find it disappointing that the comments on Shermer’s posts always seem to trend toward religion-bashing. Religion is not Dr. Purdom’s problem; Young-Earth Creationism is. I’d much prefer to see the discussion focus on the problems with this particular type of religious thought and belief, rather than silly atheistic objections to the authority and authorship of the Bible, the legitimacy of religion at all, etc. Do you Bible-bashers realize that every one of your “challenging” questions was answered by apologists decades or centuries ago? For supposedly educated, enlightened skeptics, you sure don’t read much.

    And just to head off any conflation of my views and the sort of nonsense promulgated by Answers in Genesis: I’m an evangelical Christian who holds to the inerrancy of the Bible, but I’m also a skeptic and majored in Biology; I accept naturalistic evolution as God’s method of creation (generally called “evolutionary creation”, similar to “theistic evolution”) and see no disagreement between the truthfulness of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science.

  64. Mike says:

    David S. … deep down you know the bible is just a bunch of stories, and there is no god. It’s like believing in the Easter Bunny. “Would you jump off a bridge…”

    Shermer has to be kind, but the rest of us are tired of the “politically correct” religious answers. It’s time to be proud non-believers. As we’ve all seen from the latest polling numbers, the number of religious zealots are dwindling. It’s now our time to be more out spoken, we are gaining momentum.

  65. Ernesto Castillo says:

    David S.,

    You believe in the “inerrancy of the bible” but are also a “skeptic” and subscribe to “evolutionary creation”. I don’t see how this is possible. Who isn’t reading much??

  66. I was really disappointed that she had a ring on her finger – the bible says it would be ok for me to beat her if we were married… I could also sell our daughter into slavery for a hefty profit.

  67. Barrie says:

    No Carbon-14 in diamonds? I should hope not. Production of that isotope relies on bombardment of nitrogen by cosmic rays, something not occurring in any measurable sense in the mantle 100 miles under the crust; if there is, point me to the bible passage that explains how it got there, because only magic could explain it. People with no understanding of a particular branch of science shouldn’t really on third-hand anecdotes to ‘prove’ anything.

    The interview was oddly charming, like watching a child explain how she knows, with unshakable certitude and perfectly circular reasoning, that there is a Santa Claus.

  68. Barrie says:

    I meant ‘shouldn’t really rely’ on, not ‘shouldn’t really on’, back there.

  69. mark says:

    was she not supporting evolution or did i miss something

  70. mark says:

    i mean she was supporting evolution with what she said while trying to say it does not happen

  71. Grumpy Old Fart says:

    Where I think Shermer missed the boat was letting her get away with “we are all sinners” stuff. Although she blithely labeled her own child a sinner, she would have had some pause in condemning the 1 year old cancer victim (mentioned earlier by Michael) to hell for all eternity, no?

    She gets away with the “we all sin in some way” by talking about grown ups. Make her answer the hard case: eternal damnation of true innocents.

  72. Retired Prof says:

    David S. says, “Do you Bible-bashers realize that every one of your “challenging” questions was answered by apologists decades or centuries ago? For supposedly educated, enlightened skeptics, you sure don’t read much.”

    Okay, you got me, for one; I never did read much theology. That explains why I nearly flunked my second-semester theology course at the religious college I was attending. I never could develop the requisite faith, and dropped out.

    So maybe you can tell us whether this question has been addressed: If god is almighty and wants us all to be saved, how come he didn’t write the Bible so that everyone would understand it the same way, in harmonious unanimity?

  73. Bill H. says:

    Wow! Some really good comments. This woman did a good job of making herself look like a semi-literate brainwashing victim, though I doubt she would agree. The “Moral Certainty” she displays is a bit scary, and it sounds an awful lot like the way that George Bush approached things. “Don’t bother me with a bunch of facts, I already know the right answer. I just prayed about it and God told me the right thing! They’re paying me to Lead, not to Read!”
    But, I digress. In my opinion, no one group of people has a lock on all the right answers, but using solid rigorous scientific method is the best way to ensure that the most sound, logical decisions are made.

  74. Calvin: “I find it ironic that on the same string, I read posts praising Dr. Shermer for his intellectual humility, and at the same time, demonstrating the height of academic hubris by denigrating and casting aspersions on the legitimacy of an earned Ph.D in molecular biology from a respectable, public university. I wonder how many of such posts actually came from readers who themselves hold Ph.D’s in anything, let alone molecular biology.”

    I got as much of a kick out of this self-honoring nonsense as I did the religio-nut Shermer interviews in the video. I have a Ph.D and will attest that in many cases, the attainment of this degree is due as much or more to perseverance than intelligence. There was no lack of morons among my peers – or among the professors who taught us. In some areas I readily count myself among the morons. An education is an acquired tool and is easily set aside, unused and abandoned, and that is what this unfortunate woman has chosen to do.

  75. Tom du Pré says:

    The most distressing thing about this is that the woman has the temerity to call herself a scientist. She is not a scientist. She just isn’t.

  76. John M. says:

    I applaud you Michael Shermer for your patience and calm in this interview. These people do exist. The larger problem is that these people are everywhere in our educational system. They are administrators, teachers, aids, legislators, school board members, state board of education members, janitors, and leaders in our communities. They are teaching these ideas in Sunday School to our youngest. It is a constant “battle” to redirect my child’s thinking to get them to critically evaluate what they are hearing and learning in school. I do consider myself a Christian and a scientist, but more importantly I can think about and evaluate clear evidence presented to me. At the end of the day, everyone has to interpret the Bible and data. Evidently she wants to be the one to do the interpretation for you, so you get it right (in her mind). Oops , sorry, I interpreted something… My Bad.

  77. Matt P. says:

    I agree with a lot of you, I don’t know how Shermer didn’t laugh when she said that Francis Collins was wrong about A.R.E.’s. But I guess Shermer can sympathize with them since he used to be an Evangelical Christian. Shermer respects his opponents more than just about anyone.

  78. Colm says:

    A wonderful exposé of the evangelical mindset. The woman comes across as relatively intelligent, but nevertheless tied to a belief system that utterly blinds her to a rational, open, exploratory view of the world. The God she describes is a detestable creature – happy to give cancer to one year olds because of their sin (WTF?) – and yet she doesn’t seem to notice how repellent such views are to most people. I couldn’t help thinking about all the other kids eating lunch behind them and wondering how large sections of the US population will manage in the 21st century when they are being presented this stuff as educational fact.

  79. Julia says:

    I wish he had asked her about Muslims. Technically they believe in Jesus.

    Her whole attitude is unbelievable, she doesn’t need to test her beliefs because they are true because she believes them.

    I think Micheal did a fantastic job, I burst out laughing a few times and would have been mocking her or at least pointing out her inconsistencies.

  80. Jim Hauck says:

    I did not watch all of it, as her points are hard to defend, and Shermer was kind through what I watched. I agree more or less with John in #75. Some people are blinded by their own interpretation of things, and cannot see the clear evidence of the errors in their thinking. I think it is unkind of some of the commentary to be so derisive, such as Devil’s Advocate #73. I suspect there are things the Devil’s Advocate believes that others might think are laughable as well. The essence of being a Christian is to treat all others with Love, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, and Self-Control…
    There are a few non-Christians that might profit by those attitudes.

  81. Sirus says:

    Devil’s Advocate isn’t going around claiming lies to be true and trying to trick children into being substantially stupider than they should be, She deserves this derision Jim Hauck, your attitude that what she is doing is not a big deal that shouldn’t be ridiculed completely misses the point of how wrong she is and how damaging it is to society

  82. KenF says:

    Maybe the universe really is 6000yrs old. God placed stars 100,000 light years away and also placed photons of light at various locations along the way! God is such a prankster – very good at covering up and misdirecting the real truth.

    That type of hyper-creation and attention to detail reminds me of a quote by Bertrand Russell: “Maybe we were all created just five minutes ago…complete with holes in our socks.”

  83. Exétafus says:

    Answer for #59, Tim: Gene Wolfe (a writer) does. It is clearly stated by the Narrator of The Book of the New Sun, Severian. I suspect the problem is with the binary nature of eternity, infinity, ‘never’, etc. Since we exist, live, whatever, on Earth for a finite amount of time, at least as conscious beings, that is, anything that happens here having an effect on an ‘eternity’ afterward is illogical.

    It’s paramount to punishing grandpa because when he was 6 he stole a cookie. In fact, considering how we managed to forgive and elect certain recent officials, I’d suggest it’s downright /unamerican/ heh heh.

  84. Thank you, Sirus, though I realize you were defending the message, not me as the messenger.

    Since religious beliefs are by definition based on necessarily blind faith, and that almost all religions actually regard blind faith as a high virtue and reward it accordingly, religious beliefs create a sort of template in the mind wherein ‘facts’ needn’t be well evidenced nor evidenced at all. Evidential support simply isn’t required. You acquire the religious tenet, whatever it might be, and you believe it or you do not. There can be no review of evidence and evaluation, not in the scientific sense. This is all well and good when one stays within the framework and parameters of the religion, but when that thinking template is carried into scientific magisteria, the results are never pretty and always nonsensical. Credo consolans needn’t make sense; it’s only criterion is to make one feel good.

  85. Kristie says:

    I find it quite difficult to swallow the line that she earned a PhD in molecular biology from Ohio State and evolution never played a big part in her coursework or labwork. Evolution has been a significant component of every graduate course I’ve taken in OSU’s Anthropology department. And ours is supposedly a “soft” science.

  86. On the other hand, it’s quite apparent evolution never played a big part in her coursework or labwork. Perhaps she roted it for exams but secretly ignored it. Perhaps her conversion to creationism came post grad?

  87. William Cutler says:

    Michael’s interview with Dr. Purdom was about as sporting as shooting fish in a barrel. I’d like to see a discussion with someone who has attained a level of true spiritual maturity. Such a person would recognize the Bible as a source of spiritual wisdom without requiring any literal belief in the various miracles. Actually, such a person might even say that literal belief in the miracles gets in the way of understanding the deeper wisdom that the Bible communicates. There’s something interesting about the Bible. How is it that a book written by pre-scientific people with a very different worldview than ours continues to be such a dense source of provocative and challenging ideas for the contemporary mind, and a great source of guidance to so many people of great sensitivity and high intellectual attainment?

    Take sin for instance. Sin is not something we did that breaks a moral rule, as both Michael and Dr Purdom seem to agree. Sin is the failure to be in a constant state of conscious communion with God (or whatever label one applies to the loving, nurturing, generative essence of creation — mere words fall far short here). So, near as I can tell from observing newborns, we all start out in that condition through no fault of our own. Ok, accepting that, why do we need salvation, and how did Christ’s death on the cross accomplish that? I leave that as an exercise for the student. Many books have been filled with attempts at the answer.

    Big Bill

  88. Bob says:

    FYI – I’ll bet Dr. Purdom’s degree came from the Interdisciplinary program at Ohio State:

    Not to knock those who attend such programs, but they’re not necessarily the most rigorous programs, and typically aren’t targeting the research scientist. These types of programs are more often for “non-traditional” students, or, in this case, for “scientists” who would prefer to have to do as little “science” as possible.

  89. David S. says:

    Mike said in comment #63: “David S. … deep down you know the bible is just a bunch of stories, and there is no god. It’s like believing in the Easter Bunny. “Would you jump off a bridge…”

    Actually, the Bible itself claims that deep down, YOU know there is a god through natural revelation, moral conscience, the love and peace you sometimes see from believers, etc. and you’re the one in denial. I wouldn’t presume to know the depth or sincerity of your philosophical, moral, and/or religious insight since I don’t even know you; please offer me the same courtesy.

  90. David S. says:

    “Christopher Wing” said in comment #65: “I was really disappointed that she had a ring on her finger – the bible says it would be ok for me to beat her if we were married… I could also sell our daughter into slavery for a hefty profit.”

    Christopher: cliche’ religion-bashing criticism, correct; scripture, incorrect. The Koran lays down limits on the width of the implement used to beat your wife and the frequency thereof, and talks about selling daughters into slavery for profit. The Bible never mentions the topic of wife-beating and only describes (i.e. does not condone) the involuntary sale of male children into slavery to pay debts, which was a practice of the day.

    I’m not a Muslim and my exposure to their theology is limited, but I imagine they would defend those surahs the same way a Jew or Christian defends the portions of scripture that seem to condone acts we would consider barbaric or immoral today: the Scriptures were not prescribing the activity, they were prescribing counter-cultural limits on the activity, while subtly advocating change. e.g. “an eye for an eye” limited retribution to only equal, not excessive, payback — and was later repealed altogether by Jesus. The apostle Paul doesn’t condemn slavery, but when commending a brother in Christ back to his master Philemon, suggests that Philemon treat him kindly as a brother. This formed one of the bases for the later enlightenment of the abolitionist movement, which was founded and propelled by Christians.

    (NOTE: Comments about centuries of defense of slavery by Bible-thumping Christians are unneeded. I’m a Southern Baptist — I’m quite familiar with our shameful history, thanks.)

    Now, can we get back to the topic of Young-Earth Creationism?

  91. David S. says:

    Barrie said in comment #66: “No Carbon-14 in diamonds? I should hope not.”

    Actually, Dr. Purdom stated that Carbon-14 *has* been found in diamonds, which is one of her organization’s supposed “proofs” that the earth is young. Because we all know that one anomalous reading disproves the other thousands, right? (Wrong, of course.)

  92. David S. says:

    Devil’s Advocate said in comment #83: “Since religious beliefs are by definition based on necessarily blind faith, and that almost all religions actually regard blind faith as a high virtue and reward it accordingly…”

    False premise. Many religions do not recommend or esteem *blind* faith; that’s cult behavior. Religion requires faith, but so does any philosophy, worldview, or statement of ultimate truth. Many Christians, Jews, and Muslims (and probably other faiths with which I am not familiar) consider their faith to be very rational; in fact, some of us consider our faith to be the best explanation of how the world really works, especially human nature. No one has empirical evidence that answers ultimate questions; they can only be answered via faith of one sort or another (e.g. God, multi-verses, cyclical Big Bangs/Crunches, etc.).

    Saying “you have faith, I have proof” just makes you sound like a Biblical literalist who says, “you *interpret* the Bible, I just read it.”

  93. Mike B. says:

    Wow, you have much more patience with ill-informed people than most. I just can’t help but think that you’re wasting your time and intellect trying to have a scientific conversation with this individual. She’s so far down the rabbit hole.

  94. Gary says:

    It is obvious that she is schizophrenic.

  95. Gary says:

    David S. you are like the blacks that see racism in everything a white person says or does. You need to get some psychiatric help.

  96. David, the Catholic Church makes saints out of people who maintained blind faith during hard times. Since you can’t be ignorant of your own religious beliefs, you must be lying or crazy to think that religions not only advocate blind faith, but reward it handsomely.

  97. David S. says:

    Gary: I’m not really sure why you think I need psychiatric help — please explain. If you’re referring to my rebuttal to Devil’s Advocate re: blind faith — I may be overreacting; it’s one of my pet peeves when atheists claim they have proof there’s no god, or that religion is wrong. Ultimately, there is no proof for or against God; neither is there (or can there be, IMO) proof of alternative universes, cyclical Big Bangs, etc. No neurosis or psychosis here, just reason and a little irritation. :-)

  98. David S. says:

    Devil’s Advocate: I’m not Catholic, so I can’t speak to their veneration of saints (which I don’t believe in), but I know that many “Saints” and great theologians of the past were well-educated in their faith and reasonable in their arguments, i.e. it wasn’t “blind faith”. Read some of the apologetics of Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, C.S. Lewis, et al. and tell me their faith didn’t at least seem to them to be rational.

  99. David R says:

    Ms. Purdom keeps referring to “god’s word…”, “god’s word…”, “god’s word…” I wish Michael would have asked her, “To which god’s word are you referring?” There are 5100 ancient New Testament manuscripts and there are more differences in these manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament. The King James Version was translated from an error filled 12th century Greek Bible with some additions to the KJV from the error filled Catholic Latin Vulgate Bible. Source: “Misquoting Jesus: Who changed the Bible and Why” by Bart Erdman. Bart D. Erdman is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and chairman of the
    Department of Religious Studies.

    I would really like to know which “god’s word” Ms. (I cannot call her Dr.) Purdom uses for her reading (not to be interpreted) of the scriptures. I also understand that there are over 13,000 ancient manuscripts of the Old Testament with considerable differences among them.

    Also, AiG keeps saying that “we” all have the same data, just different interpretations of the evidence based on our starting world view. Question: So AiG interprets data and evidence but they do not interpret the Bible — god’s word?

  100. samstafford says:

    I have to challenge respectfully the reasoning of those who are stating or implying that Ohio State’s PhD’s are “worthless” because one graduate says something stupid. Isn’t this exactly the kind of reasoning fallacy that skeptics try to expel from our thinking? In fact, I think we studied this fallacy, among others, in a logic course.

    I know it’s an emotional subject, but I think we’re better off trying to stick with critical thinking.

    Okay, I’m an Ohio State graduate, so maybe I have my own emotional stake in the discussion; but, fair or not, I stand behind my original comment.

  101. Courtney Franklin says:

    Devil’s Advocate; Saints are made via miracles being preformed by them while they are living and while they are dead. Not via hard ships.

    Back on the video:

    Interesting interview, I find the slavery question and answer ripped a giant hole in her and the creationist argument.

  102. Angoras Rids says:

    The bible is true because it says so in it. Can anyone say Circular reasoning.

  103. frank says:

    RE: the unreliability of the texts of the scriptures

    1. we still have christians around who seem to echo the life changing experiences of the christians of 2000 yrs ago. similarly the jewish religion has not evolved radically from ancient times.
    does this not suggest that the message of the book that they follow has remained essentially the same throughout all these ages?

    2. there is an ancient tradition that the text of the first five books (Genesis, Exodus, etc)was significant, not just down to the very words, but the very letters.
    there is a paper, published in Statistical Science (the great sages experiment)that stands unrefuted. it has been criticised, but no paper has been submitted to refute it. that paper shows the text to be substantially preserved -to the exact letters – as delivered from a source from outside our universe.

  104. Shahar Lubin says:

    Frank, even discounting the logical fallacy of argument from antiquity, you got your history messed up. 2000 years ago the Jewish religion was based around a centerelized priesthood. Worship was mainly practiced by animal sacrifice and the main three “tax days” or “regalim”. Law was religeous and governed by a body of judge-priests called the “sanhadrin”.

    Today jewish religeon is non centrelized and worship is based on prayer. No person perform any official religeous activity(rabbis are revered teachers whose judgment people often follow, they are not analegous to priests) you can say it’s democractic. Any person can lead prayer and for full practice all you need are 11(male) individuals of age. The laws and morality are more derided from Rabbi Moses ben Maimon of 13th century than from the bible in it’s raw form.

    Oh and there was only one christian 2000 years ago, if any.

  105. frank says:

    ok, shahan – granted there are variations of practice (and heresies also) – yet, at core in the essense, i suggest one could find a commonality such that were time travel possible, sincere believers down through the generations would recognise a kindred spirit.
    i suggest this would be most apparent as they contemplate their scriptures.
    ive just found a quote, “Among the three Torahs in use worldwide amongst the jews … there are only 9 letter-level variations … in 300,000 letters”. Satinover 1997. not bad hey?

  106. Shahar Lubin says:

    Kindered spirit… In contemporary Israel jews of Easter European descent can’t even find commonality with the Ethiopean Jewish(or one would argue Israelite) view of the religion. Yes the torah has not changed but nobody follows it anymore. At best modern jews follow ten to fifteen percent. We’re talking two different religions with two different cores. Sacrificial-centrelized vs prayer based-non centrelized. It’s like saying that Islam and Hinduism are really one and the same because both believe there is a creator god. Never forgetting that Islam would except the Buddha as one of the 124,000 pre-Muhammadian prophets .

    A book not changing(a change of one letter would force jews to bury a torah and never use it) is an evidence of a book not changing. How does that give any validity to what’s in that said book?! Does sanskrit being an ancient maintained language proves that any thing said in that language is true?

    Oh, and it’s Shahar not Shahan. Shahar was the Ugaritian god of morning. In hebrew it means dawn as in a beggining or as in early morning. Would you surmise than that Baal worshiping is the same, at essence, as worshipping Yahweh just because one was influenced by the other or was developed from it? Religions evolve and sometime it’s macro evolution not just micro.

    At the end of the day you’re missing the main point. All religious belief is harmful to scientific inquiry. Belief is not based on looking at the evidence and building testable hypotheses. It’s about excepting blind faith and rejecting reason. Granted most religeous people only have some blind faith blind spots(I really really sorry for that quite horrible pun) and use reason in other parts of their life. Still once you except the notion that some elements of the world you just have to except because an ancient book said so you erode your capacity to reason elsewhere.

    Science does not go and try to disprove god. The evidence we have does not need a god to be explained. It’s grafted onto the world with a logical reason. I agree, a world without a god is a scary place. It means we’re on our own. It means we can screw ourselves up and no one will save us. It means there’s no personal continuation of a person’s identity past death. It means there would be an end to humanity and all our endevours would be meaningless. That scares me as well but it’s not a proof of Her existence.

    Most of us give up on our imaginary friend when we’re grow up, isn’t it time we grow up as a specie as well?

  107. Shahar Lubin says:

    I of course meant “without a logical reason”

  108. frank says:

    my profound apologies Shahar, it was careless of me to not get your name right. please forgive.
    yes – i agree with your sentiments in the last para. it would be scary without god. people seem to have a terrible tendency to corrupt religion – and that’s horrible.
    don’t follow yr thoughts re faith though. is it not also a matter of blind faith to say that science has dispensed with god?
    rather i see science as a method of pursuing truth – wherever truth might be found. no preconditions.
    the “great sages experiment” i referred to seems to establish ‘scientifically’ that certain information was encoded into the torah before history. that leaves me gobsmacked (god-smacked?)

  109. Shahar Lubin says:

    Science has not “dispenced” with god. She’s just completly un necessery in order to explain all the evidence we have in front us at this time.

  110. frank says:

    cripes shahar! – my skeptical mind compells me to critically examine ALL the evidence. if that means that i have to occasionally leave my cosy circle of cronies and mix it in the big wide world of contrary ideas, then so be it.

    until there is a refutation of the Paper in ‘Statistical Science’ (Aug. ’94) “Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis” how safe is the assertion that ‘s/he is unnecessary ….?’

    with kind regards,

  111. Christine says:

    All this interview proves to me is that some educated people failed to learn to think.

  112. Shahar Lubin says:

    Frank, link please?!

    Again I was talking about the universe. Physics, cosmology, biology, chemistry. How is a super entity required in order to explain the phenomena we encounter?

  113. powermanx84 says:

    I was also at the debate between Shermer and Ross/Rana and it is truely amazing he is able to sit and be congenial with these people. I work with several uber religious people who believe much of the same things this woman believes. Ultimately it is the ignorance these people spew from their mouths that just drives me over the edge. Kudos to Shermer.

  114. Scott Jones says:

    It really amazes me how these christians really think they can get away with using answers like “because The Bible says so…”. It’s really an insult to the progress the human race has made via scientific research and inquiry.

  115. Joe says:

    In case anyone is interested in a review of the Creation Museum as a whole. The Secular Alliance of Indiana University visited the museum on November 15, 2008 and made a video which is here:

  116. Sextus says:

    During my first year as a graduate student in molecular genetics, my Aunt had me over for Thanksgiving dinner. Before dinner, she asked me if I could help my cousin with a project for his Christian middle school’s science fair. Of course, I said. My cousin ran out of the room and returned a few minutes later, staggering under the weight of a large posterboard. On it he had pasted pictures of various plants and animals arranged according to their date of creation in Genesis. “I’m stuck,” my cousin said. “On what day of Creation did God make bacteria?” “I have no idea,” was my honest answer. If only I had known of Dr. Purdom’s groundbreaking research into questions she already knows the answers to because she believes the literal and immutable truth of every phrase of (some translation of some version of) the Bible.

  117. Mark C says:

    This woman seriously needs help.

  118. Mark C says:

    Oh my god, I listed further and it’s far worse than I even imagined was possible.

    “We know from scripture” that he universe is no more than 6000 years old, therefore the dating techniques must be wrong.

    “We would do that kind of experiment because there would be no point. We know from scripture…”

    How could Ohio State ever have given this woman a PhD???? They have a lot to answer for.

  119. Mark C says:

    *** at the same time, demonstrating the height of academic hubris by denigrating and casting aspersions on the legitimacy of an earned Ph.D in molecular biology from a respectable, public university ***

    Right. Credentials uber alles. The woman clearly demonstrates that she lacks the slightest understanding whatsoever of the most fundamental principles of the scientific method. Principles that most of us learned in middle school.

  120. Timothy K says:

    She seems smart enough, but she is unwilling to challenge the premise of the Bible, to explore the validity of her own religious texts. I am also curious as to what denomination she belongs to and what she views as the ultimate consequences for members of other denominations. Now these views would not make her opinion invalid, but her answers would perhaps speak to her pathology.

    However, as Mr. Shermer once said before, I believe on Penn and Teller’s Showtime program, intelligent people are very good at justifying things they came to believe for unintelligent reasons (although I would also include a-intelligent reasons, if there is such a word, to describe those who are simply born into a belief and never thought about it. One can hardly consider a person coming to a belief unintelligently if they never were given a chance or taught to consider a particular belief critically). I wish her well and I do hope Mr. Shermer continues to attempt to pursuade through evidence and reason. I did not care for Mr. Shermer attempting to sell the young lady on an idea that he does not believe (evolution happened because of God), but all things considered this interview was a good one.

    Her museum does me no harm, but I am not convinced of her argument and would like to get to the truth, and I would like to see her get to the truth as well. However there are flaws in her reasoning process which suggests to me that she will not get to the right answer without fundamentally questioning and ultimately changing the manner in which she thinks. You do not seek out questions to fit your answers, you do not seek out answers to fit your questions, you say that the burden of proof lies on those that make the proposition and you follow the evidence where it leads, regardless of what your questions were or what you expect the answer to be.

    P.S. As a side note, I too have a cleft palate as this woman clearly has and I appreciate the respectful manner in which people posted, basing their critiques on the ideas and manners of thinking without any insults of her speech impairment. I am not in favor of political correctness, but I just want to say thankyou for keeping the comments civil and idea based.

  121. Kenneth Huff PhD says:

    Dr. Purdom at one point states that evolation and Darwinism never entered into her professional activities as a scientist. She was just doing “here and now” work of an “observational” nature, without regard for the theoretical underpinnings of molecular biology. In other words, she was functioning as a technician, not a scientist. She mixes compounds in beakers, measures them, subjects them to various experiments, but she does so in a state of obliviousness to the historical and theoretical underpinnings of her field of expertise. Bottom line: She is functionally a technician, not a scientist.

  122. frank says:

    hi shahar (if you are still there),

    re: comment @ #112

    i googled “Paper in ‘Statistical Science’ (Aug. ‘94) “Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis””

    and i now see that a refutation has been published. so i must retract to some extrent – mind you, on perusing the debate around the refutation (i do not have access to the original papers) i think that i personally am still comfortable with the proposition that ET* has left evidence of his/her intimate involvement in our universe.

    *should be EU for extra-universel or “g-d” for the theistic

    in the broader context of this debate i would suggest that true open minded scepticism should be sensitive to the possibility that not all believers are necessarily “blind”. there are some, i would submit that may well have a defendable chain of reasonable evidence to substantiate their position.

    again, a true sceptic is also sceptical of one’s own “chain of reasonable evidence”

    with respect,

  123. Brian says:

    I live in Kentucky, and I almost feel obligated to make the 1 hour drive and support their museum, if for no better reason than to keep Dr. Purdom and the rest of the staff employed and out of the practice of legitimate science.

  124. Andrew says:

    The problem with creationism is that it is too abstract to apply to an empirical science. She talks about approaching her scientific studies with a creationist’s perspective, but–what does that mean? Are you trying to figure out how God would, what? feel as he crafted that particular molecule and everything that makes it the way it is–plus inserting markers and future detection techniques that would only fool unbelievers into thinking that evolution and vast time scales are works of falsehood meant to mislead those who would allow themselves to be misled, and show that God is just not capable of producing life through evolution and over a long period of time, so he just had to flick a switch on and off as days one through six came and went, and on the seventh reflected on how everyone would either believe what he did was good–or just plain mean.

    • frank says:

      actually, andrew,

      the creationists are getting some runs on the board – check out Russ Humphries predictions about the magnetic fields of the planets.
      based on creationist hypothesis he has successfully predicted neptune & uranus’ fields, and looks to be on track for mercury.

      not bad for an ‘abstract … (non)empirical’ science?



  125. euchariot says:

    “I have a 5-year-old daughter, she’s a guilty sinner, just as I am”

    Listening to that tone of voice, my imagination’s running wild at the sort of things which might go on in their household … children belittled because they are “guilty sinners”. I think it’s a pretty disgusting attitude to take actually, that the reason 1-year-old kids get cancer is because they’re sinners like the rest of us. No, Georgia, bad things don’t happen to people because they offended your God. And if they did, it would mean your God is less than godlike.

    Good on you Michael for showing such good humour in the face of such hypocrisy and intolerance. I’d be laughing too, but I think it would be at her rather than with her.

    To paraphrase poor Georgia, “sorry to all the Muslims, Jews, Hindus (and in fact anybody who does not believe exactly what I believe), you’re all going to go to Hell when you die”. I can’t understand how these people can believe that they have a monopoly on the truth. There are hundreds of religions, and no reason to believe that AIG’s flavour is any more correct than any other.

  126. Selene says:

    Garry Grofcsik shouldn’t be so public considering how he likes those little girls so.

  127. John says:

    WHAT!!! She says “We KNOW the earth is 6000 years old from scripture . . .” and then in the very next statement has the NERVE to say science approaches dating with preconceived assumptions!!! Wow!!! The hypocrisy is just phenomenal. You should have thrown that right in her face Shermer.

    How did that lying ignorant loonie tune ever get any degree from a university??? If, in fact she did . . .

    She obviously has no concept of basic scientific methodology. Please tell me she did not graduate from a fully accreditaed university. If so, I truly fear for the future of civilization.