Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A New Creationist Claim?

My barber told me, quite straight-faced, a new creationist claim. There is, he said, abundant evidence in the Torah that dinosaurs were actually demons. "No, they were just animals," I replied. Despite our disagreement, I got a good haircut.

But I've got to admit, that's a new one for me.

8 comments:

jyby said...

Not completely new: the myth of dragons might have been inspired by Dinosaurs bones, and Dragons in the bible are associated with the devil (as oppose to asia where they can be benevolent).

Jeffo said...

I got a haircut this morning at an old-school barbershop. I told my barber that I had moved to Vermont from Chicago and he asked me what people in Chicago thought about Obama. "Here we go," I thought, but he leaned in closed and said "I sure like him!" No discussion about evolution vs. creationism, but a pleasant surprise anyway!

Joshua said...

I've heard variants of this claim before. There are a lot of strange creationist claims that float around in the Jewish world (especially in the charedi world) that don't get much attention. Since they aren't (generally) interested in converting people, the claims don't get repeated much. Christian creationist claims are much more likely to get repeated.

In general, Jewish young earth creationism is often less sophisticated than Christian YECism. They are much more likely to simply deny the existence of evidence or go for some sort of omphalism where the more sophisticated Christian YECs would try to claim they are making a different "interpretation" of the same data.

Much of the charedi world is more than willing to use arguments that are simply put, incredibly primitive. One can't moreover use the point that low-level creationists are much stupider/less subtle in their arguments than AIG or the like because many of the primitive arguments are coming from the leaders in the charedi and yeshivish worlds. See for example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TO01hVfDFjI where Rav Aharon Schechter, a fairly prominent Rav, argues that there is something almost evil in trying to figure out where the world came from.

Or see http://www.zootorah.com/controversy/RavSternbuchEnglish.pdf which is titled "Relationship of Science to Torah". Again this is by a major charedi Rabbi and stars off by saying "Some have claimed that I have issued a ruling, that one who believes that the world
is millions of years old is not a heretic. This in spite of the fact that our Sages have
explicitly taught that the world is no more than 6000 years!" Note that even Ken Ham doesn't think that people who accept evolution are necessarily unsaved (indeed, he's been quite explicit about it).
There's also a heavy persecution complex in a lot of what they say. For example in the above linked essay, Rav Sternbuch says that scientists "want to refute the words of our Sages and undermine the faith that exists amongst the Jewish people." Right. That's really their aim.

Various forms of geocentrism are also not completely uncommon among some Jews (especially Lubavitchers). I suspect that in 30 or 40 years we'll start seeing a substantial flat-earth contingent.

Incidentally, did you ask the individual what in the Torah said that the dinosaurs were demons? I've never gotten a coherent reply to this.

behemoth said...

Did he say "Torah" or "Bible"?
(No need to remind me they're the same thing, more or less.) IOW, was he Jewish?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Incidentally, did you ask the individual what in the Torah said that the dinosaurs were demons?

No, I was too surprised to say much in response.

Did he say "Torah" or "Bible"?

Torah. Isn't that what I said?

IOW, was he Jewish?

Well, I'd guess so. Not too many Christians talk about the Torah.

carlsonjok said...

I'm trying to wrap my brain around the idea of a herbivore demon.

Joshua said...

carls,

Well demons in many depictions have horns and hooves. So it seems like in fact most demons will be herbivores.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Apparently, Muslim creationist, Harun Yahya (a.k.a. Adnan Oktar) has also toyed with the profound idea that dinosaurs were demons: A Historical Lie the Stone Age.

For the record, Harun Yahya is a very dangerous person. He has a lot of influence in Turkey and he even managed to have Dawkins' site banned in Turkey.