Enjoy this video of a guy going on a creationist talk show and explaining that dragons really did exist, and you can tell because of the Bible. (Via.) Not because the Bible actually talks about real dragons, of course. Don’t be daff! We all read the Bible (right?) and know that’s not true. No, his argument is even more awesome than that. He claims that because the Bible refers to dragons metaphorically—comparing Satan to a dragon, for instance—then dragons must have existed at some point and been badass enough that his god just knew that it would totally be convincing to Bible readers that Satan is bad news because they know dragons are bad news.
We all laugh, but if you give it a moment’s thought, you realize that actually, to be a creationist, you pretty much have to buy this argument. If you accept that dragons were mythical and that the authors of the Bible were referencing mythical creatures in their metaphors, then you’ve opened the door to the possibility that some of the other stuff that’s in there about angels and demons and even god himself might not be, strictly speaking, a direct representation of reality.
Now, of course, that requires having an ahistorical read on the Bible. Most of us, whether we’re believers or not, have a pretty good idea about what the authors of the Bible did and didn’t probably think of as “real”: Dragons, no, angels, yes. Of course, that was long, long before empiricism was a value, so the way they determined which was and wasn’t real was more about culture, tradition, and sort of what they needed to believe. For most believers, I suspect that those kinds of “rules” about what is and isn’t true about the Bible are still in play.
If you think of creationism as a reaction to and a rejection of empiricism, then, this sort of thing makes more sense. Creationism is less a way to interpret the Bible and more a battle with science, as evidenced by the video stream for this show, which is much more about spinning bullshit theories about why evolution isn’t true than it is about helping believers understand the Bible. Now the guiding concern is not “tradition” or “culture” so much as shutting down any possibility that the empiricists are right when they say that the likeliest explanation for how the Bible came to be is people just made all that shit up. At this point, if you accept that the people who wrote the Bible even accepted that sometimes, people just make shit up—say, dragons—then all of a sudden the empiricists have a foothold in your mind. Now the possibility that the Bible authors themselves could have, gasp, been making shit up has to be on the table. After all, people do make shit up—even the authors of the Bible agree.
But the question is, how far can they take this? After all, the Bible is also always on about how other people’s gods are false, so like clearly there’s an admission in the Bible that people can just make shit up. If other gods can be false, then dragons can be, too. And you’re back to square one: You have to admit that it’s possible that your god is just as made up as, say, Ishtar of the Babylonians. I appreciate this guy’s level of commitment to structuring the delusion of creationism so that it has fewer occasions for doubt, but I have to point out that there’s never going to be a way to plug all those leaks.
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
Pandagon is the go-to zone for eye-rolling at conservative nonsense, feminist rants, election-watching, and obsessing over low-rated but critically acclaimed television. Jesse Taylor and Amanda Marcotte may take politics very seriously, but egos not so much.
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