Sorry, I Forgot What Century We Lived In

From the Jerusalem Post via Radley Balko

When the severed head of a wolf wrapped in women's lingerie turned up near the city of Tabouk in northern Saudi Arabia this week, authorities knew they had another case of witchcraft on their hands, a capital offence in the ultra-conservative desert kingdom.

Agents of the country’s Anti-Witchcraft Unit were quickly dispatched and set about trying to break the spell that used the beast’s head.

Saudi Arabia takes witchcraft so seriously that it has banned the Harry Potter series by British writer J.K. Rowling, rife with tales of sorcery and magic. It set up the Anti-Witchcraft Unit in May 2009 and placed it under the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (CPV), Saudi Arabia's religious police.

"In accordance with our Islamic tradition we believe that magic really exists," Abdullah Jaber, a political cartoonist at the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, told The Media Line. "The fact that an official body, subordinate to the Saudi Ministry of Interior, has a unit to combat sorcery proves that the government recognizes this, like Muslims worldwide."

Actually, we have something similar here, we just call it "climate change" instead of witchcraft.


  1. raja_r:

    Completely agree on the ridiculousness of someone/society taking witchcraft and magic seriously.

    But, just curious, do you also report on people believing in the great big-guy-in-the-sky in some western societies as well or is that completely rational and modern?

  2. DrTorch:

    And evolution.

  3. Noah:

    What century they live in.

  4. caseyboy:

    Amen DrTorch

  5. Panzersage:

    Dr Torch, sorry if you were being sarcastic and I am missing the joke, but are you seriously comparing the theory of Evolution to Witchcraft?

  6. el coronado:

    well.....if you go strictly by tangible evidence.....the theory of evolution DOES have a lot in common with witchcraft. i.e., lots of folks believe in it because....because.....well, because *everyone else* seems to believe in it! but hey, don't take MY word for it! let's ask stephen jay gould, preeminent harvard paleontologist and author of 50 or so books on the subject. "the *extreme rarity* (my emph.) of transitional fossils in the fossil record persists of the trade secret of paleontology. the evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of the branches; the rest is inference." and that doesn't even BEGIN to cover that whole uncomfortable 'cambrian explosion' problem.

    so yeah, going strictly on the facts - you can make a case that witchcraft & evolution have a lot in common. (note: before i get attacked as a mouth-breathing inbred cousin-marrying bible-thumnper, kindly note i'm not discrediting the notion of natural selection.)

  7. caseyboy:

    el coronado, I think DrTorch should speak for himself on this one, but my guess is he was referring to the last sentence in Coyote's post substitute "climate change" for witchcraft. The agenda driven scientist driving the climate change bus is not unlike the agenda driven scientist that insists that evolution explains how pond scum became Man.

  8. Panzersage:

    Coronado, I point you towards Elephants and whales. We have a complete evolutionary tree dating back milennia for both of them.

    Elephants are a good example we can link back to their common ancestor the paleomastodon 36 million years ago. We have complete records going from it all the way to the Asian and African Elephants as well as the wooly mammoth and the most modern offshoots.

    There is a reason it is called the theory of evolution. Much like the theory of gravity it has reached the lofty word "theory" because no one has been able to come up with anything that makes sense or can even challenge it for an explanation. It has just as much "tangible" evidence as gravity. Your argument, because other people believe in it is just wrong, people believe in it, like gravity, because all credible science points towards it as the correct answer.

    Also the explosion is a lot less troublesome now than it was before. While there was still a bloom of lifeforms we find more and more precambrian creatures in existence and that drastically reduces what was once thought to be a sudden appearance. Furthermore there are many credible hypothesis to explain this.

  9. caseyboy:

    Panzersage, are you suggesting that adaptation within a species Palaeomastodon to Elephant supports gradual adaptation from a species in to a new species, Whale to Palaeomastodon? If this was done due to "natural selection" factors how does the interim species survive until the transition is complete?

    Take the reptile to bird. That reptile had to be pretty easy prey when those front legs were changing to feathered wings. Poor little guy, flapping those sparsely feathered wings and trying to run on its hind legs. See, I don't see how he got out of the reptile stage and over to the bird stage? Besides, flying is really cool so why didn't all the early species sprout wings and take to the air. Sure wish a monkey would have thought of that.

  10. jeffmeh:

    "Actually, we have something similar here, we just call it “climate change” instead of witchcraft."

    Zing. I love it.

  11. el coronado:

    ah, caseyboy, you're a man after me own heart. i've always thought if evolution was *really* real, and species kept evolving until they'd reached the absolute **apex** of their potential, then species that seem to have not evolved a whit in 250 million years or so - sharks, crocodiles, and cockroaches, say - would be kickin' some serious BUTT right now. a 5-pound cockroach that's "evolved" itself some venomous pincers and operates, like ants, under [what sure looks like] a unified hive mind? becoming an orkin man would be a death sentence! or crocs that "evolve" themselves some 4-foot-long legs that gives them the freedom to leave their lakes & rivers and go hunting on their own? with speed that allows them to run down deer, antelope, and - dare i say it -old people in florida? and sharks! what if there were flying SHARKS?!?

    by God, we'd be screwed THEN!!

    if all that were to have happened, it's likely "man" wouldn't have made it past australopithecine hunter-gatherer-"lunch" stage. and didn't, did it. and for panzersage, allow me these 2 questions: 1) a quick google search of these 'newly discovered precambrian lifeforms' that you mentioned show them to be..."microbial assemblage", "microbial fossil spores", and most 'spectacularly', at the doushantou formation, there (might have been) a few sponges and (inferred, not proven) existence of "marine invertebrates". i.e., "worms". then comes the cambrian explosion, just a few million years - or the blink of an evolutionary eye - after the planet-killing event that ended the proterozoic eon. then - BAM! cambrian explosion! so how again did we go in the blink of an eye from worms & sponges & (maybe) algae to...everything? i mean, there simply wasn't enough TIME for it all to have simply "evolved", right? so how can "evolution" be the right answer? 2) why do people insist on using german military handles? they're the same silly SOB's who manned, planned - for up to 20 years in advance - and *started* not one but TWO world wars, and they're 0-for-2, right? and they lost in humiliating fashion both times because of the most *elemantary* strategic screwups to boot. barbara tuchman tells us they basically abandoned their precious 20-years-in-the-making "schlieffen plan" within the first 10 days of action in 1914. and i think we all know about the utter, gross, shocking stupidity of adolf's little late-summer jaunt into russia. had germans somehow "evolved" a heretofore unknown 'dumbass' gene??

    but they sure kicked the crap out of the **belgians** in their sneak attacks, didn't they?! the way they overran tiny, essentially unarmed belgium in both wars TRULY shows the might and power of the macht of wehr, don't it?

    OTOH, has anyone looked into the possibility of germany losing wars due to climate change?

  12. el coronado:

    note to self: it really *sucks*, after calling the germans stupid, to notice one has misspelled the word "elementary". for penance, i shall invade poland forthwith.

  13. Panzersage:

    Casey, no, neither I nor the theory of evolution states that natural selection is 100% behind evolution. Mutations, genetic deviation, and other changes which are then carried on through breeding also factor into it.

    You and Coronado are both completely misrepresenting evolution. There is no such thing as a "superior" evolution. There is no "apex", a species only stops evolving when it no longer exists.

    Here is a pretty good comic that explains how survival of the fittest is not actually correct.

    Also take reptiles as you say. I find it hard to believe that anyone would claim a velociraptor was easy prey. Also the transition from land to flight may have come in the form of increased ability to jump, longer glide time, all the way to the ability to sustain flight.

    Coronado's questions:
    1: Yet that is what happened. You can't state "this is what happened" and then say, "so it couldn't possibly of happened". There is no other explanation for it that has any evidence to support it. While not all the data is yet available what is known fits. There is no reason that a few million years is considered too short a time except that you wish it to be.

    2: Says the person using a Spanish Conquistador for their handle?

    Casey, Coronado, feel free to offer another explanation that fits the facts other than Evolution, there is none. Evolution is the only hypothesis ever put forwards that holds water.

  14. Gil:

    Gee, El C., are you against evolution because you want to believe the mulatto baby is your despite the fact that you and your wife are white? If evolution doesn't exist then there can no similarities between parents and their offspring. There's no macro-intelligence to evolution but there's micro-intelligence in that the males and females choose with whom they'll make babies with. Just because we don't know exactly what gravity is doesn't mean it's a good idea to go jumping off cliffs so too we'd don't know the finicky bits that would cause humans to be evolve but evolution is obviously true. Believing an all-powerful being created everything within the last 10,000 years and then created fossils of non-existent creatures in the crust to test peoples' faith is the bigger stretch.

  15. Bram:

    I been to Saudi Arabia - including places Westerners aren't supposed to go (as a Marine in 1990). I put them in about the 12th Century. I was a spooky, creepy place unlike anything else I've experienced.

    Where did they find a wolf?

  16. DrTorch:

    Panzersage- To be brief, yes.
    The theory(ies) of evolution are some of the most anti-scientific rot that I've ever seen. Tautology, faked data, gross lack of logic, inconsistencies...

    Furthermore, it serves no purpose. It seems to be an excuse to fill up Introductory Biology textbooks, b/c the real science is too hard. Chemistry books don't discuss phlogiston, Physics books don't devote chapters to the "AEther". When will Biology classes start teaching science?

  17. caseyboy:

    It is said that the universe is only comprised of matter and energy differing only in density (matter) and frequency (energy). Through genetic research we have come to know that there are very complex information generation and processing systems at the cell level. Our bodies process billions of information data tasks, encoding, decoding, data & code authentication all guided by some type of master or common command system at the entity level.

    "Information - the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence a (1) : knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction (2) : intelligence, news (3) : facts, data b : the attribute inherent in and communicated by one of two or more alternative sequences or arrangements of something (as nucleotides in DNA or binary digits in a computer program) that produce specific effects...."

    For information to be effectively communicated it must have structure, syntax, meaning and intent. These characteristics do not fit well in an environment of "chaos". Rather it suggests design with intent.

    Throw the letters from the Scrabble box on the floor and you have a mess (chaos). Have someone arrange those letters into words and then words into sentences and you have INFORMATION. It takes intelligence of some type to create information. Information does not mutate into new, improved information without an author or programmer or Creator.

  18. el coronado:

    gee, gil, project much? where in any of all my slightly vodka-fueled ramblings did you ever see me make mention of an "all-powerful being that created everything"? Answer: well, that would be "nowhere but in your own mind", amigo. I merely pointed out that something wiped out 95%+ of all the existing sponges, worms, and algae-type creatures that lived in the proterozoic eon. then, soon after [VERY SOON after, in evolutionary timescale], to quote national geographic, we see "the most intense burst of evolution (LOL) ever known. [It] saw an incredible diversity of life emerge, including many major animal groups alive today - [especially the] vertebrates". All *I* did was ask 'how did all that emerge so incredibly quickly from the survivng 5% or so of the worms & sponges that had populated the planet prior to the cambrian explosion? and how'd those **spines** suddenly pop up everywhere?'. YOU were the one whose answer was "an all-powerful being", were you not? what are you, some kind of religious freak or something?

    your line about "faith" was telling. common sense says, *I* say, Stephen Jay freakin' GOULD says "where are all the transitional fossils and evolutionary dead ends - the flying crocodiles, say - that should be laying around EVERYwhere if 'evolution' were true?"

    and YOU're the guy whose somewhat condescending answer boils down to "just have faith in the theory, you ignorant rube". Again.....project much, little fella?

  19. caseyboy:

    El C, the evolutionists have developed another theory to handle the fossil record, "punctuated equilibrium". Sudden, rapid mutation from one species into another. Probably happened right around that there Cambrian thing-a-ma-jig. Gets rid of the fossil issue and diffuses any potential problems should the "young earthers" stumble across proof of, well, a young earth (see Big Bang Inflation Theory).

    Quantum Mechanics holds that light or electromagnetic energy is what holds all quanta particles together – thus all matter is held together by and made up of light SEE GENESIS 1:3 "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light".

  20. Joseph Hertzlinger:

    In related news, scientists are investigating eye of newt. Toe of frog is next on their list.

  21. Panzersage:

    Just a quick response and then I will post more later when I have time.

    Torch: You are incorrect and present no specific arguments. All I can read is rhetoric in what you type and no evidence whatsoever. Therefore it is easy to respond. You are wrong. If you want to provide evidence or reasoning behind your line of thought I would be happy to read and respond.

    Casey: It would appear you are a Creationist, specifically a Christian one. I come to this conclusion by reading your post and seeing your argument is, "A wizard did it" You then quote a single bible reference to support your position.

    Gen 7:20 - "Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered"
    Leviticus 11:13-19 refers to bats as fowl, when in fact they are mammals.
    Matthew 13:31-32 states that "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed... is the smallest of all seeds but when it is grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree.
    Ecclesiastes 1:4 "...the earth abideth forever" vs 2 Peter 3:10 "the elements shall melt with a fervent heat, the earth also, and works that are therein shall be burned up.": Which is it, is the earth eternal or will it be destroyed.

    You can't use the bible as science because it isn't. The bible is what it is, it is a religious text and Science will never accept religion as an answer. Furthermore Creationists specifically want their religion to be the one which is taught. You never find a Christian advocating Hinduist Creationism, it is always backed up by Bible quotes.

    I mentioned whales further back, they are an excellent example. We have a complete fossil record for whales going back to when they first returned to the Ocean. We originally thought they were a version of Mesonychids, however science showed that this was not the case so it was changed, this is what science does when presented with new data it accepts it, not sticking its head in the sand and ignore it as Creationism does. We have fossil records that show the split and evolution of this animal evolving into Hippos, Camels, Dolphins and other modern animals.

    The important thing is that the theory of Evolution is the only hypothesis put forwards that fits the facts and can be proven. It is constantly being updated and adjusted as new facts come to life and paint a clearer picture and so far they all support evolution. Pointing to the Cambrian period and saying, "look you can't explain that therefore everything about Evolution is wrong." is silly. Just because a "perfect" answer is not yet available is no reason to stop looking, nor does it disprove Evolution any more than the above quotes will shake your belief in Christianity. The difference being that if we discover data that changes the Theory of Evolution it will adjust and change. There are hypothesis for the Cambrian expansion that seem correct and are being studied at further length looking for more answers. Science can and will never accept, "A wizard did it" as an acceptable answer.

    Finally any argument you would care to use against Evolution can be applied against Creationism, such as if everything had to be created then what created the creator, and it's creator, etc.