Getting the Hump over Camels

Recently an item giving unexpected news appeared on my science feeds. It seems that camel domestication in the Middle East happened too late for the references to Camels in the Bible (http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/5900/20140205/earliest-camel-bones-contradict-bible-archaeologists.htm). PDF of the report here: http://archaeology.tau.ac.il/ben-yosef/pub/Pub_PDFs/Sapir-Hen&Ben-Yosef13_CamelAravah_TelAviv.pdf

The conclusion, according to the report, is that this is more evidence that those parts of the Bible are invented by later societies. That’s a big claim.

As is often the case with items like this, there is a frustrating lack of detail and a high volume of sensation. This is a shame because as far as I am concerned, this is a very important discovery and the impact with regards to Biblical events should be weighed against other similar evidence and conclusions should be cautious, pending more detailed analysis.

The camel domestication is dated from bones and coincides with the arrival of mining in the area. I didn’t see if there were any other dating methods used to cross check the dates found. What is found is that there is consistency across the sites measured, showing that domestication happened at a specific time, so whatever the date is, it would seem to be accurate for the arrival of domestic camels to the area.

There are older bones found and these are claimed to be from earlier wild camels. The reasoning behind this is not found which is a big shame because this evidence really is needed in order to back up the sensational claims. I really do hope that there are going to be follow-up reports with more detail on the results.

What is certainly true; is that if these dates are correct, then it is a very serious blow to the credibility of the Bible. Certainly when it comes to the stories relating to Abraham anyway, if those can’t be trusted, then what else can’t?

There are obvious Creationist objections, like the dating methods used. Creationists will always attack a dating method when it comes up with something that contradicts the Bible and this is exactly what is seen on the AiG website (http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2014/02/10/carbon-dating-camels). However, what you don’t see there is a counter interpretation using that same evidence. Instead what is seen is a fall back to the Bible and the assumption that the researchers got something wrong. I wonder what they’d have said if the same testing had shown camels were domesticated at the right time, would they raise the same objections to the dating methods? I doubt it.

The Validity of Debating Creationists

I’m very intrigued about tonight’s debate between Ham and Nye. The news and publicity that I am seeing about it is has been almost non-stop for the last couple of weeks. Though the mainstream media here in limeyland doesn’t appear to have picked up on it. I’m keen to see if it is reported at all tomorrow. I expect to see something in the morning news and later in the papers, I guess I’ll find out tomorrow. I’ll not be watching it live though, since it’ll be midnight here when it starts and goodness knows what time when it’s over. I expect I’ll check YouTube for videos tomorrow to see how it went. No doubt my feedly stream will be full of comment in the morning as well.

One of the hottest questions on the subject of the debate seems to be the validity of the debate rather than what the content is likely to be. The opinions here are almost as polarised as the subject itself.

I fully get the objections that vocal naysayers are raising. Debating Creationists does give undue validity to their opinions and making it this public, especially so. The Ham publicity machine has clearly been working very hard. The important point is, scientific truth is not decided by debate; it is dictated through evidence. Debating the validity of Creationism gives a platform to ideas which should have died out a long time ago and the debate format simply gives them life through the method of slippery rhetoric. Clever words do not truth make, regardless of how much the speaker believes it.

However, this does also give an opportunity for those creationists who are prepared to pay attention to the science to actually hear a science description from someone who is not trying to peddle religion off the back of it. When I look back at the science I read about in my creationist days, I can see how it was always shaped in a way that led to god. Creationists talking about science invariably frame the discussion to guide a god agenda and this is dishonest. When I read creationist comment on science now, I can see that clearly and it alarms me. Creationists who have relied on the likes of Ham and AiG to feed them these twisted versions of science now have a chance to hear it more clearly, if only they will have ears to hear.

I hope that Nye will rise to the challenge and give many creationists something serious and honest to think about and investigate. I hope he has good advisors and has had enough time to prepare because getting through to a creationist is not the same as explaining science to the secular layperson. If a scientific argument is seen as threatening to a Creationist, then it’ll be rejected. The science needs to be phrased in a way that invites (temps?) them to look deeper.

This event always springs to mind when thinking about discussions such as this: https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/when-friends-are-unkind/

 

The Atheist Prayer Experiment

I listen to an large number of podcasts. In fact I’d go so far as to say that when I’m working from home or out and about with my iPod, my listening is 99% podcasts. They vary from music podcasts to comedy and audio stories right the way to science based. There are some atheist podcasts and there is a sole Christian podcast in the list.

That Christian podcast is Unbelievable? (https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/unbelievable/id267142101) From UK Christian radio station Premier. The basic format is that the Christian host takes a subject each week and generally chairs a discussion between a theist and a non-theist. Usually the theist is a Christian. I find the show is generally well balanced and I appreciate the honest discussion that follows. I think Justin (the host) does a very good job.

Now that the plug is out of the way; last year they ran An Atheist Prayer Experiment (http://www.premier.org.uk/atheistprayerexperiment). I’m so far behind on listening to the podcast that I’m only just catching up with the results shows. The basic idea was to challenge Atheists to pray daily for 40 days asking God to reveal Himself to them.

My Thoughts

When I first heard about the challenge, I did consider if I would have taken part. The experiment was already over by the time I heard the first podcast advertising it. My conclusion was that no I would not take part because I would more than likely be guilty of not being open enough to pray the prayer and mean it. Surely that would disqualify me as I could not be objective.

The conclusion from that was that if the only people would be able to take part where those who were considered open to their being a god, then surely they can’t call themselves atheists can they? While I applaud the sentiment behind the experiment I do see it as being a bit valueless.

Testing God?

Having ruled myself out of taking part, my next thought was that surely this would come under the banner of testing god and the Bible specifically warns against this doesn’t it. I had a brief conversation with my pastor (since I no longer attend the church is he still my paster? Who cares, he’s a good chap and a good friend so for clarity I’ll refer to him as my pastor) on this and we both seemed to agree that it did get close to falling foul of that.

Rather naughtily I asked the question “In that case, isn’t all prayer testing god?” Hmmm, I think the answer to that is a whole blog post on its own. Anyway, we agreed that the boundary was more a fat grey line than an absolute boundary.

Later I would discuss this with my wife and while we too agreed it was a largely valueless experiment, her answer to the testing god question was that the warning to not test god was more about seeking a bargain than it was about praying this sort of prayer. I asked her if Jacob and the Fleece was a test, she said yes. We agreed that since the command came much later than Jacob’s bargain that we’d let him off on this occasion.

Praying on Video

In order to protect himself from accusations of not being sincere, one participant recorded a video of himself praying. Christians commented that the prayer was genuine and complimented him on his prayer. The participant reported that he felt humiliated by it. I wondered why they were complimenting him on the words he used, surely it’s the state of his heart and mind towards god that is of greater importance!

It’s a Christian Win-Win

Regardless of the results, Christians can claim a win here. If there were many converts, well the answer is obvious. For each of those who don’t convert, well they were clearly not open to god’s message or the time wasn’t right for them, or any other apologetic reasoning.

As it happens, there was a tiny number of converts out of the 70-odd participants.

 

Swearing on the Bible

 

A few weeks ago, for the first time in my life, I found myself swearing an oath with my hand on a bible.

In my Christian days I this practice bugged me somewhat. I always considered the verse in James which talks about not swearing on the book of the law and letting your word be reliable. In my more arrogant moments I would say that if I were ever in that situation I’d open the Bible to the relevant passage, read it, and then refuse the request.

These days, I’m not quite so hot headed about the issue, but I do wonder why it is done and why people still accept it. There is good argument for both Christians and atheists to object to the practice. The way I squared with it was that I took the view that it was better to have a bible there on display and seen as a symbol of trustworthiness. The issue now, is that it is only Christians who have that option.

I get the reasons; there is solemnity in putting your hand on the bible and making a promise. As a child, the challenge from people doubting ones word was to “swear on your mother’s life”. People who really wanted to be believed would do this in an effort to show their reliability. My mother’s life is more valuable to me than a bible; can’t that be used as a sign of my reliability? Of course the legal process would consider that a flippant offer, so why should the bible be seen as less flippant?

As it happens, the oath swearing was a requirement of my being an executor of my late mother’s will and in order for my brothers and I to get our inheritance, I had to make a visit to a solicitor and swear that I am me.

It is interesting that for items such as passports it is sufficient for me to get a photo signed by someone who knows me or that for me to go and get a benefits payment I just need to produce a document with my name and address on it, along with something with a signature. However, this process required something more, and that something more is for me to visit the office of someone who has never met me before, put my hand on a bible, promise I am me and sign a form. My neighbour could have done it in my place and no one would have been any wiser. Well technically, the signature could eventually be checked and found to be wrong, assuming it was checked downstream of the swearing.

The actually event took me by surprise because I wasn’t expecting it. The first alert came when I was introduced by the secretary as being there for a swearing oath, she then informed the duty solicitor that there was a bible in the meeting room. Because of the background detailed above I was immediately on alert for what was about to happen.

After a brief chat with myself I decided it wasn’t worth kicking a fuss over and that I would go with it.

The moment itself was me with my hand on the bible repeating a phrase that was being read out to me. The only other times I have repeated stock phrase was at the dedication of my daughter, when I was a god-father and when I got married. All those seemed more solemn than the moment I was having in that average meeting room with my hand on a slightly battered bible.

I took it seriously, but it didn’t feel as wholly solemn as it should have. I dare say that if I was still a believer I may have felt differently.

Afterwards I asked the solicitor if there had ever been anyone object to the process. She said not, but that there was an alternative phrase for the occasion should someone prefer to forgo the bible option. I was both impressed and pleased there is that option but I don’t think I missed out on anything by choosing not to object; after all, in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t that important. My promise would still mean the same and any falsities would still hold the same punishment.

I couldn’t help wonder though, if this practice should be consigned to history and what value it really has. Those that will intend to lie their way will do so, bible or not, and those that wish to be honest will do so, bible or not. I don’t believe the presence of the bible in situations like this makes a difference. It’s the solemnity of the moment that is important; in which case it probably is time that something was found that will be equally acceptable to Christians, atheists and other faiths alike.

Though, honestly speaking, it is not something I’d consider important enough to campaign for. There are far bigger issues in the world than the need to worry about the technicalities of convincing people to tell the truth.

 

 

Ken Ham’s Big Fat Lie

Ken Ham’s book, The Lie, is apparently 25 years old now. Somehow I’d managed to miss out this book during my creationist years and so I have not read it. A page about the book on the AiG website did make me sit up and pay attention though (http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/au/what-is-the-lie).

Leaving aside the mountain of scientific evidence that soundly refutes creationism, Ken Ham does at least have one very good point to make. That is that if you accept evolution, there is some compromise to be taken when believing the Bible. Many people have made this point over the years. Some argue that compromise and the Bible do not mix and any compromise you make when reading it effectively means you are following a flawed faith.  This was certainly a view I held for a long time and reading some of what Ken Ham writes, it would seem he has a similar perspective.

I’m not that black and white about it anymore. I do find significant difficulty matching Genesis with known Evolutionary facts and historical evidence. The Biblical narrative simply does not fit and those are the reasons for my eventual leaving Christianity.

There is a certain honesty in the literal creationist belief system. That is the uncompromising acceptance of the Biblical accounts as absolute fact. Yet this position does have its issues, especially when faced with the weight of science. It is such a shame that we now know that the early Genesis chapters are not factual events and are simply amalgamated stories. This reveals literal Biblical belief to be founded on untruth (or a Lie even).

Pauls Words

At the start of his page, Ken Ham quotes 2 Thessalonians 2:11 (And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.) Reading that page I get the impression the whole of the AiG ministry hinges around this verse. The implication being that the lie being referred to is evolution.

Being curious about the context I read around the verse. This chapter opens with Paul talking about an apparent false teaching to the Thessalonians to do with the Lord having already come back (vs 2). This false teaching apparently came from a misunderstanding of something Paul said and he attempts to put that right in this letter. He goes on to talk about the “man of lawlessness”, which commentators seem to indicate referrers to the anti-Christ. I wondered at first if Paul was referring to the person behind the false teaching, but the next reference (vs 9) does seem to indicate the anti-Christ, or at least someone close to him.

Whatever it is Paul is referring to, he goes on to talk about end times and then makes the statement that Ken Ham quotes.

If Paul is referring to end times, the context of this quote is clearly related to that and the delusion that God sends is directly related to the lies told in relation to falsehoods spread during end times. This makes me wonder what this has to do with evolution. Unless we’re already in end times, evolution is completely out of scope here. So now Ken Ham needs to show that the prophesy and global wickedness associated with end times and all the tribulation that follows it are happening now. He also needs to show why that verse should be referring to evolution, especially difficult because nowhere in the bible is evolution or the processes that lead to it, mentioned.

There is also the not so small and highly inconvenient issue that he is accusing his god of intentionally making people believe a lie which will result in their condemnation. Actually, that issue exists even if the verse is not talking about evolution. To be honest, I’m far more interested in how a perfect god explains that than I am about the semantics of what the lie is actually referring to.

I think tying this specific verse to evolution is a blatant deception, or at least a risky strategy. Of course, having not read The Lie, it is possible I’ve jumped the gun here and he’s referring to wider end times nastiness. If that’s the case, then he still needs to show how we are in end times and that evolution is wrong, which it isn’t.

Ken Ham’s whole ministry is based on the lie of creationism. It’s a lie that fooled me for many years and it’s a lie that continues to fool many more. I’m glad I’m out from under it.

 

Creationist Nonsense: Were You There?

It seems that a previous post of mine caught the eye of Ken Ham (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/conspiracy-against-creationism-and-ken-hams-intollerance/) and he felt the need to comment on it. I should feel honoured that one as humble as me has caught the attention of such a high profile Creationist.

One commenter on my post kindly copied Ken’s Facebook comment to my blog post, otherwise I may never have known.

Ken’s final paragraph gave me cause to chuckle:

Well this person wouldn’t like our Starting Points Room at the Creation museum now would they!! This person has no concept of the difference between historical science and observational science. Your kids will they–particularly those who were taught to ask ‘Were you There?’

The “Were you there?” question is one that I’ve known about for some time. Children are encouraged to ask prominent evolutionary scientists this question in response to their assertions about how we know certain facts. The implication behind it is that if you didn’t see it happen, how can you be so sure? I imagine that Creationist preachers taking this line can then go on to explain that we know the Bible to be accurate because its written down for us by eye witnesses to these events and so if they ask themselves the same question the answer is “no, but I know a man who was.”

This line of logic may work on children, but it doesn’t survive the critical examination of intelligent adults. So to see an intelligent adult actually using it in this way genuinely makes me sad.

The worst part of this line of reasoning is that it actually misses the point of the scientific study of evolution. I wonder if that’s intentional.

The scientific study of evolution is about the physical evidence and the corroboration of that evidence across different disciplines. People and their testimonies are neither sought nor trusted. A man might lie, rock strata, tree rings, varying fossil shapes and genetic relationship maps do not lie. These are there for people to examine and draw their conclusions from. If someone gets it wrong, there will be someone else along to spot it. When different interpretations come up, there is a healthy scientific discussion about it. People get impassioned and eventually the more accurate descriptions survive. Occasionally, when further evidence pops up, long held ideas get to be overturned.

This is good science; and it means that if your radical idea is to be accepted by anyone other than yourself, it has to survive immense scrutiny.

Asking “were you there?” is neither good science, nor intellectually sound. It’s the equivalent of sticking out your tongue, putting your thumbs in your ears and waving your fingers while blowing a raspberry. It serves no useful purpose.

The temptation is great to ask back, “were you there in the garden of Eden? Or on Mount Ararat? Or at the battle of Jericho?”. I’ve already given the hint as to what the answer will be. “I didn’t need to be, those who were there wrote it down, see.”

Poorer is the Creationist who takes that line and considers it weightier than the history we see in world around us.

Creationists like Ken Ham will mock the use of evidence taken from the physical world, calling it “observational science” and “garbage”. I wonder how much of this observational science is utilised at the creation museum. Does he only use physical evidence that the Bible specifically mentions? Surely he wouldn’t use fossils with an interpretation of his own that’s not mentioned in the Bible would he? What about a description of erosion that contradicts science but is not found in the Bible? I don’t know the certain answers to those questions, but given the creationist stance on evolution and the global flood, I think I can safely say that the Creation museum interprets observed science and uses an explanation that doesn’t match the prevailing understanding.

Dare I label this hypocrisy? I think I do!

Arguments Creationists Should Avoid

Anwers in Genesis has a useful page listing some of the arguments that a Creationist, faced with defending their beliefs (http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/topic/arguments-we-dont-use).

The list is broken into 3 section, arguments never to use (9), arguments to avoid (12) and common misconceptions (8). The lists are not as long as I initially expected, but going through the list and ticking off those I had subscribed to was interesting.

Section 1:

1) Moon dust thickness proves a young moon

3) NASA computers found Joshua’s missing day and Hezekiah’s sundial reversal

5) Darwin’s deathbed recantation

6) Flash frozen Woolly Mammoths

Section 2:

1) Evolution is just a theory

2) Macroevolution / Microevolution

8) Human and dinosaur tracks found together

10) No rain before the flood

11) The speed of light has decreased

12) There are no transitional forms

Section 3:

6) Women have one more rib than men

7) Archaeopteryx is a fraud

In my defence, most of the items above all came from one source, that of a book I read in about 1990 by an American pastor who was a staunch Creationist and the uncle of someone I worked with. I don’t remember the name of the author or the book.

However, I should also admit that taking the majority of my information and foundation for belief from a single source was a little naive. At that time in my life, I was interested in scientific understanding but I was also in the early years of living on my own and developing my Christian faith as my own and no longer in the shadow of my parents. That one book set me on a path for most of the next 20 years and oh how different things might have been if it were not for a chance conversation.

At least I can now be honest and admit, yes I did once believe those things, and laugh at me past silly self with a minimal amount of embarrassment. I think shame in the past at this point would not be productive. I may as well embrace my past mistakes and move on. It does of course concern me that there are many who still belie the items I have listed above. This can only be explained through ignorance. That ignorance may not be entirely the fault of the believer, it could be the fault of person (or persons) who continue to peddle the myth, or it could simply be in some cases that the believer simply does not know where to go to check and test. They need help from others to discover the truth.

Sometimes that help only comes from those who are more scientifically literate and also happen to reject that form of Christianity. That can be a problem. It was for me on several occasions. When faced with being corrected on science by someone who disagrees with your Christian faith is difficult because you find yourself in a situation where the foundation of that faith itself is questioned and if that questioning comes from a non-believer then the only course of defence is to reject all they say.

I applaud what the Answers in Genesis are doing here. They are trying to ease the lot of enthusiastic Creationists by guiding them away from problem topics. However, there is one obvious sting here; this list can only grow longer, an problem argument can never revert to being a good argument. At what point does the list become so long that Creationism implodes?

Can Science (dis)prove God?

My last post (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/pondering-the-effectiveness-of-prayer/) neatly leads into a question that I have pondered a little recently.

Two blogs that I read have published very good articles on the subject and very conveniently they take opposing views.

In the yes camp there is http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/can-science-test-the-supernatural-yes/ and in the no camp there is http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/science-and-the-supernatural-2/.

Having pondered it and re-read the two posts above (which I do recommend) I have come to the conclusion that Neil is right and scientific tests on the claims of the religious are not tests on the supernatural. The supernatural will remain untestable because scientific tests by definition can only be on the natural. Let’s ignore for the moment that the supernatural is a moving goalpost anyway.

However, that’s not all.

There is a valid conclusion based on these tests, and that is; with the testable claims of the religious coming up false, it is valid to conclude that there is no supernatural entity. But it is not a proven fact.

If Jerry Coyne was in fact correct then I don’t think that Richard Dawkins would have made the ‘not quite sure’ quote that made a lot of press earlier this year (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9102740/Richard-Dawkins-I-cant-be-sure-God-does-not-exist.html).

Neil is also right at the end of his blog to say that this is about honesty. Jerry should have been more clear and honest in his piece, what he should have stated was that its valid to conclude that there is no supernatural because the testable claims that believers make are consistently shown to be wrong when scientific rigour is applied.

It might be a subtle distinction, but it is very important to be accurate and bravo to Neil for picking up on that.

The Christian (Theist) Challenge

 

To follow on from the atheist challenge (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/10-questions-for-atheists/), thebiblereader (http://bittersweetend.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/the-atheist-challenge/) has created 10 questions for Christians.

The 10 questions can be found here: http://bittersweetend.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/the-christian-theist-challenge/ and rather than repe4at the questions I’ll let you pop over there to read them and I’ll provide the answers below that I think my former Christian self would have replied. This will be an interesting challenge for me as it will provide me with an opportunity to attempt to think as I once did about God and salvation and examine those thoughts through my new eyes.

 

1)      Religion is a man made concept and as such there will be elements of religiosity that do conflict with God and the Bible. Those conflicts would be entirely the fault of the people involved and not at all to do with God. God and His word, however, do not conflict.

2)      A lot depends on the context of this, I can recall certain situations where immediate danger to my family could have resulted in this sort of interpretation out of a desire for retribution. However, in the cold light of day in my western life in glorious England, I really can’t see how that might happen. Even with absolute certainty that it was an instruction from God I can’t see myself going ahead with it.

3)      God always was and since he created the laws of physics when he created the universe, there is no violation as he is outside of those laws.

4)      Yes, of course its inerrant. Perceived errancy is down to misunderstanding the context of the situation.

5)      Its not right or justifiable by today’s standards. Life in those times were different and the rules of war and engagement. God wasn’t ordering killing for killings sake. Nasty killings were going to happen anyway, wars of that nature in those times would have been very brutal. God’s instruction on dispatching the enemy did not make the end result any worse than it would have been anyway. This was a kill or be killed scenario and utter oblivion of the enemy reduces the chance of a repeat performance later on.

6)      God did not make a mistake. He intentionally gave us the option of following him or not. The choice had to be ours to make. Having a creation of adorable puppies that mindlessly stick to his heals and wishing to please at every one of his whims is not what he intended to create. Through a free will choice, comes imperfection as a consequence of those choices, when they are made truly and freely. Would a creation of those puppy-like followers be perfect? I would say not.

7)      Yes he will hear. God might help that person get find the way again, or he might know that they will manage it anyway and so not intervene. The Christian might never know which.

8)      I never considered that this could even be an option. I can’t imagine what I would do.

9)      Being a creationist. The proof would have been that creation was wrong and evolution right after all because the unpacking of that would mean so much of the bible simply can’t be true and that kills the foundation of the gospels dead. (As it turns out, this is precisely what happened)

10)   I had always been happy to admit to indoctrination. I was happy with that because I was secure in my faith. Other Gods were not compatible and so they could not be believed in. Other religions were violent, cultish or a bit New Age and fluffy. None of which were attractive.

‘ere There be Dragons

I’ve mentioned previously that I like to read blogs of those whom I disagree with. Included in that list are a couple of creationist blogs. Its interesting reading posts that lay out what I used to believe and balancing that with what science actually says. There is a very common theme and its basically creationist claims are weak on science and strong on apologetics. That may work for theology but it doesn’t cut it in the hard-nosed world of evidence based reality.

Every now and then a post will come along that flummoxes me and recently I had one of those over at Bible-Science Guy. Read it here, especially the embedded PDF, its not very long (http://biblescienceguy.wordpress.com/articles/2012-articles/2012-05-dragons/).

Basically its an attempt to link the myth of dragons into the biblical narrative and exit with something along the lines of Dragons were once real. Old myths, such as George slaying the dragon, are referenced along with obscure biblical references to Leviathans and the such. Other dragon traits such as fire-breathing, flying, gold hoarding and magical are quickly brushed over, if they are mentioned at all. The whole thing is a very intriguing read and the mental loops required to take it in as believable are quite fantastic.

I do especially like the cartoon image. The insinuation that they could have been in an egg really did make me chuckle. How did Noah sex the creatures that were in an egg?

In my creationist days I never once considered that dragons were anything but mythical. I don’t really see any reason why a creationist would consider otherwise to be honest. It just seems so silly. Its fine to speculate on the various reasons why the dragon myths came about, that’s a worthwhile field of study in my opinion. How myths and legends change over time and in retelling helps us learn more about what we as humans have become and shapes our understanding of language and belief.

The BSG post takes it all a step too far. What next I wonder, werewolves and vampires were real too? What about the yeti and the chupacabra?