Skeptics Are All Out of Ideas

Criticism of God’s word is nothing new.  It was there in the beginning (Gen 3:1) and it lives on today. The ideas are always the same, just repackaged and recopied from someone else. Sometimes the tactic is simple mockery – taking a beautiful work created by someone else and flipping it onto its unbiblical head. It requires some dedication but little imagination.  Case-in-point: the most popular visualization of “contradictions” from Project Reason is not much more than a re-hash of Chris Harrison’s original award-winning visualization of cross references

Now, a crafty programmer, Daniel Taylor, has copied the exact same idea again and dressed it up with lots of interactivity at Don’t get me wrong: I admire Mr. Taylor’s skills in creating such a site. In a very short time he has made every part clickable, searchable, and sharable.  It’s a clean, easy-to-use design of commendable quality. Yet it’s thoroughly unoriginal.

Daniel Taylor's interactive visualization of the Skeptic's Annotated Bible

Daniel Taylor’s interactive visualization of the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible

This lack of creativity doesn’t deter the popularity of such things, however. Accolades can be found anywhere there are people debating religion on the internet as well as among the professional dataviz community at large.  In the first week, BibleViz boasted over 370,000 page views from 160,000 visitors.  This is due in part to a friendly media response (big surprise) from names like Gizmodo and Slate.

The contradictions found among sites like the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible and (the data sources for this viz) are just a repackaging of centuries-old attacks.  This thorough refutation of each alleged contradiction draws largely on a work produced in the 1600s. As long as they keep using the same worn-out claims, the least they could do is come up with a new way to visualize them.

  • Thanks for the post Robert. First, I have to say your Bible visualizations are pretty cool. And, you are certainly welcome to your own opinions, but I think you misunderstand the purpose of my site.

    It’s evolutionary rather than revolutionary – I’m mashing up several existing ideas and adding a few of my own in an effort to make those existing ideas easier to explore. I’m also clearly crediting the original authors at the bottom of the page, including Chris Harrison (who I assure you isn’t the first person to make an arc chart 😉 )

    I understand if you don’t want to debate on here, but I’ll just finish by saying again that Berend’s “thorough refutation” is dependent on 1. a non-literal interpretation of the Bible and 2. belief in points that are demonstrably false (like his claim that we have never observed stars forming or that we are the center of the universe). That’s not to say all of his points are invalid (they would need to be inspected on a case-by-case basis of course), but it should give any reasonable person pause.

    • Yes, I see you’ve given credit where credit is due. My commentary is meant to be as much about the reactions of others as it is your particular project (which may not be that clear in the post). Often people take these things as some new, fresh, wonderful idea because it’s the first time they’ve seen anything like it.

      There was a time when I’d happily got off on tangents to discuss creation science but these days it takes too much of my focus away from projects I’d like to finish. I don’t write code every day, so it takes me much longer to create things that perhaps it should.