Has Science Buried the Camel and its Droppings?

Mehran Banaei

An illiterate desert Bedouin of early history walking on a path with his companion inferred that this path must be a frequent passage for camels. The companion curiously asked him how he could be so certain given that there are no camels in sight. The Bedouin wisely replied: look at the trail, all you see here is camel droppings and camel footprints.

Camel droppings

The Bedouin did not have any formal education, but he certainly used solid scientific methodology to arrive objectively at his conclusion, which is the usage of observation, information gathering, analysis of empirical evidence, inductive reasoning, and so on. At his disposal, he had all the essential tools that freethinkers require to make a valid inference. What other possible conclusions can any skeptic make from the available data under identical circumstances? I believe there is absolutely none. Nevertheless, so many would not give up trying and be cynical at the conclusion made by the Bedouin. For example, there are those who could vigorously argue:

1) The droppings are not really camel droppings, they have the appearance and odour of camel droppings. However, the real thinking individual would not be fooled by the appearance, only those who have a lazy mind would think that the aforementioned signs would mean that a camel must have passed by. (Richard Dawkins, Peter Atkins)

2) There are so many different animal droppings and footprints in the world. How do we know that these are camel droppings, but not of a polar bear or fish? (Michael Shermer, Dan Barker)

3) No camel ever passed over the trail; the camel droppings have created themselves out of nothing. (Daniel Dennett, Lawrence Krauss)

4) No camel ever passed over the trail; the camel droppings have always been there from eternity to eternity with no primary cause. (Fred Hoyle, Thomas Gold, Hermann Bondi)

5) If camels do indeed regularly pass through this passage, how come there is so much pain and suffering in the world? (Epicurus, Sam Harris, Dan Barker)

6) Camel and camel droppings do not exist. They are illusions, the idea is totally unfounded, an ancient fairytale. It is wishful thinking, a manifestation of humankind’s oldest inner desire to achieve emotional comfort. (David Hume, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Ludwig Feuerbach, Friedrich Nietzsche)

7) People who use teleological argument in favour of camel droppings and camel droppings-maker are people of faith; religious zealots with a certain fundamentalist agenda disguised as freethinkers. (The Skeptics Society, Atheist Alliance of America, American Atheists Association)

8) Camel droppings on the path evolved and branched out independently from droppings of other species by blind processes of natural selection. Thanks to science, the camel is no longer needed to produce camel droppings. Natural selection should suffice as an explanation for the existence of camel droppings without recourse to an actual camel. (Richard Dawkins speaking for Charles Darwin)

9) The only reason that one believes that a camel has passed by is all because one is raised in a culture where everyone believes that a camel has actually passed by. If one were raised in a culture where everyone believed that the great Juju at the bottom of the Sea left those droppings behind, one would then adhere to that tribal belief. (Richard Dawkins)

10) Camel is not great; the belief in the existence of camel having passed the path is a man-made idea to control the masses. I do not want to live in a universe that one is obligated to acknowledge the existence of a ruthless camel that drops waste. (Christopher Hitchens)

11) Even if one observes on a daily basis that numerous camel caravans routinely pass by here, the existing droppings and footprints on the trail do not entail that they belong to a camel, which has passed by. One cannot generalize from specific and move from “is” to “ought”. (David Hume)

12) There were no camel droppings until we observed them. The camel dropping particles exist due to the wave function collapse brought about by our observation. (Neils Bohr et al)

13) The belief that camel droppings and footprints are indicative of a camel in the vicinity is based on blind faith. The Bedouin’s assertion is founded on religious dogma. His conclusion does not constitute an inference from scientific data. Faith is a vice pretending to be a virtue. I cannot believe people in the 21st century still believe that camel drops waste on its path. You Intelligent Design people must be ashamed of yourself thinking order, complexity and fine-tuning mean anything. Aren’t you embarrassed to believe in pseudoscience? (PZ Myers)

14) Today the real scientists no longer believe that we need a camel to end up having camel droppings; biologists can easily create camel droppings in the lab without a supernatural cause. One may not be able to prove that a camel actually did not pass through the trail, but science makes the necessity of camel passing through unnecessary. The laws of physics can explain in detail what the droppings are made of without the need for a camel. Thus, science has buried the camel and its droppings. (Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking)

At times, it may seem that modern scientists are inadvertently not employing the principle of Occam’s razor, that is, not complicating explanation beyond necessity. However, a careful examination reveals that avoiding the simplest explanation is their career goal as many of them are heavily into atheism and are more concerned about defending a particular ideology than scientific discoveries. Nevertheless, when science deviates from common sense, it is no longer science; it is no longer the pursuit of truth. It is then no wonder why the most inevitable conclusion on the most fundamental question in life is so often missed by scientists.


Filed under Philosophy of Science and Religion

5 responses to “Has Science Buried the Camel and its Droppings?

  1. Pingback: Camels « Lisa Dootlebottom

  2. Unfortunately, god is like claiming there must be a camel WITHOUT any droppings or footprints. You see some strange markings, which could be anything, the scientist says “We don’t know yet”, but the believers points and cries “GOD!!!!”.

  3. Great article. Atheists dissected (y)

  4. Osama Ghanim

    Mehran, your proper tracing of the story of ‘covering’ and drowning the Bedouin’s unhindered natural response, is revealing. The Bedouin and the camel droppings episode is an instantiation of what I would call: the instant test. It is a crucial and very significant test, to find out if someone’s cognitive system is free and self conscious, or is ‘socially’ hijacked by the self interested bandits!? It is a fast test to be designed with a speed adequate to bypass selfish banditry. The sole goal here is to find out if the basic cognitive equipment work? The instant test: Faced with the camel droppings / the universe/ part of the universe, in an instant, read the event as to its origin.

    Note that the amount of information in the universe compared to that of the droppings of the camel, is of the same ratio as the complexity of the universe to the complexity of the droppings of the camel. This should obviously means, if the Bedouin almost instantaneously realized the existence of the group of camels, then: given the universe as an effect, there should not be any time required to realize the cause of the universe, in particular, the notable attributes of the Originator of the universe such as: Life, Consciousness, Self Consciousness, Knowledge, Planning, Calculation, Oneness, Timelessness, Creativity …..

  5. Amy

    Great common sense line of thought

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