Punku rock


I went to Zambia without going to Victoria Falls, to Cambodia without going to Angor Wat, and to Monaco without going to Monte Carlo. In one sense, this means that I am an independent traveler who brazenly goes where other dare not. In another more accurate sense, it means I travel as cheap as possible. Get me the lowest airfare and closest hostel to the airport and I’m good. My favorite part of being to in any foreign country is being there.

My oxymoronic habit of traveling to far-flung places, then venturing as little as possible when I get there, also took place during my lone trip to South America. While others may go out of state for a long weekend, I went off the continent and landed in Lima, Peru. The hostel manager expressed surprise that I would not be going onto Machu Picchu, which is where most of his guests end up.

I was content to stay within a two square miles of the hostel, venturing only far enough to visit a supermarket, soccer fields, and roadside stands. There was one exception, when I made my way to an ancient site once populated by Limans, an ancient people that predated the more well-known Macchu Pichuu folks. Another site I failed to visit was an ancient Andean structure called Puma Punku, a temple complex which comprises a series of monolithic stone structures near Tiwanaku on the Peru/Bolivian border.

While popular, the area is more beloved by paranormal enthusiasts then tourists. The Puma Punku expanse is known for its massive stones that, despite their size, are cut and placed with such preciseness that a sheet of paper cannot be wedged in between. Some attribute this construction ability to ancient aliens, vacationing Atlanteans, or some group more interesting and supernatural then Pre-Columbian folks.

Those favoring this view sometimes claim Puma Punku stones weigh up to 440 tons. In truth, the largest weighs 144 tons, the second heaviest is 85 tons, and the third heaviest is much less than that. The vast majority of Puma Punku consists of relatively small and easily handled stones.

Still, there are a few stones which leave archeologists unsure how they were cut, moved, and assembled. But it is appealing to ignorance to claim that since we don’t know how they did, ancient aliens were responsible. Sketoid’s Brian Dunning noted that even-older works of the ancient Greeks and Persians rivaled what long-ago residents of Tiwanaku managed and no one is claiming mystical means were responsible for the Parthenon or the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. And even if such an assertion were made, it is accompanied by no evidence bolstering the ancient alien angle. The same is true any otherworldly hypothesis for Puma Punku.

Dunning explained why we have trouble figuring out how they did it. “Most people don’t know how to intricately cut stones because those are skills we haven’t needed for a long time,” he wrote. “But this argument from ignorance — that just because we don’t know how to do it, nobody else could have figured it out either — is an insufficient explanation and deprives the creators of their credit.”

The Tiwanaku civilization and their use of these structures peaked around 1,100 years ago, so this leads to another Puma Punku feature that supposedly has archaeologists baffled. At the site, there are carved figures purported to be of a Cuvieronius, an extinct elephant-like beast, and a toxodon, a likewise-doomed hoofed mammal. As both critters last lived in the region around 15,000 years ago, some deduce Puma Punku is at least that old, and so, voilà, bygone extraterrestrials done did it.

However, the carving is actually of two Andean Condors facing each other. Their necks and crests could, especially if one wanted them to, resemble tusks and oversized Dumbo ears. Humans prefer pattern over randomness and when combined with a desire to bolster a pet cause, this can lead to seeing helicopters in Hieroglyphics, a Face of Mars, or Peruvian pachyderms.

One cannot prove it wasn’t ancient aliens, but the burden is on those making the claims, and so far no evidence has been presented. If ancient aliens did it, I admire their architecture and I am jealous of their extensive travel. As for me, I’m left with planning my no-Leaning-Tower trip to Pisa.





“No big dill” (Pickle juice cures)


There are two things wrong with Tomi Lahren’s claim that she represents the silent majority. Likewise, her assertion that pickle brine is loaded with health benefits is likewise fact-challenged. Lahren says she learned this through a Google search, which is the one part of her claim I can believe.

For that matter, I Googled “Nazis escaped to Mars” and got validation of that idea. But we know better than to focus solely on the source when determining a claim’s validity – no genetic fallacies on this blog – so let’s look at the evidence for the pickle brine claims that a Google search will unearth.

Some of the liquid’s supposed powers are the ability to relieve heartburn, control blood sugar, soothe Restless Leg Syndrome, and ease sunburn discomfort. But the most frequent claim is that it vanquishes cramps. However, most of these declarations are in the form of anecdotes, making them subject to post hoc reasoning. With one quasi-exception we’ll examine, none of the claims attesting to the healing propensity of pickle brine are backed by a double blind study.

When looking into this issue, one almost invariably ends up at Central Michigan University professor Kevin Miller, who has probably authored every study meant to determine if pickle brine will reduce muscle cramping. For these tests, Miller recruited fit and active college students to exercise and then drink 80 milliliters of pickle brine. He consistently finds there is never a measurable uptick in key nutrients or electrolytes one might get if chugging a sports drink.

There is one study that at first glance might seem like an outlier. This was overseen by Miller at BYU in 2010. In a hot room, 10 men bicycled for 30 minutes using one leg. They lost three percent of their body weight in sweat, enough to be considered mild hydration.

The subjects then had the big toe of their other leg electrically stimulated in order to cause cramping. Next they drank either nothing, pickle brine or deionized water, which serves as a close approximation of the dull green liquid when it comes to taste. Among those quaffing Vlasic Juice, cramps vanished in 85 seconds, which was 45 percent faster than for those who drank nothing and 37 percent faster than for those who drank the pickle placebo.

While this seems to suggest some pickle power, it really doesn’t. First, 10 persons constitutes a microscopic sample size that would tell us nothing substantial. Beyond that, Miller said it would take 25 minutes for a liquid to enter the bloodstream and quash any cramping if it had that ability. He suspects the toe pain was balanced by the unpleasant sensation in the mouth. In the Daily Beast, Tanya Basu quoted him as saying, “The vinegar or combination of vinegar and salt affected a reflex in the mouth and acted as a counterirritant.”

Even if one still clung to the BYU study as proof, many other results show the opposite. Skeptoid’s Alison Hudson found seven studies, which in totality suggest little promise for pickle brine as an elixir. She wrote, “One study concluded that drinking pickle juice after exercise did a poor job of replenishing electrolytes; another study determined that pickle juice ‘does not relieve cramps via a metabolic mechanism’; a third study suggested that swallowing the pickle juice might in some way relieve an electrically-induced cramp, but that, again, there was nothing metabolic going on.”

Since pickle brine is about 70 percent water, it would be of some rehydrating value. And if consumed in enough quantities, it might replace some lost carbohydrates and electrolytes. But this would be true of many beverages, most of which taste better than a heavy salt-and-vinegar solution that once housed hamburger condiments. In any case, there is zero evidence it assuages the litany of conditions listed in the third paragraph, regardless of what Larhen’s physician Dr. Google has to say.






“Darwin abhorred” (Michael Behe)


Persons sometimes hold two jobs simultaneously, but no one has a more oxymoronic dual employment than Dr. Michael Behe. He serves as a fulltime a scientist for Lehigh, where he is a biochemistry professor. Meanwhile, his moonlighting gig is as a pseudoscientist for the Discovery Institute, where he argues against a specific plank of evolution.

Behe differs from most creationists, partly because he is of the Old Earth variety, a comparatively rare subspecies. More significantly, he acknowledges that life has evolved over billions of years and that all living organisms have a common descent. He also acknowledges that mutation and natural selection drive the processes that lead to the diversity of life. All this, in fact, capsulizes the theory of evolution. But Behe veers sharply from the scientific landscape when he proposes that there is an intelligent design mechanism which is causing the genetic changes that enables evolution. He stresses that point repeatedly in his latest book, Darwin Devolves.

In this work, Behe insists that mutations can only make things worse, absent intelligent intervention. This is consistent with his longstanding belief that anything science cannot completely figure out means that his god is responsible. This is the God of the Gaps gaffe and is a common pseudoscience error.

Behe makes no attempt to falsify the idea, nor does he give fellow scientists any experiments to try and replicate. He has not observed intelligent intervention in action, he makes no predictions about how it would function, and he subjects the idea to no peer review. In short, he offers zero science to support his claim that a deity is driving evolution’s key mechanism.

Compare that to what he expects of those with the opposing position. In an essay for skeptic.com, John Jay College professor Nathan Lents wrote, “Behe holds modern evolutionary theory to an impossible standard, declaring it insufficient if we cannot pinpoint every point mutation and every intermediate genetic step, all in the right order.”

Behe argues that mutation should be fatal to evolution because most genes that spark adaptation have been irreparably broken and have also been inactivated by mutations. And a dead gene, he says, tends to degrade further and can only be reactivated by a supernatural agent.

But biology professor Jerry Coyne writes that this position requires ignoring the following: Adaptive mutations which do not inactivate genes, including genes that are accidentally copied twice, with the copies diverging in useful ways; Changes in how and when a gene is turned on and off, such as mutations producing lactose tolerance in milk-drinking human populations; The repurposing of ancient genes acquired from viruses; Chimeric genes that are cobbled together from odd bits of DNA; And simple changes in DNA sequence that alter proteins without breaking them, such as is see in tolerance of low oxygen levels in geese.

Most importantly from a scientific standpoint, Behe only tries to find flaws in the other side instead of offering examples of designed mutations or providing evidence for a supernatural mechanism.

A key point to remember is that evolution never has an end-goal in mind. It’s about adapting to present conditions. It will even reverse course if that is advantageous. While the sci-fi concept of devolution, such as is seen with the Land of the Lost Sleestaks, is a cool one, it never happens in real life. In fact, a step-back is still evolution if that’s what the environment dictates.  

Behe tries to ride the coattails of Richard Lenski to make his case. Lenski oversees an ongoing, 30-year e. coli experiment that started with 12 originally-identical populations. These 12 experienced dramatically accelerated growth and showed a gradual loss of many abilities necessary to thrive in other environments. While this is literally observing evolution in action, Behe maintains it strengthens his position since none of the bacteria have developed creative new abilities.

However, these bacteria are in manufactured laboratory conditions and are not adapting to nature. And even in this environment which Lenski specifically designed to not prod bacteria toward new abilities, the cells have gained functions. Lents wrote that Lenski “has discovered variants of essential genes — not just dispensable ones — for the cell wall, DNA packaging and architecture, and a variety of tweaks that enhance, not diminish, the function of the encoded proteins. Perhaps the most exciting discovery is one culture’s new ability to import and metabolize citrate as a carbon source in an aerobic environment. This is all incredibly unlikely, as only one of the 12 cultures achieving this feat in more than 70,000 generations. This means random mutation has been seen to cause a new function.” That it could do this refutes Behe’s insistence that such a mutation requires divine intervention.

Let’s move from the lab to the outdoors and from the microscopic to what we can see with the naked eye. Behe touts Galapagos finches as an example of how animals can manage only incremental changes without supernatural assistance. He gloats that the birds have failed to develop the large-scale body redevelopment that occurred with organisms during the Cambrian Explosion.

The analogy is lacking since Cambrian diversification took more than 10 times as long and involved smaller, simpler, and faster-reproducing life forms. A larger issue is that when finches arrived on the islands, the Galapagos was already filled with other birds. This meant that the finches’ only path to success was stagnation. Diversification only occurs when animals fill unoccupied niches.

Lents pointed out that Madagascar lemurs provide a spectacular example of how this works. From the first pair 50 million years ago, we now have well over 100 species “including the smallest known primates and nearly the largest. There are burrowers, leapers, grazers, climbers, and everything in between. Lemurs have accomplished this because they were free to inhabit the ecological niches normally occupied by other animals. With no rodents on Madagascar initially, the mouse lemurs emerged. With no true sloths, we have the sloth lemur.”

This breadth of lemurs means the animal has achieved the taxonomic level of Family, something Behe claimed unguided evolution could never do. His retort was to feebly offer that this may have been made possible by “intelligently-provided information carried by the ancestor of lemurs.” He failed to explain how that hypothesis might be tested.

According Coyne, Behe’s rationale for designed mutations is circular. Behe claims biochemical pathways are designed rather than evolved because they’re based on a “purposeful arrangement of parts.” To this, Coyne asks, “Which arrangements are those designed with a purpose? They’re simply the pathways that Behe sees as too complex to have evolved. This is a classic example of begging the question, which is assuming what you’re supposed to prove.”

That last line, in fact, would work as a concise review of Darwin Devolves.

“Spring straining” (DDT)


DDT is short for a 31-lettered, synthetic insecticide created during the Great Depression. Its initial use was to kill disease vectors such as mosquitoes, lice, and tsetse flies. It was so effective and beneficial that discoverer Paul Hermann Müller received the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

Subsequently it was used in agriculture to protect crops from a variety of pests, and again proved efficient at doing so. But in the late 1950s, detractors raised the alarm about possible health effects on people and animals. The main concern was that DDT was causing eggshell thinning that resulted in the death of embryonic birds.  

Following the 1962 release of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, DDT’s use was prohibited in many countries. While the ban has been cited by some as helping bird populations recover, others have characterized it as overzealous. Those in the latter camp consider its alleged detrimental effects to have been exaggerated. They further note that DDT has the sizable benefit of saving Third World lives through malaria reduction.

We now know that eggshell thinning can be caused by lead, oil, phosphorus, calcium deficiency, and dehydration. Stress can also be a factor for captive birds undergoing testing. While DDT could also be to blame, Skeptoid’s Brian Dunning wrote that several studies in the 1970s and ‘80s failed to correlate even high levels of the insecticide with thinning. To be fair, other studies reached a different conclusion, one that was consistent with what Carson suggested. After perusing the studies and examining the issue, Dunning wrote, “My conclusion based on a review is that there probably is a correlation, but it’s not a strong one; and at best it’s only one of many causes. Whether DDT is used or not would probably not have a large impact on bird populations.”

Further, Silent Spring focused mostly on bald eagles, a species that was already experiencing a significant decline because of habitat loss and over-hunting.  The Bald Eagle Protection Act and the bird’s placement on the endangered species list in 1967 spurred its successful comeback. Attributing this to a DDT ban is likely a correlation/causation error.

And even if a DDT ban has benefited bird populations, those in the Third World are dying because of it since the insecticide remains one of the most effective pesticides at fighting malaria. Although DDT remains legal for insecticide use where widespread malaria exists, money for combating mosquitoes often comes from wealthy donors in the West.  Those donors sometimes stipulate that DDT not be used, leaving recipient nations with less efficient options. That contributes to such results as 407,000 Africans dying from malaria in 2016, compared to zero killed by DDT.



“It’s not a game” (Momo Challenge)


I had little doubt the Momo Challenge was a hoax when I first heard about it. And last week my news feed became overwhelmed with articles testifying to that conclusion. I was pleased to see this moral panic squashed in a world populated by flat Earthers, anti-vaxxers, persons who think a cold Minnesota January disproves climate change, and non-GMO labels on foods that have no genetically-modified equivalent. Score one for reasoned thinking.

Momo is a sculpture created by a Japanese special effects company and there is no evidence she has been coopted by a shadowy organization dedicated to fomenting a mass suicide of teens and tweens.  

Still, an online legend tells of children being enticed to harm themselves by a creepy, bug-eyed critter who is equal parts reptilian, avian, and woman. Momo is said to pop up on social media posts, messaging apps, and videos. She then instructs, encourages, or threatens children to complete increasingly dangerous tasks like pill-popping, slicing their skin, or stabbing others. She often warns participants to never tell authority figures about the challenge, which often ends in suicide.

While there is no evidence this game is real, it plays on concerns of legitimate phenomena such cyberbullying and sextortion. It also repackages campfire tales of hook killers and dead children embedded in a drunk driver’s car grill and fits them for the modern age and today’s technology.  Skeptic leader Benjamin Radford considers the Momo Challenge to be a continuation of folk tales where youngsters are challenged to conduct a bravery ritual. This could including laying on train tracks, spending time in a haunted location, or chanting “Bloody Mary” into a mirror.

Beyond panicky parents, irresponsible TV networks are also fanning the fearful flames. CBS Baltimore reported that Momo “can target kids through Peppa Pig or Fortnite when parents aren’t around.” Yes, this creature is so frightening and cunning she somehow knows when adults leave the house. Not just a certain set of parents, but any adults worldwide who have children at home. Asserting that such a skill exists should have been a huge tipoff that none of this was real and the network was negligent to not better question this story before airing it.  

The decision may have been partly driven by there being several dozen 24-7 news outlets competing to fill space or airtime. Part of that airtime was spent on CBS Baltimore going so far as to claim Momo has been “reportedly linked to suicides in other countries,” without specifying where this happened or what the victim’s name was. Indeed, while the game has been blamed for a handful of suicides, none of those deaths have been confirmed as being part of a twisted viral challenge, for which no evidence exists.

The character is now one of the most ubiquitous and well-known in the online universe. Yet none of the many Momo images that have been shared show her taking a menacing tone with vulnerable youngsters. Instead, we’re just seeing the same picture of the same sculpture. She is touted as a widespread danger in a time where everyone has multiple ways of recording at any moment and we still lack any documentation of this twisted game happening. The closest thing are edited Peppa Pig videos with Momo sliced in, and these are not tied to anyone committing self-harm.

Still, news reports include boilerplate language about police warnings and sick cyber stalkers. There are also exhortations to monitor children’s activities and regularly check their apps and devices. Those are sound ideas, but a nonexistent threat need not be the impetus to follow through on them.

One UK parent told the credulous Daily Mail the game bore the responsibility for her 5-year-old cutting off part of her own hair. I can affirm that self-administered Kindergartener trims take place without a disturbing online presence being involved. A Kansas mother likewise blamed Momo for her son’s angry outbursts. This continues a long trend of cursing culture icons for leading youth down a wayward path. Before Momo, there was Beavis and Butt-Head, before Beavis, there was Elvis, and before Elvis there were wood-pulp paper books.

Indeed, the Momo Challenge has the features of a moral panic. First, it centers on a demented group or activity that attack us decent folk. Second, the response to moral panics is disproportionate to the threat they pose. Finally, for all the alarm they cause, moral panics have a relatively short shelf life, and this has been exacerbated in the social media age. Society has overcome its fear of comic books, Buddy Holly, and Dungeons & Dragons, and Momo seems headed for a quick retirement. Just as certain is that the resulting moral-panic vacuum will be short-lived.


“Hope springs infernal” (Diamond curse)


Often times, that which is opulent or long-hidden will be said to carry some type of misfortune. Examples include select 19th Century manors, King Tut’s tomb, and the Hope Diamond. The latter is huge chunk of cerulean rock, a 45-carat eye-popper worth about $250 million, although its current owner, the Smithsonian Institution,  is neither willing nor able to sell it.

The diamond takes it names from one of its former owners, British banker William Hope, who acquired the massive gem in 1839. It made its way to Simon Frankel, who found the blue beauty to be a white elephant. You might have a Honus Wagner baseball card valued at $800,000 that you are trying to sell, but it’s only worth that to you if you can find a buyer. Frankel was having the same liquidity issues with the Hope Diamond. So he spun a wildly improbably tale, based in zero reality, that the jewel carried a curse.  His hope, so to speak, was that this would help him locate a purchaser who would paradoxically find the curse both unsettling but intriguing.  Frankel eventually sold it to Selim Habib, though it’s unclear whether the supposed curse influenced Habib or if he even knew about it.

The next year, the Times of London ran a satirical story which mocked Frankel, but which has come to be taken as truth, a forerunner of today’s fake news epidemic. The anonymous author told how the diamond once belonged to a Russian prince who gave it to a famous actress before shooting her on stage, after which angry patrons stabbed the monarch to death. Another owner committed suicide and the next recipient fell over a cliff to his grisly death. Later, assassins took out a young Turk royal wearing the diamond and a Hindu priest swiped it before succumbing to an unspecified agonizing death. This was all make-believe and wasn’t supposed to be taken seriously, but was instead needling Frankel for his curse claims.

Taking this ludicrous legend to new heights, The New York Times followed with a nonsense article that purported to catalog what had happened to previous holders. It reported that Habib and the diamond had been lost at sea near Singapore. Now, there had been a Selim Habib who went down in that shipwreck, but he merely shared his name with the Hope Diamond owner. Another ill-fated keeper, a cohort of King Louis XIV, is said to have been mauled to death by wild dogs. The monarch’s eventual beheading, along with that of Marie Antoinette, have also been cited as curse-related. Besides murders and suicides, there were rumors of insanity and bankrupt former multimillionaires among those who had procured the diamond.

While some of the owners did die horrific deaths, Marie Antoinette being the most prominent example, these bloody endings are explicable without invoking a curse. A revolution, for example, finishes off regime leaders whether or not they possess a specific gem.  

When misfortunes have occurred, deducing that this means there is a curse attached to the Hope Diamond requires cherry picking. Tragedies are highlighted, while any good fortune bestowed on the owners is ignored. For example, the Smithsonian has housed the diamond longer than any owner ever possessed it and the Institution has yet to suffer for this.

Furthermore, some of the tragedies afflicted not the owners, but their family members, and counting these instances as part of the curse greatly increases the pool of potential victims.

Most of the tragedies were made-up, often not even having a name associated with them. And the genuine instances are explicable through the Law of Truly Large Numbers.

It could be argued that the idea of a Hope Diamond curse is a morality tale about greed. In the lesson, someone who is already extremely affluent suffers when he or she tries to become even wealthier instead of using their substantial holdings for charity, alms, and the public good.

“Holey book” (Biblical contradictions)


If one’s favored holy book contradicts itself, how is a follower to handle it? For Muslims, the verse which appears later in the Koran overrules the previous dictate. The contradiction is still there but at least there’s consistency with how to approach these discomforting occurrences.

Christians have much more complex ways of dealing with Biblical contradictions. Some deny their existence, but this requires extreme pretzel logic when there are  opposing statements as blatant as what is entertainingly detailed here. Exhaustive lists of such contradictions exist elsewhere and we won’t rehash them here. Rather, we will focus on the way the problem is handled by believers.

Christian fundamentalists tout the Bible as an immaculate work created by a flawless, all-knowing being. But it reads more like a hodgepodge product of Bronze Age Middle East nomads who took their limited knowledge of human nature and the natural world, then came up with magical explanations to fill in the sizable blanks.  

They also created Old Testament rules that were largely wiped out by Jesus. And the afterlife, which received barely a nod or description in the Torah, becomes a focal point of the New Testament, which lays out an everlasting Heaven in glorious detail. The gospels and epistles also introduced the doctrine of the Trinity, which was never referenced in the OT, and which in fact stands in sharp contrast to the overarching theme of that work – that there is one omnipotent, all-powerful, controlling god who gets riled by the notion of usurpers or contenders to his throne.  

The explanation for contradictions that I am most open to is translation errors. The Bible has been copied into many languages and each scribe has been encumbered with his own experiences, biases, and shortcomings. In fact, it would be stunning if there were no contradictions in a voluminous work patched together by dozens of writers over several hundred years. A seamless final effort could be a sign of divine authorship or at least extremely tight refinement and editing.

Now onto some other arguments I find less persuasive. Some believers have described the scriptures as a continuing revelation of God to Mankind. The deity refrained from revealing his full knowledge at the outset, but whenever he said anything, it was true. Some say this progressive revelation continues today.

That’s why Latter-Day Saints leaders keep coming up with new stuff, as do organizations ranging from upstart cults to the Catholic Church. In the 19th Century, a revelation from God to Mormon leaders decreed that marriage between races be forever forbidden. A later revelation cancelled that prohibition, and in this ever-changing system, the anti-miscegenation dictate could again be pronounced.

A major issue with the progressive revelation explanation is that it comes from persons who demand scriptural support for other positions, particularly iconoclastic ones. And there is no biblical verse which states God’s handiwork is ongoing, which suggests the Ten Commandments were a rough draft, or that scriptures were ever incomplete.

Another argument is that God delivered what folks were ready for, so people in different times and cultures would get told what they needed to hear. Again, this is not Biblical, which should matter if one is zealously defending the Bible. The likes of Ken Ham and Bryan Fischer regularly gloat that the Bible never changes, yet we see many instances of that, including verses involving key messages and doctrinal issues, such as the afterlife, how one gets there, and whether there is one form of God or three.

The most frequent answer is that Jesus is the key, but why would he be the stopping point? What negates later revelations to Mohammed, Joseph Smith, David Koresh, Jim Jones, Sun Myung Moon, Jim Bakker, Pat Robertson, and many lesser-known cultists and charismatics? The next-to-last verse in the Bible, Revelation 22:19, reads, “If anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City.” Yet its placement near the end was merely the way way the final product was arranged; Biblical books II Peter, Titus, and I and II Timothy were penned after this warning in Revelation.

Blogger Bob Seidensticker noted that after the Bible was complete, “there were doctrinal inventions from 21 ecumenical councils,” which took place from 325 CE to 1965. Besides this, there were “many schisms within the Christian church,” to the point of having 37 varieties of Baptist.   

If the Bible were complete and unambiguous, these later interpretations would have been unnecessary and divisions among those genuinely seeking godly knowledge would not have taken place. A perfect, unchanging text would require no adaptations, interpretation, or explanation.