Creating Creationism

From: Talk Origins – What is Creationism?

 

Part 1: The Creation/Evolution Continuum in Christian Creationism

Creation and evolution are not a dichotomy, but ends of a continuum (see figure), and most creationist and evolutionist positions may be fit along this continuum (Scott 1999). The successive steps labelled in the figure are described below.

  • CREATION
    • Flat Earthers
    • Geocentrists
    • Young Earth Creationists
      • (Omphalos)
    • Old Earth Creationists
      • (Gap Creationism)
      • (Day-Age Creationism)
      • (Progressive Creationism)
      • (Intelligent Design Creationism)
    • Evolutionary Creationists
    • Theistic Evolutionists
    • Methodological Materialistic Evolutionists
    • Philosophical Materialistic Evolutionists
  • EVOLUTION

Flat Earthers

Flat Earthers believe that the earth is flat and is covered by a solid dome or firmament. Waters above the firmament were the source of Noah’s flood. This belief is based on a literal reading of the Bible, such as references to the “four corners of the earth” and the “circle of the earth.” Few people hold this extreme view, but some do.

  • International Flat Earth Society, Box 2533, Lancaster, CA.
    Charles K. Johnson

Geocentrism

Geocentrists accept a spherical earth but deny that the sun is the center of the solar system or that the earth moves. As with flat-earth views, the water of Noah’s flood came from above a solid firmament. The basis for their belief is a literal reading of the Bible. “It is not an interpretation at all, it is what the words say.” (Willis 2000) Both flat-earthers and geocentrists reflect the cosmological views of ancient Hebrews. Geocentrism is not common today, but one geocentrist (Tom Willis) was intrumental in revising the Kansas elementary school curriculum to remove references to evolution, earth history, and science methodology.

Young-Earth Creationism

Young Earth Creationists (YEC) claim a literal interpretation of the Bible as a basis for their beliefs. They believe that the earth is 6000 to 10,000 years old, that all life was created in six literal days, that death and decay came as a result of Adam & Eve’s Fall, and that geology must be interpreted in terms of Noah’s Flood. However, they accept a spherical earth and heliocentric solar system. Young-Earth Creationists popularized the modern movement of scientific creationism by taking the ideas of George McCready Price, a Seventh Day Adventist, and publishing them in The Genesis Flood (Whitcomb & Morris 1961). YEC is probably the most influential brand of creationism today.

  • Institute for Creation Research (ICR), El Cajon, CA.
    http://www.icr.org/
    Henry Morris (president emeritus), John D. Morris (president), Duane Gish, Steven A. Austin, Larry Vardiman, Kenneth B. Cumming, Andrew Snelling, …
    Whitcomb, John C. & Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., Philadelphia, PA, 1961)
    Morris, Henry M., Scientific Creationism (Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 1974, 1985)
    newsletter: Acts & Facts (includes Back to Genesis and Impact)
  • Answers in Genesis (AIG), Florence, KY.
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/
    Ken Ham
    periodical: Creation Ex Nihilo
  • Creation Research Society (CRS), St. Joseph, MO.
    http://www.creationresearch.org/
    D. Russell Humphreys, Wayne Friar, Donald B. DeYoung, Eugene F. Chaffin
    periodical: Creation Research Society Quarterly
  • Creation Science Evangelism, Pensacola, FL.
    http://www.drdino.com/
    Kent Hovind
  • Carl Baugh
    Creation Evidences Museum, Glen Rose, TX.

Omphalos

The Omphalos argument, first expounded in a book of that name by Philip Henry Gosse (1857), argues that the universe was created young but with the appearance of age, indeed that an appearance of age is necessary. This position appears in some contemporary young earth creationist writing. For example, Whitcomb & Morris (1961, p. 232) argue that earth’s original soils were created appearing old. The position is sometimes satirized by suggesting that the universe was created last week with only an appearance of older history.

Old Earth Creationism

Old-Earth Creationists accept the evidence for an ancient earth but still believe that life was specially created by God, and they still base their beliefs on the Bible. There are a few different ways of accomodating their religion with science.

  • American Scientific Affiliation, Ipswich, MA.
    (This groups has mostly OEC members, but it doesn’t turn away members and has some YEC and Theistic Evolutionist members, too.)
    http://www.asa3.org/index.html
    periodical: Perpsectives on Science and Christian Faith

Gap Creationism (also known as Restitution Creationism)

This view says that there was a long temporal gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, with God recreating the world in 6 days after the gap. This allows both an ancient earth and a Biblical special creation.

  • Armstrong, Herbert W., Mystery of the Ages. Dodd, Mead, New York, 1985.
  • Jimmy Swaggart

Day-Age Creationism

Day-age creationists interpret each day of creation as a long period of time, even thousands or millions of years. They see a parallel between the order of events presented in Genesis 1 and the order accepted by mainstream science. Day-Age Creationism was more popular than Gap Creationism in the 19th and and early 20th centuries.

  • Anonymous, Life–How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or Creation? (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Booklyn, NY, 1985)

Progressive Creationism

Progressive Creationism is the most common Old-Earth Creationism view today. It accepts most of modern physical science, even viewing the Big Bang as evidence of the creative power of God, but rejects much of modern biology. Progressive Creationists generally believe that God created “kinds” of organisms sequentially, in the order seen in the fossil record, but say that the newer kinds are specially created, not genetically related to older kinds.

Intelligent Design Creationism

Intelligent Design Creationism descended from Paley’s argument that God’s design could be seen in life (Paley 1803). Modern IDC still makes appeals to the complexity of life and so varies little from the substance of Paley’s argument, but the arguments have become far more technical, delving into microbiology and mathematical logic.

In large part, Intelligent Design Creationism is used today as an umbrella anti-evolution position under which creationists of all flavors may unite in an attack on scientific methodology in general (CRSC, 1999). A common tenet of IDC is that all beliefs about evolution equate to philosophical materialism.

  • Discovery Institute, Seattle, WA.,
    Center for Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC)
    http://www.discovery.org/csc/
    Phillip Johnson, Michael Behe, William Dembski, Paul Nelson, Jonathan Wells, Stephen C. Meyer.
    periodical: Origins & Design
    Behe, Michael, Darwin’s Black Box (Free Press, NY, 1996)
    Dembski, William, The Design Inference (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1998)
    Johnson, Phillip, Reason in the Balance (Inter-Varsity, Downers Grove, IL, 1995)
  • Davis, Percival & D. H. Kenyon, Of Pandas and People (Haughton, Dallas, TX, 1989)

Evolutionary Creationism

Evolutionary Creationism differs from Theistic Evolution only in its theology, not in its science. It says that God operates not in the gaps, but that nature has no existence independent of His will. It allows interpretations consistent with both a literal Genesis and objective science, allowing, for example, that the events of creation occurred, but not in time as we know it, and that Adam was not the first biological human but the first spiritually aware one.

Theistic Evolution

Theistic Evolution says that God creates through evolution. Theistic Evolutionists vary in beliefs about how much God intervenes in the process. It accepts most or all of modern science, but it invokes God for some things outside the realm of science, such as the creation of the human soul. This position is promoted by the Pope and taught at mainline Protestant seminaries.

  • Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre, The Phenomenon of Man (HarperCollin, San Francisco, 1959, 1980)

Methodological Materialistic Evolution

Materialistic Evolution differs from Theistic Evolution in saying that God does not actively interfere with evolution. It is not necessarily atheistic, though; many Materialistic Evolutionists believe that God created evolution, for example. Materialistic evolution may be divided into methodological and philosophical materialism. Methodological materialism limits itself to describing the natural world with natural causes; it says nothing at all about the supernatural, neither affirming nor denying its existence or its role in life.

  • Gould, Stephen J., Rock of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life (Ballantine Publishing Group, NY, 1999)

Philosophical Materialistic Evolution

Philosophical materialism says that the supernatural does not exist. It says that not only is evolution a natural process, but so is everything else.

  • Richard Dawkins
  • William Provine

Creationism

Every religion has an origin myth of how the people came to be. The People being those that follow the religion, naturally, because origin myths do not account for how conquering peoples who arrive at some later point in time came to be.

For cultures that arose alongside others, the distinction between who is People and who are others becomes murky and something to be ignored by the respective religions because the fact of people not accounted for can’t be denied, so some other mechanism is at work – cognitive dissonance perhaps, ignoring what the belief system can’t account for.

The real threat of science to religion is that science accounts for all people, not just favoured, chosen, regional or local people. All people.

Out of Africa we came – not from monkeys as religious proponents would like to claim science says in order to cause a disgust reaction in people so they reject science which tells them that humans are but one species of animals among many; while religion tells them that people are not only special, but that certain people, the right people are even more special than others if they follow the one true religion.

The push for Christian creationism in North America has more to do with racism than specie-ism.

Because, evolution’s explanation is that humans arose on the African planes, pretty much as the modern bush people are now. That the variation in skin, eye and hair colour, eye shape, average heights and weights, are all more recent acclimation to climate and sexual selection.

Religions would have us beleive that the peoples of the earth were poofed into existence, as and where they are – and that could be a supported idea only as long as each group didn’t encounter any other groups.

But that only held true for geographically remote people – those that coexisted through Africa, the middle east, Eurasia and into India – didn’t have the luxury of being able to pretend to be the only people.

No religion accounts for or can explain all the peoples of the world – science does. Evolution and anthropology provides origins for all of us in a comprehensive and inclusive manner that religions can never hope to.

That religion varies widely from location to location around the world should demonstrate that it is a cultural variation, with no basis in reality but with a long history of discrimination, oppression, violence towards non-members and hoarding of wealth and knowledge away from common people.

Which is not to say that science is pure as snow, certainly political and religious ideology has crept into various science disciplines, because religion may make us hate or fear each other enough to unleash terrible atrocities upon each other – it is science that allows for the creation of the weapons and tools that are beyond the human scale of destruction.

But science, governed by professional ethics and freed from political influence, can also perpetuate goodness without reservation or discrimination.

Something religion can never claim, reserving as it does the benefits for believers only with non-believers consigned to unpleasantness and punishment.

Everyone’s an atheist of some magnitude

I find it curious that American creationists set themselves against biologists instead of anthropologists. For anthropology demonstrates better than any other area of science that religion and the gods of said religion, are cultural products to create a group identity, enforce social norms and be a means of controlling your population.

That every civilization that has risen and fallen in human history, has had their own gods/goddesses – and creation myths – that they worshiped demonstrates that humans create the gods and religion is the cultural mechanism to incorporate the gods into the society.

Religionists often forget that there are thousands of religions practiced around the world and they ignore these other religions to battle against atheists, who do not believe in any of them.

But only difference between an atheist and a believer in any religion, is that one religion – most people are 99.9% atheist – if you are a Christian, you are an atheist to all the other religions that are currently practiced or have been practiced or will be practiced.

Atheism isn’t a belief, it’s a rejection of the claims for deities and their dependent religion – so atheism has nothing to prove – this means that believers and non-believers are not in the same boat needing proof-paddles. only believers require proof – which they set the bar very low on for themselves, being wishful thinking and subjective feelings/experiences – but they only really need to provide evidence if they want to convince a non-believer – and so far, the only method that’s demonstrated a conversion rate is using a sword.

And really, given the embarrassing number of religions that have been practiced through history and into the modern era – including and maybe especially religions that came to be in the modern era in addition to the various sects and splinter groups of the existing ones – religion shouldn’t pit itself against science – biology or anthropology – because the more that science explains and the deeper our understanding of ourselves, the fewer aspects of our lives – intellectual or emotional – religions belongs in or satisfies.

After all, every religion started with one person having an idea and marketing it to followers, so what need does anyone have to go farther afield than themself to determine and define their religion?

Well, unless you want to make some money and wield power and influence with the least amount of work and effort – then you need to attract and maintain followers. But, as the great philosopher PT Barnum noted, there’s one born every minute.

Respect the right to but not the belief

All the backlash through the years of Western Christians censoring, protesting and demanding that various art works not be published, screened or displayed because the work critiques their broad category religion and the more recent actual violence over Islamic art critiques, has made me wonder.

When did the respect for person’s right or entitlement to a religious belief of their choice start to include respect for the belief itself?

We seem to be in a time where people think that they have the right to not be offended. I find that offensive.

Offense is essentially a clash of rights. But how do we balance one person’s rights against another’s when offense seems to be greater the more the offended party feels entitled to said rights.

There’s this idea of inalienable rights enshrined at in the UN’s declaration and in many Western countries charters and bills of rights.

But are rights really inalienable?

I don’t think so – if they were, wouldn’t they be defacto in all countries?

Wouldn’t each person find it difficult to not respect other people’s rights? Especially when it comes to the big ones like life, bodily integrity and even property?

Particularly when property rights don’t seem to be enshrined anywhere – buying a plot of land doesn’t entitle you to keep it if your government or powerful enough other people/corporations want it.

Wouldn’t everyone understand that one person’s right to swing their arm ends at the point that someone else’s nose begins?

So, why does the religious person’s offense and sense of rights entitlement often override the other religious believer or non-believer’s right to freedom of expression, assembly and their access to art works or information that the religious find offensive.

Can’t the believers just not go to the movie theatre or the art gallery during the time of the offensive display? Or not buy the book, skip that page of the paper, not click on the website or plain avoid what they find distasteful?

At this point in the argument, this is when believers try to make a plea that their offense is reasonable by comparing it to things that are plainly offensive  to 99% of the population – the standbys are pedophilia and bestiality.

But, these aren’t relevant or comparable to artistic expression, ideas or someone else’s rights – since pedophilia and bestiality plainly cause harm – and for the child or teen, it’s an infringement of their rights and it sometimes is for the animal, country dependent.

Oh, and if the right under debate is gay marriage, then polygamy is brought into play. Never polyandry (one wife, multiple husbands), interestingly enough.

But, polygamy isn’t relevant to gay marriage since gay marriage actually doesn’t change the nature of marriage in the west – which is 2 people exclusive of all others.

In polygamy, it’s one man married to several women – the women aren’t married to each other. While polygamy is legal in many countries around the world, this was usually referred to in Canada and the US as bigamy and is a criminal code offense.

Marriage is essentially contract law – and with it comes legal kinship and over 1000 rights under various other laws – and these rights are linked to kinship, inheritance, property, power of attorney, immigration sponsorship, separation, taxes and everything else that requires you to check a box on a form that indicates your marital status.

That religions originally had control over marriage – partly as an income stream for the ceremony, partly as a means to control peoples behaviour – doesn’t mean that marriage in the middle ages and earlier wasn’t also a means to consolidate wealth in particular socio-economic strata, make allegiances at the state or family or business level.

The idea of romantic love being the basis for marriage is actually pretty new – and pretty much until women were allowed to vote and hold property – guess what – they were marital property.

Isn’t that offensive to our modern sensibility?

People do have under the law in many countries, the right to belief in the religion of their choice. You don’t tend to have this right in a theocratic country though – telling, isn’t it?

But one person beleiving in a particular religion does not obligate people who do not beleive in that religion to obey the rules of said religion.

Otherwise, everyone would have to follow all religions and not only would that not lead to anything productive going on – being too weak or tired from not eating and meditiating and praying all the time, but most of the year would be religious holidays.

Atheism isn’t a religion, but has gained the legal status at the US Supreme Court as an on-par belief – so everyone having to observe this also throws a monkey wrench into the all religions all the time mix.

The reality is that we as a society do not deem all ideas on par with all others.

When we have a discussion or class about WWII, we do not include holocaust deniers. When we have a biology class, we should not be “teaching the controversy”.

We as individuals get to pick and chose what we believe and what we don’t – no matter how repugnant it is to everyone else. And, we get to teach those beliefs to our children and it’s up to them to keep them or reject them.

Social norms are culturally dependent and they vary from time period to time period and country/region to country/region. And even between cultural subgroups in the same geographic location. Immigrant groups tend to become a blend of old country and new country over time – and a large enough immigration wave and a welcoming enough new country, that new country also experiences something of a slower change. The sum of the parts thing.

Wow, all those connected ideas is making my wandering mind tired.

It comes down to this – we can only get along as long as everyone has the same rights, entitlements and basic treatment as anyone else in a geographic region.

Otherwise, resentments and ghettoizing occurs and that benefits no one, as that tends to erupt in riots.

As long as we all accord everyone the same amount of rights as ourselves – and mostly to recognize that someone else having rights does not impede our own in any way – we can get along.

Pretending that our differences don’t exist will not work. Better to acknowledge that each of us – as individuals as well as our under each of our various group identities – all being different doesn’t make us all the same – and difference doesn’t always translate into inferior, just different.

We really only have the rights that our legal system allows us – but our ability to act in accordance with those rights has become limited by the backlash of other people who expect rights of their own and none for anyone else.

This should not be acceptable to anyone.

As a lesbian who came out in the early 1990’s, when it was legal to be evicted, not hired/fired, denied services and it was not legal to be married, sponsor an immigrant partner and you had no real expectation of protection from police – in fact, it wasn’t that much earlier when the police were the bashers – yes, even in Canada.

I understand that rights are dependent on law and the “generosity” of the population – people who have always had them do not understand this.

Times change, and what offends people changes.

So let’s stop finding offense at what people 1000 or more years ago would find offensive.

If we can’t do that, then at least remember that you aren’t entitled to or have a right to not be offended.

Creationism

It’s funny that ID/creationists seem to think that any improbability or gap in evolution  means that automatically goddidit wins

It’s not really a choice between Evolution and a Sciencey worded Christian Creation Myth.

You have to look at the evidence and understand it – and the evidence does not suggest everything magiked into existence some 6000 years ago.

There’s the half life decay of radioactive material, there’s the rock strata, there’s the fossil records, there’s the continued extinction of species, the variety of species that continue to exist and we have a solid theory for the mechanisms of the evolution process.

And yes, we continue to observe species evolving today – including the Galapagos Finches – but most readily in virus and bacteria.
There’s no evidence for goddidit, there’s no way to observe, test or submit for peer review.

Do we have every fossil? No, fossils aren’t automatic and it’s not easy to find them.

And, even if we have a fossil A and a fossil C – when we do find a Fossil B – then the creationists will demand that there’s a A.5 and a B.5 to fit in-between those.

Evolution, for which there is  evidence – observed, tested and peer reviewed – even with it’s gaps and not fully explained areas, and because the theory can incorporate new data  is still the best explanation we have

Especially when the alleged alternative has no evidence, cannot be observed, tested, and the peers for it don’t even agree with each other – every religion after all, has it’s own creation myths – and there’s even several different kinds of creationists – some of whom will agree that their deity used evolution.

That “science” is a self correcting process is it’s strength, not a weakness.

That religion changes at a glacial pace, is not able to adjust to new information (because how can it be infallible when it’s wrong?) is it’s weakness.

______

Just wanted to add a link to an index of creationist claims and the science responses – everything that creationists claim and why it’s wrong.

remember: sciencey sounding words are not science