May 12, 2009

Why I Blog About Creationism

Posted in Answering Apologists, Atheism, Creationism tagged , , , at 10:50 am by Andrew

In response to recent posts about the ICR, their lawsuit, and creationism generally, commenter Phil takes me to task:

“Evaluating” Christianity by picking on the Institute for Creation Research is like “evaluating” atheism by picking on the Rational Response Squad.

It’s true that the thrust of this blog is directed at scholarly and popular apologetics, starting with my Summary Case for Atheism and the pages linked from there, and continuing with posts I’ve made on the Argument from Morality (see also here), presuppositionalist apologetics, the so-called “Minimal Facts” argument for the historicity of the Resurrection, and so on.

It’s comforting to see Christians like Phil concede that the ICR is a group of morons; I wish more of his co-religionists would see the light on this issue, and perhaps Phil and others like him who decry the ICR as undermining the intellectual rigor of their religious beliefs can actually speak out against them.

But the prevalence — I would say the ubiquity — of creationist arguments even among scholarly Christians is disturbing, and it contributes to my general case against Christianity. For example: if 99% of atheists believed that paying your taxes was voluntary, or that Sarah Palin faked a pregnancy while Governor of Alaska, or that the Apollo moon landing was a hoax, or that George W. Bush was the mastermind behind a 9/11 conspiracy, or whatever, then, yes, that would increase my skepticism about atheism. Generally speaking, I’ve found that conspiracy theorists tend to be unreliable sources of information.

So the fact that — as far as I can tell — 100% of all Christian apologists subscribe to absolute crackpottery is indeed relevant to me. This is not just the ICR; it’s leading lights such as William Lane Craig and Lee Strobel publicly proclaiming nonsense while other educated Christians refuse to call them on it.

That’s a problem. Now, let me be clear: the fact that Craig and Strobel parrot outright scientific falsehoods without the slightest criticism from their colleagues is not evidence against Christianity per se. It is not even evidence against their apologetic arguments in other fields (except insofar as a general misuse of science indicts one as a source for other arguments from science; e.g., cosmological and teleological arguments). But it does suggest that (1) these people are not reliable, and (2) their followers either don’t know or don’t care, and from there, we should go looking for explanations for those two facts and see if that explanation affects our view of Christianity.

And what do you know? It does! Unsurprisingly, both Craig and Strobel are Biblical inerrantists, which is to say that their view of Christianity — the God in which they believe and for which they are arguing in their books and debates — is one who literally revealed every word of every book selected by Christian elders to be compiled into the Bible, and that said Bible:

…is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.

That’s the endpoint of Craig’s argument; of Strobel’s argument; of Geisler’s argument; of all of these guys’ arguments. And if you can’t swallow creationism (or million-man battles in ancient Mesopotamia, or any of the other stories passed off as “world history” in the Bible), then you don’t believe in Craig’s God.

I don’t believe in Craig’s God. And that’s why I blog about creationism.

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9 Comments »

  1. elbogz said,

    I admit I have a similar addiction to watching the creation debate. My addiction began during the Dover trial, or perhaps earlier when man came to a church and taught about world that was 6000 years old. I thought, are you batshit crazy? Then I realized others that wanted to be part of the club surrounded me. The club that requires you to denounce the world you see, and go back to the Dark Ages.

    I wonder why IRC, and AIG, and Calvary Church and the rest that teach the masses that the earth began October 23 4004 BC at 9am, aren’t held accountable for the path of destruction they leave in their wake. A smaller and smaller number of people are willing to nod their heads when they are told Noah’s flood occurred 2643 BC and all of geology was magically created in 40 days.

    I spent time arguing with the Phil’s of the world. But it was not of any value. It would have just as much value to argue the meaning of Life, the Universe and everything is 42. The question I would ask in a debate with a creationist, have nothing to do with science. I would ask them, why do you go to a doctor? Why do you take medicine? Why in the midst of a Swine Flu epidemic didn’t the church rise up and anoint the sick with oil, lay hands on them and cure the world? Or perhaps the hardest question of all, Have you read the old testament????

    One thing I have to respect the young earth creationist for, is that actually believe in something definable. I mean you compare IRC or AIG with the Francis Collins and those that want to have it both ways, the creationist is the only one with a consistent story. What does the theologian that believes in evolution tell as his story? The universe evolved unguided and naturally for 13.5 billion years, and then 6000 years ago, God finally got around to putting souls in humans, creating a nice little hell to throw them in, have a morning animal sacrifice and flood the world and destroy it for kicks, and then finally get around to undoing the damage 2000 years later?

    • danielg said,

      As a YEC sympathizer, I agree with you that at least the YEC position is internally consistent, whereas I find the OEC, as well as Collin’s theistic evolutionist position, much less internally consistent.

  2. danielg said,

    >> It’s comforting to see Christians like Phil concede that the ICR is a group of morons;

    Comments like this, or the batshit comment above, reveal the problems in your camp.

    First, you show disrespect for a significant majority of Christians. Good luck winning them over that way.

    Second, while you may excuse your attitude by thinking that they are so much in violation of science that they should be ridiculed, the point that you miss is that most don’t merely think that the bible is young because of the Bible, but because they believe the many counter-indications to an old universe that you poo poo.

    Perhaps if you addressed (and admit) in plain language the reasons why you believe in an old universe, as well as the weaknesses in your view, not just attacking in a one-sided manner the YEC position, people might listen. Loud assertions that we are idiots, ignoring your arguments, and insults aren’t how truth is spread.

    Third, the age of the universe is much more complex than merely spouting scientific facts. Even if your conclusions are that the universe is old, we totally ignore you because you don’t address our real suspcicions, which are that your primary ASSUMPTIONS and methods (uniformitarian) are wrong.

    Fourth, you don’t address the wild re-calculation of the age of the universe by science over the years, and give us no affirmation that such recalculations, even down to a YEC timeframe, are out of the question when the existing mysteries of the cosmos, which are many, come in.

    Fifth, I have never seen a good refutation of a global flood, nor an explanation for the circular methods of dating using index fossils, and many others. I’ve been out to talk.origins, but their answers are often insufficient.

    All I am really saying is that I don’t think your case is as proven as you want to think it is, and many people realize that and feel content in ignoring your handwaving. Perhaps you are just doing a poor job of communicating (that is, with humility, tact, clarity, and patience). Or perhaps you aren’t addressing the real reasons why people don’t beleive you and believe instead the YEC apologists. Or perhaps your data and conclusions, in the end, only convince those who are given to your view in the first place, in Bayesian fashion.

  3. Michael Fugate said,

    Daniel,
    Have you read Arthur Strahler’s “Science and Earth History” yet?

  4. elbogz said,

    Humankind has been arguing this point for 500 years. There is nothing I can say that would be so profound that it would change your mind or be the pièce de résistance to end all arguments and debates regarding young earth creationism. I use terms like batshit crazy because it is beyond my comprehension how someone can look at the world around them and see a young earth. I have friends that are young earth creationist, and I ask them, how they can sustain such a belief. The one’s I’ve met believe in a young earth because they truly believe the bible tells them so. I respect that opinion. I do because there is a foundation to the belief. When a young earth creationist tells me that their beliefs are founded in science and scientific study my only response is ***censored***

    But let’s go back 500 years to Rome, where excavation for churches uncovered fossils. Fossils of creatures that no longer live on this earth. What were these? The young earth creationist at the time argued they were put there by Satan to confuse us, or they were a result of Noah’s flood. Science didn’t really know, but as they studied them more and more, they came upon the first theories of geology. Most important, the law of superposition, the principle of original horizontality, and the principle of lateral continuity. You can look these up yourself if you’re interested, but what’s important is the fossil history goes from creatures that were very simple to creatures that are complex. Laid down in order of less complex to more complex ; something that could never happen in a flood. Good Christian men have struggled with that concept for 400 years or longer.

    Then came Galileo. He dared to tell us that the earth was not the center of the universe. The stars were not attached to the firmament. There were not windows to heaven from where the rain came from. The earth was not fixed. It did move! The church argued in vain for 200 years that it wasn’t so. Finally they conceded the point. Now we don’t argue geocentric creationism. That argument was lost. Now we come to find not only is the earth not the center of the universe, it’s some insignificant planet, in some not too spectacular of a galaxy. It’s mind boggling to think we are just a speck of space dust.

    Before all of that, the Egyptian mathematicians calculated with great accuracy the diameter of the earth. They accomplished this simply by looking at the horizon, and watching the ships disappear in the distance. However, they probably failed to convince the flat earth creationist at the time. We use to think that lightning was God striking down the righteousness. But, we no longer believe that. Ben Franklin taught us it was just electrostatic discharge. We use to not understand from where the wind came from and to where it went. Nevertheless, we do now.

    The church preaches the story of young earth creationism. A Sunday school teacher tells his class there are no fossils that prove evolution. A young boy that lives near the university’s geology museum raises his hand and says, “Yes there are”. “Do you want to go see them”? A young girl is taught that her science teacher is a liar. The young girl raises her hand and says, “no he’s not”. “Do you want to go meet him?” It is that moment, that these young children realize the church is lying to them. It is only a short time before they start asking what other lies the church is telling.

    In our lifetime, or, perhaps our children’s lifetime, the young earth creationist will be forced to join the flat earth creationist and the geocentric creationist. Resigned to history as another chapter in the story of the church. It wasn’t some Egyptian mathematician that convinced the flat earth creationist their story was no longer true, nor was it Galileo that convinced the geocentric creationist that their story was no longer true. It was because that belief was no longer sustainable. The same will come true of young earth creationism. It won’t up be me to convince you, nor some great scientist. Perhaps in our lifetime, perhaps in our children’s lifetime, or longer, one day the church will realize they can no longer preach the sermon of young earth creationism. That’s the day beliefs will change.

  5. Facilis said,

    Sigh.
    “Information in DNA comes from a designer” is not an outright scientific falsehood. In fact ,Francis Crick (the co-discoverer of DNA) believed that (he only believed the designers were aliens) and other biologists like Richard Dawkins have indicated willingness in considering this option. You may dispute whether the claim is true but that is something for biologists to decide.

    And Craig is not a Young Earther ( as ar as I can tell he is an Old Earther) .
    And even if you can’t swallow Biblical inerrancy , so what?
    Many Christian scholars like Raymond Brown didn’t believe in inerrancy and Christianity could be true and inerrancy false.

    • Andrew said,

      1. You’ve misquoted me. The falsehood (as I describe above) is the statement that information requires an intelligent designer. Anyone — including real scientists — can believe in a designer, obviously.

      2. Craig teaches at Biola, which in turn requires YEC as part of their statement of faith. I understand this is probably embarrassing for someone who considers himself to be an intellectual.

  6. Michael Fugate said,

    It depends on what one means by “designer”. Natural selection acts as a “designer” in one sense.

  7. James said,

    Hi,

    maybe you should have thought twice about putting Sarah Palin and her faked pregnancy with Trig in your list. Let me tell you:

    1. Yes, the Apollo spacecraft landed on the moon (several times).
    2. Yes, paying taxes is NOT voluntary.

    And now comes the part you won’t like:

    Unfortunately, Sarah Palin has not given birth to Trig.

    And quite a lot of people, including leading members of the Republican party, know it already.


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