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Science Minister Equates Evolution and Religion

With a title like “Minister of State for Science and Technology”, it’s no wonder that Gary Goodyear thinks acceptance of evolution should be a matter of religious conviction. When asked about evolution, Gary had this to say:

“I’m not going to answer that question. I am a Christian, and I don’t think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate,”

Mr Goodyear eventually clarified his position, when he realized how many people this upset:

“We are evolving every year, every decade. That’s a fact, whether it is to the intensity of the sun, whether it is to, as a chiropractor, walking on cement versus anything else, whether it is running shoes or high heels, of course we are evolving to our environment. But that’s not relevant and that is why I refused to answer the question. The interview was about our science and tech strategy, which is strong.”

Notice he never acknowledges macroevolution, only microevolution. Clever…a lot of people will miss that. If I were able to ask Mr. Goodyear one question, it would be this: “Is clinical acupuncture based on science or religion?”.

As a chiropractor who specialized in acupuncture, my guess is that he would say “Science”, even though the field is still heavily dependent on traditional Chinese metaphysics. While I’d be the first to accept that traditional methods of finding truth and value are important, I’d be the first challenge a statement that these sorts of things are scientific. By definition, they are not.

acupuncture

It’s not that controversial to label accupuncture a pseudoscience, though it has well demonstrated effects on pain. In its current formulation it’s pretty much based on Qi, (pronounced chee) “flows of energy” that are around and in all living things. While I’m not going to debate whether or not something like this exists (I think it does), these flows are not quantifiable, we haven’t observed them, and we can’t make any predictions based on them.

While acupuncture seems to work, we can’t claim to know HOW it works. Qi is undoubtedly philosophy, and as far as accupuncture relies on Qi it is simply eastern philosophy and pseudoscience.

But is EVOLUTION pseudoscience? There is consensus on this in the scientific community; and that is “No, evolution is NOT pseudoscience. And stop calling it ‘Darwinism’!'” They would know, and they can back it up. It’s science!

gn02_18

Like Gary, I was taught that belief in Darwinism was a matter of religious or philosophical conviction. And I accepted that at first, until I really started researching the matter. What I found stunned me; evolution was undoubtably scientific. It’s observable right now as well as forensically, it’s quantifiable (expressed algorithmically), and it makes predictions about the world that can be verified. And those predictions HAVE been verified, over and over again, to the point where it’s a contender for one of the “superb” scientific theories, right below general relativity and the standard model of quantum mechanics.

“Into the SUPERB category must go all those I have been discussing in the paragraphs preceding this one [that is, relativity – both varieties – and quantum mechanics]. To qualify as SUPERB, I do not deem it necessary that the theory should apply without refutation to the phenomena of the world, but I do require that the range and accuracy with which it applies should, in some appropriate sense, be _phenomenal_. The way that I am using the term `superb’, it is an extraordinary remarkable fact that there are any theories in this category at all! I am not aware of any basic theory in any other science which could properly enter this category. Perhaps the theory of natural selection, as proposed by Darwin and Wallace, comes closest, but it is still some way off.” Penrose in “Emperor’s New Mind” (Highly recommended!)

Even as general relatively and quantum mechanics do, evolution has problems. There are BIG, glaring holes in it, as there is in EVERY SINGLE scientific theory. But that’s not why Mr. Goodyear doubts macroevolution. Mr Goodyear has inadvertently made it plain he doubts evolution because of his religious beliefs. IE; he believes that Genesis is literally true, to one degree or another. He’s probably a creationist. And not the Roman Catholic kind; the Protestant kind.

gn03_01

I can find no reasonable response for this, as creationism is not subject to reason. But as Canada’s minister of science, Mr. Goodyear does not have the right to misrepresent science because of his personal religious views. Biology and genetics are INCREDIBLY important fields of study right now, and he does his country a great disservice to ignore the advances evolutionary theory has brought to these fields. If he must take this on faith, so be it; but his actions are important.

Furthermore, by making scientific claims based on religious values, he weakens his ability to make MORAL claims about science, which is where personal morality, ethics, and spirituality/religion are unquestionably important! To be more clear, one shouldn’t say they don’t believe in atomic fission because of their nonscientific convictions. That’s useless, it’s just burying your head in the sand. Instead, say that you don’t believe in atomic BOMBS because of moral, ethical and/or religious conviction!

Or DO believe in bombs, but you get my point, the decision what to do with technology and the meaning of life are more propoer fields for metaphysics and theology than the existence or nonexistence of specific scientific phenomenon.

Who Would Jesus Bomb?

Who Would Jesus Bomb?

To apply this to the theory of evolution. One should accept that natural selection is a fact, if the word “fact” is to mean anything. Besides, unless they are an evolutionary biologist, their opinion doesn’t mean squat anyway! We can certainly say religious conviction has NOTHING to do with the factual truth of scientific theories.

Instead, Goodyear could affirm science, while affirming God as the Primary Mover and the ultimate source of meaning. Instead he culd say, “Regardless of scientific facts, I believe God created us and loves us.” Or he could leave the religion part out completely, as he wanted to do in his first intervie!

Your call, Mr. Goodyear, but don’t misrepresent science. There’s enough of that as it is.

gn07_18

AiG VII – What about Intelligent Design is Religious?

On the message boards, I have been discussing the merits of Intelligent Design with advocates of various stripes.  I am amazed at how many supporters ID has, and how they will debate even the most basic of facts.  Fact numero uno being the religious nature of Intelligent Design theory.  I have yet to find an ID advocate out there that admits to the religious content of Intelligent Design.  Here’s what I say:

1) ID is Exclusively Supported by Religious Institutions. 

Where is the money?  While we cannot judge the scientific merits of Intelligent Design based on the quality of those who support it, it’s a perfectly human thing to do, and it still directly applies to the intelligent design MOVEMENT, if not the theory.

The earliest example of the modern Intelligent Design movement came after the case Edwards v. Aguillard, which rules that Creationism could not be required in public schools because it advances a particular religion.  So the term “Creationism” was out, and they needed a new term.  

The group Foundation for Thought and Ethics had a creationist book all prepped for the public schools.  In between versions of this book, “creationism” and “creationist” were changed to refer to “intelligent design” instead, leading to this amusing cut and paste error:

The basic metabolic pathways (reaction chains) of nearly all organisms are the same. Is this because of descent from a common ancestor, or because only these pathways (and their variations) can sustain life? Evolutionists think the former is correct, cdesign proponentsists accept the latter view.

This proved to be rather damaging in a later court case,  Kitzmiller Vs Dover, whose judge clearly and eloquently categorized intelligent design as creationism.  

The Discovery Institute is the other major think-tank devoted to spreading intelligent design.  Like the FTE, the Discovery Institute likes to keep its religious foundation on the down-low, but their leaked manifesto made it very clear what their agenda is:

“To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural, and political legacies”

“To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God”

If you dig, this is where you end up.  Every ID supporter I have talked to or read feels that it is wrong to disallow non-materialistic (IE: “supernatural”) scientific explanations.   They all believe we were created by God.  They feel this as a direct result of their religious convictions, or might even say this conviction LED them to religion in the first place.   Religion is the very foundation of the Intelligent Design movement, which would not exist without it.

2) ID is the teleological argument.

The actual philosophy of intelligent design can be reduced to the teleological argument for the existence of a Creator.  The philosophy of intelligent design is religious in nature, because the teleological argument is religious in nature; it makes specific claims about God.  The intelligent design form is subtly different than the standard formulation, though:

  1. Complexity implies a designer.
  2. The universe is highly complex.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a designer

“So one elephant having a trunk was odd; but all elephants having trunks looked like a plot.” 

G. K. Chesterton

I’m no philosophy major, but even I can see that this formulation has some serious problems, even more problems than the original argument!  It’s because of this:

  1. Complexity implies a designer.
  2. The designer is highly complex.
  3. Therefore, the designer has a designer.

The fault lies with the implication that complexity requires design, design, of course.  IE: the assumption is; something complex requires something even more complex to create it.  For this reason, “complexity implies a designer”.  Conversely, if it is assumed that complex systems can come from SIMPLER systems, then complexity no longer implies a designer…there would be other possibilities. 

So it’s inescapable; the designer must be more complex than the designed in order for complexity to imply a designer.  But the problem is, this means the existence of a designer implies that the DESIGNER has a DESIGNER, which needs a DESIGNER, which doesn’t actually answer the fundamental question…where did the complexity of life come from?  

PS: evolution doesn’t answer the origin of life issue either, so ID shouldn’t feel to bad.  Stuart Kauffman’s into something, though…and it’s DEEP.  Engravings on the Stone Table deep.  

3) Obfuscation of language.

One of the traits of any movement is the modification of language that happens among it’s followers.  Religious movements are no exception to this rule, and neither is Intelligent Design.  But in order to see the stamp of religion on ID, it’s important to look at how two words are being redefined:

Creationism: 1) the doctrine that matter and all things were created, substantially as they now exist, by an omnipotent Creator, and not gradually evolved or developed. 2) (sometimes initial capital letterthe doctrine that the true story of the creation of the universe is as it is recounted in the Bible, esp. in the first chapter of Genesis.

Go onto any Intelligent Design website and search for the word “Creationism“.  You will find tons of comments about how ID is NOT creationism.  It’s important to realize, though; what they mean is that ID is not Young Earth Creationism.  Nevertheless, ID IS A FORM OF CREATIONISM.  It very specifically states that the creator designed life MUCH AS IT IS NOW, that the present day universe did not come about randomly.  

So while they pedantically argue that they’ve updated their science to avoid such embarassments as talking animals, a literal flood and a viable genetic population of two, it’s important to realize that the general definition of creationism certainly applies to intelligent design. 

Darwinism: “the Darwinian theory that species originate by descent, with variation, from parent forms, through the natural selection of those individuals best adapted for the reproductive success of their kind.”

Your average ID proponent will NEVER use the term “the modern synthesis”.  They will OCCASIONALLY call it “evolutionism” (NOT “evolution”), but will virtually always refer to the modern synthesis as “Darwinism”.  Furthermore, they will vigorously attack fundamentals of darwin’s theory like descent with modification and natural selection.  

However, they will pretty much ignore the advances in evolution since the time of Darwin.  This serves a very important purpose; to make evolution an “ism” instead of a science.  Into a personality cult, if you will.

This completely ignores that evolution is THE foundational cornerstone of modern genetics and biology.  It it is easy to compare Darwin to Newton and Einstein; his theory was revolutionary and helped create entire fields of science.  Make no mistake; evolution IS science, NOT “The cult of Darwinism”.  It is so widely accepted because it explains so much.

Here’s what is being done with the language: Creation theory is scientific, Darwinism is a personality cult that doesn’t deserve the title of science.  But if you look under the hood at both intelligent design and evolution you’ll find the exact opposite of this.  The advocates of intelligent design ARE Creationists.  Evolutionary theory IS science, just as much as physics, geology, and astronomy are science!  

The very nature of the vocabulary points back to the religious aspects of Intelligent Design.  The only explanation for the world is that an intelligent designer made complex life MUCH AS IT NOW IS.  OR…the best explanation is that simpler processes developed into more complex processes through descent with modification and survival of the more optimal genes.   Decide what you wish, but do no buy into the obfuscation, the former option is basically rebranded creationism and the later option is a wonderfully fecund scientific theory.

Five Things Religions Shouldn’t Do

I’ve been participating on the religious bulletins at amazon.com. There are some very intelligent people who hang out in the that forum, which I guess is not to surprising, as it is amazon. There are also some very dumb people. It’s quite fun!

All the discussions over there inspired me to write this amazing authoritative ideological masterpiece about what religions should not do. I know, I know, you can give me the Nobel Peace Prize later.

1) Holy War

Please, as a world, can we finally just decide that killing each other over religion is a really bad idea? These meme should not be difficult it spread, especially if the religious “Moral Majority” vocally denounce those in their group who advocate any type of religious violence.

2) Government

A good modern day example of why theocracies are a bad idea is Saudi Arabia. Christianity joined up with Rome within a few hundred years of its birth. Islam was a religion with political goals right from the start. Outside of that dynasties ruled as gods, going back to the earliest agricultural city-states. So the idea that religion should not be running governments is relatively new. There is a very good reason for this, though, and that leads to the next thing religions shouldn’t do.

3) Persecute

No religious group should ever persecute another religious group, ever, for any reason. Due to the traditionally hybrid nature of church and state, persecution of other religions became an excuse for invasion and war. See the genocide in Joshua for a pertinent example, but there are many others. But there is more to persecution than War. Ostracizing people, considering them second class citizens, telling them they are going to hell. You shouldn’t treat other people bad simply because they don’t believe your religion, or believe something weird. Persecution should not be allowed, including persecutions for religious reasons.

4) Science

Let’s face it, Science and Religion are always going too have an uneasy relationship. Myself, I’m a firm believer in NOMA. But it’s important to remember that the Catholic Church still has egg on its face for prosecuting Galileo. If fact, religion as a whole was discredited for that move, so they should be very careful when making claims that can be checked by Science. If you need an approximation of objective truth, use the scientific method. If you’re looking for meaning and purpose, philosophy and/or religion are your best bet.

5) Control Adherents:

I’ve been following the Anon vs. Scientology protests, and I’ve really been thinking about how much control people give to their religions. Many of them are so intertwined that it completely consumes their life, even coming before family and friends! In the “religious practices” meaning of the word, these behaviors mark the members of “cults”, where religious behavior is reflected in every single thing the adherent does, to reflect their complete devotion. This sort of control is NOT HEALTHY, and religions should not venerate this behavior, or require it. Other inputs are necessary to have a full and well-balanced view of the world.

We’d all be a lot better of if religions didn’t do these things. Anything else?

Wheaton College Professor Fired for Divorcing Wife

Wheaton College popped up in the news again.  A popular professor was fired because he would not talk about divorcing his wife with the school’s staff members.  There is a policy to determine if your divorce matches the exceptions provided by Matthew and Paul.  If not, then you can be let go.  In this case the professor was automatically let go, as it could not be determined whether his divorce was godly or not.

It’s hard to know how to respond to this.  Moral outrage is the first thing that comes mind, though I suspect those who created this rule felt justified by much the same emotion.  My biggest objection to this is the invasion of privacy.   I’m sure it was perfectly legal, but it seems there should be a much stronger limit to the powers of profit-driven companies, regardless of their motivation.  We find the limitations of government important for the health of human rights, we should apply similar limits to the corporations.

Wheaton College is interesting to me for a completely different reason; they mark a dividing line in the evangelical camp.  One one side you have scarily conservative colleges like Bob Jones University, were you are still taught Young Earth Creationism and biblical literalism coupled with biblical inerrancy.  On the other side you have Yale, Princeton, Harvard; evangelical colleges that “liberalized”, teaching evolution and higher criticism.  And in the middle you have Wheaton.

The students there are taught that there is no conflict between science and religion; between higher learning and faith in inerrant scripture.  In science classes they are taught about genetics and evolution, while in theology classes they are taught a literal interpretation of Genesis.  They are taught the scientific method, but are also taught that faith in Jesus is beyond question.

Tim George, student body president, had this say; “We just hate to see him go. . . . But we just don’t want to compromise the values that we hold.”  I really think this statement sums up the evangelical mindset very well.  To “compromise” or “doubt your values” is considered a negative thing.   All values are based on the Bible, and the Bible does not change.  Therefore you values should not change, except to become even more in line with scripture.

“How do we make sense of sin coming into this world if we evolved from apes?  So just one day an ape woke up and God decided ‘you are human now, and so I’m going to give you a soul that’s responsible to know right from wrong, and who my son Jesus Christ will die for…’…and then there’s the family trees in the Bible, they all go back to Adam.  So we seem to think that Adam was an actual person.”  Emi Hayashi, Biochemistry Major, Wheaton College.

It hard to understand what these students are going through, but Emi’s confusion above is probably quite common.  The potential for cognitive dissonance seems quite high.  The fact is, conservative Evangelical colleges had a decision to make between higher learning and biblical inerrancy a long time ago.  The ones that chose higher learning have far outpaced those who cling dogmatically to something that has been proven false over and over again.  We shall see which side Wheaton College eventually comes down on.  But hey, if they liberalize there’s always Bob Jones University!  Just don’t let your kids on the Internet, whatever you do.

BTW, Nova did an excellent and even handed documentary on this called “What about God?“, as part of their latest series on evolution.  The link above is to Google video; I highly recommend it.

Answers in Genesis: Part V – Philosophy and Morality

<–Intelligent Design Landing Page

As stated in the previous blog, Intelligent Design’s primary battle is against THE PHILOSOPHY of “Naturalism” and the PHILOSOPHY of moral relativism. To support this view with their own words, The Discovery Institute’s Wedge Document is liberally quoted in this blog.

“Debunking the traditional conceptions of both God and man, thinkers such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud portrayed humans not as moral and spiritual beings, but as animals or machines who inhabited a universe ruled by purely impersonal forces and whose behavior and very thoughts were dictated by the unbending forces of biology, chemistry, and environment.” Discovery Institute’s Wedge Strategy

Darwinism, Marxism, and Freudism (?) are apparently sources of moral decay. It’s funny how they refer to things by their founders name, instead of referring to the thing itself.

“Materialists denied the existence of objective moral standards, claiming that environment dictates our behavior and beliefs. Such moral relativism was uncritically adopted by much of the social sciences, and it still undergirds much of modern economics, political science, psychology and sociology.” Discovery Institute’s Wedge Strategy

By “materialism” they appear to aggregate elements of philosophy traditionally thought of as separate:

  • Dialectical Materialism
  • Survival of the Fittest
  • Psychotherapy
  • Scientific Naturalism
  • Metaphysical Naturalism
  • Cultural or Moral Relativism
  • Reductionism
  • Socialism
  • Utopianism
  • Social Darwinism

It’s interesting to note that virtually everything on here is related to politics, morality and philosophy. Even Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” idea is protested explicitly because of its philosophical and moral ramifications, NOT because of lack of scientific evidence for it.

“Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.” Discovery Institute’s Wedge Strategy

The Wedge Strategy represents the most honest Discovery Institute document to date. Where elsewhere phrased in more politically correct terms, here it is bluntly stated. To paraphrase, the Discovery Institutes purpose is to promote evidence that supports a THEISTIC understanding of the universe. I find it funny that the Discovery Institute was able to drop almost all Christian elements of Creationism, and yet they were still not able to get away from plain old Confirmation Bias. While this is acceptable in faith based systems, it is not acceptable in Science.

And There is an important point they are making. While the philosophy that best exemplifies the scientific method is “methodological naturalism”, this does not mean that science is the ultimate form of human experience. Believing ONLY in this philosophy negates much of what gives life meaning. Spirituality is important for psychological health. Art is crucial for the human soul. Ethics should be based on the will of the governed, and on justice. Morality should be based on experience, empathy, and the equality of all men. Human emotions like love, hope, and fear are best understood in a non-reductionist light. Consciousness is a higher order phenomenon that should be treasured.

“I think it’s an interesting part of knowledge [to have] a theory of evolution and a theory of creationism. People should be exposed to different points of view.” George W. Bush

Intelligent Design advocates object to what they call scientific materialism. The funny thing is, virtually everyone on the other side of the “battle” would agree with them on this. Those who practice science do not expect it to have all the answers, because it doesn’t. They turn to other things for meaning, including religion, family, art, community, philosophy, and even sporting events. There is no demon on either side; just normal people going about their lives, it’s just that some of use are “less superstitious” or “more secular”, depending on who’s describing the situation.

But to do science without practicing methodological naturalism is simply not honest, and does not work! Regardless of your personal beliefs, science demands rigor and confirmation. But by its very definition has a limited domain of knowledge available to it. To think that “this is all there is” demands as much a leap of faith as the one made by those who would force a Creator on science! So while the moral point is valid, their attack on a scientific discipline is ignorant and unnecessary.

“You got it backwards. Creationism is based upon science, reason and tons of evidence. Evolution is based on the blind acceptance of superstitions and fairy tales.” CRASH, Theology Online

And neither should G-d exist in the “gaps” of science, as if “He did it” is a good replacement for “I don’t know”. This is something ID supporters would have you believe; that the unsolved and weak sections of the Modern Synthesis are good indicators of a Creator. They should be very careful to claim these gaps for their own, science has a history of taking apart black boxes as quickly as possible.

“I often debate with evolutionists because I believe that they are narrow mindedly and dogmatically accepting evolution without questioning it. I don’t really care how God did what He did. I know He did it.” TexasSky, Christian Forums

It is deceptive to treat Intelligent Design as if it were a secular philosophy, because by definition it is not. In my next blog I will talk about the true source of Intelligent Design Creationism, the Christian Religion.

Answers In Genesis: Part IV – Intelligent Design

<–Intelligent Design Landing Page

There are many different religious philosophies that fall under the heading of Creationism. In my previous post, I focused on Young Earth Creationism, since that is the theology I am familiar with. But admittedly I’m foiling at windmills; It is very difficult to receive a higher education and continue to be a YEC. This applies not only to an education at a secular colleges, but also to mainstream Christian seminaries, both Protestant and Catholic.

The larger spectrum of Creationism is like a fractal, the closer you look the more intricate structures you find. But here’s a valid attempt at categorizing Post-Scientific Christian Origin Philosophies:

  • Evolutionary
  • “Nonoverlapping Magisteria”
  • Intelligent Design
  • Old Earth
  • Young Earth

Different categories of origin beliefs combine with religious belief in G-d and scripture:

  • Mysticism
  • Deism
  • Theism
  • Fundamentalism

For example, over at Reasons To Believe they are specifically Old Earth Creationists and Religious Fundamentalists. Speaking in generalities, most Catholics are Evolutionary or Old Earth Creationists and Theists. Mainstream Traditional Protestants tend to be Old Earth Creationists and Theists, Liberal Protestants tend to be Evolutionary Creationists, with many being Deists and many others being Theists. Of course there are many other combinations, exceptions, and contradictions to the categories above; it’s very complicated and everyone faith tradition is a little different.

Intelligent Design, the new kid on the Creationist’s block, is very similar to Evolutionary Creationism, but differs by denying the “randomness” of adaptation. To get technical, evolution theory states that the primary causal agent of adaptation is “genetic survival determined by ecological fitness landscape”. Intelligent Design accepts this causal agent as generally valid, so in this regard it offers no challenge to evolution. But ID further insists that “natural selection” alone could not produce the diversity observed in our biosphere. Instead ID proponents argue that the the best explanation involves an Intelligent Designer of some sort.

“The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

In many ways, this is a strong improvement over your father’s Creationism. Its does not insist in Theism, Deism, or mysticism, for the ID in question could any of those, or even a powerful but not omnipotent being. It does not insist fundamentalist ideology, like a young earth or a literal reading of Genesis. And although it interprets it differently, It affirms the overwhelming evidence that evolution took place. Most importantly, Instead of scriptural authority it uses logical reasoning, statistics, and empirical evidence to support its position. For these reasons and many others, Intelligent Design would be welcomed by scientists everywhere as a religious philosophy that is more compatible with Science than many previous ones.

“I for one welcome our new alien overlords” Internet Meme

But Intelligent Design proponents are not happy with this new stripped down Creationism being called “theology” or even “philosophy”. The Discovery Institute believes that ID is completely scientific because it is based on empirical observations, statistical mathematics, and logical reasoning. And by removing all culture specific aspects of Creationism, they claim historical and popular support for this hypothesis, even in more educated circles.

This is the part that upsets most people, myself included. All things are not equal in science. On one side you’ve something affirmed by impacting biology, genetics, geology, mathematics, computer science, and countless other arts. And it makes further predictions about phenomena in all these fields. On the other side you’ve got a small handful of peer reviewed articles, plus some Christian Apologetics books supporting the idea. Not really a fair fight, but more on that later. And besides, even if we did find an Intelligent Creator, the most obvious SCIENTIFIC question to come next would be “Who created the creator?” regress ad-infinitum, if ID is the answer.

The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built.” ID Wedge Strategy

Here’s what most of ID’s detractors (and many supporters) miss; scientific modification of the Modern Synthesis is not Intelligent Design’s primary goal. This part of the Discovery Institutes game is for stirring up controversy and publicity. In th end it’s not important that supernatural events be evoked during the scientific process; that is a means to an end. By their own “Wedge Strategy” the real fight is against is THE PHILOSOPHY of “Naturalism” and the PHILOSOPHY of Moral Relativism. They have a point here, but more on that later.

There are many in the US who think Creationism should be taught in public schools, and I actually agree with them. Intelligent Design, Young Earth Creationism, Old Earth Creationism, Evolutionary Creationism; all have a valid place in our educational system; under both philosophy and religious studies. Putting this in social sciences classrooms also makes sense, when talking about the different philosophies of science and how they impact culture. But putting ID in a biology classroom is a big mistake, both for science and for religion.

Answers in Genesis: Part III – Creationism (Young Earth)

<–Intelligent Design Landing Page

The basic premise of the monotheistic religion is the existence and pervasiveness of YHWH. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Using simple deductive reasoning this omnipotent and omniscient being has also credited with being the Creator. This is a cornerstone of faith for a good majority of religious people on the planet, from the hardliners in Saudi Arabia to the gentle Quakers in Pennsylvania, all affirm the presence and necessity of God for the very existence of the universe and life.

Among this larger group of “Creationists”, there is a very vocal and large group of American Christians who claim that their Genesis interpretation is not only good theology, but that it’s also good science. My favorite site is called answersingenesis.org, to whom the title of this blog series pays tongue in cheek homage. They let it all hang out at Answers.

“Creationism — that is, the idea that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years” Gallup, 2007. 66% of Americans affirmed this belief.

To quote the site: “Believing in a relatively ‘young Earth’ (i.e., only a few thousands of years old, which we accept) is a consequence of accepting the authority of the Word of God as an infallible revelation from our omniscient Creator.” (Ken Ham) Young Earth Creationist makes a scientific claim primarily based on faith in literal scriptural infallibiity. This is at the very core of the motivation behind the Evolution debate.

As a child and young adult I was taught very typical Evangelical religious doctrine. The Genealogies in Genesis 5 were presented as clear evidence that the Bible explicitly states the creation of everything look place around 4,000-10,000 BC. This was regardless of heurmanetics, as no allegory could be claimed for what was so clearly meant to be factual.

“Then God said, ‘Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.” Genesis 1:9

While the Garden of Eden or Seven Days could be interpreted as allegory, accepting its literal truth was important because of the Protestant dogma of original sin. The essentially states that the main reason Jesus came was to die for the sins of Adam and Eve and all their decendants. Only by believing in Jesus’ death and resurrection can anyone enter into God’s Kingdom. Only by having a literal creation and Garden of Eden could the original Protestant story make sense.

These are the primary reasons that Young Earth Creationism is still popular today. It is not evidence from the fossil record or genetics, or the lack of evidence supporting Evolution. It is because of religious belief.

Being a willful and curious child, I had many questions about what I was begin taught. Another dogma was that no shred of evidence against unlimited literal infallibility had ever been found. Nothing in science, history, politics, ethics, etc. would contradict properly interpreted scripture.

“the past history of our globe must be explained by what can be seen to be happening now … No powers are to be employed that are not natural to the globe, no action to be admitted except those of which we know the principle.” James Hutton, Father of Biology.

What I found was not what I expected. I had been warned that some people would claim that there was evidence that contradicted scripture, but that in the long run the Bible would hold up. It was explicitly stated that the burden of proof was on those who denied scripture, not on those who believed.

In the end, I concluded that no evidence had ever been found against literal scripture Interpretation because of an acute form of Confirmation Bias. For those who have eyes to see, the evidence supporting Higher Criticism is overwhelming. The evidence supporting a historical-grammatical approach to scripture is overwhelming.

Furthermore, there is not a single branch of science that has found evidence of a literal young earth. This is stunning when you consider how almost all scientists originally took the factuality of Genesis for granted. But in the end the evidence was so strong that it overcame this very powerful bias.

Believing in a young Earth today would be like living in 1850 and believing the Earth is the center of the SolarSystem. But what are good orthodox Evangelicals supposed to think about all this? Could they have possibly been wrong?

In my next blog I will talk about Creationism’s reputable step-child, Intelligent Design.

PostScript: Reading over this post, I realized I’d barely touched the surface of Young Earth Creationism. For those looking for more information, I recommend the Wikipedia article on YEC as a good place to start. I would furthermore refer you to the reference material on my “Answers in Genesis” landing page.