Skip to comments.Creationism: God's gift to the ignorant (Religion bashing alert)
Posted on 05/25/2005 3:41:22 AM PDT by billorites
Science feeds on mystery. As my colleague Matt Ridley has put it: Most scientists are bored by what they have already discovered. It is ignorance that drives them on. Science mines ignorance. Mystery that which we dont yet know; that which we dont yet understand is the mother lode that scientists seek out. Mystics exult in mystery and want it to stay mysterious. Scientists exult in mystery for a very different reason: it gives them something to do.
Admissions of ignorance and mystification are vital to good science. It is therefore galling, to say the least, when enemies of science turn those constructive admissions around and abuse them for political advantage. Worse, it threatens the enterprise of science itself. This is exactly the effect that creationism or intelligent design theory (ID) is having, especially because its propagandists are slick, superficially plausible and, above all, well financed. ID, by the way, is not a new form of creationism. It simply is creationism disguised, for political reasons, under a new name.
It isnt even safe for a scientist to express temporary doubt as a rhetorical device before going on to dispel it.
To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. You will find this sentence of Charles Darwin quoted again and again by creationists. They never quote what follows. Darwin immediately went on to confound his initial incredulity. Others have built on his foundation, and the eye is today a showpiece of the gradual, cumulative evolution of an almost perfect illusion of design. The relevant chapter of my Climbing Mount Improbable is called The fortyfold Path to Enlightenment in honour of the fact that, far from being difficult to evolve, the eye has evolved at least 40 times independently around the animal kingdom.
The distinguished Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin is widely quoted as saying that organisms appear to have been carefully and artfully designed. Again, this was a rhetorical preliminary to explaining how the powerful illusion of design actually comes about by natural selection. The isolated quotation strips out the implied emphasis on appear to, leaving exactly what a simple-mindedly pious audience in Kansas, for instance wants to hear.
The deceitful misquoting of scientists to suit an anti-scientific agenda ranks among the many unchristian habits of fundamentalist authors. But such Telling Lies for God (the book title of the splendidly pugnacious Australian geologist Ian Plimer) is not the most serious problem. There is a more important point to be made, and it goes right to the philosophical heart of creationism.
The standard methodology of creationists is to find some phenomenon in nature which Darwinism cannot readily explain. Darwin said: If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. Creationists mine ignorance and uncertainty in order to abuse his challenge. Bet you cant tell me how the elbow joint of the lesser spotted weasel frog evolved by slow gradual degrees? If the scientist fails to give an immediate and comprehensive answer, a default conclusion is drawn: Right, then, the alternative theory; intelligent design wins by default.
Notice the biased logic: if theory A fails in some particular, theory B must be right! Notice, too, how the creationist ploy undermines the scientists rejoicing in uncertainty. Todays scientist in America dare not say: Hm, interesting point. I wonder how the weasel frogs ancestors did evolve their elbow joint. Ill have to go to the university library and take a look. No, the moment a scientist said something like that the default conclusion would become a headline in a creationist pamphlet: Weasel frog could only have been designed by God.
I once introduced a chapter on the so-called Cambrian Explosion with the words: It is as though the fossils were planted there without any evolutionary history. Again, this was a rhetorical overture, intended to whet the readers appetite for the explanation. Inevitably, my remark was gleefully quoted out of context. Creationists adore gaps in the fossil record.
Many evolutionary transitions are elegantly documented by more or less continuous series of changing intermediate fossils. Some are not, and these are the famous gaps. Michael Shermer has wittily pointed out that if a new fossil discovery neatly bisects a gap, the creationist will declare that there are now two gaps! Note yet again the use of a default. If there are no fossils to document a postulated evolutionary transition, the assumption is that there was no evolutionary transition: God must have intervened.
The creationists fondness for gaps in the fossil record is a metaphor for their love of gaps in knowledge generally. Gaps, by default, are filled by God. You dont know how the nerve impulse works? Good! You dont understand how memories are laid down in the brain? Excellent! Is photosynthesis a bafflingly complex process? Wonderful! Please dont go to work on the problem, just give up, and appeal to God. Dear scientist, dont work on your mysteries. Bring us your mysteries for we can use them. Dont squander precious ignorance by researching it away. Ignorance is Gods gift to Kansas.
Richard Dawkins, FRS, is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, at Oxford University. His latest book is The Ancestors Tale
So how does that verse disagree with sciences understanding of the solar system accreting from interstellar dust and gas?
If it rains, you would say that "God brought the rain". You would be right.
But I might choose to say that moisture condensed out of the air in the low pressure system, and I would be right as well.
The Bible does not disagree with science. Only your interpretation of it does.
Why I bookmarked the original.
That would be because of the lies told by creationists. Do you worship the Lord of Lies?
Out of context quotes are lies.
Good point...and it was the church who told them the earth was round!
Maybe He got it right the first time. If He's supposed to be all-powerful, I'd allow for that.
It was about the time of Aristotle. He would not have had to argue the fact if it was believed to be round. Science grows and learns.
So, Professor Dawkins, if you should encounter this thread, I salute you!
Really? Like what? Suggest a fruitful research project to me.
Oh, really? Please tell me what my interpretation is.
Seems as how SO's were pretty rare in pre development days, nearly non-existent. They live in trees, and hunt best in open fields where they can catch critters for dinner.
But when loggers started clearcutting, the SO population went up considerably, because there were now more fields for them to hunt in, and THEN they were discovered by enviros who made the point that they lived in large trees, not in clearcut fields.
The point is that loggers actually caused the population of Spotted Owls to grow, not decline.
Result - enviros have shut their trap on Spotted Owls.
Is there any evidence supporting the theory of gravitation that would make it a "law"?
Of course. Thanks for helping out with what was going to be my next post (and I had no idea how to word it).
My original point is that there is no way for evolution to become a "law", as defined by creationists. They will always have questions, and that, in their mind, will invalidate the "law".
would that not be teaching by example? considering how the important the 6 days of work and 1 day of rest is through-out the bible.
The conspiracy theory of salvation--I love it.
Which lies are those? And I'm not talking about random anonymous statements on fly-by-night websites. I'm talking about published evolution critics like Johnson, Behe, Dembski, etc.
Out of context quotes are lies.
No published author in the ID movement has quoted Dawkins out of context. They have pointed out where his stated views conflict with some of his observations.
Indeed it is-- it was one of the first books of the bible that I read, and I love it. It helped inspire me to read the rest of the bible, and I can't tell you how glad I am that I did that. Modern Christians (with the possible exception of the Baptists) don't read and study the bible nearly enough-- I was raised Episcopalian, confirmed at 12, and I can tell you that I got hardly any exposure to it at all. I didn't read much of it until many years later, in my mid-twenties, when I went back to college and studied English literature. My seventeenth-century poetry class focused mostly on John Donne, Andrew Marvell, George Herbert and Richard Crashaw, and let me tell you, you can't read those guys without a background in the bible. But I never got around to reading the whole thing until this past year or so, and I just finished the last of it a couple of weeks ago.
Theories never become laws. Theories will always be theories. They are two different things. For example, it once was thought that the law of gravity was an accurate universal description of gravity. Once a THEORY of gravity (better known as the general theory of relativity) was formulated, however, it was realized that the law of gravity isn't accurate in some situations. Basically, this is an example of a theory replacing a law. The problem is poor science education. I am aware that many incompetent science teachers have promulgated the notion that ideas in science progress from hypothesis to theory to law, but that is utterly false. The reality is that theories and laws are different types of ideas. In a nutshell, laws describe phenomena, theories explain them. What scientists actually strive for are theories, not laws.
First please fact check my post #108(you seem to be much more knowledgeable on science). Second, if I understand your post you are somewhat supporting my point that science is often man's best guess. Most of the time it is right but it could be wrong.
I believe the appropriate answer is "it's turtles the whole way down".
"That does not mean further investigation will not make it necessary to revise the theory in light of new evidence. We search for objective truth and are not slave to any particular theory."
Exactly, that is the most scientific statement I have read on this subject for a long time.
If both evolutionist scientists and creationist scientists approached the subject matter with this degree of detachment, the science all round would be better, and it would also progress at a greater rate.
Who's "He"? Thor? Mohammed? Mormoni? Buddha? So many have given so much ... how does one choose? By what they were taught at a young & impressionable age?
I thought that six days of work and one day of rest derived its importance from creation, not that it was important in and of itself. The notion of the sabbath comes from God's day of rest.
It is one thing to believe in evolution, it is quite another to blame God for it. Not only is theistic evolution a contradiction in terms -- like the phrase flaming snowflakes -- but as we have seen, it is also the cruelest, most inefficient system for creation imaginable...
Does God have to make millions of mistakes along the way to have fellowship with you and me?
Well, that's certainly an odd take on the issue. You seem to be endorsing a view that God could not possibly have been responsible for an evolutionary process that resulted in the cruelty and inefficiency we actually observe in nature. Instead, God must have purposefully manipulated all of the minutia of organic matter into ... um ... the cruelty and inefficiency we actually observe in nature.
then would you allow that he could communicate to us his likeness? maybe even teach to us by example by lowering himself to a human form?
well I got you to except the four words of creation "it was very good" part of the bible,hahaha, phew got to take a rest. the fall through resurection will most likely be a bit tougher.
Agreed. And this brings up a bigger point. If you look at the "research" the creationists do, it ALL involves proving the evolutionists wrong. None of it is original research on their part. How do you "prove" God created the universe? You can't, it's an article of faith.
If by "heaven" one means universe, no problem.
I continuing issue I have is that God was not writing a textbook, nor was He addressing a scientific convention, yet many expect His words to be interpreted as if He were.
Okay? So show me my interpretation that does not agree with science. Otherwise, it is your interpretation of my use of biblical quotes which is at variance with science. The fact that I think Darwinism is insufficient to the task for which it purports to suffice is not a biblical interpretation.
Yet they have $25 million for a museum.
Actually, it was widely known in ancient Greece that the earth was round. Erastothanes actually measured the circumference of the earth to a surprisingly high degree of accuracy considering the technology available at the time. The belief in a round earth persisted for most of the history of western civilization, at least among the educated. It was really only the uneducated masses during the middle ages who believed in a flat earth. However, none of that has anything to do with science or what scientists believed. There was really nothing resembling science in ancient Greece or medieval Europe. By the time science became well established, there was little debate (I can't state that there was none since there are still flat-earthers around today) about whether or not the earth was round.
Christians are being blamed for pollution? That's one I haven't heard before. (Seems like the desperate victimology of certain sects is resulting in some pretty imaginative persecutions.)
You seem to have read what I wrote with your expectations.
Man is imperfect. Correct?
...just as belief in de novo creation of mankind had to change when man learned differently.
If scientist much more knowledgeable than me were so certain of evolution it would be scientific law not scientific theory.
With all due respect, this is complete nonsense. Laws and theories are two different things in science. Theories never get "promoted" to laws. The fact that something is a theory and not a law says absolutely nothing about the degree of confidence in it.
Here's a good overview of the distinction (from http://evolution.mbdojo.com/theory.html):
Speaking of creationist distortions, note how often the creationist websites and books use the "just a theory" or "hasn't been promoted to a law yet, so there" fallacies. The creationist writers either don't know any better (despite this being a very elementary scientific concept) or do know better and are misrepresenting the case -- and neither option inspires confidence.
But it's "JUST a THEORY"
Copyright 1999 by Ken Harding
[last update August 24, 1999]
This is such a common complaint about evolution that it deserves a page of it's own. This comment is born out of misuse of the word theory. People who make statements like: "But it's only a theory; it's not a scientific law," or "It's a theory, not a fact," don't really know the meanings of the words their using.
Theory does not mean guess, or hunch, or hypothesis. A theory does not change into a scientific law with the accumulation of new or better evidence. A theory will always be a theory, a law will always be a law. A theory will never become a law, and a law never was a theory.
The following definitions, based on information from the National Academy of Sciences, should help anyone understand why evolution is not "just a theory."
A scientific law is a description of an observed phenomenon. Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion are a good example. Those laws describe the motions of planets. But they do not explain why they are that way. If all scientists ever did was to formulate scientific laws, then the universe would be very well-described, but still unexplained and very mysterious.
A theory is a scientific explanation of an observed phenomenon. Unlike laws, theories actually explain why things are the way they are. Theories are what science is for. If, then, a theory is a scientific explanation of a natural phenomena, ask yourself this: "What part of that definition excludes a theory from being a fact?" The answer is nothing! There is no reason a theory cannot be an actual fact as well.
For example, there is the phenomenon of gravity, which you can feel. It is a fact that you can feel it, and that bodies caught in a gravitational field will fall towards the center. Then there is the theory of gravity, which explains the phenomenon of gravity, based on observation, physical evidence and experiment. Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity replaced the less accurate gravity theory of Sir Isaac Newton, which was the first complete mathematical theory formulated which described a fundamental force.
There is the modern theory of evolution, neo-darwinism. It is a synthesis of many scientific fields (biology, population genetics, paleontology, embryology, geology, zoology, microbiology, botany, and more). It replaces darwinism, which replaced lamarckism, which replaced the hypotheses of Erasmus Darwin (Charles' grandfather), which expanded the ideas of Georges de Buffon, which in turn expanded upon the classification of Karl von Linne. (see also: Darwin's Precursors and Influences)
So there is the theory of evolution. Then there is the FACT of evolution. Species change-- there is variation within one kind of animal. There is a predictable range of genetic variation in a species, as well as an expected rate of random mutations. Creationists readily admit that a "kind" (an ambiguous, non-scientific term) can develop into different species (i.e. a dog "kind" can evolve into wolves, coyotes, foxes, and all types of domestic dogs) but they insist that it must stop there. They never give any reason for this fabricated limitation-- they just deny that it can happen. They just can't accept macroevolution, because it contradicts the "truth" of their dogma. But in reality, there is no limit to the degree that a species can change. Given enough time, a fish-like species can evolve into a amphibian-like species, an amphibian-like species can evolve into a reptilian-like species, a reptilian-like species can evolve into a mammalian-like species, and an ape-like species can evolve into the modern human species.
The process (simply stated) involves the genetic potential of many different types of individuals within a species, the birth of a great many individual organisms, and the deaths of those individuals whose characteristics are not as well suited to the total environment as other individuals of the same species. The deaths of these less well suited individuals allows for the increased reproduction of the better suited ones, which initiates a shift in the appearance and function of the species. Without limitation. There is more genetic stuff to it than that, but that is basically how it works.
Yes, evolution is a fact, as real as gravity. The fact that all species alive today have descended from a common ancestor can be denied, but not refuted. We know it happens because we can observe it directly in short-lived species, and for longer lived species there is genetic and fossil evidence that is unambiguous. There is no other scientific explanation for the diversity of living species. Evolution is a very well established scientific concept with a massive amount of physical evidence for support. It is not a guess. Evolution is the basis of modern biology, and universities and laboratories across the world are engaged in research that explores evolution.
You don't have to 'believe' in evolution. You can trust that the thousands of scientists who study this phenomenon aren't morons, or Satanists. You can accept the general idea that life propagates with modifications, and those modifications can lead to improved survival, and that as those modifications are passed over time, many modifications can lead to a species that looks very different from its predecessor. Is that so hard to accept?
I have no faith at all in evolution. (I also have no faith in algebra, chemistry or astronomy). Evolution either stands or falls by the strength of the evidence used to substantiate it. Evolutionary biology relies on factual data, physical evidence, molecular experimentation, and it goes hand in hand with geology.
Some people can say "Well, scientists weren't there... they don't know what happened. It's still faith." But that is mere blind objectionism, like an ostrich hiding its head in the sand. There are real reasons behind the science of reconstructing the past. My favorite analogy is forensic science. A man can murder someone (with no witnesses), and scientists can reconstruct the scene with such accuracy as to pinpoint the guilty person-- with such accuracy as to cause that man to receive the death penalty. For example, most Americans are convinced of O.J. Simpson's guilt... even though no one was there to see him do it. The situation with evolution is much the same-- reconstructing the past through examination of the evidence. It's true that not every theory withstands the test of time and goes on to be considered a fact by nearly all of the scientific community, but evolution is one that has.
See also: Evolution is a Fact and a Theory
This is the statement from the National Academy of Science:
Is Evolution a fact or a theory?
The theory of evolution explains how life on earth has changed. In scientific terms, "theory" does not mean "guess" or "hunch" as it does in everyday usage. Scientific theories are explanations of natural phenomena built up logically from testable observations and hypotheses. Biological evolution is the best scientific explanation we have for the enormous range of observations about the living world. Scientists most often use the word "fact" to describe an observation. But scientists can also use fact to mean something that has been tested or observed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing or looking for examples. The occurrence of evolution in this sense is a fact. Scientists no longer question whether descent with modification occurred because the evidence supporting the idea is so strong.
Why isn't evolution called a law?
Laws are generalizations that describe phenomena, whereas theories explain phenomena. For example, the laws of thermodynamics describe what will happen under certain circumstances; thermodynamics theories explain why these events occur. Laws, like facts and theories, can change with better data. But theories do not develop into laws with the accumulation of evidence. Rather, theories are the goal of science.
Creationist sources are *very* poor places to try to "learn" about science of any sort. They fail to understand a lot of it, and misrepresent most of the rest.
True, but the real problem with creationism is "How do you prove that God didn't create the universe?" The answer is you can't. The basic premise of creationism is unfalsifiable and hence untestable. Since it is untestable it cannot form the basis for a scientific theory, which by definition must be testable.
I don't need any, the word speaks for itself. I choose to believe it is true. Also I believe God wouldn't inspire it to be written only to let it be incorrect in what it says. Think about it - 66 books, 40 different authors, written over a period of 2000 years and all in perfect harmony. It is so kool, Shalom
PS. consider the sacrifice story and wedding of Isaac in Genesis, it reveals the whole of eternal truth of the entire bible!
Anyone who wants to know more can write me ... firstname.lastname@example.org
Hebraic Hills Ministry
I can't state that there was none since there are still flat-earthers around today)
I may not be the top card on the deck but I think we can put them in the uneducated masses category as well.
May I quote you that creationist websites that quote out of contex are lying? And the Freepers who quote the random anonymous websites?
Johnson, etc, may or may not quote out of context, but they engage in another form of lying. They republish refuted and worthless arguments as if 200 years of criticism of ID had never happened.
What "creationist scientists"? I've only seen publications attempting to tear down evolution using research done by scientists that support evolution.
Read the quote from ICR that I think PatrickHenry posted near the start of this thread. They admit outright they do no research, but merely search the scientific literature for snippets that support their prejudice.
They claim it is from lack of funding. But I think rather that there just isn't any scientific proof to be found of God, or that He created the universe.
You would have thought they could find something. Any affirmative evidence whatever, to support their cause. But they've totally struck out. All they can do is criticize science, and offer no theory to replace evolution except "God did it".
"Evolution is science, and is based on "objective study of verifiable phenomena""
No, its not. Evolution is a theory of how organisms develop which postulates that one species can transform into another. Evolutionary scientists look for scientific data which seem to support their theory.
OTOH creationists look for scientific data which seem to support their theory - i.e. that all species were created as they are and that one species does not develop or arise from another one.
Because followers of both camps have an a priori commitment to their respective theories, both are guilty of ignoring data which conflict with their theories and both will interpret data in a manner which supports their theories.
It is the accumulation of the data which is the science, and it is the interpretation of the data which is theoretical. Because both theories relate to events that either happened in the distant past and/or take place over such extended spans of time that they are not observable, then they are both destined to be forever relegated to the realm of theory as opposed to fact.
"Maybe He got it right the first time. If He's supposed to be all-powerful, I'd allow for that"
"it was very good"
didn't seem that big of a strech, a little attempt at humor that failed. oh well.
Please do not feed the troll. It adds nothing to the discussion, and adds quite a few red herrings.
Quote this: it is a common practice on FR, sadly, to quote from facts-challenged websites routinely.
Particularly on anything having to do with religion and history.
Evolution critics are far from the only or most prominent offenders in this regard.
Johnson, etc, may or may not quote out of context, but they engage in another form of lying. They republish refuted and worthless arguments as if 200 years of criticism of ID had never happened.
I don't think that republishing arguments that you do not believe to have been refuted is "lying" by any stretch of the word.
You seem to have a very narrow view of science. According to your view, the laws of themodynamics are not science. After all, they rely on interpretation and not accumulation of data. Or do you honestly believe that it is possible to observe temperature or heat without making interpretations? All you can observe without interpretation is that the liquid level rises in the tube you claim to be using to measure the temperature. It is interpretation to say that there's some property called temperature that results in the rise of the liquid. Similarly, it's interpretation to say that there's some type of energy that is transferred from hot to cold bodies which we call heat. All you can observe without interpretation is that if you hold a long, liquid filled tube against a hot body, the liquid level rises and if you hold it against a cold body the liquid level falls. If you allow the two bodies to contact each other, then put the tube against them, the liquid level will be intermediate between the originally observed levels. Anything else is interpretation, and hence not science according to your view.
For that matter, where is the direct observation of God occurred?
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