Skip to comments.What Are Creationists Afraid Of?
Posted on 01/26/2006 1:47:10 PM PST by jennyp
Third, complexity does not imply design. One of Adam Smiths most powerful insights, developed further by Friedrich Hayek, is that incredible complexity can emerge in society without a designer or planner, through spontaneous order. Hayek showed how in a free market the complex processes of producing and distributing goods and services to millions of individuals do not require socialist planners. Rather, individuals pursuing their own self-interest in a system governed by a few basic rulesproperty rights, voluntary exchange by contracthave produced all the vast riches of the Western world.
Many creationists who are on the political Right understand the logic of this insight with respect to economic complexity. Why, then, is it such a stretch for them to appreciate that the complexity we find in the physical worldthe optic nerve, for examplecan emerge over millions of years under the rule of natural laws that govern genetic mutations and the adaptability of life forms to changing environments? It is certainly curious that many conservative creationists do not appreciate that the same insights that show the futility of a state-designed economy also show the irrelevance of an intelligently designed universe.
Evolution: A Communist Plot?
Yet another fear causes creationists to reject the findings of science.
Many early proponents of science and evolution were on the political Left. For example, the Humanist Manifesto of 1933 affirmed support for evolution and the scientific approach. But its article fourteen stated: The humanists are firmly convinced that existing acquisitive and profit-motivated society has shown itself to be inadequate and that a radical change in methods, controls, and motives must be instituted. A socialized and cooperative economic order must be established to the end that the equitable distribution of the means of life be possible.
Subsequent humanist manifestos in 1973 and 2000 went lighter on the explicit socialism but still endorsed, along with a critical approach to knowledge, the kind of welfare-state democracy and internationalism rejected by conservatives. The unfortunate historical association of science and socialism is based in part on the erroneous conviction that if humans can use scientific knowledge to design machines and technology, why not an entire economy?
Further, many supporters of evolution were or appeared to be value-relativists or subjectivists. For example, Clarence Darrow, who defended Scopes in the monkey trial eight decades ago, also defended Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. These two young amoralists pictured themselves as supermen above conventional morality; they decided to commit the perfect crime and killed a fourteen-year-old boy. Darrow offered the jury the standard liberal excuses for the atrocity. He argued that the killers were under the influence of Nietzschean philosophy, and that to give them the death penalty would hurt their surviving families. I am pleading for life, understanding, charity, kindness, and the infinite mercy that considers all, he said. I am pleading that we overcome cruelty with kindness and hatred with love. This is the sort of abrogation of personal responsibility, denial of moral culpability, and rejection of the principle of justice that offends religious conservativesin fact, every moral individual, religious or atheist.
In addition, nearly all agnostics and atheists accept the validity of evolution. Creationists, as religious fundamentalists, therefore see evolution and atheism tied together to destroy the basis of morality. For one thing, evolution seems to erase the distinction between humans and animals. Animals are driven by instincts; they are not responsible for their actions. So we dont blame cats for killing mice, lions for killing antelope, or orca whales for killing seals. Its what they do. They follow instincts to satisfy urges to eat and procreate. But if human beings evolved from lower animals, then we might be merely animalsand so there would be no basis for morality. In which case, anything goes.
To religious fundamentalists, then, agnostics and atheists must be value-relativists and subjectivists. Whether they accept evolution because they reject a belief in God, or reject a belief in God because they accept evolution, is immaterial: the two beliefs are associated, just as are creationism and theism. By this view, the only firm basis for morality is the divine edicts of a god.
This reflects the creationists fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of morality.
Morality from Mans Nature
We humans are what we are today regardless of whether we evolved, were created, or were intelligently designed. We have certain characteristics that define our nature.
We are Homo sapiens. Unlike lower animals, we have a rational capacity, an ability to fully, conceptually understand the world around us. We are self-conscious. We are the animal that knowsand knows that he knows. We do not survive automatically, by instinct, but must exercise the virtue of rationality. We must think. We must discover how to acquire foodthrough hunting or plantinghow to make shelters, how to invent medicines. And to acquire such knowledge, we must adopt a rational methodology: science.
Furthermore, our thinking does not occur automatically. We have free will and must choose to think, to focus our minds, to be honest rather than to evade facts that make us uncomfortableevolution, for examplebecause reality is what it is, whether we like it or acknowledge it or not.
But we humans do not exercise our minds and our wills for mere physical survival. We have a capacity for a joy and flourishing far beyond the mere sensual pleasures experienced by lower animals. Such happiness comes from planning our long-term goals, challenging ourselves, calling on the best within us, and achieving those goalswhether we seek to nurture a business to profitability or a child to adulthood, whether we seek to create a poem or a business plan, whether we seek to design a building or to lay the bricks for its foundation.
But our most important creation is our moral character, the habits and attitudes that govern our actions. A good character helps us to be happy, a bad one guarantees us misery. And what guides us in creating such a character? What tells us how we should deal with our fellow humans?
A code of values, derived from our nature and requirements as rational, responsible creatures possessing free will.
We need not fear that with evolution, or without a god, there is no basis for ethics. There is an objective basis for ethics, but it does not reside in the heavens. It arises from our own human nature and its objective requirements.
Creationists and advocates of intelligent design come to their beliefs in part through honest errors and in part from evasions of facts and close-minded dogmatism. But we should appreciate that one of their motivations might be a proper rejection of value-relativism, and a mistaken belief that acceptance of divine revelation is the only moral alternative.
If we can demonstrate to them that the basis for ethics lies in our nature as rational, volitional creatures, then perhaps we can also reassure them that men can indeed have moralityyet never fear to use that wondrous capacity which allows us to understand our own origins, the world around us, and the moral nature within us.
Edward Hudgins is the Executive Director of The Objectivist Center.
I've been harping on this point in these parts for years. It's good to see a "real" Objectivist writer get the argument into print.
"Hayek showed how in a free market the complex processes of producing and distributing goods and services to millions of individuals do not require socialist planners."
But it doesn't happen without someone doing something. Same with creation.
"Creationists and advocates of intelligent design come to their beliefs in part through honest errors and in part from evasions of facts and close-minded dogmatism."
one could ask what are Evolutionists afraid of in letting the Theory of ID and or Creation, be exhibited?
LOL....creationist fear? I don't think so. I fear God alone.
I think both ping lists would benefit from this one.
Good post Jenny...
Otherwise known as Faith
"What Are Creationists Afraid Of?"
That you will go to Hell. We don't want you to.
So you require a five year plan. I get it.
Creationism and ID aren't theories, they are opinions.
If you think this outcome requires no intelligence, why don't growing, wealthy economies spring up from schools of fish, or swarms of bees?
The complex, sophisticated results of a vibrant economy are the result of intelligent, voluntary participation in transactions viewed as beneficial by all involved parties.
Score one for intelligent design.
I don't see how this advances the debate at all. Perhaps someone can explin it to me.
Here's my take on it--any economic system, whether centrally managed, designed and run or not--requires intelligence and conscious desires of the individual to be met. Hence the individuals are acting in conscious selfishness in order to improve one's economic standing.
Evolution (from my understanding) hypothosises that unconscious bits of chemicals can manipulate themselves and their surroundings for selfish reasons. There is no intelligence governing the first stages of evolution, either centrally, or individually.
I think what really motivates most anti-evolutionists is a fear of having to defend the Bible as a less than perfect book. Thye see a slippery slope where if they admit the world was not created in 7 days, then the commandment against adultery is equally suspect.
I was a Baptist back when they still believed in dinosaurs. The anti-evolution crowd shows what happens when the hard-core fundamentalists take over an institution or movement.
Conservatives should take heed and perpetually examine their own beliefs and credos. (Like me!)
parsy, the vain.
It appears you get it!
It'll be a long night! LOL
So teach them both.
then so is evolution.
This is perhapst the most idiotic evolution piece of I've ever read. The analogy of the market to evolution is so absurd, I can't believe someone would actually publish it before realizing "gee, that's really lame". If this is the best the evolutionists can do, they are really grasping.
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