Modern science hasn’t been kind to the Babylonian view of things which was the general understanding of those who wrote the Old Testament. As a result, so-called creation scientists have developed an elaborate and thoroughly silly mythological “science” of their own. A typical ploy, as we described here: Creationism and Science, is explained by Ken Ham himself, who said:
Operation science uses the so-called “scientific method” to attempt to discover truth, performing observable, repeatable experiments in a controlled environment to find patterns of recurring behavior in the present physical universe.
Origin science attempts to discover truth by examining reliable eyewitness testimony (if available); and circumstantial evidence, such as pottery, fossils, and canyons. Because the past cannot be observed directly, assumptions greatly affect how these scientists interpret what they see.
What ol’ Hambo is getting at is the well-known fact that some sciences are known as “historical sciences.” That’s a description of their subject matter, because they study past events. There are many historical sciences, such as cosmology, geology, climatology, plate tectonics, anthropology, paleontology, and of course evolution. This is in contrast to the “experimental sciences” like chemistry, that can be mostly conducted with lab experiments. Although historical events can’t be re-created in the lab, historical sciences are indeed scientific, because they’re based on verifiable observations and they produce theories are testable.
But creationists need to make a sharp distinction between the two. With the findings of “origin science” alleged to be in doubt, creation scientists can indulge in a bizarre form of apologetics. Here are a few examples:
• Do radiometric dating methods show that the Earth is old? No problem, the laws of nature were different in the past and the behavior of atoms and the breakdown of isotopes was different, so rocks may not be as old as the scientists think they are.
• Do geologists’ studies of rock strata reveal that the earth is old? No problem. Things were different then, and the processes we see at work today weren’t operative in the past.
• Does other evidence show that the world is old? No problem. According to creation science, ice cores tell us nothing about the past, nor Tree Ring Chronology, nor anything else that we weren’t there to witness.
• Are there troublesome observations that clearly contradict the Flood (for example Banded Iron Stripes)? No problem — that’s how the Flood behaved.
• Do the distant stars indicate that the universe must be older than 6,000 years, because their light required billions of years to reach us? No problem — the speed of light was different then. What was the speed of light? As fast as necessary — even instantaneous — whatever was required to create the world according to Genesis.
It’s the same with all other laws of nature and physical processes we see today — in geology, physics, and biology — everything could have been different in the past. You don’t know, because you weren’t there. The past can’t be reproduced in the lab, so it’s unknowable by the tools of science. How different was everything back then? As different as necessary, whenever necessary, for as long as necessary, in order to have a universe in which Genesis is absolutely true in every detail.
Obviously, the purpose of creation science is to discredit all scientific knowledge of the past that may be inconsistent with scripture’s account of the six-day creation of the world about 6,000 years ago, the almost instantaneous creation of all living species, without evolution, and Noah’s flood.
There are other scriptural doctrines that are inconsistent with science, like flat Earth and the geocentric universe, but those aren’t historical issues. Nevertheless, they’re scriptural descriptions of reality that were prevalent at the time of the Babylonian Empire when the Old Testament was written in its present form. Strictly speaking, creation scientists should support those things too, but somehow most of them don’t. That’s an internal inconsistency we won’t dwell on here, but it shouldn’t be overlooked.
Creationists claim that their evidence — scripture — is God’s uncontrovertible eye-witness testimony, which is far more reliable than the natural scientists’ unprovable assumptions about how things were in the unseen and unreproducible past. But there’s one little problem with that — the creationists don’t have the actual testimony of their eyewitness. What they’ve got is hearsay — the ancient writings of mere men who claim to have recorded God’s testimony. Although God doesn’t lie, preachers sometimes do, and prophets have been known to be wrong — sometimes spectacularly so. The scribes who produced scripture were imperfect men, sometimes with motives of their own, and therefore their transcribed and translated accounts of God’s word can never be free of doubt. Until their witness comes forth to give his testimony in person, all that we have is the verifiable evidence of science.
And there’s another problem with creation science — it describes a universe which is totally chaotic. Water for the Flood came from somewhere, and then it went away somehow, but those things are never satisfactorily explained. The massive energy content of the early universe when the speed of light was nearly infinite (you know, that “e” in e = mc2) creates insurmountable problems for everything, but it’s never reconciled with anything else. The huge and rapid terrestrial upheavals which allegedly occurred during the Flood are quite inconsistent with the survival of a flimsy wooden vessel. The problem is that if the laws of nature are fiddled with so casually by creation scientists, the universe makes no sense — but that’s not a problem for them, as long as their “science” is consistent with Genesis.
The great merit of the scientific explanation of the past is demonstrated by cross-confirmation from independent lines of evidence. There are many examples (continental drift, for example), but our favorite is described in The Lessons of Tiktaalik, an amazing discovery of a transitional fossil, the existence of which was predicted by the theory of evolution, and then found by following independent lines of evidence from the existing fossil record (suggesting, from the age of the transitional’s known descendants, when the transitional creature existed), and geology (describing the location of a rock stratum of the appropriate age when such a creature would have existed). If science were merely an ad hoc collection of convenient just-so stories made up arbitrarily to justify pre-conceived dogma, then such a convergence from different lines of evidence would be virtually impossible.
The inconvenient fact that physics, astronomy, geology, and biology all independently confirm the same picture of reality is ignored by creationists. According to them, the laws of nature — the speed of light, the rate of radioactive decay, the forces that shape the earth, and any other observed regularity in nature — can and do vary as needed, whenever needed, to provide whatever results are required to make Genesis true.
But the scientifically determined age of the earth is not a wild assumption plucked out of the air for the purpose of justifying the time required for evolution to occur. It is derived by several independent sciences, with different lines of evidence, all of which converge on the same conclusions.
First there is geology, developed by James Hutton, an important figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, who is regarded as the father of modern geology. He died in 1797, a dozen years before Charles Darwin was born, so it’s unlikely that he conjured up his work in order to support Darwin’s theory. Then there is radiometric dating, developed much later from nuclear physics. This evidence is augmented by ice-cores, ocean floor cores, and even tree-ring cores (which record the Earth’s history going back farther than the Flood). All the evidence is different, but it all yields a consistent picture of the past.
So how do the creation scientists deal with these difficulties? They claim that they’re working with the same facts as genuine scientists, but they have different assumptions. Indeed, their assumptions are different. Science begins with certain axioms — they’re so deeply imbedded in the scientific method that they’re rarely mentioned. One is logic. You don’t want to abandon that unless you have little regard for your sanity, but the creationists seem to have no problem doing so. They even embrace the fallacy of circular reasoning when it suits them (see AIG’s Logic: Prepare To Lose Your Mind), and they also claim that their peculiar worldview is the source of all logic (see Creationism and Logic).
Other fundamental axioms of science are the validity of sensory evidence (augmented by the evidence of our instruments), without which we have no verifiable information, and the existence of objective reality, which is the source of the information we obtain from our senses. Creation scientists scoff at this, insisting that sensory evidence must yield to the superior insights (preserved in scripture) that were obtained from a supernatural source beyond space and time. One can’t really argue with that, nor should one bother to try.
Creation scientists have other assumptions that differ from those of natural science: For them, miracles are possible, and what we perceive as objective reality is only an illusion. Reality is whatever God decides, and if he wants to change it (as he did after Eden) then reality will be whatever he wants it to be. If more such assumptions are needed, they’ll be concocted on the spot to do the job.
Genuine science seeks to observe and explain the world in terms of mutually consistent, comprehensible, and verifiable principles that lead to testable observations. Creation science, on the other hand, seeks to describe an impossible reality in which Genesis is an accurate account of the world. In other words, creation science isn’t science at all — it’s a mental disorder. There’s no other way to describe it.
See also: Further Thoughts on Creation Science.
Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.
The only truth about creationists, and this applies to all creationists, is this: Creationists lie.
That’s it. If you haven’t seen Bill Maher’s rant on Liberty “University” go to YouTube and look it up. It’s right on. The Liberty “University” “science” department has a Center for Creation Studies that teaches World Class creationism research like this. For your reading pleasure check out the article on the evolution of trees where Bergman simply states there is no evidence for the evolution of trees. They just appeared fully formed. Complete lie, of course. All their “research” is a lie. Every last bit of it.
That’s why I yield no courtesy to creationists. They are all liars. They are disgraces to the human species, as Dawkins put it, even the “nice” ones like Kurt Wise.
And that’s just the creationists. The propagandists, like the denizens of the DI, are even worse. Lower than worse. They deserve nothing but scorn. Call me mean, but until you’ve seen your state education standards wrecked by creationists like they were in Texas don’t expect any sympathy for the willfully ignorant morons from me. Yes, an election is coming up and if we don’t vote out the entire board then, alas, we Texans have no more grounds to complain.
Brilliant essay, Curm. I’m going to try to memorize this so I can use it against our local creationism advocates.
I see little difference between the Lady Hope lie and Maher’s lie about Pasteur’s deathbed recantation. I thought SC’s essay was brilliant. I think Bill Maher is a science denying loony.
I can solve one of the Creations problems for them: All the water in The Flood that can’t be accounted for is missing because it fell off the edge of the flat Earth.
And Curmie, don’t forget we have a significant one-year anniversary of the World Ending in a few days.
Tomato Addict says: “And Curmie, don’t forget we have a significant one-year anniversary of the World Ending in a few days.”
Oh yeah, Harold Camping. I had forgotten all about 21 May.
The truth about creationist science is that it’s only capable of supporting Bronze Age Technology. Moreover; it’s a sad combination of puerile male dominated bigotry and childish wistful thinking incapable of supporting a larger world view. It’s prefect for people who don’t want to think.
SC: “In other words, creation science isn’t science at all — it’s a mental disorder. There’s no other way to describe it.”
And that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? For folks like these, the sane and sanity-preserving reaction should be only, “Fine. Since you plainly can’t distinguish between what’s real and what you want to believe is real, then, go thy way and think no more.” Except…
That these folks want to insist on their mental disorder being taught as a standard for everybody. They certainly have the right to teach their own children whatever they want- I think that’s sad, but it’s their right- but, leave my kids out of it (not that I have any young enough to still be directly concerned here, but…you know what I mean).
Excellent article. The Origin Science crock is still going strong in science denier-land. I wrote about Origin Science on a blog article of my own.
Rant Number 2. Most Christians are bobble heads. Believe in Adam and Eve? Bobble. Believe in the Flood? Bobble. Love to coach softball at your church? Bobble Bobble!
It’s social. Most Christians don’t even know the articles of their faith, which explains why 98% (estimated) of Catholic women in the US use birth control.
The tragedy for Christianity is when the sheeple learn to think for themselves. Then it’s Exodus and I don’t mean 40 years in the creme brûlée.
Excellent essay. I’ve always thought that creationists make it up as they go along – and their special pleading answers only go one level deep – they never consider that most of what they make up is inconsistent with every other thing they make up.
They most certainly are just liars for Jesus.
The biggest puzzle for me is which of them know they’re lying, and which are just parroting what they’ve been told.
Oh, and Ken Ham’s latest blog entry about San Diego Zoo and the fact we’re all apes is just a classic!
One of my coworkers is a Christian fellow named David, who works overtime every single night and all day weekends. He has ever since I’ve known him, day-in and day-out, year after year. He says it’s in order to finance his three kids’ home schooling. According to David, he does this to make sure they aren’t taught “Darwinism” in California public schools. When I leave the office at night, he’s still there – with hours of freelance ahead of him. He doesn’t ever even get to see the kids he’s been slaving away for – and for what? To make sure they’re absorbing Dark Age nonsense, and won’t be able to compete in a future world market? David, who believes dinosaur bones were planted by Satan to confuse Christians, assured me that I’m going to Hell when I die. I feel sorry for his kids.
I also work with another Christian fellow named Jerry. Jerry was involved in a serious car accident several years ago. He now has a permanent blood clot in his thigh. This blood clot, which can end his life at any moment if it ever reaches his heart or brain, is the direct result of his Jehovah’s Witness family’s decision to deny him a needed transfusion while he was under critical care. On their orders he was moved to a religious facility, and wound up being hospitalized for months instead of days while his poor system had to slowly replenish his blood supply, because his father refused to sign the necessary papers. I saw this happen in real time with my own eyes.
David and Jerry are both creationists, of course. They’re both otherwise sane and (mostly) harmless individuals. They were indoctrinated as children, as I was, but for some reason were never able to escape the yoke. No amount of reasoning will ever sway them. They’re both lost causes.
@chiefley: Interesting blog, I will visit again. Your perspective – what I call rational Christianity – I terribly underrepresented in discussions of science education and Creationism. Thank you for speaking out.
I see you got a nice write up at Pandas Thumb. I would think it would aid readership. That’s how I found my favorite blog. Thank you for what you do. I hope you don’t quit like Loftus has decided to do.
You got a big “Thumbs Up” from Panda’s Thumb. Great summary as always.
The thing that amazes me about creationism is that it misses the whole point of Christianity – at least as I understand it. When people say “he did the christian thing”, or “she was a good christian woman”, they don’t mean that the person believed the earth is 6,000 years old, or gays are evil people, or a fertilized egg is a person, etc. They are referring to a person who helped a stranger, told the truth when it was hard to do, cared about their neighbors, was true to their spouse and always there for their kids. In other words, someone who lived a honorable life. I was raised in a Methodist church, and that’s what I was taught. It was never about what one believed re. evolution, or the age of the earth. It was all about how one acted toward others.
Creationists pervert religion to be all about believing in weird things, rather than about how one acts, or what moral code one follows. I think Ham drives more people away from the faith than he attracts to it, while he continuously complains about losing the young people.
Operation Science= Old Testament
Historical Science= New Testament
I have come to realize that there really exist individuals who are purely concrete thinkers; they absoultely cannot grasp abstract concepts and are puzzled by creativity. They have no sense of irony or metaphor, which explains why the bible must be “inerrant”; it is, to them, a prosaic rulebook, stripped of what many people believe is its only merit, that of poetry/artistry.
The others don’t believe most, if anything, in the Bible but have their own reasons for pretending they do.
Yep, lots of thy neighbor’s wife’s casseroles and Dream Whip desserts at the potlucks.
“They certainly have the right to teach their own children whatever they want- I think that’s sad, but it’s their right…”
But it shouldn’t be their right, any more than any other form of abuse.
I was just thinking about the news stories where members of so-called “cults” are prosecuted and jailed because they do things that are “illegal”, even though those things are a part of their stated religious beliefs. Polygamy is one example.
I find it strange that most religious people (at least christians) find the practice of polygamy abhorrent and strongly support the illegality of it (even though it’s A-OK in the bible), yet those same people often preach, teach, and practice other religious crap that is far worse. Holy rollers are behind the most restrictive laws and are eager to enact laws that deny people certain ‘rights’, but at the same time those same god zombies get totally bent out of shape if someone even suggests a law that would restrict them from practicing, or indoctrinating their children with, the insane, mind-numbing, free thought destroying, fairy tale religious dogma that they believe is the only correct belief system that should be forced into their child’s mind and every other child’s mind. Religious people have some very inconsistent standards.
To me, every religion is a cult.
I would love to see a list of successful petroleum explorarion companies that have used “creation science” and “flood geology” as a basis for the billions of dollars they collectively invest in hydrocarbon exploration every year.
Surely, every successful petroleum or mining company has a “Department of Creation Geology” to guide them.
the whole truth- I agree with your last sentence, and the idea behind it. I’m hard pressed to think of a good example of anything really useful or beneficial to mankind arising purely from religion (cathedrals are pretty cool, and even there…)
But the rest of what you say is too much like what the theists themselves preach for my taste. You’re equating “idea” abuse with actual child abuse, which I think belittles the real thing; and suggesting the parents shouldn’t have the right, as parents, to teach their children their ideas- because you disagree with the ideas? You say, in your last sentence, “To me…”- and there’s the rub. Doesn’t that sound a lot like Ken Ham’s approach, or worse? Who do you think should be allowed to implement this policy? Sorry, just… bad idea.
This is a fantastic post, Curmie. I think it deserves a very special place on your website, not just the regular archive.
And docbill, thanks for the note about Bill Maher–that was hilarious.
Lynn Wilhelm says: “This is a fantastic post, Curmie.”
Why is it that I always like your comments?
@ waldteufel | 21-May-2012 at 8:44 am |
“I would love to see a list of successful petroleum explorarion companies that have used “creation science” and “flood geology” as a basis for the billions of dollars they collectively invest in hydrocarbon exploration every year.”
Here is a list of successful petroleum explorarion companies that have used “creation science” and “flood geology” as a basis for the billions of dollars they collectively invest in hydrocarbon exploration every year:
Now we have got that out of the way; thanks Curmudgeon for a good post.
Of course tiktaalik confirmed the evolutionary theories, those paleontologists just carve whatever fossil they want in the rocks they find…
Fantastic post and fantastic comments! As I was reading each comment, I was forming comments of my own, only to find later that someone already wrote the same thoughts.
I especially agree with Ed’s comments. It seems we had a very similar experience in the Methodist church. Ken Ham, Jack Chick, and all the rest of the fire and brimstone gang have a totally warped idea of what most would consider to be the central tenet of Christianity — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Unless, of course, they really want others to tell them they are going straight to hell.
Best. Blog. Post. Ever.
Although I’ve enjoyed and found useful a large number of your posts, this one comes at a particularly opportune time. I’ve been arguing with a Hamite (or is it “Hambonian”?) YEC in the comments to the cartoon here: http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2012/05/05 (I’m markjoseph125, and he’s exoticdoc2 for anyone who is looking for a few giggles; neither one of us has made any effort at being civil).
My interlocuteur has pulled every YEC argument out of the book, leaning heavily on the “operations” science vs. “origins” science trope, along with numerous other Hamite arguments and articles from creationism.com, all while ignoring what evolution really is (for example, he does not address the fact of natural selection). I realize that I’m wasting time, but it helps me learn the facts of science better for when I might have the opportunity to use them to better effect, may possibly be useful to anyone following our dialogue, and, to be frank, is certainly part of my “purgatory” for having been an ignorant YEC myself for so many years.
This post could easily be a perfect response to his most recent (I suppose it’s “my turn”); would it be OK for me to paste in the entire thing? Or should I limit myself to pasting in a link to the post?
Thank you for the post; this is not the only circumstance in which it will be useful.
@Mark Joseph: I clicked over to the Nonsequitur blog, and there is WAY too much reading there for me to plow through. Makes me really appreciate Curmy’s policy of screening out the belligerent creationists.
I did happen to read exoticdoc2’s comment that whales never had legs and never evolved. Hmm. Don’t whales have vestigial internal leg bones? Maybe I’m thinking of some species of snakes. (I’m not up on vertebrate anatomy.) For either one, it would be pretty hard to explain without evolution. Why would an “Intelligent Designer” put them them in there?
For Alan(UK):: Alan, in my post immediately above, please substitute "plough" for "plow" to enhance your understanding. And while you're at it, go down to your corner pub and enjoy a draught, ok?
Oops. Help, Curmy! I forgot to put the final “>” (“greater than” symbol) to close off the bold. (All that effort for a pretty dumb comment, I’ll admit.)
I fully agree; way too much to read. But, it may be of some possible use to some people.
exoticdoc2 is a full out creationist, and would probably have no more good to say of IDiots than I do (he has already made numerous “no true Scotsman” accusations of someone not being a “real, biblical christian”). He has not attempted to use the argument from design, and I have therefore not posted anything about inefficient or bad design, or vestigial organs (I learned that approach the hard way, in another debate I’m having with a creationist). Hard to believe that there are still non-ID creationists out there—but the church I left is full of them.
Of course, even without design considerations, the vestigial hip bones in snakes and whales are evidence of evolution; but remember, I’m speaking to someone who denies the legitimacy of historical considerations.
All I can say, Mark, is have fun. I don’t type fast enough to get into that p*ssing contest. Or read fast enough, either.
“Hard to believe that there are still non-ID creationists out there…”
I do understand what you mean – that biblical inerrant creationists seem less educated, more fanatical, etc. while the arguments of the IDers seem slicker (since that is the purpose of the Discovery Institute). However, according to polls, the apparently the majority of Christians are able to resolve their faith with science, while the full blown and the ID-creationists both aim to undermine and destroy science and replace it with their religious convictions. The basis of their beliefs is the same and their ends are the same, so I consider them as being the same and equally fanatical, even though they don’t completely agree on some points.
I sometimes amuse myself by imagining a screenplay for a science-ahihilated Christian world called “Heaven on Earth”. I don’t for one nano-second believe that the leaders of different Christian factions would be content to live and share peaceably, even if the “flock” were under control. Writers are probably working on this script already.
Mark Joseph asks: “would it be OK for me to paste in the entire thing?”
No, that’s never okay. You can copy parts, and link to the rest.
Curmie wrote>”There are other scriptural doctrines that are inconsistent with science, like flat Earth and the geocentric universe, but those aren’t historical issues.”
No problem. Back then the Flat Earth WAS at the Center of the Universe. Then Captain Kirk told Chief Angel Scotty to fire up the Warp engines and curve space into the shape we see it today.
I’m pretty sure that’s in the Bible, somewhere.
Echoing Ed and RSG, Creationism has little resemblance to Christian values. Speaking for myself, it’s not a matter maintaining belief if any part of the bible is wrong, it’s keeping some core values even if EVERY part of the bible is fiction.
retiredsciguy: “Don’t whales have vestigial internal leg bones?”
Yes they do. And occasionally a “sport” (mutation) is observed with a fully formed leg. Plus all those nice fossils of whale ancestors with varying degrees of legginess. Satan has been busy.
I only posted a link to your article; I couldn’t bring myself to pick out just one piece of it–it’s all too good. Thank you again.
Thanks, Mark Joseph.
Fundies CAN’T abandon creationism – that would mean that Adam and Eve never existed as real people, and original sin didn’t occur. That would remove the whole underpinning of Pauline christianity – i.e. Jesus died for you because you were contaminated from birth by the original sin. they can’t let go of it EVER and remain christian inerrantists. That’s why they will ALWAYS be undermining public schools and attempting to inject their religion into the public arena.
This is why I don’t even bother arguing with them.