Creationism’s Biggest Nightmare

One of the creationists’ “best” arguments against the theory of evolution is that it has no answer to the question of how life began. Their argument is a classic example of a claim based on the God of the gaps fallacy, which we sometimes simplify like this:

Ignorance of X is evidence of Y.

In other words, if something isn’t yet fully understood, then the answer must be … Oogity Boogity! The problem with such an argument is that, well, it’s worthless. The theists’ claim about a miraculous creation may indeed be a true one. Nobody knows, because they have no evidence, but no one can disprove it. Such is the nature of theology. Then why don’t creationists just say that they choose to believe it, and let it go with that? Why do they claim that they have “proof,” when it’s so obvious that they have none?

We don’t know why they behave as they do. For a good example of such behavior, see Klinghoffer Defends the God of the Gaps. The best part of that post is our quote from Albert Einstein, taken from Science and Religion, which we’ll repeat here:

To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with the natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot. But I am persuaded that such behaviour on the part of the representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress.

All we can do is point out that, one by one, each of the creationists’ claims is being eroded by scientific discoveries. What probably frightens them most (other than the discovery of life on some other planet) is an undeniable demonstration that life can come into existence by natural means. And that demonstration is coming closer.

If you have three minutes to spare, take a look at the video at the top of this post. It’s about the work of Georgia Tech biochemist Nicholas Hud and his team at the Center for Chemical Evolution.

Ultimately, creationism’s biggest nightmare is knowledge. That’s why they hate science.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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25 responses to “Creationism’s Biggest Nightmare

  1. Ignorance of evidence is evidence of ignorance.

    Abiogenesis is a tricky problem. That’s obvious enough. But what’s a whole lot more slap-in-the-face is that cretinists and IDeologues have not learned a single thing from the history of science: Blokes who claim that science will never achieve such-and-such usually end up holding the befouled end of their own shtick. When – not “if” – science figures out a plausible biophysical/biochemical route to self-replicating molecules of the right sort, you can be sure that cretinists and IDeologues will immediately shift the goalposts.

    I’ll side with Edward Abbey who pithily observed that “Belief in the supernatural reflects a failure of the imagination.

  2. I agree totally. The most common creationist sound bite on evolution is that “life could not have arisen by natural means.” That allows them to avoid mentioning all the evidence that humans are related to chimps, which is the issue they really care about. If “could not have arisen” is taken away from them, creationists would actually have deal with the evidence. The Horror!

  3. Ted: I wouldn’t bet on creationists dealing with evidence under any circumstances. Well, actually, they deal with it by ignoring it, and I doubt anything could change that behavior.

  4. If someone is able to produce life in the lab, that will be spectacular confirmation that life can be produced by intelligent design.

  5. One could present infinite evidence, rigorously peer reviewed and die hard creationists and ID supporters would still not accept the truth. Ol’Hambo will rally his troops!! Huzzah! Let’s hear it for stupidity! Some people are born stupid. Some people achieve stupidity. Some have stupidity thrust upon them. With Ol’Hambo it is all three, bless his little micro-brain. Abiogenesis has been demonstrated. Carl Sagan’s Cosmos explained and demonstrated it. The Einstein quote is deeply wise, a beautiful mind.

  6. Fraser, it’s not like they even hide it. It’s right there, front in center in their statement of belief. Even if you gave them a personal guided tour of a millions years of history – or 7000, for that matter, to show the utter lack of Eden, etc. – they’ve sworn an oath to not let that impact what they must believe is true.

  7. I already know the next creacrap port of refugee: creating life confirms Intelligent Design, because people like Nicholas Hud intelligently design life. It only counts as evidence when observed in nature.
    Checkmate, atheist evilutionists.

  8. Yeah the earlier posters beat me to it, they’ll just hide behind the fact that it was done in a lab (which they in fact demanded happen – a classic goalpost move). I have to say though, that guy’s RNA world theories are a little out of date nowadays. RNA world might be important in early life development and diversification, but I have to side with Larry Moran and those of the “metabolism first” camp when it comes to taking sides with OoL hypothesis. In some ways it’s splitting hairs because obviously both processes (RNA use and metabolism) are necessary for life and had to evolve SOMEHOW but unless goddidit then it is highly unlikely both happened at the same time. So the question becomes “which came first”.

    To understand why metabolism first is a better hypothesis be sure to read this essay about the importance of the ubiquity of proton pumps. After that get a little deeper into the history and comparison of these two ideas by reading this lengthy article. A lot of issues with OoL hypothesis (particularly RNA world) is the need for a high concentration and the presence of naturally occurring gradients. I finally recommend Larry Moran’s Sandwalk post about it, through which I found the two previous articles. His post makes a lot more sense having read the two of those beforehand. He does some more explaining when he’s taking apart Keller et. al. 2014 which was loudly trumpeted as a major step forward in OoL research.

  9. If our dear curmudgeon could fix my foolish html errors I would be in his gratitude for ever

    [*Voice from above*] You owe me, big time!

  10. >

    I agree totally. The most common creationist sound bite on evolution is that “life could not have arisen by natural means.” That allows them to avoid mentioning all the evidence that humans are related to chimps, which is the issue they really care about. If “could not have arisen” is taken away from them, creationists would actually have deal with the evidence. The Horror!

    It’s always nice to be able to just declare that something just couldn’t have happened naturally, and not bother with such fripperies as evidence. But that’s not science, it’s dogma.

  11. In the beginning, mankind had a god for everything — the wind, fire, thunder, volcanoes, the sea, animals, plants, ice, rain, boogers — everything! As man started to understand some things about our surroundings, we had a need for fewer and fewer gods to explain the unknown; the unknowable; the not-yet-understood.

    Thus, today we have the god of the gaps. We have a god to explain the not-yet-understood. Even if we demonstrate in the lab that life can be made to occur from non-living chemicals, it will only demonstrate that it could have happened without God’s intervention, not that it did happen without God. So those who wish to cling to their childhood beliefs will continue to do so.

    The argument can be made that humans today are genetically predisposed to believe in a Higher, All-Controlling Being. In the past (and still today, in some quarters) non-believers were put to death. The people who survived to have children were the believers. Hey — evolution works!

    It’s interesting that the percentage of non-believers in the population is about the same as the percentage of left-handers. I wonder if there’s a greater propensity for lefties to also be atheists? That would explain why we are such a small percentage of the population.

    Assuming that the great majority of Curmie’s regular readers are agnostic, atheist, or at least to some degree doubters, a survey poll is in order. It would be very interesting to see if there is a connection between left-handedness and agnosticism.

    I’m agnostic and left-handed. How about you? Please state your handedness.

  12. retiredsciguy, you may have stumbled into a Great Truth. I too am left-handed.

  13. Pope RSG wants data: “How about you? Please state your handedness.”
    I am thoroughly right-handed. So is my son. We both are atheists. My son is also right-footed, but I am left-footed. Does that count? My late father though was left-handed and left-footed. Of us three he is the only one who has been religious (temporarily).

  14. @SC: Huh! I had a hunch…

    Well, that’s a start. To make this survey even semi-meaningful, we need all to respond, whether right- or left-handed, and to state their degree of belief vs. non-belief.

  15. Doctor Stochastic

    Are not the remnants of the “Garden of Eden” near Minneapolis? Of course, it’s no longer a garden.

  16. Data Point. I’m left handed. I am not religious.

  17. Right-handed atheist here. Atheist and full-blown apostate since my late teens when I officially left the RCC of which much of my family are strict adherents. Only a pope can now reinstate me… 😉

  18. @Ted Lawry and Eric Lipps
    couldn’t have happened naturally

    Yes, it is proclaimed without evidence, but IMHO more importantly it is simply a negative statement, with nothing about how it could have happened.

    I am reminded of the scenario posed by Behe (“Darwin’s Black Box” page 13) where he suggests that you wouldn’t believe someone’s claim that he jumped 100 feet. My immediate reaction was, “would you believe that an Intelligent Designer transported him?” Heck, I wouldn’t even know what that meant!

  19. data: right handed, athiest since late high school.

  20. Go chemistry! If some evidence is acquired, I’ll get to join in with biologists in refuting nonsenical creationist arguments.

    It’s lucky that this biochemist has funding. The “no progress after decades of research!” creationist cry is more due to scarce funding in this area (we’re all required to be more “relevant” now) than to failed attempts to demonstrate the possibility of chemical abiogenesis.

    (A righty and atheist)

  21. Right handed, life time athiest

  22. Right handed; gave up magic at 16.

    Correction! Gave up religion at 16, still practice majick.

  23. I’m ambidextrous,* and a polytheist.**

    *Not true.
    **Nor is this.

  24. Very right-handed, atheist since high school (more the 50 years ago) despite serious indoctrination in Irish Catholicism (no RC in my upbringing ) in a boarding school run by Cistercian monks! My brother, 11 years older and lacking such excellent indoctrination, is also an atheist and, yes, he is also predominately right-handed.

  25. Right handed atheist.