Creationism — The Incredible Shrinking Cult

We’re told by creationists like Ken Ham that anything contrary to scripture, especially science where it provides a natural explanation for something the bible ascribes to supernatural causes, is — gasp! — secular, and is therefore atheistic and evil.

Nevertheless, many scientific conclusions have been universally accepted (with trivial exceptions), although they are clearly contrary to scripture. Some obvious examples are:

1. The shape of the Earth — see The Earth Is Flat!
2. The location of the Earth (the universe isn’t geocentric).
3. The motion of the Earth — see The Earth Does Not Move!
4. The solar system — see The Galileo affair.
5. The cause of lightning, storms, floods, volcanoes, etc.

You can probably think of other examples, but those are sufficient to demonstrate that biblical literalists don’t always take the bible literally.

However, as we’re all aware, there are other scientific lessons that creationists continue to reject (except in some cases for old-Earth creationists). Examples are:

1. The age and origin of the Earth and the universe.
2. The chemical origin of life.
3. The evolution of species and their common descent.
4. The fictional nature of Noah’s Flood.

From the foregoing, it appears that biblical literalists have largely abandoned their objections to astronomy, the geographical characteristics of the Earth, and most of medical science. But they persist in rejecting geology, biology, cosmology, and (if they ever think about it) plate tectonics. As expressed by Ken Ham, they reject what he calls “origins science.” Their reason, aside from scripture which they insist is true, is that historical events can’t be re-created in the lab. We discussed that in Common Creationist Claims Confuted.

What do we conclude from this? First, although creationists dislike scientists in general, they do accept a great deal of science, even where it clearly contradicts scripture. From this we see that creationism is wildly inconsistent. Unlike science, which always follows the same procedures and principles, creationism is incoherent and arbitrary. The only place where they draw the line is where science teaches about events in the past — and then only when scripture is contradicted.

Can creationism endure? We don’t see how it can — not in its present numbers. Given the fact that creationists already accept so much of science, their reluctance to accept the rest is on very shaky ground. It wouldn’t take much to demolish their already-crumbling edifice. What might that be? Obviously, finding intelligent life elsewhere in the universe would be a crippling blow. Creating life artificially in the lab would be another. Either of those is possible in the near future. You might be able to think of a few others.

Of course, creationists will never entirely vanish. We still have flat-Earth advocates, fans of astrology, voodoo, and other weird and worthless ideologies. But such people are few in number, and they’re considered to be pathetic weirdos. The day will come when creationists are similarly regarded. Until then, they provide us with lots of fun, so our humble blog will continue to ridicule them.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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23 responses to “Creationism — The Incredible Shrinking Cult

  1. Creationists seem to reject a science in direct proportion of how much it diminishes the idea of a personal God. The shape, movement or location of the Earth doesn’t effect their feeling that God is personal, but evolutionary biology does. I had a creationist once tell me that if evolution was true and God did it that it would be horrible because God didn’t create her personally that she was “just some kind of experiment.”

  2. I think the reason they so vehemently reject evolution and millions/billions of years is because that throws up theological problems for them to do with suffering and death ‘before’ sin and so forth (a spherical Earth – which is also undeniable – can be more readily swallowed by the not quite full-time Bible literalists.

    YECs are also often mischievous when using the word science – this blogger put his finger on it:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2015/10/22/white-evangelical-church-goers-think-their-science-is-better-than-the-science-those-stupid-scientists-say-is-science/

  3. Unfortunately a goodly proportion of members of Congress as well as numerous state legislators, hold steadfastly to these unscientific beliefs, as do some members of the SCOTUS, and are ready and more than willing to impose these creationist views on society to the detriment of society itself, and science too.

  4. Have you totally lost your marbles? Arrrrrrrggggghhhh i cant comprehend the insanity of what you just wrote. I accept sciene in every form, i reject anything that is not consistent with repeatable testing. Inline with this I could personally refute every piece of this article one by one, you name the time and place and i will be there.
    Colin

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    In lame effort to shore up the cult, Hammy is building a replica of the Ark … to prove, um, what? Its not a real boat, its not just made of wood (let alone gopher wood), they have no idea how many animals were put inside it, and there is no evidence that such a boat would work.

    Hammy is going to be surrounded by 10 year olds asking questions about T-rexes and poop and ‘where did the water go’ that he has NO answer for. In his attempt to shore-up the cult, he is only going to diminish the cult by accenting these shortcomings.

  6. @anevilmeme:
    I had a creationist once tell me that if evolution was true and God did it that it would be horrible because God didn’t create her personally that she was “just some kind of experiment.”
    The science which treats of the appearance of an individual is not evolutionary biology, it is reproductive biology. Or maybe embryology or development or perhaps even genetics.
    The standard Christian theological doctrine says that there is a personal relationship with one’s Creator and Redeemer. It is something like universalism which says that about the species.

  7. We still have flat-Earth advocates, fans of astrology, voodoo, and other weird and worthless ideologies. But such people are few in number, and they’re considered to be pathetic weirdos.

    I think you’ll find that the loons who believe in these things are far less few and far between than you think, and far less marginalized. Here’s an article giving a few relevant figures; the infographic at its head has some pretty alarming statistics.

    And, of course, all you need to do in addition is look at the attitudes towards science and the “spiritual” of the current Republican presidential hopefuls (from creationism to austerity politics, all bathed in bucketfuls of woo), and the rapture with which their idiotic pronouncements are met by the faithful, to realize quite how endemic such irrationalism is among the US population.

  8. @Ashley Haworth-roberts

    Thanks for that link. I was planning to highlight that Slacktivist article myself. It’s a stunning piece of work.

    And now to reconstitute the longish comment upon which I expended precious bodily fluids that I can ill afford, the one that WordPress “disappeared.” I’ve been saying things like “oh, poot” and even “heavens to Betsy.”

  9. michaelfugate

    What I am wondering after reading the slacktivist post is why the comments are all about lentils? Pew ≠ Puy.

  10. We still have flat-Earth advocates, fans of astrology, voodoo, and other weird and worthless ideologies. But such people are few in number, and they’re considered to be pathetic weirdos.

    I think those believers are far less few on the ground, and far less marginalized, than you might believe. There’s an interesting article here on a closely related subject (irrational thinking and paranoia). The point of mentioning it is the infographic at the top and the more detailed statistics contained within the text itself. Those data are very much in line with others I’ve surveyed that have been derived over the past decade or more by various surveys.

    In addition, all you need to do is examine the anti-science attitudes espoused by the current slate of Republican presidential candidates, from creationism to climate science denial to “spirituality” to austerity politics. All of these ideas fly in the teeth of our best current knowledge, yet they’re ecstatically applauded — the loonier the better — by significant percentages of the US population. As you point out, between creationism and astrology there’s but a hairsbreadth of difference, as regards their irrationalism and general looniness; in my own terms, they’re close neighbors on the same spectrum of anti-scientific reality-denial that runs all the way from here to racism, antivaxxerism and climate-science denial.

  11. @michaelfugate

    What I am wondering after reading the slacktivist post is why the comments are all about lentils?

    Depressing, isn’t it? I too was boggled by the lamebrainedness of some of the comments. Some people, it seems, have the attention span of a lentil. Bring back gnats, is what I say.

  12. Oh, hello: now that I’ve reconstituted my longish comment, WordPress has suddenly posted the earlier version. Is hanging too good for them?

    [*Voice from above*] The spam detector is a mystery, even to me. Which of the two would you like deleted?

  13. > “. . . they’re considered to
    > be pathetic weirdos. The
    > day will come when
    > creationists are similarly
    > regarded.”
    ————
    The rational readers of Curmy’s writings already think that. Young-Earth creationists are already beyond pathetic weirdos – recall that some of them say plants aren’t alive & insects aren’t alive. I’ve heard some modern-day theists say that the Catholic Church was entirely justified in persecuting Galileo for his scientific findings. Creationism is a cult of losers.

  14. Mike Elzinga

    Back before the 1950s, various evangelical churches seemed content to look at the beauties of Nature that science revealed and take that as evidence of their “loving” creator. Science was an ally in supporting their faith.

    The Moody Bible Institute, for example, used to put out a number of films that churches could rent or buy to show to their congregations and Sunday school classes; and they were quite professionally done with very impressive photography.

    Sometime around the 1950s or 60s – and around the time of Sputnik and its prodding of the subsequent attempts to improve science education – there were a bunch of lectures by a fellow, A.E. Wilder-Smith, that began raising questions about science supporting religion. Wilder-Smith has been acknowledged by the likes of Dembski, Johnson, and a number of others in the ID/creationist movement to have been a major inspiration for their own ideas.

    It was Henry Morris, who, in the 1970s, raised the bogus argument that says life violates the second law of thermodynamics. He was also coauthor with John Witcomb of The Genesis Flood and was joined by Duane Gish in 1970 to form the Institute for Creation Research, thereby launching the Scientific Creationism movement. Gish was also a fanatic who used to show up unannounced in the high school biology classes in Kalamazoo, Michigan and harass the biology teachers in front of their students. Their techniques of taunting scientists into debating them in public forums on college and university campuses gained them enormous free publicity in the media.

    Further political events, in which cynics like Lee Atwater dragged into election politics the fundamentalists and radically right-wing evangelicals who formed the Christian Coalition, further solidified the trend toward taking on the pseudoscience of the Scientific Creationism movement as a badge of “legitimacy.” And as time went on, attempts to get around major court decisions going against Scientific Creationism led to the Intelligent Design movement which took on all the pseudoscientific baggage of the Scientific Creationists and gave it a “more scholarly” appearing patina.

    All during that time, from the 1950s and Sputnik to the 1980s, it became standard operation procedure for the “intellectual thinkers” within the now highly political evangelical movement to bend, break, and mangle scientific concepts to fit sectarian beliefs. They now teach youngsters how to read science books “skeptically” and bend science and scientific concepts into support for their religion.

    So, nowadays, evangelicals and other fundamentalists have come to believe that their “science” is the real science and that they, the evangelicals and fundamentalists, are the only people who are able to see that scientists are unaware of what science implies about religion and how science contradicts itself with laws as fundamental as the second law of thermodynamics.

    They really believe this now; and they continue to demonize scientists as being blind and stupid. All one has to do to find evidence of this attitude is to go to the websites of a number of these churches and listen to the posted sermons on the topics of science and evolution. One finds even more in their Sunday school classes.

    Sectarian pseudoscience is now formally institutionalized within evangelical circles; and it forms the major pillars of their sectarian beliefs. It is unlikely that these pillars will ever be removed once they have provided evangelicals with a “rational argument” for the superiority of their sectarian religion over all others.

    On the other hand, real scientists and science educators have access to something like 50 years of ID/creationist hogwash in the public domain; and they know how to debunk it. ID/creationists have painted themselves into a corner and can no longer distance themselves from some really stupid claims and misconceptions about science. ID/creationists can no longer taunt high-profile scientists into raucous public debates; but they can now be taken down by just about any “nobody” without ever getting any exposure or credibility from a free ride on the back of a legitimate scientist.

  15. I disagree on the point that creationists have revised their view from the buy-bull that the world is flat. They will tell you that the buy-bull never said that and you are reading it wrong. Hence, the buy-bull was never really wrong.

  16. What is sometimes overlooked in these discussions is that not all Christians believe these things. Evangelicals would have us think otherwise, but there also exist mainstream Christians and more “liberal” denominations that are perfectly comfortable with an old earth, evolution, the big bang, etc. It’s more characteristic of religious fundamentalism than it is of general religious faith.

    This is particularly obvious when strident evangelicals call for laws protecting christians from “persecution” for refusing to comply with non-discrimination laws, as though such refusal is somehow integral to being a christian. The fact is that many, if not most, christians are perfectly comfortable with such laws. It is the peculiarity of fundamentalism that drives some evangelicals to act so irrationally, not the faith itself. However, it is also a tenet of fundamentalism to believe that one is representative of all members of the faith.

    I think of the DI as representing a peculiar subset of fundamentalism – they have the same attitude to science that fundamentalists have, i.e. science is wrong or deceitful when it conflicts with their pre-determined beliefs. They believe scientists are conspiratorial and driven by motives other than a desire to learn about the natural world. They see the supernatural everywhere in everything. They have no issue with lying when it comes to advancing their position – they are strong believers in the principle that the ends justify the means. And, like all fundamentalists, the ends they pursue with whatever means are to impose their beliefs on everyone else.

    All of these are fundamentalist traits, in any religion. Yet, weirdly, in their cherry-picking way, they seem to accept science related to the age of the earth. Somehow, that seems to have slipped through their filter. Perhaps they are young-earth creationists but simply lie about it for political reasons – which would be more consistent with everything else they believe.

  17. Creationism, in the form that is loudly proclaimed, is not only the preserve of a minority of Christian denominations, it is also a relatively recent phenomenon. The really wacky ideas are often just made up in the 20th century, and have no Biblical backing (except in the sense that people can engage in quote mining for proof-texts for whatever one wants), and are not in a line of “old-time religion”. It seems as if the reaction to ever more scientific discoveries is to become ever more irrational. As if one has to prove one’s credentials by adhering to ever more extreme positions.

  18. I’ve actually read some of Duane Gish’s book Evolution: The Fossils Say No!. I couldn’t make it all the way through; it’s hard to read a book whose every sentence makes one want to rebut. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy–er, I mean a more worthless expenditure of paper and ink.

  19. Yes, Ashley Haworth-roberts, I’m thinking about that one.

  20. In fact, unusually, Ham comes close in the blog to admitting that he too is a zealot. “I am zealous for my beliefs.” Ken Ham telling the truth today. (I’ll shut up now.)

  21. Techreseller

    SC. Do not underestimate stupidity. Noone ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of the American people– Mencken. One can substitute any nationality for American. Those religious beliefs are comfortable. Give rules for behavior. Simple explanations for why things are. Those things will last. And last. And last.