Creative Challenge #29: Name One Thing

Your Curmudgeon presents you with another creative challenge. This one may be the most difficult yet.

You must name at least one thing — one positive contribution to civilization — resulting from belief in young Earth creationism. Don’t bother with the fact that it provides a good living for the proprietors of creation museums and similar things. That’s nice for them, but we’re speaking about benefits to humanity in general.

Also, it’s not sufficient to provide us with a list of creationists who have accomplished worthwhile things. We’ve seen those lists, but they don’t mean anything. Many scientists, engineers, and inventors, especially in the past, have been religious. But in all the cases we’re familiar with — see Did Science Originate with Creationists? — their achievements were in no way dependent upon the age of the Earth, six day creation, Adam & Eve, or Noah’s Flood. We are speaking specifically about those doctrines.

The form of today’s challenge is that you must tell us, with reasonable brevity:

What benefits have we enjoyed from young-Earth creationism?

You know the rules: You may enter the contest as many times as you wish, but you must avoid profanity, vulgarity, childish anatomical analogies, etc. Also, avoid slanderous statements about individuals. Feel free to comment on the entries submitted by others — with praise, criticism, or whatever — but you must do so tastefully.

There may not be a winner of this contest, but if there is, your Curmudgeon will decide, and whenever we get around to it we’ll announce who the winner is. There is no tangible prize — as always in life’s great challenges, the accomplishment is its own reward. We now throw open the comments section, dear reader. Go for it!

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43 responses to “Creative Challenge #29: Name One Thing

  1. ladyatheist


  2. An easy target that can be used to show the absurdity of creationism to even the most uneducated people.

  3. The Robin Williamson song “Adam and Eve” on the Incredible String Band’s album Liquid Acrobat as Regards the Air. In fact, you can listen to it right href=””>here — what better way to get your weekend in gear?

  4. I don’t think YEC has produced a single, direct benefit. Indirectly, though, it provides a very good window into the psychology of pseudoscience. Looked at that way, it’s provided fodder for lots of good papers and books.

  5. It positively identifies people with an intelligence defect.

  6. I have will

    Four laphroaighs consumed and I come up with the following……Young earth creationism offers a simple, easily comprehended fairy tale
    explaining creation for the ignorant.
    A common belief system, no matter how stupid , provides a unifying doctrine for humans who, it can be argued, survived harsh circumstances best as part of a group.
    In this regard, oogity boogity has provided a unifying doctrine. for hunter gatherer cannibals to high Presbyterians. As in ancestor worship, Greek gods, Buddhism, etc, mankind is comforted and encouraged by myths, no matter how outlandish as it provides a way to explain ones existence. Ergo Dom McLeroy the worlds greatest intellectual coward.
    THIS has allowed our species to develop to the point where logic, the scientific method, democracy and the rights of man have been envisioned and utilized to further improve mans condition and ability to achieve great things. Oogity boogity was a stepping stone in mankind’s evolution. The ability to think will separate future survivors from those who support superstition. Vestiges of oogity boogity will persist for centuries.

  7. Well, stap me, but my comment has failed to post. So here it is again, in approximate form:

    The sole benefit I can think of that humanity has gained from YEC is the Robin Williamson song “Adam and Eve”, which appears on the classic Incredible String Band album Liquid Acrobat as Regards the Air. You can even find a copy of the song on YouTube:

    What better way to set yourself up for the weekend?

  8. realthog says: “Well, stap me, but my comment has failed to post.”

    I won’t stap you. Something went haywire with the spam filter.

  9. michaelfugate

    Is it because Adam and Eve were naked?

  10. I wondered if it might be that! I see both versions have now appeared . . .

  11. realthog, that one got snared too. I have no control over it.

  12. Dave Luckett

    One of its benefits, even here, even now, is that it forms a criterion for tribalism. Palpably, YECism is a ticket of entry for a particular club, a sub-society which, like all human societies, is capable of supporting and nurturing its members. Consider the Hamites. If you sign their statement of dogma, you can get a job that one who wouldn’t sign it couldn’t get.

    But there’s more. YECism has the reverse effect, too. We, also, are a tribe, and we exhibit a tendency to support each other simply because we oppose creationism. I might otherwise find it necessary to oppose, say, economic conservatism shading into libertarian ideals. Or at least decline to appear on a podium, as it were, with those who espouse such views, for I am somewhat of a pale-pink social democrat who believes in a social services safety net, public ownership of resources and essential utilities, and public medicine, health, housing, education and welfare. Although an atheist, I get into trouble with other atheists when I say I don’t believe because I don’t know, not because I affirm the converse.

    But all that is subordinate to the fact that like others here I despise the brainless drooling idiocy that is YECism, and find repulsive the theocratic totalitarianism that it embodies. That gives me a tribe of my own, and it’s all down to being against the YECs. It wouldn’t be possible without them.

  13. It gives people an outlet to discuss the culture and history of a lovely country along the Adriatic Sea.

    My apologies: I often confuse my O’s and E’s.

  14. A sad, ironic laugh because people really believe the YEC nonsense.

  15. I did not discern from the rules of the contest that the contribution from YEC had to be exclusively from them. Nor did I sense that it had to be a tangible object.

    Therefore, I offer that one positive social contribution of YEC is that it hasn’t produced a single sociopathic outburst of violence. That is, of all the zealots who have committed a disgustingly wide range of cowardly and ugly violence in the name of their specific sky poppa, none of them have been YEC.

    Now, I of course recognize a reasonable objection from our Curmudgeon and our Coalition of Sensuous Skeptics: can a person or group be said to make a positive contribution with a negative, by NOT doing a specific behavior? After all, logically, a person or group can’t “do” a negative. One can do something that has negative outcomes or consequences, but one can’t “do” a “nothing.” Our language doesn’t even permit the possibility of such a category, to do something that hasn’t even emerged as an action that can be done among others.

    But to that objectio, I counter that language is equal parts inflexible syntax and wonderfully mutable usage. I can certainly say that, by not throwing my trash in the street, I am not making my immediate public area ugly, and not attracting rodents as well. The key to this phrase is that we can turn the negative phrase into positive ones: I contributed to keeping my neighborhood cleaner and safer by disposing of my trash properly.

    Ahhh, but the same principle applies to my claim, and in a much more urgent way. By not having any of its members go totally tin foil haberdashery and erupt in a holy orgy of High Modernist Creative Destruction (yeah, okay, that was UBER dry and bitter…so crucify me), let’s look at the LIST of positive contributions:

    1) obviously, no sickening trail of needlessly murdered bodies to serve as ANOTHER indication of the rank cowardice of every act of religious terrorism and extremism;
    2) because of this, we know that both rigorous criticism and deserved satire of YEC won’t result in such appalling responses. Therefore, FREEDOM OF SPEECH isn’t threatened (unlike as it is by ISIS, and by this human pumpkin from NYC running for POTUS, but that’s not what where we’re going right now);
    3) knowing that a group is not violent also contributes to feeling safer in neighborhoods where such odd creatures also live. And I might note, this is no small contribution to society, given an increased murder rate in the US.

    Finally, you might then counter with “well, I don’t have a history of riddling the local McDonald”s with bullets, so either I’m special, or they’re not.”

    Well, you’re BOTH special, but for vastly different reasons. You’re special because…gosh golly because you’re YOU! The YEC-ers are special because of their truly unique, comprehensively factless worldview.

    But seriously, the difference is that you and I are NOT special in regards to not engaging in random, terrible violence–we have no reason whatsoever to think the other will. Yet with radical religious sects, the “odd” ones are the quiet ones, the ones who don’t kill and torture.

    So yes, for all of these reasons, the YEC can be said to contribute their uncommonly milquetoasty approach to the outer fringe of religious faith, something which for folks like us, has plenty of fringe sewn onto it already.

    I’ll post the address to send my prize shortly.

    Yours in victory,

    Christopher Courington

  16. Outspoken YEC has provided a beneficial side effect of making it easier to identify many of the willfully ignorant members of our society. No sense in trying to teach the self made unteachable.

  17. christophercourington asserts:

    of all the zealots who have committed a disgustingly wide range of cowardly and ugly violence in the name of their specific sky poppa, none of them have been YEC


    …Well, I suppose it possible that some (if any) of the religious zealots who have committed violent and murderous acts may have been technically OEC rather than YEC, though that makes me wonder that our Curmudgeon has confined his challenge to the latter.

    The mass murderers who brought us 9/11 were unquestionably Creationists–and the foundation for their set of delusional beliefs is utterly rooted in religious Creationism. Whether they were of Old or Young Earth variant does not strike me as significant.

    Many other examples abound, of course.

  18. I have actually directly benefited from a scientific calculation performed by the YECs at Bob Jones University; details here:
    They pointed out, quite correctly, that the amount of heat generated by radioactive decay within the Earth is not sufficient to refute Kelvin’s cooling argument, which imposed an upper limit to the age of the Earth of tens, rather than thousands, of millions of years.

    This led me to discover the correct rebuttal of Kelvin’s argument, which is that Kelvin assumed the Earth to be solid throughout, with heat only being transported by conduction, whereas the mantle is fluid, transports heat by the much more efficient process of convection, and the total amount of heat that has been lost, and the amount of time that it must have taken to lose it, is correspondingly greater.

    To my shame, I like everybody else, accepted Rutherford’s claim to have refuted Kelvin by invoking the heating produced by radioactive decay. In reality, it doesn’t. The convection argument, which does, had been put forward by John Perry, one of Kelvin’s own former disciples, but Kelvin had brush it aside. Convection also supplies the driving force for plate tectonics, and Arthur Holmes pointed out this connection in the 1930s.

  19. Paul Braterman says: “This led me to discover the correct rebuttal of Kelvin’s argument”

    Interesting. It’s true that some good work can be specifically motivated to rebut a false idea. But we’re always trying to improve our knowledge, and it’s odd to give credit to the existence of previously wrong ideas. It’s somewhat like saying medical science owes its existence to disease, or the industry that builds burglar alarm systems owes its existence to criminal behavior.

  20. An imperfect analogy. if there were no burglars, we would not need further alarms, but if there were no anti-scientists, we would still need science. But I grant you, the benefit of my discovering the correct analysis of the Earth’s heat loss does not outweigh the harm done to the innumerable students who have been told that Kelvin’s argument remains valid. And while my purpose is to encourage questioning, Bob Jones’s purpose is to forestall questioning, by creating the illusion that the objections to creationism have been answered.

  21. “You must name at least one thing — one positive contribution to civilization — resulting from belief in young Earth creationism.”
    YEC provides excellent tests for recognizing logical fallacies. I am dead serious about this. If society ever deems it necessary to teach teens how to recognize them I wholeheartedly recommend YEC texts as training ground.

  22. The Ark Theme Park has led to creative innovations in construction technology, including how to pour a concrete base strong enough to support an Ark of biblical proportions, how to manage the heavy machinery required, and how to obtain public funding for such a venture

  23. Dr. Braterman makes a point which is indeed very interesting:

    I have actually directly benefited from a scientific calculation performed by the YECs at Bob Jones University

    Which I think also illustrates the point that there is no reason at all why a Young Earth Creationist cannot do good science.

    And that is actually counter to the claims of the Discoveroids, who insist science is wrong because it starts from what they deem to be wrong initial assumptions (“materialism”)–which is nonsense, because science isn’t about starting off with the right idea, it’s about starting with a question and the rigour to investigate all possible approaches to answering it (if an answer is possible at all). And any ‘answers’ in science are always provisional, every new data point is a potential challenge to our current understanding. Just one genuine fossil of the fabled pre-Cambrian rabbit, and some major overhauling of evolutionary theory at once commences.

    Dr. Braterman’s account is a splended reminder of the principle of Nullius in verba; many thanks for that!

  24. Provides fodder for much of the Republican Party platform.

  25. Well said, Megalonyx. For those who didn’t get it, see Nullius in verba.

  26. Off-topic–but another data point indicating my formidible powers of prophesy! In a comment on our Curmudgeon’s blog article of 1 June, I linked to a news item about fresh research on peppered moths and boldly predicted

    Reaction from Jonathan Wells and the Discoveroids in 5…4…3…2…

    And true to form, here’s Wells at the DI bloggin’ away: Peppered Moths, an Evolutionary Icon, Are Back

    To tell the truth, even I was initially surprised by the celerity with which Wells has responded–but on reflection, I see I need not have been. After all, when you have long ago crafted a conclusion which is independent of any empirical basis, why should any new findings ever lead you to re-evaluate your predetermined position?

  27. To be a tad more scientific about things here: I have not herewith fully demonstrated my supernatural prophetic powers, for I must allow that another hypothesis is possible here, viz., that Creationists are utterly consumed by a staggeringly small and boring set of idées fixes and thus are highly predictable.

    But I much prefer to believe I am privileged in my possession of amazing powers of intuition and foreknowledge!

  28. The interesting thing aspect of Wells piece is that it doesn’t really seem to say anything beyond a quick (and spun) recap of the story so far, followed effectively by a yah-boo-sucks. I wondered if this is just a hastily rejigged piece from earlier.

  29. michaelfugate

    Megalonyx not to take away from your prodigious powers, but I think Wells’ Icons your alternative is definitely true; Wells’ Icons pretty much covers creationists’ knowledge base.

  30. realthog wonders if Wells’ latest isn’t

    just a hastily rejigged piece from earlier

    Is there anything in ‘Intelligent Design theory’ that isn’t just hastily rejigged from Paley’s watchmaker and 19th century vitalism?

  31. I don’t know whether the ID-ers are aware of this, but several of their arguments have been anticipated by the 18th century preformationists.
    Paley’s “watchmaker” is one example of a commonplace from the preformationists. Irreducible Complexity and some other ideas go back to Nicolas Malebranche. Cotton Mather gave an argument calling on the impossibility of a perpetual motion machine!

  32. michaelfugate

    And Paley was a reply to Hume. Hume had shown intelligent design to be incoherent and Paley retorted with commonsense/intuition. Some things never change.

  33. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    You must name at least one thing — one positive contribution to civilization — resulting from belief in young Earth creationism.

    The urine in Dembski’s bowl of Cheerios.

  34. In their rage and jealousy of atheists and other rational people, YEC have (perhaps unintentionally) brought unprecedented attention to scientists, engineers, philosophers, and others who choose to live by reason.

  35. The biggest achievement for mankind by YEC’s must be the saddle on a triceratops.

  36. From my point of view, the benefit I have enjoyed most from young earth creationism is the amount I have learned in the discussions on this blog rebutting various YEC claims. Seriously, in what other blog would the contributors engage in a lengthy discussion about how to prove that Jason Lisle’s anisotropic synchrony convention of light speed (I probably said that wrong) is incorrect? To pick just one item from the wide range of subjects taken on.

  37. What about Haydn’s oratorio The Creation (c.1797), with its famous chorus, “The heavens are telling the glory of God”? Not science, admittedly, but certainly a contribution to civilisation.

  38. On the other hand, there’s Bach’s St John’s Passion, where Herod at one point sings: “Where are my old supports?”

  39. @I Have Will: LAPHROAIG is my favorite whiskey, especially the quarter cask version, but after four drams of it I’m sure I couldn’t compose anything as spot on as you post, and I certainly couldn’t get the keys to transcribe it correctly.

  40. longshadow

    If it weren’t for Creationism, the Sensuous Curmudgeon wouldn’t have created this blog!

    Now that’s a POSITIVE contribution to civilization!

    Do I win a prize?

  41. Longie asks: “Do I win a prize?”

    Yes, you win a prize for having the worst attendance record of all my regular commenters.

  42. Paul, if convection moves heat faster, then that shortens the amount of time it takes for the Earth to cool. Your conclusion is exactly opposite to the truth. Radioactivity is actually the correct refutation.