Creative Challenge #36: Will Creationism Ever Die?

Human history is littered with incorrect beliefs, some of them strange, some merely mistakes (see Wikipedia’s list of Superseded scientific theories), most of which have been long forgotten. But some persist as fringe beliefs. Examples are astrology, magic crystals, crop circles, haunted houses, astral projection, and moon-landing denial. Although those still linger, almost no one takes them seriously

Creationism is as wrong as any of those, demonstrably so, yet it has numerous believers, and — incredibly — some political influence. Today’s challenge is for you to predict whether creationism: (1) will one day join astrology as an all but universally abandoned belief; or (2) whether it will survive, more or less as popular as today. In addition to your prediction, we want to know why you believe that.

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

Will Creationism ever die, and why?

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!

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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21 responses to “Creative Challenge #36: Will Creationism Ever Die?

  1. Charles Deetz ;)

    After Jason Lisle becomes honest and explains to all the creationists that a light years are not something that changes and the universe must be billions of years old.

  2. Hate to be the pessimist, but I think creationism will be around for as long as there are hucksters willing to make a buck off the sincere believers, and for as long as there are politicians willing to pander to those sincere believers for votes.

    Foremost examples of the hucksters — Ken Ham, David Rives, the whole Discovery Institute menagerie, and all the Elmer Gantry wannabes preachin’ that Old Time Religion.

    Foremost examples of the politicians –at this point, seems like just about the entire Republican Party, I hate to say. Oh, there are exceptions, just like there are a few pro-choice Republican pols, but they are few and far between.

    So, I guess you can get the drift that I think creationism will be around for a long, long time. When so many people are convinced that their salvation depends on blind belief, it doesn’t look good for a broad public understanding of reality.

  3. Will stupidity always be with us? Of course.
    But one day, we will notice that creationism has not been mentioned lately. It will suddenly and silently vanish, and the only question will be why. It may be that something more frightening than being related to monkeys has been discovered – say, something about the functioning of the brain.
    And there will be people who will be insulted by the slur that the new popular stupidity is creationism. They will say that bringing up creationism is a reference to something which never had any influence, no more than a marginal number of believers.

  4. Dave Luckett

    As others have said before me, the persistence of creationism depends entirely on what is meant by the term.

    If it means “The belief that the Universe, Earth, life and ultimately human beings were created by (a) God”, then it is likely to be around for a long, long time. If it be His will, God may work entirely by natural processes, themselves defined by fundamental natural law – the laws He ordained. Science can say nothing to contradict that.

    If it means, “The Universe, the Earth, all life and human beings were all created by separate fiat in six days within the last ten thousand years”, then it is my earnest hope that TomS’s description of the demise of creationism is correct. But if he will forgive me, I do not think that *I* will be there to notice that it has gone. I hope, within what is left of my time, that I will see it fall to the status of flat-earth belief – that is, the assertion of a tiny crackpot fringe. At the moment, even that seems out of reach.

    And yet:

    “For while the tired waves, vainly breaking
    Seem here no painful inch to gain,
    Far back through creeks and inlets making,
    Comes silent, flooding in, the main.”

  5. I too think that in a couple of generations, the action will be elsewhere. Some other brand of denialism will take its place. And as TomS said, people will deny their past denialism. It will be much like today’s Young Earth Creationist denying that Christian theologians in the past ranted against heliocentrism. I often ask YEC deniers of evolution why I should think their denialism will last when past denials of the Heliocentric Planetary Model died out once the scientific evidence for that theory became overwhelming and undeniable. When I tell them, “Your grandchildren will try to make excuses and pretend that you were never so foolish as to deny the Theory of Evolution with arguments based on the Bible.”, they tell me, “Heliocentrism was different. And unlike evolution, the Bible never denied heliocentrism! Besides, unlike heliocentrism, there’s no evidence for evolution!”

    I predict that despite trying as hard as they can, neither Steve Ham nor The Great & Magnificent (Bodie) Hodge will ever manage to equal Daddy Ken Ham’s “charism” in the world of ark-peddlers. And when Steve Ham asks an audience of little children to recite, “Were you there?”, they will look at him with blank faces. (You know how it is. Some people can tell a mantra and some can’t.)

    Of course, the massive lawsuits from the “You old baldhead!” Elisha Encounter will drain AIG of millions. (Angry bears eat too many skeptics.) The publicity for the “Lake of Fire Encounter”, where visitors can watch atheist evilutionists, climate-change scientists, EPA inspectors, and liberal Democrats roast for eternity will boost ticket sales–but not enough to cover the huge cost of the monthly natural gas bill of the “Gehenna Valley” attraction.

    It will take a while, but the Ark Encounter will eventually go the way of Heritage USA.

    [I have assumed that the question about the survival of “creationism” is referring primarily to Young Earth Creationism, the strange movement which evolved from George McReady Price’s interpretations of SDA prophetess Ellen White’s bizarre claims and got mainstreamed for evangelicals by THE GENESIS FLOOD (1962, Henry Morris & John Whitcomb Jr.) The classical definition of “creationism”, the idea that God created everything, will persist as long as the Christian and Jewish religions continue.]

  6. Our Curmudgeon errs, when discussing the persistence of religious beliefs, in directing our attention to

    Wikipedia’s list of Superseded scientific theories

    Scientific theories are indeed superseded, but only when new data so warrents. Religious beliefs are not supplanted by emprical means–though in some of the darkest chapters of our human history, they are occasionally replaced by a different set of religious beliefs by military force.

    And the question here needs to be qualified, should in fact be

    Will Creationism ever die in the USA, and why?

    Not that modern Creationism is exclusively American–but it is predominantly so. The fringe Creationist grouplets in Europe are mostly associated with American evangelical ‘outreach’ programmes, and dependent on them not only for propaganda literature but often also for funding.

  7. Creationism will never die, just like astrology and Flat Earth Theory will never die. It may become fringe like the latter though (I suspect astrology is way more popular than our dear SC seems to assume). The reason is that young generations won’t get turning stomachs from the idea that humans are related to monkeys.
    Mega, I’m afraid you’re too positive. The one time I found data about us Dutchies it appeared that 24% reject Evolution Theory. That’s a lot less than in the USA, but it’s still a lot.

  8. The desire for supernatural entities and religious fundamentalism and creationism are linked. Stupidity and creationism. are linked. Poor education and creationism are linked. Mental illness and creationism are linked. Hucksters and creationism are linked.
    Will these aspects of human behavior ever disappear?
    One can imagine a world society so advanced and educated that these beliefs are eradicated however, that ideal world would mean human nature itself had been altered to an ideal state.
    That seems unlikely indeed. Hence the continued chaos of mankind’s evolution. Chaos, incidentally, was the radio net call sign of General James Mattis, US Marines, the newly appointed 2017 US Secretary of Defense.
    And the term indicates that Mattis comprehends the nature of warfare.
    I believe that an analogy between the nature of war and mankind’s untidy history, can be drawn, albeit on a different scale and timeline.
    So, during times of severe ignorance, those seeking knowledge and enlightenment against the chaos are the insurrectionists. During times of great learning and change, fundy creationists have been and will be, the insurrectionists. Chaos.

  9. I’ve always had conflicting thoughts about this. Any particular ministry can be destroyed by an old-fashioned sex or financial scandal, but most of its followers will find a home with some other outfit that peddles the same stuff. If creationism is ever to fade away, it won’t be a scandal, and it won’t be because humanity suddenly becomes aware of how foolish it is. Creationism must be replaced with something else.

    It’s a bit science fiction-ish, but I suspect that one day, when we’re finally establishing settlements on the worlds of other stars, a cult that preaches humanity’s divinely ordained destiny to dominate the cosmos will satisfy those who need supernatural motivations. Creationism will then fade, but only because it was replaced by something more … uh, useful.

    Addendum: Even if creationism fades into the oblivion of astrology and other abandoned beliefs, it will be replaced with something else. As the moth seeks the flame, the simpleton seeks the charlatan.

  10. It’ll be around for the foreseeable future. A better question is when will creationists organizations stop getting support from deep pocketed donors, with lots of money and little brains. As long as there is a money supply there will be a presence.

  11. “Any particular ministry can be destroyed by an old-fashioned sex or financial scandal, but most of its followers will find a home with some other outfit that peddles the same stuff.”

    You are way too optimistic. Benny Hind was thoroughly expose, but he still has a huge following. Peter Popoff was thoroughly exposed, but he has a large following. In many cases, no matter what the exposure there will be true believers who simple refuse to believe that they were so easily duped.

  12. I’ll take choice 1.5.

    I predict creationism will diminish but will never be as fringe or easily identifiable by the masses as fringe as astrology or other crackpotteries.

    Why?

    1) Take geocentrism/ heliocentrism as a comparison. The solar system is a fairly simple model to comprehend. Much simpler than the (relatively) complex concepts and facts of biology. Even simpletons can comprehend the physics of the solar system with one glance at a picture.

    Biology will remain more deniable than heliocentrism because it is less easily understood.

    2) (And I give this option more weight than (1).) Religious and non-religious human thought is infused with teleology. From “God did it” to the relatively secular “Everything happens for a reason” humans really like answers that are intentional causes. Evolution lacks teleology and will therefore lack a compelling psychological component for humans. Evidence and rational coherence are not enough for many people.

  13. Re: heliocentrism v. evolution in the Bible
    I realize that it is futile to argue over Biblical interpretations, but I feel it necessary to point out that there is nothing in the Bible which denies macro-evolution or promotes baraminology (micro-evolution). The only problem is a matter of time, which is not a direct denial of evolution – and Christians from the first century up until the early 20th century found it easy to find other meanings – it takes some merely human mental work, and modern concepts, to go from what the Bible says to baraminology.
    On the other hand, Bible readers, unanimously, up until the rise of modern science took the geocentric passages quite literally and seriously. Including the early reformers, Luther and Calvin (it wasn’t just a Papist thing). Unlike baraminology, geocentrism is the plain sense of the Bible.

  14. Creationism, flat-earthism, any religion, moonlanding hoaxes all such will NEVER die!!!
    NEVER underestimate the depth, breath or power of human stoopidity!

  15. One wrinkle to creationism is that many of its strongest advocates are also climate change deniers, and have linked their denial to their religious belief. Climate change is already evident, and will only become more so. At some point in the next decade or two, denial will be universally seen as completely irrational. To the extent that creationism, and biblical literalism in general, is associated with denial of what has become obvious to everyone, then creationism may disappear – at least in its current form.

    Also, we might find microbial life somewhere in the solar system, or indicators of life on one or more exoplanets. Discovery of life originating elsewhere will be a major blow to creationism, and could end it as it exists today.

  16. The problem is creationism is enmeshed with notions of a mindreading powerful scary God and morality so it’s difficult to isolate and defeat. Denying that Earth was created means denying the creator aka God, therefore denying the alleged source of morality. Some people can reason their way past this fear of doubting but some can’t or don’t want to because of the comfort they get from their beliefs. (I used to be afraid to face my doubts because I “knew” God would know and would be offended.) So it will always be with us.

  17. The Hollow-Earth believers trundle on, oblivious to reality. Why would Creationoids be any different?

    Also, don’t overlook the fact that swaths of Islam buy into Creationism; even if Christians abandon Creationism and embrace Charlie Darwin as a long lost brother, Haran Yahya (Adnan Octar) will be busy peddling the same Creationoid hogwash to the Prophet’s enlightened masses all over the globe, which will be absorbed with glee by the fanatical fundamentalist of Islam, in between viewing IED construction videos and their usual fare of porno videos of men copulating with goats.

  18. Who cares whether “creationism” in some form survives? There are, at this moment, a shocking number of people right here in the USA who believe the earth is flat. What matters is whether such believers can persuade, or force, other people to accept their ideas. There’s no chance of that for the flat-earthers; unfortunately, the same can’t be said of creationists, or this site would be unnecessary.

  19. There are people who are serious about their geocentrism, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of the spread of that. There seems to be a popular confusion between geocentrism and the Flat Earth. About the Flat Earth, I’m not convinced that there are enough sincere believers in a uniform doctrine to be able to form a movement. What little I hear of Flat Earth societies, after the death of Charles K. Johnson, they each accuse the others of being spoofs.

  20. “…they each accuse the others of being spoofs.”

    And they’re probably all correct.

  21. Will creationism die. Not likely. Look at some of our top Sci Fi writers. Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, etc etc. They all have well into the future hard core religious sects that hold onto irrational beliefs. As a percentage it will diminish, die, not likely.