Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Time for a bit of a rant on creationism. I’m not talking about the belief that a divine being created the universe and all life on it, anyone believing in God/Allah should believe that, I’m talking about people who’s interpretations of scripture are so literal that they deny any evidence that contradicts their interpretations, to the point of trying to undermine scientific research and education. These are the people I have an issue with!

Sadly creationism, or as they like to call it now - intelligent design, appears to be on the upswing in America, or at least the adherent followers are getting more noisy. Part of their tactics is to promote an either-or fallacy that you can’t be Christian and agree with the theory of evolution, that they are somehow mutually exclusive, and that only atheists/pagans/communists etc. ‘believe’ in evolution (believe is in quotes because in truth one doesn‘t believe in scientific theories like a religion - if further evidence comes along that disproves evolution in favour of another theory then science will move to that theory and march onward, not holding my breath that it‘ll happen though). In fact many Christian sects such as most Catholics and Anglicans have no problem with evolution, and many biologists are Christian which does not appear to impact their research into matters such as genetics. But Heaven forbid that a Biblical literalist might think that maybe, just maybe, that any evidence that goes against their beliefs might indicate that their interpretation of scripture is wrong. Heck no! The Bible is inerrant and how they interpret it must be right. If science comes out with evidence to the contrary then in their minds it means science is attacking the Bible itself. There seems to be an underlying arrogance to that.

Let me just say that science does not attempt, nor is it able, to prove or disprove a religion. Things like the existence of God are totally beyond scientific enquiry. Science deals with empirical observation, it can only look at things that is within our power to observe and study. No test of science can study God. The Bible isn’t in danger from science and hundreds of years of scientific study and achievement hasn’t made the world a bunch of roving atheists. Almost all scientists know this.

Scriptural literalists set themselves up for confrontation with science because of their inflexibility. Once they believe something due to their interpretation of scripture it is difficult for them to accept any evidence to the contrary. How do many of them deal with it if evidence appears? Denial is one way, grand conspiracies about scientists trying to undermine Christianity is another, taking quotes from famous scientists out of context is a favourite, or blatantly lying about scientific concepts to undermine science can occur sometimes as well.

So I’ll segway into one of my favourite websites, Talk Origins. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the theory of evolution, false claims made by creationists, and other material on the war between science and religious dogma. The What’s New section is always worth checking out periodically - I especially love the summary of the monthly feedback, but if you ever come across creationist claims against evolution this is the first place you should go to investigate the truth behind the claim.

That said if you have access to a good library and are really interested in the topic be sure to check out the original source material. Talk Origins is good about listing references for their information. I sometimes get concerned when in internet forum debates people post things along the lines of “Talk Origins says this therefore it must be true”. That’s not ideal from a critical thinking perspective and I doubt the people who manage Talk Origins want their website to be seen as some kind of gospel. Part of being a good skeptic is a willingness to check sources even when you agree with what is being said.

What about creationism in Islam? I’ll get to that tomorrow . . .

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