Why the Anti-Science Creationist Movement Is So Dangerous

This essay was originally published on AlterNet.

A few weeks ago, Jon Huntsman torpedoed his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination by making the following announcement:

To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.

It’s a pathetic commentary on the anti-intellectualism rampant in American politics that this is newsworthy: a major-party candidate announces that he doesn’t deny a foundational theory of modern science! In fact, given the political atmosphere in the Republican party, it’s not just newsworthy but a daring act: polls have shown that almost 70% of Republicans deny evolution.

Huntsman is clearly trying to position himself as the moderate candidate. But while that strategy might play well in the general election, it won’t do him any good unless he can get the Republican nomination. And to win that nomination, he has to get past a huge obstacle: a solid bloc of Republican primary voters who are emphatically anti-science. This isn’t an exaggeration for polemical effect; it’s the plain truth. The modern Republican party has made a fervent rejection of scientific consensus its defining attribute – both on evolution and climate change, as well as in other fields – and Huntsman’s refusal to submit to party orthodoxy is likely a fatal blow to his chances.

But opposition to climate change is something new in the Republican platform. As recently as a few years ago, both Mitt Romney and John McCain supported cap-and-trade laws, and Newt Gingrich appeared in pro-environment ads with Nancy Pelosi. The party’s rejection of climate science is fairly new, and probably comes from its increasing dependence on campaign cash from dirty-energy barons like the Koch brothers.

By contrast, the Republican party’s denial of evolution is much older and more grass-roots in nature, dating at least to when the national parties traded places during the civil-rights era. The conservative South, in addition to its other charming qualities, has a long history of passing laws hostile to science – from Tennessee’s Butler Act, the 1925 law prohibiting the teaching of evolution that led to the Scopes trial, to Louisiana’s 1981 Balanced Treatment Act, which decreed that “creation science” had to be given an equal share of classroom time.

But while fundamentalists have always been hostile to evolution, the modern creationist movement got its start in the 1960s, primarily due to the influence of an evangelical author named Henry Morris. Morris’ 1964 book The Genesis Flood argued, among other things, that Noah’s flood happened just as the Bible describes it – in other words, that it was reasonable to believe that eight people could care for a floating zoo containing at least two members of every species on Earth. Imagine trying to run the entire Bronx Zoo with just eight employees. Now consider that Noah’s leaky tub, by even the most forgiving estimates, would have to have had far more kinds of animals (including dinosaurs, which creationists believe existed simultaneously with humans, a la the Flintstones). Imagine how much feeding, watering, and manure-carrying that would be. Imagine all this frenetic activity taking place in the cramped, dark, foul-smelling confines of a wooden boat, with predators and prey side-by-side in narrow pens, during the most violent and catastrophic storm in the history of the planet, with an absolute requirement that not a single animal get sick or die. Now try not to laugh too hard at the people who seriously believe that all this really happened.

As already mentioned, the creationist movement’s original strategy revolved around getting friendly state legislatures to decree that their ideas had to be taught in public schools, regardless of scientific merit or lack thereof. This strategy hasn’t fared well in court: aside from a Pyrrhic victory in the Scopes trial, judges have repeatedly recognized this for the obvious violation of separation of church and state that it is. And each time they lost, the creationist movement responded the same way: like a snake shedding its skin, they rebranded themselves with a new name, then tried again with the same ideas. “Creation science” became “scientific creationism,” which became “abrupt-appearance theory,” and so on. The currently preferred nomenclature is “intelligent design” (which is totally constitutional and not at all religious, because we’re not saying who we think the intelligent designer is – nudge nudge, wink wink!). But even this watered-down creationism met with defeat in Dover, Pennsylvania in 2005, when a judge appointed by George W. Bush handed down a resounding ruling that teaching intelligent design in public school is unconstitutional.

It remains to be seen how they’ll rebrand themselves next, though we can be confident that their basic strategy won’t change. One of the most hilarious parts of the Dover case was evidence showing that, after a court ruling which made it illegal to teach creationism in public schools, the authors of a creationist textbook did a find-and-replace to change “creationism” to “intelligent design” and “creationists” to “design proponents”. At one point, someone mistyped and left a transitional fossil in an early draft: a paragraph that referred to “cdesign proponentsists“.

But while creationists keep bumbling on the legal front, they’ve had more success in the cultural arena, by infiltrating the public schools with creationist teachers who flout the law and preach their religious beliefs in class. There are some notable and egregious examples: in an earlier essay on AlterNet, I mentioned David Paskiewicz, the New Jersey high school teacher who advocated creationism in class, in addition to telling a Muslim student that she belonged in hell. There’s also John Freshwater, a creationist science teacher who was fired for breaking school rules about proselytizing in the classroom. Among other things, he allegedly used a Tesla coil to burn a cross onto a student’s arm!

And it’s not just the teachers, either. Creationist churches are training students at all educational levels to refuse to learn about any science their religion rejects, as in this story:

The last question on the test Mr. Campbell passed out a week later asked students to explain two forms of evidence supporting evolutionary change and natural selection.

“I refuse to answer,” Bryce wrote. “I don’t believe in this.”

Although there are different kinds of creationists, the most fervent and most influential are the so-called young-earth creationists, who believe the world and every species on it is about 6,000 years old. The young-earth creationists, or YECs for short, believe that the universe was created in seven twenty-four-hour days, that there was a literal Garden of Eden, a literal Adam and Eve, and a literal talking snake just as the Book of Genesis describes.

To anyone who has even the most passing acquaintance with real science, these myths are laughably false, on the same level as believing in a literal wolf who blew down the houses of literal pigs. Anyone who knows anything about genetics can see the impossibility of a healthy species arising from a single breeding pair. A population starting from such a tiny gene pool just wouldn’t have enough genetic diversity to adapt to environmental changes – not to mention the obvious problem of inbreeding depression, where sex between close relatives results in a far greater likelihood of the offspring inheriting the same rare and harmful mutations from both parents. (For fun, ask a creationist to explain about how they believe the prohibition on incest didn’t apply in the beginning. After all, once Adam and Eve had sons and daughters, where was the next generation of human beings going to come from?)

Likewise, the geologic record shows that the Earth has an enormously long and intricate history. Preserved in the rock record, we see evidence of continents drifting and colliding, thrusting up mountain ranges that are then slowly worn down by erosion; glaciers advancing and retreating, carving and scouring the landscape; sedimentary rock layers slowly built up by eons of deposition, then cut into deep canyons by rivers or metamorphosed by heat and pressure; the same land becoming shallow sea, swamp, forest, plain, desert and back to sea again, as sea levels rise and fall over the ages. This grand tapestry stands in stark contrast to the creationists’ cartoonish view of geology, in which Noah’s flood was the only geological event of significance to happen in the planet’s brief history. Geologists knew well before Charles Darwin that there was no evidence for a global flood, and modern scientists can add the evidence of radiometric dating, which shows the precise ages of ancient rocks and artifacts and proves that they’re far older than the creationist worldview permits.

And then there’s the direct evidence for evolution, in all its sprawling grandeur. We know evolution is true from genetic studies which show that all species share deep similarities at the genetic level. In fact, by charting which species’ genomes share the same one-off mutations, we can build evolutionary trees which show the patterns of relationship between species and allow us to estimate when they branched from each other. This nested hierarchy, the pattern produced by descent with modification, binds all living and extinct species together in an unbreakable web of heredity and kinship, every bit as real as the one that connects you to your ancestors and your living relatives.

We know evolution is true from transitional fossils which preserve snapshots of evolutionary change, such as the bird-like feathered dinosaurs; the therapsids that are intermediate between reptiles and mammals; the primitive whales with legs that are ancestors of today’s cetaceans; and in our own family lineage, the humanlike hominids that show how modern Homo sapiens arose from more ape-like ancestors. (Hilariously, the creationists all agree that there are no transitional fossils and that all fossil hominid species are either fully human or fully ape – but they can’t agree on which is which, exactly as we’d expect from true intermediates.)

We know evolution is true from the kludges, hacks, and jury-rigs we find in the anatomy of living things, including us – evidence not of a wise and forward-looking designer, but of a slow, mindless, tinkering process of change, a “blind watchmaker” as Richard Dawkins famously termed it. From the useless goosebumps we get when cold or frightened, to the backwards-wired human retina, to the babies occasionally born with vestigial tails, human bodies bear the indelible stamp of our species’ history.

The creationists are forced to deny all this and much more besides. That’s not a figure of speech: major creationist organizations and religious colleges require their faculty to sign statements promising to reject any evidence that contradicts their worldview. The official statement of faith of the group Answers in Genesis, for example, requires members to affirm that “No apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.” And when people affiliated with these groups do express doubt or flirt with unorthodoxy, retribution is invariably swift and harsh.

But as laughable as the creationists’ beliefs are, the creationist movement is no joke. They want to wipe out all the findings of hundreds of years of scientific investigation, erase everything we’ve learned about the vast and majestic history of the universe, and replace it with a cartoon version that grotesquely magnifies our own importance, treating human beings as the crowning glory of creation and diminishing the immensity of the universe to a tiny stage crafted only so that the Bible’s small stories could play out on it.

Why does this matter so much to them? It’s not just an arcane scientific debate: in their minds, only Christianity can produce virtue, and Christianity can be true only if evolution is false. It follows that they believe – and they’ve said that they believe – that evolution underlies every moral problem they see in the world, from drug use to pornography to people voting Democratic. Tom DeLay infamously blamed the Columbine school shootings on the teaching of evolution, stating that “our school systems teach the children that they are nothing but glorified apes who are evolutionized out of some primordial soup.”

The larger lesson to be drawn from this is that the religious right isn’t just targeting the theory of evolution. By their own words, they can’t be. They believe that a person’s morality is completely determined by their factual beliefs – that being a good person depends on believing the right things about the origin of the universe. And since they believe that all truths worth knowing have already been revealed in the Bible, it follows that science is at best unnecessary and at worst a fatal deception that leads people away from salvation. Why, then, do we need science at all?

To those who hold the creationist worldview, everything has been going downhill since the Enlightenment. The willingness of people to think for themselves, to question authority, to investigate the world for truth – they see all this as a disastrous trend, one that only takes us farther from their ideal vision of a medieval, theocratic state. They seek nothing less than to turn back the clock of progress by several centuries, abolish the rational, reality-based view of the world, and return to the superstitious mindset in which blind faith is the answer to every problem. And, again, these are the people who’ve completely captured one of America’s two major parties. What kind of havoc will result if they gain political power again?

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    The young-earth creationists, or YECs for short, believe that the universe was created in seven twenty-four-hour days

    NOT TRUE! They believe that the universe was created in SIX 24-hour days! HE took the 7th day off. Which to me brings to mind the question, how exactly does God rest? And if he started work again on the 8th day, what did he do that he didn’t do on the 7th day?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    And if he started work again on the 8th day, what did he do that he didn’t do on the 7th day?

    Wrote the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

  • cello

    Heh, funny I never heard anyone question why or how God needs to rest before. Which makes me ask “what is work?” for God? Was it hard for God to create the heavens and earth? Was it done from mind control and things just popped into existence – or did he have to use tools?

    And the middle section of the post is a great, concise summation of the support for evolution. Perfect for short attention spans. Thanks!

  • colluvial

    …what did he do that he didn’t do on the 7th day?

    And how do we know it’s a He? Does that mean there’s a She?

    Inquiring minds need to know.

  • Leum

    There used to be a She, Asherah. Any time Kings or the prophets refer to sacred poles or trees, the original word was Asherah. But God doesn’t like people talking about her. The divorce was really nasty and even though he got custody of the kids, he secretly worries they’d really rather be with her.

  • Gustavo

    We know evolution is true from the kludges, hacks, and jury-rigs we find in the anatomy of living things, including us – evidence not of a wise and forward-looking designer, but of a slow, mindless, tinkering process of change, a “blind watchmaker”

    How can one look at the complexity of the human genome and not reason that there was an intelligent designer? I would argue not that we ignore centuries of scientific discovery as the article mentions, but actually look at some of those discoveries as proof that it couldn’t have been all made by chance.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    Gustavo, do rocks require an intelligent designer? Hydrogen and helium? I notice creationists and ID proponents always point to complex organisms as evidence of an intelligent designer, but if the simpler things can be explained without invoking a designer, then that leaves you in an untenable position.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Gustavo the uneducated: How can one look at the complexity of the human genome and not reason that there was an intelligent designer?

    * Why the human genome? The evidence says it is pretty much like the DNA of other primates, other mammals, other vertebrates, other animals, other eukaryotes, etc. The biological evidence will not support claims based on human exceptionalism.

    * What about all the evidence for evolution within the human genome? Highly repetitive DNA, junked remains of transposons and retroviruses, SINEs and LINEs, duplicated genes, dead genes, evidence of chromosomal rearrangement, etc. Speaking of dead genes, why do humans need vitamin C in their diet, just like all other primates? If the genome is evidence of a designer, it is unmistakable that that designer used or allowed for evolution. Apply Occam’s razor to ask why the designer needs to be a part of that explanation.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Gustavo the uneducated: as proof that it couldn’t have been all made by chance.

    Fine, not all by chance. How about chance and necessity? How about random mutation coupled with selection? By saying “all chance” you are arguing with a strawman.

  • Gustavo

    First of all thanks for allowing us to have a dialog….
    Tommykey, wouldn’t it take an IDer to take the simple and make it complex? Can a car be forged out of steel through time, pressure, and chance?
    Reginald, Wouldn’t the similarity in which animals are made point to a designer? I find a supernatural beauty in the simple elegance of complexity.
    I would also agree that evolution does exist but not on a macro scale. When we consider even a single cell, we see a complex array of mechanisms built into it that would not be able to survive long enough to mutate if they were left by themselves. There would have had to have been an instantaneous creation.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Tommykey, wouldn’t it take an IDer to take the simple and make it complex?

    No. We have a rather elegant process that accomplishes this…it’s called evolution.

    Can a car be forged out of steel through time, pressure, and chance?

    Cars don’t undergo RM + NS.

    Reginald, Wouldn’t the similarity in which animals are made point to a designer?

    No, it points to common descent with modification. Why would a supernatural designer be constrained by re-using designs over and over, especially ones that are obviously bad (99% of all critters are extinct)?

    I would also agree that evolution does exist but not on a macro scale.

    Why not? What stops micro from becoming macro?

    When we consider even a single cell, we see a complex array of mechanisms built into it that would not be able to survive long enough to mutate if they were left by themselves. There would have had to have been an instantaneous creation.

    This is a straw man argument. No one is claiming that all the pieces of a cell all mutated and came together all at once…no one but creationists trying to make straw men that is. Where is your evidence that this happened?

  • http://toomuchhorrorfiction.blogspot.com/ Will E.

    The whole “complexity requires a designer” argument is laughable in the extreme. You know what would prove to me there was a supernatural designer? If life were *simple.* Yes, if all life forms were designed in the simplest, most streamlined manner, without genes, cells, organs, etc. but were just… I dunno, living. The twisted and tangled nature of living things is plenty enough evidence for me that there is nothing “above” life looking out for it. Life is on its own.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    I would also agree that evolution does exist but not on a macro scale.

    Oh really Gustavo. Then why do we have mammals that are purely terrestrial, mammals that can fly and mammals that live entirely in the water? That marine mammals such as dolphins and whales would be descended from terrestrial mammals is something that would be predicted by evolutionary theory, and voila, we have evidence for it. For example, transitional fossil forms and vestigial limbs in marine mammals.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Gustavo the uneducated: Wouldn’t the similarity in which animals are made point to a designer?

    No. It would point to common ancestry. The way in which animals are similar, and the ways in which they differ, are entirely consistent with what we know about evolution and genetics. For example, your cells have biochemical pathways, catalyzed by enzymes, to carry out even the most mundane requirements of life; consider the Krebs cycle as just one example. Why is it that the enzymes for Krebs cycle reactions in humans pretty closely match the equivalent enzymes in other animals? I.e. the structure and function of those enzymes is pretty much conserved, but there are some differences in specific gene and peptide sequences – as though the two sets of enzymes have diverged from a common ancestor over time, with the time of divergence agreeing with other evidence we have (fossil, anatomical differences, etc) for the divergence of those animals? If there is a Designer, it is the most startling coincidence imaginable that He designed things to look just as if they evolved.

    I find a supernatural beauty in the simple elegance of complexity.

    Word salad.

    I would also agree that evolution does exist but not on a macro scale.

    In other words, you believe in inches, but not in miles.

    When we consider even a single cell, we see a complex array of mechanisms built into it that would not be able to survive long enough to mutate if they were left by themselves. There would have had to have been an instantaneous creation.

    I would argue that you are uneducated, and would point to your comments in this thread as solid evidence. Here you are assuming that present-day cells, after 3-4 billion years of evolution, closely resemble the earliest cells and proto-cells.

    Can a car be forged out of steel through time, pressure, and chance?

    If you put two cars in a garage with food and water, will they reproduce? And if they cannot reproduce, doesn’t that make the comparison to living things misguided?

  • Gustavo

    Interesting comments from everyone….
    OMFG, similarly, what evidence do you have to prove that evolution brought forth life out of nothing? Do you have evidence of primordial cells that transitioned through change and time into something that could eventually turn into something as complex as an eye ball cell that allows for sight?
    Will E., you mentioned that you would believe in a designer theory if life were simple, but wouldn’t a simple life not need a designer. It would be much less likely that a complex living organism was randomly generated versus a simple organism.
    Reginald, you mention 3-4 billion years of evolution could produce complex cells. 3-4 billion is not that long when you look at the astronomical chances of something being created by chance. You have much better odds of winning the lottery.

    Gentlemen/Ladies, look at the world you live in. Consider life, consider the natural cycles around us, consider our perfect placement in the solar system and our perfect placement in the galaxy, consider all of the factors that make life possible. Life left to it’s own devices would face insurmountable odds of survival. Do you think Darwin would make the same assertions living in the 21st century? The fact that we can even make observations about our planet is by design. All possible by a loving IDer.

  • Gustavo

    “If you put two cars in a garage with food and water, will they reproduce? And if they cannot reproduce, doesn’t that make the comparison to living things misguided?”

    Reginald, it’s the whole premise of macro evolutionary theory that a living organism was born out of inate objects?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Gustavo: OMFG, similarly, what evidence do you have to prove that evolution brought forth life out of nothing?

    This is unclear. “Out of nothing” – are you speaking of the origin of the universe, or by “nothing” do you mean non-life?

    Do you have evidence of primordial cells that transitioned through change and time into something that could eventually turn into something as complex as an eye ball cell that allows for sight?

    Yes. It’s in your genes, and the genes of every living thing.

    Reginald, you mention 3-4 billion years of evolution could produce complex cells. 3-4 billion is not that long when you look at the astronomical chances of something being created by chance. You have much better odds of winning the lottery.

    If you played the lottery for 3-4 billion years, your chances of winning at least once would be pretty high.

    Consider life, consider the natural cycles around us, consider our perfect placement in the solar system and our perfect placement in the galaxy, consider all of the factors that make life possible.

    If life developed in a place within the universe unsuitable for life, that would be evidence of supernatural intervention. You seem to be saying that the development of life in a place within the universe suitable for life is also evidence for supernatural intervention. In other words, A is evidence for God, and Not A is evidence for God.

    Do you think Darwin would make the same assertions living in the 21st century?

    Of course not. He would probably accept Mendelian genetics over his own mistaken views on heredity. I have to suspect he would still accept evolution though, since the evidence for it is much much stronger than in his own time.

    Your arguments are not new, and they are not good. If you had done any decent investigation before spouting your views on Teh Interwebs you would have already discovered that.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Gustavo: Reginald, it’s the whole premise of macro evolutionary theory that a living organism was born out of inate objects?

    Well, no. You are speaking of origin of life studies, not evolutionary theory. The “macro” distinction is entirely bogus.And I suspect you meant inert, not innate.

    The premise of evolutionary theory requires replication with variation, and selection.

    Current theories on the origin of life deal with the existence of biological precursor molecules existing on the early Earth, not entire automobiles. Automobiles did not exist on this planet until humans invented them.

    Once again, you are quite ignorant of what is already known on these topics. You should educate yourself rather than spread your ignorance for all the world to see. Ignorance is not always shameful, but it’s certainly nothing to be proud of either, and willful ignorance is a sad thing indeed.

  • Gustavo

    Reginald: Current theories on the origin of life deal with the existence of biological precursor molecules existing on the early Earth, not entire automobiles.

    Hey Guys, how do you explain the existence of biological precursor molecules? Were those molecules subjected to replication with variation and selection from their initial atomic state? I hope we can continue the dialog….
    p.s. I meant inanimate sorry….

  • Leum

    Gentlemen/Ladies, look at the world you live in. Consider life, consider the natural cycles around us, consider our perfect placement in the solar system and our perfect placement in the galaxy, consider all of the factors that make life possible. Life left to it’s own devices would face insurmountable odds of survival. Do you think Darwin would make the same assertions living in the 21st century? The fact that we can even make observations about our planet is by design. All possible by a loving IDer.

    Puddles, no doubt, comment on the amazing fact that the holes which they fill so perfectly fit their shapes.

    Furthermore, a designer creates more problems than it solves. A designer would have to be at least as complex as the things it designs. It would have to have vast intelligence, finely-honed powers, nearly infinite knowledge. All these things require complexity. So how did your designer acquire this complexity? To say it was born with them, or has always had them, is a de facto admission that complexity does not require a designer.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Hey Guys, how do you explain the existence of biological precursor molecules?

    What’s to explain? They exist in comets and asteroids. The surfaces of some other planets & moons in the solar system are covered with gunk, various mixtures of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and whatnot.

    Once again, this is not a cutting edge revelation, and you apparently are completely unfamilar with it. Do your homework.

  • Owlmirror

    Hey Guys, how do you explain the existence of biological precursor molecules?
    What’s to explain? They exist in comets and asteroids. The surfaces of some other planets & moons in the solar system are covered with gunk, various mixtures of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and whatnot.

    Or to put it another way: The lighter elements are formed from hydrogen during successive phases of fusion in stars; the heavier elements are formed during supernovas. Once the elements exist, they undergo chemical reactions.

    Here’s an article describing chemical reactions that occur in certain deep-sea vents, and how they relate to the origin of life.

    http://www.nick-lane.net/OriginOfLife.pdf

  • Gustavo

    LEUM: “So how did your designer acquire this complexity? To say it was born with them, or has always had them, is a de facto admission that complexity does not require a designer.”

    Isn’t this a circular argument? It goes back to my other statement of where it all really began. It’s the same premise as “can an all powerful being create a rock that is too heavy for him to lift?”

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    No Gustavo, it’s not a circular argument, it’s special pleading…done by you. You claim that complex things need a designer, but when it’s pointed out that the designer would necessarily be uber-complex, all of a sudden the complex designer requires no designer.

    Reginald Selkirk has it right when he says that you are ignorant of the material that you are trying to argue. Your last comment to me showed that you don’t understand the difference between abiogenesis and evolution and you’ve shown you don’t understand what evolution actually is or says. How do you know it’s wrong if you don’t even know what it is?

    Lastly, what are the probabilities that you are talking about and how were they developed? I’m willing to bet that they are made up and based on strawman arguments. The most common is the made up probability of a fully formed modern cell coming together all at once with no restrictions on the set of possible proteins. Yet, this is not how evolution works. Sure, it’s rather long odds for one to throw a random set of anything together and get a working combination, but no one is suggesting anything remotely close to that.

  • Gustavo

    OMGF: “The most common is the made up probability of a fully formed modern cell coming together all at once with no restrictions on the set of possible proteins. Yet, this is not how evolution works.”

    So if we assume evolution has a starting point, then how do you get to that starting point?

  • Gustavo

    Honestly guys, from what I can tell, neither you or I have an explanation for how things started. I can’t explain how an intelligent designer was formed or started (and if I did, then wouldn’t it make me a MORE intelligent designer?) and evolutionary theories can’t explain where we got the first organisms that would kick off life.
    What it comes down to is an observation of how things work in our world and coming to the conclusion that it’s either chance or design. I can’t escape looking at life and coming to the design theory. Thoughts?
    Owlmirror: I appreciate the column. I haven’t read it yet, but will soon.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    So if we assume evolution has a starting point, then how do you get to that starting point?

    Whether it’s Yahweh, FSM, IPU, Baal, or nature it has no bearing on whether evolution is true or not. Are you arguing against evolution or against abiogenesis?

    Honestly guys, from what I can tell, neither you or I have an explanation for how things started.

    We don’t know. We have ideas that we are figuring out how to test. One thing, however, is that it doesn’t give you license to claim that goddidit. If you want that to be a viable alternative hypothesis, then you need to start showing us all how one can test for god and his involvement in the formation of life.

    I can’t explain how an intelligent designer was formed or started (and if I did, then wouldn’t it make me a MORE intelligent designer?)…

    But, right there are the problems in your scheme. You’re going to claim that life is too complex to not have been designed, but you ignore the fact that the more complex entity that designed that life would have to be designed as well. Claiming forced ignorance and the inability to know is a brick wall that stops all possible avenues that we may have to investigate such claims and figure out their veracity. IOW, it’s not science and you’re admitting as much.

    What it comes down to is an observation of how things work in our world and coming to the conclusion that it’s either chance or design.

    Not only is this is a false dichotomy, but it misrepresents what evolution is. Again, how can you claim to know that evolution is false when you don’t even know what it is? On top of that, we have observed how things work, and the overwhelming evidence is in favor of evolution.

    I can’t escape looking at life and coming to the design theory.

    This is an argument from ignorance and logically fallacious. I suggest that you pick up a good evolution text or book about evolution and actually learn about it. At the very least, you could actually listen to what we’re telling you and learn from that instead of clinging to your Xian dogma and what creationist liars claim.

  • Leum

    Gustavo, while we may not have a definitive picture of the cause of abiogenesis, we have a large number of theories all of which have a certain amount of evidence to support them. Chemists are actively researching and experimenting to see which, if any, of these theories is likely to be backed by (and here’s the key phrase) empirical evidence. In the next ten years, it is not improbable that we will have a much better idea of the cause of abiogenesis.

    Rhe intelligent designer theory, on the other hand, has been studied for the past three thousand years and theologians and philosophers are no closer to explaining its origin than they were when they first began.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Gustavo: and evolutionary theories can’t explain where we got the first organisms that would kick off life.

    Once again, go and educate yourself on the current state of discussion before putting your ignorance on display. I suggest you read up on the RNA World. And find some reputable sources on it, don’t immerse yourself in the echo chamber of mindless Creationism.

    Here’s one thing you should read: Chemist Shows How RNA Can Be the Starting Point for Life

    What makes you think that life started with intact organisms, rather than replicating molecules, as was ALREADY SUGGESTED IN THIS VERY THREAD? Not only are you ignorant, but you aren’t paying attention.

  • Gustavo

    Gentlemen, the more we learn about our world, the more and more complex it becomes. In the times of Darwin, things seemed much more simple and so the theory of evolution could arise out of observations made at that time and with the science available. We have gone from observing organisms, to cells, to molecules, to atoms, to neutrons/protons/electrons, to sub atomic particles, etc.
    The more we study, the more we realize there is order and structure that was built into our world from the beginning.
    As you all know the world does not tend to order but to disorder. The order was provided at the beginning by an intelligent designer.
    Leum, thanks for your discussion.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Gentlemen, the more we learn about our world, the more and more complex it becomes.

    Let’s say this is true…so what? How do you get around the special pleading of having an even more complex entity to design all this complexity that somehow does not need designing itself?

    The more we study, the more we realize there is order and structure that was built into our world from the beginning.

    No, we don’t. We find there are laws and certain behaviors that are exhibited by the real world, but not necessarily order and structure. What order and structure is there in nuclear decay or the random mutations that are the fuel of evolution?

    As you all know the world does not tend to order but to disorder.

    In a closed system. And, it doesn’t discount the ability of local pockets of increasing order. And, that’s really only speaking of the second law of thermodynamics, which isn’t really applicable here.

    The order was provided at the beginning by an intelligent designer.

    What order was there in the big bang? How do you know that some intelligent designer created this “order” to begin with? What evidence do you have beyond simple assertions?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Gustavo: Gentlemen, the more we learn about our world…

    With the degree fo ignorance you have put on display already, you are in no position to be lecturing anyone on learning. That is what I have consistently been telling you to do: go and learn what is already known, because your knowledge of the fields you wish to discuss is inadequate.

    In the times of Darwin, things seemed much more simple and so the theory of evolution could arise out of observations made at that time and with the science available. We have gone from observing organisms, to cells, to molecules, to atoms, to neutrons/protons/electrons, to sub atomic particles, etc.

    Yes, our knowledge of science has increased greatly since Darwin’s day. And consistently, the evidence has come down in favour of his views on evolution. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Gustavo has hit on an ingenious strategy: When all your arguments are shot to pieces, just press on and assert your conclusion anyway. Hey, what do you have to lose?

  • Gustavo

    Happy Friday to everyone.
    OMGF, how would you explain the creation of the laws you alude to? The properties of nature are indeed driven by laws that were are still discovering. Those laws were not randomly generated out of nothing. Our constitution did not come to into existence through random letter throws onto a piece of paper.

    Ebonmuse, there is a line in the sand in this argument. People either believe there is a designer or there isn’t. Both sides have a hard time showing absolute proof for their argument. I can’t show you that A+B=C in the case for design any more than the arguments on this page can show me there is no designer. There is a deeper issue of belief in someone greater than us that cuts through this argument.

    All, how does evolution explain love? I’d be interested in knowing your take.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    The properties of nature are indeed driven by laws that were are still discovering.

    Gobbledygook. If the “laws of nature” may be merely properties of matter, with no existence independent of matter. For example, does the law of gravity exist if there is no matter which possesses the property of gravitational attraction?

    Those laws were not randomly generated out of nothing.

    Your evidence for this is…

    Our constitution did not come to into existence through random letter throws onto a piece of paper.

    True, but a really really bad analogy.

    Both sides have a hard time showing absolute proof for their argument.

    You should introduce yourself to the concept burden of proof. I don’t have to prove that no designer could possibly exist. All I have to do is point out that you have offered no convincing evidence for one.

    All, how does evolution explain love? I’d be interested in knowing your take.

    Wow, what an original question. I’ll bet no one has thought to ask such a thing before. Oops, Mr. Google says I’m wrong. Once again, you have not brought yourself up to speed on the existing status of the conversation.

  • Gustavo

    Reginald: “You should introduce yourself to the concept burden of proof. I don’t have to prove that no designer could possibly exist.”

    I would say evolution has the burden of proof in that belief in a master designer has existed much longer. As the new theory, the ball is in evolution’s court.

    As for the love question, you’re right, I haven’t done research on it, so I was asking you guys for feedback. Thoughts?

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    Oldest belief wins? Gustavo, you won’t convince anyone with that. You seriously can’t even be trying to say something so puerile.

    There are thousands of mythological beliefs that were all older than the scientific explanation that replaced them. This includes all of the most obvious, most typical forces in your everyday life. People thought gravity, electricity, magnetism, and light were all magic. Some people decided that wasn’t a sufficient or useful explanation. So they studied phenomena empirically and determined how they actually behaved. That’s how we learn; all knowledge of everything that exists came from this same methodology in one form or another.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    OMGF, how would you explain the creation of the laws you alude to?

    Creation? What makes you think that these laws were “created?” The laws we are speaking of are descriptors of the behavior of the universe. It’s not like someone made up laws and forced the universe to behave.

    Both sides have a hard time showing absolute proof for their argument.

    Why “absolute proof?” You can not get anything to absolute proof or certainty. Either way, the onus is on both evolution and creationism to provide evidence. So far, only one of those has done so…and it isn’t your favored side.

  • Julanar

    Gustavo:

    You need to learn more about evolution. A good place to start would be:

    http://www.ebonmusings.org/evolution/index.html

  • Steve

    Just two points:

    A person who rejects science should not be allowed to use GPS, Polio Vacine, cell phone, laptop……

    “This world is so complex that it could not be by chance” It is way beyond our mind to picture what could take place in 10 million years. I see where it would be easier to picture a creator. But do we take the easy road? Science is our salvation now and where did the Dark Ages get us anyway?


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