Jason Rosenhouse went to the Creation Mega-Conference at Lynchburg in 2005, and he wrote up some short chapters in response to the event (in his book Among the Creationists). Remember, Rosenhouse is a mathematics professors, an atheist, and curious — to know what makes creationists tick.
For his readers, he sketches both evolution and creationism. Evolution is marked by terms like genome, alleles, frequency of alleles, gene pool, fixation, mutations, natural selection, genetic drift and a family tree. That is, “complex structures form by a process of gradual accretion” (33). Creationism: as a religion, it is about the inerrancy and perspicuity of the Bible; as a science, “a collection of assertions meant to show both the inadequacy of modern evolutionary theory and the correctness of the account in Genesis” (34).
How would you define evolutionary theory or creationism to the opposite side? Is evolution equated with naturalism/anti-God? What do you think of his response to the best argument for evolution?
He again sketches stuff from Ken Ham, who spoke at that conference — including the claim “Every single biblical doctrine of theology, directly or indirectly, ultimately has its basis in the Book of Genesis” (35) — and the implication here is staggering. Christian theology is based upon a particular reading of Genesis. That is, more or less, a young earth creationist reading. For Ham, evolution means anti-God.
In the last thirty years some numbers are about the same: about 38% of Americans are theistic evolutionists, about 40% are creationists, while the number of nontheistic evolutionists has gone from about 9 to 16%. Evangelicals are about 23% evolutionists, Mainline 51%, historically Black churches 39%, Catholic 58%, Orthodox 55%, Jewish 77%, Muslim 45%, Buddhist 81%, Hindu 80%, atheists 87%. For the Creationists: Genesis 1 reads like a narrative of history, so it is history; but Creationists are not flat-footed literal Bible readers in general. They don’t think Genesis is a science textbook, but where the Bible speaks of science matters, it is true. You don’t have to accept their view of Genesis to be a Christian. They do think their view of Genesis makes most sense biblically. They believe in a slippery slope: give in and the next thing… compromises lead to theological error and to moral relativism.
He spent some time in the bookstore, at Ken Ham’s urging. I’ll avoid summarizing his experience there. It’s predictable.
Rosenhouse was asked what is the best argument for evolution. After his sketch of the oddities of nature, which a man named Carl Kerby argued showed creationism and not evolution (including cave wetas, moloch lizard, mating of emperor penguins, mimic octopus, human eyes etc)… But Rosenhouse says he offered no arguments, no science, and neither did Kerby bother to explain how evolutionists have mapped such natural evidence.
Back to the question: “Our confidence in evolution is not based on just one line of evidence, but from its ability to account for the data in many diverse lines of inquiry” (53). In my view, this is a good answer: it’s encompassing explanatory power. Fossil record … and how evolution works… and how on the basis of one conclusion (fossil record of 365 to 380 million years back) one can predict and sometimes find confirmation (a fossil confirming the transition from fish to land-dwelling animals). (This is about Neil Shubin, a picture of whose fossil is before the jump.)
“Creationism offers nothing to rival it” (55).