This was my lecture to the Secular Student Alliance at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, 2015/11/24.
Today I’m going to talk about creationism, also known as Intelligent Design or Creation Science –as compared and contrasted with actual science. The term creationists use to describe actual science is ‘evolutionary’ science, but they apply that to a lot more than just evolution. Because for them it’s more than just population genetics. In fact in their minds, it’s not population genetics; it’s everything but. People claiming to be creation scientists have actually told me that evolution happens on the level of the individual and that genetics has nothing to do with evolution.
What they call ‘evolution’ includes abiogenesis, planetary concretion, radioactivity in atomic theory, the formation of chemical bonds in quantum mechanics, plate tectonics, big bang cosmology, or even the physics of simple astronomy; everything they recognize as contradicting the sacred fables in their favorite story book is all part of what they call ‘evolutionism’.
Creationism is based on a series of foundational falsehoods, and this is one of them, the idea that the collective body of science which disputes the Bible should be considered another religion. The people who say that do not sincerely believe it. It’s a childish game of “I know you are, but what am I?” The creationist position is unsupported by anything and logically indefensible. So they best they can do is to shift the burden of proof and try and project their own faults onto the opposition. They say we’re just as bad as they are -without realizing the admission that they’re bad.
It’s an attempt to paint the illusion that science and religion are somehow equally valid options, as if science were unreliable or as if creationism ever had any possible legitimacy. The game is played by creationists pretending to be objective when we know they are not, while projecting all of their own logical fallacies onto the science-minded, who of course will not share any of those flaws. That game typically has the creationist telling some or all of the following lies:
* That evolution is a religion
* That science relies on faith, just like religion does
* That science is biased just like religion is
* That there is no evidence for evolution, the Big Bang, abiogenesis, etc.
* That there is evidence for creation, Noah’s flood, God, etc.
* That religion is reasonable just like science is
* That religion can be confirmed empirically and experimentally just like science
* That creationism is somehow scientific
Some variant of this strategy will invariably occur in any protracted conversation on creationism versus evolution or ‘crevo’ as this discussion has come to be known on the web. It’s funny that as I was working out what I was going to say today, I happened across a religious blog post criticizing me, and they used almost all of these lies in that post.
On the first point, that evolution is a religion, let’s remember that every religion universally accepted as such by both it’s adherents and its critics –is a faith-based belief system including rituals, traditions, holy days, ceremonial garb and artifacts, a priesthood on consecrated sites dedicated to worship, with sacred doctrine and dogma promoting the idea that some essence of ‘self’ somehow survives the death of the physical body to continue on in some other form. That’s what religion is, because that’s what all religions are.
Several people have tried to tell me that my definition of religion is invalid, because there are exceptions to the rule. If there were, they’d have a point. But so far I haven’t found any exceptions. There are some beliefs that don’t qualify as religions but are also not always considered such, Taoism being one example. The core of the Tao Te Ching is that “nature acts without intent, and therefore cannot be said to be benevolent or malevolent to anything.” But Taoism is typically intertwined with Confucianism and integrated with traditional Chinese spiritualism. So it becomes a component of religion without being a religion by itself. It is still an independent concept.
Likewise Buddhism may be practiced as a religion, where Buddha is a god who answers prayers with miracles, and where one may be reincarnated again and again until they achieve Nirvana. Others practice Buddhism more as a philosophy, recognizing only cause and effect without any of the trappings of spirituality otherwise, and a lot of them say that Buddhism is not a religion, because for them it’s not. It all depends on how it is practiced. If it involves faith in an immortal spirit, then it’s religious. If it doesn’t, it’s not.
I’ve been told that the Pharisees and the Sadducees didn’t believe in any supernatural afterlife, but according to the Jewish Virtual Library, they did, and they were the spiritual fathers of modern Judaism. Also, Judaism holds that there is a land of the dead, called Sheol, which is essentially the same as the Greek Hades. So there is still an afterlife of sorts, even if the dead are unconscious while they are there.
Critics of science try to associate evolution with atheism as a religion of scientific skepticism, but none of these are really connected, and none of them qualify as belief-systems either individually or combined. Science cannot permit supernatural explanations, because every observation must be objectively testable and verifiable. That requires that every postulation must be necessarily natural. That’s methodological naturalism, also known as the scientific method. Even if we allow creationist critics to confuse methodological naturalism with philosophical naturalism, binding evolution and other associated sciences with skeptical atheism, under the pejorative label of ‘evolutionism’, it still wouldn’t qualify as a religion in any sense. It’s not a belief system, because there are neither required beliefs nor prohibited beliefs. That’s what “free thought” means. Although we are not free to ignore whatever the evidence indicates. That is the realm of faith.
For the willfully ignorant to refer to the mainstream world-wide scientific consensus either as ‘evolutionism’ or as ‘Darwinism’ is an empty attempt to mislead and deceive. ‘Darwinism’ only refers to a 19th century concept of natural selection. The modern synthesis of Mendelo-Darwinian evolution has advanced substantially beyond Darwin’s time. And his understanding back then is still beyond that of his critics today.
‘Evolutionism’ is the wrong word too, because accepting evolution is not a religious belief. Evolution is not a religion. It holds nothing sacred, there’s no place of worship, no enhancements, no clergy, no talismans or garb. It neither promotes nor discourages belief in gods or souls, and says nothing about how we should live, or what happens after we die. It has no doctrines, nor dogma, nor fables with morals; it has no rituals, traditions or holidays, nor either leaders or defenders of the faith because it doesn’t allow faith.
Which brings us to the 2nd lie on our list, that science relies on faith just like religion does. I often hear that we have faith in our loved ones, or that when we board an airplane we must have faith that it won’t crash. Here they use faith as a synonym of trust, but it’s not. There are other adjectives that must be added to the word, ‘trust’ in order to equate to faith. According to a consensus of every authoritative or definitive source available anywhere—including dictionaries, scriptures, hymns, sermons of theologians, past and present—faith in the context of religion is not just trust, but a complete trust. One which is not dependent on evidence, and will not change because of evidence. Thus it is fair to say that faith is an assertion of unreasonable conviction assumed without reason and defended against all reason.
“Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing, that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.”
1. Complete trust or confidence.
2. Strong belief in a religion.
3. A system of religious belief.
“Belief; the assent of the mind to the truth of what is declared by another, resting solely and implicitly on his authority and veracity; reliance on testimony.”
–Accurate and Reliable Dictionary
“A firm belief in something for which there is no proof”.
–Merriam Webster Online Dictionary
“Belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof.”
“For quite a lot of people, faith or the lack thereof, is an important part of their identities. E.G. a person will identify him or herself as a Muslim or a skeptic. Many religious rationalists, as well as non-religious people, criticize implicit faith as being irrational. In this view, belief should be restricted to what is directly supportable by logic or evidence.”
Dictionaries give common usage regardless whether it is appropriate or accurate. I wouldn’t trust a common dictionary for scientific terms, because then I can demonstrate where dictionaries are sometimes wrong. (None of them properly define the word ‘animal,’ for example.) I wouldn’t limit myself to dictionaries for this purpose either, because everyone wants to contest me.
Another reason is that there are two different contexts in the dictionary, and one of them exists only there; that being the vernacular that we should have faith in our spouse or in the airplane we’re boarding. That sort of trust is based on patterns of past experience and statistical probabilities; in other words, evidence. This context does not relate to religion, and does not derive from any of writings of religion.
If I were arguing scientific terms, I would have to cite peer-reviewed studies. Since faith is a religious term, I’ll have to turn to religious authorities, beginning with the most familiar scriptures in western society.
- John 20:29 “blessed are they who have not seen but yet believe.”
- Romans 14:22 “The faith which you have, have as your own conviction”
- 2 Corinthians 4:18 “We look not at things seen, but at things not seen.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:7 “for we walk by faith, not by sight.”
- Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
- Romans 1:20 “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood from the things that are made.”
Here we have things hoped for, but not seen, looking at things that are not seen, not seeing what is seen, and finally the most common combination of logical fallacies: the baseless assumption of a circular argument routing back to an assumed conclusion.
Note that we are expected to see what is not there. Not only that, but we are blessed if make ourselves see what cannot be seen. To see what isn’t there requires make-believe. That’s what faith is. Pretending to know what you don’t know or witness what you don’t really see. This is not a reasonable request, and these are not reasoned responses. Faith is the very opposite of reason, and where faith is encouraged, reason is discouraged.
When is it ever wise to believe what is said by another without question? Without reservation? Or without reason? And by ‘reason’, I mean ‘evidence’, the only reason anyone should ever believe anything.
Religion expects us to believe without reason; in fact, we are blessed if we readily believe the most outrageous illogical, inconsistent, and contradictory nonsense from even the most credulous and questionable shysters without any evidence at all. Religious people know that’s what faith means. We know that they do because they say things like “I don’t have enough faith to believe in evolution”. Whenever they say that, they also acknowledge that what they mean there is that there is no evidence for that belief. There is of course, and they’re just trying to ignore it. But the point is with that admission, you know that they know that faith is a belief that is held regardless of evidence.
We can either base our beliefs on faith, in which case we can just choose to believe whatever we want to believe, whatever makes us happy, regardless whether we think its true or not; or we can base our beliefs on reason, meaning evidence, in which case we must consider what the facts indicate. We have no choice to deny that and pretend otherwise. To see only what we want to see, and ignore what we don’t wanna know is biased. Which brings us to the 3rd lie on our list, that science is biased just like religion is.
Religion is a bias by definition. It’s a prejudice or prejudgment, judging things before the facts are in or regardless what the facts are. One of the means of reaffirming faith is confirmation bias, where you seek or acknowledge only those things which you can interpret as coinciding with your preconceived notions while ignoring everything else that is inconsistent with that or stands against it.
Science has quite the opposite operation. The scientific method was devised to minimize or eliminate bias. Part of that is achieved simply by the requirement that every claim must be based on supportive evidence. Otherwise it’s just an empty assertion, not yet worthy of serious consideration. Christopher Hitchens described this as the elementary rules of logic; that positive claims require positive evidence, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and that what is asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. So already, faith-based assertions and their associated biases are excluded by logical necessity.
Remember that there are no required beliefs nor prohibited beliefs either. Rather than punishing heretical dissention the way religion does, science does just the opposite. They celebrate and reward dissention. The best way to become rich and famous as a scientist is to challenge the status quo, to show that all the world’s experts somehow got it wrong. That has actually happened a few times, though it is increasingly harder to do. The more we know the harder it is for anyone to know better than everyone else.
Another way to eliminate bias is the grueling process of peer review. Rather than having elected officials decree what you are to believe, endorse, and support, such that you and all of your comrades must agree and affirm each other’s compliance without deviation, and are penalized if you don’t tow the party line, again science does the very opposite. Because it doesn’t matter what the people or their elected officials would rather believe. In science, accuracy and accountability are paramount. That means that every claim must be verified by the experts in that field. The process is perpetual such that anyone and everyone is welcome to try and prove it wrong and that can happen at any time. Because if it is wrong, we need to know that. And if you can’t prove it wrong, that doesn’t mean it’s right. That would be another logical fallacy that religion uses and science refuses.
It doesn’t matter what you believe; all that matters is why you believe it. What is your evidence? Which brings us to the next lie on the list, that there is no evidence for evolution, the Big Bang, abiogenesis, etc.
This is a big one. Creationists are largely unaware of the volume of distinct species known in the fossil record. Even though there are millions of species alive today, there are way more extinct than extant. What we see today represents an estimated 1% of all the species that have ever lived. Even though fossilization is a very particular process that happens very rarely, and what we’ve recovered consequently accounts for only about 1% of what there actually should have been, according to all we know about population mechanics, that still means that we’ve found more extinct genera than is living today. And that fact all by itself is a significant challenge for creationism.
But it gets worse, because virtually all the transitional forms that creationists once demanded have been found. For example, today is the 41st anniversary of the discovery of Lucy. She was the missing link that was predicted in the 1800s and discovered in the 1970s. Of course many more have been found since then, and not just in the human lineage.
They’ve also traced flowering lines of descent for several impressive beasts in the elephant family tree, and connected that with a complete transition among sirenians, from land-lumbering lummoxes, (like the earliest proto-elephants) all the way to fully marine manatees with only two legs left. Did you know, by the way that manatees not only still have all their finger bones inside their flippers, they also have thumbnails on their flippers. This is a vestigial remnant of having once had hooves. They still have elbows too, because they’re not as derived as whales or dolphins. That’s another lineage we now have virtually complete. From hoofed carnivores like extinct mesonychids to what are obviously four legged whales, to modern whales with only their front flippers left.
If you look at almost any animal lineage, the various stages of their evolution has been written in the rocks. The evolution of ichthyosaurs from lizard-like to dolphin-looking reptiles is well-established, and the development of birds from already feathered maniraptoran dinosaurs is indisputable.
There’s been a paleontological boon over the last couple decades. 30 or 40 years ago, fundamentalists said that all the fossil evidence of human ancestors could fit onto a pool table. Now they would fill a railway box car. Regarding half-human ape-men, there are no obvious links still missing. We now have dozens of intermediate hominid species represented by the fossil remains of thousands of individuals.
None of this was known in Darwin’s day, and creationists think evolution is disproved because they don’t know that all these transitions have been found. But what they also don’t realize is that Darwin already had substantial evidence of evolution even before any of that.
The first of this evidence was the taxonomic system devised by Carolus Linnaeus in the 1700s. He invented his classification system in an attempt to distinguish ‘created kinds,’ but instead he discovered a multi-level descendant hierarchy of taxonomic groups, which was inconsistent with any interpretation of creation.
He classified humans as animals, and recognized the indisputable fact that humans are specifically chordates and more specifically mammals. Importantly we are not ‘similar to’ chordates. They’re defined as any animal that has a spinal chord, and that describes us. So that includes us. We’re not just similar to mammals either; we ARE mammals because we’re endothermic chordates with lactal glands. You’ve all got nipples, even if there’s no chance you’ll ever need them. That doesn’t seem like an intelligent design, but it a diagnostic trait that proves that you are mammals.
Similarly you’re all primates for the same reason, because you have each of the diagnostic characteristics. Primates are collectively defined as any gill-less, organic RNA/DNA protein-based, metabolic, metazoic, nucleic, diploid, bilaterally-symmetrical, endothermic, digestive, tryploblast, opisthokont, deuterostome coelemate with a spinal cord and 12 cranial nerves connecting to a limbic system in an enlarged cerebral cortex with a reduced olfactory region inside a jawed-skull with specialized teeth including canines and premolars, forward-oriented fully enclosed optical orbits, and a single temporal fenestra attached to a vertebrate hind-leg dominant tetrapoidal skeleton with a sacral pelvis, clavical, and wrist and ankle bones; and having lungs, tear ducts, body-wide hair follicles, lactal mammaries, opposable thumbs, and keratinized dermis with chitinous nails on all five digits on all four extremities, in addition to an embryonic development in amniotic fluid, leading to a placental birth and highly social lifestyle. These are not similarities shared with primates; these are diagnostic traits. The definition applies. So the label sticks -even if we don’t like it.
Linnaeus also recognized that we were apes, and more specifically great apes –according to a continuation of characters further defining specific subsets of primates. That part confused him because he didn’t know how that could be. Linnaeus was a Christian, but he knew that creation could not account for that. Only evolution could explain it, but no one yet had explained evolution. He didn’t know that was even possible.At about that same time, other Christian scientists were accidentally pulling the rug out from under creation to build the foundations of modern evolutionary science.
- James Hutton discovered geologic gradualism and evidence of deep time,’ both of which modern creationists would like to refute. Sir William Herschel announced that he could prove that the light of certain stars must have taken millions of years to reach the earth.
- Georges Cuvier discovered and confirmed the extinction of species, a concept that was considered heretical according to creation proponents of his day.
- A clergyman named Rev. William Smith was one of several Christian scientists credited with the discovery of the geologic column which Young Earth Creationists now deny even exists.
- Geologist Charles Lyell established the principle of uniformitarianism, that “the present is the key to the past,” to which every Young Earth Creationist now objects.
All of these were Christian contemporaries of Carolus Linneaus. They probably weren’t all aware of each other because it took time for news to spread. But the scientists of the next century now had a solid foundation on which to build a better understanding. For example, the fathers of Protestant Christianity had long held that diseases were caused by demons; that they were effectively supernatural curses without any natural causes. Louis Pasteur is often presented as a creationist, but he didn’t believe in creation. He was at least a Lamarckian evolutionist who used methodological naturalism to establish and demonstrate germ theory, proving the church wrong again, just as Galileo and Kepler had already done with astronomy.
The study of animal embryos under a microscope also revealed confusing details. Whale embryos still have four legs at one point, complete with feet and fingers. So does a glass snake. Various vertebrates start from a common shape that is sometimes indistinguishable. Now we have evolutionary laws to account for this, but in the 1800s, it just caused confusion.
Darwin examined the initial discoveries of paleontology along with the curious quandaries of taxonomy, combined with developmental patterns that had just been discovered in embryology, and he realized the answer that explained all of them together, so that all of these previously inexplicable mysteries suddenly made sense under one unifying cohesive theory. And it could account for all the data old or new. So that every confirmed biological or paleontological discovery since then without exception has leant support to, or at least been concordant with evolution.
For example, our myriad transitional forms are also indicated by physiological, anatomical, and molecular vestiges of our phylogenetic ancestry. Sometimes these appear as atavisms, where a once-dormant trait is reactivated such that humans might be born with tails or a dolphin might have four flippers -like they used to. Lost traits may reappear in one generation and not in the next, because its become recessive.
The most interesting vestiges are in our DNA, because there we can see exactly how evolution happens, which mutations were involved and how. We can also trace its course using protein functional redundancy, the more correlated sequences of ubiquitous genes of different organisms, the closer they’re related. This changed Linnaean taxonomy into a twin-nested hierarchy of cladistic phylogenetics, where morphological implications of relatedness can be confirmed or corrected genetically.
Then we have mobile genes, horizontal gene transfer, and especially endogenous retroviruses. This is when a virus inserts its own DNA into a gamete cell, which is then inherited by all the descendants of that organism. These retroviruses account for 8% of the human genome, and these can be precisely matched to distantly related groups, even among apes and monkeys, to show where certain infections were inherited by a common ancestor to both or all descendants.
Another important point is that over half of the cells in your body aren’t your cells; they’re bacteria. Without them you couldn’t survive. Even the cells that are yours are powered by bacteria. Mitochondria has been genetically confirmed to be a relative of an infectious rickettsia bacteria, but which was crippled by mutation and trapped within an early proto-eukaryote cell. This resulted in a symbiotic relationship in which the mitochondria reproduces independently and still absorbs nutrients, but pays its way by producing ATP to power the host.
Scientists have also documented plenty of beneficial mutations. But probably the most important evidence of evolution is the direct observation of speciation. Microevolution is variation within a single species. Macroevolution is variation between species, or the emergence of a new species, and that has been directly observed and documented dozens of times, both in the lab or under naturally controlled conditions in the field. So if we define ‘proof’ as an overwhelming preponderance of evidence, then evolution is as proven as it is any field of science could possibly be. It’s just as certain as atomic theory and even better supported than the theory of gravity.
But what about evidence of abiogenesis and the big bang? How we know about the Big Bang is relatively simple, even though no one really understands it. Most galaxies appear red-shifted, meaning that they’re moving away. Space is kind of a slowly boiling mass of chaos with some galaxies are crashing into each other, like everything else. But for the most part they’re moving apart, as if the universe is expanding. That means that if we reverse time, then the universe is compacting until ultimately all matter and energy, time, and even empty space, literally everything inflated from a single point, called the singularity. This is the only logical conclusion, mathematically calculated to nearly 14 billion years ago. Further evidence of this was the cosmic microwave background radiation, which was predicted by that calculation, and then discovered in the 1970s.
Creationists delight in saying that scientists have ‘proven’ the universe had a beginning, and they use that argument against the big bang. But the discovery of the big bang is our proof that the universe had a beginning!
So what about abiogenesis, the origin of life? That’s the tricky one. Regardless what anyone believes, everyone accepts that there was once a time when no life yet existed on this planet, and then there was. Science says it happened naturally; religion says it happened magically. If you don’t think miracles count as magic, remember that those words have essentially the same definition. They are the same thing.
1. Literally, a wonder or wonderful thing; but appropriately,
2. In theology, an event or effect contrary to the established constitution and course of things, or a deviation from the known laws of nature; a supernatural event. Miracles can be wrought only by almighty power
1. The art or science of putting into action the power of spirits; or the science of producing wonderful effects by the aid of superhuman beings, or of departed spirits; sorcery; enchantment. [This science or art is now discarded.]
–Webster’s 1828 dictionary
An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God.
a. The art that purports to control or forecast natural events, effects, or forces by invoking the supernatural. The practice of using charms, spells, or rituals to attempt to produce supernatural effects or control events in nature.
b. The charms, spells, and rituals so used.
an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human and natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assures human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature.
When wealthy people are neurotic, we call them eccentric.
When a VIP is murdered, it’s an assassination,
and when a god performs magic, it’s a miracle.
As I said, dictionaries are fine for general use, but not for scientific terms. If you look up abiogenesis in these same dictionaries, you’ll see that they got it wrong. They’ve confused abiogenesis with Spontaneous Generation.
Spontaneous generation: Proposed by Anaximander in the 6th Century BCE, and disproved in a series of experiments from 1668 to 1861: The idea that fermentation and putrefaction activates a latent “vitalism” (life-force) in once-living matter; thus recycling organic refuse such as old meat, rotting vegetables, and feces into new forms of already complex, albeit vile, viruses and living organisms from bacteria all the way to animals such as flies and even mice.
Abiogenesis: Proposed by Rudolph Virchow in 1855 and coined by Thomas Huxley in 1870; the current hypothesis replacing spontaneous generation as an explanation for the origin of life: The proposition that the formation of life requires a prior matrix. Thus genetic and metabolic cells must have developed through an intricate sequence of increasingly complex chemical constructs, each having been naturally enhanced by particular constituent and environmental conditions.
As you can see, they are not the same thing. I’ve already written to a couple dictionaries to show them this distinction, but because of their religious bias, they won’t correct it –even though they know it’s wrong.
There were no primates 100 million years ago, no mammals 200 million years ago, no dinosaurs 300 million years ago, and no land animals whatsoever 400 million years ago. 500 million years ago, there weren’t any insects or vertebrates with actual bones, and 600 million years ago, there weren’t even the most primitive sort of fish yet. We’ve never found any trace fossils for macroscopic life forms prior to 700 million years ago, but we do have bacterial microfossils covering another 2.8 to 3 billion years or so prior to the first multicellular anythings we’ve ever found a trace of. The only possible conclusion we can draw from all that is that the most advanced organisms were still only microscopic and microbial for at least the first 80% of the history of life on this planet.
So how did life begin? There have been a number of experiments proving that amino acids could be incidentally derived from inorganic ingredients under natural conditions of the pre-biotic earth. We now know of conditions that will also generate polypeptides and even ribonucleotides through a repeated sequence of inundation, dehydration, and irradiation. Even RNA, which builds DNA, can be spontaneously generated in particular environments without enzymes or ribosomes. And it turns out that ribosomes are actually made of detached RNA strands. We don’t yet know how the rest of it came about. There are more than a dozen functional hypotheses that could all be true at the same time. But we know it can happen and we know it did happen. We even know some of how happened, because there’s plenty of evidence indicating that. We just don’t know all the details yet.
So what about the next lie on our list, that there is evidence for creation, Noah’s flood, God, etc. Well remember that evidence is a body of facts which are positively indicative of, and/or exclusively concordant with only one available option over any other, and that a fact is a point of data that is either not in dispute or is indisputable in that it is objectively verifiable. but there is not one fact which is positively indicative of or exclusively concordant with either gods or magic. That’s why both of those beliefs require faith.
There are a number of arguments apologists use to plead for these things, but then you have to be aware of what an apologist is. Apologetics is the practice of systematically making up excuses devised to rationalize or dismiss any arguments or evidence that might otherwise challenge a sacred assumption. There are no apologists for science, because science questions assumptions and nothing is sacred. The existence of apologetics and its necessity among the faithful is evidence that there is no evidence behind such beliefs.
Not only is there no reason to believe as apologists do, there are plenty of good reasons not to, especially when it comes to ‘the flood’. It’s not just that there is no evidence for it, but there’s volumes of substantial evidence is against it. To give you the shortest possible explanation, the Biblical version is an exaggerated adaptation of elder myths. The epics of Gilgamesh and Atrahasis, as well as the Sumerian King List are all apparently talking about the same event, a localized inundation of the Iraqi flood plain centered on the city of Shurripak around 2900 BCE. This has been confirmed by archaeologists and geologists. By all accounts, the flood depth was 15 cubits or 22 feet, and that’s one of the details that stayed in the Bible. I’m sure it looked like the whole world was under water, but not really. So the Genesis revision repeated what the older versions said, that it was of global scale. But that just isn’t remotely possible.
What happened is that Mesopotamians had invented the first syllabic text, and they built their empire on literacy, teaching children how to read and write in schools just like today. But when their empire fell, they lost that, and these old stories were kept alive by oral tradition until the Phoenicians re-introduced writing. In the interim was a thousand years in which these stories evolved due to personal and political embellishments and cultural appropriation. The newer versions that we find in the Bible were transported from Babylon probably by Ezra in roughly 450 BCE from a source now known as the priestly writers. That’s where most of Genesis comes from, and that’s why every element of its early chapters can be found in the superficial details of elder myths of polytheism. None of that really happened nor could have.
I think I should do a video series showing how archeology disproves the flood, how geology disproves the flood, how meteorology disproves the flood, and how anthropology, zoology, and even mythology disprove the flood. I read a several page article showing how physics disproves the flood. It was passed out in my geology class, and made a solid case. Both of the teachers in that class were Christian, but they said on the first day that if you believe in the flood now, you won’t by next week. They spent the rest of the semester showing the proof against it.
But really that story has so many absurdities just within itself that we don’t need outside sources to call it into question. It cannot happen and we know for certain that it did not happen, but it still wouldn’t have happened even if it could.
The problem is that because the flood is so absurd, it is usually the first of the fundamentalist beliefs to be discarded, and the people who still cling to it are not ready to be reasonable or accountable. Such people openly admit that evidence means nothing to them, and why won’t you let me believe what I want to believe?
Which brings us to the next lie on the list, that religion is reasonable just like science is. Anyone who knows anything about the history of religion knows just how unreasonable it is. Creationism is a clear demonstration of that, because it is a form of religious extremism which requires a degree of reality denial, and believers openly admit that.
Every creationist organization there is posts a statement of faith –as if this was something to be proud of, wherein they admit that they assume their conclusions at the onset for reasons that have nothing to do with factual information, and more importantly, where they refuse to ever admit when they’re wrong.
“By definition, no apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.”
“verbal inspiration guarantees that these writings, as originally and miraculously given, are infallible and completely authoritative on all matters with which they deal, free from error of any sort, scientific [sic] and historical as well as moral and theological.”
–Institute for Creation Research
“[this school]….stresses the Word of God as the only source of truth in our world.”
–Canyon Creek Christian Academy
“…the autographs of the 66 canonical books of the Bible are objectively inspired, infallible and the inerrant Word of God in all of their parts and in all matters of which they speak (history, theology, science, etc.).”
–Mark Cadwallader’s ‘Creation Moments’
“The Bible is the divinely inspired written Word of God. Because it is inspired throughout, it is completely free from error–scientifically, historically, theologically, and morally. Thus it is the absolute authority in all matters of truth, faith, and conduct. The final guide to the interpretation of the Bible is the Bible itself. God’s world must always agree with God’s Word, because the Creator of the one is the Author of the other. Thus, where physical evidences from the creation may be used to confirm the Bible, these evidences must never be used to correct or interpret the Bible. The written Word must take priority in the event of any apparent conflict.”
–Mark Ramsey’s ‘Greater Houston Creation Association’
“Revealed truth: That which is revealed in Scripture, whether or not man has scientifically proved it. If it is in the Bible, it is already true without requiring additional proof.
“…Fallacy: that which contradicts God’s revealed truth, no matter how scientific, how commonly believed, or how apparently workable or logical it may seem.”
–Bob Jones University, Biology Student Text (3rd ed. 2 vol.)
Each of these organizations announces that they will automatically and thoughtlessly reject without consideration any and all evidence that might ever arise –should it conflict with their interpretation of Bronze age folklore. They admit in advance that they refuse to be reasoned with, so that no matter how true the truth really is, no amount of proof will ever change their minds. This is one of the reasons I say that faith is the most dishonest position it is possible to have.
So what about the next lie, that religion can be confirmed empirically and experimentally just like science? Every religion cites their own scripture, mythos and artifacts as evidence that theirs is the one true faith, but thus far every case is either not factually evident or is actually fraudulent.
Believers of various religions, be they Christian, Muslim, or Hindu, will typically proclaim their belief as the absolute truth. But truth is defined as “that which is concordant with reality”. That means reality itself is not truth, but statements about reality can be –provided they’re true. The truth is what the facts are because the facts can verified. So if truth is defined as whatever statement can be shown to be true, so that we know whether it is concordant with reality, then there is no truth to any religion.
Tonight I listed just a few of many facts that we can objectively verify and prove to be true of evolution. Religion however can’t do that. It all comes down to subjective impressions, anecdotal experience, logical fallacies, wishful thinking and a bit of ignorance; always highly dubious and never indicated or vindicated.
Although many believers will try and assert their conviction as if it were knowledge of actual fact, the fact is there is nothing anyone can honestly say they actually know to be true of their faith-based beliefs. Everything we really do know and can show to be true, we learned from science. That’s why EvolveFish.com made this refrigerator magnet for me.
So what about this last lie, that creationism is somehow scientific? As we’ve already seen, mysticism works exactly opposite of science. That’s because the target isn’t really evolution, it’s methodological naturalism, the scientific method itself. They want to remove the reason science works. The mystics want magical miracles to be included as scientific explanations, while any actual facts may be readily swept under the rug if they’re not in line with their required conclusion.
If you’re a scientist trying to join a creationist organization like AnswersInGenesis, you have to submit a copy of their statement of faith along with your signature endorsing that. And you have to follow that with your testimony, promising to promote Biblical literalism regardless what the facts turn out to be. You also have to include references from Bible-believing Christians including at least one pastor. What you know about science doesn’t matter. You’re not going to be doing that anymore. Now it’s all about promoting religious belief; you’re supposed to make people believe. I’ve read and heard many confessions of extreme believers to the effect that they will make themselves believe whatever the Bible says even when they have certain proof that it’s wrong.
Ken Ham, the CEO of AnswersInGenesis says it is imperative that people believe in the assumed authority of the Bible, and that they employ that bias to dismiss and ignore inconvenient truths. He calls it putting on your God glasses. His justification for that is that if you want to believe in salvation, which is in the last half of the Bible, you’ve got to believe in creation, which is the first half of the Bible. So they believe in belief or in the imagined consequence of disbelief, but this has nothing at all to do with improving understanding or knowledge of any actual truth. Among creationists, truth is irrelevant.
These 8 erroneous assertions are not just the result of childish behavior. These are not merely mistakes, a forgivable misunderstanding, or matters of opinion; these are lies, claims they know are false and made with deliberate intent to deceive.
I don’t mean that there are no honest people who happen to believe in creation, but creationists are either deceivers or deceived; there is no third category. Some of the deceived want to stay in their bubble and have been trained to defend their delusion, and that is what it is. But there are some who actually care what the truth really is, and just haven’t heard or understood it yet. Remember they got that way from indoctrination being conditioned since childhood, and that’s hard to break.
But once sincere believers begin to investigate the evidence and arguments on either side of this alleged controversy, they will very quickly face a life-altering choice: whether to remain honest, or whether to remain creationist, because it is no longer possible to be both. Either they can honestly concede what the definition of macroevolution really is and thus be forced to admit that has been observed, or they can lie about the missing link, and say there’s never been any transitional species or beneficial mutations even when they know better.
Some of them think they must defend the faith or suffer a fate worse than death if they don’t. That is the reason religious extremists use these lies of equivocation and projection, because (and you can all easily prove this for yourselves) it is not possible to defend creationism honestly.