Ham’s False Dichotomy

Ham’s False Dichotomy July 4, 2014

Ham’s false dichotomy between a system where “man decides truth” and “God’s word is truth” serves well to keep his audience skeptical of both evolution and mainstream geology. Ultimately, however, we must deal with the fact that to read and understand God’s word, we utilize the same cognitive abilities that allow us to reconstruct the common ancestry of life on Earth over millions of years.

The quote above comes from the blog Questioning Answers in Genesis, in a post about the detrimental effect of pseudoscience on our society.

Of related interest, IO9 had a post on why acceptance of astrology is not harmless. Conservatives are not the only ones to fall for conspiracy theories. Naomi Oreskes makes a case for acceptance of science. Panda’s Thumb continues to offer assistance to those trying to understand creationism.


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  • Kubricks_Rube

    Re: the quote from “Questioning Answers in Genesis,” you can easily replace “truth” with “morality” and make a similar point. Even if one was to concede that morality comes from G-d, that no more ends the discussion of what constitutes morality than the argument that G-d created existence ends the discussion of where humanity comes from. Fundamentalists tend to yada yada the most important part. (Happy anniversary Seinfeld!)

  • arcseconds

    You know, it’s struck me in the last couple of years that the caricature of science promulgated by young earth creationists looks very much like their understanding of creationism. They appear to think it’s essentially a mirror image of young-earth creationism:

    *) a science of origins must be a rigid body of dogma, known for all time. The fact that evolutionary science changes its mind about things is embarrassing to evolutionary science. Creation science, rooted as it is in the Word of God, won’t change, and therefore is superior.

    I think this is rooted in a thorough-going desire for certainty that creationists often have.

    *) A science of origins must be an intrinsic part of an entire worldview. Scientific materialism stands or falls with evolutionary science. Just as knowledge of God’s creation is an integral part of the Christian worldview.

    *) In particular, a science of origins must be virtually inseparable from one’s moral view. Either you accept evolution, and therefore a heartless, dog-eat-dog world, where morality is either a matter of dog-eat-dog, or an illusion, and of course you’ll wind up killing babies, or you accept creationism with it’s fall-and-redemption-through-Christ story.

    *) A worldview is informed in a major part by the emotional experiences of the person holding it. Darwin lost a kid and rejected God, so of course he came up with a God-denying theory.

    Evangelicals are, on the whole, pretty sentimental people. You can see this in the great love of redemption stories and re-dedicating oneself to Christ, and the enthusiasm towards what Snopes like to call ‘glurge’ stories. Their faith is often based on an emotional experience of God, too. I sometimes wonder whether many of them even really have any idea of what it is to base beliefs on a dispassionate concern with the evidence.

    (I don’t want to slam sentiment completely, and ‘dispassionate concern with the evidence’ can certainly lead people in strange and sometimes downright nasty directions (it can end up being a cover for the activity of strongly-held but unadmitted biases, for a start). But it’s not a great epistemological basis, I’d have to say, and, unalloyed, at least, it’s not even that great as a moral basis.)

    If I’m right about this, it suggests that it might be much more difficult to get many creationists to even understand where we’re coming from. It’s not just they have a different story to explain the world that we see before us, it’s that they have a totally different idea about what believing in such a story is all about.