Creationism – Sham Inquiry

There has been a concerted effort to package creationist views in such a way as to sound so convincing and correct (at least politically) in order to gain public support and demonize evolution.

In the 20th century, special creation, as an explanation of all life on earth, was so obviously nonscientific that it ended up as a problem in the modern education system. As religion, it was prohibited from being taught in public schools. Evolution, developed from Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection in 1849, was the clearly acceptable scientific explanation to be included in the school curriculum. Scientific creationism was developed as an alternate view in the post-Sputnik science atmosphere of the 1960s [1]. “Scientific” was added as a credibility bauble. It was simply tacked on the front and various science-like trappings were added.

The method utilized in creationist arguments is to pick apart the scientific evidence, looking for anomalies or observations that cast doubt on the concept of evolution. Creationists excel at simplifying and mischaracterizing science into straw man arguments, then shooting them down with a self-righteous chuckle. Their philosophy is peppered with “bits of science, variously chopped, twisted, crushed, mangled and blended” [2] aimed at the average population who does not know enough about the scientific process and standards and who never learned enough about the basics of biology in high school. Creationists use scientific principles (like thermodynamics) as far as it will take them for the purposes of their arguments. The explanations will not extend too far in case it could be revealed how inappropriate they are [3].

The premise of creationism is miraculous and outside the bounds of natural law and human understanding [4]. It is a stellar example of a nonfalsifiable theory. There is no coherent creation theory or that of its modern version, “intelligent design”. The philosophy is invoked when it is convenient – when a biologic process appears to be lacking an evolutionary explanation. Corollary theories, such as flood geology, are soundly at odds with modern knowledge. There is no research, no testable hypotheses, but they will staunchly say that there is [5].

Creationists practice dismissals of accepted scientific evidence such as geologic time, genetics, developmental biology and the fossil record. A particularly infuriating ploy (committing the logical fallacy called “moving the goalposts”) is the standard response to finding a transitional fossil that fills in an evolutionary gap. They conclude it did not actually fill a gap, it created two more gaps. There are never enough transitional fossils to convince [6]. The argument of personal incredulity is committed because they just can not imagine that some things can be so. It does not fit with their preconceived notion and is rejected. Actually, creationism literature provides excellent examples of many other logical fallacies including arguments from authority, non sequiturs, ad hominem, inconsistency and probably several others.

Creationists like to debate scientists. It appears to put them on equal footing. It is difficult to argue with an ardent creationist. There is no logic. Logic and reason are anathema to religion and therefore are not respected in the creationist court. Yet, they will fervently use terms like “truth” and “facts” and “common sense”. They will use arguments that are decidedly unscientific and illogical, but still sound very convincing to an unwary audience.

While trying very hard to look like science, apologists will claim that evolution is not science but a “belief” and dogma, styling evolution as a religion, calling evolutionists intolerant, pompous, arrogant, deceitful, engaging in indoctrination, elitist and afraid [7]. Clearly, they attempt to dilute science and blur distinction in the eyes of the public. They will latch onto and publicize disputes among scientists [8]. In this way, they manufacture a controversy in science where there simply is none.

Without any solid claims originating from their own position, all that the creationist side can do is attack. They are experts of “conjuring tricks employing inaccuracy, misrepresentation, dazzling numbers and layers of confusion” [9] In this vein, they will style evolution as a religion, calling evolutionists intolerant, pompous, arrogant, deceitful, engaging in indoctrination, elitist and afraid [10].

No evidence is required, or desired, beyond that of the Bible. There is no respect for science, its methods or principles. The conclusion precedes everything. It is not a search for knowledge, it is a story to support a religion where revealed knowledge is seen as truth and will not be forsaken. Creationist motives are blatantly obvious. They wish to show evolution is false in support of a supernatural creator. Creationists have been wildly successful in convincing the public that a supernatural view is reasonable and legitimate, even if they have not convinced them with a lame scientific argument. The ideological argument is harder to reject.

For these reasons, creationists are science pretenders of the worst kind.

References

(2005). “Kitzmiller vs Dover”, US District Court For The Middle District Of Pennsylvania.

Godfrey, L. R. (1981). “Science and Evolution in the Public Eye”. Paranormal Borderlands of Science. K. Frazier, Prometheus Books.

Issak, M. (2007). The Counter-Creationism Handbook, Univ of Calif. Press.

Kitcher, P. (1982). Abusing Science-The Case Against Creationism, MIT Press.

Popper, K. (1963). “Falsificationism”. Scientific Inquiry (1999). R. Klee, Oxford Univ Press.

Scott, E. C. (1995). “Creationism, Ideology, and Science”. The Flight from Science and Reason (1996). P. R. Gross, N. Levitt, M.W. Lewis, New York Academy of Sciences.

Toumey, C. (1996). Conjuring Science, Rutgers Univ Press.
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[1] Scott, p. 508
[2] Kitcher, p. 82
[3] Ibid., p. 91-96
[4] Scott, p. 514
[5] See the Institution for Creation Research website at http://www.icr.org/evidence/ where it will take you several clicks to get to any content, none of which can be considered “evidence” of any sort.
[6] Isaak, p. 113-125.
[7] Toumey, p. 125-6.
[8] Kitcher, p. 55.
[9] Ibid., p. 120.
[10] Toumey, p. 125-6.

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