Friday, January 11, 2008

Debunking Creationist Claims

Painted in 1925 by Charles R. Knight under the direction of paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn,
this mural in the American Museum of Natural History rebuts antievolutionists' charge
that science was undermining human dignity.

"Evolutionary philosophy and evolutionary spirituality are based upon
the recognition that we are part of a miraculous process that has existed
and been developing for billions of years.
It reveals to us that our own personal experience of that process
in all its many dimensions—inner and outer, gross and subtle
—is only a very small part of an infinite unfolding.
Thoughts and feelings that arise in individual consciousness
reflect emotional and psychological structures,
or habits, that have slowly developed over tens of thousands of years."

- Andrew Cohen

Science and spirituality are not necessarily exclusive of each other,
evolution occurs in an environment composed of time, space and form,
where spirit if it does indeed exist, must be of a primordial nature, timeless and formless.
The realm of spirituality is outside of time and space and unless you too
are outside of time and space, you know no more about it than anyone else.

I suggest that anyone whose ideas about spirituality hinge upon the literal "truth"
of stories told and retold in numerous tongues (many long dead) since the advent of language has no concept of spirituality whatsoever. Evolution is cosmic, biological and human.

Galaxies, planets, life, human consciousness and culture evolve
regardless of ones belief or disbelief in the process.
When someone feels connected to this ultimate reality,
and knows themselves to be a part of it, existence becomes harmonious
with integrity, with love and compassion for the whole.
If your personal interpretation of religious philosophy can not encompass this,
I suggest you may be in need of some "evolution" in that area.
Both legitimate science and legitimate spiritual inquiry seek the truth of matters.
If truth becomes your enemy, what are you defending?

Intelligent design is unintelligent.
A charade attempting to cloak one's personal religious dogma in scientific threads.
The claims of creationism as a science are rotund and pregnant with disingenuousness.
The creationist's claim that many scientists reject evolution and support creationism
but are somehow thwarted by liberals and atheists who control science
from behind soundstage curtains like the Wizard of Oz is deceptive nonsense.

Among the scientists and engineers in the US, merely 5% are creationists,
according to 3 surveys (1991 Gallup poll Robinson 1995, Witham 1997).
But this figure includes those in fields not related to life sciences
(like computer programmers, civil engineers, etc.).
If we were to take into account only those working in the relevant fields
of earth and life sciences, there are about 480,000 scientists,
yet only 700 or so consider creationism a valid theory (Robinson poll 1995).
This means that less than 0.15 percent of relevant scientists
believe in creation theories. And that is just in the United States,
which has far more creationists than even the most forsaken
backwater 3rd world locale on the planet, let alone among industrial nations .
In other countries, the number of relevant scientists who accept creationism drops to less than one tenth of 1 percent.

Additionally, many scientific organizations believe the evidence is so overwhelming
that they have issued public statements to that effect.
The National Academy of Sciences, one of the most prestigious science organizations,
devotes a Web site to the topic . A panel of seventy-two Nobel Laureates,
seventeen state academies of science, and seven other scientific organizations
created an amicus curiae brief which they submitted to the Supreme Court
(Edwards v. Aguillard ). This report clarified what makes science different
from religion and why creationism is not science.

We also should examine not just how many scientists and professors believe something,
but what their conviction is based on.
Most of those who reject evolution do so because
of personal religious convictions, not because of evidence.
Evidence supports evolution.
And ultimately evidence, not someone's personal opinion
(even if they are an authority) is what objective conclusions are based on in science.

Quite often, the claims that scientists reject evolution or support creationism
are hyperbolized or outright fraudulent. All good scientists are skeptical.
Evolution (and literally everything else) must be open to the possibility, however remote,
that serious challenges to it may appear. Creationists seize such expressions
of healthy scientific skepticism to imply that evolution is highly questionable
in the halls of science. They fail to understand that the fact that evolution
has withstood many years of such questioning
really means it is about as certain as facts can get.

"God is not averse to deceit in a holy cause"
- Aeschylus (525 - 456 BC) Source: Fragment 162

Another opium pipe dream espoused by the creationist is that evolution is not falsifiable and is not a proper scientific theory. This is absurd. There are numerous lines of evidence that could falsify evolution. For example:
  • a static fossil record;
  • true chimeras, that is, organisms that combined parts from several different and diverse lineages (such as mermaids and centaurs) and which are not explained by lateral gene transfer, which transfers relatively small amounts of DNA between lineages, or symbiosis, where two whole organisms come together.
  • a mechanism that would prevent mutations from accumulating;
  • observations of organisms being created.
Now this particular argument is made even more absurd because creationism is nothing but unsubstantiated claims.

"It is inconceivable that (fill in the blank) could have originated naturally.
Therefore, it must have been created. "
This argument, is known as the argument from ignorance or "god of the gaps,".
It is behind a plethora of different creationist arguments.
In particular, it is behind all arguments against abiogenesis
and any and all claims of "intelligent design".
Obviously no one knows everything, so it is completely unreasonable
to conclude that something is impossible because you do not know it.
someone may find a natural explanation; in many cases, they already have.

Gods were responsible for lightning until we determined natural causes for lightning,
for infectious diseases until we found bacteria and viruses,
for mental illnesses until we found biochemical causes for them.
The fundamentalist's God is confined only to those parts of the universe we do not know about, and that keeps shrinking. Perhaps that is why they seek to deny science and reason.

An intelligent and reasonable person who may also believe in a God creator
perceives the observations of Darwin as a glimpse at the handiwork
and mechanism of that Creator.
The deniers must not believe their God is capable of such a feat.
Since these folks are by far predominantly fundamentalists who insist
their particular take on the Bible is literally true,
how do they reconcile their anti-evolution stance with
"And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass,
the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree." -- Genesis 1:11?
Why that smacks of evolution!
After all "the earth brings forth" suggests a natural process does it not?

"And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so."
-- Genesis 1:24 also suggests that perhaps ancients did not mean
that a hairy thunderer in the sky went "poof" and life appeared in an instant.
Rather again, it suggests that the Earth brought it forth .

So where did this idea that evolution was not compatible with religion originate?
It seems Luther and Calvin's take on these things is the the source.

Calvin warns those who, by taking another view than his own,
"basely insult the Creator, to expect a judge who will annihilate them."
He insists that all species of animals were created in six days,
each made up of an evening and a morning, and that no new species has ever appeared since.
He dwells on the production of birds from the water as resting upon
certain warrant of Scripture, but adds, "If the question is to be argued on physical grounds,
we know that water is more akin to air than the earth is.
As to difficulties in the scriptural account of creation,
he tells us that God "wished by these to give proofs of his power
which should fill us with astonishment."
Why was Calvin the authority?
Because he said so.

Not much of a premise to base a vehemently adhered to dogma on.

Then of course Luther at the Reformation insisted on the literal acceptance
of Scripture as the main source of natural science.
He utterly rejected the allegorical and mystical interpretations of the earlier theologians .

"Why," he asks, "should Moses use allegory when he is not speaking of allegorical creatures or of an allegorical world, but of real creatures and of a visible world, which can be seen, felt, and grasped? Moses calls things by their right names, as we ought to do....I hold that the animals took their being at once upon the word of God, as did also the fishes in the sea."
Cause I said so!
Again not much to hang your hat on there folks.

It seems the premise of fundamentalism is a belief in Calvin, Luther,
or someone else's opinion about the intentions of writers many centuries ago,
in favor of what was actually written.

Perhaps we are witnessing evolution at work.
Perhaps there has been a split in the human race.
Most of us are moving forward intellectually, culturally, and spiritually.
The trajectory is towards inclusion, complexity, facilitation, and amelioration.
While some either simply can not or will not evolve.
Instead they seek to go the other way on the chart,
in the direction of Cro-Magnon man.
Choosing ignorance over knowledge, hate over love, war over peace,
autocracy over freedom, hegemony over cooperation, ideology over ideals,
egregiousness over egalitarianism, superstition over science,
encomberment over encouragement, fallacy over fact, entombment over enlightenment.
In our journey through human cultural evolution,
we see greater and greater spheres of cooperation,
of complexity and interdependence on an ever-widening scale.
At first we cooperated with family and clan; then at the level of tribe;
then, later on, at the level of the kingdom; and now, at a planetary level.
Our list of enemies keeps shrinking,
and the people with whom we have cooperation and compassion
like our universe keeps expanding.
On the other hand the contingent who are de-evolving
have smaller and smaller spheres of cooperation, narrowing vision,
distrust and fear on a wider and wider scale. Their list of enemies keeps growing.
And contrary to the trajectory of the rest of us their cooperation and compassion keeps diminishing.

Who among us would let a 14th-century dentist fix their or their children's teeth?
Yet every day some let 14th century theologians fill their and their children's brains.
Evolution is observable and sound science.
Creationism is not.
There is no reason to expect to have science classrooms turned into pulpits
for the de-evolving crowd.
At some point if their trajectory is not altered they will become paramecium!

Click this picture

1 comment:

Michael said...

We suggest a careful review of the information presented in and 2.html

It is really: Creation or Evolution? - It Is Both! followed by

Where did Cain get that wife of his?