Creationism, The New Right and a Rant

I have just commented on a blog, in which the author complains about the arguments between atheists and creationists getting out of hand. The author thought that by asking everyone to calm down and we should listen to all sides everything will be fine. Just like the argument with Islamic Fundamentalism I have to disagree. It will not be all right if we allow religious extremism to flourish unchallenged. I have no wish to live in an Islamic Caliphate nor a Tea-Party version of the world supported by a version of Christianity which seems routed circa 1550 A.D. A date that it is itself subject to significant variance. A.D with dates that don’t add up. But  I won’t start that again, the discussion on numbers I mean.

I wrote in my comments on the blog:

I believe that crossing a busy road is safe if I close my eyes as God will protect me.
I know that crossing a busy road is not safe if I close my eyes.
One is fact one is faith or belief. I know which one I trust to be taught to children.Your description of teaching children to read is essential; however this must be based on fact. The air is compromised of various gasses it is not belief it is fact. It is belief that a book mis-translated through various languages over several thousand years (old and new testament) gives an accurate view of the world’s development. Scientists to believe propose hypothesise that may prove to be correct or not. In modern science these are tested by other scientists. This leads to probability of fact not absolute certainty but highly likely.

It is highly likely that you will be killed or seriously injured in my first example, not fact.

So to use the same reasoning on the creationist view of the world ends with a highly unlikely based on analysis despite the faith of those who believe it. It is highly unlikely that a book (which is contradicted in other contemporaneous records) is a factual account of what happened, just as Galileo’s view of the solar system was incorrect.

Five hundred or more years ago all Christian religious leaders thought the world was flat because the bible told them so, or so they said, it isn’t.

I still find it amazing that in the 21st religious faith is so persuasive and yet has such a narrow view of the world in which we live. There are probably seven billion people on the planet now. The bare majority are Christian (31%), Islamic (23%), but these are false numbers based on census returns where asked, assessments and projections. On most national official forms a submitter has to put a religion. I was born a Methodist (Christian,) married in a C of E church but I am not religious, yes it is hypocritical just like my parents baptising me into a religion without my say so. Before I have even a chance to think about the subject – indoctrination or culture?

My argument today though is with Creationism, a smaller minority of Christianity but with translated political power in the USA; at least due to its strong connections into the Republican Party. The row there is what is taught in schools not in Religious Education classes but in science classes. In the UK the last week, outside of World Cup coverage, has been the ongoing actions in Birmingham of Islamic extremism creeping into the classroom, OFSTED inspections have followed special measure have been implemented. Statements have been made in the Houses of Parliament. My largest concern to these matters is the lack of sexual equality apparent in this version of the Islamic faith just as it is in orthodox Jews and some parts of Christianity. Muslim women and reasonable Christians, are you not concerned with the impact on your lives. We have Nigerian girls kidnapped by so called Islamic extremists and a general Islamic approach in many so called Islamic countries to the prevention of equality. I haven’t read the reports let alone visited the schools but I just draw the comparison between reaction to Islamic teaching compared to Christian teaching in schools. We may not have the extent of creationism in the UK but both need to be challenged before a scientific approach to science and an equal (sexes) view of the world is lost.

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4 thoughts on “Creationism, The New Right and a Rant

  1. Hi Philip,

    Thanks for your comment on my original blog article, and your further comment here. I’ve written a more substantial reply to your comment on the original article. Here’s the short version:

    The point of the original article is not that “by asking everyone to calm down and we should listen to all sides everything will be fine.” Rather, it is that even people with false beliefs can still be good citizens and decent people if their hearts are in the right place and they devote their lives to serving their fellow human beings in some useful and constructive way.

    More specifically, the point of the article is that as important as our beliefs are, how we treat our fellow human beings is more important.

    If our view of reality is based on facts, but we subject those whose beliefs are incorrect and faulty to a continual stream of invective and attack, does that really make the world a better place?

  2. Phil,

    you misunderstand the nature of the argument: it is not faith v science, it is a conflict of worldviews. It is not that the scientific data necessitates an evolutionary perspective on the origin of life (it can’t) or alleged subsequent development of more complex species, the raw data which is available has to be interpreted. Most secular scientists start with the assumption that everything MUST HAVE a naturalistic explanation, whatever the evidence to the contrary. This is admitted by Dr Scott Todd (Immunologist at Kansas State University): “Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic” (Todd, S.C., correspondence to Nature 401(6752):423, 30 Sept. 1999). There are many similar quotes available.

    You mention the dangers of indoctrination. I quite agree! Let me ask, ‘have you ever been taught the SCIENTIFIC BASIS for the creationist or intelligent design perspectives?’ if not, then you certainly have been indoctrinated. Trying to relegate the scientific arguments for creationism and/or intelligent design (not the same thing, incidentally) to religious lessons, and leaving evolution in the science lessons, sends the message that one is clearly true and the other a matter of (naïve) faith. I totally reject that position: I find no conflict (in fact quite the opposite) between my faith as a Christian and my scientific studies/research. Incidentally, I have a science degree from a secular university, and I studied astronomy (incl. big bang and the origin of life) and evolution amongst other subjects. Surely presenting scientific arguments from both sides and allowing students to make up their own minds is the best way of avoiding indoctrination!

    You then go on to draw some sort of comparison between Christian fundamentalists (creationists) and Islamic fundamentalists and talk about sex equality. In fact, the Bible affords great dignity and equal value to women. This is the clear teaching of Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In other words, all are of equal value regardless of sex, race, status, etc. (though men and women are given different roles – the ‘Complimentarian View’ is the term for this position). As I quote the Bible, I am mindful of your thoughts on this book. Suffice it to say that the evidence for the integrity of the Bible is very compelling. Yes, some cults have adjusted parts of it to fit their own theologies, but the evidence for the authenticity of the mainstream translations (such as the ESV) is compelling. One could point to the thousands of transcripts, support from extra-biblical sources (including the amazing number of quotations in the writings of the early ‘church fathers’), fulfilled prophecies and the transforming effect it has on the lives of those who accept it as God’s word.

    You further state that “Five hundred or more years ago all Christian religious leaders thought the world was flat because the bible told them so, or so they said, it isn’t.”
    This is a myth. The Bible doesn’t state that at all and it was contrary to the established position. Here’s an article that will explain further (and save me a lot of typing!): http://creation.com/flat-earth-myth

    The key point I want to make, Phil, is the first one I made above: This is not about science v faith, it is a clash of worldviews. Many convinced creationists including Newton, Maxwell, Kelvin and Fleming have been at the forefront of scientific progress and saw no conflict between the 2 (quite the opposite, in fact).

    If you want to discover more about the real issues, you may find these links of interest:
    http://ukstore.creation.com/catalog/expelled-intelligence-allowed-p-340.html (explains why some scientists will not openly challenge evolution)
    http://ukstore.creation.com/catalog/unlocking-mystery-life-p-291.html (explains why some are compelled to do so – from a scientific point of view).

    • Hi Ian and thanks for the comment.

      Don’t think I mentioned Intelligent Design at all in my rant or comments! Probably a good job and any quote from the bible can have an equal an opposite repose from another part the basic turn the other cheek to an eye for an eye. As the bible was force fed during my childhood I am not intending to find chapter and verse. Nor the Koran nor any other teaching from a list of parables masquerading as a contemporaneous account.
      No science does not have all the answers, it barely has all the questions. Science is based on hypothesis with results tending to a proof but not actual proof. I think Stephen Hawking mentioned that some old lady believed that the earth was in fact lying on a turtle’s back. I cannot prove she is wrong but most of the evidence tends to suggest she is. Creationism like Muslim fundamentalism instils the belief in the faithful that the protagonist is absolutely correct. The Catholic Church burnt at the stake people who believed that the Earth went round the sun. We have Shiite and Sunni Muslim’s murdering each other over some variation of the Islamic faith which I have no interest in understanding, because both elements proved themselves wrong by their very actions just as the protestant and catholic faiths proved themselves wrong in their conflicts.
      We are all as human beings entitled to believe what we want but the moment any religion or political opinion wishes to demand that I should believe something they are no longer something I can support. If you have faith in that belief then good for you. I have faith in man’s inhumanity to man as evidence by centuries if not millennia of historical actions; including long before the Creationist’s think humanity started which they calculate at 6-10,000 years ago. Well which is it. As a basic tenant of their belief you would think they would know. Not have a 40% error built in.
      Religious systems of all faiths are about power, power to control thought, deed and action. Nothing more and nothing less. Have faith in your God by all means just don’t impose it on the rest of the world. For Christians that means Islamic and Jewish versions of the single God. For Hindus and Buddhists I’m not sure but Billions believe in these faiths instead of the single God proposed by the others, I have ignored the many old tribes that still believe in other things. I am not proposing atheism as a religion or an agnostic approach, just don’t teach children that one particular religion is the true faith when there is no proof that it is.

      • Hi Phil.

        Thanks for the reply.
        Actually I find the Bible to be consistent and the key to understanding alleged contradictions, such the one you quote, often lies in understanding the context. For example, ‘An eye for an eye’ (given firstly in Exodus 21:24) refers to the principle of retribution under national law, i.e. the punishment under a national legal system should be proportionate to the crime, whereas ‘turn the other cheek’ (Luke 6:29) refers to the Christian’s response to a personal affront.
        You say “Creationism like Muslim fundamentalism instils the belief in the faithful that the protagonist is absolutely correct.” I would say “evolutionism/naturalism like Muslim fundamentalism instils the belief in the faithful that the protagonist is absolutely correct.” Again, check out the DVDs I linked to in the first post.

        Yes, much evil is done in the name of religion, and even in the name of Jesus. However, one should not confuse true Christianity with the evils that are done in its name. It is very easy to pick a verse or 2 from the Bible and (as with the example above), use it is isolation in a way that was never intended. In fact, Jesus gave very clear instructions about loving enemies, etc. However, I share your lack of faith in human nature and those who think that abolishing religion would lead to some kind of man-made utopia would do well to consider those countries where this has been attempted, e.g. Communist China (estimates of the number of people killed by man-made famine and execution vary between 35 and 60 million for the period of Mao’s reign).

        Regarding the creationist estimate for the age of the earth, I have not heard any use 10,000 years (not to say that there aren’t any). However, you may be interested to learn that the secularists’ estimated age of the universe has often been changed before arriving at the current figure of nearly 14 billion years (in fact that figure was initially chosen largely as a compromise between 2 groups: one which wanted to use around 10 billion years and another which wanted to use 20 billion years!). One of the first ‘old agers’, Comte de Buffon, estimated the earth to be 75,000 years old. Kelvin estimated 100 million years (which he later revised down to 20-40 million years), Holmes used 1.6 billion years, and there has been a gradual increase since to the current figure of about 4.5 billion years. How about those for changes?

        Have faith in humanistic science by all means, just don’t impose it on the rest of the world or teach children that such an approach is the only correct one when there is no proof that it is (in fact, quite the opposite). Jesus never forced anyone to follow him: He simply told them the Gospel, warned them of the consequences of rejecting him, offered them life and respected their decisions. Christians are compelled to do the same.

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