We have, over the course of our discoveries about the universe, the earth and ourselves, concluded through all three areas that the universe is very old, that earth is very old, and that humans evolved over hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of years. The evidence to support these positions is quite solid and certainly the one I support.
Unfortunately, through the use of pseudoscience and political lobbying, creationists have managed to successfully corrupt the education system in the USA, persuading the authorities to teach creation theory as a scientific theory. What is also worrying is that creationism in the Christian sense is getting more traction right here in the UK.
Now, I am not opposed to creationism (or Intelligent Design, a superficially similar idea) as a religious theory, spoken of as an allegory. However, creationism has absolutely no place as a scientific theory. The ‘evidence’ for creationism relies not on scientific approaches but on pseudoscience and religious texts, but, whether this is happening through Christian institutions or other religions, the dogma is enticing to the un-educated mind.
The average person has only a cursory understanding of science, so when a person in a respected position of authority stands up and speaks in scientific terms, the average person is prepared to accept those words, without considering how good or bad the argument actually is. The consequence is that, even in countries like the US and UK, people can be easily duped. Charisma, dogma and pseudoscience carry a lot of weight, as does Christianity, and thus someone challenging that, even with facts on their side, has a steep hill to climb.
What can be done?
It’s important that mainstream scientific education is not mired with the pseudoscience of creationism. Where organisations like the Institute of Creation Research are pushing for creationism to be taught as a science, others need to say no. It is imperative that creationism is kept out of science, for, despite the misshapen arguments creationists may make, it does not belong there.
UPDATE 21st October 2014:
After some interesting discussions on iMDB and Bigfooty, I have a few updates to make to this page. Firstly, I look at the idea that criticism of creationism as a scientific idea is somehow an attack on religion in general (in particular that it’s being intolerant of religious beliefs).
I am criticising the idea that creationism should be taught as a scientific theory. There is no evidence to support creationism in the scientific sense. There is overwhelming evidence in favour of evolution. Creationists use pseudo-scientific statements and outright religious rhetoric to argue for creationism, and the average layperson tends to be swayed by these arguments. Creationists argue that evolution should almost be seen as a religious concept in itself ‘IE, saying that someone believes in evolution – evolution is therefore not a scientific theory, but somehow a belief’.
There are a lot of disingenuous arguments here, not least of which is the idea that if you are arguing against creationism as a scientific theory, you are somehow attacking religious beliefs, and this can get people worked up (in particular the religious right, who can be easily whipped up into hysteria if they think their beliefs are being challenged). Meanwhile, evolution gets undermined as a scientific theory and certain schools either remove it from the curriculum or elevate creationism to the status of a scientific theory.
The end result is the undermining of science and this paves the way for other unscientific ideas (such as the related Young Earth and Intelligent Design theories) to enter mainstream scientific education, where they do not belong. Any criticism of this is met with vitriolic arguments that detractors of these anti-scientific notions are attacking Christianity itself – and thus the views of those who wish to provide a proper education on these topics are drowned out.
It is one elaborate smoke-screen put up by the creationist camp, and it is entirely dishonest. Criticising creationism as a scientific theory is not an attack on religion – it is a measure to ensure that science is not undermined and thus the future of education systems is protected.
My argument came under further attack because I was criticising the US situation – which in my view is simply disingenuous.
Yes, I am not an American. You appear to think this denies me any right to make comments on the US education system. Unfortunately for you, in this day and age of the internet, where information may be freely disseminated across the entire world, it is entirely easy to see problems with creationism in the US education system, and I am entirely free to pass comment on this where, when and how I wish.
Lets look at some data shall we?
The Huffington Post posted the results of a Gallup poll carried out in May this year, that shows 42 percent of Americans believe God created humans within the past 10,000 years. (to see this article, here is the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/02/creationism-america-survey_n_ 5434107.html )
What’s interesting is that the breakdown of this reveals church-goers are far more likely to believe this than people who rarely or never attend church. What’s also interesting is that the percentage of people who believe this is quite high across different age groups and education sectors.
I would also recommend an article on the subject of evolution, creationism and education: http://nihrecord.nih.gov/newsletters/2006/07_28_2006/story03.htm
UPDATE: 2nd December 2014
Further to debates and discussions on this subject (especially on IMDb), I have another update to make to this page.
This time around, I talk a bit more about the way in which creationism is filtering into the public school system of the US, and that, contrary to certain opinions, it is still very prevalent.
One particular user over on IMDb, Arlon10, has offered up a couple of responses to some of my posts, but he is addressing ‘points’ I have not made. For example (and I quote):
What school taught you evolution explains the origin of life? I am certain none did, public or private. That notion is also from the 1920s.
Although the “creationism versus evolution” debate was often heard in the 1920s, since the discovery of the “chromosome” in the 1930s by Thomas Hunt Morgan the educated public has abandoned that artificial debate. It was becoming increasingly clear that the hopes of some proponents of Darwin that one day that theory would explain the origin of life would not be realized. Each new advance in microscope technology and the understanding of life processes made the likelihood of random assembly all the more absurd.
If you look at the thread in question, at no stage do I address the origins of life argument. It is often assumed that the origins of life and evolution/creationism debates go hand in hand, how life has developed and changed over time is not the same discussion.
It is a Red Herring to change the subject from evolution/creationism to origins of life. Arlon10 goes in to attack the idea that life could have been the result of random convergence of organic materials, suggesting such complex developments must be the result of a creator.
At the present time it is clear that an intelligent designer was necessary for life to begin on a previously molten Earth. Make no mistake about what happened in the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover. Many think the school won that case against “creationists,” but it was the school that lost. It had begun to recognize that the theory of evolution was not adequate to the purposes many still believed from the 1920s. The plaintiffs in the case were using the outdated arguments from news stories of the 1920s.
What we come to now is the Strawman fallacy. Arlon10 is attacking a position I have not actually made, on a subject seemingly the same as the one I have been discussing but not actually the same.
Unfortunately, the use of such Red Herrings and Strawmen is a not uncommon tactic by creationists to garner greater support for their cause from the average person.
When I pointed out to Arlon10 that he was not addressing the arguments I had actually been making, he responded with:
Yes, I know. No one with the brains God gave geese is addressing the argument you made in this thread, which you would realize if you read the argument I made in this thread.
As I mentioned to him, there are still plenty of people who firmly believe in creationism as I have been explaining it, despite his following statement:
Which I explained to you is from the 1920s. There are no “creationists” anymore except frauds who take money from people who do not want to admit there is a god and believe they can somehow continue with the plan from the 1920s.
There are websites out there that clearly believe their own rhetoric, such as Creation.org (which actually makes a serious argument to suggest humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth together, and that the earth is only a few thousand years old, put here by God). This is also the tip of the iceberg: There are major sites such as Creationtoday.org (which, among other things, makes extensive arguments for a young earth, and on an unrelated note, try to paint atheism as a ‘faith’, and try to link evolution and atheism to each other)
Additionally, these sites get nearly half a million views per year, which may not sound a lot, but Creationtoday.org is within the top 500,000 global websites (which, when you consider how many websites are out there, actually puts it high on that list) for site traffic, and is enjoying considerable growth lately.
Furthermore, tax payers’ money in the US is contributing to the spread of the idea that creationism is a viable alternative to evolution.
There are sites in the UK that have potentially global reach that also present pseudo-scientific arguments for young earth theory, some of which are just scary.
So there are plenty of creationists out there who push for creation theory to be treated as a legitimate scientific alternative to evolution.
For some recommended reading on this subject (that co-incidentally addresses Intelligent Design as well) I would check out the following sites, that provide some good rebuttals to oft-repeated creationist arguments.