Sunday, December 16, 2007

Why Creationists need not obsess on the evolution of life

I’m amazed when Biblical and Koranic literalists blow themselves into a typhoon over the science of biology. Life, including Homo sapiens, is but a small part of our scientific understanding of the universe that clearly runs contrary to their beliefs. Why all the fuss from some trucker from Kansas who wants to teach his kids that cows were made exactly as they are right now, in such a way as to be nearly totally for the benefit of humans? Don’t they realize that there are many other problems with their myth? Science learns more and more (almost daily now), bringing a great amount of certitude as to how things came to be as we currently observe them.

For instance – “God created the earth”. Why obsess on whether man has chimpanzee as his closest living relative, when science is quite positive about how the Earth was “created”? Wouldn't that be a larger problem to confront? I suppose they could claim that science is just having some insights into how God created the Earth, but such acknowledgment would still put them in the uncomfortable position of having to deny the literality of their sacred texts.

We know that this particular “creation” is merely a work in progress. Is god still creating the Earth? The Hawaiian Islands continually pop up and grow larger. Iceland is being ripped apart. The Himalaya Mountain range is growing, California is splitting off from the North American continent, etc. The Earth has reshaped over and over and continues to do so. The livable atmosphere has varied greatly.

“In the beginning” there was nothing habitable on the planet at all. After it became habitable, it wouldn’t have immediately been survivable by humans and cows. Only microorganisms could have existed in the original habitable environment.

These are scientific facts. Shouldn’t these facts bother biblical literalists as much, or even more, than evolution? And yet they seem to act as if the only obstacle to a biblical understanding of the universe is this damn annoying idea that the atheistic Darwin came up with. It’s just one more of those strange anomalies in dealing with theists.

Amazing Earth Part 1

Amazing Earth Part 2


Ute said...

You know... whenever I talk to my six year old I'm amazed at how she instinctively gets it... when so many others don't. Thanks for posting this.

Anonymous said...

I've posted on the same topic a while ago, but I never thought before about why fundamentalists are not trying to challenge the teaching of earth science and astronomy in the public schools.They seem to just lump everything together under evolution. Weird, now that I think about it.

The Exterminator said...

Actually, there are plenty of religionists who challenge earth science and astronomy, but they don't get as much press as the ones who refuse to accept evolution.

I'm not going to put in any links here because I don't want those idiots getting dozens of hits from Evo's blog. But here are two terms I tried, for which I received many results: "bible astronomy" and "Christian geology."

The science-deniers are out there, all right.

Lynet said...

Evolution gets more attention because it's about where human beings come from. It challenges the idea that we're separate from animals. It challenges the idea that humanity is a fundamental part of the universe rather than a passing, contingent phenomenon. As such, it attacks not merely a small Biblical quibble but a central part of some people's worldviews.

PhillyChief said...

Part of it I think is the failing of the theist mindset. Their understandings are in absolutes. This is why a big thing coming up now is the befuddlement of christians that atheists can celebrate x-mas, since they are incapable of separating the celebration from the acceptance of the myth. Now when it comes to issues like creationism, I feel they see all the arguments as if they're a long line of dominoes. Knock this one over and all the others fall. In other words, win over Evolution, and everything, from 6,000 year old Earth and 6 days to create everything to Jesus, water into wine and the resurrection all then have to be true and accepted. It seems ridiculous, but I honestly believe this is their thinking. At the very least, I feel that they think if they win this, all the rest will be that much easier to win.

As Lynet said, I think this gets the attention because it's about us. Not only do people want to feel special, they don't want to think they share anything with other primates. This is why the fallacious arguments of "coming from apes" work so well for them. So this is perhaps the easiest for them to win, and as I said above, they see one win as either being a win for it all or at least make the rest much more easily winnable. Frankly, those that believe the latter may be right. Hell, if you're willing to accept creationism in light of all the scientific evidence, you probably could ignore continental drift and any other evidence that would refute biblical bullshit.

John Evo said...

@ Ute - yeah, but your six year old has already proven herself smarter than many adults!

@ Brian - please link me to that post.

@ Ex, Lynet, and Philly - I think you're all correct to some extent. Yes, plenty of them do take exception to the other sciences and, yes, it's more important and personal for them to focus on "us".

That said, I still wonder why we don't hear more about these other facts. It's just a real disconnect (to me) to spend so much time debating evolution when there are so many other scientific facts that also run contrary to literalism.

Usually, the media generates the "spin" on what issues are going to be seen as important. If I'm an editor and my reporter comes to me with a story about a group that denies plate tectonics, the age of the planet, the variety of atmospheres the planet has had, I'm going to make that just as major of a story as one where the group is saying "we don't come from monkeys".

Actually, it’s MORE incredible that some of the other science is denied. Evolution is kind of counter-intuitive to begin with and then it's tough to demonstrate in the course of a human lifetime. The changes in our planet can be seen on a daily basis and some of the theories concerning geology are even stronger than evolutionary theory.

PhillyChief said...

In an attempt to understand people John, I try as best as I can to see the world or a particular issue through another's eyes. This is what I did when wondering about the atheism is religion claim and what I'm trying to do now, which is why I can see the correlation between your point and the objections to Dawkins singing x-mas carols. It's the absolutism of their thinking.

Now as I said earlier along with Lynet, I think this issue of evolution vs creationism is for them the issue that is the most winnable. There are tons of arguments and scientific evidence on a wide range of points of contention between the bible and christians, including Evolution vs creationism, but most of those are either too well rooted in people's minds for Science's side or are simply too complicated for people to mull over. One thing is for sure though, a lot of people don't want to think they're apes, and on that idea the christians can get people to ignore Science. Like it or not, most people are not critical thinkers and can be swayed by such irrational thoughts.

This is what I mean by seeing through other's eyes. I think you're not taking the time to do that John, which is why this seems so confusing to you. Even your pointing the finger at the media is seeing what the media SHOULD be like, in your opinion, and not what it is. Running a story on flat Earthers or deniers of plate tectonics may be good for a one time chuckle, but you can generate buzz and future followups with creationist stories; therefore, any smart editor who wants increased attention runs the creationist stories and passes on the plate tectonic deniers.

Anonymous said...

I think all of you have made good points. Another idea to consider is that it is easier to fight a one-front war than a multi-front war. Moreover, a single focus shields Christians from certain hazards.

If Christians start attacking all sorts of science, even the most gullible believers will eventually be forced to realize how little credibility Christianity has. They will eventually recognize that there is no way a belief system can contradict that many streams of scientific thought and be right.

Moreover, fighting a multi-front war would require Christian apologists to inform themselves, to some degree, about many additional areas of science. Far easier to concentrate all, or most, of their resources on one battlefield. If that battle can be won, the others are rendered superfluous.

The Exterminator said...


It's simple really. Lynet's got it right. Humans are solipsistic, totally self-involved. If god made us, everything else falls into place as something made for us. Our planet must be special, our sun must be special, our solar system must be special.

On the other hand: If god didn't make us, the whole belief system collapses.

Hence, the focus on evolution. All that other stuff is secondary.

John Evo said...

Philly, Chappy, Stermy -

Based on what all of you are saying, maybe it's up to US to make an issue of these things.

I have a couple of Christian friends who like to get in to it with me from time to time. They hear some "great argument" and then test it out on me. Invariably, I'm up to the challenge. But maybe I'll start challenging them - though I kind of refrain from that usually.

I could see responding to any of their questions with something like, "Well, I'd love to talk about that with you but I think we need to establish the general framework under which evolution works. You DO agree that the earth is billions of years old and you do understand that all of the continents were at one time a single continent, right? And thus derail their evolution arguments right out of the gate – and maybe get them thinking about some of these other issues.

I don't know if I can do that. I love discussing evolution too much!

PhillyChief said...

This was precisely my point not long ago when I aped Herm Edwards' "you play to win the game" line. Why argue shit like the question of evil when you should go for the jugular and question the whole god idea. Likewise, why debate finer points of evolution, macro and micro, transitional fossils, blah blah when you can just go, like you said, to an Earth of a billion years, one continent and all that. If you don't, then you're guilty of what Ex thinks is our motivation for arguing with christians, doing it just to get our rocks off. :)

Sillysighbean said...

Faith! It stops the rational thoughts dead in their tracks
Thank you for posting the videos and recommending THE PLAGUE.

John Evo said...

Sillysighbean - would you care to join our reading group? We have a target date of Feb. 1 to post an essay about the book. It's ok if you're late though. I still haven't posted on our last read.