Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Classifying Creationism - A Spectrum of Wilful Ignorance

The underlying reason for believing in creationism is because evolution conflicts with your interpretion of your holy book (usually the Bible, but other holy books apply too).

Creationist consider the text in their holy book to be absolute truth, and so that trumps whatever evidence there is in the natural world. Different creationists have different interpretations of what is literally true, and therefore wilfully ignore different sets of evidence...

Pre-destined or Clockwork universe

This is the belief that God set up the universe with such precision that it was certain to produce the wonderful world we see today without any further intervention. Michael Denton holds to this view, but it is pretty rare I believe. Perfectly compatible with mainstream science, which currently has no stand on what was there before the Big Bang. Not so compatible with Christianity, which claims God intervened by sending Jesus.

Evidence ignored: None

Theistic evolution

Modern evolutionary theory guided by the gentle and subtle hand of God. As far as science is concerned, no real difference to mainstream evolution. These people understand the story of Noah's Ark to be a myth; it may have some basis in fact, but was not the global devastation the Bible suggests. Very common, I believe Ken Miller holds this view, for example, as does the Catholic church and all the signees of the Clergy Letter Project.

Evidence ignored: None

Universal Flood

The universal flood is a flood that wipes out all mankind except thise of the ark, but does not cover the whole world, and does not wipe out all animals except those of the ark. It is a compromise position that recognises that a global flood is nonsense, but still clings to a literal interpration of the flood account. Well, literal in places, anyway.

Evidence ignored: The archaelogical record (not consistent with all mankind being all but wiped out in a single flood), the human genome does indicate a bottleneck, but too long ago for the Bible flood and not narrow enough (i.e., down to a population in the thousands, rather than a single family).

Global Flood

Gen 7:4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.
As the Bible says that God intended to kill everything not on the ark, the Global Fllod assumed this is what happened (well, not really, it assumes fish, among others, survived); there actually was a flood that covered the world.

Evidence ignored: As above. Also animal genomes (we would expect a bottleneck in the genome of every animal on the ark at about the same time), geology (no record in the rocks of such a flood), question of where the water came from, question of where the water went, practicalities of having tens of thousands to millions of kinds of animals on a boat for a year, biodistribution (that is, how species are distributed around the planet).

Global Flood and Human Creation

A variant of the previous, this makes the claim that mankind was created by God about 6000 years ago, after he destroyed the previous races (Neanderthals etc.). This is the first step towards full-blown creationism; sure, all the other animals evolved from a common ancestor, but humans are different, God created us relatively recently.

Evidence ignored: As above. Also genetic similarities between man and other animals (the chimp genome is actually closer to mankind's genome that it is to the gorilla genome), and the geological record (how fossils are arranged in the geological column; sorted by chronology rather than any flood-relaed mechanism).

Old Earth Creationism (OEC)

Here is the true creationism, the claim that God created each "kind" of animal, with them appearing at various points over the last few billion years (so, 68 million years ago he created a pair of T. Rex, etc.).

I am simplifying a bit here, OEC may or may not include a global flood.

Evidence ignored: As above. Also common descent, as evidenced by genetic similarities between all living things, a similar basic biochemistry shared by all living things, the progression of species over time (eg, the slow development of mammals from reptiles), the nested hierarchy of life.

Day-Age Creationism

This is a variant of Old Age Creationism that attempts to align the Genesis account with an old Earth by claiming that when the Bible says "day" it means "a jolly long time". That is a problem, because it therefore has plants around during the third age, but no sun until the fourth age, so usually they pretend that it means the sun was only made visible during the fourth age, and that God had created it before that.

Evidence ignored: As above (this is more about twisting the Genesis story to fit the OEC account).

Young Earth Creationism

The Bible says it was six days from God creating the universe to mankind appearing, so that must be true, whatever the evidence, right?

Evidence ignore: All above, plus astronomy (light from distant stars has been travelling for longer than the supposed age of the universe), radiometric dating, geology (all of it really).


The Bible is quite clear that the Earth is stationary, and, giving it was created first, is the centre of the universe. Please do not think this is me making stuff up, people really do believe this, even today, evening holding "scientific" conferences. Hey, it is in the Bible, so it must be true...
Joshua 10: 12–13: Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
1 Chronicles 16:30 tremble before him, all earth; yea, the world stands firm, never to be moved.
Psalms 93:1 The Lord reigns; he is robbed in majesty; the lord is robbed, he is girded with strength. Yea, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Psalms 96:10 Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns! Yea, the world is established, it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity."
The Biblical evidence is pretty clear, but the science does not really hold up. You can see stars over 1000 light years away with the naked eye. A star 1000 light years away must travel over 6000 light years every days as it zooms around the Earth. It would take light 6000 years to travel that distance; how can it travel faster than light? What keeps it on course (rather than continuing in a straight line)? What effect does this extreme speed have on the star?

Evidence ignore: All above, plus Newton and Kepler's laws, relativity, etc.

Flat Earth

Not exactly common nowadays, but as recently as the 1800s this was a popular view, based on a literal interpration of the Bible, for example:
Prov 8:26-27 when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
Isa 40:22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in;
Of course, there is over-whelming evidence that the planet is a sphere rather than a circle; anyone in doubt can readily fly all around it on commercial airlines (and I have done so myself). People who consider themselves Literal Biblicalists just ignore that part of the Bible. See, not only are they good at ignoring the evidence in the natural world, they are perfectly happy to ignore inconvenient parts of their own Bible...

Evidence ignore: All the above. Also, satellites and all space travel, timezones, seasons in north and south hemisphere, etc...

A Firmament?

This belief fell out of favour a long time ago (sixteenth and seventeenth century); the firmament is a solid structure that stretched across the sky.
Genesis 1:6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
It is right there in the Bible, so why do Biblical literalists not believe it exists? Because there is some evidence even they are forced to accept.

Some claim the firmament is an "atmospheric expanse", how would such a thing separate the world from the waters above? See also here. The concept of a firmament fits exactly with the Genesis account; the stars are just points of light on this solid structure, so God can paint them on relatively late in the creation account. Also:
Job 38:22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?

Incredibly, some people still believe in a solid firmament - though nowadays it has moved out in to space some way.

Evidence ignored: All modern science!

First post...

I see a lot of nonsense posted on the internet about evolution and creationism/ID, and this blog is me having my say. My aim is to post on a weekly basis, and to keep this page as an index with links to each post.

To make my own position clear, I believe in evolution, and most of the posts here will be about debunking the claims of creationism. I am also an atheist (I accept there may be a God, but I find that pretty unlikely), and some posts are going to be about some of the claims of Christianity, which is, afterall, closely linked to the creationism debate.


General Topics

Classifying Creationism - A Spectrum of Wilfil Ignorance

Character Assassination

Creationists think if they discredit Darwin it must mean his science is false. Not only is this faulty reasoning, but their attempts are based on falsehoods.

Links to Hitler

The Genesis Account

The Garden of Eden
The Noachian Flood - Mechanics
The Noachian Flood - Life on the Ark
The Noachian Flood - Aftermath