In any argument or disagreement, one tends to generalize in regards to their opponent’s viewpoint. We all do it. And in cases where the opposition usually consists of complete wackos (Holocaust deniers, for example), it becomes a lot easier to generalize these believers and lampoon their ideas.
But while it’s usually justifiable to generalize those wackjob Holocaust deniers or nutty astrologers, creationists (and I know this from experience) are quite a different story. Through the years I’ve learned that, even within a given church or social circle, creationists come in an array of fruit flavors that vary in terms of intelligence, receptiveness to scientific facts, and overall nuttiness.
The media doesn’t help, of course. It’s usually the craziest and most extreme minorities that get all the attention and air time, so it’s easy to point at them and say “Look at those crazy assholes!! They’re actually calling that propaganda palace a museum!” This may come as news to a lot of people, but not all creationists have lost complete touch with reality. There are other types of creationism that have different views and interpretations concerning scripture and different attitudes toward geology and biology.
NOTE: I will not be debunking all of the creationist claims in this post, mostly because (a) there are just too many of these inane claims, (b) other people have done it better and more thoroughly than I could ever hope to, and (c) it’s exhausting work trying to respond to the same tired claims over and over. I will also not be discussing Intelligent Design. ID is nothing more than a blanket philosophy used by creationists to try to convince those in power that modern science is not sufficient enough to explain the natural world and that science should allow for theistic supernatural explanations and hypotheses. Neglecting to mention, of course, that “supernatural” ain’t science. That subject, I’ll save for another time.
The most prevalent types of creationism fall into two main classifications: Young Earth Creationists believe that the earth is between 6,000 and 10,000 years old, while Old Earth Creationists generally believe the accepted scientific measurement of the earth’s age, at 4.5 billion years old. I’ll start with the less crazy Old Earth Creationist ideas (in order of ascending level of craziness), and I’ll finish with the batshit crazy Young Earth Creationists.
OLD EARTH CREATIONISTS
1. Theistic Evolution
This view accepts the geologic and biologic records, as well as all other tenets of evolutionary theory, and merely posits that these were the tools god used to create life. In other words, god used evolution to create us. This is the official position held by the Pope, and most real scientists of faith embrace this idea as well, including Francis Collins and Alfred Russel Wallace. The nice thing about Theistic Evolution is that it accepts all the scientific research and, in my opinion, makes the best attempt to reconcile the science with the religious what-have-you. This is what I respect most about Theistic Evolutionists, and why I’d get along better with them than with the others… at least they fully accept the truth revealed by scientific evidence. However, this comes at the price of having to basically distort the whole creation account in Genesis (or any other creation account in a number of other religious texts). Wait, not distort. That’s the wrong word. More like completely ignore. They toss that shit out completely and say, well that’s just a story… we know what really happened. If whole chapters of the bible can be so easily tossed out in light of scientific evidence, why should any other part of it be considered truth without supporting evidence, like the Tolkien-style rantings of Revelation, the fairy-tale-level miracles depicted in both the Old and New Testaments, or the idea that a Rabbi carpenter died and resurrected again for our sins, and if he sees his shadow upon his resurrection we’ll have another two weeks of Christmas. Or something like that. My point is simply this: if Theistic Evolutionists concede that life came to be through completely natural means, what purpose does the supernatural serve in the equation? Why introduce a theistic supernatural entity to explain the “cause” of these natural processes, which only raises more questions than it answers, and which ultimately invalidates science, since Theistic Evolution operates under the assumption that the natural world can be altered by the supernatural. Considering this, it seems that Theistic Evolution is merely an attempt to sneak god in through the side door, for no good reason.
2. Evolutionary Creationism
Evolutionary Creationism is almost indistinguishable from Theistic Evolution, with a few key differences: (a) Evolutionary Creationists believe in a more theistically guided form of evolution, where god brought about necessary genetic mutations himself at appropriate moments, and (b) they believe in a literal Adam and Eve, but they posit that these were merely the first two humans to have “souls,” or a sense of “spiritual awareness.” This view has all the same trappings of Theistic Evolution, and the same criticisms applied to TE should also be applied here. Why opt out of a natural, observable explanation in favor of a supernatural (and therefore untestable) one? And why would this supernatural being use one method to create, and then give a completely different creation method in his so-called “word”? That’s like a magician who does tricks, but then tries to convince his audience that he’s actually doing real magic. And by the way, that last sentence was a metaphor. As you can see, I am perfectly capable of constructing metaphors, just as I am capable of recognizing metaphors as well. Psalms? Lots of metaphor. Genesis? No metaphor. It’s pretty clear to anyone who reads the book of Genesis that the events those writers depicted in the book were intended to be interpreted as historical fact. To reject this and open a lucid piece of text up to interpretation is missing the entire point of an “inerrant Word of God,” is it not?
3. Progressive Creationism
These guys go one step further. Progressive Creationists accept the geologic record, much of the biologic records, and accept the accuracy of the age of fossils. But they reject the concept of macroevolution because they believe it to be biologically untenable and inconsistent with the fossil record (Stephen Jay Gould and others have shown this to be false, one prime piece of evidence being the rapid speciation which occured during the Cambrian Explosion). They also reject the idea that all life forms on earth share common ancestry, arguing that species are unable to adapt beyond their “kind” (again, false). They believe that God took millions of years, rather than one week, to create all forms of life, and that the new “kinds” of plants and animals that have appeared over the planet’s history represent instances of divine intervention. Progressive Creationism, therefore, looks to be a sort of “compromise” between the book of Genesis and… well, scientific fact. You’ll notice that I keep mentioning the word “kind” in reference to species. That’s because I want to point out that as much as Progressive Creationists would like us to believe that their views are scientific and not at all bible-based, they’re using blatant bible-language (Gen 1:12) to describe their “science.” Thus, since PC offers no real explanations or evidence for their claims, it is nothing but creationist nonsense masquerading as science.
4. Day-Age Creationism
Here’s where the wordplay gets a little ridiculous. Day-Age Creationism accepts the geological record, but ascertains that the six “days” mentioned in Genesis 1 correspond to six geological epochs, and don’t really mean a literal sun-and-moon “day.” Usually, they’ll make an effort to reconcile specific days in Genesis to specific epochs in Earth history. This, by the way, is what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe, as spelled out in their Watchtower pamphlets (I highly recommend you crack those things open some time… very entertaining stuff). So let me get this straight, Day-Earthers… in the bible, the word “day” doesn’t really mean day (never mind, of course, that those verses include the phrase “and the evening and the morning” to specifically point out that they meant a literal 24-hour day; Gen 1:5-31). And when the bible says that plants (which need sunlight to live) were created before the very sun that they need to survive (Gen 1:12-16), it doesn’t really mean that either. And when the bible says that the sun and moon were created at the same time (Gen 1:16-18), it doesn’t really mean that either. And the Genesis genealogies aren’t to be taken literally either. And on top of that, when the bible says that women should not be allowed to speak in church, or have any sort of authority over a man (1 Tim 2:11-12), it clearly doesn’t mean that either. Or the parts that support or encourage slavery. Or the parts about Noah’s ark. Or the parts that order us to kill adulterers, witches, and unruly children. But the parts that are anti-gay… those are the verses we should take literally. Right? This is pretty much stretching the “word of god” as far as it can stretch, and then twisting it a few more times for good measure; and then watering down and compromising your science in the process.
5. Gap Creationism
This is about as far as the Old Earth concept can be stretched. It’s the position that’s been held by evangelists like Jimmy Swaggart and Donald Grey Barnhouse. In this view, an attempt is made to unify the Genesis creation account with the geological age as measured by science. Gap Creationism basically posits that the first verse of the bible (God created the heavens and the Earth) was followed by a “gap” of 4.5 billion years, during which not much really happened. Then, 6000 years ago, life on Earth was created by god as literally depicted in the bible. To maintain this view, Gap Creationists are pretty much forced to completely discard the theory of evolution. Which strikes me as inconsistent. Why accept the geological account of the Earth’s age, but not the biological and geological evidence for evolution? Just because it doesn’t agree with the bible? You can’t just accept the science that agrees with your already-held beliefs, and reject everything else. That’s dishonest, unscientific, irrational, and irresponsible if you’re going to be teaching other people to do the same.
YOUNG EARTH CREATIONISTS
Now we move on to the crusty underbelly of the creationist movement: Young Earth Creationism. Prepare to abandon all reason and rationality, folks. Ironically, these two groups are completely at odds with each other, and share only one point of agreement: that Earth did not exist 10,000 years ago. Here they are, once again in order of ascending craziness (although, admittedly, it’s a close call):
Weird word right? “Omphalism” comes from title of a book, Omphalos (published just two years before Darwin’s On the Origin of Species). And the title comes from the Greek word for navel. You see, Omphalists believe that God specifically created the universe to appear old; hence, Adam and Eve were created with belly buttons to give the impression that they came about via biological evolution. So that means God placed giant reptile fossils underneath millions of years worth of sediments, and then fucked with their levels of decay so that radiometric readings would also show them to be millions of years old. God created the light from stars already en route to Earth, so that when we saw them, we’d think they were billions of years old. Oh, and God also placed skeletons of Ardipithecus ramidus and Australopithecus afarensis into the ground with features that would make them look like perfect examples of early human ancestors. Omphalists accept every piece of scientific evidence pertaining to the age of the Earth and the evolution of life on it. They merely conclude that it’s wrong. God only wanted us to think that he didn’t create everything. Why? Well, to test our faith. Obviously. Okay, okay. I just have one question, then. Am I the only one who’s uncomfortable with the idea that a god capable of creating the universe would feel some sick need to fuck with our minds? Why the flying fuck would an all-knowing omni-benevolent theistic supernatural force create a species of life on earth in one day with the ability to draw reason-based conclusions, and then go out of his way to plant the very evidence that would convince these beings that he didn’t create them… and then damn them to hell for an eternity just for following the sense of reason that he himself gave them? That’d be like training a dog to shit on the carpet, and then putting the dog down for doing it. No, no. That’s not what it’s like at all. It’s much worse. If any man did something like that, he’d be the worst breed of asshole, at best. He certainly wouldn’t be “infinitely good” or “perfect.” This is the paradox of Omphalism, and you can’t get out of it. Fortunately, a true scientist doing real research can still be an Omphalist, so the science itself won’t suffer. He’ll arrive at the right conclusions, but he’ll believe that this is merely what God wants him to see. There’s no way to argue with that. But I’m sure that most people reading this can see the fallacies in the Omphalist position without me having to spell it out any more. So I’ll just move on to the craziest of the crazy…
2. Modern Young Earth Creationism
Behold, pure lunacy. This is where all science and reason goes completely out the window. Modern Young Earthers honestly believe in alternate, bullshit versions of almost every scientific discipline known, and discard or ignore any scientific evidence that doesn’t point to the earth being 6,000 years old (which is pretty much all scientific evidence). They start with biblical “conclusions” and then scramble to find anything that might resemble supporting evidence. They believe in real, literal, belly-buttonless Adam and Eve, that dinosaurs were on Earth simultaneously with humans, and that Noah’s flood not only produced the billions of years worth of geologic sediments, but also sorted the fossils so that more evolved species were in the upper sediments and lesser evolved species were in the lower ones. They reject cosmology, evolution, geology, and every other scientific discipline that supports them… which ends up being every scientific discipline period. Chemistry, Biology, Physics, you name it. The sad thing is, the overwhelming majority of these Modern Young Earthers don’t even understand what it is they’re rejecting. Example… Ray “Banana Man” Comfort claimed to have “exposed the scientific impossibility of evolution,” this way:
All you have to do is push them into a corner and say, ‘So, you’re an atheist?’ ‘Yep.’ ‘So you believe that nothing created everything, a scientific impossibility?’ And they’ll say, ‘Well, no.’ ‘So you believe something created everything?’ And they say, ‘Well, yeah. Something did, obviously.’ ‘So you’re not an atheist?’ ‘OK, I’m not an atheist.’
‘This something you believe created everything, do you think it was intelligent? I mean, could you create a bird or a flower or a tree or a blade of grass from nothing?’ And they’ll say, ‘No, I can’t do that.’ ‘Well, is this something you believe created everything intelligent?’ And they’ll say, ‘Obviously.’ And I’ll say, ‘Congratulations, you’ve just become an anti-science, knuckle-dragger in the eyes of our learning institutions, because you believe in intelligent design.’
Umm hello?! Asshole! Evolution makes no such fucking stupid claim! It’s you dumb-fucks who claim that something came from nothing. It is unscientific. That’s why no serious scientist believes it. And that’s beside the point anyway, because it has nothing to do with the scientific fact that species evolve through a process of natural selection. Another moron, Ken Ham, believes that Noah’s flood “reset” Earth’s radioactive clock, and that’s supposed to explain why uncovered fossils test as older than 6,000 years. What? Wha… what?! What scientific evidence could there possibly be to support this ridiculous claim? No flood in history has ever messed up the radioactive integrity of any underlying fossils. Ever. The only thing capable of doing that is a nuclear explosion. Debating these people is absolutely impossible, because no matter how much scientific evidence you have to back your claims or how well-thought-out or solid your points are, you will never win against someone who doesn’t understand the game. Like Michael Jordan playing one-on-one against some douche who keeps screaming about scoring a touchdown.
So those are your main flavors of creationism. Either they distort the bible to conform with science, or they distort science to make it conform with the bible. Or some mix of the two. Whatever. Either way, they’ve shown time and time again a propensity for misinformation, fantasy, and inconsistency. And since absolutely none of them offer any real evidence for their claims, I’m sure you won’t blame me for calling BS on the whole thing, and dishing out a little criticism.
After all, nothing is really sacred.