Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Christian I am not - Part 1

Creation Science Evangelism

As it has come up a couple of times during my posts I think the best place to start will be with Creation Science Evangelism (CSE). First, here is a brief introduction to Creation Science. These people insist that the entire Bible and especially Genesis should be taken as literal truth. Like I said in some of my previous posts, I have no problem believing in God and therefore some supernatural events and miracles – however I don’t think the Creation Poem of Genesis was supposed to be taken this literally. But these people insist that it has to be and that any deviation from that is tantamount to denying Christ. Therefore (by tallying the genealogies) the earth must be around 6000 years old, there was a global flood that killed everything on earth except those in the Ark (4500 years ago) and evolution is a lie cooked up by godless scientists to destroy Christianity. Also included are not just biological evolution but also the Big Bang and any other piece of science that may show them to be wrong. Now it would take an entire blog – never mind one post – to actually discuss this in real detail. I have no plans to dedicate my blog to this however. Besides, there are already some very good blogs out there on the subject and I will list them at the end should you care to do some more reading. Besides, I’m not a scientist so if I go into too many details then I will only end up quoting large amounts of the work of others. Rather, in this post I will merely outline why I do not agree with creationists. I disagree because of some intellectual reasons but mostly for moral ones. I’ll start with the intellectual ones. Again, since I’m not doing this as a scientist, I’m rather focusing on four common sense areas that make it impossible for me to agree with creation science:

1. A 6000 year old earth

Creationists (although to be fair there is also a group of creationists called Old Earth Creationists who do not say this but according to the rest of the creationists they are heretics. Not exaggerating, that’s the exact word they use) have a lot of “proofs” for saying the world is 6000 years old. However all of these are based on really bad science and completely collapse on closer inspection. At least the most honest of the Creationist organizations – Creation Ministries International – actually admit this:

Creationists admit that they can’t prove the age of the earth using a particular scientific method. In reality, all age-dating methods, including those which point to a young earth, rely on unprovable assumptions. Creationists ultimately date the earth using the chronology of the Bible.” (http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/3837)

Another area they love to hammer on is the supposed inaccuracy of all dating methods. The simple fact is that these methods are very accurate and the horror stories about bad readings are due to contaminated samples – but that’s the part they don’t bother talking about. My question is – why spend all your time and energy tearing down the methods of others? If you truly feel all dating methods are wrong, why not rent a lab (if you can spend $8 million on a “Creation Museum” then surely there should be money for it) and develop and new dating method that is accurate and can be proven accurate? That would clear up the whole mess! (Or it could prove you wrong so you would have to shut up so I guess I have my answer…)

2. All animals were vegetarians

While Genesis most certainly does say that no animal ate meat before the fall it is completely impossible for me to take this as literally true. At this point Creationists love to pull out some slides of bear teeth and go: “See these long sharp teeth? These animals eat plants with those! So surely it’s no stretch to believe it was true for lions and tigers too once!” Except for the very obvious problem – bears (along with pigs and humans) are omnivores and while they may have sharp teeth they also have grinding teeth and a digestive system that can handle plant material. Not so for true carnivores. They only have cutting teeth (so they can’t chew plants) and their digestive system doesn’t break down plant material very well. Actually, even though panda bears are often used by creationists to prove this point they actually prove mine. Panda bears are not true herbivores so they cannot completely break down plant cellulose. Therefore, just to get enough nutrients they need to eat a LOT of bamboo – that’s why they are going extinct, they are running out! So don’t show me a bear eating plants to prove your point, show me how a crocodile can eat plants with just a row of sharp teeth and without the ability to chew!

3. A worldwide flood

I have no problem believing the flood account really happened – just not the way creationists insist it did. I have no problem believing in a local flood in Mesopotamia and for that there is plenty of proof. However I see no proof of a global flood. The creationist claims regarding the flood is: The entire world was covered (mountains included) with several meters of water, the flood lay down the entire geological column, fossilized all the fossils, created all the fossil fuel and completely change the shape of the world. Now besides the obvious questions (like where did all this water go afterwards?) here are some things that make this impossible for me to believe:

  • How did germs survive? They would need hosts, did Noah and his family carry everything from flu to syphilis? Even that wouldn’t have worked – lets say Noah had the flu, he infected the others on the ark and they all got better – where would the bacteria go? After all, all the human hosts are now immune to that strain!
  • Then of course there is the logistical nightmare of redistribution and survival after getting of the Ark. Forget about how the kangaroo got to Australia from Ararat, wouldn’t whole species (considering we started with only 2 of some) go extinct every time a carnivore fed?
  • Then of course there is the small problem with history… We have ancient documents and building older than 4400 years that curiously show no signs of water damage…

4. Scientists aren’t stupid liars.

Of all the claims of creationists I have some difficulty with the one I have the hardest time wrapping my mind around is the suggestion that the vast majority of scientists are just WRONG. There are 4 times more historians who deny the holocaust than there are scientists who deny evolution and an old earth. For this many people in this many fields to be wrong - and not simply wrong but so glaringly obviously wrong that anyone with a dash of common sense and a bit of high school science can see it - is a staggering claim. Especially considering the hours of study and lab work they put in! Was it all for nothing? Think about it, for the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) claims to be right, 99% of the most learned people in the world have to be either complete morons or consciously lying as part of the biggest conspiracy of all time. I find both those options a little hard to swallow. I have some friends with PhD's so I know (a little bit) about the hard work and endless hours that go into reaching that level of education, so I have a hard time buying the idea of them being idiots. Likewise, I have a good friend who is not only one of the most committed Christians I know but also a highly qualified geologist - so I find it very hard to think of him as a part of an evil conspiracy to deceive us all about the age of the earth. To be fair, there are some rather intelligent creation scientists (with real PhD’s) but one can hardly call what they do science. For one thing, they do little to know lab work and instead spend all their time either debating (usually about fields outside of that which they studied) or writing articles criticizing the work of scientist who do work in labs. Most damning however, to work for one of these organizations you need to sign a statement of faith swearing:

By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.” http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/43/61/

In other words any evidence that disproves their work must be disregarded – that is simply not how science works.

These are the intellectual reasons. Again, I do not require proof to believe every single thing in the Bible. In a case like the virgin birth or the resurrection there is no evidence refuting it. Sure, its not natural and there is no precedent for it but anyone is free to believe that something supernatural happened here. However regarding the flood and the age of the earth you are not free to believe what you want, not if you want anyone to believe you! In these cases there are mountains of evidence showing that it absolutely could not have happened the way creationists claim. I found a quote by St Augustine that actually makes a very good point about this:

In short - don't make stupid, patently false statements and expect people to listen to you. I would think that if I – with very little training – could see so many holes in creation "science", most people should. Unfortunately they have a growing number of supporters across the globe. The problem is that most creationists have very little understanding of science and while the Creation Scientists may not be the best scientists, they are fantastic debaters/salesmen. This brings me to my main objection to creationism - the moral problems.

Firstly there are the lies. A lot of the info used by Creationist speakers has been proven wrong a long time ago. Yet they continue to use this (Duane Gish is a famous example) and publish this information even though they know it is false and it has been pointed out to them repeatedly. When you know information is false and you give it anyway you are a liar, end of story.

Secondly there is the deception. Kent Hovind is a master at this. He loves to speak about the giants of old and then show a giant thighbone that reportedly belonged to a 13 foot human. Very convincing if I say so myself. Except here is what he is not telling you – that’s not a bone belonging to a 13 foot human nor is it a copy of a bone belonging to a 13 foot human. It is in fact an artist’s rendering of what a 13 foot human’s thighbone would look like. And its inaccurate – if a real 13 foot human tried walking on it, it would snap, it’s not thick enough.

Thirdly there is the quote mining. Creationists of all flavours just love to take something said by an evolutionist out of context so it appears to favour their cause. There are countless examples of this but arguably the most famous of these is Darwin on the evolution of the eye. Darwin starts his chapter with a rhetorical discussion questioning how the eye could possibly have evolved – creationists love to quote this part to show that Darwin admitted evolution was flawed. Of course the fact that Darwin then goes on to answer that rhetorical setup is not mentioned at all. That is what the Bible calls “bearing false witness” yet it doesn’t seem to bother these “Christians” that they are blatantly lying. Even though if an atheist were to do the same and claim David said “There is no God” in Psalm 14:1 they would probably start frothing at the mouth!

So then, this is why I oppose Creation Science. For one thing, it is intellectually and morally bankrupt. They lie, they deceive and they bear false witness and they do it knowingly – to not oppose it would be to condone such abhorrent practices. It therefore betrays the basic tenets of truth and honesty a Christian should stand for. It promotes ignorance and makes all Christians look like throwbacks to the dark ages. They are dishonest and are turning otherwise good, intelligent Christians into liars when they naively repeat what they are convinced is “scientific proof” for creation and against evolution. They cause people to lose their faith by creating a false dichotomy – either Genesis is 100% literal truth or the whole Bible is a lie – and then they wonder why so many young people lose their faith in college… Not only is Creation Science not science, creation science evangelism is not evangelism. I know if I converted after hearing their evidence I would de-convert on the spot when I found out how I was lied to! Also, why would an intelligent non-believer even be tempted to join a faith represented by such ignorant arrogant liars?

For more information:

Analysis of Kent Hovind and CSE

Why do people laugh at Creationists?

From the Big Bang to us made easy

The foundational falsehoods of Creationism

A critical analysis of popular Creationist videos

Creationist Astronomy claims debunk

Proof that evolution is a fact

Talk Origins

For more about Creationist dishonesty:

The Quotemine Project

Creationist dishonesty exposed (videos)

Ignorance and lies from Way of the Master (videos)



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