Creationists

It all started in Kansas.

My disillusionment with the so-called party of small government, that is. At one point in my life I was a diehard socialist, back in my younger, misinformed and misguided college days. Thankfully in most cases youthful idealism crashes on the hard, craggy rocks of realism, though judging by Facebook and most political discussion there are a sad number of adults who still believe in the nonsense that I cast aside long ago.

As my political views evolved into Libertarianism, I gravitated to the Republican Party. But then a funny thing happened. As the party took power it gradually became hostage to the Religious Right. And then school boards started promoting Creationism as a viable theory and counterpoint to Darwin.

On August 11, 1999, by a 6–4 vote the Kansas State Board of Education changed their science education standards to remove any mention of “biological macroevolution, the age of the Earth, or the origin and early development of the Universe”, so that evolutionary theory no longer appeared in state-wide standardized tests.

Now, let’s be straight for a second. Darwin’s theory on the origins of life has many problems. Many of its adherents are every bit as obstinate and militant as those of the Religious Right. Their belief in Darwin despite an utter lack of evidence is virtually faith-based in many cases. They may even be my next target in the blog. But at least it is a scientific theory.

My beef with Darwinists is not that they are wrong; they might be but they might not be. Agnosticism, if we can co-opt the word for this purpose, is the only credible position. My beef is that they refuse to admit the possibility that they are wrong. They are militant about their beliefs, and militants of all sorts are a big problem for the Misanthrope.

But at least they are scientific. Creationists are basically just making stuff up. Creationists believe that the earth, humanity and life were created by a supernatural being. And they will twist, turn, coil and manipulate all sorts of facts to build their case, no matter how ridiculous, bizarre or outright comical the result.

It is one thing to hold onto a belief in the absence of evidence. It is another to be utterly ignorant of even the most basic principles of science. What is worse is not that they refuse to acknowledge scientific evidence, but they make up their own set of rules and want to pose it as an alternative to science.

And even that is not so bad. If you want to walk around with a fuzzy cloud of stupidity around your head, that is your choice. But when you want to teach innocent children this tripe for the purposes of indoctrinating them, that is when we have to call bullshit.

Creationists want to pervert our children’s minds. Kids in this country grow up with enough baggage foisted upon them by an educational system that rewards mediocrity from the top to the lowest rung of the totem pole. They have to deal with silly policies that encourage them to feel good about themselves even though they are failures. And now we want to teach kids about scientific falsity.

There are two ways to look at the issue:

Should Creationism be taught as a scientific theory? To any person of sound mind the answer is clearly no. It is not science, it is not scientific nor does it have anything to do with science. It is an idea not a scientific theory. And if we are going to burden our children by teaching ideas as science then the battle is lost.

Creationists somewhat recognize this fact. So, they simply renamed creationism  “creation science,” much like Environmentalists renamed “Global Warming” to “climate change.” Words have power; they serve to frame the debate. Words show us ideas and things, as Wittgenstein thought. This is nothing new; control of the language can mean control of the debate. And that is what the institution of religion is all about: controlling thought, controlling ideas and controlling money.

There is no such thing as “creation science.” One of the hallmarks of science is that a theory must be falsifiable. By empirical study you can prove that something is false. That is what science is all about.

But to creationists there is no falsifiability. There is no way to test the theory. They take the view that whatever happens, so matter how far-fetched, may be the will of God, so that they can never be proven wrong.

It is scientifically false. Even if you think that it should be taught as science, it is verifiably false. We no longer teach that the earth is flat; it has been proven false. We no longer teach that the earth is at the center of the universe; that is false too. Yet, why the persistence by the scientific illiterate on this issue?

  1. Creationists say that “something cannot come from nothing.” Scientists have, in fact, created matter and amino acids out of nothing in laboratories. But even the assertion makes no sense. There is nothing counterintuitive about the idea that at one time you can have a vacuum and at another you can have matter. Quantum mechanics has proven this beyond any reasonable doubt.
  2. Radioactive dating shows that the earth is billions of years old. Most creationists posit that the earth is only a few thousand years old. We can quibble about how many thousands, but it is still orders or magnitude different than the radioisotope-derived age of the earth. As far as the margin for error in the tests, even a few million years worth of error is relative small compared to the derived age of the earth.
  3. Creationists invent unfalsifiable statements. When confronted with scientific rigor, we get a new set or proposals that explain everything. For example, one book on the topic claimed that God not only created the world but also created it in such a way as to make it seem much older than it was, by including fossils etc. Well, I admit defeat; I cannot rebut that one.
  4. Science is developing. One of my favorite positions of creationists is that science cannot prove “x.” In the case of the early universe we do not yet have the tools to observe the evidence. The universe is expanding, and the evidence for what existed at the start of the Big Bang retreats with it, making it more difficult to observe.

We cannot prove that the Big Bang occurred, nor can we prove Einstein’s theory of relativity, at least in the scientific sense of the word “prove.” So they are right, in a technical sense.

But Being able to prove the Big Bang Theory is far different that disproving or falsifying creationism. We may in fact be wrong about the Big Bang, only time will tell. But we can say for sure that matter can, in fact, be created from nothing and that the earth, moon and meteorites are far older than what creationists think.

It is a sad fact that as the education system fails us and as kids who are not educated in science grow up, they gravitate to school boards in Kansas and Texas, marshal their forces and try to destroy scientific enterprise at the altar of religion. Why? For the same reason that any institution does. I leave it to readers to guess why.

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