Bronze-level articleCreationism

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Creationism

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A wise man once said...
Several thousand years ago, a small tribe of ignorant near-savages wrote various collections of myths, wild tales, lies, and gibberish. Over the centuries, the stories were embroidered, garbled, mutilated, and torn into small pieces that were then repeatedly shuffled. Finally, this material was badly translated into several languages successively. The resultant text, creationists feel, is the best guide to this complex and technical subject.
Science Made Stupid (1985)

Creationism is the belief that the universe and its contents were created by some god through magic, rather than as a result of purely natural processes. "Creationism" is often used as a synonym for Young earth creationism; the two are not identical.

Creationism asserts there's a teleological "purpose" to existence known only to the creator. Most creationists believe this purpose is revealed in scripture or holy writings.

Many creationists tout intelligent design (supposed evidence of the creator's involvement) as evidence for a creator god, creation, and purpose.

Belief in a literal reading of holy texts, such as Genesis in Abrahamic religions, is the foundation of creationism. Literalism is a tenet shared by fundamentalists of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and is strongly espoused in the West by the Christian fundamentalist movement.

Since the 1920s, when Seventh Day Adventist George McCready Price published The New Geology, which was the first mainstream presentation of "flood geology", Christians have attempted to reconcile inconsistencies between a literal reading of the Bible and science. Henry Morris founded the Creation Research Society and published The Genesis Flood in 1961. He is widely regarded as "the father of modern creation science". Creation science is a direct response to the concerns of believers that their faith is indefensible as being completely at odds with science. Biblical literalists face the additional difficulty of massaging their exegesis to mind their prejudices: if the Bible is the inerrant word of God and one bit of it is wrong, the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

Intelligent design advocates claim that design does not depend on special creation by the fiat of any god, and therefore is a scientific theory like any other. The Discovery Institute, currently the leading promoter of intelligent design in the United States, was remarkably candid in admitting in the wedge strategy document that its purpose is to advocate creationism on purely religious grounds.

Many people believe that the universe developed exactly how the scientists say it did, but that the God of the gaps created it (i.e. caused the Big Bang). While people who believe in this model accept scientific explanations for the development of the universe, their presumption that there exists a divine first cause means that the label "creationist" still applies to them.

Contents

[edit] Categories

Creationists can be categorized according to the specifics of their belief, including:

  • Religion: Creationists can be of virtually any religious stripe, from fundamentalist Christians to Pastafarians.
  • Acceptance of evolution: Some creationists think no genetic change can happen; others accept evolution wholeheartedly.
  • Age of the universe (and its contents): Creationists hold the age of the universe to be anywhere from the scientifically accepted 13.5 billion to the Biblically-obtained 6,000 years
  • Creator: Biblical creationists believe the creator was the God of the Bible, or YHWH. Advocates of intelligent design claim that they do not propose a specifically religious designer; this is a bald-faced lie, as the cdesign proponentsists debacle showed. Extraterrestrial creationists (such as the followers of Raëlism) believe that the creation of life on Earth and/or Homo sapiens was the result of alien intervention, be it direct meddling or blind "seeding" of life across the Universe. In a remarkable effort to distance itself from creationism, even the Discovery Institute has occasionally flirted with this idea in claiming that it is agnostic as to the identity of the "designer", but the Wedge Document makes clear their true convictions: to promote Christian creationism in public schools and government.

[edit] Age of the universe

From most to least.

[edit] Old Earth creationism

See the main article on this topic: Old Earth creationism

Old Earth creationism (OEC) accepts deep time and the methods used to reach this figure. Nevertheless, OECs believe that life was deliberately created/guided/etc. by a religious deity. OECs generally fall into four categories:

  • Theistic evolution asserts that God caused abiogenesis and/or guided the process of evolution.
  • Day-age creationism is a literal interpretation of Genesis concluding that creation took place as claimed in Genesis, but that each of the "days" represents a vast period of time. The framework interpretation of Genesis, advanced by biblical scholar Meredith Kline, is a literal interpretation of Genesis that posits that the Genesis account is not to be taken as a historical or scientific description of creation, but as an allegorical and theological one.
  • Progressive creationism is predicated on accepting mainstream scientific findings regarding the age of the Earth, but positing that God progressively created new creatures over the course of millions of years.
  • Gap creationism asserts that God created the universe and Earth, but then laid waste to Earth and remade it as described in Genesis 1:2 over the course of six, 24 solar hour days.

[edit] Young Earth creationism

See the main article on this topic: Young Earth creationism

Young Earth creationists reject the scientific consensus on the age of the Earth in favour of dating creation based on the Bible, usually by referring to Bishop James Ussher's biblical genealogies. As their faith is based on accepting Genesis as history, it is wholly inconsistent with the nearly unanimous scientific consensus that the Earth is far older than young earthers accept. In order to justify their literalist dogma, young earth creationists must reject numerous branches of science. Young earth creationists created "creation science" to bolster their biblical claims regarding the age of the earth and their opposition to the theory of evolution.

Young Earth creationists typically acknowledge parts of evolution when denial would be too much, terming it microevolution, but continue to reject any theory of naturalistic abiogenesis and common descent. Instead, they believe that God created various lifeforms in something resembling their present forms, and that microevolution subsequently led to a degree of diversification among species - a branch of creation science known as baraminology has developed to try and explain this. This has led to a bit of an inconsistent position on creationists' part, in which they deny that millions of years of evolution could possibly produce speciation, but at the same time argue that thousands of years of microevolution was enough to give rise to the great diversity of life we see on Earth today solely from the pairs of animals that survived the flood on Noah's ark some 4,000 years ago.[1]

Some young Earth beliefs even go as far as to state that the universe itself is only 6,000 years old and that God created space and time at the same instant as our planet. This is again in conflict with even more fields of tested science. In the case of a young universe beliefs, physical constants such as the speed of light are often reinterpreted as "inconstant" to explain phenomena such as distant starlight.

[edit] Religion

Pick a god, any god.

[edit] Christianity

You saw it here first![2]

Particularly in the United States, the most prevalent young Earth belief is based on the Judeo-Christian mythology laid out in the Old Testament. This includes interpreting the various stories scattered throughout the book as historically accurate — the Tower of Babel and the global flood, for example. One of the additional issues with a literal interpretation of some holy texts is that they conflict, sometimes with themselves; this is especially true of Genesis. According to Genesis 1, God created the world in six days, resting on the seventh, with Man and Woman being created simultaneously, after the plants and animals. However, according to Genesis 2, God creates Man, then the plants and animals, then Woman as company for Adam. There have been several attempts to skirt this issue, but none of them produce a completely literal yet consistent reading — they are flat-out contradictions. Creationism is most prominent within fundamentalist and evangelical Protestant churches. While the Roman Catholic Church has adopted the official position that evolution is compatible with the Bible, many conservative Catholics still reject evolution

Though they would love to keep this out of the public sphere and make it seem as if they were just scientists, Creationist thought is not based just on Genesis 1 and 2. They also insist stories like that of Noah's Ark are historically accurate. Of course, this therefore leads to a valid question: what do they think about Cain and Abel? For generations, Southern Protestants that believed the earth was only several thousand years old also insisted that dark skin pigmentation was in fact 'The Mark of Cain', a blood curse making them inferior to humans and worthy of enslavement.

[edit] Islam

Although creationism in the West is more usually associated with fundamentalist Christianity, the Muslim world has its own version of creationism. Unlike the young Earth creationist movements within Christianity, few, if any, Muslim creationists insist that the world was created in a matter of days a few thousand years ago as most accept the Koran as a metaphorical and contemplative document. Translations of six "days" are also far more ambiguous than their explicitly Christian counterpart.[3] However, they do reject evolution, and especially the notion that humans evolved from animals. They accept that the Earth and Universe are old, even though in chapter 2 verse 29 of the Quran it clearly says that the earth and every thing in it is older than the universe and every thing else in it. (Some Islamic fundamentalists however take things a step further and promote that the earth is flat, using a literal interpretation of several Koranic verses. [4])

Within Islam, perhaps the most notorious proponent is the Turkish creationist Harun Yahya, who has been heavily influenced by American Christian creationism. In recent years, he has become one of the more vocal creationists and some of his publicity stunts and ramblings would make even Ted Haggard blush. He has repeatedly been shown to not know what he is talking about, such as with his Ask Darwinists question sheet (which even an amateur could answer easily) and mistaking a fishing lure for a live animal in one of his books. In line with Gish Gallop tactics, Yahya is probably there just to waste people's time and try to keep the "controversy" in the public eye in order to bilk more money out of the faithful, rather than make any real contribution.

[edit] Hinduism

See the main article on this topic: Hindu creationism

Hindu creationism has been embraced by some writers such as Michael Cremo. They say that mankind has existed for two billion years and has not evolved and point to supposed "out of place artifacts" and paranormal reports for evidence. The claims of the Hindu creationists have been dismissed by the scientific community as pseudoscience.

[edit] Raelianism

Raelian creationism is a form of creationism practiced by the followers of the Raelian religion. Raelian creationism believes that the world and all life on it, including humans were created by the scientists of a humanoid alien race called the Elohim which Raelians believe early humans mistook for gods. Thus, Raelians believe in an idea that can be categorized as Intelligent Design.

[edit] Acceptance of evolution

From most to least.

[edit] Deistic evolution

Deistic evolution asserts a range of ideas: full acceptance of natural history, with God as the nonintervening and disinterested creator of the universe; natural history, with God interested but uninvolved in the universe; and natural history, with God setting up the universe to work towards a certain end, starting it, and not intervening afterward. The most extreme forms of deistic evolution are indistinguishable from mild theistic evolution.

[edit] Theistic evolution

Theistic evolution (or evolutionary creationism) holds that evolution happened, but God guided it somehow. Many theistic evolutionists hold that God somehow made humans "special", via addition of a soul, morality, consciousness, etc., somewhere along the evolutionary path. Others assert that God ensured the evolution of life, of intelligent life, and/or of humans specifically, either via merely setting up the environments, through ensuring the proper mutations via undetectable manipulation of electrons, via directly "inserting" mutations, or even via controlling individuals of a species. The most extreme forms of theistic evolution are indistinguishable from intelligent design.

[edit] Intelligent design

Intelligent design is the same as theistic creationism, but argues that not only did God intervene, but God's intervention was necessary for some aspect of life.

[edit] Rapid speciation

Some creationists, in order to fit the history of the Earth into 6000 years, and in order to allow a massively smaller number of species/kinds necessary to fit on the Ark, or in order to explain the existence of carnivores and other animals that couldn't be part of the Garden, argue that speciation rapidly occurred after the Fall or after the Flood, allowing the current diversity of life.

Hey, at least they accept evolution happened.

[edit] Microevolution only

Some creationists assert that (macro)evolution is impossible, meaning that no new species/"kinds" can be created. Instead, either (a) only mutations happen, which allows microevolution, meaning in-species evolution happens and stuff like different-colored fur is possible, or (b) mutations can only reduce "information content" of the genome, and so all evolution is merely the breaking-down of lifeforms.

[edit] No evolution

Lastly, some assert that no mutation or genetic change occurs whatsoever. This creationism is mostly dead, but until the discovery of genetics and DNA had some followers.

[edit] Demographics

A 2012 Gallup poll[5] reveals that 15% of Americans agree with the statement: "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process." 46% believe that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form within the last 10,000 years or so." 38% fall somewhere in the middle and think that "Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process." Thus, 51% of Americans accept the theory of evolution in some form, whether theistic evolution or more the purely scientific theory of evolution.

A 2006 poll among adults in developed nations showed that at only 40% of adult Americans accept evolution. Only Turkey had a lower acceptance rate (25%), while acceptance in Japan and Europe is typically higher than 60%.[6]

[edit] "Intelligent design"

Who made the maker?
See the main article on this topic: Intelligent design

Intelligent design (ID) is an idea fundamental to the attempted "mainstreaming" of creationism; it has been "politely" referred to as creationism in a cheap suit. It is a teleological argument or belief that complexity requires design, but it is also an argument from personal incredulity that natural causes are behind life, indeed, most "research" into intelligent design focuses on attempting to pick holes in known evolutionary theories, rather than attempting to establish any positive evidence in favour of a designer. Principles such as emergence and complexity theory are inherently incompatible with ID as these can explain apparent complexity using naturalistic means. One of the main proposals by intelligent design advocates is that it is not creationism, as the hypothesis doesn't specifically state what the identity of the creator is. However, the vast majority of intelligent design proponents, and especially the ones following the wedge strategy are Christian fundamentalists and don't hide it very well; consequently, they are often hostile to secular or atheistic forms of intelligent design such as directed panspermia.

[edit] Objections

Creationism has several problems.

[edit] Ethical

Apart from almost every field of science, creationism based on biblical literalism also has some ethical criticism to face. One main objection is that, in the ever so lauded KJV version of Genesis 1:28, God says to the first humans,"God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Implying humans can do what they wish to all animals. See here for more details.

Some few Christian movements - ever fewer since the introduction of contraception - interpret the aforementioned passage as forbidding contraception (in the case of the Roman Catholic), and even of having as many children as is possible (such as in the case of the Quiverfull movement). Ever since Thomas Malthus introduced the idea that population may outgrow food supply, advocates of population control fear these sorts of beliefs will lead to mass starvation, and therefore a severe decrease in the quality of human life, and even mass death.

[edit] Not all theists are YECs

Young earth creationism and intelligent design are largely limited to more conservative or "fundamentalist" branches of religion. The vast majority of theists worldwide - including Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, some Muslims, deists, and many mainstream Christian churches including the Anglican Communion, the United Methodist Church, and surprisingly the Roman Catholic Church - accept evolution as scientifically and morally valid.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. For an example, see our side-by-side response to the CMI article, Snake Carnivory Origin.
  2. Appelbaum, Stanley, selection, translation and text, Simplicissimus: 180 Satirical Drawings from the Famous German Weekly, Dover Publications, New York, 1975
  3. About.com Islam - Six "Days" or Long Periods of Time
  4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A15iuoHEnWQ
  5. In US, 46% Hold Creationist View of Human Origins, Highly religions Americans most likely to believe in creationism [1]
  6. U.S. Lags World in Grasp of Genetics and Acceptance of Evolution Live Science, 10 August 2006 [2]
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