Monday, September 29, 2008

Am I Worried About Creationists?

From a scientists point of view I am only interested in the truth, not what I want that truth to be. Let's imagine there is a scientific discovery which turns the world of science on its head and suddenly a young earth isn't merely a nutjob idea but is actually supported by mountains of evidence. (Such a scenario would almost be impossible) I don't know many people who wouldn't jump on it! For one thing it would validate the three great monotheisms and for the first time there would be a good reason to believe in their god. I could imagine there being a huge sigh of relief that yes it was all true all along and now we can all join in and go to heaven...well apart from those like Carlin, Sagan, Russell, etc.

For many centuries it was the case that all and sundry, scientists included, believed this - of course it wasn't based on evidence but merely a lack of evidence to the contrary. As the scientific onion has peeled back more and more understanding of the universe and our origins, its becoming more apparent that our origins are from a naturalistic basis (this is not to discount a supernatural intervener) billions of years ago rather than a special creation event some 6,000 years ago.

Faced with this dilemma, Christians have chosen to re-read Genesis as an allegorical story rather than a literal historical account. For those with a literal and unsophisticated view of the bible they chose the other route, that is, to tell God how He created things! Such arrogance isn't surprising from those who worship the bible as a God unto itself and who believe they already have the answers. They would be right if God Himself wrote the bible - but we know this is not the case.

Creation scientists do not bother me in the slightest. To gain credibility they go into orthogonal or adjacent fields instead of the field itself. One person I know of who is in the same Physics department as myself is John Hartnett. He is a well respected scientist in the field of Frequency Standards and Metrology but shows his ineptitude when venturing into a field he is ill equipped to evaluate, that is, astrophysics. His ineptness comes from his presupposition that the universe is 6,000 years old and the big bang is wrong. He also enjoys spamming the Physics mailing lists with anti-global warming op-eds. (I've always failed to understand the correlation between GW deniers and Christians)

Another who is currently trolling the Facebook Group "Two Chix Apologetics" is Jonathan Sarfati. If I needed to know something about chess or Raman Scattering in Chemistry then he would be the guy to ask, but when it comes to his pet subject evolution he enteres with his bias that evolution cannot be true and thus reveals his ignorance. Until he, and other creations are willing to enter the fields they deride and publish in reputable scientific journals, they remain merely a side-show.

So long as the game is played according to the rules of science, I suspect creationists will always lose. Some have made it obvious they want to change the rules. Behe was laughed out of court in Kitzmiller vs Dover when his "redefinition" included pseudoscience such as astrology. Science has enjoyed many fruits from its materialistic presupposition - this isn't something that those of faith should be worried about, it should be orthogonal to their central claims.


The battlefield isn't really the field of science, its actually the public and the classroom. Evolution is a complicated field and I could imagine for the lay person it could be too bamboozling to understand. Phrases such as "if evolution is true then why are there still monkeys" and "evolution is only a theory" (my Dad's favourite) are attractive sound-bites which require answers which take five times longer to explain. Of course this is simply an education issue.

The problem becomes one of authority versus authority. On one hand we have something complicated, Evolution, taught by materialistic scientists and on the other hand we have something complicated, theology, taught by God fearing preachers who are promising heaven! It's hard to compete with that. They are both, to the lay person, positions of power. The difference of course is that theology is not open whereas science is. Over time theology fractures, science converges.

So the religious make it appear as an "us versus them" and create a "holy war" where anything goes for the glory of God, including lying...

Another problem is that the middle ground people (such as the Catholic Ken Miller) are drowned out by the atheist scientists who tout evolution as the lynchpin that holds non belief in God viable. As true as it might be - its a PR nightmare! So long as the average person sees Dawkins as the poster-boy for evolution instead of Miller or Pope John Paul II, then they will continue to see it as "us versus them".

Getting the young is their best strategy. Young minds are the most malleable and they will believe almost anything their parents or teachers tell them. I've never heard any religious person advocating that people should be given a well rounded education and then at the end they use their reasoning skills to choose a religion they believe to be true. It would of course be a more "true" faith - but as we know they are about "protecting" the young from "straying", even if this means lying or supressing information.

Kitzmiller vs Dover was important because it exposed how the motives were purely religious and not secular. It also showed how it "wasn't science" and worst of all, those in the "Intelligent Design" camp were lying on the edge of purgery. The rest of the world sighed in relief!

The Failure of the Wedge Strategy
The Wedge Strategy was a five and twenty year plan (started in 1999) to change science and the publics opinion to get America back to a biblical way of life because "the social consequences of materialism have been devastating." and "in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism."

Well its nearly ten years on and they haven't even gotten to their five-year goals.

Governing Goals

  • To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
  • To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and hurnan beings are created by God.

Five Year Goals (2004)

  • To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory.
  • To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science.
  • To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.

Twenty Year Goals (2019)

  • To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.
  • To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its innuence in the fine arts.
  • To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.
To anyone outside of their delusion its easy to see why they have failed. They have started on false assumptions about how the world works. This is why science will never be replaced by "intelligent design theory" because it doesn't appear to be true! Science won't bend to fit into a narrow field of view and if you don't like it take it up with God who designed the entire thing to look like he wasn't involved and inspired a book to incorrectly state He created things in 4004BCE.

Dare I say it, while they have been focusing on the United States the rest of the world has been retreating from their goals. I am unable to tell if their "cultural and moral" life has been affected - clearly the politics is. (Sarah Palin anyone?)

If They Win...
If they win then its the end of science as we know it. If they win because they are correct then so be it. If they win because they overhaul science or win by getting political power or convincing enough drones to follow them then we will all be worse off because of it. You can kiss goodbye to discovery and welcome back to the Dark Ages Version 2.0, this time with Nuclear Weapons. (In the hands of those who believe things need to get worse for God to come back...)

This is a fight for humanity. One that if we lose, we all lose. For those on "the other side", they don't care about this world - except to see the back of it as quick as possible so they can see us burning in hell. Joy!

1 comment:

Kel said...

It seems a shame that the battlefield for science is now in the public, there's good reason why it's fought out in academia; the people in academia are the only ones with the training to adequately interpret the data. Though science has shot itself in the foot by being so isolationist and elite, it helps the cause of mankind but it doesn't endear the population to it.

When the scientific community is not trying to engage the general population and work on further understanding, but there are priests who are willing to explain, the population is going to grasp at the one that works. Where I see the problem is that there aren't enough scientists putting themselves and their work in the public eye to take these ideas to the masses.

We are now part of a society where the influx of information makes us all think we are experts, the appeal to the authority of the process is not enough. Public understanding is only going to come from engaging the public. And when the few scientists who do engage the public are atheist, it is not going to help things - even if they are dead right.