Manawatu 4: Inside the creationist mind…

The Admin at Manawatu Christian Apologetics Society is proving to be a boundless source of good material. Let’s look at some more of his comments.

In one of my earlier comments on the Manawatu blog, I pointed out the fact that, by quoting evolutionists as their source for “evidence” against evolution, creationists are inadvertently documenting the fact that evolutionists are actually publishing the very evidence that creationists want to accuse them of suppressing. This is pretty much an open-and-shut case: publishing information is the exact opposite of suppressing it, and by quoting evolutionists in the very act of publishing, discussing, and addressing the allegedly “contrary” evidence, the creationists themselves are directly contradicting their own claims of deliberate suppression of the evidence.

And how does Mr. Admin respond to creationists being so blatantly caught in the act?

Regarding quotes, I think you are playing with words.

End of discussion. There really is no answer short of admitting that creationists are not telling the truth, so Mr. Admin simply applies a dismissive label and then drops the subject like a hot potato.

But not quite.

It is plainly obvious that Darwinists are playing dirty with their little theory. Just look at how they are refusing (in general) to debate, and suppressing dissent, e.g. denying tenure, sacking people, name calling, refusing to publish pro-ID or anti-Darwinian papers in scientific journals.

Mr. Admin may not be willing to face the problem of creationist quotes contradicting creationist claims of a “Darwinist” conspiracy to suppress the truth, but he has no problem “playing dirty” by spreading vague, unsubstantiated, and slanderous accusations against unidentified “Darwinists” (as though believing in common descent automatically makes a person guilty). I want to look at the examples he (sort of) refers to, but first I think it would be helpful to look at the insight the above comments give us into how the creationist mind works.

Have you ever noticed how much of creationism boils down to simply making derogatory and unsubstantiated insinuations against vaguely-identified “Darwinists”? Intelligent design is the same way: sign up for Google Alerts on the terms “darwinist” and “darwinists”, and notice how the bulk of the hits turn out to be press releases from Discovery Institute and affiliated sites accusing “Darwinists” of some unsavory behavior or attitude or some such. Isaac Newton, by all accounts, was also a rather nasty and unlikable fellow; however this does not invalidate his theory of gravity.

The reason for all the ad hominem against scientists is threefold: (1) Believers are confused and upset by God’s failure to show up in the real world, but they can’t blame His absence on Him because criticizing God means you lack faith. Therefore, they need someone else to use as a scapegoat–Jews and witches in past centuries, atheists, liberals and scientists today. This one is important, but I’ve addressed it elsewhere so I won’t repeat it here. (2) What else is a creationist going to say? They don’t do original research, so they haven’t got a whole lot of evidence to cite against evolution. But the reason I want to look at more deeply is this: (3) Creationism is a social phenomenon, not a scientific one.

Creationists, for the most part, are not scientists (and most of those who are scientists are specialists in non-biology disciplines). They are not trained biologists. They don’t work in biology. They don’t decide for or against evolution based on an informed evaluation of the relevant evidence. They decide based on social considerations. A significant portion of the support for creationism comes from promoting the idea that creationists are “the good guys,” and thus deserve to be supported no matter what, while the evolutionists are “the bad guys,” and deserve to be opposed no matter what. This is a handy and even necessary decision-making standard for multitudes of people who do not have the time, ability, and/or inclination to dig into the actual research enough to find out who is most accurately representing all of the relevant facts.

This is why creationists spend so much time implying some kind of linkage between, say, evolution and Nazism, or evolution and communism, or evolution and rape, or what have you. It’s also why creationism is so intractable and resistant to education, and it’s the root of the debate over “framing” science. (What good does it do to have fully annotated documentation of the verifiable evidence for your scientific claims if people are going to make social popularity the basis for deciding whether you’re right or wrong? And if they do, should you attempt to build up your own social popularity, thus validating the notion that social popularity is the right way to decide such things, or do you try to make people aware of what really constitutes the difference between good science and bad science?)

But back to Mr. Admin’s specific charges:

they are refusing (in general) to debate

Creationists like to set up little kangaroo courts, where the audience is packed with creationists (likely as not set in a church somewhere), with the time constraints such that the creationist can spew out enough misinformation that the evolutionist would need hours, days, or even months to adequately address. The result of such exercises is typically that the evolutionist has to either focus on one or two technical points, for which the audience is ill-prepared to understand the rebuttal, leaving the rest of the points unanswered and (in the congregation’s eyes) unanswerable, or else the evolutionist must attempt to address all the points, which, given the time constraints, he is forced to do in such a cursory and unsatisfactory manner as to leave the congregation with the impression that he’s just bluffing. To borrow a little ID terminology, it is “obviously designed” to produce the failure of the evolutionist.

Apart from such contrived venues, however, scientists do debate the evidence, continuously and openly, in the many scientific journals that are published in a wide range of scientific specialties. These debates differ from the church-based setups in that (1) the topics are specific and focussed enough to allow a full consideration of the relavant evidence, (2) each participant is expected to document the evidence for or against a particular point so that others can evaluate it independently, (3) the audiences have sufficient education and experience in the particular field to be able to reliably assess the accuracy, relevance, and significance of the evidence, and (4) there is no arbitrary time limit on how long the discussion can continue.

Obviously, this kind of debate is more likely to get to the truth of the matter than the contrived and constrained “debates” they hold in churches, and it is in this arena that creationists fare poorly (hence the accusation that they are being “oppressed” by those nasty, evil evolutionists–some of whom are Bible-believing Christians!). The reliable, well-documented, and verifiable debates are where creationists get their anti-evolution quotes from, which, as I mentioned before, makes it rather hard to claim that scientific debate is somehow suppressing the anti-evolution view.

suppressing dissent, e.g. denying tenure

In the first place, if a university science professor is “dissenting” from evolution based on mere superstition and in the absence of documentable and verifiable evidence against it, then it would appear that they are not sufficiently well-versed in how science works to deserve tenure. Tenure is not a right, it’s an honor bestowed on those who have demonstrated excellence in their chosen field. Many good professors are denied tenure for a variety of reasons. Plus, as I think I’ve mentioned before, it is not at all unusual to find evolutionists themselves publishing evidence against current evolutionary thought, without any such repercussions. Again, this is where creationists get their quotes. If any “dissenting” professor has actual evidence against evolution, he ought to publish it.

But I rather doubt that Mr. Admin can back up the accusation that any “Darwinists” have denied anyone tenure solely to suppress evidence-backed dissent against evolution. Guillermo Gonzalez is the only case I can recall hearing of recently, and even there, there’s no proof he was denied tenure as a means of silencing dissent. For one thing, he hasn’t been silenced. He hasn’t even been fired. Just because you’re a creationist, that doesn’t mean a mysterious “Darwinist conspiracy” is behind it every time things don’t go your way.

sacking people,

Another vague reference. Wasn’t there a high school science teacher somewhere who got dismissed for teaching kids that superstition was science? I can’t recall the details, but again, if you’re a creationist, and you’re doing a bad job of teaching science, then it may not be a “Darwinist conspiracy” to blame if you are replaced by someone who can actually teach genuine science. There is a chance Mr. Admin is referring to the Sternberg case, but since Sternberg was never a paid employee in the first place, that seems unlikely. On the other hand, there is this case

name calling

Aw, did the mean old evolutionist hurt ‘ums widdle feelings?

What’s funny is that half the time, the “name calling” consists of identifying someone as a creationist. They like to preach creationism, or creationism packaged as ID, but they sure get offended if you call them creationists.

refusing to publish pro-ID or anti-Darwinian papers in scientific journals

And once again, if the evolutionists aren’t publishing pro-ID/anti-Darwinian material, then where are creationists getting all the allegedly pro-ID and anti-Darwinian quotes they like to attribute to evolutionists? But if Mr. Admin is referring to papers written by creationism/ID supporters, then perhaps he ought to look into how many papers are actually being submitted and rejected–if he can find any. Creationists don’t do original research, so they don’t have any papers to publish. That’s the real reason you don’t find creationist/pro-ID papers being published in scientific journals. All creationists do is skim through the published papers and books looking for quotes they can take out of context and present as being a “confession” against evolution.

You’d think if creationists can afford millions of dollars for PR organizations like Discovery Institute, and fake “creation museums” like the one that just opened up in Kentucky, and big-budget promotional films like ExPELLED, they could afford to fund a few creation research grants. But no. Even the Templeton Fund goes begging, looking for some creationist to do some actual scientific research in support of Genesis. Evolutionists are not suppressing creationist papers, because there aren’t any creationist papers to suppress.

Blogs are free. Any creationist who has a paper to publish, and is getting turned down by evil nasty Darwinist publishers, can easily upload the paper to the web and make his God-glorifying research available to all readers (and educated critics), at virtually no cost. But creationists don’t do that, because they don’t have anything to put up. Creationism is not a contribution to science, it’s an attempt to deny the contributions of others. They seek not to add to our understanding, but to take away from it. That’s the source of the lack of creationist evidence. Darwinist “suppression” has nothing to do with it.

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