Talk:Creationism

From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is developing and not approved.
Main Article
Talk
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
 
To learn how to fill out this checklist, please see CZ:The Article Checklist. To update this checklist edit the metadata template.
 Definition The belief that the world and the universe were created by God. [d] [e]

This will be an article, we can't do everything at once, please do not delete. It serves as a disambiguation page at the moment and that is important for the articles that it directs to. We have a robust "Yound earth creationism" and this will come, please do not delete disambiguation pages that point to developed articles. Nancy Sculerati 10:09, 11 June 2007 (CDT)

I'm thinking about starting work on this - creationism is a topic in itself, and YEC/OEC are subtopics. --Tom Morris 12:06, 28 June 2008 (CDT)
This looks like a good start. Something which is often overlooked in discussions of creationism is that political opposition to evolution gained a significant amount of moral force from its opposition to Social Darwinism, which was often presented as the morality dictated by the science of evolution. This should be examined in the article. Anthony Argyriou 13:51, 15 July 2008 (CDT)

Poor start. It blurs the distinction between Creationism and Creation Science and largely takes the pro-Evolution pov of Eugenie Scott. A section purporting to explain scientific reaction to Creationism actually only contains one long quote defending the way evolution is taught in schools.

We need to explain what Creationism is, in its various forms (notably 'young earth' and 'old earth' variants, an almost even split in the US). On what basis do people subscribe to these views? If it's on the basis of faith, do Creationism's advocates acknowledge this basis?

How is creationism different from scientific views on origins? Is materialism an aspect that should be mentioned?

What are the implications of accepting or endorsing creationism? Are there political ramifications? If so, what are these?

Who opposes creationism? On what grounds? Is it, for example, on the grounds that there is no God, hence, no Creator, hence no possibility of the universe or life or human beings being created by a non-existent Being? Is it, likewise, on the grounds of materialism, i.e., that the material world is "all there is" so no supernatural being could possibly have any effect on it? Or is there a sort of "methodological naturalism" in play here, wherein some philosophers choose to look only at natural causes (for one reason or another) while not explicitly denying the possible existence of the Supernatural?

Last but not least, is intelligent design correctly classified as Creationism? Is this only on the view of Eugenie Scott, or is it common knowledge? Or is it simply that if ID is true, there must be a designer, and that it's an obvious inference that such a designer could only be a supernatural being such as a Greek god or even God?

Without answering all these questions, the article will remain weak. I'd suggest taking a look at the New World Encyclopedia's version, especially with regard to ID. --Ed Poor 23:09, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

I don't think that it's really taking Scott's point-of-view. I've been trying pretty hard to keep up on the literature around creationism (especially when doing my dissertation on Intelligent Design), and I haven't really seen anyone else either provide significant critique of Scott's taxonomy of creationist beliefs, or proposed and produced an alternative. I think that while there is an important historical difference between Creationism and Creation Science - the latter being the movement in the United States during the twentieth century that started after the Scopes trial, peaking with McLean v. Arkansas (but still going today with groups like the ICR). Thing is, I'm not sure what space there is left in the word 'creationism' for creationist-but-not-Creation-Science folks: if you were someone who believed that God created the Earth but not in a literalistic way as per Genesis, would you really be called a creationist? Most of the people who aren't creationists in the sense of special creation would not use the label 'creationist'. Take for instance the typical moderate or liberal Anglican or mainstream Protestant who believes that God did 'create' but that the process of his creation is scientifically indistinguishable from what science says - someone like Archbishop Rowan Williams or maybe even the previous Pope. They do believe that God is a creative power and has used that power to create the universe and the things inside it. But they aren't exactly what the word 'creationist' denotes.
To illustrate my point, here is the definition of 'creationism' from the Oxford American Dictionary (as it is on the Macintosh's Dictionary application): "the belief that the universe and living organisms originate from specific acts of divine creation, as in the biblical account, rather than by natural processes such as evolution". It also states that it is "another term for creation science". If you take the first definition and lop the last clause off, the scope is enlarged enormously. Pretty much every Christian would match that definition. But then how do we pick out the authors of The Genesis Flood, and folks like Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Henry M. Morris etc.? There will be edge cases, and some of the ID people would seem to be pretty close to the edge of the Oxford American Dictionary definition. Certainly, opponents of intelligent design classify it as a form of creationism, the court in Kitzmiller said it was basically rebranded creationism (to the point where one could take a book about creationism and do a find-and-replace to then produce a book about Intelligent Design). Of course, the Discovery Institute says it's not. I guess the most we can say is that it is widely accused of being rebadged creationism, but that proponents of it vigourously deny this charge. --Tom Morris 23:52, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

Considered pseudoscience?

The last sentence of par. 1 says: "Creationism, at least in the form of young earth creationism, is considered by the scientific community to be pseudoscience." Is this true? I should think that scientists regard "creation science" and "intelligent design" as a pseudoscience. Creationism per se, by contrast with these, is a religious doctrine that does not even purport to be scientific. No? --Larry Sanger 02:13, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

I was just trying to make *some* sense out of what I think is a lede paragraph that tries to encompass too many elements. I'm no expert on the subject -- in fact, I wish it would go away. Hayford Peirce 03:51, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

Cut from the intro:

  • Creationism, at least in the form of young earth creationism, is considered by the scientific community to be pseudoscience.

I don't recall reading anything from a scientist labeling YEC as pseudoscience. Creationism is a religious belief; science has nothing to say about religion, right?

On the other hand, the particular claims about science which are made in Scientific Creationism, aka Creation Science, cross the boundary from world of faith into the realm of physical science. As such, it makes sense for scientists to agree or disagree about whether such claims are scientific or are merely pseudoscience.

Can an article of religious faith, such as "God exists" or "it is wrong to steal" be evaluated by science? If so, who says so; and why?

A statement that mixes religion and science, however, is certainly fair game for a rejoinder from scientists: "It can be proven that God created the world less than 10,000 years ago." This is a statement about physical science. It either is or is not falsifiable; anyone who considers the statement to be incapable of being falsified would call it pseudoscience. --Ed Poor 22:03, 23 March 2010 (UTC)

Scope of the article

Referring both to Tom and Larry above: Creationism, in the "lopped off" sense, would seem to be a purely religious doctrine, and explicitly a matter of faith. As opposed, say, to a conclusion induced from a careful look at all the evidence gathered by astronomers, geologists and biologists. A particular current within American creationism would be the "Creation Science" movement, wherein fundamentalists (or "Young Earth Creationists") assert that modern science is wrong on all the origins questions - but not because they disagree with the faith of the creationists: rather because their science is wrong. Perhaps this is what gets everyone's dander up.

I approach the matter differently, somewhat more dispassionately I hope. I'm here to describe:

  1. what each group believes
  2. what reasons they give to justify their position
  3. what objections any opponents have given

There's clearly no point in trying to determine which group has the "right" belief or position.

Given this framework, I think I could help organize a lot of material from Wikipedia, New World Encyclopedia, and other free licensed sources. But only as long as I can be sure I'm adhering to Larry's idea of NPOV policy. (Wikipedia seems to think I've forgotten what NPOV means, but it's like the old Christian joke: "If you don't feel close to God any more, who moved?")

If Creationism is the religious doctrine that God created (1) the universe, (2) life on earth in the first place, (3) every major new species of life (not to say, ahem, "creature"), and most importantly (4) human beings, then I can help write about it here. How creationists have tried to spread their viewpoint or discredit/censor other viewpoints is an interesting, if ancillary, question. It would seem that Creation Science is a an attempt to present creationism as scientific - I believe it has been called "scientific creationism" for just that reason.

However, it is chiefly the YECs who carry the Creation Science banner. If 40% of Americans are YEC, and 45% are Old Earth creationists, than perhaps we can say that most creationists do not support the Creation Science viewpoint. And thus that Creation Science is not representative of Creationism as a whole. Indeed, there is roughly an equal split between YEC and OEC, a point that is often lost in (political? politically charged?) debates between evolution supporters and evolution opponents, when it comes to "what will be taught to our children" in public schools.

This brings me to an interesting aside: should ideas like evolution or intelligent design be taught at all to schoolchildren? If so, how should they be taught? The same way English literature classes teach about the Greek myths of gods and goddesses? That is, as legends that other people in other lands and times believed? Specifically, when you "teach evolution" do you teach what it is, and why its supporters say it's true? Or do you tell students that it's true? If it's the latter, do you let them question it, or do you require them to accept it? And if acceptance is mandatory, how is that different from fundamentalists promulgating dogma in sectarian schools? (Not arguing that it's the same: I'm just asking us to provide explicit answers to all these questions in our articles.)

Part of the problem we as encyclopedia writers have, is that there are two armed camps locked in bitter strife. It looks like a battle to the end, a contest with no hold barred, no prisoners taken and no quarter given. There is a sizable contingent of religious believers want to wipe out naturalistic evolution altogether: YECs want even the idea of "progressive appearance" of various species eliminated; OECs will accept the progressive appearance aspect (see progressive creation), but they march in lockstep with YECs on the issue of natural causation. Both divisions of creationists reject adamantly the idea that natural causes alone can account for (1) the origin of the first living cell or (2) the appearance of additional species of life.

The reason for this, as I have begun to point out at Conservapedia [1], are that if life can start or 'evolve' without God then this undermines religion itself. If science can support an alternative to Creationism to answer the origins question, then materialism and atheism are tenable positions. (I don't think this is a novel observation on my part: don't some prominent evolution supports say pretty much the same?)

Contrariwise, if evolution is undermined, then advocates of atheism and materialism don't have a leg to stand on and must then admit at least the viability of religious faith. At any rate, their refusal to examine or consider religion stops looking rational, even in their own eyes. And if they have to take religious faith seriously, might they not have to change their behavior as well? A change in worldview affects everything, from ethics to politics to economics.

There's more to this than simply describing what Creationism is. There's also what it entails.

Oh, and Tom, if you haven't seen anything beyond Scott's taxomony may I suggest you spend a bit more time looking around? Our sister project, the New World Encyclopedia, has some excellent articles whose writing was supervised by editors holding PhD's in their respective fields. --Ed Poor 20:23, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

I might note, briefly, that Teilhard du Chardin, SJ, also a paleontologist, had a model that reconciled evolutionary biology and a full Catholic view of divine creation. He, however, did not suggest that it was a faith versus science basis; he made the point, which I think, Ed, you are ignoring, that it is the testability issue that is primary in what is taught. If creation isn't testable, it's not teachable as science, yet there are devout scientists that have full faith in divine origin.
"are that if life can start or 'evolve' without God then this undermines religion itself" Oh? This undermines Buddhism? Wicca? might argue Shinto... Undermines Abrahamic and some other active-deity religions, perhaps. I admit to the possibility of religious faith, and indeed that the fundamentalists might be right — but I can't test it so I don't let it guide my ethics. No, I wouldn't call myself an atheist or materialist, although I'm not quite sure how the latter fits here. If, however, $DEITY wants to do lunch, I'm fine with a good serious talk with her. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:55, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

She'll have to ask her husband first (smirk), but thank you for correcting my overstatement. "Religion itself" should have been "the Abrahamic religions". Good catch there.

Also, I hear a lot of theistic evolution, the view that evolution is compatible with creationism. Are there any polls indicating how many people adopt this stance?

By the way, let's both make sure we don't wander away from our mutual goal: i.e., a neutral description of Creationism and of related/opposing ideas. I'm not trying to change your mind about anything, any more than you're trying to change mine, right? ;-)

By the way, I'd like to reference or incorporate the following quote from the Discovery Institute:

  • University of Wisconsin historian of science Ronald Numbers is critical of intelligent design, yet according to the Associated Press, he "agrees the creationist label is inaccurate when it comes to the ID [intelligent design] movement." Why, then, do some Darwinists keep trying to conflate intelligent design with creationism? According to Dr. Numbers, it is because they think such claims are "the easiest way to discredit intelligent design." In other words, the charge that intelligent design is "creationism" is a rhetorical strategy on the part of Darwinists who wish to delegitimize design theory without actually addressing the merits of its case.

I wonder if we at Citizendium can part company with Wikipedia and keep an open mind over whether:

  1. ID is a lineal descendant of creation science, i.e. the second wave in the Creationist onslaught against evolution
  2. ID is a variety of Creationism, i.e., that it contains belief in a divine Creator as a premise
  3. ID is attacked by evolution proponents because of its implications, i.e., that the perceived insufficiency of natural causes to explain the appearence of design implies an intelligent designer

It seems that the usefulness of ID - as an ideological weapon in the battle between the materialism of naturalistic evolution and the Creationism embraced by many ID supporters - is being taken as a sign that the purpose behind ID is to be just this tool. It would also seem that ID opponents for this reason are reluctant to take it as anything other than this: I cannot recall ever seeing an anti-ID critique which took it on, purely on its merits.

I wonder if we can examine whether attempts to exclude ID from scientific journals and college lecture halls are motivated entirely by specific objections to perceived flaws in its scientific claims. Are some objections made rather to its implications? Or to its presumed links? (Like, "ID advocates are trying to soften up gullible American youth's minds and convert them into some sort of religious faith"?)

Are there two sides on this? Or is it just a case of there being one true side (the "facts"), while the other side is a bunch of misguided or dishonest hacks? --Ed Poor 23:42, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Materialism?

What do you mean by this in the context of creation?

Further, Darwinist isn't really an accurate term for a modern evolutionary biologist. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:46, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Darwin Reference

Would there be any place to mention Darwin's reference of parent species as the direct alternative to a common ancestor? Or the belief of Alfred Russell Wallace, evolution's co-discoverer, that a spiritual creator was responsible for the inbreathing of life into mankind? (Why he was excluded from the scientific community)

"When we attempt to estimate the amount of structural difference between the domestic races of the same species, we are soon involved in doubt, from not knowing whether they have descended from one or several parent-species. This point, if it could be cleared up, would be interesting; if, for instance, it could be shown that the greyhound, bloodhound, terrier, spaniel, and bull-dog, which we all know propagate their kind so truly, were the offspring of any single species, then such facts would have great weight in making us doubt about the immutability of the many very closely allied and natural species—for instance, of the many foxes—inhabiting different quarters of the world. I do not believe, as we shall presently see, that all our dogs have descended from any one wild species; but, in the case of some other domestic races, there is presumptive, or even strong, evidence in favour of this view." -"Charles Darwin, "On the Origin of Species", pages 16-17

Since Creationists commonly believe in parent species as opposed to a common ancestor, it would be a notable reference to make. As for Wallace, while he was likely no Christian, it was posited by a Chicago Tribune story that he is something of a 'missing link' between evolution and intelligent design. (Ron Grossman, Chicago Tribune Commentary, "A Missing Link? The Man Everybody Ignored") --Joshua Zambrano 21:03, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

I've just edited boldly and mentioned this and more detail on Lyell (his name was spelled wrong btw) in the History section. I also tried using a Citation Needed template but it doesn't seem to be working. The claim referenced there needs citation. --Joshua Zambrano 01:19, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm going to remove these statements from the History section unless they can be suitably sourced:
"Most Protestant theologians by 1900, including those opposed to the theory of evolution, rejected the 4004 BC model and argued the earth was very old. Evangelical theologians adopted a figurative interpretation of the first two chapters of Genesis."
First of all, "most" is a weasel word. Secondly, the citation given of "Numbers (2000)" is nonsensical. What kind of a reference is this? The citation following it is of the same format, and similarly states an opinion in doing so, "The Scopes trial took place in Tennessee, in 1925 and was seen as a watershed event in the creation-evolution controversy." I won't remove that one for now, but there ought to be some serious attempt at referencing such opinionated statements for them to be stated here. --Joshua Zambrano 01:26, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
Hi Joshua, we've decided not to use templates on the article pages, but instead to bring questions to the talk page. If no-one responds, just do your best to move the article toward neutrality as you see fit. If you have any questions, you can always look for an editor who can help make the content decisions with you. D. Matt Innis 01:37, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
Ok, I was wondering about that. Thanks! --Joshua Zambrano 01:50, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
P.S. We don't mind "weasel wording" if it is the most accurate way to describe a particular faction and it is appropriately used. Be careful not to remove too much, but instead add and integrate. D. Matt Innis 01:39, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
True, if there was proof that most protestant theologians rejected the model, or if it was a claim reliably sourced, I wouldn't object. The claim seemed questionable, so I checked the source, and noticed an illogical source for the claim. Don't worry, I don't plan on going on a removing spree by any means, I just disliked those 2 sentences because they weren't sourced despite being statements of opinion. And hopefully the Lyell and On the Origin of Species links I provided add to the strength of citation for the page. --Joshua Zambrano 01:50, 11 March 2011 (UTC)--Joshua Zambrano 01:50, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
Sounds perfectly reasonable. I haven't checked the sources because my job doesn't concern content, but your logic is solid and the way you've gone about making the changes is certainly with good reason. If you have any more questions about things that seem different here, feel free to contact me on my talk page! D. Matt Innis 01:57, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
You have to remember that we're not WP -- something it took *me* a long time to realize after moving here almost 4 years ago. As Matt said, we don't worry about "weasel" words -- if what they're saying is correct. And we don't have to source *everything* as long as, within a certain field of expertise, a certain idea is broadly accepted. For instance, I could write, "Most baseball experts, even 75 years after his retirement, still consider Babe Ruth to be, overall, the greatest player of all time." Or "Nearly a hundred years after his last game, most baseball experts consider Honus Wagner to be the greatest shortstop of all time." I repeat: we're not WP. We're expert-driven, but experts are supposed to know what they're talking about. We don't have to "source" every sentence.... Hayford Peirce 02:00, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
... but that doesn't mean that you can say anything you want if you aren't an expert. And when challenged, even experts are expected to be able to produce their reasoning with appropriate sourcing here on the talk page. D. Matt Innis 02:12, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
Point taken. As a former Wikipedian and unabashed source-aholic, I will have to bear in mind such differences. Again though, it wasn't merely the opinionated nature, but my own concerns over whether such a statement was valid to begin with, as well as an absence of sourcing in the article for it.
After all, as is noted in the article, and sourced by Gallup polling, 40% of the public presently considers themselves young earth creationists, or at least to side with a young earth rather than an old one. And yet, according to those sentences I deleted, I am to believe that as long ago as the 19th century, most Protestant theologians had abandoned belief in a young earth. So how do you reconcile those seemingly conflicting claims? Why are there so many young earthers today, if they all abandoned the belief centuries ago? Has it suddenly been resurrected now?
I believe that extraordinary claims require extraordinary sources, and my concern is that such a claim is in conflict with the rest of the article. For it to not be sourced to me at least, is inexcusable. Furthermore, trying to disprove it seems akin to disproving a negative, and it seems a tough statement to prove. For such an opinionated statement, I just think there should be a very strong source in support of it, and frankly, I don't think one exists. --Joshua Zambrano 02:19, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
Then there's the matter of just how you'd go about proving it. You'd have to identify first who qualifies as a 19th century protestant theologian. Now, assuming anyone went to all that trouble back in the 19th century, they'd then have to adequately survey to show the majority had abandoned belief in a young earth. Now, maybe it was alternately stated in a major publication like the New York Times, which would be sufficient. But again, you're then left asking why, if that were the case, is the belief in a young earth as opposed to an old one, still so widespread? If most of the protestant theologians at the time abandoned the belief, the remainder did an awfully good job at preserving it then. I just want to see one decent source for this claim, because it doesn't seem compatible with the Gallup survey cited in the article. --Joshua Zambrano 02:29, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
As a subscriber to Skeptical Inquirer for about 30 years, I certainly agree with the self-evident truth (at least to us, but not to everyone): "extraordinary claims require extraordinary sources," -- from my point of view, that is the overriding thing to bear in mind here at CZ. Hayford Peirce 03:13, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
And for writing about it, I'll add my new axiom: "If there is no proof, you better be able to cite the idiot that said it." D. Matt Innis 03:35, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
I like that axiom. :) --Joshua Zambrano 04:22, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

This is not science

This is not science. It could be categorized in anthropology as almost all cultures have a story of how life was created. That is where this article belongs as there is no scientific proof to give credence to creationism. As to evolution, there is much scientific evidence that evolution is how life on earth developed. That is science. Mary Ash 03:47, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Well to that, one must then ask why Darwin recognized the Creationist theory of parent species held credence alongside his own belief in a common ancestor; i.e. microevolution as opposed to macroevolution. I already cited the source for that from On the Origin of Species. I would argue much of what's presented as proof for evolution, natural selection and adaptation to the environment including, would not necessarily be proof for a common ancestor, but for parent species as well; i.e., proof for evolution happening within a species, not between species.
Likewise with Lyell, there was already a recognized, Creationist-compatible theory before he came around, Catastrophism, that claimed the world got where it was through catastrophes shaping the planet - Lyell proposed Uniformitarianism, and the concept of slow gradual change, as an alternative to a Biblically compatible worldview. Today, we recognize both are at work, that the pre-cambrian extinction killed off a large part of the world's life, but also recognize the effects of Uniformitarianism - like plate tectonics. At any rate, my point is that both sides are theories for a reason, and both were reasonable possibilities to the mind of Darwin when writing On the Origin of Species. --Joshua Zambrano 04:13, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't see why this is even being brought up though. Is it classified as science somehow? As a theory for life's creation, I fail to see how it's less applicable than evolution. I suppose perhaps a page on Parent Species could instead be created as the Evolutionary alternative in the science classification when it comes to theory, would that be preferable? --Joshua Zambrano 04:15, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
I get to blush here...as I didn't check the cats and I see it's under religion. It could also go under anthropology as all cultures have a creationist theory. I do believe in creationism, based on faith; but I also believe in evolution based on science. If you think about it, they both go together. When God created the world, he did so in six days and on the seventh he rested. The big question is how long is a day? A day is as long as God wants it to be... Mary Ash 04:32, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
It's okay. :) I'm not overly concerned with the categorization myself. I still think it depends on how one defines evolution though, because while I recognize evolution and adaptation to the environment are definitely science; observable, testable, repeatable, etc., I don't see how they provide proof for species having a common ancestor, especially since as Darwin himself admitted, it's possible parent species rather than a common ancestor is the correct answer. I don't want to treat this as a forum and get into a long discussion on the issue here at least, since I recognize this page should be used for improving the Creationism article, but will have an explanation of why I believe the way I do on the topic here if anyone is interested.
As for the days subject, since the sun wasn't created until the 4th day, it's debatable whether Genesis allows the preceding days to be over 24 hours, but since the plants were created the 3rd day, you'd think the 3rd day couldn't be too long, since otherwise the plants would die before the sun was created. Then there's the matter of order, the birds and marine life being created the 5th day, before the land animals were the 6th day. So while microevolution is compatible with Genesis, I don't see how macroevolution, i.e. a common ancestor, can be. --Joshua Zambrano 04:55, 11 March 2011 (UTC)--Joshua Zambrano 04:55, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Doonesbury

Today's cartoon [2] seems relevant. Sandy Harris 11:36, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

That's terrific. Did you see his long riff a couple of weeks ago about the middle-class guy who believed the world was going to end with the Rapture and gave away all his money and his MBZ? Hayford Peirce 15:15, 10 July 2011 (UTC)