Creationism really is a science stopper

| 320 Comments

We often argue that saying that “God did it” is a science stopper. That claim is typically countered by pointing to numerous examples of scientists who were (Newton) or are (Kenneth Miller) Christians (though as we know, Newton was a peculiar sort of Christian, even for his time).

The Disco ‘Tute, of course, doesn’t think that positing an Intelligent Designer is a science-stopper. Their ‘solution,’ embodied in the Wedge strategy, is to redefine science to include God an unnamed intelligent designer with inscrutable goals and skills as an “explanation.”

One variety of Christian “science,” however, is clearly willing to stop science in its tracks, and Todd C. Wood, faculty member at Bryan College, has provided a stark illustration of that. While Wood has shocked his creationist peers on occasion, for example for saying that

Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well. (All bolding original)

However, Wood has clear boundaries. Writing on his blog more recently Wood says

That’s why I don’t care about the origin of life (and why I’ll probably never finish reading Meyer’s book). I already know where life came from. I open the book of Genesis, and the Bible tells me exactly where life came from. Speculating on how it might have happened in a naturalistic scenario seems like a waste of time to me. Just like it would seem like a waste of time to an atheist to study the logistics of Noah’s Ark.

Can’t get any clearer than that.

320 Comments

There is some quote by Kurt Wise saying about the same thing, that the science doesn’t matter and the most important thing is scripture.

The ultimate question answered. Why are we here the way we are?

1st guy: Magic apples of course.

2nd guy: Don’t be silly, how could it happen with just that?

1st guy: Oh… well there was a talking snake too.

2nd guy: Oh, ok then.

Ron Okimoto said:

There is some quote by Kurt Wise saying about the same thing, that the science doesn’t matter and the most important thing is scripture.

Yup. That’s from a Dawkins essay. He quotes Wise:

Although there are scientific reasons for accepting a young earth, I am a young-age creationist because that is my understanding of the Scripture. As I shared with my professors years ago when I was in college, if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate. Here I must stand.

Yes, I believe Kurt has said exactly that, but at least Wood has been more honest than his Bryan College colleague in admitting that, as a scientific theory, evolution does work:

Ron Okimoto said:

There is some quote by Kurt Wise saying about the same thing, that the science doesn’t matter and the most important thing is scripture.

I open the book of Genesis, and the Bible tells me exactly where life came from.

I open the book of Genesis, and in chapter 1 the Bible tells me exactly where living things came from:

12: And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 20: And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 24: And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

So, those living things came from the waters and the earth. That seems OK. Living things didn’t come from heaven.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t say where the majority of living things came from. Microbes aren’t mentioned anywhere in the Bible.

Cudos to Todd Wood for being an honest xian fundy. If so many of them weren’t lying through their teeth about evolutionary theory we wouldn’t have the problems with them that we do.

When I open the book of Genesis, I see two conflicting stories about where living things came from.

And yet, Creationists still get pissed off because people still don’t recognize Creationism as a science.

Todd wrote:

“That’s why I don’t care about the origin of life (and why I’ll probably never finish reading Meyer’s book). I already know where life came from. I open the book of Genesis, and the Bible tells me exactly where life came from. Speculating on how it might have happened in a naturalistic scenario seems like a waste of time to me. Just like it would seem like a waste of time to an atheist to study the logistics of Noah’s Ark.”

That’s why I don’t care if you care about the origin of life. You will never have anything to contribute to science. You can hide in your little compartmentalized cubbyhole all you want. That isn’t going to stop real scientists from learning all they can. You are free to study the “logistics” of the ark all you want, especially if you can ever find it. That doesn’t mean that there was a world wide flood or that any scientist will care what stories you make up about it.

So, go back to your tax free church and tell all the fairy tales you want. But leave real science alone and leave you religion out of public school science classes.

The reminds me of a passage in a Terry Pratchet novel, where Ponder Stibbons is asking one of the professors of Unseen University how he explains all those fossils. The prof replies that he doesn’t try to explain them – it saves so much bother.

mplavcan said:

The reminds me of a passage in a Terry Pratchet novel, where Ponder Stibbons is asking one of the professors of Unseen University how he explains all those fossils. The prof replies that he doesn’t try to explain them – it saves so much bother.

Terry has a lot of fun. Who can forget the god.…of evolution.…

Steve

Matt G said:

When I open the book of Genesis, I see two conflicting stories about where living things came from.

Genesis 2 says that the man came from the dust of the earth, that the woman came from his rib. Slight discrepancy WRT the woman.

19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air

So there is a difference about where the birds came from: water vs. ground.

Elsewhere in the Bible we hear about animals coming from various sources, such as bees from the carcass of a lion, reminiscent of spontaneous generation.

But they all agree that the various living things did not come from nothing, nor from thin air. And that they did have a material origin.

I sometimes get the impression that “literalists” don’t read the Bible very carefully.

It’s been said before, I think by PZ, but creationists really do miss out on all the fun. There are no real discoveries to be made, nothing to really investigate. They simply spend all their time trying to confirm what they have already decided must be true regardless of what any data show. It’s just a big, fat waste of time.

The ol’ “God said it; I believe it;, that settles it” followed by the ol’ “la la la la … I can’t hear you”. Actually, that’s fine with me. I couldn’t care less if someone wants to believe in orgone accumulators or crystal power or some fundamentalist interpretation Genesis as long as they don’t try to push that attitude on the rest of us through the law or the schools.

I went to Prof. Wood’s page, and I declare, he’s rather cute! And I love that coy smile. At Bryan College, he probably doesn’t have tenure, right? He should be fired just for looking like a homosekshul.

I went there as well. Hmmm. What does the “Director of the Center for Origins” at Bryan C. do? Seriously, according to the OT, haven’t all the questions been answered? After all, he’s stated that he doesn’t “care about the origin of life”. Why is he the director of the Center then?

Other random observations: I’d love to see the title of his dissertation from UVa. I’d love to see what fellow members of AAAS and his other professional affiliations think of him, or what he does at meetings.

What a weird, weird world creationists live in.

Jonathan Lubin said:

I went to Prof. Wood’s page, and I declare, he’s rather cute! And I love that coy smile. At Bryan College, he probably doesn’t have tenure, right? He should be fired just for looking like a homosekshul.

GvlGeologist said -

Seriously, according to the OT, haven’t all the questions been answered? After all, he’s stated that he doesn’t “care about the origin of life”. Why is he the director of the Center then?

It’s funny. The other day I happened to have a similar thought - learning anything about science is pointless for a creationist. If it happens to confirm some belief you already hold, you already knew that from faith. If it is in conflict with your biases, it must be wrong, regardless of the evidence.

The only reason to bother with it at all is for the purposes of spreading misinformation about it so that it influences fewer third parties.

The have a Center for Origins, which has the function of making sure that none of their students or faculty ever think about origins. Orwell was a pretty keen observer of human nature.

I don’t think it’s a waste of time to study the logistics of Noah’s Ark at all. Mostly because it doesn’t take very long, but also because it’s useful to know when you get into dumb arguments with creationists.

In fact, I have ended up in three debates regarding Noah’s ark over the years (two of them were random proselytizers who showed up at my front door) and not one of them seemed to be able to demonstrate that they’d read past the part where he crashed into Mt. Ararat. Point out that Noah had some issues with alcohol and they get REALLY bent out of shape. But it’s right there in the scriptures, dude! The bit where Lot impregnates his daughters is also quite an eye-opener for many of these people.

So yeah, I don’t think it’s a waste of time to review the scriptures at all; if someone is going to put me in a position where I have to argue against them about the bible, I think it’s probably productive if at least one of us has read it, and not just a whitewashed interpretation of it

I still shake my head that the Noah’s Ark story is widely considered suitable for children.

kev said: I still shake my head that the Noah’s Ark story is widely considered suitable for children.

All the adaptations I’ve seen gloss over the more adult material, or usually end (as you observed) just after the landing.

Todd C. Wood Wrote:

That’s why I don’t care about the origin of life (and why I’ll probably never finish reading Meyer’s book). I already know where life came from. I open the book of Genesis, and the Bible tells me exactly where life came from. Speculating on how it might have happened in a naturalistic scenario seems like a waste of time to me. Just like it would seem like a waste of time to an atheist to study the logistics of Noah’s Ark.

So he doesn’t care about how god dunnit? About how miracles work or about how the “poof” mechanism, errrrrrrrrr “poofitates”?

I already know where life came from. I open the book of Genesis, and the Bible tells me exactly where life came from. Speculating on how it might have happened in a naturalistic scenario seems like a waste of time to me. Just like it would seem like a waste of time to an atheist to study the logistics of Noah’s Ark.

Interesting.

I’ve just had a similar experience with a well qualified YEC over on Premier Christian Radio’s discussion forum.

Because I accept science I (and other Christians who think like this) have been accused of scientism. Now I haven’t a clue what scientism is. So I asked Andrew Sibley of the Creation Secience Movement to explain exactly what scientism was:

https://www.csm.org.uk/speakers.php

Andrew Sibley BSc, MSc EDM (Open), FRMetS Andrew Sibley is a Meteorologist working as a weather forecaster in the UK, including in the past, presentation of the forecast on BBC regional radio in the Southwest, Wales and Yorkshire. He has an MSc in Environmental Decision Making and takes a keen interest in science and environmental issues, and also aspects of Flood geology and the science of creation and Intelligent Design. He has recently completed a book entitled ‘Restoring the Ethics of Creation’.

http://www.premiercommunity.org.uk/[…]sg_com_forum

Scientism is the belief that all truth can come through science - it goes back to Auguste Comte who wanted a religion of science with himself as the scientific Pope, and he influenced Darwin. My use of it is to imply that you are placing more weight upon the evidence than is warranted by the nature of inductive inferences.

Hmmm. By accepting science I certainly didn’t think I was believing that all truth can come through science. His next statement is puzzling though:

My experience of science is about being taught that the things I was taught at the lower level were incorrect. Therefore my conclusion is that progress in science involves learning things that are not true, and then learning new things that are not necessarily true. i.e. like learning Newtonian mechanics, then being taught it needs modifying with relativity, or the billiard ball model of the atom being replaced with a wave particle duality model. So science provides us with models of reality as approximations to truth that are always provisional.

I always thought that was what was called progress.

I sometimes get the impression that “literalists” don’t read the Bible very carefully.

Hell, most of them don’t read it AT ALL. They pack it with them, and may attend “Bible Study” (where passages are read TO them, carefully selected to back up the prejudices of their particular sect). But if you want to make one squirm, ask him if he has ever just sat down and read the Bible, covet-to-cover. Maybe 3% can answer yes, and I suspect that half of those are lying.

It’s the inerrant Word of God, they “live by it,” and it’s all literally true–but it’s so crushingly boring (or they have such short attention spans) that they just can’t stand to read more than a few carefully selected verses at a time. And it has apparently never occurred to most of them that they really ought to, you know, actually READ the thing.

The irony of that always astounds me.

kev said: the part where he crashed into Mt. Ararat.

Nit-picking:

The Bible does not say that.

It seems that the mountain did not acquire that name until some centuries after the completion of the Bible.

The Bible says that the Ark landed “on the mountains of Ararat”.

Still waiting for creationist experiments on whether or not god uses energy for the “poofification” process. No experiments or hypotheses yet. (That’s because deep down inside they know it’s total hogwash, I would suspect.)

TomS said:

Elsewhere in the Bible we hear about animals coming from various sources, such as bees from the carcass of a lion, reminiscent of spontaneous generation.

The ancient Greeks also thought that bees came from carcasses. It turns out that various ancient peoples mistook swarms of drone flies (large, bee-like hoverflies of the genus Eristalis) for bee swarms. The larvae are aquatic, often called “rat-tailed maggots,” and live in putrified liquids, like rain water in animal carcasses.

But they all agree that the various living things did not come from nothing, nor from thin air. And that they did have a material origin.

I sometimes get the impression that “literalists” don’t read the Bible very carefully.

If literalists did read the Bible carefully, then they would have already realized that the Bible was never intended to be a science book.

Matt said. I sometimes get the impression that “literalists” don’t read the Bible very carefully.

I’ve been doing The Blessed Atheist Bible Study at http://blessedatheist.com/ and I agree fully. Genesis, the most hilarious book of them all, is riddled with absurdities; physical, mental, and moral. How people can read the story of the flood in light of today’s science and knowledge and view it as literal is beyond me. We atheists should study the bible more in order to gain weapons to fight these idiots. It’s effective to talk to them in their own language, for most of them have no idea what it actually says. In addition I’ve been having a ball writing about it. I wish I had started this years ago.

Matt G said:

When I open the book of Genesis, I see two conflicting stories about where living things came from.

And aren’t there many other books that describe many other theories of origin? Why pick this one?

See Genesis 2:18-20. God wanted to make a “helper” for Adam, but instead of making a woman, he first made a bunch of animals. Strangely, there was not found among this menagerie a “helper” fit for Adam, so god then made Eve. God seriously whiffed on his first try there. I mean, epic fail, right?

Seriously, is there a cimpanzee or is that a typo on his web page?

In the light of this from a dedicated and well-educated creationist professor: Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well. (All bolding original)

A serious question for creationists:

Let’s grant that evolution is totally wrong, the universe is only 6,000 years old–whatever you want. My question is, Do you think we should continue to study evolution?

The reason I’m asking what you think is that scientists who study evolution, or work within an evolutionary conceptual framework, are amazingly productive. They have made our world better in may ways, from agriculture to medicine, from petroleum exploration to engineering design. Do you think they would have advanced as far, or even further in such fields with a creationary framework?

An answer of, “Well, if they want to believe such nonsense, let them, but they’re wasting their time,” is not acceptable. They are, after all, paid with OUR tax dollars in universities, museums, government agencies, etc. And they continue to teach younger generations that evolution is true. So do you think they should all give up on evolution–quit believing in it, quit teaching it, quit researching it, and quit using it as a framework for understanding biology?

Or is it OK with you if they keep believing it, using it, and TEACHING it, even though you know it’s wrong, since it seems to pay off so well?

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I did a bunch of thread cleaning. The Byers and IBelieveInGod sidetracks are now on the BW, where arguments about how many Goliaths can dance on the head of a pin can be continued.

IBelieveInGod said:

<!– <!–

raven said:

that’s all that ever comes out of the “arguments” of a fundamentalist; never any contact with reality.

Plus they lie a lot and just Make Things Up to fill in the gaps. There must have been two Goliaths from Philistine. Never mind that this isn’t mentioned in the bible or supported by the text. And two Elhanans who killed Goliath and Goliath’s brother. Seems like the ancient Hebrews had a severe shortage of names. As another commenter pointed out, there also seems to be 3 or 4 Jesuses of Nazareth as well.

Hey, one day you like everyone else will meet the Creator. –>

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–>

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Will she buy us a round?

ckc (not kc) said:

Will she buy us a round?

She will serve a nice Chianti in a tasteful wicker basket, because that’s what traditionally goes with spicy marinara sauce.

R’amen.

As the father of two children, who my wife and I have raised as Unitarian Universalists, we taught them several of the biblical stories, as filtered through our own rather skeptical sensibilities (but politely and with at least a modicum of respect). The Noah’s ark story was very, very tough, given that it purports to tell of the greatest ever mass genocide (of humans and other animals). I think that even without any editorializing by us, both kids were puzzled and appalled by the story (as they were with the Passover Angel of Death story). I still shudder when I see the way Noah’s Ark is pushed on Christian kids–“Aawwww…those animals are so *cute*! Put a poster of them in your pre-schooler’s bedroom!” I’d sooner put up a poster of Auschwitz!

Wheels said:

kev said: I still shake my head that the Noah’s Ark story is widely considered suitable for children.

All the adaptations I’ve seen gloss over the more adult material, or usually end (as you observed) just after the landing.

From one Dale to another: GREAT COMMENT!!!

Dale Leopold said:

As the father of two children, who my wife and I have raised as Unitarian Universalists, we taught them several of the biblical stories, as filtered through our own rather skeptical sensibilities (but politely and with at least a modicum of respect). The Noah’s ark story was very, very tough, given that it purports to tell of the greatest ever mass genocide (of humans and other animals). I think that even without any editorializing by us, both kids were puzzled and appalled by the story (as they were with the Passover Angel of Death story). I still shudder when I see the way Noah’s Ark is pushed on Christian kids–“Aawwww…those animals are so *cute*! Put a poster of them in your pre-schooler’s bedroom!” I’d sooner put up a poster of Auschwitz!

Wheels said:

kev said: I still shake my head that the Noah’s Ark story is widely considered suitable for children.

All the adaptations I’ve seen gloss over the more adult material, or usually end (as you observed) just after the landing.

Let me get this straight, a faculty member at Byran College whose title is “Director of the Center for Origins Research” say … That’s why I don’t care about the origin of life …”

Anyone else see something strange here? But then his undergrad work is from Falwell’s Folly (Liberty University).

Is there any way to tell how much bandwidth I would need for a small website?

Ted Herrlich said:

Let me get this straight, a faculty member at Byran College whose title is “Director of the Center for Origins Research” say … That’s why I don’t care about the origin of life …”

Anyone else see something strange here? But then his undergrad work is from Falwell’s Folly (Liberty University).

It’s not at all strange if you look at what the “Center for Origins Research and Education” says it is supposed to be doing:

CORE:

The Center for Origins Research at Bryan College is the world leader in creationist biology research. We believe that science is an avenue for learning about God by studying the things He made. Rather than merely opposing evolution, we seek to develop a new way of looking at biology that honors the Creator. We conduct research in five areas: recognizing and interpreting design, the origin of natural evil, the geographic distribution of creatures (biogeography), the origin of species (speciation) and the classification and description of species (biosytematics). We use the results of our research to develop new and exciting educational opportunities for the public to learn about creation and the Creator.

SWT said:

It’s not at all strange if you look at what the “Center for Origins Research and Education” says it is supposed to be doing:

CORE:

The Center for Origins Research at Bryan College is the world leader in creationist biology research. We believe that science is an avenue for learning about God by studying the things He made. Rather than merely opposing evolution, we seek to develop a new way of looking at biology that honors the Creator. We conduct research in five areas: recognizing and interpreting design, the origin of natural evil, the geographic distribution of creatures (biogeography), the origin of species (speciation) and the classification and description of species (biosytematics). We use the results of our research to develop new and exciting educational opportunities for the public to learn about creation and the Creator.

You’re right, I didn’t dig that deep. The very idea that the Director of a subject had no interest in the subject floored me. But those core …whatever you want to call them … are a crack-up. The Origin of Natural Evil? That research must be ‘interesting’ to say the least. Is there unnatural evil? Bryan College, right in Dayton Tennessee, named after William Jennings Bryan. Some things do not get better with time!

CORE:

The Center for Origins Research at Bryan College is the world leader in creationist biology research.

Well, it clearly shouldn’t take too long to get a degree in that.

The sole textbook is only 2 sentences long.

Creationist Biology , entire new new revised volume

p. 1

Remember, all those sciencey types who apparently have no problem feeding, clothing and sheltering you, stretching your lifespan to 250% what your Biblical ancestors might have enjoyed, curing diseases that felled entire continents of old, putting men on the moon and filling your life with endless miracles of technology… They don’t know nothin.

Also, despite what looks like an insurmountable pile of carefully documented evidence to the contrary, accumulated over 150 years of methodical testing, actually Goddit1.

And we know this is true because… Hey! look at the pretty bird over there!!

p.2

index & references

1Bible, all, Vol1 c.-1500.

There, I just gave everyone all the tools they need to get a Bryan College degree.

A BS in Creation Science.

Now that was funny !

The Center for Origins Research at Bryan College is the world leader in creationist biology research. (Which ain’t sayin a whole lot considerin the competition). We believe that science is an avenue for learning about God by studying the things He made. (Which somehow real scientists have failed to do so far. Gee, I wonder what they are all doin?) Rather than merely opposing evolution, we seek to develop a new way of looking at biology that honors the Creator. (Yea, cause you can’t do that just by studying reality. You have to make up a bunch of stuff if reality doesn’t conform to your preconceptions). We conduct research in five areas: recognizing and interpreting design, the origin of natural evil, the geographic distribution of creatures (biogeography), the origin of species (speciation) and the classification and description of species (biosytematics). (Because no real scientists actually study those things, at least not in the right way, you know, the way we want them to.) We use the results of our research to develop new and exciting educational opportunities for the public to learn about creation and the Creator. (So that students can pay us money to brain wash them and hide the truth from them.)

All you gots to do is read between the lines. BS degree indeed.

“Natural evil” is the theological term given to those outcomes easily recognisable as evil - like, the suffering of innocents - but that come about through no human agency. It introduces the problem of theodicy - the fact that there are plainly evils that God could prevent, and either doesn’t - in which case He is at least not entirely good - or can’t - in which case He isn’t omnipotent. Both are anathema to Christians. Every apologia attempted for this fails in one way or another, or had last I looked.

I’d really like to know what form the “research” takes that they say they’re doing into this. I will bet money that it doesn’t involve an experimental approach.

Dave wrote:

“I’d really like to know what form the “research” takes that they say they’re doing into this. I will bet money that it doesn’t involve an experimental approach.”

I can easily envision an experimental approach to this topic. For example, you could steak young virgins in rock slide zones and test whether prayer would alter the probability of a rock slide or not.

Well, I didn’t say it would be a good idea.

Reality is what it is. Reality is neither good or evil. Humans make moral choices that can be judged good or evil based on some criteria. Trying to figure out if natural phenomena are good or evil is like trying to find out whether fire is good or evil. Fire give you power. The choice of to how to use that power can be judged good or evil, but fire by itself makes no moral choices.

Staking out virgins would regrettably involve the commission of human evil prima facie, and would therefore not be a valid test of natural evil.

On closer inspection, the Bryan College program proposes finding the origin of natural evil. But creationist after creationist here - Byers, FL, the wretched IBIG on the BW - pops up to tell us that physical evidence cannot provide knowledge of “origins”. Only an eye-witness can do that. One supposes that the Bryan College research team understands that.

So I wonder what witnesses to the origin of evil these guys are interviewing, and how they have subpoena’d them? Or, should I say, summoned them?

From the Core of the Center for Origins “Research” at Bryan College:

We use the results of our research to develop new and exciting educational opportunities for the public to learn about creation and the Creator.

The interesting point about this is that it clearly shows that they knew when they wrote it that there was nothing that the “research” would produce in the way of improvements in medicine, health, and the general welfare of people on this planet.

The only “practical spin-off” from the activities conducted there is the generation of propaganda.

The word “research” really means exegesis, hermeneutics, etymology, quote-mining, and word-gaming.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on February 26, 2010 7:17 AM.

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