Crystal Anniversary for the Wedge Document

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By Josh Rosenau.

Reposted from NCSE’s Science League of America blog.

Crystal Disco. ballA Crystal disco ball to celebrate the crystal anniversary of the Disco. ‘tute’s entry into the creationism business.

Fifteen years ago yesterday, a mail clerk in Seattle was handed a document to copy. As the Seattle Weekly reported, the packet was labeled “TOP SECRET” and “NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION,” and the cover sported an Illuminati-esque triangular design and a copy of Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam.” The title: “The Wedge”; the author: a newly-created division of the conservative Discovery Institute, the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC). Later, the Center would drop “renewal” from its title to escape the religious reference, and also switched its logo from the Creation of Adam to a picture of God creating DNA, then to a more secular galactic nebula, and now a mashup of Leonardo’s Vitruvian man and a DNA strand.

The Wedge Document, as the packet came to be known, laid out a bold plan by which the Center would “re-open the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature,” and “reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.” From its first sentence, the document proclaimed its sectarian goals, stating: “The proposition that human beings are created in the image of God is one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built. Its influence can be detected in most, if not all, of the West’s greatest achievements, including representative democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and progress in the arts and sciences.”

In order to achieve this religious revival, the creators of the CRSC proposed a five-year plan, with three phases: “Research, Writing and Publication,” “Publicity and Opinion-making,” and “Cultural Confrontation and Renewal.” Of these, they insisted that the first was most crucial: “Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade.”

On this fifteenth anniversary of that five-year plan, it’s worth asking just what the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture has accomplished. They promised at the time, “we can accomplish many of the objectives of Phases I and II in the next five years (1999-2003), and begin Phase III (See ‘Goals/Five Year Objectives/Activities’).”

The Five Year Goals:

  • 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.

Of these, the first has certainly not happened within science. The second is immeasurable, but hasn’t happened in any obvious way, and to the extent there are new debates in the fields described in the third item, the CRSC seems to have no role to play (aside from sitting on the sidelines and carping).

And the Five Year Objectives covered seven topics, beginning with:

  1. A major public debate between design theorists and Darwinists (by 2003)

While there have been public events staged in which ID creationists and evolution’s defenders squared off, any grand debate died off long ago, and was ended for good with the Kitzmiller v. Dover ruling.

  1. Thirty published books on design and its cultural implications (sex, gender issues, medicine, law, and religion)

Unless one really stretches the meaning of those “cultural implications,” or includes the heaps of books written to debunk ID creationism, I don’t think they can claim success here, either.

  1. One hundred scientific, academic and technical articles by our fellows

Unless you count articles published in the various unimpressive and intellectually incestuous ID journals that have come and gone over the years, or include papers that have nothing to do with ID creationism, they haven’t met this standard, either. Even the CRSC’s own list of publications only hits about 75 items, and most of those are not in credible journals, or don’t mean what the Center claims they mean.

Again, the Wedge document opened by insisting that “Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade.” By their own standard, the ID creationists have to be judged as engaged in “just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade.”

  1. Significant coverage in national media:
  • Cover story on major news magazine such as Time or Newsweek
  • PBS show such as Nova treating design theory fairly
  • Regular press coverage on developments in design theory
  • Favorable op-ed pieces and columns on the design movement by 3rd party media

While ID creationism has gotten its share of media coverage, and even some cover stories, I wouldn’t say that coverage has been especially favorable. A skim through the CRSC’s media complaints division suggests that they don’t think so either. Certainly no favorable NOVA documentaries–although NOVA’s Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial did treat ID creationism (IDC) fairly–and since there is no “design theory” to make advances in, there’s been no media coverage either.

  1. Spiritual & cultural renewal:
  • Mainline renewal movements begin to appropriate insights from design theory, and to repudiate theologies influenced by materialism
  • Major Christian denomination(s) defend(s) traditional doctrine of creation & repudiate(s) Darwinism
  • Seminaries increasingly recognize & repudiate naturalistic presuppositions
  • Positive uptake in public opinion polls on issues such as sexuality, abortion and belief in God

Many mainline Protestant churches (and their seminaries) have issued policy statements in favor of evolution in recent years, and against IDC, while the CRSC’s allies in the older creationist organizations have backed away from IDC since its failure in the Dover trial. Public opinion polls show increasing acceptance of marriage equality, views on abortion are quite stable, and belief in God is declining.

  1. Ten states begin to rectify ideological imbalance in their science curricula & include design theory

No state science standards cover creationism, not even in the deracinated form of ID creationism, nor does any textbook from a major publisher. Coverage of evolution has increased since the ’90s.

  1. Scientific achievements:
  • An active design movement in Israel, the UK and other influential countries outside the US
  • Ten CRSC Fellows teaching at major universities
  • Two universities where design theory has become the dominant view
  • Design becomes a key concept in the social sciences
  • Legal reform movements base legislative proposals on design theory

There’s a group in the UK promoting IDC with little success, but no such movement in Israel or any other country. The CRSC fellows are not to be found at major universities; a couple are at UT Austin, and some at Baylor, but before you’d need two hands to keep count, you’d have to stretch the definition of “major university” beyond any meaning. “Design theory” doesn’t exist, and isn’t a dominant view at any university, nor is it relevant in social science research (except for sociologists interested in why people deny science). Nor do any lawyers seem interested in ID creationism, except for civil liberties lawyers.

In short, on this crystal anniversary of the Wedge Document, it appears that the C(R)SC staff’s crystal-gazing skills were awful; they essentially achieved none of their goals. The document also promised that:

Paul Nelson…CRSC Fellow will very soon have [a] book published by…The University of Chicago Press…Nelson’s book, On Common Descent, is the seventeenth book in the prestigious University of Chicago “Evolutionary Monographs” series and the first to critique neo-Darwinism.

Fifteen years later, Nelson’s book remains unpublished, to the point that it became a running joke among anticreationist activists of a certain vintage.

By the way, the Wedge Document also offered these “Twenty Year Goals,” which we can revisit in five years:

  • 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 influence in the fine arts.
  • To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.

I am willing to wager a bottle of single-malt scotch that they fail. And unlike some people, I’ll even pony up if I lose.

72 Comments

It looked so unpromising in the beginning, too.

Nothing like sticking to the script.

Glen Davidson

At least they made the world safe for the bacterial flagellum, even if they failed to patent it.

… the C(R)SC staff’s crystal-gazing skills were awful; they essentially achieved none of their goals.

To be as fair as they deserve, the Wedge was never a prediction; it was a fund raising appeal intended only for their most generous contributors. It was, in fact, hocum intended to extract as much money as possile from rich people made gullible by their religion by promising pie in the sky.

It is hardly surprising that they were willing to deceive rich gullible people just as much as they are willing to deceive not-so-rich gullible people.

…to see its [design theory’s] influence in the fine arts.

Okay. That’s a new one on me that I hadn’t noticed before.

Could someone explain what “influence” “intelligent design theory” could possibly have on the fine arts?

“Someone, somewhere, at some unknown time, in some unknown manner, for some unknown reason, designed … this piece of music”?? Or, “… this painting”, or “… this sculpture”.

Perhaps 15 years ago they felt that “fine art” wasn’t “designed”, or that it needed more “design”? Sure, I might had agreed with them about some “paintings” that I’ve seen (rather, canvasses with paint on them), but were they really uncertain about how music, paintings, and sculpture were designed? Or what “intelligence” was needed? And how it was “made”, for that matter?

To be as fair as they deserve, the Wedge was never a prediction; it was a fund raising appeal intended only for their most generous contributors.

They need another appeal to help k-ham build his ark.

Scott F said:

…to see its [design theory’s] influence in the fine arts.

Okay. That’s a new one on me that I hadn’t noticed before.

Could someone explain what “influence” “intelligent design theory” could possibly have on the fine arts?

Less scribble scrabble and stuff that makes you think. More blonde girls holding daisies, genteelly faded old churches, and patriotic battle scenes. You know… like Hitler used to paint.

Or Robert Kinkade. 6 of one, 1/2 dozen of the other.

I am reminded of old Adolf actually kicking holes in “degenerate” paintings he couldn’t understand.

Look, this is what it’s all about: a cadre of fascist intellectuals with the usual all-encompassing metanarrative based on rigid historical/religious determinism and raw lust for power, who really DO believe that atheists can’t create beauty, and can’t appreciate it either. Thus, they really do believe atheists are to blame for all ugliness in the world.

And yes, it is the same as Hitler (read Mein Kampf or the Table Talk) except that that failed painter blamed Jews or degenerate liberal intellectuals for the ugliness of modern art (and he accused both groups of being materialists.) And so he promised his country “renewal.”

Renewal. As in CRSC.

When we look at a sunset, we think, “Beautiful, I’m lucky to be alive.” When they look at a sunset, they think, “Atheists cannot appreciate beauty; we must eliminate them on the road to utopia.”

Or as the Wedge put it: the consequences of materialism have been devastating for society. Or their egos. Same thing.

Some people might have looked back on 15 years of abject failure to create any semblance of a research program and thought, “You know, maybe I was chasing a wild goose the whole time.” But the DI has kept the cash flowing into its fellows’ pockets, so that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

they insisted that the first was most crucial: “Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade.”

What makes me curious about this language is that they surely didn’t need it to get Ahmanson’s money; he’s a straight up evangelist who (IMO) would’ve been perfectly happy with a strategy document laying out a plan to do all PR all the time. And he, frankly, is where they get all their money. So it makes me wonder who they were targeting when they decided to write up this ‘do sound science first’ language.

Does anybody know how the WD got leaked? DI says it was stolen.

diogeneslamp0 said:

Does anybody know how the WD got leaked? DI says it was stolen.

See the Seattle Weekly account which is the first link in the post (above). Apparently a contractor’s employee was asked to make copies of it, skimmed through it, and then made the requested copies but also made one more for himself. Then he later showed that to a friend who was internet-savvy. Their names are in the article.

The Tooters have a couple of articles on their swamp-blog about the Wedge Document, along the lines of “who cares” and “oh, that old thing.”

However, they have never refuted it. Sure they explain that it was a “fundraising” document and a “planning” document but it’s clear even today that they are trying to follow the script:

Op ed pieces, influencing politicians and school boards, creating and publishing their own “journal,” starting a research center (however pitiful it is) and continuing to drive the wedge through “teach the controversy,” “academic freedom,” “viewpoint discrimination,” “Darwinian Pressure Group (go, Delta Pi Gamma!) bullying,” and so forth.

They are clearly failing on getting ID introduced in schools at any level and even in Louisiana what we have there is old fashioned creationism which even the Tooters try to avoid. Gonzo is their latest great hope at Ball State. We’ll see how that unfolds in due time.

But, even the Old Guard has become moribund. Dembski has all but vanished having been EXPELLED from his Bible college; Behe should be retiring any day now, but seems to have no influence. The Tooters blog is rapidly becoming another Uncommon Descent (into madness) with most postings coming from Dense O’Leary, Klinkleklopper, the Gerbil, Egnorance and a sprinkling of random Loons. It’s really pitiful, if I was capable of pity, that is.

John Pieret said:

… the C(R)SC staff’s crystal-gazing skills were awful; they essentially achieved none of their goals.

To be as fair as they deserve, the Wedge was never a prediction; it was a fund raising appeal intended only for their most generous contributors. It was, in fact, hocum intended to extract as much money as possile from rich people made gullible by their religion by promising pie in the sky.

It is hardly surprising that they were willing to deceive rich gullible people just as much as they are willing to deceive not-so-rich gullible people.

You don’t have to be fair. They had the same claims in their mission statement that was up on their web page when they still had God and Adam as their logo. You have to use Wayback to look up the old mission statement from around 1998 or 1997.

Doc Bill said:

But, even the Old Guard has become moribund. Dembski has all but vanished having been EXPELLED from his Bible college; Behe should be retiring any day now, but seems to have no influence. The Tooters blog is rapidly becoming another Uncommon Descent (into madness) with most postings coming from Dense O’Leary, Klinkleklopper, the Gerbil, Egnorance and a sprinkling of random Loons. It’s really pitiful, if I was capable of pity, that is.

Given all the yowling self-pity we see over there, perhaps the Wedge Document has become a painful “Wedgie Document” for them.

Reading the document again after all these years, the voice I hear from the Center For the Removal of Science From Culture is that of one or more authors who really believed that this could happen.

That is rather poignant.

Thirty published books on design and its cultural implications (sex, gender issues, medicine, law, and religion)

I’m working on a few outlines, maybe I can pull down a few bucks in the lucrative ID market.

Sex - No homos.

Gender Issues - Women are designed to be pregnant and in the kitchen making us a sandwich.

Medicine - Did you know that the likelyhood of your kidneys existing is 10 to the really huge number. Oh, by the way they are failing and you need a transplant.

Religion - We don’t know who the designer is, what the designer did, when he did it, or how he did it, but shhhh here’s a Bible.

eric said:

they insisted that the first was most crucial: “Without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade.”

What makes me curious about this language is that they surely didn’t need it to get Ahmanson’s money; he’s a straight up evangelist who (IMO) would’ve been perfectly happy with a strategy document laying out a plan to do all PR all the time. And he, frankly, is where they get all their money. So it makes me wonder who they were targeting when they decided to write up this ‘do sound science first’ language.

A very rare disagreement with Eric here - I think this is wrong.

People keep saying that creationists “believe” creationism.

But creationism isn’t quite a “belief”, it’s a self-serving bias.

Ahmanson does “believe” in his science denial, but NOT the way I believe that the earth is approximately spherical in shape rather than a two-dimensional plane.

My belief that the earth is round is 100% evidence-based. If it would benefit me tremendously for it to be flat, tough, it’s still round. I didn’t start out wishing it was round and selectively paying attention to ostensible evidence that it is round. Nor is there substantial evidence that it is flat, to which I respond with denial, and cognitive dissonance expressed in the form of inappropriate anger toward the evidence.

It’s just round and that’s that.

And that’s how a true, rational, calm, confident belief works.

And this is why you have never heard, and will never hear, a creationist openly say that they simply reject science. It’s also why creationists will often state reasons that they wish creationism was true, as evidence that creationism is true.

You may hear a professor of philosophy at an overpriced liberal arts college with a beautiful campus for partying rich kids say that science is invalid and should just be ignored or rejected. You won’t hear a creationist say it. Because they damn well get that the methods of science are the methods that humans find instinctively credible.

Creationism is wishful thinking. They wish that there was a god who would say that their lust for harsh, bigoted, authoritarian, superficially self-serving social and economic policy was “good”. They “believe” it quite strongly, but that “belief” can be troubled by conflicting evidence. This is simply the way ALL incorrect self-serving biases work. They are consciously perceived as a belief, but it isn’t a calm, rational, confident belief, like my belief that the earth is approximately spherical. It’s a an emotional bias superficially perceived as a belief. No, they won’t be convinced to drop it, except in rare cases. When you cause them cognitive dissonance, they respond by doubling down on the mechanisms that support the denial and the bias. No mere internet comment is going to change that.

But evidence against the bias does cause emotional distress. If some guy were to say “Hey, let’s face it, the made up religion we use to rationalize our political preferences really is at odds with scientific evidence, so let’s just admit that we don’t care at all about scientific evidence!”, that guy would be despised and reject by them. The money is raised by insisting that “real scientists” and “true science” support the bias, not by admitting that they do not.

harold said:

And this is why you have never heard, and will never hear, a creationist openly say that they simply reject science. It’s also why creationists will often state reasons that they wish creationism was true, as evidence that creationism is true.

You may hear a professor of philosophy at an overpriced liberal arts college with a beautiful campus for partying rich kids say that science is invalid and should just be ignored or rejected. You won’t hear a creationist say it. Because they damn well get that the methods of science are the methods that humans find instinctively credible.

But evidence against the bias does cause emotional distress. If some guy were to say “Hey, let’s face it, the made up religion we use to rationalize our political preferences really is at odds with scientific evidence, so let’s just admit that we don’t care at all about scientific evidence!”, that guy would be despised and reject by them. The money is raised by insisting that “real scientists” and “true science” support the bias, not by admitting that they do not.

Hi harold. I’m interested in better understanding the distinction that you’re trying to draw. How would you classify Representative Paul Broun, and his comment that scientific theories are “lies straight from the pit of Hell”? He doesn’t seem to fall into the “professor of philosophy” clade. He doesn’t appear to have any “emotional distress”. And, he doesn’t appear to be “despised and rejected” by other creationists for advocating the rejection of scientific evidence. In fact, he seems quite popular for saying such things.

I love the cries of “censorship” but you can’t comment on any of their articles. The ones you can comment on are heavily moderated and get closed when the heat is on.

Scott F said:

harold said:

And this is why you have never heard, and will never hear, a creationist openly say that they simply reject science. It’s also why creationists will often state reasons that they wish creationism was true, as evidence that creationism is true.

You may hear a professor of philosophy at an overpriced liberal arts college with a beautiful campus for partying rich kids say that science is invalid and should just be ignored or rejected. You won’t hear a creationist say it. Because they damn well get that the methods of science are the methods that humans find instinctively credible.

But evidence against the bias does cause emotional distress. If some guy were to say “Hey, let’s face it, the made up religion we use to rationalize our political preferences really is at odds with scientific evidence, so let’s just admit that we don’t care at all about scientific evidence!”, that guy would be despised and reject by them. The money is raised by insisting that “real scientists” and “true science” support the bias, not by admitting that they do not.

Hi harold. I’m interested in better understanding the distinction that you’re trying to draw. How would you classify Representative Paul Broun, and his comment that scientific theories are “lies straight from the pit of Hell”? He doesn’t seem to fall into the “professor of philosophy” clade. He doesn’t appear to have any “emotional distress”. And, he doesn’t appear to be “despised and rejected” by other creationists for advocating the rejection of scientific evidence. In fact, he seems quite popular for saying such things.

He’s a 100% perfect example of what I’m saying.

He does not advocate open rejection of all of science. Instead he does the exact standard thing. He attacks the selected parts of science which are at odds with his superficially self-serving ideology, and says or implies that “real” science, i.e. all of science that doesn’t threaten him, supports his views.

People try to make this false dichotomy between strongly supported, emotionally neutral beliefs, and conscious, deliberate falsehood.

If we employ this false dichotomy, we can then pretend to read creationist minds, claim that we know they aren’t being deliberately, consciously dishonest (which is probably true, but we can’t be sure in individual cases), and then incorrectly conclude that the “other alternative” must be the case - that they must “believe” their claims in the same way that we “believe” well-supported scientific claims.

That dichotomy is false. There is much more to the human brain than that. In fact, to employ that dichotomy is in itself profoundly unscientific. A bedrock principle of science is that we consciously strive to avoid bias. Therefore, the very existence of the scientific method is an intuitive concession that emotional biases can cause us to experience incorrect ideas as “beliefs”. Otherwise we would have no need to consciously strive for objective, unbiased observation in the first place. This intuition is supported by virtually every field of science that studies human cognition and behavior.

We all, though, have self-serving biases. Far from being unique to creationists, this is universal. Some people are “better” able to “believe” their self-serving biases than others, but we all have them, and we all give evidence that seems to favor them excess weight. Yet, because in the end they are biases, we are all vulnerable to the uncomfortable sensation of seeing evidence that conflicts with them. We all often react to this by seeking reassurance that the self-serving bias is true, which we do by over-weighting evidence in its favor and unfairly rejecting evidence against it.

We all do this, but creationists do it about certain parts of science which intimidate them, especially the theory of evolution, while you and I don’t do that.

harold said:

We all do this, but creationists do it about certain parts of science which intimidate them, especially the theory of evolution, while you and I don’t do that.

One of the characteristics I see most often in the leaders of these anti-evolution/anti-science movements is that they want political power and control over the lives of others. They are mainly narcissists; large egos who want to be seen as major figures in history.

It is actually a bit unnerving to think what these people would do if they actually achieved their political goals. I have been in the presence of some of them; they don’t like being questioned.

There are others – such as the many crackpots one can find challenging the “authority” of science - who want to be seen as great inventors who are being repressed by an establishment cabal that is keeping them from becoming rich and famous with their “inventions” that have “humiliated” the science community. It’s always them against the “establishment;” a favorite con game in our history.

I don’t believe I have ever seen a humble ID/creationist or pseudoscientist just doing his job and hoping for the best; they already believe they are the best and are being persecuted for it. These are people who see themselves as being at the top of the heap one way or another.

While the ID/creationist movement is unique in its sectarian roots, there are characters like this that show up at seminars and colloquia at major research universities and at professional conferences around the country. They will latch onto and dog relentlessly anyone who pays them any attention whatsoever.

Out of all these, the uniqueness of the ID/creationist movement has been its active sectarian political agenda of taking over all of public education, especially science education. That has made them a threat in the past. Given the egomaniacal mindset of some of its leaders, while its influence may ebb at times, I am not convinced that it will ever go away completely. They are always looking for the favorable political winds and voter apathy that will put them in power.

Most successful scientists are capable of dogging an issue until it is understood. The process may take decades and even a lifetime of work. The line between dogged determination and obsessive compulsive madness has been material for novelists for centuries.

Sometimes it is hard to find that line; but sectarian obsessive/compulsiveness over sectarian dogma is easy to spot because of the centuries of blood wars among sectarians. While some of them have tried in recent years to conceal their motives – because of the secular laws and backlash they will most certainly encounter – nevertheless their motives are clear; especially when they refer to science and secularism as “religions.” These people are perpetually at war with “evil and deceit everywhere” and they must win at all costs because it is they who are the “good ones.”

Mike Elzinga said:

One of the characteristics I see most often in the leaders of these anti-evolution/anti-science movements is that they want political power and control over the lives of others.

Here’s what can happen when they get that power.

Mike Elzinga said:

One of the characteristics I see most often in the leaders of these anti-evolution/anti-science movements is that they want political power and control over the lives of others.

Here’s what can happen when they get that power.

Or, more subtly here’s what happens when Ham and his ilk get their way.

(By the way, I was blissfully unaware that back in his native Australia, before he hit it big in creationist circles, Ham was… and I quote, a “science teacher”).

harold said:

We all do this, but creationists do it about certain parts of science which intimidate them, especially the theory of evolution, while you and I don’t do that.

One of the characteristics I see most often in the leaders of these anti-evolution/anti-science movements is that they want political power and control over the lives of others. They are mainly narcissists; large egos who want to be seen as major figures in history.

It is actually a bit unnerving to think what these people would do if they actually achieved their political goals. I have been in the presence of some of them; they don’t like being questioned.

There are others – such as the many crackpots one can find challenging the “authority” of science - who want to be seen as great inventors who are being repressed by an establishment cabal that is keeping them from becoming rich and famous with their “inventions” that have “humiliated” the science community. It’s always them against the “establishment;” a favorite con game in our history.

I don’t believe I have ever seen a humble ID/creationist or pseudoscientist just doing his job and hoping for the best; they already believe they are the best and are being persecuted for it. These are people who see themselves as being at the top of the heap one way or another.

While the ID/creationist movement is unique in its sectarian roots, there are characters like this that show up at seminars and colloquia at major research universities and at professional conferences around the country. They will latch onto and dog relentlessly anyone who pays them any attention whatsoever.

Out of all these, the uniqueness of the ID/creationist movement has been its active sectarian political agenda of taking over all of public education, especially science education. That has made them a threat in the past. Given the egomaniacal mindset of some of its leaders, while its influence may ebb at times, I am not convinced that it will ever go away completely. They are always looking for the favorable political winds and voter apathy that will put them in power.

Most successful scientists are capable of dogging an issue until it is understood. The process may take decades and even a lifetime of work. The line between dogged determination and obsessive compulsive madness has been material for novelists for centuries.

Sometimes it is hard to find that line; but sectarian obsessive/compulsiveness over sectarian dogma is easy to spot because of the centuries of blood wars among sectarians. While some of them have tried in recent years to conceal their motives – because of the secular laws and backlash they will most certainly encounter – nevertheless their motives are clear; especially when they refer to science and secularism as “religions.” These people are perpetually at war with “evil and deceit everywhere” and they must win at all costs because it is they who are the “good ones.”

Needless to say I agree with all of this.

I would like to emphasize once more the role of self-serving bias. Mike is describing people with pathologically intense self-serving biases. Maybe I should say “ego-serving bias”. These biases don’t necessarily always help the person who holds them.

There’s a lot of pointless confusion about whether creationists are “sincere” in their beliefs. The answer is that they usually consciously are, but are also aware, at some deeper level, of the need to defend that bias from reality.

We all have some inability to overcome self-serving bias. In fact some level of self-serving bias is optimal. It’s a question of degree.

But we don’t quite experience self-serving bias as we experience neutral belief. When our self-serving biases are challenged, we defend them, and if they are challenged by evidence and logic, we have to defend them emotionally. First, we often use the defense that we have always held them, so they must “obviously” be true, and it is “ridiculous” to contemplate otherwise. On the internet, this defense is often expressed with the use of “LOL” and similar expressions. That initial defense is not very successful, in most cases, though. The next line of defense is usually to attack the source of disturbing evidence (technically, every creationist who refers to “secularists” or “atheists” is indulging in the ad hominem fallacy). Another common defense is the straw man fallacy - mis-state the disturbing evidence or argument so that it is no longer threatening. Another common defense is to be insulting, provoke the other person, and then declare victory because the other person responds to insult with insult. To accomplish this, the original insult is often a thinly veiled jeer. (The strategy of using a jeer to provoke an overt emotional response is also common in many other situations.)

Creationists want creationism to be true; it’s a system that defines a world in which they are special and privileged, and others must obey them.

If we could measure whether they are consciously deceptive when they proclaim their beliefs, we would probably not detect any deliberate deceptiveness.

But, as with all biased “beliefs”, it must be emotionally defended.

So, when presented with evidence that should dispel their self-serving bias, they respond with emotional techniques.

They believe because they want to believe, and are able to shield themselves from evidence and logic with emotional techniques.

I can understand (soft of) why the DI crowd still push their barrow. This is their livelyhood and they have no other marketable skills. What I think is really sad is the denizens of places like UD who will still argue for ID and defend the DI. They must realise that ID has not produced anything for years and science still keeps marching forwards.

MichaelJ said:

I can understand (soft of) why the DI crowd still push their barrow. This is their livelyhood and they have no other marketable skills. What I think is really sad is the denizens of places like UD who will still argue for ID and defend the DI. They must realise that ID has not produced anything for years and science still keeps marching forwards.

One thing that makes a self-serving bias hard to get rid of is the emotional stress of admitting an error.

They loved ID when they first heard about it because they are social/political ideologues. They wanted to “win” over scientists by getting some form of evolution denial into public schools.

Remember, Ken Ham has nothing to do with the DI or UD. The UD gang is on a different level. It’s still self-serving bias, but their self-serving bias is in favor of disguising creationism.

They loved it, they wanted it to be true, they convinced themselves that it makes sense, and they’ve been reinforcing that self-serving bias for years.

In my observation the UD crowd are much more pathological, as well as much less numerous, than typical home-schooling YEC types. Many of them have insecurity issues about their intelligence as well.

Their self-serving bias is that they are geniuses who recognize the brilliance of ID, and by a coincidence, ID seems to confirm the ad hoc post-modern religion that tells them they are special and deserve to rule.

It’s hard enough for anyone to admit they were wrong about anything, and these are a bunch of emotionally immature fragile egos playing genius and pretending that they are smarter than all the world’s mainstream scientists combined.

This bias has only modest negative impact on their daily life. Of course babbling nonsense on the most obscure site on the internet for many hours per day can’t help their lives, but they may well have relationships and/or jobs, at least in some cases.

It would probably take inhumane and illegal “deprogramming” techniques to get them to stop parroting ID slogans. The parroting is their defense mechanism, and the more obscure, forgotten, and ruled out ID becomes, the more they need that defense mechanism.

Conceivably some of them might drift away from it on their own some day. Nothing you or I could do could ever convince them of reality.

MichaelJ said:

I can understand (soft of) why the DI crowd still push their barrow. This is their livelyhood and they have no other marketable skills. What I think is really sad is the denizens of places like UD who will still argue for ID and defend the DI. They must realise that ID has not produced anything for years and science still keeps marching forwards.

Upton Sinclair:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

What does it take to run Toot Central? We’ve seen their tax reports. Most of their donations go to salaries, travel and promotion. They spend a few grand on lab supplies but it’s a pitiful amount.

How many cats are in Toot Central? You’ve got Klinger, the Gerbil, the Young guy, Westy, Crowfoot, Axelrod, Blanche and a couple of office workers. Let’s say they support, through charity, Sterno, Dumbski and throw a few clams to the hangers on like Egnorance and Stupinski. Can’t be much.

What a bunch of clowns, scrambling for all the crumbs they can sweep up!

But, from another standpoint, and, please, don’t accuse me of pity, think about what OTHER job the Gerbil or Klinger could get? Who’d hire them, Alex Jones? They’ve wasted their careers on this junk and their only alternative is to KEEP IT GOING! Drive that ID train! Otherwise they are out of business, kaput with no pot to pee in. Roadkill.

I wonder if Gerb and Kling have looked at their retirement prospects recently. Probably not.

harold said:

In my observation the UD crowd are much more pathological, as well as much less numerous, than typical home-schooling YEC types. Many of them have insecurity issues about their intelligence as well.

Their self-serving bias is that they are geniuses who recognize the brilliance of ID, and by a coincidence, ID seems to confirm the ad hoc post-modern religion that tells them they are special and deserve to rule.

It’s hard enough for anyone to admit they were wrong about anything, and these are a bunch of emotionally immature fragile egos playing genius and pretending that they are smarter than all the world’s mainstream scientists combined.

Yeah, but. “cdesign proponentsists”. ID was conceived as a politically motivated legal deception, plain and simple. A lie to get creationism into schools. As far as I can tell, that has never changed.

I’ll spot you the self-serving emotional biases of the YEC crowd. But I think you’re over analyzing the ID crowd. The followers of ID? Maybe. There’s that mental dissonance you mention, and they really want it to be true. But the ID leaders? It’s a scam, all the way down. I’d even go so far as to say the YEC leaders know it to be a scam too. Maybe they really believe it themselves, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t scamming the flock. I’m no psychologist, but isn’t the ability to believe your own scam one hallmark of a successful sociopath?

Does Neil deGrasse Tyson ask you to tithe to the Hayden Planetarium in every speech? Did Nye or Sagan solicit donations for PBS at every opportunity? (Sure, they would like you to donate, they might want you to buy their latest book, but it isn’t their primary purpose.) But from the likes of Ken Ham? I think the YEC leaders get used to the joys of having followers who have been taught from birth to tithe to anyone waving a Bible around.

There is no question that the “leaders” of the movement are in on the scam. Speaking of “leaders,” just how many “ID theorists” are there, anyway? I count two: Dembski and Behe.

Reviewing the terms -

Complex specified Information - whatever that is. Oh, sometimes it’s Functional SCI. Irreducible complexity - can’t evolve Nixplainatory Filter - when nothing else works, punt. Even Dembski gave up on it.

And … that’s about it, I think.

What these guys actually do, mostly Meyer Behe, is carefully trivialize evolutionary research so as to cast doubt. That’s the scam. Behe’s “edge of evolution” is nothing more than his bald-headed opinion followed by a magical unicorn. And that’s from a LEADING “ID theorist.”

But, hey, it puts food on the table!

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

It is evolution denial, evolution denial, evolution denial (*and an associated social/political ideology*) that is their specific self-serving bias, which they experience consciously as a “belief”, but which causes them cognitive dissonance and emotional reaction due to its being frequently challenged.

Why on earth do you think they are obsessed with evolution in public schools? It’s because they know it makes sense, and the thought of it being taught, and students learning about it, challenges their emotional bias.

Maybe some, but the fact is that when I was a creationist kid we had virtually the same conversations about “evolutionists” in reverse. Well, do they really know better and deny God (for sundry reasons), just want there not to be any God, or are they actually fooled into believing that things can “just happen”? The consensus was more or less that a number really did “buy into evolution,” and if they just knew better they’d give up something so unreasonable. I gave it up once I wasn’t just a kid any more, so I can’t give an adult account of being a creationist, but my sense is that it really was pretty much just the reverse of how we think of them, without much, anyway, cognitive dissonance about creation/evolution among church members.

I don’t deny that some have cognitive dissonance, especially if they’ve encountered a lot of the arguments and evidence. Most church folk simply haven’t done so, though, and I think they don’t have much cognitive dissonance. The one caveat I have is that most of them do seem to shy away from learning the evidence, something that did bother me, even as a kid, so there might be some concern about learning what many don’t want to know, among even the rank and file. But aside from leaving alone matters that might confuse or “delude” them, I think that most of the creationists I knew weren’t much afflicted by doubts, and genuinely wondered how anyone could “believe evolution,” except that they “want to sin” or simply were “taught wrong” about the issue.

Glen DAvidson

Yeah, this is what I’m thinking. They’re probably obsessed with teaching evolution in school because whatever they might truly think deep-down about science and evolution, they, like everyone, know the most important step in disseminating and maintaining beliefs of any kind (whether FSM, YEC, Islam, rational world view etc) is teaching it to children.

And actually, reading Scott F’s post and my response to it, I think I was wrong to think his example wasn’t quite accurate, I think I’m basically saying the same thing as he did.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

It is evolution denial, evolution denial, evolution denial (*and an associated social/political ideology*) that is their specific self-serving bias, which they experience consciously as a “belief”, but which causes them cognitive dissonance and emotional reaction due to its being frequently challenged.

Why on earth do you think they are obsessed with evolution in public schools? It’s because they know it makes sense, and the thought of it being taught, and students learning about it, challenges their emotional bias.

Maybe some, but the fact is that when I was a creationist kid we had virtually the same conversations about “evolutionists” in reverse. Well, do they really know better and deny God (for sundry reasons), just want there not to be any God, or are they actually fooled into believing that things can “just happen”? The consensus was more or less that a number really did “buy into evolution,” and if they just knew better they’d give up something so unreasonable. I gave it up once I wasn’t just a kid any more, so I can’t give an adult account of being a creationist, but my sense is that it really was pretty much just the reverse of how we think of them, without much, anyway, cognitive dissonance about creation/evolution among church members.

I don’t deny that some have cognitive dissonance, especially if they’ve encountered a lot of the arguments and evidence. Most church folk simply haven’t done so, though, and I think they don’t have much cognitive dissonance. The one caveat I have is that most of them do seem to shy away from learning the evidence, something that did bother me, even as a kid, so there might be some concern about learning what many don’t want to know, among even the rank and file. But aside from leaving alone matters that might confuse or “delude” them, I think that most of the creationists I knew weren’t much afflicted by doubts, and genuinely wondered how anyone could “believe evolution,” except that they “want to sin” or simply were “taught wrong” about the issue.

Glen DAvidson

I completely agree here.

What you are describing is the process of creating and reinforcing bias.

As a kid you were taught that creationism is true, and also, importantly, that it is good for you that creationism is true. You were taught that your group were special righteous people who would be rewarded by a favoring god, due in part to your acceptance of the idea that creationism is true.

As a kid, you didn’t experience cognitive dissonance. Of course you didn’t. Kids generally accept what they are taught. Later, as we become more independent, some of us may note that our biases are being challenged and experience cognitive dissonance.

Some adults may be sheltered and dull enough to avoid it, as well.

However, your story clearing indicates that some members of your community experienced substantial cognitive dissonance.

That’s why you were taught all those invalid, emotion-based, pseudo-rational defenses against “evolutionists”.

There are a lot of elements there - ad hominem, they must be wrong because they are atheists and atheists are always wrong; false generalization (“they’re all atheists” when they aren’t); conspiracy hypothesis, and of course, a major dose of projection.

You were inculcated with objectively incorrect self-serving biases, and then extensively inculcated with pseudo-rational defense mechanisms to use on that possible day when your biases might be challenged.

Now, self-serving biases are NOT always at odds with reality. Most, plausibly all, of mine, are not contradicted by science. Doesn’t mean they’re “right”, doesn’t mean you can’t make a strong case against them, it’s just that I don’t have any self-serving biases that are contradicted directly by scientific reality. If I ever did I got rid of them long ago.

However, the creationist self-serving bias is contradicted by reality, and many or most creationists are aware that their beliefs are challenged, challenged in a way they would find credible if the challenge were to something other than their bias. And that does cause cognitive dissonance and emotional defenses.

daoudmbo said:

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

It is evolution denial, evolution denial, evolution denial (*and an associated social/political ideology*) that is their specific self-serving bias, which they experience consciously as a “belief”, but which causes them cognitive dissonance and emotional reaction due to its being frequently challenged.

Why on earth do you think they are obsessed with evolution in public schools? It’s because they know it makes sense, and the thought of it being taught, and students learning about it, challenges their emotional bias.

Maybe some, but the fact is that when I was a creationist kid we had virtually the same conversations about “evolutionists” in reverse. Well, do they really know better and deny God (for sundry reasons), just want there not to be any God, or are they actually fooled into believing that things can “just happen”? The consensus was more or less that a number really did “buy into evolution,” and if they just knew better they’d give up something so unreasonable. I gave it up once I wasn’t just a kid any more, so I can’t give an adult account of being a creationist, but my sense is that it really was pretty much just the reverse of how we think of them, without much, anyway, cognitive dissonance about creation/evolution among church members.

I don’t deny that some have cognitive dissonance, especially if they’ve encountered a lot of the arguments and evidence. Most church folk simply haven’t done so, though, and I think they don’t have much cognitive dissonance. The one caveat I have is that most of them do seem to shy away from learning the evidence, something that did bother me, even as a kid, so there might be some concern about learning what many don’t want to know, among even the rank and file. But aside from leaving alone matters that might confuse or “delude” them, I think that most of the creationists I knew weren’t much afflicted by doubts, and genuinely wondered how anyone could “believe evolution,” except that they “want to sin” or simply were “taught wrong” about the issue.

Glen DAvidson

Yeah, this is what I’m thinking. They’re probably obsessed with teaching evolution in school because whatever they might truly think deep-down about science and evolution, they, like everyone, know the most important step in disseminating and maintaining beliefs of any kind (whether FSM, YEC, Islam, rational world view etc) is teaching it to children.

And actually, reading Scott F’s post and my response to it, I think I was wrong to think his example wasn’t quite accurate, I think I’m basically saying the same thing as he did.

See my reply to Glen Davidson above.

What you’re saying is of course true, but they do NOT just try to have their belief taught directly. In fact they are already easily able to teach their ideas directly, in Sunday School, in private schools, through home schooling, etc.

In 1999 in Kansas the creationist policy was merely to remove evolution from the curriculum. Same thing in South Carolina right now. A Republican Senator is trying to have a very basic statement about evolution removed from the curriculum.

They don’t just want their kids to learn creationism, they want all kids to be prevented from learning about evolution.

From my own experience, being raised in a creationist home, there was no cognitive dissonance at all. Everyone claimed to love science. I was encouraged to study science. I was absolutely convinced that when I did study science for myself, it would confirm everything I had been taught. Nobody ever even seemed to think that there could be any other possible outcome. Of course, that turned out not to be true. But nobody seemed to have any idea that all of the evidence was actually against creationism. Nobody realized that a critical and honest examination of the evidence would lead inevitably to one and only one conclusion. Nobody thought that having been raised to be honest was going to backfire when exposure to the evidence finally happened. I will always be grateful for the moral guidance and wisdom that my parents taught me as a child. But I will always regret that they didn’t tell me the truth about evolution, even if it was because they had carefully insulated themselves from the truth.

This is why I have no sympathy for those who choose to remain ignorant. This is why I cannot believe those who claim to have examined the evidence and yet deny the obvious conclusion. This is why it is so disappointing and frustrating to see someone claim to love science and then state that no evidence would ever change their mind. This is the kind of fundamental dishonesty that drives people away from faith and religion.

I happen to be reading a book now, from which a quotation is actually appropriate to this thread. Its The Mystery of Mar Saba, written by J.H Hunter (a religious magazine editor) in 1940 (I’m reading it in relation to the controversy over Morton Smith and The Secret Gospel of Mark but that’s another matter). The genre is a Nazi spy thriller, so given the date of publication it became a best seller. But the real purpose of the book is to preach fundamentalist propaganda. In the first place Hunter has it figured out that all criticism of the literal historical truth of the Bible is a Nazi Plot (going back to the late 18th century, evidently). But the interesting statement is made by the main character right after he is born again. He talks about what he had been taught in college:

“The theory of evolution. That the world came into being as a result of cosmic forces, gradually cooled down through aeons of time, generated life in a low form, from which came all the innumerable and various varieties we see around up. I will admit it does not seem a very satisfactory explanation, and to my way of thinking now it appears incredible that I could have accepted such drivel without question. And yet, that is what multitudes of young people are being fed today. To me know it seems the crime of the century.”

To which his girlfriend replies, “It is a terrible thing to destroy a human soul through unbelief. Some of our universities have a great sin to answer for.”

The real problem with this is that it is all just a cover to justify the most horrible kind of fascist, racist, imperialism. If the converts became peace loving hippies, it wouldn’t be so bad. But the book argues that Palestine ought to be handed over to the Jews on the basis of their biblical claim (this is in 1940 remember). The Palestinians, because they are culturally backward compared to the Jews (the author seems oblivious to the fact that his beloved British had been running the place for 20 years and done nothing to provide universal education for the Palestinians–he is certain that the Arabs are innately inferior to the Jews, not just that they lack the Western style education the Jewish immigrants benefit from) are to be swept away the same way the Americans did the American Indians. He is advocating genocide in other words, justified by his fundamentalist beliefs. Needless to say the few Arabs that are shown converting to Christianity (Protestantism, not not that wicked Catholicism) are presented as good characters and are generally murdered by those low, devious Muslims.

Helena Constantine said:

The real problem with this is that it is all just a cover to justify the most horrible kind of fascist, racist, imperialism. If the converts became peace loving hippies, it wouldn’t be so bad. But the book argues that Palestine ought to be handed over to the Jews on the basis of their biblical claim (this is in 1940 remember). The Palestinians, because they are culturally backward compared to the Jews (the author seems oblivious to the fact that his beloved British had been running the place for 20 years and done nothing to provide universal education for the Palestinians–he is certain that the Arabs are innately inferior to the Jews, not just that they lack the Western style education the Jewish immigrants benefit from) are to be swept away the same way the Americans did the American Indians. He is advocating genocide in other words, justified by his fundamentalist beliefs. Needless to say the few Arabs that are shown converting to Christianity (Protestantism, not not that wicked Catholicism) are presented as good characters and are generally murdered by those low, devious Muslims.

A bit of a tangent, but ironic considering there was and still is a significant minority of Arab Christians in Palestine/Israel.

DS said:

From my own experience, being raised in a creationist home, there was no cognitive dissonance at all. Everyone claimed to love science. I was encouraged to study science. I was absolutely convinced that when I did study science for myself, it would confirm everything I had been taught. Nobody ever even seemed to think that there could be any other possible outcome. Of course, that turned out not to be true. But nobody seemed to have any idea that all of the evidence was actually against creationism. Nobody realized that a critical and honest examination of the evidence would lead inevitably to one and only one conclusion. Nobody thought that having been raised to be honest was going to backfire when exposure to the evidence finally happened. I will always be grateful for the moral guidance and wisdom that my parents taught me as a child. But I will always regret that they didn’t tell me the truth about evolution, even if it was because they had carefully insulated themselves from the truth.

This is why I have no sympathy for those who choose to remain ignorant. This is why I cannot believe those who claim to have examined the evidence and yet deny the obvious conclusion. This is why it is so disappointing and frustrating to see someone claim to love science and then state that no evidence would ever change their mind. This is the kind of fundamental dishonesty that drives people away from faith and religion.

I’m not saying that every creationist is 100% consumed with cognitive dissonance. I’m saying cognitive dissonance is what they experience when they somehow look at the evidence.

There are two ways to resolve it. Give up creationism and go with the evidence - as you did. Or indulge in emotional, pseudo-rational obsessing - as the creationist we deal with do.

I’m going to reiterate and reinforce my original point, because it’s an important one.

Creationism is a self-serving bias. Your parents “knew” that they were right. But they were wrong. Why did they “know” something so obviously wrong? They were taught to believe it, they wanted to believe it, and emotionally they experienced it as a belief.

They certainly weren’t cackling with evil glee that they were tricking little DS when they privately knew perfectly well that the theory of evolution is valid.

But neither did they really “know” what they felt as if they knew. It was a bias, not objective knowledge, and if they had been challenged, then they would have experienced and emotional response.

As a kid you were taught that creationism is true, and also, importantly, that it is good for you that creationism is true. You were taught that your group were special righteous people who would be rewarded by a favoring god, due in part to your acceptance of the idea that creationism is true.

But aren’t Darwinists taught that they are right because they accept certain assumptions, and take man’s word over God’s? (Nonsense, really, but it’s sort of the “argument”)

As a kid, you didn’t experience cognitive dissonance. Of course you didn’t. Kids generally accept what they are taught. Later, as we become more independent, some of us may note that our biases are being challenged and experience cognitive dissonance.

I didn’t have much cognitive dissonance, because it occurred to me at one point that, gee, scientists probably have heard the creationist “arguments,” and might very well have answers that I should consider. I’d been too much into science to think that a substantial part of it was some special apologetics for atheism.

Some adults may be sheltered and dull enough to avoid it, as well.

Quite a few, so far as I can ascertain.

However, your story clearing indicates that some members of your community experienced substantial cognitive dissonance.

Some most likely did, but, between natural human tendencies to protect one’s own ego and the tendency of religion to be “on guard” against deceivers and ill-doers anyway, it often needn’t get to a very high level of cognitive dissonance.

That’s why you were taught all those invalid, emotion-based, pseudo-rational defenses against “evolutionists”.

Don’t Darwinists do the same thing? And I’m only half kidding here, since I think a lot on our side are pretty much sticking with the “right side,” rather than understanding the arguments. It’s inevitable, probably, for a social species such as ours.

My point, really, is that they typically see our rhetoric as “othering,” illegitimately ruling out religious explanations (non-materialist explanations for IDiots), attacking creationism/ID for not being the Harvard answer, etc. And it’s not altogether wrong, since we have no choice but to point out that “they” have a low chance of being right (we can’t just argue the data, most people don’t think that way), we do rule out religious explanations (actually, evidence-free explanations, religious explanations being only a subset of these–but they don’t notice that because they’re starting with religion, and can’t see why anyone shouldn’t), and yes, the elite institutions end up accepting the science, too bad. Unfortunately, since arguing these matters is a social interaction, it’s easy for less knowledgeable people to focus on the propaganda (yes, we engage in it as well, but with a core of small-t truth, and we’d be happy to stick to dry, dispassionate expositions if those worked on very many people), atheists who argue illegitimately, and incorrect views of science as something that’s supposed to be infallible by noting this or that (Piltdown Man!) which supposedly destroys evolutionism, yet intransigent atheists and their theistic lackeys won’t accept such “facts.”

There are a lot of elements there - ad hominem, they must be wrong because they are atheists and atheists are always wrong; false generalization (“they’re all atheists” when they aren’t); conspiracy hypothesis, and of course, a major dose of projection.

Yes, of course, but even though I wrote of “atheists,” the typical other, it’s not like there was no acknowledgement that theists accepted it, too. There were some things that could be used to make it look like life evolved, after all, like comparative anatomy, but a Common Designer explained it just as well–a superficially pleasing response that tended to undermine that argument for me well after I’d given up on creationism (a common designer might explain stylistic similarities, it hardly explains why a designer chose terrestrial forelimbs to modify into wings, when it might have chosen other wings–while evolution has to use the terrestrial forelimbs). And all of these kids were taught wrong, so of course even many theists end up accepting it (plausible response). Conspiracy theories? Well, wasn’t the whole world a place of Satanic conspiracy? It didn’t take a purported 9/11-type conspiracy to “explain” how sin and sinners preferred not to acknowledge God, or some such thing.

Projection? What’s super easy for those projecting is to assume that it’s the others who are projecting. It’s as simple as to say that it takes a lot of faith to think that something comes from nothing. Wrong (certainly with respect to biology), a caricature of evolutionary thought, and oblivious to the fact that their theism is about miracles, but it seems to appeal psychologically (probably even cognitively) to unsophisticated thinkers, those to whom creationism is pitched.

The fact is that both sides do much the same things in order to promote their respective beliefs (understanding that “beliefs” mean very different things to science than to religion), except for one thing–we present good evidence (and we tell the truth, frequently, with respect to evidence, which the creationists/IDists can’t and don’t do). That makes all of the difference, yet for those who can’t or don’t deal with the evidence, everything else can be used to ignore it. And clearly, many opt to focus on everything else as an excuse to ignore the evidence. It’s not that difficult for those who are told to be on their guard against “deception.”

Glen Davidson

Glen Davidson -

I completely agree with your comment.

Some most likely did, but, between natural human tendencies to protect one’s own ego and the tendency of religion to be “on guard” against deceivers and ill-doers anyway, it often needn’t get to a very high level of cognitive dissonance.

I need to clarify something here.

Cognitive dissonance is mainly unconscious. People do experience it as a sensation of stress and emotional agitation.

They don’t usually experience it as a conscious “choosing this versus that” decision.

They experience it when they have committed to one option, and something provokes discomfort with that option.

I am NOT referring to a conscious thought “maybe those ‘Darwinists’ are right!”.

On the contrary, I am referring to the unconscious defenses that work overtime to prevent such a thought from being consciously experienced, to as much an extent as possible.

One final closing note.

I don’t think there is any major disagreement here.

We all notice a seeming paradox. To put it bluntly, we all notice that creationists use the techniques of fraud and deception, yet while seeming to believe themselves.

Are they deliberate conscious con men, or are they completely sincere?

In my opinion, neither. They are just very, very biased, and reacting to challenges to their biases with pseudo-rational defenses.

The same techniques they use, are also used by real, completely conscious, calculating con men, but most creationists, even the ones who make money from their status, a not so much deliberate cons but badly biased.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on February 6, 2014 2:32 PM.

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