4. Is Young-Earth Creationism ‘Science’?

Creationists’ Claims typically fall into two categories:

(1) Why Evolution is wrong

(2) How Creation theories can explain the state of the natural world

From what I have read and heard about the Young Earth Creationist movement, holding to a literal interpretation of the first eleven chapters of Genesis is of paramount importance.  The argument goes something like this: If you can’t believe one part of the Bible, then how can you know which parts to trust?  You might as well throw the whole Bible out.  You must believe in Creation as the Bible says it.

Some people happen to think that this is a compelling argument for YEC.  I happen to  think this is the absolute weakest argument for Creation ever!  And I don’t mind saying that out loud.  In my life, I have never come across anyone who interpreted the entire Bible literally.  Really.  The Bible is comprised of many different books and many different writing styles.  There are chronologies, poems, songs, narratives, and prophecies to name but a few.  These different writing styles can even occur within the pages of one book.  Thankfully, YECs concede that the Bible does indeed contain different literary styles.  However, they then do something very curious.  Instead of embracing the possibility that Genesis could be symbolic or metaphorical or just-not-literal, YECs say that Genesis does not fall into any ‘special’ category – it is straight history.  Very strict YECs will not entertain the idea that Genesis 1-11 could be anything but literal.

Astronomy and geology say that the earth is 4.55 billion years old.  This contradicts Creationism’s stance that the earth is only 6000 (some ‘allow’ up to 10,000) years old.  In case you didn’t notice, it is a BIG difference!  Because evolutionary theory (based on science) does not agree with creation theory (based on  literal reading of the Bible), YECs have a problem on their hands.  How do they reconcile this?  By denoucing evolution, of course!  Anything that does not agree with a literal interpretation of the Bible is just plain wrong (according to YECs).

Creationists have come up with a plethora of claims of why Evolutionary Theory is wrong.  Some of these are based on ignorance of what evolution actually is, eg, “Evolution is only a theory.”  Other claims which question the science behind evolution seem to have more substance.

Here is a website that explores various Creationists’ Claims. This website has been very helpful to me in understanding what exactly Creationists claim and that there are answers to those claims!  Well-thought out answers.

Knocking the veracity of evolution is not enough.  YECs need to fill the gap that is left behind.  If evolution cannot be used to explain the state of the natural world, Creation can!  Creationists have tried to fill the gaps that evolution either has not filled yet, or have been discredited because they do not fit a young earth model.  The problem with these ‘solutions’ is that it is not good science.

If a person wants to say that he/she believes in a young earth, despite what the scientific evidence shows, I don’t really have a problem with that. He/she probably just has a very staunch commitment to a particular interpretation of the Bible.  And that is within his/her right.  But when these people go out of their way to convince others of their view and calling it SCIENCE, I am not as tolerant.  Let’s be clear – believing that the earth is only 6000-10,000 years old does not fall within the realm of science, but rather philosophy/theology.  Calling it science does not make it so.  Teaching it to others as ‘science’ is deceitful.

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Posted on Friday, April 16th, 2010, in Creation vs Evolution, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. This is a very one-sided article, misrepresenting creationists and failing to acknowledge how the claims could equally well be made of evolutionists.

    It starts of claiming that creationists claims fall into two categories, which is either incorrect, or almost meaningless. That is, among the main claims they make is that what one believes about the past is very dependent on one’s worldview. Does that fall into either category? Another is that evolution is based on a materialistic worldview. That doesn’t appear to fall into either category either.

    That evolution is false is, although stressed, more of a secondary claim.

    “Instead of embracing the possibility that Genesis /could/ be symbolic or metaphorical or just-not-literal, YECs say that Genesis does not fall into any ‘special’ category – it is straight history.”

    This is a case of criticising someone for doing nothing wrong. If I said that you, instead of embracing the idea that New Zealand is an Australian state, have done something very strange and decided that it’s not, would that make any sense to you? Because that’s what you’ve done here. Creationists have considered the possibility that it could be non-literal, have looked at the linguistic and other evidence, and decided that it’s not. What is wrong with that?

    “Very strict YECs will not entertain the idea that Genesis 1-11 could be anything but literal.”

    Just as I’m sure you will not entertain the idea that New Zealand is an Australian state. Is that something I should criticise you for?

    “Because evolutionary theory (based on science) does not agree with creation theory (based on literal reading of the Bible), YECs have a problem on their hands.”

    Here’s some of that one-sided-ness. Because two sides don’t agree, /one/ of them has a problem? And you simply /assert/ that evolutionary “theory” is based on science, and imply that creationary theory is different in this regard.

    This brings us to the main problem with this article. It asks a question (is YEC science?), and answers it (no), /yet fails completely to say *why* it’s supposedly not science. You could have saved yourself 610 of the 611 words in this article and just said “NO”, given that the remaining 610 words don’t add anything to that answer.

    “Creationists have come up with a plethora of claims of why Evolutionary Theory is wrong. Some of these are based on ignorance of what evolution actually is, eg, “Evolution is only a theory.”

    Just as evolutionists have come up with a plethora of claims of why creation is wrong. Many of these are based on ignorance of what creationists actually say, e.g. the claim that creationists claim that evolution is only a theory.

    See, the very same arguments that you use against creation can also be used against evolution.

    “Here is a website that explores various Creationists’ Claims. … Well-thought out answers.”

    Not so well thought out, actually. It frequently resorts to circular reasoning (e.g. creation is wrong because it doesn’t fit with what we, the evolutionists, think is correct), claims of “quote mining” that fail to withstand scrutiny, and many other problems.

    “Knocking the veracity of evolution is not enough. YECs need to fill the gap that is left behind.”

    They do.

    ” The problem with these ‘solutions’ is that it is not good science.”

    Because…?

    “If a person wants to say that he/she believes in a young earth, /despite/ what the scientific evidence shows…”

    As creationists have often pointed out, we all have the same evidence, but differ on how we interpret it.

    “But when these people go out of their way to convince others of their view and calling it SCIENCE, I am not as tolerant.”

    So it’s not okay for creationists to be less than tolerant of evolutionists who try and convince others of /their/ view and call it SCIENCE, but it’s okay for evolutionists to be less than tolerant of creationists who do the same thing? Isn’t that called having a double standard?

    “Let’s be clear – believing that the earth is only 6000-10,000 years old does not fall within the realm of science…”

    Again, because….?

    “Calling it science does not make it so.”

    And calling it non-science does not make it non-science. Again, the argument cuts both ways.

    “Teaching it to others as ‘science’ is deceitful.”

    Begging the question.

    Before finishing, I’ll clarify that I put both creation and evolution in the same scientific category. Both are views about the past, which are not empirically testable, because we can’t observe, repeat, or test the past. If you want to say that creationism isn’t (strictly) science, then you won’t get an argument from me, as long as you agree that the same applies to evolution. In this article, however, you haven’t agreed, which is why you got the argument from me.

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    • “Before finishing, I’ll clarify that I put both creation and evolution in the same scientific category. Both are views about the past, which are not empirically testable, because we can’t observe, repeat, or test the past.”

      Good science regarding things that happen in the past can result in predictive qualities about things we observe today. Evolution passes this standard.

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      • Thanks for chiming in, hktelemacher.

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      • “Evolution passes this standard.”
        It does?

        So when an evolutionist (Kerkut) predicted that we would never find wheels and magnets in living things, and we have, how is that passing the standard?

        When Darwin himself said that we should find a finely-graduated sequence of intermediate fossils, and we haven’t, how is that passing the standard?

        When both secular scientists and creationists made quite different predictions about the magnetic fields of a couple of planets in the solar system (based on their respective views of how the planets formed), and the creationist prediction was correct and the secular prediction incorrect, how is that passing the standard?

        Argument by assertion (“Evolution passes this standard.”) is not a good form of argument.

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      • It’s only argument by assertion because it’s not worth my time to write a lengthy response regarding long-debunked creationist lunacy. No intermediate forms? Are you kidding me? Get rid of your 30-year-old YEC propaganda (which were outdated even at the time) and do some reading on modern paleontology!

        Thing is, I don’t have to convince you. Can’t be done. All I have to do is convince reasonable people out there reading this who are on the fence to just start with “transitional fossil” on Wikipedia and go from there. They have plenty of footnotes that will get you down the road to the peer-reviewed underlying research if that’s how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. It’s out there. Lots of it. Call that an assertion if you will, but it ‘s true, and it takes little to no effort (and would be more satisfying anyway) to do the tiny amount of education it takes to understand how terribly outdated that creationist claim is. You better find another gap to hide in, ’cause that one’s just embarrasin’.

        You might also be under a misunderstanding of what predictive power is. Also what science is. Predictive power is not a statement of complete knowledge or that every scientist to ever exist will have a 100% accuracy rating on predictions. You generate hypothesis which is then tested against evidence and which test and evidence is then reviewed by other experts in the field to determine whether what was done was done well enough to be relied upon. To say that some scientist somewhere has some kind of issue with evolution based on currently-known evidence therefore evolution has no predictive power therefore no evolution isn’t just trivially dishonest, it’s willfully ignorant as to basic scientific process.

        I encourage you though to keep responding. As the exchange grows I’ll happily take my chances with where people go from here.

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      • “It’s only argument by assertion because …”

        Thanks for admitting that it’s an argument by assertion.

        “… long-debunked creationist lunacy.”

        Typical anti-creationist: resort to vilification. I could just as readily say “long-debunked evolutionist claims”. But of course simply saying it doesn’t make it so.

        “Get rid of your 30-year-old YEC propaganda…”

        Propaganda? Another attempt to vilify without facts. And I keep up to date on this stuff.

        “Thing is, I don’t have to convince you. Can’t be done.”

        Why not? Your arguments not good enough? Or are you casting aspersions about my willingness to consider arguments (as opposed to assertions)?

        “All I have to do is convince reasonable people out there reading this who are on the fence to just start with “transitional fossil” on Wikipedia and go from there.”

        You’re probably right: just convince people to look at one side of an argument, and yes, you’ll probably convince them you’re right. Of course, convincing people to look at the other side of the issue often has a different outcome.

        “They have plenty of footnotes that will get you down the road to the peer-reviewed underlying research if that’s how far down the rabbit hole you want to go.”

        Peer-reviewed from one side of the fence. Not both sides. (And are there roads down the rabbit hole???)

        “Call that an assertion if you will, but it ‘s true…”

        Oooh! Backing up one assertion with another!

        “and it takes little to no effort (and would be more satisfying anyway) to do the tiny amount of education it takes to understand how terribly outdated that creationist claim is….”

        Yeah, well, I do find that much of the anti-creationist stuff is well out of date. But I note that you /still/ don’t provide any actual examples.

        “You might also be under a misunderstanding of what predictive power is. Also what science is.”

        Nope, and nope.

        “To say that some scientist somewhere has some kind of issue with evolution based on currently-known evidence therefore evolution has no predictive power therefore no evolution isn’t just trivially dishonest…”

        Well, given that that’s NOT what I said, does that mean that I can call your comment “not just trivially dishonest”?

        I didn’t say that “some scientists somewhere has some kind of issue with evolution”. The people I was referring to (apart from the one creationist) were satisfied evolutionists. Well, I’m not so sure about Darwin, actually.

        “… it’s willfully ignorant as to basic scientific process.”

        Contrary to what you seem to think I don’t believe that a few examples make an entire case. But I do believe that a few examples are a start, and a lot better than fact-free assertions. To put it another way, I believe that people should get to hear BOTH sides of the story, not just the one-sided one that evolutionists usually insist on, and which you were giving.

        “I encourage you though to keep responding.”

        And I encourage you to provide proper arguments—not just assertions—and without the vilification in any further comments you make.

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      • LOL @ Wikipedia being “one side”.

        Look, you want to draw me into some kind of typical exchange evolution vs. creationism by saying things like “transitional fossils!” and “magnets!” (and then claim *I’m* arguing from assertion LOL), but again I’m not here to write a treatise on the evidence behind evolutionary theory. There are mountains of it, and it’s not hard to find. You say things like “both sides”, as if both sides of each argument have equal amounts of support. They don’t, and it’s not even close. Call it bald assertion if you want, I don’t care, I’m just letting people know that the information is out there. It’s more accessible than ever and it’s growing all the time. Creationists are not putting out credible peer-reviewed scientific research.

        Here is something to think about–and I’m not talking to Philip here, I’m talking to everyone else. The process of scientific inquiry has given rise to the medicines that save lives, a much better understanding of the universe we live in (we are now discovering other Earth-similar planets in the galaxy!), the cars we drive, the computers we use, safe drinking water . . . none of this, and more, is possible without standing on the back of credible, peer-reviewed science. Just think about all of the things we use or even take for granted today that would never have been possible without grinding, combed-over scientific research. This is all part of one process. There is not some secret cabal of paleontologists, meeting separately from all the other scientists to abuse scientific method for . . . what, personal fame? Yes, because paleontology is such a lucrative career that it is worth risking everything so you can spend weeks or months in harsh climates in third world countries unearthing fossils, or years in the basements of museums making, literally, tens of thousands of dollars in the process! [/sarcasm]

        No, the same scientific method that we depend upon for so many things is the same that has produced the Theory of Evolution, which continues to develop each day. It is such an exciting time to be able to read about new discoveries! Yewnique, I am jealous of all the things you get to learn and discover for the first time! It’s like talking to someone who is reading a great book for the first time that you’ve already read . . . you feel that anticipation on their behalf because you know what a treat it is! Keep it up, it just gets better.

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      • ‘Yewnique, I am jealous of all the things you get to learn and discover for the first time! It’s like talking to someone who is reading a great book for the first time that you’ve already read . . . you feel that anticipation on their behalf because you know what a treat it is! Keep it up, it just gets better.’

        Thanks so much for reading my blog and commenting, hktelemacher.

        I hope you will stick around.

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  2. ‘You could have saved yourself 610 of the 611 words in this article and just said “NO”, given that the remaining 610 words don’t add anything to that answer.’

    Thanks for the tip.

    Q: Is Young-Earth Creationism ‘Science’?
    A: NO.

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  3. @Philip.

    “To put it another way, I believe that people should get to hear BOTH sides of the story”

    This statement assumes that there are only two sides of the story. Don’t you mean ALL sides? And what do you think peer-reviewers do?

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  4. On hktelemacher’s comment, while I agree that the scientific method has brought forth many benefits to humanity, I would have to respectfully point out that it is important to distinguish between the scientific method itself and scientific theories which are attempts to apply the scientific method to find the truth about the universe. The scientific method is worthy of praise and of emulation – but a scientific theory can be a flawed application of scientific method and can be quite wrong, notwithstanding the worth of the scientific method as a generality. The scientific theory of today, may be disproved tomorrow and replaced by a theory that seems to better fit the evidence – at least for now. Even where a theory seems to explain the facts and even to plot out relationships of matter and energy, it can be a gross approximation of the true picture which does not withstand scrutiny and which is quite incorrect in its details in the light of future discoveries.

    For the same reason, evolution does not gain traction merely because it was an attempt to apply scientific method to the facts.

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  5. hktelemacher:
    “LOL @ Wikipedia being “one side”.”

    I’ve had enough experience editing Wikipedia to be able to say so. To take one example, their article on the pro-ID documentary movie Expelled breaks its own rules of only citing reliable third-party references, by often citing those criticised in the movie, i.e. by quoting the “second party”. Further, their treatment of the movie is unlike their treatment of the documentary movie Fahrenheit 9/11. For the latter, most criticism is removed to a separate article, where most people reading about the movie will miss it, but with Expelled it’s in the main article. For Fahrenheit, the criticism article has the format *claim (by the movie)/criticism/response (to the criticism)*, whereas Expelled’s article has the format *claim/criticism*.

    This is just one example of many I could give you.

    “Look, you want to draw me into some kind of typical exchange…”

    No, I’m happy for you to say nothing at all.

    “…by saying things like “transitional fossils!” and “magnets!” (and then claim *I’m* arguing from assertion LOL)…”

    Why the laughter? I quoted specific examples to support my claims, for which you could ask for references if you wanted. It was not mere assertions.

    “You say things like “both sides”, as if both sides of each argument have equal amounts of support.”

    More argument by assertion and (I’m assuming that you’re talking about /evidentary/ support) a misleading one, as both sides have the same evidence, but different interpretations of that evidence.

    “I’m just letting people know that the information is out there. It’s more accessible than ever and it’s growing all the time.”

    As is the information for the creation view. Unlike the evolutionary view, however, it doesn’t do all it can to prevent the alternative view being heard. The evolutionary view is pushed in the education system, (hence by the government) and in the mass media. The creationary view has almost no access to either.

    “Creationists are not putting out credible peer-reviewed scientific research.”

    “Credible” means, of course, in the opinion of evolutionists.

    “Here is something to think about–and I’m not talking to Philip here, I’m talking to everyone else. The process of scientific inquiry has given rise to [various things]”.

    Creationist not only have no dispute with that, but it was creationists who started modern science, and almost all the founders of the main disciplines of science were creationists.

    “This is all part of one process.”

    Thanks for addressing this to “everyone else”, because what needs to be pointed out is that virtually all those things you mentioned such as medicines, cars, computers, etc. involve observing and testing—and repeating—things in the present: /empirical/ science. And unlike that, evolution is a story about the unobservable, untestable, unrepeatable past. It is more history than empirical science, but history is best done through the records of eyewitness, which the Bible is.

    “…paleontology is such a lucrative career that it is worth risking everything so you can spend weeks or months in harsh climates in third world countries unearthing fossils, or years in the basements of museums making, literally, tens of thousands of dollars in the process! [/sarcasm]”

    Millions of dollars are available for research into evolution, and scientists can achieve considerable fame for finding some new fossil. By comparison, there are virtually no funds for creation research, and scientists working for creationist groups have often given up more lucrative careers to do so, so I wouldn’t go there if I were you.

    “No, the same scientific method that we depend upon for so many things is the same that has produced the Theory of Evolution…”

    That’s the standard evolutionary line, but as pointed out above, this is not the case.

    Yewnique:
    “This statement assumes that there are only two sides of the story. Don’t you mean ALL sides? And what do you think peer-reviewers do?”

    No, I mean both sides. Either life developed naturally or supernaturally. There are variations on each and combinations such as theistic evolution, but essentially there are only two basic views.

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  6. @Wayfarer

    2 things.

    1. You use theory in a very loose, layperson manner. A scientific Theory is way past a prediction or a hypothesis. I’m sure you know, but to qualify as a Theory there has to be a significant body of evidence to support it.

    2. Evolution is not true just because it was an attempt to apply scientific method, it is true because the Theory, by an overwhelming amount, is supported by available evidence.

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  7. @Philip

    Taking a step back and looking holistically, you’ve set yourself up in an impenetrable position. You say both that transitional fossils don’t exist but also that the scientific peer review process is a sham. So I could list transitional fossil after transitional fossil, but when you have to acknowledge that scientists have reported transitional fossils you just turn around and say the whole system is corrupt and therefore the evidence is invalid. It’s basically what I said in my first message–you’ve set up the rules so that you can’t be convinced unless you literally started over with your science education in a way that you yourself are doing the measurements to verify everything. Everything else is susceptible to being corrupted. Now, that’s what the peer review process does but that doesn’t mean anything to you. So trying to convince someone who is willing to put total faith in religion but not accept 150 years of peer-reviewed research (and instead call the whole thing a story and a sham) is not my goal. Anyone with even a tiny amount of intellectual curiosity can check the link yewnique linked to in her original post, in which you can find references and footnotes for transitional fossils. If people aren’t willing to put forth the effort to take that first step, they deserve to live in a world free of intellectual curiosity, where the answer to every question is “Goddidit”.

    However, just to shut you up about how I’ve never provided any examples of transitional fossils, here you go:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14822438 A. sediba

    “A. sediba is remarkably transitional; maybe one of the most beautiful transitional fossils of a mammal that we’ve ever discovered and it just happens to be in our lineage,” co-author Professor Lee Berger, from the University of Witwatersrand, told BBC News.

    “That’s very exciting for evolutionary science as a whole.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8485263.stm Haplocheirus sollers, evidence of dinosaur physiology transitioning to bird physiology.

    China has been a wealth of awesome fossil finds, and the scientific analysis of those fossils has produced in the last few years some very exciting results.

    “Thanks for addressing this to “everyone else”, because what needs to be pointed out is that virtually all those things you mentioned such as medicines, cars, computers, etc. involve observing and testing—and repeating—things in the present: /empirical/ science. And unlike that, evolution is a story about the unobservable, untestable, unrepeatable past. It is more history than empirical science, but history is best done through the records of eyewitness, which the Bible is.”

    Geology is both history and science, and we have relied for decades on its predictive qualities that are based on events in the past we can neither directly observe nor recreate in the lab to assist us in the search for new fossil fuels that give us technology we in the U.S. take for granted . . . power for lights, gas for cars . . . the engine of the world’s economy.

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  8. ‘Either life developed naturally or supernaturally. There are variations on each and combinations such as theistic evolution, but essentially there are only two basic views.’

    Not all scientific fields of study are about how life developed.

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  9. hktelemacher,

    You said “1. You use theory in a very loose, layperson manner. A scientific Theory is way past a prediction or a hypothesis. I’m sure you know, but to qualify as a Theory there has to be a significant body of evidence to support it.

    2. Evolution is not true just because it was an attempt to apply scientific method, it is true because the Theory, by an overwhelming amount, is supported by available evidence.”

    As to no.1, you are quite right – I was using the term “theory” in too casual and layperson a way. To be more strict about it, there is a distinction between hypothesis and theory. However, even with theories in physics which are mor easily “proven”, we can see how they are man’s attempts to explain and approximate the true situation. Newer theories that come in later can totally revise and change the older theory or change the entire wiorld view underlying it and make it more accurate.

    As to no.2, I do not view evolution at this moment to be more than a hypothesis, and it is not a theory IMHO. You obviously have a different view of that, but we will have to agree to disagree there.

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  10. What is germane however in your discussion which I was trying to point out, is that you have an adherence to evolution to such an extent that you identify it with scientific method. I was pointing out that scientific method is separate from scientific theory – or hypothesis – and that how successfully is scientific method applied in the creation of the theory will determine its viability ceteris paribus. The distance betwen religion and science is not so great as you may think – the high priests of sciencific theory may wear white lab coats, but they can be just as evangelical in their fervour. The darker side of human nature which manifests itself in persecution of those who think differently from us, can similarly be seen at times in the vituperation in which some evolutionists attack creationists…

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  11. @Wayfarer

    “As to no.2, I do not view evolution at this moment to be more than a hypothesis, and it is not a theory IMHO.”

    So over a hundred years of peer-reviewed research doesn’t do the job? I don’t mean to be flippant, but it begs the question of whether you’re in the same camp as Philip, which is to assert that the entire scientific endeavor of paleontology and evolutionary biology, adn all related fields (including biology more generally) is and has been made up of almost entirely criminals (this amount of fraud on the public would certainly in my mind amount to that) for more than a century. If the very large amount of peer-reviewed evidence over such a stretch of time isn’t sufficient, what evidence you’re waiting for? Are you waiting for every gap to be filled in before accepting evolution? Do you have issues with abiogenesis? (I assume it’s not that last thing as you seem smart enough to understand the distinction)

    Because even if the relevant fields of science had, say, 50% ethical scientists and 50% unethical scientists, you *would* see screaming form the mountain tops. A total scientific schism that would utterly paralyze the scientific community (which, despite some creationist claims, is clearly not the current state of affairs). As far as I can tell you would literally have to believe almost every scientist was unethical or willing to be complicit in seriously unethical activity to unravel the sheer volume of evidence that has been accumulated.

    Finally, I don’t view scientists and fervent religious people as conceptual analogs of each other (which is what I took your last point to be). Science relies on observable measurements, repeatable experiments . . . my experience with the very religious is exactly the opposite in that you start with the conclusion and work backwards, minimizing or outright discarding contradictory or problematic facts. Having such opposite methodology I don’t think lends itself to the same amount of credibility in being passionate about defending one’s position. Are religious people, scientists, and NAMBLA members all analogous because they all passionately believe in what they believe in? Because some scientists argue their points strongly does that invalidate the underlying methodology? The methodology should substantively be evaluated on its own merits.

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  12. Ugh, please overlook my various grammar errors. It’s pretty late.

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  13. Hello hktelemacher,

    To sum up my answer to your question, I think that people are people – whether they wear white lab coats or preach at a pulpit. What we call ourselves or what degrees we have, do not remove the intellectual blindness that we unconsciously wear. The religious are not by definition intellectually deficient, nor are the scientists free from narrow-mindedness, being wedded to dogma and peer pressure and the psychological need to conform.

    There does not have to be a worldwide conspiracy to create a new orthodoxy. All that it requires in the end, are people.

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  14. BTW hktelemacher, you have a good moniker – Steve Martin was always one of my favourite comedians and LA Story was a good one…

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  15. hktelemacher:
    “Taking a step back and looking holistically…”

    In other words, avoid most of my rebuttals to your previous posts and try a different approach.

    “You say both that transitional fossils don’t exist but also that the scientific peer review process is a sham.”

    I said neither.

    I said that Darwin said that we should find a FINELY GRADUATED SEQUENCE. A relative handful of claims of transitional fossils does not fulfil that prediction.

    Neither did I completely dismiss the peer-review process. All I indicated was that biases do get into it; that it’s not the perfect process that it might seem to be. Peter Horton, editor of The Lancet wrote:

    “The mistake, of course, is to have thought that peer review was any more than a crude means of discovering the acceptability — not the validity — of a new finding. Editors and scientists alike insist on the pivotal importance of peer review. We portray peer review to the public as a quasi-sacred process that helps to make science our most objective truth teller. But we know that the system of peer review is biased, unjust, unaccountable, incomplete, easily fixed, often insulting, usually ignorant, occasionally foolish, and frequently wrong.”

    Despite that, the peer review process is still a fairly good method, except when ruling paradigms—such as evolution—get in the way.

    “Anyone with even a tiny amount of intellectual curiosity can check the link yewnique linked to in her original post, in which you can find references and footnotes for transitional fossils. If people aren’t willing to put forth the effort to take that first step, they deserve to live in a world free of intellectual curiosity, where the answer to every question is “Goddidit”.”

    I have already pointed out problems with the site she linked.

    And it was Christianity that provided the intellectual curiosity that gave rise to science, so you are off the mark with that on. And I could just as easily accuse you of having the attitude where the answer to every question is “EvolutionDidIt”.

    “However, just to shut you up about how I’ve never provided any examples of transitional fossils, here you go:”

    I never disputed that there were claimed transitional fossils. But claims are not proof. Many previous claims, particularly of “apeman” fossils, have fallen by the wayside, usually be being relegated to side branches instead of being actually transitional.

    “Geology is both history and science, and we have relied for decades on its predictive qualities that are based on events in the past we can neither directly observe nor recreate in the lab to assist us in the search for new fossil fuels that give us technology we in the U.S. take for granted…”

    Probably much of that predictive ability is based on recognising formations where fossil fuels are known to be typically found, for which knowledge of how it formed is of little relevance. Yet oil exploration (for example) is still something of a hit-and-miss affair.

    yewnique:
    “Not all scientific fields of study are about how life developed.”

    Well, we were talking specifically about evolution (by which I assume hktelemacher meant /biological/ evolution). Further, apart from other historical fields (e.g. cosmology), what other views are there?

    hktelemacher:
    “…the same camp as Philip, which is to assert that the entire scientific endeavor of paleontology and evolutionary biology, adn all related fields (including biology more generally) is and has been made up of almost entirely criminals (this amount of fraud on the public would certainly in my mind amount to that) for more than a century.”

    Would you mind not inventing claims about what I think? You are wrong.

    “As far as I can tell you would literally have to believe almost every scientist was unethical or willing to be complicit in seriously unethical activity to unravel the sheer volume of evidence that has been accumulated.”

    No, you only have to believe that the majority adopts a naturalistic worldview.

    “…my experience with the very religious is exactly the opposite in that you start with the conclusion and work backwards, minimizing or outright discarding contradictory or problematic facts.”

    Sounds like evolutionists—not Christians—to me. You start with evolution (or naturalism), and go looking for evidence for it. Dr. Scott Todd: “Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic”.

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  16. Soooo that’s the new meme is it? That’s pretty slick. You/creationists don’t have to actually do the work of trying to invalidate specific legitimate paleontological evidence, or find any actual systemic unethical practice of science, you get to wave your hands mysteriously and say the words “institutional bias” and “orthodoxy” somewhere in the same vicinity as generic assertions “transitional fossils!” “magnets!” An even more unassailable negative position.

    “I said that Darwin said that we should find a FINELY GRADUATED SEQUENCE.”

    Darwin was not a prophet, he was a scientist who made a prediction based on his hypothesis. Our understanding of the specifics of geologic strata and fossil formation have come so far since then, that even without a finely graduated sequence we have more than enough evidence to support the evolutionary tree of life on this planet. I get why religious people like to state as if true that scientists think of Darwin as some kind of scientific deity . . . it makes it easier to claim that scientists and religious leaders are all just cut from the same cloth, the whole “both sides” thing. Except we’ve come so far in understanding evolution since Darwin that such claims are pretty ridiculous.

    “Neither did I completely dismiss the peer-review process.”

    So it’s ok when it produces medicines that save your life, technology that allows you to participate in exchanges like this, or a host of other things where you are literally trusting your life against the effectiveness of the peer review process, but not ok when it contradicts your religious book. Check.

    “Probably much of that predictive ability is based on recognising formations where fossil fuels are known to be typically found, for which knowledge of how it formed is of little relevance. Yet oil exploration (for example) is still something of a hit-and-miss affair.”

    The field of geology is much more than predicting fossil fuel locations, and the entire discipline involves making present observations of past phenomena that for the most part can’t be recreated under lab conditions and whose formative events happened millions or billions of years ago. Oil exploration is just one practical application, and calling it a “something of a hit-and-miss affair” based on just knowing where fossil fuels are typically found is a gross insult to the scientists who work in that field. There are billions of dollars at stake in oil exploration, and using the body of geologic science to even incrementally increasing the chances of striking oil at a particular location and particular depth translates directly not just individually to how much comes out of your wallet each time you go to the pump, but collectively to how well the world’s economy functions. You should try talking to one sometime to understand how dismissively you just treated their entire life’s work.

    “I never disputed that there were claimed transitional fossils. But claims are not proof.”

    Yes, because the scientists I quoted were just making claims out of thin air. None of them have devoted years of their life and thousands upon thousands of man hours doing the basic research underlying their claims. Yessir, no evidence at all. Just wave your hand and poof, all meaningless. Go ahead, say something else about institutional bias.

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  17. Thank you, Wayfarer, for mentioning hktelemacher’s username. I’ve been wondering where it comes from and thinking it looks familiar. Of course – LA Story! Good movie!

    Like

  18. Believe me, the irony of taking a scientific and atheistic viewpoint whilst posting under a moniker associated with a movie featuring a sentient and self-aware highway sign is not lost on me 🙂

    But I can tell you, that is the way I wish the Universe worked.

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  19. @ hktelemacher

    You wish the Universe was run by a ‘sentient and self-aware highway sign’? Or, that we could all just ‘Sing Doo Wah Diddy’? 😉

    I am not an atheist, but I appreciate your participation here.

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  20. hktelemacher, actually I think the premise of LA Story was that the City of Los Angeles itself was sentient and the highway sign was only its mouthpiece. When i watched it, it struck me as Steve Martin’s paean of love for the city itself, in some way like Woody Allen’s Manhattan was for New York City (though in a very different mien).

    For more irony, I googled Telemachus as it sounded very familiar, and that turned out to be the name of the Christian martyr who was killed trying to stop a brutal gladiatorial contest and where his death caused the end of such contests on a permanent basis.

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