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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The creationism continuum

Intelligent Design Creationists often get upset when I refer to them as creationists. They think that the word "creationist" has only one meaning; namely, a person who believes in the literal truth of Genesis in the Judeo-Christian Bible. The fact that this definition applies to many (most?) intelligent design advocates is irrelevant to them since they like to point out that many ID proponents are not biblical literalists.

There's another definition of "creationist" that's quite different and just as common throughout the world. We've been describing this other definition to ID proponents for over two decades but they refuse to listen. We've been explaining why it's quite legitimate to refer to them as Intelligent Design Creationists but there's hardly any evidence that they are paying attention. This isn't really a surprise.

The latest example comes from David Klinghoffer on Evolution News & Views (sic): A Scientific Controversy That Can No Longer Be Denied: Here Is Debating Darwin's Doubt.
As you may know, the primary response from Darwin defenders to scientific challenges consists of name-calling. They call us "creationists"—the bogus accusation that ID is some sort of an attempt to prop up Biblical literalism.
There's very little excuse for this kind of ignorance. Klinghoffer knows full well that there are other definitions of "creationism."

Here's an updated version of a previous post entitled Creationism Continuum. It's an explanation of the meaning of the word "creationist" written in a way that should be understandable to all ID proponents.

In an earlier posting [What Is Creationism?] I took issue those who think that Intelligent Design isn't creationism. My position is that there are various definitions of creationism and I prefer the definition that includes all believers in a Creator God.

The post prompted considerable discussion about the meaning of the word "creationism." There are many commentators who insist that Creationism means only one thing—a belief in Special Creation as described in the Bible.

Another Definition of Creationism

Some of my critics accuse me of "inventing" a new definition of creationism—one that's not found in standard dictionaries. They quote several dictionary sources that are similar to the one in the American Heritage Dictionary,
Creationism: Belief in the literal interpretation of the account of the creation of the universe and of all living things related in the Bible.
                        ...American Heritage Dictionary
Nobody denies that this is one of the definitions in common usage, especially in America. That's not the point. The point is rather that it's not the only definition and if you choose this one, as many people do, then you are obligated to make that clear. Those who claim that this is the only legitimate definition are wrong. Here's why.

When I open a page of Darwin I immediately sense that I have been ushered into the presence of a great mind. ... When I read Phillip Johnson, I feel that I have been ushered into the presence of a lawyer.

Richard Dawkins (1996)
Phillip Johnson is one of the founders of Intelligent Design Creationism. His position has been very clear from the beginning and it's a legitimate philosophical stance in spite of Dawkin's dislike of lawyers.

Johnson maintains that creationists are anyone who believes in a Creator and he rejects the narrow definition of Duane Gish and the Young Earth Creationists.
I am not interested in any claims that are based on a literal reading of the Bible, nor do I understand the concept of creation as narrowly as Duane Gish does. If an omnipotent Creator exists He might have created things instantaneously in a single week or through gradual evolution over billions of years. He might have employed means wholly inaccessible to science, or mechanisms that are at least in part understandable through scientific investigation.

The essential point of creation has nothing to do with the timing or the mechanism the Creator chose to employ, but with the element of design or purpose. In the broadest sense, a "creationist" is simply a person who believes that the world (and especially mankind) was designed and exists for a purpose. With the issue defined that way, the question becomes: Is mainstream science opposed to the possibility that the natural world was designed by a Creator for a purpose? Is so, on what basis?
                        Phillip Johnson (1993)
Johnson is attempting to draw a line between religion and science and between creationism and naturalism, where naturalism is defined as the belief that supernatural beings play no role in creating or maintaining the universe. In addition, Johnson maintains that evolution, properly understood, is entirely naturalistic and therefore inconsistent with a Creator. Thus, according to Johnson there is a sharp line between creationism and evolutionism. If you believe in a Creator, as all Christians do, then you cannot believe in evolution.

Ironically, Johnson's position is similar to that of many atheists a fact that has been gleefully pointed out by Theistic Evolutionists who want to distance themselves from both the philosophical naturalist position and the Young Earth Creationist position. In an earlier essay, I've tried to explain why this "middle ground" is an illusion ["Theistic Evolution: The Fallacy of the Middle Ground"].1

The broad definition of creationism is shared by many religious scholars who are unhappy with the narrow definition that's confined to a literal belief in the Bible. The position of the Roman Catholic Church, for example, is strongly in favor of a creationist viewpoint [Creation]. This is a view that's shared by many religious scientists as well. For example, Howard J. Van Till, a Professor of Physics and Astronomy (and an evolutionist) writes,
All Christians are authentic "creationists" in the full theological sense of that term. We are all committed to the biblically-informed and historic Christian doctrine of creation that affirms that everything that is not God is part of a creation that has being only because God has given it being and continues to sustain it. As a creation, the universe is neither a divine being nor a self-existent entity that has its being independent of divine creative action. This theological core of the doctrine of creation sets Judeo-Christian theism in bold distinction from both pantheism (all is God) and naturalism (all is nature).
                        Howard J. Van Till (1998)
Now, as it turns out, most of these theologians and scientists are perfectly aware of conflicting definitions of "creationism," which is why they take pains to define their terms. They don't want to cede to the religious right a perfectly good word that describes their belief in a Creator God. That's why Theodosius Dobzhansky says the following in his famous article Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution (1973).
I am a creationist and an evolutionist. Evolution is God's, or Nature's method of creation. Creation is not an event that happened in 4004 BC; it is a process that began some 10 billion years ago and is still under way.

In some cases, the stigma of Young Earth Creationism is too much to bear and scientists go out of their way to avoid the creationist label. This is explained by Francis Collins in his book The Language of God.
Few religious of scientific views can be neatly summed up in a single word. The application of misleading labels for particular perspectives has regularly muddied the debate between science and faith throughout the modern era. Nowhere is this more true than in the case of the "creationist" label, which has featured so prominently in the science-and-faith debates over the past century. Taken at face value, the term "creationist" would seem to imply the general perspective of one who argues for the existence of a God who was directly involved in the creation of the universe, In that broad sense. many deists and nearly all theists, including me, would need to count themselves as creationists.

Over the past century, however, the term "Creationist" has been hijacked (and capitalized) to apply to a very specific subset of such believers, specifically those who insist on a literal reading of Genesis 1 and 2 to describe the creation of the universe and the formation of life on earth.
                        Francis Collins (2006)
I still maintain that there are at least two definitions of creationism. The narrow definition, often referred to as Creationism with a capital "C" or Special Creationism, is widely accepted in American society. A recent survey reveals that 53% of Americans had heard of the term and, of those, 59% believed the narrow definition [Evolution and Creationism in Public Education].

The second definition is the broad definition that is frequently used in serious discussions about science and religion. I did not make it up. Whenever one attempts to comment on creationism it is incumbent upon the user to disclose the definition being used. In my case, I try to distinguish between the various forms of creationism by referring to Young Earth Creationism, Intelligent Design Creationism, etc. in order to avoid confusion.

One reason that it is appropriate for a Professor of Law to comment upon the philosophy of biology is that so many of the philosophers and biologists want to be litigators.
Phillip Johnson (1996)
Finally, it's worth noting that the definition of "creationism" is tied up with legal issues in the United states of America. In Edward v. Aguillard (1987) the plaintiffs were successful in overturning Lousiana's "Creationism Act" on the grounds that it promoted religion. In this case, the judge declared that, "The Act impermissibly endorses religion by advancing the religious belief that a supernatural being created humankind."

In Tammy Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al. Judge Jones listened to evidence presented by the plaintiffs that Intelligent Design was just another name for creationism. Since the teaching of creationism had already been declared religious, and illegal, it was important to define creationism in such as way as to include Intelligent Design.

The plaintiffs were successful. In his final ruling, Judge Jones said, "The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism." The legal definitions of creationism are interesting but they seem to have had little effect on the general public, many of whom continue to believe that the only legitimate definition of creationism is the one requiring a belief in the Biblical Genesis story.

Are Old Earth Creationists and Young Earth Creationists the only Kind of Creationists?

That's what some people are saying. In their criticism of me, some evolution defenders strongly imply that the only legitimate creationists are the Young Earth Creationists (YEC's) and the Old Earth Creationists (OEC's) who still follow the sequence of events in Genesis. They would agree that some Intelligent Design proponents are not creationists because they don't necessarily adopt a belief in the truth of Genesis.

Many would disagree and that's why you often hear people refer to Intelligent Design as Intelligent Design Creationism. There seems to be little doubt that the intelligent design movement grew out of the (capital C) Creationist movement in the 1980's. This has been well-documented by Barbara Forrest (left), most prominently at the Dover trial in 2005 and in a lengthy article in Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics (Forrest, 2001). In that article she examines the strategy of the Discovery Institute's Center for Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC)2 and concludes that it is stealth creationism in spite of what its proponents might claim. The goal of Intelligent Design Creationists is to make creationism more acceptable by introducing it on university campuses. This is part of the wedge strategy.
The accomplishment of these goals is especially important to the CRSC's strategy to advance their brand of creationism; indeed, it is critical because they are the only creationists who stand a chance of pulling it off. The old-style creationism represented by Henry Morris, Duane Gish, and others is unlikely to be tolerated on mainstream campuses, even religious ones like Baylor. The CRSC creationists have taken the time and trouble to acquire legitimate degrees, providing them a degree of cover both while they are students and after they join the university faculties.
Whether you agree with the very broad definition of creationism or not, you are being incredibly naive if you think that Intelligent Design isn't creationism. There's more to creationism than just YEC's and OEC's.

Robert T. Pennock, a philosopher at Michigan State University and a leading opponent of Intelligent Design Creationism testified at the Dover trial that intelligent design was just warmed-over creationism—using a broad definition of creationism that equates it to religion. For Pennock, one of the defining tenets of creationism is the rejection of evolution, or at least some forms of evolution. He also tends to agree with Johnson that any belief in a Creator is a form of creationism. (He does not agree that evolution is incompatible with creationism.)

No attempt to discuss creationism would be complete without looking at the work done by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). Eugenie Scott, the Executive Director of NCSE, has published several articles on the subject and has published a book called Evolution vs. Creationism. Let's look at the Creation/Evolution Continuum published by NCSE and see how it conforms to various definitions of creationism.

Before starting, let me say that the distinction between "creationism" on the one hand and "evolution" on the other seems strained to me. It has led to much confusion—I have contributed to some of it. It would be far better to make the extremes "creationism" and "naturalism" since what we are usually looking at it is a continuum representing the strength of belief in God.

Nevertheless, you can see from the diagram that Eugenie Scott and NCSE recognize many different degrees of creationism ranging from the most extreme examples, such as Young Earth Creationism, down to far less extreme examples such as Evolutionary Creationism. She does not recognize Theistic Evolutionism as a version of creationsm: instead, she refers to it as "the theological view in which God creates through the laws of nature" (Scott, 2004). To me this is a quibble. I include Theistic Evolution as a form of creationism in the same sense as Theistic Evolutionists Francis Collins and Theodosius Dobzhansky (see above).

Intelligent Design Creationism covers a range of views as indicated on the graph.

The dotted line represents the split between literal belief in the Bible and a more liberal interpretation of scripture. This is the dividing line between (captial C) Creationsm or Special Creationism and other forms of creationism. To many people it is the difference between "creationism" (top) and something that is not creationism (bottom). (What is that something below the line? It appears to represent belief in a Creator God and a partial rejection of the full implications of evolution while studiously avoiding the creationist label. Are they Creator Godists?) I find it hard to justify that particular definition of creationism but as long as its proponents make their preference known it shouldn't be a problem. Naturally, the rest of us don't have to agree.

Here's the version I prefer [The Fallacy of the Continuum]. It shows a continuum leading from extreme biblical literalism up to the most wishy-washy attempt to reconcile science and religion.

Then the continuum stops and there's a sharp break between superstition and rationalism. Everyone who believes in a creator god is above the breakpoint and is a creationist of some sort or another. Everyone below the breakpoint is an atheist and accepts a god-free, scientific, version of evolution.

Is the Broad Definition of Creationist Just a Cute Rhetorical Trick?

I'm accused of using the broad definition as a "rhetorical trick" to tarnish the theists who reject a literal belief in the Bible. This reminds me of a similar accusation from Bill Dembski as reported by Robert Pennock (2000).

Dembski chides me for never using the term "intelligent design" without conjoining it to "creationism." He implies (though never explicitly asserts) that he and others in the movement are not creationists and that it is incorrect to discuss them in such terms, suggesting that doing so is merely a rhetorical ploy to "rally the troops."
Pennock goes on to demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that Dembski is a creationist by the broad definition.

I don't resort to the cheap trick of using the word "creationist" as a pejorative label. I use "IDiots" for that purpose. Whenever I refer to creationists I qualify it with other descriptors such as Young Earth Creationism or Intelligent design Creationism. If I'm trying to make an important point about religion and science then I try and make it clear that I'm using a broad definition of creationism.

Some atheists attack me for using the word "creationst." This falls into the category of accommodationism. They think it's insulting to theists to be called creationists. My position is that Theistic Evolutionists are trying to pull the wool over our eyes by distancing themselves from the fringe creationists while allying themselves with the atheist evolutionists. When I say that theists are creationists I mean that in the same sense as many other theists such as Dobzhansky and Van Till (and the Pope). I do it in order to emphasize the fact that they do believe in a Creator God even though they accept most of the scientific evidence for evolution and common descent. It's not a rhetorical trick. I'm being as open and obvious as I can be.

I hope I've demonstrated to your satisfaction that there is a legitimate second definition of "creationism" that's used by people who call themselves creationists. I didn't make it up and it's not political.

I do not put down theists by calling them Young Earth Creationists—the only kind of creationists some people recognize. If I'm putting down theists I do it very openly by criticizing their belief in a Creator God in spite of the fact that they accept most of science. I fail to see why Ken Miller would be upset if I "accused" him of believing in a Creator God. He doesn't disguise this fact in his book (Miller, 1999).
As a scientist, I know very well that the earth is billions of years old and that the appearance of living organisms was not sudden, but gradual. As a Christian, I believe that Genesis is a true account of the way in which God's relationship with the world was formed. And as a human being, I find value in both descriptions. In order to reveal Himself to a desert tribe six thousand years ago, a Creator could hardly have lectured them about DNA and RNA, about gene duplication and allopatric speciation, He spoke to them in the direct and lyrical language of Genesis.
Wouldn't it be fun if God came back to visit us and gave us a lecture about gene duplication and allopatric speciation? I'd pay to hear that although I'd probably wonder if he/she/it/they wasn't just pulling our legs in the same way he/she/it/they did with the desert tribe 3000 years ago.

1. That essay needs to be undated. I no longer believe some of things I wrote nine years ago.

2. Now called just Center for Science and Culture (CSC)

Collins, F. (2006) The Language of God. Free Press, New York (USA).

Dawkins, R. (1996) Reply to Phillip Johnson. Biology & Philosophy 11:539-540. reprinted in Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics Robert T. Pennock ed. MIT Press, Cambridge MA (USA) (2001).

Johnson, Phillip (1993) Darwin on Trial Regnery Gateway, Washington DC (USA).

Johnson, P. (1996) Response to Pennock. Biology & Philosophy 11:561-563. reprinted in Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics Robert T. Pennock ed. MIT Press, Cambridge MA (USA) (2001).

Scott, E. (2004) Evolution vs. Creationism. University of California Press, Berkeley CA (USA).

Van Till, H. J. (1998) The Creation: Intelligently Designed or Optimally Equipped? Theology Today 55:344-364. reprinted in Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics Robert T. Pennock ed. MIT Press, Cambridge MA (USA) (2001).


  1. Ken Miller at one time believed that the evolution of humans was preordained by god. He now seems to have backed off on that, now, apparently claiming that the evolution of intelligent self aware animals was preordained by god.

    In this regard, theist David Heddle, a professor of physics at Christopher Newport University, once replied to me when I pointed out that the asteroid that eliminated the dinosaurs was a necessary condition for the assent of humans, at least at the current time and that therefore, god had to have been responsible. He cheerfully responded that, indeed, IHHO, god sent the asteroid.

    1. I was thinking of something along these lines when I read Finding Darwin's God years ago. It seemed that Miller's view of the workings of the universe was identical to any atheist, yet he seemed to believe that somehow God was watching over us. I would have loved to have asked him if it was possible for a large asteroid to hit the earth in the near future and wipe out all life. I have a feeling he would have said 'no'. In the more sophisticated versions of this view we'd never be able to detect God's presence. We'd never see a large asteroid headed towards us get mysteriously deflected. It would just be the case that there are no large asteroids on a collision course...and no Gamma Ray Burstars pointed at us. Whatever tweaking God did to protect us would be impossible in principle to detect.

    2. I would use the asteroid timing to argue against the likelihood we will find human-like intelligence elsewhere in the universe. I don't see that it can be used to argue for or against a Deistic theology.

    3. If one claims that humans evolved but that was predetermined or directly guided by God, then that is creationism, except in some very convoluted and twisted scenarios that nobody really believes in any way.

      Because you might be accepting that fact of evolution, but you are rejecting the theory -- all that stuff about random (if biased) mutations, random segregation of gametes, population genetics, etc. has to be false, even if it appears true to us. Of course, that does not mean that it isn't false, it could indeed be that a deity did it in a subtle way ad his actions are forever hidden from us. But the epistemological problems with such a proposition are obvious.

    4. With RMNS sims like Avida running, I cannot understand why a competent biologist would be enamored of guided evolution.

  2. I don't think your continuum reflects the possibility that a creationist (by your definition)can fully accept evolution. This would be the case if they believed a creator god created the universe from scratch but then let everything unfold on its own, with no input whatsoever. I can't imagine that a religionist would find this very satisfying but it has the virtue of not directly contradicting the scientific evidence ( from biology at least )

    1. Things get complicated when some physicists assert that spacetime could be a two dimensional hologram. Such a view implies that past, present and future are not what we intuitively perceive them to be.

    2. That philosophy is known as Deism, which isn't to popular amongst theists these days. Einstein and possibly Darwin were Deists.

  3. I mean this with no disrespect so please don't attack me. There are plenty of very intelligent people who comment on this blog. For the life of me I can't understand why so much time is spent discussing creationism. What is the end game? You've all obviously studied your craft thoroughly, why spend the time on this? Again I mean no disrespect, if I'm being honest most believers don't really care about this debate. If this blog could achieve one thing, what would you wish that to be? Thanks for your answers in advance.

    1. Because evolution isn't being taught in high school, and creationists are the reason.

      My high school biology textbook had no mention of evolution or biological change.

      That was a few decades ago, but my kids weren't taught about evolution either.

    2. If this blog could achieve one thing, what would you wish that to be? Thanks for your answers in advance.

      I would like to convince most people that creationists don't understand science or that they are lying. It's important for people to understand that there's no scientific evidence that supports creationism and that evolution is true no matter what their religion tells them.

      Again I mean no disrespect, if I'm being honest most believers don't really care about this debate.

      That's part of the problem. It's time for believers to start caring. It's time for them to start questioning politicians who deny science.

    3. OK, somewhat off topic. But, in arguing with creationists, I often try a non-insulting stance. I note that they very heavily cite and hyperlink creationists who are not scientists at all (Kent Hovind, Ken Ham, Casey Luskin etc.) and I point out that they have total, absolute trust that these authorities, who share their religious beliefs, are relating accurate scientific facts. And I go to great lengths to challenge and refute the "facts" their trusted authorities told them.

      And I end it, not by insulting my creationist interlocutor, but by saying to them, "Why do you trust these scientific authorities? They lied to you; why do you keep trusting them?"

      See, this is a very non-insulting debate tactic. I'm often accused of insulting creationists too much, and I'm told that not insulting them would be a better strategy. But you can see that the tactic above involves no insult to the creationist, but rather the concern that they trust charlatans too much, and have been misled.

      And guess what? It doesn't work. No creationist I've ever argued with has ever come to doubt that maybe he trusted untrustworthy sources for his science "facts."

      I'm told all the time that not insulting creationists is a good strategy, but here, this is the most non-insulting strategy I know... and it doesn't work.

      So, why?

      I've got a hypothesis why. My hypothesis is that activist creationists, and conservative Christian activists in general, are motivated by insecurity. They feel their religious authorities (pastors, bishops, theologians or whoever) should naturally be acknowledged by all as our moral and intellectual superiors-- that's the natural state of civilization, and that's how it was, supposedly, back in the (unspecified era) "Good Old Days."

      The moral and intellectual superiority of their religious big shots should be the natural state, but it's not-- conservative Christians rail on and on about how religious fanatics are perceived as uneducated, not as smart, etc. And this really bugs them, it makes them anxious and insecure.

      But creationist "facts" make them slightly less insecure, if only for a few minutes. Even if the creationist "facts" obviously contradict each other ("any change in the laws of physics makes life impossible, therefore the laws of physics are fine-tuned to be friendly for life", "the laws of physics make it impossible for life to ever appear from non-life, without violating natural laws", "God changed radioactive decay physics by a factor of 1 billion during Noah's Flood and the people on the Ark didn't notice", etc.)

      But after a few minutes, the creationist feels insecure again, and he needs another hit of creationist "facts", like crack cocaine.

      So conservative Christians are using a temporary reduction in cultural insecurity as a substitute for scientific knowledge and insecurity. If their creationist big shots, like Stephen Meyer or Ken Ham, are caught lying outright about scientific facts-- if we go to great lengths to show their "facts" are made up-- it still counts as "truth" to creationists, because creationists define "truth" as anything which makes them feel less culturally insecure, even if it is only temporary.

    4. For the life of me I can't understand why so much time is spent discussing creationism.

      I'd much rather discuss science, but the subject keeps coming up. Ask KevNick, Septic Mind, etc. what they are here for.

    5. Piotr, that's a fair question. I think many Christians have lost the essence of biblical teaching while fighting this battle. While their intentions may be for the good of believers I'm not sure that's the end result many times.

    6. It's likely Dr. Moran feels confronting myth, untruth and very bad science or non-science is the best way (or at least a good way) to promote good science.

      I personally tend to respond more (that is, I tend to attain more personal enjoyment and fascination) when simply learning about good science, that is, just going straight to the good stuff rather than pausing to do battle with the bad stuff first. I think "The poor [scientists] you will always have with you," and thus feel it may be a waste of time to continually be involved in argument with them.

      On the other hand, (1) Here I am commenting on this blog post, and (2) Dr. Moran's posts confronting bad science tend to get many more responses than those presenting good science.

    7. KevNick,

      I didn't mean discussing science with a semi-literate idiot like you.

    8. Piotr G,

      I have many, many other scientific questions I WILL ASK YOU....

      As a paper-pusher, why do you think you are qualified even to pretend to be an authority in a scientific debate?

    9. BTW: I wrote my last comment at 6:50. You had written you comment at 6:49. Just look at the content....

      Should I write a comment for the incoherent ones to get the point? Or is Piotr G. obvious and deepening cowardice good enough?

    10. KevNick,

      If only you knew how ignorant and deeply stupid your comments show you to be. Man you would never come back out of shame.

      Nobody is afraid of you or your "questions" KevNick. We've just learned that you're too ignorant and stupid to understand any answers, and too much of a hypocrite. You never even try understanding.

  4. Why not be courteous? Instead of calling them "creationists", call them what they call themselves: "cdesign proponentsists". Then everyone will be happy, or so I suppose.

    1. cdesign proponentsists

      To my mind, this is the short answer to the question. Leading Intelligent Design proponents felt a text written to support "scientific creationism" worked perfectly well as a text for the teaching of Intelligent Design. Therefore, the two are equivalent. QED.

    2. In fact, I'm going to stop calling them IDiots and go with "cdesign proponentsists" exclusively from now on. The only drawback is that autocorrect refuses to believe that "cdesign" is a word.

  5. Larry

    I'm glad you brought that subject up because just recently at the family reunion we were arguing about the theme. Unfortunately we could not agree on the term of definition of "creationism". This issue/term is just as difficult to define as life itself, I've found.

  6. Here is one of the questions/arguments:

    Do you have to be a Christian or a Jew to be creationist?

    1. Do you have to be a Christian or a Jew to be creationist?

      Since there are literally billions of non-Christian, non-Jewish people living in the world today who believe in a creator God or gods, plus billions more through history (including prior to the existence of Judaism and/or Christianity), I'm rather amazed anyone could not know the answer to this question is "Of course not."

  7. ID is just creationism in a very shabby cloak. And I suspect, although it's difficult to prove, that a lot of IDiots are just using it as a Trojan Horse. The more acceptance ID gets, the less they will refer to it.

    Dave Bailey

  8. WOW> The longest intro ever and all about the obvious.
    Mankind always said a being created the world etc and most still say that today.
    There is opposition and so there is a reaction. Creationist as a term only exists to assert that a creator, thinking being invisable, created some, most, or all of the universe.
    Then that the evidence of this is in the visible nature and assertions and defence are made.
    Since its a intellectual discussion on nature then indeed a single word does not profile accurately until everyone knows its a general term.
    Creationist does mean to many YEC only. Yes some naughty evolutionist defenders use it to tar non YEC creationists. being YEC i say they should be proud even if not YEC. WE are the real threat in numbers and persuading others. ID is for the very educated/interested people.

    Yes creationist, meaning yec, is used as a slur but the modern creationism movement is so famous so quick that the slur concept is vanishing.

    by the way. if some goof ball judge says teaching God created the universe is impermissible religious doctrine then tell same judge that not teaching it IS JUST AS MUCH a state opinion that GOD didn't created the universe SINCE the subject of origin of it and so the truth are being interfered with by the state censorship law.
    Think it through better Yanks. I know Canada is just as bad but we have no heritage of the people keeping a eye on thier leaders. WE still trust our British masters.

  9. What makes young earth creationists and old earth creationists creationists, and theistic evolutionists evolutionists? The former invoke miraculous special creation to explain biology, the latter don't. I think this is the key distinction that people are fighting about in the creation/evolution wars. And it's also what Darwin meant when he defined the term creationist in this context - "atoms flashed into living tissue" or some such. So that's the best definition, although obviously it has other uses. I wrote this up in more detail in a 2010 EEO article.

    1. How are (the vast majority of) theistic evolutionists not proposing miraculous special creation?

      They differ on the mechanisms, but not on the main point.

    2. They dont think species, or phyla, or organisms, or flagella or whatever, or genes, were created by divine miracles. The ID people and the other creationists do. That's a big difference IMHO.

    3. How are (the vast majority of) theistic evolutionists not proposing miraculous special creation?

      There is a continuum here as well, from those who propose miraculous general creation at the origin of life to "divine interventionists" who think than a supernatural agent has been supervising evolution ever since to make sure that it eventually generates intelligent beings to whom immaterial and immortal souls can be given.

    4. NickM said:

      "What makes young earth creationists and old earth creationists creationists, and theistic evolutionists evolutionists? The former invoke miraculous special creation to explain biology, the latter don't."

      From what I've seen, so-called "theistic evolutionists" do believe and assert that their chosen, so-called 'God' did create the universe, life/biology/evolution, and whatever other particulars are convenient to their religious beliefs.

      The main difference between so-called "theistic evolutionists" and IDiot-creationists, for example, appears to be that IDiot-creationists believe and assert that their chosen 'designer-creator-assembler-guider' (i.e. 'God') has and will continue to design-create-assemble-guide the universe, life/biology, and whatever other particulars are convenient to their beliefs, while so-called "theistic evolutionists" are basically pushers of original creation and front-loading by their chosen, so-called 'God' but not necessarily any designing-creating-assembling-guiding by 'God' since then, although some of the TEs apparently keep that option open.

      The thing is, what "theistic evolutionists", IDiot-creationists, and other creationists believe and push is extremely variable and often inconsistent with the standards (pfft)) of their 'official' claims. For example, some IDiot-creationists push their own version of front-loading (e.g. joe g).

      Ultimately, they all believe in and push a supernatural-creator-god (aka designer, etc.) and associated fairy tales of some sort (whether they'll admit it or not). The details of 'creation' beliefs vary widely (OEC, YEC, etc., etc., etc.) but they're all still creationists, and in my opinion none of them actually accept that evolution has occurred and occurs as put forth by evolutionary theory. There's no 'God' in evolutionary theory and trying to add one (or more) in any way is a religious-creationist agenda.

    5. In a way, the ID, YEC and OEC versions of creationism are actually more coherent than the evolutionary creationism/theistic evolution version, in that the latter accepts all the naturalistic processes that science reveals to have occurred, but adds a disclaimer that these are all really supernatural miracles in some way. I don't really see how that makes internal sense.

    6. It doesn't. It's a form of cognitivie dissonance -- the kind of internal inconsistency we humans are rather good at living with.

    7. They dont think species, or phyla, or organisms, or flagella or whatever, or genes, were created by divine miracles. The ID people and the other creationists do. That's a big difference IMHO.

      1) Do the ID people think that? I don't think all of them think that about all organisms

      2) Nobody really thinks about the details here, but it's actually really hard to make up scenarios in which it was only a subset of organisms that was designed/front-loaded. Species do not exist in isolation, after all, and what evolves in some branch
      of the tree/forest/web of life can have profound consequences for everything else. For example, if you claim that the appearance of humans was inevitable, then that means the appearance of a many other groups is inevitable too (for example, at very broad level, the archaea, alpha-proteobacteria, green algae, land plants, etc.).

      3) The reason nobody really thinks about the details is that in fact nobody cares about anything else but human evolution. That's the only thing that really matters. And the difference with respect to it between the various strands of creationism/ID/TE is not that significant.

      That's even more true (that it's the only thing that matters) in practice. There is the intellectual argument, but there are also the real-world implications of how we think of ourselves and our place in the universe (and no, gay marriage and other fashionable social justice topics are not at all important here, the stakes are much bigger), something that if we do not get right, threatens our very survival on this planet. When it comes to this question, TE is just as bad as YEC, because it imposes the same insurmountable barrier to the much needed rethinking of what it means to be human

    8. Looking at a slightly lower level of turtles:

      Neither front loading nor any version of theistic evolution that has the deity starting things off because He, being omniscient, knows where they will wind up, could possibly make sense once quantum physics is conceded to exist. No, I'm not talking about some New Age bowdlerization of the Uncertainty Theorem, but about the actual Uncertainty Theorem and the quantum/stochastic nature of radiation, which plays a role in mutation. This disallows any long term predictability to evolution at the most fundamental level of the way the universe works.

      Of course there are all the contingencies involved in the history of life on earth, but perhaps someone might want to claim a deity could have foreseen all that. The fact that physics is quantum means even if one would posit a Creator for the universe, that Creator structured it to work in such a way that events within it were fundamentally not foreseeable.

    9. Quantum mechanics and population genetics.

      Factors like what is the probability of fixation of a newly arisen mutation even if it's beneficial, and what is the relative importance of drift and selection in macroscopic vs microscopic organisms (broadly divided, there are many subtleties of course)

    10. For all we know, maybe reality is classical and deterministic and quantum uncertainty just represents our detection limit. This would make the future not forseeable by humans, but forseeable by God. A totally different possibility is that God decides some/all quantum events. Or, some theists like Ken Miller endorse true randomness. I don't think there's a whit of evidence for any of this, but it's not contradicted by data either.

    11. It's not impossible.

      But then population genetics is false, because its equations assume random mutations and random sorting. And then evolutionary theory is wrong too.

      The only way around that is to propose that humans were not an inevitable predetermined outcome of the process of cosmic evolution, and there are some versions of the deity that can make such a scheme work. But that's not the Christian/Jewish/Muslim God. It's something else.

    12. All of the interpretations above are consistent with statistical randomness, and thus with the equations of population genetics etc. But statistical randomness does not necessarily mean metaphysical randomness. Confusing the two is forcing religious opinions and metaphysics into science. (Just as endorsing one of the theist views of chance, as a scientific view as a scientific view, would be. Ken Miller always makes it clear he doesn't think his theist interpretations should be part of science.)

      Heck, all statistical randomness in an equation means is that whatever process that is under consideration can be reasonably modeled as a random process. Typically there actually are known proximate causes that are deterministic rather than random. We know several causes for speciation, but when we estimate speciation/extinction models, we treat speciation as a random process that occurs stochastically at some rate, just like radioactive decay events. Similarly for mutations: we know the causes of mutations, they are not in fact "random" in the sense of having no proximate cause. We just model them as happening at some rate because we can't trace the exact chemistry in detail in every cell in every organism at once.

    13. That is the stock answer, I am familiar with it.


      1) I know that's not a popular position, but really there is a lot less distinction between physics and metaphysics than people think.

      2) Statistical randomness is not really "just a model", it follows from what we know about how inheritance works and is true with respect to what we care about here -- the content of chromosomes. If some deity is secretly rigging up everything then what we know is wrong and there is nothing "metaphysical" about that. A key part of the theory is that these things happen with no foresight with respect to what happens later. That would be false if a deity was driving the process. So I don't see how invoking divine action is not equivalent to rejecting the theory.

      P.S. The statement that all mutations have an unbroken chain of causation down to the origin of the universe is not necessarily true, in fact it's most likely false. That is what one needs to be propose under the front-loading scenario. The main alternative to that is direct divine intervention to insert specific mutations into genomes and then drive them to fixation (the latter is frequently ignored but the probability of fixation for newly arisen mutations, even if highly beneficial is actually quite small; so there will have to be not just a lot of designed mutations but probably also a lot of specified fixations). But both of these are basically indistinguishable from ID.