Creationism and Truth
Opinion; Posted on: 2006-10-05 13:48:31
Christians abroad don't share literalist beliefs popular in U.S.
by Richard Forrest (pictured)
I don't like the term "evolutionist" - would you call a physicist a 'graviationist', or a "weak nuclear force-ist"? I'm a vertebrate palaeontologist, and evolution is an enormously robust theory without which it is virtually impossible to make sense of any of the observations I make in my field. To ask a vertebrate palaeontologist to operate without the underlying principle of evolution is equivalent to asking the designer of a space probe to ignore the effects of gravity in calculating the trajectory of a rocket.
I am not averse to engaging in debate with creationists. I won't call them "scientific creationists" - what they represent has little to do with science. It is as a simple matter of definition that if you start an investigation stating that anything you discover can only be explained in terms of a literal interpretation of the Bible, it isn't science. I live and work in the UK, where creationism is not much of an issue. The situation is very different in the USA. Although it is easy as a European to laugh in a smugly superior way at the antics of the Americans, I think it is a mistake to do so. The growing political influence of Christian fundamentalists in the US, who are closely associated with creationists, is a threat to the rest of the world. Their agenda includes the strict censorship of science as taught in American schools, and the idea of a scientifically illiterate America dominated by religious fundamentalists fills me with horror.
My main objection to the backers of creationism, in particular those who write the books and pamphlets which proselytize the faith (for that is all it is), is that they show a complete lack of honesty in propagating their arguments. It seems not to matter that the arguments they are using have been shown over and over again to be based on invalid data, misconceptions, misquotations and forgeries. They still use arguments current over a hundred years ago, now thoroughly discredited. It may be that they do so from ignorance - which is hardly an excuse - but it seems more likely that it is done with the deliberate intent to deceive. If this is the case, it reflects poorly on their moral character.
One of the most objectionable falsehoods peddled by creationists is that it is impossible to be a Christian and the accept evolutionary theory. This is untrue. The great majority of Christians have no difficulty in accepting the observable fact of evolution. Outside the USA it is only a small "lunatic fringe" who adhere to the creationist view. To most Christians in the rest of the world, the adherence of so many Americans to this notion is a source of bewilderment, especially as so many of its most prominent proponents come across as little more that bombastic charlatans.
If you are a creationist you should consider carefully the following passage from Steve Jones' excellent book Almost like a Whale which presents the science/faith dilemma more clearly than I could:
"To deny truth on grounds of faith alone debases both science and religion. This point was made by Galileo himself. Summoned to explain his views, and their conflict with Scripture, he argued that the Church had no choice but to agree with the discoveries of science. It would, he said be 'a terrible detriment for the soul if people found themselves convinced by proof of something that it was made a sin to believe.' Creationists have not yet faced that fact."
( http://www.nationalvanguard.org/story.php?id=10287 )
National Vanguard • Box 5145 • Charlottesville • VA 22905 • USA