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FAQ - Creationist Claims (mainly YEC)





Bikerman
Creationist Claims
For the benefit of readers, I have compiled a list of some of the more common creationist claims made in forums like this, together with links or information which debunks the specific claim.
Most of these claims are advanced by those who believe in a 'young earth' - ie that the Earth was created a few thousand yrs ago according to Genesis - but they also occasionally surface from others.

This will save me having to repeat myself over and over in threads where these allegations/claims are frequently made. I will add to the list as specific claims arise that qualify as 'oft repeated creationist propaganda/misrepresentation'.

For a comprehensive resource, dealing with all major creationist/ID claims, click HERE


1. A large number of scientists question evolution

Around 5% of US scientists & engineers are creationists (Robinson 1995, Witham 1997). This includes those working in fields not related to life origins (such as computer scientists, mechanical engineers, etc.). If we count only those working in the relevant fields - earth and life sciences - there are about 480,000 scientists in the US, of whom around 700 consider "creation-science" (or ID) to be a valid theory (Robinson 1995).
In other words less than 0.15% of relevant scientists believe that creationism is valid. Note that this is just for the United States, which has more creationists than any other western democracy. In other countries, the number of relevant scientists who accept creationism drops to less than 0.1% - one tenth of 1 percent.

Regarding scientists as a whole, the major problem is that this normally includes engineers, IT experts and other non-science workers, so it is difficult to be accurate. What can be said with total confidence is that scientists tend to be less religious than the population as a whole - usually significantly less.
The following stats are for the US - the most religious country in the 'developed west'.



2. Intelligent Design is not religious and/or ID is scientific.

1. ID is not science. It is entirely religious in origin and outlook. The ID movement is modern and was started in the 1980s by Phillip Johnson (a lawyer, not a scientist).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design_movement
2. On the claim that ID is not religious, This is a lie designed to hide the creationist origins of the movement and thus allow ID to be introduced into the school curriculum without falling foul of the US Constitution which maintains a separation of state and religion. One of the founders of the movement - Phillip Johnson - said the following
Quote:
There's a difference of opinion about how important this debate [advocating intelligent design] is. What I always say is that it's not just scientific theory. The question is best understood as: Is God real or imaginary?
(Phillip Johnson, "The Search for Intelligent Design in the Universe", Silicon Valley Magazine, 9 Jan. 2000.)


3. Evolution is just a theory.

No, evolution is a theory, not 'just' a theory. The claim reveals the ignorance of the claimant about the meaning of the word 'theory' in science. It does not mean 'best guess' or 'approximation', it means the best available model which is consistent with observations/measurements.
Gravitation is a theory, all knowledge in science is expressed as theory - it does not imply, in any way, that the theory concerned is dubious, inaccurate or wrong. Scientific theory only becomes so when it has undergone rigorous attempts to destroy it by other scientists. This process continues throughout the lifetime of any theory, so a theory which survives for any period of time is very likely to be extremely solidly based and certainly the best currently available explanation. Any predictions of the theory can be understood to be valid, since they will have been tested many many times by scientists looking for the slightest deviation or anomoly. It is important to realise that science progresses by changing existing theory. In very rare circumstances the existing theory might be found to be simply wrong - but I cannot honestly think of such an occasion in the last century. What nearly always happens is that it is found to be incomplete, or part of a broader theory, and later scientists add to the theory, changing or discarding anything which can be improved or refuted. Thus the current modern evolutionary synthesis (the rather pompous name given to the theory as it currently stands) looks very different to Darwin's original proposal in 'On the Origin of Species'. The essential mechanism of natural selection, however, is still at the heart of evolutionary theory and is not seriously in doubt.

The following video is a presentation of the overwhelming evidence for evolution, given by a biologist working in the field - Dr. Jerry Coin.


4. Scientists cannot prove that God does not exist.

This compounds basic ignorance of science with a dishonest appeal to fallacy of false choice/false dilemma (ie if you cannot disprove X then X must be true).
Science does not deal with proof - mathematics is the correct discpline for proofs. Scence deals with theories, always!

The silliness of this whole line of argument is probably best illustrated by reference to the Invisible Pink Unicorn. IPU is both Pink and Invisible at the same time. Because this is impossible, this proves she must be divine. Since nobody can prove that she does not exist, then it follows that she DOES exist.
QED.

5. Science is not common-sense and is therefore questionable.

This is not so much a statement as a general theme used by creationists. They play on the fact that the 'man in the street' doesn't understand relativity, or quantum physics, and use this to assert that such things are just invention, or wild guesses.
The best way to illustrate how wrong this is by providing the comments of a Physicist (De-Grasse Tyson) explaining why science has not been 'common-sense' for the last century.
Click HERE to load audio

Below are a series of YouTube videos which debunk the claims of creationists in some detail.
Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism
Why do people laugh at creationists?
Bikerman
An issue which seems to crop up more than any other is a definitional issue - specifically the definitions of atheism and agnosticism.
Because some of us are getting tired of correcting mistakes on this, I have composed this sticky to which I will now refer people.

Atheism - lack of belief in God(s) (NF)*
Agnosticism - the position that the existence of God(s) cannot be proven or disproven (NF)
Theism - belief in personal God(s) - ie God(s) who concern themselves with the affairs of humanity. (F)
Deism - belief in a creator God which does not intervene in the natural world. (F)

Further:
Strong atheism - the certainty/assertion that God(s) does/do not exist (F)
Strong agnosticism - the belief that it will never be possible to prove/disprove the existence of God(s) (F)

Note that agnosticism is not exclusive of theism/atheism. In other words one can be an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist.

* F - faith position NF - non-faith position.
A faith position is one which relies on belief without, or even in spite of, evidence.
Indi
Code:
            Agnostic
               ^
        1      |     2
               |
               |
               |
Theist <-------+-------> Atheist
               |
               |
               |
        3      |     4
               v
          Non-agnostic


1.) Agnostic theist: "I don't think it is possible to prove God exists. I believe by faith."
2.) Agnostic atheist: "I don't think it is possible to prove God exists. I am not convinced he does."
3.) Non-agnostic theist: "It is possible to prove God exists. I believe God exists."
4.) Non-agnostic atheist: "It is possible to prove God exists. I haven't seen that proof yet."
Bikerman
(Taken from a posting by Indi in the forum)

  • Pretty much everyone was a young-Earth creationist (not a "Young-Earth Creationist") up until the early 18th century. ~6,000 years was pretty much universally accepted as the age of the Earth, whether you were Christian or not (which would have usually meant Deist, at the time). Basically, back then, if you weren't a young-Earther with a ~6,000 year estimate, you were probably claiming the Earth was infinitely old, though that idea fell out of favour before the Dark Ages. But there was really no one claiming millions or billions of years.
  • In the late-17th - the dawn of the Enlightenment - Deists started looking for naturalistic explanations for Biblical miracles, but the Bible was still considered to be a history book, and age estimates of ~6,000 years were still just accepted as given.
  • Geology and paleontology were invented in the late-17th/early-18th.
  • People started to streeeeeetch the assumed age of the Earth in the early-18th to explain the fossils. Estimates started to grow from 6,000 years to 10,000 and 20,000, sometimes even up to 100,000, but Genesis was still considered a reliable source. The new science of geology seemed to support the flood myth.
  • Gap creationism is proposed in the early-mid-18th to explain the disparities between geology and Genesis, and starts to gain ground.
  • The first people pushing a really old-Earth start to appear in the mid-18th, like Hutton (a gap creationist), talking tens of millions of years. Beno๎t de Maillet, using geological evidence, actually claimed that the Earth was 2.4 billion years-old.
  • As the estimates of the age start ballooning, the first people trying to provide scientific evidence against an old Earth start doing thermodynamics in the mid-18th to prove the Earth can't be older than a couple dozen million years, tops.
  • The first people start proposing an actual naturalistic mechanism for the creation of the Earth appear in the mid-18th - like Kant, proposing the Earth coalesced from dust.
  • At the end of the 18th century, Laplace makes the first clear scientific hypothesis for the formation of the Sun, Earth and Solar System, explaining so much - why the planets are all in a plane, why they all orbit the same way, etc. - that it quickly becomes scientific consensus. This is the first time Genesis has been seriously challenged, but the evidence is still all circumstantial.
  • Because now it is not just necessary to explain the Earth's old age, but also the length of time it must have taken to form, day-age creationism is proposed in the early 19th. It quickly starts to supplant gap creationism.
  • Mid-19th. Darwin. Nuff said. For the first time in human history, there are coherent hypotheses covering every angle of old-Earth ideas. All of the evidence is still circumstantial, but there's a shit-ton of it now, and growing fast.
  • In the late-19th, the intelligent people are arguing between tens of millions of years (the upper limit set by thermodynamics) and hundreds of millions or possibly billions (needed by evolution). Day-age creationism is still widely popular, but a new breed of scientific-minded people are gaining ground. Their view is that the universe is just eternal; the Earth was not eternal, but it was old (tens or hundreds of millions of years at least, though they were wary of going much older) - formed from space dust, and at some point, it would become space dust again and eventually the space dust would reform a new world or star, and so on ad infinitum.
  • At the end of the 19th, radiation was discovered. Suddenly, the upper limit set by thermodynamics was blown off. Consensus (among intelligent people) swung quickly away from (day-age) creationism to science. People started tossing estimates around like de Maillet's 2 billion years.
  • In the 1910s, radiometric dating was discovered. The deal was almost sealed for science. The only remaining problem was the age of the Sun, which - without understanding nuclear fusion - upper limits put at only a few hundred million years. All creationism was now fringe. Genesis is no longer taken seriously at all.
  • The first modern creationist push-back begins in the US in the 1920s. The movement is mostly stubborn day-age creationists, pissy and upset that they're being squeezed out of the halls of reason in favour of the 4 billion year-old Earth and the modern evolutionary synthesis, but there is an extremist fringe featuring a new brand of Young-Earth Creationist - they are not taken seriously.
  • In the 1930s, nuclear fusion is understood. The age of the Earth is without any remaining scientific challenge. (Also in the 1930s, the Big Bang Theory is now proposed, which challenges the scientific consensus that the universe is eternal. Although the Big Bang Theory would not be seriously accepted until at least the 1950s, its estimates - using Hubble's measurements - already asserted that the universe was more than old enough.)
  • By the 1960s, the generation of stubborn day-age creationists were dead, and a whole new generation had grown up knowing Darwin and Einstein and radiometric dating, and the evidence had sealed the Big Bang Theory and the age of the universe. Finally all of this stuff becomes mainstream, and is taught in schools pretty much worldwide.
  • The modern Creationist movement as we know it is born in the 1960s, from the fringe Young-Earth Creationists - especially in the US - who double down and start a campaign of disinformation and politicking - the infamous "Wedge Strategy" (though it would not get that name until the late-1990s) - to usurp the science. This is when the modern names we know, starting with Henry Morris, start to appear. "Scientific creationism" was coined in the mid-1960s, and the first court cases using it were fought in the late-1960s and early 1970s. After early losses, the modern creationists focus on politicking.
  • In US in the 1980s, a new wave of aggressive tactics starts with "equal time", and a new wave of court cases. This flurry ends abruptly in 1987 when Edwards v Aguillard rules "creation science" religious, and unconstitutional to teach in public schools.
  • In the 1990s, the term had changed from "creation science" to "intelligent design", and creationists doggedly insist that "intelligent design" is not creationism. Creationists quickly seek out scientific credibility - this is when Dembski, Meyer and Behe enter the scene - and try to unite the various views of creationism (mostly young-Earth and day-age) under a single banner. The modern institutions of creationism - the Discovery Institute and Answers in Genesis - were founded, and very careful strategies for undermining science are prepared (this is when the "Wedge Document" was written). "Teach the Controversy" is coined.
  • The Dover trial put an end to that shit in 2005.
  • Since 2006, they haven't found a new term for "intelligent design", and are instead focusing on "free speech" campaigns and claiming they're being repressed. We've had the "Free Speech on Evolution" and "Critical Analysis of Evolution", and Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008) since then.
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