I'm new to this group, and I have been fascinated by the Creationism vs. Evolution thread

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From: rupright@physics.unc.edu (Mark Rupright) Message-ID: <23i57o$d1p@samba.oit.unc.edu> I'm new to this group, and I have been fascinated by the Creationism vs. Evolution thread going on here. I was especially interested in the analogy between creationists and bank robbers. It made me think about the tactics employed by Creationists and the reason why scientists have so much trouble with them. Recently, a Creationist came to give a talk here at UNC Chapel Hill at expense of one of the religious student organizations. I can't remember the speaker's name, but many of you will know who I'm talking about. He travels to different universities to "debate" with scientists. His arrival was preceeded by several letters to the student newspaper calling for a scientist to successfully defeat him in the debate. When no scientist accepted the challenge, this was used as an argument that the speaker was obviously right. Eventually, I think a professor of Geology accepted the challenge. I hope he fared better than I suspect he did. Why would a scientist have trouble defending the scientific facts of evolution? One reason is that creationists draw their arguments from an extremely diverse range of disciplines, so that any one scientist would have trouble pointing out flaws in every argument. A successful defense of evolution would have to include a physicist, a zoologist, a geneticist, a geologist, an archeologist, and perhaps more, to point out the flaws in the creationist's arguments. Why 5 against 1? Easy: any idiot can make up a scientific lie. It takes very little education in a scientific field to come up with an argument against the accepted theories of that field. It takes significantly more knowledge to defend those theories. However, to an audience who knows little at all about science, the fact that a creationist can invoke an argument in a certain field makes it look like he has a great knowledge of that field. Thus, to an audience, one scientist looks small against the broad range of "knowlege" possessed by the creationist. A debate of 5 scientists vs. 1 creationist would simply strengthen this appearance. I would bet a debate between 5 scientists vs. 5 creationists would heavily favor the scientists, since the arguments made by creationists are generally the same -- 4 more participants would contribute nothing. Not so strangely, I've never seen this type of debate proposed by a creationist. Another reason is the makeup of the audience. Every creationist "debate" I have seen has taken place in front of a predominantly religious audience. For example, the UNC debate I mentioned above, while open to all, was sponsored by a specific religious organization and thus, the audience would be mostly members of this organization. Any participant of a debate would become frazzled if all of the positive audience response went to the opponent. One thing that has bothered me is the so-called "scientific creationism." It seems to me that this title was taken in an effort to get creation back into school curricula. Scenario: "Concerned" Citizen: "Why does the school teach evolution but not creation?" Principal: Because the Constitution forbids public schools from dispensing the beliefs of a specific religion. CC: "But what about "Scientific Creationism?" This should be included in the science class because it is based on no religion, but explains the scientific facts in support of creation. By not including this, the school is unfairly choosing one science over another." P: Uhhh. I guess we'll have to look into that. As many previous posts, as well as the sci.skeptic FAQ, have pointed out, there is no scientific basis for creationism. On the contrary, SC points out the flaws (often imagined - as in the case of the 2nd law of Thermo.) in evolution. It contributes no new knowledge to science. Scientists do not need help in pointing out flaws in a theory. The natural competition in science does an excellent job of that. Besides, if we actually believed our knowledge of a scientific field were complete, it would become dead. The fact that there is flourishing research in evolution shows that it is very much alive and incomplete. However, an incomplete theory should not be discarded for that reason alone -- if it were, we'd never accomplish anything in science since complete theories consistent with experiment and able to predict something new are rarely, if ever, born that way. The analogy between creationists and bank robbers is appropriate here. A security company has its own methods of testing and improving its alarm system. If a bank robber exploits a flaw in the system (either known or unknown to the security company) to rob the bank blind, should the thief be considered a legitimate security consultant to the bank? Similarly, if a creationist exploits a hole in evolution theory to support a belief of the origin of the universe which has no scientific basis, should we allow them to teach this belief as a legitimate alternative to evolution? Of course not.


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