I'm new to this group, and I have been fascinated by the Creationism vs. Evolution thread
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark Rupright)
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
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
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
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
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