Creationism isn’t even wrong

Thinking about Creationism, after seeing Steve Jones from UCL give a talk in Sheffield last week called ‘Why Creationism is Wrong and Evolution is Right’. He didn’t really talk about why Creationism is wrong, which was probably wise. I don’t think you’ll ever win an argument with Creationists talking about the evidence – they’ve got a comeback for every contradiction to Creationism you can think of. It doesn’t matter if the comebacks are nonsensical, you get involved in an endless chase of facts, intepretation and reinterpretation. The only way to really finish an argument is to talk about meta-theory: what counts as evidence? what could convince you the world was one way instead of another? Do you, fundamentally, just believe that your imaginary friend is more important to you than anything i can ever say or do?

The so called ‘Creationism-Evolution debate’ is totally asymmetrical. Creationism isn’t a theory, it doesn’t suggest a process by which things come to be. It is equivalent to ‘they just got that way’. Okay, fine. Now lets talk about how they got that way, and what an answer to that question would look like.

Steven Jones, on whether Creationism should get 50% of teaching time is schools, said it would be just as sensible to give 50% of sex education classes to the theory that babies are brought by storks. This highlights the asymmetry of the supposed debate nicely, I thought.

The foundation of Creationism is disbelief in the possibility of design without a designer (an ‘argument from failure of the imagination’). I wonder if exposure to a few basic or common examples of emergent order (traffic jams, the BZ reaction, embryological development (!)) would help a believer loosen the conviction that the only possible or sane explanation for complexity is Creation?

Update: Gallery of Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction images

One reply on “Creationism isn’t even wrong”

I agree with your views on creationism but for slightly different reasons. It seems to me that those engaged in the social sciences have the same tendency to use the word theory where it is not appropriate so, although it is embarrassingly implausible, creationism is no worse than lots of academia in this respect. Where it falls down is that its adherents suggest no mechanism by which the results in question might be obtained; natural selection, on the other hand, is suggested as the impressively robust mechanism by which the hypothesised evolution of life (and non-life) on earth (or anywhere for that matter) occurred. The striking difference in the explanatory power seems even more obvious today now that the main tenets of evolution by natural selection are considered to be “proven theory” or “scientific fact” due to enormous body of evidence that is in agreement.
Incidentally, I thought you were a little hard on adaptationism in another post. There are excellent pieces of evidence for adaptationist accounts of specific traits in living organisms, many of which use computer modelling.

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