"If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin."
- Charles Darwin

Oct 23, 2007

Wedging Religion into Science (Again)

Answers in Genesis promotes miseducation in America

Image: Tom Toles/Washington Post

As AiG is currently attacking public science education (and, surprise, not because our science standards are ill preparing our students) I thought it would be appropriate to repost this article from the last time they tried to pull this nonsense. It's organizations like this that continue to ensure that our nation's understanding of evolution reaches a whopping 33rd out of 34 countries (just ahead of Turkey).


Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis and creator of the Creation Museum, is currently promoting his new book by submitting sample chapters on his group's website. Entitled War of the Worldviews the book teaches Young-Earth biblical literalists strategies on how to argue against the evidence for evolution.

At the beginning of the chapter he chastises Christians for adopting “flaky evidence” to support their views.

Over the past several years, some so-called “evidence” for creation has been shown not to be reliable. Some of these are

* supposed human and dinosaur footprints found together at the Paluxy River in Texas.
* the small accumulation of moon dust found by the Apollo astronauts.
* a boat-like structure in the Ararat region as evidence of Noah’s Ark.
* a supposed human handprint found in “dinosaur- age rock.”
* a dead “plesiosaur” caught near New Zealand.

Most well-meaning, informed creationists would agree in principle that things which are not carefully documented and researched should not be used. But in practice, many of them are very quick to accept the sorts of evidences mentioned here, without asking too many questions.

Initially I was impressed. Could Ham be urging his readers to seriously engage the scientific evidence in an effort to make reasoned arguments? Alas, this was not the case. His answer to the flaky evidence that creationists have long used is, rather, don’t use any evidence at all!

When someone says they want “proof” or “evidence,” not the Bible, one might respond as follows: “You might not believe the Bible, but I do. And I believe it gives me the right basis to understand this universe and correctly interpret the facts around me.”

Let’s just apply that logic in another way, shall we? There are few scientists today who would argue that bats are actually birds rather than mammals. Pesky issues regarding bone structure and their nursing of infants make this a difficult theory to gain support for. But suppose all of the science isn’t in, the same way that all of the science isn’t in about continental drift (has anyone actually watched continents move?). Isn't there room for an alternative theory?

The Bible clearly states (Deuteronomy 14:11 & 14:18) that bats truly are birds, and they’re unclean birds at that. So by Ham's logic, this evidence deserves equal weight to that of the so-called experts. But as you’re answering a question on your zoology midterm that asks “Are bats birds?” (this is a very introductory level class) and you answer “Yes” I would encourage you NOT to attempt Ham’s suggested response to your science teacher after it's been marked wrong.

Likewise, a solid majority of astronomers (perhaps a little more) accept the evidence that the Earth spins on its axis daily and orbits around the sun. However, the Bible does clearly state that “all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.” (1 Chronicles 16:30). In fact, there are several passages that lend credence to the potentially lucrative field of Christian Geocentric Science (see Job 9:6-7; Job 37:18; Psalm 19:4-6; Psalm 93:1; Ecclesiastes 1:5; you get the picture).

So when someone claims there is evidence for this so-called Heliocentric Theory (afterall, it is only a theory and it's not as though anyone can feel the Earth move) you can simply tell them,

“You might not believe the Bible, but I do. And I believe it gives me the right basis to understand this universe and correctly interpret the facts around me.”

Is it legitimate to use such a response? Should the federal government force teachers to mention this competing theory in science classes? If your answer is yes, than you’ve probably purchased Ham’s book and added to his reported $125,000 yearly salary.

In a related note, as Ham is encouraging the Young-Earthers to back away from “flaky evidence” he might want to take his own advice. During a lecture criticizing the evidence for evolution last year Ham laid the following egg:

He pointed out cave drawings of a creature resembling a brachiosaur to make the case that man lived alongside dinosaurs after God created all the land animals on Day 6.

Cave drawings are evidence? That's what that crank von Däniken tried to pull. This would simply be comic, except for one thing. They're not in on the joke and are teaching hundreds of thousands of children at home schools across the country this very rubbish. They're forming think-tanks, founding law schools and funding politicians and they will not listen to reason. They're being taught not to.

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James F. McGrath said...

You may enjoy a blog entry I posted not long ago entitled "Creationism's Cartoon Physics". It is about the way all the supposed evidence for young-earth creationism has vanished from under it, and yet it keeps going like Wile E. Coyote. How long before it looks down?

The truth is that for such movements the issue has never been the scientific evidence. It is all about what they think the Bible requires them to believe. As a religion professor and a Christian who knows the evidence for evolution is clear and overwhelming, I spend a lot of time trying to use my own expertise to show that the evidence in the Bible doesn't support young-earth creationism either.

Eric Michael Johnson said...

Thanks for that James. It's a perfect analogy, and a really great read. Unfortunately, Wile E. Coyote also never realizes his folly to give up the futile pursuit in the first place. Are we to expect an endless repetition of creationist approaches each with different packaging (yet all bearing the same dubious stamp of origin at ACME, Inc.)? I guess we can take some solace in that each attempt will be outmaneuvered by our clever Road Runner even as their contraptions get more and more complicated.

Anonymous said...

1 Chronicles 16:30 means that all shall be humble before god. Its amazing you try to make flaws out of creationism and dont look at evolutions flaws. For example the monarch butterfly has scales arranged by color. Each scale is arranged perfectly there are no misplaced scaled or any scales out of order. Black scales and Orange scales are arranged perfectly on the monarchs wings. Now if this monarch butterfly was created by random mutations and environmental pressure from a less complex organism then why are all the scales perfectly alligned by color. Surely if the scales where a cause of random mutations then why are they not randomly placed on the butterfly's wings. Looks to me like an artist created the monarch butterfly not a series of random mutations..... The theory of evolution is full of assumptions so please dont criticize someone else's believe its wrong and people can believe in what ever they want to believe.

Anonymous said...

i cant believe your an adult either if u are making fun of peoples believes i mean how immature can u get seriously.