Why Creationism Horrifies Me, part two: Reality
Posted by Leo Tarvi
Welcome to part two of Why Creationism Horrifies Me! This series was inspired by and is in part a direct response to Andrew Toy’s The Horrors of the Creation Theory, Part 1 and Part 2.
In our last installment I used a ridiculously long metaphor to examine the implications of creationism, were it true. This time we’ll be looking at the real world impact of creationism, not why it would horrify me, were it true, but why it does even though it’s not.
I’m going to have to start with misinformation. I want to draw a distinction here between misinformation and outright lying, because while lying certainly counts as misinforming, I honestly don’t believe most creationists are lying when they spread misinformation, but simply misinformed themselves.
Creationist organizations spread a lot of misinformation. They say things like the dust found on the surface of the Moon was consistent with a young universe which is false. Or that radio-carbon dating is inaccurate which is true under certain circumstances, that scientists are aware of and compensate for. Or that Charles Darwin admitted in his famous book that the eye could not have evolved, which I’m going to call an outright lie, because while Darwin did write that it is difficult to imagine the evolution of eyes, the very next thing in the book is an outline of one way it might have happened.
One of the more common bits of misinformation is the idea that evolution is “only a theory”.
You may have noticed that I say “creationism” instead of “creation theory”, and there’s a reason for this: Creationism isn’t a theory. At least, not in the scientific sense. In science, a theory is a model of reality.
If reality is a city, then a theory is a map of the city. Scientists test theories the same way you would test a map, by predicting routes and then following them to see if you wind up where the map says you would. If you don’t, you double check to make sure you followed your route properly and then update your map. I think I’ve stretched that metaphor about as far as I can.
Why is evolution a theory and not a law? Because in science a law is usually just an equation. Take Newton’s law of gravity: F=G(M1*M2/d2) It doesn’t tell you anything but a simple description of how objects with mass move, there’s no hint of any deeper understanding. Not only that, it’s demonstrably wrong, as speed increases or as time passes, predictions made with Newton’s law gets less and less accurate. This was known within Newton’s own lifetime, but it wasn’t until Einstein worked out the theory of relativity that we had a more accurate model.
So, laws are descriptive equations, and theories are robust models of a small section of reality, got it? I hope so, because it moves right into the biggest problem with Andrew Toy’s posts, and that’s reality.
Take a moment to go over those posts again, they’re written from a perspective of absolute certainty that not only is the writer’s personal brand of creationism true, but that everyone else knows it. Anyone who isn’t a creationist, or is the wrong kind of creationist, must have chosen to be so. They couldn’t have decided that this other way was right, was more in line with the truth, they could only have chosen this as a rebellion or refusal to submit.
Take a look at this line,
We don’t believe in God because we don’t want to submit to His authority.
This is exactly backwards. I’m not willing to submit to the authority of a god I don’t believe in. Especially since, from my point of view, that really means submitting to the people who claim to speak for that god. Whether or not I am willing to submit has nothing to do with belief in existence.
Creationist Ken Ham speaks of “Biblical glasses” in his lectures, meaning that you should always start from the assumption that the Bible is true, and interpret the data in such a way as to accommodate that. Twisting facts to fit your ideas, rather than changing your ideas to fit the facts. Perhaps the most horrifying thing about creationism, to me at least, is that Ken Ham delivers these lectures to children. He teaches children to believe the Bible over their own eyes. His own interpretation of the Bible, of course, so he’s really teaching them to believe him.
Authoritarianism is a scary way of thinking, and it’s absolutely necessary for creationism. There’s no other way for people to believe it, they have to be so willing to submit to authority, real or imagined, that they will ignore the evidence of their own senses.
Horrors of the Creation Theory is filled with authoritarian thinking. There is no reason given to think that any of this is true, it’s simply assumed that it is because the Bible says so. There is no discussion of the real world, it all centers on the willingness or refusal to submit. In fact it never brings up the actual creation at all, it’s entirely based on the assumption that everyone really believes it, most have simply chosen to pretend otherwise. As if reality is irrelevant, the only thing that matters is authority.
I’ve wandered a bit. To sum up, the three things that horrify me most about creationism are:
- Teaching the above to children.
A frightening consequence of those three combined with the absolute certainty that their religion cannot be wrong in any way, to the slightest detail, is that most creationists are working towards a theocracy. Some deliberately, some just laying the groundwork without even realizing it.
Now I’m the sort of person that theocracies traditionally persecute, drive out, torture, and/or execute, so my opinion might seem a little biased, but honestly a theocracy is the worst form of government there is, because to most of its citizens the government speaks with the authority of God. Even if you think the state’s chosen religion is the right one, with the perfect interpretation, and that no other religions should be allowed to continue, you should still oppose theocracy. It puts far, far too much power in the hands of a few people, and we’ve seen what happens then.
It may be tempting to say that couldn’t happen, that God wouldn’t allow it, but obviously God does. The Vatican is a theocracy claimed to be under the direct influence of God and yet its official policies include enabling and protecting those who rape children. Clearly God leaves it to us to protect ourselves from each other.
I think I’m done with the series for now, and won’t be adding more unless there’s something else to respond to, or I think of something else to say. Have a great day everyone, and take care of each other.
About Leo TarviMostly fictional.
Posted on May 11, 2012, in Daily Post and tagged authoritarians, creationism, I'm really bad at sticking to the subject, postaday2012, religion, theocracy, Why Creationism Horrifies Me. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
Nice post. I agree with all of this. Another point you might want to make is that evolution is both a fact and a theory. There is the established fact (as much as there can ever be a fact in our understanding of the real world) that evolution happens and there is the theory explaining how that happened. The theory has been supported by such a huge range of independent observations that the idea that it is essentially untrue is practically impossible.
You’re right, that’s absolutely a point worth making. It’s also an excellent excuse to discuss the work of Richard Lenski and that affair with Conservapaedia, come to think of it. Might be worth a whole post of its own.
Thanks for your comment!