This blog is in response to a letter that accused atheists of calling young earth creationists (YECs) idiots, and that we should be respectful because both positions “require faith.”
First off, there are plenty of Christians who believe in evolution, along with those who are old earth creationists, that consider YECs to be logically flawed. It’s certainly not exclusive to atheists. Even the most well-known Christian apologist William Lane Craig considers YECs as embarrassments to Christianity.
“that is just hugely embarrassing. That over half of our ministers really believe that the universe is only around 10,000 years old. This is just scientifically, it’s nonsense” – WLC
The former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams recognizes that humans evolved from other animals. Pope John Paul II recognized the realities of evolution in 1996. There was a 2015 Super Bowl commercial for a cruise line that featured a speech about our evolving from the sea from President John F. Kennedy. Many Christians laugh at the notion of taking the Bible literally and recognize that Biblical stories such as Noah’s flood are fables.
During an interview in 2010, Bill Maher confronted conservative Christian Bill O’Reilly on the number of people who believed that the Noah’s Ark story literally happened. Bill O’Reilly responded that he didn’t know any of “those people” and that Noah’s Ark was allegorical, a parable, not meant to be taken literally. Just like stoning someone to death for working on the Sabbath, don’t do it literally just because it’s in the Bible.
It’s not evolution vs Christianity, it’s evolution vs the scientifically impaired. A liberal interpretation of religious text allows room for modern science, an extremist interpretation does not. Creationist Michael Behe once made an argument about irreducible complexity. This argument was refuted by Ken Miller who is a professor of Biology at Brown University. Ken Miller is a Christian, who like many other Christians, has no problem with keeping his faith compatible with modern science.
To be fair, there are parts of the world that agree with the YECs 17th Century understanding of the universe. These parts are known as Islamic theocracies where “what is science” is dictated by clerics rather than the scientific method. And how has that worked out? These countries contribute nothing to scientific innovation and advancement.
Is that how we hope to be in the United States of America? A country that puts resources into assaulting science instead of advancing this critical field of study? That’s what Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter has done. A hundred-million-dollar investment to promote pseudoscience, an investment in ignorance.
So why all the animosity? Where does it come from? Is it justified? In this article I will attempt to explain the origin of the frustration that causes an often confrontational and belligerent reaction to YECs, and then explore two methods (science, ridicule) of dealing with it.
Why such anger at YECs? Here are four reasons:
#1 The attempt to equate science to faith
There are people who spent lifetimes in areas of study advancing our knowledge of ourselves and the universe. They spent countless hours of research, investigation, experiment, analysis, documentation, discussion, and discovery. To say that these great noble efforts should be equated to faith is to say that these dedicated hard working scientists should have simply sat on their ass and made things up. It is an extremely insulting statement.
Why are there breeds and species on the Galapagos Islands that don’t exist anywhere else on earth? Charles Darwin went on a journey to find the answer. It wasn’t about attacking religion or god; it was about answering the question of species diversity. The answer turned out to be evolution. The answer was obtained not by faith, but by evidence.
#2 All the lies
I am not someone who simply surrounded himself with likeminded people and only reads books about evolution. I went on the journey and studied both sides. At first the YEC arguments seemed plausible. Ex, if the universe was really old, there would be more dust on the moon. Look at the amount of dust that accumulates every year, multiply by billions of years, there would be so much dust! The Apollo would have sunk into dust during the moon landing.
But then upon researching these arguments, I found out that none of them were true. Some were even debunked by other YECs!
The following is from Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis’s own website.
In an important paper, geologist DR ANDREW SNELLING from Australia’s Creation Science Foundation [now Answers in Genesis], and former Institute for Creation Research graduate student Dave Rush, have examined in minute detail all the evidence relating to this argument. They have shown that:
1. The amount of dust coming annually on to the earth/moon is much smaller than the amount estimated by (noncreationists) Pettersson, on which the argument is usually based.
2. Uniformitarian assumptions cannot therefore justifiably be turned against evolutionists to argue for a young age.
3. Most NASA scientists, in fact, were convinced before the Apollo landings that there was not much dust likely to be found there.
Originally published in Creation 15, no 4 (September 1993): 22.
So what’s the big deal? They made an argument that turned out to be bogus. Science has hypotheses that turn out to be wrong. Yes, but failed scientific hypotheses are not still used in arguments by people who follow the scientific method. As Richard Feynman once said, if an idea doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong. In Ken Ham’s debate with Bill Nye, Ham uses the Moon Dust argument! An argument that was debunked on his own website over 20 years ago along with many others. This is called LYING!
Unintentional misrepresentation of facts is due to ignorance. Intentional misrepresentation of facts is due to fraud. I have examined the arguments, time and time again, digging into creationist assertions reveals dishonesty and fraud. I do not like being lied to, I do not like it when other people are lied to. It makes me angry.
#3 YEC attempts at molesting the field of science
There’s nothing more disingenuous than a YEC who claims to love science. YECs respect science the same way that ISIS respects democracy.
It’s just a theory! This is an example of scientific ignorance that people who promote science have to deal with time and time again. A scientific theory is much more than a non-scientific theory. A scientific theory is not the same as a hypothesis. Evolution is a scientific theory; young earth creationism is a failed hypothesis. That’s why evolution is taught in science class while creationism is not.
If it was logical to teach ark landing and debarkation as a competing theory to evolution, it would also be logical to teach stork delivery as a competing theory to child birth.
Should we teach the abilities of cows to jump over the moon as a competing method of space travel to rocket propulsion? Perhaps linguistics should include the oral semantics of sponges who live in pineapples under the sea? Should educational institution be focused on instilling to our children that it is three rubs that gets the genie out of the lamp. Two is too little, four is too much, five is absolutely out of the question. There is nothing logical about calling young earth creationism scientific. It is the perversion of logic, the perversion of critical thinking.
It’s not “Darwinian Evolution,” it’s simply evolution. If Charles Darwin was never born, we’d still have the established scientific theory of evolution. Why do we know the name Darwin? He was a damn good scientist. Why do we know the Beatles? They were a damn good rock band. But if John, Paul, George, and Ringo were never born, we’d still have rock and roll.
Claiming that evolution can’t explain how life began is akin to claiming that algebra can’t explain Socrates’s definition of justice. Abiogenesis is the field of study that deals with the origin of life from inorganic or inanimate substances, not evolution.
The greatest fraudulent attack on science has to be Ken Ham’s “observable vs. historic” nonsense. If you come home and your back door is broken and your things are missing, you’ve been robbed. This isn’t based on faith; it’s based on evidence. It doesn’t matter that “YOU WEREN’T THERE!” And how hypocritical for Ken Ham to divide science in such a way and then claim Noah’s Flood literally happened even though “HE WASN’T THERE!”
I suppose the entire field of forensic science should be dismissed. Finger prints, gun residue, DNA evidence, none of that matters, the only thing is, “WERE YOU THERE?” Imagine if John Wayne Gacy, known as the killer clown, wasn’t arrested. There were 26 bodies in his crawl space, but since law enforcement “WASN’T THERE” when it happened, they had to let him go.
What does it mean when science and technology advances? The answer is improved capabilities of measurement. Measurement of time, temperature, volume, distance, mass, velocity, etc. Imagine Randy Johnson when he was still a major league pitcher. Imagine measuring the speed of his fastball using a stop watch. Now imagine measuring the delivery using a radar gun. Science is wonderful.
The Scientific advancements that have allowed us to measure the age of rock are not based on faith. Neither are the advancements that have allowed us to measure the age of stars and the universe.
Note – Not all discoveries of our world are recent. Eratosthenes (276-195 B.C.) determined that the circumference of the earth was 25,000 miles (actual is 24,901) using faith. Just kidding, he used geometry.
#4 We ain’t got time for that!
With over seven billion people in need of clean air, food, water, shelter, sanitation, protection, energy, medical care, and millions of years of future generations needing a planet to live off of, can we afford to go backwards in scientific competency? Teaching kids that wishing really hard is equivalent to using the scientific method is taking us backwards. The best approach for the future of our children is to unequivocally put science and secular philosophy over religious fanaticism.
Educate or Mock?
What is the best way for rationalists to protect science from YECs? Do we rely on respectful science education, or do we attempt to embarrass and mock these people out of existence? The answer may be both.
Examples of using science education to promote science
Examples of using science and ridicule to promote science
Examples of using pure in-your-face mockery
By using science education and the unapologetic mockery of YEC frauds such as Ken Ham and Eric Hovind, rationality must prevail over superstition. The wellbeing of future generations depends on it. This battle needs to be taken very seriously by everyone who understands that human problems require human solutions and advancements in science and technology provides the best chance we have for a better future.
Rampant scientific ignorance is not an atheist problem, it’s a problem for everyone.
-James Kirk Wall
Answers in Genesis – Moon-Dust Argument No Longer Useful
Fox News – Interviews – Bill Maher Enters the No Spin Zone, Part 2
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