Thursday, July 23, 2015

What is Creationism Anyway?

Victor Reppert is an advocate of the Intelligent Design movement.  But he is frustrated that the courts have found that teaching it as science in public education is unconstitutional.  My question for Victor is: Why can't you be satisfied teaching your religious beliefs in Sunday school?  As I noted in my previous post, you should be happy that you are free to do that.  Why do you think you need to impose it on the rest of us?

But the IDists insist that what they are pushing is indeed science.  They took the creationism out of it, so where's the beef?
OK, so the court says "You can't teach out and out creationism, but you can do this," so someone alters a creationist text in order to do just this, and then Kitzmiller says that it's wrong to do "just this".

This I don't understand. " - Reppert
So what is Creationism?

It is the belief that God created the universe and the things in it.  If you believe that God is the creator, then you are a creationist.  You might be a young-earth creationist (YEC), or you might be an intelligent design adherent (and the purveyors of ID in public schools do believe that God is the creator, whether they admit it or not), or you might be a Catholic who maintains that God made evolution take its course.  It doesn't matter.  All of these things are creationism.

It's time to take Victor to school again.  He wonders why it isn't constitutional to teach Intelligent Design as science in the public schools.  The short answer: because it isn't science.  It's religion masquerading as science.  They didn't remove the creationism, they only removed explicit mention of God as the creator, and they leave it up to the student to figure out who that creator might be.  Let's see - could it be aliens?  Gee, who could it possibly be?  But I have already explained that the IDists are liars, and Victor has certainly heard all this before.  He simply chooses to ignore the facts.

Edwards v. Aguillard ruled that you can't teach "creation science" as science, because it's religion, not science.  Kitzmiller v. Dover is absolutely consistent with that, because ID is just another form of creationism.  Simply removing explicit mentions of God as the creator doesn't change the fact that it's still creationism and still religion.  And that's the whole idea.  That's the one and only reason these people want it to be taught at all.  They are religious people who want to push their religious beliefs in the public schools.  If ID was just another genuine scientific theory with no religious content or implication, they wouldn't give a rat's ass about it, because what they care about is religion, not science.

While we're at it, I would like to point out to any Catholics out there that you can tell yourself that your religion is compatible with science, and you can pat yourself on the back for not being one of those "fundies" who believe in the literal truth of Genesis, but you are fooling yourselves.  Your brand of evolution is still not science.  The scientific theory of evolution holds that natural selection is a primary mechanism of evolution.  Your version of evolution isn't natural, it's supernatural.  And it isn't random, it's driven by a purpose.  And that means it isn't consistent with the scientific theory.  It ain't science - it's creationism.  So don't pat yourself on the back too hard.  According to Bob Prokop, "The Gospels are literally true."  The only difference between you and the YECs is that you are more choosy about which parts of the bible you accept as literal truth.  But the gospels are also loaded with pre-scientific hokum.  How can you believe that and still laugh at the YECs because they believe other parts of the bible are literally true?  More importantly, how can you believe that and still claim that your beliefs are compatible with science?  You are just as "fundie" as they are.

Back to the question at hand - why aren't they happy teaching religion in religious schools?  They are free to believe it.  They are free to teach it.  But they insist on trying to subvert the legitimate education of everyone's children, not just their own.  To me, that's child abuse.


  1. Creationism can be read in only two substantive ways. It is either Mythology, a field of scholarship into the human imagination and creativity on which a reasonable case for any intellectual, philosophical and historical investigation and research can be properly and justifiably pursued. Or, it is religious garbage. Creationism cannot and can never be deemed a scientific proposition. Creationism is anathema to the epistemological and ontological understanding of science

    The Catholic interpretation of evolution by divine fiat, equally, is not science. It is religious obscurantism at its most feral. It is what could best be described as Thomfoolery. :o)

    The illusion of compatibility between 'evolution by natural selection' and 'evolution by divine fiat' is precisely that, an illusion.

    The irreconcilably problematic nature of the catholic misperception cannot be more clearly explained as is forensically outlined in this erudite and highly informed ARTICLE.

    Each day that passes, where Dr Reppert continues to peddle the spurious nonsense from the IDiot website of the Discovery Institute, is simply another day of testimony of the intellectual paucity of the religious paradigm as a genuine explanatory mechanism, another day exhibiting the desperation experienced by the religiose [rhymes with bellicose] of the failure of the theological narrative to explain reality. While the spores of the grande malaise of Christian delusion is deeply rooted within the American psyche, it will take time to vaccinate the community against this affliction. However, early results over recent decades from a raft of investigations and surveys have an encouraging story to tell.

    1. The frustrating thing is that no matter how much information you present to show that ID is not science, Victor chooses to believe their lies. The IDEA article that he linked says they do science because they submitted some papers for peer review. But the papers got rejected. Their excuse is that the science community is just biased against the unorthodox. They won't even entertain the idea that what they do does not follow scientific method.

      Scientists work hard to verify their hypotheses by devising tests to disprove them. IDists only look for evidence to support their beliefs, and so they ignore mountains of evidence that doesn't support those beliefs. That's not science. All their examples of irreducible complexity have been shot down with plausible explanations of how such structures could evolve, and in some cases, observed evolutionary processes.

      That would cause any legitimate scientist go back to the drawing board and overhaul the hypothesis if not abandon it outright. But not the IDists. Because their hypothesis is not scientific. It is religious belief, and their goal is not to subject it to scientific verification, but simply to find whatever bits of evidence they can that might lend it some credibility in the eyes their fellow religious believers. People like Victor.

  2. This is why all your attempts to deny the existence of design, purpose, and meaning are ultimately futile - doomed to failure.

    1. The good old argument from morality. You do realize, don't you, that it simply presumes, without warrant, that our sense of morality comes from God? How can you make such a presumption? Those of us who are not blinkered by God-belief understand that it is part of human nature - evolved for the survival of the genome. Shea thinks that the only explanation for an atheist expressing a feeling of moral outrage is that God is making him do it, and he just refuses to admit that. Sorry, but There's no need to bring superstition into the picture. There is a perfectly good natural explanation for human morality.

      "Our cry for justice is meaningful. It has a point because the world has a point."
      - The point being that God wants us to suffer injustice and all the other travails of this life so that we can eventually enjoy an eternity of sitting at his side with nothing to do but heap praise upon him? What makes you think that's such a good deal, anyway?

  3. Oh, I am well aware from other comments you have posted that you are comfortable with denying that meaning, purpose, and morality have any objective meaning. But the article I linked to devastates any rational hope of ever combining such a view with calling any specific action "right" or "wrong". For instance, you have been quite vocal in labeling others bigots and haters, but such terms are, in Robert A. Heinlein's immortal phraseology, "semantically null" when coupled with a worldview that says meaning is simply a product of evolution.

    So go ahead and deny that morality originates with God, as long as you admit that there is no other plausible source for it.

    1. When we call things right or wrong, it's because we think they're right or wrong, according to our own subjective moral code. It is irrational to believe that your moral beliefs are somehow objective, when no two people agree on all issues of morality. Obviously, morality is subjective. To deny that is to deny what we clearly observe .

      As for meaning, the same thing applies. To say that something has meaning, is to say that it has meaning to somebody. It makes no sense semantically to speak of meaning without someone to perceive that meaning. And therefore, meaning is necessarily subjective. Something can mean one thing to you, and something completely different to me. Whatever meaning you attach to this life, I probably disagree with. One thing's for sure: I don't tie everything to some imaginary dude in the sky. To me meaning must be based in reality.

    2. This is where the religiose go off the rails. Meaning, purpose and morality are attributions we bestow on things and actions in the world to make sense of them. It is our modus operandi, an evolving process that helps us relate to the world and our place in it.

      The idea that meaning, purpose and morality is a product of divine fiat, flashed into us at the moment of conception by some atemporal, immaterial, non-human extra-cosmic entity is becoming more ludicrous and nonsensical as each day passes.

      The trite GODDIDIT hypothesis of the ancients, as a functioning explanatory dictum, is being replaced by a far better and more sophisticated, mature, epistemologically and ontologically robust one.

      Plank, your tired time-warn stance is a clue you are volitionally walking the plank.

    3. To credit the source of your own sense of meaning, purpose and morality to some ultimate cosmic authority that can not be reasonably challenged is simply a despicable tactic.

    4. If morality is subjective, then the belief that it is wrong, always and everywhere to believe anything for insufficient evidence is also subjective. That I should care about truth as opposed to comfort is also subjective. That I should treat gay people as equal to straight people and not discriminate against them is also subjective. Or that I should treat black people as equal to white people and not put up "Whites Only" signs in my restaurant is also subjective. That I should care about the poor and the oppressed is also subjective. That I should want slaves to be freed from bondage is also subjective. That the Holocaust was despicable is also subjective. That 9/11 was morally wrong is also subjective.

    5. That's right, Victor. Those things are all subjective beliefs. How do we know this? For one thing, because of the fact that there are people who have different (subjective) opinions about them. And I guarantee that some of those who have different opinions are just as certain as you are that theirs are absolutely, objectively true, because that's what God thinks.

  4. "To me meaning must be based in reality."

    "To say that something has meaning, is to say that it has meaning to somebody."

    Those two statements are contradictory.

    1. Your argument doesn't make sense to me. Could you explain why they are contradictory?

  5. The first statement implies that meaning is objective, is in reference to something outside of anyone's personal feelings or opinion on a matter. Reality being its basis, the meaning of something would be valid regardless of whether you, I, or even nobody, agreed with what that meaning was. It also implies that some perceptions of meaning could be wrong, and others correct (more in line with reality).

    The second statement says that meaning is contingent upon what an individual feels or thinks about a matter, that it is an interior affair. One meaning for me, another for you, and neither more valid than the other. No one has any business criticizing anyone else for finding a different meaning to anything.

    Complete contradiction.

    1. "Reality being its basis, the meaning of something would be valid regardless of whether you, I, or even nobody, agreed with what that meaning was."

      Word salad. This is your asinine attempt at differentiating the two so that it forms some semblance of meaning in your brain to makes sense to you. It's called rationalising [rationalize |ˈra sh ənlˌīz; ˈra sh nəˌlīz| verb trans. attempt to explain or justify (one's own or another's behavior or attitude) with logical, plausible reasons, even if these are not true or appropriate.]

      It's the same process that psychopaths, psychotics, and the delusional equally use to make sense and meaning of their thoughts and actions.

      To sort the chaff of religious assertion from the wheat of scientific findings the process must be supported by fact, by evidence. You have failed to provide the evidence that purpose, meaning and morality are the direct result of divine fiat.

    2. "The first statement implies that meaning is objective, is in reference to something outside of anyone's personal feelings or opinion on a matter."

      No, there is no such implication. Meaning is in your head. It is the way you connect different concepts together by association, and it is necessarily subjective, as I said. But what concepts do you have in your head that can be associated to form some kind of meaning? This is where reality vs. fantasy comes into play. If you associate the things in your experience with imaginary beings, the meaning you have created is not based on reality. This is not a question of objective vs subjective - every meaning you have in your mind is subjective. But meaning can still be based in reality - or not.

      I agree with Papalinton. Your explanation is confused. I think the reason for that is you don't have a good understanding of what "meaning" is, or how we achieve it.

  6. Sorry, but if "meaning is in your head," then reality doesn't even come into play. You can weasel word your way out of that all you want, but all you end up with is mush.

    If reality is a factor, then meaning is independent of mind, and exists whether we all agree on what it is, or only some of us, or nobody at all.

    1. "Sorry, but if "meaning is in your head," then reality doesn't even come into play."

      You're wrong. You can have an idea in your head about something real or about something imaginary. You can attach meaning to something real or to something imaginary. What you are saying is sheer nonsense. Meaning is NOT independent of the mind, and reality IS (or can be) a factor, as you put it.

  7. I don't understand why Victor doesn't understand that if you just put lipstick on a pig, that it is still just a pig. ID is just Creationism with lipstick.

  8. jdhuey,

    As Crude pointed out over on DI, by the exact same standards, evolution (the way it is currently "taught") is just atheism with lipstick.

    1. "As Crude pointed out over on DI, by the exact same standards, evolution (the way it is currently "taught") is just atheism with lipstick."

      So we should teach that the earth is at the center of the universe and the firmament is a dome with little stars fixed to it. That was the religious belief before science showed us otherwise. You could say that modern astronomy is just "atheism with lipstick", the same as evolution. Crude is saying that to teach science, when it conflicts with superstition, is tantamount to "teaching atheism". He may have a point. Although a science class may not make any metaphysical claims, having an understanding about how things actually work in our world leads to the inevitable conclusion that supernatural forces play no observable role in the things we see. This is not an issue of "teaching atheism". It's about teaching science.

  9. Plank talks theological nonsense, dressed as philosophy. For centuries philosophy was mired by Christian-soaked pablum as to render it indistinguishable from the pablum. That is, until science swept away the mind shackles of theology, providing a new fresh and exciting alternative in explaining the natural world, and as the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy explains so eloquently, "accounting for a wide variety of phenomena by appeal to a relatively small number of elegant mathematical formulae, promot[ing] philosophy (in the broad sense of the time, which includes natural science) from a handmaiden of theology, constrained by its purposes and methods, to an independent force with the power and authority to challenge the old and construct the new, in the realms both of theory and practice, on the basis of its own principles. "

    Therein lies the slow and inexorable disintegration within contemporary philosophy of the form of religious-fueled metaphysics so enamoured by Plank and like, founded as it is on supernatural superstition. The Fesers and Plantingas of the world are the dinosaurs, the dodos of modern philosophy. This brand of metaphysics has largely been relegated to curry favour only within religious circles, with an ever lessening impact in the world of modern philosophical scholarship.

    The trend is palpable and a resurgence of religious thinking based on newfound or empirical discoveries into the future is unlikely in the extreme. The transition of Christianity from normative everyday function to interesting historical relic is unstoppable. Creationism has in large part already transited beyond the break-even point.

  10. By your account major evolutionary biologists, people like Collins and Miller who do real evolutionary biology, and a lot more of it than Myers and Dawkins, are creationists.

    1. I have said before that there are, and have always been scientists who have religious beliefs. A key consideration is whether they can separate their science from their religious beliefs. Myers can't do that. His "work" is thoroughly infused with religious belief, and so it is not guided by scientific method, but by a religious motivation that causes him to deviate from the path of scientific investigation. I don't know anything about Collins and Miller. If they actually follow scientific method, then I'd say they are legitimate scientists. Myers is not.

    2. I was referring to P. Z. Myers.

    3. Right. I had Stephen Meyer on the brain, and was confused. I know nothing of PZ Myers' scientific accomplishments. As with Collins and Miller, I can't say much about it. For what it's worth, I am no defender of Myers, either. The point I was making, though, is that religious or metaphysical beliefs need not be an impediment to genuine scientific understanding. You have to be able to separate them. And the folks at Discovery Institute fail to make that separation. Their ID "science" is thoroughly infused with and driven by religious belief. What they do is not science.

  11. Yes, scientists like Collins and Miller can do science and still cling to their religious beliefs. It is what is called: compartmentalisation. "Compartmentalization is an unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person's having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves." One of the oft used strategies to mitigate the dissonance is to imagine compatibilism between science and religion, "Everywhere I look I see God's handiwork". The question is, which god? Jesus, Baphomet, Ganesha, Shiva, or the giant Water Serpent of the Australian Aborigines?

    It seems you, Miller and Collins either reject or have not read too widely on the various branches of cognitive science and philosophy of mind that explores the field now broadly termed, THEORY OF MIND.


    The sciences in this area of investigation are still pretty much in their infancy but continue to rapidly emerge, develop and grow. There is little doubt that the exponential growth of our knowledge and understanding about the whys and hows of religious belief will continue to expand, and why and how the religious impulse is formed and propagated. We as a species are evolutionarily primed to generate such belief, not because supernatural is true or factual but rather it is adaptive to our need to project intentionality, purpose and meaning during our great period of ignorance about the mind and brain.

    The factual data and intellectual inferences and conclusions drawn from this research is not going to go away if we simply shut our eyes to it Victor. You may choose to do so. That is your choice. But the emerging facts, proofs and evidence will not be going away with the blink of an eye. Religious belief is pretty much now known to be a cognitive function rather than an explanation of the reality of the natural world.

  12. You could say that modern astronomy is just "atheism with lipstick"

    Oh, my gosh. Where to begin? Where to begin?

    Maybe with:

    Copernicus - Catholic Bishop and astronomer
    Tycho Brahe - Devout Christian and astronomer
    Galileo - Devout Catholic and astronomer
    Johannes Kepler - Devout Christian and astronomer
    Gassendi - Catholic Priest and astronomer
    Newton - Devout Christian and astronomer
    William Herschel - Devout Christian and astronomer
    Cassini - Devout Catholic and astronomer
    Piazzi - Catholic priest and astronomer
    Lagrange - Devout Catholic and astronomer
    LeMaitre - Catholic priest and astronomer
    Guy Consolmagno - Jesuit monk and astronomer

    Oh, I could go on and on - that's just a sampling, but you get the point.
    Perhaps we should label astronomy "Christianity with lipstick"

    1. "Oh, I could go on and on - that's just a sampling, but you get the point.
      Perhaps we should label astronomy "Christianity with lipstick""

      Yes, I know. You've said this so many times already, I'm getting tired of hearing it. Let's concede that there were (and are) many Christian scientists. And let's not forget that there was a time when they were all Christians (in Europe), because that's all that was allowed. Being anything other than a Christian usually resulted in death or severe persecution. As I said earlier, " A key consideration is whether they can separate their science from their religious beliefs."

      You refer to Galileo as "devout Catholic", but you fail to mention that he (and others) had to fight against church dogma in the pursuit of their scientific investigations. So let's cut the crap, and admit that the church only accepted modern astronomy after being dragged, kicking and screaming, out of the dark ages by people who rejected their dogma.

  13. You really need to clear your head of all the lies and nonsense you've "learned" about Galileo. Before you ever say or write another word about him, I suggest you listen to this.

    Sadly, knowing you almost certainly won't, I can now safely discount anything you have to say about Galileo from this point on.

    Being anything other than a Christian usually resulted in death or severe persecution.

    Not one of the people I listed ever lived in such a time (if ever such a time actually existed, outside of the imagination of atheists).

    1. "I can now safely discount anything you have to say about Galileo from this point on."
      - How about what history (not Catholic revisionism) tells us? Copernicus' work was declared heretical. Galileo was tried by the Inquisition. His books were banned by the church. Etc, etc.

      "Not one of the people I listed ever lived in such a time (if ever such a time actually existed, outside of the imagination of atheists)."

  14. during-the-Middle-Ages

    Not one of the persons I listed lived during the Middle Ages.

    1. You did say: "if ever such a time actually existed, outside of the imagination of atheists"

      But don't think that the church suddenly changed its tune at the start of the Renaissance, either.

      "The European Renaissance of the 15th to 17th Centuries did much to expand the scope of freethought and skeptical inquiry, although criticisms of the religious establishment (such as those of Niccolò Machiavelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Bonaventure des Périers and François Rabelais) usually did not amount to actual atheism. As the scientific discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo became increasingly accepted, man's long-assumed privileged place in the universe appeared less and less justifiable. Progressive thinkers like Giordano Bruno, Lucilio Vanini and Galileo Galilei, bravely battling against the odds, were all savagely persecuted by the powerful Catholic Church of their time. Among those executed (often after torture) for the crime of atheism were Étienne Dolet in 1546, Lucilio Vanini in 1619, Kazimierz Lyszczynskiin 1689 and Jean-François de la Barre as late as 1766. " -

  15. Don't go there, im-skeptical, or we'll have to bring up the tens of millions of Christians persecuted and murdered by atheist regimes in the 20th Century. It would take longer than your lifetime just to read through the entire list of victims.

    man's long-assumed privileged place

    It is painfully obvious with comments like these that you really have no idea whatsoever what you are talking about. Did you get all your "knowledge" from Wikipedia? Prior to Copernicus, Man did not occupy any "privileged" place in the cosmos. The Earth was not the Center of the Universe - it was the bottom of the universe, the least desirable spot. Read your Dante. (And not some summary - the whole thing. Read either the Dorothy Sayers or the Mike Musa translation for the best English version.)

    1. Dante's cosmos consisted of spheres with the earth at center. Read your Dante, and look at the pictures.

  16. I've read Dante more than a dozen times in 4 different translations (there are 3 on my bookshelf right now), plus having read several books of commentaries on his work. I've even visited his house in Florence. I know what I'm talking about.

    If Dante is too difficult for you without the pictures, then read The Discarded Image by C.S. Lewis.

    1. If you didn't bother to look at the information I cited, perhaps you should.

      Here's more.

  17. If I had rhymes as harsh and horrible
    As the hard fact of that final dismal hole
    which bears the weight of all the steeps of Hell,

    I might more fully press the sap and substance
    from my conception; but since I must do
    without them, I begin with some reluctance.

    For it is no easy undertaking, I say,
    to describe the bottom of the Universe

    (The Inferno, CantoXXXII, lines 1-8, John Ciardi Translation)

    My eyes went back through the seven spheres below,
    and I saw this globe, so small, so lost in space,
    I had to smile at such a sorry show.

    Who thinks it the least pebble in the skies
    I most approve. Only the mind that turns to other things may truly be called wise.

    (The Purgatorio, Canto XXII, lines 133-138, John Ciardi translation)

    And many other places as well, too numerous to cite.
    My emphasis.

    1. None of that changes the FACT that Dante's conception of the cosmos was one of concentric spheres, with earth at the center. Even today, we speak about up and down with respect to the earth. Dante's "bottom of the universe" was nothing other than the center of the earth. If your understanding of Dante is anything beyond shallow, you should understand that.

      I admit that I haven't read his book, just as there are thousands of other religious texts that I haven't read. But there is a wealth of material to draw from, and there are plenty of people who have read it, and who describe what Dante depicts, and they ALL disagree with you. Read the material I cited.

  18. Good Grief! I had no idea until now that I was conversing on line with a person so intellectually poverty stricken that he had not read the single greatest achievement by any one human being since the Dawn of Time, Dante's The Divine Comedy. There is no excuse for any person who claims to be the least bit educated in today's world to have not read this poem.

    Stop trying to run in home, when you have not touched second (or even first) base. You need to stop whatever you are doing, put down whatever book you might be reading, turn off your computer and swear off the internet, until you have satisfied this most basic, mandatory requirement for anyone hoping to be counted amongst the ranks of Civilized Man, and read The Divine Comedy - all of it, slowly - and actually think about it.

    You will have zero credibility at the Adult Table until you have done so.

    1. "I had no idea until now that I was conversing on line with a person so intellectually poverty stricken that he had not read the single greatest achievement by any one human being since the Dawn of Time ..."

      Sorry, but I don't have time to read every bit of superstitious hokum out there. The Divine Comedy is no doubt a fine piece of science fiction for the time it was written, but there is much better science fiction these days, because modern authors are better informed about the cosmos and about physics.

      And speaking of who has credibility at the adult table, as long as you persist in pushing superstition that has been thoroughly debunked, your own credibility is limited. I know there are many like you who believe this superstitious nonsense, and you can join them in discussing your fantasies and your invisible friends with super-powers. But please don't try to mix that up with the real world.