Questionable Motives

May 18, 2010

Dismantling creationism: how can this happen?

Over at Neurologica there is a wonderful post about a conversation between Novella and a creationist named Duane. It covers many of the standard creationist canards hostile to the science of evolution and clearly reveals how someone like Duane can pretend to respect logic and evidence and appear to be inquiring yet remain firm and steadfast in religiously inspired ignorance when those methods and the provided evidence counter some quacked-up theological beliefs. But half the fun of reading a calm and patient smack-down of hostile creationism is reading some of the comments. My favourite comment is from Weii, the tenth comment down (May 14th, 10:21 pm), who perceptively notes:

He is a typical believer who relies on his faith to answer his questions. Evidence doesn’t convince him as he will only seek evidence that confirms his belief and ignore it if it doesn’t, as we all will. A creationist that is also a scientist is an oxymoron, unless they are in a totally unrelated field. Creationists believe things and only see confirmation. Scientists make certain assumptions about the world and then test them. Someone who believes that toast always lands on the buttered side down, when faced with it landing buttered side up, will think that he buttered the wrong side.

And that is exactly what I have found as I venture through the blogosphere: those who insist that truth must be compatible with their theology have already made the decision to rank what is true to be less valuable than maintaining a religious belief, and will then bend, distort, excuse, and ignore the fruits of honest inquiry that run counter to these comforting beliefs in order to protect and promote religiously inspired ignorance. But with enough cognitive dissonance created by good reasoning about the overwhelming evidence counter to claims about special human creationism, then perhaps some will dismantle their walled religious beliefs one brick at a time and wake up one day to the beautiful dawn of an open mind and wonder “How did this happen?”


  1. I of course am a proponent of honest, objective inquiry, but we must admit that science is conducted by humans, and humans have biases. A good scientist is someone who is aware of his personal bias and compensates for it. On the otherhand, you cannot trust a scientist who insists that he has no bias, since that is not possible.

    Comment by schildan — May 18, 2010 @ 9:45 am | Reply

  2. While I will gladly endorse that scientists are human and that humans have biases, I think it is important that good scientists are defined by doing good science. Good science is not dependent on the scientist who does it; it is dependent on adherence to the method of inquiry that compensates for bias and yields results that are independent of whomever does it. So we don’t need to qualify the findings of good science to some mitigating excuse about human biases; we need to appreciate the results from this method of inquiry and deal with those findings over and above whatever concerns we may have for religious belief systems of individuals.

    Comment by tildeb — May 18, 2010 @ 11:34 am | Reply

  3. Science is a series of tests, that are conducted by a series of humans who describe their tests in such a manner that they can be executed precisely, as the test designer prescribed. This allows not only the scrutiny the test result, but also the scrutiny of the test design itself by anyone.

    Nothing in science is assumed to be fact until all elements in the test including the result are repeated by multiple groups of people who have come to the same conclusion independently – or in some cases a similar conclusion.

    This means that a theory that stands up to scrutiny over a long period of time becomes stronger – because it has been reviewed for longer (more people have tried to break the theory and prove it wrong and have failed to do so). In addition, theories of high value are combined with other theories to solve a bigger problems (e.g. cancer treatment).

    The best science yields results and verifications from other fields in science – big theories in science don’t usually contradict each other; for example the theories that verify the age of the earth also complement evolution – they do not contradict. This is even more startling when you realise that they were not designed this way. Often links in theories were made decades after a finding; take the various methods of radioactive dating and their convergence over the estimated age of the earth.

    Radioactive decay or DNA analysis was not understood when Darwin discovered evolution – yet the discoveries that have been found in the 20/21 centuries so far do not contradict Darwin they complement his theory or advance it (mostly).

    Creationists always seem to see the improvement of a theory as verification that it is a flawed – this is not the case. Think of it like this: If a man invents a new material say ‘glass’ and 100 years later another man adds a chemical to the ‘glass’ to make it better (stronger, coloured etc) – is the first man who discovered glass wrong?

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 18, 2010 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

  4. Disprove God….prove he isn’t.

    Prove we evolved….set it up in the lab and re-create it

    Build the world and all that’s in it – let’s see it scientists!

    Comment by 4amzgkids — May 19, 2010 @ 12:08 am | Reply

  5. 4amzgkids… hello again.

    “4.Disprove God….prove he isn’t.”

    Can we disprove unicorns? – nope, so does this mean that unicorns exist?

    “Prove we evolved….set it up in the lab and re-create it”

    This is old news – we have proved we evolved, using DNA, using fossils – evolution is a a scientific fact. This is why you have different breeds of dogs, flowers, cats etc.

    I am not going to go into the detail here, because have been around these issues countless times – if you want evidence for evolution – pick up a book with Dawkins written on the cover and read it – this will give you good grounding in the basics of the science.

    “Build the world and all that’s in it – let’s see it scientists!”

    Science has built the world we live in – the computer you are using is result of that science – the same science that is used to age the earth, discover chemicals test evolutionary theory etc – when you deny the age of the earth and evolutionary theory you are saying (ignorantly) that the science is wrong – it isn’t wrong, not that wrong if it was we would all be living in the dark ages.

    Boredom threshold fast approaching – please read something like Dawkins – fine if you do not agree with it, but read it then come back with your argument of why Dawkins is wrong and the bible is right. In other words, we know what you believe; now please state why you believe it – and why you think the alternatives to your belief are wrong.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 19, 2010 @ 7:29 am | Reply

  6. In other words, we know what you believe; now please state why you believe it – and why you think the alternatives to your belief are wrong. i want you to do this and to disprove God to me.

    Comment by 4amzgkids — May 22, 2010 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

  7. I can’t disprove god anymore than you can prove that god(s) exists. This is why you have a belief, and it is why I do not. I feel the same way about your god, that you do about Zeus.

    You base your faith on absolutely no evidence (and expect others to believe in it); in contrast, I only believe in things that can be shown to be true (and wouldn’t ask you to believe it) – that is the point.

    Atheists don’t believe – so I have no reason to prove that god does not exist, I only have motive to prove what does exist.

    For example is there any point in my trying to prove that Santa or Zeus do not exist? Nope… so why should I bother with your god?

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 23, 2010 @ 4:47 pm | Reply

    • I only have motive to prove what does exist.

      Then please try and prove that he does exist!

      It has been proven time and time again.

      Comment by 4amzgkids — May 30, 2010 @ 9:41 pm | Reply

  8. “It has been proven time and time again.”


    Show me the evidence – i.e. not a hypothesis, not hearsay, not personal accounts – repeatable, demonstrable evidence.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — May 31, 2010 @ 3:56 am | Reply

  9. There’s tons of evidence…you need to do this part – I’ve done it already. You said “I only have motive to prove what does exist.” You should prove it. Great project for you and the family.

    Comment by 4amzgkids — May 31, 2010 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

  10. Look we can play this pantomime game all day – it will not go anywhere…

    Show me the evidence – not personal account, not hearsay, real hard fact that is demonstrable and repeatable – prayer would be good example if it actually worked – but it doesn’t.

    If there is tons of it you shouldn’t have any problem in producing it.

    The simple fact of the matter is that there isn’t any scientific evidence for the proof of god – there never was. There is as much evidence for the existence of god as there is for aliens – yet if someone claims to have been abducted by aliens we laugh at them… in fact there is more evidence for the existence of aliens than god, so if you are going to believe in anything on weak evidence you should believe in aliens…

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — June 1, 2010 @ 4:24 am | Reply

  11. As for the family jibe…

    I think it is bad parenting to bring up a child in a faith system – it is criminal, a parent should teach a child to think for themselves and make their own mind up as to what is true and false, right and wrong. The bible is not suitable reading for children, and the religious are not suitable mentors for free thought. They can’t even be trusted with the basic care of children let a lone their education.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — June 1, 2010 @ 5:07 am | Reply

  12. but that’s just not true. raising a kid in a fatih system and reap multiple benefits. i was raised in a christian upbringing but my family never pushed me to believe in what they believe in. most chirstan families do this! they simply say ” hey look this is what we I believe in, this is why i believe in it and i hope you do too but if you don’t i will still love you”. its only the extremely fundamental chirstans who shove religion down their kid’s throat from a young age and constantly remind them ” our way is truth, anything else is a lie”. that kind of christan upbrining is very harmful! but being raised on teachings of love and non-judgement ( taught by Christ) and that there is a loving God looking after you and you should treat others kindly? i see no harm in that. I am a free thinker! i am a scientist of biology, a believer. religious people can be trusted with basic care of children? bull shit. there are plenty of christian parents ( including my own) that did a fine job raising their kids. you have no right to insult the beliefs and values of others. yes there are some bad chirstans but don’t lump us all together.

    Comment by jack bertoncino — February 25, 2015 @ 2:27 pm | Reply

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