Questionable Motives

July 6, 2011

Does creation ‘science’ disprove biblical creationism?

The short answer is Yes.

The long answer can be found in two papers, here and here.

Creation ‘science’ (an oxymoron if there ever was one) posits that animals fall into types, or baramins, which were created independently, but have diversified since. I’m sure you are aware of the creationist campaign to allow for microevolution but not macroevolution. Obtuse reasoning, but there you have it. Baramin is a word used to describe a kind of critter, say a cat to which all members of the cat ‘family’ (like lions and tigers) belong. The argument is that Noah’s ark brought on board not all animals we see today but only the essential kinds necessary to repopulate the world after the love of god was expressed by a murderously cleansing flood. Morphological gaps in the fossil record are used as ‘evidence’ for distinct baramins that could only have come about by a designing creator.

I know, but bear with me.

Dr Senter’s first paper – described in this BBC Nature Wonder Monkey article by editor Matt Walker – points the obvious, that if the fossil record for dinosaurs:

do show transitional forms, and are in fact genetically related to each other, then creationists are in a bit of a bind. Either they must accept that to be true, and therefore contradict their own position that these groups appeared without evolution. Or they must throw out the assertion, but also reject their own methodology, which they have used to validate their creationist claims. Dr Senter’s 2010 study, did of course, show that coelurosaurian dinosaurs are related, in particular that tyrannosaurs (to which T. rex belongs) form a continuous group with other dinosaurs belonging to a group called the Compsognathidae.

In the second and latest study, Senter looks at another creationist science method called taxon correlation, which is also a baraminological technique, and shows enough morphological continuity between dinosaurs to prove, by creationist standards, that dinosaurs are genetically related.

So what?

Well, it shows that dinosaurs can be grouped into eight kinds, or baramins, which would seem to make creationists happy. Eight kinds of dinosaurs are easier to load on to an ark than, say dozens of the huge monstrosities or thousands of smaller ones. So far, so good in the creationist camp. Ain’t life grand?

But hold on a second! This raises a rather sticky problem, namely, that:

in just a few thousand years, each “kind” of dinosaur begat the huge variation in fossils we see today.

In other words, incredibly rapid microevolution leading to macroevolution.

Bugger.

Heads, evolution wins. Tails, creation science loses.

Are we really surprised? Of course not… not if one honestly and with an open mind takes the time to understand why so many branches of science concludes that evolution is true. The evidence painstakingly gathered from every strand of inquiry except theology (again showing why theology is not an inquiry at all but a position of trust in certain assumptions) is mutually supportive and overwhelming. It takes a very firm belief to counter what is true in reality with what is simply believed to be true about it, and this is what theology does: it tries to convince people that reality and causal evidence should be no constraint to a good belief.

(h/t to MUR)

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17 Comments »

  1. I just love how they are trying to use gaps in the fossil record to prove something – I think it is hilarious.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — July 6, 2011 @ 3:22 pm | Reply

    • Only in theology do we find ignorance a virtue (in the religious sense of the word faith – to believe something is true without good reasons to do so), so it’s no surprise to think the absence of data is considered good ‘evidence’ for oogity boogity. With a ubiquitous answer like that to fill in all the gaps in our knowledge is it any wonder that theology produces now new knowledge, no ‘different’ ways of knowing, no applications that work, no avenues for further inquiry? By starting with the preferred answer theologies that grant authority to oogity boogity cannot help but be a hindrance to honest inquiry.

      Comment by tildeb — July 6, 2011 @ 3:53 pm | Reply

  2. Why was my post removed?

    Comment by David — July 6, 2011 @ 8:18 pm | Reply

    • Because you left no comment here, David, and only a list of links to which no comments are allowed.

      Comment by tildeb — July 6, 2011 @ 9:01 pm | Reply

  3. The question I want to ask you is which form of “Biblical Creationism” are you critiquing?

    Comment by Craig Bennett — July 6, 2011 @ 8:20 pm | Reply

    • The story of Noah and his ark from Genesis dependent on the Babylonian version of the same story.

      Comment by tildeb — July 6, 2011 @ 9:05 pm | Reply

      • Why does the Israelite story have to be dependent on the Babylonian story? Both the Israelites and the Babylonians came from an oral and not written culture…and it seems they both point to the same story which indicates some level of truth of that story.

        Comment by Craig Bennett — July 6, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

      • I missed this comment earlier, Craig, so I’m sorry for the delay in my response.

        I point out the Babylonian root to show that the story is very old and in no way dependent on Jesus’ later doings. To attribute the myth’s meaning to a later event is incoherent, so we know the christian use of the myth has to be wrong; the ‘meaning’ must be contained in the story itself, brought to life through understanding its symbols in the context of a person’s life. On in this sense is the myth ‘true’, in that it is a useful and accurate guide to improving one’s understanding of how to live well.

        Comment by tildeb — July 9, 2011 @ 11:43 am

      • You have made a lot of assumptions here without showing how Christians use the story of Noah within a Christian Framework… You can’t dismiss the central claims of Christianity from any claim or belief regarding Noah… to try and do so is clearly foundationally false. The story of Noah does have a place within the Christian canon, yet it also has a place within the canon of Islam and Judaism…

        Interestingly the story of the tower of Babel which is the topic of another post – is found in many ancient tribal cultures stemming from Tibet through to New Guinea….

        Comment by Craig Bennett — July 9, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

      • I was referring to the Genesis creation myth as a whole to address the fundamental mistake in NT christianity, but Noah’s ark in particular (from the post) for biological evidence that it cannot be literally true.

        The flood story in Genesis must be metaphorically understood to represent something. Most creation myths do contain destructive floods but the biblical version is pretty dull compared to most… that involve our hero having to go into the water and bring about rebirth. Noah’s story lacks this common motif but still represents the destruction of the persona to bring about adult and responsible individualization. The christian reading of it is about fearing the wrath of god for disobedience and special treatment for the righteous. It’s pretty incoherent as a metaphorical interpretation which is why it is so typically held to be literally true. The problem, of course, is that it isn’t. The evidence is unequivocal, and that’s the point of the post: no matter how you come at it, the Genesis creation myth is an allegory. In this sense, Jesus supposedly died for a metaphor!?

        Comment by tildeb — July 9, 2011 @ 9:41 pm

  4. “The question I want to ask you is which form of “Biblical Creationism” are you critiquing?”

    All of it because it is bullshit.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — July 7, 2011 @ 2:05 am | Reply

    • Well, I agree all creation stories are bullshit in a literal sense but creation myths in general – and Genesis in particular – are a rich source of wisdom for us… if we know how to read them, if we know how to follow the signs and guideposts.

      The supernatural references in this sense are clear indications of ‘Myth Ahead’ and tell us to comprehend them as important and meaningful symbols. The point of these stories is to allow us to teach ourselves something vital in how to live well, how to live purposeful lives within the context of such arbitrary forces of nature to which we are helplessly subject. The problem of how to value myths is when religion co-opts and perverts them to fill and justify a theological purpose.

      Genesis is a perfect example of this perversion, where this wonderful teaching tool is abused – and intentionally so – to ‘explain’ a later supposedly historical event. Jesus’ literal death is ‘explained’ by abusing the creation myth to be a literal event – a ‘fall’ from ‘grace’ – that is necessary to justify this supposed ‘sacrifice’ and create a debt not of our choosing. Of course, this interpretation is absurd at every turn yet this is what is taught to each successive generation of children by misguided christians as if it were the only true one. And this warped interpretation serves no purpose other than to condemn people for their birth so that their latter salvation in some other life that supposedly lies waiting beyond death and accessible only by acceptance of theology that can be directed by priests and clerics and clergy who pretend they are knowledgeable about such future states of being and magically know how to best prepare for it… only through following their and not some other religious precepts, of course.

      Quelle surprise.

      It is both this literal interpretation and twisted reading that is utter bullshit and damages why myths are actually true in the sense of reflecting real life and our place in it. We know the christian interpretation has to be bullshit because it is fails to address the symbols of the myth appropriately and positively to represent this world and our proper and meaningful and purposeful place in it; instead, it stupidly assigns us to be broken, flawed, and guilt-ridden for our very birth and demonizes our most precious resources as if they were somehow bad or wrong: our curiosity and reasoning within the context of the reality we inhabit. The christian Genesis creation myth interpretation has been twisted into a tool of abuse and degradation in the service of promoting the artificial need for exterior control by clerics.

      And that, quite obviously, is bullshit.

      Comment by tildeb — July 7, 2011 @ 11:42 am | Reply

      • “because it is fails to address the symbols of the myth appropriately and positively to represent this world and our proper and meaningful and purposeful place in it”.

        What do you mean by symbols of the myth? What is the myth? what are the symbols? Why does it have to address them positively rather than negatively, objectively or in any other fashion? How would it then represent our proper,meaningful and purposeful place in this world?

        Comment by Stephen O'Donnell — July 9, 2011 @ 11:32 am

      • When supernatural elements are introduced into one of these stories, our attention is immediately piqued because we recognize that these ‘whatevers’ are not real. They represent something other than what they are. For example, a talking snake is not real. It is a symbol. But a symbol of what? Here is where the genius of myths kicks into action.

        Symbols represent something true in each of our lives. When we identify what it means in our lives, we personalize it. We in a sense become part of the story and the story becomes a part of our personal life. It also teaches us something fundamental about being human and helps us learn how to cope/deal with issues into to improve our ability to live well in spite of suffering and cruelty and death. After all, that’s the way nature is… red in tooth and claw. Life requires death. So how to deal with this? Well, there are many ways and many myths to teach us all sorts of important lessons.

        The myth itself is about creation… sort of the root of our beginnings in mythological terminology. It is not meant to be factual and we know it is not factual. We did not descend, for example, from a single couple. We have ample evidence to show why this is so. The First Nations people of Northern Ontario did not arise on the back of a great turtle and the West Coast natives did not crawl out of a great log. All these creation myths – and there are many behind every culture in the world – are not factual nor need they be to be valuable teaching tools. The Genesis creation myth is no different: it’s a story of origins that introduces a basic human truth: we are more powerful when we learn stuff but this comes with a cost…. a cost worth paying. To refuse our curiosity because it’s dangerous is against our human nature and leads to a false life of safety devoid of living value. And so on.

        Look at the symbols: trees of ‘life’ and of ‘knowledge of good and evil’ producing ‘fruit’ that we then can choose to ‘eat’, a talking snake, a garden, an overseer, four guardians with flaming swords, and so on. None of these are to be understood as literally true but representative of forces and effects in the real world. The myth teaches us how to not only accept our nature but why we need to embrace it and what that means.

        It makes no sense to offer teaching lessons that are negative or contrary to what is true any more than it makes no sense to teach the kind of math where 2 plus 2 equals fish. It makes no sense. Myths are all about how to build a positive relationship between people and their world. Because we are all of a single species, myths address what is true for all of us.

        Comment by tildeb — July 9, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

  5. Hmm – not so sure there is any value or lessons to be learnt from Genesis, other than though shall not be tempted by things… which is stupid.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — July 9, 2011 @ 6:00 pm | Reply

    • Then you have a wonderful future learning more about the role of myths and how they can enrich your life! A good introduction is with Joseph Campbell who speaks so eloquently and whose ideas are very accessible – his interview with Bill Moyers is available here and in book form (The Power of Myth). Campbell has many such books (my preference is A Hero With a Thousand Faces). Combined with my studies of Jung (the unconscious) and Plato (ever notice he ends The Republic with the Myth of Er? Ever wonder why?), I wrote a major thesis paper on Mythology and Trasformation showing how the symbolic narrative is such a powerful and probably the most accessible teaching tool we have: our dreams.

      Anyway, I did my defense presentation starting with the music from Star Wars and ended with a quotation from the Green Knight to link it all together. My four hour panel members were all quite satisfied!

      Comment by tildeb — July 9, 2011 @ 9:54 pm | Reply

  6. I understand the argument that myth is a method of communication for the human condition – but it can and does confuse the message. The human condition can be communicated far more efficiently, and without confusion by using real life examples.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — July 10, 2011 @ 3:04 am | Reply


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