Saturday, April 17, 2010


Monkey Shines

A thought:

[M]uch of the so-called evidence that would have been included in the teaching of creation science consisted of attacks on an oversimplified model of evolution theory. But behind this lay the young-earth movement's efforts to replace the orthodox view of the earth's history with flood geology. Once this could be exposed, it was possible to argue that creation science was an attempt to uphold a literal interpretation of the Genesis story. The American Civil Liberties Union was then able to argue that creation science was religion, not real science, and could not be taught in the schools. The dispute came to a head in 1983, when an Arkansas law requiring equal time was struck down after a trial that hit the headlines all over the countiy. Many experts testified for the evolutionists, and the philosopher Michael Ruse was called in to undermine the scientific credentials of the creationists. He showed how the creationists used an oversimplified view of the scientific method to dismiss evolution as "only a theory" while concealing their unwillingness to expose their own alternative to rigorous testing.

It now became clear to the creationist movement that, whatever the level of support for creation science in their own ranks, the young-earth position was an obstacle to their hopes of getting an alternative to evolutionism into the schools. Into the breach now stepped a new form of creationism, still intent on exposing the weakness of evolution theory, but now based on a revival of the old argument from design. This is the theory of Intelligent Design (ID), which has become the focus for a new wave of anti-evolution legislation. To the dismay of young-earth creationists, the supporters of ID make no effort to construct a detailed history of life based on supernatural events. Some are even willing to admit large amounts of evolution in the later development of life. They limit themselves to demonstrating the inability of orthodox Darwinism to explain the complexity of living things. If Dawkins wants to replace Paley's watchmaker God with natural selection, ID wants to shift the focus of debate into the realm of modern biology. Its target is the evidence for design to be found not in the gross anatomical structures of individual species, but within the cell, where recent advances reveal a whole new level of complexity. ...

Despite its central role as the spearhead for the latest efforts to bring anti-evolutionism into the schools, many creationists remain profoundly dissatisfied with ID. At best, it only endorses belief in an abstract Designer for the earliest living cells. It doesn't imply that individual modern species are divinely created, least of all human beings, and its supporters are quite happy with the orthodox scientific model of geological time. Some of them even accept theistic evolution to explain all the later developments in the history of life. For the premillenial Christian groups who depend on the veracity of the Bible to uphold their vision of an imminent Second
Coming of Christ, this is not enough -- indeed it is totally unacceptable.

Peter J. Bowler, Monkey Trials and Gorilla Sermons : Evolution and Christianity from Darwin to Intelligent Design

Meh. This is kind of an old view that failed to see the connections between creation science and ID...

Even the point that creationists criticize ID for not being Biblical enough fails to distinguish ID from creation science. "Creation science" got exactly the same critique from (some) creationists, because just like ID, creation science (at least in the 1980s) tried to hide its religious basis and origins.

See e.g. the 1987 article by a biblical fundamentalist, criticizing creation science:


Let me review this astonishing and scandalous
situation. There is a case before the Supreme Court
of the United States involving many professed
Christian leaders. In the public’s mind, the case
involves the Christian doctrine of creation and
whether or not it can be taught in the government
schools of Louisiana. But if one reads the briefs pre
pared by the scientific creationists in this litigation
and one does not even have to read them very
closely it is abundantly clear that the
constitutionality of the Biblical doctrine of creation
being taught in the public schools is not being
litigated, that all parties involved agree that the
Genesis account of creation must not be allowed in
science classes in the government schools, and that
the public especially the Christians of America who
blindly trust their leaders to tell them the truth have
been conned into sup porting a movement that is
non-Christian by its own repeated admission.

How did this happen? How did the "change in
content" in the meaning of creation occur in the last
decade? How have the Christians of America been
fooled? The full explanation is a study in the failure
of evidentialist apologetics.
The modern creationist movement began about 25
years ago with the publication of The Genesis Flood
by Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb. The
book was designed to defend the Genesis account of
Noah’s flood as a worldwide flood. Moreover, it
was designed to do so by citing evidence from
geology, hydrology, and other scientific disciplines
that is compatible with the Genesis account and
difficult to explain on the basis of uniformitarian
evolutionary development. The Genesis Flood was
an interesting attempt to embarrass those scientists
who denied catastrophism by marshalling the
evidence that seemed to imply a worldwide
catastrophe like the Genesis flood.

But Messrs. Morris and Whitcomb never quite got
the logical situation straight. They have never quite
understood what proves what. And if this failure is
embarrassing in high school geometry, it is
absolutely fatal in theology. Morris’ and
Whitcomb’s method seemed to imply that scientific
evidence could prove the truth of Genesis. But at
least Messrs. Morris and Whitcomb kept fairly close
to the Scriptures and were concerned to defend the
accuracy of the Biblical statements. Unfortunately,
their very concern with Scripture is what obscured
the irreparable flaws in their apologetic method. In
the past ten years we have seen that incorrect
method carried to its logical conclusion. That
conclusion has been the transformation of Biblical
creationism into scientific creationism.

As the quotations from the scientific creationists
that I have already read demonstrate, Morris’ and
Whitcomb’s early fidelity to the Scriptures has been
jettisoned as the implications of their apologetic
method have become more and more clear. The
scientific creationists have declared their
independence from the Bible. Scientific creationism
does not necessarily involve "religious concepts, a
creator or God, creation from nothing,
catastrophism, a worldwide flood, the recent
inception of life, or ‘kinds’ of plants or animals."
Science is capable of discovering truth, according to
these men. One need not start with the Bible at all.
This is one of the most prevalent superstitions of the
twentieth century.

The development of the sort of non-scriptural, even
anti-scriptural, scientific creationism that we have
been discussing is a logically inevitable result of the
belief that science is not a handmaiden to theology,
but an independent enterprise that can prove some
vague notion of creation. It can not. Science cannot
prove anything, let alone prove creation. But it is
this blind faith in science as a cognitive enterprise
that explains why the meaning of "creation" has
changed in the last ten years and is now quite
different from religious views of past centuries.

The scientific creationists have furnished us with
their own statements distinguishing their views
from those of the Bible. It is past time for Biblical
Christians to consider whether they ought to
continue to spend thousands of dollars on such
specious arguments, and, more importantly, whether
Christians can any longer afford to use a method of
defending the faith that inexorably leads to non-
Christian conclusions.

It has taken only a decade for Biblical creationism
to turn into scientific creationism. Many Christians
are not yet aware of the change. The scientific
creationists have a pecuniary interest in keeping
them uninformed of the change. But the
ramifications of the change are extensive, and its
implications are lethal. Once the axiomatic
acceptance of Scripture as inerrant is abandoned,
the surrender to pagan ism is sure and swift. The
Bible and the Bible alone is the source of truth. It is
in the Bible alone that we read about creation.
Neither science nor Aristotle has anything to say
about it. Science is ever learning and never able to
come to the knowledge of truth.

Let us therefore, as Biblical creationists, stop
funding and supporting the scientific creationists
and return to our divinely commanded duty of
building Christian schools, publishing Christian
books, and preaching the whole counsel of God to
every creature. And let those who call themselves
Christians return to the faith they profess and
defend it as it ought to be defended: as God’s truth,
and nothing less.
Very interesting. Thanks.
As I rarely tire of pointing out, the argument from design has deep pre-Christian roots. It comes through quite clearly in the Stoics -- for example, Epictetus uses it to criticize the Epicureans. The whole debate has the remarkable feel of being caught in a time-warp, with "Darwinists" cast as Epicureans and "design theorists" cast as Stoics.

And though the argument from design is commonly associated with Deism, Deism is thoroughly saturated with Stoic ideas -- so much so that the Hume scholar Stephen Buckley describes the atmosphere of Hume's Scotland as "Christian Stoicism."

Given the argument from design could lead at most to something like the Stoic conception of Providence, I'm actually quite surprised that the 'big tent' has lasted as long as it has. For a genuine Biblical creationist, Stoicism is at best "virtuous paganism."
And though the argument from design is commonly associated with Deism,

It's commonly associated with Creationism too. It's even in the Bible, therefore so it is commonly associated with all of Christianity. It's associated with all kinds of stuff!
It's commonly associated with Creationism too. It's even in the Bible ...

Yes, that rat-bastard Paul knew he couldn't convert the Greeks without appealing to "reason," so he stole from the Greek philosopers. But it was nothing but a "nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean" even then.
"so that they are without excuse" sounds like a lot more than a nudge! Sounds pretty definitive to me.
I don't know, Mr. Pieret, I'm having a hard time believing the Greeks should get all the credit. Questions like "Where did all this come from?" answered with "Somebody must have dunnit." seems like something that would have got the whole religion ball rolling from the very start.
"Somebody must have dunnit." seems like something that would have got the whole religion ball rolling from the very start.

Sure, but it got into Christianity from the Greek philosophers Paul was coopting.
Well, after a brief cursory examination of the Old testament... nothing solid. I got nothin. (Thought I would find something in Ecclesiastes at least.) So I bow to you guys's wisdom.
I quite like reading through a post that will make men and women think.
Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!

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