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« Dover Watch - When Intelligence Attacks! The RantsSkeptics' Circle #5 »

Kids Riding the Slippery Slope of Creationism
2005.03.31 (Thu) 00:15

On March 28, PBS's NewsHour ran a segment on the creation conflict taking place in public schools all across the United States. As usual, it was the old "give each side equal time" approach which is simply not the correct way to report on something for which one of the two sides has no merit whatsoever. They included Stephen C. Meyer from the Discovery Institute along with Ken Ham from Answers in Genesis as creationism "experts."

We're reasonably sure that you're familiar with the Discovery Institute and their thinly veiled brand of biblical creationism which they've labeled "intelligent design," but you may not be aware of Answers in Genesis. In contrast to the Discovery Institute's attempt to avoid any mention of god or religion in their public appearances, Answers in Genesis proudly thumps the bible after every "Can I get an Amen?" that they utter. But make no mistake; the aims of these groups are ultimately the same — replacing the teaching of science in the public school system with biblical creationism. In this way, Answers in Genesis is much more honest then their Discovery Institute counterparts. Of course, they are also batshit insane.

First, let's look at what the children interviewed for the PBS segment had to say. These are high school students from Danville, Kentucky:

I believe that God created the Earth and put life on this Earth. I don't really believe in the whole evolution theory.
I believe that God also made us. I just think it's a lot easier to believe than the big bang theory, or any of the other theories about apes.
I believe God molded man from the dust and he breathed life into it, and I believe we came out with two legs and thumbs and the thought capacity better than any other animal.
To say that this was all some big cosmic dice roll, and we went from fish to frogs to monkeys and monkeys to humans. It's just kind of almost ridiculous.
I don't think a human body could have just come about. I think God definitely had everything to do in it, it's so complex, I don't think it could have just come.
I think you have different types of scientists, and the ones that bring about, you know, theories of evolution, I wouldn't call them scientists they're just like philosophers.

This is some disheartening stuff, and it's even worse if you watch the video and see the words coming out of the kids' mouths. Any way you slice it, these kids are spouting out some incredibly stupid statements. Of course, to some extent it is acceptable for kids to have misguided ideas, because it is expected that the adults in their lives will correct them and give them a solid education, but we wonder if such assistance will be available or effective for those quoted above. For some of them, it sounds like their minds are already made up, no doubt thanks to the religious indoctrination they have received at the hands of their parents. Here are two quotes from Danville teachers to illustrate our point:

I had a parent come in and basically said I was going to spend an eternity in hell, if I taught her kids about evolution.
I had a group of students all bring copies of the New Testament into class, and as we started to talk about 'change over time' they brought the Bible and said "here's my record of time." I mean, where - I have no place to go with this.

Any parents who want their kids to believe in creationism over evolution should be aware of what they are signing their kids up for, and of the long-term harm that will follow. Creationism isn't just saying that we don't "come from monkeys" — it is an uncompromising biblical view of the world, the universe and every aspect of existence. The presumption that the debate is one of creationism vs. evolution is a huge understatement: aside from the fact that one is religious dogma and the other is a scientific theory, evolution is solely about the descent and diversity of life, while creationism is about the origins of everything. The correct way to look at this is creationism (though not necessarily religion in general) vs. the entire body of scientific knowledge.

Can there be a compromise? Well, creationists who try to walk that road are sometimes referred to as "theistic evolutionists." They tend to promote a belief system in which evolution occurred, but was guided by a supernatural force, such as the Judeo-Christian god. But according to Answers in Genesis (as well as many creationists), that will never do:

The doctrines of creation and evolution are so strongly divergent that reconciliation is totally impossible. Theistic evolutionists attempt to integrate the two doctrines, however such syncretism reduces the message of the Bible to insignificance. The conclusion is inevitable: There is no support for theistic evolution in the Bible.

Getting evolution out of the classroom is just the first step toward a larger goal of recognizing the bible as literal truth. Let's see where the path leads from there by taking just a few of the assertions from the Answers in Genesis web site:

According to the Bible: Dinosaurs first existed around 6,000 years ago. God made the dinosaurs, along with the other land animals, on Day Six of the Creation Week (Gen. 1:20—25, 31). Adam and Eve were also made on day six—so dinosaurs lived at the same time as people, not separated by eons of time. Dinosaurs could not have died out before people appeared, because dinosaurs had not previously existed, and death, bloodshed, disease and suffering are a result of Adam's sin (Rom. 5:12,14, 1 Cor. 15:21—22).
A saddled dinosaur In case you're a newcomer to the creationist propagranda machine, this falls into the Young Earth Creationist model — the belief that the earth is only about 6,000 to 10,000 years old. So, with only a few thousand years of pre-history, any and all past events on earth have to be made to fit into the compressed timeline. That includes men and dinosaurs living side-by-side. A happy-fun example can be seen in the picture to the right from the PBS special, in which a dinosaur is wearing a saddle in order to make dino-riding easier. This picture was taken at the soon to open Answers in Genesis Creation Museum. Of course, it is by no means an isolated idea — Kent Hovind's Dinosaur Adventure Land already covers this common creationist concept.

So, what happened to all of the dinosaurs when the big biblical flood came?

Representatives of all the kinds of air-breathing land animals, including the dinosaur kinds, went on board Noah's Ark.

Ah, there you have it. And while we're on the subject of the flood, we might want to touch on the creationist explanation for water on Mars. Why, you ask, would a discussion of the flood lead to a discussion of water on Mars?

Where did the water on Mars come from? ... Many creation scientists [for example, Wayne Spencer, 'The Origin and History of the Solar System', 3rd ICC, 1994, pp. 513-523] have suspected that the Genesis flood was a catastrophe which affected the whole solar system, not just the Earth.

And of course, if someday we discover water on an extrasolar planet, then why not say that the flood affected the whole galaxy? Or the whole universe?

From here, there comes a point where Answers in Genesis gets off of the crazy train, but other groups are happy to keep riding. Some of these include groups who believe that the earth is not moving in space, and those who believe that the earth is hollow:

Located at 84.4 degrees North and South Latitude are Polar Openings that lead into the hollow interior of our planet where the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel today dwell in perfect harmony, with life spans equal to those of the Methuselahs of the Bible, whose only desire is to live in peace. Their flying saucers in defense of their country at times are seen on our surface world.

Sure, many creationists scoff at these people; but we find it interesting to note how people who believe in their own completely ridiculous ideas scoff at those who they see as even more crazy than they are. To us, it's all the same — a steady spiral into deluded, unintelligent, dogmatic insanity, and any parents who urge their children to take the ride are doing them a huge disservice.

Are we saying that permitting creationism in our science classes leads to mainstreaming the wonderfully quaint Hollow Earth Theory? No — this isn't really about that. The thing is, though, that just as the winners write the history books, they also dictate society's mores, legislation, and educational standards. Give the fundamentalists an inch — for instance, allowing bullshit creation "theory" to be taught in a science class, or setting up state sponsored monuments of the Ten Commandments, or putting "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance — and they have a little more leverage with which to accomplish their further goals. We're not posing a slippery slope argument: it's not about our assumption that one step leads to the next, it's about the creationists' assumption that allowing one infraction of the First Amendment is a valid justification for a complete reinterpretation of its basic tenets. They're the ones counting on the slippery slope; we're just afraid that they may be right.

And you can be sure of one thing — if the radical religious agenda gets a leg up in any of the ongoing court cases, or at any point down the line, we'll all be in for a wild ride, and unless you're a bible-thumping religious right creationist, it won't be much fun at all. Think about that the next time you hear someone saying it's no big deal to give both theories equal time.

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[  Filed under: % Creationism  % Greatest Hits  % Religion  ]

Comments (8)

Uber, 2005.03.31 (Thu) 14:32 [Link] »

spot on.

I have often found those who use evolution and creation together to be a bit less honest than the wackier creationists even though I subscribe to that view somewhat for purely emotional reasons.

I just admit I have no rational basis for the belief, I permit myself a little irrationality.:-)

The Two Percent Company, 2005.03.31 (Thu) 16:59 [Link] »

Not that you need our validation, Uber, but as far as we're concerned, there's nothing wrong with your stance, for the simple reason that you aren't claiming that your faith is scientifically justified, and you aren't forcing it on others. Although we don't personally subscribe to such faith-based beliefs, we wholeheartedly support anyone else's right to do so, and there are plenty of people who fall into this category that we consider to be our friends. And, hey, a little irrationality isn't such a bad thing — we all do it to some extent!

Uber, 2005.04.01 (Fri) 11:44 [Link] »

Thanks folks.

I just don't know why folks can't be honest about it. It disturbs me a little.

Roger Appell, 2005.04.03 (Sun) 06:43 [Link] »

For an interesting reaction of creationists to this NewsHour show, see the ARN thread "Intelligent Design" on PBS NewsHour, Featuring a Saddled Triceratops. ARN is a creationist website associated with "intelligent design"—see the full ARN thread "Intelligent Design Is Not a Scientific Theory" says Bush White House for an accurate (and entertaining) background on this website and their relationship to ID.

Full disclosure: I was just banned from this forum, presumably for making "inflammatory religious comments." ARN purports to be a website dedicated to the "science" of ID, and does not mention religious comments on their forum rules; anyone who questions the basis of the religious convictions on which this "science" forum is based is quickly banned.

The Two Percent Company, 2005.04.03 (Sun) 13:11 [Link] »

Well, Roger, that's the problem. The forum is dedicated to the "science" of ID, but there is no such thing. So, by that logic, there's nothing that is acceptable to say. Open your mouth at all, and you're just asking to be banned!

Seriously, it's the same old creationist crap — they just keep saying that you are wrong, without ever bothering to provide any actual information to back up what they say, and in some cases, they don't even put forth a position, let alone supporting facts. A quick trigger finger on the ban button is also typical. They can't stomach anyone pointing out the absurdities of their brand of stupidity lest their carefully constructed house of cards collapse around them.

Esther Dail, 2006.07.28 (Fri) 23:12 [Link] »

I had a thought about the teacher whose students brought Bibles as their timeline. It's a perfect opportunity to talk about change over time! I'd start off asking the children what language the Bible was written in, then listing all the languages it has gone through. Then I'd ask them all what version they had, if they had different versions, I'd ask them to compare versions and see what was different. If they all had the same version, the only thing I can think of is to tell them that it's the same with them, they are all the same version too.

They want to show the Bible as their idea of change over time, I'd show them just how much the book HAS changed over time.

interupt, 2006.07.29 (Sat) 22:08 [Link] »

Interesting post, and yes, it is a rather scary indictment for the future generation of "scientists" if they firmly believe that humans evolved...gasp...sorry sorry WERE CREATED from dust.

Checking out those links, honestly, how do you guys manage to trawl though all this stuff? Your constitution must be well above any normal human. (I could suggest that your fortitude is further evidence of the evolutionary process.) :)

Personally I would have thought any theory that is made fun of as a Disney movie would be ringing alarm bells in "Hollow Guys" head, (my kids love the Atlantis Movie) but as you well know there are scarier people in the world, who believe all sorts of things that don't exist.

The Two Percent Company, 2006.07.31 (Mon) 00:10 [Link] »

Awesome idea, Esther! In fact, a "History of the Bible" curriculum that actually looked at the, er, evolution (sorry, we couldn't resist) of the literature and stories themselves should be a required course. Seeing the King James Version and the New World Translation side-by-side might go a little ways toward quelling the constant creationist canard "Why are there still monkeys?!" We know such classes exist at the college level (believe it or not, one of us was a Religion minor) — is anyone aware of a similar class at the high school level? Even at a private school, we tend to doubt it.

interupt, you hit the nail on the head — it isn't just the past that the creation "scientists" want to ignore and/or rewrite, it's the future as well; they want to mold and shape the future into a nightmarish facsimile of...well...the past. Frightening stuff.

As for our particular intestinal fortitude when it comes to wading through crap like this, believe us, it's not quite as heroic as you make out — we just have an uncanny ability to roll with the punches. In other words, using comic book metaphors (just for kicks), we're more like Wolverine than the Juggernaut — we feel the hits, but we keep on going.

And since nearly every single mythos or folk tale from every freaking culture has been made into an animated film, we're amazed that true believers can't see how, well, cartoonish their beliefs are. Hollow Earthers included.

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