Several thousand years ago, a small tribe of ignorant near-savages wrote various collections of myths, wild tales, lies, and gibberish. Over the centuries, the stories were embroidered, garbled, mutilated, and torn into small pieces that were then repeatedly shuffled. Finally, this material was badly translated into several languages successively.
The resultant text, creationists feel, is the best guide to this complex and technical subject. -Science Made Stupid, 1985
Creationism is the account for the existence of the universe and of human life that says that both were created ex nihilo by a Supreme Being. The argument is that everything that exists now must have a preceding cause, that the chain of causation cannot be infinite, and therefore that there must be a first cause, which is God. The argument is not persuasive to those who ask what it was that caused the Supreme Being.
Creationism falls into the category of "plausible stories." There appears to be nothing logically inconsistent with the view that some superior race (or even eternal being) seeded the universe or perhaps only seeded the Earth with human being. There likewise appears to be nothing logically inconsistent with the view that some superior being created the whole universe. Physicists who study the history of the Universe almost universally agree with the idea that the universe, and all of space and time, originated with a singular event called the "Big Bang." Physicists are currently still pushing their understanding of the events back toward "time zero." Furthermore, they are trying to understand why the universe should have one set of characteristics and not another. But they do not simply posit a supreme being who decided these things on the basis of personal preference.
The nature of science is that it tries to find the reasons for things, and to do so every conclusion must be grounded in evidence and woven together in an internally consistent logical account. While nothing may be absolutely certain, since the next observation may turn out to stomp on the physicists' metaphysical sand castle, everything is grounded in ever growing accumulations of solid evidence, empirical observations.
A general definition of creationism does not preclude a creation that occurred millions or billions of years ago. But in practice, the term usually refers to a specific version of creationism, sometimes called "young earth creationism". This version asserts that there was a creation about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago. Such a date is consistent with a literal interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures, and is accepted by fundamentalist Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The 17th century Anglican Archbishop James Ussher, by these scriptures, calculated the precise date of creation to be October 23, 4004 B.C. Their ideas are grounded in holy texts, not in the evidence provided to the senses of a community of observers. If one does not accept what they term "holy writ," then there is nothing holding their accounts up other than that they appear to be plausible.
Some cultures are typified by the belief in a creator God, some cultures believe that the Universe has always existed, and some cultures go no further than asserting that God is a superior being who is concerned about the welfare of human beings. Creationism is characteristic of only the first belief system.
Creationists can be categorized in a number of ways according to the specifics of the creationist belief. These include:
- Religion: Creationists can be of virtually any religious stripe, from fundamentalist Christians to Pastafarians.
- Interpretation of Genesis: Young Earth creationists believe Genesis is historically and scientifically accurate. No one else does.
- Age of the Earth: Most sane people think, based on voluminous evidence, that the Earth is billions of years old — and know that it is older than 6,000 years. Young earth creationists, by contrast, maintain that Earth is around 6,000 years old, although there are some that claim ages up to 100,000 years.
- Identity of creator: Biblical creationists believe the creator was the God of the Bible, or YHWH. Advocates of intelligent design claim that they don't propose a specifically religious designer; this is a bald-faced lie, as the cdesign proponentsists debacle showed. Extraterrestrial creationists (such as the followers of Raëlism) believe that the creation of life on Earth and/or Homo sapiens was the result of alien intervention, be it direct meddling or blind "seeding" of life across the Universe. In a remarkable effort to distance itself from creationism, even the Discovery Institute has occasionally flirted with this idea in claiming that it is agnostic as to the identity of the "designer", but the Wedge Document makes clear their true convictions: to promote Christian creationism in public schools and government.
Old Earth creationism
- Main article: Old Earth creationism
"Old Earth" creationists accept a conventional age of the Earth of 4.5 billion years (known as deep time) as has been known since the 19th Century. Similarly, they accept the dating methods used to reach this figure, including radiometric dating and ice-core dating. Nevertheless, they believe that life was deliberately created and possibly mucked about with by a religious deity — thus "Old Earth" creationists mostly differ in their attitude towards evolution, rather than other branches of established science such as geology. Evolutionary Creationists believe the creation event took place, and life subsequently developed through the process of evolution. Day Age Creationism is a literal interpretation of Genesis concluding that creation took place as claimed in Genesis, but that each of the "days" represents a vast period of time. The framework interpretation of Genesis, advanced by Biblical scholar Meredith Kline, is a literal interpretation of Genesis that posits that the Genesis account is not to be taken as a historical or scientific description of creation, but as an allegorical and theological one. Progressive creationism is predicated on accepting mainstream scientific findings regarding the age of the Earth, but positing that God progressively created new creatures over the course of millions of years. Gap creationists believe that the Earth was created millions of years ago, but then laid waste and remade as described in Genesis 1:2 over the course of six, 24 solar hour days.
Young Earth creationism
- Main article: Young Earth creationism
"Young Earth" creationists reject the scientific consensus on the age of the Earth in favour of dating creation based on the Bible, usually by referring to Bishop James Ussher's Biblical genealogies. As their faith is based on accepting Genesis as history, it is wholly inconsistent with the nearly unanimous scientific consensus that the Earth is far older than young earthers accept. In order to justify their literalist dogma, young earth creationists must reject numerous branches of science. Young earth creationists created "creation science" to bolster their Biblical claims regarding the age of the earth and their opposition to the theory of evolution.
Young Earth creationists typically acknowledge parts of evolution when denial would be too much, terming it microevolution, but continue to reject any theory of naturalistic abiogenesis and common descent. Instead, they believe that God created various lifeforms in something resembling their present forms, and that microevolution subsequently led to a degree of diversification among species - a branch of creation science known as baraminology has developed to try and explain this. This has led to a bit of an inconsistent position on creationists' part, in which they deny that millions of years of evolution could possibly produce speciation, but at the same time argue that thousands of years of microevolution was enough to give rise to the great diversity of life we see on Earth today solely from the pairs of animals that survived the flood on Noah's ark some 4,000 years ago.<ref>For an example, see our side-by-side response to the CMI article, Snake Carnivory Origin.</ref>
Some young Earth beliefs even go as far as to state that the universe itself is only 6,000 years old, and that their creator god created space and time at the same instant as our planet. This is again in conflict with even more fields of tested science. In the case of a young universe beliefs, physical constants such as the speed of light are often reinterpreted as "inconstant" to explain phenomena such as distant starlight.
Particularly in the United States, the most prevalent young Earth belief is based on the Judeo-Christian mythology laid out in the Old Testament. This includes interpreting the various stories scattered throughout the book as historically accurate — the Tower of Babel and the global flood, for example. One of the additional issues with a literal interpretation of some holy texts is that they conflict, sometimes with themselves; this is especially true of Genesis. According to Genesis 1, God created the world in six days, resting on the seventh, with Man and Woman being created simultaneously, after the plants and animals. However, according to Genesis 2, God creates Man, then the plants and animals, then Woman as company for Adam. There have been several attempts to skirt this issue, but none of them produce a completely literal yet consistent reading — they are flat-out contradictions.
Though they would love to keep this out of the public sphere and make it seem as if they were just scientists, Creationist thought is not based just on Genesis 1 and 2. They also insist stories like that of Noah's Ark are historically accurate. Of course, this therefore leads to a valid question: what do they think about Cain and Abel? For generations, Southern Protestants that believed the earth was only several thousand years old also insisted that dark skin pigmentation was in fact 'The Mark of Cain', a blood curse making them inferior to humans and worthy of enslavement.
Intelligent Design/Creationism is not just unscientific, as a mythology it teaches all the wrong lessons. Position: Creationism is Bad Mythology
- A list of Things Creationists Hate. It's a big list.
- Scientific American: 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense
- Scientific American: The Latest Face of Creationism in the Classroom
- The “Threat” of Creationism, by Isaac Asimov published in Science and Creationism (in 1984!!! still crazy after all these years)
- Geological Society of London doesn't like creationism (or Intelligent Design)
- Geological Society of Australia Intelligent Design Policy (PDF)
- Lewis Black explains Creationist Bullshit
- Creation "Science" Debunked Website
- The Fact of Evolution - debunking Creationist claims on FreeThoughtPedia.com
- Most content here from RationalWiki