A question worth posing on a blog like this is whether or not anti-Creationists are themselves partly (or even wholly) responsible for the alarming spread of Creationism. Several notable biologists, Richard Dawkins and the late Stephen Jay Gould among them, have refused on principle to debate Creationists – not because they fear losing (I’ll get to that in a minute), but because someone like Dawkins engaging a Creationists in debate would give the whole rancid movement exactly the kind of credibility its proponents crave.
It cannot be said enough that Creationism is not a scientific endeavour. Creationists do not generally ‘do science’, or if they do their research has nothing to do with Creationism. This is why they attempt to get into schools via the back door and why Expelled exists. (Although divine punishment should not be ruled out as the ultimate cause of the latter.) With that in mind, it seems that Gould had the right idea. But what about the majority of people who aren’t famous scientists and writers – is it a bad idea for us to set the record straight whenver we can?
First of all, keep in mind that the people I’m likely to debate are not the people that Richard Dawkins is likely to debate. The ‘luminaries’ of Creationism have no interest in talking to me, and Creationist websites are not going to rally around the fact that Ben Stein debated with some guy they’ve never heard of. Claiming that my actions lend credibility to Creationism would be egotistical in the extreme.
So, that’s one justification for the existence of this blog. The other is that Dawkins and his peers are likely to be debating those who are, to varying degrees, the source of much of Creationism. I’ve said it before, but somebody at the top, somebody who publishes books on Creationism or runs a website like, say, Answers in Genesis, must be lying. There is a simple reason for this: these people are not just wrong, but so wrong, on so many counts, that the effort required to build a website like AiG or make a movie like Expelled would almost certainly bring them into contact with sources who could alleviate their ignorance. Unless these people are completely incompetent when it comes to basic research, they must be lying.
If this is true, there is almost no hope of changing their minds. Someone who is willing to lie for their cause cares only about convincing others that they’re right – whether they really are or not is irrelevant. This is not so of the Creationists who buy into their deceit. While it may be impossible to change the leaders of Creationism, it’s my hope that we can reach some of those who are in the middle of lining up to join their ranks. Why this is a worthy endeavour will be a subject for a future post.
Until then, I’d like any Creationists in the ‘audience’ to ponder a few questions:
1) If you’ve ever debated someone who defends evolution, you’ve mostly likely found that some of what your Creationists sources told you is completely wrong. (It may even be that all of it is wrong, especially if you’ve been duped by the abhorrant tactic of quote mining.) Ask yourself, how did your source get it so completely wrong, and why didn’t they check their facts more carefully?
2) Some (obnoxious) Creationists like to think of Creationism as the triumphant overthrowing of ‘Darwinism’, a new wave of fresh thought sweeping through Universities and driving out scientific dogma. This is very obviously not the case; for decades after the Scopes trial the majority of high school textbooks in the USA either made no mention of evolution or disparaged it, in much the same way that modern Creationists want to ‘teach the controversy’. Creationism’s glory days are in the past – it has already come and gone. However, throughout this lengthy period of temporary victory, Creationists did not sway the scientific community. Its success in high schools was completely divorced from any sort of success at University level or higher.
Ask yourself, why was this the case? If Creationism’s criticism of evolutio is based on solid evidence (or the lack thereof), why has it never in its modern form swayed the vast majority of actual scientists? Furthermore, what makes you think the evidence for evolution is any more lacking now than it was then?