The Evolution of Creationism

Since I work in the area of physics, I don’t get so much push-back from creationists. There isn’t too much biology or evolution going on in my classroom, and that is too bad. Nonetheless. the people that follow along the idea of creationism, especially its young-earth formulation, are hindered from doing or understanding so much of science. It doesn’t help that much of the material out there is also dishonest.

A lot of young-earth creationists (YECs) believe what they are doing is believing in the Bible the way it was meant, but they probably don’t even realize the pedigree of their theology. How long has this sort of fundamentalism been around? Actually, it’s quite recent–early 20th century. The history of the movement is documented very well in Ronald Numbers’ The Creationists. However, in some ways the argument is much, much older than what started in the 19th century. There was some really good creation science back in the day, but by “back in the day” I mean the Roman era with people like the famous doctor Galen. (Those intellectual battles are discussed well in David Sedley’s Creationism and its Critics in Antiquity.)

Nonetheless, the creationism that has become so common today is really watered-down Seventh-Day Adventism. It is a strange thing that most (at least most intellectual) Christians at the end of the 19th century were okay with evolution (though they backed away from Darwin’s mechanism), but a heretical group with its own prophetess has become the mainstream for so many Protestant groups.

If you don’t have the time to read up on this interesting history, PZ Myers has a good talk that summarizes that history along with some debunking of creationist garbage.

If you want more of PZ debunking Intelligent Design and creationism, along with learning some interesting science, here is his talk from about a year ago concerning genes and junk DNA.

It’s a fact that a large chunk of our DNA does nothing to affect us other than waste some energy in copy-pasting old stuff from ages past (junk which also can be used to show who evolved from what, such as with endogenous retroviruses! see here) shows that our genome is not the economical system that creationists want. But if this is the prediction, that junk DNA has a purpose for the organism, then it is falsified. So, can we be done with this junk now?


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