Scientists thought it was settled. The universe,
they had decided, is about fifteen billion years old and the earth itself
is nearly five billion years old. Simple forms of life came into being over
three billion years ago, having formed spontaneously from non- living matter.
They grew more complex through slow evolutionary processes and the first
hominid ancestors of humanity appeared over four million years ago. Homo
Sapiens itself, the present human species, people like you and me, have walked
the earth for at least 50,000 years. But it isn't settled. There are Americans
who believe that the earth is 10,000 years old at most; that human beings
and all other species were brought into existence by a divine Creator as
eternally separate varieties of beings; that there has been no evolutionary
process and there never was. They are creationists, and they call
creationists. Such creationists are a growing power in the land and are
demanding that schools be forced to teach their views. State legislatures,
mindful of votes are showing signs of caving in before them. In Arkansas,
in Iowa, in Florida, in California, strong movements are on the way to legislate
the teaching of creationism. Is this really something to fear? Surely only
a small minority of the nation is creationist - not vanishingly small,however.
Jerry Falwell's television pulpit alone is supposed to have fifteen million
viewers, and in parts of the so-called Bible Belt creationists are in the
majority. They make up a fervid and dedicated group of followers,convinced
beyond argument of both their rightness and righteousness, and able to use
their simplistic conservatism and sloganistic patriotism to lure to their
side allies who are not directly interested in creationist views. Societies
have been disrupted and taken over by smaller groups than this when the majority
has been apathetic and falsely secure. To those who are trained in science,
creationism seems a bad dream, a sudden coming back to life of a nightmare,
a renewed church of an Army of the Night risen to challenge free thought
and enlightenment. The scientific evidence for the age of the earth and for
the evolutionary development of life seems overwhelming to scientists. How
can anyone question it? What are the arguments the creationists use? What
is the "science that makes their views "scientific"? Here are some of them.
The argument from analogy.
A watch implies a watchmaker, say the creationists. If you were to find a beautifully intricate watch in the desert, far from habitation, you would be sure that it had been fashioned by human hands and somehow left it there. It would pass the bounds of credibility that it had simply formed, spontaneously, from the sands of the desert. By analogy, then, if you consider humanity, life, earth, and the universe, all infinitely more intricate than a watch, you can far less believe that it "just happened." It, too, like the watch, must have been fashioned, but by more-than-human hands; in short by a Divine Creator. This argument seems unanswerable and it has been used (even though not often explicitly expressed) ever since the dawn of consciousness in order to fashion a world of gods and demons. Thus - To sprinkle water on flowers requires a watering-can; therefore, the rain descends from a divine watering-can held by a god and can be yielded or withheld at divine whim. To cool your porridge with a breath requires human lungs; therefore the wind is the product of the divine lungs of a god. To travel long distances at a good clip requires a horse and carriage with yourself at the reins; therefore the sun in crossing the sky requires a flaming horse and carriage with a god at the reins. One can go on and on. To have explained to prescientific human beings that the wind and the rain and the sun follow the laws of nature and do so blindly and without a guiding mind would have been utterly unconvincing to them In fact, it might well have gotten you stoned to death as a blasphemer. This argument reduces God to a one-syllable sound meaning "I don't know." There are many aspects of the universe that still can't be explained satisfactorily by science; but ignorance implies only ignorance that may someday be conquered. To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature up to this time, and it remains premature today. In short, the complexity of the universe and one's inability to explain it in full is not, in itself, an argument for a Creator.
[This argument also suffers from two modern day problems.First,the idea that a divine "mind" is in charge presumes that there is something like a human being capable of having something called "mind". The cartesian dualism that created "mind" and "body" as two distinct entities,is a creation of man's "mind" and therefore in some sense not real attributes that can be alluded to as attributes of a deity.Modern holistic theories create a scheme in which mind and body do not exist as two things but are part of a coherent whole.The idea of creationists that the "mind" of God is behind natural phenomena is thus undermined via there not being a "mind" for him to have (assuming he is a "he" and not "she" or "it",why God should have a gender is another reason for him being a myth). Secondly,the idea that natural phenomena or what Richard Dawkins calls "designoid" objects cannot spontaneously arise,has been proven wrong by myriad "emergent" phenomena (The "mind" itself maybe an example of such a thing),where complex systems give rise to aspects that are not innately part of the system.Thus there may not be a plan for the architecture of a Termite mound in any one termites tiny brain,but nevertheless the structure "emerges" from the interactivity of the nest.It is this "something from nothing" aspect that creationists find hard to fathom,but that mathematicians have working models of.Indeed,robotics engineers are already exploiting it to create robots that work in unison.The capacity to "communicate" enhances the capabilities of the net behaviour of the individuals such that more can be done as a pack than any one can alone.This may also apply to inanimate matter or other complex natural systems.Thus again creationists are seeing mirages,there is no God,only the apparent indication of design.Nature and the laws of physics are much more capable than they give them credit.Creationists oft employ the 2nd law of thermodynamics or "Entropy" to try to refute the capacity of the spontaneous creation of order,the mistake they make is to assume that no order can ever spontaneously arise anywhere whilst being in keeping with this rule.In fact as Paul Davies and John Gribbin point out in "The Matter Myth" as long as the net entropy increases everything is okay,local decreases are paid for by increases elsewhere,so there is no paradox where entropy and life are concerned.]
On p119 they say:- "It is possible to give a precise quantification of the degree of disorder in physical systems.This is called entropy.In a closed system,entropy never decreases.The qualification "closed system" is vital.In open systems,entropy can decrease,but the increase in order in the open system is always paid for by a decrease in order (increase in entropy) somewhere else. In the growth of a crystal,for example [which incidentally PROVES that order CAN and DOES arise,as does our existence-LB],the ordered deposition of ions in a lattice produces heat which flows away into the environment,raising entropy. There is thus no incompatibility between the inference that the Universe as a whole is slowly dying as its overall entropy rises,and the manifest growth of order (decrease in entropy) in certain systems,such as growing crystals or biological organisms."
I also find it a bit odd that they accept the 2nd law so readily,given that it too, is a theory (see below),it seems they are much more apt to exploit a theory if it works in their favour. It also seems odd that being anti science they should be so conversant with such a major topic and theory within science and use it so ineptly. Scientists,in general aren't so biased that they only use theories which support their ideas,or can be exploited to undermine an opponents -LB]
The argument from general comment.
Some creationists point out that belief in a Creator is general among all peoples and all cultures. Surely this,unanimous craving hints at a great Truth.There would be no unanimous belief in a lie. General belief, however, is not really surprising. From the analogy argument previously mentioned, any people, any group, that considers the existence of the world would assume it to have been created by a god or gods,just as human beings themselves fashion hunting spears and pottery. Naturally, each group invents full detail for the story and no two creation tales are alike. The Greeks, the Norsemen, the Japanese, the Hindus,the American Indians, and so on and so on and so on, all have their own creation myths, and all of these are recognized by Americans of Judeo-Christian heritage as "just myths." The ancient Hebrews also had a creation tale - two of them, in fact. There is a primitive Adam-and-Eve-in-Paradise Story, with man created first, then animals, then woman. There is also a poetic tale of God fashioning the universe in six days, with animals preceding man, and man and woman created together. These Hebrew myths are not inherently more credible than any of the others, but they are our myths and the only ones that the creationists are interested in or (in most cases) have heard of,and the only ones they want to propagate. Surely, if it is general consent that proves the existence of a Creator, then general dissent disproves every other aspect of creation, since no culture believes any creation myth but its own. In fact, if you come right down to it, general consent proves nothing and never has, for there can be a unanimous belief in something that isn't so. The virtually universal opinion over thousands of years that the earth was flat never flattened its spherical shape by one inch.
[In short,just because a load of people all believe the same thing,doesn't make it true. Something is no truer just because a pile of uninformed people have a liking or vested interest in propagating it as a truth -LB]
The argument by belittlement.
Creationists frequently stress the fact that evolution is "only a theory." The impression this gives rise to, is that a theory is just an idle guess. A scientist, one gathers, arising one morning with nothing particular to do, decides that perhaps the moon is made of Roquefort cheese and instantly advances the Roquefort-cheese theory. This is, of course, merely creationist naiveté. A theory (as the word is used by scientists} is a detailed description of some facet of the universe's workings that is based on long-continued observation and, where possible, experiment that is the result of careful reasoning from those observation and that has survived the critical,study of scientists generally. For example, we have the description of the cellular nature of living organisms (The "cell theory"), of objects attracting each other according to a fixed rule (the "theory of gravitation"), of energy behaving in discrete bits (the "quantum theory"), of light travelling through a vacuum at a fixed velocity (the "theory of relativity"), and so on. All are theories; all are firmly founded; all are accepted as valid descriptions of this or that aspect of the universe. They are not mere guesses,[Nor are they beliefs which people have faith in -LB] nor are they wild speculation. And no theory is better founded, more closely , examined, more critically argued, and more thoroughly accepted than the theory of evolution. If it is "only" a theory, that is all it has to be. Creationism, on the other hand, is not a theory. There is no evidence, in the scientific sense, that supports it - not one shred. Creationism, or at least the particular variety accepted by many Americans, is an expression of early Middle Eastern legend. It may be fairly described by those who wish to belittle it as "only a myth." Nor is that really belittlement for "only a myth" is exactly what creationism is.
The argument from imperfection.
Creationists, in recent years, have stressed the "scientific" background of their beliefs. They point out there are "scientists" who base their creationist beliefs on a careful study of geology, paleontology, and biology, and produce "textbooks" that embody those beliefs. Virtually the whole "scientific" corpus of creationism, however, consists of the pointing out of imperfections in the evolutionary view. They insist that evolutionism can't show true transition states between species in the fossil evidence, that age-determinations through radioactive breakdown are uncertain, that alternate interpretations of this or that piece of evidence are possible, and so on. Because the evolutionary view is not perfect and is not agreed upon in every detail by all scientists, creationists argue that evolution is false and that scientists in supporting evolution, are basing their views on blind faith and dogmatism. (There, it must be admitted, creationists are on home territory. They have lived with blind faith and dogmatism from birth, and it is pleasant to see that they recognize it as an evil.) The creationists are, to an extent, in the right here. The details of evolution are not perfectly known. Ever since Darwin first advanced his theory of the origin of species through natural selection, back in 1859; scientists have been adjusting and modifying Darwin's suggestions. After all, much has been learned about the fossil record, and about physiology, microbiology, biochemistry, ethology, and various other branches of life science in the past century and a quarter and it is to be expected that we can improve on Darwin. In fact, we have improved on him. Nor is the process finished. It can never be, as long as human beings continue to question and to strive for better answers. The details of evolutionary theory are in dispute precisely because scientists are not devotees of blind faith and dogmatism. They do not accept even as great a thinker as Darwin without question, nor do they hesitate to improve on him, nor do they accept any idea, new or old, without thorough argument. Even after accepting an idea, they stand ready to overthrow it if appropriate new evidence arrives. [In fact Steve Jones in "Almost like a Whale" is improving on Darwin as we speak -LB] If,however,we grant that a theory is imperfect and that details remain in dispute,does that disprove the theory as a whole? [This is perhaps what most galls creationists, that because something is not static but dynamic and is open to change,that it can still have truth.They refuse to accept that things can be true and subject to change.Evolution is a prime example,it is still essentially workable as a theory even though initially the means of transference of traits was thought to be "gamules" in the blood.We now know that there is a means of transference in DNA.The initial idea was right,but exploited the wrong mechanism.In this way it was a stab in the right direction,but needed improvement.If it were left to creationists,we would still have flat earth views and anyone who said otherwise would be tried for heresy -LB]
Consider! I drive a car and you drive a car. I, for one, do not know exactly how an engine works. Perhaps you do not either. And it may be that and approximate ideas of the workings of an automobile are in conflict. Must we then conclude from this disagreement that an automobile does not run, that it is pulled by an invisible horse,since our engine-theory is imperfect? However much scientists argue their differing beliefs in the details of evolutionary theory,or in the interpretation of the necessarily imperfect fossil record,they nevertheless firmly accept the evolutionary process itself. Nor can imperfection in evolutionary theory possibly, in and of itself,lend credibility to creationism. Suppose that one group of people held that the Empire State Building,by the evidence of their senses, was a skyscraper, while another group of people,pointing to an eighteenth-century description of the site,maintained that it was a Cape Cod cottage painted blue and white. If it turned out that the skyscraper devotees were uncertain as to whether the Empire State Building had an observation deck or not,that would not in and of itself prove that standing on the site was a Cape Cod cottage painted blue and white.
[In short,whatever gaps creationists find in evolution,is not positive evidence FOR creation. Even if they undermined evolution entirely,which is nigh on impossible,they would then have to supply positive evidence FOR creation, which they never do,because none exists. All they can do is carp and whine that their own inadequate explanations pale into insignificance compared with actual evidence and deep thought. It is oft said that one can neither deny nor prove the existence of God.because of this creationists can never actually show that God truly exists IN PRINCIPLE, whereas science can show,more and more resolutely that he is not needed as an explanation,and like all other culture's myths is just another age old fairy tale-LB]
The argument from distorted science.
Creationists, have carefully learned enough of the terminology of science to attempt to disprove evolution by mouthing terminology. [This ploy is also used by mystics and alternative therapies who quote "energies" and "fields" in order to lend credibility to their ill-thought out nonsense.If science was so irrelevant why then do creationists claim to be "scientific" and mystics employ the terminology of science? They are both jealous of how well it does at explaining the universe,and try to bask in its ability hoping some of it will rub off -LB]
They do this in numerous ways, but the common example, at least in the mail I get, is the repeated assertion that the second law of thermodynamics demonstrates the evolutionary process to be impossible. (see Davies and Gribbin above) The second law of thermodynamics (expresses in kindergarten terms) direction of increasing disorder,that is,in a "downhill" direction. There can be no spontaneous build-up of the complex from the simple,therefore,for that would be moving "uphill." Clearly,then,so the creationist argument runs, since, by the evolutionary process,complex forms of life form from simple forms, that process, as described by scientists, defies the second law , and so creationism must be true. This sort of argument implies a fallacy clearly visible to anyone is somehow invisible to scientists [Indeed,do creationists think scientists so stupid that they didn't see a seeming paradox that a child would notice? They systematically underestimate both Nature and scientist's abilities -LB],who must therefore be flying in the face of the second law through sheer perversity. Scientists, however, do know about the second law ,and they are not blind. lt's just that an argument based on kindergarten terms, as so many of the creationists arguments are,is suitable only for kindergarten. To lift the argument a notch above the kindergarten level, the second law of thermodynamics applies to a "closed system," that is, to a system that does not gain energy from without or lose energy to the outside. The only truly closed system we know of is the universe as a whole. Within a closed system, there are subsystems that can gain complexity spontaneously , provided there is a greater loss of complexity in another interlocking subsystem. The overall change is then a complexity-loss in line with the dictates of the second law. Evolution can proceed and build up the complex from the simple, thus moving uphill, without violating the second law, as long as another interlocking part of the System the sun, which delivers energy to the earth continuously moves downhill (as it does) at a much faster rate than evolution moves uphill. If the sun were to cease shining, evolution would stop and, indeed, so would life, eventually. Unfortunately, the second law is a subtle concept that most people are not accustomed to dealing with, and it is not easy to see the fallacy in the creationist distortion. The fallacy becomes plainer, perhaps, if we consider the analogous treatment of another theory. The theory of gravitation says, in kindergarten terms, that all objects in the earth's vicinity are attracted to the earth and, therefore, fall to the ground. consequently, balloons and airplanes and rockets are clearly impossible. - If you don't accept this, you needn't accept the creationists' kindergarten view of the second law of thermodynamics either. There are many other "scientific" arguments used by creationists, some taking quite clever advantage of present areas of dispute in evolutionary theory, but every one of them is as disingenuous as the second-law argument. The "scientific" arguments are organized into special creationist textbooks, which have all the surface appearance of the real thing and which school systems are heavily pressured to accept. They are written by people who have not made any mark as scientists and, while they discuss geology, paleontology and biology with correct scientific terminology, they are devoted almost entirely to raising doubts about the legitimacy of the evidence and the reasoning underlying evolutionary thinking, on the assumption that this leaves creationism as the only possible alternative. Evidence actually in favor of creationism is not presented, of course, because none exists other than the word of the bible, which it is current creationist strategy not to use.
argument from irrelevance.
Some creationists put all matters of scientific evidence to one side and consider all such things irrelevant. The Creator, they say, brought life, and the earth, and the entire universe into being ten thousand years or so ago, complete with all evidence for an eons- long evolutionary development. The fossil record, the decaying radioactivity, the receding galaxies, were all created as they are and the evidence they present is an illusion.
[The comedian Bill Hicks (sadly missed) did a brilliant skit on this as "God the joker" where he and Jesus go round planting all sorts of misleading red herrings to confuse poor human beings,like dinosaur bones.It is really a very poor argument to say "God created the universe to make it look like it evolved just so you'd make the mistake of thinking it did".Via Occam's razor,it is much more likely that in actual fact it evolved,and that it is creationists who have made the mistake.What purpose is their for God to create a universe that fools human beings? What kind of a goon is God if he does this? -LB]
Of course, this argument is itself irrelevant, for it can be neither proved nor disproved. It is not an argument, actually, but a statement. I can say that the entire universe was created two minutes ago, complete with all its history books describing a nonexistent past in detail, and with all the persons now alive equipped with full memories; you, for instance, in the process of reading this article in midstream with a memory of what you had read in the beginning - which you had not really read.
[This idea is exploited in "Bladerunner" (PK Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?") where Deckard suggests to Rachel that her memories are really implants. At this point it might seem like there is no way to know and that we are left with an act of faith as to which it really is. Creationists and mystics often point to "experiences" as validating what they believe. Experience tells us that our history is real,but in essence this draws on the notion of what we mean by "time".Creationists seem to have a very limited scope in what they are prepared to accommodate as far as this notion goes.To them there is a past,a now,and a future. Relativity suggests otherwise,and other theories have other views,so why do creationists stick with linear time? Perhaps it's because their kindergarten comprehensions cannot appreciate more complex views,or are able to take on the idea that time is open to question and cannot be taken for granted.The enquiring mind is able to take on these views,and argue about them,and not become entrenched in what is "experienced" as necessarily being what is true.Indeed some theists even posit God as "timeless" which seems at odds which creationist notions of creation happening earlier in time.Modern theories can handle many "nows" or even many universes.Under this scenario one might ask which universe it is that creationists actually think God created,but I doubt that they've even thought about it -LB]
That, too, can be neither proved nor disproved. Ask yourself, though, what kind of a Creator would produce a universe that contained human beings whom he endowed with the faculty of curiosity and the ability to reason. He supplied those human beings with an enormous amount of subtle and cleverly self- consistent evidence designed to mislead that curiosity and the reasoning ability and cause them to be convinced that the universe was fifteen billion years ago and developed by evolutionary processes that included the creation and development of life on earth. Why? Does the Creator take pleasure in misleading us? Does it amuse him to watch us go wrong? Is it part of a test to see if human beings will deny their senses in order to cling to a myth? Is it to give him an excuse to consign us all to hell for not denying our senses and our reason? Can it be that a Creator is as cruel and malicious prankster,with a vicious and adolescent sense of humor? If so, it might be just as well if the creationists were honest, and said so.
[In other words if it all is a mirage just to confuse us then God is a mickey taker, and not to be trusted,which is at odds with the picture painted by creationists of a benign and merciful God looking out for our best interests.The easier answer is that creationists have got it all wrong,and no God exists,that there is Nature that really doesn't care whether we live or die,and that what we discover is truly what is there.In some sense this must be the case because it is the human brain that defines what is "order" and what is "entropy" and when one has arisen from the other and how it is still consistent.We,in some sense,define what "reality" is,so there cannot be another reality,of which we are not aware,that is the true state of affairs.The reason the universe looks evolved is because we created the idea to explain what it is doing,and the reason that it looks like it is,is because in some sense, it is. If God is making a mirage-creationists are wrong in their assertion of God's character.If he isn't then they are wrong about evolution.Which ever way you turn creationists are wrong.They are stuck between a rock and a hard place with no escape route. In chess the sane thing to do is knock over your king,and admit you've been defeated by a greater force - LB]
The argument from authority.
The Bible says that God created the world in six days [Negating the fact that this is impossible,since the Sun is not created until Genesis1:16,but several "days" had passed with no Sun.How could a day pass with no Sun? This was brought out in the Darwinian Monkey trials -LB], and the bible is the inspired word of God. To the average creationist this is all that counts, really. All other arguments are merely a tedious way of countering the propaganda of all those agnostics, and atheists who are not satisfied with the word of the Lord. To be sure, the creationist leaders are careful not to use that argument because that would make their point of view a religious one and they would not be able to get it into our secular school-system. They have to borrow the clothing of science,no matter how badly it fits them and no matter how grotesque it makes them appear, in order to call themselves "scientific" creationists. They must also be careful to speak only of a "Creator" and never mention that this Creator happens to be the God of the Bible.The careful impression is left that he might, for all anyone knows, be Moloch or Chemosh or any of the other heathen abominations the Bible speaks of. We cannot, however, take this sheep's clothing seriously. However the creationist leaders might hammer away at their "scientific" and "philosophical" points,they would be helpless and a laughing stock if that were all they had. It is religion, the simple fervor of medieval piety, that recruits their squadrons. Tens of millions of Americans, who neither know or understand the actual arguments for, even against, evolution, march in the Army of the Night with their Bibles held high. And they are a strong and frightening force, impervious to and immunized against the feeble lance of mere rationality. But let us move on. Even if I am right and the evolutionists' case is very strong, have not creationists, whatever the emptiness of their case , a right to be heard? If their case is empty, isn't it perfectly safe to discuss it, since the emptiness would then be apparent? Wouldn't it be best to discuss it, so that the emptiness would be displayed? Why, then, are evolutionists so reluctant to have creationism taught in the public schools on an equal basis with evolutionary theory? Can it be that the evolutionists are not as confident of their case as they pretend? Are they afraid to allow youngsters a clear choice? In this connection, there are two points to be made. First, the creationists are somewhat less than honest in their demand for equal time.lt is not they who are repressed,for schools are by no means the only place in which the dispute between creationism and evolutionary theory is played out. There are the churches, for instance, which are a much more serious influence on most Americans than the schools are. To be sure, many churches are quite liberal have made their peace with science, and find it easy to live with scientific advance -even with evolution. But the majority of the less modish and citified churches are bastions of creationism. The influence of the church is naturally felt in the home, in the newspapers, and all of surrounding society. It makes itself felt in the nation as a whole, even in religiously liberal areas, in ten thousand subtle ways, in the nature of holiday observance, in expressions of patriotic fervor, even in total irrelevancies. [I note I received Easter well-wishing by Email,even though I observe no religious connection myself.Had I wished a Christian a good feast of one of the heathen gods or celebrated an occult Satanist day and expressed salutations to them,no doubt they would have more than raised eyebrows,and perhaps been offended. Yet they see "no harm" with foisting their own misguided celebrations upon others,and arrogantly assume that it will be accommodated with no rebuke -LB]
Thus, in 1968, a team of astronauts circling the moon.were Instructed to read the first few verses of Genesis, as though NASA felt it had to placate the public lest they rage against the violation of the firmament. At the present time, even the current president of the United States has expressed his creationist sympathies. [It is quite bizarre that the landing upon the moon should be marked by quotes from a particular religions myths.If anything the landing was a testimony to man's power,not to God's,and a testimony to man's technology to overcome impediments imposed by nature.It is even more bizarre that heads of technological civilisations should believe in myths and superstitious nonsense. Such people are not fit to rule such a society,which goes as much for the then president as it does for the incumbent PM of the UK -LB] It is only in school that American youngsters in general are ever likely to hear any reasoned exposition of the evolutionary viewpoint. They may find such a viewpoint in books or even, on occasion, on television; but church and family can easily censor books and television, and only the school is beyond their control. But only just barely beyond. Even though schools are now allowed to teach evolution,teachers are bound to be apologetic about it,knowing full well their jobs are at the mercy of school boards not noted for intellect or for their breadth of scientific view. Then, too,in schools,students are not required to believe what they learn about evolution - merely to parrot it back on tests. If they fail to do so, their punishment is nothing more than the loss of a few points on a test or two. In the creationist churches, however, the congregation is required to believe under the threat of hellfire. Impressionable youngsters, taught to believe that they will go to Hell if they listen to the evolutionary doctrine,are not likely to listen in comfort,or to believe if they do. Well,then,creationists, who control the church and the society they live in,and who face the public school as the only place where evolution is even briefly mentioned in a possibly favourable way,find they cannot stand so minuscule a competition and demand "equal time". Do you suppose their devotion to "fairness" is such that they will give time to evolution in their churches? You know they won't. What's theirs is theirs.What's yours is negotiable. Second the real danger is the manner in which creationists want their "equal time." In the scientific world,there is free and open competition of ideas,and even a scientist whose suggestions are not accepted is nevertheless free to to argue his case. In this free and open competition of ideas, creationism has clearly lost. It has been losing,in fact,since the time of Copernicus three and a half - centuries ago. Creationism refuses to accept the decision, placing myth above reason, and is now calling in the power of the government.They want the government to force creationism into the schools against the verdict of the free and open competition of ideas. Teachers must be forced to present creationism as though it has equal intellectual respectability with evolutionary doctrine. What a precedent this sets! If the government can mobilize its policemen and its prisons to make certain that teachers give creationism equal time, they can next use force to make sure that teachers declare creationism the victor so that evolution may be evicted from the classroom altogether. We will have established the full groundwork, in other words , for barbarism, for legally enforced ignorance, and for totalitarian thought-control.
[Many people have said that they think George Orwell got it wrong and yet now we have CCD cameras watching us,newspapers that tell lies with no rebuttal,and raving moral monsters who would save us from ourselves trying to force people to believe things by instructing them in unproved here say in schools. The point of school is to teach facts,not myths.Personal beliefs are nothing to do with what can be proven.What is currently understood to be so via proof,is to be taught,what is presumed to be true by conviction is personal here say.It would not be allowed in a court of law for a very good reason,and for the same reason it should not be taught in schools -LB]
And what if the creationists win? They might, you know, for there are millions who, faced with the choice between the Bible and science, will choose the Bible and reject science, regardless of the evidence. This is not entirely because of a traditional and unthinking reverence for the literal words of the Bible; there is also a pervasive uneasiness, or actual fear of science, that will drive even those who care little for religion into the arms of the creationists. For one thing, science is uncertain. Theories are subject to revision; observations are open to a variety of interpretations and scientists quarrel among themselves. This is disillusioning for those untrained in the scientific method, and these people tend to turn to the rigid certainty of the Bible as presented by its thumpers. There is something comfortable about a view that allows for no deviation and that spares you the painful necessary of having to think. Second,science is complex and chilling. The mathematical language of science is understood by very few. The vistas it presents are scary - an enormous universe ruled by chance and impersonal rules, empty and uncaring, ungraspable and vertiginous. How comfortable to turn instead to a small world, only a few thousand years old, and under God's personal and immediate care; a world in which you are His peculiar concern and where He will not consign you to Hell if you are careful to follow every word of the Bible,as interpreted for you by your television preacher. Third,science is dangerous. There is no question but that such products as poison gas, nuclear weapons and power stations, and genetic engineering are terrifying. It may be that civilisation is falling and the world we know is coming to an end. In that case, why not turn to religion and look forward to the Day of Judgment, in which you and your fellow believers will be lifted into eternal bliss, and have the added joy of watching the scoffers and disbelievers writhe forever in torment. So why might they not win? Spain dominated Europe and the world in the sixteenth century, but in Spain orthodoxy came first and all divergence of opinion was ruthlessly suppressed. The result was that Spain settled back into blankness and did not share in the scientific, technological, and commercial ferment that bubbled up in other nations of Western Europe. Spain remained an intellectual backwater for centuries. In the late seventeenth century, France in the name of orthodoxy revoked the Edict of Nantes and drove out many thousands of Huguenots, who added their intellectual vigor to lands of refuge like Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Prussia, while France was permanently weakened. In more recent times, Germany hounded out the Jewish scientists of Europe. These, arriving in the United States, added immeasurably to scientific advance here, while Germany lost so heavily that there is no telling how long it will take it to regain its former scientific eminence. The Soviet Union, in its fascination with Lysenko, destroyed its geneticists, and set back its biological sciences for decades. China, during the Cultural Revolution,turned against Western science and is still labouring to overcome the the devastation that resulted.
[See Maths under Mao "Mathematical Experience"]
Are we now,with all these examples before us,to ride to destruction under the name of the same tattered banner of orthodoxy? With creationism in the saddle,American science will wither,and we will raise a generation of ignoramuses who will not be equipped to run the industry of tomorrow, much less to generate the new advances of the days after tomorrow. We will inevitably recede into the backwater of civilization, and those nations that retain open scientific thought will take over the leadership and the cutting edge of human advance. I don't suppose that the creationists really plan the decline of the United States,but their loudly expressed patriotism is as simple-minded as their "science" and if they win out, they will, in their folly, achieve the opposite of what they say they wish.
WHAT I CAN AND CANNOT BELIEVE -
I HOPE it will not be supposed that I have any personal animus
against Christians or Christian ministers, although I am hostile to the Church.
Many ministers and many Christian laymen I have known are admirable men.
Some I know personally are as able and as good as any men I have met; but
I speak of the Churches, not of individuals. I have known Catholic priests
and sisters who were worthy and charming, and there are many such; but I
do not like the Catholic Church. I have known Tories and Liberals who were
real good fellows, and clever fellows, and there are many such; but I do
not like the Liberal and Tory parties. I have known
clergymen of the Church of England who were real
live men, and real English gentlemen, and there are many such; but I do not
like the Church. I was not always an Agnostic, or a Rationalist, or an "Infidel,"
or whatever Christians may choose to call me. I was not perverted by an Infidel
book. I had not read one when I wavered first in my allegiance to the
orthodoxies. I was set doubting by a religious book written to prove the
Verity of Christ's Resurrection from the Dead." But as a child I was thoughtful,
and asked myself questions, as many children do, which the Churches would
find it hard to answer to-day. I have not ceased to believe what I was taught
as a child because I have grown wicked. I have ceased to believe it because,
after twenty years' hard thinking, I cannot believe it. I cannot believe,
then, that the Christian religion is true. I cannot believe that the Bible
is the word of God. For the word of God would be above criticism and beyond
disproof, and the Bible is not above criticism nor beyond disproof. I cannot
believe that any religion has been revealed to Man by God. Because a revealed
religion would be perfect, but no known religion is perfect; and because
history and science show us that the known religions have not been revealed,
but have been evolved from other religions. There is no important feature
of the Christian religion which can be called original. All the rites, mysteries,
and doctrines of Christianity have been borrowed from older faiths. I cannot
believe that Jehovah, the God of the Bible, is the Creator of the known universe.
The Bible God, Jehovah, is a man-made God, evolved from the idol of an obscure
and savage tribe. The Bible shows us this quite plainly. I cannot believe
that the Bible and the Testament are historically true. I regard most of
the events they record as fables, and most of their characters as myths.
I cannot believe in the existence of Jesus Christ, nor Buddha, nor Moses.
I believe that these are ideal characters constructed from still more ancient
legends and traditions. I cannot believe that the Bible version of the relations
of man and God is correct. For that version, and all other religious versions
known to me, represents man as sinning against or forsaking God, and God
as punishing or pardoning man. But if God made man, then God is responsible
for all man's acts and thoughts, and therefore man cannot sin against God.
And if man could not sin against God, but could only act as God ordained
that he should act, then it is against reason to suppose that God could be
angry with man, or could punish man, or see any offence for which to pardon
man. I cannot believe that man has ever forsaken God. Because history shows
that man has from the earliest times been eagerly and pitifully seeking God,
and has served and praised and sacrificed to God with a zeal akin to madness.
But God has made no sign. I cannot believe that man was at the first created
"perfect," and that he "fell." (How could the perfect fall?) I believe the
theory of evolution, which shows not a fall but a gradual rise. I cannot
believe that God is a loving "Heavenly Father," taking a tender interest
in mankind. Because He has never interfered to prevent the horrible cruelties
and injustices of man to man, and because he has permitted evil to rule the
world. I cannot reconcile the idea of a tender Heavenly Father with the known
horrors of war, slavery, pestilence, and insanity. I cannot discern the hand
of a loving Father in the slums, in the earthquake, in the cyclone. I cannot
understand the indifference of a loving Father to the law of prey, nor to
the terrors and tortures of leprosy, cancer, cholera, and consumption. I
cannot believe that God is a personal God, who intervenes in human affairs.
I cannot see in science, nor in experience, nor in history any signs of such
a God, nor of such intervention. I cannot believe that God hears and answers
prayer, because the universe is governed by laws, and there is no reason
to suppose that those laws are ever interfered with. Besides, an all-wise
God knows what to do better than man can tell Him, and a just God would act
justly without requiring to be reminded of His duty by one of His creatures.
I cannot believe that miracles ever could or ever did happen. Because the
universe is governed by laws, and there is no credible instance on record
of those laws being suspended. I cannot believe that God "created" man, as
man now is, by word of mouth and in a moment. I accept the theory of evolution,
which teaches that man was slowly evolved by natural process from lower forms
of life, and that this evolution took millions of years. I cannot believe
that Jesus Christ was God, nor that He was the Son of God. There is no solid
evidence for the miracle of the Incarnation, and I see no reason for the
Incarnation. I cannot believe that Christ died to save man from Hell, nor
that He died to save man from sin. Because I do not believe God would condemn
the human race to eternal torment for being no better than He had made them,
and because I do not see that the death of Christ has saved man from sin.
I cannot believe that God would think it necessary to come on earth as a
man, and die on the Cross. Because if that was to atone for man's sin, it
was needless, as God could have forgiven man without Himself suffering. I
cannot believe that God would send His son to die on the Cross. Because He
could have forgiven man without subjecting His son to pain. I cannot accept
any doctrine of atonement Because to forgive the guilty because the innocent
had suffered would be unjust and unreasonable, and to forgive the guilty
because a third person begged for his pardon would be unjust. I cannot believe
that a good God would allow sin to enter the world. Because He would hate
sin and would have power to destroy or to forbid it. I cannot believe that
a good God would create or tolerate a Devil, nor that he would allow the
Devil to tempt man. I cannot believe the story of the virgin birth of Christ.
Because for a man to be born of a virgin would be a miracle, and I cannot
believe in miracles. I cannot believe the story of Christ's resurrection
from the dead. Because that would be a miracle, and because there is no solid
evidence that it occurred. I cannot believe that faith in the Godhood of
Christ is necessary to virtue or to happiness. Because I know that some holding
such faith are neither happy nor virtuous, and that some are happy and virtuous
who do not hold that faith. The differences between the religious and the
scientific theories, or as I should put it, between superstition and rationalism,
are clearly marked and irreconcilable. The supernaturalist stands by "creation":
the rationalist stands by "evolution." It is impossible to reduce these opposite
ideas to a common denominator. The creation theory alleges that the earth,
and the sun, and the moon, and man, and the animals were "created" by God,
instantaneously, by word of mouth, out of nothing. The evolution theory alleges
that they were evolved, slowly, by natural processes out of previously existing
matter. The supernaturalist alleges that religion was revealed to man by
God, and that the form of this revelation is a sacred book. The rationalist
alleges that religion was evolved by slow degrees and by human minds, and
that all existing forms of religion and all existing "sacred books," instead
of being "revelations," are evolutions from religious ideas and forms and
legends of prehistoric times. It is impossible to reduce these opposite theories
to a common denominator. The Christians, the Hindoos, the Parsees, the Buddhists,
and the Mohammedans have each their "Holy Bible" or "sacred book." Each religion
claims that its own Bible is the direct revelation of God, and is the only
true Bible teaching the only true faith. Each religion regards all the other
religions as spurious. The supernaturalists believe in miracles, and each
sect claims that the miracles related in its own inspired sacred book prove
the truth of that book and of the faith taught therein. No religion accepts
the truth of any other religion's miracles. The Hindoo, the Buddhist, the
Mohammedan, the Parsee, the Christian each believes that his miracles are
the only real miracles. The Protestant denies the miracles of the Roman Catholic.
The rationalist denies all miracles alike. "Miracles
never happen." The Christian Bible is full of miracles. The Christian
Religion is founded on miracles. No rationalist believes in miracles. Therefore
no rationalist can accept the Christian Religion. If you discard "Creation"
and accept evolution; if you discard "revelation" and accept evolution; if
you discard miracles and accept natural law, there is nothing left of the
Christian Religion but the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. And when one
sees that all religions and all ethics, even the oldest known, have, like
all language and all science and all philosophy and all existing species
of animals and plants, been slowly evolved from lower and ruder forms; and
when one learns that there have been many Christs, and that the evidence
of the life of Jesus is very slight, and that all the acts and words of Jesus
had been anticipated by other teachers long before the Christian era, then
it is borne in upon one's mind that the historic basis of Christianity is
very frail. And when one realises that the Christian theology, besides being
borrowed from older religions, is manifestly opposed to reason and to facts,
then one reaches a state of mind which entitles the orthodox Christian to
call one an "Infidel," and to make it "unpleasant" for one to the glory of
God. That is the position in which I stand at present, and it is partly to
vindicate that position, and to protest against those who feel as I feel
being subjected to various kinds of "unpleasantness," that I undertake this