The Rhetorical War Over Evolution
Are creationists stupid or willfully ignorant? Is that a loaded question? I personally don’t think that creationists are stupid, because they come up with incredible gems of twisted logic. They expend quite a bit of effort and time to create justifications for their beliefs, and come up with creative solutions to demonstrate their beliefs.
One of my favorite creationist attempts to “prove” the veracity of The Bible involves the mathematical proof that, yes, Noah could have fit all of those animals on the Ark. Mark Isaak reviews the issue at Talkorigins.org:
- Collecting each species instead of each genus would increase the number of individuals three- to fourfold. The most speciose groups tend to be the smaller animals, though, so the total mass would be approximately doubled or tripled.
- Collecting all land animals instead of just mammals, birds, and reptiles would have insignificant impact on the space required, since those animals, though plentiful, are so small. (The problems come when you try to care for them all.)
- Leaving off the long-extinct animals would free considerable space. Woodmorappe doesn’t say how many of the animals in his calculations are known only from fossils, but it is apparently 50-70% of them, including most of the large ones. However, since he took only juveniles of the large animals, leaving off all the dinosaurs etc. would probably not free more than 80% of the space. On the other hand, collecting all extinct animals in addition to just the known ones would increase the load by an unknown but probably substantial amount.
- Loading adults instead of juveniles as small as Woodmorappe uses would increase the load 13- to 50-fold.
- Including extra clean animals would increase the load by 1.5-3% if only the 13 traditional domestic ruminants are considered, but by 14-28% if all ruminants are considered clean.
So, Woodmorappe was creative; yet he was wrong. Is he stupid? No. Is he creative correct? No. Is he willfully ignorant? Quite possibly so, and as much as I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, I find it difficult to be generous when it comes to intelligent people who are creationists.
Another example of a creationist who appears to be willfully ignorant is Tom Willis. Willis is the editor and publisher of CSA News, (pdf.)
For Atheist Claim #1: Matter has been here forever or
came into being Naturally. The 1st Law of Thermodynamics
states emphatically that matter/energy can be neither created nor
destroyed. We transform matter, e.g., we burn logs, but the total
matter/energy in the Cosmos does not change.
But, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, which, because of
its importance, many believe should be called #1, states that, in
every exchange of energy, some is effectively lost due to an imperfect
exchange. In each energy exchange, e.g., in a fire, or a
living cell, the total energy in the universe remains the same, but
a qualitative change causes there to be less available for work.
The measure of this loss is called entropy, and is called by many
“Times Arrow.” A universally understood result of this law is
that, if the Cosmos had truly been here forever, there would be
no energy available for work. The Cosmos would be at about 3
degrees above absolute zero (0 K on the Kelvin scale, -273.15
centigrade, -459.67 Fahrenheit). This is a largely uncontested
fact, not a “Christian myth.” The atheist, Isaac Asimov, in his
Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science stated essentially the same
This presents a nontrivial issue for atheists. Matter cannot
have been here forever (2nd Law) and it cannot come into existence
in real time (1st Law). Thus, these Laws, known to everyone
qualified to be called a “science teacher” clearly require a
powerful, non-material cause of the Cosmos. Only a fool can
know of these two laws and remain an atheist. Claim #1 of
atheism is absurd.
I’d like to call him stupid for writing this, but my feeling is that he has the mental capacity to choose to understand what it wrong with his argument. He is more intent on providing justification for his own belief than he is in gaining a true understanding of the processes of science and nature.
This is what makes creationism an easy target for people who actually take the time to be curious about how the world works, whatever their religious stance. One doesn’t need to be a scientist to understand that evolution is the process by which life has propagated through all of its varieties. The details are complicated yet available to those of us laypeople who wish to take the time to study them.
More disturbing, however, and the reason I brought this to Clashing Culture instead of my own blog is the contempt that Willis displays towards all evolutionsts. He would, if he were in charge of the democracy, deny anyone who is not a creationist the right to vote. This would include Thomas and Stephen along with Anastasia and myself. In his book, Thomas and Stephen are as much atheists as we are simply because they accept the facts of evolution.
Should Evolutionists Be Allowed to Vote?
* They do not and can not know the purpose for Man. In
fact, all of them believe Man has no purpose.
* Therefore, they cannot make informed judgments about
how men should behave toward each other, or what would
be “good” or “bad” for any group of men to do, or not do.
* Thus, they have no sane foundation upon which to base
“laws” or rational for insisting that other men obey the
* Thus, the religion they profess to believe renders them incapable
of participating in any decision about what men ought
to do. But, that is the purpose of all law.
* Therefore, in a sane society, evolutionists should not be allowed
to vote, or influence laws or people in any way!
They should, perhaps, make bricks to earn enough to eat.
Q.E.D. – Quod Erat Demonstrandum
“That which was to be demonstrated.”
Now, seeing such nastiness from a creationist, how should we approach the attacks on science from these quarters? Do we simply dismiss them as cranks? Do we patiently show them their errors of logic and judgment? Would they listen to us if we tried?
Is creationism an easy target for intellectual exercise, or does it need to be approached more delicately?