Debate:Creationist

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The word "creationist" is often used to express bigotry, which itself is a reason to discourage use of it. But the term is also misleading because:

  • it implies that either one is or is not a creationist, when in fact many lack a clearcut opinion
  • it implies that anyone who believes in creation is a creationist, when in fact the term doesn't mean that
  • it implies that it is a belief system rather than a logical and scientific conclusion

I suggest that Conservapedia stop using the term except where absolutely necessary.--Aschlafly 21:11, 26 December 2007 (EST)

Perhaps we should refer to them as cdesign proponentsists. SusanIvanova 22:24, 26 December 2007 (EST)

Hm, is this based on TerryH's quasi-essay? (I admit I didn't have a chance yet to read it completely, but I read over it.) My main questions are these:
  • Considering that "creationist" means (quoting Terry's definition) "one believing, and willing to defend the belief, that God created the world, life on it, and mankind", I don't see that much room for anything aside from "Yes" or "No". Maybe Old Earth Creationists might fall into a sort of grey zone (did I mention that I'm no expert in this field?)...?
  • What else does it mean? Or are you pointing at the other creation accounts here?
  • Since it's mildly related, what is your view of evolution? Is it logic and science (however flawed) or a pure belief system? If the former, we should also eliminate "evolutionist" references since the problem can be mirrored 1:1, I think. If the latter, it would identify Conservapedia as a Creationist site since we'd take an official position on the issue ("Creationism is science, Evolutionism isn't."). I'm really not trying to open this particular can of worms here, but your comment made me think, and I think this would be a good time to clarify the implications of your suggestion, if just to the new guy. *handwave* :P
  • And about stopping to use it... what should we replace it with? I believe people use "Creationist" because it is widely understood both by [people who believe that God created the world and all life on it, now formerly known as Creationists] and those who suggest that evolution is the key. I haven't looked at the articles here, but I assume it would be somewhat tedious and clumsy to replace occurrances of "Creationist" with a definition that has the same information value.
Then again, it's possible that I'm just misreading things. I hope my questions show where I'm coming from. I'm not trying to argue; I just wish to understand your position better so I can stick to the new rule. And please keep in mind that I haven't fully read Terry's post due to time constraints (and my next online phase will most likely fall into the night-time restriction zone, so I couldn't post my thoughts until in 12 hours or so). I think I noticed "Creation apologist" as a suggested alternative, but I think that term needs more explanation than "Creationist" does.
I hope this comes over the way I intended it to do: As a request for clarification since this is a complex issue, and not as a stubborn newbie barking up the wrong tree :P --JakeC 22:35, 26 December 2007 (EST)
"it implies that either one is or is not a creationist, when in fact many lack a clearcut opinion": That comment could be made about almost any label that you attach to people, including "liberal" and "conservative".
"it implies that anyone who believes in creation is a creationist, when in fact the term doesn't mean that": I believe that it does mean that. What do you think it means?
"it implies that it is a belief system rather than a logical and scientific conclusion": That's the objection that evolutionists have with the word "evolutionist", but the point is that it is a belief, and it's not really scientific (just as evolution is not scientific) because it is dealing with unique past events that are outside the realm of scientific investigation.
I'm quite happy with the term, and it's used quite readily by, umm, creationists.
Philip J. Rayment 06:58, 27 December 2007 (EST)

Contents

Prior discussion

Conservapedia uses the term "creationist" in 129 (now 128) entries, but the term seems to be imprecise and often used by adversaries in a pejorative manner. It is sometimes by bigots or vandals.

Are there any precise and valid uses of this term? I'm curious about its etymology, as the dictionary says the term did not even exist until 1880.--Aschlafly 13:51, 26 December 2007 (EST)

While the etymology would I'm sure be interesting, there is a simpler road to take. Namely, an "-ist" is a person who subscribes to an "-ism" (philosophy) or engages in some kind of practice. Thus a creationist is simply one who holds that creation is an element of reality. It doesn't have to be any more specific than that, and the identification needn't carry any connotative baggage. Qwestor 14:01, 26 December 2007 (EST)

First of all, thanks for your correction to my mistake in dot product.

You are welcome! Qwestor 08:01, 27 December 2007 (EST)

To your point above, however, the term "creationist" would ostensibly apply to anyone who accepts a creation. But that is not how the term is used, which makes it confusing. Also, it is often used in a pejorative manner as an expression of bigotry, making it unsuitable for enlightened discourse.--Aschlafly 14:15, 26 December 2007 (EST)
I believe that the term is correct, but others simply use it while voicing criticism (no matter how immature).
(As an aside: While I'm not an expert, it appears to me as if a partial shift to a more precise term has already happened: I saw the term "Creation Scientist" more often lately, but that (obviously) only applies to, you know, scientists and not the average John Doe. It also doesn't solve the potential confusion about "a creation".)
Fact is that the opposition has to call them something. "Creationism" and "Creationist" seem to be the most widely recognized terms, officially used (for example) by the Northwest Creation Network.
Speaking from personal experience, nobody in these parts of the world thinks that a "Creationist" believes in the Flying Spaghetti Monster or some other story. However, if you want to be precise, then those articles could be edited to specify "Young Earth Creationist" (or "Old Earth Creationist") where applicable. It would be more precise, but on this site, it would strike me as somewhat redundant. --JakeC 14:47, 26 December 2007 (EST)

I can fully appreciate your concern over the pejorative connotation that the term has acquired since it is looked on with disdain by many in the intelligentsia. I guess I prefer to continue to use the term in its denotative sense, and on the occasions when it is used in a pejorative connotation, show that that usage is unreasonable and uncharitable. Qwestor 08:01, 27 December 2007 (EST)

========= Start of long post by TerryH =========

Anyone who has been on Conservapedia for very long, will rapidly learn that I, at least as much as any other member of CP's administration, am the sort of thinker to whom the term creationist might apply. That makes me one of the best-qualified people to start this discussion. (In addition to which, I happened to see it first when Andy published this topic to the debate page.)

Introduction

What is a creationist? Very simple: it is one believing, and willing to defend the belief, that God created the world, life on it, and mankind. This position is called creationism.[1]

A creationist is almost always an apologist. An apologist does not say that he's sorry for saying something (though he might be sorry that he sometimes has to say some things that are going to push people out of their comfort zones). An apologist defends something, and is prepared to show that that something is true and correct. So perhaps we can define another term: creation apologist, for one who defends the notion that the universe and mankind had (and still have) a Creator.

You might also be familiar with the term creation scientist. That can be one who presupposes that the world was in fact created, and sets out to show:

  1. How, in detail, the world and mankind were created, and
  2. Why the world today looks the way it does.

Or it can be one simply willing to challenge the opposite presupposition: that the world and mankind had no Creator, and that the world and life on it "just happened" to "come together" after a series of accidents, without thought or purpose.

What a creationist is not

A creationist is not necessarily a holder to the scientific paradigm of intelligent design. All that an ID scientist sees is that the world looks very much like a thing planned and built, not a thing that "got here" by accident. An ID thinker never troubles himself to discover or even to think about who did the planning and the building. A creationist would think about things like that, but not an ID man. And while an intelligent design for the world and life might be part of any workable model of creation, identifying the Creator is not part of intelligent-design theory.


Nor is a creationist a shaman or other practitioner of "magic" or any "secret art" or "black art." We make no secret of what we presuppose--nor do we pretend to have any secret knowledge.



Although "identifying the Creator is not part of intelligent-design theory", but when you know there is someone behind the creation, it is perfectly logical to ID the creator as the next step. Just like when we see a good picture, painting or an art, or eat a good dish, or see a good job done, it is natural for us to right away ask who did/made this, and then probably give the person a compliment.

That's why it is entirely different between to think there is someone who created the world and to think the world is "self existence", like what the humanists claimed. This "self existence" idea is really ridiculous - nothing in the world can self exists, they all got to be made/come from somewhere. Even those humanists who claimed this, they are born from their mothers' bodies. Here is a challenge: find something in the world that is "self existence" and explain how this thing "self exists".

They want to exclude the creator is one thing, but saying something can "self exists" is way too much.Kmcheng 16:38, 27 December 2008 (EST)

Presuppositions of creationism

Every school of thought begins with certain presuppositions--things having no explanation beyond themselves. In middle-school science classes, one might hear the term "fundamental property of nature." The formal term is axiom, from the Greek axios meaning a worthy thing.

So what do we consider worthy to start with and regard as settled?

  1. One God exists, and He created the universe and ordained its laws.
  2. He also left a Record with us--that thing we call the Bible--which is only the All-time Best-selling Work of literature in the history of printing!
  3. That Record is historic and deserves to be treated as such.

The historicity of the Bible perhaps deserves its own essay. But we can regard the Bible as reliably historic on these grounds:

  1. It contains the direct testimony of and about One Who stated directly and repeatedly that He was God.
  2. That Person is the Best-attested Figure in all of human history.
  3. The Bible makes certain definite predictions about this Person--predictions made centuries before the fact, predictions that all came true without exception.
  4. The chances of those predictions "just happening" to be accurate, even five hundred years or more in advance, happen to be slimmer than one in 10157. That's one in ten thousand quinquagintillion. That's one in ten times the thirty-sixth power of a myriad. That is almost the square of the total number of electrons in the universe.

Now if the Bible is right about Someone like That, then It's right about everything else It says. Including anything It has to say about the origins of the world and of life.

But, but, but...!

"But the Bible says that the world is not but six thousand years old, give or take a hundred, and we all know that the world is much older than that!" Do we? Who said it was? The hard part of trying to construct a model of origins without a historical record (or at least without one you're willing to accept) is trying to predict what conditions were in the beginning. Of course, people tend to do the simplest thing--they assume that the same conditions that obtain today have always obtained throughout the history of the world. And that assumption simply is not safe.

And even if it were, it leads to some tremendous contradictions. For example:

  1. The moon is receding from the earth so fast that if the earth were half as old as I have heard some people claim it to be, the moon would be touching the earth.
  2. The magnetic field of the earth is weakening so fast, that a scant ten thousand years ago, it would have been strong enough to rip the earth apart.
  3. The oceans are accumulating so much salt that--well, let's just say that six or seven thousand years ago, the oceans wouldn't have had any salt at all in them.

"But what about radioactive meterial? Half-lives? Daughter nuclides? Huh? Huh?"

What about radiometric dating, indeed? Well, did any of you hear about a little episode in 1996, in which a geologist named Steven A. Austin took samples from the cooled lava dome at Mount Saint Helens and sent them in to a radiometric dating laboratory? Of course he didn't tell them where he got the rocks. Now how old do you think those rocks were? Ten years old, right? After all, Mount Saint Helens blew its top in 1986. Well, guess how old that lab thought the rocks were? Half a million years old, or even two point eight million!

First off, the rocks would have been older than the actual eruption. The lava that coalesced into the new rock formations existed prior to the actual eruption. Secondly, the lab attempted to use a K-Ar dating method which cannot be used to date samples younger than 2 million years. Using K-Ar dating to date these rocks would be like using a high powered telescope to look for your keys. Additionally, the samples that Austin sent to be dated were not purified properly beforehand. Ultimately, there were all sorts of reasons for anomalous dates to appear, none of which are an indictment of radiometric dating. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by SSchultz (talk)
Dating methods work on when the lava solidifies into rock. In that sense, the dating was valid. Why can't K-Ar dating be used to date samples younger than 2 million years? And how do you know if they are younger than 2 million years unless you date them? Where's your evidence that Austin didn't prepare the samples correctly? If there's "all sorts of reasons for anomalous dates to appear", why is the method given any credibility? Isn't it supposed to be, umm, reliable? Philip J. Rayment 05:46, 27 December 2007 (EST)

If any hospital lab had made a comparable mistake, it would have been shut down for its pains. So how did that lab make that mistake? Simple--they presupposed that no daughter nuclide would be present in the formation of igneous rock. And yet they found a clear excess of radiogenic argon, the decay product of the radioactive potassium in the rock. And it wasn't a matter of "tolerances," either--they reported five different ages for the rock, and those ages were further apart than the sums of their rated tolerances. They couldn't even figure out that the rocks all came from the same source, and that source was a recent volcanic eruption!

Nor was this the first such mistake. Back in 1993, miners in the Crinum Coal Mine in Australia unearthed a fossil tree buried in basalt. Andrew Snelling and his team sent a sample of the wood to one lab, and samples of the surrounding rock to two different labs. And what do you suppose the labs told them? They got back one apparent age for the tree (about 10,000 years) and apparent ages for the rocks that were orders-of-magnitude higher--as in, in the millions of years.

Polystrate fossils are a very well understood phenomenon having first been described in the 1860s. Only young earth proponents still consider this any sort of problem for Geology. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by SSchultz (talk)
YECs don't consider it a problem for geology. They consider it a problem for long-age interpretations. And being aware of it doesn't explain it. How do mainstream geologists explain polystrate fossils? Philip J. Rayment 05:48, 27 December 2007 (EST)

Now don't you think that somebody's got some explaining to do? What kind of stupid mistake was this? Not stupid--merely ignorant and prejudiced by their worldview--and making a bunch of wrong assumptions about radioactive decay.

To find out the definitive source of those wrong assumptions--and to try to build a new model of radiometric dating--Snelling, Austin, and other scientists (including Larry Vardiman and Russell Humphreys) formed the RATE Group--for Radioisotopes and the Age of The Earth. They have issued their first papers by now, and the results have shocked the establishment. They found an excessive rate of helium diffusion from zircon crystals--so fast that you wonder why any helium remains after "all this time." They found pleochroic haloes--the kind of finding you get with a short half-life--in minerals containing elements with long half lives. They found that the Grand Canyon is a lot "younger" than ever supposed. And what it all adds up to--is that the rate of radioactive decay has not remained constant since the birth of the earth, but was greatly accelerated at least once in earth history--maybe during Creation Week, or maybe--just maybe--in the Year of the Flood, and in such a way to have triggered the Flood.

"But all life is basically alike!" No, it isn't. Prokaryotic and eukaryotic life are orders-of-magnitude different from one another.

"But speciation happens all the time!" Sure, it does--but only within definitely prescribed kinds. You don't get a new species that is a cross between a wolf and a big cat--nor could you produce a viable pup/kitten hybrid by crossing any species of wolf (the domestic dog is a subspecies of the gray wolf Canis lupus) with any species of big cat.

Evolutionary theory doesn't propose that one would be able to cross and dog and a cat. Cross-species mating is not a prediction of the Theory of Evolution. What the theory does propose is that through various selection processes a single species could split into two species which were incapable of breeding with each other, and this has been observed. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by SSchultz (talk)
TerryH's point was that speciation only occurs within boundaries. He already agreed that speciation occurs, but he says that it only occurs within limits. Your answer doesn't argue otherwise. Dogs have "evolved"—into other dogs. Cats have "evolved"—into other cats. Dogs have not evolved into something that is not a dog, and cats have not evolved into something that is not a cat. Philip J. Rayment 05:52, 27 December 2007 (EST)

"But didn't Miller and Urey show how amino acids probably formed in the early atmospheric conditions?" No, they didn't. First, they set up a gas mixture that might work, with no good reason to suppose that those were the gases that were ever the way earth's atmosphere was put together. Second, they got a racemic mix of amino acids--not the uniformly left-handed mix that we observe in all of life today.

The purpose of the Miller Urey experiment was not to perfectly replicate the early atmosphere, but to show in principal that the building blocks of life could be generated abiotically. Clearly, there is still the issue of creating a non-racemic mixture, but some studies show that aqueous clay can cause the left handed amino acids to be preferentially generated. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by SSchultz (talk)
I'm not sure that TerryH is correct that they had "no good reason" to select those gases. I believe that they were trying to replicate the conditions that they believe existed or could have existed, although later evidence shows that they got it wrong. But essentially, they showed that the proper building blocks of life could not be generated, partly because it was a racemic mixture, and partly because they had to artificially trap out the amino acids before they got destroyed again. Philip J. Rayment 05:58, 27 December 2007 (EST)

Accusations against creationism and creationists

"You never publish in peer-reviewed journals." And our journals aren't peer-reviewed? And would you be willing to accept one of "our" papers in one of "your" journals? Not if the way a certain former curator of the Smithsonian was treated is any indication. And anyway, a RATE group leader was invited to present his abstract at a recent geology meeting, and the selection process for those abstracts was peer reviewed. So you see, we can publish in peer-reviewed journals--so long as the peers doing the reviewing are willing to be reasonable, rather than act on prejudice.

"You guys simply look for ways to make the data fit your beliefs!" And evolutionists don't?

"You're praying for ignorance!" No, we're not. If anything, we're blowing the lid off a major scientific scandal. Here's a hint: it didn't start with Piltdown Man.

"Religion and science don't mix!" And anti-religion and science do mix?

"Buzz-word alert! What is 'anti-religion'?" It is anything that takes the place of religion, and certainly acts like religion, while arguing, often scathingly, against it. Secular humanism is the prime example today.

"You guys give up too easily. We'll find out how abiogenesis happened, and won't you look silly!" Heh, heh. Oh, we'll wait, all right--but we're more likely to see the Second Coming of Christ than any proof that life could ever arise from non-life. If abiogenesis ever happened in the past, then it ought to happen today, and in the wild, not under controlled and completely artificial conditions.

"But it's different today!" Ah, ha! I thought you held to uniformitarianism, that says that how it is today has always been that way! I guess conditions change, and radically so, when it suits you, no?

As you can see, we've heard it all before, and we continue to hear it--and a lot worse than this, but I see no reason to bore everybody with all the ugly ad hominem details.--TerryHTalk 14:59, 26 December 2007 (EST)

your primary shot against evolution is how life can come from non-life. but isn't that notion you seem so ready to ridicule the center piece of your own argument? how can you be so hypocritical well you probably learned it wathing "fair and balanced" FOX news. (Gosweden)

Jzyehoshua's Arguments for Creationism

The following are two of the key arguments I make at CreationWiki for Creationism:

  • 1. The fossil record is entirely contrary to the theory of evolution, as shown by the development of Punctuated Equilibrium. The famous paper by Gould and Eldredge on Punctuated Equilibrium acknowledges that, "Under the influence of phyletic gradualism, the rarity of transitional series remains as our persistent bugbear. From the reputable claims of a Cuvier or Agassiz to the jibes of modern cranks and fundamentalists, it has stood as the bulwark of anti-evolution arguments: 'For evolution to be true there had to be thousands, millions of transitional forms making an unbroken chain' (Anon., 1967-From a Jehovah's Witnesses pamphlet)."[2] Evolutionary theory, in short, is unable to explain the complete lack of transitional forms. Rather than showing constant, gradual transitions between species, instead it shows only microevolution but not macro, with very minimal evolution within species where they do not change controversially at the Genus level, and then suddenly, poof - whole new complexity in the fossil record. Punctuated Equilibrium sought to explain away the evidence of the fossil record by suggesting evolution went too rapidly during short periods (punctuated) and very slowly the rest of the time (equilibrium).[3]
  • 2. Numerous fossils discovered in recent years are contrary to conventional evolutionary theory, showing unusual complexity or that previously supposed descendants coexisted and thus could not be evolved from one another. E.g., Ardi, Sahelanthropus, and Orrorin Tungenensis show signs of bipedality and complexity, even though they are dated radiometrically as millions of years older than the alleged human-ape split around 3-4 million years ago. Erectus and Habilis coexisted. Ramidus and Afarensis (Lucy) coexisted. I wrote the page, "Recent Controversy in Hominid Ancestry" providing numerous sources regarding these finds.[4] As a result of them, the human evolutionary tree is now being called a "messy bush".[5] According to Encyclopaedia Britannica's current dating of Australopiths, Ar. kaddaba and Ar. ramidus coexisted; A. afarensis, K. platyops, A. bahrelgazali, and A. africanus all coexisted; P. aethiopicus, A. africanus, A. garhi, H. habilis, and H. rudolfensis all coexisted; and A. sediba, P. boisei, H. rudolfensis, and H. habilis all coexisted as well.[6]

--Jzyehoshua 20:17, 20 July 2012 (EDT)

References

========= End of TerryH's post =========

"..."

...wouldn't it have been a tad less overkill to paste that into an essay and just link to it in this discussion? --JakeC 15:06, 26 December 2007 (EST)

I might do exactly that, if I have time the rest of this day and tomorrow.--TerryHTalk 15:15, 26 December 2007 (EST)
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