Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What is Creationsim?


A large number of Americans claim to believe in "creationism" and "Intelligent Design." While I often get concerned about these numbers, I also wonder whether part of the problem is the use of these terms. After all, as should be clear by my many posts on evolution, I believe in a creating God who was an "intelligent designer", but I also fully accept the science of evolution, have come to believe that evolution is the means by which God created, and reject Intelligent Design. Does this make me a creationist? Could this sense of the word "creationism" be part of the problem?

John Pieret has a post that does a very good exploring this issue:

Broadly speaking, a "creationist" could be said to include anyone who believes that god(s) are somehow responsible for the existence and nature of the world. Theodosius Dobzhansky, one of the greatest evolutionary biologists of the 20th century, is famous for the phrase "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." What is perhaps less well known is that, in the speech bearing that phrase as its title, he also said:

I am a creationist and an evolutionist. Evolution is God's, or Nature's method of creation. Creation is not an event that happened in 4004 BC; it is a process that began some 10 billion years ago and is still under way.


Dobzhansky, a devout Russian Orthodox Christian, did not believe that evolutionary doctrine clashed with his religious faith and, therefore, had no need for science education to make any special accommodation for his beliefs. From a constitutional standpoint (and to my mind, from the standpoint of science as well), that is the crucial focus. It is the attempt to inject religious beliefs into publicly-funded science education that characterizes the definition of "creationist" at issue here.

Contrast Dobzhansky's position with ID advocates. Beckwith correctly states that "for the ID advocate, the most important thing to do is to show the failure of philosophical materialism as a worldview." But science is not a "worldview" and as can be seen in the Wedge Document and elsewhere, ID advocates, just as the "creation scientists" before them, conflate the methodological naturalism of science with philosophical naturalism. From there, they demand that science accept non-naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena, despite the fact that such explanations cannot be scientifically tested.



Read it all here.

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