Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to Shut Up Pesky Creationists

This talk by Dr. Ken Miller is really amazing both in how clearly it refutes creationism / intelligent design, and also because it illustrates the uphill battle that science faces against religion.

Science is hard. This is highly technical stuff, and it is beyond the grasp of the average American. It's a complex, technical argument, but worse, it takes five minutes of paying attention. How can Dr. Miller convince a nation that thrives on sound bites and watered-down science to pay attention?

Happily, my audience has a longer attention span. Enjoy, it's great stuff!


  1. I've never understood why creationists and evolutionists are at ends with each other. If anything, they're fighting over a method, not an origin. For example, when we see the word "creation", what does that mean? God baking us in an oven? Making us out of cosmic Play-dough? Both ends of the spectrum, believers and atheists, seem to be limited by set constructs of how a 'god' *would* create something, let alone what that 'god' would look like and act etc., if it even existed in the first place. We seem to know exactly *how* a god, which as a whole we've never really seen, tested (which begs a further question- how do you test something that in reality has no set definition?), proven, etc., would act and do things, and then base our entire arguments on that.

    If you let go of those constructs, then a method of development is wide open. If anything, everything we do, create, whatever, is a mimic of the evolution process: cumulative changes over time. We didn't just wave our hands and *poof* made a computer. It's the end product of humanity's current knowledge about mathematics, physics, what have you, over thousands of years, and it will keep changing as time goes on. You can even extend that further and add the actual evolution of our species to that- we had to first evolve enough smarts to create things like computers.

    For all we know, evolution might be the method of some cosmic entity or what not. But it's much easier to just stop all thought processes and set our minds in stone so that we can then put ourselves into different camps and hate each other to assuage our own insecurities about being right or wrong about something.

  2. That was both a beautiful example of evolutionary biology in action as a predictive science, and a great answer to the "evolution is not falsifiable" mantra often spouted by creationists. Thanks!

    And Ahms, we can understand evolution quite well as a process governed by natural law -- there's no need to add any kind of "cosmic entity or what not". What would such an entity add to the explanation? All it could do is provide a convenient carpet under which to shove anomalous data and un-answered questions -- "The cosmic-entity-or-what-not did it". But science should avoid such convenient carpets at all costs! The correct answer to an anomalous data point is, "Hmm, that's weird. I wonder what accounts for it?"

  3. Ahms - The world is not neutral, and when it comes to science and history, there is a difference between right and wrong, true and false. The very computers you talk about are possible ONLY because some scientists were right about their theories, and other scientists were mistaken. The scientists with the correct theory were willing to prove it, even though it made their colleagues look foolish.

    The idea that evolutionists are trying to "stop all thought processes and set our minds in stone ... hate each other to assuage our own insecurities" completely misses the point. Evolution is the correct theory, and creationism is incorrect. To deny this, or try to gloss over the profound and irreconcilable differences in these two positions is to stop all forward progress. It's the creationists who are at fault for deliberately, and sometimes knowingly, denying the truth. I stand for truth, education, and the spread of reason, and I won't back down just because I make some people uncomfortable.


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