Creationism’s Greatest Weakness

For the first twenty years of my life, creationism was a fact. At least, I was taught that it was. God created the earth in six days, and anyone who tells you otherwise is maliciously and purposely lying to you. Evolution was vilified; it was not only factually incorrect, but it was morally reprehensible, as if facts could sin.

Sometime, thanks only to my secular public schooling, I got the impression that the origins of the universe, the Earth, and humanity are big mysteries. I felt like there was a great debate about creation vs. evolution going on between educated people of all stripes. Now, after being presented with scientific facts and not bible verses for the first time, I didn’t know what to think. I still heard the narrative of “creation good, evolution bad at church from time to time, but I started to have serious doubts about creationism.

My understanding of evolution has been an ongoing process since then. During college, when I had shed my belief in God and in creationism, I was still as skeptical as possible, and I questioned everything. I didn’t really know anything about evolution, so I would listen to its pros and cons. Of course, my college’s Science and Faith class didn’t help, as Grove City’s population probably has a great majority of theistic evolutionists. (For context, one section of the Science and Faith class had The Language of God as a textbook.) This all continued to feed into my perception that evolution and creation were on equal footing in a war that spanned the public and academic worlds.

Clearly, in order to really learn about evolution without any of the fluff, I needed to look outside of the Christian circles. I turned to Google. I thought I recalled something about ancient human species along the evolutionary timeline, and maybe at one point in Science and Faith class, someone may have mentioned the word “hominid”? I didn’t really know what any of it meant, so I looked up “species of human”.

I remember the first result: it was this page from the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. I was fascinated, but I was also starting to be persuaded. The page just listed the species of human (every species under the umbrella of the genera homo, as well as others in the family tree like paranthropus and australopithecus), which of course, are all now extinct except for homo sapiens. It included photos of reconstructions of individuals in each species where it could, and each listing led to a page with information on that species, like when and where it lived, how we know what we know about it, who discovered it, what journal its discovery was published in, and more.

This sparked a continuing passion in me on human evolution. There was something so matter-of-fact about it, even within the uncertainty and unanswered questions throughout the human evolutionary tree. What really persuaded me was that this page didn’t make any reference to creationism. No, we don’t know for sure if orrorin tugenensis was fully bipedal, but nowhere did it say, “We don’t know if evolution is true or not. God may have created the Earth in six days 6,000 years ago. It’s still up for debate!” This was when I began to actually understand that evolution wasn’t up for debate among anyone that had a clue what it was.

For about a month now I’ve been reading Lucy by Donald Johanson, the discoverer of “Lucy”, the first and most complete australopithecus afarensis skeleton ever found. At the risk of spoiling my review of it, this book is probably one of my top ten favorite books of all time. I cannot rate it highly enough. Forget The God Delusion. This is what persuades me that the bible is fallible. That’s because neither the bible, nor creation, nor Genesis have ever been mentioned. Johanson just tells the story as it is, of all the big names in paleoanthropology leading up to the 1980’s, and all of the controversy that riddled the field, and the great lie that was Piltdown Man, and the stress of finding fossils that don’t seem to make sense with the hominid family tree that you have mapped out so far. I don’t even know the religious affiliations of anyone in the entire book, that’s how irrelevant it is.

The concept of not even acknowledging the “other side” of the creationism debate is the factor of sophistication that the creationists lack. Among real cosmologists or physicists, how often does the question of the creation narrative actually enter their work? Does anyone really think that those men and women hunting for hominid fossils were really just doing so to prove creationism wrong? Of course not. Compared to real science, creationism is child’s play. It’s a non-issue. It doesn’t even exist.

On the other hand, evolution is all that creationists talk about. Creationism is all about refuting things and trying to break down established facts. That’s why we have the Ken Ham book The Lie: Evolution and the Michael Behe book Darwin’s Black Box. Of course, there are books defending evolution from creationism as well, like Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution and Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True. But that’s not all there is. We also have Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, and Lucy, which exist solely to teach science. They rarely, if ever, mention God. They don’t even give him the time of day, which shows why we don’t need him.

Creationism doesn’t do this. It doesn’t have an entire self-contained discipline that can exist without an opponent. It exists only to maintain its own persecution complex and act as an underdog to real science, without explaining anything independently at all. Language like “Creationism is an undisputed scientific fact among experts, thanks to mountains of evidence and the ability to make predictions,” would be much more persuasive than “Evolutionists are trying to teach your kids secular science at school, but God’s Word is the truth, and it acts as a solid foundation upon which we build our biblical scientific worldview.”

Discoveries that change everything we thought we knew about some area of science are welcomed and constantly sought after. Creationism lacks this nuance, this ongoing struggle to find the truth and consistently maintain it, this ability to change its mind, that makes science real. The unchanging, rock-solid nature of creationism, on which its constituents place their pride, is indeed its greatest weakness.

21 Replies to “Creationism’s Greatest Weakness”

  1. Great post. I shuffled through life from the standpoints of indifferent, to curious, and even thinking I’d give religion a shot. Well religion failed me early, mostly by the hypocrisy of its adherents, and also to a degree the stuff they believed which made no sense at all. Later in life I decided I’d look into this evolution thing, and I like you, became convinced that evolution makes much more sense and has literally tons of evidence to back its claims.

    Having evidence of ones claims, compared to none at all, makes for an easy decision. How that decision can be so difficult for the indoctrinated is a study in psychology…

    It was the 29 Evidences for Evolution on the talkorigins site that pushed me into reality, forever leaving behind my chidish notions of gods. Haven’t looked back since.

    Thanks for sharing your road travelled and excellent observations 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And here’s my thought. We are very different creatures than those who lived even 1,000 years ago. Or maybe it’s just we have hygiene I don’t know. But I do know creationism is in fact a crock of shit.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good post Rebekah. If one doesn’t take Genesis literally then creationism doesn’t so much become a weakness as many other tenets. One being that God is a personal God and has a specific interest in the course of your life. It’s hard to argue that when evolution was this slow process over billions of years. You might be able to say that a divine consciousness created the universe and set anything in motion, but it seems almost silly at that point to say that he was just waiting for us to evolve so he could then wait to impose some rules about masturbation being a bad thing.

    Christians, in my mind are always stuck between accepting everything as literal, or pick and choosing what they can ignore, what they can say is metaphor and what they can say is literal. And not surprisingly that changes with time. It’s a weakness from the get go that they have to choose between metaphor and literal as both choices open up big holes in the whole project.

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  4. My greatest amazement comes from the belief Christians have in the creation of the first humans: Adam and Eve. I often think of the author of that myth and the sort of narrative issues he had to face. You know, setting, character, conflict, resolution…all of that stuff.

    For instance, the author had to address the fact of “who gets created first?” The author had to know that babies came from the female sex, so of course, to be “biologically” correct, Eve should have been created first, then she could mate with God and hence give birth to Adam. Well, we can easily see the problems the narrator, born in a patriarchal world, would have had with THAT arrangement, so he has to create the male first. Then God yanks out a rib and creates a female who, since she’s created from Adam’s rib, she, scientifically speaking, would be another Adam…whoops! But the narrator had no idea of DNA, so he’s happy to move on. With the creation of a hierarchy, his story is set. There had to be a flaw, and the Eve character fills the bill, so to speak. In short, as a narrative, the story, as a mythic narrative, is near perfect, and partly what makes it such a marvelous narrative is what’s NOT there. In other words, there are so many blanks to fill in. It’s a beautiful, imaginative experience.

    Unfortunately, Christians tend to fill in the blanks with sheer nonsense and then throw it up for absolute truth. A great example is the idea that “sin” came into the world with Eve’s transgression. Just ask any Christian to explain how an “abstract” came into the world. Where did it come from? Is it traceable? Does it show in the blood? Are there measurable levels of it? What exactly is it’s chemical make-up?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I like what you said about Creationism not existing without an opponent. Evolution is fueled by evidence and is continually improving. Creationism is fueled by emotion and wanting to appear legitimate. That it likes to act as a persecuted underdog merely fuels this emotional fire. In real science, theories are tested and discarded all the time, but do the proponents of these theories ever claim persecution? That question is rhetorical because they clearly don’t.

    The way I look at it now, Creationism (or ID, take your pick) is like Christian apologetics wrapped in a deceptive cloak of science. But they aren’t really interested in science though, it’s more to make Christians feel good about their own beliefs and not doubt. The problem is, it’s much more than that. They want to suppress real science being taught too, because it disagrees with their Bible.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The physical is not a problem. The mental is the problem. The physical exists and science for the most part explains it. Early human minds created the supernatural realm to make sense of what they couldn’t know. The realm of heaven and all gods therein do not exist, except in the minds of humans. GROG

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What I like to do is to ask religious people EXACTLY HOW “god” made the universe. How did he start? How did he create light on the first day but the sun, moon and stars on the forth day? What exactly did he do that initiated the act of creation? Where was he before the universe was created? Why would he say anything aloud if there was no one else there to hear him? Their responses are usually something like “I don’t know! He’s God!”

    Yeah, that usually pisses them off but I’m sorry, at least we have some kind of explanation about our “theory.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Congratulations! To get an ‘I don’t know’ from a believer is an accomplishment of high-order miracle status. I usually get silence followed by a report of my rude, sneering, bitter questioning of their beliefs.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It is interesting to me that the creationism and evolution discussion means so much to some folks in the faith vs. reason debate. I enjoy reading your blog and what you have to say about it, but it is not why I am an atheist. Keep up the good work, Rebekah.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s a good point Bill. I think the reason that creation vs. evolution takes a center stage here is because of the amount of people who believe the Genesis story of creation is the literal truth. Personally it was not the main way that I had doubts about the truth of Christianity.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I had a really important moment in my life when i asked one of my catholic teachers how in the world could god have created the world in 6 days. She looked at me and said that we dont need to believe everything in the bible to be catholic. That blew my 13 year old mind and gave me so much comfort. I still don’t know where I stand with religion but it felt like so much pressire was off and that I had gotten permission to see religion for it’s good parts, trying to encourage people to be good, instead of just cold hard truth you blindly follow. Heck God gave us free will for a reason. And geez this book was written and put together by people over the years… maybe they filled in some gaps and some broken telephone was involved. Isn’t God good enough that he could have created something even better than the world in 6 days? A beautiful constantly eveolving world that we still don’t fully understand becuase it is so complex. Not trying to change your mind or anything, you just reminded me of a very important moment in my life. And dont worry, i bet half the catholics I know, if they got talking to me, would practically think I’m athiest😂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I got in trouble with parents for teaching that some of the bible was myth and parable during CCD classes. Kids told parents, parents attacked me for saying the bible was a myth (not exactly what I said), but along comes the parish priest (who agreed with what I said) and offers to fire me if those parents would teach the class. I finished out the year and one more before I had enough.

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    2. 6 days is slow. Mbombo (the creation god of Western African religions); vomited once to make the planets, vomited again and all life was created. None of this doing it one bit at a time, and then needing a rest on the 7th day malarkey (I’m magical, but I need a rest).

      Liked by 3 people

          1. 🤣 idk sounds like he was already part of one. He still did better than some of the first nations creation stories in canada. One of them a turtle carries the entire earth on it’s back. Wonder if they have more of a problem with the round earth theory than evolution?

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  10. (to date) I have found evolution to be the single best argument against religious fables.

    If you can destroy the foundation upon which a religious mantra is built you don’t even need to tackle the specific religious doctrines, as they crumble like ash.

    The Bible tells us that we are created special. Evolution tells us this is completely untrue.

    If evolution is true. God has used death, fear, meaninglessness and pain to bring about a speicies (Homo sapiens) who seem to be unable to prove He is real anyway…

    Liked by 5 people

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