Countering Creationism

History of Creationism Creationism, meaning a literal belief in the biblical six-day creation myth, has always been strong in the United States. Recently 47% of the population stated this as their belief. Young-Earth Creationists usually date the creation of the universe, and of life and human beings, to 6000 years ago, according to the chronology of Archbishop Ussher. Others are more vague, allowing 10,000 years or more. Still others allow much greater geological time spans, but deny the reality of evolution of new species from old.

Most people in the UK know of the famous 1925 "Monkey trial" & in Tennessee, in which school teacher John Scopes was prosecuted for teaching Darwin's theory. The trial is particularly remembered for the confrontation between the religious orator William Jennings Bryan, whose views were shown to be rather confused, and the agnostic defence lawyer Clarence Darrow, although they were each only part of the teams on either side. The trial was broadcast live on the new medium of radio, and achieved widespread press publicity. Scopes was found guilty and fined $100, but the verdict was later overturned on a technicality. The trial was soon dramatised as a play and as a film.

In 1961 The Genesis Flood by Henry Morris and John Whitcomb appeared, which attempted to present the biblical account as "science". In the 1970s Arkansas and Louisiana passed laws requiring science classes to give equal time to "creation science" and evolution. The supreme court overturned the Louisiana statute in 1987.

In 1991 Darwin on Trial by Phillip Johnson, a lawyer, directed its attack to casting doubt on the arguments of scientists. Since 2000 the creationists have modified their stance and now use such terms as "Intelligent Design" and "Irreducible Complexity". The main advocates are William A. Dembski and Michael Behe.

Concerted attempts have been made more recently to get this into schools. Creationism itself cannot be taught, because no religious teaching is allowed in state schools in the US (to protect freedom of religion). Many teachers try to avoid trouble by not teaching evolution at all. The ruling of Judge Jones in the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in 2005 found that Intelligent Design was just a front for creationism.

In the UK creationism has also been appearing, for example in the Emmanuel College, a city technology college in Gateshead funded by Sir Peter Vardy. Under the city academies programme the schools get some of their initial funding from the religious sponsors but the bulk of the money and all running costs come from the state. For some account of my own experience with creationists in Leicester see my humanism.

Because of the amount of time and money being spent by wealthy religious organisations on promoting creationism, there has had to be a corresponding effort put in by evolutionists seeking to provide counter-arguments to those the creationists raise. Many of us feel that this often gives too much weight to the creationist's views, many of which are just too absurd to take seriously. On the science overview pages I give links to sites that are devoted purely to expounding biological evolution without specifically answering creationist propaganda. However, many of the counter-creationist sites listed below are also useful for learning about evolution.

Can Religion and Evolution be Compatible? While some people (including myself) argue that the science of evolution, and other discoveries of modern cosmological science, rule out any need for or likelihood of supernatural involvement, others are able to accept the findings of science and combine them with various forms of religious belief. Controversially, some scientific bodies are prepared to recognise religion as an alternative "way of knowing and understanding", while many of their member scientists find it difficult to understand how people can seemingly hold mutually contradictory beliefs.

Links on Compatibility of Religion and Evolution

American Scientific Affiliation
Christians in Science
Darwin's Religious Odyssey - W. E. Phipps.
Natural selection is not an obstacle to religious faith - Richard Harries (former Bishop of Oxford)
Can a Christian believe in evolution? - Denis R. Alexander (an evangelical christian)
Evolution Resources - Kenneth R. Miller (a catholic, and scientific witness at the Dover trial)
BioLogos: Theistic Evolution - Francis Collins
Compatibility of Science and Religion - US National Academy of Science

Links to Creationist Websites

Creation Science Home Page -
Answers in Genesis - This site belongs to an organisation that held a well-attended seminar run by Ken Ham at Leicester University in 2002 - See particularly their Q & A section - The notes on ‘How can we see distant stars in a young universe?’ show particularly well how creationists struggle to reconcile modern discoveries with their biblical presumptions which they refuse to accept could be wrong. On the other hand ‘Evidence for a young world’ provides numerous statements difficult for any but specialised scientists to refute.
Six Day Creation - Creation Science Resources
Education Guardian - Ofsted OK Creationism (May 2002)
Chick Tracts - Big Daddy
Steve Fuller - argues the 'teach the controversy' view
Daylight Origins Society - creationism for catholics
Biblical Creation Society
Evolution and the bible - Nigel Cameron

Links to Counter-Creationist Websites

British Centre for Science Education
Talk Origins
Panda's Thumb
US National Center for Science Education
Answers in Science
No Answers in Genesis
Infidels Org. on Creationism
Rationally Speaking blog by Massimo Pigliucci.
Articles in opposition to creationism by Lorence G. Collins
Wired Archiv, on ID in Ohio
ID deja vu
E. T. Babinski
Intelligent Design Watch
Science Just Science
Creation Science Debunked - Lenny Flank
Reason Lost - A. C. Grayling on Creationism in Universities
Black Shadow of Creationism