I’ve always wanted to believe that rational scientific thought and creative/artistic thinking are not just incompatible, but that they are in fact closely linked. Both in my personal art projects and in my professional work as an interaction designer, artistry and science have always gone hand in hand. My peers and friends generally share this view, too, with most of the people I know having a nearly-equal level of interest in and understanding of both the sciences and the arts.

As a result of my prejudice, I typically think of designers and artists as people who are also deeply interested in science and technology. And I generally assume that artists and designers are naturally resistant to irrational or faith-based thinking.

So in reading about the recently-opened Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky — where visitors are shown absurd dioramas illustrating dinosaurs living side-by-side with humans in the Garden of Eden 6,000 years ago — I was struck by the New York Times’ gallery of photographs of the people who actually built the exhibits.


Cast your eyes over to the right and you will see earnest young women and men who appear to be painting, sculpting, and architecting scientific displays. They look like the kinds of researchers you might see working on a university-sponsored archaeological dig, or like paleontologists assembling fossils in a Natural History museum exhibit. They look like smart and talented people. Which they almost certainly are when it comes to their artistic skills.

There’s just one problem: They are all idiot creationists.


It’s painful to be reminded in such a stark way that designers and artists — and creative people in general — have long been perceived by the general public as irrational fuzzy-thinkers with a deep-rooted hostility towards science and technology. This is, in fact, the dominant stereotype, and it sucks to be reminded how much the stereotype is rooted in truth. Much like the stereotypical hippies protesting modernity by sculpting and painting at a 1960’s artist colony, these fresh-faced young creationist artisans combine genuine artistic talent with a profound level of ignorance or even hostility when it comes to science.

My last post discussed the intersection of fascism and artistic skill. While I am not equating Christian fundamentalism with fascism, they do share a devotion to irrational cultish thinking even as they attract creative talent to their ranks. The paradox is similar — how is it that artistic talent can co-exist with such irrational thinking?

Creativity is for Dummies

Futurist thinker Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog and author of the excellent book “How Buildings Learn” has for many years been collaborating with Danny Hillis on a project called The Clock of the Long Now, which is described as “a monument scale, multi-millennial, all mechanical clock as an icon to long term thinking”. When I had a chance to ask Brand if he thought that the clock was “art”, he emphatically denied it, expressing a palpable disgust for the very idea. I got the feeling that, to Brand, the term “art” degraded his project by equating it with what many perceive to be emotional/spiritual/expressive/touchy-feely things like sculpture, drawing, and painting. He sees himself as a rationalist, opposed to artsy-fartsy thinking.

I was disappointed that Brand would think this way. To me it’s just as bad when artists disavow the sciences as it is when scientific thinkers disavow the arts. To my thinking, Brand is an artist to the bone and I wish he would admit it instead of dumbly reinforcing the artificial wall between art and science.

There is a divide in this world, but it is between irrational and rational thinking, not between art and science.

Commercial Creativity

Interestingly, conservatives who work in creative fields or who have an interest in the arts have long resented this stereotype. I’ve personally known Christian fundamentalist commercial artists who felt completely alienated from their professional peers because of their beliefs. Religious conservatives resent Hollywood for its pervasive secular and atheist thought, and they have in recent years been producing show-business multimedia productions that rival Hollywood’s in size, artistry, and technical skill (see Alexandra Pelosi’s HBO documentary Friends of God for an overview of the evangelical entertainment industry. Here’s a nice YouTube clip about Creationism from the movie).

The artisans working at the Creation Museum are, in fact, not on loan from the Museum of Natural History or from the National Geographic Society at all. No, the Creation Museum’s exhibit director used to work at Universal Studios creating replicas of the fictional worlds in the movies.

So maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh on these nice young people. Maybe they’re not dumb, but merely mercenary. Perhaps, to these craftspeople, the Creationist Museum is simply another kind of science fiction movie set. Another day, another fantasy to depict.


32 responses to “Creative Creationists”

  1. I suspect that mercenary might even be too harsh. If, for example, the exhibit director has a family and is out of work (or gets a considerably better job offer from the Creation Museum), they might just be following the work.

    I do agree that there is an unnecessary and artificial wall between art and science. I would point to Legos as a strong example of an activity that uses both science and art.

  2. @SirNuke: I dont think “mercenary” is too harsh a term to describe working for people who espouse something you think is morally and factually wrong. I would never, ever, ever work for anything like the Creation Museum. These people are either true beleivers or they are mercenaries. There’s no middle ground, I think.

  3. A few months ago, Wonkette profiled a similar case of exceptionally talented artists lending their skill to a surprising client: the NRA.

  4. Do we know that those that worked on this project aren’t ‘True Believers’?

    Furthermore, why is it that only secular scientists are the ‘True Scientists’ and anyone else’s opinion, whether based on scientific inquiry or religious dogma can be immediately dismissed on the basis that it doesn’t agree with what the established scientific community knows is true?

    Humanists can be every bit as narrow-minded as Christians / Muslims / Hindus etc etc etc

  5. I believe that you’ll find that historically speaking some of the greatest minds in art, science, and design have been ‘idiot creationists’.

    As someone who has long sought to fight the anti-intellectualism so prevalent in Christian circles entries like this cut me deep. I can speak first hand of the alienation that often occurs while wanting to learn all I can about web development and design, and hopefully be a contributing member of the community some day. Between defending rational and reasonable arguments for my faith to skeptics, and exhorting and encouraging my fellow believers to start being more rational and reasonable…it is no wonder I don’t feel like I fit in.

    The only thing that I can offer, is my experience and my mind. It seems to me, however, that people are not willing to actually be free-thinkers on either side of the argument when they make unqualified, gross generalizations about one another in contexts outside of appropriate settings for such weighty philosophical discussion.

    I love to argue about and defend my faith. I also love science, design, and a whole lot of other subjects. I just wish that the people I admire in design, development, and related industries that I find stimulating had not received such a souring impression from others about the beliefs that I hold.

    There is nothing I would like more than to hear from others about this though, so if you have comments, criticism, or just want to vent please feel free to email me: lukedary at hotmail dot com

  6. Christianity is “devoted to irrational cultish thinking?” That’s pretty inciendiary language. While I agree that science and rational thought should not be the enemy that some (and I stress *some*) Christian fundamentalists make it out to be, painting all of Christianity with such a wide brush seems just as unfounded and irrational as the thing you seem to be railing against.

    There are many Christians who do subscribe to scientific ideas and rational thought, and who believe that faith and science can co-exist. So I ask you: is everyone who believes in Creation an idiot?

  7. @Christopher
    What if the museum director has a family and has been out of a job for 6 months? Bills are pilling up, the temp hourly job at where ever isn’t bringing in enough cash, and they get a good offer from this ‘museum’. I personally wouldn’t blame them for taking the job in that circumstance.

    My point, however, isn’t that the museum director shouldn’t be faulted for this atrocity, but that we shouldn’t perform an online tar and feathering without sufficient knowledge of the circumstances of their employment. I do note that Universal Studios Florida is an amusement park, not a movie studio, so the director is likely either a creationist or a mercenary.

    Note that this creationism ‘museum’ is certainly not the first (see Wikipedia [ ]).

  8. dehfne Avatar

    i’m just struck by your comment about stewart brand and the clock of the long now… considering brian eno is involved in the project and composed its chimes (get the cd here: i don’t see how anyone could claim its not art. perhaps you misunderstood?

  9. While I think there is nothing at all wrong with anybody believing in god and holding their faith-based principles close to their heart, I have a HUGE problem with people trying to indoctrinate other’s into their faith. This is especially so when it is done belligerently.

    The whole point of things like the Creationist Museum is to affect the “debate” and fool more people into believing the Christian faith over logically verifiable science. Things like the Creationist Museum have nothing to do with one’s own personal faith, or the legitimacy of that faith — they are a tool to affect a cultural shift — they are quite literally a cultural weapon in an illogical faith-based war against rational thought.

  10. Since I haven’t posted in a while, I will respond to everyone who’s posted so far.

    @Rob Weychert: Yep, that’s a similar thing. Only I’d disagree in one respect: While I basically think the NRA is a bad thing, I do not think that they are irrational to nearly the same degree that Creationists are. I am far more comfortable with the idea of creatives being political conservatives than with the idea of creatives being psychotic fundamentalists. Thanks for the link.

    @Matt Turner: It sounds like you are saying that Science and Religion are equally valid ways of looking at the world. They are not. Religion cannot predict natural phenomenon, while science can. That’s one (pardon the pun) fundamental difference. If you define scientific truth as that which can predict future results of natural phenomenon, religion just doesn’t measure up and has to be dismissed by rational people. Creationism is irrational.

    @Luke: Cheers to you for trying to bridge this unneccessary divide without compromising your appreciation for the essential qualities of both sides.

    @jared: Please re-read my post. I was clearly and explicitly referring to “Christian fundamentalists”, not Christianity. (Why is it that no matter how painstakingly critics of fundamentalism try to differentiate fundies from mainstream religious people, they still get accused of generalizing the whole religion? Do mainstream religious people feel an unconscious affinity with the fundies, or is the subject just so touchy that reading comprehension is diminished? If I were a mainstream religious person, I’d be soooo mad at the fundies for giving all religious people a bad reputation.)

    @SirNuke: Well, let’s just hope you and I don’t ever find ourselves in a position where we have to choose between making insane propaganda and feeding our families.

    @dehfne: I hope I misunderstood, but he was pretty emphatic about it. For what it’s worth, Brian Eno also designed the Windows 95 default sound scheme, and I doubt Bill Gates would call Windows art either.

    @Dan: Creationists would say the same about us, though — that we are pushing our “beliefs” on them. To me, it is about their specific beliefs: They believe something that is irrational in the face of modern understandings of how things are. They basically do not believe in science itself. Like other fundamentalists, they simply want us all to live in the 4th century. I agree with your sentiment, though, insofar as the method and aesthetic the Creationist Museum uses to indoctrinate visitors into their Iron-Age mind-set is by emulating modern science. They dress up their faith in the garments of science in order to appear legitimate to a culture of confused people who might otherwise gravitate towards logical, rational thinking.

  11. If I’m not mistaken, don’t traditional museums base their exhibits on actual archaeological finds (so as not mixing animals from the Triassic era with those of the Jurassic)? In line with this, if the Creation Museum is replacing archeology (or maybe they aren’t – how else would they know to include dinosaurs?) strictly based on biblical texts, wouldn’t there need to be mention of dinosaurs and what-not in the bible for them to be able to exhibit them in the museum? I do recall bible passages such as “and the Lion shall Lay Down with the Lamb” but I’m still looking for the one that reads “and the Eozostrodon shall Lay Down with the Edaphosaurus” 😉

  12. @Anders: The Bible says that God created all of the beasts, and dammit that should be good enough for you!

  13. This reminds of a recent encounter I had an Austin, TX, the oasis of blue in a sea of red.

    I was talking to my apartment building super while he was fixing a leak in my wall. He asked my about my background, I asked him about his. We talked about the differences in generation between he and I and how we each grew up in different circumstances but shared very similar values: hard work, discipline, a sense of humor, empathy, compassion. We then came to the same conclusion about how material-obsessed the current generation is and how nobody is saving money anymore. That led us into a lengthy discussion of the economy and how we both thought that the chasm between social classes was inevitably going to get deeper, and that countries like China were going to skyrocket while the U.S. was on a long decline.

    We came to a natural pause in the flow of conversation and in that moment I was thinking how cool and easy it was to talk to intelligent people in Austin vs. New York City and then I thought I should say something else to quash the silence.

    Before I could utter a word he says to me, “Well we really don’t have to worry because the rapture will just take of everything.”

    How does one respond to that particular curveball? I didn’t really know what the hell to say to that. So I didn’t say anything. I guess the odd look on my face implied to him that he should get off topic.

    Upon reflection, I realized that I shouldn’t be so surprised. Most people on this planet can successfully process dangerous and silly contradictions in their brains all day, and still lead productive and ethical lives.

    I just don’t feel like talking to them all that much.

  14. I didn’t mean that religious beliefs specifically vs scientific beliefs should be given equal comparison, I meant scientific beliefs and ideas from scientists with all kinds of religious backgrounds.

    Of course the idea goes that a ‘creationist scientist’ is some kind of misnomer because someone that takes the bible (or other religious text) seriously can’t because a proper scientist because they’re illogical.

    The point of view from creationists (full disclaimer – i am one) is that secular scientist reach their scientific ideas and beliefs through a humanistic interpretation of the world. E.g, we know we can discount creationism, not just because the belief is ‘irrational’ but because we KNOW there isn’t a god.

    Secondly and more generally, secular scientists won’t accept anything supernatural (perhaps ‘ghosts’ are an exception, lots of people seem interested in doing experiments at so called haunted mansions). Anyway, the point is that scientists won’t accept anything supernatural, because it is by definition outside of the remit of science.

    What I feel though, is that many scientists refuse to believe that science does not encompass everything in the universe with an explanation. And if there’s not a natural explanation then it doesn’t exist. That, to me, seems irrational.

  15. Fair enough, I clearly didn’t pick up on the “fundamentalist” distinction.

  16. Matt Turner wrote:
    Anyway, the point is that scientists won’t accept anything supernatural, because it is by definition outside of the remit of science.

    Lots of scientists beleive in supernatural and religious things. Did you know that? Most scientists believe in God, even. But they do NOT call those beliefs “science”. Creationism is called a pseudo-science because it does not meet any definition of science, not because (as you suggest) the people who subscribe to it believe in God. Creationism is not falsifyable, it does not predict future outcomes, it lacks internal logical consistency, etc — it does not do what science’s rules say science must do, therefore it is not a science.

    Supernaturalism has no place within science because the supernatural, by definition, defies *all* explanation. One could argue, with just as much authority and scientific validity as Creationists argue their beleifs, that the whole universe was created 5 minutes ago by God, and that our brains were simply pre-loaded (by God) with memories of the past. You can argue anything you want if you forego the rules of science. Science only deals with stuff that fits its rules, everything else it leaves alone. Science does not address questions of spirituality or religion because science deliberately sets limits on itself.

    If you accept that science does not try to explain the unexplainable, which I accept, then can you not also accept that religion does not and should not attempt to explain the explainable? In my mind, creationism is an ethical and moral atrocity in every way, because (a) it lies about being a science and (b) it defiles the sacred mysteries of religion by injecting patently man-made explanations into a spiritual belief system.

    But most of all, I object to creationism because it wants us all to think that it is a type of science when in fact is not (as you yourself have said), and as a result it undermines science itself. Can you imagine if other sciences accepted the idea that “God said so” is an okay explanation? If the people who make our medicines, vehicles, and infrastructure didn’t work within a system where “facts” are not accepted until they meet science’s specific criteria, we would all be dead in days. If we accept creationism as science, we undermine modernity itself and risk losing everything we’ve gained in the fields of medicine, biology, psychology, geology, physics, and everything else that relies on science to distinguish between dangerous and sloppy research and accurate, safe, and reliable scientifically-based research.

    Do you really beleive that the Earth was created 6,000 years ago? Or do you merely think that God created the universe in ways that we can’t fathom, but that generally science is right about the timelines. Because if you think the latter, you’re clearly spritually- and philosophically-minded but technically not a literal creationist and you do not necessarily pose the threat to modernity that I fear. If you are a “6,000 year” type creationist, I’m frankly pretty frightened by you.

  17. Sorry to disappoint / frighten but I believe in creation literally as opposed to philosophically.

    To respond to a few of your points-
    “Creationism doesn’t make predictions about the future” Well, Creationism itself doesn’t, but Christian philosophy does make predictions about science and the [metaphysical] future. In fact, some of the great scientific discovery’s were made because the scientists behind them believed in God, and that if God is rational then it follows that his creation (what we study in science) is too. Newton, to name the most obvious example, believed in God and creation. So Christian scientists believe that there is a rational order that is discoverable in all facets of the world.

    Now, I readily accept that just because famous scientists or even any scientists believe in God and even literal creation it doesn’t make it any more true. Of course the same is true of evolution. Just because famous people, or even more people believe it doesn’t make any difference to whether it’s true or not.

    “If you accept that science does not try to explain the unexplainable, which I accept, then can you not also accept that religion does not and should not attempt to explain the explainable?”

    And what if science explains something for which in reality, there isn’t a natural explanation?

    Anyway, no, I can’t. Religion isn’t just about ‘blind faith’. Christianity as I see it has always been a rational as well as mystical thing. When I became a Christian it wasn’t just some ‘leap of faith’, if I didn’t think it made any sense then I wouldn’t have become one. If a religion can’t be at the very least defended as rational (even if some disagree with that defense) and is solely mystical or supernatural, then what value does it have (except for possibly morals)?

    In defense of the rationality of holding the biblical position on creation, a lot of the ‘evidence’ that is examined by scientists who believe different theories is the same evidence but approached with different preconceptions. E.g. the fossil record – it’s there for sure but interpretations are not the same. Carbon dating is measuring isotopes for sure, but the assumptions of past variables that impinge on those isotopes are not the same.

    If you work back through a family tree and extrapolate going back, you see we get back to one ancestor in around 7000 year The ‘evidence’ is there, the interpretation of who those ancestors were are not the same.

    If you want a pseudo science then try ‘Intelligent Design’. Creationism is not anti-intellectual (unfashionable perhaps). Interpreting evidence to fit the model of special creation is no less scientific than interpreting evidence to fit the model of the big bang. It just brings the philosophical part of the equation closer to planet earth. I will grant you that the origin of Creation as it is in the Genesis account was not from a scientist (Moses) as opposed to Evolution or the Big Bang (Darwin / Hubble). But if you consider it, then as has been proven (just never in the mind of the people that believe the opposite), it can be backed up with scientific inquiry without being an original scientific theory.

    Allow me to ask you if I may, do you believe there is more to life than atoms (or strings.. or quantum mechanics etc)?

  18. And what if science explains something for which in reality, there isn’t a natural explanation?

    Science does not even pretend to do that.

    Allow me to ask you if I may, do you believe there is more to life than atoms (or strings.. or quantum mechanics etc)?

    There may be, but I don’t feel bad about the fact that I will never be sure about either the stuff that science explains nor the stuff that science does not pretend to explain. In fact, I have a deep appreciation of the fact that so many questions will be forever unanswered. Even as science asks questions eternally, it is content to know that there will always always always be many questions, huge questions, which remain mysterious. I find that beautiful.

    Science admits to its limits. Creationism, and indeed religion in general, does not admit to any limits. I appreciate the humility of science.

  19. My point about science exlaining something for which in reality there isn’t a natural explanation isn’t that it pretends to, but that it happens by accident, and once a theory is born it is believed science can solve that problem.

    Religions may offer a more comprehensive worldview than science but Christianity at least, admits limits and unexplainables – “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness…”

    I think both science and religion can be guilty of false humility. If science is so humble why is it so demeaning of those that don’t agree with it? Especially ignorant non-scientist creatoinist people that step on their toes and say evolution is wrong. Surely it is at least conceivable that science is wrong, not just a bit wrong but on some things completely wrong?

    Naturally creationists are guilty of this too. Anything containing the word evolution is sadly automatically scoffed at. Even though aspects of it, such as natural selection, are readily observable.

    However, ‘atoms to man’ evolution will never be a cogent theory to my mind because the evidence isn’t there. If the evidence is there and so conclusive, then the BBC wouldn’t have to headline a ‘missing link found’ article every six months or so!

    I’ll make a scientific prediction about the future – as time goes on, excluding our external influence through science and medicine, the human organism will devolve. We have not reached the pinacle of evolution, we were at it once some 6000 years ago and have been in decline ever since.

  20. “we were at it once some 6000 years ago and have been in decline ever since”

    Wow. I’d sure like to see the evidence for that one. Where are those perfect specimens of humanity-past of which you speak?! You’re not even trying to present a cogent argument, just throwing random things out there, hoping it’ll stick.

    “I think both science and religion can be guilty of false humility. If science is so humble why is it so demeaning of those that don’t agree with it?”

    Science is not demeaning of those that don’t agree with it. Scientists aren’t afraid of being proven wrong but instead foster a community of peer review and open discourse. One of the great things about the scientific community is that it is intellectually rigorous — if a better theory is found, that theory is advanced because it is the best available, and most verifiable. What science and scientists are demeaning of is garbage that seeks to pretend that it is verifiable. If you want to challenge science or a specific scientific theory, you need more facts, not more righteousness.

    Religion and faith have nothing to do with scientific validity. Religion is a set of personal beliefs. Just because your book says we were created 6000 years ago does not mean that it is true. In fact, you should talk with some of the people in other parts of the world who have their own books which propose different faith-based time lines of human creation. If we’re going off of pure religious faith here, who’s to say that they’re book is the correct one? The answer is that you can’t because all you have to go off of is your personal faith which is scientifically unverifiable and may have more to do with your personal need to explain the universe and feel comfortable within all of the many as of yet unanswered questions than anything else.

  21. Very well put Dan. Of course this is my personal belief, what I was trying to say is that although it doesn’t agree with mainstream science, I don’t think it’s completely based on ‘personal faith’ either. To put it another way, I don’t feel like an idiot, mystic or even narrowminded fundamentalist (i’m not a fundamentalist in the american sense of the word) believing in creation.

    While I understand that there is a scientific community and theories are not only born, but improved, refined and changed by mutual criticism there is a not completely insiginificant number of scientsts who are christians that believe the creation as a theory is a better match for the evidence than evolution.

    Of course, creation isn’t a scientific theory like evolution. But because it totally rejects, as opposes to challeneging some aspect of the accepted theory of evolution, it is usually dismissed out of hand by the greater scientific community.

    And with regards to perfec human specimens – where are the millions of intermediary fossils between species? Both sides of the argument would say the ‘evidence’ is there – it is – it’s just interpreted differently depending on the point of view (in this instance humanist vs christian).

    That’s one reason I don’t like the ‘theory’ of intelligent design: at least creationists, and a good number of evolutionists accept that they’re not totally objective and impartial!

    Anyway, sorry to ambush the comments, do we know after all that whether those that worked on the exhibitions held the convictions of the museum or not?

  22. @Matt Turner: if some Noah’s Ark canid evolved, post-deluge, into today’s foxes, wolves, and domestic dogs (which is what the smarter creationists argue these days, since no boat could possibly fit all animal species), then where are the remains of the intermediate animals between this alleged Canis Deluvius and today’s modern Canis lupus familiaris? The doggie bones in question would be, what, 5,000 years old? You’re asking for intermediate fossils for species that existed only briefly (in geological terms) millions of years ago, and yet you are willing to overlook the non-existence of similar intemediate bones from mere thousands of years ago.

  23. Yes, on the basis that you’re talking about [the Canine family] natural selection [micro evolution] – which can happen rapdily.

    I’m talking about the fossils between species [macro evolution] – for all species. You know, the evolution which is supposed to have required millions of years (and yet even evolutionsists have to explain the apparently lack of time required for many species to evolve with the ‘cambrian explosion’). If most of the species at some point evolved from another one, over millions of years, then there should be lots of examples. Not a few dozen could be’s.

    I believe that the normal creationist response to this would be that typically when an animal dies (e.g. our dogs) they don’t fossilize, they decompose. The majority of fossils we have today, including things that couldn’t fossilize over a long period of time – jellyfish, fish eating other fish, fish giving birth etc were not caused by a cambrian explosion or long periods of time but by the flood (e.g. Noah’s Ark’s flood). This is also why most creationists believe the flood was global, as recorded.

    (Side Note: Yes, the idea that most fossils form quickly is indeed contradictary to the idea that if evolution happened slowly there should be lots of examples of it. I’m not saying fossils never form slowly, and that being the case if there is millions of years worth of evolution there should be something a bit more than there is today.)

    Anyway, I don’t want to get into a complete argument over specifics. I’m doubt anything I said was in the least bit convincing to you- my point is that creationists are not complete morons who put their brains on hold when it comes to science because they believe the Bible. The biblical account of creation is rationally defendable if you’re prepared to admit the possibility that God exists and could have done it. If that’s an unacceptable possibility to you, then there is really no alternative to believe about the start of our universe and how man came to be except evolution.

  24. The biblical account of creation is rationally defendable if you’re prepared to admit the possibility that God exists and could have done it.

    By “admit the possibility” you mean “accept as fact” — because otherwise, all of the theories you discuss regarding creation and the flood might equally ‘rationally’ be explained by alternate theories involving aliens, Zeus, the famous Giant Spaghetti Monster, or even me sitting here playing around with my computer… and I doubt that you are prepared to give those theories equal footing with the Biblical account. You are basically saying that a core axiom of the whole superstructure of creation theory is the existence of a supernatural entity, something that cannot be proven or disproven scientifically. And if you accept that, you have discarded scientific thought and moved into the realm of faith. And at that point anything is ‘rationally’ defendable.

    The Biblical account of creation isn’t even internally consistent from one page to another, by the way. Were Adam and Eve created at the same time or not? Was Adam created before plants or after plants? Genesis, like most of the Bible, is a logical mess, really, and can hardly be part of any theoretical infrastructure that claims to be “rational”.

  25. And the core axiom of evolutionary theory is the big bang. No one really has an answer, scientific or otherwise, as to what was before the big bang. If it was the start or just part of a cycle, if it was a cycle when did it start etc etc.

    I suppose you could say that is fairer than creationism because you’re admiting that you just don’t know as opposed to providing an answer that is solely based on ‘faith’.

    Either way they both reach ‘unknowables’. Creationism reaches it sooner (e.g. we don’t understand how God did it) but names a first cause.

    Evolution at least tries to answer the question of ‘in the beginning’ but doesn’t seriously try to answer anything before that or a first cause.

    The ‘evidence’ that is out there IMO strongly supports the view that the world was created in situ as it where. I can also see how it can support the theory of evolution.

    Just because God cannot be proven or disproven scientifically doesn’t mean that the idea of the act of creation itself cannot be defended rationally.

    If I said there was Spaghetti Monster and he created the world in a pan of primieval spahgetti, then I would find it hard to rationally defend that. But even though you try to place God and creation on the same level it’s not, because the creation part can be rationally defended – it fits the evidence (even if you believe evolution fits it better).

    I don’t believe Genesis is a logical mess at all. If you haven’t read it already then AIG has a pretty good summation of why there isn’t a disagreement between Ch 1&2 here

    It’s not that i’m anti intellectual, rational or scientific. I quite happily ackknowledge natural selecition. It’s just for me I see the Creation story as set down in the Jewish religion as a better explanation of why we’re here – even considering the evidence (by which i mean the material world as we observe it) compared to evolution. But i’m not a Rationalist (capital R), I believe there is more to life than what is material, and furthermore that it is knowable. To quote the title of a book by Francis Schaeffer – He is there and He is not silent.

  26. My favorite theory (not that I beleive it, but I find it compelling) is that the Bible is literally true but that, in creating the universe, God did so in such a way that it the best way for us to ultimately understand and appreciate the wonderfulness of the thing he made would be for us to first invent the scientific method, and then for us to create new sciences and theories such as quantum theory and evolution. With these tools, we would then investigate the details of his creation… and in much the same way that Adam probably found rings in the trees in the Garden of Eden suggesting that the trees were older than the Earth itself, we are to this day finding evidence that the earth is millions of years old, that the universe is expanding, that the earth was spat out of the sun, etc. Our theories are as correct as they can be insofar as they actually work logically and help us make predictions about how practical sciences will operate. Our best scientific theories, no matter how much they may contradict the Bible, actually *work* — which is all science asks them to do. The beauty of this theory is that it does not contradict the Bible but it also does not undermine everything man has accomplished in the sciences. I think this theory is the only viable way for a person of faith to also be a person of logic. It’s far better than trying to twist your brain in knots trying to reconcile the Bible with the world we see around us. Perhaps the world that the Lord made is, in fact, unknowable except to the extent that we can do so using the terms and tools of the sciences we have worked so hard to cultivate.

    In Galileo’s treatise “The Authority of Scripture in Philosophical Controversies“, he says:

    Since the Holy Writ is true, and all truth agrees with truth, the truth of Holy Writ cannot be contrary to the truth obtained by reason and experiment. This being true, it is the business of the judicious expositor to find the true meaning of scriptural passages which must accord with the conclusions of observation and experiment, and care must be taken that the work of exposition do not fall into foolish and ignorant hands.

    … to command the professors of astronomy to confute their own observations is to enjoin an impossibility, for it is to command them not to see what they do see, and not to understand what they do understand, and to find what they do not discover.

    … It is surely harmful to souls to make it a heresy to believe what is proved. The prohibition of astronomy would be an open contempt of a hundred texts of the Holy Scriptures, which teach us that the glory and the greatness of Almighty God are admirably discerned in all His works, and divinely read in the open book of the heavens.

    Galileo struggled with precisely the issue you and I are struggling with. But instead of denying what he sees (which is what you are asking hundreds of thousands of the world’s most learned scientists to do), he compares his observations with Scripture and asks himself “could my reading of Scripture be wrong?”

    It is the faithful person’s task to reconcile science and Scripture in a way that respects both. Creationism places Scripture above what we can see in “His works”, but is it not possible that *both* exist for human minds to interpret?

    Could it be that creationism’s interpretations of the Bible are *more* incorrect than science’s observations and interpretations of the universe around us? Surely the concrete world around us is far more measurable and verifyable than written words are. It may seem somehow wrong or heretical to de-prioritize Scripture, but if you think of it as being humble about your ability to accurately interpret scripture and being a little less humble about your ability to interpret the physical world around you, it is actually a pretty righteous ground to stand on.

  27. I do see your point. But when you consider the theories out there (i.e. creation – evolution) it’s evolution that does most violence to what the Bible plainly teaches.

    The scientific method.. wasn’t that invented by Francis Bacon? “There are two books laid before us to study, to prevent our falling into error; first, the volume of the Scriptures, which reveal the will of God; then the volume of the Creatures, which express His power.”

    “It is the faithful person’s…”
    Faithful to what – truth, conscience, rationalism, empiricism, logical positivism?

    Christian scientists believe they are studying God’s creation ‘thinking God’s thoughts after him’. That has been the stance of famous scientists of the latter day. It is also the stance of a minority (although some are eminent) today. Prof. Stuart Burgess at Bristol university springs to mind. A friend of mine is an electromechanical engineering lecturer and researcher at Southampton University. They both understand and use the scientific method but they don’t accept the theory of evolution.

    I would just like to reiterate that most creationists do not reject all evolution. I personally understand and accept natural selection. It’s the area of macro evolution that I have a problem with. I accept species change, I don’t accept that fish become mammals… and then become aquatic mammals (so keen to get back in the water?), birds, repties etc etc.

    Also interesting is the recent interest in RNA (in the Economist anyway). To me the inside of cells is another example of the many ‘chicken and eggs’ in creation. DNA is decoded (by a process i won’t even pretend to really understand) by various protein ‘machines’, for want of a better term. Where is the information to make these machines stored? Yep, in the DNA. Which evolved first, the machine to read DNA, or the DNA? Come to think of it, how did information evolve…

    However ‘Evolve this!’ isn’t a valid argument against evolution. We’re just told that we don’t understand everything yet but we know the theory of evolution is correct so just keep quiet and wait until we understand the specifics.

    Just because most scientists believe in evolution and it’s a result of the scientific method doesn’t make it absolute truth. I believe that the majority of it is the product of science carried out on the basis of a godless philosophy. That is why scientists can still be scientists and christians without qualms. They’re using the same methods, but based on a christian philosphy? The believe that we have to make everything bend to science and scientific ‘truth’ is not scientific in itself, it’s scientism.

  28. I am a creationist, and after studying the differences between the two theories, I have found that the creation view makes more sense. When (micro) evolution happens, it always is in the opposite direction. If we were the result of evolution, we would have started as the highest being possible, working our way down to nothingness. This is only one of the interesting fact about the two different theories.

  29. It’s important to realize and accept the fact that many Christians are not creationists at all. Most Christians believe God created the universe, of course, but only a tiny minority thinks the Earth is actually 6,000 years old. Some Christians look at the physical world around us as one of God’s clear and deliberate messages to mankind. The world itself is God’s word, another “book” for us to read and interpret, just as much as the Bible is God’s word. In fact, maybe the physical world is intended to be a more authoritative source of insight than the Bible, since it’s far more likely that the words of the Bible, in the thousands of years man has been retelling them, copying them, and printing them, have been misremembered, miscopied, misprinted, deliberately altered, mistranslated, misinterpreted, or even completely lost by man — while it is pretty unlikely that man has changed managed to alter the “book of the world” very much. Have you ever wondered how much of the New Testament has been lost, hidden, or deliberately altered by the Roman Catholic Church during the thousand years it had exclusive and firm control over those texts?

    When you choose to believe the written word over the physical world’s version of the word, you are practicing a certain kind of immense pride yourself, I think, because you are putting greater priority on human stewardship of the word of God over what you can see with your own eyes. When you put faith in the written word, you are putting faith in thousands of years of human memory, copying skills, imperfect human translators, corrupt Popes, and much more. You are putting your trust, in short, in man. And because of this pride you may in fact be missing out on God’s true message to man, the message he has given us in the form of fossils, DNA, subatomic particles, and the configuration of the heavens. This is what Christians who are real scientists beleive: that nature itself, what we can see with our God-given eyes, is a far more authoritative view of God’s creation than what printed words can possibly tell us.

    In short, if the Bible and our own eyes disagree, we should believe our own eyes.

    I am not hostile to Christianity. I am hostile to any teaching that says that we are not permitted to believe our own eyes. Christianity, in fact, does not teach that we should not believe our own eyes. Men who call themselves Christians teach this. Creationism is, to me, faith in a particular group of human beings and their agendas rather than faith in God and His works, and that it is in fact antithetical to real spiritual faith.

  30. In short, if the Bible and our own eyes disagree, we should believe our own eyes.

    Wow, where to begin? Firstly, what we SEE WITH OUR OWN EYES. I’d say that scientifically, religiously and even related to evolution that statement doesn’t really make sense.

    Scientifically – Science is all about believing things we CAN’T see. Even pre-science people have believed in physical things that we can’t see. For example – the wind. No one has seen it but we all know it’s there.

    Of course the example of the wind also serves as a good illustration for religions things. Faith in God isn’t about disbelieving things you can see, it’s about believing things you can’t see.

    Evolution is not something anyone has seen. I’ll repeat that I don’t know many Christians who don’t accept natural selection. But, by definition macro evolution can’t be witnessesed and proven empirically (maybe if we start now?).

    Here’s some examples that to me show that evolutoin si given MORE importance than what we SEE with our eyes.

    If it wasn’t necessary to fit into the general theory of evolution would we really believe that animals started as marine life, somehow got on the land, and then that some, but not all of the mammals got back in the water?

    And what about flight? Avian flight isn’t just about wings and flapping – it’s about feathers, barbs, lungs, bone structure.

    Hmm.. maybe feathers originated as an insulating feature and were later adapted for flight. I mean, really? They’re not simple things! It’s not like there are a number of sequential steps between fluffy insulating material and flight enabling feathers. Each with tangential benefits to the creature. If you believe in evolution then you make it your mission to look for them because they must be there otherwise how did flight evolve? And of course that’s just birds, flight evolved 3 times in total.

    I guess you’re reading this shaking your head at my gross ignorance but I hope you see my point. It’s not what you see, it’s what you want to see. This IS true for creationists, admittedly, but it’s also true for evolutionists. Every bit as much. What we SEE doesn’t just leap out and say “i was created” or “I evolved”… “i’m 1000 years old” or “i’m 1 million years old” we interpret it. (and even if you believe in the creation because of the Bible, you can still interpret it via the Scientific Method as you mentioned in a previous comment to see if creation makes sense scientifically.)

    To deal with the Bible issue. I don’t believe the Bible contradicts what we see, because what I see confirms my belief in creation. Just like what you see confirms your belief in evolution.

    But if you then say that evolution is a better way to see it because it’s scientific, well then your ‘religion’ if I can put it that way is scientism. Having faith in science and beliving in the Bible (including creation) is not a paradox or somehow incompatible with reason. It’s just to accept that BOTH have their limitations to knowledge. Science is limited to say what happened in the past with regards to creation. If you don’t believe me look at this theory it’s come up with, it’s called ‘macro evolution’. (I jest, sorry) And the Bible is limited in explaining the natural world because it’s not a science text book. It’s a revelation of God’s plan of salvation, that happens to touch on science in places. (But, if you believe it’s Gods word, then where it touches on Science it should be correct… oh and the catholic church has nothing to do with it. There are several translations available today (King James, New International Version, English Standard Version and more) which are based on the majority, or all of the earliest manuscripts available. All free from Catholic influence.)

    For my in short. If the author of both (the Bible and of the natural world) as I believe he is, then I think the most logical thing for me to do is still believe in creation.

    I hope that doesn’t make me proud, it’s just what I see as the best explanation of where we are. It’s by no means impossible that I am wrong!

    P.S. When you put faith in terms of trusting particular mens interpretations of anything. Well yes, that’s true. But unless you’re one of those few people with truly brilliant and original ideas, that’s true of every single belief you hold. It is the believers responsibility to investigate and compare the claims of those that have gone before, or his own claims. Not to see what fits with the most popular trend in Science.

  31. When I write “eyes” I mean it metaphorically. I mean not just eyes, but all the senses, and more importantly I mean taking measurements, making calculations, using instruments, etc. It’s a metaphor for how science works — take measurements, derive theories from those measurements, use those theories to help make more measurements, and reject theories that prove impossible to actually use.

    We’re finding interim species every day. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack since we’re talking about billions of years and fossils are, for many species, nearly impossible to find, but we’re finding some. We’ve found insects with winglike gills, for example. And flightless dinosaurs with feathers.

    The actual manuscripts on which the KJV Bible are based were carefully chosen and maintained by Catholic monks for over a thousand years. Who knows how many early Christian texts exist in the Vatican whose doctrine contradicts Catholicism? Also, it’s not lke the early Protestants dug up new Hebrew or Greek scrolls from the Middle East to make today’s non Catholic Bibles — they simply re-translated the Catholic Bible, and (I think) took a couple of other known texts that were basically Catholic-approved and formalized them, too. In fact, all of the newly discovered non-Catholic Christian texts that have been unearthed since the Reformation have been rejected by Protestants anyway. This is crazy! It’s like you have found new material evidence, more credible than the evidence the Catholics gave you, predating it, describing Christ’s works and what his followers beleived, and yet you ignore it or reject it. My point is not to use Catholicism to discredit evangelical creationism, as everything I’ve said above also applies to the way Jewish and early Christian scholars manipulated the Old Testament, too, but rather to show that your whole world view is the product of blatant human manipulation, and that even within your view there is great dispute and logical inconsistency, making it a shaky foundation indeed to build a system to explain nature that rivals science’s test- (not text-) driven methodology.

  32. Yes, but like a lot of marketing research, the testing that’s being done is to affirm evolutionary belief.

    Take this article on flight evolution. It’s perfectly good and shows which theories can and cannot be tested.

    But of course it’s presupposing evolution. The discover of natural selection by CD was scientific discovery. He observed, he recorded, he tested etc. But, in this readers opinion, everything after that was postulation. The postulation was accepted by some, who then and now look at everything in terms of macro evolution.

    When I look at the world with my eyes, senses, tests and measurements (not that I’m a scientist, but when I read new scientist or whatever) I’m still with creation.