This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/ted-davis-reading-the-book-of-nature/a-look-at-the-professional-creationists-and-anti-creationists
Very interesting article. A mentor once told me, “In America, it is infinitely easier to persuade people to give money to defeat their enemies than to do actual good.” Mr. Kaden’s identification of the type of feedback loop that exists between Creationists and Anti-Creationists is present everywhere in the American public sphere. The professionals at either pole of a polarized issue are entirely dependent on the actions of their adversary to occur within a framework that they can exaggerate into the cartoon picture their constituency requires to open their wallets. Professionals got to get paid. The casualties are dialog and actual progress on a divisive issue. One might argue that as neither polarized extreme is likely to move in any event, who cares about all the money and clamor intended for consumption of lunatic fringes? But the noise inhibits dialog in any middle ground that might exist. Professionalism = profit = perpetuation.
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I was thinking the exact same thing, Half of the yelling between the various sides could brought be down to reasonable debate simply by actually understanding the other side’s actual position. If someone says they are a creationist, believe them. If someone says they are not, believe them. Let the other side define themselves. CSC consistently states that it is not a Creationism organization and they consistently state the reasons why they are not. Is it really so dangerous to take them at their word?
Also, based off of point #8 in About Us and using the Oxford definition of creationism (“Creationism is the religious belief that the Universe and life originated “from specific acts of divine creation.””) Biologos is a Creationist organization too.
A very fine answer, Mr. Schroeder. I believe that ID followers can also believe in evolutionary creation, and I have no problem with that. I know that there are some who reject this form of creation; however, I have no trouble with that either. I only have problems with those who attempt to stuff everything within six thousand years. I could believe in Progressive Creationism first put forth by American Baptist Bernard Ramm of Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University. Do I? I keep an opened mind to both BioLogos and Intelligent Design creationism? I also understand what Eddie is saying. May God bless all and have a grand Saturday! Nancy and I plan to go and see the new Tom Hanks moving. It will remind me of the Cold War days.
Thank you for this stimulating article! Certainly we want to understand the context within which the professional 'creationists' and 'anti-creationists' operate and their relative constituencies. This would be true of Biologos as well, would it not? I have appreciated the gracious tone of the Biologos content, but there are hints here and there of insult or at least of dismissiveness of those who take a more 'literal' view of the Scriptures, particularly the Genesis account. In this essay, for example, Ted Davis refers several times to the professional creationist organizations (I believe he did not include creation.com here) as a 'small number'. As Christians, wouldn't we have to acknowledge that as a minority in the world we will quite often find most who disagree, and at that quite vehemently? 'Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar' (from Romans 3:4), and we see similar sentiments in Psalm 2 and in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 regarding God's wisdom and man's wisdom. I would suggest what is important here is not what is in the majority, but rather what is TRUE. Perhaps I make too much of this, but it comes across as dismissive. We have to be honest and acknowledge that many scientists live in a world where their funding is very much depended upon acquiescing to certain views regardless of where their research may lead them. Secondly, and in fairness this applies more broadly to much Biologos content, there is little to no interaction with the Scripture itself. This reinforces my perception - perhaps unfairly - that Biologos gives lip service to the authority of the Scriptures while in actuality dismissing them as a functional source of truth. I continue to read multiple and diverse sources on the subject of science and origins, and I thank you for your contribution.
“The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, By understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the deeps were broken up And the skies drip with dew.” (Proverbs 3:19-20, NASB)
Thank you for your interesting reply - you raise a number of good points. To be perfectly clear, I am in complete agreement that Intelligent Design as it is represented by the CSC is indeed something very ifferent than the Biblical creationism that you refer to in your reply. I think you’re also right in saying that usually when people talk about “creationism” they mean the latter position and not Intelligent Design.
But there are some important people and groups who think otherwise. Members of the National Center for Science Education would say that despite the differences you point to Intelligent Design is creationist” in the sense that it is not possible to separate any diagnosis of intelligent design from the religious) identity of the designer.
Now, I’m not saying that they are right. What is clear though is that they have considerable influence in determining what counts as “creationism.” For instance they influenced the decision against Intelligent esign in the Kitzmiller court case in 2004. As Barbara Forrest (who is a member of the NCSE) would put t ID is “Creationism’s Trojan Horse”.
So while the NCSE might be in a minority position when it comes to defining ID as creationist they still have some means to enforce that definition in courts and in public. Together with all the other rofessionals (AiG, ICR, CSC, BioLogos, Reasons to Believe, CTNS, etc.) they fight over the definition and ts political consequences (like excluding ID from public schools).
So from my perspective there isn’t really a definition of creationism that encompasses a fixed number of attributes. Or, more precisely, there might be but at least for now no one has the means to bring everyone else to agree. What I’m interested in is what means the professionals from all sides employ to fight that battle over the academic, political, educational, and public status of their respective views on God and nature (some of which are termed “creationist”).
Thank you for your reply and for your kind words about my article. I did not at all mean to sound dismissive of creationist organizations (or creationists in general, for that matter) by saying that their number is small. Indeed, what I was referring to was the organizations whose main or sole purpose is to develop and disseminate views on the relationship between God and nature. While a large number of Americans (and indeed of the global population) is at least tolerant of one form or another of “creationism” there is only a small group of creationist professionals in this sense. Ted Davis has asked me to present my sociological view on the creation/evolution controversy in the United States here. Though I am a Christian, I am not a member of BioLogos, which is why I cannot speak on their behalf about their view on Scripture.
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Is the NCSE a partisan organization?
You said this,
and I simply want to point out that I wrote only the introduction to this column. Tom Kaden wrote the part you refer to, and he’s already replied to your objection.
@Henry said this:
I should point out, Henry, that this particular column (by Tom Kaden) interrupts a lengthy series of mine on Antebellum science and religion, in which I’ve already talked about the first American reference to “Progressive Creation,” 125 years before Ramm’s influential book. Here’s the link: https://biologos.org/blogs/ted-davis-reading-the-book-of-nature/creating-progressive-creationism-in-america
Incidentally, Ramm will feature prominently in the next installment of that series, which will be published here early next month. Stay tuned!
7 posts were split to a new topic: Is the NCSE a partisan organization?
Would you call someone a Creationist if they believe that God created the universe from a Quantum Fluctuation of empty spacetime (nothing) 13.8 billion years ago?
I fully agree with your view that ID is not “creationism,” if by “creationism” we mean the YEC view. I’ve made that point many times in many places, not simply here at BioLogos.
I’ll add two important pieces of information.
(1) Actually this is not the majority view among critics of ID. Most critics of ID like to advance the view that ID is “creationism in a cheap tuxedo.” They’re wrong, but that is the view of the large majority of critics. They probably take that view for multiple reasons, including the fact that they believe it.
On the other hand, those critics who don’t believe that ID = creationism include the three historians who, unless I’m forgetting someone, have written the most about the history of creationism–Ronald Numbers, Edward Larson, and yours truly. Both individually and collectively, we probably know more about the larger topic than other critics; I’d like to think this means we’re more qualified to sort this out, but then someone could always say that I’m just being stubborn or arrogant, couldn’t they? Nevertheless, I think we are more qualified than most other critics to answer that particular question.
(2) However, it keeps getting harder for me to persuade others that ID does not equal creationism. Why? B/c leading ID proponents, especially those at Discovery, keep doing everything they can to persuade people (especially Christians) of two things: (a) that evolution in the simple, non-ideological sense of common ancestry for humans and other animals, is not true; and (b) that belief in evolution has had many deleterious effects on modern America. Both of those points make ID look a great deal like “creationism,” and the more loudly those things are proclaimed, the more that conclusion will be drawn.
In short, when Discovery publishes books like the one I talked about here (https://biologos.org/blogs/ted-davis-reading-the-book-of-nature/science-and-the-bible-intelligent-design-part-5), they open themselves up to the “creationist” charge, even if it still isn’t true. When you act like a creationist organization, you have to expect a lot of people to think you are a creationist organization. Eddie rightly points to a couple of prominent ID proponents who cannot fairly be described as “creationists,” (Behe and Denton), but they are outliers. Behe’s call for his fellow ID proponents to accept the overwhelming evidence for common ancestry is all but ignored, or else Discovery wouldn’t keep trying so hard to persuade people to question it.
You directed this at someone else, @Patrick, but I’ll offer my own response.
It all depends on how one defines “Creationist,” doesn’t it? In many contexts, the default meaning is (a) “young-earth creationist,” but in some contexts the default meaning is (b) “anti-evolutionist,” a different term that is used for good reasons. And, in still other contexts, the default meaning is © “a monotheist who believes that the universe was brought into being by a purposeful act of God.” If © is your intended meaning, than I am a creationist myself. I understand you don’t believe in God at all, Patrick, but I do.
Many years ago, at a conference on aspects of science & Christianity, the late Ernan McMullin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernan_McMullin) rose to his feet and objected to the fact that the “creationists” (by which he meant type a) had co-opted the word for their own purposes, making it hard for people like him (type c) not to be misunderstood when they wanted to use the word themselves. I deeply sympathize with his point.
I wish to thank you for being in contact with me. What you said is extremely interesting. I must say that your credentials are very impressive. God bless you my friend and can’t wait to read more. It is interesting to know that Progressive Creation was long before Dr. Ramm. You, sir, are a great scholar. The people on BioLogos have always been very kind. It is an honor to meet you.
I seems like we all can agree on that the BigBang (FLWR) with Inflation Model is best description of our observable universe that we have. This means that the laws of physics, spacetime, matter energy began 13.8 billion years old and there was nothing physical before that.
So one would be a TE/EC Christian if you believed that God did this?
One would be an ID creationist if you believed that an Intelligent Agent did this?
One would be an atheist if you believed that neither God nor an Intelligent Agent did this?
As an engineer, they all look the same to me, 13.8 years later and it seems impossible to prove/show that any one of these is true or false.
Same here. it is a pleasure to have dialog with you
Thanks for your interesting article. Have you noticed how much time and space Biologos has devoted to things like the Bill Nye Vs. Ken Ham debate? As a social scientist, what do you make of that?