A Look at the Professional Creationists and Anti-Creationists


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.


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: Old-Earth (Progressive) Creationism: History and Beliefs - BioLogos

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?

@Henry, @Eddie, and @Kevin_Schroeder,

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 (c) “a monotheist who believes that the universe was brought into being by a purposeful act of God.” If (c) 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 (Ernan McMullin - Wikipedia) 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.

Your friend,


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

Hi Tom,

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?


Thank you for your reply. I haven’t followed up on BioLogos’ treatment of the Ham vs. Nye debate, but I’ve certainly followed the debate itself and some of the subsequent commentary on it. From an historical vantage point I find it remarkable that it occurred at all because anti-creationists had retreated from that format after some embarrassing encounters in the 70’s and 80’s. The NCSE was quite skeptical of the whole thing but stated, if I remember correctly, that Nye was still the best bet in such a format. I think he did well.

The interesting question to ask from a social scientific vantage point is what these kinds of debates are good for. Can they change anyone’s opinion? If not, why not? I think debates are one of the instances where professional creationism and anti-creationism function somewhat removed from the public. Namely, both Ham and Nye treated creationism as a system of thought that can (or cannot) explain the world. Their arguments were to a large extent concerned with affirming or criticizing the ability of creationism and evolution as systems of rational explanation.

I think debates like this do not really influence public opinion regardless of their outcome. The reason for this is that for many people creation and evolution are not so much about what’s true in a factual sense but about what’s right in a moral sense. Answers in Genesis puts a lot of effort in making the theory of evolution seem like an amoral and even anti-Christian doctrine that leads to social and familial demise. It is much harder for people like Bill Nye to convince people of the veracity of the theory when they accept that link between theory and morals. (By the way, this comes really close to what Friedrich Nietzsche was already saying about how the human mind works more than 100 years ago.)

The same is true of the “other side” of course. (I’m putting this in quotation marks because the “sides” are of course only a product of the structure in which these debates are held - a round table with more positions would likely have led to a totally different outcome and would not have forced people to take one of only two sides.) When anti-creationists like Dawkins argue that to accept the theory of evolution is a question of intellectual honesty and the morally superior position they actually make it harder for the facts, which they claim to represent, to rule the debate. In my view it is one of the most important and most pressing tasks for social scientists to develop an explanation of the creation/evolution debates that takes the moral aspects more seriously.

It would depend on what they called themselves. If they called themselves a Creationist then, yes, I would call them a Creationist. I could say that I disagree with them, and I could point out why I disagreed with them. But I take it as a preferred option to categorize people as THEY see fit. They know what they believe better than I do. Far too many people like to take their own definition of whatever, apply it to someone else, usually meant as a pejorative and then claim victory by destroying the straw man. Reading interplays between various perspectives on creation is like http://i.imgur.com/BLm3hdr.jpg.


I’ve known a few great scholars, and I certainly don’t fit that description myself, but I’m glad you are pleased with what we’re trying to do here at BioLogos. Incidentally, I met Ramm once, when he spoke to a local section of the American Scientific Affiliation. It was a bit embarrassing, since I’d read his book but didn’t recognize him until he was introduced. I actually asked him before the talk what he thought of that book!! Funny story, but fully true.

My answers, in order: yes (certainly); yes (provided that the “Intelligent Agent” is explicitly identified as God); yes (unless one is some type of pantheist, who takes the whole universe as divine or quasi-divine; sometimes I think Carl Sagan qualified as such).

I like what Michael Heiser says on the topics of debates. While me personally, I find televised debates interesting I don’t find it a great way to find out what’s true or not. If one truly wants to know what is more factual, or closer to the truth, they’ll read the literature dedicated to the topics. A debate can only do so much… And sometimes a speakers personality can skew the results of “who did the better job”. Who was better at coming up with quick answers? Who seemed more nervous doing a public speaking? In short I think debates are a lazier way of coming to a conclusion.


Thank you, Tom. I appreciate all the time you put into your article and responses. Very interesting!


Thank you for your comment - I think you’re absolutely right: This level of para-verbal or nonverbal communication is highly significant, and it further diminishes the importance of the facts that are actually transported (or not).

@Orion Thank you for your kind words! I’m happy that you find my perspective interesting.

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