A Look at the Professional Creationists and Anti-Creationists


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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Patrick, I also wanted to reply to this statement of yours. If you mean that the observations cannot settle this [theological] question, we entirely agree.Science doesn’t settle metaphysical arguments, whether or not those arguments have a theological component (as in this case). However, science can sometimes rule out certain answers. For example (and I’m sure you will agree with this), b/c the universe is many orders of magnitude older than 6,000 years, any proposed answer to questions about good, evil, suffering, and God must not presuppose that death among higher animals has existed only for a few thousand years, rather than existing on earth for hundreds of millions of years.

Polkinghorne puts it this way: “Physics constrains metaphysics, but it no more determines it than the foundations of a house determine the precise form of the building erected on them.” —Theology in the Context of Science, p. 60

Ted, many thanks for the correction!

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