The Evolution of Creationism


PZ’s talks on biology are okay and stuff. I mean, they’re educational and all, but…don’t tell PZ, but bio just doesn’t sing to me the way it does to a lot of people.

I just like this talk better. I saw it at the Midwest Science of Origins conference in Morris this past March. He’s been giving it locally but not at conferences, to the best of my knowledge. Luckily, he’s been captured on video.

It’s fascinating to watch how what were once fairly reasonable ideas, given the state of knowledge at the time, became sacred and entrenched. It’s appalling to see how contorted thinking became so that people could hold on to those ideas. At its root, creationism is like any other pseudoscience that grew out of ignorant beliefs too important to be shed, but it’s rare to get to see a history this complete.

Comments

  1. brucegee1962 says

    I’ve begun to think that the vast majority of all social conflict is due to ideas that AT ONE TIME were perfectly sane and reasonable, but became so entrenched with cultural baggage that people kept holding onto them long after they stopped making sense. I’ve been watching Downton Abbey, for instance.From Greece through the Middle Ages, the idea of an aristocracy was vital to every nation’s military defense. Then after countries began getting standing armies, they were still the ones with enough education to govern well and run institutions. But after the mid eighteenth century or so, they just lost all their purpose. I love watching the stunned expression on Lord Grantham’s face as he slowly realizes that his kind have been without any practical benefit for society for the last century.

    It’s good to remember that our opponents were perfectly reasonable at some point in the distant past. Most of the time they aren’t really malicious, just kind of slow. (Except for when the really are malicious, of course.)

  2. Bill Openthalt says

    brucegee1962

    I’ve begun to think that the vast majority of all social conflict is due to ideas that AT ONE TIME were perfectly sane and reasonable, but became so entrenched with cultural baggage that people kept holding onto them long after they stopped making sense.

    At one time, in certain circumstances, and for certain people. Without scientific knowledge, gods make sense. Given a belief in superhuman agents, religion is the best tool to create social cohesion in large societies (obviously at the expense of personal freedom). Some people, whatever the (and their) state of scientific knowledge, work better in a more prescriptive society.

    The problem with the USA is that, unlike Europe, there is no coherent secular social convention to replace the religious conventions. The state offers only basic social services, and these are constantly questioned. In addition to reducing of the role of the church in administrative matters such as marriage, Europe has created social support systems such as affordable healthcare and pensions for all, state creches, minimum wages, replacement income, child allowance, nearly free quality education, etc. In the USA, a lot of these services are provided primarily by churches or their affiliates. One cannot merely call into question the religious social conventions without offering alternatives.

    If religion is perceived to the the best (or the only) factor of social cohesion, far more people will accept the religious tenets compared with a society that has secular social structures. Belief in unverifiable concepts is not a sign of stupidity or malice, but rather a sign that these concepts are the foundation of society.

  3. The Lorax says

    I for one support those who never stuck to the squishy sciences. Physics for all! Rejoice!

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