Mar 01 2009

The Presuppositionalists

Science Sunday continues…

Two posts, one on The Panda’s Thumb and one on Thoughts in a Haystack, explain brilliantly why creationists stubbornly stick to their pseudo-science in the face endless evidence debunking them mercilessly.

First, honored patron of the cantina Richard B. Hoppe gives us this fantastic analogy:

Once in a while an analogy comes along that deserves wide dissemination. I got one such this afternoon on the Ohio Citizens for Science list, and I’ve got permission to quote it from Joe Hern, its author. Joe was musing on the video of Michael Schermer interviewing Georgia Purdom, creationist geneticist at AIG. (I don’t know how long that URL will be good, so grab it if you want it.) Joe, who IIRC is a former YEC himself, captured the creationist mindset perfectly:

The psychology behind why Creationists seem to make up stuff that fit their theology is best understood by recognizing precisely how we feel when we see a magician pull a rabbit from its hat in a magic show. We do not need to know how it works to “know” it is not really magic. We do not entertain ideas that we may be ‘missing’ a step in our epistemology. We would roll our eyes at anyone who insists to us we are not thinking critically to accept that there may be true magic involved. The key component of this thought process is that we ‘know’ we do not have to look into it… it’s a foregone conclusion that there is no magic involved.

To the creationist, this is the exact same thought process. They ‘know’ God is real, that what he wrote is literal, and there is no reason whatsoever to even begin to entertain the idea that the ‘evidences’ for evolution are really evidence. It’s a foregone conclusion that such ‘evidences’, regardless how intellectual or damning they sound, are “simply” ways man makes data fit their own ideas, as Dr. Purdom stated.


That really is what we’re up against: presuppositionalist thinking vs. evidential thinking, in Purdom’s terms. As I remarked in my AIG creationists on the jury post last week, for creationists evidence is not a means of testing presuppositions: evidence must be interpreted so as to corroborate them or one will fall into apostasy.

That being so, you can bet that when one of them starts to sound like they understand science, they’re going to veer off into IDiocy within a few seconds. Friend and fellow Elitist Bastard John Pieret has a perfect example:

Dr. Terry Mortenson, of Answers in Genesis, described as an “apologetics ministry” rather than a scientific organization, places science and the Bible in direct conflict:
“The Bible says the earth was created before the sun, moon, and stars — contrary to the big-bang theory. The Bible says that plants were created before sea creatures — contrary to…evolutionary theory,” Mortenson points out.

“And then the Bible says that there was no death before Adam’s sin — no animal death, no human death. But evolution says there were hundreds of millions of years of death in the physical world. So you have to ignore the details of the Bible to accept evolution.”


Naturally, Mortenson claims that there is “an enormous amount of scientific evidence that supports that God created separate kinds of plants and animals … and there’s an enormous, massive amount of evidence in the geological record for Noah’s flood.”

But as we already know, that “scientific” evidence is evidence only if you ignore the “evidentialist approach” and, instead, adopt presuppositionalism by starting with the authority of the Word of God instead of with the “authority of human reasoning.” In short, there is scientific evidence for the biblical account if, and only if, you start by assuming the Bible is true. Besides the danger of his disappearing up his own butt running in such tight circles, Mortenson is being less than honest in not explaining that the “evidence” is not coming from actual evidence but from assuming his conclusion from the outset.

I’m not ashamed to admit that “disappearing up his own butt” gave me one of the most amusing mental images of my young life. Icky, but amusing.

Here we have the reason why they must be “less than honest.” Their religion doesn’t allow honesty. When you’ve painted yourself into the corner of Biblical inerrancy, and your entire worldview – your very idea of salvation – is predicated on that perfection, facts either have to be doctored or denied. There’s no other way out.

Neil deGrasse Tyson said something in his lecture that pertains here. When you memorize facts versus ideas, you’re susceptible to thinking the world is coming to an end when facts change. And that’s precisely where the creationists and IDiots are. Thus, presuppositionalism, and all of the antics that ensue.

All we can hope for is that enough evidence dogpiles on them to cause catastrophic cognitive dissonance, leading to a crop of ex-creationists. At least in the meantime, lookers-on learn a bit more science, and get to point and laugh as a bonus.

1 comment

  1. 1

    When I first saw the “AIG” acronym, I figured this explained a lot about why they went into bankruptcy. Then I checked the link that still works …It has been a source of constant amazement to me that people like Creationists just know things, without ever having to check those things out. I never knew that was called presupposition, but it’s certainly a good label. How someone gets to be that way would be a fascinating thing, I think.

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