I hate to say I told you so, but many of us have been aghast at the idiocy promoted by shady weird organizations for decades. Snopes has a good summary of creationism as a classic conspiracy theory.
Many people around the world looked on aghast as they witnessed the harm done by conspiracy theories such as QAnon and the myth of the stolen US election that led to the attack on the US Capitol Building on January 6. Yet while these ideas will no doubt fade in time, there is arguably a much more enduring conspiracy theory that also pervades America in the form of young Earth creationism. And it’s one that we cannot ignore because it is dangerously opposed to science.
In the US today, up to 40% of adults agree with the young Earth creationist claim that all humans are descended from Adam and Eve within the past 10,000 years. They also believe that living creatures are the result of “special creation” rather than evolution and shared ancestry. And that that Noah’s flood was worldwide and responsible for the sediments in the geologic column (layers of rock built up over millions of years), such as those exposed in the Grand Canyon.
Such beliefs derive from the doctrine of biblical infallibility, long accepted as integral to the faith of numerous evangelical and Baptist churches throughout the world, including the Free Church of Scotland. But I would argue that the present-day creationist movement is a fully fledged conspiracy theory. It meets all the criteria, offering a complete parallel universe with its own organisations and rules of evidence, and claims that the scientific establishment promoting evolution is an arrogant and morally corrupt elite.
This so-called elite supposedly conspires to monopolise academic employment and research grants. Its alleged objective is to deny divine authority, and the ultimate beneficiary and prime mover is Satan.
Creationism re-emerged in this form in reaction to the mid-20th century emphasis on science education. Its key text is the long-time best seller, The Genesis Flood, by John C Whitcomb and Henry M Morris. This provided the inspiration for Morris’s own Institute for Creation Research, and for its offshoots, Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International.
Ken Ham, the founder and chief executive of Answers in Genesis, is also responsible for the highly lucrative Ark Encounter theme park and Creation Museum in Kentucky. As a visit to any of these websites will show, their creationism is completely hostile to science, while paradoxically claiming to be scientific.
There is something about the United States that is very good at fostering wacky obsessions. We’ve been afflicted with a succession of “Great Awakenings” (I hate the name — “Dreadful Paroxysms of Cultishness” would be more appropriate), so the recent unpleasantness of QAnon & Trumpism & militias are just ripples of chaos from enduring poison in our population. We’ve been running a fever for a few centuries that occasionally flares up into a wave of horrid stupidity, and we’ve been in one of those for the last few years.
Just sayin’ — if you’d been paying attention to those of us who’ve been disgusted with the way we treat religious inanity (I know many of my readers have been quite aware), you wouldn’t be surprised at the recent eruption. There’s not much difference between Answers in Genesis and QAnon. Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christianity is just the worst.