Been there, been accused of that. It’s such a familiar story I’m surprised it was worth a story in Religion & Politics. “Creationist!” is an extremely common accusation against anyone who disagrees with racists — they sincerely believe that their bigotry is as well supported by the science as evolution, which tells you right there how well informed they are about evolution and racism. So, yeah, I get a lot of this crap in my inbox.
Mark Looy, one of the cofounders of Answers in Genesis (perhaps the largest creationist organization in the world today), acknowledges that viewpoint diversity, stating “creationism is a very broad term with multiple definitions.”
But it would have to get a lot broader to include someone like Holly Dunsworth, a biological anthropologist at the University of Rhode Island who studies human evolution—and a self-described atheist. Nonetheless, earlier this year, Dunsworth and other scientists were somewhat surprisingly described as “cognitive creationists” in the first article published by the Journal of Controversial Ideas, a new publication that accepts anonymous peer-reviewed research on contentious ideas. The piece on creationism, credited to the pseudonym “Shuichi Tezuka,” targets these scientists’ criticisms of recent publications claiming that IQ is genetically determined and that different nationalities or ethnicities score differently on IQ measurements of mental abilities. What Dunsworth and other critics call a dangerous reprise of racist (and often sexist) tropes corrupting scientific research, Tezuka likens to the creationist practice of rejecting scientific truths because the results are morally or ideologically distasteful.
Happens all the time. I understand what they’re trying to do, ‘“creationism” is being used to describe and delegitimate arguments against a reductive genetic definition of race and identity’, but it’s not very effective.
In both these cases—of intelligence testing and Indigenous identity—“creationism” is being used to describe and delegitimate arguments against a reductive genetic definition of race and identity. While few scientists would claim that genetics play no role whatsoever in one’s identity, the idea that cultural or ethnic identity can be assessed solely or primarily by DNA is frequently criticized. Dunsworth pointed me to a recent article she co-authored arguing against the idea that race is a primarily biologically constructed. “‘Race’ is far more than ancestral/inherited DNA and is far more than geographically patterned morphological variation like skin color,” she said via email. It’s only by treating race as a genetic/biological category—and ignoring the role that history, culture, law, and environment play in how ideas of race are used—that make possible claims that intelligence can be genetically correlated with certain ethnic types or that authentic Indigenous identity can be found though a blood test.
The catch is they’re trying to dishonestly accuse a critic of a belief they definitely do not hold, so it undermines any trust we might have in their honesty, and turns the debate into a joke full of their lies.