From: Sam Platt
The key difference between creationists and evolutionists is the same as the key difference between the scientific method and mythology. Namely creationism, like mythology, begins with an answer and then interprets the evidence to arrive at that answer. The scientific method, on the other hand, lets the evidence lead to the answer, no matter how unpopular that answer may be. Modern creationism has taken the additional steps of attacking evidence that doesn't support its narrow scripturally based creation myth, and cloaking the Christian creationist dogma in psuedo-scientific jargon. I am certian that the Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists could develop a psuedo-scientific proof of their own religions creation myths if they were pompous enough to do so. In the mean time leave it to the narrow-minded, American, militant, rightwing, extremist Christians to discourage our scientists from pursuing the truth about creation, and to prevent our children from learning that truth in our schools systems.
Lux et Veritas,
P.S. Many Christians have accepted, and will continue to accept, the fact of evolution.
Response from Timothy Wallace:
Thanks very much for your feedback. Unfortunately, since your response consisted mainly of philosophical conjecture and rather bitter criticisms unrelated to the contents of my essay, I am forced to guess that either you did not actually read it, or that--having read it--you have no specific response concerning matters of science and origins.
Nevertheless, since you were kind enough to write and share your opinions, I would offer the following comments in return:
>>The scientific method, on the other hand, lets the evidence lead to the answer...<<
As you may know, the scientific method--by definition--is limited to observation and repeatability, neither of which can be applied to an absolute answer in connection with origins: No honest and objective scientist has observed either creation or biological evolution, and neither event has been unequivocally repeated.
However, much empirical data is available to us, which has been gathered and studied via the scientific method over the years, and may be used to return a “reasonable doubt” verdict concerning which view (or theory) in its original form best fits that data.
While it may be difficult to engage in this process without presuppositions, it is possible. And the verdict of this process, when objectively applied to matters of geology, embryology, paleontology, biochemistry, genetics, thermodynamics, probability mathematics, and many other disciplines, simply does not favor evolution. (I would encourage you to conduct your own personal study--more of the various empirical data “rubber-meets-the-road” interpretations than the abstract conjecture or theory from either side.)
>>Modern creationism has taken the additional steps of attacking evidence that doesn't support its narrow scripturally based creation myth...<<
Since you cite no example of such “attacks” on any “evidence,” your assertion remains regrettably abstract and baseless. Perhaps by these terms you mean to refer to re-evaluation of the evidence without the presuppositions of the naturalistic, mechanistic, materialistic philosophical view which presently dominates much of today's “scientific community” (and happens to serve as the metaphysical basis for modern atheism). In this case, such a re-evaluation would indeed be expected to appear as an “attack” from the viewpoint of a dogmatic evolutionist, whereas an objective scientist would likely see it more as something to observe than as a threat.
>>I am certian that the Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists could develop a psuedo-scientific proof of their own religions creation myths if they were pompous enough to do so...<<
It appears to have escaped your notice that the orthodox Muslim faith holds to the literal creation account as found in the Torah, as do historical, orthodox Christianity and Judaism. Creationism and creation science are not limited to Christianity (nor to Americans, as you later imply). And you might be encouraged to know that the cosmogonies of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as evolutionism itself, are all subject to enough variation that they may be made to fit nicely with one another--conceptually, at least--achieving exactly the “psuedo-scientific proof” which you feared missing.
>>...In the mean time leave it to the narrow-minded, American, militant, rightwing, extremist Christians to discourage our scientists from pursuing the truth about creation, and to prevent our children from learning that truth in our schools systems.<<
Choosing to ignore your ab irato name-calling, I would only point out that such bold claims should really be substantiated with documentation. Otherwise, they are meaningless. I am familiar with neither the people to whom you direct your harsh remarks, nor with the specific actions on their part which have prompted your vehement criticism. In any case, your remarks again fail to address any of the specific matters discussed in my document.
>>Many Christians have accepted, and will continue to accept, the fact of evolution.<<
That many Christians are--and will continue to be--persuaded to believe in evolutionism is certainly an accurate observation (your first, so far). Whether evolutionism is based in fact remains very much to be seen, and judging from the ever increasing and ever more detailed volume of criticism directed towards evolutionary thought from within the mainstream (primarily evolutionist) scientific community itself, one cannot be blamed for harboring doubts.
sapiens nihil affirmat quod non probat
Sam Platt replies:
Thank you for your prompt, and detailed, reply to my comments of yesterday.
You are correct, while I did read your eassay my comments were directed at
creationism and creationists generally, not at you specifically. Lack of
time prevented me from writing a more well supported arguement in the form of
an essay. I would ask that you allow me to touch on some points that you
made in your response.
First, you missed my main point regarding the difference between the
scientific method and mythology. It is true that “observation and
repeatability” are cornerstones of the scientific method, but these are not
its sole basis. Often, in many fields, such as forensics, evidence must be
studied and interpreted to obtain an answer without the benefit of observing
the actual event or the ability to repeat it. This inability to observe and
repeat does not render the method baseless. My arguement, and I invite you
to meaningfully refute this, is that all scientific creationists begin with
the answer, that the Christian God created all that “is”, and the Biblical
account of this creation event is perfectly accurate.
Second, I have no problem with Hindus, Muslims or Christians choosing to
in their particular creation myths. In fact I recommend that everyone do so
if they believe the price of not doing so is eternal damnation. Just please
say that “fear of damnation” is the basis for your belief system and we can
go our separate ways! If the Hindu's, Muslims and others have developed their
own brand of scientific creationism then I must retract my comment regarding
those groups not being “pompous” enough to do so.
Third, I must laugh at you demand for proof that creationists choose to
ignore evidence that doesn't fit their theory. What about the fossil record,
what about peppered moths, what about radiocarbon dating, what about
I know that you and others speak to these issues, but please, develop a
rebuttal that will stand up to peer review. Which leads me to the conspirisy
theorists - mainstream science is BIASED against creationism! If any
scientist could put forth a plausible theory that blew Darwinism out of the
water he, and it, would be Nobel material.
Fourth, creationistists (aka rightwing Christians) have waged, and are waging
successful campaigns all over the country to take over schools boards and
prevent true evolution from being taught in our public school systems. We
have fought this battle in our own local school system.
Tim, I apologize for any name calling in my first letter. I get angry
because I know that for most creationists “creationism” is part of a
religious agenda which those behind it want to force upon our children, our
schools and our communities. From your command of latin it is clear that you
know what “lux et veritas” means. We as a people must strive to know the
“truth” and not be caught in our own well intentioned but misguided
Thank you for your time.
Lux et Veritas,
Response from Timothy Wallace:
Thank you very much for your reply to my e-mail. I offer the following in response...
>>It is true that “observation and repeatability” are cornerstones of the scientific method, but these are not its sole basis...<<
With all due respect, here (as always), the facts--and the truth--are neither negotiable, nor relativistically or existentialistically appraised in the real world (which is where I must insist any valid discussion must remain): Scientific method BY DEFINITION is comprised of observation and repeatability. A discipline such as forensics (which you cite) may or may not employ scientific method in determining certain data, but this does not mean that everything else pertaining to the study of forensics is ipso facto a part of the scientific process. This is an important distinction that seems to have been omitted from the education of many of us nowadays.
>>This inability to observe and repeat does not render the method baseless.<<
Quite correct, but as I am saying, nor does it therefore render any given method “scientific.” Deductive, perhaps, but not (by definition) scientific.
>>My arguement, and I invite you to meaningfully refute this, is that all scientific creationists begin with the answer, that the Christian God created all that “is”, and the Biblical account of this creation event is perfectly accurate.<<
In the first place, all scientific creationists do not believe in the “Christian God.” By repeatedly excluding Jewish and Muslim creationists (who, along with Christians, believe in the creation account found in the Torah), you do them a disservice.
Secondly, no creationist would wish to “meaningfully refute” your claim any more than any evolutionist would wish to “meaningfully refute” the point that all serious evolutionists* begin with the answer, that all that is (including--nay especially--life itself) has arisen of its own accord from purely natural processes.
*[By way of clarification, let me point out that there are many, many people who would classify themselves as evolutionists, solely on the basis of the assumption that what they have been taught from “mainstream” educational and media sources is true. (This would include those “many Christians” to whom you alluded in your first message.) By “serious evolutionist” I refer to the great majority of devoted proponents and hard-core, at-any-cost defenders of evolutionism, most of whom have made it abundantly clear in their publications that their religious/philosophical views do not allow for anything but natural, mechanistic, materialistic processes and events in the definition or explanation of anything concerning origins. While they may appear to operate under the guise of perfectly neutral, objective scientists, they do indeed begin their analysis of the origins question with their own very definite presuppositions. At issue here is not whether presuppositions are involved, but what those presuppositions are, and whether they are truly borne out in the empirical data.]
>>I have no problem with Hindus, Muslims or Christians choosing to believe in their particular creation myths. In fact I recommend that everyone do so...<<
To “recommend” belief in a myth seems rather antithetical to the whole matter of studying the subject of origins--unless one sees the truth as relativistically/existentialistically unimportant (in which case there is neither a basis for our present dialogue, nor a good reason for you to be so disturbed by those with whose beliefs you don't happen to agree).
>> Just please say that “fear of damnation” is the basis for your belief system and we can go our separate ways!<<
You're asking me to lie. I realize that it is a popular perception that the “Christian belief system” (by the way, that's an excellent choice of terminology), but once again, popular perceptions are often incorrect, and are often based less on careful examination than on one or more of various personal objections to (often erroneous) stereotypical caricatures--and/or plain old ignorance. I will not venture to guess from whence you arrived at your assumption, but I can assure you that “fear of damnation,” while certainly a motivational factor for some people, is not a central or dominant aspect of Christian doctrine, no matter how much the concept may be played up by skeptics--or even certain preachers themselves.
If you would like to discuss the intellectual, philosophical basis and fundamental doctrines of the historical, orthodox Christian belief system--particularly as they compare to the fundamental philosophical basis of modern thought--I would be happy to do so. However, at the moment it would be a slight (though by no means irrelevant) digression, and I would hope that your interest would take the form of an honest, personal inquiry, and not a desire to debate for debate's sake.
>>If the Hindu's, Muslims and others have developed their own brand of scientific creationism then I must retract my comment regarding those groups not being “pompous” enough to do so.<<
I believe we have already dealt with the Muslims. I will only reiterate that the cosmogonies of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as evolutionism itself, are all flexible and imprecise enough to fit one another--conceptually, at least--so as to allow the combination of a religious cosmogony with an ostensibly science-related one. Much more could be (and has been) written about the dynamics of these relationships and their implications. For the time being, however, I will add only that I'm not quite sure what qualifies as “pompous” in your book--or whether it really matters.
>>I must laugh at you demand for proof that creationists choose to ignore evidence that doesn't fit their theory. What about the fossil record, what about peppered moths, what about radiocarbon dating, what about radiotelescopy, etc.. I know that you and others speak to these issues, but please, develop a rebuttal that will stand up to peer review.<<
Rather than rattle off a list of handy generalities, why don't you start with one or two, and let's begin discussing some empirical facts, and how they relate to the models of both evolutionism and creationism? (For example, what is it about the fossil record that doesn't fit creationism? Or--better--what is it about it that fits evolutionism? And most importantly, which model--without modification--fits more of the data?) It may require some time to engage in such a dialogue, but what quest for meaningful truth (or the reasonable evidence thereof) can be made without some effort? On the other hand, if you happen to subscribe to the popular notion that truth is relative, and that absolute truth is therefore unknowable, then we have both already wasted more precious time on this dialogue than it could ever be worth.
>>Which leads me to the conspirisy theorists - mainstream science is BIASED against creationism! If any scientist could put forth a plausible theory that blew Darwinism out of the water he, and it, would be Nobel material.<<
For your information, many non-creationists themselves have expressed displeasure with the domination of the refereed journals and other media of the “scientific community.” I don't recall having heard this phenomenon described as a “conspiracy” until now, but based on the evidence, it doesn't sound too far off the mark. You seem awfully confident that there is no editorial bias among the scientific media, and I would ask you on what this confidence is based?
It is a popular evolutionist ploy to demand a “plausible theory” to “blow Darwinism out of the water.” The usual meaning of this demand is “give me another naturalistic, mechanistic theory--and if it involves anything connected with a God or the supernatural, it is automatically disqualified!” Why? Because since only a little over 100 years ago, the “scientific community” has indeed been dominated by those who have demanded that “science” must start from man (because even if there is a God, He is incapable of speaking to man about matters of truth concerning science), and can deal only with a natural world, the beginning of which must also be completely natural.
[Before that time, this philosophy did not dominate the scientific landscape--and in fact most of what has become modern science was founded before the change--by men who did not subscribe to this naturalistic, mechanistic, materialistic view of things (most of them were in fact creationists). The very basic premise upon which all modern science was originally founded came from the understanding that absolute truth exists concerning both the universe and the meaningfulness of man's presence in it, and that such truth can be reasonably discerned by man--without starting from man himself. This could not have happened in a world dominated by a religious/philosophical system in which man is able only to begin with himself--for he could never be sure whether it was really absolute truth that he had found. There is much more to say about this, but I have digressed enough for now.]
On the other hand, although creationism is denied a place on the platform, it stands as the only plausible alternative, and in the meantime the evidence in favor of evolution has been declining in both volume and strength. This is not an empty claim, but is remarkably well-supported by many prominent non-creationists. (I am furthermore quite prepared to document this claim as much as time and your genuine interest will permit, though I would insist upon your willingness to objectively peruse at least a few books, rather than compel me to spoon feed you the information which they contain.)
In short (not one of my strengths), to demand a “Nobel-caliber blockbuster” theory is to willfully ignore the serious weaknesses of evolutionism in the details--where it really matters--while denying (on religious/philosophical grounds) the fact that a (more) viable alternative theory has existed since before the 1800s, after which evolutionism came to dominate “scientific” thinking (on the basis of those same religious/philosophical grounds).
I would also add (for your information) that true Darwinism was long ago replaced with Neo-Darwinism, which was then replaced with the Synthetic Theory (of evolution). While it remains a popular--but ignorant--tendancy to equate Darwinism with contemporary evolutionary thought, this practice only demonstrates how little is popularly known about the history and details of the evolution of evolutionism itself! Darwinsim per se was long ago discarded by leading evolutionists as a viable theory, and is not regarded as synonymous with current evolutionary thought.
>>...creationistists (aka rightwing Christians) have waged, and are waging successful campaigns all over the country to take over schools boards and prevent true evolution from being taught in our public school systems. We have fought this battle in our own local school system.<<
This is a bold claim, for which I would have to ask for documentation. The balance of what you have written so far leads me to respectfully question your qualifications for determining what “true evolution” is in the first place. More importantly, the leaders of the creationist movement do not advocate the exclusion of evolutionism--only the inclusion of the counterpart creationist evidence (if any) regarding any particular field of study. If your local school system battle was truly fought over the total exclusion of evolutionism, then I can assure you that it was an exception, not the rule.
If evolutionism is so well-supported by the evidence (as evolutionists are prone to insist), the inclusion of a counterpart creationist text should be no threat to evolutionists, yet they dig up dozens of excuses for objecting to a fair hearing by the students. And there is plenty of creationist material available that says nothing about God, the Bible, or Christianity--it deals strictly with the empirical data, critical analysis and interpretation methodology--so there is no threat of conflicting religious indoctrination.
>>I apologize for any name calling in my first letter. I get angry...<<
No problem -- anger is sometimes hard to avoid when a topic of such import is on the table. Just the same, your apology is appreciated and fully accepted.
>>...I know that for most creationists “creationism” is part of a religious agenda which those behind it want to force upon our children, our schools and our communities...<<
Agenda or no agenda, everyone--including an atheist--has a religious/philosophical world view, whether he likes it (or knows it) or not. To force one's world view on others (or--worse--others' children) is certainly inappropriate. However, when the foundational basis for the promotion of a popular world view has come under criticism not only from its opponents, but also from many having nothing to do with the opponents' camp--and even from many whose criticism is made from within the established camp, it is not unreasonable to suggest consideration of a plurality in tax-funded educational institutions. The alternative amounts to precisely what you yourself understandibly oppose: forcing a world view upon the children of many taxpayers who have good reason question its credibilty and/or value.
>>From your command of latin it is clear that you know what “lux et veritas” means. We as a people must strive to know the “truth” and not be caught in our own well intentioned but misguided “truthes”.<<
Don't be fooled. My “command” of Latin is limited to a few books on my shelf.
As for the truth, I will only repeat the simple (but often overlooked) fact that real truth cannot be a product of modern relativistic existentialism--or we are fools to even talk about it. We people are equipped with extremely complex reasoning capabilities, unique and varied personalities, vast and comprehensive communication skills, and an inherent recognition that the meaning and significance of our lives in the scheme of things ought to somehow connect with some kind of absolute truth. To believe otherwise is to adopt a religious/philosophical “leap-of-faith” mentality, in which the “truths” concerning man's meaning and significance are separated by a chasm (hence the “leap”) from the absolute “truth” concerning the natural world in which man finds himself. Such a position is ultimately unreasonable and practically untenable.
I sincerely hope I haven't bored you, and that you've found this discussion as interesting as I have.
Sam Platt replies:
Alright, you've worn me down... but not “out”! It's obvious that you're not
some redneck who has committed a few verses of Genesis to memory (pardon the
gross generalization). You are also the first creationist who has not hurled
scripture at me and branded me beyond redemption by the second writing. I
have dealt with the garden variety, home grown, pulpit fed creationists
(excuse the blatant stereotype) and they are not capable of carrying on a
discussion at this level. In my experiece you are the exception, not the
rule. However, don't construe my compliments as tacit agreement with your
position. Nay! As you might imagine I disagree with many points raised in
your response. I need time to digest your reply and formulate a suitable
response of my own. Yes, I do find this discussion most interesting and
exciting. I may have to focus my forthcoming comments on a few key areas of
our wide ranging debate, lest we risk becoming mired in generalities.
For clarification - I believe in the existence of an “absolute truth”, not
truthes of convenience; relativistic, existential, secular or otherwise. I
believe that it is our mission to seek out and learn that truth.