Friday, April 27, 2012

Colbert takes on a young earth creationist...

by Salman Hameed

The issue of Young Earth Creationism (the idea that the world was created in the last 6-10 thousand years) is specific to the US. It didn't really exist at the time of the Scopes Trial. In fact, the main proponent of creationism at the trial, the colorful William Jennings Bryan, was an old earth creationist. The idea of a young earth took hold after the publication of a couple of books in the 60s arguing for flood geology - that all of the geologic features of the Earth have been shaped by Noah's flood only a few thousand years ago. This kind of fantasy geology is, thankfully, missing from most of the Muslim world. This is very encouraging! An acceptance of the age of the Earth in billions of years opens up the possibility for the acceptance of a change of species over this very long time. It is really a shame that a significant fraction of population of the most scientifically advanced country in the world accepts such young earth creationism. I know that social and political factors, colored by a particular form of religion, shape much of this view. But really, there should be no excuse.

But the US problem is further exacerbated by the way the school system works here. Instead of a federal system, local school boards set the curricula. And the school board members are picked through local elections. Texas school board has attracted a lot of attention as most public schools in the US use textbooks published in Texas - and the Texas publishers follow the local school board recommendation. So it has been particularly crazy to see a young earth creationist Don McLeroy, who also happens to be a dentist, head up the Texas school board. He is no longer part of the board, but he led a fierce fight to include creationism in biology textbooks. Now there is a new documentary out, The Revisionaries, about folks like him who are trying to change the textbooks. I haven't seen the movie, but I don't think it is a complimentary to McLeroy or other creationists. However, our creationist dentist did decide to show up on the Colbert Report. Here is the entertaining segment (I think Colbert could have been harsher...):

I think McLeroy should team up with Harun Yahya and Zakir Naik. They will make first class Musketeers. Or they can be the Three Stooges. Actually Ken Ham - of the Creation Museum - may be a better candidate than McLeroy.

And here is the trailer for The Revisionaries:


Human Ape said...

I suggest the only way to cure the magical creationism disease is the complete eradication of Christianity, Islam, and all other religious cults.

Gary said...

Actually there were four Musketeers, Porthos, Athos, Aramis and D'Artagnan. So you can include Ken Ham to make up the fourth dingbat.

Salman Hameed said...

Ah - thanks gary for allowing us to keep the whole gang in tact.

Human Ape:
I am assuming that, like me, you like science and reason. One of the key things in science is often to look at disconfirming evidence. I'm sure you know that there are many many different forms of religions (even many different variations within Christianity and Islam), and many of those have no impact on creationism (and even that one has to define the specific type). Without carefully taking any of these things into account, you are really committing to un-reason and certainly it runs afoul of any reasonable science.

So I would suggest that we stay with the specifics. This is a matter of young-earth-creationism, and it is rejected by particular conservative religious groups within the US. Many of the reasons are a mixture of politics and religion. We should oppose those specific ideas that are against science. Rest - beliefs - are a personal matter.

Arni Zachariassen said...

Human Ape, that sounds like a distinctly unsustainable strategy.

Anonymous said...

@Human Ape
With the kind of effort you have put on your blog, you certainly deserved better than zero comments on almost all your posts. I wish I could have enough reason to set up a constructive argument with you if you have an ear for some criticism of your viewpoint. Peace