• Creationism’s Missed Trick

    I have long maintained that creationists are cunning, but not very intelligent. In many ways, they are politicians. They say whatever it takes to get elected. This includes different messages to different audiences, contradicting themselves even in the same speech, and using all kinds of dirty tricks.

    Most creationists are not well versed in the science they are arguing against. This mainly applies to the rank and file creationists. Those people who have (maybe) a single high school course in biology, which may or may not have mentioned evolution.

    The leaders of the various creationist movements are often well versed in biology, but only so that they can intentionally misrepresent it (and the scientists who actually do research).  But even they aren’t that well versed in the details. By spending all their time looking for actual quotes to take out of context, they miss some tricks that would be much more effective for them.

    I’ve often said and heard that a halfway decent biologist could be much more effective arguing for ID/creationism than any of the clowns that they have now. At last, I think I’ve discovered an argument that the creationists have really missed that could only help them. It actually doesn’t, but that’s not the point.

    Back in the day (mid 1700s), a naturalist by the name of Carl Linnaeus, developed a system by which he thought to classify all living organisms. He based his taxonomy almost purely on shared physical attributes. While lions and tigers shared a great many attributes, they also differed in a few and where therefore closely related, but not the same species.

    This was and continues to be almost arbitrary distinctions. There are many definitions of species and while some are quote good, they all fail at some point. There are some two dozen unique definitions of species. And talking to n biologists will result in n+1 definitions.

    What’s the problem? Well, everyone knows that lions are tigers are separate species. Except of course that they can interbreed and have fertile offspring… which is one of the definitions of species.

    And that problem is where creationists missed a trick. Instead of claiming, “It’s still a dog“, they should be claiming, that there’s no such thing as a species. This will neatly get them out of several major quandries, the main one being, where did all the species come from.

    Oh, it’s not perfect, since we know of actual speciation events and most species really are unique species. But there’s a wedge there and we know how creationists love wedges.

    I would submit that there’s some potential for real research in that area too. It’s probably more of philosophical interest rather than any actual value in the biological science community.

    I’d like to hear others thoughts on this one.

    Category: BiologyCreationismScience

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    Article by: Smilodon's Retreat

    • The Species Problem is one of the best representations of the nominalism / realism debate and I use it all of the time. There is, indeed, no such thing, objectively, as a species.

      • Void Walker

        The whole “essences and natures” nonsense has always been headache inducing for me…

        • SmilodonsRetreat

          That was on one the Ink blogs (about Richard Dawkins and abortion), the embryo contains the “essential nature” of “human” and thus it is murder to abort it… or some such.

          But the guy couldn’t define “essential nature” in such a way that it didn’t also include every cell in the human body, including dead skin cells (a sun tan is murder!) and the gastrointestinal cells that come out when you number 2 (taking a poo is murder).

          • Void Walker

            It’s all word salad, really. I don’t think they even know what they believe sometimes.

    • Void Walker

      Great post, Smilodon.

      When I look back on my years as a YEC, one thing jumps out the most: fear. Fear that, should evolution be proven valid, my entire belief system would crumble (it did). I think that fear is a big motivator for them. The belief in life after death, for the average YEC, is inexorably tied to a literal reading of the creation account in Genesis. It follows, then, that abandoning their literal view of 6-day creation means the demise of their entire religious view, thereby the death of their god and afterlife.

      No wonder they fight so damn hard. A belief in life after death is the ultimate opiate!