Tom Gilson

Creationism and ID: Definition or Rhetoric?

Yesterday I tried to set aside a question about the relation between creationism and intelligent design, but bobxxx commented,

I have a few things to say about creationism and intelligent design. I think people who pretend these are different ideas are being dishonest. Invoking creationism is the same as invoking supernatural magic. Invoking intelligent design is the same as invoking supernatural magic.

… and it really does call for a thoughtful response. I have already answered him on the use of the word “magic,” so I will focus on the general question of creationism and ID.

D1. Self-Described Creationists‘ Definitions of Creationism
Let’s consider the definitions as they are put forward by different groups. First, those who use the term “creationist” describe themselves. There are two broad categories: old-earth creationists and young-earth creationists. Both agree on the following:

  1. God is eternal, immaterial, all-powerful, omniscient
  2. God created the universe ex nihilo, out of nothing. Matter, space, and time are not eternal but were created by his own word.
  3. Life was originated on earth by God’s direct action, and God was directly involved in the formation of each new kind of organism. “Kind” is defined more loosely than species by most creationists, allowing for the possibility that closely related species (like dogs and wolves, for one very obvious example) resulted from a single creative intervention.
  4. Humans were not only specially created in the sense of (3), but were also imbued with God’s image, meaning that God gave us, in a special creative act, the ability to reason, to communicate, to relate to others and to God as persons, to make choices with moral significance, to create, and so on.
  5. Most crucial of all: the first three chapters of Genesis, understood literally, are a reliable guide to the science and the proper understanding of the history of life, the universe and (pardon the allusion) everything. It is from this conviction that (1) through (4) flow.

Young-earth creationists hold that all of this happened recently, in the past 10,000 years or so, and that scientific evidences for an older universe are based on various misinterpretations that I will not go into here, except to note that they consider the form of the fossil record to be the result of a universal Noahic flood. Old-earth creationists disagree: they accept the plain (in my opinion) evidence showing that the universe is about 14-15 billion years old, the earth is 3.5 billion years old, and so on. Old-earthers differ among themselves in their views on the Flood and its influence on geology and paleontology. They generally agree with (5) the validity of the first three chapters of Genesis, but they hold that its original intent was that some of the language be taken in some figurative sense, allowing for the passage of more than six 24-hour days in the process.

D2. Intelligent Design Proponents’ Definition of ID
Proponents of Intelligent Design define ID quite simply in these terms: there are features of life and natural history that are best explained by inference to an intelligent source in their origination. This is an uniformitarian argument: we see wherever the origin of complex information and certain other types of complexity can be identified, it always comes from an intelligence. We see complex information and those certain types of complexity in nature, and we can rationally infer intelligence also as the source of that. (I do not intend to go into the details of what constitutes such information and complexity; that’s not my purpose here and others are more qualified to discuss it.)

D3. ID/Creationism Opponents’ Definition of Creationism
Jerry Coyne helpfully provided one definition of creationism, from the perspective of an opponent to the view. I’ll quote it again in full:

But regardless of their views, all creationists share four traits. First, they devoutly believe in God. No surprise there, except to those who think that ID has a secular basis. Second, they claim that God miraculously intervened in the development of life, either creating every species from scratch or intruding from time to time in an otherwise Darwinian process. Third, they agree that one of these interventions was the creation of humans, who could not have evolved from apelike ancestors. This, of course, reflects the Judeo-Christian view that humans were created in God’s image. Fourth, they all adhere to a particular argument called “irreducible complexity.” This is the idea that some species, or some features of some species, are too complex to have evolved in a Darwinian manner, and must therefore have been designed by God.

That’s not a bad description of creationism as accepted by those who call themselves creationists, except that (4) irreducible complexity is optional; “scientific creationism” preceded any discussion of irreducible complexity by several decades.

D4. ID/Creationism Opponents‘ Definition of Intelligent Design
I think the most common definition of ID I’ve seen spoken among its opponents “is creationism in a cheap tuxedo.” The general sense is that it’s the same as creationism defined in D1, except ID people try to hide the religious aspect.

Analysis
So how do we sort out all of these definitions? Let us first note that ID (D3) makes no reference to the Bible as a research source. Therefore D1(5), the most crucial methodological component of D1 creationism, is completely out of the picture. If Genesis is of utmost importance to D1 creationists, and of no particular relevance to D2 Intelligent Design, can ID be the same as creationism? Frankly, this is possible only if the D2 Intelligent Design definition is an IDer’s lie. That’s where the D4 accusation of hiding comes from, and the belief that ID is dishonest is widely held. This is in spite of the fact that none of the arguments for ID depend on the Bible, or even make reference to it.

D1 creationism and D2 Intelligent Design share two crucial point of agreement: that it’s okay to consider the possibility that the world is not a closed system of natural cause and effect. This above all else is what raises ire among people like Jerry Coyne, who, as we have seen, will lump a committed evolutionist like Kenneth MIller in with a creationist like Ken Ham, because Miller believes in a God who has intervened in history—not the development of life, to be sure, but at least the original creation of the universe and the life of Christ.

D1 creationism and D2 Intelligent Design also share the opinion that neo-Darwinism and its variants are inadequate to explain the origin and development of life on earth.

Rhetorical Ploys
ID opponents consider Intelligent Design to be playing a rhetorical game: disguising and hiding their real agenda, which is religious (reports like this make put that in doubt, of course, and there are indeed many non-religious ID proponents). I think there is another rhetorical game going on. Opponents of Intelligent Design have a reason for equating it with creationism. Creationism (D1, young-earth variety) has a terrible scientific reputation, and it has a clear religious agenda that has been ruled out of school by U.S. courts. Though ID (D2) is quite clearly distinct from creationism (D1), it serves opponents’ rhetorical purpose to associate it with a long-standing poor science record and with religious motivations.

What About Dover?
Judge Jones ruled in Dover that ID really is creationism, and it really is religious. On this I think he was simply wrong. D2 is not equal to D1. Of course the local body, the Dover School Board, was not so clear on this, and they did have a religious motivation for introducing the topic of ID into the schools. On this they erred, but ID leaders know the difference more clearly than that.

One reason Jones ruled as he did is because of clear evidence that the library book in question, Of Pandas and People, used the term “creationism” rather than “Intelligent Design” in its early drafts. “Aha!” shouted the opponents, “Here’s proof that the two are the same, and they’re just hiding it!” No, that’s only proof if the term was used in the D1 sense in the original drafts, which according to my information was not the case.

There was a time when there was only one term in general usage for the view that evolution is an inadequate theory; and there was a time when that term “creationism,” was not as clearly defined as it can be now. There is nothing unusual about vocabulary evolving in that way, and every writer knows there’s nothing unusual about realizing your first draft is wrong and needs correcting. The time came when it was clear that creationism was the wrong word. ID opponents say this was because proponents saw the political disadvantage in it. Frankly, that too smacks as a rhetorical move on their part. Do they have evidence from the writers that this was their motive?. What about the possibility that the writers realized they were using the wrong word, because what they were talking about wasn’t D1 creationism at all, but D2 Intelligent Design?

What About Intelligent Design Proponents Who Are Religious?
Finally, what about people like me and many others who support ID and are at the same time openly believers in God? I believe that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and that he was directly involved in the development of the various kinds of organisms. I hold to an old-earth version of D1 creationism, and I support ID. There are many others who would say the same. Does that make ID equivalent to creationism? Well, I believe that squirrels eat birdseed, while at the same time being convinced that birds eat birdseed. Does that mean I think squirrels are birds? Of course not.

I can support a program that seeks natural evidences for design, and at the same time hold the Bible teaches design, and at the same time recognize that those two attitudes are not identical to each other. That’s not so hard to see, is it?

Recent Related Posts:
A Man of Great Faith
Jerry Coyne’s Line in the Sand

Series Navigation (Is ID Creationism?):<<< Maybe They Really Can’t Tell the DifferenceQuestions For Those Who Believe ID Is Creationism >>>

17 thoughts on “Creationism and ID: Definition or Rhetoric?

  1. “Do they have evidence from the writers that this was their motive?. What about the possibility that the writers realized they were using the wrong word, because what they were talking about wasn’t D1 creationism at all, but D2 Intelligent Design?”

    And, purely by coincidence, the authors came to this realization immediately after the holding in Edwards v. Aguillard?

    Come on Tom, you can’t really expect anyone to buy that.

  2. Edwards v Aguillard was 1985, the first edition of Pandas and People was 1989. Do you have evidence that there was a version in process in 1985, using the term “creationist,” that was changed “immediately after the holding” in that case?

    Charles Thaxton explains why they changed the wording:

    Thaxton continues, saying “we did what we could do to stay within the empirical domain and make legitimate inferences.” He then explains the terminology that was originally in the early pre-publication drafts of Pandas:

    “I realize that the charge was that we were trying to just use a substitute word for creation, but that isn’t the case at all. In the early days of writing the Pandas book for example, although we understood what we were doing, most other people who we were talking to didn’t know our objectives really. And if you have a whole culture that knows about creation as a term … So we used that word early on, not for deception so we could later switch on them but because we wanted the materials to be understood that we were focused on. It was always clearly within the empirical domain, even the things that we wrote early on.”

    Thaxton completes his account by recounting that after speaking widely on the subject of origins that “gradually it became clear that there was a real good way that there was a case we wanted–completely within the empirical domain–and we looked for a term that would do this and reading the literature and ah, ‘intelligent design,’ is the most appropriate term. And that’s why we did it.”

    In other words, what they were always talking about, from the beginning, was D2 Intelligent Design, not C1 Creationism. Why wouldn’t they change the term?

  3. “Edwards v Aguillard was 1985, the first edition of Pandas and People was 1989. Do you have evidence that there was a version in process in 1985, using the term “creationist,” that was changed “immediately after the holding” in that case?”

    Tom, are you being disingenuous? Surely you knew that Edwards was Edwards was decided in 1987, not 1985. Surely you also knew that there were two drafts of Pandas written in 1987. Given how often you have written on this subject, you surely do not expect me to believe that you are unfamiliar with Barbara Forrest’s testimony in the Kitzmiller case, or in the word count analysis she testified to, showing the changes in the 1987 version 1 draft of Pandas and the 1987 version 2 draft of Pandas.

    Just for the sake of reminding you of her testimony, here is a link:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dover/day6am2.html

    As for Thaxton’s self-serving statement . . . well, I think it’s clear how much weight should be given to it. Significantly, no one took the stand in the Kitzmiller trial to rebut Dr. Forrest’s testimony. No one was willing to testify under oath, and subject to cross-examination, that Dr. Forrest was incorrect. After the fact, unsworn, uncrossed, self-serving statements like this one should be seen for what they are.

    By the way, I could not help but notice that your so-called “D1” definition of Creationism excludes all OECs, and includes only YECs. I have to wonder why that is. If all Creationist are YECs, and there is no such thing as an OEC, then why does the term OEC even exist?

  4. John, I actually did have my dates wrong. I wasn’t being disingenuous, I was asking for correction if you had it to offer, and you have. I stand corrected.

    D1 does not exclude OEC. See the following paragraph.

    Was Thaxton’s statement self-serving? Let me ask whether you know he was lying, or if you know what his actual motive was. Note also that the testimony includes this:

    Q. Could you read that into the record, Dr. Forrest?

    A. Yes. “Definitions of creation science and evolution. Creation science means origin through abrupt appearance in complex forms, and includes biological creation, biochemical creation or chemical creation, and cosmic creation.”

    Q. Why is that statement in Dr. Kenyon’s affidavit important to your opinion about intelligent design?

    A. That statement is important because it reflects the definition in Pandas.

    Q. And when you say the definition in Pandas what is the term that’s defined the Pandas?

    A. The term in Pandas is intelligent design. It’s pretty much the same definition here that he’s giving for creation science.

    Q. And we’re going to look at some of that language in Pandas later, but why don’t we go on to the next highlighted passage. Why don’t you go ahead and read that.

    A. “Creation science does not include as essential parts the concept of catastrophism, a worldwide flood, a recent inception of the earth or life from nothingness, ex nihilo, the concept of time, or any concepts from Genesis or other religious texts.”

    Q. Why is that important to your opinion?

    A. That’s important because it recognizes that there are different types of creationism, that it’s broader than just young earth creationism.

    This is quite significant for its recognition that there are two different concepts under discussion here. One of them is D1 creationism, the other isn’t; it’s clearly the D2 concept. In the last line quoted here, Forrest said that D2 was creationism, and yes, the term creationism was used in the book’s early draft. As Thaxton pointed out, they realized that creationism was the wrong term. Forrest continues to call it creationism, but of course that’s highly self-serving on her part not to accept the correction that Thaxton and Kenyon made. It’s the same question I asked in the original post: who is doing the rhetorical maneuvering here?

    Let’s grant for the sake of argument that it was Edwards v. Aguillard, and some kind of legal fear reaction, that caused them to search for another term. I don’t know that this is true, but let’s just suppose that it is. Then what? Regardless of the motive for that change, it’s still a move away from an incorrect, misleading term toward a more accurate one. Regardless, too, of the motive for change, D2 is not a religious conception of origins. It specifically excludes the religious components of the origins questions.

    So even if you prove your case—what would then be the worst-case scenario for me in this discussion—regarding the Pandas book, where does it get you? D1 and D2 are still different concepts, and Intelligent Design is still not equivalent to creationism.

  5. Yes, there are two concepts discussed by Forrest in this portion of her testimony: Old-Earth Creationism and Young-Earth Creationism. However, as Forrest also testifies, these two concepts are two species of the genus “Creationism”. She not only bases her opinion upon the words of Creationists, in this portion of her testimony, she is quoting directly from Dean Kenyon himself: These are his words describing Creationism, and his words make very clear that what he later called ID falls clearly within the scope of the Creationism genus. Significantly, Kenyon expressly states that biblical literalism (your 5th element to your own definition of Creationism) is not an essential element of Creationism.

    You seem to feel that it is somehow unfair for Forrest to rely on the very words of the Creationists themselves, when they describe what Creationism is.

    As for Thaxton’s statement, nowhere in the passage you quoted does he say that describing the material presented in Pandas as Creationism is, as you claim, incorrect or misleading. You are attributing to him a statement that he did not make here.

    Finally, it is not as though Pandas represents the entirety of the evidence showing that ID is merely a re-branding of a particular form of Creationism. Forrest’s and Gross’s excellent book “Creationism’s Trojan Horse” scrupulously documents the pre-Kitzmiller evidence of the Creationist basis of the IDC movement.

  6. A few years ago, when I was new to blogging, I reviewed Creationism’s Trojan Horse (here and here). I think I would do a better job of it if I were to do it again now, but I’m sure my conclusions would be no different. I have not been too impressed with Barbara Forrest overall.

    This is rather strange, coming from you:

    These are his words describing Creationism, and his words make very clear that what he later called ID falls clearly within the scope of the Creationism genus. Significantly, Kenyon expressly states that biblical literalism (your 5th element to your own definition of Creationism) is not an essential element of Creationism.

    If there is a “Creationism” that differs so much from a religious form of creationism, then it’s really wrong to call it creationism, isn’t it? I mean, if we’re going to have one term with two meanings, why not have two different terms instead? To call Intelligent Design “creationism” is to contribute to the confusion!

    But I think confusion is exactly what some people are trying to foster. On that point, I really should have supplied a stronger answer last time about self-serving communication. I said it was self-serving for Forrest to use the term “creationism” for ID in court. It is also highly self-serving every time any ID opponent does so, in a blog, in the media, anywhere. Why? Because you know that “creationism” has religious, political, and legal baggage, and you want to attach the same baggage to ID. It’s rhetorical maneuvering, it’s self-serving on the part of ID opponents, and it’s not the least bit helpful toward developing understanding. It’s strictly political.

    It’s so ironic the way ID opponents accuse proponents of being just politically motivated, as Forrest and Gross did in Trojan Horse. She can’t see the same thing in herself, or at least she wouldn’t admit it. And the same goes for many, many other ID opponents.

  7. Tom, you have mischaracterized what I said. I never said (nor did Forrest testify) that Creationism is not religious. What both Forrest and I actually said was that Creationism is not necessarily biblically literalist. I am sure you knew that something does not need to be biblically literalist in order to be religious–Roman Catholicism, for instance, is not literalist in its theology.

    Your only argument that ID is not a form of Creationism is that according to your own particular definitions of ID and Creationism, it is not. Likewise, it is only because her usage of these terms does not conform to the particular definitions that you have coined that you can accuse her of being dishonest.

    We could play competing definitions all day. Given the skill at crafting useful definitions that you have displayed so far, I’m sure you could define First Holy Communion in a way that would show it to be non-religious. But you have not shown that your particular definitions are standard. In fact, you as much as admit that they are not. More importantly perhaps, you have carefully avoided addressing the history of the development of the IDC movement. Forrest and Gross have documented this history. Can you point to factual (not definitional) errors in their history that disprove, or even undermine their thesis? Saying “I don’t like their definition of ID” would not count as pointing out a factual error.

    Tom, I am beginning to think that you are a dishonest fellow, who will misrepresent things as casually as Kent Hovind does. I hope that I am mistaken in this, but in just a short time, you have misrepresented the timing of the Edwards decision, you have misrepresented Thaxton’s words, and you have even misrepresented my words. I hope for better from you.

  8. John, on this you are simply wrong:

    Your only argument that ID is not a form of Creationism is that according to your own particular definitions of ID and Creationism, it is not.

    The definitions I presented here (D1 and D2) are the definitions used by the people who represent those positions. They are not my invention. Those who conflate ID and creationism do so by re-defining what ID people and creationists say they believe. It’s a lot like, “When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you!”

    Can you point to factual (not definitional) errors in their history that disprove, or even undermine their thesis? Saying “I don’t like their definition of ID” would not count as pointing out a factual error.

    I had the book on interlibrary loan, so I cannot point to anything in it now. You can follow the links to the review I wrote at the time.

    More importantly perhaps, you have carefully avoided addressing the history of the development of the IDC movement.

    There you go again, conflating ID with Creationism!

    I avoided addressing the history of the development of the ID movement because that was not my topic and it would take too much time. I did not avoid addressing the relationship between ID and Creationism, nor did I avoid addressing my own religious beliefs with relation to my support for ID.

    Tom, you have mischaracterized what I said. I never said (nor did Forrest testify) that Creationism is not religious.

    Nor did I say that you did. I was responding to what you wrote about Kenyon, as quoted by Forrest. I did not mischaracterize either you or Forrest.

    And you missed the point anyway: the point is that when a term comes to mean two different things—in this case, “Creationism” meaning something that’s religious, and on the other hand something that’s not religious—then it’s not a bad idea to use a different term for one of the concepts. Thus Intelligent Design was coined to denote a specifically non-religious approach to the study of origins.

    I have not studied the context in which Kenyon made that quote, but I would be very surprised if it did not support the view I just presented. He was one of those who were involved in the beginnings of the ID movement, when they were at the point of recognizing their commonalities with Creationism (noted above, in my original post, so don’t accuse me of prevaricating on that!), and also their differences.

    At one time there really was only term for Darwin doubters: Creationists. So naturally they had to think of who they were with respect to creationism. Ultimately they realized the significance of the difference between Creationism and what they were working on. It was because they were doing something actually different, that they coined an actually different word. Nothing mendacious in that, is there? Is it lying for biochemists to call themselves something different from (the older terms) biologists or chemists? No, because they’re doing something with a different focus. Intelligent Design should not be termed creationism because that’s not what it is.

    (I hope that somewhat satisfies your desire for me to address the history of the ID movement.)

    I hope that I am mistaken in this, but in just a short time, you have misrepresented the timing of the Edwards decision, you have misrepresented Thaxton’s words, and you have even misrepresented my words.

    I made an error with respect to the Edwards decision, which I immediately acknowledged when it was pointed out–and you call me dishonest for that?!

    I did not mischaracterize Thaxton–and you can call him and ask him, if you like.

    And I did not mischaracterize you, as I have just said.

    I am beginning to think you are a dishonest fellow, for saying that I have done these things.

    Now, do you think that accusation helped things a bit? I didn’t write it thinking that it would. I wrote it to demonstrate to you just how unhelpful an accusation like that can be.

    And by the way, when you made it of me, you were wrong.

  9. Edwards v Aguillard was 1987. Now the creationists can no longer get away with dumbing down science education with “creation science”. Their solution? They gave “creation science” a new name, hoping they could sneak the new name (intelligent design) into science education if they used a lot of scientific sounding language to describe it. Their plan didn’t work (Google federal trial in Dover 2005).

    Here’s a wild and crazy idea. Instead of pretending your magic space man (the designer of intelligent design, the creator of creation science) had anything to do with the diversity of life, why not study evolutionary biology. Evolution is many thousands of times more interesting than supernatural magic, and evolution has another tremendous advantage over magical creation myths like “intelligent design creationism”. That advantage is evolution is a fact backed up with extremely powerful evidence from molecular biology, genetics, and many other branches of science.

    So why not give up your boring medieval religious ideas, and join the much more interesting 21st century. I make this suggestion because I’m trying to do you a favor. It’s a terrible waste of a life to not understand how the world works.

    I know the Mr. God invention is very difficult for some people to give up, but that’s because they don’t know what they’re missing. They don’t know that when a person realizes there’s no magic in the universe, then everything makes sense. It’s a wonderful feeling to understand the freedom of knowing the human ape species is completely on its own, with no magic fairy hiding in the clouds (or wherever the invisible man hides) watching over us.

  10. Bobxxxx,

    I’m on my way out the door, so I won’t be able to pick this back up until later tonight, but do me a favor. That is, if you’re not too busy convincing yourself that “magic fairy” talk makes you sound intelligent.

    Please explain to me exactly how life began. What was the first self-replicating cell like? How did it form? When did it form? What were the conditions by which it arose? By what mechanism did it organize? How many times have we replicated the natural origins of this cell? Since you seem sure that evolutionary biology has the answers to every possible question about life, please help me with the one that really needs to be answered first.

    You haven’t changed your tone or your stance from the last time I talked to you, so I’m not hopeful that I’ll get more than some closed-minded insults about “dumbed down” views and magic fairies. Perhaps you could scrape together enough consideration to actually give me some rational information, rather than patting yourself on the back by mocking those who disagree with your (obviously brilliant) opinions. You seem to have an awfully hard time distinguishing between rather disparate views of biology and origins in the first place, so I hope that’s not an unfair request.

    I’ll be breathlessly anticipating your answer, knowing that this burning question will finally be answered. One way or the other, my thanks again for your contributions to the ID cause.

  11. @bobxxx:

    You wrote,

    Now the creationists can no longer get away with dumbing down science education with “creation science”. Their solution? They gave “creation science” a new name, hoping they could sneak the new name (intelligent design) into science education if they used a lot of scientific sounding language to describe it.

    What’s sad about this is that it shows absolutely no awareness that you’ve read a thing on this page. There’s no argument, no response to previous argument, no visible evidence that you put any thought into this.

    Evolution is many thousands of times more interesting than supernatural magic, and evolution has another tremendous advantage over magical creation myths like “intelligent design creationism”.

    I don’t believe in any magical creation myths, so I don’t know why you’re saying I should study evolution instead. I think we’ve already had some recent discussion about the use of the word “magic,” so I won’t repeat that again so soon.

    So why not give up your boring medieval religious ideas, and join the much more interesting 21st century. I make this suggestion because I’m trying to do you a favor.

    Thanks for the offer. I love life in the 21st century!

    I know the Mr. God invention is very difficult for some people to give up, but that’s because they don’t know what they’re missing.

    That, too, was answered recently….

    It’s a wonderful feeling to understand the freedom of knowing the human ape species is completely on its own, with no magic fairy hiding in the clouds (or wherever the invisible man hides) watching over us.

    As was this. What is the freedom you’ve found? I asked this once before. Freedom to choose your own morality? Freedom to do what you want with no sense of responsibility? What about real freedom, such as I described in that linked comment?

  12. Tom, it seems that you took great offense to being compared to Kent Hovind. Well, I can’t really blame you for that—if someone compared me to that Creationist tax cheat, I’d be pretty upset too.

    You deny misrepresenting my words, so let’s take a look at exactly what I said, and exactly how you characterized what I said, and see where the truth falls.

    Here’s what I said:

    Yes, there are two concepts discussed by Forrest in this portion of her testimony: Old-Earth Creationism and Young-Earth Creationism. However, as Forrest also testifies, these two concepts are two species of the genus “Creationism”. She not only bases her opinion upon the words of Creationists, in this portion of her testimony, she is quoting directly from Dean Kenyon himself: These are [Dean Kenyon’s] words describing Creationism, and his words make very clear that what he later called ID falls clearly within the scope of the Creationism genus. Significantly, Kenyon expressly states that biblical literalism [emphasis added] (your 5th element to your own definition of Creationism) is not an essential element of Creationism.

    Did you catch that? I said here that, according to Kenyon, biblical literalism is not an essential part of Creationism.

    Let’s now take a look at how you characterized what I said. You copied part of my quote above, and then responded:

    If there is a “Creationism” that differs so much from a religious form of creationism [emphasis added], then it’s really wrong to call it creationism, isn’t it?

    So you took the statement I actually made, discussing literalist and non-literalist forms of Creationism, and you turned it into a statement about religious and [purportedly] non-religious Creationism. But I never stated or implied that Creationism can be divided into religious and non-religious variants. In fact, the evidence shows (and the U.S. Supreme Court has held) that Creationism is inherently religious.

    Do you continue to deny misrepresenting my words?

  13. John,

    Tom, it seems that you took great offense to being compared to Kent Hovind. Well, I can’t really blame you for that—if someone compared me to that Creationist tax cheat, I’d be pretty upset too.

    So then—why did you do it, John? You intended great offense, didn’t you?

    As to misrepresenting your words, gimme a break, okay? Misrepresentation is to say that you said something that you didn’t say. What I did was to draw an interpretation what Kenyon said!

    For the record, I do not think, nor have I ever said, that you would think there is a religious/non-religious distinction within what you consider to be Creationism.

    Now, have you read the discussion policies? The link is prominently displayed above the comment box. I want to refer you specifically to another page that’s linked from there that explains Guideline 3 more descriptively. It’s about what I call the Starbucks standard. Please note that as host here, I take it as my prerogative whom to invite. Everyone is invited, actually; but there are certain ways of interacting here that don’t meet the standard of courteous discussion that I choose to maintain. Those kinds of communications can get a commenter banned.

    Today you have accused me of dishonesty, you have not retracted that accusation even where it was clearly false (e.g the matter of the dates of Edwards and Pandas), you have compared me to someone you consider to be the lowest of the low, you have admitted that you knew what you wrote would be likely to cause great offense (so I think it’s fair to conclude you intended to produce that reaction), and you have really twisted this whole business of my supposedly misrepresenting you.

    That’s enough to get a commenter disinvited.

  14. For the record, I do not think, nor have I ever said, that you would think there is a religious/non-religious distinction within what you consider to be Creationism.

    Then what other possible inference can be drawn from this sentence of yours?

    If there is a “Creationism” that differs so much from a religious form of creationism, then it’s really wrong to call it creationism, isn’t it?

    You were quoting me, and expressing surprise at what I said, because it implied that there is “a religious form of creationism”, and another form of creationism “that differs so much from a religious form”

    Is there any, any, any other reasonable interpretation of what you said? What is it? Seriously, what the heck else could you possibly have meant here?

  15. John,

    You quoted from Kenyon and drew your own implications from Kenyon. I took that same quote from Kenyon and drew my own implications. You supplied the quote, so apparently you think I was quoting you and responding to you, when in fact I was responding to what Kenyon had said in the quote you supplied.

    It seems I might have the right to do that, don’t you think? Do you think it might be appropriate for both of us to contact Kenyon and find out whether he thinks one of us misrepresented him?

    I did not say that my inferences from Kenyon represented your position on what he said. Since I was not even representing you in that portion of what I wrote, how could you think I was misrepresenting you??

    I think this is enough on this dispute, John. The Starbucks Standard was broken in at least two of your comments prior to this one, and this one was hardly different. You’re still harping on one mistake you think I made, while not acknowledging your own, which I have pointed out twice, and without responding. You did not respond to what I noted in my last comment about your apparent motivations for writing something that you, admittedly, intended to be offensive. (Please note that at the top of this thread I did acknowledge a mistake that was a genuine mistake, as soon as it was pointed out to me.)

    You had opportunity to respond—the web host log shows that you refreshed and/or returned to this page more than 15 times after both of our last comments yesterday, continuing until as late as 11:19 pm. And it shows that you visited the discussion policy pages I referred you to.

    But I had actually already put in place the setting to cause your comments to go into moderation rather than appearing immediately, for reasons I noted in my last comment to you. (Apparently I did that after you posted your last comment.) That’s only an intermediate step, by the way; there’s another level at which a commenter is simply banned.

    Anyway, as I said last night, this is how commenters get disinvited.

  16. Bobxxxx:Evolution is many thousands of times more interesting than supernatural magic, and evolution has another tremendous advantage over magical creation myths like “intelligent design creationism”. That advantage is evolution is a fact backed up with extremely powerful evidence from molecular biology, genetics, and many other branches of science.

    Bob always seems to magically disappear whenever I say anything about his use of magic as a stigma word but here are a few points about it anyway. First, it’s rather ironic that those who believe in scientism these days use the term “magic” as a stigma word when they were the class of people who were the magicians of old. I.e. they were charlatans and still often seek public support by being charlatans to this day. That is to say that chemists used to be alchemists, astronomers used to be astrologers, etc. But now we come full circle and Christianity/creationism or ID/philosophy are to be blamed for or somehow associated with magick? And I suppose we are supposed to blame Christianity for witch hunts and so on as well? Ironically magic is a stigma word because of the success of Christianity in giving birth to a scientific view of the world rooted in monotheism but unfortunately bigots are typically ignorant of history.

    Second, the impression that an artifact or event is evidence of “magic” may itself be evidence that the artifact in question is actually an instance of an intelligent mind using logic to create technology which then mediates the impact of its intelligence on the world. This effect has been noted: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
    –Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of The Future

    I would add that it only appears as magic to those who are ignorant of the “intelligently designed” technology in use but intelligent agency is not magic.

  17. Tom, are you being disingenuous? Surely you knew that Edwards was Edwards was decided in 1987, not 1985. Surely you also knew that there were two drafts of Pandas written in 1987. Given how often you have written on this subject…

    You’re generally wasting your time because the federal judiciary has demonstrated that it is perfectly capable of pulling meaning out of its own penumbras. It has rejected the capacity for adaptation that was written into the Constitution. It has engaged in a “triumph of the will” over the word based on its own view of progress which naturally results in the body politic being denied the mechanisms designed for adaptation and progress. It can generally mutate the text at will. You are writing about an establishment that has linked itself to an evolutionary view of the world yet expect them to support worldviews which undermine their power?

    The Reformation shows that in situations where the establishment has no respect for the word it is probably best to leave the establishment to its forms of textual degeneracy while focusing on getting the word out (enter the printing press or the internet). So the focus here should not be on whether or not the federal judiciary says that ID or creationism are “religious,” whatever that may mean, the focus should be on whether or not they are true. The federal judiciary will find whatever it wants in any given case, usually that which increases its own power. If ID and creationism increased their power then they would find ways of supporting it. But such views limit their power so they seek ways of attacking it despite the fact that the very texts which they are sworn to uphold contain ID and creationism. (As they were written by Deists/IDists and Theists/Creationists who firmly believed in both.)

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