Creationism gets AAAS kicked


You'd have to search very hard to find a longer or more impressive catalogue of scientific bodies than the list of affiliates at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, of which Darwin himself was once a member (by whom I actually mean me, not that other guy).

It's refreshing when they come out with a no nonsense position paper on something as divisive as intelligent design (a.k.a Creationism). There is much debate in the U.S. about whether or not the 'Theory of I.D' should be taught in schools alongside the 'Theory of Evolution'.

As the story goes, anything we can't fully explain to the last detail through modern science, God 'just did'. As you can imagine, this vanishing list of miracles has shrunk considerably in the last 2,000 years or so–what with all the electron microscopes lying around and stuff.

Creationism (including Bishop Ussher's famous calculation that the Earth was spontaneously created on 23 Oct 4004 BC) is based on an interesting initial supposition, that the world was created by a higher intelligence, but after that it loses all credibility.

The prime mover himself needs to be explained–who created the architect? The important question of 'Whence?' is thus simply removed one level. While science would be willing to explore the possibility that the singularity at origin of the universe was somehow engineered, there is no reason however to suspect any interference after that point. All further Creationist dogma is provably idiotic.

That up to 47% of Americans believe in Young Earth Creationism makes me sigh wearily, and despair for the future. Dinosaurs and humans co-existing? The Earth (conflated with the universe) is only 6,000 years old? Physicists have a phrase that describes tripe like this: Not Even Wrong.

They also have this to say:

AAAS urges citizens across the nation to oppose the establishment of policies that would permit the teaching of "intelligent design theory" as a part of the science curricula of the public school

Let's be clear about one thing, while I mentioned earlier that there is 'much debate' about Creationism, this is confined to the public and the infotainment industry. There is no debate amongst members of the scientific community. Need I also remind readers that there is a significant difference in meaning() between a scientific theory and a conversational theory.

Conversational theories go something like this: Hey, I have this theory about deja vu. Whereas, in science that would be called a hypothesis. When we perform a series of rigorous tests on many connected hypotheses, we end up with a scientific theory–as close to fact as the universe allows. At least until we formulate a better hypothesis.

In a feat of egregious linguistic fraud, Creationism skipped the rigorous testing part, and went straight to calling itself a 'theory.' It's a fairy story, plain and simple. To be generous, it could be mentioned in civics class, religious studies, sociology class; anywhere but in the science lab. The AAAS again:

the lack of scientific warrant for so-called "intelligent design theory" makes it improper to include as a part of science education

And yet that is exactly what is happening. Bizarre abominations known as Creation museums are springing up all over the U.S. to cater to the needs of the faithful–many of them enormously expensive and high-tech, and some even managing to include dioramas about abortion and gay marriage.

As usual, I have a mixed reaction to all this. On the one hand this is horrifying, on the other hand, with so much blind faith and uninformed naivety on display, I wish I was in the confidence game–ah, yet more swampland in Florida for sale.

I wonder if it will ever take hold in Europe? Unlikely. We haven't given a thought to the Rapture since we exported it 180 years ago.


  1. Contrast definitions 1. and 6. in the American Heritage Dictionary [back ↩]