Creationists - Ignorant or Brainwashed?

Whithout actually debating creationism, my question is mainly about those who believe in and espouse it.

Are creationists just unaware of the sheer mountain of facts that support evolution (or the scientific method in general), or have they been so indoctrinated that they choose to ignore what is obvious to everyone else?

Also, why would a Christian engange in a debate on evolution vs. creationism using “evidence” to back his argument, when faith is belief in something without having evidence? Didn’t Jesus say “…blessed are those who believe and have not seen”? So why would any “faithful” person seek “evidence” to support his beliefs?

And once again, the issue here is not Creationism, but those who believe it.

Leaving aside the issue of Creationism itself, I think most people believe in Creationism because they want to believe in it. Whatever makes them happy, as long they aren’t obnoxious about it.

If a Creationist says “I am aware that all of the evidence points towards evolution and abiogenesis and an ancient universe most likely started with a Big Bang, however, I feel that God created us exactly how he says and only God knows why this evidence is here,” I would say this person is right on.

I think you mean the types who send silly letters to about moon dust or intelligent design, they are either:

a) Naive in that they simply trust the words of Creationists (not God, I say, but Creation Scientists) who tell them that science is bad.

b) Ignorant of why what the Creation Scientists say is wrong and quite willing to stay that way.

c) Lying to themselves and maybe even…

d) …to others.

Frankly, unless they start spouting off these lies, or WORSE want to teach the stuff in a public school, I don’t give a rat’s ass what they believe.

javahead71 Incapable of reasoned argument or using prejudicial language on purpose?

Has it occured to you that ther might be a third option here?
It is’t a debate when you presuppose the outcome. It can’t be a debate when you restrict the negative to Ignorant or Feebleminded as their possible defences. There are those of us who have a full understanding of genetics and the theory and history of Darwinian evolution and still reject Darwinian evolution on scientific grounds. If it comes down to which of us has a better understanding of genetics, ecology and the mountains of evidence for and against Darwinian evolution, and which of us has spent more time and effort making a conscientious and thorough search of both side of the argument I’ll stake my education, experience and qualifications against yours any day.

If you choose to beleive in Darwinian evolution, good. But it is not established fact, it remains and will always remain a theory because it can never be proven. There are other theories available, but can you honestly say you have devoted time to studying them all? Stating that all those who disagree with the theory are either empty headed or misguided is not going help the fight against ignorance.
Seriously javahead, this isn’t a debate, it’s a prejudiced rant aginst those who disagree with you and belongs in the pit.

Simple: They, like many Christians, want to get us “heathens” to convert to their beliefs, and admitting to believing in a 4000 year old piece of literature instead of mountains of scientific evidence is not a good way to do so unless your audience is very feeble-minded or ignorant.

Gaspode, perhaps you could be kind enough to submit for our enlightenment any part of this mountain of evidence against evolution?

I think you’re missing Java’s point here. He is referring to creationists, not to skeptics of Darwinian evolution. There are some good scientific reasons to be skeptical of Darwinian evolutionary theory. There are no good scientific reasons currently well-known to be a creationist.

I do think Java is overstating the case about “mountains” of evidence for abiogenesis. Darwinian evolution and its successor evolutionary theories are indeed supported by mountains of evidence. Abiogenesis, in my layman’s understanding, is nowhere near so well supported. There’s experimental evidence that amino acids could form spontaneously from the primordial soup, but the other steps in the process seem pretty speculative to me. Unfortunately, alternatives (like panspermia and creationism) are even less well supported.


If you can direct me to a single scientific, falsifiable theory of creation, please do so. I would be most enlightened. Or perhaps you were simply referring to modified or non-Darwinian theories of evolution? These, I think, do not bear on Java’s subject.

Anyway, regarding Java’s OP, I think creationists vary widely. Many are just plain ignorant, but bear in mind that the average guy who believes in evolution is often as ignorant of evolutionary theory as the creationist is. For instance, look how many people do not understand that individuals cannot evolve, but only populations. How many confuse Lamarckian theory with Darwinian theory. The average creationist’s ignorance is often no worse than that of the population in general.

A clerically trained creationist is very often not ignorant, and in fact usually has a better grasp of evolutionary theory than the evolutionist in the street does. He almost always knows Lamarck from Darwin, can sling around words like “punctuated equilibrium” and names like Stephen Jay Gould, and usually has a basic, if distorted, understanding of their significance. He usually does hold to several myths - a misinterpretation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, a constant rate of decay of the Earth’s magnetic field, irreducible complexity, or some such - as a result of his reading exclusively biased sources. He is certainly not ignorant; he is misinformed, but aren’t we all to some degree? He will refuse to give up his belief in God, and usually his belief in creationism, no matter what arguments are presented to him. You can call that “brainwashing” if you like, but first ask yourself how readily you would give up your own most deeply held, core beliefs if you found yourself unexpectedly unable to defend them logically.

As to your question “why would any ‘faithful’ person seek ‘evidence’ to support his beliefs,” the above-described trained creationist does believe by faith, and cannot be dissuaded from his faith for any logical reason. But he also has a scriptural mandate to spread his religion, and learning reasoned arguments is a tactic for doing that which may work where a blind appeal to faith fails. Christians have been doing this at least since Aquinas. Doctrinally, this is justified by the idea that God endowed people with the capacity to reason with the intent that they would use this capacity to come to know God by reason as well as by faith. (If their reason leads them to a different conclusion, of course, there is usually a hasty retreat from this idea).


Who? You? If so, I would like to see your credentials for your “full understanding.” If not you, please do tell us the mainstream legitimate scientists who have a problem with the concepts of evolution, abiogenesis and the fact that we live on an ancient planet in a more ancient universe.


Go for it. I for one would LOVE to see how you better understand anything having to do with Evolution.


How funny that someone who will stake his “education, experience and qualifications against yours any day” misspeaks right in his first post propsing just that. “Darwinian evolition?” What is that, exactly? Do you feel it is the be-all of evolutionary sciences? What Darwin proposed, while ground-breaking, is only a tiny fraction of the evidence behind evolution. Evidence comes from almost all branches of science. I don’t think that Darwin spoke much about geology, for example, but geology does corrorborate much of the evidence that the other disciplines turned up.

The term “Darwinian Evolution” is quite antiquated, and also quite out of place in a discussion which is not restrictive to one guy’s research - research, I might add, that is only the tip of the iceburg.


My, someone who is prepared to stake his “education, experience and qualifications against yours any day” just goofed again!

One does not “prove” anything in science. To use the word in any scientific context is kind of silly. Because what science does is examine all of the evidence at hand and conclude the most logical answers from that evidence.

After all, you cannot “prove” many things that are a given. Gravity, for one.


With two obvious gaffes right off the bat, I doubt you have either.

In any event, I would like to see any of the “other theories” in which you speak of and the evidence which both validates those theories as legitimate and evolution as unlikely.

Oh, and this is also your third mistake since there is a difference between a “Scientific Theory,” which is what we were talking about (well, until you came along) and the colloquial use of the word theory. A “Scientific Theory” is an idea which, thanks to the corroboration of evidence, has been accepted by scientists to be as close to a fact that the scientific method allows. There are no ideas competing with evolution that fall into this category.

Now, if you think science agrees on everything, that’s not true. The details, especially when it comes to abiogenesis and the moments right before the Big Bang, are often questioned and debated. But this is healthy science. The OP doesn’t speak of this. The OP soeaks of people who flatly say that evolution in ANY form did not happen, and the evidence bears them out to be wrong time and time again.

So, I’ll just wait over here for those competing ideas and evidence to back them up, thanks…

I vote ‘none of the above’

How is this a Great Debate?

While I think that the moderators do a good job in general of keeping this particular forum civil, they allow posts that are nothing but Christian, Bush, Conservative, or Republican bashing.

Or Pagan, Atheist, Democrat, Gore, or Liberal bashing.

Within certain legal bounds, any idea is acceptable as a proposed topic for debate. Although there’s a general tendency to frown on ones phrased quite like this one was.

It’s direct insults to other posters that are forbidden.

BTW, though I’ve purposely stayed out of this debate, there are a lot of in-between positions. I am an online acquaintance of a man who considers himself a Creationist – but accepts the majority of scientific findings (data), if not all the theories derived from them. His stance there is that the idea of an active God undermines the basis of some of the theories, which of course fail to allow for divine intervention (properly so – if you bring that in, it moves from natural science to metaphysics or theology). I can respect his views. I myself accept most of the cosmology and evolutionary biology that “Scientific Creationists” are prone to put down – but I believe in a God who created the world with a teleology that subtly influences the ongoing flow of physics and biology operating under natural law.

I am new to the board, and I hope I am not speaking out of turn here, but, which forum are you looking at TexasSpur? They allow nothing except the bashing of Christians, Bush, etc.? Have you attempted to post something that has been rejected on the grounds that it is not ideologically or philosophically in tune with the rest of the board?

As a Christian myself, in my short time participating on this board, I have never felt myself being bashed for my beliefs. However, you may want to ask Polycarp if he has ever experienced, he’s been around a lot longer than I.

All Satan and others have asked for is proof of Gaspode’s arguments. That is hardly bashing.

I myself would like to see his proof and see his arguments. Not so much out of any idea that they are accurate, but more along the lines that I am curious. And who knows, maybe Gaspode will have well-thought out and convincing arguments. Maybe not, but in either case, he is not being bashed for his beliefs. He is being invited to defend his arguments. There is a difference.

This is not a debate, this is asking non-Creationists to vote on whether the Creationists are mentally-deficient or induced by others into “ignorance”. The fact it is neither, faith can be stronger than what books say and science proves. Maybe there is a mixed answer to the question of how life has reached this point, but damned if non-Creationists and Creationists will let the other side speak long enough to determine such a sketch.

I believe in the Bible’s word, therefore I am considered ignorant because science has “proved” so much that the Creationist theory is obsolete?

I believe in scientific discovery, therefore I am heathen because I go against the word of God?

This is all nonsense. Neither side can be completely sure without a doubt they are in the right, so why not drop the argument until proven otherwise?

Okay, I didn’t mean to sound like there is a ton of right wing bashing. Also, I realize that it must be hard to moderate a forum that is frequented as much as this one is. I just think that there are a lot of threads that are obviously not Great Debates that do not get moved to other forums.

It seems to me, that a disproportionate number of these happen to be right wing related.

I’ll blatantly ignore requests for information on alternative theories to Darwinian evolution because I can’t be bothered pulling what little info I’ve kept out of wherever I’ve stored it, and I’m to lazy to do a current contents search to find any new stuff. That combined with facts that I don’t feel like debating this and the OP requests “Whithout actually debating creationism”. They’re quite readily available in a range of journals if you’re really interested, they just don’t crop up very often.

That’s a classic use of prejudicial language. I’d like to see your definition of mainstream and legitimate that allows any scientist who has a problem with Darwinian evolution to be mainstream and legitimate.
If you wish for a reference to those who meet the terms of what I posted rather than the strawman question you posed, the Robert Hamiltons have done some very interesting reviews of published work that calls Darwinian evolution into question. I don’t have a copy of the papers here but I’ll see if I can find a web reference for you later. L. Spetner has been published in “Nature” so I suppose he meets one of the highest criteria for being mainstream and legitimate and has also rejected Darwinian evolution in several instances on scientific grounds. You can do a search yourself at ‘google’ using ‘spetner’ and ‘evolution’ to get information on him but I recommend exclusing the word “christian” or you’ll get some fairly irrelevant sites. That’s two names I can pull from memory, there are plenty of others.

And you would like me to demonstrate this how?

Well since you don’t know I guess that we can eliminate a small amount of ignorance here.
In Darwinian theory the engine of evolution is differential reproduction of different genetic stocks.
Natural selection is quantified by a measure called Darwinian fitness, or relative fitness. Fitness in this sense is the relative probability that a hereditary characteristic will be reproduced; that is, the degree of fitness is a measure of the reproductive efficiency of the characteristic.
Glad to be of help. I’m surprised you didn’t know that.

No. what gave you that idea?

I couldn’t agree more.

The term Darwinian evolution is not in any way antiquated. That is merely an assertion on your part. It is still very commonly used. More particularly the mish-mash of Darwinism and several other related theories such as punctuated equilibrium is used and referred to as ‘neo-Darwinian’. Do a web search on ‘Darwinian’ and ‘neo-Darwinian’ and see how many returns you get. That should give you some idea how “antiquated” the term is. Nor is it out of place. I realise the discussion, such as it can be when anyone who opposes evolution is either deranged or weak willed, is not restrictive to ‘one guys research, but the fact remains that Darwinian evolution is the only type of evolution most people understand and is the lycnh-pin of synthetic evolution.

One does not “prove” anything in science. To use the word in any scientific context is kind of silly. Because what science does is examine all of the evidence at hand and conclude the most logical answers from that evidence.
After all, you cannot “prove” many things that are a given. Gravity, for one.

I am fully aware that nothing is proven in science. That is precisely the reason why all speculation on what produces diversity is called evolutionary theory. See my point? It’s really not that difficult.

In any event, I would like to see any of the “other theories” in which you speak of and the evidence which both validates those theories as legitimate and evolution as unlikely.

WTF? Where did I ever say that any of these theories render evolution as a whole unlikely? Stop making assumptions please.

The word theory, in either science or elsewhere, simply means a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained. There are certain scientific procedures entailed in testing a theory but a scientific theory in no way has to be as close to fact as method allows. You’ve told me I’ve made a mistake here. Can you provide me with a cite suggesting this is so?

And you were led to suspect I thought this because?

Assuming we’re both posting to the same thread the OP actually speaks of “creationists unaware of the sheer mountain of facts that support evolution (or the scientific method in general), or so indoctrinated that they choose to ignore what is obvious to everyone else” There is no other alternative allowed. The concept that there may be well informed and educated creationists fully cognisant of the facts is precluded from the outset. This was and remains my sole objection to the OP as posted. It’s not posted as a hypothetical or an open ended question. It allows only two types of creationists: the gullible and the ignorant and I hardly think that is going to generate a meaningful debate or go a long way towards eliminating ignorance if it is allowed to stand unchallenged.

Satan you have stated three times that I have made a mistake. One was based on an assumption that was not supported by anything I said. One was a challenge to a definition and I await a cite that supports you. The other was based as far as I can ascertain on nothing at all aside from your declaration it was a mistake. If you have any more disputes over what was posted then feel free to bring them up in the same gentle, well thought out and tactful manner.

As for this:

The only refutation necessary is that any scientist realises that a confession of ignorance is a perfectly acceptable alternative to a disputed theory. I don’t have to accept a theory simply because I have no alternative. You’ve already acknowledged that parts of current evolutionary theory are being refuted so…

And just for the record, I don’t see any bashing going on in this thread yet. It’s just that the OP is only inviting opinion from those who believe creationists to be either dense or incompetent. That is not a debate and IMHO does not belong in Great Debates, it’s a pit thread.

What fun would that be?

TexasSpur I can see how someone could get that impression. I myself had it for a while, too…but what I’ve seen so far is that most people are pretty respectful of your beliefs so long as you are not a jerk about it.

Not that I’ve been here a lot longer than you :smiley:

And I apologise Danimal for ignoring you.
I don’t think I am missing Java’s point at all. The reason why I concentrated on Darwinian evolution is that it, or one of its spin-offs, is the most widely accepted theory of evolution in the world. If it can be demonstrated to be subject to querying by intelligent, educated, independent thinkers then it goes to prove that rejecting any theory of evolution is not exclusively the province of the ‘Ignorant or Brainwashed’ as Java proposed. Obviously any other theory has many more intelligent, educated and independent detractors. The point being that people of this calibre do not accept any given theory holus-bolus and therefore others who reject the theory are by extension not necessarily ‘Ignorant or Brainwashed’.
If we accept that failure to embrace the theory is not the exclusive demense of the ‘Ignorant and Brainwahed’ then I can see no reason why accepting another theory immediately qualifies someone as being ‘Ignorant or Brainwashed’.

There are other options in the debate, the discussion of which the leading question in the OP does not allow.

I agree with you wholeheartedly amount the lack of “Mountains of Evidence’ for abiogenesis, but the very use of the term ‘mountains’ is prejudicial, subjective and damn near meaningless in context, which is why I was quite happy to contend there was mountains of evidence against it content that I could never be proved wrong.

Firstly, the SDMB may not be the best place to obtain the creationist viewpoint in the first person, but as religion is involved, GD seems as good a place as any.

Nevertheless, in hopes of gently nudging this discussion back on topic, here is my opinion on the questions raised in the OP:

  1. Some creationists undoubtedly have extensive knowledge of evolutionary theory, but I think many do not, or have an erroneous notion of the issues involved, and these issues are not of sufficient relevance to their daily lives to make them want to study evolutionary theory in greater detail.

As an example, I have a good friend who has a Masters degree in (IIRC) Training and Development, and does consultant work for various tech companies and yet, I am told, is a hard-core believer in the whole Genesis canon, including young earth, the Flood, etc. So far as I know, she has never seriously weighed evolutionary issues vs. her beliefs, and has no reason to think that doing so might be relevant to her daily life.

For my part, I have not raised the issue directly with her, as she doesn’t seem to push her views on anyone outside her Bible study class, and because so far it hasn’t come up in my conversations with her.

  1. I imagine that Believers don’t need any ‘evidence’ for creation, as they have the Word, and the Word is Truth. Where creation ‘evidence’ comes in is merely to reconcile the Truth with those aspects of science the Creationist dioes accept, or to support the Believer’s arguments in front of a mixed audience (“See? Faith tells me all I need to know, but there’s plenty of good ‘scientific evidence’ for creation if you really must insist on such a thing!”) If the audience does not have a clear idea of what the scientific method involves, all the better. The fact that ‘scientific’ creation is usually not valid science is lost on many observers.

Hey, just one spud’s opinion.

I’ll just mention that while I am not a college graduate, I have read both Dawkins and Gould on evolution, several volumes on current cosmological theories, and worked for 16 years in a job that required knowledge of geological processes. The sum of that self-education is that I can no longer accept that any aspect of creation, as described in biblical Genesis, can possibly be correct.


Then I will ignore the rest of the hubris which only takes away from the main point of this thread, a point which you refrain from actually making, as we can see above.

I trust until you can actually stick to the main question asked by others and myself that we won’t hear from you on this subject again then, thanks.

And I trust, Satan, that until you are capable of backing up your assertions with facts and intelligent argument, and until you can come to an understanding that “Whithout actually debating creationism” actually means "without actually debating creationism’ we won’t hear your baseless, irrelevant ravings on this thread again.

Glad I could explain Darwinian evolution to you though.
The fight against ignorance goes on.