Tuesday, February 17, 2009

There are many forms of creationism and most are based on a belief in an inerrant Bible

This seems obvious. I could move on to the other questions, but the definition of creationism will not let me. It is too broad.

There are many types of creationism. A fairly complete list is shown immediately below. Most of them are very different from each other and there are even some variations of beliefs within each general category. With the exception of a “Flat Earth creationist”, I’ve debated someone from every persuasion. (Yes, I’ve even met some geocentric creationists.)

1. Flat Earth creationism – they believe that the Bible says that the Earth is flat (which the at least strongly implies). I’ve never personally met or debated anyone with this belief. The British Flat Earth Society is really a group of tongue-in-cheek conservatives arguing against change. Despite the name of their society, they don’t really believe that the Earth is flat.

2. Geocentric creationism – they believe that the Bible clearly states that the Earth is at the center of the universe. I’ve personally debated two people who had this belief, both during the 21st century.

3. Young Earth creationism (YEC) – they believe that the Earth is 6000 – 10,000 years old. This is the most commonly held belief among those that I have debated.

4. Old Earth Creationism (OEC) – they believe that the Earth and the Universe are as old as mainstream science says, but that those ages don’t conflict with a literal interpretation of the Bible.

5. Gap Creationism – really a sub-set of OEC. They believe that there is a large temporal gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 which allows for an old Earth and an even older Universe.

6. Day-Age Creationism – another sub-set of OEC. They believe that each “day” in Genesis is actually a geological epoch which, again, allows for an old Earth and Universe.

7. Progressive Creationism – these are people who allow modern science to influence their interpretation of the Bible such that, for example, the Big Bang may be the method used by God to create the Universe. But they still insist that the Bible is infallible and divinely inspired.

8. Intelligent Design Creationism – they believe that the order and complexity in the universe require a designer who they claim, at least publicly, may or may not be God.

9. Evolutionary Creationism – they believe that God uses evolution to create the diversity of life that we see, but occasionally intervenes to direct it toward His goals.

10. Theistic Evolution – evolution works as mainstream science believes in order to create the diversity of life that we see. Random mutations and natural selection are the primary driving forces, just as Darwin said. God only intervened to create souls in humans.

Beliefs 1-7 are all dependent on the Bible being a true and accurate historical account of the creation of the Earth and the Universe.

That’s quite a set of very diverse opinions. The differences are quite significant.

As just one example, many YEC believe that the Earth is about 6000 years old. The OEC accept mainstream science’s claim of the Earth’s age of about 4.5 billion years. That’s a factor of nearly a million-to-one! If you compare the ratio of the accepted ages for the Universe itself between those groups of creationists, the ratio exceeds a million-to-one.

As with any healthy field of science there is some debate among evolutionary scientists in regard to some of the details. For example, creationists are very fond of pointing to the scientific debate about the percentage of evolution that has taken place through something called “Punctuated Equilibrium” as opposed to more gradual change. Their claim is that evolution must be in trouble if there are debates about such things within the scientific community. (I discuss “Punctuated Equilibrium” in more detail later in this book.)

That claim is false. Such debates occur in all fields of science. Such debates are actually healthy and indicate a vibrant field of research. But the most effective counter is to show that whatever differences of opinion there are within the scientific community regarding various aspects of evolution, those differences pale in comparison to the huge differences in beliefs between different groups of creationists.

Creationists are occasionally startled when they are told about all of these different forms of creationism. In many cases individual creationists only associate with people who share their particular flavor of creationism and are unaware that other forms exist. But there can be no doubt that creationism is far from a unified theory.

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