Some creationists insist that one cannot be a Christian and accept the findings of science in respect of evolution. The fact that most of the world's Christians find no conflict between their faith and the findings of science, and the over 12,000 signatories to the 'Clergy Letter' suggests rather strongly that this is not the case. However, it *does* lead to another question:
Can one be a creationist and a Christian?
The reason why there is an “evolutionist”/creationist debate is that creationists claim that their religious dogma is supported by science, and are demanding that it should be taught as science in science classes. If they were not making this demand there would be no issue. This is not a debate between science and religion - after all many scientists, including many evolutionary biologists, are are also religious believers. So if we are to believe creationists, this is a scientific debate.
It is clear from even a cursory survey of how creationists “debate” this issue that their position has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with religious dogma. It is also clear that creed is founded on the outright falsehood that their religious dogma is supported by science.
This is not a good start.
Moving on, we come to looking at the way they pursue their agenda. There are numerous books, magazines and web sites promoting different versions of creationism. It’s worth noting that within that wide tent there are many different sets of beliefs, many of which are mutually exclusive. There are creationists who believe that the earth is 6,000 years old, creationists who accept the findings of science in respect of the age of the earth but think that God has meddled with the evolution of life, 'intelligent design' creationists who hide their religious beliefs behind scientific-sounding verbiage, creationists who believe that the Biblical account of creation refers to six days of 24 hours, creationists who believe that the 'days' of creation are thousands or millions of years long. There are Moslem creationists, Jewish creationists and even Hindu creationists.
The only shared belief seem to be that “evolution” - which is defined in various non-standard ways - is false, and that no matter where evidence and logic may lead, Mankind is not an ape.
I first encountered creationism as a teenager with a passion for collecting fossils, and read Duane Gish’s “Evolution: The Fossils say No!”. At the time I was an enthusiastic participant in Pentecostal churches, and was strongly pre-disposed to take on board an alternative explanation for the evidence with which I was already familiar which is compatible with the Bible. Reading Gish's words shattered that illusion. Several times when reading Gish’s book, and with a far smaller grasp of the subject than I have now, I seemed impossible that he did not know that what he was writing was an outright falsehood. I have read many more creationist publications since then and it seems inescapable that creationists are not only promoting falsehoods, but in many cases doing so with the knowledge that they are false. I’d call that lying.
When I first set up my web site, plesiosaur.com, I was flamed by creationists for having the effrontery to dismiss supposed plesiosaur carcases as modern sharks. Some of the emails I received were extremely abusive, expressing sentiments which are downright disgusting. In response to this I set a section of my site to the analysis of creationist web sites (plesiosaur.com/creationism). I’ve presented my analysis of a dozen or so such sites, and in every case have identified many distortions, misrepresentations and outright falsehoods.
I have invited creationists on numerous occasions to demonstrate that I am incorrect in any of the instances of dishonesty I identify, but no creationist seems to have the slightest interest in doing so.
I've invited creationists on numerous occasions to post a link to a creationist source which is not riddled with misrepresentation, distortion and outright falsehoods, but no creationist seems to have the slightest interest in doing so.
I've invited creationists on numerous occasions to post a link to any "evolutionist" site which is riddled with misrepresentation, distortion and outright falsehoods, but no creationist seems to have the slightest interest in doing so.
From this I conclude not only that creationist sources are dishonest, but that creationists know that they are dishonest but find such dishonesty is acceptable provided it comes from their own kind. Coming as it does from those claiming the moral high ground it is utter hypocrisy.
Although most creationist sites simply repeat the same old arguments without bothering to check their accuracy, some of the falsehoods could only have been written in the knowledge that they are false and with the intent to deceive. Here's a very clear example of this:
Taken from an article by Tas Walker and Carl Wieland entitled "Kamikaze Ichthyosaur".
"The scientist who discovered it, Dr Achim Reisdorf, was interviewed in depth in a German-language publication that is sympathetic to the Bible. It is fascinating to watch him wrestle with the evidence, while trying to hold that the sediments were deposited over a million years"
Originally published on the "Answeres in Genesis" web site, the article can now be found on the "Creation Ministries International" web site here: creation.com/kamikaze-ichthyosaur
The German article in a publication called "Faktum" makes no mention of Achim Reisdorf "wrestle with the evidence", and his paper on the find to which the Faktum article refers explains the timescale over which the specimen in question - a partial ichthyosaur - was preserved. The mode of preservation is very familiar to anyone who has collected vertebrates from Liassic rocks, and is explained by the soft, soupy substrate of the sea floor at the time the animal died.
So when Walker and Wieland write that "it is fascinating to watch him wrestle with the evidence" they are describing something which they had not witnessed and to which their source makes no mention. Reisdorf has co-authored a paper in which he gives a detailed account of how this specimen came to be preserved. It presents no problem for geology or palaeontology. The sediments were not laid down over "millions of years" - as the 'Faktum' article explains.
In other words, they invented this to deceive their target audience into thinking that there are problems with the scientific explanation when no such problem exists. I call this lying.
You can find a more detailed analysis of the article here: plesiosaur.com/creationism/swissichthyosaur/
Then we come to the behaviour of creationists in how they communicate their message. Setting aside the content-free nature of their arguments, the fact is that they refuse to look at the evidence from the natural world on which science has built theories which explains how it’s origin and behaviour. Bearing in mind that this is the world they believe their God created, it seems that they can maintain their beliefs only by denying the aspects of that world which show that they are wrong. I suggest that this is not only intellectually dishonest, but spiritually dishonest and logically inconsistent.
So the behaviour of creationists is dishonest. They build their case on distortion, misrepresentation and outright falsehoods. The deny the reality of the universe they believe their God created. They denigrate the faith of Christians who don't share their particular dogma. They accuse others of lying without evidence, showing that they hold themselves exempt from the commandment against bearing false witness.
Jesus told us to judge men by their fruits. Given the fruits of creationism, how do you think we should judge creationists? Does their behaviour meet the standards Jesus asked of his followers?
I suggest that the only conclusion we can draw is that creationists are not Christians.