Thursday, July 16, 2009

Creation or Evolution: Does it Really Matter?

I've been thinking about the popularity of the series "Chatting with Mormon Missionaries" here on ATAT, and I've found a new religious group to mock with a new batch of readily-available online supplies for my own amusement. Worldwide Church of God (which recently changed its name to Grace Communion International, is described on the official website thus:

We are a Christian denomination with more than 47,000 members, worshiping in about 900 congregations in almost 100 nations and territories. We began in 1934 and our main office is in southern California. We are members of the National Association of Evangelicals. In April 2009, we changed our name in the United States to Grace Communion International. This name better reflects who we are and what we teach. For a press release, click here.

The credible Christian anti-cult site Apologetics Index explains the shift from a previous near-cult church to the current one, which is much more in line with mainstream Christian doctrine. Which doesn't make it true of course, but less noticeable as strange or illogical.

Anyway, onto the pamphlets. Today's doozy had the funniest name, but there were serious contenders I plan to feature in later installments. Onto the funny. "Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe?" features lovely monkey-and-dinosaur artwork on the cover, and opens with a section blaming our secular society for decreased belief in the Biblical creation story. (Society: 1, Bible: 0). In complaining about this current state of affairs the author writes,
The Bible is banned from classrooms in American schools, and serious discussion of the biblical view of the creation of our universe and our human origin is forbidden. At the same time, criticism of the theory of evolution is at times ruthlessly suppressed in academic and scientific circles.
Okay, first: Bibles aren't banned in schools. Students are free to pray, individually or collectively, to form student groups centered around their faith or religious preference, and may carry personal religious literature. What is banned is school-mandated enforcement of any religious belief or practice. Like prayer, or Bible reading, or creationism. And I love the idea of serious discussion, but the biblical views are ludicrous. Even the Vatican accepts evolution. Finally, scientists are not the ones ruthlessly suppressing any quest towards truth - the literal Bible believers are.

The section bounces around erratically, from claiming Darwin recanted in later years (yeah, pull the other one it's got bells on), to defining evolution by natural selection as "random chance", to claiming that the helplessness of the human infant is proof against evolution because (I freaking love this)
"If evolution is true and humanity is the pinnacle of the evolutionary process, why does a process as basic as human reproduction fly in the face of everything that evolution holds true?"
Wow. Okay, at this time I need to announce something: Evolution is a FACT. The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is supported by mountains of evidence that you can check out for yourself at and is held to be the answer most likely to be true of all possible theories, including Creationism/Intelligent Design. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, who ever claimed humanity was the pinnacle of evolution? It hasn't stopped - it's occurring right now. The arrogance of man's superiority is a religious concept, so I can see why someone with no understanding of the scientific explanation might think this, but it's cocky as hell. At this point I ought to admit that I was a creationist up until a college biology class when I was 24. Let the shaming commence.

The pamphlet next blames scientific errors in the Bible like a geocentric universe on Greek philosophers and mistranslation. Then it jumps to one of the slipperiest slippery slope arguments I've seen since I watched Liz Cheney defending torture and Mormon Californians opposing same sex marriage. First, Darwin's loss of faith in the miracles of the Bible as he learned more about the natural world is presented as a frightening risk if you accept evolution. (And hey, I'd rather be on the side of fossils than fairy tales.) Then, this:
"There is great danger in following in Darwin's footsteps... Can we not lay part of the blame for rampant immorality on society's prevalent values and beliefs - derived to great extent from evolutionary theory?"
Hold up - accepting the Origin of Species as a brilliant work of natural science is the cause of immorality? What about that sin nature Christians are always going on about? It seems to only be the cause of their OWN shortcomings. Our heathen "sins" must be because of evolutionary theory infecting society's morals. Wow. Anyone else need a Dramamine to keep up with that dizzy spin?

Next is claiming paleontologists are con artists scamming an unsuspecting public, stating that there are NO transitional species in the fossil record (see some here!), and states that similarities between species are proof of a common DESIGNER, not a common ancestor. I have to admit this one tickled me a bit.

Here's a fun instance of redefining terms to make them almost fit (like doing a jigsaw puzzle with a straight razor and some krazy glue - I'll make it fit!)
"Evolution literally means simply the successive appearances of perfectly formed life without regard to how it got there. It does not have to refer to Darwinism, which is the doctrine that gradual change led to one species becoming another through the process of natural selection."
Wow, some loaded words in there. Okay, first "Darwinism" is a word used by Creationists, not by the vast majority of intelligent, rational adults who accept the viewpoint of the larger scientific community regarding evolution. So it's not an "ism" and it's not a dogma. It's a scientific theory, which means it has tons of evidence for it like other scientific theories (including gravity, which comes in handy a lot when my purse gets heavy). And on another point, please define "perfectly formed life" for me. Does the appendix factor heavily in the perfection of human life? How about our 32 teeth and jaws designed for 28? Or the aforementioned frailty of human infants? Somehow these complaints posed as objections to evolution aren't mentioned when talking about our perfect lifeforms "appearing" (spontaneously?).

Scientists are roundly abused, adaption within species (a key part of natural selection) is brushed aside as "microevolution" (which apparently has nothing to do with actual evolution), and Darwin is blamed for the Holocaust and other genocides.

The whole pamphlet is 41 pages so I'll just wrap up with this:
"You can choose to hold the view that there is no Creator and that we are simply the result of blind chance, a series of lucky accidents. You can decide for yourself how you should live and what values and principles will determine how you treat others. You can believe that man created God rather than the other way around."
Thanks, I think I will.


  1. They truly run the logical fallacy gamut, Angie. I actually did study parts of the bible in a high school humanities class along with Socrates and Da Vinci and Jupiter and Buddha. Why does that keep coming up?

  2. I will too!

    I guess I was lucky, I was raised Baptist (kinda my own fault, a long story to share later) but early on discovered Asimov and other writers who supported my disbelief; I was quite the doubter by 12 and a full-blown atheist by 14, much to Mom's consternation!

  3. Good article Angie. Well written.

    Do I get a cookie? :-)

  4. GoldGuy - just tell me where to send the cookies and I'll get them right to you :)

  5. @BrentMichael - I wish I could've come to my senses sooner, but it's hard when you're brought up being told green is yellow and the demons are out to get you.

  6. Very good article, Angie.
    People that believe the creation story are a bunch of whackjobs. The Bible is the only initial guide for the talking snake story and mud boy Adam.

  7. paleontologists are con artists scamming an unsuspecting public

    This must be why I see so many paleontologists spreading the word of the fossil record on Sunday mornings, driving around in Mercedes, and scamming up to 80 million dollars a year.