A Scientific Explanation for Creationists

And global warming deniers, and other adherent to those pernicious scientific minority views, that curiously become political plurality views. From a commentator on the study:

The authors [of a new study] favor a model, called the cultural cognition of risk, which “refers to the tendency of individuals to form risk perceptions that are congenial to their values.” This wouldn’t apply directly to evolution, but would to climate change: if your cultural values make you less likely to accept the policy implications of our current scientific understanding, then you’ll be less likely to accept the science.

More sophisticated players then cherry-pick science that, out of context, supports their cultural instincts. The assertion that this wouldn’t apply to creationists feels wrong. Fundamentalists of all religions are as likely, if not more likely, to build “cultural values” resistant to objective truths uncovered by modernity. It also explains the scientific sleight of hand noted in my article on Gonzales v. Carhart, where a parade of minority-view scientists built enough of a sham record to convince Justice Kennedy into signing off on an unconstitutional law.



  1. Who says “Creationist” = “Anti-evolution”? What most agree to is that Darwin was wrong. But did you know that Evolution is a Catholic theory? I’ll bet you didn’t.
    Regarding “global warming” most people know that the earth is warming and cooling. What many dispute is that humanity has anything to do with it.
    By the way, the Big Bang theory has Catholic authorship, too.

    1. I don’t often do drugs, but when I do…

      I stay away from whatever this guy is smoking.

    2. Also, cave men…they invented fire. Not those lousy scientists. Cave men, first dibs!

      I always find these arguments strange, when historically you come from an educated populace consisting of, probably more than 95% self ascribing religious persons, yes, they will be the origins of the scientific discoveries of the day. But that really doesn’t say much for us today.

      It’s one of the problems I have when people try to make a big deal of so many of the founders being Christian.

      1. Cavemen didn’t invent fire. The figured out how to use it to their advantage, and they figured out how to cause it to occur.

        The Big Bang theory was espoused in the early 20th century,when the Catholic Church wasn’t as pervasive as it was before the French Revolution.
        Regarding evolution, the Church has come to understand that the Bible is not a scientific document, in any way, shape or form. Science, in many cases, explains what the Bible says. Creationism does not mean some fundametalistic, literal, scientific interpretation of Genesis. It is rooted in a belief that everything depends upon God, that all is a gift from God. The universe is not God, and it cannot exist independently of God.

      2. I know they didn’t invent fire, that wasn’t the point. It’s just like saying, civilization was born in Mesopotamia, thus all Middle Easterners are somehow more civilized then the rest of the world. No, it doesn’t mean anything. Just as Catholics being the first ones to propose scientific theories doesn’t mean anything.

        The first educational institutions ever created were religious in nature. They were funded by the church. Thus is makes sense that scientific discoveries would have come from the church at the time.

        But that doesn’t really mean anything in the present day, that’s just the demographics of the educated populace in the day.

        Yes, you can have both religious and scientific beliefs, and you can have all sorts of religious pride in your history, but outside of that, it’s a meaningless factoid.

        1. The fact is that, when a Catholic proposes something, the Church will usually weigh in on whether it agrees or not. In this case, they did weigh in and said that evolution and creationism are compatible, but that Darwin’s theory was not. The fact is, the Catholic Church has no opposition to any theory of evolution as long as God is not excluded. The fact that a Catholic priest posited and taught the Big Bang theory long before it was highjacked by the scientific community speaks volumes.
          The point is that the Church has no problem with evolution, or science, whether the world thinks so or not.

        2. I don’t know why you’re bringing up extraneous arguments which I’ve never mentioned.

          I’m not arguing about the church’s position, mostly because I find it irrelevant and just don’t care. I explicitly said in my last comment that I don’t think there was anything to keep people who are religious to not believe in science. I personally think it’s completely valid to look at the world and understand how science is exploring the process and not the cause.

          Now what I have said repeatedly though, that scientific theory origins are irrelevant. And you haven’t mentioned how it is otherwise, nor referenced any of my actual arguments about the historical educated class of the day. We don’t need to be concerned with polytheism just because the Greeks created Democracy; they have nothing explicitly to do with one another, but are more of a historical footnote. And it doesn’t mean Greeks had the right idea and it’s evolution in modern day theory is wrong either.

          1. Your basic statement is that religion and science are opposed. Or that religious people pick scientific ideas that support their creationist viewpoint or their ‘global warming’ viewpoint. But the majority religion in the Western world, Catholicism, supports science, does science, and is at the forefront of science, having espoused the theory of evolution and the big-bang theory long before the secular scientific community claimed it. Catholicism, THE fundamentalist church, is at the center of all science. I’m extracting Catholics from Fundamentalists, where you lumped all those who claim to be religious into one.

            1. I absolutely, did not, ever, say anything about opposition.

              I said they look at different things, the process & the cause. I can study the details of the phone in front of me and learn how it works, but that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the purpose of it’s existence or how it came to be. They are different studies, not opposed at all.

              But again, that was not what I was talking about at all. What I was arguing was, that the idea is divorced from the demographics. Again, just because polytheists created the theory of democracy, doesn’t mean that polytheism is required, necessary, or integral to democracy. That’s just the religion of those who created it.

              Just because Catholics thought of the theory of evolution, doesn’t mean that Catholicism is required, necessary, or integral to the theory of evolution. It’s just the religion of those who thought of it.

              The idea, is separate, from the demographic of it’s inventor.

            2. Yeah, applause for a rebuttal for something I didn’t say.

  2. As a Catholic I can say that Evolution is 100% compatible with Church teachings and vice-versa. Despite shortcomings in the past the Catholic Church is extraordinarily progressive on science in 2010.

  3. I think you were, before Nazi-Pope. Doesn’t he now disavow the Papal Bull espousing evolutionary compatability, etc.?

    1. “Nazi-Pope”? Come on, now.

    2. Haha that’s fair. Ultra-German-and-scary pope?


      1. Neither ultra-German or scary. But no, he hasn’t disavowed any writing espousing evolution. He has said we are free to support the strictest interpretation of Genesis or evolution, but that Darwinism is absolutely wrong. Which is exactly what Darwin’s grandfather told him.

    3. And I correct myself. Apparently Benedict is pretty clear on evolution, too, although some Catholic commentators leave room for ID. David, if your point is that “Drawinism,” as in evolution as first conceived by Darwin, is no longer supported by the evidence, that seems either nonsensical, predicated on strawmen, or useless. What do you mean?

      1. Darwin was the father of methodological naturalism, a strategy for studying the world, by which scientists choose not to consider supernatural causes, even as a remote possibility, mainly because the scientists themselves are atheists, or because the scientists believe that any supernatural action would be arbitrary, like what the Roman and Greek gods are reputed to have done. Even Darwin changed the rules, writing to his colleague Asa Gray “I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science.”
        Regarding Intelligent Design, even that has been struck down by the Church. JPII stated publicly that Cardinal Schoenborn of Vienna was wrong for giving it light.

    4. It’s worth noting that Father Coyne of the Vatican Observatory decided to retire very shortly after appearing in the sort of critical articles that David links to above.

      If there’s a connection there, though – and there may or may not be – I’d guess it’s probably more because Benedict couldn’t afford to piss off the powerful Cardinal Schönborn so early in his papacy, rather than any particular opposition to evolution.

      1. Actually, Fr. Coyne retired because he was over the retirement age for priests.

      2. Yeah, three things about that: Firstly, the retirement age isn’t particularly mandatory these days, considering the Church’s desparately short of priests. Secondly, he was not actually employed as a priest, but as the Papal Observatory Director, so I don’t believe it would apply to him anyway. And thirdly, the retirement age is 70 years if I recall correctly, while Coyne was 73 in 2006, so it seems pretty conspicuous that they’d suddenly remember he was too old just sortly after getting involved in a conflict with one of the Vatican’s most powerful cardinals. I’m pretty sure there’s a political motive involved here.

        1. Your tabloid insinuation is noted, but means nothing. And your idea that he was not employed as a priest is totally off. A priest’s primary function is that of priest. He does other functions, but first and foremost, he’s a priest. In Fr. Coyne’s case he was the director of the Papal Observatory. Shortage of priests??? In Rome? I don’t think so. The Jesuits, who actually run the observatory, took their time finding a replacement for him. He’d been requesting a replacement for years. That’s documented. He continues to work there, though he is no longer the director.

          You can be ‘pretty sure’ all you want, but it doesn’t make it so.

        2. I must say you’re pretty naïve if you think arguing out that maybe the Vatican might have acted from political motivations is a “tabloid insinuation”. It seems a pretty non-controversial observation to me.

          Also, you’re confusing two different meanings of the word ‘priest’. One of them is the status of priest, or sacerdos, which is what you call the “primary function”. But that’s not something you retire from – you get ordained, and then you have the charismai> of a sacerdos forever (in the order of Melchizedek, Heb. 7:17). So it’s meaningless to speak of a retirement age in that regard.

          The other meaning is the office of the priest, or presbyter, usually as a parish priest. That’s a position in the Church hierarchy, or a place of employment, if you will, which you can obviously retire from.

          So all priests are sacerdotes, but not all priests are presbyteres, and it’s the latter that the retirement age refers to.

          1. And that should of course be the “character of a sacerdos“, not the “charisma”.

            (In case anyone was wondering.)

          2. It’s “tabloid” because there’s no basis of truth to it.
            Actually, you’re the one confusing what constitutes a priest. An ordained priest’s main function is to celebrate mass and confect the Eucharist. I’d be willing to bet that Fr. Coynes did that every day, at least every Sunday. After conducting his primary function, he would then go to do his secondary function, whether to teach in a classroom or administer a facility, or be a parish priest (pastor). Presbyter is the Greek word for bishop. All bishops are priests, but not all priests are bishops. Retired priests still are called on to fill in at parishes that need help. Retired priests give up their other functions, though. Ordination is forever, as you say, but performing other functions is not. Fr. Coynes requested for 6 years that his order, the Jesuits, find a replacement for him. Just so you understand, whether the Pope wanted to have him removed or not, the order is under no obligation to do so. A recent example of this is last year’s Notre Dame situation with Obama. The bishops of the US, for the most part, lambasted the president of the university, calling for everything but his defrocking, but the order he serves has left him in place.

            1. Presbyteros means “elder” and in the earliest church signified the leader of a church, a bishop. But already by the 3rd century, the churches had become too numerous to each have their own bishop, so the term came to mean the secular office of a parish priest, to distinguish it from the theological status of sacerdos (which in Greek is iereos. And the Greek word for bishop is of course episcopos). See e.g. Ignatios of Antioch’s Second Letter to the Magnesians for an early use of the different terms.

              Now, taking that one more time, one retires from the presbyterate, not from the sacerdotium. Since Father Coynes was a sacerdos, but not a presbyter, the canonical retirement rules do not apply to him.

              I also find your argument that the Pope does not decide himself who should be the Director of his own observatory pretty funny. And the President of Notre Dame, of course, is appointed by a lay board, and not by neither the Pope nor the CSC, so… that doesn’t really have anything to do with anything.

              1. Originally, presbyteros was bishop, and was synonymous with episkopos, so I concede that. But still, a priest is a priest, is a priest. When they retire, they usually don’t have any other duties than that of a priest. Seems we’re saying the same thing, so I’ll leave it alone.
                Father Coynes retired from the Observatory, but still works there.
                The Jesuits run the Observatory. The Pope has little interaction with personnel decisisons. The Jesuit Order chose who would succeed Fr. Coyne.
                Whoever appointed Father Jenkins, he is answerable to his superior in the Congregation of the Holy Cross, rather than the Bishop of South Bend Indiana, so you missed my point. Glad I could clarify.

    5. Ames – off the rails again. That’s strike 2 for me.

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