One Reason Creationism is Evil

Tristero over at Hullabaloo has some observations to add to PZ Myers’ fun with creationist Mark Armitage’s paper on a particular parasite.

But let’s play a thought experiment and simply accept the conclusion that it is “irreducibly complex” and God did indeed design a life history of trematode parasites. It isn’t and it evolved, but you know, let’s just say, for the sake of argument.

So what?

What a far cry that concept of God is from the Yahweh of the Hebrew Bible, smiting enemies hither and yon, making the sun stand still! Gone is the God of the Gospels with a redemptive message of forgiveness uttered from the mouth of a crucified man betrayed and abandoned by his closest followers. This God, the God of creationism, is a dorky obsessive compulsive preoccupied with minutiae – I expect this God to wash His hands every five minutes and to check the locks.

In short, creationists provide a trivializing notion of what is meant by God, an illustration that “God of the Gaps” is not only non-science but crummy theology. Sure, the life history of trematode parasites will be explainable by natural causes should anyone care enough to study it closely (or, strictly speaking if you insist, it’s far too early to throw up one’s hands and say, “I dunno, whatever”). More importantly, no non-scientist searching for the meaning of God cares one way or the other whether the development of trematode parasites are “irreducibly complex.” No one will ever start a prayer, “O God, without whom trematode parasites would not now live their parasitic lives in fish guts…”

I thought to myself, “who does Tristero’s ‘god’ remind me of?” A “dorky obsessive compulsive preoccupied with minutiae…” Of course! There was this Assistant Professor in graduate shcool who taught social science research methods. I dubbed him “the Reliability Doc,” because for him, reliability was everything, to the exclusion of everything else (i.e. validity). In research design, reliability (broadly, does it hang together) and validity (broadly, does it have anything to do with the rest of the world) are twin design goals that stand in some tension to each other. Too little reliability, and you have crackpot science. Too little validity, and you have well-crafted trivia, along the lines of “people who know each other talk to each other more than people who don’t.” I swear that’s the kind of working hypothesis the Reliability Doc praised up and down the aisles.

So what kind of expectations might such a dorky obsessive compulsive god have of humankind? No doubt one: that our beliefs and loyalties are properly aligned. Beyond that, well, what of any importance would there be beyond that?

No need trouble ourselves with words such as these spoken by Jesus: “As you have done to the least of these… you have done to me.” Faith would be all about loyalties, and beliefs aligning themselves with them. The central texts of scripture thus would have to be Genesis Chapters 1-11 — the prehistory before Abram appears on the scene. They are central as a sort of loyalty test. Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, Noah, Tower of Babel: believe these to be literally true in this 21st century, and you’ve demonstrated loyalty. Nothing else matters.

In a world where more than one billion people live on less than on dollar a day — nothing matters more than aligning your beliefs to your loyalty.

And that is one insidious and, yes, evil facet of creationism.

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