rational rejection of supernatural mythologies

Creation Myths

“I see arguments both ways. How to understand the Creation story has never been an article of the Faith. However, there is no philosophical necessity for it to be proven empirically one way or the other. You assume the events of Creation must be reproduceable to be credible.”

However, you would probably admit that some Christians denominations insist upon interpreting the Creation Story, and all of the Bible, quite literally, while more moderate denominations accept it as an allegory. The moderate denominations do not attack or deny scientific facts in a vain attempt to prove that their interpretation is correct. I think that moderate theists and atheist alike would not dispute that an allegory is an allegory. If the story in Genesis is to be taken as a creation allegory, then there is indeed no call to test the details empirically. Nobody bothers to test whether little boys who refuse to grow up can, or can’t, fly.

However, when fundamentalist Christians insist that the Bible in its entirity must be taken literally, then this insistence invites examination. It is not that scientists set out to falsify Genesis, it is that all that is established in scientific knowledge falsifies the physical claims in Genesis. If, for example, females of the human species had been cloned from Adam’s rib, then females as well as males would have an XY combination of sex chromosomes. Dolly had identical DNA to that of the ewe from which she was cloned. If they had cloned from a ram they would have produced Billy.

“That there are Creation myths in every society gives credance to the Genesis story.”

If you mean that the near universality of creation mythologies make the story in Genesis more likely to be accurate, then you are mistaken. If man was indeed Created by God, then we should expect to have the same creation myth in all societies unless you chose to believe the God lied to every society except an ancient tribe in Israel.

“Throughout all of human history there has been a recognition of a conscious purposeful Creation act. How that act took place and how figurative and poetic the language of Genesis is in describing that has been the subject of differing opinions.”

The word “recognition” implies, I’m sure intentionally, that humans actually did come about through an act of creation. (The serpent the fruit and the tree just happened to be there.) None of the evidence points to an act of deliberate creation unless one misinterprets the evidence. The existence of the panoply of creation myths, interpreted without bias, can only be take to indicate human desire for having an explanation of origins. Humans give abundant and continuing evidence of such a desire.

“Science does not refute Genesis – it only offers a variety of explanations of how the events in Genesis took place.”

You speak a lot of philosophy of science, so I am sure that you are familiar with the principle of falsification. Strictly, because of problems of induction, science cannot prove a hypothesis or a theory, but scientific method can disprove hypotheses that do not stand up to empirical testing. Science offers testable, reproducible, falisifiable explanations for how abiogenesis and biological evolution came about. (Obviously, it is easier to empirically demonstrate evolution than abiogenesis.) The “events” described in Genesis did not happen, those supposed events are part of a creation myth invented to provide some sort of explanation long before humans had yet induced better explanations.  

 Genesis is falsified – females do not have XY chromosomes (testicular feminization, notwithstanding), no talking serpents, no knowledge-giving-fruit, 4.5 billion year old Earth, etc. (I should have used the term “falsified” rather than the term “refuted” because the former applies to empirical testing and the latter to arguments.) Creationists simply deny knowledge.

“What science cannot prove is that there is no purpose or meaning to the universe. Given that humanity has always believed there is a purpose and meaning, regardless of their angle on the Creation story, the burden of proof is upon the atheist to show otherwise.”

Purpose and meaning are purely psychological concepts. It is certainly reasonable to assume that as long as humans have existed, humans have had psychological needs. There is abundant evidence for physical understanding but no evidence for psychological purpose behind purely physical events such as landslides and earthquakes, or more central to creationist concerns, abiogenesis and evolution.

Theists make a claim for the existence of God. Atheist simply reject all the arguments that demand faith in conjectured supernatural agencies. The burden of proof is on the claimant, and it is the theist who insists upon the existence of psychological behaviour in the universe at large. You are trying to shift the burden of proof and that, which you must know since you know the terminology, is a fallacy of logic.

Part 1 in response to No Things in Moderation.

I shall post response to the rest of your post later. Sorry about the delay due to comment moderation (troll prevention). You have found a brilliant way around it, particularly since I get the sense that you have a readership who no longer need to come here to see your comments.


August 30, 2007 - Posted by | abiogenesis, atheism, creationism, fundamentalism, science


  1. Clearly I’m one of the trolls you are preventing, since you could have posted my comment with a single mouse click. Of course the point of commenting on some else’s blog is not for the readership of the commenter, but of the blog in question. I have only posted them on my blog after a couple of days, because I hate to have spent the time writing them for no one to read them.

    My charitable allowance that you had jumped into the blogging before you familiarised yourself with the etiquette has proved to be ill-founded, as you are now just picking out bits of comments you want to refute, putting them into a new post to avoid extended discussion. And you are clearly refusing to publish any comment content whatsoever until you have a response lined up.

    Clearly it is not worth my efforts to write comments, particularly such detailed, time-consuming comments, if you are going to just toss them away.

    I suppose you are looking for more of your kind to heap some words of praise on you or add to your excoriation of Christian Creationists so you can all laugh to yourselves and say, “My, how smart we are.”

    Comment by Dave | August 30, 2007 | Reply

  2. I did approve this comment with a single mouse click as soon as I found it. I’m not aware of tossing anything away. Did one of your posts go missing?

    Dave, I’d love to be independently wealthy and to have the time to answer long posts as soon as you post them (allowing for the 5 hour time difference.) For that matter, I’d like to be able to type faster than I can. I will respond to your post when I have more time.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “a response lined up”. From the frustrated tone of your comment, I think that you have assumed that I am conducting some sort of research rather than responding off the cuff. I may not type quickly, but I have no need to mull over my responses.

    As for etiquette, I was not aware that one must respond instantaneously to a response. It seems unlikely that many have so much available time. If there is a way to take you off moderation without removing troll protection, please tell me how.

    “I suppose you are looking for more of your kind to heap some words of praise on you or add to your excoriation of Christian Creationists so you can all laugh to yourselves and say, “My, how smart we are.””

    Good grief, Charlie Brown, where did that come from? Are you still smouldering over the emotional-brain post?

    Comment by adeistic | August 30, 2007 | Reply

  3. The comment where I responded to “Bouncing back to Dave” never appeared. The only comment I see is my ping back. I know you got it, because you have quoted from it as the basis for this post. And while neither of us is independently wealthy (I just happen to have a little more time in the brief summer interlude before I start back to teaching again), it would be customary to allow a full legitimate comment to appear even while your limited wealth means you must wait until you have time to answer off the cuff. Moving bits and bobs of comments to new posts makes a proper discussion hard to follow, especially when the comment in question cannot be read in its entirety by the gentle reader.

    The way to be more moderate with your moderation would be to go to Options/Discussion and untick “An administrator must always approve the comment” and instead tick “Comment author must have a previously approved comment”.

    I am not smoldering over any post. My comment came from the fact that you appear to filtering which bits of my comments are seen, being those to which you directly respond.

    Comment by Dave | August 31, 2007 | Reply

  4. Dave, I’m getting lost in this new system. I did not moderate your reply above – it simply appeared. I found the response (that I partially quoted) on your site by clicking on the pingback. I assumed that you posted there because there was a delay here.

    Your comment above appeared without my moderating it, as have others. I had initially come to the conclusion that once a poster has been approved, then subsequent comments from that person would appear without moderation. I have to assume that the inconsistency reflects a glitch in the system.

    So, I shall, when I have time, ultimately respond to all of your post by including all that you said on the topic (omitting housekeeping comments such as these). Because the conversation has broken into tangents, I’ll divide my response into topics and I’ll provide internal links to your original and to each element of the discussion. I doubt that anyone other than we two will be following the conversation, but this technique should make it easier for others to hop in without its becoming too confusing. I’ve decided on this technique because sequential stream-of-consciousness comments are hard to follow.

    You are welcome to respond (or not) to my responses either here or on your own site (with a pingback).

    Comment by adeistic | September 1, 2007 | Reply

  5. “Clearly I’m one of the trolls you are preventing”

    If you were one of the trolls that I hoping to prevent (those who comment merely to provoke conflict), then I would have deleted your initial comment and not responded.

    Comment by adeistic | September 1, 2007 | Reply

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