What is a Creationist?

By David Klinghoffer September 14, 2012, at Evolution and News

Normally I don’t waste my own scarce time reading or, certainly, contributing to those comment boxes where the Internet Darwin brigade spends its time kibitzing. (To receive your unemployment check there is normally a requirement to make a good faith effort to seek work, but a large portion of the Darwin community appears to disregard that obligation and fritters away the days endlessly bickering online.)

But I couldn’t resist commenting on Laurence Moran’s attempt to justify calling everyone who even minutely disagrees with him a “creationist.”

Moran is a biochemist at the University of Toronto and he writes a blog called Sandwalk, a self-congratulatory nod to Darwin’s famous place of meditation. In his own combox he shared this opinion:

If you believe in a creator then you are a creationist. There are several flavors of creationists. The most important ones are Young Earth Creationists (YECs), Old Earth Creationists (OECs), Intelligent Design Creationists, and Theistic Evolution Creationists.

I responded:

Larry, by your definition of “creationist,” Ken Miller would be considered a creationist. Taking him at his own word, he believes in a creator. So as you use it, “creationist” tells nothing about whether a person is entirely convinced of the truth of Darwinian evolutionary theory, partly convinced, or entirely unconvinced. In the context of a debate about evolution, the term adds little or no relevant information. Yet you use it over and over. 

I think by anyone’s light, when it comes to Darwinian theory, Ken Miller’s perspective has nothing in common with Ken Ham’s. Your stamping them both with the same label only confuses and misleads. So why not just drop it? Communication entails making distinctions. Language is supposed to clarify not cloud.

To which Larry answered:

Larry, by your definition of “creationist,” Ken Miller would be considered a creationist. 

That’s correct. He is a creationist of the Theistic Evolution flavor.

So as you use it, “creationist” tells nothing about whether a person is entirely convinced of the truth of Darwinian evolutionary theory, partly convinced, or entirely unconvinced.

That’s not correct. If you are entirely convinced of the truth of evolution then you can’t be a creationist. If it’s necessary to distinguish between the various flavors of creationist then I do so.

An astute Sandwalk reader pointed out that Theodosius Dobzhansky, the Darwinian biologist famous for an essay title often quoted by Darwinists, “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution,” described himself as believing in a creator. That would make him just another “creationist” in Larry Moran’s book.


So Moran is saying that no matter how committed a Darwinist you seek to be, no matter how firmly you hold the line against any critique of orthodox evolutionary theory, if you believe in a God as described by any religious tradition no matter how attenuated, you are hardly to be distinguished from those “creationists” who picture cavemen riding on the backs of tame dinosaurs some six thousand years ago when the earth was brand new.

I love this. It should serve as yet another reminder to any naïve theistic evolutionists still out there who think they are going to get a pass from Darwin enforcers. It demonstrates, in Larry Moran’s artlessly frank prose, the assumption that lies hidden in much of Darwinist thinking: Any concession to religious belief, no matter how tiny, is a cause for expulsion from sclerotic Darwinism.

It also conclusively shows what a fringe community the Darwin faithful really are. This way of arguing, with its irresistible tendency to blanket condemnations, is endemic to the far Left and far Right. Among some fringe right-wingers, for example, anyone who accepts the necessity of any government social welfare program is, by definition, a socialist. That would make both the Democratic and Republicans parties alike “socialist” and therefore, on this bizarre extremist view, utterly and equally anathema.

Why, indeed, stop at calling Republicans “socialists”? Anyone who sees virtue in community is a communist, so call Romney a Communist.

This is a crazy way of thinking, but how is it different from lumping together anyone who varies from Larry Moran’s version of evolutionary thinking as a “creationist”? It’s not.


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