I’ve avoided the topic of creationism for long enough, and my Kickstarter backers must be appeased! Here’s why I haven’t been in a rush to bring it up:
I do not make the common mistake of conflating skepticism and atheism. To quote the eloquent Daniel Loxton, “atheism is an albatross for the skeptical movement. It divides us, it distracts us, and it marginalizes us.” (2007 Essay: Where Do We Go From Here). Anecdotally, I know plenty of critical thinking catholics, methodists, and others. I also know plenty of atheists who believe in alternative medicine, conspiracies, and other woo. Freethinking does not imply critical thinking, and vice versa.
Because of this, as a rule, I do not mix skeptical activism and arguments about value systems – be they religious or political. Every community, demographic, and individual has certain irrational beliefs that exploit their value system. Nobody is exempted, which is why I would rather address specific irrational ideas rather than trying to tear down value systems entirely. I would argue that it is not the role of skepticism to attack religion, except in the cases where specific claims wander into the arena of scientific skepticism. Examples of religious claims that can be categorized as pseudoscience would include young earth creationism, intelligent design, and faith healing. All of which put forth a testable claim about how the world, biology, and medicine works, respectively.
This is all a long way of saying that attacking specific pseudoscience claims such as creationism is NOT an attack on Christianity itself, or on those who hold Christian values. Case in point, the Catholic Church does not oppose evolution* (see comments). I think it is important to make this distinction between believed “facts” and personal values. Very often, wrongful interpretation of facts leads to behavior and beliefs that are counter to one’s own value system. An example would be environmentalists who oppose nuclear power, but that’s a controversy for another day. This has all gotten very serious, so here’s an addictive tune to lighten the mood:
Of course, I’m throwing a nod to evolution into the comic by including archaeopteryx as one of the biblical bird “kinds”. As explained by Answers in Genesis “Evolutionists have pointed to fossils of the iconic Archaeopteryx as the earliest example of birds evolving from reptiles. It was the quintessential “missing link,” though creationists countered that it was just a bird, similar to those flapping around today. A new find is forcing evolutionists to sideline Archaeopteryx and change their story.” I couldn’t resist.
I’m also mixing various doctrines of Ken Ham’s Creation Museum and affiliated organization Answers In Genesis in this joke. Ken Ham maintains that dinosaurs did in fact make it on to the Ark, but went extinct later, referencing dragon mythology as evidence of this. However other Answers In Genesis sources state simply that dinosaurs couldn’t fit on the Ark, ignoring the fact that most dinosaurs were small.
If you haven’t already, watch the Nye/Ham debate in it’s entirety, and followup interview with Bill Nye in the Skeptical Inquirer. This debate is an example of how to demonstrate the irrationality of an idea (Ken Ham’s creationism) while respecting and appealing to the values of Christianity.
Welcome to the creation museum, an exploration of biblical theory.
Wow, the dinosaurs had saddles?
We lived alongside them until the global flood.
Forget hippos on the Ark, take triceratops instead!
Really, what was Noah thinking? "You're cool archaeopteryx, the rest of you can beat it."