Hardcore Creationists Come to Boutwell Auditorium
Is the Earth only 6000 years old? That's what the Dallas-based Institute for Creation Research (ICR) believes. They are holding a big conference in Birmingham on Saturday, August 28th to drive home the point that all science is a conspiracy and the Grand Canyon was carved out by Noah's flood. The Demand the Evidence conference will feature some of the heaviest hitters from the the world of young earth creationists. The "creation science" movement started in earnest back in 1961 when Henry Morris Sr. wrote The Genesis Flood in an attempt to debunk evolution. Two of his sons will be speaking at the Birmingham event. John and Henry Morris III both have backgrounds in religion and not biology, though John is a geologist and has traveled to Mount Ararat to search for Noah's Arc.
Another speaker at the Demand the Evidence conference is Nathaniel Jeanson. Jeanson actually has a Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology from Harvard Medical School. His presentation is called "Biological Change and the Bible." P.Z. Myers writes that, "Jeanson has this fancy degree, but his talk (is) all straight out of the quaint old 1960s "Scientific Creationism" handbook, full of bogus arguments and obfuscatory handwaving over science the speaker doesn't understand." He appears to be some sort of Manchurian candidate that made it through the Ivy League system to give credibility to the creationist cause. It's worth noting that Jeanson isn't particularly respected among his fellow biologists and doesn't work for some big drug company, rather he does Christian apologetics for a living along with some science doubting for the ICR.
Just the simple fact that the ICR's only lettered scientist is some kind of biology apostate should be a red flag as to the trustworthiness of conference. But there is so much more than that. This is 2010 and evolution is observed on a daily basis. The decoding of human genome and other such ventures have proven evolution beyond a doubt. If the Institute for Creation Research is right then everything we know about the universe is wrong and none of our machines or medicines work the way we believe.
Creationism is an interesting American phenomenon. These sorts of religious-based anti-science movements are rare in the rest of the industrialized world*. Many of their tactics have been adopted by the global warming deniers and there is a lot of crossover between these two movements. Also there is an association with right-wing politics. Many of the hardcore, young earth creationists have moved on to the "intelligent design" arguments. This appears to be an attempt to get away from falsifiable science and move back into unfalsifiable philosophy like the Teleological Argument and other classic, rhetorical arguments for the existence of a creator god. Still, after valiant attempts to reinvent science like The Genesis Flood were all debunked decades ago, it's good to see that there are still true believers, or rather deniers, out there. I'm sure that the ICR crowd has full confidence that as soon as they find Noah's Arc the scientific community will sit up and take notice.
*Isn't it time to stop saying "industrialized world"? Isn't pretty much of the whole world industrialized by now? ~ ed.