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Creationism as a type of thinking?

December 9, 2013

My friend Dan worries that creationism reflects a “type of thinking” and wonders how voters should respond:

I worry that that the subject of creationism or ID is not the end result but just the product of a type of thinking. If my congressional representative believed in creationism, then fine. But if my congressional representative believed in creationism as part of a strong belief that there should be more, say, explicit Christian teachings in public school, then that goes against the principles which I believe. Is it possible to separate those two situations in the eyes of the voter?

I greatly appreciate this comment. Since there’s so much to unpack, I’ll address it in two separate posts. Let’s consider Dan’s first sentence first. If creationism is indeed a “type of thinking”, it’s possible society needs more of it! Because apparently that “type of thinking” leads to ground-breaking pediatric neurosurgeons, world-class chemists, members of the National Academies, support for environmentalism and meaningful prison reform. This type of thinking also probably played a part in ending slavery, apartheid, and segregation.

Branding creationism or ID as a “type of thinking” is ultimately a generalization. At some point all generalizations must accept that actual human beings don’t align with their dictates. Perhaps for some people creationism reflects a deep, consistent world view. But for others it might simply be something they believe precisely because they haven’t thought about it very much. And if that is the case, why make such a big deal out of it? We all have vague notions that we haven’t spent much time dissecting and analyzing. Why can’t others do the same about evolution, especially since it has less than zero relevance to their lives? (Quick: when’s the last time you used the theory of evolution to do anything?)

I know Dan’s main point was about voting, and I may have unfairly harped on his first sentence. But as you all know, I’m deeply resistant to essentialist, general principles when it comes to this issue. And so I felt compelled to say something about the “type of thinking” comment. I’ll address the voting issue in my next point.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Victor permalink
    December 9, 2013 8:34 am

    This brings up an observation that creationism shouldn’t be called creationism for certain people because for certain people, it is not an ism. It’s strange that it’s evolution and intelligent design as opposed to creationISM. In some ways there are evolutionists as well. But not everyone who believes the theory of evolution is correct propositionally is an evolutionist.

  2. Daniel permalink
    December 9, 2013 3:25 pm

    Looks like I may struck a nerve with my phrase? But I did notice that you, like me, didn’t define to what “type of thinking” we were referring. As for the heart of your post, I agree, why should I care about a creationist’s view of the origin of the universe if it doesn’t effect me, just like why should anyone care about my lack of understanding of infectious diseases? Then again, if my lack of understanding leads to choices about vaccinations which leads to my assisting or controlling an epidemic…thus we get to the heart of my original post, how do we view the creationist when that person’s view has a larger societal impact?

    • December 9, 2013 4:00 pm

      No nerve struck at all! Sorry if it came off that way. Still trying to find my writing voice I guess:-)

      I didn’t define the term because I don’t think people’s thinking can be neatly categorized into coherent types, and I think it’s fruitless to even try. Regarding vaccinations, I actually addressed that before. w.r.t vaccines, we very carefully weigh individual rights vs. societal impact, and often side with individual rights even though we know that rejecting vaccines cause harm. Why don’t we do the same for creationists?

      What “larger societal impact” does creationism have? And do we have any peer-reviewed supporting evidence? If we can’t persuasively demonstrate a link between creationism and public harm, then shouldn’t we be tolerant and accept them? When it comes to gay marriage, sexual promiscuity, recreational drug use, etc., we increasingly demand hard evidence before restricting personal freedom. I find it strange that this standard is so casually abandoned here. (Wrote about that too:-))

      Responding to your voting question soon. Thanks for the great comments! Nice to know people are reading:-)

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