Why You Can't Argue With A Creationist
Evolutionary psychologist David Sloan Wilson on ScienceBlogs on people who believe, sans evidence, in creationism and god:
The concept of an intervening god--a powerful supernatural agent who creates things in the same way people create artifacts, takes an active interest in the affairs of people, and actively intervenes to alter human affairs--is a perfectly good scientific hypotheses. It generates testable predictions, at least insofar as one knows the powers and will of such a god. It was the prevailing scientific theory for centuries, starting when science emerged as a recognizable cultural institution. The problem with the intervening god hypothesis is that it lost--again and again--for our understanding of the physical universe, the geological features of the earth, and life on earth.
...Beliefs are often accepted and defended, not because they are factually correct, but because they are useful for the community of believers. That's true for other beliefs that are manifestly false as factual claims, from religions, to political ideologies, and even atheistic beliefs, as I recount in my atheism as a stealth religion series.
Still, we need to explain why the "rejecting creationism is unfair" claim is so successful, when it can be so easily dispatched. Consider the phenomenon of biological mimicry, whereby species resemble their background or masquerade as other species to escape detection by their predators and prey. An insect mimicking a leaf can be astonishingly convincing, right down the mid-vein and fake chew marks along the edges, but it's easy enough to recognize as an insect with enough scrutiny. Mimics depend upon the fact that their predators and prey are too busy to recognize them for what they are.
So it is for the "rejecting creationism is unfair" argument. It sounds like it makes sense, but only for those who don't have the time or expertise to seriously consider it. That's why it fails to pass muster among actual scientists but still manages to survive among the general public and especially among those who would like it to be true. Unfortunately, that's the arena where important decisions are made, such as whether to give creationism "equal time" in our public schools.
...Scrutiny is the friend of an authentic scientific position and the enemy of a mimic.
In this fashion, creationists who have been fairly excluded from the scientific playing field, as surely as the chess player who has lost his king or the losing basketball team after the final buzzer, still inhabit the comment section of my blog and other low-scrutiny venues, where they complain bitterly about being unfairly excluded. The next time you hear this tedious complaint, just reply "checkmate" or "game over".