Yesterday’s mail brought the new issue of “Prayer News,” the newsletter of Creation Ministries International. (What can I say? I’m on several creationist mailing lists. At least it arrived along with the new issue of Free Inquiry to dilute the effect.) The lead article is called “Why Don’t They Get It?” by Scott Gillis, and opens as follows:
Most readers, at some time, have probably asked this question. “When the evidence supporting the biblical Creation and Flood account is presented in a clear and convincing manner, why is it summarily denied and dismissed by evolutionists?” In short, since Creation is so obvious, “Why don’t they get it?”
Yes, that’s a poser isn’t it? It’s all so obvious, after all. Gillis’s answer:
Not to oversimplify, but it often boils down to two main reasons: (1) Most evolutionists have never heard a clear presentation of the other side of the story, and, because of this; (2) they assume that all the evidence overwhelmingly supports evolution. Sometimes these hurdles need to be overcome before one can reach the heart and deal with the underlying spiritual issues.
So there you go. Only the saved see clearly.
Writing over at Uncommon Descent, ID proponent Granville Sewell proposes a different explanation:
For me, the real argument for intelligent design has always been extremely simple, and doesn’t require any advanced mathematics or microbiology to grasp. The video below makes this argument in the simplest, clearest way I can make it. My uncle Harry and aunt Martha like the video, and can’t understand why so many intelligent scientists aren’t impressed by this very simple argument.
Of course the problem is, the argument is just too simple, most scientists aren’t interested in arguments that their uncle Harry and aunt Martha can understand, they are looking for arguments that require some advanced technology, that show some understanding of evolutionary theory or microbiology that sets them apart from uncle Harry and aunt Martha. And indeed, most of the important scientific advances in our understanding of our world have required advanced technology and advanced degrees to achieve, but it is the curse of intelligent design that the strongest and clearest arguments are just too simple to get much traction in the scientific world.
I invite you to follow the link and go watch the video, but if you are aware of Sewell’s contributions to ID you already know there is only one thing he ever says. His argument is that evolution contradicts the second law of thermodynamics. Evolution is a film running backwards, you see, a fact the video dramatizes by showing a tornado reassembling a house from its component pieces.
I won’t rehash here all the many reasons that’s a stupid argument. They have all been explained to Sewell, but he doesn’t care. I would simply note that since it’s an unambiguous empirical fact that natural selection can lead to increases in the complexity of organisms, any proposed principle of thermodynamics implying otherwise is clearly mistaken. (The reality, of course, is that the second law does not conflict with evolution, and anyone who says it does is mistaken on a question of fact.)
Still, Sewell’s off-the-cuff remark about this argument being too simple for scientists to understand reminded me of something. In Among the Creationists I discuss how I reacted to my first exposure to creationist literature. At that time I knew very little about biology and paleontology, a fact that left me with no immediate answers to the arguments I was seeing. I write:
The first [of two things that bothered me] was the relative simplicity of creationists’ claims. For all their liberal use of scientific jargon, they presented little that could not readily be explained to a bright high school student. It seemed unlikely that a thriving, professional area of modern science could be undone so easily. … The portrayal of evolutionists throughout this literature was of benighted and confused scientists too blinded by their anti-religious prejudices to notice elementary logical fallacies in their theory. This was hard to accept. It is one thing to suggest that the scientists are wrong, but it is quite another to suggest that they are stupid or have overlooked simple errors.
Perhaps that’s the difference between ID proponents and more sensible people. For most of us, our inability to refute a simple argument that we know is rejected by nearly all scientists is evidence that we need to learn more about science. For ID proponents it’s evidence that scientists just can’t understand really simple arguments.
The notion that everything is just so simple for anyone who is thinking clearly seems to be a theme these days over at Uncommon Descent. In this recent post, from Barry Arrington, we get a quote from G. K. Chesterton. Here’s part of it:
The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them. The open, obvious, democratic thing is to believe an old apple-woman when she bears testimony to a miracle, just as you believe an old apple-woman when she bears testimony to a murder. The plain, popular course is to trust the peasant’s word about the ghost exactly as far as you trust the peasant’s word about the landlord. Being a peasant he will probably have a great deal of healthy agnosticism about both.
Still you could fill the British Museum with evidence uttered by the peasant, and given in favour of the ghost. If it comes to human testimony there is a choking cataract of human testimony in favour of the supernatural. If you reject it, you can only mean one of two things. You reject the peasant’s story about the ghost either because the man is a peasant or because the story is a ghost story.
Am I the only one reminded of the episode of The Simpsons in which Lisa digs up a fossil that appears to be an angel? Interviewed on the local news program, reporter Kent Brockman asks her, with tremendous indignation, “How can you continue to deny the existence of angels when you yourself found a skeleton that looks a lot like an angel?”
In addition to all the other problems with Chesterton’s argument, we should note precisely how full of it he really is. As a devout Catholic, he had no problem dismissing all of the miracle stories told by rival religions. His fondness for democracy did not extend to the claims made on behalf of Mohammad or of Joseph Smith.
So there you go. Ghosts are real because people sometimes claim to have had experiences of ghosts. ID is trivially obvious to anyone who is not overeducated or dogmatic.
Who knew it was all so simple?