Professional Creationism: A Dying Profession?

We all secretly wish for it.

We all are afraid to say it, haunted by screams of 'EVILUTION BE DED IN 10 YRZ!'.

But seriously, I think Professional Creationism is a dying profession.

1-- Inability to adapt to the genomic revolution.
Everything in biology is now 'connected'. Whats the first thing you do when you identify a new gene, but dont know its function? BLAST it to see if it looks like something identified in another organism! Think the immune system cant evolve? Really? We find Ig domains all over the place! Not convinced? How about finding an ancestral protein in sea urchins? Hell, want to trace ERVs back in time to make phylogenetic trees? Go for it!

But its not just the information-- its the fact that this stuff is undergraduate level now. Stuff you have to know if you want to be a biology major. What does this mean? Its harder for Kreationist Kids to slip through the cracks. Professional Creationists who make stupid claims that contradict textbook (>10 year old) information arent respected by the non-Kreationist Kids. Thats how I first noticed Behe-- He was some schlup spouting TARD that was refuted in my 5th edition Kuby. I was like "What an idiot." Not "WOW! This guy is a PARADIGM SHIFTER!"

2-- They cannot successfully spawn.
Oh sure, there might be a few rats who will rise to the level of a Brad Harrub, but who are the rising stars in Creationism? Who is going to take over the empire when Dembski and Nelson kick the bucket? 'Overwhelming Evidence', a 'hip' website for young Creationists, goes months without comments. Its just another link farm for Granny O'Leary. And remember the 'Creationist students' who were making waves last year? Theyre ooooold.
Kirk Durston? Old.
Marcus Ross? Old
Where are their ERVs? And speaking of, I think Professional Creationists are only beginning to realize how irritated the younger generation is at their bullshit, and we arent going to take it. Were much more arrogant, ill mannered, and vociferous than Richard Dawkins. Theyre going to look back at Dick Dawk with fond memories once more puppies grow in their big dog teeth.

But one thing is for sure: My classmates and I? We dont 'debate' the merits of Creationism vs Evilution. We make fun of Creationism. In Oklahoma.

So where are the Creationist spawn?

Do they exist?

Or did Creationism mutate itself to a local fitness optima, ID Creationism, and are physically incapable of adapting to the post-genomic era?

More like this

This is a repost from the old ERV. A retrotransposed ERV :P I dont trust them staying up at Blogger, and the SEED overlords are letting me have 4 reposts a week, so Im gonna take advantage of that! I am going to try to add more comments to these posts for the old readers-- Think of these as '…
Once again, ERVs, the best goddamn workhorse in the stable, have provided another great example for explaining How the World Works. This time? How a functional ERV protein interacts with normal cellular proteins to cause epigenetic changes that lead to cancer: Human Endogenous Retrovirus Protein…
ERV has a must-read series of posts up (Part One, Part Two, Part Three) about William Dembski's latest bit of performance art, this time delivered at the University of Oklahoma. Sounds like things went well for the good guys. Lot's of choice nuggets: See, the major theme of Dembskis talk was '…
Creationists cant deal with ERVs. They have no answer to the problems ERVs pose to Creationism. They have no alternative explanation for the weight ERVs lend to evilution. However, this doesnt stop Creationists from bluffing/lying to save face in front of the True Believers. One of the more…

Your analysis seems off to me.

One is unlikely to see the up and coming professional creationists. The major professional creationists today were not that prominent before they were close to their current ages. For example Kent Hovind didn't start preaching until fairly late in life and Behe already had tenure when he started pushing ID.

Also, there are in fact some up and coming young ones. For example we have Kent Hovind's son Eric. And if you look on youtube you'll see people who may be angling to be the next generation of creationists. For a particularly stupid and yet surprisingly popular example see

You're probably going to break Overwhelming Evidence with your traffic spike. And then they'll complain that you hacked their site to deny information to both of their supporters.

"So never kick a dog, because it's just pup;
We'll fight like twenty armies and we won't give up,
So you'd better run for cover when the pup grows up."

I feel old

Creationism is not a linear Chain of Being, but rather a branching phylomemetic tree, complicated by horizontal meme transfer. The professional Intelligent Design types might be fading into obsolescence — they've completely failed to fool the court system or perturb the scientific journals, so they're basically pointless. However, the varieties of creationism which don't even bother with a wink-wink, nudge-nudge to conceal their Bibliolatry will keep on going strong.

Personally, I suspect that over the next ten to fifteen years, genetic-engineering denialism and neuro-mysticism will become problems on the scale that creationism is today. Clouds are gathering on the horizon, if you want to be dramatic about it.

ERV wrote "...but who are the rising stars in Creationism?"

I actually can't think of time after Darwin which whose versions of yourself could not have asked that in much the same sense as you just did.

And yet they continue to come out of the muck. There are times though which more of them come out: the formation of the "intelligent design" movement after Edwards v. Aguillard being the most recent example.

Prior to that creationism was mostly dominated by Henry Morris, Duane Gish, and a few fellow travelers from the CRS and ICR. They dominated the "field" for over two decades and good chunk of them emerged around the time of the publication of The Genesis Flood or shortly afterwards. When I first started following creationist nonsense in the 1980s when one thought of the creationist movement the two people that usually first came to mind where Morris and Gish.

And if you think creationism is slow at producing pseudo-scholars now, it is still far faster then when George McCready Price was creationism's primary advocate.

On the one hand, the creationists seem like Ray Haroun trying to qualify for the Indy 500 today. On the other hand, lurker is spot on with the statement, "And yet they continue to come out of the muck."

Stick around, ladies and gentlemen, there's plenty of excitement to come.

Fueled mostly, and as usual, by advances in the sciences, and fanned by the visceral protestations of the the other guys. At least it's a familiar playing field.

By Crudely Wrott (not verified) on 13 May 2008 #permalink

Being able to make fun of creationism in Oklahoma, the buckle of the Bible belt. *Now* we are getting somewhere!!!

Creationism in general will not die as long as there is religion, but as a viable political force it seems like ID is it's last gasp. And now that "Expelled" is leaving the theaters what do the IDers have left going for them - super secret research?

By Benjamin L Harville (not verified) on 13 May 2008 #permalink

If I had to guess, I'd bet Marcus Ross was less than 10 years older than you, ERV.

I'd like to be optimistic, but I suspect that professional creationists will be around when I'm geriatric.

So where are the Creationist spawn?

Do you think that the DI and Dembski et al. would allow a newcomer to take over their position? They have to make a living from their BS.

While I hate to admit this, I know exactly where the Creationist spawn are. They are my younger siblings and their friends. While I grew up and opened my eyes to the lies, they didn't. Instead I know of two people (one of whom is my younger brother) who plan on trying to get as little of a science background as is possible while trying to get into medical school. Because "evolution/science isn't 'necessary' for medical school." These are people who 'know' that god created the world in 6 days 6,000 years ago; and that scientists want to try to prove that god doesn't exist.

They've bought into the Expelled/ID/Creationist bulls*it that says that scientists are actively trying to keep creationists from doing research/proving that God exists.

But they don't care that their ID/Creationist idols aren't doing the research. Evilusion is 'wrong' because it says that god doesn't exist. Never mind that NONE of them have ever had a simple high-school biology class that actually explains evolution/genetics/etc. Gotta give it up for homeschooling huh?

That's the thing, all the people I know who still buy into Creationism/ID are homeschooled; and the only parent I know (amongst dozens of families I know who homeschool) who has a college degree has it in accounting. Not exactly a depository of scientific methodology.

My sister, my friends, my parents, almost everyone I know, are all creationists. Damn I hate living in Arkansas.

Though, at least my half-brother (whose whole family, again, is dominated by creationists) is a liberal who rejects the bible (still a theist).

Oi. Can't wait until the next freethinker's meeting.

By Necronomikron (not verified) on 13 May 2008 #permalink

I have to confess to being addicted to the theoporn on Ray Comfort's blog. He's a professional creationist with a coterie of nutjobs [and a growing number of atheists being so bloody reasonable in their arguments :-)].

It's really still astounding to me that a country like the U.S. can harbor such a big group of creationists that they have actual political power. Growing up in a South American third world country, we were taught evolution (and the Greenhouse Effect and GW, by the way) in the most uncontroversial, boring way. Guess it's a side effect of having catholics run amok with their wishy-washy, science-evading, moving-target dogmas (the popez sez evolution OK, but GUIDED). Evolution (and GW) is just a given for most of us, they probably even made it so uncontroversial and boring that no one cares about it. Probably too much.

Maybe it's also that when millions of people only in one city are living in extreme poverty, the pressures of survival are stronger than the pressures of religion, so these religious needs taking a distant lower priority. So these creationists I think really have too much free time on their hands.

When I first came here to the U.S. to live a few years ago, I was really amazed, and actually this got me very interested in the subject of religion vs. reality. My friends now wonder why I'm always bashing religion... maybe they're right, but I think they can't grasp how harmful it can be even in the more developed countries. The cathz over there aren't very annoying (well, aren't super annoying), besides some sleazy brainwashing and auto-kidnapping of kids of "good" families to be priests, but I partly blame the families, which indoctrinated the kids in the first place into trusting those priests and the religion in general.

By the way, Abbie, are you making a point of not using apostrophes? Not a grammar nazi here, but some sentences are a little confusing at first sight for this lowly second-language English speaker, gotta read them twice.

Where do creationists spawn today?

1 Online

2 Homeschool

3 Fundie churches

Creationists will be around for a long time. It doesn't matter how much scientists learn about the world creationists will continue to deny that which doesn't fit their bible.

By anevilmeme (not verified) on 14 May 2008 #permalink

Hell, there are still flat-earthers out there.

Of course there will be more creationists. A good thing, too, otherwise I'd have no one to vent my pent-up aggression at.

Wishful thinking. Creationists will never stop. For example, the Institute for Creation Research have a genomics plan (which, if their RATE project is anything to go by, will be extrmely well funded):

This Impact article signals the beginning of genomic studies at ICR. We are currently working on a number of research projects associated with genomics in addition to the human/chimpanzee homology study. Some of our proposed projects will include sequencing mitochondrial DNA with the goals of:

1) Measuring mutation rates in humans.
2) Determining the validity of molecular clocks.
3) Refining the mitochondrial Eve hypothesis showing the relatedness of all humans.
4) Delineating the created kinds.

We will also conduct research using computer models to study the feasibility of evolutionary genetic theory versus the actual emergence of modern populations from a literal Adam and Eve.

These YECs have been designing computer models to investigate Muller's Ratchet and related stuff:

and have written a preliminary paper:

J. Sanford, J. Baumgardner, W. Brewer, P. Gibson, and W. Remine. Using computer simulation to understand mutation accumulation dynamics and genetic load, in Y. Shi et al. (eds.), ICCS 2007, Part II, LNCS 4488, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp. 386-392.

Creationists will continue to work and will continue to give their material a gloss of scientific respectibility.

I have to confess to being addicted to the theoporn on Ray Comfort's blog. He's a professional creationist with a coterie of nutjobs [and a growing number of atheists being so bloody reasonable in their arguments :-)].

I can only spend minuscule moments at his site. "teh dumb" is strong there.

I reckon you have a point in that creotards attempts to compete with real science will decline in the future,and I am a firm believer that ridiculing them and laughing at their pseudosciene is doing a good job at that....
However the YECs and religulous nutjobs will not go away,theres too many of them and theyre breeding fast and indoctrinating their spawn even faster,so theres gonna be more and more of them,and they will get in political and other positions of power where they can influence science curricula etc,and I reckon thats the really frightening part !

Andyo, I'm with you on this one (the surprise of creationist America, not ERV's interesting non-use of apostrophes!).

I went to elementary school in New Hampshire and moved to the UK when I was 10. While in America I never attended church (my parents are agnostic/spiritual) and none of my friends commented on this. In fact, it wasn't until I moved to the UK that I came into contact with the Lord's Prayer. Still, I was educated in evolution, global warming and all of the basic scientific theories as fact.

The first inkling that all was not right in America was when I spent a summer working in Colorado and one of my co-workers didn't believe in dinosaurs because she 'can't see them for her self'. I pointed out that she hasn't seen Big Ben for herself, but I could assure her that it does exist.

Now since coming to ScienceBlogs, I am shocked and not a little appalled that America is nose-diving in front of the world.

My baymate in my lab is from India. Whenever I talk to him about creationism, he insists that creationists simply have too much time and money on their hands, and that in India, everybody is working their butts off to get better educated to improve their lot in life. Meanwhile, here, life is pretty good, and so people have more time and energy to indulge themselves in their cute little mythologies.

He was absolutely apalled to hear about the creationist museum in Kentucky. When I told him how much it cost, he said "Think how many R01 (NIH) grants that would fund."

Well... exactly.

Home schooled kids carrying the YEC torch, etc-- They are freak shows that will no doubt keep their niche market. Taking their snake oil shows town-to-town, church-to-church, of course.

But Professional Creationism-- Students who will grow up to be the next Michael Behe, are impossible. Behe was only possible because he was a structure guy in the 70's-- Structure people cant not accept evolution in 2008.

In 2008, Professional Creationism is like HIV-1 after treatment with Bevirimat. Sure, it can create progeny viruses, but they cannot mature into their dangerous form anymore.

Hi all,

Here's the text of one of my latest reviews (of "Intelligent Design 101"):

I want my..... I want my..... I want my IDiot-cy.

I want my..... I want my..... I want my IDiot-cy.

Look at them yo-yos, that's the way you do it. You put fat Mike Behe on the Christian TV. Nah, that ain't working - that's the way you do it. You get your money for nothing like those books from Dembski!

That ain't working - that's the way you do it. Them DI guys ain't dumb. Maybe buy this book at; maybe buy this book at Barnes and

We gotta brainwash American high school children, custom Creo deliveries. We gotta move these IDiot books. Gotta move these ID videos....

That ain't working... that's the way you do it. You put old Ben Stein on the Fox TV. Nah, that ain't working - that's the way you do it . You get your money for nothing like those books from Behe!

I want my..... I want my..... I want my IDiot-cy.

I want my..... I want my..... I want my IDiot-cy.

(With apologies to Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler. With profound thanks to Stephen Marley for writing the last stanza.)



By John Kwok (not verified) on 14 May 2008 #permalink

Where are their ERVs?

They keep flunking their GREs and MCATs. Casey "an earth scientist" Luskin documents epicfails of aspiring IDers in his latest column. The money quote:

I sat for the MCAT 3 times over the past few years. And on every MCAT examination there was more than one occasion where the topic of evolution was stated in either passage format (for the verbal reasoning section) or in the biology section. (Note: There are only a few verbal reasoning passages on each exam, and they are pulled from innumerable potential sources. Nonetheless, on one exam the MCAT-writers found room for TWO passages on evolution in the verbal reasoning section.) In every case, Darwinian evolution was presented as non-disputed fact.

Are you defining "professional creationists" as those who have legitimate positions in academia?

I first took the term to mean those who make a living at promoting creationism, in which case ID is a tiny minority among professional creationists, which is still dominated by young-earth creationism.

When I looked at creationist organization revenues over the last several years, it was clear that AiG had eclipsed ICR as the dominant force in U.S. creationism, though ICR is still the #2 organization. The DI falls way behind.

I'm overdue on updating that information...

Can ID/Creationists ever manage to do anything other than fight a permanent rear guard action with a motly collection of dishonest philosophers, out-of-their-field engineers, and over-the-hill lawyers? The vast majority of anti-evolution ministers are wise enough not to actually claim to have evidence to support their creationist doctrines.

I don't expect the reactionary funders of these anti-science organizations to quit funding them any time soon. Anti-science creationism fits in with a much more important political agenda of undermining all respect for science in order to keep selling cigarettes, polluting, and otherwise making outsize profits by making others bear the cost of certain business activities.

It's too bad that we don't have a modern-day muckraker around doing an expose on the level of The Jungle on the financial and intellectual corruption of this entire anti-science movement.

By freelunch (not verified) on 14 May 2008 #permalink

Sternberg's "Baraminology Study Group" has some young 'researchers' (including a guy I went to grad school with, to my chame).

Here's the thing, though, I think that apart from Scumberg and a couple others, a lot of them appear to be honest and sincere. I found a PDF of one of their meeting programs where the introductory text and several of the abstracts, no fooling, said nearly verbatim "Evolution is currently the superior model, we just need to make sure creation is better."

That is an astonishing admission for creationists to make. It really convinced me that at least some of them are undertaking an honest, good-faith effort to "prove" their beliefs, which is both admirable and truly sad at the same time.

I don't know what will become of them. Maybe they'll do a little work, gain some notice and become future creationist stars. My biggest fear is that they'll see their research come to naught, become cynical and embittered, and join the ranks of the liars for Christ. Unable to let go of their beliefs, but increasingly resentful of their inability to demonstrate them.

I wonder if that's how some of the current liars for Christ got their start...

(Best case scenario, they become convinced to abandon their literalist views and join the real world. But their chance to use their science credentials for good will have been long past.)

By minimalist (not verified) on 14 May 2008 #permalink

By 'Professional Creationism', I mean the guys who can give them the air of scientific credibility they need to infect other people. The ones that get invited to talk on CNN (sans boobage). The ones who are tasked with winning over Average Joes/Janes and politicians.

YEC are impotent. You are either one of them, or you arent. And people are deconverted, not converted.


""Evolution is currently the superior model, we just need to make sure creation is better."

Then they arent fucking scientists, however 'well meaning' they might seem.

Scientists dont start with "IM GOING TO PROVE ERVS CAUSE CANCER!". They start with "Are ERVs connected to cancer? Lets design an experiment to see."

Sadly, Abbie, I think you're underestimating the incredible seductiveness of these modes of thought. While I would honestly really like for what you say to be true, I can't help think that there will be people like Behe for as long as there are people to listen to them. After all, the intellectual nonsense of the evolution deniers has been complete nonsense for many decades. Clearly people like Behe just aren't ever going to be convinced by logic and evidence. So yes, I fully expect a few nutbags to make it through biology at the university level and still be creationists.

By Jason Dick (not verified) on 14 May 2008 #permalink

The next generation of professional creationists will be from Islam. They don't have political power yet but if Europe is any example they soon will.

By bunnycatch3r (not verified) on 14 May 2008 #permalink

Do you think that the DI and Dembski et al. would allow a newcomer to take over their position? They have to make a living from their BS.

That is a good point. ID/creationist propaganda is a business, and it's a business with a limited market (while many people claim creationist views, most of these don't pay much attention to the issue). The result is a monopoly of the propaganda market by a few organizations. Someone who wants to break into that market either has to join one of these organizations and work his or her way up or have a really great business model and lots of luck.

How about writing a book or web site? Again, the audience is rather small, publishers maybe not so interested, and face it, ID/creationism isn't based on any solid grounding in fact, so what's there to say about it that hasn't already been said? While irreducible complexity is a complete failure, at least it was a somewhat novel framework when Behe pitched it in 1996 (yes, basically the argument from ignorance, but with more decorative drapery than usual). Since then they've come up with what? There's this notion of "front-loading" that has been stirring around, but that's contrary to the evidence and probably even most professional IDers see the problems with it.

Since ID/creationism is basically wrong, it's not a very productive field for original thought, and this leads to the propaganda mills churning the same material over and over, and prevents new people from entering the discussion with the publishing of new ideas.

I hope ID/creationism will gradually diminish, but there is the possibility of Islamic creationists growing in numbers.

ID is dying, as it has become increasing clear that their "we're agnostic on the designer's identity" ruse undertaken for legal reasons is not working. Behe's stock is in the toilet after he cost them Dover and Dembski's "design inference" never got around the problem of false positives.

As Expelled has recently made clear, the creos are back to shamelessly promoting good old god again. All pretenses to doing science are gone, it's just lies and emotional appeals. And that sort of ignorance will be with us as long as religion is. I don't see it going away anytime soon. ID may fade, but "god made me and I ain't no monkey" type stupidity will be around as long as there are rubes who will pay to hear it.

olegt @ #28:

I damn near bust a gut after I followed your link to Casey Luskin's little essay.
"emotionally charged"?
"over the line"?
"incredibly tense and stressful test"?
Oh dear...poor babies. If evolution on the MCAT gives these goofs the vapours, they will never make it through med school.
I can just see them in their medical microbiology classes, throwing a fit when the instructor talks about antimicrobial resistance: "No, I can't take it! This is so emotionally charged and distracting! Stop saying the E-word, you're punishing me!"

By T. Bruce McNeely (not verified) on 14 May 2008 #permalink

I just read Lulzkin's piece and I don't know whether to laugh or cry at teh stoopid, the poor, poor babies. I hope the examiners had some smelling salts at hand for when these plonkers got the vapours.

By John Phillips, FCD (not verified) on 15 May 2008 #permalink

I went to elementary school in New Hampshire and moved to the UK when I was 10. While in America I never attended church (my parents are agnostic/spiritual) and none of my friends commented on this.

This isn't unusual in the Northeast, or at least it wasn't in the past. The historically predominant flavors of Christianity here are Catholicism and the more theologically liberal forms of Protestantism. As some social commentators have noted, most of us simply grew up considering other people's religious beliefs (or lack of same) to be their own business, not ours.

I want my..... I want my..... I want my IDiot-cy.

John Kwok, you rock!

By Julie Stahlhut (not verified) on 15 May 2008 #permalink

For starters freelunch:
"It's too bad that we don't have a modern-day muckraker around doing an expose on the level of The Jungle on the financial and intellectual corruption of this entire anti-science movement."

Barbara Forest did a pretty good start on that with _Creationisim's Trojan Horse_.

As to the main point of this thread, Abbie, I doubt that we'll ever be rid of creationismim. We've had religion for thousands of years, and the scientific revolution started in Europe about 500 years ago. Every branch of science that talks about ours or the universe's origins gets copted by them. We've been down this road with geology and people trying to say that god created the world with the appearance of age. We've had multiple iterations of the evolution vs creationisim/design debate. Someone will come up with a new catch phrase.

It is also possibile that the next wave of creatioinism will come in different fields like physics and cosmology. See the fine tunning argument.

Not much new under the sun some would say? Well yeah. Including the fact that...these aren't new arguments. For reasons that others have presented, we'll see further examples of this later. We don't know what they'll be -- would any of us have predicted ID in 1994? -- but it'll come.


I can only spend minuscule moments at his site. "teh dumb" is strong there.

Posted by: Rev. BigDumbChimp on May 14, 2008 7:38 AM

I know what you mean, I spend too much time there myself. It seems the fundies over there are completely immune to reason. No matter what, they back Ray and the bible up. I've neve seen a place where they're so wedded to the party line. No matter how much bs Ray posts about athiests and the strawmen he sets up about evolution, they just eat it up.

I'll give Ray this, though. He doesn't censor posts near as much as the Culture Watch guy does.

Wow, from a longstanding joke of a static page to an activated graphically satisfying site.

No content though, the peer reviewed ones of the selected publications doesn't support creationism, and Axe's introduction prefers the unsupported junkyard mechanism before validated evolution.

By Torbj�rn Lar… (not verified) on 16 May 2008 #permalink

Dear Julie,

Thanks for your kind thoughts. You might enjoy this too, which is my Amazon review of Dembski and Ruse's most recent book:

Kept reading about Intelligent Design till my eyes were paralyzed.
Thought Bill Dembski's comments were most strange.
Recognizing that his defense of explanatory filter and
specified complexity were so queer.
Gratified to be reading the real truth from Nick Matzke.
Reading the science truth from Wes Elsberry too.

So, where to now, Bill Dembski?
If it's true, I'm in your hands.
I may not be a Christian,
but I've done all one man can.
I understand I am on a road
where all that was is gone...
So where to now, Bill Dembski?
Show me which road I am on.

Recognize that Intelligent Design is
pathetic Klingon Cosmology
Recognize why its just queer
mendacious intellectual pornography.
Understanding why you're so wrong Bill Dembski
Your mind paralyzed by your Christian God.

Specified Complexity, Irreducible Complexity,
Just all the same to me.
Mendacious religious nonsense,
Pretending to be scientific theory.

So, where to now, Bill Dembski?
If it's true, I'm in your hands.
I may not be a Christian,
but I've done all one man can.
I understand I am on a road
where all that was is gone...
So where to now, Bill Dembski?
Show me which road I am on.

(with apologies to the person formerly known as Reg Dwight and his long-time partner Bernie Taupin)

By John Kwok (not verified) on 17 May 2008 #permalink