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Why I left Young-earth Creationism - Comments

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 1 by Richard Dawkins

I think this is interesting, because of what it tells us about the way these people think. He is kind of honest, in a weird sort of way, and should get some credit for that. I get the feeling it wouldn't take much for him to abandon religion altogether.
Richard

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 09:27:00 UTC | #245305

jimbob's Avatar Comment 2 by jimbob

Glenn, shrug off the rest of the dogma. You'll feel like the weight of a young earth has been lifted from your shoulders!

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 09:36:00 UTC | #245311

decius's Avatar Comment 3 by decius

I was on the very verge of becoming an atheist.


God forbid! What a repulsive idea.

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 09:37:00 UTC | #245312

blitz442's Avatar Comment 5 by blitz442

This reminds me very much of own experience in biology and I would be curious about the author's views about evolution. If he still does not believe in evolution, and he undertook to aquaint himself with the data (in the same way he did with geology) and presented this to creationistsm would he not get the same disappointing responses and personal attacks?

"Nothing that young-earth creationists had taught me about geology turned out to be true"....would that not be same for biology, cosmology, physics, logic and reason in general???

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 09:43:00 UTC | #245318

zeroangel's Avatar Comment 4 by zeroangel

Without that I would now be an atheist.


Wouldn't want that would we? Jeez.

Belief that the Earth is 6000 yrs old: Unscientific and counter to the evidence.

Belief that the creator of the Universe is a personal, caring being, that sent himself (his son?) to Earth via virgin birth to cleanse our sins: Totally OK.

*shrug*

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 09:43:00 UTC | #245317

Saber's Avatar Comment 6 by Saber

I don't care if he decides to abandon his religion. It's enough that he's embraced reason. This is how we'll eventually win the argument, by showing the differences between what we hope to be true and what we can know to be true.

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 09:46:00 UTC | #245320

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 7 by Roger Stanyard

I know Glenn Morton - he has helped us at the BCSE and I highly respect him.

However, he is highly unusual. He has really used his intellect to over-ride his emotion. Very few of the creationists or IDers that I have ever debated with online are capable of using their intellect. The whole shooting match is about emotion.

Moreover, whilst most of the "debate" about creationism centres on biology and the theory of evolution, Glenn's background is in geology where the pro-science arguments are much more easily demonstratable (just look at the landscape).

I can't take John Morris seriously. His father (Henry Morris) was a hydraulic engineer who did a PhD in the subject "to prove" that a literal interpretation of the BIble was "true". (i.e. that Noah's Flood could have happened.) He did not go in with an open mind. I dunno what Richard thinks but it seems to me that in any undergraduate or post graduate course at all but the lowest grade of university (such as the creationist universities in the USA, BJU, etc.), an open mind is essential. You simply cannot learn without it.

As Royal Holloway College has pointed out to me, it's getting creationist students who, because of their "beliefs" are essentially unteachable. I've been through universities four times and what I came out knowing bears little resemblance to my pre-conceived ideas about what I expected to learn before I entered each course.

Lenny Flank (over ar Debunk Creation) has been fighting creationisn for 25 years and says that in all that time, he has only ever seen a couple of creationists change their minds and accept mainstream science.

My own opinion, for what it is worth, is that the problem runs deeper than science v religion. With creationism you're dealing with a fundamentalist mindset. That is an ideology that ecompasses far more that just "creationism". Even in the are event of there being a "conversion" to mainstream science, the extreemism and ideological mindset remain.

I don't, incidentally, think that is the case at all with Glenn.


Roger Stanyard, British Centre for Science Education

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 09:53:00 UTC | #245330

sunbeamforjesus's Avatar Comment 9 by sunbeamforjesus

I Agree,an interesting article if nothing new.Odd though that he still clings to religion even though he has basically disproved the dogma.What more does he need to see through it all?

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 09:53:00 UTC | #245332

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 8 by Cartomancer

Others have already indicated quite how much of an unpalatable thing the word atheist is for this man. He has a habituated, unexamined prejudice against the word atheist, which really seems to be the only reason he didn't admit that he really, secretly, in a way he can't yet acknowledge even to himself, is one.

Clearly the Alan Hayward book was the first straw he could clutch at in order to have some kind of fig leaf to hide his nascent atheism - both from his peer group and from himself. If he had carried through his skepticism in a logical and coherent manner then he would have come to the same conclusion about christianity as he did about young-earth creationism.

It's clearly apologetics claptrap, but I would be interested to know precisely what this book says that Morton found so appealing. What is a "Days of Proclamation" view anyway?

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 09:53:00 UTC | #245331

JFHalsey's Avatar Comment 10 by JFHalsey

I've forwaded the original link to my parents, YECs who brainwashed me quite thouroughly in my impressionable years.

I actually came out of the brainwashing much more painfully; I never even heard an actual scientist's rebuttal to YEC claims until after I became an atheist; in fact, it was my budding atheism that drove me to see, "if all these claims I've been taught are true, how the hell do scientists claim otherwise?"

Glenn's article was copyrighted 2000; he could very well be atheist by now. Or, he could have successfully compartmentalized, like so many Catholics. But stories like his are important, even if the ending was a little depressing.

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 09:56:00 UTC | #245335

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 11 by Roger Stanyard

One point about the ICR and its graduates.

It appears that not one of them has ever put their money where their mouth is and set up a mineral/oil exportation company using "Flood Geology".

This is more than a minor point. A huge proportion of geologists is not in academia - but actively working for commercial companies. They (and the creationists) cannot argue that "creationism" is subject to a scientific conspiracy by "liberals" or whatnot.

All the creationists need to do is to show how their alternative "flood geology" leads to finding resources more effectively and they are sure onto a winner. The mineral exploration companies will be banging on their doors with employment contracts.

Perhaps Andy McIntosh might like to substantiate his claim that coal can be formed in a few hours by telling the energy industry where this process can be seen in action today. He'd make a damn fortune if he did.

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 10:03:00 UTC | #245340

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 12 by Cartomancer

As Royal Holloway College has pointed out to me, it's getting creationist students who, because of their "beliefs" are essentially unteachable. I've been through universities four times and what I came out knowing bears little resemblance to my pre-conceived ideas about what I expected to learn before I entered each course.
Has anyone got any reliable statistics for university-level students in Britain and the US concerning professed belief in young-earth creationism (or religion in general)? I say this because I have never actually met a student who is a young-earth creationist in my entire time at Oxford (I am now entering my seventh year of study here), nor do any of my friends who went to other UK universities report having ever encountered one. I've heard Professor Steve Jones talk about how it was simply unheard of to meet them ten or twenty years ago, but it happens today.

I have met one or two students who claim religiosity in some cultural, ephemeral, feel-good sense, and even one who claims belief in god (ironically enough the son of a literature professor who was briefly a fellow of New College alongside Richard in the seventies), but no actual creationists.

Just how big a problem is it?

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 10:03:00 UTC | #245341

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 13 by Richard Dawkins

I've read a book by Alan Hayward (probably the one that 'rescued' Glenn Morton). It's really bad, a truly pathetic straw to have grasped.
Richard

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 10:04:00 UTC | #245342

joe72's Avatar Comment 14 by joe72

Indeed, interesting read.
I liked the way he described how shocking it was that reality differed to what had been taught to him through religion. For some of us that pressure is hard to fathom. The question is - is that pressure from family? Is it social? Does it represent a challenge to his logical processing that knowledge is passed down through generations rather than discovered, uncovered and proven?

I think understanding that is the key to undoing the delusion.

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 10:13:00 UTC | #245349

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 15 by Cartomancer

Apparently the "Days of Proclamation" view is a piece of theological apologetics which sees the first chapters of Genesis as some kind of divine statement of intent, rather than a narration of the actual events that were supposed to have gone into creating the universe. I found an article on it here, by our good friend Glenn Morton:

http://home.entouch.net/dmd/daysofproclamation.htm

Sounds just like the traditional theological mind-gymnastics that have been used to save face for thousands of years to me. He even mentions venerable old Clement of Alexandria. Sadly lacking in any kind of evidence-based reasoning unfortunately, but that's par for the course with this sort of thing. My suspicions are confirmed.

Why am I not at all surprised?

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 10:15:00 UTC | #245351

Janus's Avatar Comment 16 by Janus

I've had a few exchanges with Glenn at christianforums.com a few years ago. He's a really weird guy. He's the only person I know whose mindset is so close to the one required to become a critical thinker in the full sense of the word, but who still manages to hang on to his religious beliefs. It's not just that he's smart, it's that I think he really cares about what's true, which is something that is incredibly rare among religious believers. People who don't care about what's true are those who won't follow a chain of reasoning to the end, or who will simply deny the evidence that's in front of them, or who will devolve into a mushy brand of postmodernism. I don't think Glenn does any of those things.

If it wasn't for him I would have said that anyone who cares about the truth and who isn't ignorant is necessarily going to become an atheist. Because of Glenn I have to say "_almost_ anyone".

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 10:19:00 UTC | #245354

gustavoabreu's Avatar Comment 17 by gustavoabreu

what's "Days of Proclamation"?

thanks

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 10:26:00 UTC | #245363

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 18 by Roger Stanyard

Blitz442 comments about Glenn ""Nothing that young-earth creationists had taught me about geology turned out to be true"....would that not be same for biology, cosmology, physics, logic and reason in general???"

IIRC Glenn accepts all of mainstream science including evolutionary biology.

In reply to Cartmancer, BCSE is aware of two graduates from Oxford who are young earth creationists - Richard Buggs (PhDE in biological sciences, felft 2006) and David Anderson with a 1st and masters in maths (left around 2003). Neither are now resident in the UK.

In addition there appears to be a couple of IDers amongst the academic staff, one of whom is John Lennox (i'm just about to read his latest book on the matter.)

It seems that Oxford has been targeted by creationists. There is a fair amount of info on the matter on our web site at www.bcseweb.org.uk

The fundamentalists have gained controlled of Wycliffe Hall.

I was at a debate last year between Steve Fuller and Lweis Wolpert. It was held at Royal Holloway and amongst the audience there were clearly a number of creationists. I did notice, though, that Muslims seemed to be the most vocal amongst them.

Where the creationists are "getting" at the universities is through evangelical Christian Unions. The overall body overseeing the CUs appears to have been heavily infiltrated by creationists.

I certainly never noticed any fundamentalists whilst I was an undergraduate (or postgraduate) but then I am one of the "Godless Scum of Gower Street). Andy McIntosh was a contemporary of mine at Cranfield Institute of Technology. I don't recall him there, though.

Roger Stanyard, British Centre for Science Education

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 10:30:00 UTC | #245367

SteveN's Avatar Comment 19 by SteveN

It was Glenn Morton who coined the phrase Morton's Demon to describe the data filter creationists use to block exposure to evidence that contradicts their beliefs. Despite his failure to 'go all the way', I applaud Glenn for having the guts to get rid of his demon.

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 10:32:00 UTC | #245368

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 20 by Roger Stanyard

Janus,

40% of American scientists do believe in religion. In that sense, Glenn is far from being odd. He's pretty well mainstream.

Why America still clings to religion, though, is another matter. I'm baffled by the country.

Roger Stanyard, British Centre for Science Education

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 10:35:00 UTC | #245373

cerad's Avatar Comment 21 by cerad

I also remember Glenn from christianforums.com. Glenn does not accept all mainstream science. In particular, because science cannot currently explain the origin of the universe Glenn concludes that science can never explain it. And therefore God must have done it.

Still, he is fun to read.

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 10:41:00 UTC | #245378

Ed-words's Avatar Comment 22 by Ed-words

"Young-earth creationists don't like being told they're wrong." (Christian humility?)


More evidence of the addictive power of faith.

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 11:01:00 UTC | #245386

flobear's Avatar Comment 23 by flobear

I can't help but admire Glenn. He's come such a far way and I'm not sure I could have done the same had I been born in his circumstances.

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 11:04:00 UTC | #245388

drrob's Avatar Comment 25 by drrob

Days of Proclamation seems to say that god said that he created the plan for the universe but then it took 4 billion years for the plan to get realised. So old earth creationsism same as Catholics kind of.

I found this link:

http://home.entouch.net/dmd/daysofproclamation.htm

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 11:05:00 UTC | #245390

Rational_Skeptic's Avatar Comment 24 by Rational_Skeptic

My own opinion, for what it is worth, is that the problem runs deeper than science v religion. With creationism you're dealing with a fundamentalist mindset. That is an ideology that ecompasses far more that just "creationism."

I heard a very interesting radio programme a few years ago on our public broadcaster in Canada. It was about a high profile negotiator (terrible memory - I can't remember his name and I can't find the reference) who had much success with the most complex and contentious disputes, which in this country deal with First Nations land and resource claims. One of his most famous successes dealt with the fishery in British Columbia.
The interviewer asked him the secret to his success at getting negotiated settlements with two (or more) seemingly intransigent and polarized sides. I'll never forget what he said: "You've got to keep in mind: it's not about the fish." The rest of the hour-long programme was about how the real issues are about something else: identity, power, culture, autonomy, etc. Once he can find out what the REAL issues are, he can work to address those as part of a solution to the "presenting" issues: fish, land, etc.
So, whenever I have an argument with someone about issues like free speech, abortion, evolution, etc. or even an argument with my teenager about doing the dishes for that matter, I remember "it's not about the fish" - which in the case of evolution is quite iconic if you pause a moment and think about it...

I wish I could find reference to that programme on CBC, help appreciated in that regard.

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 11:05:00 UTC | #245389

Janus's Avatar Comment 26 by Janus

Roger,

Sure. But that a person is a scientist doesn't mean that she cares about the truth. Many scientists see 'science' as a job, not as a way of thinking.

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 11:17:00 UTC | #245401

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 27 by Roger Stanyard

Rational Skpetic - thanks for the comments about the CBC programme. I must admit that is roughly the way I seen things. It seems to me that creationism is nothing more than a subset of fundamentalism which in turn, is part of the culture wars in the USA. A war, if you like, between backward and progressive America or between reason/thinking and emotion or between education and ignorance.

Identity, power and culture are central to it.

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 11:20:00 UTC | #245404

Swordmaiden's Avatar Comment 28 by Swordmaiden

"I've read a book by Alan Hayward (probably the one that 'rescued' Glenn Morton). It's really bad, a truly pathetic straw to have grasped.
Richard "

So why does someone who has obviously used evidential reasoning to conclude about the young-earth theory still grasp the tentative straws of faith? I think it is a deep fear. I recently lost my faith and it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, I still struggle because this goes deep into ones subconscious. I realise that I was believing what I wanted to believe,and it helped me live my life. It is actually very hard to step out without the "crutch" which once supported you for many years. I presume that this man is at least on the path to finding that courage though his obvious honesty and humility.

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 11:40:00 UTC | #245418

5keptical's Avatar Comment 29 by 5keptical

Rational_Skeptic: I remember listening to that CBC program... try looking in the archive for the "Ideas" show. It may have been one of the Massey lectures.

There was another excellent lecture (by King?) with the major theme that "we are the stories we tell ourselves". Everybody has a view of themselves, part of an internal narrative that defines who or what they are.

You won't be able to change a creationist's mind until you can address the problem that evidence that contradicts that story just won't be accepted because it breaks their core view of who they are.

And it's clear from the Glen's account that creationists as a group work very hard to keep that association strong, coupling it with social shunning and bullying.

Thus xtian scientist like Miller are probably very important in reducing the fundamentalist influence on mainstream xians.

But it may also mean that once a certain point has been reached only massive de-programming can bring a fundamentalist out of the fundamentalist mindset.

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 12:20:00 UTC | #245448

JFHalsey's Avatar Comment 30 by JFHalsey

Janus said:

It's not just that he's smart, it's that I think he really cares about what's true, which is something that is incredibly rare among religious believers.


I think that's actually very close to the heart of the matter; at least if my own personal anecdote has any statistical merit. My personal journey out of christianity coincided with my sister's disillusionment with her church's hierarchy and orthodoxy, and she said she was purposefully "looking for the Truth." I took this as encouragement to share--rather excitedly--the actual facts I had discovered about religion, christianity and, particularly, glaring biblical inaccuracies (since we were raised to believe in a very strict, bible-is-inerrant brand of christianity).

I was told, in no uncertain terms, that she believed satan had gotten a hold of my mind and made me believe all those "lies."

We were both disillusioned with what we had been taught and had seen not to pan out; but whereas I would only accept pure, undeniable facts from that point on, she only actually wanted to find a different version of her religion which made her feel warmer and fuzzier than the last iteration.

Thu, 02 Oct 2008 12:22:00 UTC | #245449