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Neo-creationism is a movement whose goal is to restate creationism in terms more likely to be well received by the public, policy makers, educators, and the scientific community. It aims to re-frame the debate over the origins of life in non-religious terms and without appeals to scripture. This comes in response to the 1987 ruling by the United States Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard that creationism is an inherently religious concept and that advocating it as correct or accurate in public school curricula violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.[1][2][3]

One of its principal claims is that ostensibly objective orthodox science, with a foundation in naturalism, is actually a dogmatically atheistic religion.[4] Its proponents argue that the scientific method excludes certain explanations of phenomena, particularly where they point towards supernatural elements. This effectively excludes religious insight from contributing to understanding the universe.

A spectrum of arguments comprises neo-creationism and most claim to be scientific theories. Of these, few are openly religious, yet most make thinly-veiled religious allusions. The most recognized forms of neo-creationism in the United States are intelligent design and abrupt appearance theory.[5] Unlike their scientific creationist forebears, neo-creationists largely do not believe in many of the traditional cornerstones of creationism such a young Earth, or in a dogmatically literal interpretation of the Bible.

Common to all forms of neo-creationism is a rejection of naturalism, usually made together with a tacit admission of supernaturalism, and an open and often hostile opposition to what they term "Darwinism", which generally is meant to refer to evolution. Neo-creationists also make sociological claims, arguing that naturalistic science, as an "atheistic enterprise", is at the root of social unrest, family breakdown, and nihilism.[6]

Various neo-creationist groups claim to run scientific enterprises that conduct legitimate scientific research. Notable examples are the Discovery Institute and its Center for Science and Culture. Neo-creationists have yet to establish a recognized line of legitimate scientific research and thus far lack scientific and academic legitimacy, even among many academics of evangelical Christian colleges who are presumed to be their natural constituency [7]

As do postmodernists, neo-creationists reject the traditions arising from the Enlightenment upon which modern scientific epistemology is founded. Neo-creationists seek nothing less than the replacement of empirical and logical evidence with ideology and dogmatic belief. Thus, neo-creationism is considered by Eugenie C. Scott and other critics as the most successful form of irrationalism.

Motivating the neo-creationist movement is the fear that religion is under attack by the study of evolution.[8][9][10][6] An argument common to neo-creationist justifications is that society has suffered "devastating cultural consequences"[11][6] from adopting materialism and that science is the cause of this decay into materialism since science seeks only natural explanations. Science is therefore atheistic, they claim. They believe that the theory of evolution implies that humans have no spiritual nature, no moral purpose, and no intrinsic meaning, directly leading to the attrocities committed by Hitler's Nazi regime for example.[12] The movement's proponents seek to "defeat [the] materialist world view" represented by the theory of evolution in favor of "a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions". [11] Phillip E. Johnson, 'father' of the intelligent design movement, states the movement's goal is to "affirm the reality of God."[13]

Tactics Edit

Much of the effort of neo-creationists in response to science consists of polemics highlighting gaps in understanding or minor inconsistencies in the literature of biology, then making statements about what can and cannot happen in biological systems.[14][15][16] Critics of neo-creationism suggest that neo-creationist science consists of quote-mining the biological literature (including outdated literature) for minor slips, inconsistencies or polemically promising examples of internal arguments. These internal disagreements, fundamental to the working of all natural science, are then presented dramatically to lay audiences as evidence of the fraudulence and impending collapse of "Darwinism".[17] Critics suggest that Neo-creationists routinely employ this method to exploit the technical issues within biology and evolutionary theory to their advantage, relying on a public that is not sufficiently scientifically literate to follow the complex and sometimes difficult details.

Discovery Institute Edit

Examples of neo-creationist polemics include the Discovery Institute's Wedge Document [1], the book Darwin on Trial by Phillip E. Johnson, and the book From Darwin to Hitler by Richard Weikart [2]. Research for Weikart's book was funded by the Discovery Institute, and is promoted through the institute. [3]. Both Johnson and Weikart are affiliated with the Discovery Institute; Johnson is program advisor, and Weikart is a fellow.

Observers and critics of neo-creationismEdit

All of the above make explicit the connections between traditional creationism, neo-creationism and intelligent design. But not all critics of neo-creationism are on the evolution side of the debate. Henry M. Morris, a notable Young Earth Creationist, accepts the term[1] but opposes the logic of neo-creationism for the very reason that it does not embrace the Bible.[20]

See also Edit

External links Edit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Neocreationism Henry M. Morris, Institute for Creation Research
  2. On Language: Neo-Creo William Safire. The New York Times. August 21, 2005.
  3. Creationism, Ideology, and Science Eugenie C. Scott. New York Academy of Sciences. The Flight From Reason. Volume 775, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, June 24 1996,
  4. Darwinism is Materialist Mythology, Not Science Phillip E. Johnson.
  5. Scott, Eugenie C., "Creationism, Ideology, and Science", National Center for Science Education, Reprinted from New York Academy of Sciences. The Flight From Reason. Volume 775 of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. June 24, 1996; URL accessed April 23, 2006.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 TV Producer Defends Documentary Exposing Darwin-Hitler Link Allie Martin and Jenni Parker. Agape Press. August 25 2006.
  7. Goodstein, Laurie, "IDEAS & TRENDS; Intelligent Design Might Be Meeting Its Maker" (Subscription required), NY Times, December 4, 2005, Section 4, Page 1, Column 1.
  8. Charles W. Colson, Nancy Pearcey, Harold Fickett. 1999 How Now Shall We Live?
  9. "Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator." wikisource:Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District/6:Curriculum, Conclusion#H. Conclusion Ruling, pg. 136 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
  10. "Johnson has concluded that science must be redefined to include the supernatural if religious challenges to evolution are to get a hearing. (11:8-15 (Forrest); P-429). Additionally, Dembski agrees that science is ruled by methodological naturalism and argues that this rule must be overturned if ID is to prosper. (Trial Tr. vol. 5, Pennock Test., 32-34, Sept. 28, 2005)." wikisource:Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District/2:Context#Page 30 of 139 Ruling - Context, pg. 30 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
  11. 11.0 11.1 The Wedge Document (PDF file), a 1999 Discovery Institute fundraising pamphlet. Cited in Handley P. Evolution or design debate heats up. The Times of Oman, 7 March 2005.
  12. Darwin's Deadly Legacy Television documentary. James Kennedy (televangelist), Coral Ridge Ministries. Aired August 26, 27 2006.
  13. Phillip E. Johnson, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 91-92.
  14. Devolution—Why intelligent design isn't H. Allen Orr. Annals of Science. New Yorker May 2005.
  15. Defending science education against intelligent design: a call to action American Society for Clinical Investigation, Journal of Clinical Investigation. 116:1134-1138 (2006)
  16. Back to the Quote Mines Gary Hurd. The Panda's Thumb, May 4 2005.
  17. Barbara Forrest & Paul R. Gross, "Creationism's Trojan Horse: Intro" (PDF),; URL accessed April 24, 2006.
  18. Design Yes, Intelligent No A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory and Neocreationism Massimo Pigliucci, Skeptical Inquirer. September, 2001
  19. "Phrases like "intelligent design theory," "abrupt appearance theory," "evidence against evolution," and the like, have sprung up, although the content of many of the arguments is familiar. This view can be called "neocreationism." ... Neocreationists are by no means identical to their predecessors, however.... Neither biblical creationists nor theistic evolutionists.... Most of them are "progressive creationists." Creationists and the Pope's Statement Eugenie C. Scott, Quarterly Review of Biology (vol. 72, December 1997), p. 403.
  20. Design Is Not Enough! Henry M. Morris, Institute for Creation Research
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