I’m Not a Scientist but I Play One on Atheist Blogs

creationism cartoon

This is not a science blog. I have no training in science, outside of high school and college biology classes and whatever knowledge I have gained from the books I’ve read. I don’t engage in long, protracted science discussions because I don’t have the education necessary to do so. I know my limitations. Theology, the Bible, Evangelicalism, and sex are my specialties and this is why I primarily write on these subjects (Okay , maybe not sex).

When I post a science article, I do so because I think it will either help readers or it illustrates the ignorance that is pervasive in many corners of the Christian and Evangelical world. I don’t have the skill or knowledge to adequately defend evolution, but I do know people who do, and I trust them because they have the requisite training, knowledge, and experience to speak authoritatively. All of us, to some degree or another, trust experts. No one knows everything.

The problem that arises when I post a science article is that it attracts young earth creationists. Armed with a limited understanding of science, colored by creationist presuppositions, creationists want to debate and argue with me about the article I posted. Generally, I try to steer such arguments back to the Bible and theology because I think that is the best way to disembowel creationism. Ask yourself, when’s the last time you’ve seen creationists abandon their beliefs as a result of a blog debate or discussion? It doesn’t happen, and the reason is quite simple: abandoning their beliefs would require them to also let go of their faith. Until creationists are willing to entertain the notion that they might be wrong about the inerrancy, infallibility, and inspiration of the Bible, there is no way to reach them. Facts don’t matter because faith always trumps facts.

Young earth creationists love to come to blogs like mine because they can make themselves look like they are experts in disciplines such as biology, archeology, and cosmology. They know I am not going to engage them in a science discussion, and unless someone with a science background responds to them, that’s where the discussion ends. I’m sure they think they’ve won a mighty victory for God, but all that has happened is that no one wants to waste their time with someone who has no true desire to follow the evidentiary path wherever it leads.

I am content to let them play a scientist on this blog. If those of you trained in the sciences want to engage them, please do so. I will stick to what I know: theology, the Bible, and Evangelicalism. And even with these things, I have backed countless Evangelicals into a corner only to have them throw their hands up and tap out by saying FAITH FAITH FAITH! Once someone appeals to faith, all discussion is over (at least for me it is).

Going forward, I think I will point those who want to argue and debate science to blogs such as Why Evolution is TrueExploring Our MatrixThe Sensuous CurmudgeonGod of EvolutionThe Panda’s Thumb, or Confessions of a Young Earth Creationist. (If you know of other writers who have a good understanding of science, creationism, and Evangelicalism, please share the link to their site in the comment section.)  Each of us has competency in certain subjects or disciplines. I know where my competency lies and I don’t pretend to know what I don’t know. Now, this does not mean that I have no understanding of science and the scientific method. I do, and my knowledge increases every time I read a science article, blog, or book. But, I could follow this path for the next 25 years and still not have the necessary expertise to pass myself off as an expert. I find it laughable that someone — anyone — thinks they can read x number of books and be as competent and knowledgeable as those who have spent 6-10 years in college training for a specific scientific field and now work in that field every day of their life. Such thinking is called hubris.

The good news about my areas of expertise — theology, the Bible, and Evangelicalism — is that rarely is there any new information. Outside of archeological finds that might have some connection to the Bible, there’s not much happening in Bible Town. Sure, there are small skirmishes going on over the historicity of Jesus and what the Bible really, really, really says about _______________, but for the most part it’s just the same shit, different day.  I don’t wake up in the morning and say, Hey, I wonder what new and exciting story about the Bible, theology, or Evangelicalism awaits me. (This is one of the reasons Hector Avalos gives for the ending of Biblical studies programs. The End of Biblical Studies by Hector Avalos.)

Note

I am not suggesting that someone can’t become conversant and competent in a specific subject without going to college. I know firsthand the importance of study and hard work. That’s what I did for 25 years, spending hours and hours each week reading and studying the Bible and theology. Would I have been better off if I had gone to Princeton and not an Evangelical Bible college? Sure, but I did a pretty good job over 25 years of plugging up the lack-of-knowledge holes. I still have gaps in my knowledge, but that can be said of every person. None of us knows everything, even when it comes to our particular area of expertise. I am a serious amateur photographer and I know a good bit about the craft. but, the more I read and practice my craft, the more I realize how much I still don’t know.

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8 Comments

  1. Karen

    As a geologist, I don’t have much knowledge of biology. I have played a bit with invertebrate fossils, and the changes we see through time in those fossils have made evolution real to me in a way that no amount of reading and lectures and presentations possibly could. But I have to leave in-depth understanding of all the different lines of evidence to my colleagues in the biological sciences. And I’m quite happy with that, because I trust that they do science the same way I do and have properly put together the story that these lines of evidence tell.

    And that’s the fundamental problem in debating with creationists: they don’t trust the process of science. They don’t participate in it (for the most part), at best pretending to play at it. They can’t honestly do it, because their faith requires fitting the evidence to the conclusion. Dealing with them is just tiresome. But the ones who annoy me the most are big on arguing “XYZ disproves [evolution/age of the universe/big bang/etc.], therefore Christ!” Um, no. even if they’re right about XYZ (and they never are), that doesn’t say a damn thing about what really is true. Disproving evolution would definitely win you the Nobel prize, but implies nothing about the truth of Christianity or any other faith.

    Reply
  2. HeIsSailing

    I am a physicist. I occasionally post articles on my blog, but rarely on the subject of physics. I understand Evolution via Natural Selection well enough to be convinced by it, and i can debate the fundamental points of it. But I am much more familiar with astronomy, and why scientists are convinced in the ‘Big Bang’ model of cosmology. But I have found that in most cases it is pointless to debate or argue any of these topics with a Die Hard creationist. We simply do not speak the same language. They do not, or will not, understand the methodology behind the findings provided by science, and typically they will instead base whatever findings they want on authority. Even their language is couched in religious terms when they are trying to discuss science. A colleague of mine recently told me, “I do not believe in Evolution”. As if Evolution were an alternative religion to Christianity. I told him that Evolution is not something to be believed or disbelieved in as if by Faith. No, it is a theory that you are either persuaded or unpersuaded by based on your research of available evidence. I cannot discuss science with them if the only science they know is misrepresentations from the Pulpit. Look, they are part of a captive audience of religious instruction at least once per week! Anything they know about science, scientific reasoning or methodology comes from this forum – from Pastors who are similarly untrained in science! It is frustrating to me.

    Reply
  3. Mark

    Another good book science book is “Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson

    Reply
  4. Len Koz

    Dammit Noah! Did you have to save those two #$&@?/> mosquitoes?

    Reply
  5. Matt Martin

    Ben Goldacre is very good. http://www.badscience.net/ Also Brian Cox (yes that Brian Cox) and Robin Ince have a splendid podcast call The Infinite Monkey Cage http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/timc which is worth a listen.

    Reply
  6. Joyce

    I recommend a YouTuber named AronRa. He has some very good video series called The Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism.

    Reply
    1. Joyce

      Sorry for the grammatical error — I changed my wording part way through my thought. I meant to say: I recommend a YouTuber named AronRa. He has a very good video series called The Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Thanks for the recommendation.

        Reply

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