The Creationist Mindset

This will be a quick one, just felt the need to comment on something.

After making my "people don't understand probability" post I was scanning the intertubes looking for relevant examples and found someone had written a letter to the editor all about how evolution was so unlikely, therefore we should be teaching creationism in schools.

I signed up to comment and... disagreed. In some moderate level of detail.

The response was for the letter writer to declare that I was an imposter. That "Grant" was not my real name. And to imply that I was there serving some shadowy agenda.

I am still unclear on who I was supposed to be if not myself... why this person I was supposed to be would disguise themselves as "Grant" (Does my name carry some kind of attached prestige which would lend weight to my arguments I'm not aware of)... what cause was supposed to have "sent" me... and why they would care to do such a thing. So I asked, employing levels of sarcasm that were perhaps excessive but really, really obvious.

The response was for the person in question to declare that I had admitted that I was not posting under my real identity (because I had asked why I, Richard Dawkins... or perhaps the ghost of Steven J Gould, would care to disguise myself as this "Grant" person) and they began basking in an apparent sense of validation that they were right about their conspiracy theory.

Now, my point here is that I could just dismiss this as an isolated incident of a crazy person on the Internet, except that this is the kind of mindset one needs to have in order to deny evolution in the first place. The belief that the entire world's scientific community is somehow engaged in some vast plot to make you believe evolution happened, for mysterious unexplained reasons. Which is... well... crazy.

For anyone interested, the exchange in question can be found here: (click me!) and the conspiracy theorist in question is the letter writer, Lance.


  1. Lance is a typical creationist. Too stupid to understand anything. I admire the patience you have with idiots.

  2. I don't think "idiot" is necessarily the right term. It's not that he just plain lacks any brainpower, it's that his mind is so twisted up in this need to believe in his religious dogmas of choice that he's incapable of rationally examining any contradictory evidence... so when confronted with any his mind just shoots off in wild directions trying to find a way to either dismiss it or get around it.

    It's more of a mental disorder than a lack of intelligence.

  3. PS: Hey, first blog comment! Yay.

  4. A mental disorder? Humm, that sounds like a polite way of saying 'idiot', from the Greek 'idiōtēs', to mean lacking knowledge. I think I prefer idiot - at least an idiot can grow out of idiocy, unlike a mental disorder.
    The two points of view will never see eye to eye, though there is a growing popularity in pseudoscience, or ID, which, in my opinion, is a pointless pursuit and one that will never be accepted within scientific circles. Science and theology by their definitions can never really be reconciled. Science consists of its own bulk of findings and data based on experimentation and research; theology has its own bulk of findings and data based on the content of sixty six books making up the bible. Can God be proved by science? No! Can God be disproved by science? No! Does theology prove God? No! Does theology disprove science? No!
    With this in mind, and because science sets out to prove its claims through experiment and research, those who hold to a creationist view feel threatened by the hard evidence of science. It won't be long before creationism will be a thing of the past due to people abandoning the notion at the risk of feeling embarrassed as science gathers strength.
    They're not idiots or mentally disordered, but people demonstrating human response as their beliefs are attacked and they don't have the same weapons to fight back with.
    Can science prove emotion? Can it prove the love one person has for another, can it prove the sense of justice and injustice, what is right and wrong? No, it can't, and nor does it make anyone an idiot or mentaly disordered.

  5. Considering my entire comment explained *exactly* the distinction in meaning between what I meant by the person in question acting more like he was suffering from a mental disorder than acting like he was an idiot... no, it doesn't sound at all like a polite way of saying idiot. He doesn't lack the knowledge in question, it's been clearly presented directly to him.

    It was a way (not particularly polite one) of saying he is so personally emotionally invested in his religious beliefs that he simply cannot bring himself to rationally engage with any knowledge that contradicts those beliefs.

    "Can God be proved by science? No! Can God be disproved by science? No!"

    That last one is exactly the problem with the idea of God. I refer you to what I've had to say already on the subject of the importance of falsifiability:


    A literally *impossible* to disprove hypothesis is worthless.

    "Does theology prove God? No! Does theology disprove science? No!"

    Does theology prove or disprove *anything* as opposed to simply engaging in unfounded speculation and wishful thinking? No! That would be another problem.