Atheists’ Fascination with Creationism

Atheists seem to have a fascination with creationists. They seem to look at creationists as some strange creatures – kind of like those cave insects that never see the light of day – and wonder how they could ever wake up in the morning without being completely shame faced for their beliefs.

I guess I can’t blame them for picking on creationists as it is really quite low hanging fruit. But I fear atheists are making two mistakes by attacking creationists: 1) atheists tend to lump all theists into the creationist camp (not true), and 2), they are missing the entire bloody point of the creation story.

I am a theist and I believe evolution is a sound theory. I also believe that the creation story is entirely compatible with evolution. The two are not mutually exclusive. Why? Because the creation story isn’t trying to make a statement as to the scientific origins of the earth or the chronological events that lead up to the existence of man.

Anyone who reads the creation stories will hopefully see that there is a problem if you are trying to get an order of events accounting of the creation of man.  (In Genesis 1:24-27 God makes animals and then man while in Genesis 2:5-7 we see that God makes man “when no plant of the field was yet in the earth…”). From my understanding, most biblical scholars will explain that there are two biblical creation stories. In fact, it is highly likely that the stories came from other traditions as there are ample examples of similar creation stories (Epic of Gilgamesh and so on).

Despite this obvious fact, atheists love to pick on creationists to point out that creation didn’t happen in the way the Bible describes it. It’s as if they want to say

Ha! The world was not created in 7 days! The bible is wrong!!!

…therefore atheism.

But ultimately atheists, you look a bit silly when you do this. In fact, you look as silly as the creationists! While you are busy disproving creationism in order to debunk Christianity, why don’t we point out how Huck Finn never actually lived and therefore all of Mark Twain’s books are pure bunk? Or that Rodka never actually killed the woman in “Crime and Punishment” because he wasn’t a real person, and therefore the book is pure “fairytales and fantasy”?

The reason creationists look silly, in my opinion, is that it should be obvious that the creation accounts are not intended to be read in that manner. Sure, there’s the science too – that’s also quite convincing.

The creation stories are one part of an entire book – an entire tradition – that tell us of the love story of God for humans. The creation stories are fundamental building blocks to answer the questions of “what does it mean to be human”, and “why did God create us”, as well as any of the “why does God allow…permit…etc”.

So let’s end the fascination with creationism. It doesn’t make anyone look good.

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11 thoughts on “Atheists’ Fascination with Creationism

  1. I think, you missed the whole point. Most atheists really don’t care about theists who think of the whole bible is mostly allegorical. That’s fine, believe it. It would be hard for us to care less. BUT the point you are forgetting is, that creationists are trying to elevate this bullshit to the level of science, to force it being taught in schools, etc. – and that’s why atheists fight against it. Honestly, if YOU want to believe the world was created in 7 days, that’s fine (I know, you don’t, it’s just an example). Feel free. Be happy with it. No problem here. Ok, perhaps I’ll make jokes about you, but I’ll also gladly make jokes about physicists, mathematicians, etc. – I like jokes and as you said, creationists are a pretty easy target. But as soon as you start trying to force it into our schools, you should expect meeting resistance.

    And as the whole allegorical christians don’t seem to want to fight that nonsense, atheists had to. Honestly, if christian stood up more often against things like that, I would have much more respect.

    But, sorry, the funny thing is… Both views, the allegorical AND the literal one can be justified from the bible. It’s not as if you way of interpreting it is more “correct”. It’s more modern, sure, it’s more liberal, sure. But if you look at the bible, you’ll have a hard time proving one view over the other.

    • While that may be true for you, there are quite a few comments that I see that don’t serve the purpose of keeping it out of the schools. I have seen comments from several atheists who do not have a “who care’s what you believe so long as it doesn’t affect me” attitude.

      Regarding the last paragraph, both views cannot be correct as they oppose each other. The creation stories (both of them) were compiled into Genesis for a reason. I would argue that given the fact there are two distinct stories that differ in their factual presentation of the creation narrative that the author who compiled the stories had no intention of them being read as factual narratives. This also fits in more coherently with the purpose of much of the narrative books of the old testament. But this is, alas, a different conversation. 🙂

  2. It is not entirely the fault of theists that they tend to fall into the trap of conflating theism with creationism, as the creationists they argue with do it all the time.

    • That’s why I made the first point. Atheists often trumpet logic and reason as their banner, yet to take the claims of some and extend it to the entire group is neither logical nor reasonable. Although I don’t have any research offhand to back this up, I would guess that creationists are a minority group within Christianity.

      • In the US they are about half of the country (or around 3/4 of the christian population). In europe they are a minority.

      • Wow, that’s higher than I would have expected. I did a search and found Gallup did a poll of Americans and found 46% are closer to creationism (although there are some differing polls which may show this number is actually lower). Lot’s of thoughts about that, but that may have to be for another time.

        Thanks for the number..

  3. […] Atheists’ Fascination with Creationism (talkingatheism.wordpress.com) […]

  4. […] mainly roused by the intersection of politics and religion. Another post I read recently asked why atheists are fascinated by creationism. First, the writer makes the mistake of equating angry people on the internet with all atheists. […]

  5. […] I posted on some atheists seemingly endless obsession with creationism and how they seemed to be falling into problems of scope as well as missing the point of the text. […]

  6. This strikes me as a bit of a straw man argument. There are many scientists who also believe in God. The reason people go after creationists is twofold. One is the entertainment value, I suspect, especially for the more militant faction. But the other is that creationists are actively harmful, who seek to deny school students access to real science. They manufacture doubt where none exists. Most reasonable people would agree that other people can hold any wacky beliefs they choose. But trying to introduce them into school science classes? Different thing.

    • It possibly is a bit of a straw man argument if I have indeed miscast the motivations against the arguments. If I have, that wasn’t intention and is part of the reason I am engaging in these discussions.

      The school argument has been brought up after I wrote this which is an argument I can appreciate. I suspect, though, that among the more militant atheists creationism vs. evolution is an easy target to try and put a plank in a larger argument disproving Christianity. This is, of course, an assumption and one I will be happy to disavow as I continue to talk with others…

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