Field of Science

Creationist accepts but rejects evolution?

Eugenie Scott gets the last word in an entertaining exchange with Ray Comfort (aka the bananaman) about his publication of Darwin's Origin with a long foreword by Comfort. Comfort is clueless or devious. Or both. Both.

Scott ends her rebuttal with a note about a young-earth creationist:
I close with another quote. Todd C. Wood is a young-earth creationist—indeed, the director of the Center for Origins Research at Bryan University, founded in honor of the creationist hero William Jennings Bryan—who rejects evolution for biblical reasons, just like Comfort. Wood insists, "The Bible reveals true information about the history of the earth that is fundamentally incompatible with evolution."

But unlike Comfort, Wood is a trained scientist. And as such, he recognizes that the scientific basis of evolution is strong:
Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well.
Anyone who honestly examines the data supporting evolution—even a young-earth creationist—concludes that the science is strong. If you reject evolution, you are doing it for religious reasons. You're entitled to your religious opinions—but not to your own scientific facts.
This is baffling. Wood puts so well what evolutionary biologists want to scream at the top of their lungs. But then how on Earth can Wood be a creationist? It is a deep, deep mystery to me that he can reject evolution. How does he reconcile the evidence that he sees for evolution with his rejection of it? Just for once, I seriously do not understand the underlying reasoning. Please help!


  1. it seems to be characteristic of many humans to hold contradictory ideas without any cognitive dissonance. the entire faith-based population perhaps? just ask Dr. Fell

  2. It seems to me that the difference is that most creationists don't understand evolution, and don't accept the evidence. Wood sees a pencil on the desk, grabs it, writes with it, has other agreeing that it's there, proclaims that it's a proper pencil, and then goes on to say that he rejects it because it says otherwise in a book that he well knows there is not comparable evidence for. Cognitive dissonance squared.


  3. I suppose I can't really speak for him on the matter, but I can give you my bit as a Christian who understands evolution (I don't actually support creationism, but I can see their point of view from a closer vantage point). I'd say it was matter of believing in the Bible to the point where it becomes not a religious object, but a book of facts truer than the theories of man. He makes very sure to call evolution just that, a theory. I'm sure if you would look at that quote in its full context, he would be able to explain better than I.

  4. a book of facts truer than the theories of man

    While I personally think that's crazy, at least it is consistent to say that you believe in the Bible when it contradicts evolution or science. But Wood says he completely believes/accepts evolution, and yet is a creationist. There is a difference.

    He makes very sure to call evolution just that, a theory.

    It is also clear that he understands what 'theory' means in science, which it looks to me that you don't (apologies if I am wrong about that). "Just that, a theory" is usually creationist-speak for hearsay and unfounded speculation, but that's not what it means in science.

  5. In a word, faith. Like actual faith, not the fake kind practiced by idiots like Comfort.

    Not that I'm saying faith is a good thing ("Faith is making a virtue out of not thinking" --Bill Maher), but I have a lot less of a problem with Wood-style faith than with Comfort-style faux-faith. Wood may be being deliberately boneheaded, but at least he's not lying or playing word games.

  6. Wood is described by theistic evolutionists who are scientists as 'the honest creationist' in that he recognises the evidence for evolution but simply does not accept it because of his views about the Bible. He wants to attempt to work within the YEC framework to make it work as model, but realises it faces huge problems. He has a paper entitled 'The Chimpanzee Genome and The Problem of Biological Similarity' (google it - it's an interesting read) in which he attempts to deal with the evidence honestly, admitting that he doesn't really have any answers for why the human and chimp genomes (and those of other organisms) are the way they are.
    Conservative Christian scientists regard him as a very rare entity; whereas most creationists spend their time ranting about the lack of evidence for evolution, he acknowledges that there is lots of evidence for it. Perhaps the only other example of such a person is Kurt Wise who has written creationist articles detailing the paleontological evidence for evolution in attempting to build a model to incorporate it into his YEC beliefs.

  7. Dan, does Wood ever say how he can continue to be a creationist in spite of all the evidence for evolution?

  8. He simply thinks that despite the evidence that supports it and its vast explanatory power, it is not ultimately an accurate account of life on earth. He makes it quite clear that he believes what he does because of his views about the Bible. Despite the overwhelming difficulties that YECism faces (what most people would consider to be irreconcilable difficulties) Wood truly believes that by working within that framework he will ultimately be able to construct a working model.
    "That's why I want my students to know the truth about evolution. It's not bogus. It's not a failure. There's lots of evidence in its favor. But that just doesn't make it true. Have faith in the risen Christ, and it will not matter what scientists tell you (or anyone else, for that matter)."
    "Faith is enough. If God said it, that should settle it. Maybe that's not enough for your scoffing professor or your non-Christian friends, but it should be enough for you."
    "As a point of application, I think modern creationists would be much better served if we stopped coddling their every doubt and fear with new "evidence for creation" and instead helped to wean them off evidence altogether. A truly close Christian walk with Jesus should render evidence irrelevant. This is where we really want to be, not buffeted about by the wind and waves but confidently walking through the storm with our eyes fixed unwaveringly on Christ. To put it another way, Anselm of Canterbury wrote,

    The Christian ought to progress through faith to understanding, and not through understanding to faith. Let him rejoice if he is able to attain understanding; if he cannot, let him revere what he cannot apprehend (quoted in Southern. 1990. Saint Anselm. Cambridge UP, p. 123).

    The flipside of this is the realization that faith opens your eyes to new evidences that you could not see otherwise. These are not evidences that are irrefutable or purely rational but they are true nonetheless. Any faith that seeks understanding must grapple with these truths. What might seem like minor anomalies or "tiny mysteries" or procedural problems in conventional science become important keys to creationist theories when viewed through the eyes of faith.

    I think I've given my Christian readers much to wrestle with, and to my skeptical readers: Mock all you want, but I will still confess that I have heard the voice of the Good Shepherd. You may think it's nonsense, but it's truth nonetheless."

  9. That's truly amazing. That faith can be so dumb, that is.

    Thanks for sharing, Dan.


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