Posted by: Barry Bickmore | March 6, 2011

Reports of My Creationism Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Ever since I started spouting off about climate change, people on both sides of the fence have repeatedly brought up the fact that I’m a “creationist.”  (See examples here and here.)  In all my years as a practicing scientist, nobody has brought this up before, but then, that’s mainly because I’m not a “creationist” in the way these people mean.  If I had to pick a label, I’d choose “Theistic Evolutionist.”  In one sense this is a particular brand of “Creationism,” but most people who say “Creationism” are talking about “Young Earth Creationism,” which is fundamentally anti-science, in my opinion.

The confusion seems to stem from the fact that I’m a Mormon, and since Mormons (like, say, Roman Catholics,) believe in God, angels, miracles, and so forth, people assume we’re all Young Earth Creationists.  What they don’t understand is that Mormons also believe God ordains natural laws that the world follows on its own (see Doctrine and Covenants 93:30).  It this situation, there is naturally a wide range of opinion among individual Mormons about the extent to which God poked his finger into the pie of Creation as it was baking, but there is no “official” Mormon position about such questions.  This is so much the case that all the relevant science classes at Brigham Young University (where I work) routinely teach evolutionary theory, and that’s perfectly fine as long as we don’t try to force any particular viewpoint down the students’ throats.  In fact, I’ve never heard a single one of my science professor colleagues at BYU express even the slightest support for the latest fad in Creationism, Intelligent Design Theory.

So if you are tempted to pop-psychologize me over the Internet, please get your facts straight, first.

Oh, don’t get me wrong–I’m not going to whine if you want to pop-psychologize me.  I wouldn’t want to be such a wet blanket that I suck all the fun out of Internet discussions by sanctimoniously declaring religion off-limits.  And if you want to banter about how irrational I am, you don’t have to look far.  I mean, how “scientific” is believing Jesus was resurrected, or that angels sometimes visit people, or the gift of healing, and so on, and so forth?  So with that bit of guidance, feel free.


  1. I was enjoying your comment piece on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s website and argument about your ‘creationism’ led me here.
    Do you realize that the advertisement that google has on your site is for
    Theistic evolution is (in one way) less scientific than young earth creationism, because it isn’t falsifiable. If you’re coming from a religious background though I’d accept that it’s the only defensible position. I was raised a Catholic and that was pretty much what I was taught: If the scientists say there was evolution, then that was just what God wanted. If the scientists say that everything came from nothing billions of years ago, fine, that was what God wanted. The problem with the theory is pretty clear, isn’t it?
    Anyway, I suspect that we disagree deeply about nearly everything, but I’m also aware that the stand you take on this could be quite intellectually courageous in your cultural surroundings, so good on you.

    • Hi James,

      My religiosity is more a function of personal experience than anything else. That isn’t “scientific” because my personal religious experiences aren’t “replicable” by a scientific community, however. Science is what it is, and it’s good for some things, and not others. I’m fine with that.

    • The requirement for falsifiabilty is, in my opinion, overstated. How do you falsify gravity? It exists. No one has figured out how to make it not exist. Perhaps one might argue that it isn’t “gravity” that holds you to the ground, but something else, and since gravity cannot be falsified it would be difficult to prove that it isn’t a swarm of nano-bots.

      But it’s just a word. Gravity is the word given to the observation. It doesn’t need falsifying; it might need explaining but only if you are going to try to manipulate it.

      So it is with religious explanations co-existing with natural explanations. It’s just an explanation, a word. Maybe the universe is proceeding exactly as God wished, down to every quantum interaction, maybe not — does it matter? Not to me.

      • I have no idea what this comment is responding to.

  2. “people on both sides of the fence have repeatedly brought up the fact that I’m a creationist.”

    You do your share (and then some) of bringing up irrelevancies when arguing a point.

    • Since this post was about falsehoods, rather than irrelevancies, you comment is irrelevant.

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