Edinburgh Creation Group

I think now is a good time to introduce the Edinburgh Creation Group, seeing as I’ve just come back from one of their talks. I got involved through the Humanist Society, which had some copies of their leaflets, including this amazing piece of reading (notice how both Communism AND Capitalism are both a product of evolution, as well as student debt and STD’s, apparently). Basically each week someone with a scientific background will give a presentation on how science fits into religious interpretation in one way or other. Often several of our members will go to listen to the talk, and then ask awkward questions at the end, which is often quite a good way to get into the nitty-gritty of creationist theory which doesn’t come up in normal conversation.

Previous weeks’ talks have been on very fundamental things like “geological proof for the global flood” (apparently, trees can survive a year underwater) and “the cosmos: hallmarks of design?” (or how much of a coincidence life on this planet is, which when you think about it, is really a statistical certainty), which are easily disputable, but in the last few weeks I must admit that the talks have been very much geared towards a Christian audience, in that they already assume the existence of God, or they make no premise about evolution or creation, so there’s really nothing to dispute from my point of view. Tonight’s talk, for example, was just on Persian history and how it fits in quite well with what the Bible says in the Old Testament, supposedly proving that we should treat it as a historical document. My one question at the end was whether the speaker, Dr Mark Woolmer, thought that what we know is true about the Bible lends authority to the things that are harder to believe, like the miracles. He said yes. Surely that’s like saying that Harry Potter’s all true, just because it mentions real places like King’s Cross Station? The logic doesn’t follow.

In any case, there are a few things I’ve learned, thought about, or gained a new appreciation for during this series of talks, the last of which is happening next week (a new series will begin next semester):

First of all, although I was aware of the dogma of the Fall of Man in Genesis, I never knew that so many creationists think it has real, physical consequences in the real world. When I was a Catholic, people didn’t talk about the Fall like it was something that’s still happening, but like it happened in Genesis but has since stopped. Many of the creationists I’ve met believe that the fall means we are all genetic degenerates, and we will continue to degenerate until Christ comes again to save us. It might be easy to dismiss this, as life expectancy has consistently risen in the past rather than declined as you might expect, but it’s strange that this view isn’t more common among Christians, seeing as it’s necessary to explain a multitude of things from a creationist point of view, such as how we now have more than one blood type if we’re all descendants of two people (according to Dr Marc Surtees, a member of ECG with degrees in Zoology and Geology, and who owns a shop on Leith Walk, Adam and Eve were both A+. B, O and rhesus negative blood types are all degenerations which mean you’ve lost one, two or all of the proteins on your blood cells, which is only compatible with religion if you believe in a physical degeneration of humankind).

Another big point I’ve made to the group is that if all of this evidence is true, and science really does point to the Bible being true, then why aren’t we seeing a mass exodus of scientists converting to Christianity? The answer, I suspect, is that what’s been presented to the group is actually bad science, and that science actually doesn’t support the Bible and Christianity. I’m no scientist and I can’t dispute it very well, so that I leave to the more qualified, such as Dr Richard Dawkins, who I must say does a good job, on the whole.

Thirdly, I have a newfound respect for creationists, such as Dr Marc Surtees from the ECG, who actually think about their beliefs and why they hold them. As a humanist I find this much more palatable than the everyday Christian who doesn’t know why they believe, and doesn’t really even know what they believe. Many Christians nowadays see the Genesis story as a giant metaphor that didn’t really happen, but shows how much God loves us. But if Adam and Eve didn’t really exist, and original sin and the Fall didn’t really happen, then Jesus came to Earth and sacrificed himself for a nonexistent sin to save us all from nothing, so if you don’t believe in Genesis as it happened, they you undermine the entire Christian faith. So if you’re going to be a Christian, be a proper one.

One thing that does annoy me about Dr Marc is that he himself has said that when his science clashes with his religion, he always chooses his religion. So effectively he’s saying he chooses his unfounded beliefs over his rational knowledge. And this isn’t unique among creationists, either. Some people would rather believe what a book tells them than what they discover themselves. Ok, science isn’t perfect and it’s always being revised, but just because religion doesn’t change, that doesn’t make it better or more reliable than science. In fact I’d say it makes it much worse, outdated and old-fashioned. But that’s just me.

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12 Responses to Edinburgh Creation Group

  1. Marc Surtees says:

    Hi Mike,

    Someone mentioned that you were talking about me so I thought I better have a quick look.

    Just a few points.

    I do not have a degree in geology (one of many hobbies) my degrees are in Biology.

    I do not think I said that trees survive one year underwater during the flood. The seeds though must have survived for trees to start growing quickly enough for the dove from the ark to collect a leaf.

    I also would like to correct your statement about science and religion. As you know I am not religious (I am a Christian). If the Bible and science disagree I go with the Bible. If the religious authorities disagree with science I will probably go with the science. There is a world of difference between (organised) religion and true Biblical Christianity.

    As an aside: those who consistently hold to the Bible tend to get in trouble with the religious authorities sooner or later.

    Thanks anyway for the even handed comments.

    Regards,

    Marc

  2. grammarking says:

    Hi Marc,

    I must have been mistaken about your degree in geology, I’ve got it written down in the notes I took from your talk on the global flood, must have misheard, sorry about that. I can delete that bit if you like or just leave this as a correction. I don’t really like editing my posts after I’ve made them though, looks a bit dodgy.

    Although you didn’t personally say that trees could survive underwater, a question was asked about what the herbivore animals would eat coming off the ark, seeing as the land-based plants would be dead. In the confusion of the very frantic q&a session, an answer wasnt given, but thanks for the clarification on your position. It seems dubious to me that the plants would be able to grow fast enough from the seeds to cope with the demand of the fairly large number of animals, but I’d have to get into the specifics which is a little difficult to do seeing as I wasn’t there.

    Anyway thanks for the comments.

    Mike

  3. Marc Surtees says:

    Hi Mike,

    No need to correct your post, if people read the comments then they get the update.

    Re the problem of animals having enough to eat. The animals stayed on the ark about 3 months after dry land started to appear . The grass on my lawn would turn into a jungle in that time! There would have been whole continents of lush grass and sprouting forests by the time they left the ark.

    Regards,

    Marc

  4. […] googled that one), and I made a note to ask it again in the future. That I did when I went to the Edinburgh Creation Group, when Marc Surtees replied that it’s down to the Fall. Adam and Eve would have been A+ and […]

  5. I wrote an article about why I think creationism is bad for Christianity, specifically as a reaction to this group:

    http://www.ecalpemos.org/2010/10/why-creationism-is-bad-for-christianity.html

    I would also draw your attention to this article which shows that Darwin and evolution have not made people atheists and have not changed the way people think:

    http://www.ecalpemos.org/2011/01/atheism-before-darwin.html

    I get the impression that this group in Edinburgh has largely finished. Its certainly not as high profile as it once was. Indeed the number of evangelicals supporting a creationist position is not growing in the UK. It is still a minority belief amongst even those who call themselves “evangelical”.

    • grammarking says:

      I don’t think many people on the atheist side of the debate do claim that Darwinism is the reason for their atheism. What I think many would say is that the theory of evolution makes atheism much more intellectually satisfying.

      • Sorry, what I meant was that one of the claims of creationists is that Darwinism is the cause of atheism. A scare tactic to persuade evangelicals that they should promote creationism. Its not true at all. Evolution adds nothing to the fundamental debate about religion.

  6. Bit of an update on Edinburgh City Mission (related):

    Edinburgh City Mission – Again!

    Odd.

  7. Thomas54 says:

    Saw some YouTube videos of a debate held in the National Library of Scotland in February 2009, organised by the Institute of Ideas and the Humanist Society Scotland. One of the speakers was Marc Surtees. He presented his creationist views, making all the usual arguments against evolution of species and the geological evidence for a very old Earth. The videos are in chunks of 10 minutes, and it’s the second one that is of interest, http://youtu.be/23zyTvesSDI

    Many of Surtees’ points are echoes of those repeatedly put by USA creationists and are regularly demolished by others using scientific evidence, such as “missing transitional fossils”.

    The Edinburgh Creationist Group web site certainly has a lot of nonsense. It’s quite laughable. I wonder how active this group is today, and how much influence they have on the local community and education. Hopefully not a lot 🙂

  8. bendecida says:

    Found your blog while looking up Edinburgh Creation Group. I used to be an evangelical Christian here in Canada. Since watching The Truth Project, an apologetics series for church small groups, my faith has been demolished. When stepping back and casting a critical eye upon all the arguments presented by both sides, science wins.

    I found the bit about the blood type a very interesting point I had not considered. You’ve got more things for me to think on here, thanks for writing.

  9. gordonhudsonnu says:

    They are involved in a day conference organised by CMI (creation.com) at Carrubbers in October. See here: http://creation.com/images/pdfs/events/edinburgh-ctct-brochure.pdf

  10. gordonhudsonnu says:

    I see they are having a big conference in Edinburgh in October:

    http://www.ecalpemos.org/2012/05/creationist-roadshow-comes-to-edinburgh.html

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