I'm just back from Concarolinas in Charlotte. This is a kick-ass con, extremely well organized and well attended. I got to hang out with old friends like Ed Schubert, Gray Rhinehart, and Gail Martin, as well as making some new buddies like Jeremy Lewis and David B. Coe.
I'm exhausted though... I was on 11 panels this weekend, and my brain is now mush. My last panel of the day was on paranormal phenomena, and I was too bushed to rant.
One thing I really like about Concarolinas is that they do several science panels. I enjoy going to cons and talking about writing, but I LOVE talking about science, especially with folks who know what they are talking about.
One point that came up at the con was an argument put forth that creationism and evolution aren't incompatible. I've heard this argument many times. Basically, the logic is that the presense of evolution doesn't disprove the existence of a creator--which is something I freely concede. There could have been a creator. Or, all of reality could just be a computer simulation we're all trapped in without knowing it. Or, all of reality could just be the dream of an old man, and when he wakes up, everything will cease to be. However, just saying something could be true doesn't make it true.
Here's the difference between creationism and evolution: Evolution is well documented by physical evidence, both fossil and DNA, and by observation. Evolutionary theory makes predictions that can be tested. If we say that man evolved from a common anscestor with chimps and gorillas, then we should find evidence of such beings existing in times before there were humans and chimps... and we do.
Creationism makes no predictions. What is a feature you would expect to find in a created world that you wouldn't find in a world that just sort of came together over a long period of time? I can think of one obvious prediction: I would expect a created world to have been put together in a reasonably short period of time. It's taken about 4.5 billion years for man to appear on Earth... a span of time that just seems implausibly long if there were a guiding force. If God could make a living organism like a tree or a squirrel just by speaking them into existence, why would he bother with a seemingly endless cycle of creation and extinction of tree precursors and squirrel ancestors instead of just jumping straight to the final forms? But, this is, I admit, an easy target... I'm thinking of a prediction that others will no doubt argue is a stupid prediction. 4.5 billion years seems long to us, but maybe it's like an week for God. But, in that case, human life spans must be like nano seconds. We must flash in and out of existence at such an absurd rate that he can't possibly take time to get to know us. So... what am I being blind to? What is a testable prediction of creationism? What is the evidence that supports the theory?
I will say that, if there was a creator, he went through a hell of a lot of trouble to hide his workmanship. He created our world in the middle of an almost infinite multitude of stars, so that we wouldn't get all snooty and think our star was special. He created and destroyed billions of species over and over before he got around to making a species in his image that he intend to spend eternity either rewarding or punishing. And, the only people he's ever told the story to have been loners in the desert. He could have carved his signature in twenty mile letters on the moon. Or, he could, you know, have a blog or something. Anyone could just post a message in his forum and he could straighten them out on anything we might be unclear on. Instead of everyone arguing about gay marriage, he could just spell out his position. If he was smart enough to figure out DNA, it seems like HTML would be a breeze.