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  Topic: Politicized Pseudosciences, Why creationism and not vitalism?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

Posts: 12
Joined: Jan. 2003

(Permalink) Posted: Oct. 09 2003,15:29   

Has anyone tried to explore why creationism has been so politicized? Politicization is not very common among pseudoscientists, even those who advocate very popular beliefs.

Astrologers, for example, are apolitical; they don't seem to want equal time for astrology in astronomy classes.

But a better comparison is with vitalism, the view that the processes of living things are due to some "vital force." It is a centuries-old view that survives as the "theoretical justification" of certain "alternative medical therapes." Aristotle had even identified three kinds of this force: the vegetable soul, the animal soul, and the rational soul.

But vitalism has suffered defeat after defeat after crushing defeat over the last few centuries, and it has become totally discredited among respectable scientists. Though there are still plenty of physiological puzzles, "vitalism of the gaps" is never thought worth considering.

Vitalists can easily make arguments parallel to creationists, like mentioning physiological processes that continue to be puzzles, the simplicity of "VitalForceDoesIt", how teenagers would be more likely to commit suicide and kill their classmates if they believe themselves to be biochemical robots rather than animated by some "vital force", etc.

Yet vitalists are apolitical, not wanting equal time for vitalism in classrooms. And creationists who appear to believe in some form of vitalism do not make an issue out of it, and coexist with apparently non-vitalist creationists like Michael Behe.

Notable politicized pseudosciences in the past have been Hanns Hörbiger's Welteislehre (Cosmic Ice Theory) and Lysenkoism.

The advocates of the Cosmic Ice Theory would apply pressure to get people to accept the theory; they were known to heckle astronomers' meetings with "Out with astronomical orthodoxy! Give us Hörbiger!". They even aligned themselves with Nazism, though the Nazi Party never officially endorsed it.

Trofim Lysenko had claimed that he could breed improved crop plants by altering their heredity; he believed that genes do not exist. He claimed impressive "results", but his experimental procedures were shoddy beyond belief -- he had no conception of a controlled experiment, and he believed that doing statistics is a waste of time. However, he got the support of Joseph Stalin himself, and mainstream geneticists were forced to recant, sent to gulags, or executed. Even the great biologist Nikolai Vavilov could not escape; he was sent to prison for allegedly being a British spy, dying there.


Posts: 1
Joined: Nov. 2003

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 08 2003,13:33   

I have a possible answer.

Creationism is so political compared to other pseudosciences because most creationist are Christians.  According the the New Testament they are commanded by God/Christ to spread the faith and convert the masses.  The other pseudosciences do not have any central leader, human or god-like, or any central text that demands such action from them.  Since conversion is the underlying motive, getting creationism taught in a science classroom as fact would greatly facilitate that goal.

I can state from my own experience as a child (K-6 grade), I believed everything that my teachers told me.  I've grown intellectually beyond that stage but I know adults at my job who still believe in the inerracy of  the authority fiqures.

So what do you thinK?

"There is nothing more ego boosting than being kicked out of an anarchy convention for unruly behavior."
----Random button on my wall


Posts: 12
Joined: Jan. 2003

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 15 2003,09:42   

The problem there is that different Christian sects vary widely in how political they are, no matter what the Bible says. Never underestimate the ability of a believer in a sacred book to argue away awkward parts of that book.

So one must look at fundamentalism, especially American fundamentalism, more closely -- and even a cursory glance reveals that some fundies are almost obsessively political. So one has to ask why they make a big issue out of creationism, and not vitalism.

Sheikh Mahandi

Posts: 47
Joined: May 2005

(Permalink) Posted: May 19 2005,07:50   

I seem to remember the suggestion somewhere that fundamentalism really began it's expansion as a re-action to the "liberalism" of the 60's/70's, where those who were disenchanted by mainstream Christianity's re-action to Vietnam war protests, Hippies, etc. and feeling themselves marginalised they became more attracted to  those churches with a stricter interpretation, and often a more charismatic leader than their current pastor/minister/vicar. In addition to this many were dismayed by what they regarded as the left-wing agenda being embraced at that time, prime examples of which have often been given as Rev Martin Luther King jr, Rev Jesse Jackson (if you consider civil rights to be left-wing that is). Thus many of these (sects? schisms?) began or certainly gathered momentum from a combination of a right-wing agenda with strict bible literalism.
I would like to state however that this situation is neither limited to the United States, nor to Christianity, indeed the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism in recent times bears consideration, particularly as the "success" of this appears to goad many of these Christians to greater efforts in response.

"Love is in the air, everywhere I look around,.....Love is in the air, every sight and every sound,......"

  3 replies since Oct. 09 2003,15:29 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  


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