Friday, November 9, 2007

It's Not About Creationism

I ran into an interesting article today on Language Log discussing a rather spurious theory that much of what constitutes English slang is, in fact, descended from Gaelic. As a member of the Irish diaspora, it would be fantastic, if it were true. Unfortunately, the research is bad at best and disingenuous at worst.

However, a quote* from the article got me to thinking about Creationism (or Intelligent Design, or whatever the Religious Right is packaging Biblical Fundamentalism as these days), the theory that claims dinosaurs lived alongside man 3,000 years ago and "the chances are good" they were on Noah's Ark.

Creationists have always maintained that they are relegated to the scientific fringes and are maligned and unfairly attacked by the mainstream, caught up in a conspiracy to prevent them from getting their views accepted by mainstream society and into the classroom (see Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Georgia, Pennsylvania, etc.).

Are Creationists out of the mainstream? Absolutely. Do they deserve to be? You bet. Consider the quote I mentioned earlier, applied not to bad Gaelic scholarship, but to Intelligent Design:

The Creationist advocate** "paints himself as the maligned scholar, the unappreciated genius, the outsider. He may be all of those things, but he is them by choice: his work cannot withstand scholarly scrutiny so he simply cannot afford to join forces with any larger body of experts who do this sort of thing for a living. His book falls apart on first reading by anyone with some expertise in the field."

* The original quote comprises the third paragraph.

** The Creationist advocate was obviously added by me. The quote in its original context discusses the book How the Irish Invented Slang.

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