I recently posted on the phenomenon of British creationism, and my belief that it is not nearly as widespread and organised as the creationists would like us to believe. So it was fun this evening to come across a genuine British creationist blogger, while researching, of all things, the pub quiz I’m co-organising. The blog and associated website “Question Darwin” are written by eccentric Hampshire GP Stephen Hayes, aka “Dissenter”: born again while at university, and introduced to creationism by, you guessed it, an engineer.
I strongly recommend the website for starters. It tries to imitate the classics, but I feel that the text formatting was just a little too uniform and consistent. Certainly there were bizarre outbursts of bold, underline, large font, and all caps, but I would have preferred to see more colours, comic sans, and centre-align. Similarly, the background colour is a good choice, but the lack of distracting repeating background motif is a school-boy error, and I could see no evidence of animated GIFs. Fortunately the blog makes up this disappointment, as, even under the constraints imposed by Blogspot, Hayes manages to make a classic pig’s ear of bold, italics, and any other formatting he can find a button for.
Hayes is publishing his site, of course, because the evidence which falsifies Darwin is being suppressed. A powerful elite are controlling the dissemination of the lies of evolutionism: chiefly the humanists and liberal media. Classic conspiracy theory stuff.
“But wait, it can’t be a conspiracy theory!”
“Because, er, the media don’t give any time to Creationists, so, you know…”
Uhm, wait, what?
“Well think about it! If it were only a conspiracy theory, you’d hear about it in the media, like you do MMR and 9/11truthers. But Darwin dissent has been suppressed in the media. So there must be a real conspiracy!”
In The Guardian this week, Stephen Moss suggested that the creationist movement in the UK is different to that in the US. But the difference is merely one of scale: the British creationists would like an animatronic theme park, but are not nearly capable of building one. In almost all other respects, the movements are the same: in their motivation, their style, and their arguments. But the difference in scale does mean one other difference: US creationists argue in order to influence politicians and schoolboards; British creationists have a hard enough time just trying to persuade their constituency of other Christians.
So Hayes is defending God from the liberal humanists who are destroying society, and is taking the usual route of poking holes in evolution — or at least trying give the perception of having done so — and concluding that a magic man done it. To achieve this task, he is lightly repackaging American creationism for the British Christian. The website is striking in its lack of creativity. There’s “Darwinism” here and “evolutionist” bogeymen there. Sometimes there’s even “Darwinistic evolutionism.” “Molecules to man” gets a prominent spot on the front page, and, of course, most of the site seems to be about perceived flaws in Darwin’s character. Often, though, Hayes cuts out the hard writing work altogether, and just copypastes other people’s work verbatim. Never mind how bat-shit insane the piece is.
It would be superfluous to count and list mistakes, or to systematically link them to the index of creationist claims. That the site is yet another rehash of tired old errors goes without saying. But there were a couple of amusing ones that I had never come across before. I think my favourite occurred in a long and confused rant about Darwin stealing the idea of natural selection from Edward Blythe (an argument apparently based entirely upon a quote from Blythe in which, er, he doesn’t introduce natural selection). It is asserted that “… years later, Wallace refused to go to Darwin’s funural [sic].” That Wallace was one of Darwin’s pallbearers shows just how fundamental the lack of either intellectual honesty or the most basic of fact-checking is.
In summary, Question Darwin presents little novelty in terms of creationist claims or style of argument. But the blog is certainly fun for its up-to-date combination of rambling ineptness with surreal anti-BBC rants. The overall incompetence is medium, malice is moderate, and humour high. All things considered, I give it two Timecubes out of five.