Coyening a New Term: "New Creationism"

Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 1:46 PM Bookmark and Share
Recently, Jerry Coyne proposed a new term -- "New Creationism" -- to describe a set of commonly held natural and metaphysical beliefs: basically an acceptance of "Darwinian evolution" and simultaneous acceptance of certain beliefs about God being the creator of it all.  The term is reminiscent of Stephen Jay Gould's idea of Non-overlapping Magisteria (NOMA), although New Creationism is more specific than NOMA, having been "coyned" to...
...describe the body of thought that accepts Darwinian evolution but with the additional caveats that 1) it was all started by God, 2) had God-worshipping humans as its goal, and 3) that the evidence for all this is that life is complex, humans evolved, and the the “fine tuning” of physical constants of the universe testify to the great improbability of our being here—ergo God.
I'm not sure (yet) if I'll use the phrase, as I do like having such a nifty term to describe these or similar beliefs. Unfortunately, the part of me that likes terminology that is both broadly applicable and precise has some objections...
  1. It seems too narrow in it's list of religious beliefs, which others have already mentioned, and too particular to catch on without evolving another (related) meaning. 
  2. The root term "Creationism" brings to mind the kind of dogmatic science-denial found in young earth creationism, which is contrary to Jerry's new category of religious and scientific belief.
  3. It isn't all that "new" (which has also been a criticism of the term "New Atheism") and  
  4. just like "New Atheism" it will probably get used more as a derogatory term then as a useful characterization of human belief as plenty of "New Creationists" would probably consider it an insult to be labeled any kind of creationist.
If you're wondering why we need a new term when we've already got "intelligent design creationism" and we can make reference to Gould's NOMA, Jerry has at least a partial answer for you...
New Creationism differs from intelligent design because it rejects God’s constant intervention in the process of evolution in favor of a Big, One-Time Intervention, and because these ideas are espoused by real scientists like Kenneth Miller and Simon Conway Morris.
So what do you think? Like it? Hate it? Do we need it? Can we improve the definition? Will it catch on? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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