If you are at all sketchy here is a potted version:
God is the Intelligent Creator who made all things and therefore by definition mainstream scientific theories, especially evolution, are heresy. There are different shades of Creationism which attempt to deconstruct science from various angles. Young Age Creationism insists that our world and the entire universe is less than 10,000 years old and has developed on the biblical timeline from Genesis – God created the Earth with the appearance of age so that it seems much older than it really is. At the other end of the spectrum Old Earth Creationism holds that the Earth is billions of years old as mainstream science contends that it is but that the Biblical "days" of Genesis etc. are not days as we know them but longer periods of time or "ages" – some so-called Day-Age Creationists argue that we are currently living in the seventh day of God's Creation (Genesis 2:1-2:3). Really? What a benevolent deity we enjoy. There’s even a branch known as Neo-Creationism which sees ostensibly objective mainstream science as a dogmatically atheistic religion. Neo-Creationists also argue that science, as an "atheistic enterprise," lies at the root of many of contemporary society's ills including social unrest and family breakdown. So science is characterized as a threat to Christianity and must be overcome in the same way as paganism or Satanism.
Regardless of how mainstream science may regard Creationism the movement has a very strong reach in the myriad groups of Christian Evangelicals in the US and soft support from other Christian communities. This came to the point where the teaching of evolution was banned for a period in US public schools. A competing dogma of Intelligent Design (ID) was created and promulgated. In many schools today ID is taught as an academic discipline – Creation Science.
One of the key elements to the spread of Creationism and ID has been that their proponents are only eager to argue on single issues in isolation of other contributing or mitigating factors. Take a single strand of science and strip it back to its basics, create doubt as to how the theory was formed, shine a blinding light on that doubt and introduce fabricated inconsistencies. Then create consistency through highly tenuous and profoundly subjective application of Biblical teaching and, hey presto, the world is explained in Creation Science through scripture. But Creationists despise joined-up thinking. That's too much information to subvert and re-rationalise in one go. Joined-up thinking is the Great Satan of the Creationists as it tends to tear down their flimsy suppositions that have been painstakingly constructed at elaborate length.
In a highly religious society such as the US where Evangelicalism is now the single largest branch of Christianity it can easily be understood how the rise of Creationism and ID in the public consciousness has been totally disproportionate to the credibility or "truth" that lie behind them in juxtaposition to mainstream science. This has unsurprisingly been assisted by the rise of elected Evangelical lawmakers at all levels of US political society.
What might be regarded as "mainstream" in a religious sense has been turned on its head in the past 50 years and our accepted paradigm of what Protestantism actually is in Western Europe is nowhere close to that existing in North America. So, in a Christian sense, Evangelicalism is just about as close as you can get to the religious mainstream in the US today.
So how does this all relate to the Scottish independence referendum?
Better Together as a political movement has so much in common with Creationism – it's a campaign of Political Creationism which has as its main aim the deconstruction of empirical evidence through pseudoscientific methods. Regardless of the body of argument backed by facts and expert testimony from Yes the Political Creationists jump into action and chisel away at fact in the name of preserving the broken Union.
Better Together’s main tactic is to take a single strand of Yes policy and strip it back to its basics, create doubt as to the basis on which the policy was formed, shine a blinding light on that doubt and introduce fabricated inconsistencies. Then create consistency though highly tenuous and profoundly subjective application of Unionist pseudo-facts and, hey presto, we are all Better Together.
The Political Creationists of Better Together are a smart bunch – they know that dealing with joined-up thinking is highly dangerous so they avoid it to the point of cancelling debate. Better Together? Not really, Better One Issue At A Time would be more accurate! Just as with the religious fundamentalist Creationists the BT Creationists can’t handle a well constructed body of evidence when presented as interlinked components.
So what tactics do the BT Creationists use to combat the Great Satans of Salmond, the SNP and independence? Here are a handful of the tools of their trade:
Double Standards: BT Creationists will insist that the pro-independence position “prove” every one of its claims, but BT Creationists themselves never affirm that they need to prove anything. Similarly, BT Creationists argue as if every difficulty faced by the Yes campaign is a clear and irrefutable indication that independence must be wrong, but they apply no such standard to themselves.
Bad Science: BT Creationists creates forums and “grassroots” groupings where they talk to each other. BT Creationists are again, and again, and again, wrong on the facts when they try to refute independence. This would be very tiresome if it were not for the fact that affirming false facts can always sound impressive to people who do not realize that what is being affirmed is false. Mark Isaak’s The Counter-Creationism Handbook makes very clear just how often Christian Creationists make claims that themselves depend upon preceding false claims. Needless to say, such a practice is a clear sign that what one is defending is a very weak position.
Logical Problems: Given all of the effort that BT Creationists put into arguing against independence, one gets the sense that they think that showing that something is not the case proves that something else has to be the case. This, however, is plainly false. Showing that I am not Phil Mickelson does not establish that I am Phil Lawrence. I would have to give independent reasoning for the latter conclusion. BT Creationists, however, suggest that the only alternative to this or that version of thought on independence would be to conclude that unionism is the only truth; and that is clearly false.
Glancing back to the Evangelical Creationists, I pointed out that in contemporary US religion they have become the mainstream. The most common use of the word "mainstream" in independence referendum parlance refers to the mainstream Scottish media or MSM. The MSM has positioned itself, almost exclusively, at the beck and call of Better Together. To this end the BBC, STV, radio, newspapers have almost all become mouthpieces and fellow travellers of Political Creationism.
The Scottish Government published the 650-page White Paper “Scotland’s Future” last November 26th. Even for the most rabid Yes supporter this is neither an answer to every question nor the be all and end all of political modelling for independence. But what it most certainly can be seen as is a huge and all-encompassing exercise in joined-up political and economic thinking, the likes of which have scarcely if ever been seen in the modern political arena.
Of course, by being transparent and all-embracing, the Yes campaign has left itself open to systematic attacks from BT Creationists who can strip out single issues in isolation and then deconstruct these isolated points as if each one is the fulcrum for the entire economy of an independent Scotland.
One of the first things that we were treated to on November 26th itself was the astonishing revelation that the High Priest of BT Creationism, Alistair Darling, can absorb the essence of books and documents by simply touching them. A matter of 30 minutes or less after the White Paper was published he was able to assert that the Scottish Government, "haven't answered any of the fundamental questions to which Scotland wants the answers." He seemed to be able to give the impression that he had read the entire 650 pages and was able to confidently refute it in its entirety. However the MSM was not too assiduous in pinning down the High Priest. He was able to get off with the Double Standards tool without being tripped up. He was not required to be specific on any policy at all – BT Creationists will insist that the pro-independence position “prove” every one of its claims, but BT Creationists themselves never affirm that they need to prove anything.
Similarly Johann Lamont and Willie Rennie had given their critiques before the day was out without any need to justify to the MSM but Mr. and Mrs. Double Standards had neglected one thing – BT Creationists argue as if every difficulty faced by the Yes campaign is a clear and irrefutable indication that independence must be wrong, but they apply no such standard to themselves.
Early in 2014 the retiring President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, was fairly blunt that Scotland would not be welcomed into the EU with open arms but the Scottish Government and Yes asserted that he was bluffing on the basis of clear advice that they had received from around and from within the EU. When Jean-Claude Juncker was nominated to succeed Barroso there was some hope of a truer picture but when in his acceptance speech he declared that he was not keen to see “new expansion” of the EU the BT Creationists were all over this as a full and certain final avowal that Scotland would not have early entry to the EU. The MSM fellow travellers in Political Creationism splashed it over every front page, webpage, news bulletin etc. However within a matter of hours President Juncker’s own staff had explicitly and unambiguously declared that “new expansion” did NOT refer to Scotland and that he personally, “would not want Scotland to be kept out.” Nevertheless that did not make the front pages – the continued line was that Alex Salmond’s EU trump card was a busted flush. But as pointed out earlier in Bad Science – affirming false facts can always sound impressive to people who do not realize that what is being affirmed is false.
Then there was the amusing interlude of Vote No Borders which was characterised as a grassroots non-party political movement that turned out to be a partnership between a fund manager who has donated six figure sums to the Tories, a colleague who is a senior employee at the Bank of England and a PR consultant. Vote No Borders then made a cinema ad that was designed to demonstrate the policies of this grassroots movement by showcasing young people in Scotland. This was certainly not untrue as several of the policies of Vote No Borders were decided upon by the actors on the set of that ad! Democracy in action, eh? In the end Vote No Borders was narrowed down to approximately three core members with perhaps half a dozen individuals offering support. The BBC and The Guardian were particularly effusive and unchallenging in their coverage of Vote No Borders, underlining its grassroots credentials before expanding on the aims and claims of the “movement” (?) but let’s not forget in the realm of Bad Science – Creationists make claims that themselves depend upon preceding false claims.
The BT Creationists argue passionately that the White Paper pledge of 30 hours of free childcare for every child to assist 100,000 women back into the workforce is do-able now. Well, yes. It is do-able now from a technical point of view as it falls within the responsibilities of Holyrood. But there is no budget to make it happen without stripping £700 million from somewhere else. Alex Salmond regards the policy as “transformational” but because he doesn’t action the policy instantly then it’s clearly defined as impossible from the point of view of a BT Creationist Logical Problem – showing that something is not the case proves that something else has to be the case.
In fact in any number of cases the BT Creationists assert that the Scottish Government has the power or the ability to immediately enact various things that are part of their short-, medium- or long-term goals following independence. However by choosing not to do them at the time or bidding of the BT Creationists the Scottish Government has proven, as a Logical Problem, that the policies are unenactable or that there is no will to enact at any future date– the only alternative to this or that version of thought on independence would be to conclude that unionism is the only truth.
But the Creationist myths continue. This week we have the release of two leaflets in Scotland – one is from Yes and one is from BT. So how do the respective items stack up? The Yes offering is a positive message which takes independently sourced information and uses that to reasonably cost the future. The only part of BT’s message that is certain is that Scotland will indeed keep the pound if the vote is No. The other main arguments – cheaper energy bills, more jobs, more support of public services and a guarantee of more powers for Holyrood are pure supposition – at best wishful thinking and at worst complete hokum. But the BT Creationists are not required to explain how their pledges are achievable. What will the rUK think of the specific promises to Scotland which must inevitably come at a cost to some other sector in the Union? That is entirely irrelevant of course and it is only someone with something to hide who would ask such a question…. Do you get the idea now?
Just remember the following Political Creationist construct:
BT = prosperity, comfort, ambition.
Yes = angels and demons in a spinning, bottomless vortex.
Whatever may happen please keep in mind that bad science is always bad science and double standards are always double standards. In light of what is discussed above take a look at some recent First Minister’s Questions and re-examine a few BT press releases. The modus operandi of the Political Creationist is plastered all over the place but you just have to know what it is that you are looking at. Taking the BT stuff as a body of work and now armed with the key to decoding it all you can pretty rapidly see the common thread.
When religious fundamentalists come knocking on our doors their underlying implicit aim is to scare us into heaven. The Political Creationists of BT are trying to scare us to remain in the Union. But are you ruled by fear or by hope? Choose good science, choose hope, choose Yes.