Creation is not science. That might be a shocking statement to those who know me, but before you rush to the comments section to post your anger (or agreement), let me begin with two important aspects of my biography. I am a devoted follower of Jesus Christ who believes in the authority and reliability of the Christian Scripture. As a disciple of Jesus, I believe that God created the universe, the earth, and everything that lives on the earth. I am an Elder, but unlike most in a pastoral role who discuss science, I am also educated as a Scientist. I studied Engineering at Penn State University. My studies included the disciplines of Physics, Math, Chemistry, and Thermodynamics (by far my favourite subject). With this understanding of my background, I offer the following for your consideration.
- Creation Theory is not science. But before all the evolutionists get too excited…
- Evolution Theory is not science either.
Both of these theories are rooted in philosophical worldviews that, at this point in history, are abusing the principles of science. I realize how radical that sounds, but let me at least try and give my primary rationale. Borrowing from the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester, Rochester NY, we have this simple four-step summation of one approach to the scientific method.
- Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
- Formulation of an hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.
- Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.
- Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.
Given this simple statement of the scientific method (which can vary from one scientific discipline to another), I conclude that neither Creation or Evolution make good subjects for science because they are both claimed as historical events that cannot be observed through repeatable and demonstrable experimentation. Science can not prove Abraham Lincoln existed, it cannot prove the war of 1812, it cannot prove King James was King, and it cannot prove the reality or falsity of any historical event. Historical research is not the function of science.
Does anyone really think embarrassing videos like this one with Kirk Cameron represent the voice of the scientific method?
The video may be an interesting philosophical argument, but it is not science. It does not disprove evolution and it certainly does nothing to prove the origins of the universe. I show this to you because, in my humble opinion, the scientific quality of this video is on par with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Now, this does not imply these theories are equal. Nothing I have written so far implies science cannot speak to the probability of each theory. Let me offer you the argument made by Dr. Orestis Palermos, Research Explorer from the University of Edinburgh School of Philosophy where he offers some great insight in the following video transcript from his Coursera lecture.
Within western society, there is a tendency to raise science to a special epistemic status. Science is always taken to be better than fairy tales, myths, and of course, religion. If a claim is supposed to be scientific, then it is supposed to constitute some kind of absolute truth that will always be true and which is impossible to deny. So, for example, many times, in order to support a claim, we say that this is a fact that is scientifically proven. But is this attitude towards science correct? What if science is not the kind of secure, absolute knowledge that scientists make it out to be, and which most of us accept unreflectively? And, if science can be questioned then how does it compared with other predictive and explanatory devices like myths and religion? A particularly interesting case in point is whether creationism should be taught alongside evolutionary biology as part of the standard curriculum in the schools in the United States of America. The standard approach to this long standing debate is to claim that evolutionary biology as opposed to creationism is scientific. Therefore, we have a good reason to teach the one but not the latter. Evolutionary biology is science, creationism is pseudoscience, and obviously we should always prefer disciplines that are scientific. However, upon further reflection it is not quite obvious whether this claim is actually valid. For the second half of the 20th century, the best philosophers of science, philosophers like Sir Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Imre Lakatos and Paul Feyerabend, attempted to explain what science consists in and how it differs from myths and religion. And no matter how hard they tried, eventually, the debate died out with their realization that science, much like religion, requires faith. To choose one scientific theory over another, is simply a matter of aesthetics and the hope that this theory and not the other is going to work out better. But there is no way to disprove or prove in theory. And since there is no way to prove it or disprove it, then there is no point where it becomes irrational for a scientist to stay with a failing theory. So, the best example of this is the case of heliocentricism. Heliocentricism was first put forward about 2,000 years ago. And for about 1,600 years, it was a failing theory. However, at some point, Kepler and Galileo decided to take it up. And even though it was failing for 1,600 years, they managed to convert it into a very successful theory. The choice, however, to do so, was not because the theory was a good one, since obviously it was failing for a long time. But simply because they liked it and for some reason they had faith in it. So, scientists choose to stay with a theory simply because they have a faith in it. So both science and religion seem to require faith, which means that it is not so easy to distinguish between creationism and evolutionary biology. Moreover, even by the most rigorous standards for distinguishing between science and pseudo-science, what is known as Imre Lakatos’ Sophisticated Falsification, it was seen that evolutionary biology and creationism are actually, on a par. So, creationism may not be scientific but then again, neither is evolutionary biology which appears unable to predict anything but only provides an explanation for the phenomena after the fact have taken place. Parenthetically, this is what is known within philosophy as an ‘ad hoc hypothesis’ – to introduce an explanation in a hypothesis, only in order to explain something that is already known and not to provide an explanation or a prediction for something new. And most philosophers of science agree that introducing such ad hoc hypothesis within science should always be avoided because it turns a scientific theory into pseudoscience. However, both evolutionary biology and creationism are guilty of introducing such ad hoc hypotheses. And so it would seem that neither is scientific. Now, add to this the fact that genetics, which is a special discipline of evolutionary biology, is facing a number of anomalies and that, like any other discipline in the past, in any other scientific field, is most likely to change in the future and it becomes even less obvious why evolutionary biology and genetics should be taught in schools as scientifically proven theories but reject creationism as being pseudo-scientific. So, this lecture delivered by Professor of Philosophy and Theology Conor Cunningham from the University of Nottingham, will go over some of themes in an accessible and captivating way. The lecture purposely avoids to put forward any conclusion but it raises a number of interesting questions.
Dr. Palermos goes on to conclude with some very poignant questions worth our consideration and we utilize scientific methodologies to explore creation and evolution theories.
- Does the epistemic parity between creationism and evolutionary biology mean that neither of them should be taught as part of the standard curriculum?
- Or should we teach both, but with the intellectually honest attitude that neither is quite scientific?
- And then, does this mean that we should trust and pursue both to the same extent?
- Or should we invest our efforts to develop the most plausible hypothesis in a way that will finally make it stand out from religion?
- Isn’t it better to be honest about the status of our best scientific theories, such that future students can know their limits and attempt to improve them, rather than dogmatically believing that they amount to proven knowledge when, in fact, they’re far from it.
Oh, and for the record, Creation Theory is not the same as Intelligent Design Theory, and for all those Christians excited about it, you should really take a closer look at what you are endorsing. You may be surprised!
Okay… now that I have made everyone mad, I will stop.