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 demonstrableexperimentation. 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.
Is God real? Is faith in God delusional? Ravi Zacharias argues three approaches to fashioning a reasonable worldview; Total Objectivity/Transcendence, Total Determinism, and Semi-Transcendence. Only the latter is the hope of producing a systemic coherent scientific and religious worldview. Following are some quotes to consider.
We are living now, not in the delicious intoxication induced by the early successes of science, but in a rather grisly morning-after, when it has become apparent that what triumphant science has done hitherto is to improve the means for achieving unimproved or actually deteriorated ends.
— Aldous (Leonard) Huxley, Ends and Means: an Inquiry into the Nature of Ideals and into Methods Employed for their Realization (1937), 310.
“I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning – the Christian meaning, they insisted – of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.”
― Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means
Many of the most fundamental claims of science are against common sense and seem absurd on their face. Do physicists really expect me to accept without serious qualms that the pungent cheese that I had for lunch is really made up of tiny, tasteless, odorless, colorless packets of energy with nothing but empty space between them? Astronomers tell us without apparent embarrassment that they can see stellar events that occurred millions of years ago, whereas we all know that we see things as they happen. … Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. The eminent Kant scholar Lewis Beck used to say that anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.
— Richard C. Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons” in: The New York Review of Books, 9 January 1997, p. 31
“Has anyone provided proof of God’s inexistence? Not even close. Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close. Have our sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close. Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough. Has rationalism and moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough. Has secularism in the terrible 20th century been a force for good? Not even close, to being close. Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy in the sciences? Close enough. Does anything in the sciences or their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even in the ball park. Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.”
― David Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions
“So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over–a weary, battered old brontosaurus–and became extinct.”
― Malcolm Muggeridge, Vintage Muggeridge: Religion and Society
When a general principle is advanced, it collapses quickly into absurdity. Thus Sam Harris argues that “to believe that God exists is to believe that I stand in some relation to his existence such that his existence is itself the reason for my belief” (italics added). This sounds very much as if belief in God could only be justified if God were to call attention conspicuously to Himself, say by a dramatic waggling of the divine fingers.
If this is so, then by parity of reasoning again, one might argue that to believe that neutrinos have mass is to believe that I stand in some relationship to their mass such that their mass is itself the reason for my belief.
Just how are those neutrinos waggling their fingers?
A neutrino by itself cannot function as a reason for my belief. It is a subatomic particle, for heaven’s sake. What I believe is a proposition, and so an abstract entity—that neutrinos have mass. How could a subatomic particle enter into a relationship with the object of my belief? But neither can a neutrino be the cause of my belief. I have, after all, never seen a neutrino: not one of them has ever gotten me to believe in it. The neutrino, together with almost everything else, lies at the end of an immense inferential trail, a complicated set of judgments.
Believing as I do that neutrinos have mass—it is one of my oldest and most deeply held convictions—I believe what I do on the basis of the fundamental laws of physics and a congeries of computational schemes, algorithms, specialized programming languages, techniques for numerical integration, huge canned programs, computer graphics, interpolation methods, nifty shortcuts, and the best efforts by mathematicians and physicists to convert the data of various experiments into coherent patterns, artfully revealing symmetries and continuous narratives. The neutrino has nothing to do with it.
[In Semi-Transcendance] humanity is able to move outside of itself to a legitimate degree and what it ends up doing really in the ability to move out of itself to a legitimate degree it is then able to measure its pronouncements by external testing, external verification for correspondence and coherence. When you make a statement you can check it out correspondingly to be true. When you build a system, you can look at it as a systemically coherent worldview. This is the way it is in our courts of law. This is the way it ought to be in a scientific lab itself. When you make a statement it is measured against a referent. When you put together a system it ought to be coherent and brought together. Total Transcendence is logically, biologically, and ideologically impossible. Total Determinism is self-defeating. The Semi Transcendent way is the only way we are able to half rise outside of yourself make meaningful statements about reality and measure them up against the truth as they really correspond.
I do not share Trump’s underlying value system. I will wait and see what policies he actually proposes, but I do not have high expectations for the Trump Presidency. I have a feeling it will be an unpredictable bag of some positive and some disastrous policies. That being said, one major reason Trump won the Presidency in 2016 is because people do not know what “news” to trust so they end up picking the news that fits their preferred worldview. The “Trump is a stooge for Russie” narrative propagated by CNN ideologues is one recent example explained well by CBS46’s Reality Check.
This is a dangerous situation when ideology trumps truth in reporting. It is simply the classic Aesop’s Fable of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf;” too many false alarms and the people don’t know when the alarm is real. Below is my retelling of this fable for our modern world.
The Reporter Who Cried Trump
There once was a reporter who was bored as she sat in front of her computer checking her social media rankings. To increase her followers she took a great breath and typed out, “Trump! Trump! Trump is a racist!”
The American people took to twitter to help the reporter spread the fearful message and drive Tump away. But no sooner did they reshare the warning, they found the news was fake. The reporter laughed at the sight of their angry faces.
“Don’t cry ‘Trump’, reporter,” said the American people, “when there’s no evidence of your charge!” They went grumbling and complaining back to their Facebook accounts.
Later, the reporter cried out again,”Trump! Trump! Trump is a Russin stooge!” To her naughty delight, she watched the American people take to twitter to help spread the fearful message and drive Tump away
When the American people saw the news was fake they sternly said, “Save your frightened tweets for when there is really something wrong! Don’t cry ‘Tump’ when the news is fake!”
But the reporter just grinned as her twitter shares soared and watched the people go grumbling and complaining on Facebook.
Later, she saw a real danger when Trump proposed a terrible law. Alarmed, the reporter jumped on twitter and cried out as loudly as she could, “Trump! Trump!”
But the American people thought the reporter was trying to fool them again, and so they didn’t reshare and many more unfollowed her.
During the next 24-hour news cycle, some people wondered why the reporter hadn’t returned to twitter to share more salacious news. They scoured social media to find the reporter’s latest news. They found her unemployed.
“There really was a Trump scare this time! But, the American people have scattered! I cried out, “Trump!” Why didn’t you reshare?”
An old man tried to comfort the reporter as they walked to the unemployment office.
“We’ll help you look for a new job in the morning,” he said, putting his arm around the reporter, “Nobody believes a liar…even when she is telling the truth!”