Creationism is a religious metaphysical theory about the origin of the universe. It is not a scientific theory. Technically, creationism is not necessarilyconnected to any particular religion. It simply requires a belief in a Creator.
Millions of Christians and non-Christians believe there is a Creator of theuniverse and that scientific theories such as the the theory of evolution do notconflict with belief in a Creator. However, fundamentalist Christians such asRonald Reagan and Jerry Falwell, have co-opted the term ‘creationism’ and it isnow difficult to refer to creationism without being understood as referring tofundamentalist Christians who (a) take the stories in Genesis as accurateaccounts of the origin of the universe and life on Earth, and (b) believe thatGenesis is incompatible with the Big Bang theory and the theory of evolution. Thus, it is commonly assumed that creationists are Christians who believe thatthe account of the creation of the universe as presented in Genesis is literallytrue in its basic claims about Adam and Eve, the six days of creation, and notan allegory. Creation science is a term used by certain creationists to indicatethat they believe that Genesis is a scientific account of the origin of theuniverse. Reading the Bible as if it were a scientific text contradicts the BigBang theory and the theory of evolution. “Creation scientists” saythose theories are false and that scientists who advocate such theories areignorant of the truth about the origins of the universe and life on Earth.Order now
Oneof the main leaders of creation science is Duane T. Gish of the Institute forCreation Research, who puts forth his views in conjunction with attacks onevolution. Gish is the author of Evolution, the Challenge of the Fossil Record (San Diego, Calif. : Creation-Life Publishers, 1985) and Evolution, the FossilsSay No (San Diego, Calif.
: Creation-Life Publishers, 1978). Another leader ofthis movement is Walt Brown of the Center for Scientific Creationism. NeitherGish nor Brown seem to understand the difference between a fact and a theory. They loudly proclaim that evolution is just a theory and that it is false. Scientific theories are neither true nor false. They are explanations of facts.
That species evolved from other species is considered by 99. 99% of thescientific community to be a scientific fact. How species evolved is what atheory of evolution is supposed to explain. Darwin’s theory of how evolutionhappened is called natural selection.
That theory is quite distinct from thefact of evolution. Other scientists have different theories of evolution, butonly a negligible few deny the fact of evolution. Gish is not doing science whenhe argues against the fact of evolution. He has no interest in scientific factsor theories. His interest is in apologetics: defending the faith against what hesees as attacks on God’s Truth. All his arguments are defensive; they areattempts to show that the evidence does not support the scientific fact ofevolution.
Creationists, mistaking the uncertain in science for theunscientific, see the debate among evolutionists regarding how best to explainevolution as a sign of weakness. Scientists, on the other hand, see uncertaintyas simply an inevitable element of scientific knowledge. They regard debates onfundamental theoretical issues as healthy and stimulating. Science, saysevolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, is “most fun when it plays withinteresting ideas, examines their implications, and recognizes that oldinformation may be explained in surprisingly new ways.
” Thus, through allthe debate over evolutionary mechanisms biologists have not been led to doubtthat evolution has occurred. “We are debating how it happened,” saysGould (1983, p. 256). Creation science, on the other hand, is not science butpseudoscience and it is connected to a particular group of fundamentalistChristians.
Most Christians, fundamentalist or not, probably never heard ofcreation science. Like creationists of all sorts, “creation science”puts forth its claims as absolutely certain and unchangeable. It assumes thatthe world must conform to the Bible. It assumes that the Bible needs no revisionand can contain no error. Where creation science differs from creationism ingeneral is in its notion that once it has interpreted the Bible to meansomething, no evidence can be allowed to change that interpretation.
Instead,the evidence must be refuted. Compare this attitude to that of the leadingEuropean creationists of the 17th century who had to admit eventually that theEarth is not the center of the universe and that the sun does not revolve aroundour planet. They did not have to admit that the Bible was wrong, but they didhave to admit that human interpretations of the Bible were in error. Today’screationists seem incapable of admitting that their interpretation of the Biblecould be wrong. Creation scientists can’t be seen as real scientists becausethey assume that their interpretation of the Bible cannot be in error. They putforth their views as irrefutable.
Hence, when the evidence contradicts theirreading of the Bible, they assume that the evidence is false. The onlyinvestigation they seem to do is in an effort to prove some scientific claim isfalse. Creation science sees no need to test its theories, since they have beenrevealed by God. A theory that is absolutely certain cannot be empiricallytested, but empirical testability is the hallmark of a scientific theory. Claimsof infallibility and the demand for absolute certainty characterize not sciencebut pseudoscience.
What is most revealing about the militant creationists lackof any true scientific interest is the way they willing and uncritically accepteven the most preposterous of claims, if those claims seem to contradicttraditional scientific beliefs about evolution. In particular, any evidence thatseems to support the notion that dinosaurs and humans lived together is welcomedby militant creationists. The theory of scientific creationism is a good exampleof a non-scientific theory because it cannot be falsified. “I can envisionobservations and experiments that would disprove any evolutionary theory Iknow,” writes Gould, “but I cannot imagine what potential data couldlead creationists to abandon their beliefs. Unbeatable systems are dogma, notscience” (Gould, 1983). What makes scientific creationism a pseudoscienceis that it attempts to pass itself off as science even though it shares none ofthe essential characteristics of scientific theorizing.
Creation science willremain forever unchanged as a theory. It will engender no debate amongscientists about fundamental mechanisms of the universe. It generates noempirical predictions that can be used to test the theory. It is taken to beirrefutable. It assumes a priority that there can be no evidence that will everfalsify it.
The history of science, however, clearly shows that scientifictheories do not remain forever unchanged. The history of science is not thehistory of one absolute truth being built upon other absolute truths. Rather, itis the history of theorizing, testing, arguing, refining, rejecting, replacing,more theorizing, more testing, etc. It is the history of theories working wellfor a time, anomalies occurring (i.
e. , new facts being discovered that don’t fitwith established theories), and new theories being proposed and eventuallypartially or completely replacing the old ones. Of course, it is possible forscientists to act unscientifically, to be dogmatic and dishonest. But the factthat one finds an occasional oddball in the history of science (or a person ofintegrity and genius among pseudoscientists) does not imply that there really isno difference between science and pseudoscience. Because of the public andempirical nature of scientific debate, the charlatans will be found out, errorswill be corrected and the honest pursuit of the truth is likely to prevail inthe end. This will not be the case with pseudosciences such as creation science,where there is no method needed for detecting errors (since it can’t err) muchless of correcting them.
Some theories, like creationism can’t be refuted, evenin principle, because everything is consistent with them, even apparentcontradictions and contraries. Scientific theories allow definite predictions tobe made from them; they can, in principle, be refuted. Theories such as the BigBang theory and the steady state theory can be tested by experience andobservation. Metaphysical theories such as creationism are “airtight”if they are self-consistent. They contain no self-contradictory elements.
Noscientific theory is ever airtight.