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Creation science: is it really a science?

Creation science: science or pseudo-science?

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What is creation science?

Among the religions of the world, there are hundreds of creation stories:

bulletThe vast majority of religions have their own account of the origin of the earth, its life forms, the stars. etc. Almost all were believed to have been created by supernatural beings.
 
bulletHowever:
 
bulletA few religions, like one of the ancient Celtic religions after which Wicca is pattered, have no creation story.
 
bulletThe religion of Jainism denies that the universe was created.

Although there are many points of similarity among the creation stories of some religions, there are also great differences. Most creation stories are mutually exclusive. For example if the biblical creation story is true, then almost all of the hundreds of creation stories of the other religious holy books and oral traditions are are wrong. And, vice-versa.

Many people believe that their own religion's creation story is an accurate account of events. They often believe that all of the creation stories of other religions are myths, legends, and fables. They are viewed as fantasies devoid of any accuracy -- as legends made up by humans without any knowledge of the real events. 1,2

A maximum of one religion can have an accurate portrayal of the creation of the world and its life; perhaps none do.

Various Christian groups promote different creation science theories. Although many deny that their findings are religiously based, we have never found a statement by any of these organization which contradicts their interpretation of any Bible passage. All of the groups that we have studied believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. They all believe that the universe was created as described in the book of Genesis, and did not evolve due to natural forces.

However, conservative Christians have not agreed on a single interpretation of Genesis. This has led to conflicting theories of creation such as: Biblical creationism, Old earth Creationism, Gap theory creationism, Day-age creationism, etc. All use Genesis as their starting point, but have reached conclusions that vary widely in their estimate of the duration of the creation process, and when in the past that it occurred. Their time intervals vary over almost a million to one range.

For this essay, we will focus on the most popular form of conservative Christian creation science. We will use Section 4(a) of Arkansas law #590 as a guide. It states:

" 'Creation-science' means the scientific evidences for creation and inferences from those scientific evidences. Creation-science includes the scientific evidences and related inferences that indicate: 

  1. Sudden creation of the universe, energy, and life from nothing; 
  2. The insufficiency of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of all living kinds from a single organism; 
  3. Changes only within fixed limits of originally created kinds of plants and animals; 
  4. Separate ancestry for man and apes; 
  5. Explanation of the earth's geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of a worldwide flood; and 
  6. A relatively recent inception of the earth and living kinds." 3

This definition appears to have been adapted from a nearly identical seven point scientific-creation model written three years earlier by lawyer Wendell R. Bird. 4,5

Persons familiar with the Bible text will be able to associate many of these points with specific biblical passages. For example:

bulletGenesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3 describes the sudden creation of the universe.
 
bulletGenesis 1:20-25 describes the creation of all the "kinds" of animals. Between Genesis 1:11 and Genesis 7:14, there are 17 references in the King James Version of the Bible to "kinds."
 
bulletThe separate creation of humans is described in Genesis 1:26-27.
 
bulletThe flood of Noah is described in Genesis 7.
 
bulletThe concept of a young earth is implied in Bishop Ussher's estimate of 4004 BCE for the first day of creation -- a commonly held belief among conservative Christians.

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Is creation science a science or a pseudo-science?

Scientists and jurists generally reject creation science as a valid form of science and consider it pseudo-science. Two main reasons are:

bulletFalsification: Scientists always accept the possibility that their conclusions may be proven incorrect in the future. A biologist might base her/his entire life's work on the assumption that the theory of evolution is accurate. But, if they are true scientists, they must always consider the remote possibility that some future finding will prove that species did not evolve. Creation scientists do not accept falsification; their fundamental belief in the inerrancy of Genesis is fixed, non-negotiable, and unshakable. The Bible says it; they believe it; case closed. They refuse to consider that the Bible might be proven false. The inerrancy of the Bible is one of their foundational assumptions.

In order to assess the degree of resistance to falsification among creation scientists, we attempted to dialog with fifteen creation science webmasters. Each of their web sites contained a number of "proofs" that the earth is young -- i.e. less than 10,000 years old, not 4.5 billion years of ages as scientists estimate. One of their proofs was based on the rate of deceleration of the earth's rotation. In each case, their argument was based on a miscalculation published in a creation science book. Yet even though the error was obvious, and was carefully pointed out to them via E-mail, none of the fifteen webmasters were willing to remove the false proof. In one case, the webmaster admitted that the proof might be false. But he considered his essay to be part of an archive of previously published materials. Thus, accuracy was unimportant. For the remaining 14 webmasters, their minds appeared closed to the possibility that one of their proofs was false.

Since it lacks the principle of falsification, creation science is not generally considered a form of science, except by some conservative Christians.
 
bulletInvalid conclusions: Scientists also reject creation science as a part of science, because they generally regard its basic conclusions to be wrong, proven false by the available evidence. Based on a literal interpretation of Genesis, most creation scientists have concluded that:
 
bulletThe earth is young, aged less than 10,000 years.
 
bulletThe world's linguistic groups developed from a miracle at the Tower of Babel.
 
bulletThe existing species of animals developed from a smaller number of "kinds" which first appeared during creation week.
 
bulletHumans were part of a separate creation, separate from that of animals.
 
bulletA universal flood once covered all of the earth's mountains.

Scientists have generally rejected all of these beliefs.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. D. Leeming & M. Leeming, "A Dictionary of Creation Myths", Oxford University Press, New York, NY, (1994)
  2. B.C. Sproul, "Primal Myths: Creation Myths Around the World," Harper Collins, San Francisco, CA, (1979), Page 192 to 194. Quoting W. Theodore de Bary, Ed, "Sources of Indian Tradition"
  3. U.S. District Court Judge William R. Overton, "McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education." A text of the decision is online at: http://cns-web.bu.edu/
  4. W.R. Bird, article in Acts and Facts, published by the Institute for Creation Research, 1978-DEC. 
  5. Niles Eldredge, "The Triumph of Evolution and the Failure of Creationism," W.H. Freeman, (2000), Pages 92 to 94. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

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Copyright 2001 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-OCT-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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