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Origins of life, etc.

What is creation science?
Partly based on Arkansas Act #590

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Quotation:

bullet"The only effective way to get creationism taught properly is to have it taught by teachers who are both willing and able to do it. Since most teachers now are neither willing nor able, they must first be both persuaded and instructed themselves.'' Henry M. Morris "Introducing Scientific Creationism Into the Public Schools," (1975)

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Sources of this essay:

The following essay is based on three sources:

bulletA state law of Arkansas passed in 1981, titled "Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act." "The Act is codified as Ark. Stat. Ann. &80-1663, et seq., (1981 Supp.)." 1 It begins: "Public schools within this State shall give balanced treatment to creation-science and to evolution-science.'
bulletA statement of belief that the Creation Research Society (CRS) requires of its membership. 
bullet Many documents found on the Internet and in reference texts which deal with creation science.  

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Definition of Creation-Science in the Arkansas law #590:

The act contains in Section 4(a), the following definition:

" '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."

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. 2,3

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Requirements for Creation Research Society membership:

The Creation Research Society (CRS) was formed from a schism in the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA) 1963. 6,7 It is Fundamentalist Christian group which is one of the largest promoters of creation science in the U.S. Both voting and sustaining members of the CRS must agree with the CRS' Statement of Faith. 8

The statement requires members to believe that:

bulletEvolution did not happen. Rather, the earth and the rest of the universe came into existence by special creation, as described in the Bible.
bulletThe entire Bible is inspired by God and without error as originally written.
bulletThe creation passages in Genesis are "a factual presentation of simple historical truths.
bulletDuring creation week, God created "all basic types of living things." 
bulletThe description of the worldwide flood of Noah is accurate.
bulletSalvation can only be attained by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Sometime during the 1980's or 1990's the CRS modified their statement of belief so that they described themselves as "an organization of Christian men and women of science" rather than a group of only male scientists.

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Further common beliefs of creation scientists:

bulletBiblical catastrophism: Creation scientists believe that the geological formations that we see today were mainly produced over a very short time interval during the Noachian Flood. "The Flood...brought about vast changes in the earth's surface, including vulcanism, mountain building, and the deposition of the major part of sedimentary strata." 4
bulletCreation processes:  During creation week, God used processes about which we have no knowledge, because they are not "operating anywhere in the natural universe" today. 5
bulletMore recent processes: Most creation scientists believe that God created the world less than 10,000 years ago. Thus, scientists who support evolution are wrong when they point out that certain processes (continental drift, uplift of mountains, deposits of up to one mile-thick layers of sedimentary rock, etc.) took millions of years. The world's deposit of sedimentary rock, in particular, was completed during the year of Noah's flood.
bulletNoah's Ark: All humans land animals are descendents of the inhabitants of the ark: of Noah, his family and of the animals that he loaded on board. 
bulletSecond Law of Thermodynamics: This law says that the entropy of all systems in the universe tend to decay and become less ordered. This is the opposite to what would be expected if evolution occurred. (Scientists believe in the second law as well. However, they point out that it only applies to closed, isolated systems. The earth is not such a system: energy from the sun drives many of the earth's processes, and permits evolution -- at least for many billion years until it runs out of fuel.)
bulletFossil Record:  The earth's fossil-containing sedimentary rocks were laid down during the year-long flood of Noah. The well-known observation that simple forms of life are found at the bottom of the geological column and human remains at the top is explained by three processes:
bulletHydrodynamic selectivity: Trilobites, brachiopods and other invertebrates appear at the lowest levels of the sedimentary rocks. They were already in the sea, and they would tend to fall faster than other forms of life because of their size and shape.
bulletLocation: Amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals would be buried next, since they lived on the land. Thus, they would appear in the geological column above the invertebrates.
bulletIntelligence: The larger, more highly developed animals would have tended to flee from the encroaching waters of the flood. Humans in particular would be the last to drown, as they would have climbed to the highest accessible location.
bulletLanguage diversity: Most creation scientists also believe that God created the variety of languages seen in the world today during the incident at the Tower of Babel, as described in Genesis 11
bulletMorality: Many creation scientists consider that the Theory of Evolution is responsible for much of the moral decline over the past century. They reason that if people believe that they are descendents of animals, and not as a result of special creation, then they might as well act as animals, without a highly developed sense of ethics.

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Is creationism science or religion?

In his 1982 decision in the case of McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, U.S. District Court Judge William R. Overton wrote that creation science is based on foundational beliefs derived from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament): 

"The evidence establishes that the definition of 'creation science' contained in 4(a) has as its unmentioned reference the first 11 chapters of the Book of Genesis. Among the many creation epics in human history, the account of sudden creation from nothing, or 'creatio ex nihilo,' and subsequent destruction of the world by flood is unique to Genesis. The concepts of 4(a) are the literal Fundamentalists' view of Genesis. Section 4(a) is unquestionably a statement of religion, with the exception of 4(a)(2) which is a negative thrust aimed at what the creationists understand to be the theory of evolution...'creation out of nothing' is a concept unique to Western religions. In traditional Western religious thought, the conception of a creator of the world is a conception of God. The only 'one' who has this power is God."

The linkage between creation science beliefs and the Hebrew Scriptures appears conclusive:

Creation Science belief Apparent source
Sudden creation of the universe, energy, and life from nothing. Genesis 1:1-10.
The insufficiency of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of all living kinds from a single organism.  This is not really a fundamental part of creation science. It appears to be a simple criticism of evolution.
Changes only within fixed limits of originally created kinds of plants and animals.  Genesis 1:21-25. The term "kind" is repeated frequently elsewhere in Genesis. 
Separate ancestry for man and apes.  Genesis 1:24-27.
Explanation of the earth's geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of a worldwide flood. This is referred to as "biblical catastrophism." Genesis, chapters 7 & 8.
A relatively recent inception of the earth and living kinds." Implied by the genealogies in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Bishop Ussher estimated that creation occurred in the year 4004 BCE

The defendants in the case argued that: 
bulletSimilarities between creation science beliefs and a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis does not conclusively make the former a statement of religion. Judge Overton rejected this belief, pointing out that the "are not merely similar to the literal interpretation of Genesis; they are identical and parallel to no other story of creation."
bulletThe act implies a creator who has power, intelligence and design ability. It does not imply that the creator has attributes of love, compassion and justice. Thus, the first statement is not necessarily a religious concept. Judge Overton disagreed, saying that "The idea of sudden creation from nothing, or creatio ex nihilo, is an inherently religious concept. (Vawter, Gilkey, Geisler, Ayala, Blount, Hicks.)" He pointed out in a footnote that: "The concept of a creator God distinct from the God of love and mercy is closely similar to the Marcion and Gnostic heresies, among the deadliest to threaten the early Christian church."
bulletTeaching students about the acts of a creator is not a religious exercise because the students are not required to believe in the concept of the creator. The student need only understand that creation scientists believe in this way. Judge Overton replied that this "is contrary to common understanding and contradicts settled case law. Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980), Abbington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 222 (1963)."

Judge Overton concluded: "The facts that creation science is inspired by the Book of Genesis and that Section 4(a) is consistent with a literal interpretation of Genesis leave no doubt that a major effect of the Act is the advancement of particular religious beliefs." He ruled that the Arkansas act was unconstitutional.

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References:

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

  1. 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/ 
  2. W.R. Bird, article in Acts and Facts, published by the Institute for Creation Research, 1978-DEC. 
  3. 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
  4. Kofahl & Segraves, The Creation Explanation,
  5. Duane Gish, "Evolution: The fossils say No!," Creation-Life Publishers (1973)
  6. The Creation Research Society has a home page at: http://www.creationresearch.org/ 
  7. American Scientific Affiliation has a home page at: http://www.asa3.org/  
  8. The CRS' Statement of  Faith is at: http://www.creationresearch.org/

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Copyright © 2000 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance 
Originally written: 2000-SEP-6
Latest update: 2008-MAR-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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