The Creation Science Debate: Introduction Part 1

One of the particular flash points in the unfortunate war of faith-based science versus secular, atheistic science is over the issue of cosmology or origins.  For many years I have intentionally avoided pursing an opinion on the matter for the following reasons:

  1. It hardly seemed important.  The key information in the Creation perspective is that God exists and created, not how God created.
  2. The militant nature of both sides was off-putting.  The debate seemed more about proving each other wrong, not about pursuing any sort of truth.
  3. Where does one even begin?  Scientific theories and thought can change in an instant.  Much of creation science seems to begin with a certain assumption, and uses scientific data to support that assumption.  One such assumption is that certain aspects of our understanding of God are immutable, that God does not change and our understanding of how God has done something is a fixed point.  What happens when that fixed point is challenged?  Suddenly we have theology against science.  To argue creation science based entirely on the current understandings in scientific thought could undermine the entire endeavor if that scientific thought is proven to be in error.  To wit:  a significant paradigm shift could completely destroy the “science” behind creation.  In the British science fiction series Torchwood: Children of Earth a hospital worker relates how the proven existence of aliens had led to an increase in suicides.  One example given was of a Christian for whom alien life didn’t fit into her theology.  If we build science into our theology, what happens when that science is proven incorrect or faulty.  Scientific change comes more readily than theological change.

Unfortunately, the areas I have avoided thinking about have now become areas of concern and doubt.  I don’t have to know how God created the universe, the earth, and man, but neither can I refuse to confront the issue, especially as my mind is increasingly led away from a literal interpretation of the creation account in Genesis.  Or, perhaps more accurately, I do interpret Genesis literally . . . but I may differ in my opinion of what is literally present in the account.

Here is what I believe.  Genesis 1 teaches a truth, and that truth is that God created all of existence, the universe and everything in it.  I don’t claim to know the details, nor am I convinced that they are of vital importance . . . that they are a mere intellectual pursuit drivin by curiosity.  Nevertheless, I am going to begin a personal investigation into the matter.  I am going to develop an opinion of creation and I will post my findings and research here.  Please bear with me, should I not post in a timely manner.  My life, sadly, is not conducive to pure intellectual pursuits and regular patterns of writing (which I hope will one day change).  I still have a job and certain social obligation.  Regardless, I will journey forth.  I plan on hitting the following points and authors on this journey and am open to further recommendations:

  • Charles Darwin
  • Richard Dawkins
  • John C. Polkinghorn
  • Arthur Peacock
  • Ken Ham
  • Kenneth Miller
  • Francis Schaeffer
  • Hugh Ross
  • The documentary Expelled
  • Michael Behe

If you recognize these names, you will notice that I have quite a bit of pro-creation sources, but am lacking in the anti-creation camp.  I’m sure as I read these books, I’ll find threads to follow, but if anyone has more sources to investigate, then please submit them in the comment section.

***

I plan on beginning with an analysis of  Darwin’s On the Origin of Species.  In many ways, this text was the first major weapon in the arsenal of atheistic science.  However, Darwin’s theories were by no means original.  Darwin was merely the first to put pen to paper, armed with observational evidence and an ability to make everything accessible.  But before I pursue Darwin further, allow me to express a bit of frustration.  The previous section was written a full three weeks prior to this one, and I have since learned how very daunting this task could be.  I have had to shift and readjust both the focus of this pursuit, but also my way of analyzing it.

At the beginning of my research, I naively assumed there were primarily two sides to this debate:  atheistic science and theistic science.  Depending on how broad you paint this, it is true, but when I got further in to the debate, I saw that, like politics, there are about as many opinions as there are people who have put pen to paper on this subject.  We have old earth/universe vs. new earth/universe, Big Bang vs. no Big Bang, worldwide flood vs. localized flood vs. no flood, human evolution vs. no human evolution, and so on with creation science proponents on all sides, arguing with each other just as much as with the atheists.

So, a question:  who is right?  Or perhaps a better question would be “who can be right?  I am constantly amused by the books that come to the book store where I work, books with subtitles like “The Final Evidence Against Evolution.”  Doesn’t the fact that these book are continually published imply that this “final evidence” isn’t so conclusive?  Neither side of the broad view of the debate seems to be able to win the debate, even though there are people on both sides who feel the debate ended long ago and the other side lost.

I am also continually saddened by the villainization of Charles Darwin, as if he was a man who schemed his whole life to destroy the Christian religion and God.  In reality, he was a man with a gift for scientific observation who wrestled with and eventually rejected his faith, was destroyed by the death of his daughter, and conducted some of the definitive research on earthworms.  Christians rarely seem to give Darwin credit on his understanding of earthworms.

In the interest of brevity, I shall bring this particular post to a close for now, but in my next post on this topic, I will briefly outline the three main categorizations of this debate and what they believe.

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6 thoughts on “The Creation Science Debate: Introduction Part 1

  1. There is one major problem or shall I say misconception. Science is science. It is neither atheistic or theistic. The practitioners can be atheists or theists but that doesn’t make science atheistic or theistic. Science can only be right or wrong, valid or invalid, true or untrue.

    • I agree that science itself is neutral. It is the interpretation of the data where the atheistic and theistic viewpoint starts to influence. What I have come to find is that there is a large camp in the scientific community that feels that using God and Miracle for an explanation for anything is an intellectual cheat. They feel that if there is a gap in a theory, then we either haven’t the tools necessary to fill the gap or we haven’t encountered a missing piece that will give us clues to what fills the gap. Thus, to see a gap and insert “God did it” is an insult to them and to scientific reasoning. I sympathize with this viewpoint because it can hinder new thought and discoveries. I genuinely want the posts on this subject to be about stating what different voices believe and letting people make up their own minds about what to believe.

  2. I agree with you both. What do I mean? Science is a paradox in that “the concept” is certainly valiant. There “should be” an objective, unassailable method to discovering ultimate truth about literally anything. That method “should be” completely free of bias and 100% foolproof.

    However, pure Science is unable to do this. In fact, I would argue that there is a good chance that pure unbiased Science doesn’t actually exist today. How so?

    We are human beings. It’s impossible for us to ever know everything about everything. There IS objective knowable truth, yes, but most of us use beliefs on a daily basis.

    All beliefs are based on faith (and hopefully evidence) but that’s all they are. A belief. Faith comes into play for everyone on the planet.

    This is why sometimes a creationist will say “well, the theory of macro evolution is the same as the theory of gravity: they are both just theories.”

    The reason that statement is given is because to reach objective truth about gravity one would personally have to evaluate, experiment, observe, repeat, etc., over and over and over until one could confidently say that gravity is a Law. Not a theory but a Law.

    Scientists realize that this is often impossible and therefore assign the word “theory” a meaning of “more likely than not”.

    And what about us regular citizens? How do we come to a belief about gravity? Through actual Science? Maybe a little bit but I would say mainly through faith based on evidence.

    What we do is look out the window, drop an apple, see it fall, read a book about gravity, hear a lecture, realize we aren’t flying away and say “There must be gravity”. We have weighed the evidence and conducted minor experiments yes; but enough to confidently and personally say that gravity exists? What we mean is that “my evidence creates a faith telling me that most likely gravity exists”. You might say “Newton said it does”. Ok, well, you are exercising your FAITH in Newton. You have evidence that Newton was probably right but because you haven’t personally evaluated every single possible scenario then you are using faith to state your belief.

    The statement was made “science can only be right or wrong, valid or invalid.” But who is the one making the judgment as to whether Science is right or wrong? Valid or invalid? Who is the arbiter here? Another human? Majority rules? Yikes!

    It is impossible for any human to know everything about everything. It is impossible for Science to teach us everything about everything. Here is a short list of what science cannot do: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkBD20edOco.

    So what do we do instead? We all use Evidence combined with Faith. We all take our own evidence and evidence gleaned from others then form an opinion. Whether we realize it or not, we are basing all beliefs on evidence AND Faith.

    One must realize that he has not personally evaluated every single variable and verified every fact. Instead he may be trusting Darwin to have done the work for him. Or the Bible or whatever. But does one know that Darwin’s information was correct? Or that the Bible is correct? BOTH SIDES use faith.

    A scientist has faith (based on what he feels is good evidence) that Darwin can be trusted and then takes Darwin’s information as truth, applies it to the scenario, and forms a conclusion based on faith. Same for the Bible. A Christian has faith, based on evidence, that the Bible is true.

    This is why Science is not objective nor can all observations made be stated as a right/wrong, valid/invalid concept.

    A better description would be: “I, Mr. Scientist, have faith that this theory, Theory XXXXX, is correct. My faith is based upon 20 years of my own research, my belief that my colleague Mr. Scientist XX is correct in his research, my faith that my professors were correct when they taught me, and. . . .” Now that’s a more accurate statement and one that would be welcome by most creationists.

    Instead, the concept of a Truth Discovering All Knowing Science is so revered that it’s nearly a religion itself and certainly is made to be by some Darwinian evolutionists.

    The ideal of a neutral method for discovering truth using “only” the scientific method sounds great but it falls short.

    Science can’t account for everything and it cannot always help us discover truth by itself. Again, who would be making the judgment that science is right/wrong or valid/invalid? Who is judging this?

    Done correctly, science merely provides evidence towards a faith. It is a tool that is often twisted into an actual religion.

    Don’t get me wrong, there IS objective truth. Truth is knowable or we have no basis for reality. How do we discover it? Ultimately by applying logic and yes careful observation that creates faith based upon evidence. Logic is our main tool however as it alone can approach unbiased rational thought.

    I ask both sides to evaluate all available evidence before making right/wrong, truth/untruth type statements. I agree with @kenyawoodstock that too often a scientist first rules out several scenarios then proceeds from there.

  3. Science is neither a religion or based on faith. Yes some scientists can be dogmatic but that in no way means science is a religion. Saying so is awfully similar to what a combination of William Lane Craig/Kent Hovind/Josh McDowell would say? You aren’t an angry theist are you? I will give you a small example that hopefully will show you how belief in science is not faith. I will use a theory lots of theists disagree with, evolution. Do I accept it as true? Yes. Do I believe it? No, I just said I accept the evidence as true. Does a Christian believe in Jesus regardless of what the evidence shows? Yes. That is the difference between science and faith.

  4. Again, a belief is formed (well, SHOULD be formed) based on evidence. No one should be blindly believing or disbelieving in anything. Science, Christianity, apples, whatever. But understand, since no one human can know everything about everything, the rest is indeed faith. Faith in the fact that your car will start in the morning, faith in Jesus, faith that oranges are good for you. These are examples.

    You (or anyone) may believe you know everything about macro evolution, but actually you have simply read materials, studied it, listened to others, learned, hoped, and ultimately exercised faith that macro evolution is true. You based your faith on the available evidence, same as a Christian is hopefully doing.

    We all exercise faith. You can’t know for sure that you will not be bombed by Iran tonight. You just believe that you won’t, again, based on the evidence (of simple likelihood, that your location not being a military base, etc.) It’s a belief but not something you can know for sure. That’s what I mean by faith. We all use it.

    Scientists use faith every day. The belief that “The scientific method helps discover truth” is itself based on faith. It can’t be proved in any scientific way.

    This is why we must always evaluate all of the evidence for any issue. Because I think we agree that there is knowable objective ultimate truth. The problem occurs when one party says “I know this is true.” The other party says, “Wait, a minute, I know THIS contradictory statement is actually the truth.”

    Truth exists and Evidence leads us down the path toward logic, which then helps us discover truth.

    So, I am curious, what evidence have you evaluated or possessed that then led you to conclude that Jesus is not who he said? Or is your contention that he didn’t even exist?

    Again, please clarify and provide any evidence you have.

  5. Science does not use faith. Now if you would like to know my views on Jesus, you can go on my blog and discuss it there on an appropriate article but that is not the topic here.

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