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Creation science is an umbrella term for the creationist movement to reconcile the biblical account of creation with modern science. Its supporters claim that the extant scientific evidence best supports a creationist interpretation. As an organized campaign it is concentrated within the United States, primarily among evangelical Christian denominations that subscribe to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.

Advocates of creation science depart from the uniformitarian model of geology in favor of flood geology, arguing for the historical accuracy of the Noachic flood. They dispute the theory of the common descent of all life via biological evolution, claiming that evolution is pseudoscientific [1]and argue in favor of creation biology. They reject scientific theories on the age of the universe, arguing for creationist cosmologies based on an age of less than ten thousand years. Some advocates have spent many years arguing for the inclusion of creation science in the science curriculum of U.S. public schools. The mainstream scientific community dismisses creation science as a pseudoscience because it does not conform to the scientific method[2], as well as admissions by its proponents that the means of creation cannot be proven[3]. Therefore, rather than offering its own theoretical models, creation science literature generally consists of compilations of alleged weaknesses in current models of evolution and geology.

History and organizationEdit

The doctrine of creation is a fundamental and ancient precept of many faiths including Christianity. The vast majority of Christian Church Fathers and Reformers accepted a literal interpretation of Genesis, and even the few who did not, such as Origen and Augustine, defended an earth that was on the order of thousands of years old. By the 1830s, scientific evidence contrary to the doctrine of "special creation" had begun to accumulate. In 1859 Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species and by the 1900s natural selection and descent with modification was widely accepted as the unifying principle of biological development. Opposition to this scientific consensus became codified as the creationist movement.

The history of Creation Science begins with writers who looked to studying geology within the Biblical timeframe detailed in the Ussher-Lightfoot Calendar. Such a timeframe directly contradicted that provided by geologists for the age of the Earth. Some consider the first serious Creation Science writer to be Canadian George McCready Price who wrote several books, most notably The New Geology, which attempted to contradict mainstream geological understandings of timeframes and geologic history. However, Creation Science (dubbed Scientific Creationism at the time) only emerged as an organized movement during the 1960s following the publication of The Genesis Flood by Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb.

Subsequently, advocates of Creation Science have expanded their critiques into biology and cosmology, and sought to have creation science taught in public schools. However, these efforts were halted by the Supreme Court's application of the First amendment's Establishment Clause in Edwards v. Aguillard, 1987.

Following the Edwards v. Aguillard decision, some adherents lent support to the teaching of intelligent design under its 'big tent' strategy [4]. The allied Teach the Controversy campaign claims that intelligent design is on par with the scientific theory of evolution and therefore that both should be taught in schools as equally worthy of consideration.

Creation Science is distinguished from Neo-Creationism, which is largely associated with the intelligent design movement, in that most advocates of Creation Science accept scripture as a foundation for their claims with their primary goal being to the validation of scripture as historical fact through the use of science. Neo-Creationism eschews references to scripture altogether from its polemics and stated goals as a matter of principle (see Wedge strategy). By so doing, intelligent design proponents hope to succeed where creation science has failed in securing a place in public school science curriculum. Carefully avoiding any reference to the identity of the intelligent designer as God in their public arguments, intelligent design proponents believe that their movement will return a version of creationism back to science classrooms without violating the First Amendment.[5][6] However, this effort was struck down as a violation of the Establishment Clause in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

Today, Creation Science as an organized movement is primarily centered within the United States, although Creation Science organizations are known in other countries, most notably Answers in Genesis which was founded in Australia. Proponents are found primarily among various denominations of Christianity described as evangelical, conservative, or fundamentalist. While creationist movements also exist in Islam, and Judaism, these movements do not use the phrase creation science to describe their beliefs.

Issues in creation scienceEdit

Creation Science has its roots in the ongoing effort by young-earth creationists to dispute modern science's description of natural history (particularly biological evolution, but also geology and physical cosmology) while attempting to offer an alternative explanation of observable phenomena compatible with the Biblical account.

The proponents of Creation Science often argue that many observable phenomena fit more easily into the Biblical account than with the naturalistic worldview [7]. The vast majority of mainstream scientists argue that this premise runs counter to the core principles of coherent scientific methodology and that literal interpretations of the Bible which demand a global flood, a young Earth, or special creation of created kinds can be shown to be incorrect via scientific evidence [1]. Creation science proponents admit that their oppositional stance is based on religion. Duane Gish, a prominent creation science proponent, has argued that "We cannot discover by scientific investigation anything about the creative processes used by the Creator." [2]

Metaphysical assumptionsEdit

Creation Science makes the a priori metaphysical assumption that the Creator exists. Christian Creation Science holds that the description of Creation is given in the Bible and that empirical scientific evidence corresponds with that description. Creationists in general see a doctrinaire commitment to exclude the Supreme Being and miracles as a motivating factor in Darwinism, a term used in a derogatory fashion to refer to evolutionary biology. Critics consider Creation Science [3] to be religious, rather than scientific, because it stems from faith in the Bible, rather than by the application of the scientific method. The United States National Academy of Sciences (NAS), has noted, "Religious opposition to evolution propels antievolutionism. Although antievolutionists pay lip service to supposed scientific problems with evolution, what motivates them to battle its teaching is apprehension over the implications of evolution for religion." [8]

Creation science advocates argue that mainstream scientific theories of the origins of the universe, the earth, and life are rooted in a priori presumptions of methodological naturalism and uniformitarianism, each of which is disputed. In some areas of science, for example chemistry, meteorology or medicine, the default assumptions of a naturalistic universe and uniformitarianism are not considered problematic to creation science proponents. As a matter of principle, creation science advocates single out only those scientific theories that they have determined are most in conflict with their beliefs, and it is against those theories that they concentrate their efforts.

Religious criticisms of creation scienceEdit

Fideists criticize creation science on the grounds either that religious faith alone should be a sufficient basis for belief in the truth of Creation, or that efforts to prove the Genesis account of creation on scientific grounds are inherently futile as reason is subordinate to faith and cannot thus be used to prove it.

Some Christian theologies, including Liberal Christianity, consider the Genesis narrative to be a poetic and allegorical work rather than a literal history, and many Christian churches – including the Roman Catholic [4], Anglican and the more liberal denominations of the Lutheran, Methodist, Congregationalist and Presbyterian faiths – have either rejected creation science outright or are ambivalent to it.

Many Christian churches reject creation science in favour of some version of Theistic Evolution.

Scientific criticisms of creation scienceEdit

The United States National Academy of Sciences states that "creation science is in fact not science and should not be presented as such." [9] and that "the claims of creation science lack empirical support and cannot be meaningfully tested." [9]. According to Skeptic Magazine, the "creation 'science' movement gains much of its strength through the use of distortion and scientifically unethical tactics" and "seriously misrepresents the theory of evolution". [10].

For a theory to qualify as scientific it must be:

  • consistent (internally and externally)
  • parsimonious (sparing in proposed entities or explanations)
  • useful (describing and explaining observed phenomena)
  • empirically testable and falsifiable
  • based upon controlled, repeatable experiments
  • correctable and dynamic (changing to fit with newly discovered data)
  • progressive (achieving all that previous theories have and more)
  • tentative (admitting that it might not be correct rather than asserting certainty)

For any hypothesis or conjecture to be considered scientific, it must meet at least most, but ideally all, of the above criteria. The fewer which are matched, the less scientific it is. If it meets two or fewer of these criteria, it cannot be treated as scientific in any useful sense of the word.

Scientists have considered the hypotheses proposed by creation science and have rejected them because of a lack of evidence. Furthermore, the claims of creation science do not refer to natural causes and cannot be subject to meaningful tests, so they do not qualify as scientific hypotheses. In 1987 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that creationism is religion, not science, and cannot be advocated in public school classrooms [11]. Most major religious groups have concluded that the concept of evolution is not at odds with their descriptions of creation and human origins [12]

A summary of the objections to creation science by mainstream scientists follows:

  • Creation science is not falsifiable : Theism is not falsifiable, since the existence of God is typically asserted without sufficient conditions to allow a falsifying observation. If God is a transcendental being, beyond the realm of the observable, no claim about his existence can be supported or undermined by observation. Thus, creationism, the argument from design and other arguments for the existence of God are a posteriori arguments. (See also the section on falsifiability below.)
  • Creation science violates the principle of parsimony : Creationism fails to pass Occam's razor. Many explanations offered by creation science are more complex than alternative explanations. Parsimony favours explanations that make the fewest assumptions and postulate the fewest hypothetical entities.
  • Creation science is not empirically testable : Creationism posits the supernatural which by definition is beyond empirical natural testing, and thus conflicts with the practical use of methodological naturalism inherent in science.
  • Creation science is not based upon controlled, repeatable experiments : That creationism is not based upon controlled, repeatable experiments stems not from the theory itself, but from the phenomena that it tries to explain.
  • Creation science is not correctable, dynamic, tentative or progressive : Creationism professes to adhere to an "absolute Truth", "the word of God", instead of a provisional assessment of data which can change when new information is discovered. The idea of the progressive growth of scientific ideas is required to explain previous data and any previously unexplainable data as well as any future data. It is often given as a justification for the naturalistic basis of science. In any practical sense of the concept, creation science is not progressive: it does not explain or expand upon what went before it and is not consistent with established ancillary theories.

Creation science's lack of adherence to the standards of the scientific method mean that it (and specifically creation science) cannot be said to be scientific in the way that the term "science" is conventionally understood and utilized.

Historical, philosophical, and sociological criticism of creation scienceEdit

Historically, the debate of whether creationism is compatible with science can be traced back to 1874, the year science historian John William Draper published his History of the Conflict between Religion and Science. In it Draper portrayed the entire history of scientific development as a war against religion. This presentation of history was propagated further by followers such as Andrew Dickson White in his essay A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. Their conclusions, however, have been disputed. [13]

Some opponents consider creation science to be an ideologically and politically motivated propaganda tool, with cult-like features, to promote the creationist agenda in society. They allege that the term "creation science" was chosen to purposely blur the distinction between science and religion, particularly in countries that are religiously-neutral by law (such as the United States), in an attempt to gain official government sanction and recognition of specific religious tenets above those of other faiths. In the United States, the principal focus of Creation Science advocates is on the government-supported public school systems, which are prohibited by the Establishment Clause from promoting specific religions.

Subjects within creation scienceEdit

Subjects within creation science can be into split into four broad categories, each covering a different area of origins research: creation biology, flood geology, radiohaloes and creationist cosmologies.

Creation biologyEdit

Main article: Creation biology

Creation biology centers around an idea derived from Genesis that states that life was created by God in a finite number of "created kinds" rather than through biological evolution. Creationists who involve themselves in this endeavor believe that any observable speciation took place through inbreeding and harmful mutations during an alleged population bottleneck after the great flood of Noah's ark, which they claim was an actual historical event that happened in a manner consistent with its description in the Bible. Mainstream scientists argue that there is no physical evidence for a global flood event that is consistent with the methods and standards of scientific evidence (see below).

Creation biology disagrees with biological evolution (see Creation-evolution controversy). Creationists contend that there is no empirical evidence that a new plant or animal species with beneficial types of structures or functions has ever originated as a result of the gradual accumulation of DNA mutations through natural selection.

Popular arguments against evolution have changed over the years since the publishing of Henry M. Morris's first book on the subject, Scientific Creationism, but some themes remain common: missing links as an indication that evolution is incomplete; arguments based on entropy, complexity and information theory; arguments claiming that natural selection is an impossible mechanism; and general criticism of the conclusions drawn from historical sciences as lacking experimental basis. The origin of the human species is particularly hotly contested; the fossil remains of purported hominid ancestors are not considered by advocates of creation biology to be evidence for a speciation event involving Homo sapiens.

When asked what would disprove evolution in favor of creationism, biologist J.B.S. Haldane replied "fossil rabbits in the Precambrian era", a period more than 540 million years ago. This is an era during which evolutionists claim that life on Earth consisted largely of bacteria, algae and plankton. Richard Dawkins explains that evolution "is a theory of gradual, incremental change over millions of years, which starts with something very simple and works up along slow, gradual gradients to greater complexity ... If there were a single hippo or rabbit in the Precambrian, that would completely blow evolution out of the water. None have ever been found." [14].

Flood geologyEdit

Main article: Flood geology

Flood geology is an idea based on the belief that many of Earth's geological formations were created by the global flood described in the story of Noah's ark. Fossils and fossil fuels are believed by its followers to have formed from animal and plant matter which was buried rapidly during this flood, while submarine canyon extensions are explained as having formed during a rapid runoff from the continents after the seafloors dropped. Sedimentary strata are described as sediments predominantly laid down after Noah's flood.

Mainstream geologists conclude that no such flood is seen in the preserved rock layers and moreover that the flood itself represents a physical impossibility. For instance, since Mount Everest is approximately 5.5 miles in elevation and the Earth's surface is approximately 200 million square miles in area, to cover Mount Everest to the depth of 15 cubits as indicated by Genesis 7:20 would require 1.1 billion cubic miles of water. The Earth's atmosphere, however, only has the capacity to store water in vapor form sufficient to blanket the globe to a depth of 25 millimeters. Nevertheless, there continue to be many creationists who argue that the flood can explain the fossil record and the evidence from geology and paleontology that are often used to dispute creationists' claims. In addition to the above ideas that are in opposition to the principles of geology, advocates of flood geology reject uniformitarianism and the findings of radiometric dating. The Creation Research Society argues that "uniformitarianism is wishful thinking." [15] One creation science global Flood model is based on the concept of Catastrophic Plate Tectonics (CPT) (as developed by ICR/CRS scientists). Seventy percent of the Earth is covered by water to a depth of approximately 3km. If this water were removed from the oceans and then somehow the oceans filled by some other material up to sea level, and finally the water removed from the oceans distributed evenly across the planet it would cover the Earth to a depth of 2km. CPT offers a mechanism to cause the water to cover the earth by releasing pressure in the Earth's mantle and causing subduction at continental margins. According to the model, later isostatic compensation caused mountain ranges which contain marine fossils[5], such as the the Alps and Himalayas to rise up.

RadiohaloesEdit

Main article: Radiohalo

In the 1970s, young Earth creationist Robert V. Gentry proposed that radiohaloes in certain granites represented evidence for the Earth being created instantaneously rather than gradually. This idea has been criticized by mainstream physicists and geologists on many grounds including that the rocks Gentry studies are not primordial and that the radionuclides in question need not have been the initial conditions of the rocks.

Thomas A. Baillieul, a geologist and retired senior environmental scientist with the Federal government, disputed Gentry's claims in an article entitled, ""Polonium Haloes" Refuted: A Review of "Radioactive Halos in a Radio-Chronological and Cosmological Perspective""[6]. Baillieul noted that Gentry was a physicist with no background in geology and given the absence of this background, Gentry had misrepresented geological evidence. Additionally, he notes that Gentry relied on research from the beginning of the 20th century, long before radio isotopes were truly understood; that his assumption that a Polonium isotope cause the rings was speculative; and that Gentry falsely argues that the half-life of radioactive elements varies with time.

Creationist cosmologiesEdit

Main article: Creationist cosmologies

Several attempts have been made by creationists to construct a cosmology consistent with a young universe rather than the standard cosmological age of the universe, based on the belief that Genesis describes the creation of the universe as well as the Earth. The primary challenge for young-universe cosmologies is that the accepted distances in the universe require millions or billions of years for light to travel to Earth.

Cosmology is not as widely discussed as creation biology or flood geology, for several reasons. First, many creationists, particularly old earth creationists and intelligent design creationists do not dispute that the universe may be billions of years old. Also, some creationists who believe that the Earth was created in the timeframe described in a literal interpretation of Genesis believe that Genesis describes only the creation of the Earth, rather than the creation of the entire universe, allowing for both a young Earth and an old universe. Finally, the technical nature of the discipline of physical cosmology and its ties to mathematical physics prevent those without significant technical knowledge from understanding the full details of how the observations and theories behind the current models work.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Roman theological forum Positivism: the father of naturalism, Clement Butel, 1999
  2. Is Creationism Science? on About.com
  3. Duane Gish, Evolution? The Fossils Say No!, "We do not know how the Creator created, [or] what processes He used, for He used processes which are not now operating anywhere in the natural universe. This is why we refer to creation as special creation. We cannot discover by scientific investigation anything about the creative processes used by the Creator."
  4. "The promise of the big tent of ID is to provide a setting where Christians (and others) may disagree amicably, and fruitfully, about how best to understand the natural world, as well as Scripture." Life in the big tent: traditional creationism and the intelligent design community
  5. "...the first thing that has to be done is to get the Bible out of the discussion. ...This is not to say that the biblical issues are unimportant; the point is rather that the time to address them will be after we have separated materialist prejudice from scientific fact." Phillip Johnson. "The Wedge", Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity. July/August 1999.
  6. the Evolution Debate Can Be Won. Phillip Johnson. Truths that Transform.
  7. "We can then apply the scientific method to test our predictions and see which set fits better with what we actually observe." How can creation have anything to do with science?
    "By this definition it would not be scientific to even consider any of the evidence that God created." How The Universe Began
  8. National Center for Science Education
  9. 9.0 9.1 National Academy of Sciences
  10. Creationism: Bad Science or Immoral Pseudoscience?
  11. "The legislative history demonstrates that the term "creation science," as contemplated by the state legislature, embraces this religious teaching." Edwards v. Aguillard
  12. "Indeed, many scientists are deeply religious. But science and religion occupy two separate realms of human experience. Demanding that they be combined detracts from the glory of each." Science and creationism
  13. Medieval Science, the Church and Universities
  14. Time Magazine, 15 August 2005, page 32
  15. creationresearch.org

Further readingEdit

Creation scienceEdit

  • Don Batten (ed.), The Answers Book ISBN 0-949906-23-9 (Brisbane, Australia: Answers in Genesis, 1999)
  • Duane T. Gish, Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics ISBN 0-932766-28-5 (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1993)
  • Henry M. Morris (ed.), Scientific Creationism ISBN 0-89052-003-2 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1985)
  • Henry M. Morris and Gary E. Parker, What is Creation Science? ISBN 0-89051-081-4 (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1987)
  • Terry Mortenson, The Great Turning Point: The Church's Catastrophic Mistake on Geology — Before Darwin ISBN 0-89051-408-9 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004)
  • Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross, Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off, ISBN 1-57683-344-5 (Navpress Publishing Group, 2004)
  • Seraphim Rose, Genesis, Creation and Early Man ISBN 1-887904-02-6 (Saint Herman, 2000)
  • Ariel A. Roth, Origins – Linking Science and Scripture ISBN 0-8280-1328-4 (Hagarstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1998)
  • Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Evolution ISBN 0-89051-258-2 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1999) forward and introduction
  • Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Evolution 2 ISBN 0-89051-387-2 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2002) table of contents with links to chapters
  • Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Compromise ISBN 0-89051-411-9 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004) introductory chapter and some reviews
  • John C. Whitcomb and Henry Morris, The Genesis Flood ISBN 0-87552-338-2 (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1964)
  • A. E. Wilder-Smith, Man's Origin, Man's Destiny ISBN 0-87123-356-8 (Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Co., 1968)
  • A. E. Wilder-Smith, Scientific Alternative to Neo-Darwinian Evolutionary Theory ISBN 99921-39-67-6 (Costa Mesa, CA: TWFT Publishers, 1987)
  • John Woodmorappe, Studies in Flood Geology ISBN 0-932766-54-4 (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1993)
  • John Woodmorappe, Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study ISBN 0-932766-41-2 (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1996)
  • John Woodmorappe, The Mythology of Modern Dating Methods ISBN 0-932766-57-9 (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1999)

CriticismEdit

  • V. L. Bates, Christian Fundamentalism and the Theory of Evolution in Public School Education: A Study of the Creation Science Movement (Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Davis: 1976).
  • R. M. Frye, Is God a creationist? The religious case against creation-science ISBN 0-684-17993-8 (New York: Scribner's, 1983)
  • P. Kitcher, Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism ISBN 0-262-61037-X (Boston, MA: The MIT Press, 1983)
  • R. Lewin, Where is the Science in Creation Science? (Science v.215, pp.142–146.)
  • R. Pennock, Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism ISBN 0-262-66165-9 (The MIT Press, Reprint edition, February 28 2000)
  • B. Vawter, Creationism: Creative Misuse of the Bible, in R. M. Frye (ed.), ibid. p.71–82.
  • R. L. Numbers, The Creationists ISBN 0-679-40104-0 (New York: A. A. Knopf / Random House, 1992)
  • D. B. McKown, The mythmaker's magic: Behind the illusion of "creation science" ISBN 0-87975-770-1 (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1993)
  • L. Tiffin, Creationism's Upside-Down Pyramid: How Science Refutes Fundamentalism ISBN 0-87975-898-8 (Prometheus Books, August 1 1994)
  • M. Zimmerman, M. Science, Nonscience and Nonsense ISBN 0-8018-5774-0 (The Johns Hopkins University Press: Reprint edition, December 1 1997)
  • Synoptic Position Statement of the Georgia Academy of Science with Respect to the Forced Teaching of Creation-­Science in Public School Science Education, Georgia Academy of Science: March 22 2000 (ISBN B0008JBPNY)

External linksEdit

NeutralEdit

  • Edwards v. Aguillard 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling preventing the teaching of creation science in public school science classrooms
  • McLean v. Arkansas 1981 challenge to Arkansas' Act 590, which mandated that evolutionary biology instruction be balanced with "creation science".

Creation scienceEdit

CriticismEdit

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