Two items appear below:
1 Creationism, ID and Science;
2 To Williams on Creationism
CREATIONISM, ID and SCIENCE
(Investigator 108, 1996 May)
EVOLUTION AND CHRISTIANITY
Many Christians accept evolution. James Jauncey, president of Kenmore Christian College, wrote:
…the place of God as the creator cannot be called into question for the simple reason that science cannot concern itself with ultimate origins… For instance, if it should be that science should ultimately conclude that some form of evolutionary process is the explanation of the origin of all living things, then the most that could be deduced would be that God in his wisdom used such a process. (c.1960)
A retired science teacher and school principal wrote:
I am convinced Creationism and its close ally, Intelligent Design, should be rejected as they fly in the face of reason… I am a regular worshipping church attender and I believe in the theory of evolution. (Michael Ford 2005)
Another example is Kenneth R Miller, teacher of biological science at Brown University, who authored Finding Darwin's God (1999).
Other Christians, however, reject evolution. Australia has the Creation Science Foundation, run by Christian Fundamentalists, which publishes Creation magazine and a website: www.AnswersInGenesis.
The Foundation's magazine, Creation, says the Universe was created in six days, 6,000 years ago:
There are many Hebrew words for long-age concepts, but the words used in Genesis 1, can, in that context, have no other meaning than that all of creation was in six ordinary earth-rotation days. (Volume 22, No. 1, p. 52)
"Intelligent Design" (ID) began when conservative Christians founded Discovery Institute in 1990 in Seattle, Washington. Discovery Institute finances creationist publications, lobbies politicians, infiltrates school boards, and calls evolution "a theory in crisis".
Its main books are:
- Darwin On Trial (Phillip Johnson, 1991);
- Of Pandas and People (1989; 1993);
- Darwin's Black Box (Michael Behe, 1996);
ID strips creationism of its religious setting and basically argues:
- Many components of living things are too complex and interdependent to have evolved;
- Therefore a "designer" created them and species popped into existence fully-made without predecessors.
Creationism and ID are allies and both focus on complex structures and the probabilities these originated "by chance". ID differs in:
- Avoiding public mention of the Bible and God;
- Allowing for an old Earth.
In 2005 the Campus Crusade for Christ mailed a DVD titled Unlocking The Mystery of Life to Australian schools.
The DVD includes comment by ID author and biochemist Michael Behe. He says: "I remember the first time I looked in a biochemistry textbook and saw a drawing of something called the bacterial flagellum. It had a propeller and hook region and the drive shaft and the motor. I looked at that and I said: ‘that's an outboard motor – that's designed. That's no chance assemblage of parts.'"
Two years before Behe's book came out a creationist magazine Creation Research Society Quarterly used the same flagella argument. (See references)
An open letter, representing 70,000 Australian scientists and science educators responded to the DVD:
But not being able to imagine or explain how something happened other than by making a leap of faith to supernatural intervention is no basis for any science…
For a theory to be considered scientific it must be testable…by experiment or observation. The results of such tests should be able to be reproduced by others as a check on their accuracy (and, importantly, if repeated testing falsifies the theory it should be rejected…) Finally, a scientific theory should explain more than what is already known: it should be able to predict outcomes in novel situations. Evolution meets all of these criteria but ID meets none of them: it is not science. (Archer et al 2005)
Someone loaned me three copies of Creation:
Volume 22 No. 1, December 1999-February 2000
Volume 23 No. 3, June-August 2001
Volume 23 No. 4, September-November 2001
We'll now examine these magazines.
GENETICS AND VARIATION
Dr Walter Veith (22 No. 1), a South African zoologist, speculates on unknown "mechanisms for rapid variation" – apparently indistinguishable from rapid evolution.
He believes there was a worldwide Flood and only a few hundred "kinds" survived. These survivors changed (evolved?) into millions of species in a few hundred years. This, however, is evolution a million times faster than demonstrated by paleontology, genetics, and geology!
Thus rejection of slow evolution requires belief in unproved rapid evolution!
Furthermore, the notion of a "kind" is not part of biology and no "kind" has been identified. Science teaches that all current life evolved from previous life of which about 300,000 species have been found as fossils. Creationists claim all current species came (evolved) from "kinds" of which none have been identified.
Veith also claims, "death and bloodshed among animals only commenced after the Fall of Adam." (p. 37)
How then did billions of peaceful animals with eternal life change into dying predators, dying parasites and dying killing machines that preyed on each other?
I think He [God] used the existing genetic material and just reorganized the way it was expressed. (p. 38)
Thus a stupendous miracle supposedly altered the genes, physiology, ecology, digestive systems and enzymes of most animals, fish and insects worldwide! Instant evolution without trace of the previous biological world!
The fossils worldwide – even in rock layers hundreds of metres thick – supposedly originated almost instantly in Noah's flood:
Once we realize that fossils are not millions of years old, but mainly a record of God's judgment on sin, then there is no record of death and bloodshed before Adam's Fall. (33/4 p. 38)
ASTRONOMY and EYE WITNESSES
Creation denies the "big bang" origin of the Universe:
God created the world in six normal days… (23/3 pp 20, 22)
…there has been no evolution and the vast time span is illusory. (p. 15)
No creationist observed God create. Yet Ken Ham (22/1 pp 39-42) claims that a young Universe is based on "eyewitness" testimony:
However, if we weren't there in the past to observe events, how can we know what happened…?
Christians…have…the Word of God who…has revealed to us the major events of the past… (p. 40)
J Sarfati, writing about Venus, says:
For the truth about the origin of anything, it helps to have a reliable eye-witness record… Genesis claims to be a witness of One who was there – the Creator. (23/3 p. 31)
Astronomy teaches that gravity collapsed a rotating disc of gas and dust over millions of years forming the Sun and planets. Telescopes reveal other solar systems in various stages of formation. But Creation says astronomy is wrong:
…the sun did not always light the earth. It wasn't made till Day 4 of creation week, while the earth was created on Day 1.This refutes ideas like ‘God created over billions of years', because they all assert the sun came before the earth… (22/1 p. 27)
If the Sun came on Day 4, what lighted planet Earth and controlled its orbit before Sunlight and Sun gravity? God did it supernaturally!
Sarfati denies that the "solar system collapsed out of a cloud of gas" because the planets "would rotate in the same direction" but Venus doesn't. Its reverse rotation supposedly proves God set up the Universe instantaneously.
However, computer simulations show that the "collapse" involved collisions of matter over billions of years, some collisions so big they changed the rotation of planets. Uranus rotates backwards too, as do many of the Solar System's moons.
Venus has fewer asteroid-impact craters than Mars. This, to Sarfati, suggests a young Venus. However, astronomers conclude that Venus was "resurfaced" about 500 million years ago by volcanic eruptions and/or asteroid impacts and this wiped previous impact craters away.
Creationists believe their interpretation of the Bible from the start irrespective of science. Ham admits:
Once the Bible is eliminated in the argument, then the Christians' presuppositions are gone, leaving them unable to effectively give an alternative interpretation of the facts. (p. 40)
Another writer says of the "Noachian global Flood":
…evolutionary scientists scoff, deliberately ignoring the eyewitness account of that very event. (23/3, p. 7)
However, no ancient human could have witnessed a worldwide event because Earth's roundness limits how far people can see. Also the "eyewitnesses" are unconfirmed people like Noah and Adam. No creationist was there as eye-witness and saw Noah, God or Adam!
Furthermore science doesn't just trust "eyewitnesses" but investigates the truth of what they say they saw!
Potassium-argon (K-Ar) dating is often used to date solidified lava.
In Radioactivity Dating Failure (22/1 pp 18-21) Andrew Snelling says that samples of New Zealand lava flows that occurred in 1949, 1954 and 1975 were sent to Laboratories in Boston for K-Ar dating. The calculated ages were 0.25-3.5 million years for 50-year-old samples!
How can we trust the use of this same ‘dating' method on rocks whose ages we don't know? … However, we know Someone who was present when all the earth's rocks formed – the Creator Himself. He has told us when that was, in His eye-witness account in…Genesis. (p. 20)
We're told radioactive dating is based on three assumptions:
- When the rock forms (hardens) there should only be parent radioactive atoms in the rock…
- After hardening, the rock must remain a closed system, that is, no parent or daughter atoms should be added or removed…
- The radioactive decay rate must remain constant.
These assumptions are wrong, we're told, and that's why scientists calculate millions and billions of years instead of 6,000.
However, scientists allow for the above arguments:
A sample will yield a valid age only if none of the argon has leaked out of the mineral being analysed. Leakage may indeed occur if the rock has experienced temperatures above 125oC. In specific localities, the ages of rocks dated by this method reflect the last episode of heating rather than the time of origin of the rock itself. (Levin 1981, p. 220)
In dating the rocks all relevant available information is considered, not just the three alleged assumptions. For example:
Lead 204, which is never produced by decay, provides a means of detecting original lead. All common lead contains a mixture of four lead isotopes. In most minerals used for dating, the proportions of the lead isotopes are nearly constant, so that lead 204 can be used to calculate the quantities of original lead 206 and lead 207. These quantities can then be subtracted from the total to give the amount due to radioactivity. (Ibid p. 218)
Another Creation article (23/4) discusses "The collapse of geologic time" based on measuring "radiohaloes". This is too complex to explain here, but Greg Neyman (see reference section) responds to it.
Creation has many articles about animals and plants and their adaptation to the environment. The line promoted is always: This could not have evolved; Therefore God created it.
Design is a far better explanation than random mutations and selection to explain the specialized features of the sea dragon… (22/1 p. 54)
Such conclusions – without God showing his creativity in controlled tests – is mere assumption. If the stages by which something originated is unknown then the logical conclusion is that it's unknown.
Creation reasoning in effect says:
- Everything unexplained was done by God;
- The origin of ------- is unexplained;
- Therefore ------- was done by God.
Creationists don't state the first premise because it's obviously false – since unexplained things can have prior conditions other than God. For example the unique arrangement of gravel outside my fence and how it got there is unexplained – but God didn't put it there!
With the first premise false, the third is false also.
In A Whale of a tale (23/4 10-14) Ken Ham and Carl Wieland criticize a book by geneticist Steve Jones.
We read about Jones: "rambling", "shakes his fist at the Creator God", "regurgitates", "indoctrinates", "weaves a web of deceit", "cleverly set up a straw man for unsuspecting readers". We read of Jones' "rehash", "indoctrination process", "blind faith in unlimited variation", etc:
Like Darwin, Jones sees a world full of death and decay. He would not, of course, accept our sin, through the Fall and the resultant Curse on creation, as being responsible for the mess we observe around us. (23/4 p. 13)
This is emotive, worthless sectarian stuff. It's almost verbal abuse, mixed with unscientific claims that a "Fall" and "Curse" produced worldwide biological change.
Science has shown that Earth's continents "drift" a few centimetres per year and have joined and separated several times over 600 million years.
Creation agrees continental drift occurred but claims it happened about a million times faster!
L Pierce (22/1, pp 43-45) says: "Any continental separation likely occurred during the Flood."
Pierce calculates back from several ancient writers who estimated when various nations and cities started. Manasses (d. 1187) of Byzantine, for example, wrote that the Egyptian state lasted 1663 years. So Pierce calculated 1663 years from when Persia conquered Egypt in 525 BC and got 2188 BC. This is supposedly when continental drift slowed down after the Flood and Egypt started.
However, lands can be inhabited long before becoming a "state" – Australia for 40,000 years before Federation. Furthermore, statehood has no connection to the speed of continental drift. And citing Medieval writers as if no research has been done since, is simply silly.
Slow continental drift, as measured by science, generates earthquakes, volcanoes, lava flows and tsunamis some so great that nature takes centuries to repair the damage. What would continental drift a million times faster do?
Another AiG argument is based on population. If Noah's Flood was in 2500 BC, it's eight survivors need only increase 0.75% per year to become 300 million in the 1st century AD.
Populations, however, whether animals, plants or bugs rise and fall. The Black Death in the 14th century, for example, killed 1/3 of the world's people.
Because populations rise and fall it's irrational to extrapolate current trends back to determine when a species originated. If we extrapolate 20th century human population trends backwards we would calculated that humans began about 1500 AD! And if we calculate a bacterial population back, we might calculate it began a few weeks ago – so is the Universe a few weeks old?
Creation says that a long Stone Age did not exist because "Fossil evidence shows that people buried their dead, often with artifacts…" This supposedly implies billions of burials along with artifacts whereas only a few have been found. (23/3 pp 52-55)
However, it's unknown what proportion of Stone Agers were buried with artifacts. What is known is that of billions of people who die every century few become fossils with artifacts.
Creationists often speak of their "Creation Model" and claim it's scientific. Their model is a set of assumptions such as:
- The Universe is 6,000 years old;
- God created everything in six days;
- There was no death before Adam sinned;
- A worldwide flood produced all geological layers and fossils;
- A few "kinds" from Noah's Ark produced millions of species.
This "Model" is not built upon science but upon unproved religious belief – upon "Christian presuppositions" – and so is not a scientific model.
For example, most galaxies are millions of light years away and the light took millions of years to reach Earth. But Creation claims the Universe is 6,000 years old and the speed of light was millions of times faster until recently.
This would make most of astronomy wrong.
Most calculated distances between stars would be wrong.
The relationship between mass and energy, E = MC2, would have been ever changing.
Chemical changes involving light or energy would have been different.
Genetics, paleontology, geology, climatology, ecology, biology and every other science that studies things older than 6,000 years would be wrong.
A scientific model starts with observations which become the basis for a theory. The theory predicts results in novel situations and if the predictions come true the theory is considered unfalsified.
The "creation model" is the opposite: It starts with religious assumptions and rejects discoveries that disprove them by pretending physical laws used to be different.
Science includes procedures to test competing hypotheses. Reject science and there's no way to test what's correct. Anyone who claims to be correct but rejects science, in effect says, "I can prove something without proving it". He affirms a contradiction.
ID and DOVER TRIAL
In 2004 creationist Christians in the Dover (Pennsylvania) School Board wanted to add creationism to the curriculum. With legal advice from Discovery Institute they changed this to giving students a statement stating evolution has gaps and ID is a scientific alternative, and 60 copies of Pandas appeared in the school library. The case went to court in 2005 to determine whether the statement violated the separation of religion and state.
Witnesses including Behe testified about flagella, the identity of the "intelligent designer", how he designed, the definition of science and lots more. Miller, the Christian evolutionist, testified ID is not science.
The textbook Of Pandas and People is being revised, the trial showed, to appear less religious. Here are two previous versions of one sentence and a draft of the next edition:
- "Creation means that various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent creator, with their distinctive features already intact - fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, wings, etc."
- "Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with…"
- "Sudden appearance means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with…"
The judge's 139-page sum-up concluded ID is a religious belief.
THE BIBLE AND SCIENCE
The Genesis story can be understood in ways that don't reject science. Greg Neyman's "Old Earth Ministries" website, for example, systematically answers the "AnswersInGenesis" website.
Young Earth Creationism being wrong, and ID being religious, does not make the Bible wrong. I've tested hundreds of Bible statements, including some in Genesis, and submitted the findings to critics. For this I relied on science – and consistency requires that I accept evolution to the extent science demonstrates it.
Many Bible statements that I examined appeared false for a while, because science was wrong. But science is self-correcting and subsequent science eventually corrects earlier mistakes. Relying on science risks being wrong for a while. But if we reject science we're left without means of correction and risk being wrong permanently.
Archer, M; Smith, B; Serjeantson, S and Carnemolla, P The Australian October 21, 2005, p. 15.
Ford, M Sunday Mail December 4, 2005.
Jauncey, J C c.1960 Science Returns to God, Zondervan, p. 55.
Levin, H L 1981 Contemporary Physical Geology, CBS, USA.
The Advertiser, November 5, 2005, p. 47; November 19, p. 21.
The Australian, October 21, 2005, pp 9, 15.
C R S Quarterly: www.creationresearch.org/crsq.html
Discovery Institute: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discovery_institute
Miller K R http://energion.com/books/reviews/finding_darwin.shtml
New York Daily Record: www.ydr.com/doverbiology/
Neyman, G www.answersincreation.org/biogneyman.htm
TO WILLIAMS ON CREATIONISM
(Investigator 112, 2007 January)
John Williams (#111 p. 18) approves of my refutation of Young Earth Creationism (#108) and says he and I are "on amazingly similar ground". However, he “struggles to make sense of this” because elsewhere I defended biblical teachings about “Adam and Eve…Old Nick…and the Tower of Babel.”
For my investigations I rely on mainstream science. I do not assume the Bible true but check or test its statements using scientific literature. I did this with Creationism, Adam and Eve (See #110), and scores of other topics.
Young Earth Creationists don't do what I do. They instead start with "Christian presuppositions". I quoted Ken Ham:
Once the Bible is eliminated in the argument, then the Christian's presuppositions are gone, leaving him unable to effectively give an alternative interpretation of the facts. (#108 p. 41)
Young Earthers thus start with a body of unscientific assumptions. They did what science fantasy writers do – they imagined a series of fantasy worlds.
One science-fantasy world has no sun or stars.
Another has insects with eternal life.
Another has God instantaneously altering the genetics and ecology of all the immortal animals on Earth to make them die.
Another has continental drift, the speed of light and evolution all going about a million times faster than they did in reality.
And so on.
Ken Ham's quote admits that without such "presuppositions", i.e. without their fantasy worlds, they cannot "effectively give an alternative interpretation". My methods are very different!
I don't know what Williams wants when he tells me to let "ideas speak for themselves" and "self proof is a contradiction in terms". Is he telling me not to use scientific evidence?
If I want to check how fast steel balls will fall I would drop a few and time their descent or consult a book on physics. That's science. I investigate the Bible similarly.