CREATIONISM

(Investigator 82, 2002 January


Any attempt to condense into a page or two evidence in respect of some paranormal and pseudoscientific topics is akin to trying to squeeze an elephant into a matchbox and retain its original shape – Creation Science is a case in point. Consequently, the following is only a partial overview, and as in the case of many other subjects covered in this book, further reading is recommended.

Briefly stated, the kernel of scientific creation is a belief in the inerrancy of the Bible (the Word of God) and its literal interpretation, in particular, the creation of the world as related in the book of Genesis. Creationists seek confirmation of their beliefs by invoking a variety of scientific disciplines in opposition to the Theory of Evolution and advocate devoting equal time in schools to the teaching of Creationism.

Although scientific creationism developed from the late eighteenth century philosophy known as Scottish Realism, H. M. Morris is usually credited with being its modem founder. Morris (1984), defines Scientific Creation in nine tenets, the first of these reads:

"The physical universe of space, time, matter and energy has not always existed, but was supernaturally created by a transcendent personal Creator who alone has existed from eternity."

Inherent in this exposition is the belief that the universe was created not more than 6,000 to 10,000 years ago; that it was created perfect in six days of twenty-four hours each; that all different "kinds" of life were created separately; that Noah's flood was universal and accounts for the deposition of rock strata and fossils, and that humanity was dispersed into many races and tongues at the Tower of Babel.

Belief in the Theory of Evolution is generally blamed by creationists for the growth of atheism, racism, communism, Nazism and Fascism, the generation gap, permissiveness and the break-down of family life. In support of the creationists' perspective, biblical quotes are considered a rich source of scientific confirmation and discovery which, unlike the traditional a priori philosophical proofs for the existence of God, can be substantiated empirically.

The Flood and Noah's Ark will serve as a typical illustration.

Genesis 6:17. "And behold I, even I, do bring a flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and everything that is in the earth shall die. "

Genesis 7: 19-20. "All the high hills, that were under the whole heaven were covered. Fifteen cubits upwards."

These two quotes from Genesis are interpreted as a global flood covering the entire earth including all the mountains.

Among the evidence (Morris 1984, Scientific Creationism) submitted by Creation Scientists in support of the Biblical record are references to fossil graveyards, (enormous fossil deposits which can only be formed before decay sets in and which indicates a great catastrophe on a global scale); Sedimentary rock formation, (silt deposition as moving water, [the biblical flood] receded); Raised beaches and terraces, (geological formations far above present water levels indicating that in the past, water levels were higher than they are now); Historical evidence, (records of the Flood are found on every continent, the best known and researched being Babylon, Greece, China, Wales, India, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Peru and North America, all allegedly indicating a common origin) and Noah's Ark, built to "keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth." Genesis 7:3. An unnecessary construction in the case of a local flood.
 

There have been several reports of the Ark being sighted on Mt Ararat in modern Turkey, including one by USA astronaut James Irwin in 1984, and another by Dr. Allan Roberts of Sydney in 1991.

Examined objectively, Creationism is a fundamentalist religious belief which seeks to give the story of Genesis a veneer of scientific respectability by misquoting and using scientific texts out of context (Bridgstock & Smith 1986). The beliefs are in direct conflict with known natural laws and modern science, and appear to have had their origin in Sumerian times when Babylon, situated between the Tigris and Euphrates, was subject to terrible flooding spread over a wide area. When flooded from both sides simultaneously, leaving no refuge for the inhabitants, it would have been natural for them to imagine a divinely created cataclysm capable of destroying the world, and so the myth was born.

The teaching of creationism is a reaction against the Theory of Evolution and many attempts have been made by this fundamentalist group to have the teaching of creation science included in school syllabi both in the USA and in Australia. In the US state of Arkansas it was ruled that Creation Science was not a science, but was aimed at advancing one particular religious view. Although in Australia the Creation Science Foundation based in Queensland has grown into a large organization with a well-produced magazine, a newspaper and a staff of fourteen, it has failed to gain a legal foothold in the schools.

As space precludes a comprehensive examination of all the Creationists' claims, I will deal only with the argument raised above, but which should give a clear indication of the fallacious and often fatuous propositions on which the tenets of Creation Science rest.

The difference between science and pseudo-science is that in science, hypotheses are ideas proposed to explain the facts and are considered untenable unless they can survive rigorous tests.

In pseudo-science, hypotheses are advanced which contradict well known facts. Therefore, to demonstrate how erroneous are the conclusions arrived at by creationists it is only necessary to extend their propositions logically. For example: In Genesis we read that the Flood covered the highest mountains. To do this, approximately 4.4 billion cubic kilometers of water in addition to the 1.37 cubic kilometers in the oceans would be required. Where would it have come from?

The creationists have postulated a "water canopy" from within the earth, or from space. In the first instance, the atmospheric pressure would have been 840 times that of today and composed of 99.9 per cent water vapour, precluding the existence of life as we know it and in the second, the earth would require the crustal rocks to have a porosity of fifty per cent when in fact it is less than one per cent. Further, that amount of water stored within the earth would have the same temperature as deep lying rocks – boiling point. In any case, Genesis 7:12 specifically states "and the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights."

Did it come from space? A comet containing that amount of frozen water would have a diameter of 2000 kilometers and impact the earth with such force there would be little but dust left to signify where it once orbited the sun.

Creationists also fail to address the question, when the flood subsided, where did all the water go?

The problems associated with Noah's Ark are also enormous, the first being could it have survived the flood? In Balsiger and Sellier's (1976) book, In Search of Noah's Ark, there is a description of a scale model of the Ark built to test the theory. The conclusion was that it could withstand waves up to two hundred feet before capsizing. Waves caused by an ordinary hurricane can exceed 100 feet, but according to the creationist Meyer, the flood waves might have been several miles high! And how were the animals fed on the Ark for a year when most needed fresh plant food or living prey to eat?

The biggest problem however, concerns the preservation of bacteria and parasites, as human beings are the only known reservoir for many communicable diseases. Under the circumstances the conditions on the Ark would have caused many of these diseases to become extinct.

When the flood subsided what was there to eat?

According to creationists, the hundreds of metres of mud sediment laid down by the flood and which today form the world's rock strata would have covered all plant and seed life.

Credibility is stretched even further when the creationist version of animal and bird dispersal throughout the world is considered. We are asked to believe that giant flightless birds swam from Mt Ararat to places as far away as Rodreguiz Island, New Zealand and Australia, and that two thousand species of cacti found their way to the Americas without spilling their seed in other arid lands on the long journey.

Reports claiming that investigators, including former astronaut James Irwin had found the site of the Ark in 1984, proved to be wrong when the spot was visited and examined, but the leader of the 1991 expedition, Australian historian, "Dr" Allan Roberts, whose doctorate is in Christian Education and has been traced to a two roomed non-accredited "university" in Florida, still claims that a large rock formation is in fact the Ark when geologists have confirmed that it is just a rock. Roberts subsequently became the respondent in a court case in which the plaintiff, David Fasold, a former "Arkaeologist" alleged plagiarism.

Creationist teachings are replete with inanities and impossibilities and the miracles perpetuated in the effort to save Noah's Ark can only be accepted by those who are utterly committed to a literalist interpretation of the Bible. To entertain introducing creation science into the school curricula as an alternative theory to that of evolution is not only absurd but an insult to both true religion and science.

As a final amusing aside, Professor Ian Plimer, addressing the subject of Noah's Ark at the Australian Skeptic's 8th National Convention at Newcastle in 1992, pointed out that among the 30,000,000 species allegedly on board the wooden ark would have had to have been 10,000 different kinds of hungry termites! Plimer has subsequently written a 300-page book, Telling Lies for God, dealing with the absurdities of creationists' claims. The chapter on the Ark and the flood is particularly amusing, as he speculates about life on board.
 

Bibliography:

Bailey, Lloyd R. 1979. "Where is Noah's Ark?" Skeptical Inquirer 3(4):61-63.
Balsiger, D. and Sellier, C.E. 1976. In Search of Noah's Ark. Sun Classic Books.
Bridgstock, Dr M. & Smith, Dr K. 1989. Creationism: An Australian Perspective. Australian Skeptics Inc. PO Box A2324, Sydney South. NSW 2000.
Gardner, M. 1957. Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science. Dover.
Godfrey, L.R. (Ed.) 1983. Scientists Confront Creationism. W.W. Norton & Co. NY.
Harvey, J, & Pallaghy, C. 1985. The Bible & Science. Acacia Press.
Hogan, P. 1991. Creationism: Scientists Respond. Australian Skeptics Inc. Box A2324 Sydney South, 2000.
Morris, H.M. 1984. A History of Modern Creationism. Master Book Publishers.
--------------- 1984. Scientific Creationism. Master Book Publishers.
Plimer, Ian. 1994. Telling Lies for God. Random House.
 

[From: A Skeptic's Guide to the New Age, Harry Edwards]

 
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