Definitions

creation science

creation science

creation science: see creationism.

The belief that matter, the various forms of life, and the world were created by God out of nothing. Biblical creationists believe that the story told in Genesis of God's six-day creation of the universe and all living things is literally correct. Scientific creationists believe that a creator made all that exists, though they may not hold that the Genesis story is a literal history of that creation. Creationism became the object of renewed interest among conservative religious groups following the wide dissemination of the theory of biological evolution, first systematically propounded by Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species (1859). In the early 20th century some U.S. states banned the teaching of evolution, leading to the Scopes Trial. In the late 20th century many creationists advocated a view known as intelligent design, which was essentially a scientifically modern version of the argument from design for the existence of God as set forth in the late 18th century by the Anglican clergyman William Paley.

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Creation science or scientific creationism is a movement within creationism which attempts to use scientific means to disprove the accepted scientific theories on the history of the Earth, cosmology and biological evolution and prove the Genesis account of creation. Its most vocal proponents are fundamentalist and conservative Christians in the United States who seek to prove Biblical inerrancy and mount a challenge against the scientifically accepted theory of evolution. Key concepts in creation science include the notion of "creation ex nihilo"; that mankind and other life on earth were created as unique, fixed baraminological kinds, and the notion that fossils found in geological strata are indicative of an historical flood which extended over the whole earth. While creation science purports to be a true scientific challenge to the theory of evolution, often referred to by creation science proponents as Darwinism or as Darwinian evolution, it has never been recognized by or accepted within the scientific community as a valid scientific method of inquiry.

Until the 1970s, creation science drew little notice beyond the schools and congregations of conservative fundamental and evangelical Christians. The first creation science texts and curricula focused upon concepts derived from a literal interpretation of the Bible and were overtly religious in nature, most notably linking Noah's flood in Genesis to the geological and fossil record in a system termed flood geology. Creation science came to the attention of the wider national and international public and scientific community when its followers launched objections to the teaching of evolution in public schools and other venues, and successfully persuaded some school boards and lawmakers that creation science deserved equal consideration alongside Darwinian evolution in the science curriculum. Revised creation science texts and curricula were developed for public schools which removed the theory's explicit references to Biblical and theological doctrine, and teaching of creation science was implemented in Louisiana, Arkansas, and other regions in the United States. By the 1980s, its influence was worldwide.

Critics emphasize that creation science fails to meet the key criteria of any true science because it lacks empirical support, supplies no tentative hypotheses, and resolves to describe natural history in terms of scientifically untestable supernatural events. The teaching of creation science in public schools in the United States effectively ended in 1987 when the United States Supreme Court determined the creation science taught in Louisiana public schools was not a legitimate scientific theory, and ruled its teaching unconstitutional in Edwards v. Aguillard because its true purpose was to advance a particular religious belief.

Beliefs and activities

Most creation science proponents hold fundamentalist or evangelical Christian beliefs in biblical literalism or biblical inerrancy, as opposed to the higher criticism supported by Liberal Christianity in the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy. However, there are also examples of Islamic and Jewish scientific creationism that conform to the accounts of creation as recorded in their religious doctrines.

Creation science rejects evolution's theory of the common descent of all living things on the earth. Instead, it asserts that the field of evolutionary biology is itself pseudoscientific or even a religion. Creation scientists argue instead for a system called baraminology which considers the living world to be descended from uniquely created kinds or baramins.

Creation science incorporates the concept of catastrophism to account for earth's geological formations. Creation scientists employ the concept to attempt to reconcile current landforms and fossil distributions with Biblical interpretations, proposing the remains resulted from successive cataclysmic events, such as a world wide flood and subsequent ice age. It rejects one of the fundamental principles of modern geology (and of modern science generally): uniformitarianism, which means applying the same physical and geological laws observed on the earth today to interpret the earth's geological history.

Sometimes creation scientists attack other scientific concepts, like the big bang cosmological model or methods of scientific dating which measure radioactive decay. The Young Earth Creationist branch of the creation scientists also rejects current estimates of the age of the universe, arguing for creationist cosmologies with timescales much shorter than those estimates overwhelmingly accepted by most scientists.

The scientific community has overwhelmingly rejected the ideas put forth in creation science as lying outside the boundaries of a legitimate science. The foundational premises underlying scientific creationism disqualify it as a science because the answers to all inquiry therein are preordained to conform to Bible doctrine, and because that inquiry is constructed upon theories which are not empirically testable in nature. Scientists also deem creation science's attacks against biological evolution to be without scientific merit. Those views of the scientific community were accepted in two significant court decisions in the 1980s which found the field of creation science to be a religious mode of inquiry but not scientific one.

History and organization

The doctrine of creation is a fundamental and ancient precept of many faiths, including Christianity which holds beliefs founded on Creation according to Genesis. From the days of the early Christian Church Fathers there were allegorical interpretations of Genesis as well as literal readings. The Protestant Reformation widened literacy, and lay people began reading the Bible in translation with more literal understandings of creation than classical theologians. At the same time a new interest in natural history found that there were far more species of organisms than had been anticipated, and new findings in geology furnished the first strong scientific evidence that the earth was far older than the age of the Earth derived from the Biblical timeframe, as detailed for instance in the Ussher chronology. From the late seventeenth century through to the mid nineteenth century natural theology increasingly popularized the concept that Christian faith should be based on what can be rationally demonstrated, and the study of nature should reveal the intelligence, benevolence, and power of God. In a complex and lively debate between various viewpoints including deism and materialism, several of the ideas put forward to explain the discoveries anticipated modern creationist arguments. For example, catastrophism attempted to reconcile geological findings showing an ancient earth with the Biblical flood.

Various ideas of transmutation of species were put forward, and though they conflicted with the doctrine of fixity of species (now known as "special creation") and were harshly condemned as a threat to the aristocratic social order and the established Church of England, by the 1840s they had wide public acceptance and were favored by liberal theologians, Unitarians and some Dissenters as well as by Freethinkers and atheists. After Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, the scientific establishment came to accept the common ancestry of all species, and by the 1900s evolution through descent with modification was widely accepted as the unifying principle of biological development.

Twentieth century creationism

Teaching of evolution was gradually introduced into more and more public high school textbooks in the United States after 1900, but in the aftermath of the First World War the growth of fundamentalist Christianity gave rise to a creationist opposition to such teaching. Legislation prohibiting the teaching of evolution was passed in certain regions, most notably Tennessee's Butler Act of 1925. The 1957 Soviet Union's space program successful space launch Sputnik sparked national concern that the science education in public schools was outdated. In 1958 the United States passed National Defense Education Act which introduced new education guidelines for science instruction. With federal grant funding, the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) drafted new standards for the public schools' science textbooks which included the teaching of evolution. By 1963, almost half the nation's high schools were using textbooks based on the guidelines of the BSCS. The Tennessee legislature did not repeal the Butler Act until 1967.

Creation science (dubbed Scientific Creationism at the time) emerged as an organized movement during the 1960s. It was strongly influenced by the earlier work of Canadian armchair geologist and Seventh-day Adventist George McCready Price who wrote works such as "The New Geology" to advance what he termed "new catastrophism" and dispute the current geological timeframes and understandings of geologic history. Price's work was cited at the Scopes Trial of 1925, yet although he frequently solicited feedback from geologists and other scientists, they consistently disparaged his work. Price's "new catastrophism" went largely unnoticed also among creationists until its revival with the 1961 publication of The Genesis Flood by Henry M. Morris and John C. Whitcomb, a work which quickly became a classic among fundamentalist Christians and opened the field of creation science to go beyond critiques of geology into biology and cosmology as well. Soon after its publication, a movement was underway to have the subject taught in United States' public schools.

Court determinations

The various state laws prohibiting teaching of evolution were challenged in 1968 in Epperson v. Arkansas which ruled that they were unconstitutional. This inspired a creationist movement to promote the teaching of creation science as equal to evolutionary theory. In 1981 Arkansas Act 590 mandated that "creation science" be given equal time in public schools with evolution.The act defined creation science as follows:

"Creation science means the scientific evidences for creation and inferences from those evidences. Creation science includes the scientific evidences and related inferences that indicate:

#Sudden creation of the universe, energy and life from nothing.
#The insufficiency of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of all living kinds from a single organism.
#Changes only with fixed limits of originally created kinds of plants and animals.
#Separate ancestry for man and apes.
#Explanation of the earth's geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of worldwide flood.
#A relatively recent inception of the earth and living kinds."

This legislation was examined in McLean v. Arkansas, and the ruling handed down on January 5, 1982, concluded that "creation-science" as defined in the act "is simply not science". The judgement defined the following as essential characteristics of science:

#It is guided by natural law;
#It has to be explanatory by reference to nature law;
#It is testable against the empirical world;
#Its conclusions are tentative, i.e. are not necessarily the final word; and
#It is falsifiable.

The court ruled that "creation science" failed to meet these essential characteristics and identified specific reasons. After examining the key concepts from creation science, the court found:

#Sudden creation "from nothing" calls upon a supernatural intervention, not natural law, and is neither testable nor falsifiable
#Objections in creation science that mutation and natural selection are insufficient to explain common origins was an incomplete negative generalization
#'Kinds' are not scientific classifications, and creation science's claims of an outer limit to the evolutionary change possible of species are not explained scientifically or by natural law
#Separate ancestry of man and apes is an assertion rather than scientific explanation, and did not derive from any scientific fact or theory
#Catastrophism, including its identification of the worldwide flood, failed as a science
#"Relatively recent inception" was the product of religious readings and had no scientific meaning, and was neither the product of, nor explainable by, natural law; nor is it tentative

The court further noted that no recognized scientific journal had published any article espousing the creation science theory as described in the Arkansas law, and stated that testimony put forth by the defendants that this absence resulted from censorship was not credible.

In its ruling, the court wrote that for any theory to qualify as scientific, the theory must be tentative, and open to revision or abandonment as new facts come to light. It wrote that any methodology which begins with an immutable conclusion which cannot be revised or rejected, regardless of the evidence, is not a scientific theory. The court found that creation science does not culminate in conclusions formed from scientific inquiry, but instead begins with the conclusion, one taken from a literal wording of the Book of Genesis, and seeks only scientific evidence to support it.

The law in Arkansas adopted the same two-model approach as that put forward by the Institute for Creation Research, one allowing only two possible explanations for the origins of life and existence of man, plants and animals: it was either the work of a creator or it was not. Scientific evidence that failed to support the theory of evolution was posed as necessarily scientific evidence in support of creationism, but in its judgment the court ruled this approach to be no more than a "contrived dualism which has not scientific factual basis or legitimate educational purpose.

The judge concluded that "Act 590 is a religious crusade, coupled with a desire to conceal this fact", and that it violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause.

The decision was not appealed to a higher court, but had a powerful influence on subsequent rulings. In 1982 Louisiana passed a "Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science in Public School Instruction" Act, and the Supreme Court in the 1987 case Edwards v. Aguillard issued a similar ruling against the teaching of creation science, also finding that the law violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Intelligent Design splits off

In 1984 The Mystery of Life's Origin was published. It was co-authored by chemist and creationist Charles B. Thaxton with Walter L. Bradley and Roger L. Olsen, the forward written by Dean H. Kenyon, and sponsored by the Christian based Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE). The work presented scientific arguments against current theories of abiogenesis and offered an hypothesis of special creation in its stead. While the focus of creation science had until that time centered primarily on the criticism of the fossil evidence for evolution and validation of the creation account of the Bible, this new work posed the question whether science reveals that even the simplest living systems were far too complex to have developed by natural, unguided processes..

Kenyon later wrote with creationist Percival Davis a book intended as a "scientific brief for creationism" to use as a supplement to public high school biology textbooks. Thaxton was enlisted as the book's editor, and the book had publishing support from the FTE. Prior to its release, the Supreme Court's ruling was handed down which barred the teaching of creation science and creationism in public school classrooms. The book, originally titled Biology and Creation but renamed Of Pandas and People, was released in 1989 and became the first published work to promote the anti-evolutionist design argument under the name intelligent design. The contents of the book later became a focus of evidence in the federal court case, Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, when parents filed suit to halt the teaching of intelligent design in Dover, Pennsylvania public schools. School board officials there had attempted to include Of Pandas and People in their biology classrooms and testimony given during the trial revealed the book was originally written as a creationist text but that it underwent simple cosmetic editing after the ruling in 1987's Edwards v. Aguillard to remove the explicit allusions to "creation" or "creator", and replace them instead with references to "design" or "designer".

By the mid 1990s, intelligent design had become a separate movement. The creation science movement is distinguished from the intelligent design movement, or neo-creationism because most advocates of creation science accept scripture as a literal and inerrant historical account, and their primary goal is to corroborate the scriptural account through the use of science. In contrast, 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 have attempted to succeed where creation science has failed by securing a place in public school science curricula. Carefully avoiding any reference to the identity of the intelligent designer as God in their public arguments, intelligent design proponents sought to reintroduce the creationist ideas into science classrooms while sidestepping the First Amendment's prohibition against religious infringement. However, the intelligent design theory was struck down as a violation of the Establishment Clause in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, the judge in the case ruling "that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism".

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 Creation Ministries International which was founded (under the name Creation Science Foundation) 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

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 say that they are concerned with religious and moral questions as well as natural observations and predictive hypotheses. Many state that their opposition against scientific evolution is primarily based on religion.

The overwhelming majority of scientists concur that the claims of science are necessarily limited to those that develop from natural observations and experiments which can be replicated and substantiated by other scientists, and that claims made by creation science do not meet those criteria. Duane Gish, a prominent creation science proponent, has similarly claimed, "We do not know how the creator created, 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." But Gish also makes the same claim against science's evolutionary theory, maintaining that on the subject of origins, scientific evolution is a religious theory which cannot be validated by science.

Charles Birch and Paul Ehrlich stated that "hypotheses derived solely from untestable assumptions about the past", such as:

  • the ancestral habitat of the British great tit, Parus major; and
  • competition in the past between two species of birds on the Canary Islands, Fringella coelebs and Fringella coerulea,

can hinder rigorous thought and scientific progress.

Metaphysical assumptions

Creation science makes the a priori metaphysical assumption that a 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. Creation scientists also view the preclusion of all supernatural explanations within the sciences as a doctrinaire commitment to exclude the supreme being and miracles. They also claim this to be the motivating factor in science's acceptance of Darwinism, a term used in creation science to refer to evolutionary biology and which is also often used as a disparagement. Critics consider creation science 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.

Creation science advocates argue that 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 such as chemistry, meteorology or medicine, creation science proponents do not challenge the application of naturalistic or uniformitarian assumptions. Traditionally, creation science advocates have singled out those scientific theories judged to be in conflict with held religious beliefs, and it is against those theories that they concentrate their efforts.

Religious criticism

Fideists criticize creation science on theological grounds, asserting 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 because reason is subordinate to faith and cannot thus be used to prove it.

Many 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, 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.

Those churches rejecting creation science hold theological positions which have been described as Theistic evolution.

Scientific criticism

The United States National Academy of Sciences states that "creation science is in fact not science and should not be presented as such." and that "the claims of creation science lack empirical support and cannot be meaningfully tested." 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."

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. Most major religious groups have concluded that the concept of evolution is not at odds with their descriptions of creation and human origins.

A summary of the objections to creation science by 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 priori 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 means that it cannot be said to be scientific in the way that the term "science" is currently defined by the leading world science organisations. Creation science was described as an oxymoron by Stephen Jay Gould.

Historical, philosophical, and sociological criticism

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 have been disputed.

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 purposely to 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.

Areas of study

Subjects within creation science can be split into three main categories, each covering a different area of origins research: creation biology, flood geology, and creationist cosmologies. These subjects correspond to the scientific disciplines of evolutionary biology, earth sciences and cosmology respectively. Other topics include planetology and geophysics (including radiometric dating and radiohaloes).

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 from a common ancestor. Creation scientists consider that any observable speciation descends from these distinctly created kinds through inbreeding, deleterious mutations and other genetic mechanisms. Whereas evolutionary biologists and creation scientists share similar views of microevolution, creation scientists disagree that the process of macroevolution can explain common ancestry among organisms far beyond the level of common species. Creationists contend that there is no empirical evidence for new plant or animal species, and deny fossil evidence has ever been found documenting the process.

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 consistent themes remain: that missing links or gaps in the fossil record are proof against evolution; that the increased complexity of organisms over time through evolution is not possible due to the law of increasing entropy; that it is impossible that the mechanism of natural selection could account for common ancestry; and that evolutionary theory is untestable. 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.

Biologists challenge creation scientists who claim the fossil evidence disproves evolution. Richard Dawkins has explained evolution as "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", and described the existing fossil record as entirely consistent with that process. Biologists emphasize that transitional gaps between those fossils recovered are to be expected, that the existence of any such gaps cannot be invoked to disprove evolution, and that instead the fossil evidence that could be used to disprove the theory would be those fossils which are found and which are entirely inconsistent with what can be predicted or anticipated by the evolutionary model. One example given by Dawkins was, "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.

Flood geology

Flood geology is a concept based on the belief that most of Earth's geological record was formed by the Great Flood described in the story of Noah's ark. Fossils and fossil fuels are believed to have formed from animal and plant matter which was buried rapidly during this flood, while submarine canyons are explained as having formed during a rapid runoff from the continents at the end of the flood. Sedimentary strata are also claimed to have been predominantly laid down during or after Noah's flood. and orogeny Flood geology is a variant of catastrophism and is contrasted with geological science in that it rejects standard geological principles such as uniformitarianism and radiometric dating. For example, the Creation Research Society argues that "uniformitarianism is wishful thinking.

Geologists conclude that no evidence for such a flood is observed in the preserved rock layers and moreover that such a flood is physically impossible. For instance, since Mount Everest is approximately 8.8 kilometres in elevation and the Earth's surface is 510,065,600 km², the volume of water required to cover Mount Everest to a depth of 15 cubits (6.8 m), as indicated by Genesis 7:20, would be 4.6 billion cubic kilometres. 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 adherents to flood geology, and in recent years new theories have been introduced such as catastrophic plate tectonics.

Astrophysics

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 (the starlight problem).

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 theorists, 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.

Planetology

Various items of evidence are claimed by creationists to prove that the age of the solar system is of the order of thousands of years (in contrast to the scientifically accepted age of 4.6 billion years). Commonly used arguments relate to the numbers of comets and the recession of the moon from the Earth, and have been thoroughly refuted by planetologists.

In response to increasing evidence suggesting that Mars once possessed a wetter climate, some creation scientists have proposed that the global flood affected not only the Earth but also Mars and other planets. People who support this claim include creationist astronomer Wayne Spencer and creationist cosmologist Russell Humphreys.

An ongoing problem for creationists is the presence of impact craters on nearly all solar system objects, which is consistent with scientific explanations of solar system origins but creates insuperable problems for young Earth claims. Creationist Paul D. Ackerman asserts that impact craters on the moon are subject to rock flow, and so cannot be more than a few thousand years old. While some creationist astronomers assert that different phases of meteoritic bombardment of the solar system occurred during creation week and during the subsequent Great Flood, others regard this as unsupported by the evidence and call for further research.

Geophysics

Young Earth creationists make a number of claims in the field of geophysics, mostly related to flood geology and the age of the Earth. The scientific community have heavily criticised and refuted these claims.

Radiometric dating

Creationists point to experiments they have performed, which they claim demonstrate that 1.5 billion years of nuclear decay took place over a short period of time, from which they infer that "billion-fold speed-ups of nuclear decay" have occurred, a massive violation of the principle that radioisotope decay rates are constant, a core principle underlying nuclear physics generally, and radiometric dating in particular.

The scientific community points to numerous flaws in the creationists' experiments, to the fact that their results have not been accepted for publication by any peer-reviewed scientific journal, and to the fact that the creationist scientists conducting them were untrained in experimental geochronology.

The constancy of the decay rates of isotopes has been well supported in science. Evidence for this constancy includes the correspondences of date estimates taken from different radioactive isotopes as well as correspondences with non-radiometric dating techniques such as dendrochronology, ice core dating, and historical records. Although scientists have noted slight increases in the decay rate for isotopes subject to extreme pressures, those differences were too small to significantly impact date estimates. The constancy of the decay rates is also governed by first principles in quantum mechanics, wherein any deviation in the rate would require a change in the fundamental constants. According to these principles, a change in the fundamental constants could not influence different elements uniformly, and a comparison between each of the elements' resulting unique chronological timescales would then give inconsistent time estimates.

In refutation of young-Earth claims of inconstant decay rates affecting the reliability of radiometric dating, Roger C. Wiens, a physicist specialising in isotope dating states:

Radiohaloes

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 physicists and geologists on many grounds including that the rocks Gentry studied were not primordial and that the radionuclides in question need not have been in the rocks initially.

Thomas A. Baillieul, a geologist and retired senior environmental scientist with the United States Department of Energy, disputed Gentry's claims in an article entitled,"Polonium Haloes" Refuted: A Review of "Radioactive Halos in a Radio-Chronological and Cosmological Perspective". Baillieul noted that Gentry was a physicist with no background in geology and given the absence of this background, Gentry had misrepresented the geological context from which the specimens were collected. Additionally, he noted that Gentry relied on research from the beginning of the 20th century, long before radioisotopes were thoroughly understood; that his assumption that a Polonium isotope caused the rings was speculative; and that Gentry falsely argued that the half-life of radioactive elements varies with time. Gentry claimed that Baillieul could not publish his criticisms in a reputable scientific journal, although some of Baillieul's criticisms rested on work previously published in reputable scientific journals.

See also

References

Further reading

Proponents

  • Don Batten (ed.), The Answers Book ISBN 978-0-949906-23-6 (Brisbane, Australia: Answers in Genesis, 1999)
  • Duane T. Gish, Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics ISBN 978-0-932766-28-1 (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1993)
  • Henry M. Morris (ed.), Scientific Creationism ISBN 0890510032 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1985)
  • Henry M. Morris and Gary E. Parker, What is Creation Science? ISBN 978-0-89051-081-0 (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1987)
  • Terry Mortenson, The Great Turning Point: The Church's Catastrophic Mistake on Geology — Before Darwin ISBN 978-0-89051-408-5 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004)
  • Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross, Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off, ISBN 978-1-57683-344-5 (Navpress Publishing Group, 2004)
  • Seraphim Rose, Genesis, Creation and Early Man ISBN 978-1-887904-02-5 (Saint Herman, 2000)
  • Ariel A. Roth, Origins – Linking Science and Scripture ISBN 978-0-8280-1328-4 (Hagarstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1998)
  • Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Evolution ISBN 978-0-89051-258-6 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1999) forward and introduction
  • Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Evolution 2 ISBN 978-0-89051-387-3 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2002) table of contents with links to chapters
  • Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Compromise ISBN 978-0-89051-411-5 (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004) introductory chapter and some reviews
  • John C. Whitcomb and Henry Morris, The Genesis Flood ISBN 978-0-87552-338-5 (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1964)
  • A. E. Wilder-Smith, Man's Origin, Man's Destiny ISBN 978-0-87123-356-1 (Wheaton, IL: Harold Shaw Co., 1968)
  • A. E. Wilder-Smith, Scientific Alternative to Neo-Darwinian Evolutionary Theory ISBN 978-99921-39-67-7 (Costa Mesa, CA: TWFT Publishers, 1987)
  • John Woodmorappe, Studies in Flood Geology ISBN 978-0-932766-54-0 (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1993)
  • John Woodmorappe, Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study ISBN 978-0-932766-41-0 (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1996)
  • John Woodmorappe, The Mythology of Modern Dating Methods ISBN 978-0-932766-57-1 (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1999)

Critics

  • Vernon Blackmore, and Andrew Page, Evolution, The Great Debate (Oxford: Lion Publishing, 1989)
  • 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 978-0-684-17993-3 (New York: Scribner's, 1983)
  • P. Kitcher, Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism ISBN 978-0-262-61037-7 (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 978-0-262-66165-2 (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 978-0-679-40104-9 (New York: A. A. Knopf / Random House, 1992)
  • D. B. McKown, The mythmaker's magic: Behind the illusion of "creation science" ISBN 978-0-87975-770-0 (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1993)
  • L. Tiffin, Creationism's Upside-Down Pyramid: How Science Refutes Fundamentalism ISBN 978-0-87975-898-1 (Prometheus Books, August 1 1994)
  • M. Zimmerman, M. Science, Nonscience and Nonsense ISBN 978-0-8018-5774-4 (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 links

Legal documents

  • 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".

Proponents

Critics

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