Is Creationism Scientific?

I think the semester is getting to everybody. My colleagues have started a long email exchange on whether creationism is anti-scientific. The most recent contribution from a colleague at the Law School is that rejecting creationism is anti-scientific because the truly scientific method gives equal consideration to all theories. Another colleague agreed that creationism is “a strong competing theory” for evolution and has to be taught.

This entire debacle was started by somebody inviting us (college professors) to a talk on creationism by a homeschooled student where we would “defend our faith and glorify God in  the process.” Given that we are a state university and are not normally allowed even to mention our political preferences in personal emails sent out from the university server, people started to wonder why this kind of religious propaganda was suddenly allowed to be sent out to everybody through the university email.

Thanksgiving break can’t come soon enough.

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31 comments on “Is Creationism Scientific?

  1. Oh, brother! I’ve heard all this before, and let’s make the answer simple. Creationism isn’t science. The scientific method does not and never has given equal consideration to all theories, and as for a “strong competing theory” creationism has never explained a darned thing, nor made any contribution to the understanding of anything. ID isn’t even wrong, it’s useless, and that’s the part about science most non-scientists don’t get. Theories are no good if you can’t use them. Attributing biological phenomena to Invisible Magic Moon Monkeys is equivalent to creationism. Here’s the Botanical Society’s statement on evolution that I had a hand in writing. It explains the scientific position pretty well. And as for the law guys, suggest they read some law journals on the subject: Washington University
    Law Quarter, vol. 83 (1), Is it science yet? Intelligent design creationism and the constitution. Brauer, Forrest and Gey, 2005.

    • “ID isn’t even wrong, it’s useless, and that’s the part about science most non-scientists don’t get.”

      – Exactly. It cannot be interchangeable with or comparable to a scientific theory like evolution because it exists in a different realm. Comparing ID and evolution is like trying to compare Homer’s description of dawn and a meteorologist’s analysis. One can’t decide which one is better because they are not comparable.

  2. If it’s not falsifiable then it’s not science. As soon as creationists (or intelligent designist) can submit criteria by which they would accept creation theory being disproven then I’ll take them seriously.

    Evolution is falsifiable but has yet to be disproven (I go by the nothing is ever proven in science just not yet disproven).

    • “As soon as creationists (or intelligent designist) can submit criteria by which they would accept creation theory being disproven then I’ll take them seriously.”

      – Good point. :-) Especially since nothing ever will convince them.

  3. The most recent contribution from a colleague at the Law School is that rejecting creationism is anti-scientific because the truly scientific method gives equal consideration to all theories.

    Wow…

    I’m hoping this person came up with that definition of the scientific method on his/her own and didn’t get from a class.

  4. “The most recent contribution from a colleague at the Law School is that rejecting creationism is anti-scientific because the truly scientific method gives equal consideration to all theories.”

    This argument is flat-out wrong. Science does not give equal weight to different theories. Science gives equal weight, a priori, to different hypotheses. Then observation and experimentation take place, and hypotheses are allowed to rise and fall (in science’s eyes) based upon whether or not they have been falsified by the available evidence.
    The long story short is that evolution passes the test but creationism does not. Creationists often try to get around this by adding a bunch of extra assumptions to their hypotheses, which tend to render it unfalsifiable. This is, of course, fine; they are free to believe anything that they want…but once a hypothesis is unfalsifiable, it ceases being real science.
    Leave it to a lawyer to pretend that science can be conducted like politics.

  5. The average lawyer has no training in science beyond “rocks for jocks” 101 course required by the undergraduate college. Specialized lawyers, eg, patent lawyers, may have extensive engineering or science coursework behind them.

  6. I’ve also noticed that many so called creationist “experts” don’t seem to have a basic understanding of the theory of evolution. If you have to ask, “How long did the first dog to evolve have to wait for another dog to mate with?” You wouldn’t have passed my 10th grade biology class.

  7. OK, this is getting better and better. Now somebody has proposed that since the theory of evolution allows for randomness, this means that one can claim that God or intelligent design created the randomness and that will not be anti-scientific. So ID and evolution end up being compatible.

    I don’t claim to have a good understanding of evolution but all of this is sounding too bizarre to me.

      • That’s my position exactly. As a religious person, I have a system of religious beliefs but I would be horrified if anybody tried teaching these beliefs in a school or college.

    • But if “god” or something created the randomness, it wouldn’t be random now, would it? I came to this game late, and don’t have anything else of substance to add. If creationism were TESTABLE and falsifiable, it would be worth considering, or at least thinking about to test. But it doesn’t, so its not scientific. The Belief in God (as a creator, etc.) is inherently something that is not testable, therefore it isn’t scientific. Doesn’t mean its not true or whatever (that is, for all intents and purposes, up to every individual to decide for themselves), but it is not scientific. Ergo, creationism is not scientific.

      I keep meaning to write a “Science to English” dictionary, including such words as “theory”, “hypothesis”, and “uncertainty” and other words that mean one thing to scientists and the scientific process, and something else to the rest of the world…

  8. I took a class on this issue last fall. It gets scary, and I still have a difficult time thinking about how there are people who actually believe this crap. Take Dover, for instance. The NOVA documentary was scary. There are people who honestly believed that the judge should have had horrible things done to him because he ruled that the complaint of creationist textbooks was legitimate. And nobody who assigned those textbooks was a science teacher–a school board member “donated” the textbooks after refusing to buy new science textbooks. They created a potentially unsafe school environment for students who refused to be taught creationism in their biology class–let alone the situation created for teachers who refused to teach from a creationist text.

    We read a really good series of arguments against creationism and pseudoscience in class–it’s called Crusade of the Credulous by William J. Bennetta. I think it’s out of print, but if you can find a copy, I recommend it.

  9. Here in Tennessee, we’re just glad to have our thumbs. Don’t think for a second this will end up in Southern Classrooms of the unprogressive. Christian ideology teaches us to deny, deny, deny as teachers are now allowed to put Creationism into debate against hard facts like this new discovery. Read more about the pulpit in the classroom with some evolutionary artwork on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/04/pulpit-in-classroom-biblical-agenda-in.html

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