Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Creationism as a science - evolution as dogma

I've probably written about this topic before. I probably will again, frankly, because it keeps coming up, and to my mind it's part of the more ridiculous of the claims of the Biblical literalists.

First off, something that I know I've dealt with before: Creationism is, by it's own definition, not a scientific field. 'Creation science' is an oxymoron. The very simple reason for this is that science - that which follows the scientific method - never begins with a conclusion. Science never consists of "X is true - so let's prove it'. Rather, it begins with a a question: "Is X true? Let's find out".

The problem with creationism calling itself a science should become immediately obvious. It begins with the unmovable conclusion that the Bible is true, in every sense. Indeed, they tout this as often as they can. From Answers in Genesis' Statement of Faith:

  •  The scientific aspects of creation are important, but are secondary in importance to the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ as Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer, and Judge.
  • By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.

The second statement is particularly telling in this regard. If it contradicts scripture, it cannot be true. In what way is this scientific? Science seeks the truth, and attempts to do so without bias. Nothing is sacred. Any scientific theory can be overturned, given sufficient evidence. But here we have a clear statement that no, this cannot be overturned. It's sacred. It's not science.

The opposite, of course, is true of scientific theories - including evolution. Creationists frequently tout Darwin's mistakes and ignorance as evidence against evolution, as though Darwin was an infallible god. In fact, evolutionary theory has itself evolved over the years, as more and more was learned. How is this dogmatic?

Dogma: A principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.

Darwin could be reasonably called an authority on the topic, at least for his time. But incontrovertibly true? It's changed. It's evolved. It's not absolute; it's a theory that alters to fit the facts as they're discovered. This isn't dogma. It's science.

Comparing the two, it's easy to spot the dogma. And therein lies the problem with the Biblical literalists. It's dogmatic, not scientific. This is why they twist and squirm and bend words to wedge the science to fit into the Bible; if any part of the Bible is proven wrong, the book cannot be 'incontrovertibly true', and their entire worldview collapses. This is why no matter how high the evidence piles, they cannot accept it.

And yet they continue to try to pass off their faith as scientific.

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