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"Scientific creationism is the theory which proceeds from the claim that it is possible to employ the results of natural science to demonstrate that the universe and all life was created in a mature and fully functioning form."
Frankly, I don't think anythin should be called 'creation science' unless it gives us the ability to make things ex nihilo.
- Most scientists contest the word "theory". Scientific creationism does not make predictions in any sense that can be tested; it cannot be shown to be inconsistent with observation. Certain facets, for example the young-earth theories, are exceptions to this. As far as I am aware, all of these have been shown to be inconsistent with experimental evidence (rocks can be dated at far older than the six thousand years suggested by Usher's chronology using techniques based on the relative half-lives of Uranium and Thorium isotopes; starlight from distances (measured using redshifts) greater than six thousand light years has been recorded on earth). -StuartFraser, donning FlameRetardantSuit
- MoonShadow would personally contest the use of the word "scientific" in that sentence. One does not "employ the results of natural science to demonstrate" some predetermined and constant X. One generally derives X from the results of natural science in a constant process of refinement that involves changing - or even discarding - X.
- Isn't it hopelessly naive, though, to think that scientists don't have agendas other than the pure pursuit of knowledge, whether it's the desire to prove a pet theory, the desire for a professorship or just general fame, or the desire to prove that product X of company Y (who incidently sponsors the department) is safe? Creation scientists at least are open about their ulterior motive.
- Motives of individuals are not at issue; the methodology of the research is. If a scientist presents a paper which is flawed because of their motives, the flaws will be noticed by other scientists; ultimately, everyone to whom the validitiy of the paper matters can repeat the experiments described therein to demonstrate the invalidity of the flawed theory. For Creation "Scientists", on the other hand, the validity of the proposal is a priori not in question, and can never be. I have no illusions about individual scientists, but see no reason why the system as a whole should not work - unless there is some sort of global conspiracy and everyone shares *the same* agenda. Do you think there is? Having read SunKitten's post elsewhere on this page that started the whole discussion? I would be most curious to hear your evidence for one. - MoonShadow
I sometimes think it is pointless to apply science to God. God is not as confined by time and space as we are and probably operates under a very different ';cause and effect' system to us. A creator might have created the world in seven days. Maybe the world is created as described in Genesis, but he might not be creating a 'new' world, i.e. he might be creating a world that is already millions of years old. I sometimes think that the creator creates the universe at an arbitory place in the timeline, not nessisary in the very start of it, then future and history just extrapolate from that point, and since we are confined by time can only see history. -ColinLeung
- You are correct, and this is the flip side of our argument. The Christian God could well have created the universe six thousand years ago, as Bishop Usher claimed; or He could have created it at any point up to a Planck time from now, and, if He doctored his creation correctly, He could cause observational science to draw the conclusion that it is ten to fifteen billion years old. But that does not make creation "science" a true science. It may be true (although an application of Occam's Razor seems in order), but that does not make it science.
- God made everything. Simple as that. -ColinLeung (The simplest explanation for the moon landings is that they were hoaxes. -Dilbert, The Joy of Work)
- But that's not an explanation - it's a statement. (It also runs into trouble with InformationTheory; because the odds are that God has to be at least as complex as any creation he can produce; and if one complex system can spontaneously come into being, why not two?). And the simplest explanation for the moon landings is that they were hoaxes? Let's see: From 1961 thru 1973, the United States government allocated billions of dollars in funds to the Apollo program, thousands of people were employed for the express purpose of designing and constructing the Saturn V rocket and the Apollo capsules, hundreds of the United States Air Force's best pilots were seconded to the Space Program, despite the undeclared war already being fought in Vietnam and the threat from the Soviet Union. Speaking of the aforementioned country, it possessed powerful satellite tracking radars for use it its own space program, which would have revealed the existence, or lack thereof, of an Apollo capsule in space where the Americans said it was. Given the state of the ColdWar, if the Soviets could have revealed the moonshot as a hoax, why on earth wouldn't they have done so? The simplest explanation for all of these events is that, starting in 1969, the NASA missions Apollo 11 thru 17 (excepting 13) carried American astronauts to the moon and returned them to earth alive, six times.
- The simplest explanation, for this definition of simple, is that God makes everything we see around us. As a result, he is effectively directly feeding us the pretty patterns that appear on what scientific groups call the retina. And, as these patterns are the creation of a thinking, infinite being, there is absolutely no reason for them to have any meaning for us and no reason for us to be interested in what they show us. So we should just stop pretending there's any kind of real world out there - it's blatantly untrue, cos the simplest explanation is always correct right? Wrong. By simple, we mean the one with the least variables. God is not just one big variable - since we don't know his internal workings, he behaves as one variable for every possible way he could interact with the world. We can't simplify. That instantly boosts the number of variables required to understand the system up to infinity. Occams Razor suggests this is a Bad Thing [tm]. -CorkScrew
- CorkScrew should make it clear that he's pretty sure he only wrote the second half of the above section. The first half is far too coherent and well-researched.
- PeterTaylor would counter "By simple, we mean the one with the least variables" by arguing that xy is considerably simpler than x^(x^3 lg x)/(2 - e^x).
- CorkScrew isn't sure precisely what PeterTaylor is talking about, sorry
- I'm disagreeing with your definition of "simple".
- I just wasn't sure how the examples you gave constituted a counterexample to my definition of simple. Probably more sleep would help...
- Completely ignoring the actual argument for a second, surely "x has to be at least as complex as any creation it can produce" isn't true? --Kazuhiko
- Well, that depends on how you define 'complex'... -- Senji
- I think that on the some kinds of measure of complexity humans (and therefore presumably also gods) could indeed create things more complex than themselves - you could create some whole thing more complicated than you understood by only thinking about one small bit at a time and forgettin it when you'd done that bit (and some kind of overview so you can plug it all together), writing down details, etc.
- On the other hand, if you measure complexity by results rather than by internal structure, then a thing would be by definition at least as complex as anything it could create, which would make the original point somewhat moot.
- The question "if there was a creator, where did the creator come from" is a good one nonetheless.
- -- Rjk
- See Aquinas for an argument about why god not only is not complex, but must be the simplest thing ever. As for the question "if there was a creator, where did the creator come from": well, something must exist without having been created (as otherwise nothing could exist at all); the question is merely whether the universe itself exists because it must exist, or whether something else that exists because it must exist created it. Is it more likely that the universe existed of its own accord, or that some other thing exists of its own accord, and caused the universe to exist?
- "Where did the creator come from" is a very good counter to "But surely the Universe couldn't have come from nowhere" style arguments -- Senji
- Well, exactly. Something must have come from nothing, or there wouldn't be anything. So what's more likely: that the universe came from nothing, or that some other thing came from nothing and then created the universe from outside? --ChiarkPerson
- Foot-self-shoot. If complex results can only come from complex causes, then it is more likely that the universe came from nowhere than that the creator did. If complex results can come from simple causes, then it does not follow that the creator is capable of anything else (the 'first photon' theory) --Vitenka
- (PeterTaylor) "Something must have come from nothing, or there wouldn't be anything" seems to be predicated on the axiom "There was once nothing". Few deists or theists would agree with that axiom, so if you want to argue with them you need either to argue for your axiom (which could include arguing that it's not an axiom, but is instead derivable from other axioms, which can then be argued about) or to argue against their axioms.
- That's a much more promising line of attack. Though it's very hard to get out of the "ok, but what was before that?" loop. Although, if there was never a nothing, then why must there have been anything before the universe? --Vitenka
- (PeterTaylor) Second law of thermodynamics?
- Time is a property of the universe. Hence "before" the universe is a question that makes sense only to limited human ways of thought. --SF
- You're all wrong. 'Before' isn't the point. We're not talking temporally. We're not talking 'what happened before there was anything?', we're talking 'why is there anything?'. If the universe is infinitely old, there's still the question 'why is it here, rather than it not being here?'
- Well, if you're addressing the 'why' then no, Science doesn't even attempt to explain that. Nor should it - there is no way to work out a physical events intent through observation. --Vitenka
- Wrong again. Not that kind of 'why'. The kind of 'why' like 'why did the apple fall?'. We answer that in terms of causes: 'because I dropped it.' Well, what caused the universe to be here? With the apple, the cause of it falling preceeds the effect; but, as Stuart helpfully points out, time is within the universe, so this question when addressed to the universe itself does not imply a 'before', but still implies tht either (a) there is a cause of the universe being here, or (b) there is no cause, ie, the universe 'just is'. If (a), then the thing that caused the universe (or the thing that caused that, or back and back) 'just is'. But eventually, something must 'just be' for no reason - or there wouldn't be anything at all.
- I think you're implicitly assuming a time outwith the universe. Not that I suggest that this is a viable answer, but if time does not exist outwith the Universe, could we not have "the cause of the universe is entity x, the cause of entity x is the universe"? --CH
- ';'That doesn't work, because it doesn't answer the 'why anything?' question: it just moves it back one level. Fine, so there's a circle of causes, but why is the circle there, rather than nothing being there? What caused the circle? Either the circle 'just is', or something external to the circle caused it, so we're back to the same conclusion that eventually something must 'just be'. ''
- First of all, that's not actually the argument this page was about. And secondly, even if we agree with the requirement for a root cause that does not require the root cause to be other than itself. And why is that? Because it is. And why is that? Because it is. It works at any dimension of logic. --Vitenka (Total misuse of dimension there, but you know what I mean, and misuse of scientific terms seems appropriate here)
- You mean that either (a) the universe was caused by something (which was caused by somethign which was caused by...) that 'just is', or (b) the universe itself 'just is'. Right? So, exactly what I was saying. Yes?
- Intriguing suggestion, CH. It's quite popular in time travel fiction, I guess: "the reason why JFK was assassinated was because people from the future kept travelling back to find out who assassinated him"-type situations, where A and B really can be each other's cause once time is taken out of the equation. Like you, I would hesitate to suggest it's a viable answer, but it does at least seem internally consistent... --AC
- Well, can we build anything that is more complicated than ourselves? Probably not yet, but I don't think our complexity is a limit to the complexity of things we can create. So the same should go for 'x'. -ColinLeung
- Consider the MandelbrotSet ;) =MoonShadow
- The problem with that argument is that it implies God deliberately forged the evidence that scientists base theories such as the age of the earth and how species came to be - that is, it implies God is a liar. - MoonShadow
- Your objection requires God to have declared that the "evidence" could be relied upon for creating such theories. Without such a declaration, it would be unsound to infer an intent to deceive. --Bobacus
- I'd say God has done so implicitly by creating a world in which making inferences from observations is meaningful, giving us the apparatus with which to do so and calling us to do so in the content of the Bible, as well as by its nature and the fact of its existence. (I support this last by proposing that the Bible purports to be a document giving a log of observations (eg. NIV: LUK 1) from which one is to infer some of the nature(eg. NIV: ROM 1: 20) and desires (eg. search the NT for the word "write"; e.g. Paul mentions the purpose of his writings repeatedly) of God, as well as some of the history explaining why one might need to). Therefore if we are to say that making inferences in this case is invalid - that is, we propose that the "evidence" cannot be relied upon - we must justify this statement, otherwise all other inferences we ever make are equally meaningless, including anything we infer about God from the Bible, as well as our own experience and observations. If you are saying that God has stated that this "evidence" is unreliable, please demonstrate how and where. Otherwise, I argue that we must necessarily consider it as reliable as anything else we observe for the purpose of making inferences about the world. - MoonShadow
- Agreed (was planning to contribute my thoughts but realised that MoonShadow had Said It All) - CorkScrew
It's not God's fault that people think creation and science are mutally exclusive.
Exactly. -ColinLeung (if there's a god of course)
- I totally agree. And neither is it God's fault that some people pretend to be doing science in his name when they aren't. - MoonShadow
- Wait, so God isn't omnipotent? --Vitenka (Yeah yeah, HoaryOldChestnut?)
- I don't quite see why that follows from MoonShadow's comment, if it's the charlatans' choice to pretend such, but... standard answer, "he could prevent it but that would be contrary to his character". I.e., God has stated that he will be true to certain things he's promised about himself and his actions. Every such promise is a restriction on what He'll do in the future... that doesn't make him non-omnipotent. Just that he's told us he will always choose not to do those things he's promised not to. (Like kill everyone with a flood, for example.) --AC
[An alternative point of view].
- Have I misunderstood, or does this come down to: "Your hypothesis is undisprovable, but we do not require it. Believe it if you like."? --Vitenka
- Parse error at "undisprovable", negation stack overflow. - MoonShadow (AIUI, it's saying "look, for most CreationScience 'arguments' you don't need to resort to authority or demonstrate they're pseudoscientific - in a lot of cases they've actually got quite reasonable questions / misunderstandings at the root of them that science is quite capable of answering, and addressing / answering those would be a lot more saitsfying and might actually stand a chance of clarifying things for someone than just trying to silence the creationists.) So, actually, "Your hypothesis is undisprovable .. Believe it if you like." is precisely the opposite of what it's trying to say.
- Well, chalk that one up to my inability to read long complicated technical stuff ;) I thought all of the "No, that's wrong" and "No, you've misunderstood our basic axiom" had all been treid and were in the 'staid' part of the argument. Since current anti-evolution stuff seems to stop listening to the answers and starts, for example, AdHominem attacks on Darwin. --Vitenka
- A good article. I haven't seen many evoloutionists say that creationism is scientifically meaningless, but it's worth pointing out that it's not. The later bits about the cultural differences between the two camps was also very perceptive. -- Xarak
See also: "[The only debate on intelligent design that is worthy of its subject]"
- Fantastic. Nails the colours right to that mast. --Vitenka
And: [Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster] - Have you been touched by his noodly appendage?
And: [Disclaimer stickers for science textbooks].
And: [Hitherby (flood)], [Hitherby (spaghetti)]
Also, at some point, this will be the name of the science of, well, creating life. Which is ScienceFiction now, but well on its way to reality. --Vitenka
[Intelligent Design] to be taught in Kansas. It's amusing to compare the language Reuters used to describe precisely what has been conceded to that in the [Seattle Times] article - subtle, no?
[The Periodic Table, as taught in Kansas] - an anti-intelligent cartoon, DR
Personally, MoonShadow thinks Reuters have misclassified the story - it ought to have been filed under "[oddly enough]".
It's not merely an [american Bible Belt] thing, as some might have hoped. - MoonShadow
- Not I. My first exposure to CreationScience types was in Cambridge, and it isn't that I don't follow US news. --SF
- That article is about belief in SpecialCreation? and IntelligentDesign?, not about CreationScience. But the survey does appear to have been an exclusive choice between 3 options which some would say overlap. --B
[A humorous take on bones]
Rachael: I found the following on TheRegister's [letters page] and thought it was excellent; I've argued the same thing myself before but much less eloquently.
"I don't understand why these people don't believe that evolution can be a divine mechanism. After all, what is more amazing: that God created the Universe in a week, or that God engineered the very fabric of space so that it would unfold in an infinitely diverse cornucopia of variation, combining and condensing and evolving into the unbelievably beautiful, vast Universe we see around us, varying and changing without end? And emerging within it, a creature with the amazing ability to comprehend the incredible nature of her own tenuous existence, coalesced from self-organizing matter, clumped together from the dust of dying stars, evolved through the patiently self-redesigning mechanisms of molecules that build themselves.
Isn't that amazing? Isn't that beautiful? And all that with a single touch; all the information needed to create you, me, cats, Income Tax and suet pudding was present at the very start, before particles, before fields, when the Universe was just a membrane about to start expanding; all of this was written somehow into its structure. God must be one heck of a pool shark.
Remember that nobody said that Science precludes God until the literalists came along and decided that was the case.
DouglasReay has found himself involved in a long debate with a proponent of Intelligent Design. She claims that it is a scientific theory because it does make testable predictions. She referenced [The Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center FAQ]. Can anyone help me out? I'd like your opinion as to which of the following categories it falls into:
1. Science and possibly correct. These are testable predictions that have not (as yet) been proven incorrect.
2. Science and provably incorrect. These are testable predictions, that have been shown to be incorrect.
3. Bad Science - these are predictions but they are so fuzzy or badly worded that they are, in practice but not theory, not testable
4. Pseudo Science - these are not predictions, in the sense they can't even in theory be tested, even if worded with precision
5. Other (please specify)
- I'll leave the others to a biologist, but if there's a halfway-coherent definition of "specified complexity" or a way to measure it, I've not come across it. --Edwin
- It comes under the heading of 'bollocks'. The predictions it makes are not worded well enough to allow differentiation between evolution and intelligent design. In some cases, one can test the predictions, but the truth of those 'predictions' has been known for ages and they are explained perfectly well by evolutionary theory. They don't need intelligent design to explain them.
- Looking at the observations in detail... 1) That highly complex structures will appear is, um, kind of obvious. Both obviously true and explainable by evolution. The prediction makes sense, but the observation is incorrect; precursors to the bacterial flagellum are known (from a paper in Nature this year, I think). So that is number 2; provably incorrect (for the example they've offered). There will, of course, always be things science has not explained, and creationists can always point and say, 'yesbut, yesbut, what about THAT? Huh? Huh?' Then as soon as an explanation is found, they'll switch goalposts again.
- I'd have said that overall it was 4 - all you can say about irreducible complexity is that no irreducibly complex structures have been found in nature yet. There's no counterexample that could exist which would prove the theory false. --SF
- True - I think it's probably 4 overall, due to the shifting goalposts. But the specific example they offer on that page has been disproved - SunKitten
- 2) That genetic information would be rapidly inserted into the biosphere in large amounts sounds like the plot of an X-men movie. The prediction makes sense; the observation is rubbish. There are many reasons put forward to explain the Cambrian Explosion, and life forms before it are known. In addition, every time a 'gap' fossil is found, it doesn't fill in a gap, it makes two more. There will never be enough fossil evidence to satisfy these people, because they're not looking for scientific evidence. They're looking to shore up their version of Creationism. So that is either 2 or 3; it's badly worded and blatantly not true.
- 3) Re-use of genetic code. Well, duh. That's perfectly well explained by evolution. The prediction from that makes sense (the predictions do, on the whole), and the very fact that they offer no actual evidence shows up that section as rubbish. So 2; they haven't even offered any proof of correctness.
- 4) Not creating functionless objects (even if we don't understand it now) is a stupid way of phrasing a scientific theory. If we don't understand the function of something, that just means we don't understand it now but we will in the future? You can say that until the end of time! That is 4; pseudo science. It's untestable. The prediction makes sense, and the observation is correct, but then, it's perfectly explainable by evolutionary theory.
- Do vestigial objects (ones that had a function once but now don't) not actually exist in nature, then? That would seem to be a direct counterexample to this one and thereby make it 2. But you know far more about this than I do. --SF
- How do you go about proving that something has no function, though? --Edwin
- You can't, and certainly not to their 'standards'. SF: vestigial objects of course exist, but they would just say 'oh, it must have a function. We just don't know it yet'. That's why it's pseudo science; it's an unprovable prediction ('prediction' isn't really the right word). It's not that I know more about biology, sadly, but that I know quite a bit of the Creationist mindset - SunKitten
- Some objects thought to be vestigial probably do have a function - I seem to recall reading a few months back that a benefit of the human appendix had been found. The problem is that they can't predict the purpose, so it might fit under category 3 rather than category 4. --PT
- A while ago, NewScientist? ran a story on the study of the design of cornets. The scientist in question was a biologist and a keen cornet player. He used cornet design through the years to draw up a phylogeny of cornets. It was totally different from a biological phylogeny, because cornet designers frequently pinched ideas off each other, so a design 'gene' could show up in three different cornets, which were otherwise phylogenetically far apart. Cornets are intelligently designed. This is not, of course, any proof, but it should provide food for thought.
- Bluntly, I have no patience with this 'theory'. It's utterly moronic. If one is going to be a Creationist, one should at least do it properly - SunKitten
- Thank you very much! I've had a go at digging out that Nature reference, but I think you may need to be a subscriber --DR
- It ought to show up on [PubMed], but doesn't; I don't think I'm looking for the right thing. I don't remember much, I'm afraid, other than that it was thought to be a potential precursor to the flagellum, or at least to demonstrate that such a thing was possible. However, [this] may be useful for refuting that particular argument. If you can't see it, the abstract is [here] - SunKitten
- Thanks! [More on how flagella evolved] --DR
- [The Flagellum Unspun: The Collapse of "Irreducible Complexity" by Kenneth R. Miller of Brown University]
- Musgrave, Ian (2004). "Evolution of the Bacterial Flagellum", in: Young, M., and Edis, T. (Eds.), Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the Neocreationism, forthcoming from Rutgers University Press, Piscataway, N.J
- [Evolution in (Brownian) space: a model for the origin of the bacterial flagellum, by N. J. Matzke]
[Why Christians should celebrate Darwinism] - interesting essay by Denis Alexander, which probably, sadly, would be better used on this page rather than Evolution - SunKitten
From Ekklesia: attempting to prove by experiment that a house divided against itself cannot stand.
See also [Intelligent Design Sort].