Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Mythical Creation Science: The Beginning

I'd like to start a series of blog posts on the problems with "Creation Science".  Since I've been reading NLQ, I realized that some parents who home-schooled while in CP/QF then left or kids who have grown up in that system may realize that "Creation Science" seems...wrong....but don't entirely know how to explain the actual sciences involved well enough to fix their educational gaps.

I'd like to try and fill some of those gaps.

I have solid credentials as an educator and a scientist. I have a Bachelors' Degree with a Major in Biology and Secondary Education and a minor in Chemistry.  I taught for 8 years in an urban, low socioeconomic status, high English Language Learner population.  I've recently returned to graduate school full-time where I started in an evolutionary biology lab and transferred to a sustainable agriculture/education project while teaching undergraduate science lab classes.

What I don't have is a good grounding in "Creation Science".  I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic schools where we were taught real science in science classes and religion - including the literary-historical criticism method of reading the Bible - in a separate class.  What I've learned so far has been gleaned by reading all four of the published "The New Answers 1-4" (TNA 1-4) which is edited by Ken Ham. 

So far, there seem to me to be a few rules in "Creation Science" that'd I'd like to discuss and/or debunk.

1) The Bible was written as a scientific and historic document in the style of similar books written after the Enlightenment.

The Bible was written long before the Enlightenment Period.  The Bible is a series of books compiled by Christians explaining how their relationship with God came into being and has changed over time. 

Using the Bible as a scientific document makes as much sense as using Beowulf or the Epic of Gilgamesh as scientific documents.
2) The Bible is ALWAYS right on scientific and historic events.

I have problems with this on two levels. 

First, the Bible doesn't match much of what the universe, Earth and life in general tell us about science.  For most people, that's a non-issue due to a non-literal understanding of the Bible.  For literalists, though, I would like to know why God supposedly gave us a science and historical book that doesn't match our planet.  That seems callous and mean-spirited.

Secondly, the authors in the compiled chapters state clearly that "Creation Science" removes the need for faith because "Creation Science" proves the Bible is true.   This to me treats believers as children - unable to have a relationship beyond what they can see and hear.

3) If the Bible appears to be wrong, that means the science is flawed or part of a conspiracy by atheists.

The problem is that they can't explain WHY the science is flawed or make the science sound flawed by ignoring /misunderstanding most of the theory. 

The conspiracy theory is an affront to the generations of ardent believers of Abrahamic faith traditions and Eastern traditions who have advanced science.

4) Creation scientists are not bound by laws of nature when proposing how the Bible can be right.

In fact, they simply change laws of physics, earth science and biology as needed.  This leads to some freaking hilarious storylines put together to make Genesis true.

5) Creation scientists don't need to read updated science papers or even cite them.
Real academics cite papers early and often.  If an idea isn't common knowledge, it should be followed by a citation or footnote.   The authors that compiled these volumes often cite "creation science" journals and books, but are haphazard about citing the original scientific paper they are discussing.

In addition, science progresses in real time.  Scientific papers from the 1970's have probably had lines of current research that support or refute them.  A credible scientist would have more recent citations (within 5 years).
6) There are people out there called "evolutionists".
Nope.  Those are a mythical critter. 

We have evolutionary biologists, astrophysicists, geologists, astronomers, historians and linguists as very broad categories with many subtypes. 

If you spell all of that out, though, it really makes the "atheists' conspiracy to bring down Christianity" sound even stupider..........

7) If an "evolutionist" posits a problem about a current science idea, that means the entire theory is massively flawed.
Biologists had a rip-roaring argument going on in the 1980's about the speed at which evolution occurs.  Some argued for a slow, steady rate of mutation (gradualists) while others argued for periods of stasis followed by rapid mutations (punctuated equilibrium or punk eeks). 

Creationists argued that the sides were proving that evolution didn't exist.  Both groups of biologists pointed out that they were arguing about a sub-point of the time scale of evolution - NOT that evolution didn't exist.

I'll be revisiting these ideas - and more! - in future posts.


  1. So much nostalgia for me!

    I actually bought the YEC stuff hook, line, and sinker when I was in middle school and my parents were too inattentive to realize what I was learning at school.(*) What a joy it was when the scales fell off my eyes when I went to the public high school!

    Can't wait to read the rest.

    (*) In fairness, I do have a fairly demanding special-needs brother.

  2. Just a quibble: the Bible was primarily written and compiled by Jews, not Christians. Christian influence on the Bible's formation didn't hit until the authors of the New Testament books started writing, and many of them were also Jewish.

    I learned bits and pieces of Creation "Science" as a kid. My parents didn't talk a lot about it, but there was usually a creation science talk at Science Camp (the awesomely geeky homeschool sleepover camp I got to go to) and it came up briefly in some science classes I took in junior high at a tiny Christian school. The teacher didn't teach evolution but he mostly ignored the textbook's chapters on creationism. I didn't really think too hard about evolution until I was older and in university and by then I had gradually started to assume that creation science was deeply flawed. And then I read more about evolution and it made a lot more sense than the "we must shoehorn all the evidence into making a literal version of Genesis work" theory.

    1. I agree. I wasn't sure exactly how to phrase that section, though, because the Bible is the canon(s) of the Christian religion(s) with the inclusion of Messianic writings to bolster Jesus as the Messiah. The Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures is the Jewish canon - but that's ignoring the importance of the Talmud...

      So, I punted. :-) Thanks for catching that.