The scientific method has been developed to ensure unbiased results in experimentation and research. Science, including the sciences of Paleontology and Anthropology, requires an absence of bias to ensure that the knowledge gained through experimentation and research is closer to the truth than to somebody's idea of what should be true.
Creation is thought to be a conclusion
involving faith or belief in untestable and unproveable concepts. For
this reason, a creationist approach to the sciences may be suspect. Evolution,
on the other hand, is often said to be free of dogma and quite suitable for
classroom discussion. Today, we would like to begin our creationist look
at social studies with a brief examination of this idea in the light of the
The sciences may vary from the physical to the political but the method of inquiry always remains the same. From our
experiences, we develop hypotheses to explain what we observe. An hypothesis is a testable idea and to test it, we set up an experiment. To ensure that we can interpret results correctly.
a control is usually set up or maintained at the same time with all
factors but one kept identical to the factors in the experiment.
The different factor (quantity/condition) is the one being tested.
We then carefully observe or record the results and draw conclusions.
Both the evolutionist and creationist researcher rely on the same
environment (the real world) for the 'experience and hypothesize'
portions of the scientific method but neither are ultimately able to test their
hypotheses by the experimental method. If God created the universe, He
can not be tested; if evolution is responsible for all that we see and
experience, millions of years can not be brought into the laboratory either.
On the issue of Origins, we can only observe
and question and
hypothesize and draw conclusions; we can not demonstrate the historical truth of either creation or evolution as established fact. Neither conclusion is demonstrably repeatable by experiment. Both approaches are, therefore, metaphysical concepts; both are conclusions from the available evidence; both are belief systems. In fact, both may be described as 'religious' world views because they deal with ultimate reality and rely on belief in unproveable ideas. Because of this, many prefer to call these very different approaches to understanding the past, "MODELS".
The evolution model is the one accepted by the vast majority of scientists
today but this was not always so. The list of creationist scientists includes
most of the founding fathers of the sciences including KEPPLER,
BOYLE, FARADAY, NEWTON, PASCAL, PASTEUR, KELVIN
and the founder of the scientific method itself, Sir Francis
BACON. (1) Most actually believed that they were "thinking
God's thoughts after Him" and today, thousands of scientists are creationists.
EVIDENCE / ARGUMENT
And what are some of the evidences that we are able to interpret so differently? Well, the most important of them are embedded in the very laws of the universe - the laws of science themselves.
The laws of CONSERVATION OF ENERGY, for instance, say that energy can not be created or destroyed ... but energy is here - all around us is energy; we are energy. If it can not be created in this natural universe and yet the universe is full of it, at some time it must either have been created supernaturally or it itself is eternal.
Others would say that perhaps conditions were different in the past and energy might have been created naturally or that perhaps in some remote corner of the universe it is even now being generated.
But another law (the SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS) says that energy (and order and information) is always degrading. This is the law of increasing ENTROPY or randomness. The universe as a system and all portions of it seem to be running down, wearing out, dying. In the most direct sense, this indicates a point of beginning ... a point of creation.
Others might say that we may just be observing a local fluctuation and that if we could see the big picture, order and energy might be increasing overall.
Then there is the law of BIOGENESIS. This law says that life can only arise from life and this has proven to be true wherever it has been tested. But others say that though this currently seems to be the case, conditions in the past might have been different so that we can not rule out the occurrence of spontaneous generation.
Well then, how about the fossil evidence? It is said to be the only direct evidence for the evolution of life. We do not see evolution in the present because it is such a slow process but preserved in the rocks is a faithful record of evolution in the past. But others have said that the fossils are evidence of the massive destruction of life, of catastrophic events leading to extinctions and that all life represented there is classifiable into distinct species with none of the intermediate forms that would be necessary to prove evolution.
... And so it goes!
Into this scientific process of weighing the evidences wanders a grade seven class in Social Studies. What is the connection? Just this: any look at man's cultural past will be guided by the interpretation of human origins used to comprehend it. Because of the predominant scientific belief in a lengthy evolutionary process, the belief in a gradual, evolutionary cultural development arises.
Evolutionary change is regarded as a universal phenomenon in the social as well as the biological world. Animals, specifically primates, just swinging down from the trees are logically thought to have begun to organize at a very primitive level.
Language is thought to have begun as grunts and squeals and tools are believed to have been derived first from sticks and stones. Scientists today spend research lifetimes studying rats and gorillas and whales in efforts to imagine how human beings first began to live and work together. Much useful knowledge of animal behaviour is gained but creationists feel that extending this knowledge into the human realm is more fanciful story telling than truly understanding human development.
A CREATIONIST PERSPECTIVE
What is the creationist position?
Well, like the evolutionary explanation, creation is a conclusion based on interpretation of the evidences derived from the world around us. Whereas evolutionists look at and more heavily weight those evidences tending to show a long age for the Earth and its solar system, creationists give more weight to those physical indicators that tend to limit the age of our world to a few thousand years.
Obviously, here is a great difference between the two world views. Without millions of years, cultures would not have time to evolve from our supposed primate ancestors. Without millions and billions of years in which to work its magic, evolution could not have taken place at all.
It is laughable for instance, to think that a cow or some similar land mammal could change into a whale in only a few centuries. When time is spoken of in millions of years however, the most sophisticated minds treat the possibility seriously.
Earlier this year, you studied the model for the long ages of the Earth.
Let us now look at just a few of the indicators that creationists believe point
to a relatively young Earth.
The Earth is a huge, di-pole magnet giving off a field in much the same way
that the small magnets used in science classes can be shown to give off a magnetic
field. Scientists know that this field helps to deflect harmful radiation
from space that could damage human and other forms of life on this planet.
Scientists also know that this field is weakening.
Measurements since the 1830's (over 150 years), have shown that the magnetic field is decreasing in strength at a current rate of 5% every 100 years. (2) This means that in the past, it was much stronger; in fact, if it has lost strength at the present rate for several thousand years, as recently as 10,000 years ago it would have been so strong that no life could exist.
Creationist scientists also look at measurements of the Sun itself when they speculate about the age of the Earth. Like our magnetic field, the Sun is also changing in size. Measurements over the last four hundred years seem to indicate that the Sun is shrinking in diameter about 0.1% every 100 years or about 5 feet per hour. (3) (The Sun's diameter is almost a million miles so don't worry about it disappearing in the near future.)
Scientists used to believe that this shrinking through gravitational collapse was the source of all the Sun's energy. Since the atomic age, however, most scientists believe that nuclear fusion within the Sun is the source of most of its energy. Whichever source is the correct one (perhaps both), we do know that the Sun is fluctuating and probably getting smaller.
Given the delicate balance of life on Earth, it is difficult to accept that
life could have developed or survived if, going back in time, the Sun was, say,
twice its size. Yet, if the rate of decrease has remained constant, this
would have been the case only about 100,000 years ago leaving a period of time
far too short for random chance to have produced complex life.
DUST TO DUST
One last example for now is the rate of settlement of meteoritic dust particles in the solar system. All bodies in our solar system are thought to have originated at about the same time and certainly our Moon is believed to be about the same age as the Earth.
Between 5 and 14 million tons of meteoritic dust enters our atmosphere and settles to Earth each year, becoming part of our planet's mass and being moved around by the erosional forces of wind and water.
A proportionate amount of dust will also settle on the surface of the Moon - but the Moon has no water or wind currents to redistribute this material.
Before the first manned landing on the Moon, scientists who accepted an age for our Earth-Moon system of 4.6 billion years estimated that as much as 54 feet (4) of this dust could have accumulated on the surface and to prevent the space capsule from sinking out of sight or toppling over, they equipped it with large, wide pads on its landing gear.
The ship landed safely on the Moon in 1969 and one astronaut , Neil Armstrong,
reported back to Earth that the layer of dust was only
"scuff-deep" ... just deep enough to leave a foot-print. Creation
scientists accept this as evidence that our solar system is not really very
old at all.
One obvious conclusion of creationists is that there must be, by definition, a CREATOR or a source of all the beauty and complexity we see on our planet. There are many beliefs about who or what this creator is.
Some scientists believe that life on our planet was 'seeded' by alien races from outer space. There is no direct evidence for this, of course, but one of the world's most famous astronomers came to that conclusion by studying the complexity of life and by calculating the chances that it could have happened by accident.
Sir Fred Hoyle, a proponent of the 'steady-state' theory of the origin of the universe says that the chance of life arising by accident on Earth is 1 in 10 to the forty-thousandth power, or '1' followed by forty thousand zeros. (5) This, he says, is absolutely impossible so he believes there must have been an intelligence to start it all. His explanation for the origin of life on this planet is a 'THEORY' called "Directed Panspermia" or the intentional seeding (planting) of life or the necessary information for life by beings from outer space.
Evolutionary ideas for the origin of life have been recorded since the ancient Greeks. THALES, one of the fathers of both geometry and astronomy, and considered one of the seven wise men of ancient Greece, first proposed the origin of life from the sea. He taught that plant life arose first which became simpler animals then complex animals and finally, man.
A student of his, ANAXIMANDER, thought that a muddy soup floating on a "primordial mass" must have thrown off forms and shapes which became the plant life. This plant life then became animal forms and one of these forms became fish-like which, on emerging to dry land, became man-like. A pupil of his, XENOPHANES by name, further refined the theory with scientific observations of fossils and evidences of environmental changes to show that land animals were derived from aquatic animals.
And so the theory progressed with philosophers debating, proposing and reversing each other's theories at least until the time of ARISTOTLE, who believed that all of the evolution of life was the result of an intelligent and purposeful designer.
Aristotle thus became one of the first recorded 'Theistic Evolutionists' - those who, like Sir Fred Hoyle, believe that the process of evolution could not possibly happen by chance but must depend on a creator or designer.
The idea of the slow development of life declined with the rise of the Roman Empire but with the advent of the 'Age of Reason', began again to rise to prominence in both the scientific and philosophic world. Charles Darwin, himself the holder of a degree in Theology, launched the scientific debate over just how evolution has occurred with his book, ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES BY NATURAL SELECTION, and the debate continues today with names like Oparin, Fox, Leakey, Miller and Johansson replacing those of Thales, Anaximander, Xenophanes, Democritus and Aristotle in the headlines.
Where do we come from?
This is the oldest question known to man; it is life's most basic question and one which everybody asks at some time in their life. Often, people become so busy that they forget about the question of origins but, on an unconscious level, the answer that we accept as our own understanding determines how we think and believe and act in many other areas of life.
Systems of belief that deal with concepts of God and the
ultimate questions of existence are considered to be religious or
philosophical. Generally, they are not considered capable of proof but
tend to rely on the force of argument and logic to reach conclusions.
Science and the ability to observe and draw conclusions from our observations
provides us with powerful tools to weigh the evidences and evaluate the logic
of such arguments.
A CREATION STORY
One creation story you have been studying is found in the Bible. The Bible contains the only purportedly historical report of the creation of all things (including time) in all the literatures of the world and the book of Genesis, where the creation story is found, is accepted by three of the world's major religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - as foundational to their beliefs.
Many people believe that Genesis contains a poetic or mythological story to explain our origins but the book itself contains names and dates and places known to be accurate in those areas which can be verified. Because no human being was present when creation took place, we have no scientific way of proving what actually happened; we either believe or do not believe what the Bible tells us about it.
The cultural evolution spoken of in the Bible is very different from that assumed or reconstructed by evolutionists, however. The Bible indicates that man was created fully human right at the beginning and was able to walk and talk with his creator just as you walk and talk with your friends. Unlike the primitive, tool-making and cave-man-like existence of the evolution model, extending for hundreds of thousands of years, biblical social organization is declared to have been immediate, intelligent and rapidly expanding.
Men were said to live for hundreds of years before dying and, since they were intelligent to begin with, they must have accumulated vast experience and knowledge in all areas of human endeavour. Agriculture, animal husbandry, mining, metallurgy, architecture and music are all alluded to in the first few chapters of Genesis and references to mighty civilizations are found throughout this ancient record of man's past ... Egyptian, Assyrian, Hittite, Babylonian and Persian to name some of the most important and familiar.
And, yes, war is also mentioned with armies numbering in the millions.
The destruction of all of man's greatest achievements is described time and
again. Man's culture is not guaranteed to survive and advance but appears
to be very fragile in this record with man's own ethical and moral failures
leading to periods of cultural darkness and despair.
Instead of a constant, upward, evolutionary series of changes for the better, the Bible describes both upward and downward cultural development. Men and cities and whole nations are said to have degenerated morally and socially even as they became technologically superior and the Bible records many great national and even cosmic catastrophes, said to be the judgments of God - the biggest one being the flood in the time of a man called 'NOAH', after which only eight people were left alive on the whole planet.
Now imagine ... what would you do if you and your families were to survive a major disaster like that? Where would you live or take shelter the first night? What kind of tools could you make to help you survive? Could you make a simple hammer or a saw? You might be able to find one but - could you even make a nail or a string?
You know how to use a computer and you know that men once walked on the Moon but, could you prove it to your little sister or brother when they grew up? And when you found a way to write it down, perhaps with a stick in soft clay, and read it to your grandchildren years later ... would they believe you?
Creationists who accept the Bible as true, believe that archeological evidence confirms that this happened many times in the history of the world. Anthropological studies show that many cultures retain a memory of a "Golden Age", long ago, when civilization was superior to present times and almost all of the world's present cultures have a historical memory of 'THE GREAT FLOOD'.
These dim memories, often expressed in epic poems or mythologies, are clues
tending to show us that things have not always been as they are now. When
a magnificent culture dies out and is replaced by a more crude and violent society,
the world is said to move into a 'Dark Age'.
Creationists also think that cave-men were real - but not "half-apes". Many believe that they were most likely survivors of some former culture that went into decline, perhaps because of war, perhaps because of a catastrophic occurrence in nature like the one credited by many scientists with the extinction of the dinosaurs. Possibly some peoples grew accustomed to wilderness living and even preferred their new surroundings (like some people today prefer to live in tents or log cabins) or perhaps all knowledge and skills of their former culture were lost to them and they had no choice.
Certainly, the 3-dimensional cave paintings of 'Cro-magnon'
man were not the product of inferior intelligences and much evidence indicates
advanced knowledge of astronomy and quite stylish clothing and hair styles among
these citizens contemporary with the Woolly Mammoth. (6)
But all such speculation is just 'story-telling' and is not really part of the scientific method. For this reason, creationists do not much agree with all the story-telling involved in the reconstruction of our supposed evolutionary ancestors. Many fossils said to be from primate ancestors of man have later been found to have been mistakenly identified or even fraudulent (such as 'Nebraska Man', 'South Colorado Man', 'Piltdown Man') and others are so uncertain that any conclusions drawn today are likely to be consigned to "the ash can of evolution" tomorrow. (7)
Of the 24 European scientists initially involved in the evaluation of 'Java Man', for instance, ten said it was just an ape; seven said it was a man; and seven said it was an intermediate form between ape and man. The renowned anatomist, professor Virchow of Berlin, said that there was "no evidence at all" that the bones examined were even part of the same animal"! (8)
'Neanderthal Man', once represented as hairy, stooped and brutish (just like you might imagine a half-man, half-ape to look) is now believed to have been fully human with no evidence to suggest that he was any different from ourselves, with one embarrassing exception: the brain capacity of many 'Neanderthal' skulls is about 13% larger than our own (9) (and can anyone really tell from a skull fragment whether its previous owner grunted or sang opera, wore skins or a top hat, preferred beetle-broth soup or cherry cheese-cake?).
No, story-telling is not really science; but man is a story-teller. What are we to conclude?
From a creationist perspective, perhaps from any perspective, it is this: since much of the science of ANTHROPOLOGY involves a reconstructed story of our origins, then learn that story and pass your tests. The dominant theory of origins is currently the evolutionary one; learn that theory and pass your tests.
But remember, what is true is more important than what is thought to be true. Science is never what someone believes but what the evidence declares to be so. Sometimes the evidence is confusing but it is telling us the truth. We just have to keep learning.
Theories may come and go; you must do good science. Learn to do good science; learn to separate opinions from facts, assumptions from proven ideas, real knowledge from imaginative stories and uphold always the importance of truth. That is why we have courts and judges and why we go to school: to learn the truth - the truth about Mathematics, about the English language, about Biology and even about Evolution.
Above all things, a creationist urges you to learn
the truth about Evolution.
1) Morris, Henry M., "Bible Believing Scientists of the Past" in "Acts
and Facts" Impact Article #103, Institute For Creation
Research, El Cajon, Ca. 1981
2) McDonald and Gunst (1967) Reported in In The Minds of Men, Ian T. Taylor, TFE Publishing, Toronto, 1987, p. 332
3) Akridge, Russel Phd., "The Sun is Shrinking" in "Acts and Facts" Impact
Article #82, April, 1980; also in "Sky and Telescope",
July, 1980, p. 332, as reported in Taylor, op.cit.
4) Ibid., p. 329
5) Oller, John W. Jr. Phd., "Not According to Hoyle" in "Acts and Facts" Impact Article #138, December, 1984
6) Taylor, op.cit., pp. 219-20
7) From Putnam, John J., "In Search of Modern Humans" in "National Geographic", October, 1988, p. 456
8) Criswell, W. A. Did Man Just Happen? Zondervan
Publishing Company, Grand Rapids Mi., 1973, p. 20 as reported in
Scott Huse, The Collapse of Evolution, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids Mi., 1987, p. 99
9) Several sources incl. Taylor, op.cit., p. 212
* Some arguments contesting 'deep time' and supporting a young-Earth have undergone rigorous scrutiny and revision by creation scientists in the past 20-30 years and are no longer considered appropriate to support the creation model. The moon-dust issue is one such, creationists having accepted a painstaking evolutionary re-working of the 'influx' data to match preferred time estimates for the age of the solar system more closely. We have opted to leave the article intact, in the interests of historical integrity.
At the time this item was composed, the issue was not considered 'settled', Pettersson's calculations being challenged but no consensus having been achieved (nor admitted). Nor is the issue yet resolved, NASA having just last month (July/14) discovered some 'lost tapes' showing an order of magnitude correction (higher) in moon-dust accretion estimates. The reason given for the previously un-reported discrepancy: the accumulation of dust on some sensors. Needless to say, we love this debate!
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