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Bronze-level article

Biblical creation on aSK

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This is a critique of the Biblical Creation article found at A Storehouse of Knowledge (aSK). The original content has been reproduced here for purposes of criticism and commentary. The original links and references are used to preserve the context intended by the author(s). Links provided in our responses will typically be made to RationalWiki articles.


Biblical creation, as understood by aSKOur commentary

Introduction[edit]

Biblical creationism is the view that the creation account in the book of Genesis is an accurate historical record. It is often known as Young Earth creationism. Forms of creationism which accept an old earth position but reject evolution are collectively known as Old Earth Creationism.This does not recognize that there are two creation accounts in the book of Genesis, as well as other accounts referred to elsewhere in the Bible (in the books of Psalms, Proverbs, and Job).

Premises[edit]

Biblical creation includes the following premises derived from the Bible:
  • God created the world over a period of six ordinary days approximately 6000 years ago.
  • God ceased creating at the end of the sixth day, and thereafter the creation continues to operate according to the natural laws that God put in place, although God continues to sustain His creation.
    • Biblical creationists therefore usually look for natural explanations of phenomena that occur after creation. However, as God can override the natural laws, He may occasionally do so, or use those natural laws to bring about His will.[1]
  • God created each different "kind" of living thing, rather than them evolving.
  • God created man from basic materials, not from non-human precursors or ape-like creatures.
These premises are, on the whole, faith-based assertions. One could argue that that the world was created last Thursday by a malevolent gerbil. God is defined in such a way as to render creationism unfalsifiable! God can bypass the laws of nature, thus allowing us to ascribe just about anything to God. RationalWiki, like all websites, appears to be hosted on a web-server. However it may in fact be hosted on a cantaloupe melon on the moon. We can't be certain, since God may be meddling with the laws of nature.

How do they support the assertion that God can defy the laws of nature? They cite a miracle of course. There is no evidence for this miracle let alone the events of the exodus. We should accept this evidence for now, if only so we can enjoy the fantasy of a website being hosted on a melon.

Baraminology is a creationist attempt to reconcile speciation with scripture. Mainstream science dismisses it as pseudoscience.

And since when an omnipotent God requires "basic materials" to create man?

Research[edit]

Two tumbleweeds rolling across the screen, from left to right.




Seriously though, here are their comments regarding research[edit]

Sceptics often accuse biblical creationists of not doing research.

This is a false claim, as research is being done, including being published in peer-reviewed journals, such as the Journal of Creation and Answers Research Journal.

However, secular governments, whilst giving many billions of dollars to research the naturalistic theory of evolution, do not support creationist research, so essentially all such research is done in the researcher's own time at his own expense, or funded through private donations. It is not surprising, therefore, that creationists are unable to undertake research at anything like the same scale as evolutionists.

Further, the creation model is still relatively new.

The neo-Darwinian model, with its random naturalistic presuppositions, has dominated the science arena for a century and a half. In contrast, the recently developed modern creation model is in its relative infancy (although belief in creation is ancient) and only certain aspects are now being rigorously researched. —Tom Hennigan
Sceptics don't claim that creationists are not doing research. We can readily accept that they are conducting research. The problem is that they're not doing science, and that's why they have to publish in phony-baloney journals like the Journal of Creation and Answers Research Journal. Neither of the aforementioned journals are taken seriously outside of creationist circles, with the latter being a product of Answers in Genesis. If creation scientists did real science they'd be able to publish their work in mainstream journals, such as Nature. Creationists may as well back-up their assertion to having published research by referencing the wealth of scientific papers they've published on MySpace and Facebook. Creation scientists would attract plenty of funding if they actually did science. Although creationists, such as Ben Stein, claim a conspiracy to suppress creationism, any scientist with a serious scientific theory for creationism would attract grants and acclaim from the scientific world. Science is a competitive field, and it's difficult to imagine any nation or institute dismissing the gravitas gained from having overturning a well established theory.

Falsifiability[edit]

Critics will often claim that creation is not falsifiable, and hence not scientific.

However, they will also often claim that it has been falsified, which is impossible if it is not falsifiable.

As creation, like evolution, is a series of unique events in the past, it cannot be scientifically observed, tested, nor reproduced.

However, predictions can in some cases be made on the basis of the model, and individual claims are often able to be tested.
God's intervention in a creation cannot be falsified, and that's why it's not science. (That it happened 6000 years ago with the creation of one human couple and separate kinds, with a flood 4000 years ago has been falsified.)

They are simply wrong when they state that evolution cannot be observed, tested or reproduced. Most famously, Richard Lenski observed the evolutionary adaptation of E. coli.[2]. Also, evolution can be tested, as it was in Lenski's experiment, providing an environment in which adaptation would confer advantages. In the case of Lenski's work, some E. coli evolved the ability to consume citrate. Finally, evolutionary processes can be reproduced, and this continues to be the case. Evolution is not something that happened in the past - it's an ongoing process. Although evolution is typically slow, we've seen examples in Lenski's work and in the ongoing development of viruses and antibiotic resistant bacteria.[3]

Creation is not comparable to evolution. Creation is a myth, no different to the creation myths of Nordic and Hindu religions. Creationism and evolution can both make predictions, with evolutionary predictions continually reinforcing the basic theory.

Postdictions: introduction[edit]

The following section is the introduction to the post-dictions section:

Even where the answer is already known, it is reasonable to make "predictions" on the basis of a hypothesis, although these are more technically known as "postdictions".

Hence we can say that if the great flood really occurred, we should expect to find extensive layers of sedimentary rock.

That we already know that much of the surface of continents is composed of sedimentary rocks does not make this "postdiction" invalid.
Basically, this is a case of taking an agent (or causative factor) from the past, ascertaining the effects of this agent and then looking for evidence of this in the world. This is a valid approach, so long as we have a sound basis for postulating the agent. If Homer's Illiad described a war that had taken place in antiquity, providing there was sufficient information to formulate a test we could search for evidence in the modern world. However, we have to critically consider all the possible sources of the evidence found. One could claim that Isaac Newton drank tea, so therefore the cup of of tea on a desk must have belonged to him. This could be a valid conclusion, but only if there is sufficient evidence to favour that the Newton theory over any other possible causative agent. We employ deductive reasoning because it's not just about confirming a pet theory - it's about proving that the theory proposed is the most plausible conclusion. In the case of Newton's teacup, one could consider the following questions:
  • Would Newton ever have drunk tea in this location?
  • Could anyone else possibly have drunk tea here, and more recently than Newton?
Creation science fails to follow this process, because they begin with a conclusion, and all efforts are focussed on making that the "correct answer". When beginning with the philosophy that the Bible is always right, it's impossible to arrive at any other result. Scientists work on the basis that the work they do could well disprove theories they've held to be true for most of their careers, and this is the risk of doing proper science. One must be willing to be proven wrong and accept that the end result is a net increase in knowledge.

Postdictions[edit]

Now we take a look at the individual points provided by the author. The original bullet points have been replaced with numbers in order to simplify our responses.

Some examples of postdictions made by biblical creation are as follows:

1. Extensive sedimentation with fossils As a result of the great flood, there should be extensive layers of sedimentary rocks containing the buried remains of once-living creatures.

Much of the surface of the continents is composed of sedimentary rock, and much of this contains buried remains of once-living creatures (fossils);
The numbers listed here correspond with the points in the aSK article: 1. Sedimentation does not match-up with that predicted by creationism. The stratified nature of the sediments, along with the ordered appearance of fossils, would suggest that the sedimentation process took place over a far longer period of time than the year suggested by Genesis. Based on a Biblical flood event, it's reasonable to wonder why hominids would never be found in the same strata as dinosaurs? At the time of the flood, did the animals form an orderly line in order to die in very specific orders around the entire world? Genesis does not predict the sedimentation patterns seen around the world. Geology and palaeontology both suggest a far older earth. Our knowledge of the old age of the Earth is not based on any single branch of science. Radiometric dating, for example, provides us with pretty accurate ages for rocks. In the case of Rubidium-strontium dating, the accuracy is within 30-50 million years for a 3-billion-year-old sample.[4]

2. Reproductive isolation As Genesis describes creatures being created to reproduce "after their kind", we should find that different kinds of creatures cannot interbreed nor become a different kind of creature.
Although the exact boundaries of reproductive isolation are often not known, different types of creatures cannot interbreed, nor become different types of creatures. There are some very similar creatures that are classified as different species that can interbreed (lions and tigers, for example), but these are so similar that they could be of the same created kind and therefore don't invalidate this prediction. Additionally, genetics allows us to understand the mechanisms that enforce reproductive isolation.
Although there are known variations in living things, no creature has ever been observed giving birth to a different type of creature.
2. In the case of reproductive isolation, there is a simple explanation for Genesis being correct in noting that different types (it's more accurate to use the term species) of animals cannot interbreed. At a crude level, it's possible that an ancient scribe noticed that cows cannot breed with horses. That in itself does not require divine inspiration. The creationist notion of kinds is is a reference to baraminology, and adequately rebutted in the linked article. Evolutionary theory does not predict that speciation will occur within a single generation. This is a common creationist canard parodied in our Crocoduck article. Speciation occurs within groups, not individuals.

3. Similarity of living things God would provide a similarity among all living things in order to demonstrate that there was a single creator [5] and not multiple creators acting independently.[6][7]
All living things employ the same genetic code, DNA.
3. The idea that God would provide similarity between living things is ad hoc reasoning, and problematic when humans are considered. Genesis proclaims humans as having a special place in creation, with humans having been made in God's image. This does not have to mean that we physically resemble God, since it's difficult to imagine God requiring an anus.[8] The belief is we possess a spark of the divine. As established earlier, God can play free and easy with the laws of nature, so why did he provide his children with roughly the same sexual organs/waste disposal arrangement as the other primates? The point here is not that God would build us differently, more that speculation as to God's plan is just that; speculation! Creationism does not establish that God would use a template for all living things, us included. Evolution however does predict that life would appear just as we see it. The anus is not a perfect mechanism, but it seem beneficial to drop out waste so that it comes out the back (or bottom). This is likely why most animals with anuses find them located at the rear.

Predictions[edit]

In the mid 1980s, creationary physicist Dr. Russell Humphreys predicted that there should be evidence of rapid magnetic field reversals in solidified lava flows. A few years later, R. S. Coe and M. and Prévot found evidence of changes of magnetic direction occurring in a period of about two weeks.[9]Coe and Prévot did indeed find evidence of rapid changes in magnetic direction, but only in a very small sample size. Humphrey's claim that this is evidence of a 6,000 year old earth could become more interesting if there was actually evidence that these rapid shifts were the norm. Also, Humphrey's theory of rapid cooling (and subsequent deterioration of the Earth's magnetic field) is based on an empirical model that is falsified through modern observations.[10]

References[edit]

  1. For example, God miraculously allowed the Israelites to cross the Jordan River by means of an upstream landslide temporarily blocking the flow of the river.
  2. ScienceNews write-up on Lenski's work
  3. Wikipedia article on antibiotic resistanceWikipedia's W.svg and their article on viral evolutionWikipedia's W.svg
  4. Wikipedia article on radiometric datingWikipedia's W.svg
  5. or multiple creators working together: ReMine, Walter, Evidence for Message Theory, Journal of Creation 20(2):29-35, August 2006
  6. ReMine, Walter James, The Biotic Message
  7. Batten, Don, The Biotic Message: Evolution versus Message Theory, Journal of Creation 11(3):292–298, 1997
  8. Play as many games of "pull my finger" as you can while down here on Earth, since it's unlikely that anuses exist in Heaven.
  9. Snelling, Andrew A., Fossil magnetism reveals rapid reversals of the earth’s magnetic field Creation 13(3):46–50, June 1991.
  10. On Creation Science and the Alleged Decay of the Earth's Magnetic Field A discussion of Humphreys' claims.