| The divine comedy|
|—Whitcomb and Morris, preface to The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications (1961)|
Creation "science" is the pseudoscientific pretense of making a scientific description of the Genesis creation myth, in the mistaken idea that faith in these concepts is, somehow, not enough for a believer.
Creation science tends to focus on two areas: creationism itself and denigrating existing science, either specifics such as with evolution or more generally as a method. In this way fundamentalists attempt to
create foster the illusion that science is entirely a faith-based system, to show that their faith-based system (whatever this particular system preaches) is just as valid as actual science. The major problem of this, however, is that it is bollocks.
Science, while having many definitions and nuances, is fundamentally the application of observation to produce explanation, iteratively working to produce further predictions, observations and explanations. On the other hand, creationism begins with the assertion that a particular interpretation of the biblical[note 1] account is literally true and tries to shoehorn observations into it. The two methods are fundamentally incompatible. In short, "creation science" is an oxymoron.
Contrast to science
It is entirely possible for the statement "the world was created in a quasi-magical event 6000 years ago" to be tested by science - that is, by observation. One simply asks what we would expect to see if it was true, and look for it. Unfortunately for creationists, this question has pretty much been solved, so they have to invent a new method to make it true. So, the statement "the world was created in a quasi-magical event 6000 years ago", and its ramifications, is used by creationists in a very different way from science.
One of the pillars of the scientific method is that scientific theories should be falsifiable. This property is attributed in the modern era to Karl Popper, but isn't unique to him and goes back further, and states that in science there has to be some potential observation that would show a theory to be wrong. This is simply because if there were no way to disprove an idea, it could always be said to be true no matter what, which not only isn't very interesting but doesn't present a pathway for our knowledge to grow. Various parables have been made to explain what falsifiability is, including Russell's Teapot and Carl Sagan's The Dragon in My Garage.
Unfortunately, this reasoning is counter-intuitive to some and may be the reason that creation science doesn't work well with the concept of falsifiability. The thinking seems to be that if you define something to be correct regardless of evidence, then you must also be correct regardless of evidence. Hopefully, no one will need to read any Karl Popper or Bertrand Russell to realise that you can't define something into existence.
Creation science falls at this hurdle, as there is no known way to falsify a creation event the way they use it. Unless creationists impose limits on their chosen creator, which they are naturally loath to do, there is no way to really falsify a creation event. For a creator can choose to create whatever they will, in whatever manner they will, so any possible scenario could be "explained" by a creation event. Goalposts may be moved, or the position can resemble Last Thursdayism, but nothing will change a creationist's mind about their subject matter. So, in being able to answer every question, "creation science" in effect answers none of them. Floating axe heads, burning bushes, people being raised from the dead, talking snakes, etc. are all capable of being explained by a supernatural creator, so there is nothing left to test (falsify) the idea, meaning that it can never be confirmed either, and nothing about it can be used to generate follow-on scientific ideas, which means that scientifically, you can't do anything with "creation science".
One of the main problems that creation science has is that it often fails to include all available data. As seen in creationist debating tactics such as the Gish Gallop, the idea is that if one point in a thousand holds (or, at least, isn't responded to instantaneously) the entire idea must be false, and yours must be true by default. And so, you can ignore radiocarbon dating because occasionally it's unreliable due to contamination - and you can also ignore potassium/argon dating because C-14 has a maximum dating time. Or that the Grand Canyon is evidence of a global flood - but the lack of a Grand Canyon in the Sahara desert is either inconsequential or also evidence of a global flood.
Creation 'science' only attempts to prove the idea by whatever evidence it can find - even if the evidence doesn't actually support it - and ignores or excuses any evidence against it. Real science doesn't make excuses for evidence, or lack thereof (though it will explain why bogus arguments against it aren't valid).
Scientific study starts by examining evidence and drawing conclusions from the evidence. Creationism starts with a Bible-based conclusion (or interpretation) and attempts to look for evidence to support the conclusion. This much is clear, and it's also admitted to by many creationists. As Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis (AiG), put it: "By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record." The thing is, they don't see this as a problem - they view the problem as entirely the responsibility of science, for failing to endorse presuppositionalism among many other logical fallacies and methodological flaws that plague creationism as "science".
Circular logic is also an error that creationists admit to. Circular logic starts with a foregone conclusion, and derives from it exactly the same conclusion - we don't learn anything, so it's pointless and doesn't provide supporting evidence. Yet, responding to the criticism of circularity, Darius and Karin Viet of AiG said, "The common accusation that the presuppositionalist uses circular reasoning is actually true. [...] Yet if used properly, this use of circular reasoning is not arbitrary and, therefore, not fallacious." which is, in short, the opposite of true.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the entire point of science, the entire methodology for learning about the world through observation, requires us to hold ideas up against reality to see where they break and fail to produce accurate predictions. Creationists refuse to do this, and even admit to it, so the mantle of "creation science" is very much a misnomer. The "science" tag, therefore, has nothing to do with these people performing real science according to the methods laid out by rational/skeptical empiricism, and everything to do with them adopting and then denigrating the term "science" for their own ends: to produce the illusion that their thinking is just as valid as actual science.
According to Young Earth Creationism the Earth and all animals were created during Creation Week. The animals were created in non-evolving kinds the study of which is called Baraminology. (However in order to reduce the vast numbers of animals that would have been required to be in the Ark, many YECs have proposed hyper-evolution of these baramins following the Flood.) In an effort to further their cause, YECs have built a Creation Museum.
Geology, and other things that aren't in the Bible
Creation science acknowledges some decidedly non-biblical aspects of prehistory which have been proven during the modern period by geological, archaeological and paleontological evidence, such as ice ages, plate tectonics, and the existence of dinosaurs. In creationist chronologies, these are fitted incongruously around the events described in Genesis: for example, some branches of creation geophysics postulate that continental drift was a catastrophic event associated with the biblical flood.
To a young earth creationist, a creation "scientist" is any degree-holding person who—no matter in what field, discipline or even whether they do any research, experimentation or propose any hypotheses—believes the Genesis account to be the literal truth (e.g. the Creation Ministries International "list of scientists alive today who accept the biblical account of creation").
Many of the world's foremost pioneers in scientific fields such as Sir Isaac Newton and Johannes Kepler are thus considered creation scientists by young earth creationists because they did not believe in evolution or the Big Bang Theory and held to special creation—never mind that neither theory had arisen yet.
This ignores the fact that these scientists had none of the knowledge we have today regarding modern science, leading one to wonder if they would have been (or remained) creationists if they were alive today. Also, as an analogy, scientists back then knew nothing about germ theory and even supported miasma as a cause for disease; does this make germ theory dubious or false? And (just hypothetically, of course), would you be willing to expose yourself to smallpox viruses to show that germ theory isn't true?
As it has proved almost impossible for creationists to get creationism taught officially[note 2] in public schools in the US, the Discovery Institute came up with another pseudoscience — Intelligent Design. Intelligent design is effectively creationism with a thin veil of neutrality and a thick coating of vagueness and pseudoscience. It does not name a designer or promote a specific creation myth (
specifically one example being the Genesis account), although adherents of ID typically believe in the Judeo-Christian God and are generally quite vocal that ID is another term for YEC when they think no one else is listening. It attempts to give scientific evidence for "design" of the universe, yet falls into the same trap as creation "science" by not following the scientific method and being based on religious ideas.
Intelligent Design doesn't explain the origin of the universe any better than scientific theories. According to Intelligent Design, the universe is too complex to have formed on its own, so an even more complex "God" must have created the universe. So where did that God come from, if it's even more complex than the universe? If one can believe that God created itself or always existed, and that the universe is even less complex than God, then one should also be able to believe that the universe could have created itself or always existed. Even if Intelligent Design were true, it still would be useless for any scientist. It explains the origin of the universe by saying something like "the Big Bang happened but there's also this omnipotent being or an uncaused cause"; it doesn't actually explain anything not already explained by scientific theories. All it does is introduce unnecessary complications to those theories.
In other words, scientifically speaking, the problem with ID isn't that it's a religious idea; the problem is that you can't do anything with it. It doesn't give you the basis for further inquiry and discovery.
In a nutshell
- Some other religions promote creationism, but primarily it stems from fundamentalist Christianity in the US. Islam, for instance, often preaches against evolution, but very rarely for special creation 6000 years ago - and the creation/evolution controversy is practically unheard of in Hinduism. The reason we say a particular interpretation of the account is that books 1 and 2 of Genesis conflict and Creation Science picks from one or the other as it sees fit.
- Of course, plenty of nutball creationists manage to teach it in class in defiance of the law, and it's very hard to stop this sort of shenanigans.
- The Genesis Flood: The Biblical Record and Its Scientific Implications by John C. Whitcomb Jr. & Henry M. Morris (1961) Presbyterian & Pub. Co. ISBN 0825433266.
- The Emperor Has No Clothes, Naturalism and The Theory of Evolution One author claims that scientists refuse to admit that evolution and natural selection are wrong in the same way that the characters in Andersen's famous story refused to admit that the emperor was naked.
- AiG - Statement of Faith