The scientific community has been in a bit of an uproar over a British biologist named Michael Reiss who wrote an article a few days ago stating that he thinks biology teachers need to be willing to address the issue of creationism in their classes. Many evolutionary biologists were greatly dismayed at the prospect and are calling for him to be removed from the Royal Society, saying it was absurd for him to advocate teaching creationism alongside evolution.
The funny thing is that it’s not actually what he was saying. He considers creationism to be primarily a worldview issue, not a scientific one, and that no amount of scientific arguing is going to make a student budge on their worldview, because they’re on very different mental/emotional planes. He was simply asking for teachers to be willing for the students to discuss it in class and challenge evolution if they wanted to, and to try and help them learn the science despite their religious beliefs.
Now, this subject has a soft spot in my heart, because I studied creationism pretty avidly in my teens. I actually took a course on it in high school (ah, the perks of being schooled at home). My amateur opinion on the matter is that none of the evidence which is claimed to be pointing towards evolution is impossible to explain with a young-earth creationist model. I also think the theory of evolution has some significant holes in it, and that very few people would actually believe it if it wasn’t the only atheistic answer for the origins of the universe. I’m going to steal a quote Stuart Greaves said just the other day: “Doctors practice medicine, and scientists have theories, but God knows the facts.” There certainly isn’t any evidence that hopelessly destroys the idea of a lovingly (and recently!) created earth, and I’m going to take the Bible at its word for what it said happened. I’d rather be naively mistaken regarding the truth than cynically doubting it.
At any rate, as a young-earth creationist, I definitely agree with Reiss on one point. Creationism is not science.
I would, however, like to add to his point: Creationism is not science, but then again, neither is evolution.
The scientific method demands that the things it examines be able to be witnessed, tested, and repeated. When looking at the origins of the universe, we’re talking about unique events that took place at least thousands (young-earth creation) or at most billions (evolution) of years ago. Nobody but the Godhead was there to see it. There is no way to make it happen again, because 1) people are not powerful enough to create like God did, and 2) it’s impossible to “make” evolution happen, because by definition it must be directed by random chance and natural selection, not intelligent interference. Creationists cannot scientifically prove that six or seven thousand years ago, God said, “Let there be light.” Evolutionists cannot scientifically prove that some billions of years ago, a super-dense blob of matter said “KABOOM.” It is beyond the scope of human observation and testing, and hence, is not within the bounds of true science to determine.
All that anyone does when they look at this argument is consider the evidence and interpret it through a very thick lens of their own worldview. It becomes an issue of faith either way. If you have faith that God is real, you will interpret the evidence to point towards Him as the Author of creation. If you have faith that there is no such thing as God, or that if there is, He most certainly didn’t create the world, you will arrive at a theory which leans on random acts of nature to produce everything you see. Both stances are an issue of worldview, and in my opinion, neither should be presented in biology class as being scientifically verified. They should be presented as what they are — faith-based views of the origins of the earth. Either creationism should get the same loophole as evolution to be classified as science, or evolution should be judged as being just as exclusively faith-based speculation as creation is always ridiculed to be.
At one level, I’m a bit baffled by the violent reaction of biologists to Reiss’s article. If students are allowed to continue in their religious beliefs of the origin of the world, what is really at stake? It’s not as if our ideas of what did or did not happen billions of years ago are going to stint scientific progress today. Medicine, technology, and innovative inventions can still come forth even if some quirky group of people teach their children that the world came into existence when it hatched from an egg left by a gigantic Easter bunny. Nothing that is currently relevant to us would be affected. What is so important about being right about where it all started? Why is it enough to fire a man for merely suggesting that creationism be gently addressed as unscientific, as opposed to being openly ridiculed by the teacher, in science class?
At another level, this reaction is not so surprising. After all, the thing that’s so important is that if there is a Being who did what He said He did in Genesis 1-2, that validates Him as God. That validates His word as truth and therefore says a great deal about how we should live in response. If creationism is validated, then it greatly infringes upon the worldview of atheistic academia. The nations are raging against God, and secular scientists are already pioneering the way for people to rise up to cast off His cords (Ps 2). This is not just a matter of correct or incorrect theories. This is a matter of having to reckon with God.
P.S. Speaking of such things, Ben Stein’s documentary Expelled gives an interesting perspective on this heated argument. If you haven’t seen it, and enjoy looking at the study of origins, it might be interesting to you. It’s not so much of a proof of creation or a denial of evolution, but simply takes a look at the lopsidedness in the scientific community when considering “intelligent design” against the overwhelmingly popular darwinian theory of evolution.