Now Some Want CREATION Taught As SCIENTIFIC THEORY!
Sidney M Hegvold
IN THE UNITED STATES a major new confrontation between creationists and the scientific establishment has exploded in the press.
Two states have enacted controversial legislation on whether creation should be taught, together with evolution, as a scientific theory. This legislation requires that: "When creation or evolution is taught, each shall be taught as a theory, rather than as a proven scientific fact" (Science, 7 August, 1981, article, "Louisiana Puts God into Biology Lessons"). By the 1982-83 school year a bill called "The Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act" is expected to be in effect in Louisiana. A similar bill has already been approved by the legislature of Arkansas. It was signed into law by Governor Frank White. The constitutionality of the Arkansas bill has been successfully challenged in Federal Court by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The grounds? That creation-science is nothing more than religion masquerading as science. The creationists' drive is receiving national attention in the press and media. Similar bills are expected to be introduced in up to 20 state legislatures in the near future. A new draft of the "Balanced Treatment" bill attempts to eliminate any last vestige of religion — to avoid legal challenges in the courts. It will be known as the "Unbiased Presentation of Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Bill." This draft requires both creation and evolution to be treated as scientific theories. Careful attention is given to the wording of these bills to eliminate any words or phrases that even sound religious. Thus, "evidences that indicate creation of the universe, matter and energy suddenly" is used for creation rather than the traditional "from nothing." No reference is made to a worldwide Flood. The proponents of these bills hope in this way to avoid the constitutional conflict of separation of church and state. Most scientists would agree that the subject of origins, from an evolutionary point of view, is a legitimate scientific issue and ought to be discussed in the science classroom. Thus we read: "There are many legitimate scientific issues relating to origins and ends: What is the origin of the human species? Where did plants and animals come from? How did life arise? the earth, the planets, the sun, the stars? Does the universe have an origin, and if so, what? And finally a still more fundamental and exotic question, which many scientists would say is essentially untestable and therefore meaningless: Why are the laws of nature the way they are?" (Broca's Brain, Carl Sagan, page 285). Rightly or wrongly evolutionary models of origins are being taught in the science classrooms as science. The legal debate now going on is to determine whether or not a creation model of origins should also be taught in the science classrooms as science. Who determines what is and what is not science? The scientists! Science is not just an abstract set of laws and concepts. "Science is a way of thinking more than it is a body of knowledge" (Broca's Brain, Carl Sagan, page 13). And again, rightly or wrongly, that "way of thinking" by the vast majority of scientists who consider origins at all, is evolutionary. The question remains: Is the equal treatment of the two basic accounts as scientific theory good or bad? Christian fundamentalists have long been deeply disturbed by the way evolution has been taught to their children as dogma rather than theory. But will requiring that creation be taught as a theory on a par with evolution as a theory be any better? And what about the fact that creationists themselves are divided into several schools of thought as are evolutionists? How many theories are going to be taught? And by whom?
What Is Scientific Theory?
Just what is scientific theory anyway? All scientific theories are inventions of the creative imagination or insight of scientists. This does not mean that theories are evil. A theory is an essential and valid tool of the scientist. It provides a method for organizing otherwise unrelated information about our physical world and provides a convenient basis for making predictions.
The concept that scientists are completely unbiased and objective in their thinking is false. Most scientists try to be objective and unbiased but they — and theologians, too — are as human and subject to bias as anybody.
One important requirement for a good scientific theory, in the eyes of scientists, is that it should be vulnerable, i.e., it should have specifically stated consequences that can be tested with the possibility of being proved wrong. "Falsifiability" is the term used for this requirement by both evolutionists and creationists. In this sense neither evolution nor creation fall in the proper realm of science because origins cannot be scientifically tested. More than one theory can be derived from the same set of data. "Philosophers of science have repeatedly demonstrated that more than one theoretical construction can always be placed upon a given collection of data" (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas S. Kuhn, page 76). No set of facts, no matter how impressive they may be, can prove absolutely that one particular scientific theory is true — other scientific explanations are always possible! "Scientific theories, like social reforms, have to meet philosophic preconceptions in the minds of scientists and others" (Physical Science, Its Structure and Development, Edwin C. Kemble, page 101). The philosophic preconceptions accepted today by the majority of scientists is that no explanation for origins be allowed to include God or the supernatural." A scientific theory must therefore not contain any elements of metaphysics or mythology" (Worlds-Antiworlds, Hannes Alfven, page 3). The concept that scientists are completely unbiased and objective in their thinking is false. Most scientists try to be objective and unbiased but they — and theologians, too — are as human and subject to bias as anybody. As an example: "Less faith is required to believe in this explanation [evolution] for the origin of life than in the more subjective explanations" (Earth, Moon and Planets, Fred L. Whipple, page 240. Italics ours). What did author Whipple mean? Less faith is required for him to believe in spontaneous generation of life than for what to him is a more subjective explanation — God as life-giver. Finally, scientific theories, which are temporary and limited in scope, cannot be regarded as correct descriptions of ultimate reality or final truth. Scientists do not claim to be in search of absolute final truth. As a matter of fact, they do not believe absolute final truth can be found. Science teachers should be teaching their students these well-established essentials of scientific theory. But do they? All too often the old, discarded scientific theories of the past are treated as if they were myths and that now scientists have become more objective and employ the so-called scientific method in a sure march toward truth. James Conant makes this pointed statement concerning the alleged scientific method: "There is no such thing as the scientific method. If there were, surely an examination of the history of physics, chemistry and biology would reveal it" (Science and Common Sense, James Conant, page 45). The Ptolemaic Theory of astronomy served the ancient world quite well as a guide to navigation, planting seasons, etc., for more than 1,000 years and only became outmoded when more detailed and accurate measurements became available. Even then, it took a long time for the theories of Copernicus and Kepler to displace it because of the philosophic preconceptions held by scientists, civic and religious leaders at that time. All theories past and present, either have been altered, are being altered or have been displaced by newer (and usually) more accurate theories. Every student of science should be taught this most important and fundamental principle about scientific theory. "Looking back from the mid-twentieth century over the wreckage of once-valuable scientific theories that are no longer adequate expressions of our advancing knowledge, the scientist can hardly avoid questioning the permanence of any scientific theory. Clearly, a theory whose value is temporary, or one of limited scope, cannot be regarded as a correct description of reality, or final truth" (Physical Science, Its Structure and Development, Edwin C. Kemble, page 98). Since scientific theories are continually changing and cannot provide absolute final truth, should creation be considered and treated as just another scientific THEORY?
Creation — Bible View
When God describes himself as Creator, no alternate construction is possible — just the one! "I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded" (Isa. 45:12). Then in verse 7 this Creator God states: "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things." There is no allowance for any other theoretical construction from those strong statements: just one — God IS THE CREATOR. Scientific theories are the creative inventions of the imagination of men. Could God's creation even be considered a "scientific theory" in the light of this strong statement, for example, in Isaiah 55:8-9, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts"? Those who propose theories of creation, whether they be creationists or theistic evolutionists, are chided by God, "Who bath ascended up into the heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who bath bound the waters in a garment? who bath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?" (Prov. 30:4) Even Job, who was an accomplished engineer and scientist of his day, was told that he could not understand God's methods because he was not present at the time. "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare if thou hast understanding.... Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great?" (Job 38:4, 21) The physical creation surely proves to the reflective mind God's existence (see Romans 1), but that does not prove how God made it. No human can understand the method by which the environment came into being because no human was present at that time. This is why it is necessary for scientists, whether they are evolutionists or creationists, in proposing scientific theories of origins, to assume the principle of uniformitarianism to
Because evolutionary scientists insist on treating their theories as dogma should not cause those who understand the revealed knowledge of creation to treat creation as a mere scientific theory.
make their imaginative excursions into the past. God even tells us that this kind of research into origins is destined to be fruitless no matter how intelligent or wise the researcher: "... he bath set the world in their heart, [yet] so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end" (Eccl. 3:11). And, "Then I beheld all the work of God... that is done under the sun: because though a man labor to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it" (Eccl. 8:11). Obviously this is part of the "secret things" that were not going to become part of the fund of man's physical knowledge: "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deut. 29:29).
Theories Change — God Does Not!
Scientific theories are always changing as new evidence dictates — or they should, at least. Any scientific theory of creation — as distinct from theories of spontaneous generation — would then be subject to the same possibility of change. But God says in Malachi 3:6, "For I am the Lord, I change not...." and in Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever." No possibility of change there. So then can creation be considered a scientific theory (as distinct from scientific)? Clearly it cannot! Creation must require a Creator and the only possible Creator is the God who has revealed himself in the Bible. He changes not — "... with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (Jas. 1:17). Clearly scientific theory and creation belong in completely different disciplines. The subject of origins and the how of creation belong properly to the discipline of theology; evolution belongs to the discipline of scientific theory. Evolution, of course, is not scientific but it has gained acceptance as such. Rather it is a philosophy that has acquired the dogmatism usually associated only with religion. Because evolutionary scientists insist on treating their theories as dogma should not cause those who understand the revealed knowledge of creation to treat creation as a mere scientific theory. It is a tragedy that evolutionary scientists have gotten the foothold they have in today's education system. But it would be a greater tragedy if now, to counteract that, creationists should be given an equal foothold to treat their personal ideas of creation as a nonreligious scientific theory! Much as it galls some to admit it, it is nevertheless true, as Moses summarized it, that "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deut. 29:29).
Sidney M. Hegvold is a physicist and faculty member of Ambassador College, Pasadena, California.