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Humanism vs. Christianity
The Polarization of America

by Patrick Vosse

Chapter 3

Creationism is Poor Science

Humanism vs. Christianity
The Polarization of America

by Patrick Vosse

Part One
Evolutionism vs. Creationism

Chapter 3 - Creationism is Poor Science

The concern among Creationists is that Evolutionism tends to be atheistic and teaching evolution in schools can prejudice children against a theistic perspective. As discussed in the previous chapter, efforts to require creation to be taught in lieu of, or at least along with, evolution have been struck down by the courts. Intelligent Design proposes an approach to creation that purports to be scientific and an acceptable alternative to evolution. To meet the court requirements for any form of creation to be included in the school curriculum, it must be a secular form of science. Since ID "Intelligent design" is the only Creationist position that approaches a scientific explanation of creation, we will test it against the standards established by the scientific community.

Within the Humanist "Secular-Progressive" element of our society, there is the common opinion that Christians are ignorant, unreasoning, and superstitious. There is a type of elitism among the liberals that separates society into the educated, secular liberal "enlightened" and the ignorant, superstitious "irrational" (and usually Christian). This is partly due to the argument about Creationism, but not entirely, as we will discuss later. They point out that, whereas Evolutionism is supported by scientific observations and good hard science, Creationism is only supported by myth and "pseudo-science." Before we can discuss the relationship of creation to science, it is necessary to describe the basis of scientific thought, the scientific method.

The Scientific Method

The scientific method has been used by scientists for over 200 years. It is directly responsible for the technological and scientific advancement we enjoy today. It is the foundation of science and all scientists adhere to its rules or risk sanction from their peers. The scientific method is a process by which one moves from observation of the physical world to verifiable explanations about how and why those observations happen. The scientific method consists of seven steps. Each step must be taken, and taken in order–no short cuts allowed.

Step 1: Observations

The scientist observes objects or phenomena in nature and notices a pattern or interesting organizational structure. It is the mark of a good scientist to be observant and curious. It is also necessary to be able to recognize patterns and relationships that may have a common cause. A constant danger is bias in the observations. Preconceived ideas can move the scientist to make incomplete observations that favor his initial concept.

Step 2: Form a Question

The observations raise questions about the phenomena:  "How?" "Why?" However, this is not and easy step. The question must be asked with a specific focus directed at the basic cause of the observation. Ask the wrong question and you may go down the wrong path and come to the wrong conclusion. For instance, you observe that the stars, moon, and sun move relative to your position on earth. From this observation, you can formulate several questions: Why do the heavenly bodies move about the earth? Which is moving, the earth or the heavenly bodies? What causes the celestial motion? Why is the earth stationary and the heavenly bodies move about it? Which is moving, the heavenly bodies, the earth, or both? Often the question selected is based on previous experience and cultural prejudice and the scientist must be very careful not to let preconceived ideas guide him down the wrong path.

Step 3: Form a Hypothesis

Once a question is formed, the natural next step is to answer it. Sometimes a single answer becomes obvious but often there is more than one possibility. The scientist draws upon his training and advice from colleagues to form a possible, most likely, explanation to the question. This is the hypothesis. The hypothesis may be true or not. It may be the correct answer to the question or not. It may be the complete answer or not. It is a proposed explanation.

Step 4: Test the Hypothesis

The next step is to determine if the hypothesis is 1) a correct explanation and 2) the only explanation. To do this the scientist designs an experiment to test the hypothesis. It is also appropriate at this stage to determine if the hypothesis if falsifiable and propose an experiment to determine if the hypothesis is wrong. All hypotheses, to be considered within the process of the scientific method, must be falsifiable. There must be a way of showing that it is false, if indeed it is false. If there is no way to prove a hypothesis false, it cannot be considered within the scientific method process.

For example, I may form a hypothesis that "All swans are white." I may make a thousand observations that confirm that hypothesis because the only swans I see are white. However, it is possible that one day I will see a black swan and that would prove the hypothesis false. On the other hand, I may form a hypothesis that "there are beings from another dimension that cannot be sensed or known by humans." There is no way I can observe these beings to prove they exist. But more important, there is no way I can prove the hypothesis false either; therefore, it is not a subject that can be considered within the purview of science. This extremely important condition is vital when considering both Creationism and Evolutionism.

If, however, the hypothesis is falsifiable then the scientist will conduct an experiment to prove it true. It is beyond the scope of this book to discuss the details of how such an experiment is conducted, but the scientific community has specific requirements and procedures that must be followed if the experiment is to be considered valid.

Step 5: Analyze the Data

Once the experiment is completed and the results are collected, the next step is to determine what the data means. This is not always simple and sometime the data are not consistent. However, it is important to analyze the data correctly in order to determine if the experiment proves or disproves the hypothesis. Scientists often use statistics to analyze the data. Unless there is a clear and definable pattern in the data, the experiment is inconclusive. In that case, it must be repeated until data is obtained from which a conclusion can be made, or a new experiment must be designed. Often at this point, the original hypothesis is modified.

There is always a danger that the scientist has a preconceived ideas or bias about the hypothesis and will interpret the data in a way to fit his prejudice. That is why it is necessary to have a control that objectively evaluates his work.

Step 6: Publish the Results

Once the experiment is complete, data analyzed, and conclusions formed, the scientist must present his research for peer review. This is usually accomplished by publication in a professional or scientific journal of established reputation that is generally read by experts in the field under discussion.

Scientists are conservative, a characteristic necessary when exploring new areas of enquiry. Usually, when an article appears in a journal that proposes to prove a new hypothesis, the scientific community does not just accept the article as fact. The role of the scientist is to see if he can prove the hypothesis wrong. First, they analyze the premise for consistency with established theoretical principles and then they review the procedure for possible errors. Some scientists will try to duplicate the experiment and obtain same or conflicting data. Some scientists will try to prove the hypothesis wrong by exploring the falsifiable requirement of the scientific method. Only when the experiment and its resulting data are confirmed and the hypothesis meets the falsifiable criterion with the hypothesis is the hypothesis declared a theory.

Step 7: The Hypothesis is Established as a Theory

The terms hypothesis and theory are often interchanged but within the scientific method, they have distinct meanings. As discussed above, a hypothesis is an unproven concept. The hypothesis may be correct or it may not. However, if it is correct and the scientific community confirms that fact, eventually the hypothesis is generally accepted as a correct explanation for the observations that started the process and it is considered a theory.

The transition from hypothesis to theory does not happen immediately because, as mentioned above, scientists are a conservative group and some need more proof than others do. However, eventually, if the hypothesis is correct and provable, it will be accepted as a theory.

Let us consider three examples of applying the scientific method, one in which the hypothesis is true and the scientific method verified that it was true and two in which the hypothesis is false and the scientific method exposed the error.

When Albert Einstein published his hypotheses for General and Specific Relativity, it caused reverberations throughout the scientific community. His thinking was profound and revolutionary. It was once said that only three people in the world truly understood the physics and math and one of them was Einstein. When Einstein published his hypotheses, he included experiments that could confirm their correctness or prove them false. Over the years there have been numerous experiments conducted by hundreds of scientists – all confirming that Special and General Relativity as proposed by Einstein are correct. They proved that gravity does bend light and every nuclear reactor and nuclear bomb testifies that E=mc2 is true. However, many of the scientists were focused on showing that the hypotheses were false. A scientist might win the Nobel Prize if he could do so. However, they could not and the scientific community now accepts these hypotheses as theories. And Einstein’s theories have changed history.

Several years ago, researchers at the University of Utah developed a hypothesis regarding "cold fusion". Atomic "fusion" is the process by which atoms fuse together, as opposed to "fission" in which atoms split apart. Both processes produce enormous power (Einstein’s E=mc2) but "fusion" produces much more power using hydrogen instead of uranium and there is no radioactive waste. Fusion drives the sun and gives it, and all stars, so much energy. The problem is that, whereas fission is relatively easy to produce and control (fission is the process used in nuclear reactors), fusion required large amounts of energy to force atoms together and contain the reaction. The fusion energy is so great that fusion, i.e. "hydrogen," bombs are triggered by a fission, "atomic," bomb, to provide the initial energy to fuse the hydrogen atoms. Scientist have been working for decades to develop a fusion reactor but the enormous heat and energy plus the containment problems have so far prevented any practical success. When the University of Utah researchers claimed to have succeeded in producing cold fusion in the laboratory, a tsunami-like shock waves spread throughout not just the scientific community, but also all areas of society. If it were true, we would have cheap, renewable, non-polluting, and unrestricted supply of energy. We could end poverty and a new age of prosperity throughout the world would be realized. After the initial shock, the scientific community proceeded to prove the hypothesis wrong and find errors in the experiment. The physics looked good, but the proof is in the testing. Unfortunately, much to the embarrassment of the Utah researchers, no one could reproduce the published experiment successfully and they found errors in the testing, design, and implementation.

The Bell Curve is a controversial, best-selling 1994 book by the Harvard psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein and American Enterprise Institute political scientist Charles Murray. The premise of the book was that intelligence is an accurate predictor of social and financial success. Their observations consisted of measuring IQ of individuals and comparing them to the subject achievements. One of the interesting and quit controversial conclusions they came to was that there is a racial, biological, difference between the IQ of the races and the Caucasian race was more intelligent than the dark-skinned races. This was supported by a large amount of statistical data that showed African-Americans had much lower score on their IQ tests. The observations could not be challenged; it was a fact. However, the observations were not complete. The statistics did not account for the fact that, when and where the study was conducted, African-Americans did not have access to a good education, had generally worse reading skills that their Caucasian counterparts were raised in difficult family situations, and so forth. The observations were also biased; there are poor Caucasian districts that give IQ results the same as African-Americans living in similar circumstances. The fact is environment can result in lower IQ, not just the other way around. Consider the successful dark-skinned achievers that have won Nobel prizes, are famous doctor, lawyers, engineers and…presidents. The study and its conclusions are now generally rejected as poor scholarship.

These examples show why good scientists are conservative and careful. They approach new hypotheses with the attitude, "I’m from Missouri, show me". Perhaps that is the most important part of the scientific method; it keeps everyone honest.

Testing Creationism

Now let us see how Creationism specifically Intelligent Design, meets the criteria of the scientific method.

Step 1, Observation

ID "Intelligent design" and evolution both make the same observations: The diversity of life ranging from simple to complex organisms, each fitting nicely into a specific ecological and chronological niche. There may be some disagreement on the fossil record in terms of timing, but the observations without interpretation are consistent with the scientific method.

Step 2, Form a Question

How did life come to be as we now observe it? How can we explain the organization of organisms from simple to complex in what appears to be a progressive development over time? These are the questions at the root of the argument and both the Evolutionist and the ID "Intelligent design" Creationist must answer them.

Step 3, Form a Hypothesis

It is here that Creationists diverge from Evolutionist. ID "Intelligent design" proposes that there are organisms such that random mutation and natural selection cannot account for their development; therefore, there must be an intelligence that guides the progressive development of organisms.

Is there a scientific experiment that can 1) prove there is a guiding intelligence and, 2) prove that intelligence guides the evolutionary process? If not, the enquiry cannot proceed. Also, remember the requirement that the hypothesis must be falsifiable. Is there a test that can prove that the Intelligent Design hypothesis is false? If not, the enquiry cannot proceed; the question is not within the purview of science. In fact, the ID "Intelligent design" hypothesis has not progressed beyond this step. One can argue that ID "Intelligent design"  is not, in fact a hypothesis at all but rather, not withstanding the "intelligent guide", merely a critique of the Evolution hypothesis.

Does this mean that ID "Intelligent design"  is wrong? No! It just means that it is not subject to investigation by the scientific method. It is not a valid hypothesis that can be tested and there is no test that can prove it false. And that it the problem with God "His glory is above earth and heaven" (Ps 148:13). God is not knowable through the limits of scientific enquiry. That is why he must be revealed to mankind and why revelation requires faith to accept. This is a concept the Humanist rejects completely.

The Backlash Effect

The proponents of evolution are quick to point out that Creationists have simply packaged faith-based creation theology in an untenable proposition that does not meet the criteria of the scientific method. They claim that, at best, Creationism is pseudoscience. The Evolutionist’s position, they claim, is based on reasoned investigation supported by credentialed scientists and philosophers–the educated and erudite–whereas the Christians who stubbornly cling to superstitious myths are ignorant and unreasonable and the best they can come up with in their ignorance is pseudoscientific nonsense. As Richard Dawkins (the "high priest of Atheism") puts it in The God Delusion, "Christians need to raise their consciousness".

The difficulty lies in the fact that liberal Humanists "Progressives" will judge Christians on the errors they make. The creation argument is not tenable scientifically and the attempt to make it so has given those opposed to religion an example of how Christians are "not reasonable". For them, if Christians are not reasonable in their arguments about science (which, for the Humanist, is demonstrable and the penultimate of being reasonable) then they must be unreasonable about everything.

The picture painted by the Humanist contingency is that Christians are troublemakers that oppose progress with irrational superstition, as evidenced by their obsession with creation versus evolution. The problem is that many who are not necessarily interested in the specific details of creation versus evolution hear the stereotype labels for Christians and, as a result, there is a sort of "immunity" against Christianity that develops within the secular society. This has the opposite effect of evangelizing and is counterproductive.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the conflict between Creationists and Evolutionists has cause polarity among Christians. Recently, there have been several incidents where college professors were fired from conservative Christian colleges because they supported a concept of theistic evolution. In one case, the professor was among the top Old Testament scholars in the world. The polarization within the Christian community over creation gives Humanist the fuel they need to advance their argument that Creationism is an arbitrary superstition.

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