Wednesday, April 23, 2008
"Creationism" defended and "evolution" attacked
Here's a comment from email@example.com on my post on Darwin, creationism and evidence. Reminds me of Spencer Tracey towards the end of Inherit The Wind (the Tracey character puts to the blustering old creationist prosecutor that perhaps the "days" of the Bible lasted millions or billions of years). I am posting it here as it deserves special treatment, I feel. I'll respond further in next post...
Your article is interesting and makes some good points, but it is missing the larger picture.
Not all Bible literalists believe in a six thousand year old earth. A literal understanding of Genesis allows a time period of unspecified length between verse 1 and verse 3. This could have been billions of years. In other words, in verse 1 God created the earth. The earth could have become filled with life. At some point, the surface of the earth became covered with water as described in verse 2. Then starting in verse 3, God restored the earth to a condition of having life on it.
Those who believe in a 6,000 year old earth do not believe this because they literally believe the Bible. They believe it because they believe the religious traditions they grew up in.
A literal reading of the Bible fully allows for an earth billions of years old even with life forms that existed for hundreds of millions of years.
You are correct in saying that more is required for evidence to confirm a theory than that the theory be consistant with the evidence. So far, you have avoided the word "proof". Has science proved evolution has occurred? And if not, is it right to teach children in tax supported public schools in a country that prohibits government from hindering the free exercise of religion, that evolution is a fact if you are unable or unwilling to say you have proved that it happened?
You gave a definition of creationism that includes belief in a 6,000 year old earth, even tho not all creationists believe in a 6,000 year old earth. But that definition is convenient for you because the idea of a 6,000 year old earth is the easiest for you to try to refute. It is also the majority opinion among creationists who claim to believe the Bible literally, so that is no doubt another reason you define creationism that way.
I will also give a definition of evolution that I think expresses the majority thinking of evolutionists and the teaching of science in the public schools. Evolution is the teaching that life in all its variety arose on the earth only through natural causes. In other words, evolution as taught in the public schools does not allow for supernatural intervention by God in a process of new species descending from other species. If someone suggested that God intelligently and supernaturally made genetic changes over millions of years to produce new species descended from older ones, that is not "evolution". To prove evolution is how life came to be, you have to prove that there was no supernatural intervention or creation in the origins of species.
How can science do that if the scientific method does not allow for consideration of supernatural causes? You have to consider and examine the possibility of supernatural causes in order to rule them out. But science cannot even discuss the supernatural.
Many of those who believe in a literal reading of the Bible also see confirmation of the inspiration of the Bible in the predictive value of its prophecies, and these predictions and their fulfillment serve as evidence for the Bible just as scientific predictions about fossils suggest to scientists that more complex life forms appeared gradually on the earth.
Many thanks for this contribution. Here's a question to the author to kick things off:
My question: I take it the author has no objection to teachers in public tax-funded schools teaching children that species have evolved over millions of years and that natural selection has played a important role in that process, for of course that would not rule out supernatural intervention of the sort proposed by the author, and also by I.D. theorists such as Michael Behe?
Secondly, I'll make a point. The author says: "How can science do that if the scientific method does not allow for consideration of supernatural causes?"
Well, as I understand it, the scientific method, as such, does allow for consideration of supernatural causes. There could be a scientific investigation into the existence of ghosts or reincarnation, for example.