In defense of creationism(ish)

Knowledge is necessarily limited as to its truth values. The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain. Can anything other than a mathematical equation be proven false with 100% conviction?

The empirical-inductive scientific method produces theories which may hold to be “true” for a certain amount of time, but eventually a case crops up which contradicts the paradigm.

Science cannot hope to explain the totality of existence and its governing principles, most theories which attempt to explain metaphysical or theological questions (like the origin of the universe) are then inherently flawed. The resulting theories (big bang) are simply creation myths for Atheists.

So then you have to grant the creationists their (however far-fetched) view, because it cannot be proved to be false, and is in fact mocking the highly speculative nature of crud-science by emulating it. The problem would be resolved by science admitting it is powerless to solve the big questions, leaving them instead to rational philosophers and theologians.

Thank you and good night.

can you prove that?

Anyway, I think there’s an enormous and significant difference between saying “we don’t have any firm theories on the origin of the universe at present, but we’re working on it” and “the vast amount of amassed research into the fossil record, genetics, geology and the evidence thus gathered has fostered the wrong conclusions because we have decided it is so, or because I can pick fault with one tiny piece of it that I don’t fully understand”.

Creationism isn’t a viewpoint, it’s an anti-viewpoint.

This troubles me too; isn’t this just saying “Don’t ask, because you might not like the answer”

You’ll notice I never mentioned evolution because I beleive it is as near as dammit to being certain.

The point I was making is that many scientific theories are highly speculative and their proofs and “evidence” unconvincing. Just like certain religious theories (although they tend to be extremely unconvincing to the rational person).

Science, religion, its all the same to me. :wink:

Oh and:

Yes: we can’t be certain that the statement is true, therefore it is true. Just don’t bring Goedel into it please :slight_smile:

Reasonable Doubt. That’s important. Maybe it is impossible to say with absolute certainty that one thing is this way or is that way, but you can say “this thing is more probable than that thing”. For instance; we can observe the big bang: its still echoing around the universe. “Creation myths for athiests”. Hum. I’m not an athiest, I believe in God. But I also believe in the big bang. I say that you don’t need to justify God. It’s enough to believe in him. The big bang happened, thats fine.

“The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain”. That is A) glib and B) a contradiction in terms. (Thanks to Douglas Adams there). Good scientists arent the ones who say “Well, its not certain that this ball will fall down to the ground because there could be a quantumn fluctuation which could resort in the mass( theres no such thing as mass by the way) of the ball being repuled by the…blah blah etc etc”. A good scientist would just say : “Yes, its obvious that the ball will fall down.”

If we’re going to just sit around dreaming, then fine, nothing is certain. If we’re actually going to do something, then ia lot of things are certain.

“Science cannot hope to explain the totality of existence and its governing principles”. Well, gosh. THATS a surprise. We can just work up our knowledge. As a scientist-in-training, i’m always perplexed by the number of people who seem to think that science is trying to disprove God. Its just a matter of understanding.

Not evolution, which has just about the most convincing, massive body of evidence ever assembled by science. People can reasonably quibble about the precise details, but the broad conclusions are inescapable and unassailable.

Besides, what you’re really saying is that we can’t “know” anything. Deconstructionism is so 1980s, dude.

In any case, as I said, creationism adopts an unique methodology; taking biased pot-shots at ‘the opposition’ when they don’t agree; creationists (by which I mean ICR et al), although they present their views as ‘science’ don’t do any of their own research, they just try to pick fault with anything that doesn’t tie in with their rigid worldview.

Exactly backwards. It is completely and easily possible to diffinitively prove something is false. Proving something is true for ever and ever amen is the difficult part.

For example, if you claim, “all trees are green.” All I have to do is find one tree that is not green and you are proven false. To prove you were right, you would need to look at every tree that ever was or will be. Not gonna happen.

So, many statements can be proven false with one observation.

This is exactly how scientific theories get better. Once a theory is out, every scientist in the field spends their career looking for the exception. The ones that find that exception are the famous ones. They are the ones that help new/better theories come to life.

Uh, this is pure rectal dialog here.

Big Bang/inflation theory is on very solid observational AND mathmatical/theoretical ground. The universe is examined today, and then we “roll the clock back” and a big bang or something quite similar clearly seem to be the result.

What is unclear today is what happened to start it. Got to admit, we are guessing at that one. That it happened is much more than a myth. There is very strong evidence for that.

Clearly, you need a good education in the way that science as an enterprise works.

In science, there have been MANY wrong theories. The difference between science and other ventures is that science looks for evidence that falsifies theories. That is one of the LARGEST activities in science. An idea that has survived a couple decades of litterally 1000’s of very bright people spending their lifes trying to find an exception to it become pretty close to certainty.

If your idea of creationism maintains that the earth was created with all the creatures on as it is (more or less) today, roughly 6000 years ago, you are wrong.

The earth and the universe are unambigously much older.

That single fact can prove “young earth creationism” false with 100% certainty.

You didn’t mention what form of creationism you were upholding, but please, bring it forward.

I am sure we can find that single piece of information that will require your brand of creationism to be either:

  1. Adjusted, modified, etc.
  2. Abandoned as unworkable.

Creationists have entirely the wrong view about science usually. This is extremely important. Science is not any more critical of your ideas than it is of its own! In science when someone claims to have the truth on some idea, people try to find an exception. When they do, it is back to the drawing board. That is just the way it works. If creationists put forward an idea, and then facts are brought to light that run counter, creationists need to go back to the drawing board and adjust the theory… And that is exactly where the breakdown usually occurs.

On the other hand, there is specific evidence for the big bang theory; it really isn’t just a “creation myth for atheists”. Look here for an explanation of some of it.

While we can’t know anything absolutely because of science, it can make some damn good predictions, and that’s what distinguishes it from creation science.

You’ll have to excuse me, i’m not at all as intelligent as some of you priviledged “educated types” who have degrees and stuff.

What I really meant of course was: can anything other than a mathematical equation ever be proven true with 100% conviction?.

Certainly the big bang theory may have a compelling body of evidence for the privilidged few who have access to it and are able to understand it. However, to all intents and purposes, it is exactly the same as saying “the universe came out of a giant egg”. The origin of the universe can never be explained because we can never explain what came before in scientific terms.

You dig scotth?

  1. The body of evidence is freely available to ANYONE that is interested. In fact great effort has been made by many people to make it as accessible as possible to the lay person.
  2. Just because a particular person cannot understand it does not alter the validity one iota.
  3. For all intents and purposes it is nothing like saying “the universe came out of a giant egg”. If there was evidence of an “egg”, it would be in the theory. period. The theory says exactly what it says.
  4. There is absolutely no basis for saying it can never be explained. A theory could come out this afternoon that explains it all. It probably won’t, but… It is very hard to predict what might come out an integrated theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. That could wind up explaining it all.

And, for the record… I don’t have a degree. I am just interested. I have spent several 1000 hours of my own personal time reading and learning.

If you are really interested in being able to compare creationism to science, spend some time learning science.

I would start with just the history of science.

  1. It is extremely interesting
  2. If you stop around 1900, it stays fairly easy til then.
  3. When you see how the enterprise works “as an enterprise” you will have much more faith in the system.

For example, during the first half of the 20th century, scientist thought the universe was static. (i.e. it was always the size it is today). They had no reason to think anything else. Astronomical observations made it clear this was wrong. Oops, back to the drawing board. Many people will interpret this as a weekness, but in fact, it is the greatest strength of science.

Science does not have an agenda. It doesn’t care which theory is right. There is no vested interest.

Someone didn’t just hatch the idea of the big bang and then go look for evidence to prove it true. The evidence came first. The big bang theory came along to explain the evidence. Then, it is back to the evidence to confirm or rule out the theory.

One more thing.

The difference between current science theories and every version of creationism I have heard is exactly this.

  1. Current science theories are current because there has been no evidence uncovered to rule them out (yet).
  2. Creationism (at least every version that I have heard) has been presented with solid evidence that it is false. It only takes one well established fact that doesn’t fit and then adjustments MUST be made.

That makes scientific theories much more likely. Even a very small chance of being correct forever is much greater than a zero chance.

What I have seen the creationism camp primarily do is argue with the facts. Unfortunately, the arguements generally reveal the person making the arguement does not understand the fact. The second law of thermodynamics arguement against evolution is a case in point. Actually, it isn’t a great case in point, as it is actually a misunderstood idea be wielded against evolution, not for creationism… but, you get the idea.

OK, I generally agree with you, but 100% certainty is too strong for my taste. Like it or not, there is the extremely unlikely possibility of Divine Weasel “last Tuesdayism”. Even if by Occam’s Razor we guestimate that the odds are 10[sup]100[/sup] to one against such a possibility, there is still the possibility of being wrong.

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt will have to be enough. (mad props to kingtrw…)

No, it is not “exactly” the same. Anyone who cares to take the time to educate him or herself can understand to a greater depth, potentially even advancing or discrediting the current theory. If you start with an egg and nothing but the appeal to authority, there’s virtually nowhere else to go–further argument expanding upon the dogma. To the outside observer, it may appear the scientific community is dogmatic in a similar fashion; indeed, certain people will become unreasonable in defense of their position given any field of endeavor. But the fundamental nature of science is to rely on reason rather than faith.

To say that we can “never” say what came before the Big Bang in scientific terms speaks toward what seems to be a prejudical view of the whole process. By what logical argument can we never know that answer with even some degree of certainty? It’s improbable we’d ever be able to prove any pre-Bang theory in your semantics, but it doesn’t mean we’d be wrong.

A few observations:

  1. Science is self-correcting. Creationists love pointing out the bonehead stunts that have come out of science, such as Piltdown man or cold fusion, but these examples prove that science is a method and not a belief system because they were both thoroughly and decisively debunked. There has never been, nor will there ever be, an instance of one creationist correcting the mistakes of another.

  2. Not understanding or misunderstanding the science underlying a theory is not evidence against that theory.

  3. Since the dawn of the scientific method, the realm of what can be attributed to god has steadily decreased, while the realm of what can be can be attributed to science has steadily increased, so I would be wary of saying “we can never explain what came before in scientific terms.”

  4. “Giant egg?” In fact, the universe could well have come out of nothingness. The positive energy in the universe (mass) is exactly and perfectly balanced by the negative energy in the universe (gravity), so the universe could have arisen out of zero energy input (I would like to note that this idea stopped Einstein dead in his tracks in the middle of a busy street, or so the story goes). So what caused it to arise? God maybe, but see number 3 above.

  5. Where does it say that God could not be the engine behind evolution and natural selection (but, again, see number three above)?

  6. As a Christian, I find that an ancient universe driven by natural laws is much more awe inspiring and faith enhancing than the sterile, static universe of creationists, and I resent their implication that God is too shallow and superficial to have created the universe as it is seen by science.

Correction: The second quote in my last post was from papertiger… Carry on.

Ahh… BUT…
Have you heard any Big Bang cosmologist make any authoritative declaration about what “came before”? Their field of research and theory does not have to do with “what came before”. Their equations come out with the entire universe starting as a single point. And the theories and observations and equations are all about what happens starting then, from the first hundreth trillionth of a milisecond onward. They will clearly label any speculation or thought exercises on “what came before” as just that.

Not knowing what was before Absolute Time = 0 does NOT render BB cosmology “mythological”. Uncertainty as to abiogenesis does not render evolutionary theory “mythological”. I did mention this in another thread: that a scientific theory reaches a point at which the honest scientist says: “beyond this, right now it can give no further answers” does NOT demote the theory.
Besides, in ANY case: “Creationism”, as we know the standard usage of the term, would NOT be satisfied with a position that until new evidence is found we’ll assume that at timespace coordinate 0,0,0,0 something we’ll call God for lack of a better term said “let there be a universe” and then sat back to observe what happened, ocassionally yelling out some pointers from the sidelines at the apes. The OP is not even a defense of creationism as the vast majority of its followers understand it.
(Oh, and as for “creation myths for atheists”, at least one major World Religion has recognized evolutionary theory as the explanation for the development of physical life on Earth)
(Oh, and insinuating that this is an issue of intellectual elitists looking down on laymen is so weak)

Although, as some have already said, you have to be careful about saying “never” about such things, I tend to suspect you’re right about “before the BB”.

Although never “proven” in a strict sense, scientific ideas can be described as either
-Well established
-good evidence for

For example, evolution: well established. Big Bang: good evidence. Theories about “before the BB”: (wildly) speculative.

The difference between a scientific idea and a religious idea, though, is whether the idea can be subjected to some test. Even the “before the BB” theories make some predictions which may some day be tested. As for the Big Egg Theory: ???

Also: anyone with a modicum of intelligence and interest can learn about such things, it doesn’t take special “privilege”. And all the data taken by government researchers is publicly available: you don’t need to build your own Hubble. Contact NASA for details, or look in any university library for published results.

Well, it shouldn’t be.

Religion, or at least most of the world’s religions, demand a certain amount of faith among their adherents.

Science doesn’t demand faith. A scientist that comes forward and says that there is microscopic life on Jupiter, but then tells his colleagues that he doesn’t have any evidence or proof for his statement, and that they should take it on faith…well, that scientist shouldn’t expect to be taken seriously at all.

Calling evolution a “religion” is a woeful misapplication of the term to a scientific theory. Dismissing evolution as “just a theory” reveals the lack of ignorance of what the term “theory” means in science.

“Scientific creationism” is an oxymoron, a self-contradicting phrase, a half-assed attempt at a compromise between science and religion. But science can’t be compromised. It simply is. No compromise will change the evidence, merely a person’s perception of that evidence. The creationists, who are almost always fundamentalist Christians, have deified their interpretation of the Bible, and expect all to worship at their altar and subscribe to their particular beliefs. Because they insist on a literal interpretation of the Bible, they are forced to disregard many of the concepts of major fields such as biology, geology, and astronomy. They would rather live in a world of blind faith rather than reason. It is not a world I want to live in. But it is their choice, and yours to make as well.

Choose wisely.

Is that a hint of jealousy? :rolleyes:
I don’t have a degree, and I’m certainly not privileged (though I know how to spell it).

But I know the difference between the scientific method providing a theory, and a religious belief with no supporting evidence.

My understanding of mathematics is that you start with some principles. Then you derive everything else from them. So a mathematical equation isn’t ‘proven true’ in the real world - it just follows logically from what you started with.

So I guess the answer is that nothing can ever be proven 100% true.
But note how the scientific method manages a huge amount of successful predictions (unlike any religion).
As I sit here in the UK, typing on a keyboard, I have confidence that my words of wisdom will travel down a phone cable, be sorted to an American website and read by you.
You might say I have 100% confidence that this will work.