Cre­ation­ism short on facts, says writer

The Compass - - OPINION -

Dear edi­tor,

The great de­bate fea­tur­ing cre­ation­ist ver­sus evo­lu­tion­ist fi­nally made a rather late ap­pear­ance in our small town, cour­tesy of the Pen­te­costal Assem­bly of Car­bon­ear. There was a re­hash of the same old “ev­i­dence” that to the “ be­liev­ers,” es­pe­cially the chil­dren in at­ten­dance, left no doubt that the earth is 6,000 years-old and that hu­mans and di­nosaurs co-ex­isted.

The slick but rather dis­jointed pre­sen­ta­tion which in­cluded com­puter graph­ics and an­i­ma­tions, fos­sils and what was claimed to be casts of fos­sils were pre­sented as con­clu­sive proof that Dar­win’s The­ory of Evo­lu­tion is false.

Who could dis­pute a cast of a fos­sil that showed a di­nosaur foot­print over­laid by a hu­man foot­print? I ap­proach ideas with a healthy skep­ti­cism, re­al­iz­ing that break­throughs in sci­ence of­ten come from rad­i­cal thinkers; how­ever, my mantra is that “ex­tra­or­di­nary claims re­quire ex­tra­or­di­nary proof.”

The space pro­vided for this let­ter would not al­low me to pro­vide counter ar­gu­ments to the premises that the earth is only 6,000 years-old; that di­nosaurs and hu­mans co-ex­isted; and that a great flood as pre­sented in the Bi­ble killed all life on earth ex­cept for those Noah took on the Ark.

For in­ter­ested par­ties. there is plenty of lit­er­a­ture based on em­pir­i­cal re­search found on the Web or at any book store. How­ever, I would sug­gest the fol­low­ing web­site where you will find a brief ar­ti­cle ti­tled “ 15 An­swers to Cre­ation­ist Non­sense.” http://www.swarth­ /cpurrin1/text­bookdis­claimers/wack­onon­sense.

The whole pre­sen­ta­tion was based on cre­ation­ism, which ar­gues that evo­lu­tion is only a the­ory and can­not be proven. As used in sci­ence, a the­ory is an ex­pla­na­tion or model based on ob­ser­va­tion, ex­per­i­ment, and rea­son­ing, es­pe­cially one that has been tested and con­firmed as a gen­eral prin­ci­ple help­ing to ex­plain and pre­dict phe­nom­ena.

Any sci­en­tific the­ory must be based on a care­ful and ra­tio­nal ex­am­i­na­tion of the facts. A clear dis­tinc­tion needs to be made be­tween facts ( things which can be ob­served and/or mea­sured) and the­o­ries (ex­pla­na­tions which cor­re­late and in­ter­pret the facts).

A fact is some­thing that is sup­ported by un­mis­tak­able ev­i­dence. For ex­am­ple, the Grand Canyon cuts through lay­ers of dif­fer­ent kinds of rocks, such as the Co­conino sand­stone, Her­mit shale, and Red­wall lime­stone. These rock lay­ers of­ten con­tain fos­sils that are found only in cer­tain lay­ers. These are the facts.

It is a fact that fos­sil skulls have been found — which are in­ter­me­di­ate in ap­pear­ance — be­tween hu­mans and mod­ern apes. It is a fact that fos­sils have been found which are in­ter­me­di­ate in ap­pear­ance be­tween di­nosaurs and birds.

Facts may be in­ter­preted in dif­fer­ent ways by dif­fer­ent in­di­vid­u­als, but that doesn’t change the facts them­selves.

The­o­ries may be good, bad, or in­dif­fer­ent. They may be well es­tab­lished by the fac­tual ev­i­dence, or they may lack cred­i­bil­ity. Be­fore a the­ory is given any cre­dence in the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity, it must be sub­jected to “peer re­view.” This means that the pro­posed the­ory must be pub­lished in a le­git­i­mate sci­en­tific jour­nal in or­der to pro­vide the op­por­tu­nity for other sci­en­tist to eval­u­ate the rel­e­vant fac­tual in­for­ma­tion and pub­lish their con­clu­sions.

Cre­ation­ist refuse to sub­ject their “ the­o­ries” to peer re­views, be­cause they know they don’t fit the facts. The cre­ation­ist mind­set is dis­torted by the con­cept of “good sci­ence” (cre­ation­ism) ver­sus “ bad sci­ence” (any­thing not in agree­ment with cre­ation­ism). Cre­ation­ism “sci­en­tists” are bib­li­cal fun­da­men­tal­ists who can­not ac­cept any­thing con­trary to their re­li­gious be­liefs.

As a for­mer ed­u­ca­tor and ra­tio­nal thinker, I fear the spread of this anti-sci­en­tific world view, which is so preva­lent among re­li­gious fun­da­men­tal­ist of all creeds, but es­pe­cially preva­lent in the re­li­gious fun­da­men­tal­ist move­ment in the United States. This move­ment en­dan­gers our chil­dren’s en­ti­tle­ment to an ed­u­ca­tion that is based on rea­son, not on bronze age mythol­ogy.

An ed­u­ca­tion that harkens back to the dark ages does not pre­pare our chil­dren for the fu­ture world.

All main­stream Chris­tian de­nom­i­na­tions now ac­cept evo­lu­tion­ary the­ory — al­beit with the be­lief that God started the process. Let us not per­mit the loud voice of the vo­cal fun­da­men­tal­ist mi­nor­ity to jeop­ar­dize our chil­dren’s rights to a qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion. Den­nis Gal­way


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