Curt Sewell is the author of God at Ground Zero
CREATION BITS No 21.
The “Principles of Science”
|Author: Curt Sewell
Subject: Creation Overviews
CREATION BITS INDEX
Dr. Alice Kehoe, anthropologist and evolutionist wrote, in an anti-creationist polemic book:. Scientists Confront Creationism, editted by Laurie R. Godfrey, (New York: W.W. Norton Co., 1983), pg. 10.
“Both the Christian fundamentalist scientific creationists and their nonfundamentalist partners ignore the core principle of science, which is the observer’s independence from any commitment to a preconceived idea. … It is directly contrary to science to declare in advance of observations that they cannot possibly contradict a preferred hypothesis such as the Genesis account of the origin of life. … prior commitment to an ancient explanation makes scientific creationism a travesty of science.”
The majority of today’s scientists sincerely believe this — they’ve succumbed to their own propaganda. But when analyzed from a more objective viewpoint, that belief is wrong. Granted, most creationists usually use the Bible as a basic framework. But evolutionists are also committed to a framework — the concept of uniformitarian naturalism. They cannot permit any sort of supernatural intervention, because that would be beyond experimental verification, and thus “outside of the realm of science.”
Three centuries ago, science had almost a diametrically opposite core principle. Creation Bits No.20 lists a number of Bible-believing scientists from years past. Many of these could be called “fathers of modern science,” who discovered and formulated the laws we’re now taught in science classes. Look at these men — Kepler, Newton, Pasteur, Maxwell, and others — all were among the old-time masters of science. And they were all Bible-believing Christians, who worked their science for the glory of God, following His principles. Did they make “… a travesty of science.” like Kehoe said? Obviously not!
Let’s examine the “evolution” of science itself. Those earlier scientists freely acknowledged that God had directed the writing of Scripture so as to provide us a basic outline of His early activity — now today’s scientists won’t recognize any supernatural activity at all. How did this reversal take place? We’ll see that it had nothing to do with physical evidence, or experimental procedure, but rather the change occurred because of a change in philosophy — in essence, a change in the “principles of science.” Let’s review some developments in philosophical beliefs down through the ages.
The last five centuries B.C. saw the rise of the great Greeks — Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and later Ptolemy. But a thousand years earlier Moses, under God’s direction, had already written the laws which were foundations for both Judaism and Christianity. These included historical accounts of the Creation and the Great Flood. Christianity began in about A.D.30, with the crucifixion, resurrection, and bodily ascension of Jesus Christ. By the early 4th century, it had spread (through preaching and in spite of persecution) over the lands bordering the eastern Mediterranean. In A.D.312, the Roman Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity and declared it to be the official religion of the Roman Empire. That merger of Church and State led to corruption in the Church, and as ecclesiastical power grew, so did decay. Those “Dark Ages” lasted until about A.D.1000.
Mohammed was born in 570, wrote the Koran, and led a military conquest of much of the Middle East. Moslems conquered the Romans at Jerusalem in 638, and soon built the beautiful Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount; this still dominates the Jerusalem skyline today. As both the Christian Church and the Roman Empire decayed, Moslem Arabs became the leaders of the world in art, culture and science. They absorbed and enhanced the old Greek philosophies, and developed the arithmetic system still in use today.
The philosophy called “Scholasticism” began to shed some light into the “Dark Ages” in Europe, not long after A.D.1000. Aristotle’s Metaphysics was translated in 1167 and became popular with scholars. The Catholic Scholastic St. Thomas Aquinas, in the 1200’s, is best known for merging Aristotle with the Bible, and getting this synchretism officially adopted as Church doctrine. This changed both ecclesiastical and secular life forever — for example, in 1610 Galileo published his heliocentric telescopic observations, and was condemned by the Church, which had incorporated, as part of its Aristotelian doctrine, the geocentric teachings of the Greek astronomer, Ptolemy (A.D.85-165). Of course, Galileo was correct, and the scientific world has never forgiven the Church for believing the Bible rather than science. Church persecution of Galileo started a feud which will probably last forever. Actually it wasn’t the Bible that taught geocentricity; the trouble began when the Roman Church downplayed the Bible and adopted Aquinas’ introduction of pagan philosophy
In the 15th century, Scholasticism gave way to “Humanism,” which rejected the concept of divine intervention and revelation, emphasizing human logic instead. This separated the realm of reason and science from that of faith and religion, and led to the “Age of Enlightenment,”featuring philosophers such as Descartes (1596-1650), Spinoza (1632-1677), and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Kant’s “Religion Within the Bounds of Reason” set the stage for the rise of the philosophies that still dominate western universities. These combine Aristotelian logic, humanistic ideals, and rejection of God’s intervention and revelation. This is the atmosphere in which theological historical criticism of the Bible developed. The Bible began to be considered as only a human book by the philosophers of “intellectual” academia, especially in Germany. Theological universities became bastions of what almost amounted to agnosticism.
Gutenberg’s printing press had made possible the widespread production and distribution of books — a Latin Vulgate Bible was produced in 1456. Then Martin Luther (1483-1546) posted his “95 Theses” in 1517, starting the “Protestant Reformation” and a resurgence of Christian belief and practice. He translated the Latin Bible into German, the language of those around him, and it became widely read and believed. The division between the Bible-believing public and the academic secularists became sharp. This was the political atmosphere in which a number of famous scientists operated, and many of them were devout Bible-believers — Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, and others. Their testimony that the Earth was young, and had been created by God, was irksome to the secularist philosophers, who searched for ways to refute these teachings.
In the late 1700’s James Hutton proposed the “Theory of Uniformitarianism,” but this was written in a heavy, cumbersome manner. It remained for Charles Lyell, in 1830, to popularize this idea in his book “Principles of Geology.” Five years later Charles Darwin was inspired by Lyell’s work while he was on his world cruise on the Beagle, and did much of the field work that led to his publication of “Origin of Species” in 1859. The “Geologic Column” was developed by about 1815, according to David Raup, by field workers who had creationist beliefs, but it was later incorporated into an evolutionist framework. These concepts laid a scientific foundation that gave justification to the secularist philosophers. Together, these combined for the onslaught on the Biblical teachings of God’s creation. A number of the best scientists maintained their Godly faith, and argued powerfully against evolution, but by the 1900’s their cause appeared lost, at least in the scientific and academic world. The “Scopes Monkey Trial,” in 1925, seemed to be the last straw. The debate between the two major viewpoints ran along the lines of “religion-vs.-science” until the late 1960’s, when “The Genesis Flood,” by Whitcomb & Morris, led to the movement called “Scientific Creationism.”
Mainline historical science, led by paleontologists and geologists, can’t properly follow the classical scientific procedures of repetitive experiments to confirm theories, because whatever happened long ago is ancient, and can’t be repeated. They’re forced to develop imaginative stories into which evidences can be fitted, and both sides have done this. But if an explanation involving supernatural intervention is proposed, it’s automatically rejected by most non-believing scientists, because they can’t put God into the laboratory and test his activity. So it’s become common to say that God is outside of the realm of science, which has directly led most scientists to say that all scientific explanations must, therefore, omit any reference to God. In this way, naturalism has become dominant. God has been written off, by definition.
So, where is the absolute truth in this controversy? It’s the belief of this author, and most other creationists, that the Bible’s account of God’s creation, thousands of years ago, is still correct from either a religious or an evidences viewpoint. In spite of majority protests to the contrary, there are no overpowering evidences that the earth is billions of years old. There are many evidences that the Genesis account is true. I know of no earth-bound evidences that can’t be fitted into the “Biblical Principles of Science” as well as, if not better than, into the system of “Atheistic Principles of Science.”
The problem involves the foundational assumptions — the two frameworks of belief, as outlined in Creation Bits No.2. Main-line science has adopted the framework of materialistic naturalism, so it’s inevitable that they explain things in non-Godly ways. Creationists accept the Biblical framework, so it’s not surprising that their explanations involve God.
The bottom line comes down to a matter of individual choice. What is your foundation, a God who can and has acted, or a nature with no Godly intervention?