On Creationism

Creationism is not a scientifically valid theory by which to explain the origins of the Earth or the origins of life on Earth. It does not teach us anything about the Earth. It doesn’t show us how to be good geologists, good mineralogists, good scientists in general. As other have pointed out, creationism doesn’t allow us to make any kind of predictions regarding what will happen to the Earth, or to the universe in general. If there are people who believe in creationism as part of their larger religious beliefs, there is nothing that I can do about that and nothing that I am inclined to to about it on the individual level, but while it may well be nice and interesting to have students taught about what the Bible says regarding the creation of the Earth, those teachings are only appropriate in, say, English or literature classes. And of course, the Supreme Court’s holding in Edwards v. Aguillard tells us that teaching creationism as a way of explaining the actual origins of the Earth is contrary to the First Amendment.

Given all of this, it is more than a little stunning that there are states contemplating the legalization of creationist pedagogy. If these states enact the laws they are considering, they will do nothing to enhance the educational experience for students living in those states. They will do nothing to help prepare those students for careers in science, or for the job market in general. And they will run afoul of the Constitution, which I was led to understand was a bad thing. Creationism is a faith-based teaching, and whether one wishes to believe in it or not, the fact of the matter is that exploring and espousing creationism requires almost no critical thinking whatsoever. Indeed, to the extent that there is “thinking” involved, that thinking is generally dedicated to finding ways to muddy up debates between creationists and those who accept and understand scientific theories, so that as many people as possible come out of those debates feeling confused and befuddled, instead of feeling (as they should) that the overwhelming bulk of evidence favors non-creationist, scientific explanations concerning the origins of Earth and of life on Earth.

Which, incidentally, is what many creationists–who have never argued in good faith to begin with–want.

Comments

  1. I had to click through to make sure that I’m not living in one of those four states. Fortunately, I don’t. Actually, I shouldn’t be surprised, since Oregon is one of the least religious states in the country, but still . . . had to be sure.

  2. Many times in his debate, Ken Ham produced his spurious distinction between “Observational science”- stuff we can observe, and be clear about- from “Historical science”- fragmentary evidence showing nothing very much, but consistent with Triceratops surviving the Flood in 2348 BC. He wants us taking away one message, that you cannot know what you did not see for yourself, apart from through Divine revelation.

    • And of course, figuring out the age of the Earth and the universe in general falls very much into the realm of “observational science.” To be sure, there are a number of things that we do not know–yet. But there is a great deal about our surroundings–both on Earth and beyond–that we can observe, which helps tell us how old the Earth and the universe are.

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