Some Properly Scientific Tests of Creationism
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The purveyors of Creation Science claim that Creationism is a legitimate, objective science, that its practitioners organize observed facts into a proper theory that explains those facts. That claim necessitates that Creation scientists follow the rules of the well-established scientific method. That method consists of a series of simple steps by which the scientist interrogates Reality itself:
1. The scientist observes some phenomenon of Nature and asks how or why it came to be.
2. The scientist formulates an hypothesis based on information contained in the question. A properly formulated hypothesis is falsifiable; that is, further observations could, possibly, show it to be false to Reality.
3. The scientist makes a prediction based on the logical consequences of the hypothesis being correct.
4. The scientist then tests the prediction by making further observations of Nature. This step includes the contrived observations of the well-designed experiment.
5. The scientist analyzes the data that those further observations yield and compares them with the prediction. If the data match the prediction, then the scientist has verified the hypothesis and may incorporate it into a wider theory of the phenomenon. If the data do not match the prediction, then the scientist has falsified the hypothesis and must either discard it or modify it and repeat the procedure.
In the sense of being able to test hypotheses against Reality, Creationism does, indeed, give us a proper science. To see how that statement stands true, consider three examples.
In the book of Genesis we find a description of the great flood that God inflicted upon the Earth to wipe out the wickedness that offended It. The seventh chapter of Genesis gives us a description of that flood:
In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark, they and every beast according to its kind, and all the cattle according to their kinds, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth according to its kind, and every bird according to its kind, every bird of every sort. They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. And they that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the LORD shut him in.
The flood continued forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark floated on the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed so mightily upon the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered; the waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, birds, cattle, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm upon the earth, and every man; everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the air; they were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days.
That world-spanning flood drowned almost all living things in the world and thus produced vast quantities of bones laid down in the silt that settled to the bottom of the flood. Paleontologists have found those bones, so we have a straightforward way of proving the Noah’s Flood hypothesis. We need only ask how we would reasonably expect the bones to be arrayed in the fossil layer.
Creation Science says that we should expect to find fossilized bones in a random jumble when we excavate sedimentary rocks. At best we should expect the bones to be sorted by density, with lighter bird bones lying above the rock layers in which we find denser bones, such as those of elephants. That expectation stands to reason if we assume that most, if not all, fossils come from the Great Deluge, in which Noah and his family preserved the seeds of the life we see on Earth today. In this view sedimentary rocks come from the sediments laid down during the Flood.
Secular Science says that sedimentary rocks were not laid down all at once, but over vast elapses of time. In that time species evolved and went extinct, so we should expect that the fossils found in sedimentary rocks display a separation by species.
When paleontologists actually excavate various layers of sedimentary rock they find fossils organized by species. For example, paleontologists find the bones of stegosaurs in the same layers of rock in which they find the fossilized skeletons of allosaurs, but they don’t find in those layers the bones of tyrannosaurs. Likewise, in the layers of rock in which they find the bones of tyrannosaurs they also find the bones of triceratops, but none of stegosaurs. That progression of species through the layers of rock clearly indicates the evolution of life.
We thus count strike one against Creation Science.
The Form of Insects
In addition:"All winged insects that go upon all fours are an abomination to you. Yet among the winged insects that go on all fours you may eat those which have legs above their feet, with which to leap on the earth. Of them you may eat: the locust according to its kind, the bald locust according to its kind, the cricket according to its kind, and the grasshopper according to its kind. But all other winged insects which have four feet are an abomination to you."
How many legs does an insect have? If we count the legs on a cricket or a grasshopper, both mentioned explicitly in the commandment, we come up with six, not four. Indeed, having six legs is one criterion for placing a creature into Class Insecta of Phylum Arthropoda.
We thus count strike two against Creation Science.
The Sabbath of the Land
In addition we have a test that we can not only conduct today, but one that the Bible actually demands that we conduct. In several places the Bible presents the commandment that all farmers observe the Sabbath year, a sabbath of the land. That Sabbath year, which the Jews call Shmita (Hebrew for release), also called the Sabbatical Year, is the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah for the Land of Israel, and still observed in contemporary Judaism.
During Shmita, the land is left to lie fallow and all agricultural activity (including plowing, planting, pruning and harvesting) is forbidden by Torah law. Other cultivation techniques (such as watering, fertilizing, weeding, spraying, trimming and mowing) may be performed as a preventative measure only, not to improve the growth of trees or plants. Additionally, any fruits which grow of their own accord are deemed hefker (ownerless) and may be picked by anyone. A variety of laws also apply to the sale, consumption and disposal of Shmita produce. The Book of Leviticus promises bountiful harvests to those who observe the Shmita and makes observance a test of religious faith.
We may note in passing that the Jews don’t observe the sabbath year as the Bible demands. Instead, in the seventh year of the cycle they transfer title to their land for one year to a Gentile, who then works the land. That transfer violates the commandment, as we can see quite clearly:You may plant your land for six years and gather its crops. But during the seventh year, you must leave it alone and withdraw from it. The needy among you will then be able to eat just as you do, and whatever is left over can be eaten by wild animals. This also applies to your vineyard and your olive grove."
The 25th chapter of the Book of Leviticus gives even clearer instructions on what we must do:The LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai, "Say to the people of Israel, When you come into the land which I give you, the land shall keep a sabbath to the LORD. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in its fruits; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. What grows of itself in your harvest you shall not reap, and the grapes of your undressed vine you shall not gather; it shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. The sabbath of the land shall provide food for you, for yourself and for your male and female slaves and for your hired servant and the sojourner who lives with you; for your cattle also and for the beasts that are in your land all its yield shall be for food.
The land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill, and dwell in it securely. And if you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we may not sow or gather in our crop?’ I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, so that it will bring forth fruit for three years. When you sow in the eighth year, you will be eating old produce; until the ninth year, when its produce comes in, you shall eat the old.
(Leviticus 25: 19 - 22)
In other words, if we cease all agricultural activity every seventh year, then in each seven-year cycle we will get eight years worth of produce. And in the seventh year the farmers can go fishing, work on projects to repair and improve our infrastructure (such as roads and bridges), or perform other tasks that will keep our mechanical civilization running smoothly. It can’t be anything but a winning deal.
Please note that this is not the kind of test that Jesus referred to when Satan took him to the highest pinnacle of the Temple in Yerushalayim and dared him to jump so that angels would appear and rescue him. When Jesus said,"Again it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’" (Matthew 4:7) he surely did not mean that we should not obey commandments that put some burden on God. Indeed, obeying this commandment does not tempt God but, rather, constitutes a test of human faith, one that we have consistently failed.
So on the one hand we have a theory (Evolution) that says that agricultural plants will not spontaneously yield a triple crop every seven years if and only if the plants are left completely alone the following year and on the other hand we have a theory (Creationism) that says that they will do precisely that. This brings us flat up against that old American doctrine of "Put your money where your mouth is." In proposing the relevant experiment the evolutionists are asking America’s farmers to risk a 14.29% drop in their productivity over a seven-year period and the Creationists are asking them to accept a nearly equal gain over their usual productivity.
Here we must note that no Christian community has ever observed the Sabbath year. In the roughly seventeen centuries in which Christianity has dominated Europe, the farmers there have never obeyed the commandment, even during the Dark Ages when they were barely subsisting and an extra year’s worth of food would have been especially welcome. In this country the Puritans and the Fundamentalists have never fulfilled the commandment. From the first settlements in the Seventeenth Century to the present the devoutly Christian farmers who dominate American farmland have never observed a Sabbath year. For those communities that want to try the experiment, we note that the last Sabbath year began in September of 2008, so the next Sabbath year (as of 2012) begins after the Fall harvest in 2015. A look at the past tells us that the experiment won’t happen.
On the basis of those facts we count strike three against Creation Science.
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