Opinion:Same evidence with different worldviews
|This is an original work by Temlakos. Please comment only on the talk page.|
Same evidence with different worldviews
Evolutionists today typically accuse creationists of ignoring what they say are multiple lines of independent evidence leading to "inescapable conclusions" that the world is exactly the kind of world that the general theory of evolution postulates: an incredibly old universe and earth, with their ages measured in deep time, which allows plenty of time for all of life to descend from a common ancestor.
Creationists do not ignore evidence (though lately, some of our evolutionary counterparts have been ignoring evidence; more on that below). Rather, we examine the same evidence but reach different conclusions.
|“|| Creationists and evolutionists, Christians and non-Christians all have the same evidence—the same facts. Think about it: we all have the same earth, the same fossil layers, the same animals and plants, the same stars—the facts are all the same.
The difference is in the way we all interpret the facts. And why do we interpret facts differently? Because we start with different presuppositions. These are things that are assumed to be true, without being able to prove them. These then become the basis for other conclusions. All reasoning is based on presuppositions (also called axioms). This becomes especially relevant when dealing with past events.
An axiom (from the Greek axios worthy, deserving, justly due, etc.) is literally anything that is worthy of assuming before any reasoning begins. As any student of geometry soon learns, all theorems (things proved) must ultimately rest on a set of axioms, for the same reason that all definitions must rest on certain undefined terms. To do otherwise is to engage in circular reasoning.
But where do axioms come from? They can only come from worldviews. Origins science works the same way. We have the same data (and thanks to the laws of the United States, no agency of the United States government may willfully withhold data from the multiple rocket probes sent out by NASA or the JPL or any other agency). But how we interpret them depends entirely on our worldview.
Example: Edwin Hubble knew perfectly well that objects beyond our galaxy appear to be receding from it. In other words, all objects have redshift. He also knew that nothing is moving toward our galaxy, nor can one look in any direction and see objects receding faster, or slower, than in another direction. But Edwin Hubble had a problem: worldview. He refused to consider that the earth was a special place—because once anyone admits that the earth is a special place, one must ask why. And the answer was definitely something that Edwin Hubble, for whatever reason, sought to deny.
So what did he do? He invented a concept of a "hypersphere" to suggest that every galaxy would have the same view as any other. In so doing, he violated Occam's razor. Worse yet, John Hartnett, in Starlight, Time and the New Physics, specifically quotes him as saying,
|“||Relativity contributes the basic proposition that [the] geometry of space is determined by the contents of space. To this principle has been added another proposition, formulated in various ways and called by various names, but equivalent, in a sense, to the statement that all observers, regardless of location, will see the same general picture of the universe. The second principle is a sheer assumption. It seems plausible and it appeals strongly to our sense of proportion. Nevertheless, it leads to a remarkable consequence, for it demands that, if we see the [galaxies] all receding from our position in space, then every other observer, no matter where he may be located, will see the [galaxies] all receding from his position. However, the assumption is adopted. There must be no favoured location in the universe, no centre, no boundary; all must see the universe alike.||”|
Why must there be no favored location in the universe? Hubble does not say. But to that question only one answer makes sense: If the earth is at a favored or otherwise special location, then the creation story is far more likely than is the general theory of evolution.
Today, cosmologists have an even worse problem: the rate of expansion of the universe now appears to be accelerating. Scientists insistent upon saving their favorite atheistic cosmological model—the Big Bang—have invented the concept of "dark energy" to explain the acceleration. They even hold big, flashy conferences on "dark energy," all to explain what is, to all intents and purposes, an error.
Evolutionists challenging the "same evidence, different worldviews" argument sometimes say that it rests on three assumptions, which, they say, are not valid. But in fact the extreme straining of credulity on the part of astronomers and cosmologists, and in particular their invention of the concepts of dark energy and dark matter to save their model when observations make it untenable, confirm those three assumptions.
Lack of prejudice?
The first thing that evolutionists say that creationists assume, is that scientists, or anyone else, are completely incapable of looking beyond their prejudices. They then cite what they call "the early history of geology" to invalidate this "assumption." But the statement above, and the explanations that evolutionists give, rest on an assumption that they make: that every time that scientists have changed their minds, it has always been for the better.
Uniformitarians often boast that their model successfully converted many die-hard Christians away from their dogmatic assumption that the earth was only 6,000 year old. They observe, correctly, that until uniformitarianism became popular, most geologists took a young earth for granted. But then they propose this model: that when geologists started actually looking for evidence of a young earth, they instead found evidence of an old earth.
But in fact, no one ever embarked on a rigorous program of research to establish the creation, flood, and other accounts. The reason was simple: no one ever challenged those accounts.
James Hutton invented uniformitarianism—the totally a priori assumption that those processes that you observe today have always operated since time immemorial, and at the same rate. Indeed, classic uniformitarianism asserts that the earth is infinitely old and never had a beginning. Charles Lyell took uniformitarianism and ran with it. In a manner in which only a lawyer can operate, he browbeat all others into submission to this vision. He succeeded because he was dealing with a group of men who had little or no concept of Scripture, or what it meant to be a Christian.
These same evolutionists cite the discovery of meteors and continental drift as ideas that scientists once scoffed at, as if the Bible never predicted anything like this. In fact, the Book of Revelation foretells several events entirely consistent with meteor storms. Continental drift fits neatly with models of the global flood and of the "division of the earth" in the days of Abraham's ancestor Peleg.
But today we see a truly amusing spectacle. Astronomers have observed two things that their theories do not predict. One is that galaxies, and their groups, clusters, and superclusters, often spin faster than their observed mass would allow. The other is that galaxies and other objects beyond our own galaxy appear to be moving away from our galaxy and under acceleration. Rather than admit that something is very wrong with their model, astronomers and cosmologists invented two concepts—dark matter and dark energy—that they now state account for more than ninety-five percent of the mass-energy of the universe! These are the most flagrant examples of scientists convincing themselves wholesale of error in order to save their worldview. Astronomers see galaxies (and their groups, clusters, and superclusters) spinning too fast, and assume some extra mass that they just can't see. Astronomers and cosmologists see objects rushing away from us faster and faster, in complete contradiction to every known law of gravity, and they assume some unseen force pushing the universe apart. Never once does the thought occur to those cosmologists that their math and their models are fundamentally flawed.
Inherent in the denial that scientists are incapable of abandoning their prejudices, is the assertion that a scientist has no prejudice. That is patently false. The history of science is replete with example after example of prejudice governing scientific inquiry, often for centuries. And no scientist, not having a worldview to defend at all costs, would ever propound or even defend such ridiculous concepts as dark matter and dark energy. Or of a Hubble-style "hypersphere."
A good scientist, so say the evolutionists, is supposed to rely on the evidence, follow it wherever it leads, and seek good explanations using the scientific method, regardless of his/her ideological background. And in that, the "scientific community" has failed miserably.
All interpretations of equal worth?
Evolutionists further accuse creationists of assuming that all scientific interpretations are of equal worth. Never has a creationist said that. To the contrary, creationists have always asserted that an interpretation must pass the parsimony test, or Occam's razor.
If any group of people are behaving unscientifically, then surely it is the conventional cosmologists still trying to defend the big bang with concepts like dark matter and dark energy. Today, the dark-energy concept is now under an interesting challenge, by three workers at Oxford University who now state that our solar system is in a bubble curiously devoid of matter. Now everyone knows that that directly contradicts the miscalled Copernican Principle (miscalled because Nicolas Copernicus never said it; it ought to be called the Hubble Principle instead) that no place in the universe is any more special than any other. But the defenders of this "Copernican Principle" will likely vehemently defend their principle against that challenge.
More generally: in stating that creationists are trying to have it both ways, evolutionists make no real call for critical thinking. That means holding each worldview up to the cold light of judgment. Instead they continue to assert that the general theory of evolution, which adds uniformitarianism and "common descent" to change in organisms over time, is true and correct, and that it is settled. But in fact the question is anything but settled.
Do YEC workers invent scenarios ad hoc?
The third claim that evolutionists make is that rather than examining the empirical evidence, creationists invent ad hoc scenarios and often contradict themselves in the same presentation or communication. That statement is argumentum ad hominem. Worse yet, the evolutionists have it exactly backwards. As before, the dark matter/dark energy scenarios provide the most flagrant examples. Spike Psarris has documented many others, like the multiple "giant impacts" to the various planets and moons that astronomers invoke to explain findings at variance with the nebula theory of the solar system. Any one of those impacts ought to have destroyed the target object completely. And yet some of those same astronomers are unwilling to accept an impact on a much smaller scale that explains why Mars has the deepest impact basin, the largest volcano in terms of surface area, and the largest rift valley, all having a definite relationship to one another—including an antipodal juxtaposition of the basin and the volcano in question.
Some evolutionists make an even worse accusation: that creationists willfully misrepresent the evidence. That's another argumentum ad hominem, and one that in fact makes any sort of civil debate impossible—for how can a debate take place when neither side in the debate trusts the other side to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in the course of that debate? Furthermore, creationists could almost say that evolutionists have that backwards as well, except that most evolutionists do not care to defend the presenters of Piltdown Man, for example, now that everyone knows that that was a fraud. Then again, creationists are not in the habit of presenting Piltdown Man counterparts to begin with, while Piltdown Man was not the first scientific fraud advanced to support the theory of evolution, nor the last.
Many evolutionists know that they cannot continue to make charges like the above without some form of corroborating or at least suggestive evidence, if they care about remaining credible. So they cite the statements of faith to which the Institute for Creation Research, Answers in Genesis, Creation Ministries International, and other such groups require their employees and research associates to adhere. For example:
|“||No apparent, perceived, or claimed interpretation of evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.||”|
Note carefully: Answers in Genesis states that no interpretation of evidence in any field can be valid if it contradicts Scripture. That statement does not say that the evidence itself cannot be valid. Therefore, that statement simply says that creationists interpret evidence in a manner harmonious with Scripture.
And why shouldn't one conform one's interpretation of physical, historical, chronological, or other evidence to the Scriptural record? After all, that record has included predictions of events that have occurred exactly as predicted, often centuries later. Furthermore, the Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrate conclusively that the predictions were not invented after the fact but were in fact written centuries before the fact. The most remarkable fulfillment has been the life and career of Jesus Christ, which life and career have played out exactly as predicted ahead-of-time, against odds of ten thousand quinquagintillion to one.
Under that circumstance, no one should have any problem accepting the Bible as a true, complete, and accurate record of history. Therefore, the AiG statement of faith, and other comparable statements of faith, are entirely reasonable.
The criticism of the practice of such "statements of faith" assumes without warrant, of course, that Scripture is a Made-up Story. But it also assumes, and equally without warrant, that evolutionists do not require equivalent statements, which for lack of a better term I shall call "statements of lack of faith." Evolutionists routinely accuse Christians of everything from being utter fools, to living in worlds of their own, to being frankly a positive menace to the larger society in which they are a part—and all precisely because they are Christians. For example, a popular actor in motion pictures and on television, in a piece of election-campaign propaganda that has since been removed from the Internet, made a rather curious statement implying that no one who believes that dinosaurs and humans once coexisted is trustworthy as a ranking civil officer having the chief or sole authority to initiate an act of war with nuclear weapons.
Furthermore, as Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District illustrates, certain judges, legislators, and civil officers in the United States have twisted the U.S. Constitution beyond recognition, and in fact subordinated that document to a body of thoroughly bad case law that effectively says that as a matter of law there is no God, nor shall anyone positively assert that God exist, and anyone who does, is guilty of at least a misdemeanor, if not a felony, depending on the context. The situation in other countries is arguably worse.
Evolutionists, of course, insist that a "sheer mass of evidence" supports their general theory. That is not true when the "evidence" consists solely of interpretations, each of which is yet another repetition of the prevailing worldview. They also assert that their general theory is the best explanation of the observed evidence. That is not true either. The recent vindication of Russell Humphreys' model for the creation of planetary magnetic fields ought to serve as a case in point. Russell Humphreys did everything that his detractors insist that he ought to have done: he took readily available observations, invented a model to explain them, and then made definite predictions from that model. In fact, he made four predictions concerning the magnetic fields of Uranus, Neptune, Mercury, and Mars. Measurements of the magnetic dipole moments of the first three planets named, vindicate Humphreys' model completely. Mars might vindicate him yet again if NASA receives funding for a robotic sample-return mission, or more comprehensive yet, a crewed mission to Mars.
In contrast, the theory of evolution has made at least three presuppositions, all of which have become less tenable with the gathering of modern evidence. They are uniformitarianism, the "dynamo theory" of planetary magnetic fields, and the "Copernican" (actually Hubble) principle. Uniformitarianism becomes less able to explain the earth and the solar system with nearly every rocket probe that NASA or the European Space Agency or any other launch authority cares to send into space. The "dynamo theory" of magnetic fields cannot explain why the planet Mercury has a magnetic field while the planet Mars does not appear to have one—and Humphreys' creation model can explain both observations. As for Earth not having a special place in the universe: when scientists have to invent science fiction-like concepts to preserve that assumption intact, surely the time has come to abandon that assumption.
The claim by Ham and others that we have the same evidence but subject it to differing interpretations is validated, not only by the actions of creationists but also by the actions of evolutionists. The defense of the big bang model with such spurious concepts as dark matter and dark energy is the best illustration of this point.
- Ham, Ken. "Creation: 'Where's the Proof?'" Creation 22(1):39-42, December 1999. Accessed October 7, 2008. Emphasis in original.
- Hubble, Edwin. The observational approach to cosmology. Oxford, England, UK: The Clarendon Press, 1937, p. 54. Quoted by Hartnett, John, Starlight, Time and the New Physics, Creation Book Publishers, 2007, pp. 75-76.
- See, for example, Revelation 6 and Revelation 16 . The latter chapter foretells the falling of objects from the sky that each weigh a talent, or an amount of weight that a soldier might carry on his back.
- Moskowitz, Clara. "Scientists: Earth May Exist in Giant Cosmic Bubble." <http://www.space.com/>, October 1, 2008. Hosted at <http://www.foxnews.com/> Accessed October 7, 2008.
- Creager, Charles, Jr. "Mars, a Testament to Catastrophe." Answers Research Journal 1 (2008): 89–93. Accessed September 23, 2008.
- "Statement of Faith." Answers in Genesis, n.d. Accessed October 7, 2008.
- Humphreys, D. R. "The Creation of Planetary Magnetic Fields." Creation Research Society Quarterly 21(3), December 1984. Accessed April 29, 2008.
- Humphreys, D. R. "Mercury's Magnetic Field is Young!" Creation Ministries International, August 26, 2008. Accessed October 2, 2008.