In the Beginning was…

I found myself debating against young-Earth creationism again this week. One of my co-workers had recently visited the Creation Museum, and was extolling its virtues as science.

I’m not going to go into the whole debate – you can easily find both sides if you’re interested. The archive is an excellent place to start. I do want to draw three points from the larger picture – and I think these points are very important. I’ll present one today, and one each of the next two days.

The first is the presentation of the literal Biblical text as science. There are many problems with this – that the Christian Bible is a transcription of an oral tradition, that there were multiple authors of the Torah, that translation errors are definitively known to exist – but none so large as the simple fact that it is not science. It was never meant to be. The Christian Bible is a work of faith, and generally succeeds at that level. It fails as a book of science.

Creationists (and I mostly mean young Earth Creationists here) tend to attack scientific thought, or point out holes in theory. They are correct to do so. Our explanatory models are incomplete, and need more evidence and more refinement. Where they are incorrect is the presumption that poking holes in scientific thought means that they win by default.

Let’s get this straight: Even if the entire theory of evolution were to be entirely disproved tomorrow, that would not imply that Biblical Creation is correct.

(And remember, we’re also ignoring that it doesn’t imply that the Christian idea of creation is any better than the Hindu, Zorostran, or Pastafarian ideas.)

There isn’t evidence for Biblical Creationism that is not better explained by a different model (or at least a different religion’s model). Our scientific explanations now, while admittedly not perfect, explain the most facts while still following Occam’s Razor. They are the best model we have at this time. (This is not the only philosophy of science, though my writing about this type have appeared elsewhere. You can read more about the philosophies of science, which is really quite interesting in a geeky way.

And what about the Bible as evidence? I will paraphrase Thomas Paine: What God tells me is revelation. When I tell it to another, it becomes nothing more than hearsay.

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