Evolutionists sometimes call biblical creation a pseudoscience. Is such a claim defensible? Could it be that evolution is in fact pseudoscience while creation makes science possible?
Defining key terms is always helpful in any rational discussion. The Merriam-Webster dictionary lists a number of definitions of science, but the one most relevant to our discussion involves science as a discipline: “knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method.” The scientific method involves observation and experimentation. Similarly, dictionary.com defines science as “systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.”
From these definitions we see several key terms that will help us identify something as science. First we see that the term “knowledge” is essential to science. So what is knowledge and how do we recognize it? Knowledge is true, justified, belief. Let’s examine each of these qualifiers in turn.
First, knowledge is a belief – a positive mental attitude toward a proposition. You believe something when you accept it as true. When a friend states something that you believe to be true, you may find yourself nodding “yes” or saying to yourself, “that’s right.” Obviously, to know something you must also believe it. It would make no sense to say, “I know that the moon is round, but I do not believe it.” Clearly, when you know something, you believe it to be true.
But not all beliefs are knowledge. People have some beliefs that turn out to be false. We would not call such beliefs knowledge. For something to count as knowledge, it must be true. If we believe something that is false, then we don’t really know it at all.
Finally, knowledge is always justified. That is, we must have a good reason, or several good reasons to believe it. Something doesn’t count as knowledge if we merely happen to believe something that is true with no good reason.
Suppose Abe says, “I believe that the number of stars in the visible universe is an even number. I just know it.” But does he really know it? No one but God knows the number of stars in the universe. So Abe doesn’t really know this. Yet, Abe’s belief may well be true. After all, there is a 50% chance that he is right. Suppose Carl comes along and says, “Not so. I believe that the number of stars in the visible universe is an odd number.” Logically, either Abe’s belief is correct, or Carl’s belief is correct. Yet neither of them really knows the number of stars in the universe because neither of them has a good reason for his belief. In heaven, God may reveal to them that in fact the number of stars is odd. But that doesn’t mean that Carl actually knew this. Rather, he had a belief that turned out to be true by accident – with no good reasons for it. But a true belief is not knowledge unless you have good reasons to believe it.
Therefore, since science is systematic knowledge, a scientific fact must be both true and justified. It cannot be merely a speculation or conjecture unsupported by evidence. However, science is more than just a body of knowledge. The way in which scientific knowledge is gained is through the scientific method: observation and experimentation.
Not all knowledge is scientific. Some things can be known (they are true justified beliefs) and yet the way we know them is not through observation and experimentation. For example, certain mathematical truths can be proved using logic, but not by the scientific method. Historical facts can be established by examination of historical records, but cannot be known directly by observation or experimentation. After all, we cannot travel back in time to observe or experiment on recorded history. But we can indeed know things about the past through records.
So scientific knowledge is a subset of knowledge. Science is restricted only to facts that can be demonstrated or inferred from the scientific method of observation and experimentation. Gravity is one example. The force of gravity can be observed and measured in the present. We can do experiments to test the effects of gravity. We know, for example, that the force of gravity is proportional to the product of two masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. This fact was discovered by Isaac Newton and can be tested in the present. It is scientific knowledge.
Since the prefix “pseudo” means “false,” it follows that pseudoscience is anything that is claimed to be scientific, that in reality is not. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines pseudoscience as “a system of theories, assumptions, and methods erroneously regarded as scientific.” Something is pseudoscience if it is (1) claimed to be science (derived from the scientific method) when in reality (2) it is not – the claim has not been established by observation and experimentation. Does the Genesis account of creation fall under this category? Does Darwinian evolution?
The Genesis account of creation does not qualify as pseudoscience because it does not fit the first criterion. Namely, Genesis does not claim to be the result of scientific research. The Bible does not argue for creation on the basis that it can be tested and repeated in the present. Rather, it states the events of the creation week as an historical account of what happened. They are not a conclusion formed on the basis of modern-day scientific experiments.
Is Genesis a scientific fact? No. It is an historical fact. The events of Genesis are recorded history. We know that they occurred for the same reason we know that Columbus sailed the ocean in 1492. Of course, modern science confirms Genesis; that is, the results of modern science are consistent with what we would expect given the truth of the history recorded in Genesis. But the point here is that Genesis itself is not written as a scientific conclusion, but rather as recorded history. It therefore cannot be rightly classified as pseudoscience.
Is Darwinian evolution a scientific fact? No. The belief that all living organisms share a common microbe ancestor has not been observed. Nor has there been any experiment demonstrating such a feat. We do of course observe organisms changing. Mutations and natural selection are true and do result in changes to organisms over time. But such observations of variation within a kind are just as consistent with biblical creation as evolution. The kinds of changes necessary to accomplish evolution in the particles-to-people sense have not been observed. Clearly, neo-Darwinian evolution is not a scientific fact.
Neither is Darwinian evolution an historical fact. There are no historical records of one basic kind of organism becoming another. There are no records of dogs ever having been anything other than dogs or mosquitoes being anything but mosquitoes. So it would seem that evolution is neither a scientific fact nor an historical fact. In reality, evolution is not a fact at all. Nor are there any logical reasons to believe it. Not only does evolution fail to count as science, it also fails to count as knowledge of any sort. It is simply an unsubstantiated conjecture.
Yet, evolutionists often claim that evolution is scientific. When asked what reasons evolutionists have to support their belief, do they not claim to have scientific evidence? Do they not appeal to modern experiments in genetics or observations of fossils in the present to support their position? Granted, we have shown that such experiments and observations are far more consistent with biblical creation. But the point is that evolutionists claim that their belief in evolution is based on science. Since evolution is claimed to be scientific, but is not, it is rightly classified as pseudoscience.
When someone claims that his proposition is scientific, a great question to ask is, “what experiments or observations did you do to establish this?” If none can be cited, then we know that the claim isn’t really science at all. That doesn’t necessarily make the claim false, but the person should not refer to it as a scientific claim.
Unfortunately, we must note that creationists are not immune from engaging in pseudoscience. I recently debunked a professing creationist who has made all sorts of grandiose claims about biological adaptation (and he continues to do so). Yet his claims were without any scientific support whatsoever. He has not done a single experiment to support his conjectures, and many of them have already been proven to be false. As Christians, we must stand against pseudoscience because it is contrary to the God of truth.
What then are we to make of the term ‘creation science?’ Doesn’t the term imply that creation is a scientific conclusion? Not at all. Rather, ‘creation science’ refers to the application of the scientific method to the modern world in light of the fact that biblical creation is true. Science cannot be done in a worldview vacuum. Scientists have presuppositions that affect their interpretation of the evidence. Those scientists who embrace biblical presuppositions when doing experiments and observations in the present are doing creation science, just as scientists who embrace evolutionary presuppositions when doing experiments or observations are doing ‘evolution science.’ The ‘creation’ or ‘evolution’ modifier refers to the worldview in which the evidence is interpreted.
There is a sense in which all science is creation science. We saw previously that the scientific method is predicated on biblical creation principles. The fact that God designed and created the universe, organized it into patterns, and upholds it in a consistent way for our benefit is what makes science possible. That God created the human mind with the capacity for rational thought and created our senses to reliably probe the universe are necessary facts in order for science to work. Science is all about finding patterns in nature through observation and experimentation. Such an endeavor would be pointless if there were no patterns in nature to be found. In a chance universe with no designer, why expect to find rational order? If our brains were merely the accidental byproduct of chemistry over time, how could they possibly be rational?
Therefore, whenever scientists apply the scientific method to learn something about nature, they are either consciously or unwittingly assuming the principles of biblical creation. In this sense, all science is creation science. In light of this, it makes sense to use a precising definition. We might define a creation scientist as one who consciously affirms biblical creation presuppositions in his or her analysis of scientific evidence. An evolution scientist is someone who attempts to interpret scientific data in light of his or her belief in particles-to-people evolution. This cannot be done in a fully consistent fashion however, because scientific principles are inherently creationist. Thus, ‘evolution science’ is something of an oxymoron. But we accept the term as applying to the attempt to interpret scientific data in light of neo-Darwinian beliefs.
Biblical creation is not a scientific fact, but is rather the historical fact that justifies our confidence in the scientific method. Science is predicated on biblical creation. Creation is therefore not pseudoscience, but is recorded history that rightly informs our evaluation of scientific evidence in the present. Conversely, evolution is rightly classified as pseudoscience since it is purported to be science and yet cannot be demonstrated by observations or experimentation in the present. We recognize ‘evolution science’ as a legitimate term to describe the attempt to interpret evidence in light of evolutionary presuppositions. However, such an attempt is inherently futile since the principles of science are antithetical to particles-to-people evolution.