Along the Tracks

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

‘Creation’ evolves into a science?

I don’t tread into this arena lightly. The last time I wrote a column on the creationism-in-schools debate, I received dozens of letters to the editor, was the subject of sermons across the county where I worked at the time, and was called everything but The Devil Incarnate - oh wait, I was called that, too.

Even so, the subject has reared its ugly head in Ohio once again, and I cannot in good conscience, as a Christian and as a person who accepts the scientific method and its results, let the proposal go unchallenged.

I won’t go into all the details here; any one can look at a fossil or consider the breeds of dogs or read about the latest animal cloned and understand that biology, for all its wonders, falls well within the bounds of science. Rather, it seems the confusion usually concerns the reason creationism is NOT science, and what that conclusion means.

Creationism (or intelligent design or any other euphemisms used for the concept that life was made by a higher power) cannot be proven false. By contrast, evolution could be proven false tomorrow if an anatomically modern human skeleton was found inside the stomach cavity of a Tyrannosaurus rex; that is, if fossils showed that life has not changed over time, i.e., “evolved.”

But the fossil record clearly shows life has changed over time. That’s what evolution is. Natural selection, Charles Darwin’s theory of how those changes occurred, is the best explanation of what the fossil record demonstrates. But that theory could also be overturned if evidence indicated some other method was at work causing life to evolve over time.

Creationism, by contrast, could never be proven false. Fossils show change over time? Well, that’s the way God did things. Dinosaurs found with feathers? It doesn’t indicate a relation to birds, God just made them that way. The same genetic code used by all living beings? God’s basic design was perfect for all.

Let’s suppose that scientists discovered some kind of rabbit living in the mountains of Nepal that had a genetic code completely different than any other living thing on earth. The find would shake all of evolutionary-based biology to its core. What would it do to creationism? Well, God felt those rabbits needed a special system due to their circumstances, so that’s why their genetic code is different. Creationism moves on intact.

Now, all this is not meant to disprove anyone’s belief in creation by God. Rather, it is meant to point out the fact that this is a BELIEF. Just as God’s existence cannot be proven by science, so the things God has done cannot be proven by science. God and all His actions belong in the realm of faith. Unfortunately, faith is exactly what must be set aside to scientifically investigate and understand the mechanics of the physical world in which we live.

To force creationism into a science classroom not only blurs the principles upon which scientific inquiry is based, it cheapens the spiritual beliefs of the young minds it is supposedly meant to help. It tells young people, “Faith isn’t good enough.” What a dark and depressing path to espouse.

A favorite philosopher (one I share with George W., by the way) once said:
“You believe because you have seen. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet believe.”

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