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Basic Worldview:
103 Science, the Bible,
and Creation

Origins - Section Two:
Application of the Basics

Origins - Section One: Introduction and the Basics
Origins - Section Two: Premature Dismissals
Origins - Section Two: Application of the Basics
Origins - Section Three: Creation
Origins - Section Three: Evolution, Origin of Life
Origins - Section Three: Evolution, Environment for Life 1
Origins - Section Three: Evolution, Environment for Life 2
Origins - Section Three: Evolution, Another Planet
Origins - Section Three: Evolution, Origin of Species
Origins - Section Three: Evolution, Speciation Factors
Origins - Section Three: Evolution, Speciation Rates
Origins - Section Four: Time and Age, Redshift
Origins - Section Four: Philosophical Preference
Origins - Section Four: Cosmological Model 1
Origins - Section Four: Cosmological Model 2
Origins - Section Four: Dating Methods, Perceptions, Basics
Origins - Section Four: Global Flood Evidence
Origins - Section Four: Relative Dating
Origins - Section Four: Dating and Circular Reasoning
Origins - Section Four: The Geologic Column
Origins - Section Four: Radiometric Dating Basics
Origins - Section Four: General Radiometric Problems
Origins - Section Four: Carbon-14 Problems
Origins - Section Four: Remaining Methods and Decay Rates
Origins - Section Four: Radiometric Conclusions, Other Methods
Origins - Section Five: Overall Conclusions, Closing Editorial
Origins - Section Five: List of Evidences Table
Origins Debate Figures and Illustrations

Proof by Presupposition and Characterization in the Origins Debate:
Is God an Obsolete, Primitive Concept?

In our segment on equity, we talked about unfair attempts to prematurely dismiss an opposing view without having to present or examine the evidence for doing so. And we compared such premature dismissals to convicting someone without a trial. Often in the early stages of origins debates, attempts emerge to disqualify or disprove creationism on the grounds that the idea of a Creator is a left-over or obsolete explanation developed by more primitive human cultures to explain natural phenomena, which they did not understand. Then, as mankind and culture evolved, scientific processes were developed, which now allow humanity to actually understand the causes of natural phenomena in terms of fields like physics and chemistry.

Such an application of the evolutionary model to the cultural and religious history of man is described in the following quote from Britannica Encyclopedia.

Religions, Classification of, Principles of classification, Morphological – Considerable progress toward more scientific classifications of religions was marked by the emergence of morphological schemes, which assume that religion in its history has passed through a series of discernible stages of development, each having readily identifiable characteristics and each constituting an advance beyond the former stage. So essential is the notion of progressive development to morphological schemes that they might also be called evolutionary classificationsThe pioneer of morphological classifications was E.B. Tylor, a British anthropologist, whose Primitive Culture (1871) is among the most influential books ever written in its field…Of immediate interest is the classification of religions drawn from Tylor's animistic thesis. Ancestor worship, prevalent in preliterate societies, is obeisance to the spirits of the dead. Fetishism, the veneration of objects believed to have magical or supernatural potency, springs from the association of spirits with particular places or things and leads to idolatry, in which the image is viewed as the symbol of a spiritual being or deity. Totemism, the belief in an association between particular groups of people and certain spirits that serve as guardians of those people, arises when the entire world is conceived as peopled by spiritual beings. At a still higher stage, polytheism, the interest in particular deities or spirits disappears and is replaced by concern for a “species” deity who represents an entire class of similar spiritual realities. By a variety of means, polytheism may evolve into monotheism, a belief in a supreme and unique deity. Tylor's theory of the nature of religions and the resultant classification were so logical, convincing, and comprehensive that for a number of years they remained virtually unchallenged.” Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Likewise, Worldbook Encyclopedia’s article on “religion” has a segment entitled “The origin of religion,” which simply begins with these evolutionary assumptions. The article then goes on almost immediately to cite the evolutionary models proposed by anthropologists such as Tylor.

Religion, The origin of religionThe earliest recorded evidence of religious activity dates from only about 60,000 B.C. However, anthropologists and historians of religion believe that some form of religion has been practiced since people first appeared on the earth about 2 million years ago. Experts think prehistoric religions arose out of fear and wonder about natural events, such as the occurrence of storms and earthquakes and the birth of babies and animals. To explain why someone died, people credited supernatural powers greater than themselves or greater than the world around themLeading theories were developed by Edward Burnett Tylor, Friedrich Max Muller, and Rudolf Otto.” – World Book 2005

This perception that religion originates as part of the evolution of human understanding and culture is expressed in the following article by Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia as well. Like the Britannica article above, Encarta’s article on mythology refers to Tylor’s work Primitive Culture. But more importantly, Encarta even states that the evolutionary model applied to religion by Tylor was borrowed from Charles Darwin himself. The article goes on to describe further articulations of this theory by Sir James George Frazer, who stated that these evolutionary processes, which initially produced religion to explain “natural phenomena” eventually took the next evolutionary step forward into what we call “science.”

MythologyLater in the 19th century the theory of evolution put forward by English naturalist Charles Darwin heavily influenced the study of mythology. Scholars excavated the history of mythology, much as they would excavate fossil-bearing geological formations, for relics from the distant past. This approach can be seen in the work of British anthropologist Edward Burnett Tylor. In Primitive Culture (1871), Tylor organized the religious and philosophical development of humanity into separate and distinct evolutionary stages. Similarly, British anthropologist Sir James George Frazer proposed a three-stage evolutionary scheme in The Golden Bough (3rd edition, 1912-1915). According to Frazer's scheme, human beings first attributed natural phenomena to arbitrary supernatural forces (magic), later explaining them as the will of the gods (religion), and finally subjecting them to rational investigation (science).” – "Mythology," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

In the wake of such models in which religion is part of an evolution from the more primitive to the scientifically enlightened, creationism (and perhaps the idea of god, in general) is often viewed as a throw-back or vestigial idea to which some people still cling to for one reason or another. However, such conceptions of religion as the product of evolutionary forces are far from accepted. After discussing such evolutionary models such as the morphological views of Tylor, Britannica Encyclopedia goes on to state the following concerning the dominant, current approach to religious study, known as the phenomenological approach.

Religions, Classification of, Principles of classification, PhenomenologicalAll the principles thus far discussed have had reference to the classification of religions in the sense of establishing groupings among historical religious communities having certain elements in common. While attempts have been made to classify entire religions or religious communities, in recent times the interest in classifying entire religions has markedly declined, partly because of an emerging interest in the phenomenology of religion. This new trend in studies, which has come to dominate the field, claims its origin in the phenomenological philosophy of Edmund Husserl, a German Jewish–Lutheran scholar, and has found its greatest exponents in The NetherlandsPhenomenologists are especially vigorous in repudiating the evolutionary schemes of past scholars, whom they accuse of imposing arbitrary semiphilosophical concepts in their interpretation of the history of religion.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

As we can see, the article above goes on to state that the phenomenological approach is “vigorous in repudiating the evolutionary schemes of past scholars.” In fact, this negative assessment of the evolutionary models is articulated near the end of Britannica’s own section on such morphological studies of religion.

Religions, Classification of, Principles of classification, Morphological – Trends in the comparative study of religions have retained the interest in morphology but have decisively rejected the almost universal 19th-century assumption of unitary evolution in the history of religion. The crude expression of evolutionary categories such as the division of religions into lower and higher or primitive and higher religions has been subjected to especially severe criticism.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

And, as the last 2 quotes attest, other theories of religion cite anthropological evidence suggesting a non-evolutionary model.

 Religion, study of, Anthropological approaches to the study of religion, Theories concerning the origins of religionThese and other evolutionary schemes came in for criticism, however, in the light of certain facts about the religions of primitive peoples. Thus, the Scottish folklorist Andrew Lang (1844–1912) discovered from anthropological reports that various primitive tribes believed in a high god—a creator and often legislator of the moral order. Marett and other anthropologists contended that Lang's attempt to argue for an Urmonotheismus (primordial monotheism) was contrary both to evolutionary ideas and to the established view of the lack of sophistication and half-animal status of the so-called savage. Since Lang was more of a brilliant journalist than an anthropologist, his view was not taken with as much seriousness as it should have been. The German Roman Catholic priest and ethnologist Wilhelm Schmidt (1868–1954), however, brought anthropological expertise to bear in a series of investigations of such primitive societies as those of the Tierra del Fuegians (South America), the Negrillos of Rwanda (Africa), and the Andaman Islanders (Indian Ocean). The results were assembled in his Der Ursprung der Gottesidee (“The Origin of the Idea of God”), which appeared in 12 volumes from 1912 to 1955. Not surprisingly, Schmidt and his collaborators saw in the high gods, for whose cultural existence they produced ample evidence from a wide variety of unconnected societies, a sign of a primordial monotheistic revelation that later became overlaid with other elements (this was an echo of earlier Christian theories invoking the Fall to similar effect). The interpretation is controversial, but at least Lang and Schmidt produced grounds for rejecting the earlier rather naïve theory of evolutionism.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

While the quote above qualifies the findings that monotheism was present in the earliest societies as “controversial,” it also states that there is “ample evidence” for this conclusion “from a variety of unconnected societies.” Furthermore, despite the description that early monotheism is “controversial,” the article above clearly qualifies the evolutionary classification of religions as “naïve.” Lastly, concerning the quote above, we note that Lang’s non-evolutionary model was rejected on the grounds that it was “contrary both to evolutionary ideas and to the established view of the lack of sophistication and half-animal status of the so-called savage.” Or in other words, Lang’s non-evolution model was rejected on the grounds that sub-points of the larger evolutionary interpretation were true. This is nothing less than a perfect example of proof by presupposition, an attempt to disprove an opposing interpretation of the evidence merely by appealing to sub-points of one’s own interpretation. We’ll comment more on this trend below, but before we do it is necessary to look at one last quote concerning the origin of religious views.

In light of the ongoing disagreement about the origin of religious views, Britannica summarizes the current status of the debate in the following way.

Religion, Philosophy of, Religion as a fact in human experience, culture, and history, The findings of the history of religions – Conclusions in the history of religions have been largely determined by the particular ideas of man or history with which the study was approached. Some scholars have supposed that at the dawn of human existence there was a belief in a single god and that only later there occurred a development into a belief in many gods as well as animism (a belief in souls or spirits in man and other aspects of nature). Other scholars have supposed an evolutionary development of religion, which only reached monotheism—considered to be the highest form of religious belief—after a long period of purification. The two approaches sponsor, respectively, two contrasting myths about primitive man. According to the one, there was once a golden age of innocence and harmony; according to the other, the life of the earliest man was nasty, brutish, and short.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

Yet, despite the fact that such evolutionary models of religion are themselves unsettled and contested, this characterization of creationism as the outdated trait of more primitive man still somehow suffices as grounds to dismiss creationism from consideration.

With these facts in mind, we now return to the current issue: whether or not creationism should be rejected on the grounds that it is an obsolete artifact from a more primitive stage of human evolution. Let’s consider for a moment the contents of such a criticism.

As stated above, creationism, the idea of a transcendent Designer, is a competing interpretation of the empirical data. Evolution is another interpretation of that empirical data. The criticism that creationism should be discarded because it is an earlier step in the long evolution of human culture requires the following assumptions. It assumes that humanity was more primitive earlier in history. It assumes an evolutionary model for not only human intellect but also human culture. And it assumes a certain degree of long periods of time for this evolution to occur. All of these concepts are components, sub-points, or conclusions of an evolutionary interpretation of the empirical data.

Dismissing creationism on the grounds that the evolutionary interpretation is correct is the same as dismissing evolutionary theory on the grounds that the Bible cannot be questioned. The idea that the Bible is a reliable source of truth is itself part of the larger creationist worldview. As a sub-component of that worldview, this idea is true only if the evidence favors that worldview. But if the evidence has not yet been analyzed or presented, then it is not correct to attack the opposing interpretation simply on the grounds that it disagrees with one’s own interpretation.

Similarly, what happens if the empirical data doesn’t necessarily point to long ages of history, the existence of more primitive forms of humanity, or the process of evolution? If these interpretive sub-points or byproducts have not yet been demonstrated to be true by the evidence, then it is incorrect to dismiss creationism on the mere grounds that creationism disagrees with components of evolutionary theory. As stated earlier, discarding creationism on these grounds is an attempt to disprove an opposing view by citing, not the evidence itself, but one’s own interpretation. You cannot disprove an opponent’s interpretation by citing parts of your own interpretation as though they were already proven. An opposing interpretation can only be disproved by citing specific evidence, which contradicts it.

The Origin of Theories in the Origins Debate:
Should Creationism Be Considered a Scientific Theory?

In our segment on “The Origin of Theories,” we established that all theories start with observation. Above we discussed the criticism that creationism is unscientific because it starts with presumption and blind faith instead of objective evidence. We dismissed that criticism, showing that creationism, and in fact the very belief in a Creator, does originate by means of an evidentiary approach rather than with a blind faith based upon presupposition from an inward, subjective realization.

The fact that creationism is derived from an evidentiary approach is most important because it means that, when it comes to origins debate, what we have are 2 competing scientific theories. It is not a debate between an evidence-based scientific theory and a religious presupposition.

And, as we saw in the previous segment, evolutionary theory teaches that the idea of a God or gods, including a creator god, originated as primitive man’s explanation for things he observed and experienced in the world around him. Consequently, even the evolution view necessitates that creationism originated, not as a blind, baseless assumption, but as a theory or explanation derived from the empirical data.

Even evolutionary theory admits that the belief in a Creator originated as an explanation of things observed in the world around mankind. Evolutionists admit this when they assert that the idea of God is the result of primitive man’s attempt to explain the natural world. Consequently, since it originates as an explanation for observed phenomena, creationism must be regarded as a theory, even for those who regard it as a primitive one.

Furthermore, creationism is a theory that was put forward historically by more ancient men and more ancient cultures. It is a theory that was included in many of the ancient writings produced by those cultures, including the Judeo-Christian scriptures. Such cultures and writings regarded this theory as a fact. But they believed it was a fact because they understood it to be well-attested to by the observable world around them. Thus, it was regarded as fact because it was not only the dominant but in most cases the only available theory for the explanation of the world. And so, there is nothing unscientific about their regarding the theory of a Creator as a fact. This is very much like the present case where evolutionary theory is widely regarded as a fact. Believing a theory to be fact on the grounds that it is the best theory, or perhaps historically the only available theory, simply does not mean that theory is based upon a presumption or blind faith or, consequently, that it is unscientific. Regarding a theory as fact just means you are convinced it is true. Now, you could be convinced of something because you simply presupposed it blindly. But, you can also be convinced of something because you perceive it to be well-demonstrated by the observable evidence. The degree of conviction simply does not prove presumption or blind faith is in operation, not for either the evolutionist or the creationist worldview.

Furthermore, the question might be asked as to whether or not creationists believe creationism simply because “the Bible says so.” Unfortunately, this is the case for many creationists who are not concerned with evidence or rational belief. And the same can be said for a large majority of average people who believe evolution is true simply because “their science text books said so.”

However, the fact of the matter is that many creationists believe the theory of a Creator, not because the Bible is presupposed to be true, but because, when considering the actual empirical evidence, they perceive that the evidence is not only compatible with the theory of a Creator, which they have encountered in such sources as the Judeo-Christian scripture, but that the evidence actually favors such a theory. In fact, although it is not true of all Christians, many Christians have come to accept the Bible, not because they blindly presuppose it without regard for evidence, but because they see its descriptions demonstrated empirically in a variety of ways in the world around them.

Earlier, we cited the words of Paul in Romans 1, who argued that from the start of mankind, God’s existence has been evident by the observable world. At the end of the same chapter, Paul states that this knowledge about the things of God included the central moral truths of Judeo-Christianity as well.

Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith (4102) to faith (4102): as it is written, The just shall live by faith (4102). 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse…28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

In fact, the Judeo-Christian scripture is filled with accounts in which men observed things like the existence of the world, death, and the unjust acts of others, considered these things, and reached the belief in God’s existence and resurrection as a conclusion to these observations. Using the same Greek word for “faith” that Paul describes in Romans 1 as a conclusion to the observable world, Hebrews 11 describes how Abraham, the patriarch of Judeo-Christian tradition, reached belief that God raises the dead as a conclusion after considering the death of his son Isaac.

Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Abraham is the patriarch of the Judeo-Christian religion. And even he is depicted in scripture as a righteous man because he observed the world around him, considered it, and reasoned from the observation to correct belief. Consequently, it is impossible to separate the historical Judeo-Christian religion from the essential scientific method of considering external observations to construct a correct understanding.

However, one of the main premises of this article is that, when allowed to speak for itself, the evidence will favor one theory over the other with clarity. But this premise raises an obvious question. If the answer is so clear, then why do so many reject it?

The answer to that question is simple. Whenever someone even considers the possibility that God might exist, there is one other question that rises quickly to mind. As noted in a previous section, scientific theory is essentially concerned with the predictions, inferences, implications, and consequences that result if a theory is true. Evolutionary biologist Dr. William Moore noted this in his debate with Dr. Kent Hovind at Wayne State University.

This is one scientist’s statement as to what scientific method is. He says, ‘In general, we look for a new law by the following process. First, we guess…Don’t laugh. It’s really true. Then we compute the consequences of the guess to see if this law that we guessed is right, what it should imply.” – Dr. William Moore, “The History of Life: Creation or Evolution?” Debate: Dr. Kent Hovind vs. Dr. William Moore at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, Creation Science Evangelism, Pensacola, FL, www.drdino.com, Windows Media Video

One of the more immediate implications and consequences that come to mind when people consider the theory of creationism is this. If God exists, what implications and consequences does that have for us as human beings? One of the obvious potential implications is that we are accountable to the Creator who made us, that having created the universe He has authority over it and over us as parts of it. And one of the obvious consequences is that we might need to consider our actions and choices in light of this accountability because we may have to answer for them.

In other words, would the existence of God have any implications concerning our actions and choices? If God exists, will he judge immoral and unjust human behavior? It is the desire to avoid this question that leads so many to reject the idea of a Creator. They reject the idea of a Creator so readily not because the evidence is unclear and not because the evidence clearly disproves a Creator, but because they desire to do things that they know from observation and deduction they should not do or they desire to associate with other people who do such things. This is the assessment reached by Paul as well in Romans 1:32-2:1.

Romans 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man

When considering the evidence that the universe is young and was created by God, creationists also find further confirmation of scripture by observing the reactions that men have to these important prospects. Scripture indicates that the evidence for God’s existence and for correct morality are ample and readily apparent, but that men reject that evidence out of a desire to avoid accountability to God so that either they can do what the evidence indicates is wrong or so they can enjoy the company and associations of those who do so. Consequently, even men’s reactions to the evidence provide experiential observations confirming scripture’s assessments about human psychology. But again, it all comes down to the evidence. If the evidence for creationism is scant, then rejecting the idea of a creator is a legitimate, rational conclusion from the evidence rather than a psychological shortcoming.

So, from start to finish, creationists believe the Bible’s descriptions about such things as creation, God, and morality, not because they presuppose them to be true by blind faith regardless of evidence, but because after reading or hearing those descriptions, they find them supported and proven in a variety of ways by what they observe in the world around us. From start to finish, from men like Abraham to Paul as well as many modern creationists, the foundation for belief is not presupposition or blind faith, but observations over and over again supporting a particular explanation. This is a very scientific process and it is one that is laid out in the ancient records and from the very foundations of Judeo-Christianity.

This brings us back to some issues raised earlier in the segments on “The Origin of Theories” and “Evidence and Interpretation.” The fact that creationism’s assertion of a Creator is derived from observation of the physical world has profound consequences for the origins debate. This is important because it means that in evolution and creationism we have, in fact, two competing theories that have resulted from and attempted to explain the observed empirical evidence.

Creationists don’t start by presupposing the Bible is true without first weighing the evidence. While the Bible is the source of the theory in the sense that its pages contain the description of the model, the descriptions found in scripture should be regarded as the conclusions reached by past observers. Some of those past observers even report to have experienced God himself. And their testimonies are believed by others who, in turn, also find their descriptions fit convincingly with the evidence in the observable world. Nor does the Bible itself or any of the writers in it ask or expect its audience to accept its veracity without first considering the evidence. As we have seen, the opposite is true. The Bible offers evidence of various kinds and expects its audience to consider those evidences carefully. Thus, those who hold to the creationist view don’t start by assuming that those conclusions are true. They first look at the evidence to see if there is any data contradicting that theory or if the available evidence actually favors this historical theory over more modern theories, such as evolution. The theory is accepted because of the perception that the evidence overwhelmingly supports it. And that is the purpose of this article. To let the complete description of the competing theories as well as the evidence be presented so that the reader can weigh which direction the evidence is pointing and which theory is the more rational explanation of that evidence.

In general terms, after observing the world around him, one person theorizes the existence of an intelligent creator who made and arranged the phenomena that he observes. Another person, after observing the same physical world, theorizes that those phenomena resulted from unintelligent natural factors or forces. Both are theories that arise from observation. Both are theories intending to describe the most fitting explanation given the properties of the evidence. And so long as the idea of an intelligent Creator remains a conclusion that is derived from the evidence, it is just as scientific as evolution. Whether or not it fits the evidence as well as evolution is another question, a question which can only be answered by looking at the evidence.

So, the question remains, which theory best fits the evidence, evolution or intelligent creation? To answer that question, two items remain: first, to define each theory and second, to examine the evidence to see to what extent it favors or contradicts either theory. These two items will be the subject of the rest of this article.

Related Images

Gene Pool
(Figures 1-6)

Defining the
Boundaries of Kinds

Gaps in the
Fossil Record

Geologic Column

Misperceptions of
Dating Methods
(Figures 1-8)

Dating Facts

Dating Procedures
(Figures 1-13)

Isotope Dating Chart

Figure 1

Figure 2 (a-d)

Figure 3 (a-f)