iSoul In the beginning is reality.

Tag Archives: Creation

divine creation in general and the natural world as a creation of God

The creation paradigm (1)

The term “paradigm” shall be used to indicate what Imré Lakatos called “research programmes.”

For Lakatos, what we think of as a ‘theory’ may actually be a succession of slightly different theories and experimental techniques developed over time, that share some common idea, or what Lakatos called their ‘hard core’. Lakatos called such changing collections ‘Research Programmes’. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imre_Lakatos].

The creation paradigm is presented here as the common idea of theories and histories around the concept of special creation. The core propositions of the creation paradigm are described.

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What is creation science?

In their book “What is Creation Science?” Henry Morris and Gary Parker contrast the evolution and creation world views/models and state: “The second world view–creation–maintains that the universe is not self-contained, but that it must have been created by processes which are not continuing as natural processes in the present.”

They go on to say: “Scientific creationism” can be discussed quite independently of “religious creationism”…

So as I understand it, religion (specifically the Bible) may motivate scientific creationism but is not part of the discipline.  All arguments within creation science should be ones that could in principle convince any reasonable person.  In short they should be based on evidence and follow logical methods of argument.

The problem with this is, how can we say anything about “processes which are not continuing as natural processes in the present” without getting into religion?  Can we infer something about these creation processes from observing the present world?  We may be able to infer that design exists in creation (as Dembski argues) but that does not get us very far.

Perhaps the only way to approach this is via counterfactuals.  Recall that counterfactuals are subjunctive conditionals so they concern what would have or might have occurred.  We need to think about the kind of design problems solved by the designs we observe, taking into consideration that the designs may be obscured by natural processes over time.  As we know more about these design scenarios, we may be able to predict designs before we observe them.

September 2014

Creation and separation

The word “creation” in theological and philosophical circles means (1) “creation from nothing”, that is, the transcendent and self-existing God producing other entities without starting from something pre-existing.  However, that is not the only meaning of “creation” in the Bible or common usage.  The other meaning is (2) making something from something, particularly, making something more differentiated from something less differentiated.  Think of a sculptor creating a statue from a marble block.

This ambiguity over the word “creation” leads to a lot of criticism of creationists for not being satisfied with the first definition.  We don’t need to coin a new word but we do need to emphasize that we are talking creation in both senses of the word as described in Genesis 1.

One could define evolutionists (particularly the “evolutionary creationists”) as those who accept the first definition but reject the second definition since they think God never directly changes the created world.  So our task is to convince people that God does directly separate creation — and will do so again in the last judgment.

This entails that the original creation from nothing was somewhat undifferentiated and that full creation is a two-step process of creation from nothing followed by direct creation/separation by God.

November 2014

Scientism and creationism

Scientism asserts the superiority of natural science over all other sciences, disciplines, or teachings. Mikael Stenmark proposed the expression scientific expansionism as a synonym for scientism. That’s a good suggestion because scientism is essentially a boundary-breaker. Scientism says that science is superior wherever it goes and it goes anywhere it wants. (That’s analogous to the word statism — the assertion that the state is sovereign wherever it goes and it goes wherever it wants — which is off-topic except for the ways scientism and statism work hand-in-hand.)

My assertion is that evolution and deep time depend on scientism. Deep time undermines the disciplines of history and archaeology by jumping behind them to assert knowledge of a prior temporality. Geologists and biologists should allow archaeologists and historians to take the lead on deep time. Some of this did happen in the 19th century (see Man Among the Mammoths) but the archaeologists and historians lost control of deep time to the geologists and biologists.

It’s ironic that the theologian-philosopher William Paley’s book Natural Theology is considered the foil for Darwin’s Origin of Species. Natural theology and natural science are two different disciplines. Many scientists today assert that science cannot talk about God but apparently science can talk against God. The main point I would make is that scientism allows scientists to dictate to theologians and philosophers (and artists) what nature is. A theology or philosophy of nature is disallowed by scientism. (That is one reason why today there is philosophy of science but no longer philosophy of nature.)

The mainstream scientific associations are scientistic, though they try to do so without alienating the public. They oppose limits to the domain of science — even the oft-stated limit of separation from religion or values does not limit what naturalistic explanations are allowed to replace.

Because of the above the main opponent of creationism is scientism. Fortunately, many people with various views are critical of scientism. So creationists should built on anti-scientism to make a place in public discussions for creationism.

September 2014

 

Origins links

Evolution

Intelligent Design

Progressive Creation

Special Creation

Theistic Evolution

See also the American Scientific Affiliation

The short proof of creation

Ian Johnston has an interesting but flawed article on The Short Proof of Evolution, which prompted me to write A Short Critique of “The Short Proof of Evolution”. It also got me thinking about short arguments for creation. When combined together, the following arguments constitute a kind of proof of creation.

Matter and Life

Matter may be divided into living matter and non-living matter. Living matter generates other living matter through reproduction. There is no evidence that non-living matter ever produces living matter. Consider the question: What is the origin of living matter? If the reply is living matter, that evades the question of the origin of living matter. If the reply is non-living matter, that ignores the evidence that non-living matter does not produce living matter. Therefore, the origin of living matter is non-material.

Limits to Life

Consider exploring an old mine and finding a fossil and a piece of slag. There are good arguments that the fossil reflects the form of an organism that was once alive. But there are no good arguments that the piece of slag reflects the form of an organism that was once alive. We can recognize the difference between what could have be alive and what could not.

What does this show? It simply shows that there are limits to what could possibly have been a living form. It is not true that anything could have been a living form. There must be limits to what happened.

Now that it is established that limits exist to what could possibly have been a living form, the question is, “what are those limits?” Are there many limits or only a few? Are the limits simple or complex? What is the origin of these limits?

Kinds of Life

Consider carbon and copper: both are chemical elements but one is a metal and the other is not. That is, their differences are such that they are considered different kinds of elements. Similarly, the differences between human and non-human life are such that they must be different kinds of life.

Human and non-human life are different not only in degree but it kind. While there are many similarities between human and non-human beings (as if they had a common creator), they are poles apart in many ways, too.

G. K. Chesterton noted, “That man and brute are like is, in a sense, a truism; but that being so like they should then be so insanely unlike, that is the shock and enigma. That an ape has hands is far less interesting to the philosopher than the fact that having hands he does next to nothing with them; does not play knuckle-bones or the violin; does not carve marble or carve mutton.”

One can easily multiply the list of differences: humans alone make up names for things, laugh at jokes, tell lies, prove theorems, sign contracts, argue about creation, etc. etc. Note that these differences are not the kind that can be seen in fossils.

The point is simply that there is a qualitative barrier between human and non-human life. Human life is not merely a different species but a different kind of life. So there are at least two kinds of life, the humankind and the non-humankind (there may be other kinds of life, too).

Is there evidence that the qualitative barrier between the two kinds of life is breached over time? No, because it has not been directly observed and indirect evidence such as fossils cannot show the kinds of differences listed. The evidence indicates that species of one kind of life remain within that same kind of life. The origin of different kinds of life must be something different than other species.

Conclusion

If we combine these short arguments, we get this: Living matter must have a non-material origin, there are limits to the forms of life, there are at least two kinds of living matter, and the kinds of living matter must originate from something different than matter or other species. A non-material origin is called a creation and this creation must have limits and include two (or more) kinds of life.

2008

A short critique of “The Short Proof of Evolution”

Ian Johnston wrote an article called The Short Proof of Evolution. It has the merit of arguing for a general paradigm of evolution rather than a particular theory of evolution. It is accessible to a wide audience. And it is short. However, it falls far short of a proof. Here’s a short article why.

Johnston’s first point is “all living creatures must have a living parent.” Presumably, he means the parent must have been alive at some time since one’s parents may be deceased. This is an empirical conclusion that is presented as a universal proposition. Now as an empirical conclusion subject to empirical constraints, there is no problem with it. But Johnston wants to make a metaphysical point: there is no other possible origin of an organism other than from another organism. He provides no defense of this metaphysics.

Compare a similar statement: “all living human beings must have a pair of living parents.” If this is elevated from an empirical observation to a universal proposition (as Johnston does with his first point), then it would invalidate the evolution of humans from asexual organisms, contrary to evolutionary theory. One might as well conclude that humans have always existed.

His second point is “some living creatures are very different from some others.” This is certainly true. However, the real question is whether it is a difference of degree or of kind.

His final point is “simple animals and plants existed on earth long before more complex ones.” He tries to make this point by stating that fossil complexity and depth are directly related, with no exceptions. This begs the question of his uniformitarian assumptions. He admits that the existence of “a genuine fossil remnant” that went against this principle of interpretation would invalidate it.

In fact there is evidence to challenge this interpretation: the Cambrian explosion. This refers to the great quantity and diversity of life found in the Cambrian layer of the geologic column. Creationists have long pointed out the problem for evolution theory, namely that all the major groups (phyla) of life which appear in the Cambrian layer with no evolutionary ancestors. The main response from evolutionists has been to suggest possibilities that could explain why their theory lacks evidence.

For our purposes it is sufficient to note that Johnston’s third point has not been established, except in the sense that it is a point firmly believed by the evolutionary establishment.

In conclusion, Johnston’s first point does not address the ultimate origin of life and his third point is a matter of dispute. So the three points cannot be put together into a final argument. He has no proof.

I have online The Short Proof of Creation.

Nature, creation, and science

“Nature” commonly means creation apart from any consideration of God or transcendent reality. So one could say nature is creation as if there were no creator. “Naturalism” is the doctrine or belief that the world and all that is in it are completely natural, that is, there is no creator external to nature. So naturalism is the doctrine or belief that creation exists independently of God, hence that God is either non-existent or irrelevant.

“Natural science” is the study of nature, which based on the above means the study of creation without a creator. Natural science is inherently naturalistic because the word “nature” sidesteps the reality of God. So methodological naturalism is an essential feature of natural science as commonly understood. The methods of natural science are limited to developing explanations without reference to the reality and activity of God. Teleology and ultimate purpose are excluded.

Natural science is a system of acquiring knowledge based on empiricism, experimentation, and methodological naturalism, as well as the body of knowledge so acquired. Criteria for a good scientific theory include: parsimony (simplicity), consistency (with evidence and with itself), verifiability (or falsifiability), and fruitfulness (leads to new discoveries).

“Social sciences” are the study of aspects of humanity, such as psychology (behavior), sociology (society), and political science (government). The term “natural science” is often limited to the study of non-human aspects of “nature” (such as physics, chemistry, and biology). But that is misleading because nowadays the social sciences approach humanity as a part of nature.

“Creation” is the world and all that is in it, understood as being distinct from God, created by God, and dependent upon God. Creation is thus the product of God’s activity of creation. “Creationism” is the doctrine or belief that the world and all that is in it were created by God ex nihilio.

“Creation science” is the scientific study of creation. Its methods are similar to those of natural science but it is always open to explanations that include the reality and activity of God. Creation science is a discipline, not a theory. It includes the study of various aspects of creation such as the physical, chemical, biological, psychological sociological, and political. Such studies may have the same names as corresponding natural sciences and so may be confused with each other.

While creation science acknowledges the reality and activity of God, it does not study God per se. That is the subject of theology. But the activity of God in and through the creation is studied by creation science because such activity is open to human experience. Since the activity of God is not subject to human manipulation, some methods of natural science may not apply to creation science.

Creation science begins with creation as a product of God’s activity. The initial state of the created world may be studied by creation science as much as any other state is. Whether or not the world was created is a matter for philosophy and theology, not science.

Empirical evidence and arguments for and against evolution, intelligent design, the gap theory, the day-age theory, old earth creation, and young earth creation can take place within creation science. Theological arguments relevant to these theories are part of theology, not creation science.

While creation science and natural science have much in common, there are several key differences: creation science is methodologically creationist, that is, it assumes the doctrine that the world and all that is in it were created by God ex nihilio. Creation science theories may include teleology or purpose. In fact, teleology may be a criterion for a good theory. Finally, creation science is subject to limits derived from theological sources: (1) moral constraints on experimentation and (2) boundary conditions on theories.

If the theological constraints and boundary conditions are based on the Bible, it may be called biblical creation science. Since this is by far the most common form of creation science, the term “creation science” is often understood as a short form of “biblical creation science”.

Natural theology is a form of theistic apologetics in which nature is shown to be a creation of God. This is the study of creation limited to what is available to the “natural man”, that is, those who are unaware of God or transcendental reality. Natural theology is not science but often there are arguments for or against it in science literature.

October 2010

The creation paradigm (2)

Simply put, an historical paradigm is a storyline of history. A storyline is a theme that similar stories have. Compare this with what Imré Lakatos called “research programmes”:

For Lakatos, what we think of as a ‘theory’ may actually be a succession of slightly different theories and experimental techniques developed over time, that share some common idea, or what Lakatos called their ‘hard core’. Lakatos called such changing collections ‘Research Programmes’. [Wikipedia]

An historical paradigm is similar except that it concerns history rather than science. Here the Creation Paradigm is presented as the common idea of histories and theories around the concept of special creation. The core propositions of the creation paradigm are as follows.

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Creation history

A prima facie case can be made that mainline science conflicts with the Scriptures, that is, the Bible. For one thing, mainline science excludes final causes and follows naturalism so some conflict is inevitable. Naturalism excludes all miracles. The chronology of nature adopted by most science institutions is contrary to some historical parts of Scripture, at least if those parts are read as history. All these things come together in the question of the origin of creation.

Christians have dealt with these issues in various ways, and the main point to note is that there are reasonable ways of dealing with the question of origins that are consistent with Christianity. However, Christians disagree with one another on what is the best approach. Some consider science and Scripture to be operating in mutually exclusive realms that have no interaction (an idea that is found among some non-Christians as well). Often Christians accept as much science as they can and modify a few points to avoid head-on conflict. This is complemented by interpreting Scripture in a way that is compatible with mainline science. Theistic evolution and progressive creation are leading examples of this approach.

Intelligent design is a newcomer to the field of origins. ID proponents bring final causes into natural history and take exception to the assumption of naturalism. They accept mainline science in so far as it doesn’t presuppose naturalism. Finally, there are the creationists, who go beyond denying naturalism and declare boldly that the history presented in Scripture is correct and should be incorporated into science. This last group will be the focus here.

The study of origin of the universe, the earth, life, and humanity touches on science, history, philosophy, and theology. These short essays endeavor to show how they inter-relate.

The Creation Paradigm

Explaining Everything

Nature, Creation, and Science

A Short Critique of “The Short Proof of Evolution”

The Short Proof of Creation

Origins Links