Why is the science community so opposed to creationism?
Question: "Why is the science community so opposed to creationism?"
Answer: It is important to distinguish between the terms "science" and "scientific community." Science is a discipline concerned with observing, experimenting with, and explaining phenomena. The scientific community is composed of the living human persons who participate in this discipline. The distinction is important, because there is no logical contradiction between science and creationism. Science is a generic term for a type of study, while creationism is a philosophy applied to the interpretation of facts. The scientific community, as it exists today, holds naturalism as the preferred philosophy, but there is no overt reason why naturalism should be preferred by science over creationism.
In general, there is a perception that creationism is "unscientific." This is partly true, in the sense that creationism entails certain assumptions that cannot be tested, proven, or falsified. However, naturalism is in exactly the same predicament, as an untestable, unprovable, non-falsifiable philosophy. The facts discovered in scientific research are only that: facts. Facts and interpretations are two different things. The current scientific community rejects, in general, the concepts of creationism, and so they define it as "unscientific." This is highly ironic, given the scientific community’s preference for an interpretive philosophy—naturalism—that is just as "unscientific" as creationism.
There are many reasons for this tendency towards naturalism in science. Creationism involves the intervention of a supernatural being, and science is primarily concerned with tangible and physical things. For this reason, some in the scientific community fear that creationism will lead to a "God of the Gaps" dilemma, where scientific questions are shrugged off by the explanation, "God did it." Experience has shown that this is not the case. Some of the greatest names in scientific history were staunch creationists. Their belief in God inspired them to ask, "How did God do it?" Among these names are Pascal, Maxwell, and Kelvin. On the other hand, an unreasonable commitment to naturalism can degrade scientific discovery. A naturalistic framework requires a scientist to ignore results that do not fit the established paradigm. That is, when new data does not correlate to the naturalistic view, it is assumed to be invalid and discarded.
There are distinct religious overtones to creationism. Science is only as objective as those who participate in it, and those persons are just as subject to bias as in any other field. There are those who reject creationism in favor of naturalism purely for personal "moral" reasons. In fact, this number is probably much higher than would be admitted to. Most people who reject the concepts of God do so primarily because they disagree with some perceived restriction or unfairness, despite claims to the contrary, and this is as true for those in lab coats as those in coveralls.
In the same way, an unfriendly attitude in the scientific community has had its impact on the perception of creationism. Science has benefited from creationist contributors for centuries; yet today the scientific community, at large, takes a hostile and condescending attitude towards anyone who doesn’t take a naturalistic perspective. This open hostility towards creationist views, and religion in general, creates a strong incentive for persons with those views to avoid scientific study. Those who do often feel compelled to remain silent for fear of ridicule. In this way, the scientific community has degraded and "pushed out" a segment of the population, and then has the audacity to claim that a lowered percentage of creationists in their ranks is evidence of naturalism’s superior scientific merit.
There are also political reasons for the scientific community’s hostility towards creationism and religion in general. Christianity, more so than any other religious system, places immense value on every individual human life. This causes tensions with the scientific community when that concern for life gets in the way of some type of scientific process. Christian values tend to act as a brake on experiments or positions that cause harm to people, or that destroy or damage human life. Examples include embryonic stem cell research, abortion, and euthanasia. In other cases, Christian values butt heads with secular ones when science promotes certain sinful activities by making them easier. While naturalistic scientists may see this as an unnecessary hindrance, they should consider what happens when scientific research is conducted with no regard for morality or conscience. Echoing this idea was actor Jeff Goldblum’s character in the movie Jurassic Park. He stated, "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should."
There is also a level of competition between the scientific community and the religious community over power, producing additional tensions between science and creationism. As even some leading skeptic scientists have admitted, there is a tendency for the scientific community to position itself, even subconsciously, as a priesthood. This secular priesthood has the wondrous and elite knowledge that the laymen need for salvation, and cannot be questioned by any outsiders. In plain terms, religiously tinged ideas, such as creationism, impinge on the scientific community’s claim to superior knowledge of the universe.
While there may be many reasons for tension between the scientific community and creationism, there are plenty of reasons why they should be able to coexist peacefully. There are no logically valid reasons to reject creationism in favor of naturalism, as the scientific community has done. Creationism does not inhibit discovery, as evidenced by the titans of science who believed strongly in it. The derisive attitude spewed at creationists has diminished the number of capable and willing minds in many fields. Creationism has much to offer science and the scientific community. The God who made the universe revealed Himself through it (Psalm 19:1); the more we know about His creation, the more glory He receives!
Recommended Resource: The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism by Philip Johnson
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