A couple of days ago I wrote an entry about young earth creationists and presuppositions. Two commenters have now taken me to task over my claim that young earth creationists try to dodge their main presupposition, that Genesis is narrative history conveying accurate science.
I think you are slightly confused on some of the issues. Scientific creationists DO NOT say that they came to believe in YEC because of the evidence. What they do say is that they believe that YEC can be _supported_ on the evidence alone, and believe that it can be investigated and analyzed scientifically without respect to the Bible. There is a difference between the _inspiration_ for an idea and the _support_ for an idea. Science should, in theory, criticize only the _support_, and not the _inspiration_, and it is on this basis that scientific creationism attempts to make its case . . .
I am always delighted when someone accuses me of being confused, and I am most frequently accused of confusion by creationists who generally believe that I don’t understand their position, even though I was myself a young earth creationist most of the way through college and only slowly rejected it over a period of years. And just to prevent the normal reply that obviously I was led astray by my secularist professors, I am a graduate of a Seventh-day Adventist college where the dominant view was YEC.
What’s interesting about the paragraph I quoted from the comment, however, is that it accuses me of confusion while at the same time demonstrating the very thing I describe! My contention is that the young earth creationist position is founded on the presupposition that Genesis 1-11 is narrative history that is accurate in its science. I didn’t specify “inspiration” as opposed to support, because I don’t think that matters all that much. In what sense would it be possible for something to be “investigated and analyzed scientifically without respect to the Bible” and yet impossible for one to “get to” (my unscientific terminology) that same thing through science?
When a young earth creationist sets out to demonstrate his theory apart from the Bible, he is, in fact, claiming that it is scientific. In the link I provided in one of my own comments, a young earth creationist claims to be prepared to debate the issue without referring to religion. He’s avoiding the presupposition, pretending it’s unnecessary, whether he confesses to getting inspiration from the Bible or not.
My basic claim here is that such an activity denies one of the presuppositions of young earth creationism, and that this presupposition is essential, and is actually held by the young earth creationists. Young earth creationism will completely fail without that presupposition. It cannot be scientifically supported. It fails tests from archeology through physics, geology, biology, astronomy, and so forth. Its predictions fail. The Bible is not merely an inspiration, it is a fundamental element running through the YEC position, and not merely the Bible, but a specific category of literalistic view of the Bible.
There are two reasons YECs want to avoid this fact. First, there is the first amendment in the United States. They would like their dogma taught in the public schools. Since their dogma is religious (though I believe theologically unsound), they have failed to get the courts to accept it. But when they go to court and claim that their position is scientific when it is, in fact, attached at practically all points to the Biblical text of Genesis 1-11 read as narrative history, they pretend, and I repeat pretend not to employ the (very bad) presupposition that is fundamental to their entire system.
The second is that science has gained a high level of public respect. It has earned it. So to be respectable, the YECs have to place themselves on a level with science. They accomplish this in two ways. 1) They claim that their own view is the really scientific one, and 2) They degrade the scientific claims of their opponents by claiming they are merely the result of scientist’s presuppositions or their faith in _____ (fill in claim of moment here).
Young earth creationists really shouldn’t talk about presuppositions. It doesn’t work well for them.
Another commenter, macht, also is severely bothered by my “get to” phrase. Before I quote what he said, let me say that I think it is nonsense to claim that one can be inspired by the Bible to create a scientific model, then to claim that one can fully analyze and test that model scientifically without reference to the Bible, yet one can’t “get to” the model through science.
If one can fully analyze and test a model, one can assemble that model based on hypothesis and testing. Science works that way.
Here’s the quote:
Morris and Parker think that evolution and creation are two different worldviews that ultimately cannot be confirmed or falsified by science. But they also say that these two worldviews each have a scientific model which can be confirmed or falsified. As far as I can recall, they dont claim that we can come to either one without presuppositions. What they say is that each scientific model attempts to explain empirical data within their own frameworks and that when we evaluate each, the creation science model is confirmed and the evolution science model. . . .
This is an example of the pervasive prevarication of young earth creationism. Evolutionists have faith; they have faith. Evolutionists have a worldview; they have a worldview. Evolutionists have presuppositions; they have presuppositions. It’s all just one happy presupposition party in which your guess is as good as mine, so who are all those nasty scientists, and a few Biblical studies types like me, to criticize? (It’s another topic, but it’s interesting to note that we have this sort of post-modern “we all have our reality” view, except that we’re supposed to come out believing YEC is TRUTH.)
So what are the presuppositions of young earth creationism? There is a God. He inspired a book. That book must be taken literally, and its first 11 chapters are a historical narrative of prehistory. Even though the writers, however divinely inspired, had no scientific skill at all, one must take their words as science. Maybe I missed some, but that’s the gist.
What are the presuppositions of biological evolution? Hmm. Let’s see. You learn about nature by observing nature. I should add, of course, that the scientific method has been repeatedly shown to work as the specific means of studying nature, as is testified by this computer on which I’m writing and all the various accomplishments of technology that lie between this computer and the one on which you will read this post. It may be a worldview, but it works!
The worldviews are not equal. One works and the other doesn’t. The theory of evolution is validated, and young earth creationism is not.