Monday, 10 January 2011

Debunking Corner - Creationists can "explain" the evidence

This is a common claim made by creationists, usually made to non-scientific audiences and in fact I have often seen it made to congregations in churches.

And it's true.

And it is one of the reasons why creationism isn't science.

Let me explain;

Scientists come up with guesses about how the world works, although they call them hypotheses, and then look to see if the guess explains the existing evidence.  If it does, then they try to come up with predictions from the guess/hypothesis of some additional evidence that might be expected but isn't yet available, then they go and try to find this evidence whether by a new experiment or by digging for fossils in a certain place or making a new set of observations with a new piece of scientific hardware.  In this way they are testing their guess against nature and if it doesn't agree with nature then it is wrong.  They are testing it.  This is what scientists do.

If the hypothesis survives lots of attempts to disprove it in this way then it will eventually be elevated to the status of a theory.

On the other hand Creationists simply state that they can explain the evidence.  Of course they can, they have an omnipotent, omniscient being in their hypothesis.  What kind of evidence might such a being not be capable of producing?

Unless they are prepared to make specific claims about exactly what their god did or didn't do and will or won't do in a future experiment then how are they going to test it?

Answer: they aren't.

They don't mind this because they are not trying to find out if it is true or not, they already know it is, it says so in their holy book after all.

Here is a classic example of such a game of "let's pretend to be scientists" from CMI.

Devil's Tower Wyoming as in close encounters of the third kindphoto © 2007 Tim (Timothy) Pearce | more info (via: Wylio)
You can see that they are explaining things in a very sciency way - they even have those little reference numbers and everything.

But they don't make any predictions, they don't do any experiments and so what they do isn't science.  Oh it looks like it.  Look at the little numbers again - see!  Some of them even do a greta impression of real geologists, they have hammers and they even pick up rocks and look at them.  But in reality they are just playing an elaborate game of dressing up.  They are dressing up their religious convictions as science.  They play this word game very well and then they trumpet the fact that they can explain things!

I heard Prof. Andy McIntosh from Leeds University claiming just this to a group of students at York University a few years ago.  He repeated it a few times, "Creationists can explain the evidence. The creation view is totally consistent with the facts."

So there you go.

Just stop for a moment to take in what the creationists are claiming and think about it a little and then marvel at their mendaciousness.

In fact, if you want to you can do it for yourself as CMI and other creationist groups have active meeting programmes in the UK, see here for more details.

Click on the debunking corner label below for more resources on the kinds of arguments creationists make and how to see through them.

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