In the origins debate, evolutionists love to accuse Creationists of wanting to supplant science with religion. As part of this fallacious argument, they have bombarded the general public with a misunderstanding of what science is. On a large part of the population, it has worked. As a whole, people tend to trust men and women in white lab coats when they speak about science. However, much of what passes for science on both sides is not actually science. In this article, we will discuss what science is and the implications for each side of the origins debate.
Science is traditionally defined in a rather narrow fashion. It includes such fields as biology, chemistry, physics, and medicine. Religion, while respected and influential among scientists, had no influence on experimentation. There were no experiments attempting to prove the existence of God, nor were there experiments attempting to disprove His existence. Experiments were based on the observed order and laws of the natural world, apart from consideration of a deity. While many scientists were Christians and gave glory to God for their work, their experiments were based on an observable, present cosmos, not an unobservable past creative act. However, in the early 1800s, this began to change. With the advent of old earth geologists such as Charles Lyell, science began to turn its gaze to the past. Darwin’s theory compounded this. In order to avoid the need for a God, scientists felt compelled to prove that He was unnecessary to the origin of the universe. Taking Lyell’s maxim “The present is the key to the past”, scientists began to conduct experiments in the present to prove a past event.
Attempting to measure the past in the present is a foolish exercise in science. This is because the scientific method, the gold standard for every science experiment, requires the ability to observe. Observation is conducted only in the present. For example, if I wanted to study squirrels, I could only observe them in the present. Even were I to spend thousands of hours observing a squirrel, I could not say that a squirrel ate meat without observing it doing so. Even were I to see a squirrel near a dead body, I could not say it was carnivorous. Saying that a squirrel is carnivorous without observing it sounds incredibly foolish, but is exactly what evolutionists try to tell us. By observing speciation in the present, evolutionists attempt to extrapolate this into the past. They essentially say ” Oh, life comes from life in the present, but in the past, things may have been different.” That statement is unprovable and has no place in science.
Creationists have their own problems with delving into the past. Many creationists, including some that are very well known, have attempted to place God’s creative act into the realm of science. They have done this by creating an area of science they dub “historical science”. On this, while I respect them and their work, I respectfully disagree. Because it happened in the past, and thus cannot be observed, God’s Creative masterwork is outside of science. Trying to shoehorn creation and evolution into science via historical science tacitly admits that evolutionists are correct in stating that “the present is the key to the past”. The only place we can perform science is in the present. Therefore, discussing past events in terms of science requires the assumption that the past is identical to the present. Neither Creationists nor evolutionists believe that. Thus there can be no historical science.
Having said all that, there is no reason why we cannot study items from the past, such as dinosaur bones, in the present. Further, there is no reason we cannot discuss the findings of these studies in the context of a Creationist or Evolutionary worldview. For example, a study done a few years ago revealed the presence of blood cells in Tyrannosaurus rex bones. Since blood cells are believed to fossilize poorly and will not hold up under millions of years of decay, this discovery supports a creationist worldview. However, while the discovery itself is scientific, the worldview is not. Science can only ever provide support for a worldview. It cannot prove said worldview to be true.