Yesterday I posted a video of Bill Nye calling creationists crazy for denying Darwinian evolution. “Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology,” he says.
In the wake of this post, I came across a comment on the facebook page of a friend of a friend who had shared the article. I thought it offered a great opportunity for follow up and clarification, so I’ll share and respond to it here.
“This guy [meaning me] kinda missed the point entirely. Creationism isn’t a science, and it shouldn’t be taught as a science. It’s a perfectly fine theological argument, but it should not be taught in schools along with darwinism. Plus, really? Someone is going to go after bill nye about science? And cite lawyers? Really?”
Because the issue really isn’t about science, is it? As I said yesterday, it comes down to assumptions. Which means philosophy. Which means logic and argumentation.
The comment illustrates the point I was trying to make. Creationism is ruled out as a viable option from the start because it is by definition “unscientific.” It has been relegated to the realm of theology. But why should it be?
You have two views of how life began. My view says that an all-powerful, intelligent, personal Being brought life and everything else into existence. Bill Nye’s view says that matter has always existed and that life sprang from non-life on accident. Both views rest on an assumption. The beginning of life can’t be observed. It can’t be tested. It can’t be repeated. So proponents of both views rest their confidence on faith.
The difference is, I acknowledge that my view is based on faith, while Bill Nye claims his view as the very foundation of science and makes fun of my view.
Science is supposedly based on the scientific method. First a hypothesis is formed. This hypothesis can be confirmed using the scientific method if it is observable, testable, repeatable, falsifiable, etc. My belief that life began with an Intelligent Designer cannot be verified using the scientific method, though I believe that using the scientific method to explore the principles and properties of our world generates evidence of an Intelligent Designer.
Is Darwinism any different? No. Can you use the scientific method to prove the hypothesis that life accidentally grew out of non-life? Absolutely not! So much so that serious scientists have proposed that since we cannot find conditions suitable to the spontaneous generation of life on our planet, life must have been sent to our planet from some other planet on which conditions were more suitable to the spontaneous generation of life from non-life.
What we have here is a philosophical commitment that precedes any scientific inquiry. This is why Bill Nye can in all seriousness say that creationism is unscientific and crazy simply because it is not based on Darwinism. He didn’t pull that assumption out of a beaker or read it under a microscope. That is a philosophical statement.
So again, it is essential that we examine the logic of what anyone says. A white lab coat is impressive, but it’s no substitute for good old-fashioned logic. How do we know what we know? Bill Nye says that we can know nothing about our world until we place our faith in Darwin’s theory of evolution. But I’m not buying it. And neither should you.
And as a footnote, let me also acknowledge that many respected scientists are convinced that life was created by an Intelligent Designer. Also, many committed Christians believe that God created the world using some form of evolution. The issue really isn’t science versus faith. It’s about an a priori commitment to a philosophical assumption and then using that assumption as the litmus test for what constitutes science.