Creationism does not meet the requirements of a scientific theory

August 2000

This is Essay 2A in the NMSR/CSFNM Debate Series.

Links for all essays can be found here.

Arguing for the resolution, on behalf of NMSR : David E. Thomas

In the first essay of this series, NMSR defined science as follows:

"Science" is the systematic study of the natural (observable) world. The Scientific Method involves collection of data by observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of explanations (hypotheses) against these same data. When a collection of hypotheses is both explanatory and validated by the available data, it is elevated to the status of "theory." Theories are not held inviolable, but are modified, and occasionally rejected altogether, as new observations are made, or new experiments performed.

In their response to this essay, CSFNM wrote, "CSFNM agrees with the NMSR definition of science. In addition, a theory must be well defined and restricted so that it can be determined what it is not. The late Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman said science must be in a continual process of falsification."

Regarding the topic of this essay, Creationism as Science, CSFNM defines Creationism as follows: "The account of origins described in Genesis is a factual presentation of simple historical truths, and all basic types of living things, including humans, were made by direct creative acts of God during the Creation week within approximately the last ten thousand years, and subsequent variations of the original kinds have been bounded."

In other words, 'The Bible is Right, and Evolution is Wrong.'

However, Creationism has no collection of hypotheses validated by any data. It is neither a theory nor a science.


Creationism says that all life forms appeared within the same 6-day period a few thousand years ago. But, the history contained in the earth itself is completely different than this account requires. In 1669, Danish physician Nicolaus Steno published his observation that sedimentary rocks are found in roughly horizontal layers, and that older layers were found beneath younger layers. In 1800, English engineer/geologist William Smith traced out many layers, or "formations," for miles, and found that fossils of the same kind were found within the same formation, but that different formations held different kinds of fossils. French naturalist Georges Cuvier (1769-1832) proposed a series of many great catastrophes - floods - interspersed by new Creations.

But even Cuvier's creationist model - many Extinction/Creation events - does not explain the world as it is. Life forms entombed in formations are not arranged willy-nilly, as they certainly could be if they were each created individually by an all-powerful Creator, or some other Intelligent Designer. No, the fossils in formations are closely related to fossils in adjacent formations. Triceratops fossils lie just above protoceratops fossils, but never above rhinoceros fossils. Creationism does not tell us why. Intelligent Design does not tell us why. Neither is a "theory" in the scientific sense of the term. All they say is that living things will appear to be Designed. No details of the Designs can be provided, because that would require knowledge of the inner mind of the Designer.

The fossil record shows a long succession of closely related forms, in accordance with evolution, but totally at odds with Special Creation. The Fossil Record falsifies Creationism.


In their response to essay 1, CSFNM also wrote, "NMSR says evolution 'predicts the similarities of bio-molecules of various species...' This is an a priori assumption that also applies to intelligent design."

The statement above implies that there is a theory of creation that explains why the Creator's designs are what they are. But no such theory exists!

Regarding molecules of various species; some basic proteins serve exactly the same function in a myriad of species, from bacteria to humans. How would an Intelligent Designer approach the design of these proteins?

An Efficient Designer would make the molecules the same for all species - after all, they serve a single function for all. But a Meticulous Designer would carefully craft unique proteins for every species - no two the same. No part of Intelligent Design explains why the Designer is neither Efficient nor Meticulous, but instead varies molecules from species to species in just such a way as to mimic evolution.

The cytochrome c proteins of humans are identical to those of chimpanzees, and much more similar to those of horses than to, say, fish. But human proteins are closer to those of fish than to those of insects. Molecules yield elaborate evolutionary trees that agree with those derived from fossils and anatomy. How can this possibly be an "a priori assumption of Intelligent Design"?

Some say that creationism predicts "irreducible complexity." But this assumes that adaptations can never take on a different purpose - an unjustified assumption. Similarly, there is simply no evidence whatsoever to support the unwritten Law of Creationism: "A long series of small changes can never, ever add up to a big change."


Evolution explains why kangaroos are found only in Australia, or why Hawaii's flora and fauna are so different from that of the mainland. Creationism doesn't explain this at all. Sure, the Creator could have put kangaroos only in Australia, but He could just as easily have put them in New Mexico instead. No part of creation "theory" explains this. The emperor has no clothes.


Creationism fails the geological tests that can be applied to it. Its molecular hypotheses explain no details about life on earth, other than that creatures will appear to be "designed." And where scientists have filled libraries with research on biological evolution, creationists have yet to even supply a rudimentary list of the "created kinds," or to develop a theory of "Intelligent Design."

Creationism consists mainly of attacks upon evolution, as if disproving parts of evolution somehow proves special creation. A science cannot be based entirely on bashing the competition; it must take a stand.

There is no Creation "Theory," so it cannot be defined. Nor is it "restricted so that it can be determined what it is not." When any possible outcome can be explained as "Designer's Will," no restrictions are even possible.

Clearly, Creationism does not meet the requirements of a scientific theory.


This is Essay 2A in the NMSR/CSFNM Debate Series.

Links for all essays can be found here.