Saturday, December 10, 2005

Creation Defined

If Evolution is the belief that everything came from nothing, what then is Creation?

In news stories discussing the issue, Creation is often referred to as "the Creation myth", or legend or story. See, for example, Live Science's presentation of the "Top Ten Intelligent Designs (or Creation Myths)," in which the Biblical story of Creation is compared to other ancient creation legends such as those from Norse mythology, Zoroastrianism, the ancient Egyptians, and the Aztecs. This definition focuses on the account as given in the Bible of the actual Creation of the universe and man.

Others relate Creationism to such beliefs as geocentrism, a flat earth, and very poor science and academics in general. The article "Dark Ages Primary" by Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post is a good example of this view [though the thrust of his article concerns politics, not science]. Apparently, these people believe that those who are ignorant enough to doubt evolution have no clue about science in particular, nor higher education in general.

Still others refer to Creation as the belief "that scientific evidence exists to prove that the universe and living things were specially created in their present form". While this view (expressed by Bruce Alberts of the National Academy of Sciences in the Preface to the book Science and Creationism) is closer to the correct definition, is still contains some misconceptions.

As was the case with Evolution, none of these common perceptions of what Creation is is fully accurate, though each contains one aspect of the broader picture. By the strictest definition, Creation is the belief that the story given in Genesis 1 and 2 in the Bible is an accurate historical account of the origin of the universe, the earth, and man. But the term Creation is much broader than this concept of special creation alone. Just as Evolution is closely associated with various other concepts and beliefs, so Creation is inextricably tied to many different ideas relating to both science and philosophy. Among them are the concepts of a young age for the earth and universe [about 6,000 years], catastrophism as a major influence in geological history [eg, Noah's Flood], the belief in God [theism], and the belief in moral absolutes. Also included are the religious beliefs that the Bible is the inspired inerrant Word of God, and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. For a broader summary of Creationist belief, see the booklet "The Seven C's of History", by Ken Ham and Stacia McKeever of Answers in Genesis [PDF document].

[It should be noted here that this is a definition of what is commonly referred to as "Young-Earth Creationism", as opposed to other variants such as Old-Earth Creationism, Theistic Evolution, etc. For the purposes of this discussion, I shall ignore all other variants, since they are simply hybrids, to differing degrees, of Young-Earth Creationism and Evolution.]

As we noted in the discussion about the definition of Evolution, these additional concepts cannot be divorced from the term Creation. They are as strongly linked to Creation as uniformitarianism and the Big Bang are to Evolution. One or more of these other concepts are inevitably drawn into any discussion or debate between Creation and Evolution. If we are to come to any firm conclusion in this discussion, then, we cannot ignore these related concepts.

Our concise definition of Creation, then, is closely parallel to the definition of Evolution. Creation can be defined as the view that everything came from God--the idea that God created nature. It includes such things as: Special Creation as the origin of the cosmos, catastrophism as a major influence in geology, Special Creation as the means for the origin of life, natural selection and built-in variation as the means behind the present variety of living organisms, and by implication the belief that there is something outside of nature (i.e., there is a God and supernatural realm) and that the Bible is God's Word (and therefore provides the moral absolutes by which we are to live).

Of course, there are innumerable other details to both theories, but these general definitions should suffice for our purposes.

To summarize our definitions so far, then, Evolution is the belief that everything came from nothing (with related concepts), while Creation is the belief that everything came from God (with related concepts).

The next step in this discussion is to define science. If we are to determine if something is scientific, we first need to know what science is.