What do “Creation” and “Evolution”
really mean from a scientific perspective?
|#1. There’s no such thing as an atheist.|
#2. Science vs. Religion
#3. How do you know what you know?
#4. The illogic of evolution
#5. Evidence: Handle with care!
#6. What do “Creation” and Evolution” really mean from a scientific perspective?
by David Prentice, M.Ed., M.A.S.T.
All of us are sometimes guilty of using words carelessly. For instance, have you ever really thought of what the words “creation” and “evolution” imply? For most people, “creation” conjures up vague thoughts of Adam and Eve, a snake, a garden, and apples. “Evolution,” on the other hand, brings visions of Darwin, dinosaurs, and ape-men. Neither of these pictures is entirely accurate, and both are woefully incomplete.
The Genesis account of creation does include most of the above details, except for the apple. (It was the tree of knowledge of good and evil, not the tree of apples!) It also has many moral implications. There is no scientific way to test any of them.
Let’s ignore the things we can’t test and concentrate on the ones we can. Creation also includes many technical topics such as the origin of matter and energy, the origin of life, the origin of man, etc., which have nothing to do with religion and which can be tested to a certain extent. Here’s the basic idea behind creation: the universe, earth, and life were called into existence already functional, in a complex, mature state. Each was at a maximum of complexity in the beginning. (In technical terms, information content was at a maximum.) Later changes would proceed toward deterioration, not improvement.
Now let’s look at the other side. The theory of evolution deals with much more than Darwin and ape-men. It, like creation, claims to tell us the history of the entire universe. This includes many moral implications, such as those which led Karl Marx to base his ideas about communism on evolution.
Again, let’s ignore the things we can’t test and concentrate on the ones we can. Evolution also includes many technical topics such as the origin of matter and energy, the origin of life, the origin of man, etc., which have nothing to do with religion and which can be tested to a certain extent. In many of these areas, there are several competing theories of evolution. Nevertheless, the basic idea behind each is the same: the universe, earth, and life began in a simple, disorganized state. Each was at a minimum of complexity in the beginning, that is, information content was at a minimum. Later changes would have had to result in an overall trend toward steadily increasing complexity.
In a nutshell, then, creation says that things started complex and have deteriorated ever since. The deterioration should still be going on. Evolution says that things started simple and have become more and more complex. The process should still be going on.
HOW TO EVALUATE.
How do we tell which is correct? Since we have no eyewitness accounts (ignoring Genesis, of course), we can’t “prove” what happened in the beginning. What we can do is look at whatever scientific evidence is available to see whether creation (complex to simple) or evolution (simple to complex) fits the facts better. If creation is correct, the evidence should point toward initial complexity and subsequent deterioration. If evolution is correct, the evidence should support initial disorganization followed by steadily increasing complexity. Thus, both creation and evolution lead us to expect to find certain kinds of evidence in nature. We can make specific, testable predictions and see how well each theory does.
|There should be a built-in tendency in matter and energy toward increasing complexity.||There should be a built-in tendency in matter and energy toward continual deterioration.|
|The universe began in a disorderly “Big Bang.” We should find evidence of this event throughout space.||The universe began in a complex state. There was no “Big Bang” so there should not be evidence of one.|
|The first living cell was primitive and was formed spontaneously by natural processes. We should be able to make living cells by duplicating these processes.||Many complex kinds of creatures were created at the same time. The evidence should show that life cannot arise by natural processes alone.|
|We should find countless fossil transitions showing the evolution of many kinds of creatures into completely different kinds.||The fossil record should show clearly defined kinds with no transitions showing the evolution of any kind into another.|
|Once the first representatives of each major group appeared in the fossil record, the group should continue to evolve.||Once the first representatives of each major group appeared in the fossil record, the group should show a resistance to basic change.|
|Given enough time, at least a few mutations (accidental changes during reproduction) should add new genetic information and cause each kind of creature to develop beneficial new features and organs.||Each kind of creature was created at its maximum of complexity. Mutations should never increase genetic information content, and in most cases should be detrimental to the affected species.|
Please browse through the pages and articles on this web site to see whether creation or evolution fits the evidence better.