The original question was:
Isn’t the creation evolution debate just science versus religion? You creationists should stay out of science and education, and keep creationism for religious believers.

Answer by Diane Eager and John Mackay

Science originally simply meant “knowledge”, but it now has come to mean empirical knowledge, i.e. knowledge gained by repeatably testable observations of evidence that exists in the present. As such, science alone cannot be used to find out about the past, because such events cannot be directly observed. They may have left evidence that can be observed in the present, but the same evidence may have been produced by different events, as every keen forensic science crime show watcher knows when they hear all the arguments for and against an interpretation of the scientific evidence.

Only a historical witness who was there could tell us which event actually happened. But as Dr David Green expounded at John Mackay when John gave a presentation in the University in Hobart Tasmania; Science accepts no authority: no historical authority and no religious authority.

The modern belief that observations of the present can tell us about the origin and history of the world comes mainly from the writings of Charles Lyell (1797-1875). He is best known as the “father of modern geology,” but he has had a profound effect on all modern scientific thought with his principle of uniformitarianism. This principle is usually expressed as “the present is the key to the past”. This belief has now been applied to all scientific disciplines, not just geology, and results in the assumption that whatever is happening now has usually been happening, and at the same rate, e.g. radioactive dating to find the age of the earth. As many natural processes we observe in the present world appear to be slow and gradual, it is assumed they have been going on for vast ages in order to produce the world we can observe now.

Lyell did not come to this naturalistic belief on the basis of many years of scientific observations. He was a lawyer, and he had an agenda, which he expressed in 1830 in a letter to a colleague, as being to “free the science from Moses,” i.e. to reject the authority of the Bible to tell us about the past, especially about origin of the universe, the earth and life. If the Bible is taken at face value the earth was created less than 10,000 years ago and has undergone a major world wide catastrophe that re-worked the entire surface of the planet at the time of Noah’s flood. This is the opposite of Lyell’s slow and gradual processes over vast ages. They cannot both be true.

One of the first people to apply Lyell’s unformitarian vast ages was Charles Darwin. In fact he was so taken with Lyell’s ideas that he wrote to a friend: “I always feel as if my books came half out of Lyell’s brain, and that I never acknowledged this significantly.” (letter to L. Horner, August 29th 1844) It was Lyell’s unformitarian old age for the earth that allowed Darwin to make his theory of gradual change in living things become the new ‘authorised history’ of the world. He  later wrote in his famous book, the Origin of Species: “He who can read Sir Charles Lyell’s grand work on the Principles of Geology, … yet does not admit how incomprehensibly vast have been the past periods of time, may at once close this volume.” (Darwin, 1859, Origin, Ch IX, p282)

A vast incomprehensible past, undocumented by any witnesses, allowed Darwin to fill it with his own theories about the origin of life, and of new and different life forms. This is the opposite of the Bible, which sets out a clearly documented record of the origin and history of life with the authority of a witness who was there. It was, and still is, the desire to escape the authority of the Creator who was there that has motivated Darwin and Lyell’s successors to re-define science as “explanations about aspects of nature without reference to God”. (The Science Teacher, November 2003 p34). As a result science is now defined in terms of naturalistic processes alone. And that further results in only agnostic or atheistic explanations being acceptable as science.

Therein lies the real cause of the conflict with creationists. It’s not science vs religion – but the religion of naturalism versus the religion of the Creator. Your choice will be made on the basis of faith. If you choose naturalism just remember it requires greater faith because, by definition, there is no witness who was there in the beginning, and therefore no records of direct observations. Creation versus evolution is not science versus religion, but how science is interpreted by two different and competing faith based world views.

For more information on the influence of Lyell on Charles Darwin see the Creation Research article The Descent of a Man Download PDF here A complete course on the origin of life suitable for high school students and adults is available from Evidence Web here

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About The Contributor

Diane Eager