by Susan Trollinger
In a March 9, 2017 blog post, Ken Ham critiqued the organizers of the March for Science (which will be held on April 22 in Washington DC and elsewhere) for their apparent exclusion of creation scientists from their march. Ham admits that they “are careful with their wording and don’t really come out as against any particular position” but, nevertheless, Ham can read a text. He knows what they really mean. And what they really mean is that this group of “scientists and science enthusiasts” doesn’t welcome creation scientists or creationists who “love science” because “much of science is controlled by an atheistic, naturalistic worldview.” And they impose that worldview on everything, which is why they don’t give creation scientists a fair shake either at their marches or in their journals.
And to make matters worse, they don’t even acknowledge their exclusionary treatment of creation scientists and creationists because they “don’t recognize the difference between observational and historical science.” They think that when they do science, they do it from a neutral position, unlike creation scientists. But, as Ham points out, that’s impossible:
Science is indeed “a tool for seeking answers,” but, when it comes to the past, what you believe about the past determines your interpretation. Scientists can’t be entirely neutral. Historical science always comes with “special interests” and “personal convictions” about the past.
Readers of our Science chapter will recall that this distinction between historical science and observational science is a big deal for Ham and his colleagues at AiG. And that’s because of the really important work it does to discredit mainstream science. If all science that talks about the past (historical science) is influenced by the perspective (whether evolutionary or creationist) that scientists bring to their work, then mainstream science is no more neutral, no less biased, no more true than creation science. At the epistemological level, it’s all the same.
Now, things are different for observational science, so says Ham and his colleagues at AiG. Because observational science is about observations and experiments that take place in the present and does not speculate on what did or did not happen in the past, it does not suffer the same bias problem. For Ham and his colleagues at AiG, observational science is proper science.
Given how important this distinction is for Ham and company, we assumed that the science in the Creation Museum would be of the observational type. If that’s the right way to do science, then surely the Creation Museum would put a premium on that kind of science, right?
When we took a really close look at the area of the museum that is dedicated to flood geology (the creation science that seeks to prove that Noah’s Flood can explain all apparent evidence for an old Earth), for instance, here’s what we found:
- There are 38 placards in the flood geology section.
- Only 26 of them display anything that appears scientific (just from a commonsense view—information that appears to have been culled from careful observation, experimentation, and/or measurement.
- Of those 26, 10 do not display observational science since they feature events or phenomena that occurred in the past and cannot be observed in the present.
- That leaves 16 of the 38 (or 42% of the total).
- When we looked closely at the remaining 16, we found that 3 of them did display observational science but in a purely informational way. They include, for instance, measurements of an Allosaurus skeleton. Certainly, such measurements are repeatable and therefore do count as real science. But the placards make no connection between that information and a young earth or a biblical creation. So, yes, it’s real science according to AiG, but it doesn’t further their scientific argument in any way.
- Of the remaining 13 placards, we found that only 7 both display observational science AND make an argument about a biblical creation. Importantly, of those 7, 4 present arguments against evolution rather than for a biblical creation.
- So, we were left with 3—just 3—placards (8% of the total) that make some kind of argument that connects to a biblical creation. We should point out that none of the 3 tries to prove that God created the universe in six 24-hour days less than 10,000 years ago. Instead, they make arguments on behalf of the idea that Noah’s global flood can explain why the earth seems old when it really isn’t.
We won’t go into the arguments of those 3 placards here (see pp. 88-94 in Righting America). Suffice it to say that in our opinion they strain credulity to the breaking point.
To return to the place where we began—the problem with those scientists planning the March for Science is that they refuse to acknowledge the difference between observational science and historical science and thereby fail to recognize their own bias. By contrast, Ham and his colleagues at AiG are serious about that distinction, especially when they want to discredit mainstream science. Odd that they are so serious about it while, as the Creation Museum clearly indicates, they make so little use of it. It does make one wonder just how much they “love science” after all.