Evolutionists often draw a distinction between the science of evolution, based on evidence, and belief in creationism, which is based on faith.
Many creationists make the counter argument that belief in evolution is also faith and not science at all. Is this true?
What is Involved in this Claim?
Creationists claim that science is based on the scientific method. The steps of the scientific method can be described as:
Make an observation
Ask a question
Form a hypothesis (educated guess)
Conduct an experiment
Accept, reject, or revise the hypothesis
For creationists, the problem with evolution is that evolutionists can’t even make an observation. No one was there to see evolution occur and no one observes evolution today. A second problem is that evolutionists cannot conduct an experiment, and the test of the scientific method is that many experiments, based on the hypothesis, should be performed and they all must produce the same results in order for the hypothesis to be valid.
Evolutionists have not observed evolution and cannot cause evolution to occur again—not even once. Therefore, they have developed only a hypothesis (guess) based on something they have not observed, and they cannot conduct an experiment to determine whether the hypothesis is valid. So belief in evolution is actually faith in the hypothesis. Creationists like to point out that evolution is only a theory, not science.
How Does the Creationist Position Compare?
No matter how it describes itself, creationism is not based on science at all but on the authority of the Bible—specifically the early chapters of Genesis (1-11), including the flood of Noah. For creationists there is really no need for additional evidence.
Scientific Creationism, which arose in the mid-twentieth century, claims to present a scientific case for creationism, but it is merely an attempt to use science to refute the scientific claims of evolution; the foundation of creationism remains the authority of the Bible. If there were no conflict between evolution and the biblical accounts of creation, there would likely be no opposition to it.
More recently, creationists have embraced an approach called intelligent design. It purports two important observations that seem to point to an intelligent designer or creator. One is the fine-tuning of the universe that, against all odds, makes it the perfect place for life and humans to arise. The second is irreducible complexity, which is the claim that certain biological functions cannot evolve from random selection because they are not useful until all the components are fully developed. We will discuss intelligent design in a later blog post.
Are Claims that Evolution is Faith-based Valid?
Some creationists insist that evolutionists were not there to observe and they cannot reproduce the results, therefore the scientific method does not apply and evolution is accepted on faith. But evolutionists do observe; they do not see one species of mammal evolve into another, but they do observe the results of that evolution in the fossil record and in DNA analysis. These are valid observations.
Evolutionists do test their hypotheses. They do so by making more observations to determine whether the results are consistent. Sometimes they find that new data does not support the current hypothesis, so they adjust the hypothesis and continue observing.
Creationists delight in pointing to ‘errors’ of evolutionary theory that were once widely accepted but later abandoned or even exposed as hoaxes. This somehow discredits evolution because evolutionists just can’t get it right, but what it really demonstrates is that evolutionary theory is self-correcting. ‘Errors’ in evolutionary theory are not corrected by creationists but by evolutionists.
Creationism is based on authority, but evolution is not—evolution is not even based on the authority of evolutionary theory. As evidence improves, the theory is adjusted. This is science—not faith.
However, some evolutionists DO have faith. But it not faith in evolution. It is faith in God.
At this point it is helpful to discuss what creationists teach.