Stumper Questions for Creationists
[Last Update: May 13, 1992]
|Questions directed to scientific creationists, young-earth creationists and others in opposition to conventional science:|
This is a collection of questions which many people who support conventional science wonder about when confronted with those who oppose conventional science in the name of creationism. The questions are grouped in these categories: what is creationism; what is conventional science; how does creationism explain the evidence for conventional science; theological questions. Within each category there are numbered specific questions, surrounded by introductory or other explanatory material. These questions are repeated at the end of each category (sometimes paraphrased) for emphasis.
We begin with the more important questions, and answers to them are greatly desired in order to promote communication. Later questions may be considered to be about details.
A few comments about some terminology
The expression "conventional science" is used here as it is a neutral expression, and many people object to misunderstandings surrounding such expressions as "evolutionism" or "theory of evolution".
The other side is referred to as "creationist" as that appears to be the self-description of those opposed to conventional science in the ways of interest here. It is not intended to include all people who believe in creation.
What is creationism?
Many people find that the most important part of a theory is a clear description of what the theory says and does not say.
(1) Give a comprehensive statement of creationism. (There are questions below about conventional science, so please restrict your discussion here to the positive aspects of creationism.) This is the one question of over-reaching importance, so much so that you might consider many of the following questions merely asking for certain details of what makes up a comprehensive statement of creationism. It should be noted that many people prefer quantitative details where appropriate.
It is often a great help to communication if each party understands what the other means by certain critical expressions.
(2) Define technical terms and other words or expressions that are likely to be misunderstood.
(3) Include the evidence for creationism (please remember that merely finding problems with conventional science does not count as support for creationism, as there may be other theories which differ from both conventional science and creationism). A good example of evidence for creationism would be some observation which was predicted by it. That is much better support than merely giving an explanation for observations which were known before it was formulated. Far less convincing is evidence which has an alternative explanation.
In order to decide between conflicting theories, it is important that not only must the conflicting theories be well described, and that the evidence supporting the conflicting theories be proposed, but also that there be established some rules for deciding between the theories and evaluating the evidence.
(4) Can you suggest principles for so deciding and evaluating?
There are many alternatives to creationism. Some of the alternatives are: theistic evolution and old-earth creationism.
(5) Distinguish your theory of creationism from some of these alternatives and give some reasons for it rather than the others.
Many people find a theory which is open to change in the face of new evidence much more satisfying than one which is inflexible.
(6) Describe features of creationism which are subject to modification. Another way of phrasing it is: is there any kind of observation which, if it were seen, would change creationism? Is it open to change, and if so, what criteria are there for accepting change?
How do creationists describe conventional science?
It is helpful in any discussion that both sides understand what the other is talking about. In answering the questions above, you have helped us in understanding your theory. Often communication is helped if each participant explains what he thinks the other person is saying. It should also help those who support conventional science to clarify their exposition. These questions are in a sense parallel to the questions asked before about creationism.
(7) Explain what you think some of the terms used in conventional science mean. Here are some which seem to lead to misunderstanding:
(9) It might be helpful if you explain why you think that conventional science came to its present position, and why people hold to conventional science. (And once again, please restrict this to a description, as debate can come later.)
Many people who support conventional science feel that those who oppose it do so because of unwelcome consequences.
(10) What are the consequences of accepting conventional science?
How does creationism explain the evidence for conventional science?
In answering the earlier questions, you have described your theory and given us evidence for it. Now we ask for your opinions on the evidence for conventional science.
Many people hold to conventional science because they believe that it has been developed over centuries, driven by discoveries. They wonder how any person could explain the evidence any other way. Here is a very brief list of questions about evidence which many people find convincing.
(11) Why is there the coherence among many different dating methods pointing to an old earth and life on earth for a long time - for example: radioactivity, tree rings, ice cores, corals, supernovas - from astronomy, biology, physics, geology, chemistry and archeology? These methods are based on quite distinct fields of inquiry and are quite diverse, yet manage to arrive at quite similar dates. (This is not answered by saying that there is no proof of uniformity of radioactive decay. The question is why all these different methods give the same answers.)
(12) Explain the distribution, seemingly chronological, of plant and animal fossils. For example, the limited distribution of fossils of flowering plants (which are restricted to the higher levels of the fossil record). Here we are considering the distribution which conventional science explains as reflecting differences in time - the various levels of rock.
(13) In the contemporary world, different animals and plants live in different places. Why is there the present distribution of animals and plants in the world? For example, how is it that marsupials are restricted to Australia and nearby islands and the Americas, monotremes to Australia and nearby islands, and few placental mammals are native to Australia? Or why are tomatoes and potatoes native to the Americas only? (This is not a question merely of how they could have arrived there, it is also of why only there.)
(14) There is a large body of information about the different species of animals and plants, systematically organized, which is conventionally represented as reflecting genetic relationships between different species. So, for example, lions are said to be more closely related to tigers than they are to elephants. If different kinds are not genetically related, what is the explanation for the greater and less similarities between different kinds of living things? That is to say, why would special creation produce this complex pattern rather than just resulting in all kinds being equally related to all others?
It is the impression of many people who support conventional science that many people who are creationists are so because of religious reasons. This is puzzling to people who consider themselves to be religious, yet accept the findings of conventional science.
For example, some people feel that it is necessary to give naturalistic explanations for the wondrous events described in the Bible. Other people are curious as to why there should be a search for naturalistic explanations for these events, rather than acceptance of these events as signs from God, outside of the normal.
(15) If you feel that the events of the Bible must be explained as the normal operation of natural phenomena, please explain why.
Some people who believe in God find it difficult to accept that God would mislead people by giving evidence for conventional science.
(16) Why is there all the evidence for an earth, and life on earth, more than 100,000 years old, and for the relationships between living things, and why were we given the intelligence to reach those conclusions?
These questions are intended to clarify the debate about creationism versus conventional science. As mentioned above, many of the questions are intended to explore what creationists think about the issues in a way that allows each side to understand better what is involved. I believe that they are fair questions to ask in achieving that end, but if anyone has objections to the content, tone or presuppositions, comments are certainly welcome.
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