Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Timelines and Perspectives: Defining our Terms and Checking our Bias

By Brian Mariani

In the study of Ancient Man, Creation vs Evolution, or any other controversial scientific or historical topic, terminology can be confusing and misleading. As we have mentioned before, presuppositions can also make these discussions unclear and hard to follow. 

In this 3-part series, we will discuss Naturalism and Biblical Creation, contrasting their beliefs, biases, and interpretations of evidence. This will make our position clear and defend the foundation of our point of view.

Defining the Terms

NaturalismThe belief that everything that currently exists came about in a completely natural way with no influence of a higher power.
  • This model includes the Theory of Evolution and the Big Bang. Both of which explain how the slow changing process from chemical compounds to small organisms eventually led to everything that exists today, including humans.

evolution, big bang, creation, contrast, debate, six days
Image Credit: Answers in Genesis
Biblical Creation: The belief that God created everything in six literal days[1] as we read from the Bible, God’s perfect and infallible Word.
  • God created everything according to their kinds, fully formed, and basically[2] as they are today. Thus according to the Bible, there are approximately 6,000 years of history.

“Characterized by the systematic gathering of information through various forms of direct and indirect observations and the testing of this information by methods including, but not limited to, experimentation. The principal product of science is knowledge in the form of naturalistic concepts and the laws and theories related to those concepts.”[3]

The National Science Teachers Association continues to define science as “limited to naturalistic methods and explanations and, as such, is precluded from using supernatural elements in the production of scientific knowledge”(emphasis added). Another similar definition comes from the Science Council: “science is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.”[4]

What is Science, really?

As Biblical Creationists, we agree with this definition of science…to a point. Notice how their very definition removes God. It is true, we cannot prove the existence of God by using science, but we cannot disprove God using science either, although many try to do one or the other. Science is a God-designed naturalistic way for mankind to understand the rest of His creation. So though we cannot use science as a testing ground for God, our very use of science demands His existence. The very laws of the natural world, the consistency and order that science depends upon, were designed and put in place by God; by using them, all scientists are confirming His existence.

We are Biased

It is often said that it is unfair or unscientific to start with the Bible (and for that matter any other religious document) when interpreting scientific evidence. You too may struggle with this question: Is it acceptable and/or correct to start with the Bible when approaching science?

Now think here. As we state in The Genius of Ancient Man (chapter 2), as Christians, we are biased. We believe that the Bible is God’s perfect and infallible Word; that is it absolute Truth. We believe that in the Bible, God records the true history of the world. Therefore we can use the historical Biblical record to understand the world as it functions around us. This understanding influences how we practice science in that world as well. As it turns out, science confirms what the Bible says!

Do we impede scientific progress by our Biblical assumptions, interpretations and theories? On the contrary, these are key elements to science. Biblical creationists strengthen and encourage the progress of science because they desire to better understand God, especially through the works He has created. Christians aim to glorify God and reflect His character with their work, therefore we expect their scientific methods and discoveries to be accurate, credible and valuable.

They are Biased Too!

Naturalists (evolutionists) are biased too. They start with their “unwritten” belief statements (presuppositions) and in all practicality have said that they can and have proven (to some extent) that God is not needed in history; they reject the supernatural (in their very definition of science). They claim to be objective all the while standing on assumptions of naturalism. They have beliefs and motives, just like we do, but many refuse to admit such.

big bang, bible, evolution, creation, debate, science, future
Image Credit: Answers in Genesis
The Bible says that everyone knows there is a God and is therefore “without excuse” (Rom 1:18-25). Non-believers are willingly rejecting God believing they are not accountable to anyone. Darwinian anthropologist Sir Arthur Keith explains it in this way: “Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it because the only alternative is special creation which is unthinkable.”[5]

Interpretation, Viewpoints, and Occam’s Razor

Now if you believe (have faith) that the evidence seems to point in obvious favor towards long ages and evolution, hold on. Evidence, once collected, must be interpreted according to the scientific and historical context. The interpretation differs depending on a person’s presuppositional beliefs . The issue is the interpretation of the evidence, not the evidence itself.[6]

Remember Occam’s Razor, which states that one should go with the simplest and most logical, most consistent explanation instead of a more complicated idea.[7] As you look at different hypotheses about a piece of evidence, ask yourself the question: Which seems to be more consistent and logical?

Operational Science vs. Origins Science

Now you might also be saying that data and results are conclusive, and yes, in some experiments, the interpretation (subjectivity) is less evident, but it is still there. We could even split science into two categories: “operational” science and “origins” science.

Operational science or observational science refers to current observations and experiments so it is the least likely to be influenced by bias. Yet experiments are still set up by a (subjective) observer (with their own presuppositions and assumptions) with a goal for the experiment.

Origins science or historical science is based more on assumptions, speculation and plausible calculations. For example, we don’t know what the atmosphere was like 5000 years ago, because we cannot test it, but we can test how it changes now and extrapolate back to that time. However a lot can happen over 5000 years so there are a lot of assumptions that have to be made to make those calculations.

Assumptions and Conclusions Based on Bias and Subjectivity

It seems to be a common myth that once scientists find a piece of evidence they can then easily determine the truth behind that evidence. It might amaze you that scientists, especially in origins science, can have very different views drawn from the same evidence.

Here is an example quoted from National Geographic: “‘You know what they say,’ says Bill Iseminger, an archaeologist who has worked at Cahokia for 40 years. ‘Put three archaeologists in a room and you get five opinions.’”[8] Similarly, in a documentary entitled “Ice Age Civilizations”, two different researchers present opposite conclusions based on the same evidences.[9]

evidence, creation vs evolution, debate, science

This is the difficult nature of origins science.

The Fallible or The Infallible?

Overall, science should be an objective process, but it is designed, carried through, and interpreted by subjective, fallible humans.[10] When scientists and researchers fail us it is encouraging to turn to God’s word with the knowledge that what is written is completely accurate and infallible even where it concerns controversial scientific subjects. Remember, the One who created “science” knows how it works and His word has priority. Let’s remember where our starting point is.

Watch for next week's article on historical revisionism and contrasting interpretations of evidence!

[1] Terry Mortenson, “6 Literal Days,” Answers Magazine, February 24, 2010, accessed March 16, 2011,
[2] Georgia Purdom, “Variety Within Created Kinds,” Answers Magazine, February 24, 2010, accessed March 16, 2011,
[3] “About NSTA: Official Positions,” adopted July 2000, accessed March 16, 2011,
[4] “What is Science?” The Science Council, accessed March 16, 2011,
[5] “The Quote Mine Project,” The TalkOrigins Archive, accessed March 16, 2011,
[6] Roger Patterson, “Chapter 1: What Is Science?” Evolution Exposed: Biology, February 22, 2007, accessed March 16, 2011,
[7] “Occam’s razor,” Merriam-Webster, accessed March 16, 2011,'s%20razor.
[8] Glenn Hodges, “Cahokia: America’s Lost City,” National Geographic, January 2011, 139.
[9]  “Ice Age Civilizations,” Global Science Productions, directed by Dr. Elliott Haimoff, released May 15, 2006.
[10] Patterson, “Chapter 1: What Is Science?”

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