Is Any Scientific Research Free from Presuppositions?

by Dr. Georgia Purdom on July 11, 2008

As evidence of the growing “popularity” of Answers Research Journal (ARJ), the June 2008 issue of The Journal of Young Investigators (JYI) featured an article on ARJ entitled “Science for Christians.” JYI is an undergraduate, peer-reviewed, online science journal that highlights undergraduate research. I remember being interviewed by Kate Liebers, the article’s author, who is a zoology and journalism major at Miami University (Ohio). (Ken Ham and I were interviewed on the university’s radio station along with one of their professors, Dr. Nicholas Money. Dr. Money made the comment “I’m proud to be an Ape.”)

Going in the File

Saturdays are my favorite days at the computer. It’s the day Answers Weekly comes. Your referenced articles and news give me such a lift. I am a science teacher and have the privilege to teach creation science in a Christian school. Our school participates in the New York state Regents curricula, and my students have to take the state exams, but I get to point out the weaknesses in the uniformitarian model nearly every day. I have the REAL geologic time-line prominently displayed (Genesis 1).

I’m continually shining the light of truth on our scientific explorations, and AiG is such an important part of that process. This week, the diamond article and the E. coli article went into my file.

But your “stuff” never stops at just the current article. I often spend hours tracking down all the hyperlinks included in every article. Jason Lisle and Georgia Purdom are especially helpful with their cutting-edge insight. I thank the Lord every day for the ministry of Ken Ham and AIG.

—R.P., US

Different Is Good

We just finished Amazon Expedition for our VBS 2008. While space doesn’t allow me for all comments, overall it was one of the best VBS programs we have ever done. By far, the material was more relevant and applicable to the students than other VBS programs. We had 4 salvation decisions (Praise the Lord!) in our 5th and 6th grade classes. I just wanted to comment that while you are developing the 2009 VBS, please keep the material different from other VBS programs.

I can’t wait to hear more about VBS 2009. Thanks!

—J.H., U.S.

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Let us know what you think.

Liebers wrote a fairly objective article quoting not only from AiG staff (Ken Ham; Dr. Andrew Snelling, the ARJ editor; and me), but also from an atheist and evolutionist at Miami University, Dr. Douglas Meikle, Zoology Department Chair. I thought it would be informative to give feedback on the article, especially related to comments made by Dr. Meikle.

Miss Liebers did a good job of showing the heart of the origins debate—God’s Word or human reason—as evidenced by the following quotes (the “pledge” referred to by Dr. Meikle is Answers in Genesis’s Statement of Faith):

According to Miami University Zoology Department Chair, Douglas Meikle, PhD, such a pledge threatens objectivity and essentially defeats the purpose of science. “If that pledge genuinely reflects what you believe and think and how you’re going to make conclusions, it precludes your being able to actually do research,” Meikle said.
Snelling, however, stated that all scientists have certain beliefs that are reflected in their data interpretation. “Every scientist has to make assumptions or has beliefs about how the evidence all fits together,” said Snelling. “If it’s legitimate for [evolutionary biologists] to have their belief system on which they base their science, it’s just as legitimate for a Christian to have the Bible as their belief system for which they base their science.”

Addressing the similarities and differences of ARJ and mainstream (and thus, secular) science journals, Miss Liebers comments:

According to Purdom, in order for an article to be published in ARJ, the author’s position must be consistent with the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Purdom explained how the peer-review process includes not only fact checking, but also faith checking.

Although I do not specifically recall using the term “faith checking,” this type of checking is true for all scientific journals. This is why creation scientists have such a difficult time publishing in mainstream scientific journals: our faith is in the superiority of the Word of God and the editors of these journals place their faith in the superiority of human reasoning. As I also stated in the article:

“The main difference [between ARJ and other science journals] . . . is the starting point or the view point [sic] for looking at the science.”

Dr. Meikle comments a bit later:

“All [the creation scientists] really have available is the opportunity to try to discredit various components of evolutionary theory. Because what evidence could you collect to test the idea of creation by a creator?”

The articles written for ARJ certainly point out the weaknesses of evolutionary ideas, but they also seek to build the creation model. The editors of ARJ desire to publish articles that give greater insight into God’s creation, such as how we get all the different species of cattle from the original created cattle kind. In response to Dr. Meikle’s last comment, I could also argue, “What evidence could you collect to test the idea of evolution by random, chance forces over billions of years?” Both creationists and evolutionists view the same evidence; the difference is the starting point—God’s Word or human reason.

I have to disagree with Dr. Meikle on this next point:

Meikle agreed that although some scientists might “approach their research with various degrees of bias,” the objective scientists are willing to debate the evidence and the validity of their conclusions.

There is no such thing as a truly objective scientist! I seriously doubt Dr. Meikle is willing to debate the validity of evolution.

Miss Liebers goes on to say:

Creation scientists, however, accept the evidence that confirms their preconceived beliefs about how God created the world. After all, they have that Statement of Faith pledge to abide by. According to Meikle, researchers driven by a religious belief tend to pick-and-choose certain data.

This infers that there is evidence that does not confirm God created the world and creationists “pick-and-choose” only the evidence that does. Once again, it is not a matter of the evidence, but how we view that evidence in light of our starting points. For example, see this article I have written on research done by Dr. Richard Lenksi on evolution in bacteria. In addition, what we abide by is God’s Word; AiG’s Statement of Faith is a manmade document (although based on principles found in God’s Word).

Interestingly, Dr. Meikle does not deny the evidence for a major Flood:

There is also geological evidence, Meikle noted, of a very large flood that happened almost instantly. Although it may not have been worldwide, such evidence could correlate with accounts of a massive flood.

So why does Dr. Meikle deny God and the Bible when the evidence clearly supports Scripture? It is because of another correlation as Dr. Snelling later states:

“If there was a global flood then the Bible is right and therefore there has to be a creator and therefore they have to acknowledge Him and, as the Bible says, they have to repent and acknowledge His existence [sic]. They would rather try to explain the evidence without acknowledging His existence. . . . So it’s actually a spiritual issue—it’s not a scientific issue.”

Despite acknowledging a plausible link between geological evidence and Scripture, Dr. Meikle thinks the beliefs of biblical creationists are “dumb”:

“That’s all we have, our brains,” said Meikle. “If you want to have faith that the earth is 6,000 years old and ignore data, that’s fine by me. It sounds incredibly dumb, but if your faith takes you there, that’s fine. But it’s a statement of faith.

In Dr. Meikle’s evolutionary and atheistic worldview if all we have is our brains (brought about by the random, chance forces of evolution and composed of chemical interactions that vary from person to person), then how can anyone judge what is smart and dumb? How are truths and lies determined? There is no source of absolute truth and authority in that worldview. He is right that how we look at the world begins with a “statement of faith.” The question is faith in what—God’s Word or human reasoning that chooses to ignore the only Eyewitness’s revelation.

Interestingly, Miss Liebers shares that Dr. Meikle actually follows the Ten Commandments (well, at least nine of them):

Meikle, speaking as an atheist, said he was offended that creationists assume that this makes him an ‘evil’ person. He said he tries to live by the all the commandments, excluding the commandment that acknowledges God.
“I think [the commandments] are fundamentally important because I’m an evolutionary biologist . . . here’s a certain irony; I think evolutionary biology explains why the establishment and adherence of those set of rules is so critically important for a society of humans to behave in a civilized fashion,” Meikle said.
Meikle explained how evolutionary theory suggests how people might be predisposed to steal, for example, in order to benefit the self. Yet, if the principles of Christianity were valued, those who disobeyed them would be naturally selected against and isolated.

It could be said that creationists are offended by his assumption about us all. Most would not call him, or any evolutionist, evil—at least not for the reasons he apparently presumes. The Scriptures say, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), which means that all humanity is evil in relation to God. The difference between him and a Christian (note we did not say creationist) is that we have asked Christ to redeem us with His blood, covering our sins (evil, if you will) with His righteousness. Using an evolutionary and atheistic worldview, he does not have a basis (a source of absolute authority) for judging that stealing is wrong and the commandment not to steal is right. He says it is necessary for “a society of humans to behave in a civilized fashion,” but who determines what is civilized? The definition of civilized will vary among individuals, if the idea of “civilized” comes from our brains (as noted earlier).

Miss Liebers concludes the article with this:

Meikle, however, said he hopes it will have very little impact.

(I am sure he does hope ARJ has very little impact, since he seems to think so “highly” of us!)

“I don’t understand this demonization of evolution. . . . I think it is seriously misguided and erodes our understanding of science,” Meikle said. “I don’t mean to dismiss the religious beliefs of Christians. I do, however, when they’re . . . attacking the evolutionary theory. . . . It’s anti-intellectual. It’s anti-science. It’s anti-thinking.”
As many scientists continue to question, research, and test various theories, the studies of AiG creation scientists reflect their beliefs of the universe as it is stated in the Bible.

Dr. Meikle actually has it backwards: evolution is the anti-science, not creation. It is interesting that although there are thousands of scientific journals that are steeped in evolutionary thought, one more journal added to the handful of creation research journals is getting people so upset. Miss Liebers ends with a good summary—ARJ is committed to publishing articles of creation scientists that start with the Bible as their foundation, their starting point, for looking at God’s creation and developing models within that framework to understand it better.

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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.