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This Monday I wrote a brief summary of my exchange with the (in)famous Answers in Genesis. One aspect of this discussion was whether or not most of the work by creation “scientists” is actually scientific. I claim it isn’t given that science is based on making and testing predictions, whilst most of what creationists do is post-dicting (technically called retrodicting). Rather than trying to make new discoveries which would confirm the world is 6,000 years old they cram existing discoveries into their world view in the hope of proping it up.

Answers in Genesis, perhaps unsurprisingly, disputed this position claiming there were loads of instances of creationists making predictions. Like when they predicted the results of ENCODE ahead of time! And…err…that guy in 1859 who predicted plate tectonics based on his beliefs about the flood. So there!

At the time I didn’t bother to challenge that last notion about Antonio Snider-Pellegrini’s predictions about plate tectonics because I’m just not that bothered. However, the good folks over at the British Centre of Science Education (a top notch organisation I keep meaning to join) are keen to hold AiG’s feet over the fire and have takeb them to task on the matter.

Brian Jordan, of their forums, pointed out that Pellegrini (a) didn’t predict plate tectonics based on his beliefs about the flood but rather hypothesised plate tectonics existed and then attributed their movement to the flood and (b) wasn’t the first to propose ideas about plate tectonics, with earlier thinkers figuring out they may have existed, making little reference to the flood in their work.

So this proud example of creation science Answers in Genesis actually has very little connection to creationism; with the theory being seemingly developed indepdentently of the Bible and then retrodicted back into it. Like most other examples of creation science.


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Categories: Creationism


--Rick · 21st April 2013 at 10:13 pm

Interesting article. Thanks for posting.

    Adam Benton · 22nd April 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Don’t thank me, thank the BCSE!

      --Rick · 22nd April 2013 at 6:20 pm

      I thank the British Centre for Science Education, but I also hold my thanks to your blog for bringing a topic to my attention that might well have gone unnoticed by me and for introducing me to yet another remarkable website.

Artem Kaznatcheev · 21st April 2013 at 10:14 pm

I think that exploring and learning new ideas should be part of any reasonable definition of science. As such, any “science” that is established with a single goal of reinforcing or finding evidence for dogma is disqualified. If it actually follows some part of the scientific method then it is still at best a pseudoscience, but most likely it is just hokum.

    Adam Benton · 22nd April 2013 at 6:09 pm

    I think that’s a key point many classic definitions of science miss out on. Even when “true” research attempts to replicate existing results, it is done so in a manner that doesn’t necessarily mean it will confirm those results. Conversely, AiG makes you sign a statement of faith right out the gates.

Jim Thomerson · 22nd April 2013 at 1:45 am

I was a beginning MS in Geology student. Fall of 1959. My cohort was enrolled in a required general geology class taught by several professors. About half the semester was devoted to debunking continental drift. I used to have a 12 page single spaced purple mimeograph handout presenting the anti arguments. When I took zoogeography in 1967, we used Darlington’s 1957 fixed continent text. During that time frame, various discoveries were made, and by 1965, plate tectonics was the generally accepted theory. I think this is one of the best examples of a paradigm shift as discussd by Thomas Kuhn.

DNA philogenies of the Aplochiloid killifishes strongly suggest continental drift as the vicariance events which led to evolution of the various families. I am not completely clear that estimated ages of origin of the various families go back far enough to be the result of continental drift, but it is an intriguing hypothesis.

    Adam Benton · 22nd April 2013 at 6:11 pm

    It would be interesting to go back to that purple hand out and examining the arguments presented with the clarity of hind sight. Were they genuine points raised over ambiguous data, or was a little bit of dogma starting to seep in?

Jim Thomerson · 22nd April 2013 at 10:39 pm

I really don’t remember. One problem was that there was no evidence of the continents sliding around lubricated by mud on the sea floor, and there was no mechanism proposed for the force which moved them. I got several of the biology graduate students at Tulane interested. One of the students made copies of the handout for several of us. We went up to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge to hear a seminar by one of the original drifters, not Wegner, but I do not recall his name. His presentation removed any doubt that continents have moved around, and we were all convinced.

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