What Is Creationism? Is It Scientific?

Like evolution, creationism can have more than one meaning. At its most basic, creationism is the belief that the universe was created by a deity of some sort — but after that, there is quite a lot of variety among creationists as to just what they believe and why. Some believe that a god simply started the universe off and then left it alone; others believe in a deity that has been actively involved in the universe since creation. People may lump all creationists together in one group, but it is important to understand where they differ and why.

of 06

Types of Creationism and Creationist Thinking

Spauln / Getty Images

Creationism comes in many different shapes and sizes. Some creationists believe in a flat earth. Some believe in a young earth. Other creationists believe in an old earth. A few portray creationism as scientific and others hide it behind the label Intelligent Design. A few admit that creationism is just a religious belief with no connection to science whatsoever. The more you learn about the different types and forms of creationist thinking, the better your criticisms can be.

of 06

Creationism and Evolution

Perhaps the most significant characteristic of Scientific Creationism is its focus on evolution. Although some creationists try to engage in scientific work or try to develop arguments about how a global flood could have created the geological evidence we find, most of what passes for debate among creationists is little more than attacks on evolution itself. This betrays what the primary concern of creationism ultimately is: to reject and deny evolution, not to provide any realistic, reasonable explanations for the development of life.

of 06

Creationism and Flood Geology

The flood story in Genesis plays a central role in the arguments of Scientific Creationists — more central than many outsiders seem to realize. The flood story isn't used by creationists as a means for simply trying to demonstrate that Creationism can be scientific; rather, it is also a means for trying to undermine evolution. The flood story further demonstrates the extent to which creationism ultimately depends and relies upon fundamentalist religion rather than science or reason.

of 06

Creationist Tactics

Creationist arguments against evolution depend heavily on falsehoods, distortions, and fundamental misunderstandings of science. Creationists have to do this because their position doesn't stand a chance against evolution from a rational, scientific perspective. A reasoned, fact-based debate isn't possible for creationism, so creationists inevitably have to resort to half-truths, misrepresentations, and even outright lies. This is in itself a revelation about what creationism really is, because if creationism was a sound system, it would be able to rely entirely on the truth.

of 06

Is Creationism Scientific?

Creationists commonly argue that their position is not only scientific but even that it is more scientific than evolution. That is a pretty dramatic claim, especially since it has been established beyond any question or doubt that evolution is a scientific theory, founded on good scientific research. Creationism, in contrast, doesn't live up to any basic scientific standard and doesn't fit any of the basic characteristics of scientific research. The only way for creationism to be considered scientific would be to redefine science to the point that it becomes unrecognizable.

of 06

Creationism and Science

Are creationism and science antithetical? Not as much as you might think — or at least, not in the way you might think. Creationism is definitely not scientific and while it may seem obvious to conclude that creationist beliefs are incompatible with science, the first hint that something is amiss should be clear when we observe how much effort creationists put into arguing that they are being scientific and that evolution is not scientific.