Building a Creation Model

What is a scientific model?

A scientific model is a collection of observations, hypotheses, tested theories, and predictions that serve as a framework by which we understand additional data gathered from a particular field. Theories explain a lot of what we know about the natural world. They can even make testable predictions. However, just because a model is successful does not mean it is ultimately correct.

The theory of evolution is a scientific model. But it is important to understand that the process of evolution and the theory of evolution are not one and the same. The former can be described as the process by which new varieties of extant organisms develop and diversify from earlier forms through earth history. The theory of evolution, on the other hand, extrapolates this process in the hopes of explaining how all forms of life, from bacteria to dinosaurs to Homo sapiens, came from a universal common ancestor.

Dr. Todd Wood points out that “evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well.” [1] There is plenty of evidence from biology, the fossil record, genetics, biogeography, and other areas that support the process of evolution; it cannot be thrown out entirely.

For analogy, consider Alfred Wegner’s model of Continental Drift. It was ultimately proven incorrect as we gained new information from sonar of the ocean floor, satellite images and submersibles. Scientists later began to hypothesize that the earth’s crust was broken into many plates, and had a lot of data supporting that theory. Even though Wegner’s model was incorrect in some aspects it paved the way for the theory of plate tectonics. Similarly, while the conventional model is incorrect in many aspects, we can use what is useful from it and from there build a better model.

While we may not agree with every aspect of the theory of evolution (including the necessity of millions of years), many parts of it are not inconsistent with a biblical worldview. Indeed, much of it is observable. Organisms do change over time, often to a great extent, and that need not inherently support a naturalistic paradigm. For example, llamas and dromedary camels can mate and produce offspring, called a “cama.” Most creationists agree that the shared ability to hybridize between two species is an indication that they came from a common ancestor (a created kind). Hence, that original common ancestor of both the llama and camel must have been quite different from either modern descendants.

This is indicative of a good Designer who gave animals the ability to adapt to fill the earth and its specific niches. 

The Necessity of Model Building

It is not merely enough to point out the flaws in the model. Instead, what is needed is an even more robust model that explains the data better. This is where the biblical creationist researcher comes in. As biblical creationists, we have something conventional researchers do not: an eyewitness account of the earliest events of our planet’s history faithfully recorded in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. This gives us a great foundation. 

As such, a biblical model of earth history begins with the Bible. Genesis gives us a basic layout of a timeline and associated events (e.g. Creation, the Fall, Global Flood, etc). However, Scripture is not a science textbook and does not provide us with the physical mechanisms behind those events. We must look at the data from the natural world and draw conclusions based on our observations. 

A good biblically-based model should be able to explain data well and make testable predictions. In 1990, a group of creation scientists proposed the Catastrophic Plate Tectonics model as an alternative to traditional plate tectonics theory which extrapolates modern rates of continental movement into the distant past. [2] They were able to explain the same geologic data that supports ancient supercontinents, but on a timeline consistent with the biblical account of the Flood. Additionally, the model predicted that slabs of oceanic crust rapidly descended to the base of the mantle, and would likely be cooler than surrounding material. Since this prediction, anomalously cold dense material has been located beneath trenches close to the core!  

In summary, creation research needs to be forward-thinking and model-building. While using data to demonstrate how aspects of the conventional model are incorrect can be a good thing, it should be tied to work that lends to the development of our own comprehensive model.

“Whether or not a future Copernicus or Newton comes along to replace evolution with something better depends on us. If creationists content themselves with critiquing evolution, nothing will change (or if it does change, it will not be favorable to creationists). If instead creationists apply themselves to the development of new theories of creation, who knows what might happen?” — Todd Wood [3]

References

[1] Wood, T.C. (2009), The truth about evolution. Todd’s Blog. www.toddcwood.blogspot.com/2009/09/truth-about-evolution.html

[2] Lane, L. P. (1997). Catastrophic plate tectonics : a global flood model of earth history. Creation Research Society Quarterly, 34(1), 62–63.

[3] Wood, T.C. (2009), The Nature of Evidence. Todd’s Blog. www.toddcwood.blogspot.com/2009/10/nature-of-evidence.html