The Next Generation of Creation Scientists?

Where is the next generation of creation scientists?   I don’t mean the next generation of believers in creation science but the next generation of creation science experts who will continue the legacy of Morris, Austin, Humphreys, Woodmorappe, Wood, Bergman, Oarde, Baumgardner, etc… I have to believe that this has to be a question that many of the first generation creation scientist have to be asking themselves quite a bit.   How is a new creation scientist generated?  Obviously educational indoctrination through materials from the youngest age is critical to form a younger generation with the correct worldview.  That might create another Ken Ham and I’m sure there are a lot of Ken Ham wannabes out there already but Ken Ham is a communicator not a scientist.  He defends with rhetoric which he presumes is backed up by legitimate scientists doing real research to show that his claims about science are true.    Many people can become politicians but politicians rarely do the grunt work of crunching numbers and actually generating the nuts and bolts of the bills they espouse.    Where is the next generation of scientists who will continue what they claim is the science of creation science?  I realize that many will be reading thinking to yourselves, but young earth creationism never was a science and is solely based solely on rhetoric.  But I am looking at this from the Christian layperson view of creation science.  They don’t believe Ken Ham just because he is Ken Ham, although I am sure there are many that mistake Ken Ham for a scientist and theologian.  They believe Ken Ham partly because they believe that Ken Ham is standing on the shoulders of experts that have scrutinized the scientific and Biblical evidence.   Ken Ham and other creation science spokesperson’s credibility is based on the perception that they have evidence to back up their claims.   YEC leaders like Ken Ham are constantly making claims that a young earth is backed by a chorus of Christian PhD scientists who have dedicated their careers to providing evidence for such claims.

But what happens when all there is are rhetoric flourishes including appeals to a past generation of creation scientists for legitimacy?    One of the mantras of young earth creationists organizations over the years has been that they need money to do their own research which would help to even the playing field with secular science.  This research, though not necessarily persuasive, would provide further evidence to the secular scientific world  that their theories for the earth’s origin are better or at least making a case for being an alternative contender in scientific world.   It is obvious that this was the great hope of George McCready Price in the earth 20th century and then by Whitcomb and Morris in the 1960s  who nearly 30 years ago now made attempts to have creation science incorporated into secular education curricula.  I think the expectation 50 years ago was that by now there would be hundreds of Christian young earth believing scientists who would be so convinced of this young earth model and that their views would snowball and become commonplace in mainstream literature.

Published in 1974 this is one of many books by Dr. Henry Morris the modern father of the creation science movement.

Has creation science been a success?  
Any person who has donated to this effort over the past 20 years has to wonder if they are getting what they were promised.   Yes, there is a fancy creation museum, lots of publicity, tons of literature and polls that suggest that large numbers of the public believe the earth is young. That sounds like a lot of success.  But, the bottom line is that in terms of convincing scientists and future scientists that young earth theories actually work and can be used as a legitimate alternative for understanding the origins and development of the earth’s geological formations, success is not a word I would use.   Real success would be demonstrating that individuals who have the background to understand the data and evaluate the models because they have studied the processes involved and been involved in actual research (gone into the field, collected data, analyzed data, written about it and been reviewed by their peers to test the logic of their conclusions) are convinced that the young earth models are viable theories.  Any movement can sustain itself for a time by shaping perceptions and beliefs through rhetoric but to sustain itself those beliefs and perceptions must be under-girded with ideas that can be intelligently defended.    Henry Morris laid out a lot of ideas in his Genesis Flood manifesto many of which were not strongly supported by evidence at the time.  Rather, he hoped that his framework for flood geology would be tested and improved with the gaps of knowledge filled in by future generations of creation scientists. I am sure that most creation scientists will argue that much has been learned since the publication of The Genesis Flood and of course those ideas have been much discussed and have changed somewhat over time but I would suggest the theories today are not much more sophisticated today than they were then.  For those that never found the arguments in The Genesis Flood convincing there aren’t any more compelling reasons today to believe in flood geology than there was 50 years ago.

Returning to the question of where are the future generations of creation scientists?  I am not suggesting that there isn’t some young blood in the movement.  Answers in Genesis has had some younger hires in the last decade some of were fairly fresh PhDs in scientific fields but at AIG their time is spent giving talks and writing newsletter articles rather than doing any scientific research.  They filter news stories and form creationists responses to secular science stories but they aren’t generating new data or doing the work of creating a positive testable scientific paradigm.   Creation Ministries International (CMI) has a couple of PhD scientists on staff that received their degrees within the past 20 years and are active writers in creation science journal (more about these journals in my next post).  The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) has two legitimate younger PhD scientists (Jeanson and Lisle)  both of which are actively engaged in some research and writing.  Lisle has only recently come over from AIG possibly to be more involved in research since his ability to do so at AIG would have been quite limited.   I’ve been critical of both Lisle and Jeanson in the past (The Salty Sea and the Age of the Earth) but that isn’t the point of my post here.   ICR had a graduate school offering degrees in biology and geology for at least 15 years.  Part of the goal of this graduate school was to train the next generation of creation scientists.  Where did they all go?  I don’t know how many graduates they produced but I have found fewer than five creationist scientists on the payrolls of organizations today that list a graduate degree by ICR in their educational background.    I have to believe that when Henry Morris formed ICR he envisioned hundreds of scientists today actively applying the creation model to the historical sciences not just mouthing support for it.   That former obviously hasn’t happened despite the proliferation of creation science organizations with their significant financial resources and publishing capacity    Creationists list hundreds of PhD scientists who are creation scientists but this is not the same as saying there are hundreds of creation scientists doing creation science.    The majority of these PhD scientists are simply scientists who are Christians and believe in the cause of creation science and most are likely not even  familiar with the evidence for creation science.

I’m not saying there aren’t any young creation scientists who are making an impact. I’m saying that for a movement that claims the evidence is overwhelming for a young earth and with 30 solid years of training and recruiting scientists to take up the mantle of creation science the response has been rather underwhelming.  In the following post, I will look at a measure of the intellectual output of creation science: its professional publications.

This post is a follow up on my previous post:  Creation Science Organizations: Past, Present and Future

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Comments

  1. The younger generation may be too scientifically well-informed to take up the commercial enterprise of Ken Ham. I teach at a Christian school and recently made this 2-part presentation to the senior Bible classes and about 80 sophomores. Most of the students were grateful to learn that there is no conflict between science and Genesis.

    http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2012/10/a-scientific-timeline-of-genesis.html

    • Hi Alice, I think there may be plenty that would take on the leadership positions of the movement itself though I think Ham’s son has the fast track to that position. But if it could be said that there were an intellectual core to the movement the older generation of thinkers still form that core and they are not replacing themselves with an expanded number of serious defenders. One would think that if YEC science were really as good as they say it is and that the evidence for an old earth really is overwhelming, that the 40-50 years of publishing and refining their models would be causing thousands of Christians who are scientists to be taking up the cause. There will always be a few that will believe no matter the evidence and will continue to write in support of flood geology but lack of experts flocking to their defense in quite an indictment on the strength of their evidence.

  2. Fantastic post here. Thanks for delving into this issue, which I find fascinating. Do you think that YEC may just become entirely smokescreens in the future? If there are few people with degrees doing research into the scientific aspects, then how will the movement continue other than through sheer rhetoric and resting its laurels on refuted theories?

    • I should be clear that I’m not saying that YEC organizations are devoid of any research interests just that the amount of research they are doing is far less than would be expected of a healthy science. A science that was providing answers that stimulate further research and holds out promising future finds is attractive and brings in new people. YEC science may not be replacing its scientists or if they are, they are just barely. Just today on Ken Hams blog he refers to a “research” paper they are publishing on biblical kinds that were on the ark. I won’t go over the details here but the paper is not much research and lots and lots of conjecture. Ham plays up the paper with words like “I do praise the Lord for AiG’s research department, headed up by Dr. Andrew Snelling. This department will provide us with tremendous information we can use to equip Christians to defend the Christian faith and answer skeptical questions of our day that are used to cause people to doubt the Bible.”
      You can see that Ham is saying just what I said is needed – information that people like him can use. Ken Ham wants to be able to claim that his words are based on research. I have read all the other work by this author of this work and there isn’t much too it. Nothing in this paper is going to make any other scientists re-evaluate anything they know. All it does is to help Ken Ham be able to say that all the animals could have easily fit on the ark.
      To your question. It can’t continue with such a shaky foundation (both science and hermaneutics) but I think it will always be with us. There will always be those that feel they must believe and therefore they must defend their beliefs with any argument that they can possibly make. But YEC I really do believe has seen its best days already. The market is saturated to put it in economical terms and only the die-hard customers are going to come back for more. I’ve been doing to work with search numbers again, this time on Google trends. I’ve been surprised to find that most YEC search terms have seen a decline over the past 5 years. In fact science/faith topics seem to be receiving less interest as well. After a 20 year period of frenetic publishing, discussion and debate we may be seeing some decline in interest in the creation/evolution debate.

  3. Charlie Kaufmann says:

    You’ve got to be kidding! There never was a FIRST generation of YEC scientists… only unsubstantiable conjectureists (Morris, et al). It’s not science, it’s a religious view.

    • Just because they are wrong doesn’t mean that there are not a group of people that are considered the fathers of the movement to explain, via naturalistic mechanisms how the world could be young. There are undoubtedly those in that group that don’t understand science and/or spin data to fit their presuppositional beliefs but whatever they are they are still looking for a second generation. It is partially because their science is a failure that a second generation is not blossoming as you might expect if there were an substance to what they are doing.

  4. A religious view that is not supported by the evidence of either science nor the Bible. YEC dogma is NOT biblical. http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2013/05/yec-dogma-is-not-biblical.html

Trackbacks

  1. [...] The future of creationism relies for the larger part on the next generation of creation scientists. No one would disagree with that. The Next Generation of Henry Morris, Wood and others has not yet risen. At least that is what the Natural Historian said on his blog in an article with title ‘The Next Generation of Creation Scientists‘. [...]

  2. [...] month ago the Natural Historian was wondering where the next generation of creation scientists were hiding – not the next crop of believers, but the next “scientists” like Russell [...]

  3. [...] looks at scholarly works by YECs over a recent period of time and evaluates what it means for YEC; The Next Generation of Creation Scientists?- this post looks at who may be stepping in to fill the roles of the major YEC [...]

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