Creationists are forever telling us that we can’t know what happened in the distant past because we weren’t there and we can’t re-create the past in the lab. Well, okay, but we nevertheless have a load of clues that anyone can see, and they consistently tell us the same story. That “story” (which includes geology and evolution) can lead to predictions about other clues we should find — which we do — see The Lessons of Tiktaalik. We can also make predictions about things we shouldn’t find, which we don’t — see Where Are The Anachronistic Fossils?
Because there’s no news to write about today, we’ll ask you to consider an unusual question: Under what circumstances would a belief in special creation be justified? We have one scenario that we’ve mentioned before, and you may have others.
Imagine a ship of interstellar explorers who have some kind of malfunction and manage to land on a distant and uninhabited planet. But all the adults are killed in the landing, and only a few of the youngest children emerge from the wreckage. They survive for a while on the ship’s supply of food, and after that runs out they find plants they can use for food in the alien landscape, and they can eat clams they find along the shore.
So the children survive. They mature and reproduce. Their numbers grow, but the resulting population has forgotten the ship that brought them to this world, and they have no idea that they are alien visitors. They know nothing of their origins, or science, or anything else. But the world allows them to survive, and it seems to be their natural home.
Over many centuries, the descendents of the castaways develop civilization. In due course, science emerges. Naturally, they wonder about their origins. Except for their sudden arrival, the rest of their story is similar to ours as we emerged from our savage origins. But what they learn is nothing like what we have learned.
They explore their world — which they think has always been their home — and they realize that besides themselves, there are no land animals other than insect-like creatures. In the oceans, there is no animal life — except shellfish and creatures like lobsters. Not only are they the only mammals in the world, they’re the only vertebrates. Nothing else is remotely like them. When they discover DNA, they can see that they are utterly unlike everything else in the world.
Even if they conclude that all the other life on their world is related, they’re strikingly different. So what would they conclude about their origins? It’s understandable if they imagine that they were specially created. Indeed, it would be amazing if they reached any other conclusion.
But what can we say about creationists here on Earth? Unlike the interstellar castaways, we can see that not only is all non-human life on this world related, but we too are related to the other creatures. We even see animals that are closely related to us — not only in their form, but also in their DNA. Under those circumstances, how can anyone ignore the evidence and insist that special creation is the answer?
Yet the creationists exist, and they wander around as if they were alien castaways on this world, utterly blind to the evidence that says otherwise. It’s totally inexplicable, but that’s what we’re dealing with.
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