Friday, 26 October 2012

Law For Creationists

A great deal of Creationism depends on people misunderstanding simple words, which is why the most lucrative market for those who peddle creationism for a living is to be found in the less well educated parts of the world, and why the creationist package includes a mistrust of education and an admiration for ignorance as part of the deal.

An example of this can be found daily in the social media where the term 'theory' is assiduously and carefully 'misunderstood' in it's scientific context and given it's lay meaning. This helps creationists dismiss science as merely guesswork and claim wrongly that the Theory of Evolution therefore does not have any supporting evidence.

This 'misunderstanding' often goes hand in hand with a misunderstanding of the scientific term 'Law', as in 'Law of Gravity', 'Law of Conservation of Energy', 'Boyle's Law', etc, etc. Here, the trick is to confuse the term with the way it is used for Man-made laws, like Contract law, Common Law, Road Traffic Law, etc.

This enables creationists to come up with one of their favourite 'killer' questions, "Who made the scientific laws"? Leaving aside the deliberate loading of that question with the first word, and leaving aside the fact that a question intended to be unanswerable is one intended to kill the debate rather than to discover the truth, what else is wrong with this question?

Quite simply, a Man-made law and a scientific Law are very different things.

Man-made laws are coercive. They seek to control the actions of people who have a choice. They can forbid an action, such robbing a bank or hijacking a plane, or they can compel an action, like wearing seat-belts whilst driving or stopping at red lights. Yet people still rob banks, hijack planes, jump red lights or leave their seat-belts off. Because people have a choice, if governments want these laws enforced they need a police force to monitor the people and courts to determine if the law was broken, and what penalty to levy if it was.

Scientific laws are descriptive. They describe what will always happen in a given circumstance. There is no freedom of choice for an electron orbiting an atomic nucleus, for an atom reacting with another atom in a chemical reaction, for a planet in motion round a sun or for differential survival rates in future generations for different alleles of the same gene in a selective environment. No one is monitoring the universe, arresting elementary particles and handing out penalties for non-compliance and no government or governor is deciding what the laws are and which laws to enforced.

Scientific laws are essentially simple descriptions of what happens. Take a simple example of traffic moving along the Santa Ana Freeway, Los Angeles, CA, with all the drivers choosing to obey the law by driving on the right, and not exceeding the local speed limit, because the local cops are around, when the San Andreas Fault slips and tilts a section of the freeway to an angle of 60 degrees. The traffic will cease obeying Man-made laws by choice and will obey Newton's Laws of Motion and Einstein's Law of General Relativity instead. The drivers will not have any choice in the latter.

Simple, uneducated and unintelligent people, especially those who have been fooled by Creationist charlatans like, to take a random example, Jason Lisle of Answers In Genesis, Inc, who knows full well what a scientific law is but pretends not to, have great difficulty understanding this distinction and so easily fall prey to the idea that if there are scientific laws there must be a law maker.

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  1. This is well reasoned and useful article, well written as well. I am looking forward to reading your various posts. I came to the conclusion some time ago that evolution in its macro-form was untnnable scientifically for a number of reasons - most compellingly irreducable conplexity. I look forward to reading the arguments against my position and hipe your site will provide a good starting point. Once I have done this work I expect to be able to put forward my findings for further discussion. I appreciate that your website is focused on providing evidence and reasoned argument and hipe to be in a position to do this, whatever my findings.

    1. I assume you'll be subjecting your research finding to peer review prior to publication. Have you thought about what you'll be spending your Nobel Prize money on?

      This page on Evolution is the main starting point for my blogs on Evolution. No doubt your expertise in the subject can help me understand where I've gone wrong.

      Incidentally, what books on Evolution have read and what did you find to be wrong with them? May I have access to the research papers please?


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