The claim has been made over and over again that biblical creationists are not real scientists. This has been particularly applied to the natural or physical sciences as compared to the social sciences. Some claim that creationists can’t think properly because of their “distorted” worldview. Thus they can’t do real science. Of course this is all nonsense. Belief in a Creator God does not impede one progress in scientific research but there are many examples where evolutionary beliefs have done so. One example that springs to mind is that of junk DNA, which survived as a scientific concept, at least, partly due to tacit evolutionary assumptions, and as a result very much delayed our understanding of the genome.1
I recently watched a short YouTube film called the “The Truth About PhD Creationists,”2 which argues along the lines of my opening statement. The author contrasted one measurable metric that might be used to gauge the quality and success of a scientist’s career — his/her publications and their citations — between those of one of the most well-known “big guns” of creation science, Dr D. Russell Humphreys, and that of one of the most well-known atheist personalities Dr Lawrence Krauss. Both have PhD’s in physics. See the table below reproduced from the YouTube film, with one additional line of data. The table is quite self-explanatory.
The obvious point made is that Humphreys, a biblical creationist, has not published anything like Krauss, a secular atheist.
The third entry is Dr Stephanie Chasteen, also with a PhD in physics but an educational consultant for high schools and colleges. She is offered as a better comparison with Humphreys because much of Humphreys’ career involved work at Sandia Labs in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which was secret and he could not publish. Chasteen is not involved in academic research and so the author thought it more of a fitting comparison than compare him with Krauss. But I claim that that is still an unfair comparison.
I could go on about using these types of metrics as a fair comparison at all, because there are often other factors, including commercial imperatives, that may have not been taken into consideration. But as a counter-argument I offer myself as also a PhD creationist. I list my own academic statistics for the past 15 years, which is the period I have been involved in academia and publishing my research. I am not claiming I have had any sort of a stellar academic career, but that I am a research physicist working in secular Australian universities, and collaborating with engineers and scientists around the world. The papers I include are only those published in the secular peer-reviewed journals, and compiled from the Web of Science database, the same as that used in the YouTube film.
Below I show a citation rate by year since I entered university to do a PhD in physics, which was completed in 2000. As may be noted I have been publishing on average the same number of papers per year as Krauss. However because many of my publications (~50%) are published in engineering journals citations are generally much lower. This fact is well recognised. From the histogram my citation rate is now closer to 100/year than the overall average.
Using my Researcher ID number F-7037-2010 you can access this data to verify it is true.
I also collaborate with many institutions worldwide listed here. Below is a map of where many are located around the world. If you click here you will get a live version of the map, where by hovering your cursor over each A marker you will see the location of the collaborator.
Another tool used a lot by academics is found on the ResearchGate website which allows sharing of available papers and preprints of them, which means pre-publication versions of the papers. It gives you statistics of the number of downloads of your papers, where one has made them available. Not all can due to copyright restrictions. But ResearchGate also lists the number of publication views and citations. The latter are different to the Web of Science metric, possibly because the publications also include some conference proceedings, and preprints which are not used in the Web of Science database.
Lastly, ResearchGate gives another useful statistic, the list of most downloaded papers. See right. This list has my top four downloads, yet as a biblical creationists, according to many commentators out there I am not a real scientist. Yet each of these papers downloaded are what anyone would call real science, even though there is a lot of engineering in the experiments that were carried out.
The same could be said to be true when the University of Western Australia awarded me and my co-author $10,000 for a single paper we published in the Reviews of Modern Physics in 2011.3 Read the whole story here. Reviews of Modern Physics journal has the highest impact factor of any journal, 43; higher than that for Nature or Science. The Vice-Chancellor (or President) of the university must have thought that was real science when he handed me $10,000.
I can only conclude that the whole premise of judging one’s ability to do real science based on his/her religious or philosophical worldview is false. No doubt, one’s worldview affects how one interprets evidence but it is entirely evidence that is related to the past history of the Universe, the planet and life on it (hence circumstantial evidence). It has little impact on operational experimental laboratory science.
The real difference between Humphreys and Krauss is that the former believes in the biblical history as written in Genesis in the Bible, while Krauss believes the Universe created itself from ‘nothing’ without a Creator. One believes a self-existent omniscient Creator created the Universe from nothing and the other believes the Universe created itself from nothing.
However, when comparing cosmogonies there is no experimental evidence to prove which position is correct and which is false. Cosmology is not really even science. That is admitted by leading cosmologists. Cosmology requires many unverifiable assumptions, so to conclude Humphreys is less of a scientist because he is a biblical creationist is failing to understand the issues. Being a biblical creationist does not cause you to be a bad scientist.
- John Woodmorappe, Junk DNA indicted.
- YouTube film called the “The Truth About PhD Creationists”.
- John G. Hartnett and Andre N. Luiten, Colloquium: Comparison of astrophysical and terrestrial frequency standards, Reviews of Modern Physics 83, 1-9, 2011.
6 replies on “Who says biblical creationists aren’t real scientists?”
“Of course this is all nonsense.” It’s not. Most YEC scientists participate in blanket dogmatic denial of any scientific findings that are perceived as ‘denying scripture’.
Your statement is quite loaded where ‘scientific findings’ needs to be defined. As I have stated before and in this article, the interpretation of evidence is always through the worldview (or religious position) of the researcher. This is in regards to those fields of ‘science’ that hope to answer questions of origins. By definition the evidence is circumstantial as either the putative process occurs too slowly for observation in human lifetimes or it is an unobserved past one-off event. In these regards non-YEC scientists also follow their own dogmas, maintaining it often in spite of the circumstantial evidence to the contrary.
But I think the main point of this article can be expressed in the mere existence of YEC PhD scientists working in both academia and in industry. In the former case there are hundreds, maybe thousands, around the world. I personally knew there were 4 PhD YEC scientists at my old university in Western Australia, including myself. Based on 1400 research staff that is about 0.28% of the cohort. Evangelical Christians are a very small minority in Australia, some say 4% of the population, but I think it is less, and the YEC versions probably could be estimated at one tenth of that, or 0.4%. So the number of YEC scientists per unit population is, assuming it to be one hundredth of YECs, about 0.004%. Assuming research scientists are in the same proportion in the general population makes YEC scientists in the population about 0.0028% based my old university stats, which is about the same as the fraction derived from the general population. Nevertheless, we exist.
My conclusion is that YEC scientists are like any other except their numbers are small, yet in proportion to what one would expect in the population. The success of their work like any other depends on many factors, and in my opinion, the least of which is their religious belief system. Universities in Australia hold to principles of equity and diversity and on several occasions those rules have been used to defend my right to hold the views I do without me doing anything.
All I have been hearing about creationist is that they are not scientist and this is always based on the failure of the critics to understand what is a worldview: they only authenticate their own. But as I was reading this article and reflecting on several you have made in the last month, especially ‘is math intrinsic’ I had the following thought that I would like you to comment on given your expertise in the area. I was thinking about how at the turn of the century we communicated with each other worldwide. I wrote a letter and you received it two to three months later if you lived on the other side of the world and I lived in New York. I could tell you I get married and looking for a new home. I would get it several months later happy for your marriage. But the next letter is sent from a friend informing me that my friend and wife were killed in a fire. So for two months they had already been dead and I had no way of knowing. But in reality today I could contact that same person on the other side of the world and instantly know what was going on. Well here is what I dreamt. I was having the same thought at the same time as someone living on the other side of the universe. What separated me from that person was the distance we are apart but we can have the same thought at the same time. Just like you living on the other side of the world we could think of a conversation that could be going on right now! If that were true that we could do that then where would that person on the other side of the universe be right now given that I sharing this thought with that person right now? Where would they be located in the universe right now since what we are seeing is images of places that existed according to science millions of years ago? Just curious to know what you think? PS. I believe that according to scripture on God can do this so for me its a possibility. Thanks
Richard, It is interesting that you raise this scenario because it is almost exactly the same as that which Lee Smolin raises in his book “Time Reborn” where he argues that time is real in the Universe. He considers hypothetical people on different sides of the earth and the same idea you raise of what they might be thinking at the same moment when they are on opposite sides of the planet. This may then be transposed onto the Universe. Smolin says “now” exists for each person at the same moment of time, therefore time is real, a universal concept. Einstein’s General Relativity describes more of a timeless universe, a block picture. Everything is described by timeless perfect laws. Smolin considers this true for all observers regardless where they are in the Universe. But I understand General Relativity gives the Universe another property of defining time in a special way, i.e. through the “now” experienced by the observer. It is not a universal “now” but a “now” communicated through light, which carries information throughout the Universe at a finite speed. So the universe we see “now” is the same “now” for the whole universe. From a calculation with constant speed of light, c, which means using Einstein’s Simultaneity Convention (ESC), that would mean those events occurred in our past, but with an alternate convention, the Anisotropic Simultaneity Convention (ASC), it means all the universe we see has the same moment we call “now”. But that is not the same “now” that one might calculate form the ESC. Read THE ANISOTROPIC SYNCHRONY CONVENTION MODEL AS A SOLUTION TO THE CREATIONIST STARLIGHT-TRAVEL-TIME PROBLEM — PART I and its sequel Part II.
John Hartnett has asked me to defend myself here. I’ll only remark about the evolutionists’ list of my publications, just to illustrate their lack of reliability as information sources. Their list cites 11, an underestimate by about a factor of ten. See the bottom of my CMI bio at
The “Secular science publications and awards” section lists 16 technical papers, 3 patents, and 5 awards. These do not include a number of technical papers rejected by secular journals for their creationist implications. For the full story about one such incident, see
I admit this is not a great amount of secular publications, but unlike academicians who must publish or perish, my position and salary at Sandia National Laboratories didn’t depend on my publication list. I published only when I felt I had something new and worthwhile to say. Another big reason was that I was putting most of my non-working-hours into creationist publications. The section in my bio called “Creationist publications” lists 63 articles and books, plus 4 awards. Most of the articles were technical, published in creationist peer-reviewed technical journals. I count these as being more worthwhile than my secular publications.
Last, there is the section in my bio called “Web articles”, which lists 39 articles. Many of those report new technical ideas and are at least as worthwhile as most articles in secular journals.
In all, I count 118 articles and books, 3 U.S. Patents, and 9 awards. Those are a tiny bit more than 11.
Chattanooga, TN, USA
It is a red herring to question of the qualifications of scientists who are creationists. Evolutionists claim that the only people qualified to speak on the validity of Evolution are those scientists who embrace Evolution. By this definition, any scientist who speaks out against Evolution is automatically disqualified. This is a very convenient way to silence any opposition to Evolution, but it is certainly not a valid argument.
Pro-evolutionists insist that the theory be taught to grade-school children, so it clearly does not require a post-graduate degree nor hundreds of refereed publications to comprehend the basic theory and how it works. If school children can understand the arguments for Evolution, then anyone who has been raised in the public school system should have the basic understanding needed to judge for themselves whether the facts actually support the claims for Evolution.
For example, if biological evolution had actually occurred, then we should find fossils of organisms at every stage of evolutionary development, giving a clear picture of the evolutionary progress of plants and animals from single one-celled organisms to the complex plants, animals and humans we see today. However, the transitional fossils are missing, as has been admitted by top-ranking Evolutionists—acknowledged experts in their field—such as George Gaylord Simpson, Steven Jay Gould, Colin Patterson and others.
As another example, biological evolution requires an organism capable of reproduction. But reproduction itself requires (1) DNA—a long, complex biopolymer capable of carrying genetic information, (2) the complete sequence of instructions needed to reproduce the organism (encoded in the DNA) and (3) the decoding machinery required to interpret the instructions in the DNA and to carefully follow those instructions to build the needed proteins and other biological material and to assemble them into a functioning copy of the organism. None of this could have arisen through evolutionary means, because evolution could not even begin to function until the reproductive machinery (DNA, instructions, and decoding machinery) was already in existence. To suggest that this intricate machinery originated through “chemical evolution” is to play word games. Natural Selection doesn’t work with mere chemicals—they do not have a reproductive system by which to pass their genes to their ancestors. The random rearrangement of molecules could not begin to form the kind of specified complexity needed to create DNA and the genetic code and the decoding machinery needed for the simplest life form.
The evidence fits the Biblical account much better than it fits the Evolutionist account. There are no transitional fossils simply because God created distinct “kinds” of plants and animals, and designed them to reproduce “after their kind” (Genesis 1:11, 12, 21, 24, 25; 6:20; 7:14). According to the Bible, God created each of these kinds fully mature during the first six days of creation—they didn’t arise from “primordial soup”, nor did multi-celled organisms arise from single-celled organisms. The geologic and biologic evidence agrees with the Biblical account, and contradicts the Evolutionist account. You don’t need a post-graduate degree in Biology nor hundreds of peer-reviewed papers to understand this.