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.