Creationist contributions to science
Skeptics sometimes demand a list of creationist scientists who have contributed to science. We can make a powerful five-fold response to this challenge:
1. Creationists founded modern science
Francis Bacon (1561–1626), the classical scientific method; Gerardus Mercator (1512–1594), cartography, inventor of the Mercator map projection; Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), physics, astronomy; Johann Kepler (1571–1630), astronomy; Blaise Pascal (1623–1662), probability, hydrostatics, the barometer; Robert Boyle (1627–1691), chemistry, gas dynamics; John Ray (1627–1705), natural history; Nicolaus Steno, founder of stratigraphy (geology); Isaac Newton (1642–1727), dynamics, gravitation law, law of cooling, reflecting telescope, spectrum of light, co-inventor of calculus; Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz (1646–1716), mathematics, co-inventor of calculus; John Flamsteed (1646–1719), Greenwich Observatory Founder; Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778), taxonomy, biological classification system; John Dalton (1766–1844), atomic theory, gas law. There are many others.1
2. Creationist presuppositions provide the philosophical backbone to science
Here are six presuppositions that undergird modern science that come from biblical Christianity:2
- There is such a thing as objective truth.
- The universe is real, because God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1).
- The universe is orderly, because God is a God of order, not of confusion—(1 Corinthians 14:33).
- Knowledge about the physical world will be discovered by investigating and experimenting, rather than relying merely on thought (as the ancient Greeks did).
- Man can and should investigate the world, because God gave us dominion over His creation (Genesis 1:28).
- Man can initiate thoughts and actions; they are not merely the results of deterministic laws of brain chemistry.
A fresh appreciation of the Bible’s literal history in Genesis, including the Fall of Adam, played a vital role in the development of the scientific method, the foundation of modern science. Peter Harrison, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford, said,
“Had it not been for the rise of the literal interpretation of the Bible and the subsequent appropriation of biblical narratives by early modern scientists, modern science may not have arisen at all. In sum, the Bible and its literal interpretation have played a vital role in the development of Western science.”3
3. Evolution has not contributed to scientific progress
The skeptics’ demand implies that evolutionary thinking has contributed significantly to scientific progress, but high profile scientists have made it clear that this is not so. Dr Marc Kirschner, founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School stated:
“In fact, over the last 100 years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself. Molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, have not taken evolution into account at all.”4
Of course, as an evolutionist, Kirschner hopes that one day it will be different.
In similar vein, the anti-creationist Larry Witham wrote:
“Surprisingly, however, the most notable aspect of natural scientists in assembly is how little they focus on evolution. Its day-to-day irrelevance is a great ‘paradox’ in biology, according to a BioEssays special issue on evolution in 2000. ‘While the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky’s dictum that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”, most can conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas’, the editor wrote. ‘Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one.’”5
Witham also expressed the hope that things might change in the future.
After surveying the spectrum of advances in the biological sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) member and Emeritus Professor Philip Skell wrote,
“Darwinian evolution—whatever its other virtues—does not provide a fruitful heuristic in experimental biology.”6
4. Evolution has been detrimental to scientific progress
Due to the dead ends that evolutionary thinking has generated, wasting human and financial resources, evolution has been detrimental to scientific progress. There are many examples, like the fruitless search for the millions of non-existent transitional fossils7 that Darwinists predicted would be found.
I hate to think of the number of doctoral students who have laboured away for three or four years scratching around in the dust fruitlessly looking for transitional forms. And then there were the fallacious notions of vestigial organs and ‘junk DNA’, both hindering the search for the functions of these—but there is much more.
There is also a sorry history of scientific fraud arising from evolutionism. Most have heard of Piltdown man and Haeckel’s embryo diagrams and perhaps his imaginary Monera. However, there are many others, including the Midwife Toad, Archaeoraptor, and hundreds of papers on behavioural ecology by Anders Møller, just to mention a few.8
5. Creationist achievements stand tall
How many of today’s evolution-minded scientists have contributed something of note to science; 1 in 500? How many openly creationist scientists are there in the world? There are undoubtedly many thousands, but we have the names of less than 500.9 So just two from our list with a recognized significant contribution would have creationist scientists ‘punching above their weight’ compared to the evolutionists.
Here are some modern era creationist scientists of note (alphabetical order):
Professor Dr Bernard Brandstater—pioneer in anesthetics. Amongst many other achievements, he pioneered assisted breathing for premature babies with prolonged intubation and developed an improved catheter for epidural anesthesia, both adopted around the world.10
Prof. Stuart Burgess—a world expert in biomimetics (imitating design in nature). He is Professor of Engineering Design, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bristol (UK) and leads the Design Engineering Research Group at the university. Dr Burgess is the author of over 40 papers published in science journals, and another 50 conference proceedings. He has also registered 7 patents and has received various awards, the Wessex Institute Scientific Medal being the most recent.11
Professor Dr Ben Carson—pioneer paediatric neurosurgeon. He was long-term director of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. He was the first surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins joined at the head and also pioneered surgery to cure epilepsy in young children, and much else. He has been awarded 51 honorary doctorates, including from Yale and Columbia universities in recognition of his outstanding achievements. He is a member of the Alpha Honor Medical Society, the Horatio Alger Society of Distinguished Americans, and sits on numerous business and education boards. In 2001, CNN and Time magazine named Ben Carson as one of the nation’s 20 foremost physicians and scientists. In that same year, the Library of Congress selected him as one of 89 ‘Living Legends’. In February 2008, President Bush awarded Carson the Ford’s Theater Lincoln Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the USA’s highest civilian honours.
Dr Raymond Damadian—largely responsible for developing medical imaging using magnetic resonance (MRI). He has been honoured with the United States’ National Medal of Technology, the Lincoln-Edison Medal, and induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame alongside Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and the Wright brothers. In 2001 the Lemelson-MIT program bestowed its lifetime achievement award on Dr Damadian as “the man who invented the MRI scanner”. It is commonly recognized that he was discriminated against in not at least sharing a Nobel Prize for his work (two others shared the award), although Damadian was the discoverer that diseased tissue would have a different signal from healthy.12
Dr John Hartnett—developed the world’s most precise clocks, which are used in research and industry around the globe. He is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA) fellow at the University of Adelaide, where he is an Associate Professor. In his relatively short career, he has published more than 200 papers in scientific journals, book chapters, and conference proceedings.13
Dr Raymond Jones—solved the major problem of the indigestibility of Leucaena (a tropical legume) for grazing cattle in Australia, among other achievements. This research has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the Australian beef industry. He was honoured with the CSIRO Gold Medal for Research Excellence, and the Urrbrae Award.14
Dr Felix Konotey-Ahulu—many pioneering contributions, especially in sickle cell disease management. He is Kwegyir Aggrey Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics, University of Cape Coast, Ghana, and Consultant Physician Genetic Counsellor in Sickle Cell and Other Haemoglobinopathies, Phoenix Hospital Group, London, UK. Ironically, sickle cell disease is often incorrectly held up as a ‘proof of evolution’ in science textbooks.
Dr Konotey-Ahulu has received many awards in recognition of his work.15
Dr John Sanford—has been granted over 30 patents arising from his research in plant breeding and genetics. His most significant scientific contributions involve three inventions, the biolistic (‘gene gun’) process, pathogen-derived resistance, and genetic immunization. A large fraction of the transgenic crops (in terms of both numbers and area planted) grown in the world today were genetically engineered using the gene gun technology developed by John and his collaborators. Dr Sanford was honoured with the Distinguished Inventor Award by the Central New York Patent Law Association in 1990 and 1995.16
Dr Wally (Siang Hwa) Tow—groundbreaking research in ‘molar pregnancy’, a poverty-related disease. He was invited to lecture in some fourteen top Obstetrics-Gynaecology departments in America in 1962–3, including leading universities such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, New York, UCLA, Cornell, and Stanford. He was awarded the William Blair Bell Lectureship by the RCOG in recognition of the importance of this work. He served as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, National University of Singapore.17
It is clear that creationists have made and continue to make substantial contributions to science. We might not even have had modern science as we know it without creationists!
References and Notes
- See creation.com for articles on the names printed in blue. [Note added January 2016: Francis Bacon, while professing to accept Biblical creation, also had occultic beliefs, and errant views as to the role of the Bible in understanding the physical world; see The story behind the modern-day separation of faith and science]. Return to text
- See explanations: Sarfati, J., Why does science work at all? Creation 31(3):12–14, 2009; creation.com/whyscience. Return to text
- creation.com/harrison. See also, Weinberger, L., The Fall and the inspiration for science (review), J. Creation 24(3):18–21, 2010; creation.com/fall-science. Return to text
- As quoted in the Boston Globe, 23 October 2005. Return to text
- Witham, Larry A., Where Darwin Meets the Bible: Creationists and Evolutionists in America (hardcover), p. 43, Oxford University Press, 2002; creation.com/superfluous. Return to text
- Skell, Philip, Why do we invoke Darwin? The Scientist, 29 August 2005; creation.com/skell. Skell’s chair was in chemistry, at America’s prestigious Penn State University, and he was known as the ‘father of carbene chemistry’. Return to text
- Sarfati, J., Refuting Evolution, ch. 3, The links are missing; creation.com/refutingch3. Return to text
- Bergman, J., Why the epidemic of fraud exists in science today, J. Creation 18(3):104–109, December 2004; creation.com/science-fraud-epidemic. Return to text
- The sad reality is that even just being a bit skeptical about evolution can be devastating to an academic career, as the Ben Stein documentary Expelled! showed. It is often not until near or after retirement that creationist academics feel free to be open about their position. Return to text
- Creation 36(3):32–35, June 2014; creation.com/brandstater-interview. Return to text
- Creation 32(1):35–37, 2010; creation.com/burgess. Return to text
- Creation 16(3):35–37, 1994; creation.com/damadian-interview; see also Kauffman , G., Nobel Prize for MRI imaging denied to Raymond V. Damadian a decade ago, The Chemical Educator 19:73–90, 2014; cited in creation.com/damadian. Return to text
- Creation 25(4):37–39, 2003; creation.com/exploding-the-big-bang. Return to text
- Creation 21(1):20–22, 1998; creation.com/rjones. Return to text
- Creationist physician and world-class expert on sickle-cell anemia; creation.com/dr-felix-konotey-ahulu. Return to text
- Creation 30(4):45–47, 2008; creation.com/sanford. Return to text
- Creation 35(3):53–55, 2013; creation.com/tow. Return to text