Author: Tom Scharle (email@example.com)
Title: Stumper Questions for Creationists
directed to scientific creationists, young-earth creationists
and others in opposition to conventional science
This is a collection of questions which many people who support
conventional science wonder about when confronted with those who
oppose conventional science in the name of creationism. The
questions are grouped in these categories: what is creationism;
what is conventional science; how does creationism explain the
evidence for conventional science; theological questions. Within
each category there are numbered specific questions, surrounded by
introductory or other explanatory material. These questions are
repeated at the end of each category (sometimes paraphrased) for
We begin with the more important questions, and answers to them
are greatly desired in order to promote communication. Later
questions may be considered to be about details.
A few comments about some terminology.
The expression "conventional science" is used here as it is a
neutral expression, and many people object to misunderstandings
surrounding such expressions as "evolutionism" or "theory of
The other side is referred to as "creationist" as that appears
to be the self-description of those opposed to conventional
science in the ways of interest here. It is not intended to
include all people who believe in creation.
What is creationism?
Many people find that the most important part of a theory is a
clear description of what the theory says and does not say.
(1) Give a comprehensive statement of creationism. (There are
questions below about conventional science, so please restrict
your discussion here to the positive aspects of creationism.)
This is the one question of over-reaching importance, so much so
that you might consider many of the following questions merely
asking for certain details of what makes up a comprehensive
statement of creationism. It should be noted that many people
prefer quantitative details where appropriate.
It is often a great help to communication if each party
understands what the other means by certain critical expressions.
(2) Define technical terms and other words or expressions that are
likely to be misunderstood.
(3) Include the evidence for creationism (please remember that
merely finding problems with conventional science does not count
as support for creationism, as there may be other theories which
differ from both conventional science and creationism). A good
example of evidence for creationism would be some observation
which was predicted by it. That is much better support than
merely giving an explanation for observations which were known
before it was formulated. Far less convincing is evidence which
has an alternative explanation.
In order to decide between conflicting theories, it is
important that not only must the conflicting theories be well
described, and that the evidence supporting the conflicting
theories be proposed, but also that there be established some
rules for deciding between the theories and evaluating the
(4) Can you suggest principles for so deciding and evaluating?
There are many alternatives to creationism. Some of the
alternatives are: theistic evolution and old-earth creationism.
(5) Distinguish your theory of creationism from some of these
alternatives and give some reasons for it rather than the others.
Many people find a theory which is open to change in the face
of new evidence much more satisfying than one which is inflexible.
(6) Describe features of creationism which are subject to
modification. Another way of phrasing it is: is there any kind of
observation which, if it were seen, would change creationism? Is
it open to change, and if so, what criteria are there for
Exposition of creationism.
Definitions of terms.
Evidence for creationism.
Rules of evidence.
Distinguishing characteristics of creationism.
Evidence which modifies creationism.
How do creationists describe
It is helpful in any discussion that both sides understand what
the other is talking about. In answering the questions above, you
have helped us in understanding your theory. Often communication
is helped if each participant explains what he thinks the other
person is saying. It should also help those who support
conventional science to clarify their exposition. These
questions are in a sense parallel to the questions asked before
(7) Explain what you think some of the terms used in conventional
science mean. Here are some which seem to lead to
(8) It would also be helpful if you could give a brief description
of your understanding of conventional science. Please do not
state here what your objections are to conventional science --
that can be talked about later. Just say what conventional
(9) It might be helpful if you explain why you think that
conventional science came to its present position, and why people
hold to conventional science. (And once again, please restrict
this to a description, as debate can come later.)
Many people who support conventional science feel that
those who oppose it do so because of unwelcome consequences.
(10) What are the consequences of accepting conventional science?
What are the meanings of the terms used by conventional science?
What is does conventional science say?
What is the evidence for conventional science?
What are the consequences of accepting conventional science?
How does creationism explain the
evidence for conventional science?
In answering the earlier questions, you have described your
theory and given us evidence for it. Now we ask for your opinions
on the evidence for conventional science.
Many people hold to conventional science because they believe
that it has been developed over centuries, driven by discoveries.
They wonder how any person could explain the evidence any other
way. Here is a very brief list of questions about evidence which
many people find convincing.
(11) Why is there the coherence among many different dating
methods pointing to an old earth and life on earth for a long
time -- for example: radioactivity, tree rings, ice cores,
corals, supernovas -- from astronomy, biology, physics, geology,
chemistry and archeology? These methods are based on quite
distinct fields of inquiry and are quite diverse, yet manage to
arrive at quite similar dates. (This is not answered by saying
that there is no proof of uniformity of radioactive decay. The
question is why all these different methods give the *same*
(12) Explain the distribution, seemingly chronological, of plant
and animal fossils. For example, the limited distribution of
fossils of flowering plants (which are restricted to the higher
levels of the fossil record). Here we are considering the
distribution which conventional science explains as reflecting
differences in time -- the various levels of rock.
(13) In the contemporary world, different animals and plants live
in different places. Why is there the present distribution of
animals and plants in the world? For example, how is it that
marsupials are restricted to Australia and nearby islands and the
Americas, monotremes to Australia and nearby islands, and few
placental mammals are native to Australia? Or why are tomatoes
and potatoes native to the Americas only? (This is not a question
merely of how they could have arrived there, it is also of why
(14) There is a large body of information about the different
species of animals and plants, systematically organized, which is
conventionally represented as reflecting genetic relationships
between different species. So, for example, lions are said to be
more closely related to tigers than they are to elephants. If
different kinds are not genetically related, what is the
explanation for the greater and less similarities between
different kinds of living things? That is to say, why would
special creation produce this complex pattern rather than just
resulting in all kinds being equally related to all others?
Coherence of many different dating methods.
Chronological distribution of fossils.
Spatial distribution of living things.
Relationships between living things.
It is the impression of many people who support conventional
science that many people who are creationists are so because of
religious reasons. This is puzzling to people who consider
themselves to be religious, yet accept the findings of
For example, some people feel that it is necessary to give
naturalistic explanations for the wondrous events described in the
Bible. Other people are curious as to why there should be a
search for naturalistic explanations for these events, rather than
acceptance of these events as signs from God, outside of the
(15) If you feel that the events of the Bible must be explained as
the normal operation of natural phenomena, please explain why.
Some people who believe in God find it difficult to accept
that God would mislead people by giving evidence for conventional
(16) Why is there all the evidence for an earth, and life on
earth, more than 100,000 years old, and for the relationships
between living things, and why were we given the intelligence to
reach those conclusions?
Why should the wondrous events described in sacred writings be
given naturalistic explanations?
Why does the plain reading of nature seem to support
These questions are intended to clarify the debate about
creationism versus conventional science. As mentioned above, many
of the questions are intended to explore what creationists think
about the issues in a way that allows each side to understand
better what is involved. I believe that they are fair questions
to ask in achieving that end, but if anyone has objections to the
content, tone or presuppositions, comments are certainly welcome.
1992 May 13
Tom Scharle |scharle@irishmvs(Bitnet)
Room G003 Computing Center |firstname.lastname@example.org(Internet)
University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN 46556-0539 USA