Creationists not dumb nor stupid; evolution just a theory


“How can you be studying biology, you’re a priest; you don’t believe in evolution.”

So began the conversation with Rob.

I was a ‘newly minted’ studying at Victoria University, Wellington, in a clerical suit and a roman collar.

I was standing next to him, scalpel in hand. We were about to dissect our first dogfish.

I replied by saying that he was right when he said I do not believe in evolution.

But I did think that the theory of evolution is the best explanation of the facts as we know them.

I went to say I also believed God created or is creating the universe.

It is much clever to create an evolving universe than it is to make all the pieces and put them together like some cosmic leggo set.

You hear people say Evolution is just a theory.

Putting in the word “just” suggests it has little or no validity. It’s like saying “Oh that’s just your opinion”.

All science is just theory; that is what science is about. You experiment, you observe, you record your observations and put them in some order.

Then you propose a hypothesis to explain the facts you have observed.

Evolution is science. Science is just theory. Theories change.

You test the hypothesis by experimentation and observation.

If enough evidence accumulates to support the hypothesis it becomes a theory.

So can you say the theory of evolution is certain or true? Science does not deal with certainty and truth. It deals with theories.

Theories may change if new facts or observations arise that the current theory cannot explain.

So far, that has not happened to the theory of evolution.

Creationism is not science

Creationism is not a theory, it is not based on observable facts.

That does not mean creationist are dumb and stupid.

Science is not the only way we know things; there are other ways of examining reality.

You cannot scientifically demonstrate someone is in love with you.

You cannot even say, scientifically what the phenomenon of love is.

Some scientist would have us believe love can be reduced to a chemical reaction. I suspect most people who have been in love would disagree.

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of… We know the truth not only by the reason but by the heart.” – (Blaise Pascal)

Beliefs do need to reasonable.

Is it reasonable to believe I am loved by this person? What are the signs?

St Augustine, Doctor of the Church, not a creationist

If by “creationist” you mean someone who thinks first two chapter of Genesis are literally true I am not a creationist.

The “facts” as described in the Genesis story cannot withstand rational critique.

They are demonstrably untrue.

However, neither I suspect were the people who made up the genesis story creationists.

They were not scientists, they were poets.

They were not proposing theories; they were composing songs.

And the great Church Father, Saint Augustine it seems was not a creationist.

He said the creation story is couched in a simple allegorical form suitable for the mentality of people of the time.

Augustine also believed God created the world with the capacity to develop.

A rational belief

But, if by creationism you mean a belief that God created the universe out of nothing, then I am a creationist.

And my belief can withstand rational critique.

My belief is based on my philosophical and theological understanding of reality and from my Christian faith.

For some reason, many scientists assume that anything they cannot measure does not exist.

And they presume that because they have nothing to say then no else one has.

But “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of… We know the truth not only by the reason but by the heart”.

The most important things in life are not measurable.

Can a scientist explain love? bravery? beauty?

Some would say, given time we can. I don’t think so.

  • Denis O’Hagan is a catholic priest. A science teacher for 20 years, he is editor of CathNews NZ Pacific.
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