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Falsifiability of a theory is an inherent possibility to prove it to be false. Which is a requirement in the field of scientific methodology for a theory to be regarded valuable. As by Karl Popper's "falsificationism", there is a problem of demarcation (distinguishing the scientific from the unscientific), which he solves exactly by introducing falsifiability as the demarcation criterion. So, anything not falsifiable can not be proven, and is therefore not even (scientifically) worth examining, and thus has no scientific value. As far as I can recall at the moment, creationism is NOT falsifiable??

A similar matter is Occam's Razor; which actually does seem to work in favor of creationism.

Does anyone have an answer on this?

Thoughtbox (Possibly second question): I'd say that God is prevailing through nature (i.e. it's creations) and thus all science or governing laws (thermodynamics, gravity, magnetism etc.) should lead us to learn about His Excellence. So, I'd say that we learn about Him, but to what extent does nature show His existence? That is, once his Existence is accepted, nature plays a very different role so as to reflect what God does and how He acts. But if not accepted, would nature lead to Him??

  • I believe the answer to this question depends on whom you ask. If you ask a creationist, then it is not falsifiable. If you ask literally any scientist who is not a creationist, it is falsifiable, and has already been falsified, time and time again. I assume you are asking from the perspective of a Creationist, and thus I have +1ed your question. The latter question would probably be off-topic here anyway. – Flimzy Feb 9 '15 at 15:02
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    How can you ask about creationism without defining it? I hear about new ones all the time. Some even use science in some form or another. And the science here is just terrible. What a bad question and answers. – gideon marx Feb 9 '15 at 18:36
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    note: If you are specifically asking whether creationists think that creationism in general is falsifiable, then the answer is (as per curiousdanii's answer) a trivial no. If you are asking whether a very specific theory of creation is falsifiable, then the answer could possibly be yes, but you need to specifiy which one you're interested in. If (as I believe you are) you're asking whether a framework of creationsim is factually/provably falsifiable or not, then that question is actually off-topic for this forum. If you'd like to avoid the question being closed, please clarify it. – bruised reed Feb 9 '15 at 23:58
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    @bruisedreed and The Freemason hit it on the head. This question was never on-topic in the first place. This question is about whether the Creationist POV meets a certain, particular criteria defined within science, not Christianity. If this asked whether "group X claims it's falsifiable" then it would be about Christian teaching. Unless someone comes up with a compelling argument that this is on topic, I intend to delete this whole mess. As stated, I don't see a way to salvage this so that it's actually within the site guidelines. – David Stratton Feb 10 '15 at 3:18
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    fyi, I've posted a related (on-topic) question that you might like to look at here: Have Creationists advanced any particular Theories of Origin that they claim are falsifiable via the scientific method? – bruised reed Feb 13 '15 at 1:53
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You're right, creationism, of whatever variety, is not scientifically falsifiable.

Creationists do not think this is a problem. In fact, they would say that all alternatives to creationism are equally unfalsifiable. The scientific method cannot test the past; it may be able to tell us what is possible, what is likely and what is unlikely, but it ultimately cannot confirm any theory about the past. This is especially the case for unique or miraculous events, such as the creation of the universe or Noah's flood.

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    The assertion that the scientific method cannot test the past is often made when creationism is contrasted with mainstream science. However, the scientific community does not see itself as limited in this way. For example, when Hubble proposed the Big Bang theory, in contrast to the steady-state theory, scientists set about seeing whether the available evidence would tend to validate or falsify Hubble's theory. But there was no widespread questioning about whether or not Hubble's theory was within the purview of science. – Walter Mitty Feb 9 '15 at 13:46
  • @Walter And it remains ultimately impossible to prove the big bang. It's the best model for the universe, and our observations are consistent with it, but there's no way to prove it actually happened. It would be indistinguishable from a universe created with apparent age, an uncomfortable and yet necessary consequence of creationism. That's why the past is outside the power of science. We can never actually test it. – curiousdannii Feb 9 '15 at 13:55
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    +1 because I think this accurately answers the question from the perspective of Creationists. I think it's also full of gaping holes (specifically the idea that science can't tell us anything about the past--only Creationists make this outlandish claim). – Flimzy Feb 9 '15 at 14:49
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    I know that your answer is correct and representative of YEC thoughts, but you should provide a source or two of YEC's saying similar things. AiG probably has an article. – 3961 Feb 9 '15 at 21:58
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    This is the only answer (so far) that even attempts to follow the site guidelines of answering what a particular group teaches rather than what is "true". – David Stratton Feb 10 '15 at 12:57
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One thing that I think other answers have missed is that "creationism" means different things to different people. The definition one uses is vital to whether or not it is falsifiable* in a scientific sense.

For instance, if one states that creationism means:

All life has existed in or close to its present form since the beginning of the earth

Then one has proposed a perfectly reasonable and falsifiable scientific hypothesis. One can propose a number of tests, the results of which would be either consistent or inconsistent with the main hypothesis. For instance:

  • If life has always existed unchanged, fossils of extant organisms should be present throughout the entire fossil record.
  • If speciation is not occuring but extinction is, the fossil record should show biodiversity continually declining over time.
  • If evolution does not occur, it should not be observable in a laboratory setting.

You can decide for yourself whether the scientific community has sufficiently proposed and performed enough of these experiments to falsify creationism in this context, but the point is that this statement can be falsified.

However, if one states that creationism means:

God created life

or

All life has existed in or close to its present form since the beginning of the earth, and all evidence to the contrary is created by God or the Devil to test humanity's faith

One has proposed an unfalsifiable claim, based on tenets of faith. How could a scientist design an experiment to test the behavior of God or the Devil, if such entities are proposed to exist outside of the laws of nature and observation?

*I'll note also that in formal scientific hypothesis testing, falsification is not the same as disproving. Indeed, good scientists don't use the words "prove" and "disprove" because absolute proof and disproof is impossible. Rather, all we can do is seek evidence that is either consistent or inconsistent with a hypothesis, until we are confident enough to accept or reject it, with the caveat that its status may change with new evidence.

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  • Good points here. People usually talk about creationism as referring to the past, but it does make falsifiable claims about the present as well. – curiousdannii Feb 9 '15 at 21:39
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"Creationism" can span a variety of beliefs and/or theories. There is young Earth creationism versus the broader concept that life on Earth was created by God or an intelligent being. There is creation of human beings, creation of all living things on Earth, creation of the Earth itself and creation of the universe.

I want to give a specific senerio of how creation could be proven or disproven.

If there is nothing unique about intelligent life on Earth, (whether we were created or came into being spontaneously) it is entirely possible that another civilization observed the creation or spontaneous developement of human beings.

Certainly for those who argue for abiogensis of life on Earth and subsequent evolution, it is reasonable to consider that similar events occurred elsewhere and that other intelligent beings exist or have existed. Just as scientists on Earth are extremely interested in searching for life on Mars and exoplanets, so would other intelligent beings be. These beings could have observed our creation or abiogensis and evolution and recorded it and in principle such records could be transferred to us or discovered by us.

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  • Sadly, this may also not be sufficient to falsify creationism. The definition of "life" is not rigorously defined, not even in science itself. It would be trivial to argue the other "species" is a particularly adaptable machine, without contradicting our scientific definitions. Its a frustrating little word! – Cort Ammon Feb 9 '15 at 16:04
  • Even if it were a machine, a robotic spacecraft with telescope let's say, if it recorded the creation or abiogensis and evolution of human beings, and we obtained such a record, this would reasonably constitute proof of how we came to be. – DavePhD Feb 9 '15 at 16:23
  • I would say it depends on who you talk to. I like to believe most people will agree. However, I have heard enough arguments in the form of "the world was created to intentionally lead science away from the truth" to be uncomfortable speaking for those who have such an opinion when the word "proof" is thrown around. Especially when we put such people in a corner and shout "see, here's proof your religion is wrong." Those words always end up going worse than we wish they did! – Cort Ammon Feb 9 '15 at 16:30
  • But once someone relies upon God being intentionally deceptive, it implies the Bible could be a deception and contradicts the Bible itself, "I am the way, the truth and the life" John 14:6 – DavePhD Feb 9 '15 at 16:38
  • I've debated those in the past; its probably not the forum for it. However, those same arguments for "intentionally deceptive" cut very close to the question of "if God is omnipotent, why is there sin in the world he created?" The arguments tend to be remarkably similar in structure and content. – Cort Ammon Feb 9 '15 at 16:46
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Several answers have been given, directly answering the question. Taking a different tack, I'd like to give an answer regarding why the term "falsifiable" is considered so important to science.

Science is founded on the idea of gathering data and analyzing it to produce results. Frankly, both of these cost money (time and effort). Falsifiable claims about the past produce new potential data to gather and new analyses which could provide refutation of the theory. Science may not be able to prove that dinosaurs existed millions of years ago, but they can use that claim to predict which centimeter thick layer of sediment will contain which fossils. If fossils appeared outside of this layer, science has to admit that their theory is falsified, and develop a new falsifiable theory. Creationists lean on this often (geology is not as exact as science wishes it is), discrediting all of science with unusual cases. Whether this is a correct position, or even merely a valid position is outside of the scope of this answer. The important part is that science is falsifiable.

Creationism, however, is typically not falsifiable. It does not matter how much evidence science brings against it, all that evidence is rejected with either "your measuring devices are flawed," or "God built the world in a way which fools science." If one has a faith reason to believe in creationism, no amount of evidence can move that (up until the point where it causes one to question one's faith). When the crux of your argument is "I have a book containing the truth, and it says the past occurred this way," no amount of evidence short of a complete refutation of the book will suffice.

Bringing it back around to cost, the issue that arises is when scientists wish to expends large amount of money doing an experiment. Consider the LHC, coming in at somewhere over 10 billion dollars. This kind of expenditure is not easy to stomach. We, as a society, have to put a lot of faith in science to put that many dollars towards accelerating tiny particles we have never seen before, smashing them together to make even tinier particles that science claims may exist. If a non-falsifiable model of the universe becomes the primary model of how we view things, such expenditures are called into question. "How can we spend so many dollars on science, if the best models they can give us overestimate the age of the Earth by more than a factor of a million?" That doubt will overshadow everything science has given us (including the transistors that let me type this and send it out to the world at a good portion of the speed of light!)

It is possible science will find sufficient new evidence to warrant the development of a scientifically falsifiable young-earth model, but even if that happens, it will not be creationism, because science will never allow a faith based model which cannot be falsified into its canon. Doing so prevents science from improving its models from the collection of new data. There may be a very similar model, maybe even a model that is consistent with creationism, but it will fundamentally be a different model which does not use the Bible as a source of truth information.

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  • Welcome to C.SE. When you get the chance, please check out our tour and specifically How we are different than other sites. Unfortunately, this question probably should have been closed - because we aren't really looking for philosophy of science so much as theology. – Affable Geek Feb 9 '15 at 21:35
  • Science could only get fooled if it ignored God's revelations in scripture. And why would we not want to build the LHC if we knew the universe was only thousands of years old? That doesn't make any sense at all. – curiousdannii Feb 9 '15 at 21:37
  • "science will never allow a faith based model which cannot be falsified into its canon." actually, there are a number of prominent scientists that argue that that is exactly what has happened with Darwin's Theory of Evolution. – bruised reed Feb 10 '15 at 0:06
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As far as I can recall at the moment, creationism is NOT falsifiable??

As far as first things go, there are only two choices, intelligent creation and spontaneous self-creation.

The establishment of "proof" is difficult for either case as there are no photographs, eye-witnesses, or other reliable evidence.

Spontaneous creation could have support from an observation of an ongoing process.

Intelligent creation could have support from communication from the creator.

Spontaneous creation could be undermined if someone were to falsify their observations.

Intelligent creation could be undermined if someone were to falsify what was written.

Falsification depends on the ability to pervert that which is true.

Spontaneous creation has many more points at which it can be undermined. For example, someone may make a series of measurements (they may not be made correctly). They next adjust those measurements for one reason or another (they may not be adjusted correctly). They next put forth a reason they think that these measurements support a process they feel is involved (they may not be correct in their assertion).

Intelligent creation stands on two points, the written communication from the creator and the heart and mind of an observer who determines from his own observations that the world he observes was created.

A critic could declare that the communication was falsified or that the observations are false.

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  • -1 for the false dichotomy – Flimzy Feb 9 '15 at 15:04
  • As far as first things go, there are only two choices -- This isn't true. There are many, many other options, including many believed by Christians. The most obvious third option would be an ever-existent world, which has been a popular belief throughout history, and is still held by many (even some Christians). – Flimzy Feb 9 '15 at 15:05
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    Importantly, the ever-existing universe (which I called steady-state) was posited by scientists as late as the 19th century. (I don't like the word "world" because a lot of people could take that to mean "earth" rather than "universe".) – Walter Mitty Feb 9 '15 at 19:11
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    It may be wise to abstain from answering until you can give a summary statement that doesn't end in multiple question marks. – MR. TOODLE-OO'D Feb 9 '15 at 19:50
  • @WalterMitty: And versions of that theory still persist (particularly the idea of an infinite Big Bang/Big Crunch cycle). – Flimzy Feb 10 '15 at 18:37
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Whether you believe creationism is falsifiable will entirely depend on how far you think God is prepared to go in order to fool you.

Consider a break in pool. The cue ball hits the pack, and balls scatter everywhere.

Now suppose we have a blindfold on for the first two seconds. Then someone starts a video for the next two seconds, whilst we keep the blindfold on. Then we get to take the blindfold off. At this point the balls are all still scooting around. At the moment we take the blindfold off, we'd like to check how the balls are moving to predict where they'll all end up before they get there, and we'd like to use the same rules to work backwards to how the balls were originally racked.

Based on the evidence, and on some good experimental work with the physics of balls and cushions and table, you could rewind the movements of all the balls to the initial state of the cue ball at one end and the pack at the other end. Or you could say that someone has independently started all the balls moving in their respective positions and velocities at that instant in time, and before that moment they were not moving at all.

The universe and creationism works the same way. Yes, Young Earth creationism could be true - IF AND ONLY IF God manipulated every sub-atomic particle we are currently able to detect so that the resulting universe contained ample evidence that it went back a lot further. It's like faking an antique on the scale of the universe. :)

The trouble is that either way the creationists are stuffed on the science front. If you believe that God would do that, then your Young-Earth hypothesis is not falsifiable because God could literally do anything to make the universe look that way. And if you don't believe that God would do that, then there is more than ample evidence (from Copernicus onwards) that every religion's creation myths are not historical fact, so the hypothesis is disproven.

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  • You could only ever get fooled if you willingly ignored God's revelations. – curiousdannii Feb 9 '15 at 21:41

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