Some Definitional Formulations
Bearing on the Controversy
John N. Moore
Source: Creation Research Society Quarterly - Vol. 11, no. 1, June
1974, pp. 3-5.
VOLUME 11, JUNE, 1974
INTRODUCTION TO THE PHILOSOPHICAL PAPERS IN THIS ISSUE
[It refers not only to the article included herein, but to all the
papers making up the corresponding issue of CRSQ.]
The special topic for this issue is philosophical questions
about origins. Choice of this topic was made with the knowledge that
often proposals to mention creation, as a possible origin, are
opposed on the grounds that to do so would be to teach religion.
As can be seen, this topic has been developed in a variety of
ways. one aspect that should be
primary in any philosophical discussion should
be consideration of the question: "What do we mean by what we are
saying?" It is only too easy for people to be at cross-purposes
because they are using the same words to mean different things. Thus
Moore has provided a number of definitions.
There is a sense, of course, in which science, especially, is
closely connected with religion, even to the point of being a branch
of religion. For scientists, if they are not to leave their job half
done, must consider things as effects of the First Cause, which, as
St. Thomas Aquinas has written, all men call God. In this sense it is
impossible to exclude religion from the schools, for instance; if
anything is to be included The only question is: "What kind of
religiontheism or pantheism?" Ingram has developed this
Since this matter arises partly at least in connection with
schools, it is of interest to read how Williams and Mulfinger have
dealt with it in an actual course in physical science.
Finally, Armstrong returns to definitions and differences. He
proposes, in the narrow sense in which the word is used in discussing
schools, to mention creation is not to teach religion; for to
acknowledge creation is one thing, but to consider how to be in the
right relation to God is another. As for evolution, by the
definitions proposed, it is either no science at
all or else a false science.
SOME DEFINITIONAL FORMULATIONS
by John N. Moore*
Clear definitions of terms are required during any serious,
rigorous discussion. This is particularly true in any discussion
regarding origins; whether attention is given to origin of the
universe, of matter therein, of the earth in the solar system, of
plant and animal life on the earth, of mankind, or of man's culture.
In attempting to formulate answers to such questions of origin,
evolutionists and creationists have derived totally different
contentions during the past century to the present. Therefore, today,
there is no real consensus between creationists and evolutionists on
the meaning of such terms as "facts," "hypothesis," "theory," etc.
Consequently discussions regarding whether creation is science or
evolution is religion; or, vice versa, whether evolution is science
or creation is religion, continue with participants usually at
Of initial impact is the fact that many evolutionists do not
realize that "science," as a profession today, developed from early
beginnings set in motion primarily by Christians and other theists.
Clearly, one can identify that the "scientific era" began when the
accepted worldview was organized according to theistic beliefs, under
the leadership of such theists as Bacon, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and
continued by such men as Steinmetz, Clerk-Maxwell, Einstein, and Von
Braun of the present. This assertion is supported easily by quick
reference to numerous authors, among the most recent of which is the
work of R. Hooykaas, Religion and the Rise of Modern Science.
Actually theistically oriented men established the proper limiting
principles of scientific work, as they inaugurated such fields as
mechanics, astrophysics, and electricity. Early scientific "greats"
recognized that science was properly limited as being, (1) empirical,
or observational and based upon sense perception; (2) quantitative,
or centered on measurements represented in numerical symbols; (3)
mechanical (materialistic), or organized according to machine-like
models; and (4) corrective, or designed so that all aspects, beyond
basic presuppositions and postulates, are subject to re-test and
Of course early scientific men offered various theories to
"explain" natural phenomena. The early atomic theory, phlogiston
theory, fluid theory of electricity, molecular theory, blending
theory were all formulated on the basis of then current observations
by sense perception, measurements, and conceptualized physical
models. And, according to usefulness and fruitfulness for continued
observation and experimentation, many theories were modified or
discarded as tools, instruments, and other methods of analysis were
Yet, today, leaders of the worldwide, intellectual community base
their worldview on a basically a-theistic scheme of Total
Evolutionism: a total continuum of grand scale or scope: Eternal
Matter, out of which Cosmic (or Stellar) Evolution is imagined, from
which came supposedly Molecular Evolution, from which came presumably
Organic (or Biological) Evolution, from which Social (or Cultural)
Evolution toward some kind of "utopia" is expected to "emerge."
Therefore, against these introductory propositions the following
definitional formulations are offered. Possibly these statements may
be catalytic commencement of a search for consensus on terminology
used by creationists and evolutionists.
Basically, there is no need for new physical evidence regarding
ideas pertinent to questions of origins of the universe, of life, or
of mankind. And there are no private facts for scientists who follow
a theistic worldview nor for scientists who follow the a-theistic
worldview of total evolutionism.
Disagreements between creationists and evolutionists are
conceptual and not factual in character. The same physical data of
the geological record, animal breeding records, and plant breeding
records are utilized by both creationists and evolutionists. The
"real situation" could be phrased in terms of "conflict questions,"
as was done in the doctoral thesis, "Methodological Issues in
Evolutionary Theory," by Wing Meng Ho for his 1965 degree at Oxford
Dr. Ho maintains that these conflict questions are no longer
problems of science, but problems in philosophy. That is, there is no
need for more physical evidence, as claimed by such as Sir Gavin de
Beer, for discussion of conflict questions that center in such
dichotomies as, (1) mechanism versus vitalism, (2) mechanistic versus
organismic biology, (3) non-teleological versus teleological
approaches, or (4) non-evolutionary versus evolutionary origin of
matter and life.
Problems of origin are truly centered in discussions about the
philosophy of science, the philosophy (worldview) of scientists.
Foundational to the definitions that follow is the position that
scientific theories are very limited, and cannot be devised or
applied to questions of origin at all. This is quite counter to the
usual interpretation taken by evolutionists. Nor is the common
meaning of "law," as used by civil lawyers, involved.
The author invites a thorough examination of the following
meanings for basic terms. Refinement and "tightening up" will be
logical consequences of careful study and reaction by creationist
scientists and evolutionist scientists.
Assumption (Postulate): a statement taken for granted and
not tested directly during particular scientific activity (explicated
as basic assumptions, experimental assumptions, or theoretical
assumptions). Terms with directly observable referents may or may not
Basic assumption (Presupposition): a statement taken for
granted as an untestable "given" upon which scientific activities
(and intellectual discourse) are based such as:
- 1. Objectivity of study is possible.
- 2. Objects and/or events exist independent of observers.
- 3. Cause and effect relationships exist that may be
- 4. Scientific ideas are testable, i.e., falsifiable, or not.
- 5. There is uniformity in the natural environment.
Fact1: an object and/or event in space at
Description (Fact2): a statement about some
object and/or event in space-time. (The lowest [basic] level of
Observation: a perceptual experience of a fact, or a
written or spoken record (as communication to self or another) of an
awareness (perception) of an object and/or event in space-time.
Classification: the end result of ordering of objects
and/or events according to stated criteria, or the process of
ordering objects and/or events according to stated criteria.
Calculation: some arithmetic and/or mathematical
manipulation of abstract and numerical symbols.
Problem: an interrogation or stated perplexity for which an
answer is sought. (A problem is most properly expressed in question
Hypothesis: a tentative (untested) answer to a problem. (A
hypothesis is most properly expressed as an assertive statement in
form suitable for testing.)
Analogy: an expression or comparison of like or similar
aspects of known objects, events and/ or ideas, concepts.
Generalization: a universal conditional statement of common
aspects of similar objects and/ or events; or an assertion that
something is true about all members of a certain class of objects and
or events. For example, a scientific law.
Scientific law: a repeatedly tested and well supported or
substantiated generalization of seemingly universal application
regarding a certain set of facts. (A level of scientific
explanation between description and scientific theory.)
Prediction (Expectation): that expected or projected state
of affairs or relationship of objects and/or events based upon known
or understood conditions; always found in an if . . . then
Experiment: a specifically designed use of equipment, tools
of measurement, and controlled variable components to gain
observations and descriptions usually otherwise unobtainable.
Experimental assumption: a statement about that aspect(s)
of experimentation (controlled or of trial and error category) that
is taken for granted as "non-critical" and not measured in any way.
Cosmology: the study of the nature of the universe; use of
tools and technology to describe aspects of the observable and
Explanation: a set of meanings used to provide organization
for particular facts. (Something has been "explained" when the
statement, "I understand," can be truthfully made in response to the
Scientific theory (such as Molecular-Kinetic Theory, Modern
Atomic Theory, Nuclear Theory, Gene Theory): a list of postulates or
assumptions (theoretical) usually specifying existence, relationship,
and events concerning an imaginary entity (such as an atom, gene or
molecule) whereby a meaningful "explanatory system" for a range of
rather diverse facts is made available. (Postulates are based upon
prior observations of relevant objects and/or events; and, in turn,
are bases of predictions testable by experience, directly or
indirectly.) (The highest level of scientific explanation.)
Theorem: a statement derived from assumptions of scientific
theory more or less in the form of testable predictions or
Model: a physical object designed to show analogical
representation of some larger object(s) and/or event(s); or a
conceptual pattern involving listed statements about imaginary
objects and/or events and supposed relationships, especially
associated with concepts of origination and generation.
Cosmogony: a list of ideas or formulations centered on
origination and generation of the universe. (Such conceptual patterns
or models (Do not qualify as scientific theories since no prior
observations or testable predictions about origins are possible. )
Evolution model: an explanatory belief system based upon
eternal existence of matter from which have come an ascending series
of elements by nucleogenesis, changes by stellar evolution of "young"
stars into "old" stars, galaxies, planets (especially the earth with
life that appeared spontaneously through molecular evolution followed
by organic evolution, including human evolution). (Ideas have to do
with origination of order out of disorder and integration
of more complex patterns out of least complex patterns.)
Creation model: an explanatory belief system based upon
existence of an eternal Creator who established a completed,
finished, and functional universe in all aspects regarding elements,
galaxies, stars, planets (especially the earth with mutually
exclusive groups of animals and plants.) (Ideas have to do with
conservation of known conditions; yet, changes of decay
and degeneration are evident and easily documented.)
Science: an interconnected series of concepts and
conceptual schemes that have been developed as a result of
experimentation and observation and are fruitful of further
experimentation and observation. (Science is limited to the study of
nature; that is, study of matter and energy, because of limiting
principles of being empirical, quantitative, mechanical
[materialistic], and corrective.)
Scientism: the belief that the only knowledge of repute and
value is that obtained by means of scientific process; or the belief
that science can be used to gain answers to all human problems.
Technology: applied science; or the totality of the means
employed by human beings to provide material objects for human
sustenance and comfort.
Ho, Wing Meng. 1965. Methodological issues in evolutionary
theory with special reference to Darwinism and Lamarckism. Oxford,
Bodelian Library, Oxford. ( Shelf-mark: Ms. D. Phil. d. 3591.
Photographic order no. BPC 7442, Oxford University Press.)
Hooykaas, R. 1972. Religion and the rise of modern science. William
B. Eerdmans Puhlishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
* John N. Moore, M.S., Ed.D., is professor of natural science,
Department of Natural Science, Michigan State University, East
Lansing, Michigan 48824.
Source: CRSQ - Vol. 10, no. 1, June 1974, pp. 3-5.
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