Have you ever thought about more profound differences between scientists and creationists, besides the obvious difference in how they view the world? By more profound I mean psychological differences of the representatives of the two parties and their explicit or implicit differences in political orientations. “Creationists” and “scientists” in this article are the ideal types of the two sides respectively. That ideal type is that – an idea, not specific people which are, like the rest of the human beings – hard to explain and complicated as individuals.
The basic beliefs of the creationists represent the rejection of a scientific explanation of the origin of the world. According to them, “God” created the world a couple of thousand of years, evolution is wrong and anything that may teach against their convictions may as well be an illusion created by some sort of evil demon (or evil in general). In its core, this way of thinking is strictly non-scientific. However, in order to know what non-scientific is, we must first establish what scientific means.
If we take a look at Popper’s definition of science, we see that the way that creationists and scientists think are diametrically opposed. Popper’s definition of science relies on the idea of falsifiability.
This idea proposes that a theory that is irrefutable, cannot be scientific. There has to be a possibility of refutal because it is in the very nature of science to be open for progress and change that comes with giving a possibility to the theory to turn out false. Science has to be open for truth which is independent of us, the truth which is telling its story, in its coded language. If our ears happen to be shut to the gradual revelation of that truth, if we think that we have explored all there is to be explored and that everything is clear, the need for science (and the science itself) dies. If we allow ourselves to put a stop to explaining the world around us, new information or new views on information that may come up, crucial to getting nearer to the truth in science, forever remain in the dark.
That is exactly what creationists do. With creationists, there isn’t even a possibility of doubt in their own beliefs. Any question has a predefined answer, which gives out an impression of a system without a flaw, but refuses a possibility to be deemed scientific.
There’s another difference, and it has to do with objectivity and subjectivity. Obviously, we categorize scientists as objective. They seek the truth in objects, in that which is outside of their subjects, their Self. Creationists should fall in the other category. They look for the truth where they want it to be – in the subject, i.e. in themselves. And where is the truth, actually? Is the truth, as it is in science, verifiable by anyone, or does it exist only in our subjective feeling and belief, regardless of what others claim? Wherever the truth may be, for scientists it is somewhere “outside”, independent of people and it’s waiting to be revealed gradually, through the scientific method. According to creationists, however, – the truth is inseparable from the faith, i.e. personal, a subjective act that extends outside of the subject and for them becomes universal and eternal truth – paradoxically, not just in their internal, but in the external world as well.
Now we can contemplate the psychological differences, as well as the differences in political points of view which characterize ideal types of these two groups of people.
A scientist, which bases their research on the openness to new information, cannot be rigid. A scientist is open to new experiences which this colorful world, a world full of diversity, brings. It is a person who values objectivity rather than subjectivity which we can identify with a high level of development of rational thinking. A scientist is oriented towards the outside rather than toward the inside and is in constant dialogue with the others and with nature itself. We can suspect what their political views could be. Non-rigid, flexible, pointed towards the consensus of rational subjects, similar to what the scientific world acts like. Scientists cannot work alone. They rely on a long chain of results which were achieved by scientists before them. A scientist is always in the community of the ones that came before, the ones that are active now, and always open to findings of his future fellow scientists. We can conclude that scientists would be liberally and democratically oriented, individuals that value freedom. Freedom is associated with all the things we have mentioned. The world is being given the freedom to represent itself and to be explained through theories without the interference of our own will, our wishes, etc. Just like they give freedom to the world they are studying they respect the freedom of others.
Creationists, on the other hand, represent the opposite of what we have said about scientists. They would be conservationist, traditionalist, totalitarian-oriented and they would value irrational rather than rational. They are conservatives and traditionalists because the truth is given and it is being preserved forever, unchanged. Freedom isn’t valued because the freedom of thought is forbidden, since their worldview is unquestionable. Conservativism and the rejection of the idea of freedom applies to a personal as well as to a political plan in this worldview. Conservativism is also tightly connected with totalitarian systems in which there’s no freedom, while the rules given by a more powerful structure is obeyed instead.
Whichever standpoint we take – whether it be scientific or non-scientific, it is always, explicitly or implicitly connected with our profound psychological needs, the things we value, the ideas we fight for, which is then reflected to the society we choose. Medieval age had valued the conservative, the traditional, the religious, and irrational. Renaissance had brought the awakening of freedom, individuality, progress, reason, and science.
What will the future bring?