Question: What is the scientific consensus and how does the term “scientific consensus” enter into the creation discussion?

Short Answer: In basic terms, the scientific consensus is an official position of the scientific community as it relates to a particular subject.  Most within the scientific community are in general agreement with this consensus.  However this consensus is not unanimous. Presently, the scientific consensus supports the naturalism, the Big Bang, uniformitarianism, and evolution.   The scientific consensus on a subject can change; however, any change in the scientific consensus is slow and deliberate.

Expanded Answer: The following was excerpted from Wikipedia on 4/10/16:

“Scientific consensus is the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientists in a particular field of study. Consensus implies general agreement, though not necessarily unanimity.[1]

Consensus is normally achieved through communication at conferences, the publication process, replication (reproducible results by others), and peer review. These lead to a situation in which those within the discipline can often recognize such a consensus where it exists, but communicating to outsiders that consensus has been reached can be difficult, because the ‘normal’ debates through which science progresses may seem to outsiders as contestation.[2] On occasion, scientific institutes issue position statements intended to communicate a summary of the science from the “inside” to the “outside” of the scientific community. In cases where there is little controversy regarding the subject under study, establishing what the consensus is can be quite straightforward.

Scientific consensus may be invoked in popular or political debate on subjects that are controversial within the public sphere but which may not be controversial within the scientific community, such as evolution[3][4] or the claimed linkage of MMR vaccinations and autism.[2]

The Wikipedia definition of scientific consensus has a number of interesting elements.  The most significant is the concept of the scientific consensus being general agreement but not unanimity.  Another is that position papers of the scientific consensus do not reflect the diversity of opinion within the scientific community.  Most outsiders are unaware of the diversity of opinion within the scientific community.

The scientific consensus on an issue can change, however, changes are slow.  An example change in scientific consensus in the field of geology concerns the origin of the Channeled Scablands in eastern Washington State.  The catastrophic flooding explanation for the Channeled Scablands was offered in the 1920’s and was debated within the geologic community for years.  The catastrophic explanation for the Channeled Scablands was finally accepted in the late 1970’s.

Scientific consensus is based on naturalism.  There is never a need for the God of the Bible or any other god to be the first cause.  This restricts the scientific consensus from considering or acknowledging the work of God.

Applications: There are a number of applications related to scientific consensus within the creation discussion.  Some are as follows:

  • Christians need to respect the work of scientists and the scientific consensus. They must also understand that position statements of the scientific consensus are based on naturalism.   Position statements of the scientific consensus will always be in opposition to a Biblical understanding of creation and will never acknowledge the God of the Bible.
  • Position statements of the scientific consensus do not reflect the diversity of opinion within the scientific community. Position statements should be considered the majority view but not a unanimous view.
  • The scientific consensus can change but change is slow and deliberate. Changes can be based on new evidence or advances in the understanding in the field of study or related fields.
  • New evidence favors a creationist view. An example of this evidence includes finding soft tissue in dinosaur fossils that are said to be 60 plus millions of years old.