Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.
One popular rhetorical question many of my fellow skeptics are fond of is "How has Creationism contributed to our knowledge of the universe?" Invariably, someone comes along, utterly misses the point, and rattles off a list of scientists who happen to be Creationists.
Imagine this: An computer scientist/engineer designs a revolutionary new type of computer circuit. Within a few decades, the technology grows to the point that it allows the creation of truly intelligent androids, blindingly fast computers, etcetera. Somewhere, a skeptic rhetorically asks, "How has Holocaust denial contributed to our understanding of the world?" and someone pipes up by saying it contributed to great technological advances because that inventor just happened to be a Holocaust denier.
That sounds absurd on its face, doesn't it?
To go back to the Creationism example: Just because some Creationists have contributed to science doesn't mean that Creationism has had any contribution. Scientific theories contribute because they explain how the world works, and allow us to make accurate predictions we can use. Creationism hasn't done that. "It's that way because a random deity felt like making it that way" doesn't help us understand the world. It doesn't make predictions. It doesn't explain why things are this way, but not another.
Let's use an example of a Creationist scientist, Sir Isaac Newton. He also dabbled in alchemy. How has alchemy contributed to our understanding of the world? Now imagine someone who believes everything is made of four elements comes along and says Newton was a scientist. That doesn't make turning lead into gold by chemical reaction any more plausible. The four elements theory doesn't contribute to our understanding of the world. The argument's crap.
When Newton worked out the math for gravitation, studied optics, and contributed to mathematics, he was doing science. He didn't arrive at those things by cloistering himself in a monastery and extract them from the first chunk of a bronze age book. He did it by gathering data and applying math and logic to it.