Recently, someone sent me a link to an article appearing in Scientific American – a popular science magazine. The article is entitled “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense.” The article was extremely revealing, but not in the way the author probably intended. The article exhibited a very common problem we often see among evolutionists: ignorance of creation literature. Creationists have written literally thousands of peer-reviewed publications showing how modern scientific discoveries confirm creation and biblical history. These range from layman-level articles, to highly technical scientific publications. Unfortunately, most evolutionists are too intellectually lazy to read these. Consequently, the majority of evolutionists are badly uninformed about creation.
Not only are they uninformed about creation, but most evolutionists are misinformed. They have heard other evolutionists claim that creation scientists believe a particular thing, but they didn’t bother to check. Instead, most simply repeat the claim and the myth is reinforced rather than corrected. This tends to result in straw-man fallacies. Namely, an evolutionist will misrepresent what creationists claim, and then refute that misrepresentation. Indeed, most of the article’s criticisms are against a position that no informed creation scientist holds. They are not claims that are published and defended in peer-reviewed creation technical literature. So, far from refuting creationist “nonsense”, the critic has actually merely revealed his profound ignorance of the topic.
Second, the article reveals another problem commonly found among the most ardent defenders of particles-to-people evolution: a lack of critical thinking skills. Let’s face it. When it comes to origins, evolutionists simply don’t reason rationally or scientifically. They might reason very well when it comes to other areas of thinking. But for some reason, when it comes to origins, logic seems to disappear. We see several examples of this in the article. So, let’s examine the article’s claims, and see if they (1) fairly represent what creation scientists teach, and (2) stand up to rational scrutiny. I will put the article in purple font, with my comments in black.
The problems begin with the article’s subtitle:
Opponents of evolution want to make a place for creationism by tearing down real science, but their arguments don’t hold up.
This subtitle contains the first straw-man fallacy: it claims that creationists are against science – indeed that creationists are “tearing down” science. This is false. As a creationist, I really like science! I like it so much that I spent years in graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in astrophysics. Furthermore, most of the active researchers in creation science have a Ph.D. in science, such as Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson, Dr. Georgia Purdom, Dr. Tim Clarey, Dr. Andrew Snelling, Dr. Danny Faulkner, Dr. Russ Humphreys, Dr. John Hartnett, to name just a few. If they are so anti-science, then why do they spend their lives doing science?
Students of logic will also recognize the “no true Scotsman” fallacy in the critic’s subtitle. Note the phrase “real science.” Presumably the critic wants us to think that his position is scientific and the creationist position is not. And he tries to persuade by simply redefining “true science” as that which corresponds to his beliefs. But anyone could apply that rhetorical trick. I could say, “real science is creation science” and that would have no more logical weight than the critic’s assertion.
We also see an example of the question-begging epithet fallacy. This is the fallacy of using rhetoric in place of logic to persuade someone. One such epithet is subtle: evolution is contrasted with creationism. The addition of the ‘ism’ on ‘creation’ but not ‘evolution’ rhetorically suggests that creation is a belief, whereas evolution is not. But no logical argument is made for this, and nothing could be further from the truth. It is empty rhetoric, without any logical merit.
When Charles Darwin introduced the theory of evolution through natural selection 143 years ago, the scientists of the day argued over it fiercely, but the massing evidence from paleontology, genetics, zoology, molecular biology and other fields gradually established evolution’s truth beyond reasonable doubt.
Here we have the fallacy of elephant-hurling. Rather than providing actual evidence for Darwinian evolution, the critic simply claims that there is overwhelming evidence for it, and lists many fields of science. This would be acceptable if he later gave specific examples from these fields that establish his claim. But he doesn’t. His attempt to persuade is mere rhetoric with no logical merit.
Note that the kind of evolution we are discussing here is the kind Darwin believed in – that all organisms on earth are descended from a common ancestor through progressive modification over billions of years. We might call this “Darwinian evolution.” It is also sometimes called “neo-Darwinian evolution” (since this includes the specifics of mutations and genes which Darwin did not know). It is significant that we do not mean “evolution” in some generic sense of change. Rather, we are debating a very specific claim about how organisms change.
Today that battle has been won everywhere–except in the public imagination. Embarrassingly, in the 21st century, in the most scientifically advanced nation the world has ever known, …
It doesn’t seem to even occur to the critic that there might be a connection. Could it be that the reason the United States is so scientifically advanced is because we employ creationist thinking? The creationist presumes the world is upheld by the mind of God, so we expect to find patterns in nature. The creationist believes his senses and mind were designed by God, and therefore have the capacity to learn about nature. These biblical convictions justify our faith in science. But if the universe were just an accident, if our senses are merely the result of accidental mutations, why expect science to work?
…creationists can still persuade politicians, judges and ordinary citizens that evolution is a flawed, poorly supported fantasy.
Again, we see a question-begging epithet fallacy. Presumably, we’re supposed to think, “how terrible that people can be convinced that evolution is a poorly supported fantasy!” But that would only be a problem if evolution were not a poorly supported fantasy. Second, notice that the critic does not mention the many scientists that have been persuaded that evolution is a poorly supported fantasy. But if he mentioned that, it might be harder to maintain his façade that science somehow supports Darwinian evolution.
They lobby for creationist ideas such as “intelligent design” to be taught as alternatives to evolution in science classrooms.
There are several problems here. First, there is a whopping big difference between biblical creation, and the intelligent design movement; yet the critic does not distinguish between these two. Most of the creation scientists I know are not affiliated with the intelligent design movement. Creation scientists like myself are not primarily concerned with applying political pressure to get alternatives to evolution taught in secular schools. Neither are we opposed to this. It is simply not our focus.
Also, it seems to me it is the evolutionists primarily who apply political pressure to disallow any discussion of creation in public science classrooms. They want to make sure that only their beliefs are taught. This smacks of desperation. Is the evolutionist’s position really so weak that its advocates must use political pressure, rather than scientific evidence, to persuade students?
As this article goes to press, the Ohio Board of Education is debating whether to mandate such a change. Some antievolutionists, such as Philip E. Johnson, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and author of Darwin on Trial, admit that they intend for intelligent-design theory to serve as a “wedge” for reopening science classrooms to discussions of God.
How terrible that discussions of God should be allowed in the science classroom! At least, I get the impression that this is what the critic wants us to think. But if God exists (and He does), and if He is the one that makes science possible (and He is), would it be so wrong for students to learn this? It seems to me that if the evidence for evolution were so overwhelming, then teachers would welcome the opportunity to show the competing position, expose students to the scientific evidence, and then let them draw the obvious conclusion.
When I teach astronomy and that the planets orbit the sun, I do expose my students to the other views, and the evidence by which those views were eventually falsified. That’s what science is all about. It is a systematic method, not just a series of beliefs. I can only presume that the evolutionists’ political campaign to suppress all discussion of creation in science classrooms stems from the fact that they do know on some level that the evolutionary view is scientifically bankrupt. Why else try to “protect it” from the careful, rational, scientific scrutiny that all fields of science must pass?
Besieged teachers and others may increasingly find themselves on the spot to defend evolution and refute creationism.
Again, we see the question-begging epithet fallacy. How terrible that these poor “besieged” teachers should have to defend their belief in evolution! But wait just a moment. Isn’t science all about showing logically from evidence why we believe what we believe? Isn’t science a process of eliminating competing hypothesis by observation and experimentation? Yes, science teachers should be ready to defend what they teach. I encourage my students to ask questions, to ask how we know what we know. If you just teach students facts, but not how we came to learn these facts, then you are not really teaching science at all. If you cannot defend what you teach, then how do you know that it is really true? To insist that students must accept what is taught without question or discussion of alternatives is not science. It is the definition of brainwashing.
The arguments that creationists use are typically specious and based on misunderstandings of (or outright lies about) evolution, but the number and diversity of the objections can put even well-informed people at a disadvantage.
Let the irony sink in. The critic alleges that the arguments creationists use are faulty. Yet (1) his own arguments so far have been fallacious. And (2) he is clearly not aware of the arguments that creationists use as his straw-man fallacies above and below show.
To help with answering them, the following list rebuts some of the most common “scientific” arguments raised against evolution. It also directs readers to further sources for information and explains why creation science has no place in the classroom.
We would expect now to read a list of the most common creation arguments put forth by the top creation scientists, along with references to the source. That would be the scholarly approach. Is this what we will find?
1. [Creationists claim that] Evolution is only a theory. It is not a fact or a scientific law.
Sadly, the critic starts with a straw-man argument – a misrepresentation of what creation scientists teach. Creation scientists do not claim that “evolution is only a theory.” In fact, most of us would say that evolution is not a theory at all because a theory has some supporting evidence. Darwinian evolution does not. We refer to evolution as a conjecture or speculation about the past.
Unfortunately, some people have said things like “evolution is only a theory” – by which they mean something that is not proved or established. But a “theory” in science is something that has supporting evidence, which evolution does not. This is why informed creation scientists do not say this, and we are on record as saying people should not say that “evolution is only a theory.”  So it is unethical for the critic to take this as the creationist position on the issue, when in fact our position is the opposite.
Many people learned in elementary school that a theory falls in the middle of a hierarchy of certainty–above a mere hypothesis but below a law. Scientists do not use the terms that way, however. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a scientific theory is “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.”
Notice that Darwinian evolution does not fall under this definition of “theory” because it is not well-substantiated. Granted, evolutionists will claim that it is, but this begs the question. We haven’t yet heard a cogent argument for evolution.
No amount of validation changes a theory into a law, which is a descriptive generalization about nature. So when scientists talk about the theory of evolution–or the atomic theory or the theory of relativity, for that matter–they are not expressing reservations about its truth.
This is true. And this is why informed creationists do not call evolution a theory, as the critic falsely claims. The theories of relativity and atoms each have supporting scientific evidence that falsifies their main competitors. That is not the case with Darwinian evolution. To call evolution a theory would elevate it to a level it does not deserve.
In addition to the theory of evolution, meaning the idea of descent with modification,…
Whoa! Here the critic makes an enormous and obvious error in reasoning: the equivocation fallacy. This fallacy occurs when a person changes the meaning of a word without notice within an argument. The critic had been discussing evolution in the sense of Darwin’s idea that all organisms are descended from a common ancestor, which creationists reject. But now he suddenly switches the meaning of evolution to “descent with modification” – which creationists accept. Yes, organisms today are not identical to their ancestors. They have descended from the original kinds, and are modified from those kinds. So, yes to descent with modification; but this does not remotely prove that all organisms are descended from a common ancestor.
By analogy, suppose a creationist said to an evolutionist, “Do you believe that houses are created by human beings?” Presumably the evolutionist would say “yes.” Suppose the creationist responded, “See, you believe in creation then. You believe that houses are created, which makes you a creationist.” Now, would that be ethical? Did this hypothetical creationist really prove creation in the biblical sense by pointing out a different type of creation? If not, then neither does “descent with modification” prove evolution in the Darwinian sense. Evolutionists may believe that one kind of change eventually leads to the other. But that is the very claim at issue.
…one may also speak of the fact of evolution. The NAS defines a fact as “an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as ‘true.'”
This is another rhetorical trick. When the evidence for your position isn’t there, just start calling it a “fact.” Notice that the critic here embraces the NAS definition of ‘fact’ as an observation repeatedly confirmed. Remember this, because he will refute his own position shortly.
The fossil record and abundant other evidence testify that organisms have evolved through time.
No, they really, really don’t. And note that the critic did not give a single example. That’s because he cannot. The fossil record shows variation within a kind – exactly as biblical creation predicts. The overwhelming rule we see in fossils is variation within kinds; fossil organisms are classified into the standard taxonomic categories (phylum, class, order, family, etc.). In the Darwinian evolution model, organisms are in a constant state of flux, and so we really should find organisms that cannot be taxonomically labeled because they do not fit into any one phylum, or class, etc. As one example, where are the organisms that are 40% invertebrate, 60% vertebrate? Granted, evolutionists will always cite a handful of disputed specimens, which are inevitably refuted in a few years. But the fossil record as a whole certainly does not support Darwinian evolution. For an excellent analysis of the fossil evidence, see Dr. Duane Gish’s book: Evolution: the fossils still say no.
Although no one observed those transformations,…
Previously, the critic had cited the NAS definition of fact as an observation repeatedly confirmed. And he stated that evolution is a fact. But here he admits that no one has observed these transformations. Therefore, if he were being logical, he ought to conclude that evolution is not a fact.
…the indirect evidence is clear, unambiguous and compelling.
It is clear that Darwinian evolution has not occurred, at least not on earth. Certainly, we would not conclude evolution on the basis of fossils. Fossils invariably confirm variation within a kind.
All sciences frequently rely on indirect evidence. Physicists cannot see subatomic particles directly, for instance, so they verify their existence by watching for telltale tracks that the particles leave in cloud chambers. The absence of direct observation does not make physicists’ conclusions less certain.
Here the critic commits the fallacy of false analogy. Namely, he attempts to link his belief in Darwinian evolution to sciences like particle physics, presumably to convince the reader that these are in the same category: that evolution is as much science as particle physics. After all, both rely on indirect evidence. Right? But a moment’s thought reveals the critical difference: particle physics can be tested in the present. If two physicists disagree on the properties of a subatomic particle, they can devise a test, the results of which will confirm or falsify one of the competing hypotheses. But notice that evolution in the particles-to-people sense is supposed to be a past event. There is no way to observe or experiment on the past because it’s gone.
Furthermore, to the extent that we can test evolution in contrast to biblical creation based on indirect evidence, evolution fails. Variation within kinds is the rule of the fossil record, not continuous evolution between the kinds.
2. [Creationists claim that] Natural selection is based on circular reasoning: the fittest are those who survive, and those who survive are deemed fittest.
Here again we have another straw-man fallacy. No informed creationist denies the usefulness of natural selection. Though “survival of the fittest” is somewhat tautological, it is nonetheless a useful concept. Indeed, it is a creationist concept proposed by Edward Blyth. Creationists have claimed that we should not say that natural selection is useless since it is based on circular reasoning – the exact opposite of what the critic claims we say.
“Survival of the fittest” is a conversational way to describe natural selection, but a more technical description speaks of differential rates of survival and reproduction. That is, rather than labeling species as more or less fit, one can describe how many offspring they are likely to leave under given circumstances. Drop a fast-breeding pair of small-beaked finches and a slower-breeding pair of large-beaked finches onto an island full of food seeds. Within a few generations the fast breeders may control more of the food resources. Yet if large beaks more easily crush seeds, the advantage may tip to the slow breeders. In a pioneering study of finches on the Galpagos Islands, Peter R. Grant of Princeton University observed these kinds of population shifts in the wild [see his article “Natural Selection and Darwin’s Finches”; Scientific American, October 1991].
True. Finches remain finches. This is a good example of the biblical concepts of variation within a kind and natural selection. But it lends no support whatsoever for particles-to-people evolution.
The key is that adaptive fitness can be defined without reference to survival: large beaks are better adapted for crushing seeds, irrespective of whether that trait has survival value under the circumstances.
No. The organism is fit if it survives. If the finch has a great beak for crushing seeds, but a fatal heart defect, then it isn’t really fit, is it? Survival of the fittest is indeed somewhat tautological, and nonetheless useful and true. The same could be said of other useful concepts in science, such as mass and force. Mass is a resistance to acceleration under a force. Whereas force is that which causes a mass to accelerate. It’s hard to define one without the other, and yet the concepts are useful.
3. [Creationists claim that] Evolution is unscientific, because it is not testable or falsifiable. It makes claims about events that were not observed and can never be re-created.
This a partial straw-man argument because I would indeed claim that particles-to-people evolution is unscientific in the sense of operational or observational science. Like many words, ‘science’ has a range of meanings, including ‘forensic science’ in which we attempt to reconstruct past events using scientific principles. Evolution could fall under the category of forensic science. But it is quite true that evolution is not science in the same way as particle physics, or quantum mechanics because indeed it is not observed and cannot be tested in the present.
This blanket dismissal of evolution…
Here the critic commits another severe straw-man fallacy. Creation scientists do not dismiss evolution solely on the basis that it is not scientific. The reason is obvious: not all truth is scientific truth. Something can be true, and yet inaccessible to scientific testing. For example, the early history of the United States cannot be tested by scientific means (observation and experimentation in the present). Should we therefore simply “dismiss” recorded history on the basis that it is not scientific? Clearly not. Neither do we dismiss Darwinian evolution on the basis that it cannot be scientifically demonstrated in the present. In fact, we don’t casually “dismiss” particles-to-people evolution at all. Rather, we reject it for logically sound reasons; it is contrary to recorded history and basic principles of science (such as those of information theory).
…ignores important distinctions that divide the field into at least two broad areas: microevolution and macroevolution.
At this point, the critic begins a large, yet irrelevant diatribe into what he believes is an important distinction in terms of what creationists believe about evolution: namely, whether changes in organisms are big or small. In reality, informed creationists reject the terminology “microevolution” and “macroevolution” because (contrary to the critic’s allegation), we are not concerned about the amount of change, but rather its direction.
Microevolution looks at changes within species over time–changes that may be preludes to speciation, the origin of new species. Macroevolution studies how taxonomic groups above the level of species change. Its evidence draws frequently from the fossil record and DNA comparisons to reconstruct how various organisms may be related.
The issue of microevolution vs. macroevolution is a red-herring fallacy: a distraction from the relevant issue. Remember, the question at issue is whether Darwinian evolution has occurred – whether all organisms are descended from a common ancestor. The question is not whether organisms have changed. We all agree they have. Creationists agree that changes occur below the species level, and above the species level (though the organism still remains the same created kind). The critic can call that “microevolution” and “macroevolution” if he wishes, but this is utterly irrelevant to Darwinian evolution.
These days even most creationists acknowledge that microevolution has been upheld by tests in the laboratory (as in studies of cells, plants and fruit flies) and in the field (as in Grant’s studies of evolving beak shapes among Galpagos finches). Natural selection and other mechanisms–such as chromosomal changes, symbiosis and hybridization–can drive profound changes in populations over time.
These observed changes are predicted within the creation model. The creation model also predicts that changes within kinds can result in speciation: when a group of organisms no longer normally interbreeds with another group of organisms within the same created kind. This has been observed. The critic calls this “macroevolution,” but it is expected within the biblical creation model. The problem for Darwinian evolution is that neither type of these changes could possibly result in one kind of organism becoming another kind.
In order for single-celled life like bacteria to eventually become people as Darwin proposed, the organisms would have to gain brand new genetic information. The kinds of changes we observe scientifically, however, reduce the genetic information, or are perhaps neutral. This loss in information results in changes in the organism: sometimes small changes, and sometimes quite large changes. But the changes are inevitably in the wrong direction to drive Darwinian evolution. That is why the critic’s diatribe here is utterly irrelevant to the issue at hand. It’s not about the amount of change (micro vs. macro), but the direction of change (information increasing or decreasing).
The historical nature of macroevolutionary study involves inference from fossils and DNA rather than direct observation.
Actually, based on the critic’s definition of macroevolution as “how taxonomic groups above the level of species change,” we can study this in the present. Speciation does occur today and has been documented. Unfortunately for the critic, when such changes are studied on the molecular level, they always involve a reduction in genetic information. As I mentioned previously from fossil evidence we could never rationally conclude Darwinian evolution, because fossils inevitably show variation within kinds, but not between kinds.
But what about DNA? The critic here asserts that DNA somehow supports Darwinian evolution. But we have seen here that it really doesn’t. So if fossils don’t help the case for Darwinian evolution, and if the science of genetics doesn’t support it, what exactly is the critic’s evidence for evolution?
Yet in the historical sciences (which include astronomy, geology and archaeology, as well as evolutionary biology)…
Did you catch the question-begging epithet fallacy? The critic here hopes to promote “evolutionary biology” to the level of science by associating it with actual sciences like astronomy, geology, and archaeology. But he hasn’t provided any actual evidence for this. Contrary to his claim that these are all historical sciences, astronomy, geology, and archaeology all study the present world. Certainly, scientists in each of these three fields will use observations and evidence in the present to (in some cases) draw conclusions about the past – particularly in archaeology. Nonetheless, these fields are primarily operational science – the study of how the universe works today. “Evolutionary biology” isn’t. Evolution in the particles-to-people sense, is not something we can observe happening today.
…, hypotheses can still be tested by checking whether they accord with physical evidence and whether they lead to verifiable predictions about future discoveries. For instance, evolution implies that between the earliest-known ancestors of humans (roughly five million years old) and the appearance of anatomically modern humans (about 100,000 years ago), one should find a succession of hominid creatures with features progressively less apelike and more modern, …
Overlooking the critic’s assumptions about fossil ages, his description of what evolution predicts is pretty good.
…which is indeed what the fossil record shows.
Wrong. And notice that the critic provided no evidence or references to support his assertion. The fossil record does not show a “succession of hominid creatures with features progressively less apelike and more modern.” No informed paleontologist would make such a claim, and the critic obviously has not studied this issue at all. On the contrary, we find apes in the fossil record with distinctive ape features, and we find human fossils with distinctive human features. The “succession of progressively less apelike features” exists only in the critic’s mind.
For example, human rib cages are shaped differently from apes. Humans have an extension on the skull that forms the upper part of the nose; apes don’t. The bones forming human hips are forward pointing, allowing easy upright walking; ape hips point sideways. The shape of the arc of human teeth is different from ape teeth, and humans have relatively small molars, whereas ape molars are quite large. These are just some of the differences. And whenever we find a well-articulated fossil specimen, it is clearly one or the other. Marvin Lubenow documents the fossil evidence of primates in his excellent book Bones of Contention.
But one should not–and does not–find modern human fossils embedded in strata from the Jurassic period (144 million years ago).
The critic here makes a whopping big mistake that is frequent with people unfamiliar with science: failure to consider the null hypothesis. In science, we distinguish between two competing hypotheses by performing an experiment. The experiment is only useful if the hypothesis under investigation makes a different prediction from its competitor. Perhaps an example will clarify.
Suppose Jim claims that a particular chemical makes a plant grow faster and larger than those around it. But Jenny claims the chemical actually makes the plants around the treated plant grow slower and smaller. They decide to test their competing ideas by planting two identical seeds next to each other, treating one with the chemical and leaving the other untreated. After some time, they observe the results. They find that the treated plant is taller than the one next to it, just as both Jim and Jenny predicted. Jim claims this supports his hypothesis, but Jenny claims that this result supports her hypothesis. Does it really support one over the other? The problem with that experiment is that it does not distinguish between the two hypotheses because they both make the same prediction about the outcome: the treated plant will be taller than the untreated plant.
Likewise, evolutionists often claim that a particular observation supports their hypothesis because it matches their prediction, when in reality the creation model makes exactly the same prediction. For example, since DNA codes for traits, we creationists expect that organisms with similar traits would have similar DNA. Strangely, evolutionists argue that similarities in DNA of similar organisms supports the notion of common descent, since it also makes this prediction. But since both models make the same prediction, the observation does not confirm one over the other.
So the critic here suggests that lack of human fossils in Jurassic strata confirms Darwinian evolution. But did he bother to check what creationists predict regarding the order in the fossil record? Clearly not, because he would have quickly learned that creation scientists also predict that human fossils will not typically be found in Jurassic strata. Creation scientists are convinced that most of the strata above the Precambrian were deposited during the global flood described in Genesis 6-8. The flood happened in stages, and hence, there will be an order to the fossils. Organisms that live at lower elevations tended to be buried at lower elevations and less-mobile organisms tend to be buried lower than more-mobile creatures that can flee to higher ground. Since human beings are land-dwelling creatures, and very mobile, we expect them to be buried in the highest strata – which of course they are.
Evolutionary biology routinely makes predictions far more refined and precise than this, and researchers test them constantly.
The problem for evolution is this: to the extent that Darwinian evolution makes correct predictions, it makes the same predictions as biblical creation. And to the extent that Darwinian evolution makes predictions different from biblical creation, they inevitably turn out to be wrong.
Evolution could be disproved in other ways, too. If we could document the spontaneous generation of just one complex life-form from inanimate matter…
Did the critic just suggest that observing the spontaneous generation of complex life would disprove evolution? Isn’t spontaneous generation a requirement of evolution? The critic here is attempting to show that evolution is falsifiable. But he does so by giving a criterion that would actually tend to vindicate evolution rather than falsify it! Those who reject creation and embrace evolution must believe that the first life form was indeed spontaneously generated from inanimate matter. The fact that this has never been documented despite repeated attempts would tend to discount evolution. Yet, here the critic attempts to use this lack of evidence in support of evolution!
Basically, if we could show life coming from non-life, then that would be great support for evolution. And if we cannot show life coming from non-life, then according to this critic, that would be even better support for evolution! When the evidence used to support a model would be even better if it were the exact opposite, you know you are dealing with someone who is not thinking rationally.
…, then at least a few creatures seen in the fossil record might have originated this way. If superintelligent aliens appeared and claimed credit for creating life on earth (or even particular species), the purely evolutionary explanation would be cast in doubt. But no one has yet produced such evidence.
The critic here has implicitly committed the bifurcation fallacy. Namely, he presents us with two options and refutes the one, thinking it will prove the other, when in fact the correct option is not listed. We are given a choice between super-intelligent aliens creating life on earth, and Darwinian evolution. But the critic excludes creation by God without making any logical case that such a possibility should be excluded. This is a particularly embarrassing oversight considering creation by God is the main competitor to Darwinian evolution. This “heads I win, tails you lose” trick might work on children. It would be disappointing to see an adult fall for it.
When we substitute the correct option into the critic’s statement, the error becomes clear. “If God appeared and claimed credit for creating life on earth (or even a particular species), the purely evolutionary explanation would be cast in doubt.” Well, I have news for you. God has appeared (John 1:1, 14), and has claimed credit for creating life on earth (Genesis 1:21,25,27). Therefore, evolution should be cast into doubt by the critic’s own reasoning.
It should be noted that the idea of falsifiability as the defining characteristic of science originated with philosopher Karl Popper in the 1930s. More recent elaborations on his thinking have expanded the narrowest interpretation of his principle precisely because it would eliminate too many branches of clearly scientific endeavor.
Exactly which branches of science would be eliminated by requiring falsifiable hypotheses? As far as I can tell: none. Physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology all make testable hypotheses. Experimentation and observation are the key distinctive features of science precisely because they allow us to falsify a hypothesis. That is in fact how science progresses. Without falsifiability, science would become indistinguishable from conjecture.
The necessity of testing a hypothesis scientifically long predates Popper. Some would say the basic idea goes back to Aristotle. It seems like the critic here really does know on some level that Darwinian evolution is not scientific in the observationally testable sense, and is not genuinely falsifiable by scientific means. Rather than admit that his belief is not scientific, he instead attempts to redefine science. We’re not falling for it.
4. [Creationists claim that] Increasingly, scientists doubt the truth of evolution.
Exactly which creationists say this, and what is the context? The critic provides no documentation to back up his claim, so it is hard to evaluate. However, many scientists that are creationists today started out as evolutionists. So it is certainly true for many individual scientists, they increasingly doubted the truth of evolution. I know many of them. Whether the ratio of scientists who doubt evolution to the total number of scientists has increased or decreased in the last decade is hard to evaluate objectively.
No evidence suggests that evolution is losing adherents. Pick up any issue of a peer-reviewed biological journal, and you will find articles that support and extend evolutionary studies or that embrace evolution as a fundamental concept.
Virtually all public schools teach evolution as if it were fact, and most scientists attended public schools. So it is hardly surprising that they believe what they have been taught from kindergarten. But very few evolutionist scientists have honestly considered creation. Most scientists simply assume that evolution is true because it is what most of the other scientists accept. They have been trained to think in terms of evolution to the extent that they cannot fairly consider anything else. Like this critic, most evolutionists have not read the creationist literature, and are misinformed about what creation scientists actually state.
Furthermore, contrary to the critic’s suggestion, there are indeed peer-reviewed biological papers that refute Darwinian evolution. More on that below.
Conversely, serious scientific publications disputing evolution are all but nonexistent.
…except of course for all those hundreds and hundreds that do exist, like papers found in the Answers Research Journal, the Creation Research Society Quarterly, the Proceedings for the International Conference on Creationism, or the Journal of Creation, not to mention those others that occasionally find their way into secular publications. Sure, nonexistent – except for the literally hundreds upon hundreds that do exist.
Clearly, the critic’s statement is simply false. He may not agree with the conclusions of those papers. But it is dishonest of him to claim that they do not exist. Nor would we be fooled by the No True Scotsman fallacy if the critic wants to redefine ‘serious’ as “those conforming to his beliefs”.
In the mid-1990s George W. Gilchrist of the University of Washington surveyed thousands of journals in the primary literature, seeking articles on intelligent design or creation science. Among those hundreds of thousands of scientific reports, he found none. In the past two years, surveys done independently by Barbara Forrest of Southeastern Louisiana University and Lawrence M. Krauss of Case Western Reserve University have been similarly fruitless.
Sure none… except of course for those hundreds of articles found in the technical, peer-reviewed journals such as the Answers Research Journal, the Creation Research Society Quarterly, the Proceedings from the International Conference on Creationism, and the Journal of Creation. And those are just the technical journals that are dedicated to biblical (i.e. “young earth”) creation, not including others that promote intelligent design in a generic sense. Clearly, this critic has not done his homework on this issue at all. In any case, the critic’s claim is demonstrably false.
Creationists retort that a closed-minded scientific community rejects their evidence.
Actually, creation scientists are part of the scientific community. And we do not reject the abundant evidence for creation. It is evolutionists who often dismiss evidence for creation out-of-hand. Sadly, this often extends even to evolutionists who are scientists.
Yet according to the editors of Nature, Science and other leading journals, few antievolution manuscripts are even submitted.
Nature and Science are controlled primarily by evolutionist editors who tenaciously guard their belief in evolution by rejecting any papers that would dare come against their sacred cow. Wouldn’t it be rather stupid for creationists to continue to try and publish papers in anti-science journals that are known for dismissing evidence for creation out of hand? Furthermore, we prefer journals that are committed to scientific integrity, rather than defending a belief in evolution.
Some antievolution authors have published papers in serious journals.
Doesn’t that contradict what the critic wrote just a few sentences earlier? Did he not write that “George W. Gilchrist … surveyed thousands of journals in the primary literature, seeking articles on intelligent design or creation science…. he found none.” In just those few sentences, “none” has apparently evolved into “some.” Talk about evolution!
Those papers, however, rarely attack evolution directly or advance creationist arguments; at best, they identify certain evolutionary problems as unsolved and difficult (which no one disputes).
So, when scientists occasionally get a creation-supporting paper into a secular, evolutionist-controlled journal, the paper is not usually overtly creationist? I wonder why?
In short, creationists are not giving the scientific world good reason to take them seriously.
Again, I am constrained to point out that the scientific world includes many creationists. This critic has amply demonstrated that the problem is not that creation scientists don’t research evidence or publish peer-reviewed technical articles. We do. The problem is that evolutionists don’t bother to read them. They simply repeat the misinformation they have heard and not bothered to check, and the chain of ignorance continues.
5. [Creationists claim that] The disagreements among even evolutionary biologists show how little solid science supports evolution.
Actually, it is the scientific evidence that shows how little solid science supports evolution. Creationists have published thousands of peer-reviewed articles at various levels on the topics of genetics, geology, paleontology, and so on, showing how the science confirms creation and challenges evolutionary interpretations. We’re five points into this list, and the critic has not yet even touched any of the main scientific arguments that creationists actually use. I suppose it is easier to just knock down straw-men.
Evolutionary biologists passionately debate diverse topics: how speciation happens, the rates of evolutionary change, the ancestral relationships of birds and dinosaurs, whether Neandertals were a species apart from modern humans, and much more.
This would seem to support what I wrote earlier: evolutionists do not rationally analyze evolution itself. They accept it as an unquestioned filter through which all other evidence is interpreted. Apparently, we may question all the detailed assumptions upon which Darwinian evolution rests, as long as we don’t question evolution itself. But if all these details are in doubt, how can we trust that their combination is true?
Suppose you bought a new car, and the dealer warned you, “We haven’t had a chance to test it, and we’re not sure if the headlights work.” Okay. Then he adds, “And the air-bag system may not deploy either; (we have been passionately debating that issue)! Also, some of us are concerned that the engine may not work at all. The trunk – most of us think it will open fine, but we do have one dissenter who thinks it might explode when opened. The wheels may or may not turn – we’re not sure that we got the relationship between them and the crank shaft right.” And after all that, he then says, “But don’t worry, we are absolutely certain that the car itself works perfectly!” Bring that image to mind the next time an evolutionist admits all the problems with the details of evolution, but doesn’t question the overarching “fact” of evolution.
These disputes are like those found in all other branches of science.
No, they are not. In any branch of science, if the details of a paradigm are problematic, the paradigm itself is brought into question. This is not so with evolution. Its adherents have unwavering faith. To them, it doesn’t matter that the fossil evidence for Darwinian evolution just isn’t there. It doesn’t matter if everything we know about genetics mitigates against Darwinian evolution. It doesn’t matter if no one has observed it, or if it is unfalsifiable. We dare not question Darwin.
Acceptance of evolution as a factual occurrence and a guiding principle is nonetheless universal in biology.
…except of course for all those Ph.D. Biologists who reject Darwinian evolution, such as Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson, Dr. Georgia Purdom, Dr. David Menton, Dr. Rob Carter, Dr. Jeff Tompins, and so on. In other words, Darwinian evolution may be a majority belief among biologists, but the claim that it is universal is demonstrably false. After making this false claim, the critic then goes on to write this:
Unfortunately, dishonest creationists have shown a willingness to take scientists’ comments out of context to exaggerate and distort the disagreements.
For example? Unfortunately, the critic provides no evidence for this. I don’t doubt that both creationists and evolutionist have their share of dishonest advocates and other advocates who have misunderstood their opponents. From a biblical creation perspective, this is disconcerting. Since human beings are made in God’s image and are responsible to God for our actions, we have a moral obligation to represent our opponents fairly.
However, if evolution were true, and humans were just an evolved animal and a chemical accident of nature, then why would they be morally obligated to be honest? The critic here chastises what he believes to be dishonest creationists. But if he were a consistent evolutionist, he really ought to applaud the alleged dishonesty in his opponents, because it increases their chance of survival. It’s easy to get ahead by careful lying. And evolution is all about beating the competition. So why would the critic be against behavior that is consistent with his professed position? The critic here has really confirmed Romans 1:18-23 – that all human beings know that God created the universe and living beings, but sinfully suppress that truth.
Anyone acquainted with the works of paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard University knows that in addition to co-authoring the punctuated-equilibrium model, Gould was one of the most eloquent defenders and articulators of evolution. (Punctuated equilibrium explains patterns in the fossil record by suggesting that most evolutionary changes occur within geologically brief intervals–which may nonetheless amount to hundreds of generations.) Yet creationists delight in dissecting out phrases from Gould’s voluminous prose to make him sound as though he had doubted evolution, and they present punctuated equilibrium as though it allows new species to materialize overnight or birds to be born from reptile eggs.
Can the critic produce even one example of a creationist taking Stephen Jay Gould out of context to make it sound like Gould doubted evolution? I’m not aware of any. Again, I don’t deny that both creationists and evolutionists have their dishonest advocates; but the mainstream creationist organizations like Answers in Genesis and the Creation Research Society, have never – to my knowledge – claimed that Gould doubted evolution. So the critic’s comments here are simply dishonest and misleading.
On the contrary, it is because Gould believed in evolution that his honest admissions of its shortcomings are so revealing. And it is in that context of the “hostile witness” that creationists properly use Gould’s comments. Gould was well aware that the fossil record was not supportive of Darwinian evolution, but instead shows variation within kinds (as creationists expect). This indeed was the motivation for his support of punctuated equilibrium.
When confronted with a quotation from a scientific authority that seems to question evolution, insist on seeing the statement in context. Almost invariably, the attack on evolution will prove illusory.
The irony here is that this critic has not provided any references or context for what he claims creationists state. Thus, his attacks on creation should be rejected by his own reasoning. And again I must point out that many Ph.D. scientists, including me, are adamant that Darwinian evolution is false. I am happy to provide the context for my statement so that you can see that my rejection of evolution is not merely illusory.
6. [Creationists argue that] If humans descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?
This again is a straw-man fallacy. Ph.D. creation scientists do not claim that this is a legitimate argument against evolution. On the contrary, the major creation research organizations are adamant that this is not a legitimate argument against evolution, and advise people not to use it. I will grant that some non-scientists have said this; but it is not the position of creation scientists. And therefore, it is dishonest of the critic to present it as such.
This surprisingly common argument reflects several levels of ignorance about evolution. The first mistake is that evolution does not teach that humans descended from monkeys; it states that both have a common ancestor.
Actually, the most common version of this claim says that humans are descended from apes. And some evolutionists take issue with this, claiming, “No. Humans are not descended from apes. Rather, humans and apes share a common ancestor. Humans are descended from an ape-like ancestor.” However, this is semantic nonsense because most evolutionists believe that humans are descended from an Australopithecus. And what is an Australopithecus you may ask? It is an ape. As the evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson put it, “Since the terms ape and monkey are defined by popular usage, man’s ancestors were apes or monkeys (or successively both). It is pusillanimous if not dishonest for an informed investigator to say otherwise.”
The deeper error is that this objection is tantamount to asking, “If children descended from adults, why are there still adults?” New species evolve by splintering off from established ones, when populations of organisms become isolated from the main branch of their family and acquire sufficient differences to remain forever distinct. The parent species may survive indefinitely thereafter, or it may become extinct.
I agree with what the critic wrote here; but I must point out that he is arguing against a position that no informed creationist holds. It is simply a straw-man fallacy. Like most evolutionists, he is totally unfamiliar with the creationist scientific literature.
7. [Creationists claim that] Evolution cannot explain how life first appeared on earth.
The origin of life remains very much a mystery, …
Why is the critic attempting to refute this alleged creationist claim when he apparently agrees with it? Furthermore, the issue is not so much what evolution can “explain”, but rather the fact that everything we know about biochemistry mitigates against an evolutionary, chance origin. Scientific studies have shown that biological cells are stunningly complex, information-bearing machines with many interdependent parts. In all cases where the origin of a complex machine has been scientifically observed, it is always by the design and agency of an intelligent mind. So it is not what we don’t understand about biochemistry that challenges evolution; it is what we do understand.
…but biochemists have learned about how primitive nucleic acids, amino acids and other building blocks of life could have formed and organized themselves into self-replicating, self-sustaining units, laying the foundation for cellular biochemistry.
No. The kinds of reactions designed by biochemists by which certain simple molecules can be replicated are utterly irrelevant to the origin of life. Why? Life doesn’t reproduce that way. Living cells do not reproduce by being made entirely of simple self-replicating molecules. If they did, then the critic might have a point. But they don’t, therefore he doesn’t.
Instead, complex biochemical enzymes in biological cells read and translate the information stored in DNA in order to build both themselves and to replicate the DNA at the time of cell division. Namely, the instructions are copied to an RNA strand by enzymes. The instructions in the RNA are read by the ribosomes, which then produce the very enzymes necessary to do all this, whose instructions are encoded in the DNA.
The system is completely interdependent. For DNA to be replicated, it requires enzymes. But the information to make these enzymes is encoded in the DNA. Neither the DNA nor the enzymes are self-replicating by themselves. Each requires the other in order for the cell to reproduce. Therefore, any talk of the replication of simple, non-information bearing chemicals is utterly irrelevant to the origin of life, because life does not use simple, self-replicating molecules. Thus, the replication of simple information-less molecules cannot lay “the foundation for cellular biochemistry” as the critic alleges.
Astrochemical analyses hint that quantities of these compounds might have originated in space and fallen to earth in comets, a scenario that may solve the problem of how those constituents arose under the conditions that prevailed when our planet was young.
Aside from being a conjecture without any supporting scientific evidence, this is the fallacy of irrelevant thesis. The problem for evolution is not getting the material. Life is made of ordinary elements. The problem is getting those elements to assemble spontaneously into a highly complex, information-rich, biochemical system capable of self-replication. Neither comets, nor anything found in outer space, can account for that.
Creationists sometimes try to invalidate all of evolution by pointing to science’s current inability to explain the origin of life.
In other words, those silly creationists think this car won’t win the race simply because it won’t start. Well, yes. If evolution can’t get started, how can it possibly proceed? Also, notice the critic’s equivocation fallacy. He refers to this problem with evolution as “science’s” inability. No. As we have shown here and elsewhere, the principles of science are based on biblical creation which can indeed account for the origin of life on earth. The scientific law of biogenesis states that life always comes from life. Thus, the first life on earth was created by a Being who is Himself alive. Indeed, God is life, and is the source of all life on earth (John 14:6). So, science accounts for life quite nicely. It is evolution that cannot.
But even if life on earth turned out to have a nonevolutionary origin (for instance, if aliens introduced the first cells billions of years ago),…
Here again we have the bifurcation fallacy: either life came about by chance, or aliens did it. But the historical fact that God created life is not even considered.
…evolution since then would be robustly confirmed by countless microevolutionary and macroevolutionary studies.
If that were true, then why didn’t the critic bother to list any examples, or provide any references? In fact, all the countless studies that have been done in science confirm variation within a kind: the prediction of creation and not Darwinian evolution. For example, consider the E. coli long-term evolution experiment. This experiment has been going on for decades to monitor how bacteria change over time. Over 60,000 generations of these bacteria have occurred in this experiment. And what have scientists found? These bacteria remain bacteria. They have experienced variation within a kind of course; but that is the prediction of biblical creation, not evolution.
 Spetner, L., Not By Chance, The Judaica Press Inc., New York, 1997.
 Lubenow, M., Bones of Contention, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Mi, 1992. 2007.