Argument: Creationism is religion, not science
Argument: Evolution is compatible with Christian religion
Argument: Evolution is true science, not ‘just a theory’
Argument: Natural selection leads to speciation
Argument: Some mutations are beneficial
Argument: Common design points to common ancestry
Argument: ‘Bad design’ is evidence of leftovers from evolution
Argument: The fossil record supports evolution
A sequel to Evolution that refutes the latest arguments to support Evolution (as presented by PBS and Scientific American).
Evolutionists say, ‘Evolution is real science that solves real problems; it is founded on the modern belief that we should try to explain the universe in natural terms.’
First published in Refuting Evolution 2, Chapter 3
Evolutionists bristle at the accusation that Evolution is ‘just a theory,’ not a fact. Indeed, this is the very first example of ‘creationist nonsense’ that Scientific American lists and answers in its ‘15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense.’
Unfortunately, some creationists actually do argue that ‘Evolution is just a theory.’ What they usually mean is ‘Evolution is not proven fact, so it should not be promoted dogmatically.’ (Therefore, that is what they should say.) The problem with using the word ‘theory’ in this case is that scientists use it to mean a well-substantiated explanation of data. This includes well-known ones such as Einstein’s theory of relativity and Newton’s theory of gravity, and lesser-known ones such as the Debye–Hückel theory of electrolyte solutions and the Deryagin–Landau/Verwey–Overbeek (DLVO) theory of the stability of lyophobic sols, etc. It would be better to say that particles-to-people Evolution is an unsubstantiated hypothesis or conjecture.
Scientific American’s comments about the scientific study of subatomic particles, however, miss the point—these cloud chamber experiments are still observations in the present and are repeatable. A dinosaur turning into a bird 150 Ma (million years ago) is neither observable in real time, directly or indirectly, nor repeatable. Chapter 1 of this book explained this confusion about the difference between ‘operational science’ and ‘origins science.’
Scientific American devoted the first five points of its article on ‘creationist nonsense’ to defending Evolution against charges that it’s not good science. In this Chapter we will look at each in turn, but first it’s absolutely essential to define terms carefully. How can you know whether something is ‘true science’ or ‘just a theory,’ unless you know what these terms mean? Yet evolutionists often make sweeping claims without adequately defining their terms.
The 16th century philosopher Sir Francis Bacon, considered the founder of the scientific method, gave a pretty straightforward definition of science:
observation → induction → hypothesis → test hypothesis by experiment → proof/disproof → knowledge
This view of science, however, depends on two major philosophical assumptions: causality and induction, which must be accepted by faith. Many modern scientists are so ignorant of basic philosophy that they don’t even realize they have made these assumptions, although several philosophers, such as David Hume and Bertrand Russell, have pointed it out.1
The editors of Scientific American and other leading evolutionists define ‘science’ in a self-serving way that excludes God and His Word. They openly equate science with the philosophy of ‘methological naturalism’ as has already been shown ‘to explain the universe purely in terms of observed or testable natural mechanisms.’ [SA 85]
The prominent evolutionary biologist Richard Lewontin has spoken bluntly about this anti-God, materialistic bias:
Most people think that ‘science’ follows the evidence wherever it leads. But it is impossible to avoid letting our worldview color our interpretation of the facts. Creationists are honest about the philosophical basis behind their interpretation, whereas naturalists often pretend that they don’t operate from any philosophical bias. The late atheist Stephen Jay Gould, unlike many of his peers, was candid about this bias:
The philosopher of science David Hull had earlier noted:
Dr Scott Todd, an immunologist at Kansas State University, was candid about how certain conclusions would be avoided at all costs, regardless of the evidence:
It is vitally important that words such as ‘Evolution’ be used accurately and consistently. The theory of ‘Evolution’ that the evolutionists are really promoting, and which creationists oppose, is the idea that particles turned into people over time, without any need for an intelligent Designer. The evolutionist Kerkut accurately defined this ‘general theory of Evolution’ (GTE) as ‘the theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form.’ He continued: ‘The evidence which supports this is not sufficiently strong to allow us to consider it as anything more than a working hypothesis.’6
However, many evolutionary propagandists are guilty of the deceitful practice of equivocation, that is, switching the meaning of a single word (Evolution) part way through an argument. A common tactic, ‘bait-and-switch,’ is simply to produce examples of change over time, call this ‘Evolution,’ then imply that the GTE is thereby proven or even essential, and creation disproved. The PBS Evolution series and the Scientific American article are full of examples of this fallacy.
The main scientific objection to the GTE is not that changes occur through time, and neither is it about the size of the change (so I would discourage use of the terms micro- and macro-Evolution—see the appendix to this book). The key issue is the type of change required—to change microbes into men requires changes that increase the genetic information content. The three billion DNA ‘letters’ stored in each human cell nucleus convey a great deal more information (known as ‘specified complexity’) than the over half a million DNA ‘letters’ of the ‘simplest’ self-reproducing organism. The DNA sequences in a ‘higher’ organism, such as a human being or a horse, for instance, code for structures and functions unknown in the sort of ‘primitive first cell’ from which all other organisms are said to have evolved.
None of the alleged proofs of ‘Evolution in action’ provide a single example of functional new information being added to genes. Rather, they all involve sorting and loss of information. To claim that mere change proves that information-increasing change can occur is like saying that because a merchant can sell goods, he can sell them for a profit. The origin of information is a major problem for the GTE.7 ‘Information theory,’ as it is called, is a whole new branch of science that has effectively destroyed the last underpinnings of Evolution—explained fully in the monumental work In the Beginning Was Information by Dr Werner Gitt, professor and head of the Department of Information Technology at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology.
The second episode of the PBS Evolution series, titled ‘Great Transformations,’ faced this problem when it tried to prove the ‘big picture’ of Evolution, i.e., the ‘general theory of Evolution.’ Of course, it could offer no experimental evidence, only inference. Its only experimental ‘evidence’ for ‘Evolution’ was a bunch of examples of biological change that don’t increase information content, and so actually these examples have nothing to do with the ‘big picture.’
The PBS program did make a revealing comment about the real nature of the ‘evidence’ for Evolution: ‘The evidence for Evolution is all around us, if we choose to look for it.’ The comment is revealing, not because the evidence really supports Evolution, but because the narrator inadvertently makes an important point. That is, creationists and evolutionists have the same evidence (facts), but we interpret it differently because of our different axioms (starting assumptions). In reality, evolutionists have a materialistic bias, which rejects a common Designer a priori (see Lewontin’s admission earlier in this Chapter), and this applies even to evolutionists who believe in ‘God.’ Because of their bias, evolutionists interpret any facts as evidence for Evolution. This would probably explain why a lot of the science in the PBS series was not even directly stated as evidence for Evolution, but is shown as if it is. It also explains why fragmentary remains are interpreted as important ‘transitional forms.’ Conversely, creationists do not dispute the facts, since we have the same facts, although we frequently dispute assertions claimed to be facts when they are certainly not!
The PBS narrator blindly asserts that all living organisms come from a single source and that we can now trace branches and roots. Yet the series utterly fails to explain one of the most vexing problems with Evolution: how non-living chemicals could form a living cell by time and chance, despite the insuperable chemical hurdles.8 Interestingly, the PBS producer Richard Hutton never acknowledged this problem in the series, but he did on a Washington Post online forum, when he answered the question ‘What are some of the larger questions which are still unanswered by evolutionary theory?’
There are open questions and controversies, and the fights can be fierce. Just a few of them: The origin of life. There is no consensus at all here—lots of theories, little science. That’s one of the reasons we didn’t cover it in the series. The evidence wasn’t very good.9
No, the evidence for the first living organism certainly isn’t ‘very good’ (see Chapter 9), but of course the producer wouldn’t want his viewers to know that! In other words, the very roots of the alleged evolutionary tree are in very bad shape. So they gloss over the problems, assert that there really is a well-documented tree, and then move on to find similarities between organisms and claim that this proves a common ancestor.
Instead of properly defining Evolution or addressing the key scientific problem with Evolution—i.e., the miraculous appearance of new genetic information from nothing—evolutionists swat at gnats and swallow camels. Just look at the second and third examples of ‘creationist nonsense’ in Scientific American’s ‘15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense.’ Both of them miss the point.
Like the creationist argument that Evolution is ‘just a theory,’ this is another argument that Creation Ministries International has previously advised creationists not to use (see the appendix to this book). Why should we argue this, since tautology is quite common in science? Moreover, as will be shown in detail in the next Chapter, natural selection is not evidence of Evolution. In fact, it is an important part of the creation/Fall framework!
This blanket dismissal of Evolution ignores important distinctions that divide the field into at least two broad areas: microevolution and macroevolution. 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. [SA 80]
Look who’s talking about ‘ignoring important distinctions’! It’s evolutionary propagandists who generally mix them up. Biologists frequently define Evolution as ‘change in gene frequency with time’ or ‘descent with modification,’ or other such ‘microevolution’ words, and then cite insignificant examples of change within species, such as Darwin’s finches, as clinching proof of ‘Evolution’ in the ‘macro’ sense and disproof of creationism! An example is Eugenie Scott, who approvingly cited a teacher whose pupils said after her ‘definition,’ ‘Of course species change with time! You mean that’s Evolution?!’10
With such verbal sleights of hand, evolutionists gloss over their complete lack of evidence for so-called ‘macro-Evolution.’ Their supposed ‘evidence’ doesn’t speak for itself; it must be interpreted. As John Rennie admitted in Scientific American, this evidence is interpreted within a materialistic framework. Ironically, materialists turn around and proclaim Evolution as a major evidence for materialism, even though their materialistic framework was responsible for this viewpoint in the first place! Creationists interpret the same evidence but by a biblical framework, and they reach opposite conclusions.11
Another supposed ‘evidence’ that Evolution makes good science is its ability to make ‘predictions about future discoveries,’ such as the discovery of ‘a succession of hominid creatures with features progressively less apelike and more modern.’12 Scientific American makes this very claim.
Given such flimsy evidence for the scientific integrity of Evolution, what ‘evidence’ would be required to disprove Evolution (an especially difficult task, because it is impossible to ‘disprove’ a philosophical assumption)? Scientific American tries, anyway.
None of this would ‘disprove Evolution,’ since big-picture Evolution is really just a grab bag of ideas about naturalistic (God-less) origins. Evolutionists already believe in spontaneous generation, but now call it ‘chemical Evolution.’ They would actually be delighted if any or multiple examples of spontaneous generation were documented, because it would vindicate their belief that life came into being without an intelligent Creator. It would also solve their problem with the DNA in microbes, which does not show a pattern consistent with the presumption that it shares a common ancestry with other forms of life. To solve this vexing problem, multiple spontaneous origins have already been proposed, without any suggestion that this would ‘disprove Evolution.’13
The Bible claims to be a revelation by the Creator of life and the universe, who certainly has ‘claimed credit for creating life on earth,’ yet Scientific American editor John Rennie does not see this as casting doubt on Evolution. And there is excellent historical, archaeological, and textual evidence that the Bible’s claims are true.14 But Rennie has apparently already made up his mind that this evidence doesn’t exist—this would presumably upset his materialistic faith. He goes on to say,
This is simply an attempt to immunize Evolution from the same criticism that is advancing against creationists.
One of the most absurd, self-serving criteria that evolutionists give for a good scientific theory is that most published scientists accept the theory as valid. This is the basis for Scientific American’s next attack on ‘creationist nonsense.’
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.
Conversely, serious scientific publications disputing Evolution are all but nonexistent. 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. [SA 80]
It’s logically possible for a belief to lose adherents even if journals still publish articles supporting this belief. Scientists who base such wild claims on a review of journals might benefit from some study of simple logic.15
Do they even know what to look for? Creationists are hardly likely to want to blow their cover and risk the discrimination epitomized by Scientific American. Would Nature or Science, for example, ever knowingly publish a paper favorable to creation? Hardly. But in spite of the bias against such publication, creationist scientists have managed to publish papers when the creationist implications are disguised subtly enough. This shows that they do carry out real scientific research. Yet ‘15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense’ has the audacity to claim:
An absolutely amazing comment coming from a journal that’s publicly reached the nadir of anti-creationist censorship and discrimination!
There is clear proof of censorship by Scientific American, Science, and Australasian Science, where they have even denied creationists the normal courtesy of the right of reply. So why would scientists bother to waste their time? They know that their papers will be rejected, no matter how good the research, which explains why creationist scientists have, years ago, commenced their own peer-reviewed journals. Scientific American acknowledges the credentials of some creationists, but not the fanatical censorship that they face.
An interesting admission, but that’s hardly the impression that evolutionists usually give to the public.
So why does Scientific American take us seriously by writing this article?
Scientific American’s next example of supposed ‘creationist nonsense’ turns out to be doubletalk, and merely closes ranks against creationists. It repeats the old trick of claiming ‘there is no doubt that Evolution occurred; the only disagreement is about the mechanism.’
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. These disputes are like those found in all other branches of science. Acceptance of Evolution as a factual occurrence and a guiding principle is nonetheless universal in biology. [SA 81]
This rhetorical flourish notwithstanding, modern evolutionary theory is all about providing a plausible mechanism for explaining life’s complexity without God. If the disputes undermine all the favored mechanisms for Evolution, then the whole materialist apologetic crumbles. When the supporters of various evolutionary camps score mortal blows against the mechanisms proposed by their rival camps, it’s perfectly reasonable for creationists to point this out.
For example, with the origin of birds, there are two main theories: that birds evolved ‘ground up’ from running dinosaurs (the cursorial theory), and that they evolved ‘trees down’ from small reptiles (the arboreal theory). Both sides produce devastating arguments against the other side. The evidence indicates that the critics are both right—birds did not evolve either from running dinosaurs or from tree-dwelling mini-crocodiles. In fact, birds did not evolve from non-birds at all!
Similarly, supporters of ‘jerky’ Evolution (saltationism and its relative, punctuated equilibria) point out that the fossil record does not show gradualism, and that the hypothetical transitional forms would be disadvantageous. But supporters of gradual Evolution point out that sudden, large, information-increasing change is so improbable that one would need to invoke a secular ‘miracle.’ Creationists agree with both sides: punctuated Evolution can’t happen, and gradual Evolution can’t happen—in fact, particles-to-people Evolution can’t happen at all!
Lacking sound arguments, Scientific American stoops to quipping,
Pure assertion. This ‘quoting out of context’ assertion is a common misrepresentation repeated by skeptics and their church allies. An even sillier thing is to write to an author and ask whether he had been misquoted, which some anti-creationists actually do, as surprising as it may seem. All one needs to do to demonstrate misquoting is to compare the quote with the original.
The most frequently cited example of creationists ‘misquoting’ an avid evolutionist is their handling of Gould’s punctuated equilibrium model. Scientific American says:
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… . [SA 81]
Creationists do no such thing. Rather, they make it very clear that Gould was a staunch evolutionist but he criticized many aspects of neo-Darwinian theory. Quoting Gould is the perfectly honorable strategy of using a hostile witness.17
Yet Scientific American continues the misrepresentation of creationist claims:
First, most creationists present Gould’s ideas correctly, and those ideas are not the exclusive property of evolutionists. Second, even many evolutionists think that Gould has largely himself to blame because of his injudicious (from an evolutionary viewpoint) comments. For example, Richard Goldschmidt was famous for promoting a ‘hopeful monster’ theory, which indeed said something very much like a bird hatching from a reptile egg. And Gould wrote an article called ‘The Return of Hopeful Monsters,’ which said:
If there is any ‘out-of-context’ quote in any books or articles written by me or my colleagues, we would like to know about it, because we are not about misleading people. Where such things have very rarely occurred in our literature over the years, we have willingly corrected them. Scientific American ends this discussion of this type of ‘creationist nonsense’ with yet another sweeping assertion, but without substance.
In reality, experience shows that when confronted by an accusation against creation or creationists by any scientific ‘authority,’ one should insist on seeing documentation. Almost invariably, the attack on creation will prove illusory.
There is a debate tactic known as ‘elephant hurling.’ This occurs when the critic throws summary arguments about complex issues to give the impression of weighty evidence, but with an unstated presumption that a large complex of underlying ideas is true, and failing to consider opposing data, usually because they have uncritically accepted the arguments from their own side. But we should challenge elephant-hurlers to offer specifics and challenge the underlying assumptions.
John Rennie’s article on ‘15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense’ opens with a classic example of elephant hurling.
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. Today that battle has been won everywhere—except in the public imagination. [SA 78]
It is true that Darwin faced intense opposition when he introduced Evolution. But his main opposition came from the scientists19 and much of his support came from compromising clergymen, such as Rev. Charles Kingsley, who applied it to humans to assert that the African-Americans and Australian Aborigines had not evolved enough to understand the Gospel.20
To be honest, I think Scientific American underestimates the hold of Evolution on the ‘public imagination.’ While many Americans say they believe in creation and reject Evolution, sadly many seem to be ‘evolutionized’ in their thinking. This is shown by the widespread idea that their personal faith should not influence their public life. It’s unfortunate to hear professing Christians who say that they won’t let their faith influence their public policy, e.g., ‘I’m personally opposed to abortion, but I won’t enforce my faith on the pregnant woman who must be given the right to choose,’ although the unborn baby has no ‘choice.’ However, atheists are very happy to let their own faith influence their public policy and enforce their views on people—we rarely hear: ‘I’m personally in favor of abortion, but I won’t enforce my view on the innocent unborn baby.’21
For this reason, the primary focus of Christian apologetics ministries like Creation Ministries International is not on Evolution per se, which by itself will accomplish little to change lives and opinions, but rather building a consistent biblical Christian worldview. evolution (and millions of years) is a corollary.22
Scientific American’s ‘elephant hurling’ continues with a repeat of common ad hominem attacks on the intelligence of creationists and their imagined threat to the advances of ‘modern science’ (as Evolution is claimed to be):
Perhaps the United States is ‘the most scientifically advanced nation the world has ever known’ precisely because it has been the most Bible-based society the world has ever known! And that includes belief in the biblical account of creation, the Fall and the Flood.23
Again, CMI is not a lobby group, and it opposes legislation for compulsion of creation teaching. But there is nothing wrong with giving legal protection to teachers who want to present scientific arguments against the sacred cow of Evolution. Yet Scientific American and the intelligentsia are mortified by the possibility:
Horrors, discuss God in the classroom? By this ‘reasoning,’ John Rennie would have to blast Rufus Porter, a believer in biblical creation, who founded his own journal Scientific American for a similar purpose!
Rennie acknowledges the difficulty in answering creationists in the classroom, yet he slams their integrity:
Is it possible that the ‘well-informed’ find the creationist arguments convincing because they recognize the validity of them? And most real scientists whom Scientific American would call ‘well-informed’ actually have no use for Evolution in their work!
Yet Rennie believes it is his duty to do his very best to shore up the cause of the embattled evolutionists with his cover story on ‘creationist nonsense.’
By heaping together the best ‘science’ of evolutionists to ‘rebut’ creation, Scientific American has actually done us all a favor. The remaining chapters of this book will show, in detail, how weak the ‘best’ arguments are, buttressing believers and challenging unbelievers to reconsider their assumptions about the validity of evolutionist propaganda.