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Argument: Evolution is true science, not ‘just a theory’
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.’

by Jonathan Sarfati, with Mike Matthews

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.’

1. Evolution is only a theory. It is not a fact or a scientific law.
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. [SA 79]

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.’

What is science? What is a theory?
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:

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfil many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.2

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:

Our ways of learning about the world are strongly influenced by the social preconceptions and biased modes of thinking that each scientist must apply to any problem. The stereotype of a fully rational and objective ‘scientific method,’ with individual scientists as logical (and interchangeable) robots is self-serving mythology.3

The philosopher of science David Hull had earlier noted:

… science is not as empirical as many scientists seem to think it is. Unobserved and even unobservable entities play an important part in it. Science is not just the making of observations: it is the making of inferences on the basis of observations within the framework of a theory.4

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:

Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.5

What is evolution?
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.

Information—the real problem with evolution
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.

Swatting at gnats
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.

2. Natural selection is based on circular reasoning: the fittest are those who survive, and those who survive are deemed fittest. [SA 79]
Like the creationist argument that evolution is ‘just a theory,’ this is another argument that Answers in Genesis 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!

3. 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 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

Glossing over the absence of evidence
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.

In the historical sciences (which include astronomy, geology, and archaeology, as well as evolutionary biology), 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, which is indeed what the fossil record shows… . Evolutionary biology [also] routinely makes predictions far more refined and precise than this, and researchers test them constantly. [SA 80]

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.

Evolution could be disproved in other ways, too. If we could document the spontaneous generation of just one complex life-form from inanimate matter, 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. [SA 80]

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,

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. [SA 80]

This is simply an attempt to immunize evolution from the same criticism that is advancing against creationists.

A ‘good theory’ because it’s ‘widely accepted’?
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.’

4. Increasingly, scientists doubt the truth of evolution.
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:

Creationists retort that a closed-minded scientific community rejects their evidence. Yet according to the editors of Nature, Science, and other leading journals, few antievolution manuscripts are even submitted. [SA 80]16

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.

Some anti-evolution authors have published papers in serious journals. 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).

An interesting admission, but that’s hardly the impression that evolutionists usually give to the public.

In short, creationists are not giving the scientific world good reason to take them seriously. [SA 80]

So why does Scientific American take us seriously by writing this article?

‘Disagreements aren’t doubts about evolution’—doubletalk
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.’

5. The disagreements among even evolutionary biologists show how little solid science supports evolution.
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,

Unfortunately, dishonest creationists have shown a willingness to take scientists’ comments out of context to exaggerate and distort the disagreements. [SA 81]

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:

… and they present punctuated equilibrium as though it allows new species to materialize overnight or birds to be born from reptile eggs. [SA 81]

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:

I do, however, predict that during the next decade Goldschmidt will be largely vindicated in the world of evolutionary biology.18

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.

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. [SA 81]

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.

Elephant hurling
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 Answers in Genesis is not on refuting evolution per se, which by itself will accomplish little to change lives and opinions, but rather building a consistent biblical Christian worldview. Refuting 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):

Embarrassingly, in the 21st century, in the most scientifically advanced nation the world has ever known, creationists can still persuade politicians, judges, and ordinary citizens that evolution is a flawed, poorly supported fantasy. They lobby for creationist ideas such as ‘intelligent design’ to be taught as alternatives to evolution in science classrooms. [SA 78]

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, AiG 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:

As this article goes to press, the Ohio Board of Education is debating whether to mandate such a change. Some anti-evolutionists, 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. [SA 78]

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:

Besieged teachers and others may increasingly find themselves on the spot to defend evolution and refute creationism. 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. [SA 78]

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.’

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. [SA 79]

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.

References and notes
D. Batten, ‘It’s Not Science.’
R. Lewontin, Billions and Billions of Demons, New York Review (9 January 1997): p. 31; Amazing admission.
S.J. Gould, Natural History 103(2):14, 1994.
D. Hull, The Effect of Essentialism on Taxonomy Two Thousand Years of Stasis (II), British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 16(61):1–18, 1965.
S.C. Todd, correspondence to Nature 410(6752):423 (30 September 1999); A designer is unscientific—even if all the evidence supports one!
G.A. Kerkut, Implications of Evolution (Oxford, UK: Pergamon, 1960), p. 157.
See C. Wieland, Beetle Bloopers, Creation 19(3):30 (June–August 1997); K. Ham, How Would You Answer? Creation 20(3):32–34 (June–August 1998); and R. Grigg, Information: A Modern Scientific Design Argument, Creation 22(2):50–53 (March–May 2000).
See also C.B. Thaxton, W.L. Bradley, and R.L. Olsen, The Mystery of Life’s Origin (New York, NY: Philosophical Library Inc., 1984); Q&A: Origin.
<http://discuss.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/zforum/01/evolution2_092601.htm>, last downloaded 1 September 2002.
E. Scott, Dealing with Anti-evolutionism, Reports of the National Center for Science Education (4):24–28, 1997; quote on p. 26, with emphasis in original.
See K. Ham, Creation: ‘Where’s the Proof?’ Creation 22(1):39–42 (December 1999–February 2000).
The false claim of transitional forms between apes and humans is discussed in chapter 12.
A. Barnett, The Second Coming. Did Life Evolve on Earth More Than Once? New Scientist 157(2121):19, 1998.
See Q&A: Bible.
J.D. Sarfati, Loving God with All Your Mind: Logic and Creation, TJ 12(2):142–151 (1998).
Examples are listed in D. Buckna, Do Creationists Publish in Notable Refereed Journals?
See Don Batten, Did Creationists ‘Hijack’ Gould’s Idea? TJ 16(2):22–24, 2002; Leading evolutionist, Stephen Jay Gould, dies.
S.J. Gould, The Return of Hopeful Monsters, Natural History 86(6):22–30, 1977.
See J. Foard, Holy War? Who Really Opposed Darwin? Creation 21(4):26–27 (September–November 1999).
See R. Grigg, Darwin’s Quisling, Creation 22(1):50–51 (December 1999–February 2000).
The related fallacy that ‘you cannot/should not legislate morality’ has been refuted in many articles, such as Michael Bauman, Dispelling False Notions of the First Amendment: The Falsity, Futility, Folly of Separating Morality from Law, <http://www.equip.org/free/DM801.htm>, Christian Research Institute.
C. Wieland, AiG’s views on the Intelligent Design Movement, 30 August 2002.
See The Creationist Basis for Modern Science.
 

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Nope, sorry, still won't give up my evolution.

I commend you on finding that lengthy article. It was better written than most that I have read on this issue. The problem still comes down to this, you state that there is not enough proof for evolution to be taken as fact, but you do not present any proof that creation is right. Evolution has to make assumptions to come to its conclusions but in my opinion it takes a lot more assumptions to beleive in creationism, I will stick with evolution. I noticed one paragraph about half way down that sums it up for me. "The bible claims to be the revelations by the creator of life. . . " and "Excellent historical, archeoligical and textual evidence of the bibles claims." I still have not seen anything on the creation side that does not boil down to "it's the Bible, it's right."
 

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Neither is walking on water,

Flip Flash said:
A dinosaur turning into a bird 150 Ma (million years ago) is neither observable in real time, directly or indirectly, nor repeatable.
Rising from the dead, being the son of god, etc.
 

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You allude to the "classical" problem that creationism has faced over the last century. They say Evolution (by natural selection) is just a theory and shouldn't be accepted as fact, then present their alternative theory as if it is an equally good (even superior) theory. What they continuously ignore is that the evidence that exists, which isn't inconsequential despite the creationists claims to the contrary, predominantly if not overwhelmingly supports evolution by natural selection, and that often many versions of creationism (for instance ones that include the Flood or a "young" earth) can be shown to be false.

What's the point in arguing? Scientists aren't going to shift their paradigm away from evolution by natural selection unless a theory comes along that better explains the facts and creationists aren't going to shift their paradigm because it appears that many of them think that scripture is unerring TRUTH and that a consequence of that is creationism.

"In science, 'fact' can only mean 'confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.' I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms."

Stephen Jay Gould
 

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Anybody EVER changed his mind on this topic?

Seems to me this is one of those topics, like abortion and gun control, where sense simply can't be spoken. I've been debating all three off and on in print for nearly 30 years, and I don't know of one single instance of anybody changing his or her mind because of arguments from the opposing side. Isn't going to happen now, either, but I think you do get credit for the longest post in the history of this forum.
As for "clearing the air," everything would be fine if people would just realize my beliefs are based on science and theirs are grounded in superstition....
 

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Lol!

Cory said:
As for "clearing the air," everything would be fine if people would just realize my beliefs are based on science and theirs are grounded in superstition....
You just couldn't resist now, could you!
 

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Cory said:
Seems to me this is one of those topics, like abortion and gun control, where sense simply can't be spoken. I've been debating all three off and on in print for nearly 30 years, and I don't know of one single instance of anybody changing his or her mind because of arguments from the opposing side. Isn't going to happen now, either, but I think you do get credit for the longest post in the history of this forum.
As for "clearing the air," everything would be fine if people would just realize my beliefs are based on science and theirs are grounded in superstition....
Maybe not recently but lets not forget that damn near everybody was a creationist when Darwin proposed his theory, supported by probably not more than 1% of the evidence available today, and within a few decades pretty much all of the scientific world was convinced and has remained so until this day. As I've pointed out before if a better explanation exists how come some chinese paleontologist or some other "non-western" scientist unencumbered by either religious or the supposed "anti-religious" bias of western scientists come up with a better theory?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
What evidence do you have that the earth is not young.

Or that a worldwide flood didn't occur?

I'm just curious. Did you data come from dating methods that make three huge assumptions. The gravest would be the exact knowledge of the composition of the material at the beginning. Meaning, they knew what it looked like and was exactly made from millions of years ago.

You crack me up, because you have no justification of that acceptance of the assumptions beside that 1,000,000,000 other humanist scientist believe it too.

That is pathetic.

By the way, forget creation. It would be a fine start if you just admited that evolution has plenty of holes in it (causing concern with it's validity) and that you'd be open to looking at other options. That'd be a start toward opening your mind to the possibility that evolution itself is wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That's a BS statement

Dwayne Barry said:
Maybe not recently but lets not forget that damn near everybody was a creationist when Darwin proposed his theory, supported by probably not more than 1% of the evidence available today, and within a few decades pretty much all of the scientific world was convinced and has remained so until this day. As I've pointed out before if a better explanation exists how come some chinese paleontologist or some other "non-western" scientist unencumbered by either religious or the supposed "anti-religious" bias of western scientists come up with a better theory?
You ignore that FACT that much if not all of the data presented as the reasons for believing in evolution say in the Scopes Trial has all been proven to be false or an outright fraud.

Amazing that it doesn't matter that the root was a lie, now you believe that since the lie moved everyone it was justified or even good.

You ignore that people make mistakes or lie (scopes trial) yet these same types that did these things are the same guys you put all your trust, faith and hopes in now.

Lots of people died before the Piltdown man was shown to be a fraud, and I'm sure they went down saying, evolution must be true, because science and Piltdown Man says so.

As was stated before, this discussion really isn't focused on the players, but on the readers. Hopefully the lukewarm Christians will have a better understanding that evolution is full of inconsistencies and root assumptions and I hope that middle ground people will see that also and think about it. Adios.
 

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Just one tiny little leap of demented logic

Flip Flash said:
The gravest would be the exact knowledge of the composition of the material at the beginning. Meaning, they knew what it looked like and was exactly made from millions of years ago.
I guess what you mean here is that the Periodic Table of Elements has evolved over the 6000 years since the Earth was created. Iron wasn't iron then. Iron evolved from a lighter form.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
No no no

BottomBracketShell said:
I guess what you mean here is that the Periodic Table of Elements has evolved over the 6000 years since the Earth was created. Iron wasn't iron then. Iron evolved from a lighter form.
But good question. The issue is that they knew exactly what it was composed of millions of years ago.

That ASSUMES (that word again) that their rates of decay have been constant over the whole time. Now how long have they even had the capability to measure that and take that number and divide it by the number of years they are saying it was constant over. The fraction you get will be the tiny percentage of the entire length that they know, versus the reality of their belief.

They have no idea if it sloped down, went up, roller coastered, whatever. I hope you see the problem with dating methods. They are based on assuming:

THey knew the exact composition of the item from the beginning.
The rate of change is the same over the entire period (unbelievable faith).
And they know that the item was never washed of or injected with any of the same material over the period (millions of years).

Now those are unbelieveable leaps of faith. You like that one. Sound reasonable to you.

Tell me about your father.....
 

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Flip Flash said:
You ignore that FACT that much if not all of the data presented as the reasons for believing in evolution say in the Scopes Trial has all been proven to be false or an outright fraud.

Amazing that it doesn't matter that the root was a lie, now you believe that since the lie moved everyone it was justified or even good.

You ignore that people make mistakes or lie (scopes trial) yet these same types that did these things are the same guys you put all your trust, faith and hopes in now.

Lots of people died before the Piltdown man was shown to be a fraud, and I'm sure they went down saying, evolution must be true, because science and Piltdown Man says so.

As was stated before, this discussion really isn't focused on the players, but on the readers. Hopefully the lukewarm Christians will have a better understanding that evolution is full of inconsistencies and root assumptions and I hope that middle ground people will see that also and think about it. Adios.
Typical creationist smoke and mirrors, the Scopes trial had absolutely nothing to do with exceptance of evolution by scientists, nor did Piltdown. So are all the hominid fossils that exist today frauds? How about the dinosaurs?
 

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Flip Flash said:
Or that a worldwide flood didn't occur?

Uh, you mean besides the fact that there is no geological evidence of one?

"I'm just curious. Did you data come from dating methods that make three huge assumptions. The gravest would be the exact knowledge of the composition of the material at the beginning. Meaning, they knew what it looked like and was exactly made from millions of years ago.

You crack me up, because you have no justification of that acceptance of the assumptions beside that 1,000,000,000 other humanist scientist believe it too.

That is pathetic."

What is wrong with you? I have told you my justification, the scientific method works! Are you denying this?

"By the way, forget creation. It would be a fine start if you just admited that evolution has plenty of holes in it (causing concern with it's validity) and that you'd be open to looking at other options. That'd be a start toward opening your mind to the possibility that evolution itself is wrong.
Yes, I agree Evolution by natural selection could be wrong and I asked you to provide me with an alternative theory that better explained the evidence. And what did you do? You sent me to a website that not only didn't contain a cogent theory, it contained no science, and it's use of logic (based on the fundamental assumption of biblical scripture inerrancy) provided everyone here with some good laughs!

How about you start answering some questions. Let's start with the basics. Has evolution occurred? That is, have the species that occupy the planet changed throughout time?
 

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Tell you what, you lay it all out there.

Describe the tenets of your Christian Dominionism for us, including the implications for us non-believers when you gain political power. I think the board would find your agenda enlightening. Then I'll tell you about my father. Deal?
 

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How about a simple question.

Where did all the fossils come from? If they were from the flood then those old testament guys must have really had their hands full with all the dinosaurs roaming around. Or, were the fossils put in the ground by someother force? And can I just say you are really stretching it to make your point when you say that radioactive decay rates may have been variable in the past, I mean, really. If you can't believe in anything that is based in science is it a big surprise every morning when the electric lights work? :p We should end this evolution thread, neither side is going to change their minds. Different people believe different things and that is that.
 

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Essentially both positions represent a reliance on faith. A creationist can no more "prove" the existance of God absolutely than an evolutionsist can "prove" that the species man fully evolved from ooze. Given that there is no natural instance of something coming from nothing, you have two choices for origin...the universe is eternal and "always was, is and will always be," (thank you Mr. Sagan), or God the eternal being who was is and will always be created it. The "facts" that would fortify each position using scientific method seem to weigh heavily against evolutionists. The biggest gapping hole is the fossil record and the complete absence of any transitional forms. I fully believe science supports the adaptation of species to survive...but the scientific support for transisitonal forms is zippo. You gotta have a lot of faith to believe in macro evolution if you have no evidence. The evidence for a devine designer of the universe seems overwhellming by comparison. If evolutionsists are to hang their case on the hominid fossils as proof of transitional forms -- oh my, faith indeed. Look at it this way, there are BILLIONS of fossils sitting in museums, universities and warehouses that have been studied with no convincing evidence of being transitional. The hominid fossils are nothing more than a handful of hard to pinpoint primate skulls and the like. Whenever the "sceintists" find one fossil (of billions) that is hard to pinpoint, they run forward and say here's the proof. There is no proof, because there are no transitional forms. The theory isn't supported statistically by whats' been dug up over the past century. Given the huge number of forms and species out there, you'd think they'd have a couple clear ringers by now...but they don't. There's smoke and mirrors out there alright, but I'm afraid it's being used by the evolutionists to support a theory that doesn't hold water.
 

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Third possibility

jcpreuss said:
Given that there is no natural instance of something coming from nothing, you have two choices for origin...the universe is eternal and "always was, is and will always be," (thank you Mr. Sagan), or God the eternal being who was is and will always be created it.

Mathematics is something from nothing and un-temporal. Eternal you might call it. The Universe is a probability wave. It COULD happen mathematically so it DID happen, since given eternity every probability, however remote, 10 to the nine billion zillionth power, will occur. All you have to do is posit that mathematics is eternal and something-from-nothing is explained without God.
 

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Where does this idea come from that there are no "transitional forms"? Take our own lineage as an example. The fossil record for hominids starts roughly 4.5 million years ago with australopithecus afarensis that has the anatomy of a fully bipedal ape yet with some anatomy that suggests a recent knuckle-walking past, it has brain approximately a quarter the size of our own. It's in Africa as one would predict from the ranges of our closest related living species (chimps and gorillas). Over the next several million years you see a gradual increase in stature, changes in dentition, changes in cranial anatomy, bigger brains, loss of that anatomy linked to knuckle-walking, etc. The species essentially become more and more like you and I as one would predict if evolution were occurring. Now I guess you could assert that each of the geological species represented by the 1000's of homind fossils died off and God created the next one but the fossil record is there nonetheless and you can't just pretend it's not and be taken seriously.

Same for whales, there is a fairly complete record tracing modern day whales all the way back to the land living mammals they evolved from 50 million years ago.

If you're serious about understanding this, unlike Flip Flash, I'd be more than happy to explain to you how you link fossil species to one another.
 

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But mathematics only exists in the framework of your intellect...that makes you unique. It is the symetry and perfect design revealed in the numbers that in my mind validates that there had to be an intellectual cause for the physical world we have. BTW, the discussion rests on the demostrable, observable physical artifacts we have and how they came to be. All you have to do is deposit God the creator into the equation and you can explain how it all came into being.
 
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