There are certain tasks I do not enjoy having to do on a regular basis. One that immediately comes to mind is garbage night. Every Tuesday night, the garbage cans and recyclables go out to the curb. Rain or shine, hot or cold, it still must be done. Even though I just did it seven days ago, they sit on the driveway waiting to be taken on their weekly walk. I stress this point in the hopes that you, the reader, will sympathize with me as you read my verse of lament and will join with me in singing the chorus of gripe: “O garbage night, O garbage night, I loathe you deeply, garbage night!”
There are also, in the debate concerning evolution and the age of the earth, certain arguments I grow tired of hearing. When these arguments are given, I confess that I find myself mentally checking out of the conversation because I see that the person is often simply parroting from others what he or she has heard and has not really thought through the issues at hand.
I think the debate is worth having, and I think many of the arguments against Young Earth Creationism (hereafter YEC) are good and need to be carefully analyzed and answered. But some of the arguments are just plain stupid. To be sure, many creationists have used very poor arguments in this debate that should not be used. I include in the footnotes a link to an article that includes a list of such arguments that creationists should not use.1
The problem with these kinds of arguments is that they do not help the debate to move forward. We spend so much time dealing with silly ideas that we cannot move on to the real meat of the issues.
In this article, I have included twelve such arguments that I wish my evolutionist friends would stop making so the debate could move forward. These arguments are often used by both atheists and, at times, theistic evolutionists and old earth creationists.
1. Creationism is opposed to the progress of science.
Why It Sounds Good
Frankly, anytime you can demonize the opposition, it will sound good. Further, evolution is often equated with science and so anything opposed to evolution will be considered unscientific.
Why It Is Annoying
This is quite a strange charge, considering the fact that many classic scientists like Francis Bacon, Johann Keppler, Isacc Newton, and modern scientists like Raymond Damadian, David Boylan, or Kurt Wise, who have all contributed in great ways to science exploration, were or are YECs!2 In fact, all of them would claim that it is precisely because they believe God has created the world in a rational and understandable way that we ought to pursue knowing it and understanding it because doing so helps us better worship and serve Him! Creationism does not oppose science; it promotes it! It was professor Peter Harrison, former professor of history and philosophy, who aptly wrote, “Strange as it may seem, the Bible played a positive role in the development of science…. Had it not been for the rise of the literal interpretation of the Bible and the subsequent appropriation of biblical narratives by early modern scientists, modern science may not have arisen at all.”3
Further, there is a distinction between the type of science that is observable, testable, and repeatable, and science that is not. We often call these hard and soft sciences. Beliefs about the past fall into the second category. This does not mean that such beliefs are necessarily wrong, but it does mean the charge that creationists deny science by rejecting evolutionary ideas is demonstrably false. Rather, creationists reject the evolutionary claims of scientists on the basis that the evidence has been, of yet, unconvincing.
I challenge my evolutionary friends to name one piece of technology that has been developed dependent upon belief in the common descent of all living organisms. It was Marc Kirschner, the founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, who stated, “In fact, over the last 100 years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself. Molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, have not taken evolution into account at all.”4
2. Evolution is based on evidence, whereas creationism is based on faith.
Why It Sounds Good
If this is true, then only evolution should be taught in science classes because only it meets the criteria of science.
Why It Is Annoying
This is based upon two faulty assumptions. First, that evolution is based purely on observable facts and is not a type of secular religion. But the honest evolutionists recognize that this is simply not the case. Richard Lewontin, a geneticist and Marxist, has written, “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill 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.”5 Scott Todd, an immunologist at Kansas State University, has also written, “Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.”6
Further, Michael Ruse, a philosopher of science and one of the most well-known defenders of Neo-Darwinism, who also testified on trial against creationism in the Arkansas vs. McLean case, has written, “Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint—and Mr Gish is but one of many to make it—the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today…. Evolution therefore came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.”7 In light of these admissions, evolution can be shown to be a reflection of an a priori religious commitment to naturalism, rather than an unbiased examination of evidence.
The second faulty assumption is that religion is not evidence based. However, this misunderstands what is meant by faith. Contrary to the thought of popular evolutionist Richard Dawkins, who writes that “faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence,”8 faith does not mean believing without evidence. Rather, faith is acting on what you know to be true. Faith does not mean believing there is a chair in the room; faith is what happens when the observer sits on the chair. Creationists look at the evidence in a comprehensive manner. We look at history, science, archaeology, philosophy, and textual criticism. We then draw the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus, the reliability of the Bible, the sufficiency of Genesis, and the nature of God over the nature of evil are best able to interpret the world around us. We then apply this worldview to the evidence that we thereafter encounter. This does not mean that evidence should be ignored, but that the ultimate issue is philosophical worldviews, not simply evidence.
3. Conflating microevolution and macroevolution.
Why It Sounds Good
In evolutionary theory, small scale changes lead to big changes, just as a large number of raindrops will eventually form a lake. It is thus reasoned that evidence for small changes is evidence for big ones. So finch beaks changing size, bacterial adaptation, and other observable events are seen as evidence that evolution on a grand scale, in terms of molecules to man, has viability. If enough of these small scale changes take place over a long enough period of time, big changes will occur. It is often charged that only creationists use this pseudo-distinction.
Why It Is Annoying
The fact is that there is a difference and this micro/macro distinction is present within the writings of evolutionists themselves. John Rennie, an ardent evolutionist, describes the issue well when he writes, “Microevolution looks at changes within species over time…. Macroevolution studies how taxonomic groups above the level of species change.”9 Further, writing about this distinction, Thomas Fowler and Daniel Kuebler, writing in favor of Neo-Darwinism, write, “This, indeed, is why many proponents of evolution cite the cases of industrial melanism and Darwin’s finches as examples of evolution in action, even though they are strictly speaking only microevolution at work.”10 Still further, Raven and Johnson’s secular college textbook, Biology, uses this distinction as well under its attempt to support Neo-Darwinism.11 No informed creationist denies that evolution, defined as natural selection acting on random mutation, takes place in the microscope, though they may object to the terminology.12
Further, creationists recognize that such evolution has made some significant changes to organisms. But while there are big changes that take place, creationists deny that these big changes are a result of new information or that they are significant enough to account for changes on the level surrounding “families” in taxonomy.
© Jeriah Shank, 2014, all rights reserved.
3 Harrison, Peter. The Bible And The Rise Of Modern Science. Australian Science, 23, 2002. Pgs. 14-15
4 Quoted in the Boston Globe, 23, 2005.
5 Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons” (review of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan, 1997), The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997.
6 Todd, S.C., correspondence to Nature 401(6752):423, 30 Sept. 1999.
7 Ruse, M.ichael. How Evolution Became A Religion: Creationists Correct? National Post, pp. B1,B3,B7 May 13, 2000.
9 Rennie, John. 15 Answers To Creationist Nonsense. Scientific American 287, 2000, Pgs. 78-85.
10 Fowler, Thomas B.; Kuebler, Daniel. The Evolution Controversy: A Survey Of Competing Theories. Baker Academic, 2007. P. 121.
11 Raven, Peter H.; Johnson, George B. Biology. 3rd Ed. Mosby Year Book, 1992. Pgs. 386-390.
Jeriah Shank is pastor of First Baptist Church of Monroe, Iowa where he has served since 2010. Jeriah researches and writes in apologetics, science, faith and other topics and enjoys counseling at Iowa Regular Baptist Special Camp. He and his wife, Shawna, are blessed with three daughters. Jeriah blogs at The Song of the Redeemed.