Frequently Encountered Criticisms in Evolution vs. Creationism

Frequently Encountered Criticisms in Evolution vs. Creationism: Revised and Expanded

Compiled by Mark I. Vuletic

Last updated November 19, 1997.

New Scientist's "Planet Science" Site of the Day, 7 April 1996

This list is designed to serve as an elementary introduction to some of the assertions creationists make against what they call "evolution." Please note that, as far as some creationists are concerned, "evolution" includes much more than just evolutionary biology - creationist criticisms extend to much of geology, paleontology, physics, cosmology, astronomy, and numerous other scientific disciplines, as well. This list is not nearly as complete or rigorous as it could be, but I hope it will be sufficient to show people examining the issue for the first time that creationism is groundless, and that it will also serve as a useful reference for more experienced participants.

For more rigorous refutations of creationist arguments and assertions, consult the talk.origins archive and the references at the end of this list. It goes without saying that I encourage all readers to look into the subject on their own and to double-check everything I have written. If you have a question that is not answered by this list, please submit it, or look for it in talk.origins via the talk.origins index or the talk.origins search engine.

I would like to express heartfelt appreciation to the many people who have written letters of thanks, encouragement, and advice, and to those who have given me pointers to new information or personal research. In particular, I would like to thank William B. Provine, Anthonie Muller, Nigel Arnot, John Davison, Chris Stassen, and Larry Taylor for their input. I would also like to thank Brett Vickers and the many affiliates of talk.origins for permitting me to link extensively to their archive from this list.

Note on Exponential Notation: In this document, numbers of the form "n x 10 to the kth power" (that's n followed by k zeros) will be represented as "n E(k)." For instance, "6.5 x 10 to the 24th power" will be written as "6.5 E(24)." I have adopted this convention because some browsers are unable to display superscripts.

Index

Cosmology, Astronomy, Planetary Geology

1.1: The sun contains most of the mass, but only 2% of the angular momentum of the solar system. If the solar system had condensed from a gas cloud, most of its angular momentum would be in the sun.

1.2: Most sets of fundamental constants would lead to a universe in which life could not form. It would appear that the fundamental constants in our universe have been fine-tuned by an entity that wished to create man.

1.3: At the present rate of influx of meteoritic dust from space, the earth and moon after 5 billion years should each be covered with a meteoritic dust layer more than 180 feet thick.

1.4: The lst law of thermodynamics states that the energy in the universe is constant. The Big Bang theory states that the universe came out of nothing, so it violates this thermodynamic law.

1.5: The 2nd law of thermodynamics states that disorder in the universe always increases. This means that the universe could not have started in an ordered state unless it was "wound up" by a Creator.

1.6: The rotation of the Earth has been slowing at a rate of 30 seconds per century. If the Earth were billions of years old, the rotation rate at the outset would have been so great that the planet could not have held together, much less support life.

1.7: Quantum mechanics proves the existence of a creator, since there must have been some entity external to the universe to observe it and thus collapse it into a determinate state.

Terrestrial Geology, Radioisotope Dating

2.1: Many test using 14C give dates that are obviously wrong or conflict with dates given by other radioisotope tests. For instance, a living mollusk was once shown by 14C dating to be dead for 3,000 years.

2.2: The ages of rocks are determined by the kinds of fossils they contain, but the dating of the fossils depends upon evolutionary assumptions. The use of the old age of rocks to support evolution is thus a circular argument.

2.3: The rate of decay in the geomagnetic field sets an outside limit of 10,000 years for the age of the earth.

2.4: If the earth were as old as geologists say, uranium decay would have put into the atmosphere more helium than we currently find there.

2.5: Lord Kelvin deduced in 1862 that the absolute age of the earth was no more than 400 million years old - too little time for evolution to have generated all of the life we see on earth today.

2.6: There are places where "older" rock strata lie above "younger" rock strata.

2.7: Radiometric dating is extremely inaccurate, as is shown by the fact that such experiments frequently have error factors of a few million years.

2.8: Many radiometric dating tests have yielded false results. Evolutionists discard all those that are inconsistent with their prior assumptions and keep those that "verify" their theory.

2.9: Radiometric dating reports the earth to be old only because the cataclysmic action of Noah's Flood changed the radioisotope concentrations in the young earth.

2.10: Noah's flood was caused by the condensing of a vapor canopy that contained the waters of the flood. Prior to the flood, the vapor canopy also extended people's lifespans to the huge ages listed in Genesis, because it blocked out harmful UV rays.

2.11: Niagara Falls is moving upstream at a known rate each year. Its current location allows only about 5,000 years since the time it started eroding.

Origin of Life

3.1: The law of biogenesis states that life comes only from previous life. Therefore prebiotic synthesis - which states that life first developed from nonliving molecules - contradicts a major law of science.

3.2: Amino acids in living organisms are all left-handed, but in nature, equal amounts of left-handed and right-handed amino acids form, so one would expect them to occur in equal proportions in living organisms if abiogenesis were true.

3.3: Nucleic acids cannot replicate without the help of proteins. Proteins, however, cannot form unless specified by nucleic a cid sequences. Thus, genetic systems could not have started naturally.

3.4: There are n! ways of an enzyme or DNA strand of n parts forming prebiotically. Since the smallest proteins have at least 100 amino acids, the chance of forming a particular enzyme prebiotically is at most 1/100!, which is small enough to be disregarded.

3.5: Even though the Earth is an open system and the sun is bombarding it with energy, life still could not arise without supernatural interference. Order in an open system increases only when there is a complex system like a body, a host of enzymes, or a supernatural influence to catalyze the reactions. Analogously, the sun can shine for eternity on a junkyard and never cause the parts to come together to build a pickup truck.

Biological Evolution, Mutations, Speciation

4.1: Chromosome numbers cannot change without producing very harmful effects.

4.2: The perfection of the structures of the various life forms on earth clearly reveal themselves as the work of an intelligent designer. Nowhere is this more evident than in the unbelievably complex human eye.

4.3: Evolutionists cannot tell us exactly how most organisms arose. For instance, no one can explain what series of mutations could have given caterpillars the ability to metamorphose into butterflies.

4.4: The genetic variation in populations that allows them to adapt to environmental change through microevolution (as revealed in industrial melanism and bacterial antibiotic resistance) was deliberately put in place by the creator.

4.5: Homologous features do not prove any ancestral relationship between organisms, because all classifications above the species level are man-made and arbitrary.

4.6: Industrial melanism does not demonstrate evolution at all because no speciation occurs.

4.7: Mutations are universally deleterious, and thus cannot be a driving factor in evolution.

4.8: The rate of mutation is so small that it could never serve as a source of variation.

4.9: Macroevolution remains unproved because no one has observed it. In fact, macroevolution is in principle unobservable, so evolution must be unscientific.

4.10: No one has ever seen one species arise from another.

4.11: If evolution were true, then fish would have evolved into amphibians and land animals more than once.

4.12: Sexual reproduction could not have come about through evolution.

4.13: There is no evidence for the rapid development of new species.

4.14: Natural selection is tautological: the fittest survive, and those who survive are the fittest.

4.15: There are numerous "irreducibly complex" structures and processes in organisms, especially at the biochemical level. Such structures and processes could not have developed in a stepwise fashion.

Paleontology, Fossils, Transitional Forms

5.1: The feather impressions in fossils of Archaeopteryx are forgeries.

5.2: Archaeopteryx is not a transitional form but a full-fledged bird. Any reptilian characteristics it displays are mirrored in modern birds such as the hoatzin.

5.3: Protoavis precedes Archaeopteryx in the fossil record, so Archaeopteryx cannot possibly be a transitional form.

5.4: The Cambrian explosion is a sure sign of the activity of the Creator, suddenly creating a multitude of complex forms out of nothing. There are no fossils before the explosion.

5.5: All of the explanations of gaps in the fossil record, such as the invocation of punctuated equilibrium and the low probability of fossilization, render the evolutionary prediction of transitional forms unfalsifiable.

5.6: Fossils are the remains of the living organisms that perished in Noah's Flood.

5.7: In their search for transitional forms, the evolutionary community has been taken in by outright fraud, as in the case of Piltdown Man, which was accepted as a valid specimen for 40 years, and by unfounded speculation, as in the construction of Nebraska Man from what later turned out to be a pig tooth. This shows how unobjective evolutionists are.

5.8: There are no adequate transitional forms between fish and amphibians.

5.9: There are no adequate transitional forms between reptiles and mammals.

5.10: There are no adequate transitional forms between early hominids and Homo sapiens.

Philosophy of Science, Educational Issues

6.1: It is likely that many structures in the universe were created with the mere appearance of old age.

6.2: Evolution teaches that there are no such things as souls, that the Bible is fraudulent, and that God does not exist.

6.3: Great scientists such as Newton and Kepler believed in a literal Genesis.

6.4: Evolutionists are trying to take over the school system and force their beliefs upon the students.

6.5: Natural processes cannot be the cause of qualities seen in humans like love. For instance, the cause of love must be something loving.

6.6: There are many theories of evolution, each of which "conclusively disproves" the other.

6.7: Evolution is unfalsifiable, and thus unscientific.

6.8: Electrons are materially inconceivable, but physicists largely accept them as real entities. So what is to keep one from accepting the reality of an inconceivable Creator?

6.9: The exclusive teaching of evolution in the science classroom violates the teaching of multiculturalism, because many different cultures have creation myths which contradict evolution.

6.10: Evolution predicts that natural law should be constantly evolving, as opposed to the creation model, which states that law should stay fixed.

6.11: Nothing can be proven, particularly events in the past. Therefore, creationism must be just as reasonable as evolution.

6.12: There is nothing wrong with invoking supernatural explanation.

6.13: There are many unanswered questions in science, such as the details of the origin of the universe and of prebiotic synthesis. Thus we require a supernatural God for explanation.

6.14: Evolution is just a theory.

6.15: Evolution and creationism are the only two possible models of origins. There are many serious problems with evolution, so creationism is the correct model by default.

6.16: Evolution is the basis for Naziism and laissez-faire capitalism.


Main Text

The creationist claims are immediately followed by evolutionist responses.

Cosmology, Astronomy, Planetary Geology

1.1: The sun contains most of the mass, but only 2% of the angular momentum of the solar system. If the solar system had condensed from a gas cloud, most of its angular momentum would be in the sun.

The sun transferred most of its momentum to the planets via a process known as "magnetic braking." In the early stages of the solar system, the magnetic field of the sun dragged ionized atoms in the solar nebula with it, thereby transferring energy that accelerated the atoms but slowed the sun's rotation. (Wagner, 1991, 436)

1.2: Most sets of fundamental constants would lead to a universe in which life could not form. It would appear that the fundamental constants in our universe have been fine-tuned by an entity that wished to create man.

In the first place, even if it were certain that the universe were fine-tuned by an intelligent entity, it would not follow that the entity who performed the fine-tuning had any special interest in humans. Given that the few types of universes that allow for human life to form are apparently also the only types of universes in which stars, planets, and tarantulas may form, an entity that fine-tuned the universe could have done so for the express purpose of producing one of those other objects/creatures. Alternately, such an entity could just be a deistic creator - it (or they) could have set up a universe such as this one without knowing (or perhaps even caring) what the exact result would be (this would just be an intelligence-driven world-ensemble scenario).

However, independent of these considerations, standard cosmology indicates that the conventional laws of physics did not hold in the first 1 E(-43) seconds of the universe (Halliday & Resnick, 1988, 1142), so, absent an adequate theory of quantum gravity, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to draw conclusions about what processes generated the fundamental constants we observe in our universe (Fritzsch, 1984, 224-225). For all we know at this stage, a purely natural process could have guaranteed that the constants we observe are the only ones any universe could have; making probability assessments about the likelihood of a universe such as ours existing presupposes that all imaginable universes are (more or less) equiprobable - an assumption which outruns cosmological knowledge. Stephen Hawking, for instance, claims on the basis of a speculative theory of qauntum gravity, that the universe is finite, yet unbounded. That is to say, Hawking holds that the conditions of the universe are such that "...[t]here would be no singularities at which the laws of science broke down and no edge of space-time at which one would have to appeal to God or some new law to set the boundary conditions for space-time...The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE" (Hawking, 1988,136). On such a scenario, the retrodicted probability of our exact universe existing, with all of its fundamental constants at their specific settings, would be 1.

There is also speculation about the possibility of new universes with different sets of cosmological properties springing into existence (in dimensions isolated from ours) from (1) black holes or "Big Crunch" singularities formed in (or by) other universes (Gribbin, 1993, 243-254), (2) from a primordial space-time "foam" (Dickson, 1997), or (3) directly out of nothing. The existence of a process that generates world ensembles with varying fundamental constants could make the production of a universe such as ours inevitable, depending upon the range of variation of constants in the generation process, and the number of universes produced.

Finally, note that creationist speculations about the alleged "fine-tuning" of the cosmological constants have no bearing whatsoever on cosmological, chemical, and biological evolution. Many people (scientists no less than anyone else) believe that a creator made this universe with all of its laws and processes - evolutionary processes included - in order to create life, possibly even to create humanity. Of course, given the setting of the fundamental constants, a creator would still have to interfere with the evolutionary process many times to deliberately and specifically create humans, unless the universe is deterministic and the creator set the initial state of the universe exactly. But for an allegedly omnipotent creator, such control is certainly possible.

1.3: "...at the present rate of influx of meteoritic dust from space, the earth and moon after 5 billion years should each be covered with a meteoritic dust layer more than 180 feet thick.

This calculation is based on a long outdated, speculative estimate by Hans Pettersson (1960). The ICR seems unaware of data since derived from space technology that reveals a much lower rate of dust influx - a rate that causes the creationist argument to collapse." (Ecker, 1990, 183)

1.4: The lst law of thermodynamics states that the energy in the universe is constant. The Big Bang theory states that the universe came out of nothing, so it violates this thermodynamic law.

As we now know, quantum vacuum fluctuations allow for the appearance of matter from nothing without violating the 1st law of thermodynamics. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle allows particles to spontaneously appear out of nothing for a period of time inversely related to their masses, without violating the conservation of energy. A predicted effect of such vacuum fluctuations, named the Casimir-Polder force, has now been detected (Crabb, 1994, 102). The predicted effect of vacuum fluctuations upon the energy levels of atoms - an effect called Lamb shift - has likewise been detected and measured to five significant figures in hydrogen (Barrow, 1983, 65-66). The existence of vacuum fluctuations has led to speculation that the universe itself may have originated in such a fluctuation, and undergone a rapid inflationary period. It has been proposed that the positive and negative energy in the universe just balance each other such that the universe's net energy is zero (Ecker, 1990, 203). In such a case the appearance of the universe out of nothing via a quantum vacuum fluctuation would not violate conservation of energy. Consult my companion document Creation ex nihilo - Without God for more information.

One might further notice that if anything contradicts the 1st law of thermodynamics, it is creationism, which states that the universe was brought into existence out of nothing by supernatural processes - "supernatural" meaning (in this case) "in violation of natural law." Creationists hold a double-standard, claiming that evolution would be invalid if it violated natural law (which it does not), while at the same time claiming that creationism would not be invalid if it violated natural law (which it does). Nor would creationism better "explain" any violations of natural law at the origin of the universe than naturalism - even if we were hypothetically to concede that the universe did come into existence through a process that violates natural law, "God did it" is no more informative an explanation than "it just happened." The creationist claim is that the universe came into existence through processes that are no longer in effect, yet were guided by an intelligent power. How is this superior to a naturalist claim that the universe came into existence through processes that are no longer in effect, yet were not guided by an intelligent power? Once one allows for processes that have nothing to do with the universe as we know it, then anything goes. To say that it is alright to have different laws "before" the origin of the universe if you are a supernaturalist, but not alright if you are a naturalist (as if the conditions at the beginning of the universe were not different than they are now), is definitely to hold a double-standard.

1.5: The 2nd law of thermodynamics states that disorder in the universe always increases. This means that the universe could not have started in an ordered state unless it was "wound up" by a Creator.

The laws of physics are void before the first 1 E(-43) seconds of the universe, so there is no reason to suspect that the universe could not have "wound itself up" without the aid of a creator. Moreover, "[t]o talk about causation or creation implicitly assumes there was a time before the big bang singularity. We have known for twenty-five years that Einstein's general theory of relativity predicts that time must have had a beginning in a singularity fifteen billion years ago"(Hawking, 1993, 46). There was no "before" in which a creator could have started the universe.

It makes no sense to retort that the creator exists outside of time, because, by definition, there can be no displacement or action unless there is time - thus, the creator could never start creating. Finally, if order can never arise spontaneously, where did this well-ordered creator come from? If the creator "always was" ordered, what is to keep the initial state of the universe from "always having been" ordered?

On a related note, some creationists take the 2nd law of thermodynamics as precluding the generation of "ordered" galaxies from a "disordered explosion" (i.e. the Big Bang). However, systems like galaxies formed as a means of dissipating gravitational energy, thereby increasing universal entropy. The formation of a tight arrangement of matter is not necessarily a shift from high entropy to low.

1.6: The rotation of the Earth has been slowing at a rate of 30 seconds per century. If the Earth were billions of years old, the rotation rate at the outset would have been so great that the planet could not have held together, much less support life.

Chris Stassen writes in response:

Whoever wrote this has the slowing rate very much wrong. The currently measured rate is about 0.00002 seconds per day per year. (That is, today the Earth completed its rotation about 0.00002 seconds slower than it did on this same day last year.)

If you multiply 2 E(-5) seconds (per day) times 4 E(8) years (approximately the Devonian period), you get about 2.2 hours. The result would be about (365 * 24 / 21.8 ~= 400) days per year (since the length of the year hasn't changed). Devonian corals show about 400 daily growth layers per year (judged counting the daily layers in groups marked by larger fluctuations caused by seasonal change). In fact, this evidence is an excellent independent confirmation of the great antiquity of the Earth, and the accuracy of isotopic dating methods.

Note that these long extrapolations are necessarily somewhat rough, and get much less accurate with increasing time (particularly back to near the origin of the Earth). There are still arguments over the forces which dominate the slowing, and how much stronger or weaker they would have been when integrating backwards in time. (Stassen, 1997)

Mr. Stassen also recommends as resources Thwaites, Awbrey, 1982; Cazenave, 1982; Bursa, 1982; and Mignard, 1982.

1.7: Quantum mechanics proves the existence of a creator, since there must have been some entity external to the universe to observe it and thus collapse it into a determinate state.

According to some interpretations of quantum mechanics, the wave function of a system will not collapse into a determinate state unless it is measured. However, when a measuring device is used to measure a system, the measuring device itself becomes entangled in the system's superposition. The only way out of this, say the creationists, is to posit a God who somehow stands outside of the universe and can measure it (thereby bringing it into a determinate state), without himself becoming entangled with the wave function of the universe. The problem with such an argument is that it takes for granted a specific interpretation of quantum mechanics when in fact it is a very contentious issue exactly what the correct interpretation is - some formulations of quantum mechanics do away with collapses altogether (e.g. pilot wave theories, "bare" theory, consistent histories), so there would be nothing for an "outside" observer to do. And even if we knew that there were collapses, some formulations of quantum mechanics dictate that interaction with a device of sufficient size is enough to cause a collapse (e.g. GRW) - there need be no "intelligent" observation. Finally, of the interpretations that do give special status to intelligent observers (such as Wigner's interpretation), the bulk presume that, at the very least humans have that status. Given this proliferation of interpretations of quantum mechanics, it is an outrageous move to seize upon an interpretation that posits some mysterious action of God as the reason why the universe appears to be in a determinate state, and declare it to be proof of the existence of God.

See Albert, 1992, for a survey of quantum mechanical theories.

Terrestrial Geology, Radioisotope Dating

2.1: Many tests using 14C give dates that are obviously wrong or conflict with dates given by other radioisotope tests. For instance, a living mollusk was once shown by 14C dating to be dead for 3,000 years.

The limit on accurate 14C dating is around 50,000 years, owing to the short half-life (5,730 years) of 14C. "Creationists attempt to discredit 14C dating by applying it to fossils older than 50,000 years, or in other inappropriate ways, and then showing that it yields obviously wrong dates" (Berra, 1990, 38).

The fictitious mollusk ages are described fully in Keith, 1963. The error arises because of the unusual environment in which the mollusk lives, and does not apply to organisms in normal environments. Furthermore, even for the mollusks, the maximum error is a few thousand years. Since the experimental limit on 14C is 50,000 years, the error at its worst still does not leave room for a young earth.

2.2: The ages of rocks are determined by the kinds of fossils they contain, but the dating of the fossils depends on evolutionary assumptions. The use of the old age of rocks to support evolution is thus a circular argument.

The absolute age of rocks is accurately determined by the use of radioisotope dating. It is true that the relative ages of strata were determined prior to radiometric dating, partially by fossil content, but radiometric dating has shown these relative dates to be correct. The absolute dating by radioisotopes have yielded the long time span necessary for evolution. (Brush, 1983, 64)

2.3: The rate of decay in the geomagnetic field sets an outside limit of 10,000 years for the age of the earth.

"...only the dipole-field strength has been 'decaying' for a century and a half... the strength of the nondipole field (about 15 percent of the total field) has increased over the same time span, so that the total field has remained almost constant. [Creationist physicist] Barnes' assumption of a steady decrease in the field's strength throughout history is also irreconcilable, of course, with the paleomagnetic evidence of fluctuations and reversals [in the geomagnetic field]"(Ecker, 1990, 105). Evidence of the reversals have been found in the magnetic orientation of rock on the sea floor.

2.4: If the earth were as old as geologists say, uranium decay would have put more helium into the atmosphere than we currently find there.

The extra helium, like normal helium and hydrogen, is terribly light and escapes the earth's atmosphere into space. Thus, helium quantities in the earth give no evidence at all for the age of the earth, and we must look elsewhere - to sediment deposition rates or radiometric dating, for instance - to establish this age (Berra, 1990, 127).

2.5: Lord Kelvin deduced in 1862 that the absolute age of the earth was no more than 400 million years old - too little time for evolution to have generated all of the life we see on earth today.

Lord Kelvin attempted to figure out the age of the earth by using Fourier's theory of heat conduction. In order to use the theory, however, he had to make four assumptions: "first, the [earth] must be a solid...; second, it must have constant thermal conductivity and heat capacity throughout; third, it must have been initially all at the same high temperature, surrounded by an infinite space at a lower temperature; fourth, no heat is generated or destroyed anywhere in the system"(Brush, 1983, 56). As it turns out, all four assumptions were mistaken - the earth has a liquid core, the thermal conductivity and heat capacity of the earth's interior are different than that of the crust, it is possible that the earth was formed by the aggregation of cold particles, and radioactive elements in the earth produc e substantial heat (Brush, 1983, 58-59). Thus, Kelvin's results were entirely false, and one must look to more reliable tests - such as radioisotope dating - to determine the age of the earth.

2.6: There are places where "older" rock strata lie above "younger" rock strata.

Normal geological processes thrust older layers on top of younger layers in certain regions. These processes leave discernible effects which geologists can detect. Creationists seek to repudiate overthrusting by hiding the evidence for it from their audiences (Eldredge, 1982, 105-108).

2.7: Radiometric dating is extremely inaccurate, as is shown by the fact that such experiments frequently have error factors of a few million years.

"A few million years sounds like a huge error, but a couple of million years one way or the other is a small error compared with the huge age calculated. Saying '380 million years plus or minus two million' is like thinking back to April from December and saying you can't remember whether something happened on the 19th, 20th, or 21st" (Eldredge, 1982, 103). Note that even with an error factor of a few million years, radioisotopes consistently show that the earth is billions of years older than the young-earth creationists assert.

2.8: Many radiometric dating tests have yielded false results. Evolutionists discard all those that are inconsistent with their prior assumptions and keep those that "verify" their theory.

There have been thousands of dating tests performed by independent laboratories with a wide variety of radioisotopes. Virtually all of the results correlate with evolutionary expectations. The few anomalies in radiometric dating disappear when the samples are reanalyzed (Eldredge, 1982, 103).

2.9: Radiometric dating reports the earth to be old only because the cataclysmic action of Noah's Flood changed the radioisotope concentrations in the young earth.

If a worldwide cataclysmic flood had changed the radioisotope concentrations in terrestrial rock, one would expect radiometric dating to yield a completely haphazard distribution of ages as one tested rock strata progressively deeper in the earth. However, in actuality, lower strata consistently date older than higher strata (except where overthrust has occurred). A second line of evidence against creationist speculation about the Flood's action on radioisotopes comes from the dating of meteorites and moonrock. Unless the waters of the Flood somehow engulfed the entire solar system, meteorites and moonrock would surely have been untouched by the Flood, so their radioisotope concentrations could not have been affected by this alleged catastrophe, even if the Flood had actually occurred. Yet moonrock and many meteorites yield radiometric dates of around 4.5 billion years. So independent of the fact that there is no evidence for a worldwide Biblical Flood, and much evidence against such an event, the creationist claim that radioisotope concentrations were distorted by the Flood has been falsified.

2.10: Noah's flood was caused by the condensing of a vapor canopy that contained the waters of the flood. Prior to the flood, the vapor canopy also extended people's lifespans to the huge ages listed in Genesis, because it blocked out harmful UV rays.

Consult my companion work Letter to a Korean Missionary for a response to these claims.

2.11: Niagara Falls is moving upstream at a known rate each year. Its current location allows only about 5,000 years since the time it started eroding.

This criticism is quite puzzling even if the figures it gives are correct, since it is consistent with the earth being infinitely old. Unless creationists have some kind of proof demonstrating that the Earth must be younger than Niagara Falls, this criticism does not amount to much at all.

Origin of Life

3.1: The law of biogenesis states that life comes only from previous life. Therefore prebiotic synthesis - which states that life first developed from nonliving molecules - contradicts a major law of science.

Creationists represent biogenesis as a rigid law with universal scope, when, in reality, it is merely a guideline that amounts to saying that spontaneous generation (the assembly of fully formed organisms out of inanimate material in short periods of time by purely natural processes) does not occur. The slow, stepwise process of prebiotic synthesis and the all-at-once process of spontaneous generation are not comparable. The creationist claim that the "law" of biogenesis precludes prebiotic synthesis is analogous to the obviously false assertion that quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity are invalid because they "violate" Newton's physical laws.

3.2: Amino acids in living organisms are all left-handed, but in nature, equal amounts of left-handed and right-handed amino acids form, so one would expect them to occur in equal proportions in living organisms if abiogenesis were true.

Ian Stewart claims that the violation of mirror symmetry by the weak nuclear force can account for the specific handedness of amino acids. He writes:

One remarkable consequence of [the violation of mirror symmetry by the weak force] is the fact that the energy levels of molecules and that of their mirror images are not exactly equal. The effect is extremely small: the difference in energy levels between one particular amino acid and its mirror image is roughly one part in 1 E(17). This may seem very tiny, but...symmetry breaking requires only a very tiny disturbance. In general, lower-energy forms of molecules should be favored in nature. For this amino acid, it can be calculated that with 98% probability the lower energy form will become dominant within a period of about a hundred thousand years. And indeed, the version of this amino acid which is found in living organisms is the lower-energy one. (Stewart, 1995, 90)

3.3: Nucleic acids cannot replicate without the help of proteins. Proteins, however, cannot form unless specified by nucleic acid sequences. Thus, genetic systems could not have started naturally.

RNA sequences are capable of forming and replicating without the assistance of proteins. These RNA sequences may also catalyze protein formation. As Martin Olomucki notes:

There is nothing to contradict the notion that the primordial RNAs may have promoted the polymerization of...the amino acids...nucleic acids may, by a reaction similar to the one leading to RNA polymerization, have been able to facilitate the polymerization of amino acids by supplying a suitable catalytic center and sacrificing one phosphodiester bond to permit the formation of a peptide bond (Olomucki, 1993, 74-75).

3.4: There are n! (n-factorial: n x n-1 x n-2 x...x 1) ways of an enzyme or DNA strand of n parts forming prebiotically. Since the smallest proteins have at least 100 amino acids, the chance of forming a particular enzyme prebiotically is at most 1/100!, which is small enough to be disregarded.

The two main flaws with this argument are that (1) enzymes of many different configurations can have identical or very similar effects (we do not need to form any particular enzyme), and that (2) enzymes in prebiotic situations are not the product of haphazard collisions of compounds, but are gradually built up over time by selective forces, and sometimes created in the first place by nonrandom processes (Fox, 1988). These two points demonstrate that the chance of forming a useful enzyme is certainly not n!.

3.5: Even though the Earth is an open system and the sun is bombarding it with energy, life still could not arise without supernatural interference. Order in an open system increases only when there is a complex system like a body, a host of enzymes, or a supernatural influence to catalyze the reactions. Analogously, the sun can shine for eternity on a junkyard and never cause the parts to come together to build a pickup truck).

Chemicals and biomolecules function much differently in the presence of energy than do pieces of scrap metal in a junkyard. Many atoms and molecules spontaneously and non-randomly join together to form larger molecules, especially in the presence of added energy. At high temperatures, mixtures of amino acid monomers spontaneously polymerize and form primitive cell-like structures called protocells, the microfossil remains of which may have been found in Precambrian rock (Fox, 1989).

Many important biochemicals including amino acids and nucleotides have been produced in experiments and found on meteoritic material. Spectroscopic data even reveals the existence of organic molecules in interstellar gas clouds; concerning these chemicals, Martin Olomucki notes that

...in many of the organic interstellar molecules we find compounds which are precursors of biological molecules: hydrogen cyanide, which can generate amino acids and nucleic bases; formaldehyde, the precursor of sugars; cyanoacetylene, an important condensation agent, etc. These molecules are able to form even under extreme conditions of temperature and high concentration of interstellar media. Apparently ubiquitous in the Universe, they must certainly have existed on the surface of the primitive Earth, as well as on other planets: traces of amino acids, which are already more complex chemicals, have been identified in lunar dust and meteorites. (Olomucki, 1993,47; see also Miller, 1992, 17-20).
Research has yielded a host of autocatalytic molecules, some of which present characteristics like imperfect replication (no one wants perfect replication from reproducing molecules - otherwise diversity could not be generated) and even recombination (Rebek, 1994).

The 2nd law of thermodynamics is thus shown by experiment to be no barrier to the natural emergence of complex structures from simple ones. It should be noted that, in the first place, the 2nd law of thermodynamics says nothing about open systems requiring catalysis by an already complex system to become complex themselves - this is a concoction of the creationists misleadingly presented by them as an original part of the real scientific law.

Biological Evolution, Mutations, Speciation

4.1: Chromosome numbers cannot change without producing very harmful effects.

Although changes in chromosome numbers can produce harmful effects, they do not universally do so. As William Klug and Michael Cummings write,

While the chromosome number is commonly regarded as invariant for a given species, the arrangement of chromosomal material is often polymorphic through chromosomal inversions and translocations. These chromosomal aberrations usually have little direct effect on the phenotype because gene content is rearranged but not altered." (Klug, Cummings, 1983, 528)

4.2: The perfection of the structures of the various life forms on earth clearly reveal themselves as the work of an intelligent designer. Nowhere is this more evident than in the unbelievably complex human eye.

The human eye is actually quite flawed. The photoreceptors in the eye are upside down, with their blood vessels and neurons in front, effectively causing deficiencies in human vision, including a "blind spot" caused by the hole where the neurons exit the eye. The squid's eye, on the other hand, has none of these problems. Are we to believe that a designer whose "crowning creation" was man made such an incredible error in the construction of the human eye, and not in that of the squid? (Diamond, 1985)

Imperfect engineering is apparent in far more than the human eye. Useless and inefficient structures abound in the natural world - flightless birds with hollow bones, as if adapted for flight; blind animals with useless lenses and retinas; the clumsy "thumb" of the giant Panda; introns; the vestigial pelvis of pythons and whales (Futuyama, 1983, 198-200). If these structures did not arise through evolution, they could only have been the work of a deranged or clumsy creator.

But could any complex structure - even an imperfect one - arise through evolution? Certainly no one has documented the gradual development of the eye or the feather, but we can look to the gradations in the present world for clues. In fact, nature displays progressions of simple to complex visual structures (Ecker, 1990, 65-66), and a scale-to-feather progression (McGowan, 1984, 116-121), such that one can see how the gradual development of complex structures could be possible. Ian Stewart notes that a computer simulation by biologists Dan Nilsson and Susanne Pelger has bolstered the case for the natural evolution of the eye by small steps:

[Nilsson and Pelger's 1994 computer analysis] starts with a mathematical model of a flat region of cells, and permits various types of "mutation." Some cells may become more sensitive to light, for example, and the shape of cells may bend. The mathematical model is set up as a computer program that makes tiny random changes of this kind, calculates how good the resulting structure is at detecting light and resolving the patterns it "sees," and selects any change that improves these abilities. During a simulation that corresponds to a period of about four hundred years - the blink of an eye, in evolutionary terms - the region of cells folds itself up into a deep, spherical cavity with a tiny irislike opening, and, most dramatically, a lens. Moreover, like the lenses of our own eyes, it is a lens whose refractive index - the amount by which it bends light - varies from place to place. In fact, the pattern of variation of refractive index that is produced in the computer simulation is very like our own. So here mathematics shows that eyes definitely can evolve gradually and naturally, offering increased survival value at every stage. More than that: Nilsson and Pelger's work demonstrates that given certain key biological faculties (such as cellular receptivity to light, and cellular mobility), structures remarkable similar to eyes will form - all in line with Darwin's principle of natural selection (Stewart, 1995, 22).

Richard Dawkins adds that Nilsson and Pelger used conservative assumptions about the amount of variability in populations and the heritability of new traits when setting up their simulation (Dawkins, 1996, 165). Nevertheless, the simulation showed that "it would take only about 364,000 generations to evolve a good fish eye with a lens"(Dawkins, 1996, 166), where 364,000 generations translates to less than half a million years in time (Dawkins, 1996, 166) - a geological instant which would be difficult to detect in the fossil record.

4.3: Evolutionists cannot tell us exactly how most organisms/structures arose. For instance, no one can explain what series of mutations could have given caterpillars the ability to metamorphose into butterflies.

Certainly no one knows all of the tiniest details of evolutionary history (exactly which genes mutated at exactly what times to cause morphological change). But the validity of the general process of evolution is established well enough to assure one that every organism has gained its qualities through evolution as long as a general account can be made of how those qualities arose, even if the minutiae are unknown.

This response may not be satisfying to creationists at first, but one might ask such a creationist whether she can describe the exact spatial location of every footstep of Jesus as he presumably carried his cross at Calvary? Of course, no one can. Can we conclude (on these grounds alone) that the story of Jesus's crucifixion is false? Obviously not. We do not need to know the exact stepwise details of a process to know that the process is valid.

Evolutionists can account for many, many structures with considerable ease, as long as they are not held to the unreasonable criterion of absolutely exact knowledge. As Douglas J. Futuyama writes, "[o]ne of the most amazing aspects of evolution is how easy it is to account for major transformations through rather simple changes in developmental processes. Most of the differences among different kinds of mammals are quite simply accounted for by changes in the relative rates of growth of different parts of the body. Speed up the elongation of fingers to get a bat wing; slow down the development of teeth or legs to reduce or eliminate them in whales; slow down the growth of the lateral toes and increase that of the middle one to get a horse's hoof" (Futuyama, 1982, 63-64).

The evolution of butterfly metamorphosis specifically is not very well understood, but this is hardly damning evidence against evolution. Since evolution accounts so well for other processes and structures, creationists would have to show that butterfly metamorphosis is evolutionarily impossible, and this they cannot do. Even creationists admit that the metamorphosis of the butterfly is a natural process, not requiring the direct intervention of God to work. If, as creationists generally assume, evolution would have to first produce a halfway metamorphosis before it can produce a full metamorphosis, then evolution is in trouble. However, evolution does not need to produce a halfway metamorphosis. All it has to do is produce a slightly less sophisticated metamorphosis and gradually move on to more complex ones. If the creationist admits that a metamorphosis to x is a natural process, why not a metamorphosis to something slightly less x-like? (Domning, 1994, 11)

4.4: The genetic variation in populations that allows them to adapt to environmental change through microevolution (as revealed in industrial melanism and bacterial antibiotic resistance) was deliberately put in place by the creator.

This creationist assertion contradicts the story of Noah's Flood, which creationists also hold to. Presumably, only a single male and female of all the "kinds" on earth (except for the birds and the "cud-chewing" kinds) were taken into Noah's boat, and the rest perished. Given that each organism has at most two alleles for each gene locus, that would yield a maximum total of four alleles per gene locus per kind. We know for certain that there are far more than four alleles per locus for many loci in modern populations. These extra alleles must have emerged through mutation, as they could not have been set in place in a Genesis-style creation. An example of allele number that directly contradicts Genesis 1 and 2, is locus HLA-DRB1 - one gene in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) complex - which has 59 alleles (Ayala, et al., 1993, 78). If all humans descended from Adam and Eve, and no new alleles ever arose though mutation, the current human population would have at most only 4 alleles at this locus (two from Adam, two from Eve).

Experimentation with bacteria has also shown that antibiotic resistance can and does arise from beneficial mutation, rather than being already present in the bacteria. "For example, Joshua Lederberg did an experiment in which he grew thousands of colonies of genetically identical bacteria from a single bacterial cell that was unable to survive in the presence of streptomycin. He divided each colony of cells in two, and grew one half with and one half without streptomycin. A few of the colonies survived on streptomycin, because they carried new mutations for streptomycin resistance" (Futuyama, 1982, 137). Since the bacterium from which the resistant colonies evolved was not itself streptomycin resistant, Lederberg's experiment proves that resistance is generated by a mutation, and is not a quality that needs to be present in bacteria from the start.

4.5: Homologous features do not prove any ancestral relationships between organisms, because all classifications above the species level are man-made and arbitrary.

Where taxa with fine differences are concerned, the classification of a species may be a bit contrived (as is the case with transitional forms), but there are clear major differences between most taxa from genus to kingdom level. Still, the homologies persist throughout all taxa, so either they were made by a deceitful creator, or else they constitute real evidence that all taxa share ancestry. Classification may be a human endeavor, but the similarities and differences between various organisms because of their degree of relatedeness constitute a reality independent of however we choose to make our classification system. (Ruse, 1982, 309-310).

4.6: Industrial melanism does not demonstrate evolution at all because no speciation occurs.

Industrial melanism was never intended as an example of speciation, but rather as an example of changes in gene frequency through natural selection. However, changes in gene frequency do constitute evolution, albeit not macroevolution. Textbooks are not fraudulent in claiming that industrial melanism, antibiotic resistance, and pesticide tolerance are examples of evolution.

4.7: Mutations are universally deleterious, and thus cannot be a driving factor in evolution.

This statement is completely wrong. Some mutations have been shown to be incredibly beneficial. For instance, as George Bakken reports:

Microorganisms have acquired new enzymes that allow them to metabolize toxic industrial wastes never occurring in nature (e.g. chlorinated and flourinated hydrocarbons), and are an increasingly important method of pollution control (Ghosal et al., Science 228: 135-142, 1985). Susumi Ohno (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 81:2421-2425, 1984) found that one such new enzyme, nylon linear oligomer hydrolase, resulted from a frame-shift mutation. Frame-shift mutations scramble the entire structure of a protein, and so the enzyme is a random construct! As would be expected, this new enzyme is imperfect and has only 1% the efficiency of typical enzymes, but the important thing is that it works (Bakken, n.d.).

Another example comes from researchers working with the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, who have identified "four genes that, when mutatated, can make these worms use energy more efficiently, feed and swim at a slower pace - and live many times their normal life-span. Some of the experimental nematodes lived for almost 2 months, far longer than their expected 9 days" (Pennisi, 1996, 949; see also Lakowski, 1996, 1010-1013).

Yet another recent example, pertaining to humans:

Population geneticist Stephen O'Brien of the National Cancer Institute, his NCI colleagues Michael Dean and Mary Carrington, and their collaborators provide strong confirmatory evidence that people who have two mutant copies of the gene for CCRS (also known as CKRS), the chemokine receptor that HIV uses when it initially infects infects white cells, are highly resistant to HIV infection. Another, entirely new, finding is that people who get infected with HIV, but have one mutant copy of the CCRS gene, progress to AIDS more slowly than do people without the mutation. (Cohen, 1996, 1797)

Even some of the most seemingly deleterious mutations can have great adaptive value in certain environments. For instance, mutations that cause stunted wing growth in Drosophila increase the fly's ability to survive on islands where high winds are present (Ruse, 1982, 92). This demonstrates a critical point, and explains why decades of irradiating Drosophila in the laboratory produced only less fit mutants: in a population's normal environment, all possible beneficial mutations will have long since spread through its gene pool. Thereafter, in the same environment, virtually all mutations must be deleterious, because the population is already extremely well adapted to its environment (Moore, 1983, 11-13). Mutations are almost universally deleterious in a population's normal environment. But the same mutations that are deleterious in the "normal" environment may be beneficial on the geographical fringes of a population, or in the event of a massive environmental change throughout the entire geographical range of the population.

Even certain classes of macromutations can have adaptive value. Richard Dawkins presents an example with snake vertebrae:

The number of vertebrae in different species of snakes varies from about 200 to 350. Since all snakes are cousins of each other, and since vertebrae cannot come in halves or quarters, this must mean that, from time to time, a snake is born with at least one more, or one fewer, vertebra than its parents. These mutations deserve to be called macro-mutations, and they have evidently been incorporated in evolution because all these snakes exist. (Dawkins, 1996, 103)

4.8: The rate of mutation is so small that it could never serve as a source of variation. The typical rate of mutation is "one mutation per locus per 1 E(5) to 1 E(6) gametes" (Campbell, 1990, 445).

Obviously, the rate of mutation alone is not sufficient to convert a population. However, selective forces and genetic drift cause any beneficial mutation to spread quickly through a population. Moreover, if a mutant allele is only detrimental in homozygous form, it will take many generations to eliminate it from the gene pool, even if the homozygous form is lethal (Ruse, 1982, 79-84). This fact and heterozygote fitness (cases in which the heterozygote has an advantage that neither homozygote has - a case example is the sickle-cell allele, which protects against malaria in heterozygous form), which may perhaps be the norm, help to keep populations supplied with a reservoir of mutant genes, some of which will have an advantage over the "normal" alleles in the event of environmental change. Populations do not have to wait around for lucky mutations after environmental change - the mutants are already in the gene pool.

4.9: Macroevolution remains unproved because no one has observed it. In fact, macroevolution is in principle unobservable, so evolution must be unscientific.

Although information in experimental science is gained through observation, the observation of a great amount of indirect evidence of a process makes as good a scientific case as the direct observation of a process. As Michael Ruse says, "[t]he evidence that I have a heart is all indirect, neither I nor anyone else has ever seen it, but does anyone really believe that it is not a fact that I have a heart? Of course it is a fact..." (Ruse, 1982, 58). In the same way, there is so much indirect evidence for macroevolution that it can safely be considered a fact without direct observation of the process occurring in our time.

4.10: No one has ever seen one species arise from another.

In 1964, Dr. D.J. Reish removed 5 or 6 polychaetes (Nereis acuminata) from Los Angeles/Long Beach harbor, and grew his sample to a size of thousands. In 1986, four pairs from this group were brought to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; the population at Woods Hole thus had gone through two bottlenecks, which are supposed to help drive evolution through genetic drift. In 1977-1978, two new cultures of N. acuminata were gathered from nearby Long Beach and Newport Beach, and grown under the same conditions as the Woods Hole sample. The three populations were later crossed, and it was found that the only crosses that would not produce viable offspring were the crosses involving Woods Hole and the two new cultures. This signifies nothing less than speciation, and all in the laboratory - all observed directly (Weinberg et al., 1992).

4.11: If evolution were true, then fish would have evolved into amphibians and land animals more than once.

Fish are, in fact, continuing to evolve. One should not, however, properly expect them to evolve fully into amphibians again, because the niche they would be exploiting is already occupied by the first amphibian lineage. D.H. Patent explains:

Many animals of today appear to be in transition between life in the water and life on land. These organisms can survive at least for limited periods of time in either environment. But we cannot say what the future holds for them. We do not know if they are "on the way" to a terrestrial existence. The chances are, in fact, that they are not really evolving away from an acquatic existence. A species cannot take over a niche that is already occupied by another unless it is in some way better adapted to that niche. Since present land animals have been evolving for millions of years, they have become about as well adapted to land living as possible; a newcomer which is trying to "fit in" is not likely to displace them."(Patent, 1977, 58-59)

4.12: Sexual reproduction could not have come about through evolution.

Howard Hershey has the following to say about the evolution of sex (he warns that he is stating all of this from memory, but believes it is a simple task to check his statements in any genetics or developmental biology textbook):

Recombination (a key element of meiosis that differs from mitosis significantly enough to warrant new activities) also occurs in bacteria (which don't have sex as we eucaryotes know it). The bacterial enzymes involved are called the RecA, RecB enzymes. These are enzymes that are also involved in DNA repair. he RecA enzyme in particular is involved in repair of UV damage. Almost any molecular biology or genetics book will talk about the Rec system. Recombination in eucaryotes is very similar but the enzymes are not as well studied. But topoisomerases (enzymes that break and reseal DNA) are clearly involved and these enzymes have a long evolutionary history.

But the key thing to remember is that sex (in the biological sense) is simply the passage from the diploid (2N) state to the haploid (1N) state and back again by fusion. Undoubtedly what these creationists mean is "How can we create two sexes that are so different from one another?" An interesting question when posed by a three-year old but one that ignores the fact that some creatures have an even more dramatic differentiation between the sexes than humans do and some have much less.

The passage of the sexual cycle does NOT require two highly differentiated sexes producing specialized gamete cells. Yeast, for example, are sexual animals just as much as humans and it is hard to distinguish haploid cells from diploid and the difference between the mating types (when the haploid gametic cells are visually indistinguishable from each other they are called mating types; when one is differentiated to hold most of the cytoplasm it is an egg and the other less endowed cell is a sperm with males being sperm carriers and females being egg carriers). There [are] all kinds of variations in nature between the yeast and mammals (although fish carry sexual dimorphism to an extreme unseen in mammals).

Even within humans, sex is not a case of being different from the moment of conception. The early human embryo (XY male or XX female) is sexually dimorphic (has both embryonic male and female parts). Normally a single gene (on the Y) sets in motion a cascade of events that leads to the emphasis of the male internal parts (Wolfian ducts) and degeneration of the female parts (Mullerian tract). Absent that gene, the male parts degenerate and a female develops. Most of what we call male and female traits are purely hormonally caused and depending on the hormonal environment you can get interesting events. I have a lovely picture of a busty young woman who is XY (she has a defect that makes her cells unable to respond to androgens). Internally, she is sterile because the genes that determine the degradation of the Mullerian tract are different. She also has no pubic hair (because that requires a cellular response to androgens). There are also XX individuals with various levels of penis and (empty) scrotum formation because of in utero exposure to androgens (the mothers had a tumor or took certain steroidal drugs). The external genitalia equivalents are very simple scrotum = labia and penis = clitoris. There are all kinds of intermediate situations since this is a question of different differentiation of organs rather than de novo creation of different organs. All this (and much more) can be found in most textbooks of development or genetics. But, amazingly, most creationists seem completely ignorant of these basic facts and somehow think that male and female were created separately. (Hershey, 1996)

4.13: There is no evidence for the rapid development of new species in nature.

3,500 years ago, a small lake was separated from Lake Victoria by a sandbar. There are now five species endemic to the new lake; they have evolved from the original species in a geological instant (McGowan, 1984, 29). A population of Nereis acuminata that was isolated in 1964 was no longer able to interbreed with its ancestors by 1992 (Weinberg et al., 1992). New species certainly can emerge quickly.

4.14: Natural selection is tautological: the fittest survive, and those who survive are the fittest.

"Survival of the fittest" is certainly a tautology, but natural selection is not mere "survival of the fittest." One can predict in advance what characteristics will be beneficial for an organism living in certain environments (Kitcher, 1982). For instance, it is quite apparent before selection occurs that the melanic peppered moth will have better chances of survival than its mottled grey counterpart when they compete in polluted areas, where the white lichens normally on the trees have been killed, leaving a black bark surface. This is readily apparent, but not tautological. Mere survival does not define fitness - alleles that increase in frequency in a population do not necessarily do so because they confer greater fitness upon their hosts; some alleles increase in frequency because of genetic drift and bottleneck effects. Organisms that outlive their peers due to sheer luck and happenstance are not automatically fitter, even though they are the survivors.

Michael Ruse lists three testable assumptions to which every Darwinian must commit: (1) that there is a struggle for reproduction, (2) that success in the struggle depends upon the characteristics of organisms (rather than being random), and (3) that selection will favor the same characteristics under the same circumstances (Ruse, 1982, 140).

4.15: There are numerous "irreducibly complex" structures and processes in organisms, especially at the biochemical level. Such structures and processes could not have developed in a stepwise fashion.

See Behe's Empty Box for an extensive list of links promoting and critiquing this claim.

Paleontology, Fossils, Transitional Forms

5.1: The feather impressions in fossils of Archaeopteryx are forgeries. Modern feathers were pressed into a thin layer of artificial cement to give the impression that a dinosaur fossil had feathers.

After astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle made these accusations, a team of scientists applied a battery of tests to the holotype of Archaeopteryx lithographica to prove the authenticity of its feather impressions (Charig et al., 1986). They found absolutely no evidence of artificial cement on the fossils. One test involved the comparison of hairline cracks running through the impressions on both the slab and counterslab; the negative of a photograph of the counterslab superimposed on a photograph of the slab revealed a perfect correlation between the hairline cracks. The comparison "shows that the block was cracked through vertically before it was split horizontally into two slabs, thus indicating the unquestionable absence of any added cement layer on either surface" (Charig et al.,1986, 624). Detailed examination of the feather impressions through scanning electron microscopy revealed "a degree of minute detail that we believe would be impossible to carve, even today, and a total absence of any chisel marks"(Charig et al., 1986, 624).

It is worth noting that Hoyle claimed that the fossil was actually that of a reptile with fake feather impressions around it (Charig et al., 1986, 623), underscoring just how reptilian Archaeopteryx is, in contrast to the creationist assertion that Archaeopteryx is "just a bird." With the feather impressions proven authentic, one of Archaeopteryx's prime avian qualities is also reaffirmed, so the fossil remains solidly established as a transitional form.

5.2: Archaeopteryx is not a transitional form but a full-fledged bird. Any reptilian characteristics it displays are mirrored in modern birds such as the hoatzin.

Archaeopteryx lithographica is indeed a transitional form. It has been classified as a bird almost arbitrarily because it has feathers, not because it is "truly" a bird. The avian features Archaeopteryx possesses are

 a wishbone
 feathers
 a bony sternum in one of the latest specimens (Svitil, 1994).

Archaeopteryx has many more reptilian characteristics, such as

 a pubic peduncle
 a long, bony tail
 no pygostyle
 three well-developed fingers (with the same number of
   bones as in most dinosaurs)
 three well-developed metacarpal bones
 unfused metacarpal bones
 separate metatarsal bones
 no hypotarsus
 abdominal ribs (list from McGowan, 1984, 117).
Archaeopteryx has many more reptilian characteristics than the hoatzin. Even Fred Hoyle, who erroneously claimed that Archaeopteryx was a forgery, claimed that it was a reptilian fossil with fake feather impressions. But the objection by analogy to the hoatzin is entirely off track anyways. Archaeopteryx is not a transitional form merely because of its remarkable blend of reptilian and avian characteristics - Archaeopteryx also existed at the same time as the theropod reptiles and resembled them very highly (Futuyama, 1982, 188). Given its temporal and physical correlations to reptiles, plus its less numerous - yet distinct - avian qualities, Archaeopteryx lithographica stands immune to any creationist attack.

5.3: Protoavis precedes Archaeopteryx in the fossil record, so Archaeopteryx cannot possibly be a transitional form.

This creationist challenge falsely presupposes that only one lineage of reptiles evolved into birds or bird-like reptiles, when, in fact, there is more than one such lineage. Given this fact, Archaeopteryx will continue to demonstrate how the alleged "boundary" between reptiles and birds can be bridged, even if Protoavis turns out to be an earlier avian life form than Archaeopteryx (which is not yet certain). The validity of Protoavis is simply irrelevant to the validity of Archaeopteryx as a transitional form. (Wheeler, 1993)

5.4: The Cambrian explosion is a sure sign of the activity of the Creator, suddenly creating a multitude of complex forms out of nothing. There are no fossils before the explosion.

There are plenty of fossils of organisms that lived in the Precambrian, such as jellyfish, coelenterates, annelids, and even cyanobacteria that date back as far as 3.4 billion years (McGowan, 1984, 103). The Cambrian period marks the advent of shelled organisms like trilobites and brachiopods. The ancestors of the organisms appearing in the Cambrian explosion were soft-bodied and did not leave fossils as easily as the shelled Cambrian organisms. Precambrian rocks are also subjected to a disproportionately large amount of deformation, which destroys fossils. It is for these reasons, not creation, that the fossil record seems to display a sudden "explosion" of shelled organisms at the base of the Cambrian. Moreover, the "explosion" took around 15 million years, so it is not quite the instantaneous event creationists would expect, and is definitely inconsistent with young-earth creationism (Ecker, 1990,46-48), since young-earth creationists hold that the earth is no more than several thousand years old - far less than the time involved in the Cambrian explosion.

5.5: All of the explanations of gaps in the fossil record, such as the invocation of punctuated equilibrium and the low probability of fossilization, render the evolutionary prediction of transitional forms unfalsifiable.

Punctuated equilibrium and the low probability of fossilization are both scientific explanations for the scarcity of transitional forms, and are not characterized by the contrived nature so evident in the creationist's use of the "appearance of age" and "test of faith" ploys. The evolutionist's explanations for gaps in the fossil record are derived from experimental data and an understanding of natural processes, and must be reasonable to become accepted by the scientific community. The fact that there is much debate about punctuated equilibrium clearly shows that the scientific community is not desperately clutching at straws. Note also that all evolutionists still predict the existence of at least some transitional forms, as opposed to the creationist's predictions of none. If we still did not know of any transitional forms today, after more than a century of paleontological research, the idea of transitional forms would be adequately falsified. But given the numerous transitional forms that have indeed been found, all falsifiable forms of creationism find themselves falsified.

5.6: Fossils are the remains of the living organisms that perished in Noah's Flood. The fossil record thus lends no testimony to evolution or an old earth.

R.J. Schadewald lists six arguments that cast great doubt upon the validity of the flood:

the Karoo Formation contains the remains of some 800 billion vertebrate animals. If one conservatively estimates that the Karoo Formation contains a mere 1% of all of the vertebrate fossils on earth, this means that before the flood the earth would have held 2100 vertebrates of varying sizes per acre. If marine fossils comprise 0.1% of the volume of sedimentary rock, this means that before the Flood these organisms would have covered the earth to a depth of at least 1.5 feet. The varves of the Green River formation would, by the standard interpretation, take 20 million years to form. For the varves to have been formed during the Flood by shallow flows of mud-laden water (as the creationists conjecture), would have necessitated a sequence of 40 million flows covering tens of thousands of square miles every two-thirds of a second. Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives - being the only human occupants on the Ark (Genesis 6:18, 7:13) - must have carried all of the diseases specific to man in their bodies, were the disease organisms to survive the Flood. Given that only two of most of the animals of each kind were on board, some of the specific disease organisms known today would have been wiped out by the eventual immunity of the two. Hydraulic sorting during the Flood would have caused large trilobites to have always been found in lower strata than small trilobites, because of hydrodynamic drag properties. This is not what is actually found. Victim habitat and mobility arguments are similarly shown to be wrong by the fact that fossils of flowering plants - despite their relative immobility and their existence at all elevations - never appear before the Cretaceous era. There are overturned strata, explainable by conventional geology, but impossible to explain by the working of the Flood. How could the Flood cause upside down raindrop craters and brachiopod burrows? (Schadewald, 1983, 448-453)
5.7: In their search for transitional forms, the evolutionary community has been taken in by outright fraud, as in the case of Piltdown Man, which was accepted as a valid specimen for 40 years, and by unfounded speculation, as in the construction of Nebraska Man from what later turned out to be a pig tooth. This shows how unobjective evolutionists are.

Regarding Piltdown Man, W.L. Strauss reports: "It may be wondered why 40 years elapsed before the hoax was discovered. Two factors enter here: first, there was no reason at all to suspect the perpetration of a fraud, at least, not until fluorine analysis indicated the relative recency of the specimens, thus making the association of a human cranium and an anthropoid-ape jaw, either anatomically or geologically, hardly credible; and, second, methods for conclusively determining whether the specimens were actual fossils or faked ones short of their wholesale destruction, were developed only in recent years" (Strauss, 1954, 580). There is no gap in the charts of human ancestry were Piltdown Man used to be. Numerous australopithecine finds have firmly established Australopithecus where the single Piltdown specimen once stood.

The creationists, too, have had their share of frauds, and have foisted them upon the public with apparently deceitful intentions. A good example are the Paluxy River tracks - a smattering of presumably human footprints among dinosaur tracks, intended to prove that man and dinosaurs were contemporaneous. All of the "human tracks," displayed in deliberately poor quality photographs by creationists (to make it more difficult to tell what the tracks really are), can be shown to be one of three things:

 parts of dinosaur tracks
 erosion holes
 contemporary human carvings (Scott, n.d.).
The Paluxy "man-tracks" have been denounced even by some creationists, but continue to be exhibited in creationist literature.

The "construction" of Nebraska Man may be conceded as a serious mistake on the part of a single, overzealous scientist. Countless other hominid fossils, however, have stood the test of time, and supply ample evidence for human evolution. And at least no evolutionist today cites Nebraska Man as evidence for evolution, unlike the creationists, who continue to cite the "Paluxy footprints" long after their real nature has been exposed. One might also note that the creationists, too, have fallen prey to wild speculation in the reconstruction of hominids. For instance,

[Reverend Carl] Baugh and his associates appeared on an area television station's evening news claiming that a Cretaceous fossil tooth found at Dinosaur Valley State Park was human and thus invalidated the standard geological column. They later recanted when microscopic examination demonstrated that the item in question was a fossil fish tooth...(Eve, 1991, 129) [emphasis added]

5.8: There are no adequate transitional forms between fish and amphibians.

The crossopterygian fish Eusthenopteron is linked to the early amphibian Icthyostega by a number of characteristics:

  same pattern of skull bones as Icthyostega
  internal nostrils (found only in land animals and sarcopterygians
  - a greater taxonomic group encompassing lungfish and crossopterygians)
  teeth like amphibians
  a two-part cranium (icthyostegids are the only other vertebrates that
  have this characteristic)
  same vertebral structure (list from McGowan, 1984, 152-153)
Moreover, studies of the skeletal characteristics of Acanthostega, the most primitive tetrapod known (at 360 million years of age) reveal that "tetrapod anatomy evolved while our ancestors lived exclusively underwater - and it evolved for life underwater. The first vertebrate that walked onto land didn't crawl on fish fins; it had evolved well-tuned legs millions of years beforehand" (Zimmer, 1995, 120). Acanthostega has arms "poorly designed for support" (Zimmer, 1995, p. 124) yet functional enough in water, allowing the creature to pull itself along the bottom of plant-rich coastal lagoons, and also making the creature superior at ambushing prey compared to fish, which must remain afloat by keeping their fins "in constant motion, kicking up easily detected waves" (Zimmer, 1995, 126). Additionally, Acanthostega, despite being a tetrapod, has a hearing system more similar to fish than to land-going creatures, and breathed like a fish (Zimmer, 1995, 125). Paleontologists have also "found fragments from five more tetrapods, all of which were roughly contemporaries of Acanthostega and some of which were more advanced and thus closer to a terrestrial life" (Zimmer, 1995, 126).

5.9: There are no adequate transitional forms between reptiles and mammals.

Two genera (Probelesodon and Massetognathus) of the cynodonts, a small subdivision of the synapsids, display characteristics of both reptiles and mammals, as well as qualities that are ambiguous. The reptilian features are:

 lower jaw comprises several bones
 jaw joint formed between articular and quadrate bones
 small cranium
 ribs in neck region
 number of bones in fingers and toes exceeds 2,3,3,3.

The mammalian features are:

 teeth specialized for different functions
 lower jaw with prominent coronoid process
 double condyle at back of skull for neck articulation
 axis with odontoid process
 ilium slopes forward

The ambiguous characteristics are:

    cheek teeth have simple cusps
    jaw joint formed between hollow in the lower jaw and flat surface in
       the skull
    prominent ribs confined to chest region, but there are short ribs in
       front of the pelvis
    legs not splayed, but not vertically beneath body either (list from
       McGowan, 1984, 138).
Probainognathus, another genus of the cynodonts, has both reptilian and mammalian jaw joints, and shows the first step in the change of the reptilian jaw joints into the mammalian ear ossicles. This does away with the creationist charge that a reptile-mammal transitional form could not have chewed its food while its jaw was being unhinged and repositioned for hearing (McGowan,1984, 139). Also, Probainognathus would have had no trouble hearing during rearticulation, as reptiles exploit the transmission of sound from the ground through their jawbones (Kitcher, 1982, 111).

5.10: There are no adequate transitional forms between early hominids and Homo sapiens.

I defer this criticism to Jim Foley's definitive Fossil Hominids FAQ.

Philosophy of Science, Educational Issues

6.1: It is likely that many structures in the universe were created with the appearance of old age. This is in accordance with the way God created things in Genesis - even man was created in adult form, so why not the rest of the universe?

The first notable appeal to "appearance of age" was made in the Victorian era by Philip Gosse in his bookOmphalos. But, as John Barrow and Joseph Silk report, "Not surprisingly, even the Victorians were not eager to embrace Gosse's idea of a Creator who performed such sleight of hand" (Barrow, 1993, 4). The morality of a creator who makes the world appear old in every respect, yet expects us to believe that it is actually young, is uncomfortably suspect.

Moreover, if one regards as plausible the notion that everything was made with the mere appearance of age, there is little to stop one from accepting that everything - the Bible included, of course - was brought into existence only a few hundred years ago by Satan, or even that the universe came into existence a few hours ago complete with us and our memories (Abell, 1983, 34). Old-earth creationist Hugh Ross concurs with this analysis:

Taken to its logical conclusion, the appearance-of-age hypothesis would imply that we cannot establish the actuality of our own or others' past existence. We could have been created just a few hours ago with the Creator implanting scars, memory, progeny, photographs, material possessions, liver spots, and hardening of the arteries to make us appear and feel older than we really are. Also, if God built into the universe natural testimony of events which never took place, how can we claim the Bible is free of written testimony of events which never took place? (Ross, 1994, 40)

Creationists would no doubt be dismayed to have such scenarios on equal standing with their Biblical account of creation. However, since there is no way to test the world for appearance of age, and the idea has no explanatory power, real scientists rightfully pay little attention to it. (Abell, 1983, 34).

Creationists might object that the actuality of the old age of the universe is as unfalsifiable as the "appearance of age" concept, on the ground that a reliance upon empirical data is as much a matter of taste as a reliance upon the authority of a book. However, science is by definition based in empiricism, and a simple application of Occam's razor eliminates the unnecessary ontological load of "appearance of age."

6.2: Evolution teaches that there are no such things as souls, that the Bible is fraudulent, and that God does not exist.

These charges, even if they were true, have nothing to do with the scientific validity of evolution. Such accusations reveal the true religious motivations of the creationists, and their eagerness to confuse scientific issues by the inappropriate discussion of metaphysics when a religious audience is around.

In any case, however, the charges are false. Science, by definition, is unable to reveal anything about the supernatural. While the historical sciences do contradict a naively literal interpretation of Genesis, it is ridiculous to assert that this makes them anti-Bible, anti-religion, or anti-Christianity. Carl Sagan reports that

"Modern Roman Catholicism has no quarrel with the Big Bang, with a Universe 15 billion years or so old, with the first living things arising from prebiological molecules, or with humans evolving from apelike ancestors - although it has special opinions on "ensoulment." Most mainstream Protestant and Jewish faiths take the same sturdy position." (Sagan, 1995, 278)

Pope John Paul II's Message to Pontifical Academy of Sciences, October 22, 1996, supports Sagan's claim.

Chris McGowan emphasizes that "The majority of Christians regard the book of Genesis as a collection of parables which illustrate the point that there is a God, a God who has dominion over the world... The issue is not one between Christians and evolutionists, but between a vociferous Christian minority - the creationists - and evolutionists" (McGowan, 1984, 1-2). Exemplifying this, in McLean v Arkansas, "officials of the United Methodist, Episcopal, Roman Catholic, African Methodist Episcopal, and Presbyterian Churches, the American Jewish Congress, and many other clergy and religious groups" (Bakken, n.d.) opposed the "balanced treatment" law that would have given creationism equal time with evolution in Arkansas science classes. Clearly evolution is quite compatible with many religions, Christian and otherwise. Given the evidence for evolution and certain biblical peculiarities - particularly the incompatibility of the two Genesis accounts - there is good reason to believe that Genesis 1 and 2 are allegories rather than factual accounts, and that God is an irresponsible or wicked deceiver if one of the two stories is a factual account. This makes any evolutionist - even an atheistic one - a more righteous upholder of God than the creationists.

6.3: Great scientists such as Newton and Kepler believed in a literal Genesis.

Newton died in 1727 - 132 years before Darwin published his On the Origin of Species, and 17 years before Lamarck was even born. Kepler died 12 years before the birth of Newton. Clearly, Kepler and Newton had no exposure to a solid theory of evolution. It is wrong - but typical - for the creationists to judge modern scientists on the basis of the incomplete knowledge of those long deceased.

6.4: Evolutionists are trying to take over the school system and force their beliefs upon the students.

"There is no law that mandates the teaching of evolution, and there should not be, yet it is practically universally taught in universities and colleges around the world. The theory of evolution is what is taught because it is what best explains the data in a rational manner." (Berra, 1990, 139-140) Creationists, however, have visibly used legal channels to try to force their beliefs into the school system. Two of many examples are:

The Tennessee Anti-Evolution Act (1925): this Act made it unlawful to teach in public school "any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals" (Zetterberg, 1983, 386). It was repealed in 1967. The Tennessee Creationism Act (1973): this Act prohibited biology textbooks from representing evolution as "scientific fact" as opposed to "theory," and demanded that all textbooks that do discuss evolution give equal emphasis to other "theories" including the Genesis account. It was declared unconstitutional in 1975. (Zetterberg, 1983, 387)
6.5: Natural processes cannot be the cause of qualities seen in humans like love. For instance, the cause of love must be something loving.

If it were a rule that the cause of x must be x-like, that would imply that manure, one cause of the growth of "tasty and nutritious" rhubarb, must itself be tasty and nutritious (Ruse, 1982, 305). Michael Shermer asks "If [the cause of x must be x-like], should not nature then have a natural cause, not a supernatural cause?!" (Shermer, n.d., 4) Furthermore, there is every reason to believe that even our most sacred, poetized behavioral qualities can be reduced to natural processes. For instance, researchers have demonstrated a strong connection between natural amphetamines and the emotion of love (Toufexis, 1993, 50).

6.6: There are many theories of evolution, each of which "conclusively disproves" the other.

Ernst Mayr lists the five major elements of Darwinian theory as:

the notion that organisms are transformed over time the common descent of all organisms the multiplication of species through speciation gradual as opposed to saltationary change of populations natural selection as the driving force behind change (Mayr, 1991, 36-37).
All evolutionary theorists - whether gradualists, punctuationalists, or whatever - understand and accept (1), (2), and (3). There is indeed disagreement about (4) and (5), but all sides recognize that there is conclusive evidence for (1), (2), and (3) no matter what tempo or mechanism of evolution one supports. As it turns out, article (2) is the central issue in the creationism vs. evolution debate, so the debate over (4) and (5) does not help the creationists at all, and is not a sign of weakness in evolutionary theory.

If a multiplicity of mechanistic theories poses a problem for a greater theoretical framework, then the creationists are in worse trouble than the evolutionists, as there are more creationist theories than evolutionary theories. To name a few, there are:

"day/age creationists" such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, who believe each "day" in Genesis 1 represents an indefinite span of time (WatchTower, 1985, 26-27)

"gap theorists" as found in the Worldwide Church of God, who believe that there were two creations-the first involving all extinct life found in the fossil record, and the second involving all life still around today (Edwords, 1983, 304)

"progressive creationists" who believe in "a series of numerous separate creations, each interrupted by a gap in the fossil record" (Edwords, 1983, 305)

"Special Creationists" who hold that all life was created in six 24-hour periods around 6,000 years ago, and that the Noachian Flood is responsible for everything from the fossil record to radiometric dates.

And these are only a sample of the Christian "theories" of creation - there are other religions with other creation theories.

6.7: Evolution is unfalsifiable, and thus unscientific.

A haphazard chronological distribution of fossils of varying complexity in the fossil record, or a non-DNA based genetic code for advanced organisms, are just two examples of findings that could falsify evolution. Creationism, on the other hand is completely unfalsifiable by practicing creationists, as they assume from the beginning that their interpretation of the Bible is completely factual, and readily twist around in the most absurd fashion any evidence that contradicts their hypothesis. Their stance is not surprising, however, seeing that those unhindered by a belief in Biblical infallibility find countless disproofs of creationism. In short, then, creationism in any falsifiable form has already been falsified, so the creationists choose to keep it in an unfalsifiable, unscientific form by adding shoddy theological articles to their premises.

6.8: Electrons are materially inconceivable, but physicists largely accept them as real entities. So what is to keep one from accepting the reality of an inconceivable Creator?

Though "materially inconceivable", electrons have specific qualities from which one can predict their existence and behavior. A creator, on the other hand, can act as arbitrarily as it wants, so it cannot be understood even in the mathematically rigorous manner of the electron. This makes hypotheses involving electrons falsifiable, but hypotheses involving a mysterious "Creator" unfalsifiable and therefore unscientific.

6.9: The exclusive teaching of evolution in the science classroom violates the teaching of multiculturalism, because many different cultures have creation myths which contradict evolution.

The teaching of mutliculturalism is fulfilled in humanities and social science classes, in which creation myths can be taught as the cultural/historical elements they are. Myths of any sort do not belong in the science classroom, where only science is to be taught.

Creationists, of course, are not really interested in multiculturalism, anyways - they do not push for equal time for all creation myths, but only for their own Biblical myth. Neither do they attempt to advance multiculturalism in their own Christian schools by giving equal time to the myths of other religions.

6.10: Evolution predicts that natural law should be constantly evolving, as opposed to the creation model, which states that law should stay fixed.

This is entirely untrue. Evolution is a theory that itself fits only into a framework of fixed natural law. Creationists, of course, contradict themselves when they make this claim, since they are willing to distort the natural rates of processes like radioactivity and sedimentation to save their young-earth concept (Ruse, 1982, 305).

6.11: Nothing can be proven, particularly events in the past. Therefore, creationism must be just as reasonable as evolution.

Although absolute proof of just about anything is impossible, there are certainly things that are more reasonable and better supported than others. For instance, given that there is no absolute proof that you will fall if you jump off a cliff (who knows when the force of gravity might reverse itself for reasons unknown to mere mortals?), is it reasonable to jump? Past events are no less susceptible to support than anything else - if someone claimed that one thousand years ago people who jumped off cliffs never fell, would it be reasonable to believe him? It is possible, of course, that gravity did not function 1,000 years ago, and that all of our records to the contrary are just a fraud designed by a malicious creator, but how plausible does this sound? By no means does the impossibility of absolute proof of evolution or creationism make the two equal in plausibility. The indirect evidence for an evolutionary past far outweighs in its plausibility the creationists' collection of arbitrary assumptions.

6.12: There is nothing wrong with invoking supernatural explanations.

In Methodological Naturalism and the Supernatural, I argue that it is in principle possible for certain supernatural explanations to be consistent with the scientific enterprise. However, it is worth noting that this is emphatically not to say that the supernatural explanations creationists tend to offer are good ones, or that they are even necessarily consistent with the scientific enterprise - appealing to divine agency simply to square one's theory with contradictory data, as the creationists do, is not legitimate scientific use of the supernatural - if a creationist advances supernatural explanations just to patch up holes in her "theory" of creation, an evolutionist could equally easily advance supernatural explanations for evolution (i.e. "in the past, all mutations were beneficial, but the laws that made this so are no longer in effect"). Both types of appeals would ultimately end up halting the scientific enterprise.

6.13: There are many unanswered questions in science, such as the details of the origin of the universe and of prebiotic synthesis. Thus we require a supernatural God for explanation.

This argument is entirely antithetical to the nature of science. Just because a question is currently unanswered does not mean that it cannot be answered, and that we should shrug our shoulders and embrace the supernatural on faith. History has shown us time and time again that science eventually finds solutions to its problems. If we concoct a supernatural explanation every time we run into a problem, science, and probably civilization, will be completely corrupted. In any case, if we were to accept the supernatural, then anything would be tenable - we would not be forced to accept a particular creation theory. In the realm of the supernatural, there is as much reason to believe in creator-pixies, or in a universe that supernaturally came into existence all on its own, as there is to believe in any Genesis-style creation.

6.14: Evolution is just a theory.

The colloquial use of the word "theory" corresponds more or less to the scientific word "hypothesis." A hypothesis is a proposition or explanation that is not at all certain, and demands evidence prior to acceptance. In scientific circles, the word "theory" is much more than a hypothesis. "A scientific theory is the endpoint of the scientific method, often the foundation of an entire field of knowledge..." (Berra, 1990, 4). Calling evolution "just a theory" is an attempt to discredit the obvious by confusing colloquial and scientific terminology. Evolution is a theory in the same sense as Copernican theory (the theory that the earth goes around the sun), the theory of gravity, electromagnetic theory, quantum theory, and the theory of relativity. One cannot say of evolution that it is just a theory any more than one can say it of these other theories.

6.15: Evolution and creationism are the only two possible models of origins. There are many serious problems with evolution, so creationism is the correct model by default.

Certainly evolution is either true or false, and creationism is likewise either true or false, but it does not follow from these two premises that "either evolution is true or creationism is true." There are, in fact, always an infinite number of "models" that can account for any scientific data.

Examples of alternatives to both creationism and evolution include:

Illusory scenarios: The notion that you are the only person in this apparent world that really exists, and that the rest of the "reality" you perceive is really just an illusion generated by you (solipsism), a higher power (Cartesian "evil genius" scenarios), or some complicated machine your real brain is directly wired into ("brain-in-the-vat" scenarios). Under such scenarios, your experiences are like what they would be like if you had been attached to some sophisticated virtual reality machine since birth - they seem to correspond to a real world, but do not really correspond to the real world. Such scenarios are consistent with all of the empirical "facts" you encounter in the world. These scenarios are unscientific, but if we allow unscientific proposals like creationism, there should be no reason to withhold these equally bizzare illusory scenarios.

Wait-and-see proposals: Michael Denton believes that neither creationism nor evolutionary biology can account for the data we currently possess about organisms and their history. Denton believes that science must wait for some entirely new theory to be developed, which may be as revolutionary to biology as quantum mechanics was to physics (Denton, 1985).

Richard Swinburne, one of the top Christian apologists in the world, believes that "[a]lthough there is much uncertainty about the exact stages and mechanisms involved, the fact of evolution is evident"(Swinburne, 1986, 1). Swinburne believes that evolution accounts for everything except for the human soul, which was created by God a few thousand years ago. Pope John Paul II, in his Message to Pontifical Academy of Sciences, October 22, 1996, seems to agree with Swinburne's assessment.

John Davison has developed a theory he believes serves as an alternative to both Darwinian evolution and creationism, which he calls the semi-miotic hypothesis.

Clearly, one must not make a choice between evolution and creationism - there are many proposals that serve as an alternative to both.

Also, even if creationism and evolution were the only two alternatives, it is not sound scientific practice to rely upon fault-finding as a means of advancing one's own hypothesis. The creationists point to many alleged problems with evolution, but even if these problems were real (most of them, as I have already shown, are not), that would not be sufficient to prove creationism true - creationism has its own difficulties, so unless the creationists can amass as much positive evidence for their proposal as evolutionists have for theirs, creationism will remain less plausible.

The creationists rely upon rhetoric and obscurantism so much because they can never come up with good evidence for creationism - so far, not one of the few creationist research papers ever submitted to a scientific journal has merited publishing. Note that creationists have, incidentally, submitted very few papers to scientific journals in the first place, so there is absolutely no evidence that their papers are rejected for discriminatory reasons.

6.16: Evolution is the basis for Naziism and laissez-faire capitalism.

Carl Sagan gets it right when he says:

...the Darwinian insight can be turned upside down and grotesquely misused: Voracious robber barons may explain their cutthroat practices by an appeal to Social Darwinism; Nazis and other racists may call on "survival of the fittest" to justify genocide. But Darwin did not make John D. Rockefeller or Adolf Hitler. Greed, the Industrial Revolution, the free enterprise system, and corruption of government by the monied are adequate to explain nineteenth-century capitalism. Ethnocentrism, xenophobia, social hierarchies, the long history of anti-Semitism in Germany, the Versailles Treaty, German child-rearing practices, inflation, and the Depression seem adequate to explain Hitler's rise to power. Very likely these or similar events would have transpired with or without Darwin. And modern Darwinism makes it abundantly clear that many less ruthless traits, some not always admired by robber barns and Fuhrers - altruism, general intelligence, compassion - may be the key to survival. (Sagan, 1995, 260).
It is surprising how often creationists mention the Holocaust in connection with evolution, as if somehow the latter caused the former. Few evolutionists have not heard at one time or another the nonsensical claim that "the Holocaust was a logical consequence of evolution." In actuality, the deep historical connection between Christendom and anti-Semitism contributed more to the Holocaust than creationists allege evolution did (which is not, of course, to say that Christianity is solely or even primarily responsible for the Holocaust - as Sagan indicates above, the Holocaust was the product of a multitude of causes working together):
"For century after century, the Christian church had designated the people to be despised: religious believers called Jews, the "Christ-killers," the "enemies of God." All the religious massacres [of Jews] of 900 years - by Crusaders pursuing infidels, by inquisitors hunting backsliders, by superstitious mobs fearing tales of child-sacrificing, host-nailing, and well-poisoning - branded Jews as accursed. When popes ordered Jews to wear badges and live in ghettos - or when they were expelled entirely - it told the populace that these pariahs were unfit to live among decent folk. Passion plays depicting Jews as cruel mockers of Christ, and cathedral paintings of the evil non-Christians, fanned hatred of those the church called "the perfidious Jews."
Thus, when Adolf Hitler needed a scapegoat group to rally the discontented majority to his cause and catapult himself to power, natural victims clearly marked by the church were at his disposal. The Christian public, not only in Germany, but also throughout Europe, was predisposed to receive the Nazi message of hatred." (Haught, 1990, 157-158)

"The Holocaust was, of course, the bitter fruit of long centuries of Christian teaching about the Jewish people." (Dr. Franklin Little, chairman of the Department of Religion at Temple University, as quoted in Haught, 1990, 158)

"[The Holocaust] could not have been done had not the name of God been used for centuries to preach hatred of the Other, the Jews." (A.M. Rosenthal, editor of the New York Times, as quoted in Haught, 1990, 158)

"[The Nazis] are inconceivable apart from this Christian tradition [namely, the tradition of hostility to the Jews]. Hitler's pogrom, for all its distinctiveness, is the zenith of a long Christian heritage of teaching and practice against Jews." (Clark Williamson, theologian of Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, as quoted in Haught, 1990, 159)

"[The Nazis] did not invent a new villain...They took over the 2,000-year-old Christian tradition of the Jew as villain...The roots of the death camps must be sought in the mythic structure of Christianity." (Richard Reubenstein, theologian, as quoted in Haught, 1990, 160)

"Everything Hitler did to the Jews, all the horrible, unspeakable misdeeds, had already been done to the smitten people before by the Christian churches...The isolation of Jews into ghetto camps, the wearing of the yellow spot, the burning of Jewish books, and finally the burning of the people - Hitler learned it all from the church. However, the church burned Jewish women and children alive, while Hitler granted them a quicker death, choking them first with gas." (Dagobert Runes, historian, as quoted in Haught, 1990, 163).

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