Table of Contents
A handbook for students, parents, and teachers countering the latest arguments for evolution
Evolution & creation, science & religion, facts & bias
First published in Refuting Evolution, Chapter 1
Many evolutionary books, including Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science, contrast religion/creation opinions with evolution/science facts. It is important to realize that this is a misleading contrast. Creationists often appeal to the facts of science to support their view, and evolutionists often appeal to philosophical assumptions from outside science. While creationists are often criticized for starting with a bias, evolutionists also start with a bias, as many of them admit. The debate between creation and evolution is primarily a dispute between two worldviews, with mutually incompatible underlying assumptions.
This chapter takes a critical look at the definitions of science, and the roles that biases and assumptions play in the interpretations by scientists.
The bias of evolutionary leaders
It is a fallacy to believe that facts speak for themselves—they are always interpreted according to a framework. The framework behind the evolutionists’ interpretation is naturalism—it is assumed that things made themselves, that no divine intervention has happened, and that God has not revealed to us knowledge about the past.
Evolution is a deduction from this assumption, and it is essentially the idea that things made themselves. It includes these unproven ideas: nothing gave rise to something at an alleged ‘big bang,’ non-living matter gave rise to life, single-celled organisms gave rise to many-celled organisms, invertebrates gave rise to vertebrates, ape-like creatures gave rise to man, non-intelligent and amoral matter gave rise to intelligence and morality, man’s yearnings gave rise to religions, etc.
Professor D.M.S. Watson, one of the leading biologists and science writers of his day, demonstrated the atheistic bias behind much evolutionary thinking when he wrote:
Evolution [is] a theory universally accepted not because it can be proven by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible.1
So it’s not a question of biased religious creationists versus objective scientific evolutionists; rather, it is the biases of the Christian religion versus the biases of the religion of secular humanism resulting in different interpretations of the same scientific data. As the anti-creationist science writer Boyce Rensberger admits:
At this point, it is necessary to reveal a little inside information about how scientists work, something the textbooks don’t usually tell you. The fact is that scientists are not really as objective and dispassionate in their work as they would like you to think. Most scientists first get their ideas about how the world works not through rigorously logical processes but through hunches and wild guesses. As individuals, they often come to believe something to be true long before they assemble the hard evidence that will convince somebody else that it is. Motivated by faith in his own ideas and a desire for acceptance by his peers, a scientist will labor for years knowing in his heart that his theory is correct but devising experiment after experiment whose results he hopes will support his position.2
It’s not really a question of who is biased, but which bias is the correct bias with which to be biased! Actually, Teaching about Evolution admits in the dialogue on pages 22–25 that science isn’t just about facts, and it is tentative, not dogmatic. But the rest of the book is dogmatic that evolution is a fact!
Professor Richard Lewontin, a geneticist (and self-proclaimed Marxist — see documentation), is a renowned champion of neo-Darwinism, and certainly one of the world’s leaders in promoting evolutionary biology. He recently wrote this very revealing comment (the italics were in the original). It illustrates the implicit philosophical bias against Genesis creation regardless of whether or not the facts support it:
We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfil many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.3
Many evolutionists chide creationists not because of the facts, but because creationists refuse to play by the current rules of the game that exclude supernatural creation a priori.4 That it is indeed a ‘game’ was proclaimed by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dickerson:
Science is fundamentally a game. It is a game with one overriding and defining rule:
Rule #1: Let us see how far and to what extent we can explain the behavior of the physical and material universe in terms of purely physical and material causes, without invoking the supernatural.5
In practice, the ‘game’ is extended to trying to explain not just the behavior, but the origin of everything without the supernatural.
Actually, evolutionists are often not consistent with their own rules against invoking an intelligent designer. For example, when archaeologists find an arrowhead, they can tell it must have been designed, even though they haven’t seen the designer. And the whole basis of the SETI program is that a signal from outer space carrying specific information must have an intelligent source. Yet the materialistic bias of many evolutionists means that they reject an intelligent source for the literally encyclopedic information carried in every living cell.
It’s no accident that the leaders of evolutionary thought were and are ardently opposed to the notion of the Christian God as revealed in the Bible.6 Stephen Jay Gould and others have shown that Darwin’s purpose was to destroy the idea of a divine designer.7 Richard Dawkins applauds evolution because he claims that before Darwin it was impossible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist, as he says he is.8
Many atheists have claimed to be atheists precisely because of evolution. For example, the evolutionary entomologist and sociobiologist E.O. Wilson (who has an article in Teaching about Evolution on page 15) said:
As were many persons from Alabama, I was a born-again Christian. When I was fifteen, I entered the Southern Baptist Church with great fervor and interest in the fundamentalist religion; I left at seventeen when I got to the University of Alabama and heard about evolutionary theory.9
Many people do not realize that the teaching of evolution propagates an anti-biblical religion. The first two tenets of Humanist Manifesto I (1933), signed by many prominent evolutionists, are:
- Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.
- Humanism believes that Man is a part of nature and has emerged as a result of a continuous process.
This is exactly what evolution teaches. Many humanist leaders are quite open about using the public schools to proselytize their faith. This might surprise some parents who think the schools are supposed to be free of religious indoctrination, but this quote makes it clear:
I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level—preschool day care or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new—the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism … .
It will undoubtedly be a long, arduous, painful struggle replete with much sorrow and many tears, but humanism will emerge triumphant. It must if the family of humankind is to survive.10
Teaching about Evolution, while claiming to be about science and neutral on religion, has some religious statements of its own. For example on page 6:
To accept the probability of change and to see change as an agent of opportunity rather than as a threat is a silent message and challenge in the lesson of evolution.
However, as it admits that evolution is ‘unpredictable and natural,’ and has ‘no specific direction or goal’ (p. 127), this message is incoherent.
The authors of Teaching about Evolution may realize that the rank atheism of most evolutionary leaders would be repugnant to most American parents if they knew. More recently, the agnostic anti-creationist philosopher Ruse admitted, ‘Evolution as a scientific theory makes a commitment to a kind of naturalism’ but this ‘may not be a good thing to admit in a court of law.’11 Teaching about Evolution tries to sanitize evolution by claiming that it is compatible with many religions. It even recruits many religious leaders in support. One of the ‘dialogues’ portrays a teacher having much success diffusing opposition by asking the students to ask their pastor, and coming back with ‘Hey evolution is okay!’ Although the dialogues are fictional, the situation is realistic.
It might surprise many people to realize that many church leaders do not believe their own book, the Bible. This plainly teaches that God created recently in six consecutive normal days, made things to reproduce ‘after their kind,’ and that death and suffering resulted from Adam’s sin. This is one reason why many Christians regard evolution as incompatible with Christianity. On page 58, Teaching about Evolution points out that many religious people believe that ‘God used evolution’ (theistic evolution). But theistic evolution teaches that God used struggle for survival and death, the ‘last enemy’ (1 Cor. 15:26) as His means of achieving a ‘very good’ (Gen. 1:31) creation.12 Biblical creationists find this objectionable [see The Fall: a cosmic catastrophe—Hugh Ross’s blunders on plant death in the Bible].
The only way to assert that evolution and ‘religion’ are compatible is to regard ‘religion’ as having nothing to do with the real world, and being just subjective. A God who ‘created’ by evolution is, for all practical purposes, indistinguishable from no God at all.
Perhaps Teaching about Evolution is letting its guard down sometimes. For example, on page 11 it refers to the ‘explanation provided in Genesis … that God created everything in its present form over the course of six days,’ i.e., Genesis really does teach six-day creation of basic kinds, which contradicts evolution. Therefore, Teaching about Evolution is indeed claiming that evolution conflicts with Genesis, and thus with biblical Christianity, although they usually deny that they are attacking ‘religion.’ Teaching about Evolution often sets up straw men misrepresenting what creationists really do believe. Creationists do not claim that everything was created in exactly the same form as today’s creatures. Creationists believe in variation within a kind, which is totally different from the information-gaining variation required for particles-to-people evolution. This is discussed further in the next chapter.
More blatantly, Teaching about Evolution recommends many books that are very openly atheistic, like those by Richard Dawkins (p. 131).13 On page 129 it says: ‘Statements about creation … should not be regarded as reasonable alternatives to scientific explanations for the origin and evolution of life.’ Since anything not reasonable is unreasonable, Teaching about Evolution is in effect saying that believers in creation are really unreasonable and irrational. This is hardly religiously neutral, but is regarded by many religious people as an attack.
A recent survey published in the leading science journal Nature conclusively showed that the National Academy of Sciences, the producers of Teaching about Evolution, is heavily biased against God, rather than religiously unbiased.14 A survey of all 517 NAS members in biological and physical sciences resulted in just over half responding: 72.2% were overtly atheistic, 20.8% agnostic, and only 7.0% believed in a personal God. Belief in God and immortality was lowest among biologists. It is likely that those who didn’t respond were unbelievers as well, so the study probably underestimates the level of anti-God belief in the NAS. The percentage of unbelief is far higher than the percentage among U.S. scientists in general, or in the whole U.S. population.
Commenting on the professed religious neutrality of Teaching about Evolution, the surveyors comment:
NAS President Bruce Alberts said: ‘There are very many outstanding members of this academy who are very religious people, people who believe in evolution, many of them biologists.’ Our research suggests otherwise.15
The basis of modern science
Many historians, of many different religious persuasions including atheistic, have shown that modern science started to flourish only in largely Christian Europe. For example, Dr Stanley Jaki has documented how the scientific method was stillborn in all cultures apart from the Judeo-Christian culture of Europe.16 These historians point out that the basis of modern science depends on the assumption that the universe was made by a rational creator. An orderly universe makes perfect sense only if it were made by an orderly Creator. But if there is no creator, or if Zeus and his gang were in charge, why should there be any order at all? So, not only is a strong Christian belief not an obstacle to science, such a belief was its very foundation. It is, therefore, fallacious to claim, as many evolutionists do, that believing in miracles means that laboratory science would be impossible. Loren Eiseley stated:
The philosophy of experimental science … began its discoveries and made use of its methods in the faith, not the knowledge, that it was dealing with a rational universe controlled by a creator who did not act upon whim nor interfere with the forces He had set in operation … . It is surely one of the curious paradoxes of history that science, which professionally has little to do with faith, owes its origins to an act of faith that the universe can be rationally interpreted, and that science today is sustained by that assumption.17
Evolutionists, including Eiseley himself, have thus abandoned the only rational justification for science. But Christians can still claim to have such a justification.
It should thus not be surprising, although it is for many people, that most branches of modern science were founded by believers in creation. The list of creationist scientists is impressive.18 A sample:
Physics—Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, Kelvin
Chemistry—Boyle, Dalton, Ramsay
Biology—Ray, Linnaeus, Mendel, Pasteur, Virchow, Agassiz
Geology—Steno, Woodward, Brewster, Buckland, Cuvier
Astronomy—Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Herschel, Maunder
Mathematics—Pascal, Leibnitz, Euler
Dr Ian Macreadie, prize-winning Australia microbiologist and creationist. See interview in Creation 21(2):16–17, March–May 1999.
Even today, many scientists reject particles-to-people evolution (i.e., everything made itself). The Creation Ministries International (Australia) staff scientists have published many scientific papers in their own fields. Dr Russell Humphreys, a nuclear physicist working with Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has had over 20 articles published in physics journals, while Dr John Baumgardner’s catastrophic plate tectonics theory was reported in Nature. Dr Edward Boudreaux of the University of New Orleans has published 26 articles and four books in physical chemistry. Dr Maciej Giertych, head of the Department of Genetics at the Institute of Dendrology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, has published 90 papers in scientific journals. Dr Raymond Damadian invented the lifesaving medical advance of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).19 Dr Raymond Jones was described as one of Australia’s top scientists for his discoveries about the legume Leucaena and bacterial symbiosis with grazing animals, worth millions of dollars per year to Australia.20 Dr Brian Stone has won a record number of awards for excellence in engineering teaching at Australian universities.21 An evolutionist opponent admitted the following about a leading creationist biochemist and debater, Dr Duane Gish:
Duane Gish has very strong scientific credentials. As a biochemist, he has synthesized peptides, compounds intermediate between amino acids and proteins. He has been co-author of a number of outstanding publications in peptide chemistry.22
A number of highly qualified living creationist scientists can be found on the Creation Ministries International website.23 So an oft-repeated charge that no real scientist rejects evolution is completely without foundation. Nevertheless, Teaching about Evolution claims in this Question and Answer section on page 56:
Q: Don’t many scientists reject evolution?
A: No. The scientific consensus around evolution is overwhelming … .
It is regrettable that Teaching about Evolution is not really answering its own question. The actual question should be truthfully answered ‘Yes,’ even though evolution-rejecting scientists are in a minority. The explanation for the answer given would be appropriate (even if highly debatable) if the question were: ‘Is it true that there is no scientific consensus around evolution?’ But truth is not decided by majority vote!
C.S. Lewis also pointed out that even our ability to reason would be called into question if atheistic evolution were true:
If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our thought processes are mere accidents, the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the materialists’ and astronomers’ as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts, i.e., of Materialism and Astronomy are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give a correct account of all the other accidents.24
Science does have its limits. Normal (operational) science deals only with repeatable observable processes in the present. This has indeed been very successful in understanding the world, and has led to many improvements in the quality of life. In contrast, evolution is a speculation about the unobservable and unrepeatable past. Thus the comparison in Teaching about Evolution of disbelief in evolution with disbelief in gravity and heliocentrism is highly misleading. It is also wrong to claim that denying evolution is rejecting the type of science that put men on the moon, although many evolutionary propagandists make such claims. (Actually the man behind the Apollo moon mission was the creationist rocket scientist Wernher von Braun.25)
In dealing with the past, ‘origins science’ can enable us to make educated guesses about origins. It uses the principles of causality (everything that has a beginning has a cause26) and analogy (e.g., we observe that intelligence is needed to generate complex coded information in the present, so we can reasonably assume the same for the past). But the only way we can be really sure about the past is if we have a reliable eyewitness account. Evolutionists claim there is no such account, so their ideas are derived from assumptions about the past. But biblical creationists believe that Genesis is an eyewitness account of the origin of the universe and living organisms. They also believe that there is good evidence for this claim, so they reject the claim that theirs is a blind faith.27
Creationists don’t pretend that any knowledge, science included, can be pursued without presuppositions (i.e., prior religious/philosophical beliefs). Creationists affirm that creation cannot ultimately be divorced from the Bible any more than evolution can ultimately be divorced from its naturalistic starting point that excludes divine creation a priori.
References and notes
- D.M.S. Watson, Adaptation, Nature 124:233, 1929. Return to text.
- Boyce Rensberger, How the World Works (NY: William Morrow 1986), p. 17–18. Return to text.
- Richard Lewontin, Billions and Billions of Demons, The New York Review, 9 January 1997, p. 31. Return to text.
- C. Wieland, Science: the rules of the game, Creation 11(1):47–50, December 1988–February 1989, <creation.com/rules>. Return to text.
- R.E. Dickerson, J. Molecular Evolution 34:277, 1992; Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith 44:137–138, 1992. Return to text.
- D. Batten, A Who’s Who of evolutionists, Creation 20(1):32, December 1997–February 1998, How Religiously Neutral Are the Anti-Creationist Organisations?, <creation.com/who>. Return to text.
- C. Wieland,Darwin’s Real Message: Have You Missed It? Creation 14(4):16–19, September–November 1992, <creation.com/ realmessage>. Return to text.
- R. Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design, (NY: W.W. Norton, 1986), p. 6. Return to text.
- E.O. Wilson, The Humanist, September/October 1982, p. 40. Return to text.
- J. Dunphy, A Religion for a New Age, The Humanist, Jan.–Feb. 1983, 23, 26 (emphases added), cited by Wendell R. Bird, Origin of the Species Revisited, vol. 2, p. 257. Return to text.
- Symposium titled The New Anti-Evolutionism (during the 1993 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science). See C. Wieland, The Religious Nature of Evolution, Journal of Creation 8(1):3–4. Return to text.
- W. Gitt, W. Gitt, Did God Use Evolution? (Bielefeld, Germany: CLV, 1993); Theistic evolution questions <creation.com/theistic>. Return to text.
- For refutations of Dawkins’ books, see: J.D. Sarfati, Review of Climbing Mt Improbable, Journal of Creation 12(1):29–34, 1998, <creation.com/dawkins>; J.D. Sarfati, Misotheist’s Misology: Dawkins attacks Behe but digs himself into logical potholes, <creation.com/dawkbehe>, 13 July 2007; P. Bell, Review of The God Delusion, <creation.com/delusion>, Journal of Creation 21(2):28–34, 2007. Return to text.
- E.J. Larson and L. Witham, Leading Scientists Still Reject God, Nature 394(6691):313, 23 July 1998. The sole criterion for being classified as a ‘leading’ or ‘greater’ scientist was membership of the NAS. Return to text.
- Ibid., emphasis added. Return to text.
- S. Jaki, Science and Creation (Edinburgh and London: Scottish Academic Press, 1974). Return to text.
- L. Eiseley: Darwin’s Century: Evolution and the Men who Discovered It (Anchor, NY: Doubleday, 1961). Return to text.
- A. Lamont, 21 Great Scientists Who Believed the Bible (Australia: Creation Science Foundation, 1995), p. 120–131; H.M. Morris, Men of Science Men of God (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 1982). Return to text.
- J. Mattson and Merrill Simon, The Pioneers of NMR in Magnetic Resonance in Medicine: The Story of MRI (Jericho, NY: Bar-Ilan University Press, 1996), chapter 8. See also J.D. Sarfati, Dr Damadian’s vital contribution to MRI: Nobel prize controversy returns, 21–22 October 2006, <creation.com/damadian>. Return to text.
- Standing Firm [Interview of Raymond Jones with Don Batten and Carl Wieland], Creation 21(1):20–22, December 1998–February 1999. Return to text.
- Prize-winning Professor Rejects Evolution: Brian Stone Speaks to Don Batten and Carl Wieland, Creation 20(4):52–53, September–November 1998. Return to text.
- Sidney W. Fox, The Emergence of Life: Darwinian Evolution from the Inside (NY: Basic Books, 1988), p. 46. Fox is a leading chemical evolutionist who believes life evolved from ‘proteinoid microspheres.’ Return to text.
- Cited 18 February 1999. Return to text.
- C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1970), p. 52–53. Return to text.
- Ann Lamont, Ref. 19, pp. 242–251. Return to text.
- J.D. Sarfati, If God Created the Universe, Then Who Created God? Journal of Creation 12(1)20–22, 1998. Return to text.
- Some supporting information can be found in the following works, among others: G.L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982); G.H. Clark, God’s Hammer: The Bible and Its Critics (Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 2nd ed. 1987); P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), chapter 18; N.L. Geisler and R.M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1990); N.L. Geisler and T. R. Howe, When Critics Ask (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992); N.L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1986); L, Strobel, The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998 and 2001; See also <creation.com/bible>. Return to text.