Strawmen and censorship: the British Humanist Association and creation in schools
Published: 9 August 2014 (GMT+10)
For some years the British Humanist Association (BHA) has been campaigning to prevent children in UK state-funded schools being informed about the evidence for a creator.3 They have been remarkably successful, especially in their lobbying for the most restrictive government regulations concerning what may be taught. For example, the latest ‘free school’ funding agreement requires that “The Academy Trust must not allow any view or theory to be taught as evidence-based if it is contrary to established scientific or historical evidence and explanations. This clause applies to all subjects taught at the Academy.”4 Since the theory of evolution would be deemed “established science” and “all subjects” would include Religious Education, it would appear that this effectively prohibits any meaningful discussion of the scientific evidence for creation in any classroom.
At the same time, the BHA is active in promoting its secular, atheistic worldview in British schools, offering volunteers to help plan lessons and providing curriculum guidance, ‘teaching toolkits’ and other materials.5 One of these resources is A humanist discussion of … ‘creationism’,6 in which they claim to expose the main “spurious arguments” used by creationists to criticise evolution. The statements made in this document seriously misrepresent the creationist view. Indeed, so clear is it that the BHA has failed to engage with the real issues and the arguments actually used by creationist scientists, one might wonder whether this is deliberate.7 Honesty in debate requires each side to address their opponents’ strongest case. Yet the BHA even set up ‘straw men’ by including arguments that the leading creationist organisations have publicly stated that creationists should not use.8 We respond to the BHA’s claims point by point below.
1. The complexity of living things
Here the BHA states the creationists’ argument as: “Living things have such a level of complexity and precision, even at the smallest level, that the only sensible thing is to suppose that they have been intelligently designed. They could not have evolved because they could not function at all even if they were just slightly different and because such complexity could not have arisen by chance.”
We do not claim that living things “could not function at all even if they were just slightly different”; what we actually claim is far more powerful. We argue that no observed natural processes appear capable of producing the kind of complexity seen throughout the living world.
Darwin admitted in his Origin of Species that “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”9 However, there seem to be many examples of just this, such as the ATP synthase motor10 found in all living organisms and the kinesin11 transport machine in eukaryotes. These appear irreducibly complex meaning that, in a partly evolved form, they would have no use at all. This is very different to claiming that some parts could not be “slightly different”—which is just a ‘straw man’.
The optimised nature of the DNA language (code) is another example of something that could not have been generated through a series of small steps.12,13 Imagine a computer program which is to be improved by changes to the language used. Every time the tiniest change is made to the language, many statements throughout the program would have to be changed simultaneously; and, at the same time, the computer’s compiler would have to be reprogrammed so that it recognised the meaning of the new form of instructions. A similar set of changes would be required every time just a small change was made to the DNA language.
Following the mapping of the human genome and the ENCODE14 project, the world’s top geneticists began to admit that it might be the end of the 21st century before we fully understand how all the exceedingly complex network of controls in human DNA work—if indeed we ever will.15 Given that we know so little about these high-level functions of DNA, how can evolutionists claim with integrity that science has shown that they evolved? How can they ‘know’ that natural processes are capable of producing something when they don’t even understand how it works? Indeed, the ENCODE project’s results are such a problem for evolution that atheists (secularists) have tried to argue against the findings! One complained about the “public damage” done by the ENCODE publicity. Damage to what? Science? No, secularism (atheism).16
Protagonists of evolution often mislead people into thinking that the burden of proof lies with their opponents—that creationists should be required to demonstrate that evolution cannot be true. This is nonsense. The burden of proof lies with the secularists, as it is they who are claiming that science has shown their view to be the correct one. Evolutionists have never demonstrated that people could have evolved through a series of small steps from a single-celled microbe. Evolutionary biochemist Franklin Harold wrote, “… we must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations.”17 Should ‘wishful speculations’ be taught in science classes?
2. Macro and microevolution
This begins with another highly misleading caricature, where creationists are said to claim that “Evolution can explain changes within species, but not the origin of new species. No-one has ever seen a new species evolve or explain [sic] how it can happen.” In fact, for many years, mainstream creationist organisations have repeatedly expressed their support for the view that speciation is a reality. The creationist father of taxonomy Carl Linnaeus, for example, rejected the concept of the fixity of species in the eighteenth century.18 We believe that God designed plants and animals with the capacity to vary within their kinds so as to be able to adapt to different environments. Creationists, however, argue that the extent to which organisms can vary, although sometimes very impressive, is strictly limited. Dog breeding is often cited as evidence for evolution; but creationists point out that all the different breeds are still dogs.19 We fully affirm that finches may turn into other species of finch,20 or fruit flies into other species of fruit fly; but we maintain that finches will never turn into hawks or fruit flies into wasps.
Some evolutionists claim that ‘macroevolution’ is simply ‘microevolution’ extended over a longer period of time. Observations, however, indicate that the processes that drive ‘microevolution’ are not the same as those that would be required for ‘macroevolution’. Evolutionist Professor Scott Gilbert would agree. Commenting on the Darwinian theory, he wrote
“ … starting in the 1970s, many biologists began questioning its adequacy in explaining evolution. Genetics might be adequate for explaining microevolution, but microevolutionary changes in gene frequency were not seen as able to turn a reptile into a mammal or to convert a fish into an amphibian. Microevolution looks at adaptations that concern the survival of the fittest, not the arrival of the fittest.”21
Creationists point out that the changes that drive what evolutionists refer to as ‘microevolution’ are opposite in direction to those required to change microbes in men, i.e. ‘macroevolution’.22 For example, different dog breeds are produced by removing gene variants which give rise to unwanted characteristics; but to turn microbes into men the evolutionary process must add many totally new genes—tens of thousands of them. (Another way ‘new characteristics’ are produced is by selecting for damaged genes.) Hence, we argue that the terms ‘microevolution’ and ‘macroevolution’ are unhelpful as they imply that the difference between them is just in the amount of change, rather than the direction of change. These terms are also misleading because they imply that evidence for ‘microevolution’ is evidence for ‘macroevolution’—which cannot be the case, since fundamentally different processes are required for each. In an attempt to clarify these issues, we refer to the observed changes in plants and animals as ‘adaptation and speciation’ and the unobserved processes by which microbes allegedly turned into men as ‘evolution’.
3. “Evolution is just a theory”
Here the BHA states the creationists’ argument as: “Evolution theory cannot be tested, verified or falsified. No-one has or could ever know what happened when life on earth began. Therefore it is just a theory, not fact.” This is another caricature of the creationist position and we have explicitly counselled against using the argument, ‘evolution is just a theory.’8 We know very well that evolutionists refer to the ‘theory of evolution’ in the same sense that scientists refer to the ‘theory of gravity’, i.e. as science fact.
However, there is a world of difference between the ‘operational science’ that enables us to understand natural laws such as gravity, and the ‘historical science’ that seeks to determine what may or may not have happened in the past (such as evolution).23 Whereas the theory of gravity can be tested by experiments in the present, the theory of ‘molecules to man’ evolution cannot.
The BHA article argues that scientists can make accurate statements about the past. For example, they say, “if we came across a fallen tree, it would be possible to determine whether it had fallen due to disease, parasites or soil erosion.” This may be true; but, if so, that is because the event (the tree falling) occurred in recent history. Over time, the evidence is lost, which is why it is so much harder to solve a crime committed twenty years ago than twenty days ago. What chance would there be of solving a crime after a few million years?
Nevertheless, deciding what caused the tree to fall over is still an inference, however seemingly reasonable, not a testable deduction from experimental science, which depends on repeatable experiments. Perhaps a small tornado went through the area for which there is no eyewitness record?
The speculative nature of evolutionary thinking is highlighted by the fact that the theories are constantly changing. For example, geologist Professor Derek Ager remarked, “It must be significant that nearly all the evolutionary stories I learned as a student … have now been ‘debunked’.”24 Similarly, biologist Professor William Provine wrote, “Most of what I learned of the field [of evolutionary biology] in graduate school (1964 – 68) is either wrong or significantly changed.”25 In contrast to this, Newton’s mathematical description of gravity is still in everyday use.
4. “The fossil evidence is unreliable”
Here the BHA states the creationists’ argument as: “Radiometric dating of fossils is unreliable and fossil evidence is often fraudulent or interpreted poorly. There is even fossil evidence that the dinosaurs lived recently. There are ‘living fossils’ such as coelacanths which have not evolved, providing evidence against evolution. And the relative position of fossils only shows their level of buoyancy in the great flood.” In regard to this last sentence, a more misleading caricature of creationists’ arguments would be hard to find.
Evolutionists rarely ‘radiometrically date’ fossils; they seek to date the sedimentary rocks in which we find the fossils, sometimes using nearby igneous rocks or other materials which contain radioactive elements such as a volcanic ash layer. In fact, creationists would be delighted if attempts were made to ‘radiometrically date’ fossils because many of them contain radiocarbon26 which points to them being thousands of years old27 rather than millions of years.28
We would agree that radiometric dating29 is unreliable and that there is considerable fossil evidence that dinosaurs lived recently, such as discoveries of soft tissues and other preserved organic material in dinosaur bones.30 As admitted by Dr Mary Schweitzer, lead scientist investigating these finds, “When you think about it, the laws of chemistry and biology and everything else that we know say that it should be gone, it should be degraded completely.”31 Consequently, she says, “So, that leaves us with two alternatives for interpretation: either the dinosaurs aren’t as old as we think they are, or maybe we don’t know exactly how these things get preserved.”32 So how can creationists be criticised for opting for her first alternative, even if she still clings to her second?
We do, indeed, argue that ‘living fossils’ provide strong evidence against evolution. There are many fossils, supposedly many millions of years old, that appear very similar to living creatures. The BHA article mentioned coelacanths.33 These are found in rocks supposedly 360 million years old,34 yet the living species appears little different to the fossils. According to the theory of evolution, people evolved from ape-like creatures that lived 6 million years ago. The evolutionary process, they say, is so powerful that it can change an ape into a human in just 6 million years. Yet, allegedly, it didn’t change the coelacanth significantly in 360 million years. Nor did it, apparently, cause many other creatures to evolve over the last seventy million years, including snakes, lizards, turtles, crocodiles, parrots, owls, penguins and ducks.35 Many creatures found in Cambrian rocks (supposedly around 500 million years old), such as jellyfish, starfish and brachiopods are still found in today’s oceans. Evolutionists respond to this kind of argument by saying that, when creatures find no need to adapt to changing circumstances, they don’t need to change. However, at the same time, they say there have been enormous changes in the environment—sufficient, for example, to wipe out the dinosaurs and many other creatures.
The story-telling nature of evolutionary ‘science’ is perhaps demonstrated nowhere more clearly than in evolutionists attempts to accommodate ‘living fossils’. On the one hand, they say that the incredible power of evolution explains how ape-like creatures evolved into people in just 6 million years. On the other, they say that ‘evolutionary stasis’ explains how organisms can remain substantially unchanged for tens or even hundreds of millions years. The oxymoronic term ‘evolutionary stasis’ is, in fact, no more than terminology masquerading as an explanation.36
In a similar vein, Professor Philip Skell remarked,
… Darwinian explanations … are often too supple: Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive—except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed—except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.37
No biblical creationists we know of argue that “the relative position of fossils only shows their level of buoyancy in the great flood.” Indeed such a statement simply indicates that the BHA has never seriously engaged with the arguments.38
They continue, “The evidence for evolution rests mainly on four large groups of facts: the geographical distribution of animals and plants [but see here39 and here40]; the comparative anatomy of animals and plants [but see here41]; the stages by which animals grow from fertilised egg [but see here42 and here43]; and the nature and distribution of fossils [but see here38].” These arguments only stand in the absence of critical examination, as shown in the articles referenced. We suggest that this is why the BHA is so active in its attempts to prevent students being exposed to any critical thinking regarding evolution theory.
5. “Evolution is a faith position”
Here the BHA states the creationists’ argument as: “Since evolutionary theory is not proven is it [sic] a faith position not sound science.” The only area of human knowledge where anything can be proven is mathematics. So we would not argue that “evolutionary theory is not proven”. Instead, we demonstrate that evolutionists cannot point to natural laws that can drive evolutionary processes and, therefore, must believe by faith that such processes exist (and are yet to be discovered) or have existed in the past. Moreover, this is blind faith—the very thing for which secularists erroneously criticise Christian believers.44 Needless to say, we deny that our faith is blind as it is supported by considerable evidence.45
Living organisms require software (a kind of information system) in order to live and reproduce. This is encoded in their DNA. Those at the forefront of research into ‘origin of life scenarios’ readily admit that they cannot see how these information molecules could have arisen. For example, Professor Paul Davies46 of Arizona State University comments,
… where did the very peculiar form of information needed to get the first living cell up and running come from? Nobody knows …47
No known law of nature could achieve this.48
Similarly Professor Hubert Yockey admitted,
One must conclude that, contrary to the established and current wisdom a scenario describing the genesis of life on earth by chance and natural causes which can be accepted on the basis of fact and not faith has not yet been written.49
Evolutionists claim that natural processes that can produce life from non-life do exist (or have existed in the past). However, since we do not observe them, they can only believe in their existence ‘by faith’.
Significantly, a number of top university academics, although evolutionists themselves, have made plain that they do not accept that the neo-Darwinian process can produce what we see around us. These include top biologists such as Professor James Shapiro.50 Other prominent academics have ‘come out’ as Darwin critics in Suzan Mazur’s book The Altenberg 16.51,52 Their rejection of Darwin’s theory, of course, has not led them to become creationists, because all 16 were committed to philosophical naturalism (secularism/atheism). Instead, they have chosen to believe by sheer blind faith that an alternative theory of evolution will be found if they continue their research.
The creation/evolution controversy is often caricatured as being about faith vs science. However, since belief in evolution requires at least as much faith as belief in creation, the debate is better understood as being about one faith vs another, or one worldview vs another.
6. The second law of thermodynamics (i.e. the law of increasing entropy)
Here the BHA states, “Creationists love to tell us that evolutionary theory conflicts with the idea of increasing entropy… In fact nothing better shows their misunderstanding or misuse of science.” It is the BHA, however, who misunderstands thermodynamics. They state, “A closed system is one that does not exchange energy with anything outside of itself.” No, according to the science of thermodynamics, this is an isolated system; a closed system exchanges energy but not matter with its surroundings.
The law of increasing entropy states that there is an inexorable tendency to increased entropy (increased disorder) in the universe. However, as informed creationists know, there can be a local decrease in entropy/disorder at the expense of an increase in entropy/disorder outside of the system being considered. So, for example, when water freezes, the ice crystals become more ordered than the water from which they came. However, because the water gives up its heat to the surroundings (i.e. the latent heat of fusion), these become less ordered. In fact the entropy decrease of the water as it turns to ice is less than the entropy increase of the surroundings. So the overall entropy/disorder is increased and the second law of thermodynamics is not violated.
In the evolutionists’ origin of life story, biomolecules such as DNA, RNA and proteins form spontaneously. However, in this fictitious scenario, as they are assembled there will be a decrease in entropy/disorder. But the chemical reactions required to do this remove heat (and entropy) from the surroundings which would give rise to an overall decrease in entropy/disorder.53 To overcome this apparent violation of the second law of thermodynamics, evolutionists must believe (by another act of blind faith) that an unknown mechanism was involved that somehow increased the entropy of the surroundings as the biomolecules formed.
As an aid to understanding the law of entropy, we might draw an analogy with gravity. Water tends to flow downhill. However, by using a machine (a pump), water can be driven uphill. Similarly, in the cells of our bodies, machines are constantly producing DNA, RNA and protein biomolecules, decreasing entropy. However, these reactions are coupled with other reactions that increase the entropy of the surroundings to a greater degree (e.g. energy from ATP partly decomposing), so overall entropy increases. So, again, the second law of thermodynamics is not violated. Creationists argue that the science of thermodynamics indicates that, without machines which can harness energy, biomolecules cannot be formed by natural processes. Such machines would not have existed in the evolutionists’ hypothetical ‘chemical soup’; hence, for biomolecules to form under these conditions would be somewhat akin to gravity reversing and water flowing uphill.
Actually, we don’t usually major on thermodynamic arguments, even by those qualified in the area, because there are misunderstandings on both sides. However, we have produced an accurately explained apologetic about thermodynamics, World Winding Down,54 and the related DVD Understanding the Law of Decay.55
7. “The simplest and best explanation is a creator God”
We agree. As science progresses, the divide between what we observe and what natural processes appear capable of producing widens and widens. No known natural processes are remotely capable of generating life from non-life; nor are they able to generate the encyclopaedic amounts of information found throughout the living world, let alone the ever more sophisticated levels of data compression being discovered in the human genome.56
Indeed, the more we discover, the more we see the hallmarks of intelligent design; and the intelligence that designed life would have to be far superior to human intelligence. So, it is perfectly reasonable to argue for the superiority of a supernatural explanation. Only an a priori bias against creation would exclude this as a rational consideration. The argument that ‘God did it’ is thus not from what we don’t know, but from what we do know.57
Secularists often assert that to consider Intelligent Design as a possible explanation for life is anti-science—a view that is being very successfully forced upon the education system by the BHA. It is therefore ironic that their great champion of evolution and atheism, Professor Richard Dawkins, explicitly conceded that it might be possible to see the signature of a designer in the details of molecular biology.58
8. “No effect is greater than its cause”
We don’t use this argument in that form, or in the way the BHA claims. We do discuss the philosophical principle of causation, for example in our article Who created God?,57 but this is not exactly the same thing.
9. “There have been no new major groups of living things for a long time”
(For the background to this see comments under section 12 below.) It is, indeed, difficult for evolutionists to explain how there could have been such a sudden explosion of diverse groups of animals (i.e. phyla) in the Cambrian rocks59 (allegedly around 500 million years ago) and, since then, virtually no new phyla. This is especially so given that, in their thinking, there have been five mass extinctions that would have created many vacant ecological niches.
10. “Evolution cannot explain the origin of life itself”
Dawkins: We know the sort of event that must have happened for the origin of life… It was the origin of the first self-replicating molecule.
Stein: How did that happen?
Dawkins: I’ve told you, we don’t know.
Stein: So you have no idea how it started?
Dawkins: No, nor has anybody.
In arguing the case for the plausibility of life arising from non-life by natural processes, the BHA here shows incredible ignorance of basic science. For example, they claim, “ … natural selection means that evolution is not quite what you might think of as mere chance. A random mutation that increases survival value is more likely to be passed on than one that doesn’t, so if by pure chance we mean a mechanism by which one outcome is no more likely than another, evolution doesn’t work by pure chance.” The BHA is clearly unaware that the process of mutation and selection applies only to an ‘up and running’ self-reproducing system, not a ‘chemical soup’. As explained by the late Theodosius Dobzhansky, who was Professor of Zoology at Columbia University and Professor of Genetics at the University of California,
“In order to have natural selection, you have to have self-reproduction … Prebiological natural selection is a contradiction of terms.”62
Similarly, Professor Davies states,
“ … Darwinian evolution can operate only if life of some sort already exists (strictly, it requires not life in its full glory, only replication, variation and selection). Darwinism can offer no help at all in explaining that all-important first step: the origin of life.”63
The BHA continues, “Another mathematical illusion is that something can seem highly improbable, but if there are literally billions of opportunities for that improbable outcome to occur, eventually it will.” This demonstrates a total failure to grasp the most basic principles of probability64 and is sometimes referred to as ‘cheating with chance’ .65 Moreover, they conclude, “[Biochemists] can already explain how the basic building blocks of life, such as primitive nucleic acids and amino acids, could have formed and organised themselves into self-replicating and self-sustaining units.” A more misleading and demonstrably false claim66 would be hard to find.67 Furthermore, any nucleic acid would not be ‘primitive’, because it is a polymer of nucleotides, themselves comprising three basic building blocks: base, ribose, and phosphate. Moreover, the Miller—Urey experiments, which produced tiny concentrations of some amino acids, tell us nothing about how amino acids could have formed highly complex proteins.64,68 As explained by Professor Stuart Kauffman, “Anyone who tells you that he or she knows how life started on earth some 3.4 billion years ago is a fool or a knave. Nobody knows.”69
11. “Mutations cannot produce new features”
We do not claim that mutations cannot produce new features. For example, we acknowledge that mutations can enable bacteria to gain resistance to antibiotics and rodents to pesticides. However, as we have pointed out many times before, these changes are opposite in direction to those needed for evolution.70,71 For microbes to turn into men, there needs to be a progressive increase in complexity and associated genetic information. Observed beneficial changes arising from mutations are generally associated with losses of genetic information which is devolution, not evolution. Where this is not the case they are almost always informationally neutral and therefore, again, do not provide examples of a truly evolutionary process.
What we actually claim is that the neo-Darwinian process of random genetic mutations and natural selection has not been shown to be capable of turning microbes into men. Indeed, it falls far, far short of it—a view supported by an increasing number of leading (non-creationist) biologists,72 such as ‘The Altenberg 16’ referred to above.
12. The Cambrian explosion
This refers to the creationists’ argument that the sudden appearance of so many diverse groups of animals (i.e. different phyla) in the Cambrian rocks refutes Darwin’s theory. The BHA respond that, due to the ancestors of these creatures not having hard skeletons, they were never fossilised, arguing, “There are rare, exceptional circumstances in which the soft parts of animals are preserved.” There are a number of serious problems with this explanation. Firstly, since many of the fossils found in the Cambrian rocks had hard exo-skeletons or other hard body parts, their ancestors must also have had hard parts. Why, then, did they not leave some traces of their existence? Moreover, there are many examples of soft-bodied animals and organs preserved in both the Cambrian and Precambrian rocks. In fact, 95 per cent of the fossils from the Burgess Shale (mid Cambrian) are either soft-bodied or have thin exo-skeletons.73
Secondly, the astonishing variety of animals appearing all at once near the start of the evolution story is nearly impossible to fit within the Darwinian model, which predicts that small changes would gradually accumulate over time, so as to produce the major differences in organisms we see today. Darwinian theory would lead us to expect the most disparate animal forms to appear later in the fossil record—not near the beginning. The Cambrian explosion puts the Darwinian ‘tree of life’ on its head. For an utterly devastating critique of all attempts by Darwinists to respond to these difficulties, we recommend Stephen C. Meyers, Darwin’s Doubt: The explosive origin of animal life and the case for Intelligent Design.72
In addition to all this, we note that the Ediacaran explosion,74 which is said to predate the Cambrian fossils, also features an abrupt appearance of totally new body plans. Moreover, evolutionists believe that these were not even the ancestors of the Cambrian fauna. Just what kind of evidence do evolutionists need before they will rethink their theory?
13. “The lack of transitional fossils”
Here the BHA states the creationists’ argument as: “If evolution is true we would expect to find transitional fossils—for example, of animals that were half reptile and half bird. Yet none exist.” Actually, we advise against using this argument and have done so for many years. On our web page, Arguments we think creationists should not use, we state,
Since there are candidates, even though they are highly dubious, it’s better to avoid possible comebacks by saying instead: ‘While Darwin predicted that the fossil record would show numerous transitional fossils, even 150 years later, all we have are a handful of disputable examples.’8
The part of the geological column where we might best test evolutionary theory is that where the fossil record is richest. (Compared with the marine creatures found in the lower rock strata, the fossil record of reptiles and birds (especially) is relatively poor.) There are billions of fossils of what evolutionists would claim to be the early marine invertebrates—sea creatures without backbones. These include the Cambrian fossils mentioned above. Of these, palaeontologist Professor Euan Clarkson states,
… transitional or linking forms are absent… the geological record gives no indication of such relationships … But what the fossil record does give is many examples of the ‘instantaneous’ origin of new structural plans.75
There are also billions of fossils of what evolutionists would claim to be the early marine vertebrates—sea creatures with backbones. In evolutionary thinking, the marine invertebrates evolved into the marine vertebrates (i.e. bony fish). However, evolutionary palaeontologist Gerald Todd comments,
All three subdivisions of the bony fishes appear in the fossil record at approximately the same time. They are already widely divergent … How did they originate? … why is there no trace of earlier intermediate forms?76
This is very difficult for evolutionists to explain. How can there be billions of fossils of marine invertebrates and billions of fossils of marine vertebrates and yet so conspicuous an absence of transitional forms? Evolutionists would probably point to a handful of candidates; but this surely misses the point. If the marine invertebrates had evolved into the marine vertebrates over millions of years, there would be millions (probably billions) of examples of fossils with partly formed backbones for us all to see.
In evolutionary thinking, the order of fossil types found in the rocks reflects the sequential appearance of the different kinds of plants and animals over the course of evolutionary history: marine invertebrates → marine vertebrates (i.e. fish) → amphibians → reptiles → birds and mammals. The BHA claims, “There is not a single example of a fossil in the wrong place.” Really?77,78 Evidence of flowering plants in the form of pollen fossils79 have been found in Precambrian strata. According to evolutionists, flowering plants first evolved 160 million years ago; but, they say, the Precambrian rocks are more than 550 million years old. A dog-like mammal fossil80 was found with remains of dinosaurs in its stomach—but, we’re told, no mammals large enough to prey on dinosaurs existed at that time. Grass has been found in fossilized dinosaur dung;81 but grass was not supposed to have evolved until at least 10 million years after the dinosaurs went extinct. A mammal hair was found in amber supposed 100 million years old.82 This is right in the middle of the alleged ‘age of dinosaurs’ when no such mammals supposedly existed.
The BHA continues, “The great British biologist J B S Haldane was once challenged … to name a single discovery which would falsify the theory of evolution. ‘Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian,’ Haldane growled.” However, many observed features of the fossil record, such as those cited above, are just as damaging as Precambrian rabbits would be. Since evolutionists explain these away, they would also explain away Precambrian rabbits if any were found.83
14. “Even evolutionary theorists disagree (and not all scientists accept evolutionary theory)”
Here the BHA states the creationists’ argument as: “The uncertainty of evolutionary theory is proven by the fact that even evolutionary theorists disagree—such as Richard Dawkins and Stephen J. Gould.”
As has been stated above, there is a growing number of biologists who are Darwin-doubters. They are not quibbling over details, as with Dawkins and Gould, but questioning the fundamental principles of the neo-Darwinian theory. However, since they have no alternative to put in its place, this has the most serious implications for current evolution theory.
We note, too, that supporters of ‘jerky evolution’ such as Gould84 point out that the fossil record does not show gradualism and, sometimes, that the hypothetical transition forms would not function. Supporters of ‘gradual evolution’ such as Dawkins point out that large information-increasing changes are so improbable that one would need to invoke a secular miracle. Creationists agree with both: jerky evolution can’t happen, and gradual evolution can’t happen—in fact, microbes to man evolution can’t happen at all!
The BHA states, “The proportion of qualified scientists who do not accept evolution is minuscule.” We would agree that these are in the minority; though “minuscule” might be hyperbole. However, it is important to ask why. We would suggest that, for many, it is because they have never been exposed to evidence challenging the ‘current consensus’. For others who are better informed, the explanation undoubtedly lies in their commitment to philosophical naturalism—the view that everything, including the origins of the universe and life, can be explained only by natural laws. If so, evolution in some form is the only game in town. Others are silenced by intimidation and the fear of forfeiting their academic respectability, careers or even their jobs.85 We note, too, that the number of scientists who actually use evolution in their research, including medical scientists and other biologists, really is minuscule.37
15. “Science needs to respect the limits of human intelligence”
We do not use this argument. However we do point out that there are some questions that science cannot answer. For example, it can’t investigate one-off claims in history such as Napoleon’s loss at Waterloo; nor can it test claims like, “Science needs to respect the limits of human intelligence”; this is a matter of philosophy. Moreover, scientific endeavour, like all human enquiry, is limited in its scope, due to the fact that we’re finite in time and space and don’t possess (nor could possess) all knowledge.
16. “The survival of the fittest is circular reasoning”
We do not use this argument. In fact, it is another that we advise creationists not to use.
17. “If Darwinism were true, our theories would be unreliable”
Here the BHA states the creationists’ argument as: “If we are descended from lower animals then our capacity to understand would be extremely unreliable. So a belief in evolution should make us trust our theories even less, while only a belief that we’re made in God’s image would justify belief in our intellectual powers.”
We would agree. If we are no more than bags of chemicals86 and our thoughts no more than brain chemistry, why should we assume their conclusions to be correct? Why should we accept the views of one bag of chemicals as being right over and above another? The famous British Oxford academic C.S. Lewis made this very point.
18. Frauds and errors
Here the BHA states the creationists’ argument as: “The history of evolutionary science is filled with fraud and error. This shows that we have no good reason to trust its findings.”
There is some truth in this statement. Moreover, the time it takes for evolutionists to recognise these frauds shows clearly the wide-spread unquestioning acceptance of the alleged evidence for evolution. In the case of Piltdown Man87 it took near forty years to recognise the hoax. Some of these frauds are still at large.88
The BHA continue, “The history of religion is filled with fraud, error, corruption, torture and persecution, but proponents of creationism do not use that as a reason to distrust religious teachings.” However, we have long responded that, in respect of Christianity, such things are inconsistent with its teachings.89 However, the far greater atrocities of 20th-century evolutionary regimes (Communism and Nazism) are not inconsistent with evolutionary teachings. According to leading atheistic evolutionary biologist William Provine, the theory of evolution
… directly implies that there are no inherent moral or ethical laws, no absolute guiding principles for human society … free will … simply does not exist … There is no way that the evolutionary process … can produce a being that is truly free to make choices.90
Is this the sort of society that the British government wants to create? Because this is what the doctrinaire teaching of evolution, as promoted by the BHA, will bring about.
19. Free speech
Here the BHA states the creationists’ argument as: “In a free society, everyone should be able to have their say. A good many people believe that evolution theory is wrong and deny [sic] them a voice in schools is a denial of their right of free speech.”
Actually, we would put it rather differently. Preventing teachers from allowing students to hear about the problems with evolution theory and the evidence supporting belief in creation is censorship. This is an attempt by secularists to impose their atheistic worldview upon children through the education system.
The BHA continues, “No one is proposing to curtail creationists’ right of free speech.” Really? A short anecdote concerning the Chinese palaeontologist and Darwin skeptic, Professor J.Y. Chen is very apt here. During a speaking tour of the USA, he was asked why he was not nervous about expressing his doubts about Darwinism so freely. He replied, “In China, we can criticise Darwin, but not the government. In America, you can criticize the government, but not Darwin.”91
The BHA continues, “The question is whether creationism should be taught as science.” This, perhaps, is the most misleading caricature of them all. We do not argue that creation should be taught as science. At the heart of our view is that you cannot determine what has happened in the distant past using the scientific method. We don’t just argue this in respect of evolution but also creation. Neither are scientific theories in the strict sense of the term; both should therefore be addressed outside of science lessons, perhaps in religious education or philosophy classes.
They continue, “Science teaching, like all teaching, should be open-minded and undogmatic, and should encourage pupils to think about the reasons for accepting scientific theories such as the theory of evolution, and possible criticisms of them.” Ironically, this is exactly what the BHA is working so hard to prevent—students actually being encouraged to think and critique evolution.
20. Why are there still monkeys?
21. Why should all explanations be naturalistic?
Here the BHA states the creationists’ argument as: “To claim that this should be so is scientism and merely the expression of metaphysical prejudice.”
We agree. The belief that everything arose only through natural processes is not a deduction from science, but from a world-view, and arguably a religious one—and, ironically, it is the BHA who is arguing that we should not be teaching religion in school science classes. There is a clear distinction between methodological naturalism (a basis of the operational92 scientific method) and philosophical naturalism (the atheists’ worldview). The former was adopted by the founders of modern science, many of whom were creationists93 and who would have rejected the latter. The greatest scientist of all time, Isaac Newton was one of these.94 It is, again, ironic that the BHA, who claim to value science so much, are determined to remove from the public mind the very belief system that contributed so significantly to its development.95
Stipulating that all explanations should be naturalistic seriously restricts the process of enquiry. If nature has been designed, it would surely benefit scientific research to recognise this. In fact, belief in the theory of evolution has demonstrably obstructed the progress of science. Around Darwin’s time, evolutionists claimed that there were over 100 useless vestiges96 of evolution in the human body. This simply delayed discovery of all their important functions, including the role of the appendix as a safe-house for beneficial bacteria.97
More recently, evolutionary thinking led scientists to conclude that most of our DNA is junk. Consequently they didn’t study it and it was many years before they discovered that it has many important functions.98 Professor John Mattick remarked, “the failure to recognise the implications of the non-coding [junk] DNA will go down as the biggest mistake in the history of molecular biology.”99 The reason that this was such a serious mistake is that understanding the functions of the so-called ‘junk DNA’ is providing many clues as to how to treat genetic disorders. Had the biblical creationist Isaac Newton been responsible for directing genetics research, this mistake would surely never have been made. Newton would never have countenanced the idea that the human body would have been created with junk.
Intelligent design is so ubiquitous in living things that evolutionist Francis Crick once remarked, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see is not designed, but rather evolved.”100 Evolutionary thinking entails continual denial of the obvious: that living things were designed by an incredible intelligence.
One of the primary objectives of the BHA is to secularise society—that is, to make atheism the dominant worldview (religion). They have clearly indicated that one of the reasons for their existence is to promote atheism—in the guise of ‘humanism’ (actually secular humanism). They know that, if they can convince people that there is no rational basis for believing in a creator, they will have achieved a great victory for their cause. For this reason, they promote the theory of evolution as being scientific and the creationist view as unscientific. Their strategy appears to be: (1) to deliberately misrepresent creationist arguments and (2) to persuade the government to pass legislation preventing children from learning about the true nature of the debate—even in religious education classes.
The BHA claims to stand for “equal treatment of everyone regardless of religion or belief” (their emphasis);101 but it seems that some are more equal than others, and the BHA sees no place for equal treatment of Christian beliefs in the education system. They clearly consider that only views acceptable to the BHA should have any place. At present, they have achieved this through the imposition of draconian regulations which are tantamount to legislated atheism.
- Dr Jonathan Sarfati is a physical chemist who obtained his Ph.D. from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Return to text.
- Dr Don Batten is a plant physiologist who obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Sydney, Australia. Return to text.
- Statham, D.R. and Bell, P., Dawkins gloats over boost to evolutionary dogma in schools: Another hollow victory for educational censorship, 21 January 2013; creation.com/dawkins-bha-schools-creation. Return to text.
- Department for Education, Mainstream Academy and Free School: Single Model Funding Agreement, July 2014, clause 2.44. Return to text.
- humanismforschools.org.uk. Return to text.
- humanismforschools.org.uk/pdfs/creationism.pdf. Return to text.
- Some evolutionists are on record as advocating deception to convince students of evolution. See Sarfati, J., Evolutionist: it’s OK to deceive students to believe evolution, creation.com/deceive, 24 September 2008. Return to text.
- Arguments we think creationists should NOT use; creation.com/dontuse. Return to text.
- Darwin, C., On the Origin of Species, 1st ed., John Murray, London, p. 189, 1859. Return to text.
- Thomas, B., ATP synthase: majestic molecular machine made by a mastermind, Creation 31(4):21–23 September 2009; creation.com/atp-synthase. Return to text.
- Smith, C., Incredible Kinesin! Biological robots will blow your mind!; creation.com/incredible-kinesin. Return to text.
- Statham D.R., The remarkable language of DNA, Creation 36(2):52–55, April 2014. Return to text.
- Truman, R. and Terborg, P., Genetic code optimisation: Part 1, J. Creation 21(2):90–100, August 2007; creation.com/genetic-code-optimisation-1. Return to text.
- ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements. Return to text.
- Baker, S., Could this be the end of Darwinism? Evangelical Times, November 2012; evangelical-times.org/archive/item/5855/Scientific%e2%80%93including-creation-/Could-this-be-the-death-of-Darwinism. Return to text.
- Batten, D., Dazzling DNA: Huge study highlights stupendous design in human DNA, Creation 35(1):38, 2013; creation.com/dazzling-dna (sources cited therein). Return to text.
- Harold, F.M. (Prof. Emeritus Biochemistry, Colorado State University), The way of the cell: molecules, organisms and the order of life, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 205, 2001. Return to text.
- ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/linnaeus.html. Return to text.
- Batten, D., Dogs breeding dogs: that’s not evolution!, Creation 18(2):20–23 March 1996; creation.com/dogs-breeding-dogs. Return to text.
- Cosner, L. and Sarfati, J., The birds of the Galapagos, Creation 31(3):28–31 June 2009; creation.com/galapagos-birds. Return to text.
- Gilbert, S. et al., Resynthesizing Evolutionary and Developmental Biology, Developmental Biology 173:357–372, 1996. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., The evolution train’s a-comin’: (Sorry a-goin’—in the wrong direction), Creation 24(2):16–19, March 2002; creation.com/the-evolution-trains-a-comin. Return to text.
- Statham, D.R., The mystery of the mummy, Creation 35(2):12–14, April 2013. Return to text.
- Ager, D.V., The Nature of the Fossil Record, Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association 87(2):131–160, 1976. Return to text.
- Provine, W.B., A Review of Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science, National Academy of Sciences, 18 Feb 1999; web.archive.org/web/20040709130607/fp.bio.utk.edu/darwin/NAS_guidebook/provine_1.html, last accessed 22 July, 2014. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., Radiocarbon in dino bones: international conference result censored; creation.com/c14-dinos. Return to text.
- Sarfati, J., Diamonds: a creationist’s best friend, Creation 28(4):26 – 27 September 2006; creation.com/diamonds-a-creationists-best-friend. Return to text.
- DeYoung, D., Thousands not Billions, Master Books, USA, 2005, ch. 3. Return to text.
- Radiometric Dating Questions and Answers; creation.com/radiometric-dating-questions-and-answers. Return to text.
- Smith, C., Dinosaur soft tissue: In seeming desperation, evolutionists turn to iron to preserve the idea of millions of years; creation.com/dinosaur-soft-tissue. Return to text.
- Nova Science Now, May 2010, www.cross.tv/21726. Return to text.
- Ruppel, E., Not So Dry Bones: An interview with Mary Schweitzer, Biologos Forum, biologos.org, 21 July 2014. Return to text.
- Catchpoole, D., Correcting the headline: ‘Coelacanth’ yes; ‘Ancient’ no; creation.com/correcting-the-headline-coelacanth-yes-ancient-no. Return to text.
- British Museum of Natural History, Living fossils: coelacanths and the ancestry debate; nhm.ac.uk/resources-rx/files/11feat_living_fossil_coelocanths-3116.pdf. Last accessed 2 August 2014. Return to text.
- Living fossils: a powerful argument for creation; creation.com/werner-living-fossils. Return to text.
- Bell, P., Evolutionary Stasis: Double-Speak and Propaganda, Creation 28(2):38–40, 2006; creation.com/stasis. Return to text.
- Skell, P., ‘Why Do We Invoke Darwin? Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology’, The Scientist 19(16):10, 29 August 2005. Return to text.
- Fossils Questions and Answers; creation.com/fossils-questions-and-answers. Return to text.
- Statham, D.R., Migration after the Flood; creation.com/Flood-biogeography. Return to text.
- Statham, D.R., No evidence of evolution and deep time , Creation 35(4):40–41, October 2013; creation.com/biogeography-against-evolution. Return to text.
- Statham, D.R., Homology made simple, Creation 34(4):43–45, October 2012; creation.com/homology-made-simple. Return to text.
- Batten, D., ed., The Creation Answers Book, Creation Book Publishers, USA, 3rd ed., 2009, ch. 7; creation.com/images/pdfs/cabook/chapter7.pdf. Return to text.
- Grigg, R., Fraud rediscovered, Creation 20(2):49–51, March 1998; creation.com/fraud-rediscovered. Return to text.
- For example, a recent poll question, asking whether Christians use the word “faith” to mean “believing something even though it is not supported by evidence” found that 91% of Christians deny that they mean this, but 75% of atheists accuse them of this; chab123.wordpress.com. Certainly some atheists will argue that there is no evidence for the Christian faith, but they are still wrong to claim that the Christian believes that there is no evidence. Return to text.
- Christian Apologetics Questions and Answers; creation.com/christian-apologetics-questions-and-answers Return to text.
- Wieland, C. and Sarfati J., Huff and bluff: Can ‘quantum magic’ save chemical evolution? 19 June 2006; creation.com/huff-and-bluff. Return to text.
- Davies, P., Life force, New Scientist 163(2204):27–30, 18 September 1999. Return to text.
- Davies, P., The Fifth Miracle, Penguin Books, London, UK, p. 100, 1999. Return to text.
- Yockey, H.P., A calculation of the probability of spontaneous biogenesis by information theory, Journal of Theoretical Biology 67:377–398, 1977; quotes from pp. 379, 396. Although stated nearly forty years ago, Yockey has still not changed his position, arguing that the origin of life is unknowable. See Yockey, P.H., Information Theory, Evolution, and The Origin of Life, Cambridge University Press, 2005. Return to text.
- Shapiro, J., Evolution a View from the 21st Century, FT Press, USA, 2013. Return to text.
- Mazur, S., The Altenberg 16: An Exposé of the Evolution Industry, North Atlantic Books, USA, 2010. Return to text.
- ReMine, W.J., Desperate attempts to discover ‘the elusive process of evolution’: A review of The Altenberg 16: An Exposé of the Evolution Industry by Suzan Mazur, J. Creation 26(1):24–30, April 2012; creation.com/review-altenberg-16. Return to text.
- Some thermodynamics criticisms—and answers (#2); creation.com/some-thermodynamics-criticisms-and-answers-2. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., World Winding Down: Understanding the ‘Law of Disorder’—and how it Demands a Creator, Creation Book Publishers, USA, 2012. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., Understanding the Law of Decay (the Second Law of Thermodynamics), DVD. Available from creation.com. Return to text.
- Carter R., ed., Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels, Creation Book Publishers, USA, 2014, ch. 2. Return to text.
- Batten D., Who created God? Creation 32(4):18–20, October 2010; creation.com/who-created-god. Return to text.
- Catchpoole, D., Dawkins and Design, Creation 31(3):6, June 2009; creation.com/dawkins-and-design. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., Exploding evolution, Creation 16(2):38–39, March 1994; creation.com/exploding-evolution. Return to text.
- Batten, D., Origin of life: An explanation of what is needed for abiogenesis (or biopoiesis), creation.com/origin-of-life, 26 November 2013. Return to text.
- Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, DVD, Premise Media Corporation, 2008. Return to text.
- Dobzhansky, T., Discussion of synthesis of nucleosides and polynucleotides with metaphoric esters, by George Schramm, Fox, S.W., ed., The Origins of Prebiological Systems and of Their Molecular Matrices, Proceedings of a Conference Conducted at Wakulla Springs, Florida, 27–30 October 1963, Academic Press, New York, USA, 1965, pp. 309–315. Return to text.
- Ref. 48, p. 20. Return to text.
- Statham D.R., Hawking claims that life can form by chance: Aliens probably do exist says top cosmologist, 13 October 2010; creation.com/hawking-aliens-life-by-chance. Return to text.
- Batten, D., Cheating with chance, Creation 17(2):14–15, March 1995; creation.com/cheating-with-chance. Return to text.
- Sarfati, J., Self-replicating enzymes? A critique of some current evolutionary origin-of-life models, J. Creation 11(1):4–6 April 1997; creation.com/self-replicating-enzymes. Return to text.
- Ref. 56, ch. 3. Return to text.
- Bergman, J., Why the Miller Urey research argues against abiogenesis, J. Creation 18(2):28–36, August 2002; creation.com/why-the-miller-urey-research-argues-against-abiogenesis. Return to text.
- Kauffman, S., At Home in the Universe: The Search for Laws of Self-Organisation and Complexity, Oxford University Press, New York, USA, p. 31, 1995. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., Superbugs not super after all, Creation 20(1):10–13 December 1997; creation.com/superbugs-not-super-after-all. Return to text.
- Catchpoole, D., Pesticide resistance is not evidence of evolution, 20 August 2009; creation.com/pesticide-resistance-and-evolution. Return to text.
- Meyer, S.C., Darwin’s Doubt, Harper One, USA, p. ix, 2013. Return to text.
- Ref. 72, pp. 60–62. Return to text.
- Doyle, S., Ediacaran explosion : Another thumping headache for evolutionists, creation.com/ediacaran, 5 March 2008. Return to text.
- Clarkson, E.N.K., Invertebrate Palaeontology and Evolution, Blackwell Science Ltd, London, UK, 4th edition, p. 45, 1998. Return to text.
- Todd, G.T., Evolution of the lung and the origin of bony fishes: A casual relationship, American Zoologist 20(4):757, 1980. Return to text.
- Ref. 56, pp. 121–125. Return to text.
- Bates, G. and Cosner, L., Are there out-of-sequence fossils that are problematic for evolution?, 17 April 2014; creation.com/fossils-out-of-order. Return to text.
- Silvestru, E., The evolutionary paradox of the Roraima pollen of South America is still not solved, J. Creation 26(3):54–59 December 2012; creation.com/roraima-pollen. Return to text.
- McClay, R., Dino dinner hard to swallow? 21 January 2005; creation.com/dino-dinner-hard-to-swallow. Return to text.
- Catchpoole, D., Grass-eating dinos: A time-travel problem for evolution, Creation 29(2):22–23 March 2007; creation.com/grass-eating-dinos. Return to text.
- Doyle, S., Remarkable mammal hairs in amber? 22 June 2010; creation.com/mammal-hair-in-amber. Return to text.
- See also Doyle, S., Precambrian rabbits—death knell for evolution? J. Creation 28(1):10–12, 2014. Return to text.
- Gould, S.J., Evolution’s erratic pace, Natural History 86(5):14, May 1977. Return to text.
- Bergman, J., Slaughter of the Dissidents, Leafcutter Press, 2008. Return to text.
- Statham D.R., Are we nothing more than a bag of chemicals? 29 July 2010; creation.com/nothing-more-than-a-bag-of-chemicals. Return to text.
- White, A.J.M., The Pildown Man fraud, 24 November 2003; creation.com/the-piltdown-man-fraud. Return to text.
- Smart, R., Biology exam fraud: Fraudulent embryo drawings (like Ernst Haeckel’s) wrongly claimed as evidence for evolution, 6 November 2012; creation.com/biology-exam-fraud. Return to text.
- Sarfati, J., What about bad things done by the Church? Creation 36(1):16–19, 2014; creation.com/badchurch. Return to text.
- Provine, W., Evolution and the Foundation of Ethics, MBL Science 3(1):25–29. Cited by Johnson, P.E., Darwin on Trial, InterVarsity Press, Illinois, USA, 2nd edition, p. 127, 1993. Return to text.
- Ref. 72, p. 52. Return to text.
- Sarfati, J., Who’s really pushing bad science ?; creation.com/Whos-really-pushing-bad-science-rebuttal-to-Lawrence-S-Lerner#naturalism Return to text.
- Scientists of the past who believed in a Creator; creation.com/scientists-of-the-past-who-believed-in-a-creator. Return to text.
- Lamont, A., Sir Isaac Newton, Creation 12(3):48–51, 1990; creation.com/newton Return to text.
- Sarfati, J., The biblical roots of modern science, 29 September 2009; creation.com/biblical-roots-of-modern-science. Return to text.
- Doyle, S., Vestigial arguments: remnants of evolution, 11 June 2008; creation.com/vestigial-arguments-remnants-of-evolution. Return to text.
- Doyle, S., Appendix: a bacterial ‘safe house’: New research suggests function for appendix in maintaining good digestive bacteria populations, 17 October 2007; creation.com/appendix-a-bacterial-safe-house. Return to text.
- Statham, D.R., More nails in the coffin of ‘junk DNA’; creation.com/junk-dna-functions. Return to text.
- From a transcript of the ABC TV science program Catalyst, episode titled ‘Genius of Junk (DNA)’’, broadcast 10 July 2003, 19 July 2006. Return to text.
- Francis Crick, What Mad Pursuit, Basic Books, New York, p. 138, 1988. Return to text.
- humanism.org.uk. Return to text.