Is evolution true?
21 bad arguments for biological evolution
Published: 18 March 2014 (GMT+10)
Update: 7th October 2021
We have a popular article titled, Arguments we think creationists should not use. Indeed, even many misotheistic evolutionists, including Richard Dawkins, have commended the existence of such a page. Well, as the saying goes, ‘What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.’ Here are arguments that we think evolutionists should not use in their quest to prove that evolution is true.
Evolution means change (or change in gene/allele frequency) so evolution is a fact. This is an example of the equivocation fallacy or bait-and-switch. The evolution of microbes to man—what is really in dispute—means that many thousands of new genes have to be added—about 3,000 million DNA ‘letters’; it is not just a matter of changing the frequency of existing genes. Richard Dawkins commits this fallacy; see: Dawkins playing bait and switch with guppy selection.
Natural selection = evolution, so evolution is true. ‘Here is an example of natural selection … proof of evolution!’ However, natural selection cannot create any new genes to make evolution progress (see #1). Natural selection can only sort existing genetic information, so demonstrations of it are not demonstrations of evolution (see The 3 Rs of Evolution).
Evolution needs to explain the arrival of the fittest, not just the survival of the fittest. Evolutionary biologist John Endler said, “Natural selection must not be equated with evolution, though the two are intimately related,” and “natural selection does not explain the origin of new variants, only the process of changes in their frequency.” (See: Defining terms.) Creationist biologists have recognized the role of natural selection in culling the ‘unfit’ since before the time of Darwin, so how can natural selection be the same thing as evolution? Are creationists evolutionists?! See also Natural selection Q&A.
Mutations that cause (e.g.) antibiotic resistance or insecticide resistance ‘prove evolution’. For these to be evidence of evolution, the mechanism for such resistance needs to be demonstrated at a molecular biological level to be due to a new enzyme or metabolic pathway, not just adjustment of an existing one. However, many mechanisms of resistance are more akin to a scorched-earth policy that loses information. For example, by destroying the ability of an uptake channel protein to transport the antibiotic into the cell, or destroying the control system for the production of an enzyme that happens to break down the antibiotic such that much more of the enzyme is produced, thus conferring resistance. The concept of ‘protein families’ shows that there are many proteins that are so different to other proteins that they could not have derived from another protein (family) by random changes to existing genes (aka mutations). Humans have thousands of protein families that are absent in microbes and mutations to existing genes in microbes do not explain their origin. Mutations are actually a huge problem for microbes-to-man evolution, due to the relentless genetic decay that mutations cause: The evolution train’s a-comin (sorry a’goin’—in the wrong direction), Mutations: evolution’s engine becomes evolution’s end! (more technical) and Can mutations create new information?.
Adaptation = evolution; e.g. peppered moths or Darwin’s finches. Once again, there is no new genetic information involved. See: Adaptation and Darwin’s finches. Even so-called ‘gain-of-function’ mutations are not what they seem and give no support to evolution: Gain-of-function mutations: at a loss to explain molecules-to-man evolution.
Speciation = evolution. This is often tied to the claim that creationists believe in ‘fixity of species’; that is, that all the species we have today were created originally by God, that there no new species arise today. Richard Dawkins promotes this straw man.1 The evolutionist then gives an example of speciation (breeding isolation) happening, such as loss of flight in beetles and breeding isolation of flighted and flightless beetles, and Voilà: evolution proven! This is an example of the fallacy of false alternatives because disproving the notion of fixity of species would not demonstrate that microbes changed into mankind by evolutionary processes. Unfortunately some misinformed creationists have supported this false notion of fixity of species, which is on our list of Arguments we think that creationists should not use. Speciation is an important part of a robust creationist biology. Even Linnaeus (1707–1778), the famous creationist biologist who pioneered the classification of living things, as he studied hybridizing in plants recognized that new species had formed from the originally created kinds. Conversely, Darwin’s long-age mentor Charles Lyell, an anti-Christian deist, promoted fixity of species, Darwin’s straw-man target. Today’s creationist biologists likewise posit that God created various basic kinds of organisms with the ability to adapt and that new species have formed from the original created kinds. Arctic wolves and African wolves both derived from an original created wolf kind (involving adaptation and speciation). There is a creationist orchard, where each tree represents the descendants of original created kinds, in contrast to the evolutionary tree or a ‘lawn’, the latter being a false view of a creationist approach to biology. See How variation within-a-kind is a completely different concept from evolution from microbes to microbiologists and Speciation and the Created Kinds Q&A.
Changing a worm into a fish needs more than just speciation; it needs the addition of new genetic information, and lots of it. See: Argument: natural selection leads to speciation (Refuting Evolution, chapter 4).
The scientific consensus is that evolution is true. Regarding appeals to consensus, Michael Crichton said this: “There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.” In 2008, 16 of the world’s top evolutionists met, by invitation, in Altenberg, Austria. Their purpose was to discuss the crisis in evolutionary biology because many of them had come to see that the supposed mechanisms of mutations and natural selection did not explain the diversity of life. The only consensus was that there is a major problem. See a review of a book about the conference.
History is replete with examples of ‘consensus science’ that later proved to be dead wrong. Furthermore, when we examine the way in which ‘consensus’ is achieved on evolution, we can see that it is no measure of truth. Effectively anyone who dares to question the prevailing evolutionary paradigm is denied a place of influence among the science fraternity. No scientist who wants to progress in academia will dare step out of line. There are plenty of examples of what happens to the wayward to ‘warn’ any would-be dissenters. See: The games some people play. There are even organizations operating to protect evolution from any criticism! Finally, much of this ‘consensus’ was achieved by counting heads that themselves arrived at the ‘consensus’ by counting heads.
Homology proves evolution. Selected similarities between organisms are said to be evidence of common ancestry (evolution). These similarities can be visible features or at the protein/DNA level, but the argument is the same. This is an example of the fallacy of affirming the consequent.2 The pervasive pattern of homoplasy, which is the term evolutionists use for similarities that cannot be explained by any conceivable pattern of common ancestry, undermines the logic of the argument. Common design explains all similarities, both homologies and homoplasies, but evolution cannot explain the pervasive homoplasies.3 The camera eye, evolutionists say, must have evolved independently six times! Labelling such things as due to ‘convergent evolution’ is pure circular reasoning and lacks any explanatory power.
Evolutionists claim that God would not have created things with similarities, but this is a theological argument that presumes to know the mind of God. But in saying this they clearly have not thought much about it. Here are four rather obvious reasons why God would have created similarities: 1) One pattern points to one Creator (Romans 1:18–20), 2) Design economy; why ‘reinvent the wheel’? 3) We need to be similar (food), 4) Ecological reasons (e.g. recycling of nutrients). Historically, creation with similarities (re-using good design features) has been a mark of creative prowess; the idea that ‘new/different is better’ is a very modern idea. The homoplasies refute naturalistic attempts to explain the similarities without God. See: Homology made simple and Echolocation homoplasy (an extreme example of homoplasy at a DNA level).
Embryo similarities prove that evolution is true. This is a subset of the homology argument that keeps appearing in school and even university-level biology texts. The idea was that a human embryo goes through various stages of its supposed animal ancestry during embryo development, such as a fish stage with ‘gill slits’, etc. This was dubbed as ‘ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny’. The idea is without any scientific merit and is based on fraudulent diagrams from the 1800s (per Ernst Haeckel). See Fraud rediscovered and ‘related articles’ therein that counter modern revisionism. That it keeps appearing in science textbooks can only be due to its power as an indoctrination tool for students who don’t know enough to realize that they are being hoodwinked. And more here: Embryonic recapitulation Q&A.
Fossils prove evolution. They don’t. The pervasive pattern is sudden appearance and stasis/extinction, not evolution of one kind into another. A number of evolutionary paleontologists have acknowledged this. For example: That quote about the missing fossils and The links are missing. The lack of transitional fossils drove Harvard paleontologist Dr Stephen Jay Gould to develop a theory of ‘punctuated equilibrium’ that had evolution happening in such a rapid and localized way that no fossils were left to show it had happened! Of course attention-seeking paleontologists are continually promoting this or that new fossil that shows ‘this evolved into that’. However, give the latest fashionable fossil a few years and it will be dropped as further study shows that it was hyped to the hilt by the discoverers. One has only to think of that whale of a story, of how a four-footed land animal evolved into whales/dolphins, which has been a recent poster child of evolutionists. It is fast unravelling; see Rodhocetus and other stories of whale evolution. Also, when this happens, many of the alleged ‘homologies’ invoked as proof must be reclassified as homoplasies.
Loss of trait x proves evolution—such as loss of eyesight in fish in dark caves. Many evolutionists, such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, knock down a straw man that creationists believe that God created the fish blind. No, evolution needs to invent eyesight, not destroy it. Mutations can easily destroy an existing feature, but they cannot create brand new things such as eyesight, or feathers, or a bony skeleton, etc., where they did not exist before.
‘Vestigial’ organs prove evolution. This is related to the previous point and is a subset of the homology argument. A vestigial organ has been long-defined as a now functionless leftover of evolutionary ancestry. The human appendix is a commonly claimed vestigial organ. However, it has an important function as a ‘safe house’ for beneficial bacteria. Furthermore, the pattern of occurrence of the appendix in various creatures does not fit any possible evolutionary pattern of ancestry (‘phylogeny’) and so is in fact a problem for evolution: The appendix shrieks ‘creation’. The appendix is yet another example of homoplasy! See other claimed examples of ‘useless vestigial organs’ refuted: Vestigial organs: what do they prove? and Vestigial organs revisited. Once again, loss of function is not evidence for microbes-to-man evolution. If anything it would be evidence of devolution. Note: there has been a recent trend to try to change the definition of ‘vestigial organ’ to mean that the vestigial organ can have a reduced function or even a different function. This revisionism is clearly an attempt to rescue a failed argument, as some 180 human organs deemed to be useless under the original paradigm have proven to be functional; see Vestigial arguments.
‘Bad design’ is evidence for evolution. The argument goes like this: ‘This trait is imperfect, so it was not created by God, therefore it must have evolved’. This is another example of the fallacy of false alternatives. If bad design could be substantiated it would only be evidence of bad design, not that ‘evolution’ could design the trait. The argument is really a theological argument (again) where the evolutionist presumes to know what sort of design would be consistent with God creating it. Evolutionists have commonly argued that the vertebrate eye is badly designed because the nerve fibres are in front of the light receptors, supposedly interfering with the light (they don’t, due to the elegant fibre optic system—see diagram above). Richard Dawkins has been using this argument for decades. However, Dawkins did not demonstrate that the vertebrate eye is deficient in quality of vision (eagles have the vertebrate eye design!) and his argument is seriously flawed: New eye discovery further demolishes Dawkins. Furthermore, the popular evolutionary story-telling of how a light sensitive spot became a camera-style eye does not work for the vertebrate eye. So the vertebrate eye is actually a huge problem for evolution and the ‘bad design’ argument would appear to be a diversionary tactic to avoid scrutiny of the bankruptcy of evolution as an explanation for the origin of eyes, and particularly vertebrate eyes. Also, there is no pattern of common ancestry that can explain the inheritance of sight from a universal common ancestor, so evolutionists have proposed that sight has arisen independently at least 40 times! Arising once should be too much of a miracle for a naturalist, but over 40 times? Eyesight is yet another example of homoplasy (similarity that is inexplicable by common ancestry, aka evolution).
The global distribution of organisms (biogeography) supports evolution. Richard Dawkins, addressing the Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, Australia, 2010, said, “The pattern of geographical distribution [of plants and animals] is just what you would expect if evolution had happened” and is not consistent with their distribution following Noah’s Flood.4 Dawkins is wrong; the pattern does not support the evolutionary story. He might expect that it should, but it doesn’t. As Dominic Statham remarked after analyzing the matter in depth, “So, when we look at the biogeographical distribution of plants and animals in detail, we find it is not ‘just what you would expect if evolution had happened’. Rather, to explain the surprising distributions that are uncovered, evolutionary scientists are constantly inventing secondary ad hoc stories. On the other hand, the distribution of plants and animals is consistent with the Bible’s account of Earth history,” which includes the Flood and dispersion from Babel. See: Biogeography and the related articles listed therein.
The origin of life is not part of evolution. Those trained in the sciences of life, such as molecular biology, know that the origin of life is a lost cause, so some want to put it aside as ‘not part of evolution’ because it is a gaping hole in the naturalists’ argument. However, almost every major university includes the origin of life as part of evolution in introductory biology courses. It is often called ‘chemical evolution’. High-profile evolutionists such as Richard Dawkins agree; see the introduction to Origin of life. This ‘dodge’ is pure obfuscation because the materialist must still explain the origin of life to present a coherent view of reality, regardless of whether they can play word games with the matter.
Life would have formed somewhere in such a huge universe. Not even one average-sized functional protein would form if every atom in the universe was an experiment with all the right amino acids for every possible molecular vibration of its supposed age of 14 billion evolutionary years. See Origin of life (probability).
Given enough time anything is possible. Ah, ‘Time is the hero’—really? No, there are many events that just will never happen in a time-and matter-finite universe, the origin of life, for example. The impossible does not become certain by adding time. Water does not flow uphill, no matter how much time is allowed. The origin of life and the origin of new DNA programming are akin to getting water to flow uphill; natural processes head in the wrong direction for them to create a coded information processing system as well as all the actual coded instructions. See: Time—no friend of evolution! However, evolution’s deep time (billions of years) is fictitious anyway: see 101 Evidences for a young(er) age of the earth.
Creationists claim that the created order we see today is perfect because God is perfect. Of course today’s world is far from perfect and so it is not hard for the evolutionist to refute this straw man argument. However, such a view comes from ancient Greek philosophy (Aristotle), not Christianity. Christians believe that God created a perfect world, but that it has been corrupted since; we now live in a fallen world (Genesis 3, Romans 8). It was created perfect, but it is no longer because of mankind’s rebellion against his Creator. It was an appreciation of the fallenness of man that inspired the development of the modern scientific method that has so benefited mankind: The Fall inspired science and Peter Harrison: the fall played a vital role in the development of science.
Science would collapse without evolution—evolution is necessary for scientific progress (e.g. to understand antibiotic resistance and cure human disease). Some even claim that the whole of modern science including physics and chemistry would collapse without evolution, but this is clearly nothing but propagandist hype. Not only does microbes-to-mankind evolution not contribute to understanding antibiotic resistance, evolutionary reasoning has actually seriously impeded scientific progress; see, for example, vestigial organs, as above, and ‘junk DNA’. Even some evolutionists have lamented the lack of practical usefulness of evolution. See (evolutionist) Jerry Coyne: “If truth be told, evolution hasn’t yielded many practical or commercial benefits.” And (the late) Philip Skell: “The Dangers of overselling evolution: Focusing on Darwin and his theory doesn’t further scientific progress”. See also Does science [including medicine] need evolution?
Once cancer researcher, “obsessed” with evolution, claimed that a new approach to treating prostate cancer was inspired by evolution. However, the principles applied ran counter to evolutionary thinking.
Intelligent design/creation is not scientific because it is not ‘testable’. After asserting this, the anti-creationist often goes on to present some ‘proof’ (such as ‘bad’ design; see above) that creation is wrong! It is either not testable and you can’t say that it is wrong, or it is testable, in which case it qualifies on that basis as science; you can’t have it both ways. Criteria that have been proposed to exclude creation as non-scientific, when applied consistently to evolution rule it as unscientific also. So if creation is not scientific, nor is evolution; if evolution is to be included as science, so should creation. Both are really matters of history, where experimental testing is not possible. See It’s not science!
Intelligent design or creation are not scientific because they are ‘religious’. All views of origins have religious implications and religious (or philosophical, if you like) presuppositions of one form or another are at their core. ‘Nature is all there is, no matter what the evidence’ (naturalism) is just as much a religious position as believing that there is a super-natural realm as well. A leading anti-creationist philosopher admitted that evolution is a religion. Indeed, naturalistic philosophy constrains our origins to only material causes, whereas the Christian approach allows for both natural causes and supernatural causes, according to the evidence. The former must therefore be the narrow-minded, blinkered, approach. See As the ‘rules’ of science are now defined, creation is forbidden as a conclusion—even if true. And here is an amazing admission that no matter what the evidence, only materialistic explanations are allowed.
Evolution is compatible with ‘religion’. If that is true, why do the ‘new atheists’, in their zeal to stamp out belief in God spend so much time promoting and defending evolution with its billions of years of imaginary time? (See, e.g. billboard above.) And why aren’t more high-profile evolutionists ‘religious’, and more specifically, Christians who acknowledge the authority of the Bible in all matters of which it speaks? Why is it that organisations set up to prevent criticism of evolution are so anti-Christian? Even a supposed Christian such as physicist Dr Karl Giberson tacitly admitted that a Christian faith that was compatible with evolution, for him had been reduced to ‘going through the motions’ merely because of family and Christian college employer expectations. The Cornell University atheist biologist William Provine acknowledged that a faith that was compatible with evolution would be “indistinguishable from atheism”.5 On the other side, Dr Albert Mohler, President of the influential Southern Baptist Seminary, in Kentucky, said, “There can be no doubt that evolution can be squared with belief in some deity, but not the God who revealed himself in the Bible, including the first chapters of Genesis.”6 No, evolution is the atheists’ creation myth, a substitute for Christianity, as the evolutionary philosopher of science, Dr Michael Ruse, admitted; it is not compatible with biblical Christianity.
Well, are there any arguments left for evolution? There is really only one: ‘I don’t want to believe in a Creator-God, I don’t want to be accountable to anyone for how I live, and evolution is the only alternative, so I am going to believe in that, come what may.’ A supplemental one from churchian evolutionists is basically, “I want to be respected by those people,” although no one should want respectability from those who believe we are rearranged pond scum, and it’s a vain hope anyway as Dawkins shows.
A famous convert from atheism to Christianity, C.S. Lewis, commented, “Does the whole vast structure of modern naturalism depend not on positive evidence but simply on an a priori metaphysical prejudice? Was it devised not to get in facts but to keep out God?”7
Clearly, evolution is about keeping out God, not an open approach to the evidence.
References and notes
- Anthony, A., Richard Dawkins: “I don’t think I am strident or aggressive”, The Observer, 15 September 2013; theguardian.com/science/2013/sep/15/richard-dawkins-interview-appetite-wonder. Return to text.
- ‘If evolution is true then there will be a pattern of similarity consistent with common ancestry.There is a pattern of similarity consistent with common ancestry, therefore evolution is true.’ Return to text.
- In a book on homoplasies, the preface (p. xv) says, “… homoplasy is tied to long-standing unresolved disagreements about the origin of similarity among organisms.” Sanderson, M.J., and Hufford L. (Editors), Homoplasy: The Recurrence of Similarity in Evolution, Academic Press, 1996. Return to text.
- Zwartz, B., Dawkins delivers the sermon they came to hear, The Age (Melbourne), 15 March 2010; www.theage.com.au. Return to text.
- Provine, W.B., ‘No free will’ in Catching up with the Vision, Margaret W Rossiter (Ed.), Chicago University Press, p. S123, 1999. Return to text.
- Mohler, A., Evolution is Most Certainly a Matter of Belief—and so Is Christianity15 January 2014; http://eepurl.com/MqOgz. Return to text.
- Lewis, C.S., Is Theology Poetry? in The Weight of Glory, HarperCollins, New York, p. 136, 2001 (published posthumously). Return to text.