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Know thy enemy

Published: 31 January 2015 (GMT+10)

In ideological debate, as with many areas of life, it is important to, in the words of Sun Tzu, ‘know thy enemy’, i.e. understand what one’s ideological opponents say. However, many skeptics of biblical creation fail to do this—they often rehearse the same fallacious arguments we have dealt with many times before. Today’s correspondent raises the old canard that abiogenesis and microbes-to-man evolution are separate issues. However, these instances can give us the opportunity to rehearse the strength of our responses, as well as introduce newer readers to the arguments and where to go to get fuller treatments of them. CMI’s  carries us through these ‘old arguments’.

J.O. from the United States writes:

I admire what you have done with this website. It is rather remarkable how much research you’ve done. However, I must say (and I speak for many Christians) that your beliefs are archaic and above all else, silly. I believe in God as much as you do, but the idea that the Earth is 6000 years old is, quite frankly, asinine. Also, I read through your “15 Questions to Evolutionists” and noticed that at least 4-6 of them had to do with abiogenesis, not evolution. See, this is where the fundamental problem with your “debate” arises. We argue two different things: how life was created (abiogenesis vs. creation) and how life changed (evolution vs. whatever). I realize that creation says that life was created as is, but if that were the case, we would be going extinct rather soon because 99% of all life has done that. Lastly, your 15 questions weren’t hard enough. I could answer them with ease. It’s merely a matter of perspective.

CMI’s Shaun Doyle responds:

If you can answer our 15 questions with ease, then by all means enlighten us! And we agree that there is an element of perspectival bias in the origins debate, but since the assumptions evolution rests on shoot themselves in the foot and do nothing but spin unverifiable fairytales, pardon us for having a degree of incredulity towards them. But first, please address yourself to previous attempts at rebutting our 15 questions before rehashing the same arguments we’ve already dealt with: Responses to our 15 Questions: part 1part 2, and part 3. Second, please also make sure that we haven’t addressed your concerns elsewhere on the website; a quick perusal of our Q and A hub or use of our search function will help you to find any relevant information.

I have to say though, that your response doesn’t engender confidence in your ability to refute us. You offer only two actual attempts at argument, both of which you would have been quickly disabused of if you had taken the time to read any of the research you remark upon. First, we have addressed the notion that abiogenesis can be neatly separated from evolution on the website, and even in the articles I cite above. In fact, the first response and rebuttal to the first question of our ‘15 questions’ is this:

Answer 1: Abiogenesis is not relevant to the discussion of evolution—it is a separate topic (this has been a very common claim).
Rebuttal: No one claimed that abiogenesis was irrelevant to the evolution debate until evolutionists realized they were losing the debate on it. Indeed, abiogenesis is also often called ‘chemical evolution’ (see Natural selection cannot explain the origin of life, and here is just one example of a paper by evolutionists proving the point, titled, “On the applicability of Darwinian principles to chemical evolution that led to life”, International Journal of Astrobiology 3:45–53, 2004). It doesn’t matter how well one can or can’t explain how the first life could evolve, if you can’t explain how it got there in the first place, the theory is literally dead in the water (or the (non-existent) primordial soup, as the case may be). Notice also that, as we stated clearly above, creationists believe in changing allele frequencies over time. Therefore, since both sides claim this as part of their model, the debate must lie outside this area. Hence, the origin of life is fair game for discussions on whether or not evolution is true.

Evolution can’t get started without some sort of abiogenesis event, so any argument for evolution must address itself to the origin of life as well. [The article Evolution: not just about biology confirms that Harvard University’s own website supports our position on this issue.]

Your second attempt at argumentation is worse: if you had actually read anything we’ve written on speciation and created kinds or baramins, then you might be aware that we do not believe God created everything exactly as we now see it. We believe in biological change, even radical and fast biological change. We just don’t believe in the sort of undirected change required to derive biologists from bacteria. Two articles to get you started are Basics of biblical biology and Can mutations create new information?

Now, concerning your estimation of our beliefs: “silly”, “archaic”, and “asinine”—you have offered no reason for such derisive language. “Archaic” is only a problem if one thinks that ‘archaic = false’. After all, belief that Jesus was really raised from the dead is ‘archaic’, just like belief in special creation. As for “silly” and “asinine”—where is your proof? It’s certainly not our intent to embrace “silly” and “asinine” ideas. And is it really “silly” or “asinine” to read the Scriptures in support of our position, as Jesus, the biblical writers, and Christians and Jews for the vast majority of church history have done? Is it really “silly” or “asinine” to take Jesus’ word as the arbiter of truth on this matter? Or is the science of deep time so obviously right that even Jesus and the Father must have been wrong on basic history? Does that mean God is “silly” and “asinine”? I would encourage you to rethink deriding us so, especially since you have demonstrated ignorance of what we actually believe.

I will end on a more positive note. You mentioned that you think the amount of research we have done is remarkable. Thank you for that compliment. But now let me challenge you on it. Since we have done all that research, might that not behove you to read and carefully consider the arguments found in that research before so quickly pronouncing our position to be silly and asinine? We are here to help, and we are open to reasonable dialogue on such matters. We even have reasonable dialogues with atheists every once in a while. Surely someone who claims the name of Christ for his own could be more courteous toward his fellow brothers than an atheist, even if he seriously disagrees with us.