Arguments we think creationists shouldn’t use
There are many strong arguments for Creation, but some are not so strong, and others are totally unsound. It’s important to know the difference. This is why it’s important to keep up with current creationist literature. There is so much good evidence for Creation that there is no need to use any of the ‘doubtful’ arguments.
Christians should not become alarmed when they find out creationist researchers have overturned their favourite arguments. Rather, they should refocus on the main issue, the authority of the Word of God, the 66 books of the Bible,1 not the theories of fallible humans, whether creationist or evolutionist.
Our starting point
The authority of the Bible is the main emphasis of Creation Ministries International. We don’t try to ‘prove’ the Bible with science; rather, we accept the Bible’s propositions as true without proof, i.e. as axioms or presuppositions (see also Faith and facts).
All philosophical systems, not just Christianity, start with axioms. There are good reasons for accepting the axioms of Scripture as true, because it can be shown that they lead to a consistent view of physical and moral reality, which other axioms can’t provide.
Genesis contains a number of Hebrew grammatical features that show it was intended to teach a straightforward history of the world from its creation (see Genesis is history!). Genesis, backed up by the rest of Scripture, unambiguously teaches that:2
- The heavens, Earth and everything in them were created in six consecutive normal days, the same as those of our working week (Exodus 20:8–11).
- Earth is about 6,000 years old, since Jesus said mankind was there from the ‘beginning of creation’, not billions of years later (Mark 10:6).
- Adam sinned and brought physical death to mankind (Romans 5:12–19; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22).
- Since man was the federal head of creation, the whole creation was cursed (Romans 8:20–22), which included death to animals, with the end of the original vegetarian diet for both humans and animals (Genesis 1:29–30).
- God judged the world by a globe-covering Flood, which Jesus and Peter compared with the coming Judgment (Luke 17:26–27; 2 Peter 3:3–7). This destroyed all land vertebrate animals and people not on the ocean-liner-sized Ark.
- God then judged the people by confusing their language at Babel—after they had refused to spread out and repopulate the Earth after the Flood.
Using this framework
It’s important to realize that all ‘facts’ of science do not speak for themselves, but are interpreted within a framework.
Evolutionists start with the axiom of naturalism or materialism, i.e. God (if He even exists) performed no miraculous acts of creation.
Biblical creationists interpret the same facts and observations, but within the framework outlined above.
What should we defend, and what should we hold loosely?
It’s very important to distinguish the Biblical framework from various creationist scientific models within this framework. To Christians, the framework should be non-negotiable, but the models should never be held dogmatically.
All theories of science are fallible, and new data often overturn previously held theories.
Evolutionists continually revise their theories because of new data, so it should not be surprising or distressing that some creationist scientific theories need to be revised, too.
CMI has never promoted many of the fallacious creationist arguments listed here. Indeed, some have not been promoted by any major creationist organization; rather, they are straw men set up by anticreationists.3
Ironically, some skeptics criticize creationists when they retract doubtful arguments, but the same people accuse creationists of being unwilling to change their minds.
Some arguments creationists should avoid
[For a fuller, frequently updated list, see Q&A: Arguments creationists should NOT use—Ed.]
‘Darwin recanted on his deathbed.’
Many people use this story, originally from a Lady Hope. However, it is almost certainly not true, and there is no corroboration from those who were closest to him, even from Darwin’s wife Emma, who never liked evolutionary theory. Also, even if true, so what? If Ken Ham recanted Creation, would that disprove it? So there is no value to this argument whatever.4
‘Moon dust thickness proves a young moon.’
For a long time, creationists claimed that the dust layer on the moon was too thin if dust had truly been falling on it for billions of years.
They based this claim on early estimates—by evolutionists—of the influx of moon dust, and worries that the moon landers would sink into this dust layer.
But these early estimates were wrong, and by the time of the Apollo landings, most in NASA were not worried about sinking. So the dust layer thickness can’t be used as proof of a young moon (or of an old one either).5
‘The Japanese trawler Zuiyo-maru caught a dead plesiosaur near New Zealand in 1977.’
This carcass was almost certainly a rotting basking shark, since their gills and jaws rot rapidly and fall off, leaving the typical small ‘neck’ with the head (see photo, left).
This has been shown by similar specimens washed up on beaches. The effect is so well-known that these carcasses have been called ‘pseudoplesiosaurs’.
Also, detailed anatomical and biochemical studies of the Zuiyo-maru carcass confirm that it could not have been a plesiosaur.6
‘Women have one more rib than men.’
CMI has long pointed out the fallacy of this statement. Dishonest skeptics wanting to caricature creation also use it, in reverse. The removal of a rib would not affect the genetic instructions passed on to the offspring, any more than a man who loses a finger will have sons with nine fingers.
Note also that Adam wouldn’t have had a permanent defect, because the rib is the one bone that can regrow if the surrounding membrane (periosteum) is left intact.7
‘Woolly mammoths were snap frozen during the Flood catastrophe.’
This is contradicted by their geological setting. It’s most likely that they perished toward the end of the Ice Age, possibly in catastrophic dust storms.8 Partially digested stomach contents are not proof of a snap freeze, because the elephant’s stomach functions as a holding area—a mammoth with preserved stomach contents was found in mid-western USA, where the ground was not frozen.
‘The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics began at the Fall.’
This law says that the entropy (‘disorder’) of the universe increases over time, and some have thought that this was the result of the Curse. However, disorder isn’t always harmful. An obvious example is digestion, breaking down large complex food molecules into their simple building blocks. Another is friction, which turns ordered mechanical energy into disordered heat—otherwise Adam and Eve would have slipped as they walked with God in Eden! A less obvious example to laymen might be the sun heating the Earth, but to a physical chemist, heat transfer from a hot object to a cold one is the classic case of the Second Law in action. Also, breathing is based on another classic Second Law process, gas moving from a high pressure to low pressure. Finally, all beneficial processes in the world, including the development from embryo to adult, increase the overall disorder of the universe because the disorder of the surroundings is increased more than that of the system is reduced, showing that the Second Law is not inherently a curse.
Death and suffering of nephesh animals before sin would be contrary to the Biblical framework above. It is more likely that God withdrew some of His sustaining power (Col. 1:15–17) at the Fall so that the net effects of the Second Law would now lead to overall decay.
‘Archaeopteryx was a fraud.’
Some have claimed that feathers were attached to a dinosaur skeleton. However, the skeleton has a proper bird skull, perching claws, tiny bumps on the bones where the feathers were attached to the bones by ligaments, and evidence of pneumatized bones indicating the unique avian lung system. Also, patterns on the limestone slabs, including some on top of the feather imprints, match perfectly so must have formed on the bedding plane before the slab was split.9
‘Dubois renounced Java man as a “missing link” and claimed it was just a giant gibbon.’
Evolutionary anthropology textbooks claimed this, and creationists followed suit. However, those who said this actually misunderstood Dubois, as Stephen Jay Gould has shown. It’s true that Dubois claimed that Java man (which he called Pithecanthropus erectus) had the proportions of a gibbon. But this was because he had an eccentric view of evolution, universally discounted today. His idea demanded that, in the alleged transitional sequence leading to man, the brain-size/body weight ratio would fit into a mathematical series. His ‘gibbon’ claim was in order to make the Java man find fit this view, so as to reinforce its ‘missing link’ status. 10
‘Evolution is just a theory.’
What people usually mean when they say this is ‘Evolution is not proven fact, so it should not be promoted dogmatically.’ (Therefore that is what they should say.) The problem with using the word ‘theory’ in this case is that scientists use it to mean a well-substantiated explanation of data. This includes well-known ones such as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Newton’s Theory of Gravity, and lesser-known ones such as the Debye–Hæckel Theory of electrolyte solutions and the Deryagin–Landau/Verwey–Overbeek (DLVO) theory of the stability of lyophobic sols, etc. It would be better to say that particles-to-people evolution is an unsubstantiated hypothesis or conjecture.
‘The phrase “science falsely so called” in 1 Timothy 6:20 (KJV) refers to evolution.’
To develop a Scriptural model properly, we must understand what the author meant to communicate to his intended audience, which in turn is determined by the grammar and historical context. We must not try to read into Scripture that which appears to support a particular viewpoint. In this passage, the original Greek word translated ‘science’ is gnosis, and in this context refers to the élite esoteric ‘knowledge’ that was the key to the mystery religions, which later developed into the heresy of Gnosticism. This was not an error by the KJV translators, but one example of how words change their meanings over time. The word ‘science’ originally meant ‘knowledge’, from the Latin scientia, from scio meaning ‘know’. This is not the way it is used today, so modern translations correctly render the word as ‘knowledge’ in this passage.
Of course CMI believes that evolution is anti-knowledge because it clouds the minds of many to the abundant evidence of God’s action in Creation and the true knowledge available in His Word, the Bible. But it still is wrong to use fallacious arguments to support a true viewpoint. On a related matter, it is linguistically fallacious to claim that, even now, ‘science really means knowledge’, because meaning is determined by usage, not derivation (etymology).
‘If we evolved from apes, why are there still apes today?’
Some evolutionists also miss the main point, by protesting that they don’t believe that we descended from apes, but that apes and humans share a common ancestor. The evolutionary paleontologist G.G. Simpson had no time for this ‘pussyfooting’, as he called it. He said, ‘In fact, that earlier ancestor would certainly be called an ape or monkey in popular speech by anyone who saw it. Since the terms ape and monkey are defined by popular usage, man’s ancestors were apes or monkeys (or successively both). It is pusillanimous [mean-spirited] if not dishonest for an informed investigator to say otherwise.’11
Many evolutionists believe that a small group of creatures split off from the main group and they became reproductively isolated from the main large population. Most change supposedly happened in such a small group, which can lead to allopatric speciation (a geographically isolated population forming a new species). So nothing in evolutionary theory requires the main group to become extinct.
It is important to be aware that this mechanism is not the sole property of evolutionists—creationists believe that most human variation occurred after small groups became isolated (but not speciated) at Babel, while Adam and Eve probably had mid-brown skin colour. The quoted erroneous statement is analogous to saying ‘If all people groups came from Adam and Eve, then why are mid-brown people still alive today?’
So what’s the difference between the creationist explanation of people groups (‘races’) and the evolutionist explanation of people origins? Answer: the former involves separation of already-existing information and loss of information through mutations; the latter requires the generation of tens of millions of ‘letters’ of new information.
‘NASA computers proved Joshua’s “long day” and Hezekiah’s sundial movement of Joshua 10 and 2 Kings 20.’
This is a hoax. Essentially the same story, now widely circulated on the Internet, appeared in the somewhat unreliable 1936 book The Harmony of Science and Scripture by Harry Rimmer. Evidently an unknown person embellished it with modern organization names and modern calculating devices.
Also, the whole story is mathematically impossible—it requires a fixed reference point before Joshua’s long day. In fact we would need to cross-check between both astronomical and historical records to detect any missing day. And to detect a missing 40 minutes requires that these reference points be known to within an accuracy of a few minutes. It is certainly true that the timing of solar eclipses observable from a certain location can be known precisely. But the ancient records did not record time that precisely, so the required cross-check is simply not possible. Anyway, the earliest historically recorded eclipse occurred in 1217 BC, nearly two centuries after Joshua. So there is no way the missing day could be detected by any computer.
Note that discrediting this myth doesn’t mean that the events of Joshua 10 didn’t happen. Features in the account support its reliability, e.g. the moon was also slowed down. This was not necessary to prolong the day, but this would be observed from Earth’s reference frame if God had accomplished this miracle by slowing Earth’s rotation.12
This article is meant to encourage trust in God’s infallible Word, not man’s fallible theories—even our own. Its purpose is also to help people avoid defending the cause of the Truth with faulty arguments, and instead focus on the many effective arguments for Biblical Creation and against evolution/billions of years. To keep yourself up-to-date with both types of argument, keep up with our periodicals (including the Journal of Creation), and visit our Creation website regularly.
References and notes
- For a defence of the authority, inerrancy and sufficiency of the Bible, and the correctness of the 66-book Canon, see Q&A page on the Bible. Return to text.
- Justification for these can be found in the Q&A page on Genesis, CMI website, or our new Genesis commentary The Genesis Account. Both contain many past Creation magazine articles. Return to text.
- Those (such as Hugh Ross) who believe that God created over billions of years and thus have animal death occurring before sin, are also guilty of setting up straw men. For example, see Sarfati, J., Trilobites on the Ark? Hugh Ross’s latest bungles on the created kinds, 30 Jul 2004 Return to text.
- Grigg, R., Did Darwin recant? Creation 18(1):36–37, 1995. Return to text.
- Moon dust argument no longer useful, Creation 15(4):22, 1993; Snelling, A. and Rush, D., Moon Dust and the Age of the Solar System, J. Creation 7(1):2–42, 1993. Return to text.
- Jerlström, P., Live plesiosaurs: weighing the evidence, Journal of Creation 12(3):339–346, 1998; Jerlström, P. and Elliott, B., Letting rotting sharks lie: Further evidence that the Zuiyo-maru carcass was a basking shark, not a plesiosaur, J. Creation 13(2): 83–87, 1999. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., Regenerating ribs: Adam and that ‘missing’ rib, Creation 21(4):46–47, 1999. Return to text.
- Oard, M., The extinction of the woolly mammoth: was it a quick freeze? J. Creation 14(3):24–34, 2000; Woolly mammoths were cold adapted, J. Creation 28(3):15–17, 2014. Return to text.
- See documentation in Sarfati, J., Archaeopteryx (unlike Archaeoraptor) is NOT a hoax—it is a true bird, not a ‘missing link’, Return to text.
- Who was ‘Java man’? Creation 13(3):22–23, 1991. Return to text.
- Simpson, G.G., The world into which Darwin led us, Science 131:966–969; cited in Bird, W.R., The Origin of Species: Revisited, Vol. 1:233, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tennessee, 1991. Return to text.
- Grigg, R., Joshua’s Long Day: Did it really happen—and how? Creation 19(3):35–37, 1997. Return to text.