Search this site
Some links may not work and some pages may display badly. Apologies for any inconvenience.
The Creationist argument has two main strands:
• evolution is a flawed and unsustainable theory:
• there is evidence to support the Biblical version of creation.
We look at the evidence for evolution in Section 5, but we can examine the Creationist case against evolution here. That case includes the following arguments:
• "micro-evolution occurs; macro-evolution does not "
Evolution results in variations over time in populations of lifeforms. Variations that occur over decades or centuries generally allow for interbreeding, such as between different breeds of dogs; Creationists call this micro-evolution. Variations that occur over hundreds of thousands or more years are less likely to allow interbreeding, such as between different species of primate; Creationists call this macro-evolution.
Most serious scientists consider the difference between micro- and macro-evolution irrelevant, since there is not a clear division between them. There is considerable evidence, however, from DNA evidence, which shows how species diverge and confirms that "macro-evolution" occurs. (For more on this point, see RationalWiki.)
• "there are no intermediate fossils"
This claim is false on two grounds. Firstly, because all species undergo change, all fossils can be considered intermediate. Secondly, there are in fact many intermediate fossils between different species, such as between early primates and human beings, between dinosaurs and birds and between land animals and whales (For an example of how whales evolved, click on the picture at the beginning of Section 5. For a detailed website with hundreds of examples of transitional fossils, click here.)
3.3b The failure of option A does not prove the truth of option B
For argument's sake, however, let's assume that 150 years of scientific research, millions of fossils and unlimited DNA evidence are all wrong and evolution does not explain the presence of lifeforms on the planet on which we live. Does that prove Creationism is right?
No. It is a common mistake in reasoning to assume that because someone else's theory is wrong, your theory is automatically correct. It is very easy to criticise other people's theories or positions - politicians and talk show hosts do it all the time - but it is much more difficult to prove oneself right.
Creationists who base their arguments on failures in evolution are using false reasoning. Creationism can only be accepted as an accurate description of the origins of life if it can offer proof that makes no reference to evolution. Is that possible?
3.3c Creationism fails
The answer is no. Creationism can offer no proof that its version of the origin of life is accurate, for the following reasons:
1. Creationism is rationalisation, not reasoning.
Reasoning starts with a question (how did life start?) and examines the
evidence to come to a conclusion. Creationism starts with a conclusion (God
created life) and seeks evidence to support that conclusion. In other words,
Creationism is biased from the start.
2. Creationism is not science.
Science is a method of determining knowledge; it has several key components,
including (a) all aspects of the topic being discussed must be explained by the
theory and (b) the theory can be changed or abandoned as new information
comes to light. Creationists misuse science by (a) ignoring evidence that does
not match their theory and (b) refusing to change or abandon their theory - as
pointed out above, Creationism starts with the answer and then looks for
evidence to support that conclusion. (For a more detailed description of science,
3. Key information in the Bible - the fundamental text of Creationism - the Bible - is
lacking or contradictory.
Points 1 and 2 confirm that Creationism is at best intellectually weak and at worst intellectually dishonest. Now let us look closely at point 3.
3.3d How did the koala get to Australia?
Creationists believe that the Old Testament / Jewish Bible accurately describes the origins of the universe, the Earth and all lifeforms. We saw in Chapter Two, Section 1 that the Bible is full of contradictions and inconsistencies. Nevertheless, let us give Creationists the benefit of the doubt and look at the Old Testament from their perspective. We will focus on two specific events: the origin of lifeforms (the Creation) and the Flood.
Firstly, the brief, muddled and contradictory narrative of the Creation. As many people know, there are two Creation stories. In the first version, man and woman are created on the sixth day after all other animals have been created (Genesis 1: 24-27). In the second version, however, first man is created (Genesis 2:7), then the animals (2:19), and finally woman (2:21-22).
Non-Creationists point out that these two stories reflect different versions of creation myths that were common in Canaanite mythology around BCE 1000. Some Creationists ignore the discrepancies; others argue that one version is "correct" while the other is "poetic", or use some other form of tortuous logic to claim that both versions tell the same story.
It does not really matter which explanation is "correct" - the fact that there are two stories that need explaining significantly weakens the Bible's claim to be the accurate Word of God. Surely an all-powerful God who expects his followers to accept his version of events is capable of presenting one simple story early in his narrative?
These are not trick questions. Long before it starts to attack evolution as an alternative explanation, Creationism must present a coherent and comprehensive account of its own. Yet when faced with relatively simple questions that go to the heart of their belief, Creationists fail to give consistent, scientifically verifiable explanations.
In the case of the Flood, they offer fantastic explanations, such as the possible existence of microclimates around the Ark pre-Flood where all the world's species lived not far from Noah's house, or carnivores were herbivores on board and for some time afterwards, and that koalas moved slowly from Turkey to Australia and other distant places and only their descendants finally made it there. So, how come there are no koala bones between the two places? And what happened to the eucalpytus trees they fed off? Well, that's another problem. (For more on the absurdity of the Flood, see this YouTube video.)
Unfortunately, these responses, which are no more than guesses with no evidence to support them, only serve to highlight the weakness of the Creationist position. And that weakness goes to the heart of the Creationist text. If the Bible is the Word of God and the basis of all knowledge, why is so much key information missing? Why are there so many contradictions and inconsistencies? Why does the Old Testament offer no verifiable facts or scientifically determinable information, only vague contradictory stories?
If God really created the world in a manner similar to that described in the Bible, why does that text not say so clearly? If, as Creationists wish, the Bible is intended to be used as scientific text, why did God not cause it to be written as such? In short, why does the compassionate all-wise God insist that we throw all reason out of the window in order to accept the contradictory, illogical, muddled text of the Old Testament as the defining word on the origins of life, the universe and everything?
3.3e Creationist hypocrisy
Creationists accuse evolution of contradictions and inconsistencies. Most of the time their accusations are based on misunderstanding of specific points in evolution. Often their accusations reflect a poor understanding of debates within evolutionary science.
There are certainly uncertainties in evolution, but the eagerness of Creationists to criticise evolution is reminiscent of the eagerness of the man who points out the mote in other man's eye while ignoring the log that obscures his own vision. Yes, there are elements of evolution that have yet to be fully understood, but these are minimal compared to hodge-podge of theories that make up Creationism. To take the Creationist argument to its logical conclusion, if the uncertainties in evolution render it false, then the uncertainties in Creationism render it equally untrue.
Evolution, for all its faults, offers a case for the origins of life that is many times more consistent, reasonable and fact-based than Creationism. And irrespective of the strengths and weaknesses of evolution, Creationism is no more than a collection of half-baked ideas based on a contradictory text and with no basis in science or reason. As an argument for the existence of God, Creationism utterly fails.
Further reading on this website: How did the koala get to Australia? and A question of scale. See also the Wikipedia article on Creationism.
Email us, pasting the URL into your letter with the comment
This account is protected by Spamarrest.
You will receive a one-off request to verify your email before it is delivered.
If God existed, he would...
admire the beauty of a universe that he did not create
recognize that eternity is meaningless
deny both heaven and hell
disown all men and women who speak in his name
denounce the harm caused by religious "morality"
help the human race to thrive without him
If God existed, he would be an atheist.
What is the difference between science and faith?
science is certain of nothing and requires proof of everything
faith is certain of everything and requires proof of nothing
Which do you trust?
"I know there is no God"
"I believe there is no God"
Check the answer