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The origin of the species: final statements

Philuebergang_1 ‘Did the universe and life evolve, or was it specially created in six days?’ Here are the third and final arguments in the debate on origins. The first two arguments are here and here. The first argument also includes a brief introduction and biographies of the participants. Margo has closed comments to parts one and two of the debate.

Thanks to the participants in the debate from both Answers In Genesis and the Australian Skeptics, all of who have gone out of their way to be involved. The task set was not easy given the 1,500 word limit for each argument yet they have provided entertaining and erudite reading, and judging by the number of comments generated their essays have been contentious and thought provoking. I extend my thanks to Carl Wieland and Peter Bowditch in particular for organising their teams and meeting the deadlines.

A large part of the credit for the success of the debate also goes to our volunteer moderator, Webdiarist Terrence Pihlgren, whose contribution in editing and posting well over 700 comments (up until Saturday evening, let alone what’s to come) has been greatly appreciated.

If you have any specific questions for the debating teams, please email Answers in Genesis at Q@answersingenesis.com, and for Australian Skeptics visit their web site here.


For special creation: Answers in Genesis, third speaker

The Bible contains everything we need to know?

We don’t claim this—it would be clearly ridiculous—but it contains everything needed to obtain eternal life. Within the boundaries of what God has revealed about world history there is enormous scope for research. And of course, our name change was not a “backing away from science”.

Our opponents’ accusations of obfuscation, misrepresentation and logically fallacious arguments are “elephant hurling”, because they provide no evidence for these.

“Flaws in a theory don’t count”

Surely they are valid arguments to use against it? Arguing otherwise reinforces the point that evolution, at its core, is a philosophy and, for true believers, not ultimately open to refutation.

Evolution and God

We’ve never claimed that evolutionary theory denies the existence of “a god” (though it certainly flies in the face of the God of the Bible). But its philosophical foundations are pure naturalism, which is why today, supernatural creation is ruled out by definition. This was beautifully demonstrated by the Skeptics’ claim (last post) that by referring to evidence for the Creator God, we had abandoned science. Atheist/rationalist/skeptic sources worldwide routinely, publicly, revel in evolution’s support for their religious view. Evolutionary superstar Richard Dawkins said that Darwin made it possible to be an “intellectually fulfilled atheist”. (The Skeptics are here carefully following the advice given by the world’s leading anticreationist, Eugenie Scott, to her fellow atheists: keep reassuring “religious people” that it’s “possible to believe in evolution and God”. Indeed it is, if you’re not fussy about whether the God you believe in tells the truth about history.)

Limiting definitions

In their opening salvo, our opponents proposed both chemical evolution (the origin of first life) and cosmic evolution (big bang to stars). So we were amazed that despite this, and despite the textbooks being full of both concepts, evolution is suddenly and conveniently limited to biology (because we highlighted the impossibility of abiogenesis?). Both are part of today’s evolutionary world-and-life belief—that, unaided, nothing gradually turned into everything.

Huff and bluff

They claim we misrepresent the Laws of Thermodynamics, but offer no evidence of this. (Actually, it’s the Skeptics who have previously misrepresented both the Second Law of Thermodynamics and probability arguments.) The deductions from those laws are clearly unpalatable, so we get a diversionary claim—that the age of the universe is determined by measuring its energy. Huh? Check their link to see the fuzzy disingenuity of this claim: the WMAP data is used to help make a guess as to which particular Big Bang model is preferred, and what assumptions to make about mysterious unseen matter. Then from that, plus various assumptions about the Hubble constant, an “age” comes out of the other end—given the Big Bang. But even one of their own, physicist Colin Keay, is skeptical of the Big Bang, as are several prominent cosmologists who hold to versions of the “steady state” idea. (Our opponents wrongly assert that “no scientist claims that the universe has lasted forever”.)

“Evolution doesn’t require mutations”

It’s almost embarrassing to have to give lessons in rudimentary evolutionary theory. One of the greatest evolutionists, the late Theodosius Dobzhansky, wrote: “The process of mutation is the only known source of the raw materials of genetic variability, and hence of evolution…” (American Scientist, Winter 1957, p. 385).

Our opponents lamely state that beneficial mutations exist—as if we denied that, despite our having described beneficial (but downhill) mutations earlier.

“Show us the evidence for a young world”

This oft-repeated mantra seems to be more for the benefit of non-discerning readers who might not check our links, where we provided such evidence. BTW, evidence against long age is also evidence for short age, by simple logic.

Noise increases information?

Another incredible claim; like saying static on your radio adds useful information. But this is equivocation. “Shannon information” merely concerns how many bits (0, 1) are needed to specify something (e.g. for electronic transmission). Specifying a random pattern may require more bits than meaningful information. E.g., if “superman” is mutated to “sxyxvawtuayzt”, information is clearly lost, but there is more “Shannon information”, because it takes more bits to transmit this longer sequence. This highlights the difference between complexity and specified complexity; a pile of sand is complex (many bits are needed to accurately describe it), but is information-poor—it specifies nothing. Living things abound in specified complexity (e.g., proteins with specific 3-D structures that catalyze particular chemical reactions).

Horses and whales

Nearly all specimens invoked as evidence for horse “evolution” are just variants of horses, or variation within a created kind. Much of the same variation seen in fossil horses is present in today’s horses (size, toe number, rib number, etc.).

The whale stories would make Lewis Carroll proud. The origin of whales from land creatures is so “clear-cut” that, for many years, artiodactyls (hippos) were the ancestors, then for some time the fossils supposedly showed that whales came from the (extinct) mesonychians—and now artiodactyls (other than hippos) are returning to favour! Obviously, there is no clear line of descent shown by the fossils, contrary to the grand claims.

C-14 in coal doesn’t exist?

The chutzpah (or, in charity, ignorance) demonstrated by this Skeptic claim is astonishing. Indeed, their claim should be true if millions of years were fact. But carbon-14 above background levels is ubiquitous in coal (and other supposedly ancient organic material), and the secular literature discusses the “problem”. See e.g. Lowe, D.C., Problems associated with the use of coal as a source of 14C-free background material, Radiocarbon 31:117–120, 1989. (For an updated bibliography, see Giem, P., Origins 51:6–30, 2001.)

(Better informed anticreationists have sought to explain the C-14 in “ancient” diamonds by postulating its creation underground from neutron bombardment of N-14. But measurements show hopelessly too few free neutrons for this.)

Catastrophic carving of Grand Canyon

Nowadays, even some evolutionary geologists hold to this. And nearly everyone now believes that the US’s entire Channeled Scablands, including the granite Grand Coulee Gorge, were carved rapidly through cataclysmic Ice Age flooding.

Worldwide stories of a global Flood

We think, gentlemen, given the astonishing common elements, e.g. mountaintops covered, birds sent out, etc. that you need to do better than “river overflows”.

The closeness of humanity

It is misleading (also circular reasoning, if examined closely) to imply that this is an obvious deduction from the single-species status of humanity. Earlier evolutionists also considered us as one species, but nonetheless derived racist notions of huge differences between people groups from their belief in long periods of “separate evolution”. Our opponents evade the point: molecular biology reveals an astounding degree of relatedness—far exceeding that required for mere species membership, but predicted from biblical history.

Speaking of circularity...

They present as evidence for evolution (which indeed teaches that we are related to tomatoes) the assertion that we are related to tomatoes! (Biochemical similarity between humans, plants and animals is an expected design feature—what would we eat otherwise?)


Waxing theological, they tell us the way an “efficient” God “would work”—through evolution—yet they previously described this as “trial-and-error”.

Bad design in humans?

The “half an eye” argument has not been answered at all. And no one has demonstrated how a better spine could be designed. An evolutionary approach to back problems actually made bad backs worse! And Genesis 3 says something about problems giving birth in humans (we live in a fallen world; no longer perfect).

Occam’s Razor?

Real sceptics would apply this without favour. When carbon-14 is found in coal or diamonds, giving dates of thousands of years, the simplest conclusion would be: they are not millions of years old. But the paradigm will not allow that, so, we see a denial of the fact. Others have invented unworkable secondary hypotheses to try to “explain away” the data.


Given the significance of the subject, we would have preferred our opponents to engage more cogently with the actual scientific arguments presented, though their approach should help many to see that the evolutionary emperor is indeed unclothed.

Seeing the Skeptics’ track record to date, we trust readers will be sufficiently sceptical of claims in their concluding rebuttal to check them with our site’s search engine.

This whole debate is driven by presuppositions, not data. Historical data have to be interpreted within an existing framework. We choose the framework provided by the Creator in the Bible (evolutionists choose naturalism instead). When we do that, the evidence makes sense. Otherwise, our very thoughts are just the results of eons of chance interactions of atoms; so why should we trust them? And how can there be such a thing as freedom to think (volition) or morality, in a world that has not been purposefully created, but just happened? Life’s purpose is that we know God and enjoy His fellowship forever. That’s why Jesus Christ, God the Son, came into the world, to rescue the corrupted race of Adam and make it possible for us to approach our Creator.


For evolution: Australian Skeptics, third speaker

The original question asked: “Did the universe and life evolve, or was it specially created in 6 days?”. The only interpretation of this question which makes sense is that the two sides are being asked to offer evidence and arguments to support either of the two views:

• What we see around us today is the result of a very long process of change and modification, or

• What we see is what was created in a 6-day period 6,000 years ago, except for what was recreated by a massive flood 4,500 years ago.

We have been told that evolution is impossible because there has not been enough time for it to happen. When we offer scientific evidence that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, we are asked for evidence and told that there has not been enough time. We are told that there are no intermediate fossils, and when we provide evidence of intermediate fossils we are told that there are no such things because now there are even more gaps to explain. We are told that the Grand Canyon (350 kilometres long, 1,600 metres deep, between 6 and 25 kilometres in width) was made in a few months. When we offer evidence that it took a very long time to build the surrounding rocks and then carve the canyon, we are told about an erosion gully that is 400 metres long and 50 metres deep as if this is somehow relevant.

What is relevant, however, is that the only form of argument offered by our opposition seems to be to say “You are wrong so we must be right”.

Our opponents have consistently refused to provide any evidence in favour of their position other than by referring to things that they have themselves said before or by reference to the Bible. It is hard to imagine any paper in a scientific journal being taken seriously if almost all of the references were to the same author’s previous work, but we are expected to believe what Answers in Genesis say because the same things have been said before on the Answers in Genesis web site. One of the spurious arguments used by creationists is that the dating of rocks and fossils is circular because one is used to support the other. Even though this argument has been shown to be false many times, it is hard to resist the temptation to say “Pot, meet kettle”.

It is the reliance on the Bible which is most puzzling, however, as our opponents have now stated that the Authorised King James version of the Bible from 1611 is not inerrant and is, in fact, an unreliable translation! That’s right – the most important and influential book ever written in the English language (the works of Shakespeare and the Book of Common Prayer make up the trifecta) is, as many have surmised, merely a magnificent work of literature and not the Word of God. What was God thinking when He let King James’s editors put this book together? Why did He allow them to make mistakes? Could it have been a test, or perhaps, as Phillip Grosse suggested with regard to fossils and Adam and Eve’s navels, just God being deceptive?

The real question becomes “What else in the Bible is wrong?”. If we cannot accept that Genesis 2 is correct, then what can we accept? If translation errors are possible, who is to say that the English translation of the Sermon on the Mount in the King James Bible is anything like a true account of what Jesus said? After all, it was translated from Greek and the author of Matthew was working from a third-hand account of a speech given in Aramaic. Much emphasis has been placed on the lack of first-hand, eye witness accounts of evolution happening, but surely the same caveat must be placed on hearsay filtered through multiple translations. What a mess! If the King James Bible can’t be trusted to tell us about the Rising of the Sun, what can it reliably say about the Rising of the Son?

Perhaps this problem with the Bible not being accurate and reliable might help to explain another observation about this debate. Despite a quite explicit mention in the question, our opponents have very carefully avoided any mention of the six days of creation. They make it quite clear in their web site that these days are what we call “days” – 24-hour periods of time. If the Bible as we read it is wrong about one thing perhaps it is wrong about that too and the word “yom” really should be translated “period of time”. After all, there are 14 different meanings of “day” in English.

Enough theology, let’s talk about science. But we can’t really do that any more as our opponents have redefined the debate to be one between creationism and materialism. If they are going to suggest that their claims and “evidence” only apply in a non-material universe then we have gone beyond the concept of non-overlapping magisteria and into the realm of fantasy and fairy tale. Anything can happen in a fictional universe, but science operates in a real universe. To redefine the debate as not being about science but about material existence has a technical name known to even children in the earliest years of school. It is called “running away”.

There are many lists of logical fallacies on the Internet, and I would like to spend the remainder of my 1500 words identifying as many fallacies as I can in the creationists’ arguments.

There’s ad hominem, of course, where my opinions are attributed to my atheism and we are all “long-standing public anti-creationists”, plus the special case of ad hominem tu quoque because Ken Smith should know better, being a “committed Christian”; there is massive Appeal to Authority (ad verecundiam); there’s Appeal to Belief (a lot of people believe in creationism and they can’t all be wrong) which segues nicely into Appeal to Common Practice; there’s Appeal to Consequences of a Belief, because people who reject creationism are going to Hell; Appeal to Emotion is there for people who just feel bad about evolution; Appeal to Fear (ad baculum) is there because evolution apparently threatens Christian faith (it doesn’t); ad populum, an Appeal to Popularity, is in there as if science is some sort of plebiscite.

There’s the old Appeal to Ridicule, where evolutionists (whatever they are) are presented as poor, deluded fools who wouldn’t know a fact if it jumped off the page of a holy book at them; there’s the Appeal to Spite (evolutionists just do this because they don’t like God); needless to say there is Appeal to Tradition; there’s the Bandwagon fallacy, where scientists just agree with evolution because it makes life easier; could there be a better example of Begging the Question than “God must exist because it says so in the Bible, which was written by God”; the Burden of Proof is placed on evolutionists to prove that creation didn’t happen; there’s the False Dilemma, where the truth of creationism is claimed if evolution can be seen to be flawed; the exquisitely named Genetic Fallacy appears when the Bible is given as the source and it is assumed to be true.

Red Herrings are all over the place (except, perhaps, fossilised at Canowindra as evidence of a mass extinction not caused by a flood), and we are all on the Slippery Slope to Hell as evolutionists have no moral compasses; Special Pleading lets creationists change a debate by saying that it is unfair to expect them to provide evidence because they aren’t materialists; Straw Men are everywhere, such as those scientists who say that the universe has been around forever and that Darwin person who admitted that transitional fossils would be hard to find.

That should be enough, and I would like to acknowledge that the list I used came from Ken McVay’s Nizkor Project. There are more fallacies in the list, but space is limited and some had to be left out.

I will finish by paraphrasing from my original statement.

This debate is really about the evidence for two of the many possible scenarios about the origin of what we see around us today. I will repeat that these are only two of many possibilities. Refuting one does not automatically make the other one correct, so what is required is to evaluate the evidence for both and to compare the evidence to see which more accurately describes reality and what else is known about how the universe works.

Science expects a theory to be testable, falsifiable and corrigible. The theory of evolution is all three. Creationism is none of the three. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming. The evidence for special creation is non-existent.

And this, from our second statement: where is that evidence for a 6,000 year old Earth? Evidence that cannot be dismissed by Occam’s Razor.

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