In coming up with topics for this series, I went to the article published by the Scientific American titled: “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense”. Here, they list 15 supposed answers as to why creationism cannot be true. They also claim that “besieged teachers and others are still likely to find themselves on the spot to defend evolution and refute creationism, by whatever name.” (1) I don’t ever remember that happening in my liberal college (typically it’s the other way around), but maybe in all of the science classes I’ve taken (and I’m a science major), I’ve just gotten lucky and missed it.
I won’t be taking each of their arguments (because that would make this series too long), but I will be using some of the arguments and explaining why they are not correct. Here’s their very first argument: we’ve been using the wrong definition of the word theory.
This article said that (unlike what you learned in school, where a theory falls between hypothesis and law of the scientific method) scientists define theory as “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.” (1). They also claim that there is no validation that can turn a theory into a law (which, by the way, I completely agree with…so why are they teaching it as such?) (1). Using this new definition of the word, here is their argument for evolution (1):
“In addition to the theory of evolution, meaning the idea of descent with modification, one may also speak of the fact of evolution. The NAS defines a fact as “an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as ‘true.’” The fossil record and abundant other evidence testify that organisms have evolved through time. Although no one observed those transformations, the indirect evidence is clear, unambiguous and compelling.
All sciences frequently rely on indirect evidence. Physicists cannot see subatomic particles directly, for instance, so they verify their existence by watching for telltale tracks that the particles leave in cloud chambers. The absence of direct observation does not make physicists’ conclusions less certain.”
So, it looks like we need to define some words here: theory and fact. Here is what dictionary.com says about the word theory. “[A] coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena. [Also] a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.” (2, emphasis mine)
Here is the definition of fact, according to dictionary.com: “a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true” (3, emphasis mine).
A theory is still conjectural and contrasts actual fact. Facts are truths known by actual experience or observation. These two definitions prove that the words theory and fact are not interchangeable. However, if we’re going to be changing the definitions of words to make the job of “disproving” creation easier, then let’s do that. So, from here on out, I will be using their definition of theory, even though it’s not true.
Moving on to the second part of their argument: evidence. Let’s take the fossil record (since I don’t know what “abundant other evidence” they are using, since they did not use those to back-up their argument…a big no no when writing research papers) and see if it proves evolution (1). We’ll assume that the part of the fossil record they’re talking about are the “intermediate/transitional fossils”, such as Lucy, which was claimed to have brought a “new level of understanding to human origins” (4).
November 24, 1974, Lucy was discovered in Ethiopia – well, that is, 47 bones were discovered (5). Let’s do a little bit of math. Because of the different species, there is an average of 210 bones in a monkey (6). Humans have about 206 bones (7). If we’re going to find something between a human and a monkey, we’re going to need roughly 208 bones ([210+206]/2). Only 47 bones were found. That’s 22.6% of a complete skeleton ([47/208]x100%). So, we’re going on less than ¼ of a fossil and claiming that it is something in between a monkey and a human. But hey, we’ve already redefined some words, so why not go with it?
Lucy’s discoverer, Donald Johanson, had found pieces of a shinbone and thighbone a year earlier (and 1½ miles away). He concluded that the “knee” he found belonged to Lucy, even though there was criticism from evolutionary paleontologists, who claimed that “it was nothing more than a monkey knee”…(spoiler alert: that’s all it was) (5).
In 1976, Mary Leakey discovered Laetoli footprints in Tanzania. In case you’re not too familiar with geography, that’s roughly 1,000 miles away from where Lucy was discovered (5). These footprints are indisputably human, with the big toe in line with the foot, unlike a monkey (5). Regardless, Johanson said that this helped prove Lucy’s half-human, half-ape being (5). But, that’s kinda like me saying you ate a doughnut because there are some sprinkles on the table and a donut shop 1,000 miles away. I have no other evidence of you eating a doughnut other than that, and all I did was make assumptions.
Evolutionists have discovered evidence that Lucy is not capable of a human gait, and that she was really a knuckle-walker (5). I could go into more detail about this and the other intermediate fossils, but that would be a series of posts all in itself. If you want to look into this further, feel free to check out these articles on Lucy, Tiktaalik (a fish in “transitional” form), and Archaeopteryx (a reptile/bird “transitional” fossil).
Here’s my last argument against their claim. They talk about all sciences frequently relying on indirect evidence. Here’s their example: “Physicists cannot see subatomic particles directly, for instance, so they verify their existence by watching for telltale tracks that the particles leave in cloud chambers. The absence of direct observation does not make physicists’ conclusions less certain.” (1)
I’m not a physicist, so I’m going to have to take their word for it on how this experiment is carried out. Of course physicists cannot see subatomic particles – so they watch for telltale signs. They are looking for evidence, and not the particles directly. Assuming this experiment is described correctly, I have no problem with how it is performed. The thing I do have a problem with is that the author of this article forgot to point out one itty-bitty detail…the physicists can keep reproducing this experiment. That is how they will be able to give you important details about these subatomic particles. They can’t see them, but because they are able to repeat the experiment, they are able to draw conclusions from the evidence that they’ve gathered. Here’s the difference between the theory of evolution’s indirect evidence and the physicists’ indirect evidence. The physicists can reproduce their claims…evolutionists can’t (and before you yell at me, we will be going into the whole macro/microevolution in a later article).
This argument by the Scientific American does not hold, for the following reasons: 1) Even with redefining the words, you cannot teach a theory as fact – they don’t mean the same thing 2) The fossil record and “intermediate/transitional forms” do not prove evolution 3) Evolution is not repeatable…but science is.
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- Rennie, John. “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense”. Scientific American, 2002. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/15-answers-to-creationist/
- Definition of Theory. Dictionary.com. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/theory
- Definition of Fact. Dictionary.com. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/fact
- Rothman, Lily. “How Lucy the Australopithecus Changed the Way We Understand Human Evolution”. Time, 2015. https://time.com/4126011/lucy-australopithecus-discovery/
- Menton, David & Mitchell, Elizabeth. “A Look at Lucy’s Legacy”. Answers in Genesis, 2012. https://answersingenesis.org/human-evolution/lucy/a-look-at-lucys-legacy/
- Answers.com. “How many bones does a monkey have?” https://www.answers.com/Q/How_many_bones_does_a_monkey_have
- Lance, Marguerite. “How Many Bones Are in the Human Body?” azcentral, 2017. https://healthyliving.azcentral.com/how-many-bones-are-in-the-human-body-12192770.html