Creationist Boo-boos? Yes, I think we need to recognize there have been mistakes on both sides. Before I go on with some more examples of errors that have plagued the science of evolution due to faith in Evolutionism*, I’d like to point out some mistaken or misused arguments that have been used by creationists. *(An example of faith that matter/energy and natural processes alone can account for everything.) So we can call these Creationist Boo-boos.
Using the Bible as a science textbook
Of course, it’s perfectly legitimate for a creationist to trust the Bible as the Word of God and take Genesis as a straightforward account of what actually happened in the beginning. The error comes in when creationists take the words as equivalent to scientifically technical terms, or read into them or beyond them various natural processes which might or might not have been involved. In other words, place excessive scientific significance in or between the lines. This is similar to the superstitious use of Scriptures that Sir Francis Bacon warned against.
I would also like to note, however, that evolutionists should not criticize using the Bible as a science text, but then turn around and criticize creationists for citing it in terms of its not matching scientific criteria. A history including God’s supernatural activity can’t be judged by the yardstick of known natural processes.
Species, fixity of
Our current system of classification was set up by Linnaeus long before Darwin, with the solid belief that God had created distinct kinds of animals. It is therefore ridiculous to use the nesting of common features as an argument in support of universal common descent. Clearly this pattern makes sense in both frameworks. However, Linnaeus was fallible, as he noted at the time. Therefore it should not be surprising that when he set the bar for “species,” he set it too low. The idea that what he and others had defined as species were distinct and immutable kinds created by God was a big mistake. It provided Darwin with a lot of motivation, ammunition and a big, easy target.
Creation scientists today seek to discern the significance of “kinds” as used in the Bible and apply it to biological classification, but it is not easy. The word in the Bible is apparently used in an ordinary sense, leaving the work of figuring out the actual biological limits of created variation an open-ended task. Trying to get too much technical information from the Bible’s use of “kinds” falls into the first error.
Compounding the difficulty is that evolutionists have problems with defining different categories, too. There have been changes to, and there still are arguments over, species and sub-species and all the other classifications. Even the largest, two Kingdoms, was divided into several Kingdoms, and then replaced by two Domains, which became three Domains. There’s no guarantee that a set of organisms in one classification are equivalent in the actual organization of life with those at the same level of classification. Our selection and judgment of traits may be misguided all around. People naturally fall into two camps when organizing things: Lumpers and Splitters, and it may be that they are each closer to the truth in different cases. The assumption that everything evolved from a common ancestor naturally leads to overlooking distinctions and emphasizing similarities. All in all, classification is going to always be a work in progress for everyone.
Why Are Monkeys Still Here?
A common error among creationists who haven’t studied the subject is the belief that evolution involves an entire population evolving together. A variation of this is the belief that the original kind would always go extinct. Actually, there are probably uneducated evolutionists who have this view as well, but only the creationists bring it up, falsely believing it can be used to argue against evolution. After all, the argument goes, if we “evolved from monkeys,” why are there still monkeys around? However, the idea of evolution is simply that parts of populations gradually diverge from each other, with one part quite likely staying pretty much the same.
I must note that common evolutionary slogans and arguments have contributed to this error. “Survival of the fittest” can easily be taken to imply the non-survival of what the fittest evolved from. Furthermore, the extinction of ancestral populations is the explanation given (from Darwin till today) for why we see and are able to classify distinct groups of organisms, rather than seeing so many ancestral stages still alive as to make drawing any lines hopeless. Evolutionary thought encompasses both the total extinction of any number of intermediate forms, perhaps after relatively few generations, and the survival of some distinct forms as “living fossils” for hundreds of millions of years or more.
Computers Discovered Joshua’s Long Day
An urban legend that may yet survive in some circles was that, in testing astronomical simulations on
a computer, NASA scientists found a discrepancy of one day. Someone eventually pointed out this could be explained by the time that the sun “stood still” for Joshua. One variation claimed a further refinement in the calculations accounted for the shadow going back on king Hezekiah’s sundial.
There’s no basis for this, and no reason to believe that a computer simulation would show such a difference even if those miracles actually produced one. They may not have involved a change in the rotation of the earth. Apparently in the excitement over the new powers of computers, some speculation about what they might be able to do got blown up into a story that they had actually done it. Such a powerful “proof” of these supernatural events was so exciting that many people failed to question if it might be too good to be true. Few at the time had an understanding of how computers and computer simulations worked, even if they did wonder about it.
Gigantic Giant Fossils
Unlike many mythologies, the only indication of the size of a giant in the Bible, that of Goliath, is very plausible. However, in the past, and still today, some well-meaning creationists have gotten excited over large bones as evidence for truly enormous humans, often identifying them with those before the Flood. Some take the Israelite spies’ description of being as grasshoppers in the eyes of the giants among the Canaanites as meaning those giants were truly colossal, and believe there are fossil bones to prove it.
Unfortunately the fossils in question are certainly misidentified. Most simply were parts of dinosaurs. In some cases they didn’t even belong to the same part of the body they were taken for. Modern times have introduced the problem of digital alteration of images (“photoshopping”). Some creationists have been gullible and passed along such sensational images. Perhaps the worst part of this is that it really has nothing to do with supporting the Bible or Divine Creation.
Another myth that some creationists have mistakenly gotten excited about is the report that men have one less rib than women, representing God’s having taken a rib from Adam to create Eve. The number of ribs can vary with the addition or loss of one or two from the typical set. Men do not have fewer than women, nor is this to be expected from the Biblical description of Eve’s creation. Removal of parts does not result in loss of those parts in future offspring.
Living Dinosaurs and More
Many creationists use reports of sightings of living dinosaurs, sea monsters, and pterosaurs as an argument against evolution. The field of cryptozoology is exciting and a number of species once thought extinct for vast ages have been discovered still living. The most notable case is probably that of the coelacanths. I believe it is a good question how various organisms could survive and appear so similar to fossils dated millions, tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of years, and all the extinctions and changes in global environments associated with such mind-boggling spans of time.
However, I think appealing to reports of creatures whose existence has not been established is an error. First of all simply because the reports have not been confirmed. There are those who believe in ghosts, spacecraft from different planets visiting Earth (UFOs), Bigfoot, etc., largely on such reports. Most creationists don’t believe in those. Why should we believe in things that have about the same level of support?
Then, too, even if a dinosaur, plesiosaur, or pterosaur should be produced, evolutionists would simply shrug and place it alongside the coelacanths and many other living things that appear the same as fossils believed to be many millions of years old. It might add somewhat to the doubts that they all went extinct over 60 million years ago, but it’s hardly worth putting weight on anecdotal reports. Even evolutionists should be (and many are) open to the possibility of some such creature surviving today, but we should all wait until we have an actual body to examine, as happened with the giant squid.
No Transitional Fossils
Of course creationists argue that there was no common ancestor of all living things, and so no fossil represents a transition between the different kinds of organisms that God created. However, to say that there are no transitional fossils overlooks a couple things.
One is that creationists do believe in variation within kinds, and kinds may include individuals that scientists have placed in different genera or even broader classifications. Things have been moved from one classification to another, classifications have been divided and joined. So it is quite possible that some fossils represent a transitional stage within a kind.
It should also be recognized that evolutionists certainly believe a number of fossils with intermediate features are transitional. Part of the confusion here can be cleared up by reading higher-quality popular articles and the original technical descriptions. These usually reveal that the fossils are not considered to be actually from organisms in the lineage from one distinct form to another, but those that were (more or less) closely related to the linking populations. The term for this relation is “sister groups.” Technically they are not actually transitionals, but they are close enough for evolutionists and this concept should be respected.
Amateur Appeals to Entropy
There certainly is a valid point to be made about the general entropy of the universe and natural process on Earth, but creationists have often gone about it the wrong way. Simply citing the Second Law of Thermodynamics isn’t enough. That law simply describes the flow of heat as going from hotter things to colder things, active atoms dissipating their energy. Entropy in information theory is again a technical term which is measured in a way that ignores “information content” as we commonly understand it.
For those who are not well-studied in such fields, it is best to simply point out that non-living natural processes tend to break down complex things, no matter how much energy is applied — more energy tends to break things down faster! Likewise, while biological change and natural selection have been observed, the overwhelming tendency is to gradual accumulation of genetic errors, not complex new parts. Talking about thermodynamics and entropy is just asking for trouble.
And so on…
Of course, many more examples could be given. Creationists are human, too. As the “evo boo-boos” show how evolutionary philosophy has hampered solid scientific study of biology, the mistakes of creationists reveal pitfalls that they can fall into.