You Just Don’t Understand Evolution!

Just who exactly is it that doesn’t understand what?

by Calvin Smith on June 12, 2024
Featured in Calvin Smith Blog

One of the most common comments posted as a rebuttal to any of our articles or videos is probably the statement “You just don’t understand evolution!” Which, of course, is not really an argument, but simply an ad hominem/to-the-man fallacy that most often isn’t really worthy of a specific response.

However, to be honest, I have seen situations in which some fellow biblical creationists make statements that indicate they aren’t particularly familiar with the exact mechanisms or nuances that evolution-believing scientists or even the average evolution believer might hold to.

For example, one of the most common I’ve seen is the question “Well, if we evolved from apes then why are there still apes around?!” thrown at evolutionists dozens of times, and often with much gusto, as if the Christian believes the question is such a “zinger” for the naturalist that it sounds as if the questioner expects the person to drop to their knees and accept Jesus as Savior on the spot!

You see, evolutionists don’t believe we evolved from apes, they believe we evolved from a common ancestor to both apes and humans. Of course, when you ask them what that creature would have resembled, they will most often say it was an apelike creature, so the thin-slicing that is often involved in these respective explanations can be a little tricky for the layperson to sort out.

Do Most Evolutionists Understand the Story of Evolution?

Regardless, the evolutionists have an answer to that question, which is why I tend to cringe a little when I see it lobbed at a skeptic because it typically elicits an eye roll or facepalm and reinforces the notion that creationists just don’t understand evolution. And often with the implication that if they did understand it, they would believe in it.

However, I have also observed that many evolution-believing laypeople and even scientists apparently don’t understand what evolution is—or is supposed to be—either.

Many times, when skeptics show up to criticize our content, I will often post a simple statement—“Evolution has never been observed”—which often sets off a firestorm of comments from evolution believers.

Defining Evolution

And I think that’s because of the numerous ways in which evolution is (and has been) described over the years. For example, textbooks will often define evolution as simply a “change in gene frequencies and expression in a population over time.”

And if that were a legitimate definition of evolution, then I could call myself an evolutionist because I know there are changes in gene frequencies in the populations of various organisms all over the world occurring constantly!

But the big picture of what evolution means to the average person goes far beyond that, and anyone who’s seen a popular evolutionary diagram showing the supposed evolution of a fish transforming into an amphibian, then a reptile, then a mammal etc., knows that all too well.

The story of evolution makes grand claims (popularized by the various incarnations of Charles Darwin’s famous “tree of life” diagram) about how the supposed first living thing that came into being slowly changed and eventually became every living thing that has ever existed on the planet. And that goes far beyond a simple comparison of gene frequencies in various organisms.

Is Natural Selection Evolution?

In contrast, some might simply describe the concept as evolution via natural selection. But creationists also believe in natural selection because it’s observational science. It’s also an integral mechanism in the biblical creation model, so how can it be used as proof of evolution? And it’s not as if creationists have only recently adopted natural selection as some revisionist history panderers have accused us of.

Some might simply describe the concept as evolution via natural selection.

You see, many people believe it was Charles Darwin who came up with the theory of natural selection that was put forth in his book Origin of Species. Few realize that there’s historical documentation stating he popularized the idea by borrowing it from several others, including the biblical creationist Edward Blyth.

One can look up copies of The Magazine of Natural History from 1835 and 1837 and read several articles by Blyth describing the process of natural selection.

And remember, Darwin had only just returned from his five-year voyage in which he was collecting specimen samples on board The Beagle in October of 1836, and so he had not yet fully formulated his evolutionary ideas. So this was all in print well over 20 years before Darwin published Origin of Species.

And it’s also known (and fairly suspicious) that Darwin owned copies of these articles, with even one well-known and respected evolutionist, Loren Eisley, having written an entire book called Darwin and the Mysterious Mr. X1 suggesting that that specific passages in Darwin’s book read entirely too close to much of Blyth’s Natural History articles.

Although his thesis, which Darwin had plagiarized much from Blyth (and others), has been criticized by many of his fellow evolutionists, prior to his honest assessment of the facts, Dr. Eiseley (PhD Anthropology) was touted as a great scholar among the evolutionary community.

Indeed, his accolades include earning 36 honorary degrees, receiving the Phi Beta Kappa Award for “Best Science Book” (titled Darwin’s Century), and being fellow of multiple professional societies. Now deceased, he ended his career as Benjamin Franklin Professor of Anthropology and History of Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Indeed, it seems to many that Darwin did some selecting of his own when compiling material for his book.

Regardless, I often enjoy reminding evolutionists that as far as natural selection goes, we understand it very well. After all, we (creationists) thought of it first.

You see, along with most other creationists that had gone before him (such as Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish biologist who essentially formalized our modern classification system of naming organisms), Blyth recognized the God of the Bible as the Creator who had designed the original kinds of creatures to be able to adapt and survive in a post-fall world.

Natural selection was therefore seen as the mechanism that would explain how the limited number of animal kinds God sent on board Noah’s ark would then have been able to speciate after the flood and account for the numerous variety of modern animals we see today—all according to their original kind (what we would consider to be around the “family” level today).

What Can Natural Selection Accomplish?

Natural selection is a process that occurs when varieties in the offspring of various organisms (due to the built-in variety of preexisting genetic information already inside them) are produced.

If the specific combination of genes that are expressed results in ways that confer a survival benefit to the organism in the environment they’re in (such as long-haired varieties in cold regions or short-haired ones in warm areas), those with that specific genetic makeup will be more likely to create more offspring and become the dominant kind in that area.

When those new varieties continue to reproduce among themselves, they may become even more specific in their looks, behavior, etc., as they may not have access to potential mates with a wider variety of genetics. This means that the new population will have less variety of genetic information than the original parent population did.

Therefore, natural selection is not a creative process. It can only select from what preexists. Genes that aren’t in the gene pool of any particular kind of creature can’t be selected for, so natural selection never produces anything truly new.

As Professor Walter Veith (PhD in zoology) said regarding the claim natural selection somehow evolves new creatures,

The very name “selection” implies that you’re choosing between two or more variants. Natural selection never increases the number of variants; it only decreases them. So . . . how does a mechanism that makes less and less end up making more and more?2

Well, obviously—it doesn’t! But again, you can see how if you’ve been taught to believe that natural selection equates to evolution, this could lead to Bible skeptics accusing creationists of not understanding evolution. They might look at us as intellectual bumpkins because evidence of natural selection can be observed all the time.

And so, like a parent trying to help a child, they often try to explain examples of natural selection such as pesticide resistance, changes in stickleback fish, finch beak sizes, or variations in the colors of moths to us—like we’re 5 years old—in order to help us understand the “reality” of evolution.

The Best Example of Evolution?

Take the aforementioned peppered moth as an example. It’s been referred to gushingly by evolutionists as not only “the poster child of Darwinian evolution”3 but also as “the prize horse in our stable”4 in terms of evidence of evolution via natural selection. As one evolutionist put it:

It is the slam dunk of natural selection, the paradigmatic story that converts high school and college students to Darwin, the thundering left hook to the jaw of creationism.5

That is, of course, until all sorts of shenanigans surrounding how the studies and experiments involving the peppered moth were conducted was exposed in the book Melanism: Evolution in Action, by fellow evolutionist Michael Majerus, a geneticist from Cambridge University.

Fudging the Data

You see, the majority of the supposed proof of the evolution of the peppered moths was provided by Dr. Bernard Kettlewell from Oxford University, who was so confident in his conclusions regarding the variation in moths driven by natural selection that he declared if Charles Darwin had only seen his experiments, “he would have witnessed the consummation and confirmation of his life’s work.”6 That is the confirmation of the story of evolution!

And even though Kettlewell’s work had been known to be suspect for years prior (such as the discovery he’d glued moths to tree trunks to get pictures of them where they don’t naturally rest), Majerus’s criticisms (likely because he was a fellow evolutionist) shook up the evolutionary community quite severely.

Case in point, even vociferous atheist and anti-creationist Dr. Jerry Coyne (in a review of Majerus’ book in the journal Nature) said the following after hearing the peppered moth example perhaps wasn’t all it was originally cracked up to be.

My own reaction resembles the dismay attending my discovery, at the age of six, that it was my father and not Santa who brought the presents on Christmas Eve.7

Peppered Moths Never Were a Help to Evolution

But wait a second, did Coyne truly understand evolution before this happened? Because all the peppered moth example ever accomplished was simply a demonstration of natural selection anyway, which isn’t evolution in the big sense whatsoever. As mentioned previously, all it demonstrates is a reshuffling of genetic information that already existed.

If you already had moths with various colors and then certain environmental conditions favored certain colors over others—who really cares? As the British zoologist L. Harrison Matthews said in his introduction to the 1971 edition of Origin of Species,

The experiments beautifully demonstrate natural selection—or survival of the fittest—in action, but they do not show evolution in progress, for however the populations may alter in their content or light, intermediate or dark forms, all the moths remain from beginning to end Biston betularia.8

You see, Mathews (a committed evolutionist) understood that if evolution were true and there were creatures without lungs, then lungs evolved. At one time, there were creatures without wings, then wings evolved. There were creatures without echolocation, then that ability and all its required genetic software and hardware (so to speak) evolved etc. Evolution is supposed to explain where all the new stuff came from.

Evolution is supposed to explain where all the new stuff came from.

Ultimately, evolution has to demonstrate where the acquisition of new abilities, forms, functions, and features came from—and these moths don’t have anything new. So he understood that showing examples of a process that selects genetic information that is already in existence cannot be deemed “evolution in action.”

And again, remember that the peppered moth has been touted as one of the best proofs of evolution and here you have a renowned evolutionist admitting it is nothing of the sort! So how many evolution believers really understand evolution?

Moth Melanin Still Meaningful?

Of course, if you’ve been keeping up to date on the whole peppered moth story, Majerus later flipped the script and said he’d done research of his own that vindicates Ketterwell’s original conclusions (even if he used improper methods to divine them).

And some evolutionists such as Steve Connor (the science editor for the Indy—the British liberal-leaning online newspaper called The Independent) have tried to use the situation to make it seem like once again, those silly creationists “just don’t understand evolution!” He wrote:

Creationists smelt blood. The story of the peppered moth became a story of how Darwinism itself was flawed—with its best-known example being based on fiddled data.

Quoting Majerus, he said:

The peppered moth story is easy to understand, because it involves things that we are familiar with: vision and predation and birds and moths and pollution and camouflage and lunch and death. That is why the anti-evolution lobby attacks the peppered moth story. They are frightened that too many people will be able to understand.

Do you see what he’s trying to do here? By making it seem as if creationists were only focusing on whether the original research was flawed or not, he’s saying creationists are obfuscating the real argument and that they are trying to lure people away from truly understanding the peppered moth study, which again is supposedly the “best known” example of Darwinism and perhaps why they are so defensive of it.

However, far from not wanting the average “high schooler or college student” to know what the data shows, we wish everyone would come to understand it fully. Because it’s just an example of natural selection but is certainly not an example of evolution!

The only point creationists made regarding the doctored evidence in the moth experiments was that evolutionists have been caught fudging data to fit their story many, many times now, so people should be cautious of accepting it without serious consideration.

Even Coyne raised a similar concern when he said this about the dubious experiments regarding the peppered moth which had convinced him and so many others initially.

It is also worth pondering why there has been general and unquestioned acceptance of Kettlewell’s work.9

Who Understands Evolution?

So who exactly is it that doesn’t understand evolution? No one has observed evolution in action, and yet countless believers in the story of evolution—both laypeople and scientifically literate specialists—claim to have done so.

And yet when pressed, most of the scientists will admit that “big picture” evolution is not demonstrable, while still citing specific circumstances like new flu bug strains, pesticide or antibiotic resistance, etc., and touting fancy-sounding mechanisms like genetic drift, nonrandom mating, speciation, gene flow, founders’ theory, etc. (which all fall under the umbrella of examples of natural selection or of defective genetic mutations), none of which have ever been observed to evolve anything.

No, we understand what evolution is supposed to be and be able to do, it’s just that none of the things that evolutionists point to as evidence for evolution actually accomplish what evolution is supposed to! None of these examples ever create anything new; they just demonstrate either reshuffled varieties or broken and damaged versions of what already existed.

What the story of evolution actually depends on is an impressive amount of imagination, not observational science. And if you listen carefully, you will hear it constantly in their explanations of how “this” supposedly turned into “that” over millions of years, and yet, no one has ever observed anything close to that occurring.

Hurling the Elephant

At this point in the argument, many evolutionists often retreat to elephant hurling, claiming that if creationists took into account the entire body of evidence from the fossil record, the geologic column, DNA studies, ape-man skulls, dinosaurs etc. and put it all together, then we’d understand the evidence for evolution is simply overwhelming!

As the famous atheistic evolutionist Professor Richard Dawkins once said,

Nobody has actually seen evolution take place over a long period but they have seen the after effects, and the after effects are massively supported. It is like a case in a court of law where nobody can actually stand up and say I saw the murder happen and yet you have got millions and millions of pieces of evidence which no reasonable person can possibly dispute.10

Upon close examination, each and every piece of evidence—each individual example used to promote it—falls apart.

See what he’s claiming? Well, yes, (just like the hypothetical murder) no one has observed evolution, but all the individual pieces of evidence can’t be disputed. And yet, all of them can be, and usually, quite easily at that. Upon close examination, each and every piece of evidence—each individual example used to promote it—falls apart.

Everything Is Evolution!

In order to create the appearance of the story of evolution as having some semblance of credibility, evolutionists sometimes water down the definition to the point that it seems any change in living things—past or present—can be co-opted into the definition.

A perfect example is the definition of evolution used by Dr. Eugenie Scott, former executive director of the rather pretentious-sounding and evolution-defending National Center for Science Education. By the way, notice her target audience when using the definition.

The “Big Idea” is that living things (species) are related to one another through common ancestry from earlier forms that differed from them. Darwin called this “descent with modification,” and it is still the best definition of evolution we can use, especially with members of the general public and with young learners.11

Of course, under this definition, the very act of procreation between sexually reproducing organisms could be dubbed as evidence of evolution. Because the offspring of all living things are obviously related to their ancestors and differ from them to some degree!

No wonder the average person that evolutionists like Scott are targeting doesn’t understand evolution. If virtually any change in living things can be cited as proof of evolution, of course, the average young person will grow up thinking that the so-called evidence for it is overwhelming! And no wonder so many of them keep showing up in our comment section saying, “You just don’t understand evolution!”

However, as far as those of us at Answers in Genesis, it’s not that we don’t believe in evolution because we don’t understand it, we don’t believe in evolution because we do understand it! And we want to help educate as many people as we can as to why the story of evolution simply doesn’t hold up scientifically, and certainly not biblically, in any way whatsoever.


  1. Loren C. Eiseley, Darwin and the Mysterious Mr. X (Boston: Harcourt, 1981).
  2. Carl Wieland and Jonathan Sarfati, “Professing Creation,” Creation 22, no. 1 (1999): 36–38,
  3. Cristina Luiggi, “Peppered Moths Re-Examined,” TheScientist, February 9, 2012,
  4. Jerry A. Coyne, “Not Black and White,” Nature 396 (1998): 35–36,
  5. Judith Hooper, Of Moths and Men: An Evolutionary Tale (New York: W. W. Horton, 2002), xvii.
  6. H. Kettlewell, “Darwin’s Missing Evidence,” in Evolution and the Fossil Record, Readings from Scientific American (San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Co., 1978), 23.
  7. Coyne, “Not Black and White.”
  8. L. Harrison Matthews, “Introduction,” Origin of the Species, (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1971), xi.
  9. Coyne, “Not Black and White.”
  10. Channel 4 (UK), “The Genius of Charles Darwin (Episode 3): Richard Dawkins,” August 18, 2008.
  11. Eugenie C. Scott, “Dealing with Anti-Evolutionism,” Reports of the National Center for Science Education 17, no. 4 (July–August 1997): 24–30,

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