Since the majority of scientists believe in evolution, should this “majority opinion” matter to the Bible-believer?
I used to be a firm believer in the Creation that you guys preach. I did, and still do, believe that the Answers in Genesis website is a great site. You have very smart and convincing arguments for a literal, Biblical creation.
However, one day a friend told me that something like 95 percent of scientists believe evolution is true. That made me completely rethink things. I’m a layman when it comes to this stuff. All I know is what I learnt in school or read on this website. So my opinion on the topic of evolution is only based on what smarter people than me have said. And basically, it’s your views vs. everyone else’s. Who am I to say that all those incredibly smart people are wrong?
In summary, I really respect the people at Answers in Genesis - but I need to go with the vast majority on this one. How would you respond?
—D. B., Canada
Thank you for writing. Our primary purpose as a ministry is to glorify God by calling Christians—such as you, we presume—back to the authority of God’s Word and by pointing out how the church’s abandonment of Scripture (especially Genesis 1–11) has weakened the foundation of the gospel and the biblical worldview.
While we’re glad to hear you find at least some of our arguments convincing, we want to make it clear that we’re not just preaching and arguing for creation or merely our point of view. Rather, we’re pointing to God’s Word that clearly teaches that the world—and all life—was created in the first six days of Creation Week, some 6,000 years ago. This truth is not contingent on our arguments; rather, it’s the fundamental Word of God that one either accepts or rejects. That acceptance or rejection then colors how each of us interpret the scientific evidence.
Only the fossil itself is irrefutable, but interpretations regarding its age, for instance, may not be.
What we do have on our site are many explanations of how we can interpret unbiased, raw scientific facts coherently within a biblical framework. When an evolutionary scientist discovers a dinosaur fossil, for instance, he or she ascribes to it an age and description based on what that scientist already believes about the history of life. Likewise, when our scientists encounter new research, we interpret it according to the foundational truths of God’s Word. Only the fossil itself is irrefutable, but interpretations regarding its age, for instance, may not be.
The key point is this: one cannot objectively balance all of the evidence for creation or evolution, then arrive at a fair conclusion, because the evidence itself is interpreted according to what you already believe. Our weekly column News to Know is an ongoing study in how evidence for evolution can be interpreted as evidence for creation (and the opposite is true as well, if you hold an evolutionary worldview).
We understand that, when one is not a scientist or a full-time researcher, it can be more difficult to understand, let alone read, everything that’s presented about the origins debate. And while it may be impossible to determine the exact percentage of evolution-believing scientists, it is certainly true that the majority of scientists believe in evolution as opposed to special creation.1
So should this “majority opinion” matter to the Bible-believer? Not really. If it were only about opinions, then maybe it should, but it’s not. And that is the crux of the issue. Whom will you believe: the Almighty God and His inspired revelation in the Scriptures as not just an eyewitness but the “perpetrator” if you will, or man’s demonstrably fallible opinions about what they did not observe, nor can repeat. But if one needs more reasons than that (and a Christian really shouldn’t), here are twelve reasons why we aren’t convinced of evolution just because the majority of scientists accept it:
- Many of these same scientists that reject creation likewise reject the Resurrection of Christ, miracles, or that there’s even a God or any supernatural beings. Does this mean we should abandon our entire faith because many scientists are likewise non-traditionally religious (they are likely humanistic, which is religious)? Of course not. And in fact, the anti-biblical views of many scientists taint their perspective on the creation/evolution controversy; why should a Christian trust an atheist scientist when it comes to the origin of life?
- One idea that has been propounded is that most professional scientists recognize problems for Darwinism that have been discovered within their field, but they are not aware of such problems in other scientific fields. Thus, they assume the case for evolution is stronger than it actually is, which leads to a continual cycle of dismissing problems with Darwinism—instead, such problems are reinterpreted and result in ideas like punctuated equilibrium.
- What if evolutionists all decided that the meaninglessness of life compelled them to suicide and jumped over the nearest cliff? Simultaneously, the percentage of the world’s scientists accepting young-earth creation shoots from 5% to 100%. Would evolution have been true up until the very moment of the mass suicide, when creation suddenly became truth? Obviously not! And, indeed, the silliness of this scenario shows why such “majority decides truth” thinking is wrong.2 By the way, Scripture teaches that even if no one spoke God’s truth, the rocks would still cry out.
- If you believe in majority rules, there can never be truth; after all, what transcendent principle dictates that the majority is always right? If the majority declares that it is always right, it is merely begging the question. But what if the majority rejects the notion that the majority is always right—doesn’t this create an epistemological paradox? And if a transcendent principle were to declare that the majority is always right, doesn’t this show an epistemological authority beyond the majority?
- Furthermore, a flaw in believing that the majority is always right is ignoring the effect of sociological factors in belief. It can be plainly demonstrated that the majority has lingering misconceptions and that, in some cases, the majority of people believe something that is actually demonstrably false. A relevant example are the pervasive misconceptions about the Scopes Trial. Many people also accept evolutionary myths. (If you repeat a lie frequently enough . . . !) Of course, it doesn’t change atheists’ minds that the majority of society still believes in God.
- Likewise, there may be systemic sociological factors that contribute to the majority of scientists turning down young-earth creation. Whereas many intelligent Christians flock to various avenues of full-time ministry, there is no equivalent route for intelligent atheists; thus, it seems likely that a higher proportion of intelligent agnostics and atheists enter science fields, skewing the results.
- Since the origin of life is both a scientific and a theological question, shouldn’t we also consider the fact that the great majority of Christian leaders across the centuries have held to a literal, six-day creation? For that matter, we should take the words of Jesus as more important than the words of any scientist or any theologian!
- Scientists are very good at observational science—repeatedly conducting carefully controlled experiments to disprove hypotheses and draw educated conclusions. Such science is the basis for modern medicine and technology, and Answers in Genesis stands firmly behind this kind of science. On the other hand, however, is origins science, which for evolutionists means making up untestable stories about the past to describe where fossils and rocks came from and using philosophical uniformitarianism to extrapolate how old the earth is. These tales can’t be experimentally tested, though that doesn’t stop scientists from building on layers of interpretation and spinning the result as “scientific fact.” Additionally, many mainstream scientific reports—and even journals—continually conflate definitions so that any change that occurs, even with species, can be considered evolution in the molecules-to-man sense. For the record (again), creationists “believe in” (because it’s observable and repeatable) natural selection, but this does not in any way prove pondscum-to-people evolution, which has never been observed.
- The entire public education system in most countries, along with most private schools (including university-level), teach Darwinism as truth and give no time to fielding difficulties with Darwinism (and certainly not teaching creation). So is it any surprise so many students—especially those who pursue science—end up accepting Darwinism? With the steady decline in religiosity, many scientists are probably not even aware of what the Bible says or what creationists actually believe, which is why we have to continually explain, e.g., that Noah did not have to take two of every species of insect on the Ark.
- Not only that, but there is a clearly documented, ongoing situation of bullying of academicians who question Darwinism, as was documented in Ben Stein’s film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.
- Additionally, the mere fact that many very intelligent, fully qualified scientists are young-earth creationists and Darwin dissenters is enough to challenge the idea that the majority is right. After all, those scientists are also aware that they’re in the minority—yet they still stand against Darwinism. It would be a (moderately) different story if 100% of qualified people accepted evolution, and if no one who accepted creation understood evolution at all.
- Ultimately, while scientists may have PhD’s or even a higher average IQ than the ordinary Joe, they are nonetheless still fallible humans, predisposed to biases, cognitive dissonance, and re-interpreting contradictory facts according to their presupposed worldview. On the other hand, our God is an infallible authority, a direct observer of His own creative acts. Christians can’t simply dismiss what the Bible clearly records just because un-Christian scientists have a competing origin-of-life story.
As you’ll note, the above points transcend the actual scientific disagreements of the creation/evolution debate. That’s because, as we said, at heart the debate doesn’t have to do with who says what about the “evidence.” Rather, the basis for the disagreement are fundamentally different worldviews, themselves based on presupposed starting points.
For Christians, when we begin by trusting the infallible Word of God, we can make sense of the world around us—including scientific facts that are sometimes spun into “evidence” for evolution. For a Christian to accept the fallible beliefs of atheistic scientists over God’s Word would be even more contradictory than an atheist rejecting Darwinism because a Christian pastor says it isn’t true! And if you’re going to accept the word of materialistic scientists, you may as well throw out the rest of Scripture—and Christ’s divinity—as well.
A. P. Galling, AiG–US