Believing in Evolution

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on January 28, 2012

NPR: “Why Do So Many Have Trouble Believing In Evolution?Blogger displays his lack of understanding of creation science.

A recent National Public Radio blog post asks why so many have “trouble believing in evolution.” The writer cites Gallup statistics and then concludes, “Religious belief interferes with people’s understanding of what the theory of evolution says.” Implicit in his conclusion, of course, is the notion that anyone who actually understands evolutionary dogma will accept it. In fact, by pointing out in his title that accepting evolution is a matter of belief, he rightly acknowledges that acceptance of evolution—like acceptance of any position regarding origins science—involves faith.

Origins science by nature involves assertions about processes that cannot be observed or assessed by repeatable tests. The origin of the universe and of life is in the past. It is not possible to go back and watch those origins happen. Observational science requires observable subjects. Our origins are simply not observable. Therefore, any belief about origins must depend on faith of some sort. Biblical creationists accept God’s eyewitness account of origins and find His account is not violated by any observable science. Evolutionists, on the other hand, have faith that random processes acting over long periods of time produced all we see today. Without an eyewitness account of those origins or any way to actually test those origins in real time, an evolutionist is putting faith in a “just-so story” and then searching for scientific evidence to support his position.

The primary reason we reject evolution is our choice to have faith in God’s Word instead of faith in man’s ideas.

The primary reason we reject evolution is our choice to have faith in God’s Word instead of faith in man’s ideas. The secondary reason we confidently reject evolutionary notions is not failure to understand evolution but because we do understand evolutionary claims and find them wanting! Religious belief—in the Bible, that is—provides the material to develop concepts (such as the fact that organisms reproduce after their created kinds) and models (such as the models of Flood geology and the Ice Age triggered by the global Flood) that are consistent with scientific observations. Understanding evolutionary ideas, however, unveils the unverifiable uniformitarian assumptions, circular reasoning, and equivocal definitions on which evolution’s support is based.

The NPR blogger asserts, “The evidence for evolution is overwhelming.” Then he declares the evidence is in the fossil record. He neglects to mention the lack of transitional forms—a problem Darwin himself noted. He claims the “fossil record, carefully dated using radioactivity . . . works like a very precise clock” and provides “a very accurate measure of the age of a fossil.” Here the blogger shows his failure to understand several important facts.

In the first place, fossils supposedly millions of years old are not dated “by radioactivity.” Radiometric dating methods—other than carbon dating, which is incapable of dating anything millions of years old—are primarily used to date igneous and metamorphic rocks. Fossils, however, are buried in sedimentary rocks. Radiometric dating is sometimes used to date volcanic rocks sandwiching fossil-containing layers, but generally speaking the estimated ages of the fossils are not directly derived from this “very precise clock.”

Secondly, radiometric methods are all based on a number of unverifiable assumptions, such as assumptions about the original amounts of radiogenic substances, the constancy of the rate of decay over deep time, and the certainty of no contamination.1

And finally, these dating methods are used to calibrate and confirm each other. While the methods may yield impressively precise numbers giving the illusion of reliability, in reality the accuracy of the dates can only be assessed by comparison with an objective standard of known age. If all the “known ages” are derived from methods resting on these unverifiable assumptions, then accuracy—how close to the truth a measurement really is—cannot be scientifically assessed.

Some suggest molecular clocks confirm radiometric dates. Yet molecular clock methods are also built on unverifiable assumptions such as the constancy of mutation rates over deep time and even the assumption that numerous information-losing mutations can add up to a gain of information. Furthermore, molecular clocks are calibrated in accordance with fossil age estimates extrapolated from radiometric decay rates, another case of circular reasoning. Finally, molecular clock databases are built on a foundation of statistical manipulation that violates the rules of statistics. (See Researchers Devise Alternate Theory For Cambrian Explosion and News to Note, December 31, 2011: Year in Review for more about these mathematical games.)

Then the blogger moves from his inadequate discussion of the “overwhelming” fossil evidence for evolution to an equally inadequate discussion of antibiotic resistance as “conclusive” evidence of evolution. Here he misrepresents Answers in Genesis molecular geneticist Dr. Georgia Purdom, saying she denies mutation’s role in the development of antibiotic resistance and fails to provide evidence for her assertions. The blogger fails to note Dr. Purdom’s scholarly article in Answers Research Journal2 detailing the role of both horizontal gene transfer and adaptive mutation in the changing character of bacteria.

The evidence he cites to support his contention that antibiotic resistance proves evolution is a 2010 article3 only describing how natural selection acts on genetic information acquired by “spontaneous chromosomal mutations, or . . . by horizontal gene transfer” to produce resistant populations. The bacteria possessing the genetic ability to resist antibiotics have a competitive advantage when exposed to antibiotics, so natural selection acts on the population to produce a predominantly resistant one. But the bacteria are the same kind of organism they were before. Creation scientists do not deny the obvious observable results of natural selection in refining the characteristics of populations. Such variation within created kinds does not violate the biblical principle of reproduction of organisms “after their kinds.” Neither does such variation support or prove Darwinian evolution of new kinds of organisms.

In essence, he is asking why we—as biblical creationists—care.

Finally, the blogger puzzles about why anyone would mind believing in evolution. In essence, he is asking why we—as biblical creationists—care. We might ask him the same. Why does an evolutionist care that “only 39 percent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution”? The fact is, what a person believes about the origin of life reflects his choice of the ultimate authority in his life. Why should an evolutionist care about those who accept God’s Word as the standard and authority in their lives? On the other hand, biblical creationists are concerned about making sure people understand—there’s that word again, understand—the truth of God’s Word. If a person knows he can trust God’s Word from the beginning, then he can fairly evaluate the claims of Jesus Christ who points out we are all sinners in need of the blood He shed to redeem us for all eternity. Evolutionary beliefs do not keep anyone out of heaven, per se, but those beliefs compromise Scripture and cause many to stumble by failing to fairly consider the claims of Christ found in those same Scriptures..

So, no, our “strong resistance to evolution” does not spring from a “deep dislike for a scientific understanding of how nature works” or a fear that scientific explanations will crowd out God. We love learning more about how God designed and sustains our world. That true scientific knowledge prompts us to praise our Creator. The fact is we understand evolution too well to accept it, and we understand that God’s truth in the Bible provides the eternal foundation on which we can build our lives and understand the world around us.


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Footnotes

  1. For more information, see Radiometric Dating: Back to Basics, Radiometric Dating: Problems with the Assumptions, Radiometric Dating: Making Sense of the Patterns, The Fallacies of Radioactive Dating of Rocks, Carbon-14 Dating, A Creationist Puzzle.
  2. The Role of Genomic Islands, Mutation, and Displacement in the Origin of Bacterial Pathogenicity
  3. www.discoverymedicine.com/R-Craig-MacLean/2010/08/04/the-evolution-of-antibiotic-resistance-insight-into-the-roles-of-molecular-mechanisms-of-resistance-and-treatment-context/

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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.