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Young Earth Creationism = Darwinism?

by Daniel Loxton, Dec 08 2009


“News flash: skeptics hack the Answers in Genesis website!” Or, at least, that was the joke  Skeptic co-publisher Pat Linse made when I read her some pro-natural selection material from the young Earth creationist organization’s slick online portal.

For years, I’ve been surprised how rarely this is mentioned: young Earth creationists need Darwin to be right — and when you press them on it, they often agree that he was.

Doesn’t sound like the creationism you know? It’s not a hacker’s prank, and it’s not a radical re-thinking of creationism. It is, however, a nuance as important as it is surprising: creationist leaders share Darwin’s belief that species routinely change (and even originate) through mutation and natural selection.

Indeed, according to Answers In Genesis’ (AiG) current web feature “Top 10 Myths About Creation,” it’s a straw-man to suppose creationists think otherwise:

A popular caricature of creationists is that we teach the fixity of species (i.e., species don’t change). And since species obviously do change, evolutionists enjoy setting up this straw-man argument to win a debate that was never really there in the first place.

Lest we have doubt about what they mean when they insist that “species obviously do change,” the same AiG article clarifies,

Species changing via natural selection and mutations is perfectly in accord with what the Bible teaches.

Moreover, many creationist organizations agree that new species originate through these well-understood Darwinian processes. As Creation Ministries International (CMI) explains,

Thirteen species of finches live on the Galápagos, the famous island group visited by Charles Darwin in the 1830s. The finches have a variety of bill shapes and sizes, all suited to their varying diets and lifestyles. The explanation given by Darwin was that they are all the offspring of an original pair of finches, and that natural selection is responsible for the differences.

Surprisingly to some, this is the explanation now held by most modern creationists.

Think about that for a moment. Given the super-heated rhetoric creationists use against Darwin, the magnitude of this concession is staggering: it is nothing less than the assertion that Darwin was right.

Nor do creationists merely concede that new species could, in principle, arise from natural evolutionary processes: they assert that this actually happens. For example, this is emphasized in AiG’s Answer magazine article “Do Species Change?”:

To his credit, Darwin corrected a popular misunderstanding. Species do change. Since Darwin’s day, many observations have confirmed this. In fact, new species have even been shown to arise within a single human lifetime. For example, one study gave evidence that sockeye salmon introduced into Lake Washington, USA, between 1937 and 1945 had split into two reproductively isolated populations (i.e., two separate species) in fewer than 13 generations (a maximum of 56 years).

Likewise, Philip Johnson, an architect of intelligent design creationism, argues that

Darwinian theory tells us how a certain amount of diversity in life forms can develop once we have various types of complex living organisms already in existence. If a small population of birds happens to migrate to an isolated island, for example, a combination of inbreeding, mutation, and natural selection may cause this isolated population to develop different characteristics from those possessed by the ancestral population on the mainland. When the theory is understood in this limited sense, Darwinian evolution is uncontroversial, and has no important philosophical or theological implications.

This process of adaptive radiation was Darwin’s key Galápagos discovery. It is also, bizarrely enough, essential for those biblical literalists who accept a world-wide flood. The reason, of course, is that the Earth has far more extant and extinct animal species than could possibly fit inside Noah’s ark. CMI explains,

Creationists have long proposed such ‘splitting under selection’ from the original kinds, explaining for example wolves, coyotes, dingoes and other wild dogs from one pair on the Ark.

The need for adaptive radiation puts creationists in the unexpected position of arguing that evolutionary processes are even more powerful than mainstream scientists suppose.

The question of time has, however, been seized upon by anti-creationists. They insist that it would take a much longer time than Scripture allows. … Instead, it is real, observed evidence that such (downhill) adaptive formation of several species from the one created kind can easily take place in a few centuries. It doesn’t need millions of years. The argument is strengthened by the fact that, after the Flood, selection pressure would have been much more intense — with rapid migration into new, empty niches, residual catastrophism and changing climate as the Earth was settling down and drying out, and simultaneous adaptive radiation of differing food species.

Now, before I am accused of quote-mining, let me be very clear: all of these authors and organizations emphatically reject the idea that evolutionary processes are sufficient to explain the diversity of life. All insist that intentional, intelligent design played a creative role in biological history — and that there are strict limits to the amount of biological change that may be generated by Darwinian processes.

As Answers in Genesis puts it,

Modern creationists need to challenge both the unbiblical essentialist ideas that underlie species fixity and the naturalistic ideas that underpin evolution from a common ancestor. The truth lies somewhere between these two extremes: yes, species change, but variation has clear limits.

You’re probably familiar with the distinction creationists draw here, between what they term “microevolution” and “macroevolution.” As Creation Ministries International clarifies,

Natural selection, yes. But to infer that this equates to evolution, in the sense in which we are meant to take it (microbes-to-microbiologists), no.

According to this common view, living things may adapt, through evolutionary processes, in response to new ecological niches, genetic novelty, or environmental conditions — but only so far.

How far? Young Earth creationists hypothesize an additional unobserved cap upon the regular evolutionary processes we observe in nature: living things may vary only “within created kinds.”

That’s easy to say, but elusive as smoke to nail down — because no one knows what a “created kind” might be in practical terms. As used currently, the definition seems completely fluid, meaning whatever is convenient. Sometimes “created kind” means “species,” but sometimes not. Sometimes it seems to go much higher up the taxonomic chain: genus, or family, or even order.

Trying to make heads or tails of this is a creationist project called “Baraminology,” or “creation biosystematics.” This, according to Creationwiki, is an effort “to determine which forms of life are related, and which are not” from a young Earth creationist perspective; that is, to figure out where observed evolution ends and creation takes over.

The fossil record shows no such “created kinds” limit (quite the opposite — common descent is a clear fact of biological history), but let’s set that aside for a second.

As it stands today, biologists, intelligent design creationists, young Earth creationists, and mainstream religious leaders (such as the Pope) agree that species may change and arise through the processes Darwin identified.

Let’s just stop for a moment and enjoy that.

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72 Responses to “Young Earth Creationism = Darwinism?”

  1. Thanks for this. One of my fundie stalker readers has been using Answers in Genesis to support her claim that “macroevolution” doesn’t occur.

  2. Nice article. I see, that creationists are obsessed with Darwin.

  3. Mike says:

    I remember once over at Uncommon Descent one poster told me, in relation to Lake Malawi cichlids, “It’s still a fish!” More recently I encountered a strange twist when a Creationist argued that one example of speciation in a relatively unknown species isn’t enough evidence, it needs to be in a well-known species.

  4. Zuckerfrosch says:

    So dingoes evolved from dogs? It’s just a coincidence then that they’re marsupials, like the other Australian mammals? Or is that where creation took over? Although at least now we know why the lions didn’t eat the zebras, there were just house cats and horses on the ark…

    • jloxton says:

      Actually, dingos are placental mammals and, more than simply being related to dogs, they *are* dogs. They were introduced to Australia several thousand years ago as domestic animals by early migrants, and have since reverted to a wild lifestyle.

      • jloxton says:

        Ah, I see I was not the first to point this out. Note to self: read all posts before commenting. : )

    • MadScientist says:

      If you can find a marsupial dingo, you will be able to name the Class Type. Dingoes are just plain old ex-wolves like every other dog on the planet – well, unless you discover a marsupial variety that is.

      • Zuckerfrosch is very probably thinking of thylacines, dog-like marsupials that looked extremely similar to dingos — and which existed in Australia simultaneously with dingos until recent times. (It’s a very common and natural misunderstanding.)

  5. shawmutt says:

    I hate the sound of a scraping goal post in the morning.

  6. Miles R. says:

    “So dingoes evolved from dogs? It’s just a coincidence then that they’re marsupials, like the other Australian mammals?” (Zuckerfrosch)

    These “dingoes” of yours — do they by any chance have a bill like a duck, webbed feet, and a flat tail like a beaver?

  7. oniongirl says:

    Zuckerfrosch: Dingoes aren’t marsupials. They most likely evolved from dogs that probably came along with the Australian aborigines when they migrated to Australia.

  8. Zuckerfrosch says:

    Ack! As much as I hate being wrong I like finding out that I was. Thanks.

    • Evan nExiste pas says:

      That is the best attitude one can have in life. I applaud that. Awesome! Why can’t more *theists* feel that way? Too many people hate being wrong, and use empty, “argument-by-number” rhetoric when it looks like they just might be. Detestable. Anyway, thank you… your attitude is refreshing.

  9. Jim Shaver says:

    Creation Ministries International:

    The question of time has, however, been seized upon by anti-creationists. They insist that it would take a much longer time than Scripture allows.

    I love it! Referring to biological scientists as “anti-creationists” is like referring to parents as “anti-tooth-fairyists”. Hello, little girl, are your anti-tooth-fairyists home?

  10. jloxton says:

    Here’s a link to a article from the NCSE on ‘Baraminology’. Read it if you like exploding heads (yours). (BTW the biologists and others who do Creationist systematics are very sincere and rigourous, and their approach is robust and consistent, its just that their biblically required premise, e.g., immutable ‘kind’ boundaries, is way off.)

    • @jloxton: Thanks, that’s a better article than the Wiki one. I’ll swap in the NCSE link into the post.

    • JB says:

      It is clear that creationists biggest fear is that humans may not be so special after all. From the baramin site, “Robinson and Cavanaugh (1998a) conclude that even though other criteria cannot separate humans and primates, the biblical criteria specifically states that humans are a separate baramin, so the other data are in effect immaterial.” This keeps the humans separate. This is the ultimate point at which evolution stops for YECS and the like.

      Purpose is the problem, If we are not here to please God then what is our purpose? I have plenty of answers that have nothing to do with serving a higher being…

  11. Dax says:

    What gets me though is that (in my experience) the same people who quote AiG’s asinine ideas, including the parts which say that Darwin was right about adaptation, happen to be the same people who claim that Darwin must be wrong because his theories caused the holocaust.
    What also gets me is that these same individuals do not accept the concept of species, but then use that same concept when it does suit there preconceived notions.

    Something about an eye, a splinter and a plank?

  12. Seth says:

    It kills me that they can agree with evolutionary theory and then, full stop, impose an imaginary limit on it. Of course it has to be an “unobserved” limiter; you can’t get much mileage out of a visible pink unicorn.

  13. I’m becoming very suspicious of this flood story.

  14. jackd says:

    For the typical creationist, the implied definition of “kind” is an appeal to kindergarten-level systematics. When any example of evolution is pointed out that they cannot deny outright, they say “but it’s still a “. X might be a species, if it’s a common large mammal, but the farther from large mammals you get, the farther they wander up the old Linnean hierarchy, finishing with “but they’re still bacteria!”.

    There is only one constant for creationists. Humans are not – not, Not, NOT – related to the other great apes.

  15. Given enough time the Creationists will eventually rediscover the Theory of Evolution.

  16. MadScientist says:

    It seems that AIG are changing tack since previous campaigns to introduce religion masquerading as science have been defeated. Now they’re saying “species really do change, but god obviously made them because they’re “irreducibly complex” and you need a very complex animal to have evolution”. Now, if they were taking up any biology subjects and made those sorts of ridiculous claims, I can’t imagine them scoring any better than F. To me, this looks like just another ruse to pretend that their “creation science”, or whatever they call their bullshit today, has any scientific credibility whatsoever. This is just part of their agenda to force religion into public schools.

  17. Brandon says:

    Whenever I get into a discussion with a creationist, I always ask, “What’s the mechanism that stops microevolution from becoming macroevolution? You’ve granted the engine of evolution. At what point does a species say, ‘OK, that’s enough! We’re not allowed to evolve anymore’?”

    • frank says:

      “What’s the mechanism that stops microevolution from becoming macroevolution?

      Good question!

      as i understand it, natural selection is a process akin to dealing from a given pack of cards – and some “hands” are better than others

      the original pack (packet of genetic information coded in the DNA etc?)defines the game – at least for the creationist. i understand them to be saying that you can get all sorts of variations within the limits of the pack (big beaks / small beaks “but they are still finches”)- they readily allow loss of information (the cards wear out, the spots rub off (so wingless beetles on windy islands)) . i think they allow some ‘adding’ of information (cards stuck together) – but we are only allowed the original cards as raw material.

      the crucial process for evolutionists (as i see it) is that somehow in the shuffling and dealing and wear and tear NEW “CARDS” ARE CREATED thus providing a different pack (KIND?)-from which a whole different set of hands (SPECIES?) may be dealt

      it seems both camps accept the shuffling and dealing process – the bun fight seems to be about how the original pack arose – did gID do it? – or did the shuffling generate a whole new set of aces up his (her?) sleeve?

  18. Antoine says:

    Creotards accept Genesis as the ultimate truth about (origin, development, creation, etc.) life. hence the name AiG: any questions will be answered in Genesis. The beautiful and rather fundamentalist truth about this blog is that apparently, the Answers depend on certain findings of biology and as such are not the ultimate, irrefutable because god-given Answers, but just a certain kind of answers that one can accept or reject in the light of irrefutable evidence from nature. Fortunately, there is lots more evidence from nature that refutes YE creationism, not only in the field of so-called micro-evolution. The more the YE creotards will study, the more they will unavoidably accept, unless they reject their own intelligence, however limited it may be.

  19. John Heininger says:

    After reading this I cannot help but be skeptical of the Skeptics. Your critique of the creationists is a distortion of the facts, and a complete misrepresentation of their position. As every breeder who has ever lived knows, variation and adaptation within boundaries does nothing to prove macro evolution or the evolutionary continuum from the simple to the complex. And even the breeding of sub species and hybrids has limits, with increasing “loss” of genetic information, not an increasing gain. The very fact that you cannot even interbreed sub species at the genetic extremes, be it orchids or herring gulls, ensures that you cannot have macro evolution. In short, virus in, virus out; bacteria in, bacteria out; fruit fly in, fruit fly out; finch in,finch out – End of story!

    • Pablo says:

      You are overlooking the fact that artificial breeding is in fact different in many aspects from natural selection. Look at this link to really understand why artificial breeding does not generate new species. In nature, we have non-random mating (only the fit reproduce), mutations, limited population size, genetic drift and gene flow.
      Darwin didn’t know about this, but today we can understand it bettwe.

      • John Heininger says:

        This is a principle, not an observable fact. If you can share with us any specific real time observation in the wild that objectively confirms this principle it would appreciated by all, particularly creationists. Something like virus in, bacteria out; bacteria in, tadpole out; finch in, pigeon out; or monkey in, human out will do. Off you go!

      • JB says:

        Lenski has done some remarkable experiments showing that E coli bacteria altered their(selected by their environment) ability to degrade and use as fuel citrate instead of glucose. This occurred within our lifetime – it occurred before our eyes. Your question of speciation actually occurring on a macro scale requires more time. Fossil records and our ability to view incremental changes in DNA clearly shows that whales were once land animals which in turn were once fish. There you go fish in, land mammal out and marine mammal out for good measure.

      • John Heininger says:

        You can engage in all the verbal and mental gymnastics you like, its still a bacteria.

        The E coli bacteria altered their(selected by their environment) ability to degrade and use as fuel citrate instead of glucose so that they could survive as bacteria. It’s called preservation. In short, bacteria in, bacteria out.

      • John, at what hierarchical level of taxonomy do you require observed bifurcation before you will accept macroevolution? Bacteria are a domain, amphibians (tadpoles) are a class, finches are a family, pigeons are a family, monkeys are two pavorders, humans are a species, fruit flies are two families, and viruses are completely off the charts.

        The point is that what you are asking for as the only evidence you’ll accept for macroevolution is something that we know takes many times the life-span of humans. Speciation, which has arguably been directly observed (e.g. in E. coli, Podarcis lizards, certain plants, finches), is macroevolution by everyone else’s definition, and yet the examples you apparently crave have raised the bar intolerably.

        Suppose you were an alien visitor to Earth, and you have to classify species by the same criteria that biologists today use. Surely you would say that ruby throated tigers and lions are different species, right? Sure, they can actually interbreed, and yet it is common sense that they are different, based on their morphology, behavior, etc. Next look at dogs. If at first you only see a great dane and a chihuahua, SURELY you would say they are at least as different from each other as lion and tiger are from each other. My point is that the two dogs, though both characterized as dogs (which is normally considered a species), are different enough to be labeled as two different species (in fact, I challenge the common notion that they can interbreed, which if true would rule them different species), and we know that those two dogs share a common ancestor.

      • frank says:

        they are Dogs! – of the dog ‘Kind’

        creationists define the limit of the gene pool within which we observe variation as a “Kind”

        i understand that even the e.coli example does not show gene shuffling outside the ‘kind’ pool since e. coli normally exhibit citrate feeding ability under certain circumstances anyway.

        good try – but we need evidence (not inference) that information is usefully and sustainably transferred across the Kinds.

      • jloxton says:

        John, I suggest you look a little harder at whether your essentialism is biologically supportable (regardless of whether or not God or evolution did ‘it’). Taxonomic boundaries are *extremely* hard to nail down. Exactly what is and isn’t a member of taxon ‘x’ is often very difficult to say. I just attended a couple of workshops on taxonomy in microbiology, and the consensus seemed to be that not only were bacterial “species” almost totally meaningless, but that because of endosymbiosis and lateral gene transfer even very high (domain level) taxonomy was dubious. Weirdly, the most real categories we have are simultaneously the most mutable: species (in sexual lineages).

      • John Heininger says:

        All this categorizing of the various lifeforms is a human construct. The issue is reproduction boundaries. As this sets the reproduction limits and boundaries experienced by every form of life. And the fact that these reproduction limits exist spells the end of gradual continual evolution from simple to complex. Sorry about that.

  20. lifetimequestioner says:

    Since age 7, I have continued to ask people “Where did god come from ?” I still (age 50 something) have NOT received an answer better than ‘popped out of nowhere’ or ‘is, was, always will be’. Seems to me that this ‘All everything god’ (infinity in power, size, ability, etc) is MUCH harder to imagine popping out of nowhere, than the ‘big bang’. So it seems to me that THIS point should REALLY be the ‘Beginning’ of ‘THE STORY’. REVISED BIBLE: I the VERY beginning, there was nothing, then a BIG BANG occurred. After Billions of Years of evolution, there were creatures smart enough to create a universe, and a whole variety of other creatures, and ‘designed them’ to evolve, but only within limits, and ’caused’ some of the slightly more intelligent creatures to write various religious books (which, of course, all started ‘THE STORY’ in the MIDDLE: ‘genesis’, etc), mostly to allow the leaders of the philosophical groups to exert control over the masses, etc.

    POINT IS: Why does everyone argue the ‘middle’ of all these stories ?

    • John Heininger says:

      Argue, as you will, God is both a philosophical and scientific necessity, both within science and beyond. All of science operates on the reality that we can only apply logic, reason and intelligence in science because we, of necessity, live in a universe the clearly manifests intelligence, regularity and predictability. How can anyone do science on any other basis? And why would any scientist argue against this self-evident reality.

      If they finds it difficult to see any “intelligence” or “real design” in the world that surrounds them, what sort of universe do they all live in, and what is the basis of their scientific investigations?

      No scientist has ever observed anything in the universe that is self-creating and self-existing. If you know of anything you may well win the Nobel Prize. Everything ever observed on this planet and beyond is dependent on something proceeding. There is not a single thing in the universe that is self-existing, and not dependent in nature, including the universe itself, which is running down towards heat death and maximum entropy ( loss of usable energy, information and order): And ultimately won’t have any energy to do anything, let alone wind itself up to its initial state. If it has no capability to wind itself up it too is dependent on something else, and therefore fully dependent (unless there is a external self-existing cosmic gas station that reverses the cosmic entropy process ).

      To escape the necessity of a non-dependent transcendent cause outside the universe to the atrophic cosmic fine tuning, scientists normally head for the unverifiable faith based (theoretical) multiple universe option. The problem here is that as the multiple universes are all parallel equivalents to this universe, they too must be likewise dependent in nature, and also heading towards heat death. And if any of these has been around for an infinite amount of time they would have already reached heat death

      There is no escape! As acknowledged by Nobel Prize winner, David Gross, one of the founders of string theory. “We don’t know what we are talking about. . .Strings and M-Theory are based on little more than fancy math and a grab-bag of ideas.” (BBC Focus, May 2006.) Michio Kuku agrees: “Once we try to mathematically calculate the quantum fluctuations that give rise to new universes, the answer blows up, in other words the theory becomes meaningless.” (Astronomy. May 1996). Such beliefs are purely hypothetical, and therefore based on blind faith that prove nothing. Such “God replacing” concepts are more imagined than real. We are ultimately left with a “dependent” dying universe, that is unable to explain itself.

      This ultimately leaves us with only two logical options. Either an infinite regress of “dependent” causes where nothing ever has the capacity to bring itself into existence, not ever. Or a non-dependent self-existing first cause, which is ultimately the only philosophical and scientific option to explain why anything exists.

      Therefore, to ask the question as to who made God, is to automatically put God in the infinite dependent regress category which can never provide a basis for existence, and so the question is self defeating. [ Incidentally, both in philosophic and scientific terms, anything that is dependent is by nature limited, and anything limited cannot be self-existing.]

      The bottom line is that an intelligent dependent effect, always ultimately demands a non-dependent self-existing first cause. That’s real science, and sound philosophy!

      • MikeyM says:

        No scientist has ever observed anything in the universe that is self-creating and self-existing.

        There goes your God!

      • John Heininger says:

        I think you should go back and read what I said again and again until you actually grasp the implications. Your statement shows that you have not,or cannot, graspor understand the implications. You missed the entire point.

        By the way, God is not in the universe, but exists apart from the universe as the necessary non-dependent self-existing first cause. Otherwise, God would run down along with the dying dependent universe

      • ZakA says:

        Fine there is a particle that exists apart from the universe as the necessary non-dependent self-existing first cause.

        Just because your story is older does not make it “more right”, if it did there are stories of gods a hell of a lot older than yours. Oh I forgot no one was right until you came along.

        Proof or we leave it an unknown so we search further, something you people like to stop us from doing. Where one says “goddidit” research stops, that is unacceptable to me until there is evidence to prove what you claim is true. By the way, the because you don’t know of another reason then goddidit is not evidence.

      • SkeleTony says:


        First of all pointing out that many scientists do not buy into string theory is rather irrelevant. I don’t buy into string theory myself. What has this to do with evolution or even natural/scientific theories of cosmology? Existence IS by nature infinitely regressive(as you seem to be pointing out) but this does not mean that all universes within a multiverse or all aspects of an infinite universal reality must be dying of ‘heat deaths’ at some arbitrary point chosen by you.

        To baldly assert that God not only exists but somehow, in some inconceivable way you refuse to elaborate on, exists APART from the rest of reality and yet as a part of this shared reality is…well absurd to be honest. Like saying “There are piranhas in the water but you won’t get bitten by them because they are not part of the water.” Either God exists in reality and can therefore be observed scientifically or he does not.

        God does not “run down” or ‘die along with the existing universe’ for the same reason that Superman and Captain America do not die or get admitted to one of our emergency rooms. Imaginary things ‘exist’ as long as there are abstract thinking minds to keep re-inventing them.

        “Kind” is a rather meaningless and quite useless term on par with “well dat der fing’s got wings like a duck so it’s prolly a duck!”.

      • Greg says:

        John, just because science or scientists cannot account for something at this point in time (i.e.: in direct reference to your use of quotes by Gross and Kuku above) does not mean that God must exist. This is bad logic (“I can’t explain it, so therefore, MAGIC happens!”)

        I give you full credit for your vociferous argument, but you’ve been off point on a few things (i.e.: your use of dog/flower breeding as an argument to discount the fact of macroevolution) and most here agree that you’ve backed the wrong horse.

      • John Heininger says:

        Science and methodological naturalism will always operate from a finite limited human perspective, and that is why science will always be tentative, and not the final word. As the atheistic philosopher Jean Paul Sarte best put it. “A finite point without an infinite reference point is meaningless and absurd.” If you think that science can, and will, ultimately explain all of reality in purely naturalistic terms you truly are a man of blind faith.

        As for “most” agreeing that I have backed the wrong horse, I would remind you that scientific truth has never been a numbers game, the counting heads and dividing by two. If that were the case I wouldn’t bother to blog on this site.

      • Greg says:

        I never claimed that science or scientists will ever be able to “explain all of reality” – this is a straw man argument.

        Science has exposed many of the ‘mysteries’ that have been attributed to your God over the centuries. You may want to continue this tradition, but science will get in your way. The darkness of ignorance is slowly receding with each candle of understanding lit by science.

        I will put my trust in man and science since it is something I can test and evaluate. And you are correct – science is tentative, and that’s what makes it so beautiful and valuable. Science has never claimed to know the “truth”. Religion does, however. So who is blind?

        I cannot test or evaluate your God because there are as many Gods as there are believers. Even in a broad sense (i.e.: from an organized religion point of view), the “mind” of God is interpreted, and this interpretation is almost always static in nature. Any change to this points directly to fallibility, something which organized religion generally has a distaste for.

        I would like to better understand your view of God. Is it the literal God defined in the Bible or a more benign, pantheistic version favoured by many (like Einstein) to help explain the natural universe in terms that are more easily understood yet without invoking the absurd supernatural attributes exhibited by God in the Bible?

      • Kudden says:

        John, you support your claims by invoking science, saying things like “God is both a philosophical and scientific necessity”. (Though judging by your reasoning I get the feeling that you think of science as being fairly similar to philosophy.) Then, when Greg points out your argument from ignorance, you switch to dismissing science because it is a human activity – leaving you with little but said argument from ignorance.

        Yes, science is tentative, and that’s fine. It is also by far the best tool we have for acquiring new knowledge. Where do you recommend we look for the final word? (I have a hunch.)

        No, science will never explain all of reality, and nobody on this blog has suggested it will. Another thing science will never do is explain anything in any terms other than purely naturalistic ones.

  21. Pablo says:

    Is it possible that they are starting to see the light? I’ve seen that the more informed creationists hold this view, that Darwin was right and natural selection actually occurs. Some of them even admit that genetic variation is generated by random mutations. They don’t know what to say, though, when you ask them how they define and differentiate created kinds. Very nice and informative article.

    Pablo’s Origins Blog

  22. John Heininger says:

    By the way, just a further brief comment on this statement:

    because no one knows what a created kind might be in practical terms.

    I suggest you have a chat with those actually engaged in breeding, as they are more than aware of what the boundaries are. I recently spoke to one expert involved in breeding orchids, who well knows the limits. As everything he has tried to further extend those limits has died on him, along with his interest in the theory of evolution. If it cannot happen within the extensive intellectual input and efforts of breeders it’s highly unlikely it will ever happen in the wild, and as no one was ever around to see that it did, it all comes down to INFERENCES.

    • Beelzebud says:

      Does your Orchid growing friend have a few million years of trial and error under his/her belt?

      • frank says:

        tossing pennies for a few million years alters the odds?

      • Greg says:

        I think you miss the point, Frank.

        John is using both sides of an argument to try and win it. It doesn’t work.

        On one hand he defends his position by claiming that no one has ever observed evolution in a natural setting, knowing that this is a physical impossibility (at present, at least). The relative youth of written history and the recent understanding of evolution (i.e.: “what to look for”) being just two things that make this an absurd defence.

        Yet knowing that it would take a great period of time to observe evolution in a natural setting, he ignores this by mentioning his “expert” breeder friend’s experience of trying – and failing – to breed flowers. Just don’t pay attention to the fact that the selective breeding of flowers in a greenhouse is completely different from evloution in a natural setting.

        So, his argument against evolution boils down to:
        - can’t observe it in nature
        - my buddy is inept at selective breeding

        Therefore, evolution must not be true.

        Totally absurd.

      • John Heininger says:

        Having millions of available time does not prove that evolution actually took place. Because no one was there to observe the evolutionary continuum taking place, or even whether it happened, Darwinism is ultimately based on naturalistic presuppositions, conjecture, explanations, inferences, assumptions and sheer speculation. You have to face this reality.

        Moreover, a few million years of “trial and error” would be no where near enough time produce the vast amount of complexity and DNA information of the human genome, particularly with its multitude of interdependent systems and sub-systems, comprising regulators, feedback systems, and a vast array of other highly sophisticated biological mechanisms and co-dependent chemical networks.

        The reality is that evolution cannot even get off the ground to produce even the simplest form of life. Life only comes from life, and if you can prove otherwise there is a cool million dollars on offer just waiting for you to collect. Producing this vast biological complexity by trial and error combined with natural selection would be equivalent to a bunch of chimps designing and constructing the CERN particle accelerator. Not likely!

        Futhermore, the blind mindless natural selection mechanism itself has absolutely no way of knowing where everything is evolving to, or even why. Natural selection operates at an individual to individual level, and, as such, there is absolutely no way that any natural selection mechanism would ever have the necessary overall perspective to evolve different lifeforms, at different rates, at different times, or not at all (stasis) to ultimately produce an environment containing interdependent and co-dependent lifeforms in finely balanced eco-systems. To do so would necessitate all the oversight and attributes of deity.

      • Kudden says:

        Wow, you’re just asserting things left and right.

        “Having millions of available time [sic] does not prove that evolution actually took place.” This is actually true. We have many lines of evidence for evolution, but simply shouting “millions of years!” is not one of them.

        “Because no one was there…” Gee, we’ve never heard that before. There you go again, casually dismissing all of science when it suits you. Fortunately this assertion that science is invalid doesn’t make it so.

        “…a few million years of “trial and error” would be no where near enough time…” A simple assertion. Let me try: “Yes, in fact, that’s plenty of time for humans to evolve.”

        “…evolution cannot even get off the ground to produce even the simplest form of life.” Confusing evolution with abiogenesis.

        “…equivalent to a bunch of chimps designing and constructing the CERN particle accelerator.” Never heard that before either. Claiming that evolution only amounts to random chance, mentioning natural selection but ignoring what it does.

        “Futhermore, the blind mindless natural selection mechanism itself has absolutely no way of knowing where everything is evolving to, or even why.” Quite so, since nothing is “evolving to” anything. All life is simply continually adapting to its environment (or failing to do so and going extinct). This whole paragraph presupposes intelligence and intent. “necessary overall perspective”? Really?

      • Greg says:

        “Life only comes from life, and if you can prove otherwise there is a cool million dollars on offer just waiting for you to collect.”

        Who might be offering this money, John? Please provide details.

      • Max says:

        “Because no one was there to observe the evolutionary continuum taking place, or even whether it happened, Darwinism is ultimately based on naturalistic presuppositions, conjecture, explanations, inferences, assumptions and sheer speculation.”

        It’s also based on testing predictions.
        In other words, it’s scientific. Beats being based on faith, magic presuppositions, Bronze Age mythology, and argument from incredulity.

      • Greg says:

        John, should I take silence for submission?

      • Hi Greg, sorry to be neglectful for so long, but silence does not mean submission, it means that I have a life outside this discussion. And as I didn’t see a single solid argument to refute my comments, I lost interest. Lots of verbal semantics and mental gymnastics but nothing of substance. None-the-less,I came across this site again when looking for something else and saw your comment on silence, and couldn’t resist having another jab. So will have a read through some of the verbal semantics sort you all out,yet again

    • tmac57 says:

      Yes, I recently spoke to a sculptor that was trying to recreate a full scale model of the Grand Canyon, and after years of trying he just gave up and concluded that since he, an expert sculptor, could not make the slightest dent in the problem, then it is unlikely that a natural process like natural erosion could have created such a magnificent creation. It must have been God.

  23. So, what these creationists must do at some point is determine (speculate) exactly what needed to be on the ark- exact species and how many of each. They would need to figure out exactly how much space was available, and exactly what species were needed to produce the animals and species that have existed since the flood.

    Or, they could just get over the mythology and embrace science.

    • frank says:

      this exercised my mind too – perhaps one of the best (?) expositions i found @

  24. plainolglen says:

    a most interesting philosophical discussion…and that’s what i think this is. The question is why do the participants want to believe their positions? It seems to me that that platform of unspoken “what’s so” is what needs to be brought into the open. So what do you want to be so?

  25. Vie says:

    Calm down *rolls eyes*. This is not a ‘change of tack’ and it isn’t new, at least I cannot imagine who would consider this information new. The idea of macroevolution vs. microevolution is one of intelligent design’s oldest tricks. It is more or less the argument put forth by William Paley in his 1802 book Natural Theology. In fact, Darwin composed On the Origin of Species partially in response to Paley’s work.
    Perhaps Paley’s best known contribution to today’s creationist/ID debate is the watchmaker analogy- which suggests that it is only reasonable to assume that any complex thing (like a watch), has a maker and that the maker contrived it’s design.
    Other old arguments, such as catastrophism, are present here. Catastrophism was a theory presented by Georges Cuvier in the 19th century- amid furious debate over evolution. It stated, essentially, that catastrophes and upheavals accounted for extinct species in the fossil record.
    The truth is that creationism/ID proponents have not been able to come up with any new arguments. They simply rehash the same old arguments again and again. They dress their theories in scientific vocabulary (or invent scientific-sounding vocabulary) and then present the same old, discredited theories and hope we won’t notice.
    That would be sad… if most people actually DID notice, but even evolution supporters are very unfamiliar with the circumstance and competing theories that surrounded the idea of evolution (which existed prior to Darwin’s writing).
    The obvious problem with this version of creationist/ID rhetoric is that cannot prove any of it’s assertions. It claims that evolution cannot account for speciation or complex biological systems, but they can present no compelling evidence that precludes evolution from being the source of these phenomenon. The only alternative mechanism they present is one that is intrinsically untestable- that God created these beings and then they changed.
    There ideas are not (and will never be) relevant from a scientific perspective- since there are no testable components to their theory.
    However- I think you guys are misunderstanding the existence of this particularly virulent strain of creationist-thought. It shouldn’t be celebrated as a step forward for creationists (it isn’t), it should be looked at as a theory that has to be systematically dismantled to minimize the amount of damage it can do.

  26. jloxton says:

    I was just reading a ‘Dumbosity’ blog post where Dan’s report was described as just the old micro evolution concession. But this isn’t true (and I think Dan was pretty clear about this). Here’s the lesson: *somewhat astoundingly, YEC are willing to invoke evolutionary mechanisms for the production of nearly all the world’s biodiversity (not just minor within lineage changes).*

    Here’s a quote from AiG botanist Dr. Roger Sanders (from a personal email responding to a question I sent about current estimates of total number of created ‘kinds’): “Research so far supports the idea that created kinds approximate the taxonomic rank of family or even order. So on a general level, you could refer to the number of families.”

    Reflect on that for a moment.

    All present and fossil diversity below (perhaps) the level of *order* arose via evolutionary mechanisms.

    That’s a *major* concession from people who call evolution a “lie.”

    And they don’t just invoke evolution for the production of most modern genera/species, but many historical taxa as well. Dr. Sanders notes that YEC geologists place the Flood around the K/T boundary, so most extinct mammal lineages/species are also the products of evolution. (Again from the email: “Biodiversity may have been higher pre-Flood for certain groups such as non-flowering plants or dinosaurs. But this does not appear to be true for mammals. There certainly has been a major radiation in mammals, birds, and flowering plants.”)

    Now where Dan’s post is a little misleading (in title anyway) is in his invocation of Darwin. YEC’s like Dr. Sanders allow natural selection to account for micro evo and recent reproductive isolation (speciation with minimal morphological divergence). But, because of the constraints of the biblical time-line, they need to invoke additional (non-Darwinian) mechanisms to explain within ‘kind’ morphological diversification post-Flood. (Usually this involves some sort of pre-programed reservoir of potential traits within each kind.)

    Here’s more Saunder’s from a (very slick) AIG publication on the Galapagos:

    “The Galápagos Islands apparently rose up in the Pacific after the Flood as a result of extensive volcanic activity. From the American continents, a few of each kind was carried by wind and waves to the small, isolated islands. As animal and plant colonists from each
    kind produced offspring in explosive numbers, their descendants spread over the islands, and a number of new species were born. Certain species expressed some of the remarkable modifications
    that God programmed into the capabilities of the various biblical
    kinds, such as the ocean-feeding ability in iguanas, beak variability in finches, and gigantism in tortoises and daisies.”

    • jloxton says:

      This got cut off from the end qouted passage:

      “Can we see natural selection acting in the Galápagos today? Yes and no. Scientists have been able to measure changes, as individual species change with the ebb and flow of environmental changes, such as the periodic warming of the ocean surface known as El Niño. However, the changes within these species are unlikely to explain the origin of new species, a process that requires too much time by natural selection alone (see next article).”

  27. paul barry says:

    Human brain in, Muslim god out. Human brain in, Christian god out. Human brain in, Greek gods out. etc.

    Pigeon in, many varieties of pigeon out. Reptiles in, mammals, crocodilians, plesieosaurs, pterosaurs, dinosaurs out. Dinosaurs in, birds out. Apes in, hominids out. Teosinte in, corn out, One finch in, many finches out. etc

    right John Heininger?

  28. Hi Guys, silence is not submission, Greg, but absence, due to other priorities. So here’s a couple of starters to keep you busy until I catch up and carefully sift through what has been said above.

    1. Can anyone name anything in the universe that is self-creating and self-existing, and not dependent on anything preceding, nor ultimately subject to entropy.

    2. Can anyone provide any evidence for naturalistic evolution that conclusively establishes the evolutionary continuum as a verifiable, testable, observable empirical fact leaving no alternative option,including God.

    3. Has anyone ever visited any multiple,parallel or bubble universe to confirm they actually exist.

    • frank says:

      hi john,
      (may the force be with you ….)

      being interested in how these blogs? work, i also have checked back here.

      i wonder – do they serve to raise the standards of intellectual debate and accountability – or do they merely ossify the proponents in their respective bunkers?



  29. bill don says:

    I am amazed that after all this time and scientific progress we find ourselves still talking about Darwin and the Galapagos. This man based an entire “theory” of evolution based on what he found on one island. In my book that would qualify as an anomaly. I find it odd that these birds would evolve to find adequate food and nutrients as climatic changes occur on the island. Have any new species been found today on the islands? Surely in light of all the climatic changes in our world since Darwin there would have to be a change of some kind. Is it impossible to measure in such a short time span? It seems that “science” took a large gamble by going “all in” on Darwinian Evolution and Natural Selection. To think it is all based on the findings of one man. Stupid creationists believe what they believe and base it all on the words of one man too. However they are labeled as “stupid” or “dumb” because they choose to do this. It is a double standard that needs to stop. I allow my faith to inform my science. It so happens that my faith is in God. Scientist also allow faith to inform their science. Their faith is in the evidence and ultimately their own ability to evaluate the evidence 100% correctly all the time. They aren’t willing to call it faith because their evidence is beyond error or flaw. I find this highly unlikely as human error will ultimately not allow for flawless evidence as humans are suspect to flaw themselves.

    • GerryC says:

      Just out of interest Bill, can you source a reference to back up this statement: “This man based an entire “theory” of evolution based on what he found on one island.”

    • Somite says:

      Please familiarize yourself with the fossil, genetic and anatomic evidence. It is not just an island. Everything in biology is consistent with Darwinism.

  30. tmac57 says:

    ” They aren’t willing to call it faith because their evidence is beyond error or flaw. I find this highly unlikely as human error will ultimately not allow for flawless evidence as humans are suspect to flaw themselves.”
    This is a cartoonish strawman argument Bill. Science always allows for the possibility of error,and makes adjustments to account for new information.Faith by definition is about accepting the ‘fact’ of a God without anything but stories (anecdotes),and changes are hardly tolerated,despite contradictory evidence to show that those stories are replete with errors.