I made two images concerning creationist arguments and I will explain why these arguments fail in greater detail below.
All secular arguments for creationism use the following reasoning:
- Either creationism is true or evolution is true.
- Evolution is false.
- Therefore, creationism is true.
There are at least two major problems with this argument:
Premise 1 is unjustified.
Premise 1 (that either creationism is true or evolution is true) is unjustified because it requires us to assume that creationism and evolution are the only two ways we can explain where complex life forms came from (and our observations about how they seem to change). There could be other hypotheses as well. For example, complex life forms might have always existed exactly as they exist now (and perhaps there was no beginning of the universe). Premise 1 commits the false dilemma fallacy and is only persuasive to people who engage in overly simplistic “black or white” thinking.
Premise 2 is totally unjustified.
Premise 2 (that evolution is false) is totally unjustified. No argument has ever refuted evolution, and the evidence for evolution is much stronger than the evidence for creationism.
We can also summarize the reason that creationists think evolution is false as the following:
Creationist Argument Against Evolution
- There are observations incompatible with evolution.
- If there are observations incompatible with evolution, then evolution is false.
- Therefore, evolution is false.
The main problem with this argument is that the first premise is false. There are no observations that are incompatible with evolution that we know about. However, we do have observations that seem to be incompatible with creationism. For example, we have a fossil record that seems to indicate that creatures that existed in the past changed over time until they became different creatures that exist now. We have a much better reason to reject creationism for being incompatible with our observations than evolution.
Let’s consider some of the so-called observations that creationists take to debunk evolution:
- There is a complex organism (or body part of a complex organism), but we don’t know how it evolved. For example, the eye was once taken to be such an example. However, we now have a good idea about how the eye incrementally evolved from various beneficial adaptations. Additionally, the fact that we don’t know how something evolves in no way proves it did not evolve.
- It is often claimed that something couldn’t possibly have evolved. For example, some people argued that the eye could not possibly evolve. However, we know of nothing that couldn’t have possibly evolved. Moreover, it is quite possible that evolution is true, even if some complex organisms didn’t evolve. Evolution does not claim that all complex organisms must have evolved. Perhaps we will find out how to create new complex organisms through genetic engineering.
- It is often said that evolution is false because there’s a “missing link.” However, there is no missing link. We have fossil evidence of several transitional species that show how an organism can change over time—including various apes that were similar to human beings. Moreover, it is quite possible for evolution to be true, even if no transitional species were ever discovered. There was no guarantee that we would ever find them because they existed long ago and their remains could have all been destroyed by now.
- It is often said that evolution must be false because monkeys still exist. “If we evolved from monkeys, then how come monkeys still exist?” However, there is a number of problems with this argument: First, there is no reason to think that the existence of monkeys is incompatible with the truth of evolution. Second, evolution does not state that an ancestral species that evolves into another species must become extinct. There was a point that an isolated group of fish evolved into amphibians, but that doesn’t mean all other fish became extinct. The same could be true of an isolated group of monkeys. Third, the monkeys that exist now are not the same creatures that we evolved from. We have a “common ancestor” with monkeys and apes that exist now.
Can we debunk evolution?
It might be possible to debunk evolution by showing how our observations would be better explained by creationism, but that’s never happened. I do not deny that this is possible, but it would be a very difficult task and biologists would be the best qualified people to make such an argument. At this point in time creationism seems to be incompatible with some of our observations rather than better supported by them than evolution.
Can creationism be proven to be true?
Keep in mind that even if evolution is debunked, that does not mean creationism is true. As stated above, there are other potential explanations for the existence of complex life forms. Creationists need to not only debunk evolution, but show that creationism is “better supported” by the evidence than any other alternative explanation.
In conclusion, creationists rely on poor reasoning that is easily debunked. The premises used by the current secular arguments for creationism are unjustified, and evolution has not yet been refuted.
Update (10/8/2012): I rephrased why creationists reject evolution and discussed the issue in greater detail.
Update (10/28/2012): I slightly rephrased why I reject the first premise of the first argument.