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Last Updated December 6, 2003


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Common Misconceptions About Evolution and Creationism

Here are a few things that people tend to confuse, both about Evolutionary Theory and Creationism, including definitions, status and implications.

Evolution narrows a student's perspective on life. Students should be exposed to alternatives to Evolution, like Creationism.

This is totally untrue. When in a scientific forum, religious opinion means literally nothing. Evolution isn't "just a theory," it is observed fact. Organisms have been observed to adapt themselves to better survive in their environment. Cockroaches have adapted to certain pesticides, and virii mutate to become resistant to vaccines and antibiotics. This claim is tantamount to saying that students should be taught "alternatives to gravity," or "alternatives to the Theory of Relativity." Evolution is simply how things happen in nature.

How can you say that?! Creationism is another theory that answers the question of how we came into being!

This is a common misconception. Creationism is not a theory as science defines it. It does not fit all the facts, it has not been tested and it cannot be tested, and has no predictive capability. Therefore, it is not a scientific theory. It is an unsupported opinion.

Evolution is a dogma, just like Creationism. Both are based on faith, and those that choose Evolution are defying the written word of God, himself!

Believe it or not, some people actually claim that Evolutionary Theory is faith-based, rather than grounded in science. To shatter this misconception, a general understanding of what a theory, as science defines it, is. A scientific theory is not simply a view on something. A scientific theory comes about when scientists, like Charles Darwin, observe physical phenomena and attempt to explain them. Creationists tend to think of a scientific theory as science's equivalent of the Catholic Church's dogma. It isn't. Rather, a scientific theory is a simple description of what has been observed and an explanation for why it occurs. Theories in science are always subject to change, scrutiny and improvement. Here is the Theory of Evolution and all its postulates:

1. All life forms (species) have developed from other species.
2. All living things are related to one another to varying degrees through common decent (share common ancestors).
3. All life on Earth has a common origin. In other words, that in the distant past, there once existed an original life form and that this life form gave rise to all subsequent life forms.
4. The process by which one species evolves into another involves random heritable genetic mutations (changes), some of which are more likely to spread and persist in a gene pool than others. Mutations that result in a survival advantage for organisms that possess them, are more likely to spread and persist than mutations that do not result in a survival advantage and/or that result in a survival disadvantage.
(Source)

Ahah! You can't "test" Evolution! It requires millions of years! Evolution isn't testable. It can't be a theory!

No need to "test" Evolution. The test for Evolution is keeping consistent with the Fossil Record, and it does. The consistency is indicated by a trend known as "progressionism." As you dig deeper into fossil beds, fossils tend to get simpler and simpler in form. Also, Evolution doesn't have to take such a long time all the time. Creationists demand hard evidence of macro-Evolution, which is also known as speciation. Macro-Evolution is when a species splits into two species, the old one and the new one. The other type of Evolution, micro-Evolution, is easily observable. Micro-Evolution is any small, adaptive change made by a species that isn't significant enough to create a new species. For example, cockroaches have, over the generations, adapted to certain pesticides and have become more resistant to them. The adaptation to pesticides is an example of a mutation that results in a survival advantage. However, this change in the cockroach is not nearly significant enough to put the cockroach which has adapted into its own species category. If the cockroach grew an extra pair of antennae, enabling  it to have a much better sense of its environmental surroundings than its predecessor, this could be enough of a change to qualify as macro-Evolution. Thus, the cockroach with extra antennae would then be classified in its own species.

As an aside, even if we can't directly observe macro-Evolution, the two processes are driven by the same mechanism. Even Creationists admit that micro-Evolution occurs. So, they admit that a species will undergo small, adaptive changes. Wouldn't it follow that, after a significant number of these changes, the new species would be different enough to be considered another, separate species?

Life just couldn't have happened by random chance! They've done computer simulations of the probability, and they're ridiculously low! There must have been an intelligent creator!

Amino acids have been observed to form under conditions like those of Earth many billions of years ago in a lab. When gases contained in Earth's atmosphere back then are stuck in a container and shot with an electrical charge, amino acids form. This is observed fact.

Furthermore, there is no part of Evolution which says, "There is no God." Science does not make theories to answer the theistic question. Science makes theories to explain how the Universe works. It stays within its realm, the physical.

But the amino acids formed in the lab were formed because some scientist stuck the right gases together at the right place at the right time! That proves that intelligent direction is necessary for the acids to form! Evolution flies in the face of probability!

This is untrue. Evolution is completely consistent with probability. The amino acids created in a lab were created when hydrogen, ammonia and nitrogen were charged. This could have easily happened on Earth, billions of years ago, when a lightning bolt struck the proper mixture, and, given a billion or so years to do so, chances are, it would have.

Actually, the theory illustrated above is the Abiogenesis theory (the "primordial soup" theory). It's totally separate from Evolution. Creationists like to lump the two together, all the time, though (and, even mash the Big Bang in there, too). The truth is that, even if Abiogenesis were disproven, Evolution would be totally unaffected.

Evolution can't explain the beauty and perfection of the human body.

Granted, I'm as attracted to good-looking women as the next guy, but your body, biologically-speaking, is hardly "perfect." The immune system could use a lot of work. Our running speed isn't the fastest in the forest. Our natural strength isn't all it could be. Just because you find the human body physically appealing doesn't mean that it's the result of some exquisite craftsmanship from a supernatural creator. It just means that nature is doing its job: making you attracted to a member of the opposite sex so you can potentially procreate. In other words, you're attracted to females because of Evolution.

All the recent research in science brings out more questions that scientists can't answer. This is because God and his works are unfathomable by Man's mere intellect.

Good thing this kind of logic didn't prevail when scientists were trying to understand the workings of the sun. Otherwise, nuclear fusion would have never been discovered because scientists would have just dropped any kind of physical explanation in favor of the classic Catholic saying, "It's a mystery." Just because science can't answer a question now doesn't mean that it will never be able to, and it certainly doesn't mean that religious dogma is the only answer. We couldn't answer the question of what processes the sun used to create its energy at one time. Then, we found out about the atom and subatomic particles. We now have a certain understanding of how these things work, thanks to quantum physics, quantum electrodynamics and quantum chromodynamics. Obviously, these things are not "unfathomable."

If scientists can use what they want as evidence, then I should be able to use the Bible as evidence.

Scientists can't use whatever they want for evidence. Evidence gathering is a very strict process, subject to evaluation by peers. Furthermore, the Bible is not evidence in any sense of the word. It is completely unverifiable that God created the Universe out of nothing, because that violates the Law of Conservation of energy, which has never been proven incorrect. Unless creationists can recreate the creation of the Universe to test their opinion, it remains just that: an opinion. Scientists know some of what happened in the early Universe because of the predictions of particle physics theories, as well as measuring the cosmic microwave background radiation. Creationists "know" what happened because they read a book written by oppressive and arrogant Jewish males. See the difference? Where do the writers of the Bible get their information? There's no bibliography in the Bible. There are no independently verifiable sources. The Big Bang and Evolution, as well as ever other theory in science, can be verified independently.

But where did the first bacteria come from? Where did that come from (continue ad infinitum)? There are so many questions raised by evolution that Creationism is so much simpler.

By far, one of the most irritating of Creationist misconceptions. Virtually every question a Creationist will raise (except those prefacing with the word "why," science doesn't answer those questions) has an answer. The first amino acids were created when ammonia, hydrogen and methane were energized by UV rays or lightning. The Earth formed as a result of gravitational attractions among various elements after the first stars went supernova, creating the heavier elements. Why is this irritating? Because people that ask this question never do research. If you have a question about a scientific statement or theory, look it up! Chances are, you'll find an answer. Do some independent learning, and don't hold the scientific community responsible for your own laziness. I could explain how the very nature of the Big Bang and relativity doesn't require a God creator, but why should I? The information is readily available. Just because you can't understand something doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

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