WHY CREATIONISM IS WRONG
BEFORE diving in the following basics
should be read if you've forgotten most of what you've learnt about geology and biology.
GEOLOGICAL TIME PERIODS.
Geological time is divided into a hierarchy
of periods, epochs, ages, eras and eons. The Earth itself is about 4.56 billion years old
[4.56 giga years] roughly the same age as the rest of the Solar System. That vast span is
usually divided into several Eons - the Hadean, the Archean, the Proterozoic and the
Phanerozoic. Life appeared in the very latest Hadean, around 3.8 giga years ago [3.8 gya],
while eukaryotes appeared just after the Archean some 2.5 gya.
table 1: Geological Time
||4.56 - 3.8 Gya
||3.8 - 2.5 Gya
||2.5 - 0.543 Gya
||543 - 490 Mya
||490 - 443 Mya
||443 - 413 Mya
||413 - 355 Mya
||355 - 290 Mya
||290 - 251 Mya
||251 - 201 Mya
||201 - 145 Mya
||145 - 65 Mya
||65 - 2.0 Mya
||2.0 Mya - NOW
The youngest Eon is the Phanerozoic, the
"Age of Apparent Life", and began some 543 million years ago [543 mya.] This Eon
is subdivided into three Eras, the Palaeozoic, the Mesozoic and the Cainozoic - Eras of Old,
Middle and Recent Life.
The PALAEOZOIC is
subdivided into six PERIODS - the Cambrian [began 543 mya], Ordovician [began 490 mya],
Silurian [began 443 mya], Devonian [began 413 mya], Carboniferous [began 355 mya] and
Permian [began 290 mya.] An important Period just prior to the Cambrian is the Vendian,
which will be discussed in the section on the Cambrian Explosion. The Palaeozoic saw the
appearance of many firsts - first fish, insects, amphibians, land-life, reptiles, and many
others. It ended 250 mya with the largest extinction of life on Earth ever - nearly 90% of
all species died, including trilobites.
The MESOZOIC is
subdivided into three PERIODS - the Triassic [250 mya], Jurassic [201 mya] and Cretaceous
[145 mya], and is well-known as the "Age of the Dinosaurs", which appeared about
230 mya. The first mammals appeared about the same time, as did crocodiles and pterosaurs.
Birds first appeared about 150 mya with the flying dinosaur Archaeopteryx, and
rapidly diversified. The Mesozoic ended about 65 mya with the impact of a ten
kilometre-wide asteroid, which killed off all large animals of the day in the sea and on
The CAINOZOIC is
subdivided into the Tertiary and Quaternary PERIODS. The Tertiary is subdivided into a
number of EPOCHS - the Palaeocene [65 mya], Eocene [55 mya], Oligocene [34 mya], Miocene [23 mya], and Pliocene [5.3 mya.] Called the "Age of Mammals" the Tertiary saw the
appearance of all modern mammal groups, and the first appearance of bipedal apes, the Australopithecines.
The Quaternary has only two Epochs - the Pleistocene and the Holocene. The Pleistocene began about two million years ago and should rightly
include the Holocene which is just the last 10 thousand years. The Pleistocene could be
called the "Ice Age" and has seen many expansions and contractions of Polar and
The CAINOZOIC is also divided into
the PALEOGENE and the NEOGENE [began with the Miocene], which includes the QUATERNARY.
Most modern mammal families and genera appeared in the NEOGENE and evolved into their
current diversity. Many large mammal groups - including our own, the Apes - suffered
reductions in diversity towards in the most recent times of the NEOGENE. Humans have been
implicated in the demise of some, especially the large mammals and birds of Australia and
Living things are classified in an ordered
hierarchy of description. For example, humans belong in the Super-Kingdom Eukarya, Kingdom
Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Mammalia, Order Primates, Family Hominidae, Genus Homo
and Species sapiens. Each level includes several of the lower level of description, with
ever more generalised shared characteristics between the members. Super-Kingdom Eukarya
includes Plants, Protists, Algae, Fungii and Animals, because they all share a common
cellular structure and very little else. Likewise the Animals which are all
multi-cellular, non-photosynthetic and cellularly differentiated lifeforms. Yet all the
Animal Phyla are quite distinct and varied types of Animals.
WHY CREATIONISM IS WRONG
What's wrong with Creationism ? You might
be suprised to discover just how many flaws and errors there are in Science, and like
Young Earth Creationists [YECs] the New Creationists will gleefully point these out to
you. But how many of their theories and disproofs of evolution actually reflect reality?
The claim that God has created the species
of plants, animals and microbes by invisible and mysterious means is a testable
hypothesis, and one that was abandoned by scientists over the period 1850 to 1930. The
processes at work in today's Living world and conceivable processes that have left
detectable traces today [e.g. fossils, genetic remains, chemical traces, evolved
behaviours] seemed enough to create this world's biological wonders. Many mysteries remain
and scientists don't have the final answers to many questions. However the Darwinian
mechanism of evolution via the accumulation of beneficial variations through natural
selection seems sufficient to explain how things have evolved. In this World the Hand Of
God must either present in all Nature's processes, and so indistinguishable from Nature,
or totally absent except at the very fringe of the World [e.g. perhaps the Beginning, the
Origin of Life.]
The real issue, though, is not scientific.
Creationists present many arguments that come from aspects of the scientific data and some
of these I will examine later, but the REAL ISSUE is not about Science. Instead it is
about knowledge and ways of knowing, what philosophers call EPISTEMOLOGY. For Scientists
understanding of the World comes from studying the World as it, was and might be. They
study the data, create models of how the facts of Nature all fit together and then try to
test and extend the conclusions that theory and data combined give. In this way Science is
always expanding its knowledge, always attempting to go beyond its CURRENT understanding.
This is a COLLECTIVE feature of Science,
since not all reseachers are deliberately trying to break their models of the World.
However by accepting new evidence, and either trying to fit the evidence to their theories
or theories to their evidence Science DOES change in understanding. The Theory of
Evolution didn't come into being as a Whole with Darwin as a Moses of Biology giving us
the Ten Commandments of Natural Selection. But this is precisely what many Creationists
claim of their view of the World. And that's the Key DIFFERENCE.
SCRIPTURE, being Scripture, is held to be
perfect or INERRANT, a sure guide to knowledge about the things upon which it speaks - and
the Natural World is one such topic. While I believe that the Bible is inspired, I don't
believe that it is free from the human limitations of its writers, and what the Bible says
about the World is limited by the knowledge of second millennium BC to first Century AD
people. The Bible is full of mythic hints, tales of God battling serpents, of Sons of God
that cohabit with women, of Global Super-Floods and huge heaven-reaching Towers, of magic
Trees, talking Serpents and more.
To point these things out makes most
believers feel threatened. The Bible has been systematically taken to pieces as a
historical document and often trashed by historians for its inaccuracy. I believe that
there are reasonable doubts that can be held about the Bible's content, but there is also
a very vicious doubt that seeks to destroy faith. A faith that the Bible tries to record
as a part of the lives of a race of people, a part that made them who they are, and a
faith that was ultimately offered to the rest of humanity in a mutated form as
There are limits to knowledge on both sides
of the argument between faith and disbelief [not doubt, which is always a part of living
faith.] Historians may prefer a certain theory on the composition of the Pentateuch
["the Books of Moses"], but that theory can vary from scholar to scholar and is
often no more objective than the traditional belief that it seeks to replace. The texts
certainly contain evidence of editing and duplication as part of some sort of compilation
process, but does that automatically make it untrustworthy? The Bible is biased towards a
theological view of history - God's acts and purposes feature strongly - but does that
eliminate ANY historical reality? No. And the "objective" data of archaeology is
not as inviolate as many believe either. So there is room for argument.
However Creationism seeks to disprove the
Scientific view of Origins and this is a wholly different issue. Why? Because many of its
proponents believe there is NO ROOM FOR DEBATE. For them all issues are closed. God
created the World and evolution is impossible. Why? Because an evolutionary view is said
to be against God and against a literal reading of Genesis 1 - 11.
MANY QUESTIONS arise in my mind when faced
with this rather bold claim by Creationists. Firstly why do they say evolution is
impossible. There is no scientific evidence that is CLEARLY against evolution, as
envisaged by Darwinists, and plenty of scientific evidence for it [which I'll cover
later.] The real reason for the claim is simple: it conflicts with a LITERAL reading of
GENESIS. This leads to my second question, why should we believe Genesis 1 - 11 to be
literal history? Many Christians see Genesis as being an account of how death came into
the World through sin, and thus it provides the basis and rationale for the life and death
of Jesus Christ.
HERE'S a discussion on the LITERAL
understanding of Genesis 1 - 11
The following Creationist arguments
are discussed and assessed. Fundamentally they are all based on two misunderstandings -
(1) EVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE has stood still since Darwin, and (2) SCIENCE must have all the
answers to be TRUE.
THE CAMBRIAN EXPLOSION: A PUZZLE FOR
TRANSITIONAL FORMS - WHERE ARE THEY? TRANSITIONS
HOW CAN A RANDOM PROCESS CREATE COMPLEXITY? RANDOM
LIFE'S ORIGIN: THE ULTIMATE MYSTERY OF
GLENN MORTON'S PAGE
The Evolution Education Site Ring
This site ring is owned by John Stear
WHAT IS EVOLUTION?
Who Is God?
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