Evolution and Young Earth Creationism (YEC): 4 Invalid YEC Claims Against Evolutionary Science

If it weren’t for Young Earth Creationism (YEC), practically everyone would accept evolution as the source of all plants and animals that every lived—including humanity. The scientific evidence for evolution is overwhelming and there is no reason NOT to accept it—except for two stories in Genesis that many people take as literal, historical, and inerrant instead of as beautiful, mythical reflections on God, the world, and mankind.

This is the ONLY evidence there is against evolution and, even though the ‘creation’ passages are easily understood as simply beautiful stories, millions cling fiercely to the idea that God directly created humanity and each animal ‘kind’—and did it in six 24-hour days!

YECs contribute no scientific discoveries themselves, so their main effort is to dispute the discoveries of evolutionary scientists with counter claims to invalidate their work. But it is the claims of YECs against evolutionary scientists that are invalid.

Here are four such claims.

1. Evolutionary Science is not Real Science

An early claim was that evolutionary science was not real science and that the theory of evolution was ONLY a theory—meaning that it is no more valid than any other theory; it is only a guess or speculation. But this is not what ‘theory’ means in science. A scientific ‘theory’ is not a speculation or a hypothesis but an accepted and well demonstrated item of scientific knowledge—like the theory of gravity, or atomic theory, or plate tectonics theory.

Another argument against evolutionary science is that nobody was there to observe evolution or to apply the scientific method. Now the scientific method IS very important to science—to develop a hypothesis and test it repeatedly (and modify it) until it proves consistent or to abandon it if it is not consistent. However, this is not the only tool science has.

Other scientific avenues of discovery are geology (study of rocks and layers), archeology (the study of bones), and genetics. All of these disciplines confirm the details of evolution.

The claim that evolutionary science is not real science is invalid.

2. Radiocarbon Dating is Not Reliable

The Earth shows many signs of Deep Time, yet YECs insist that the Universe is no more than 10,000 years old (thus: ‘young earth’); so the billions of years indicated by science is a real problem. An early YEC response was that carbon dating of old bones was unreliable because we cannot be sure that carbon decays at a constant rate.

But dating fossils is not the only tool scientists have. Tree-ring dating takes us back almost 12,000 years and glacial ice-core dating even farther than that. Dating moon rocks and meteorites has given the most accurate dates, and they show the Earth and solar system to be about 4.6 billion years old. That’s Deep Time!

The claim that science cannot date things from the past is invalid.

3. Fossils are not from Deep Time but from the Flood

ark encounter

Young Earth Creationist Ark Encounter in Kentucky

Another way science measures the age of fossils found in the Earth is by examining the order of the layers of rock laid down over the years. One would expect similar fossils to be be found in similar rock layers with the older fossils always found in the older layers, and that is exactly what we find. Fossils clearly show development over long periods of time increasing from the simple to more complex and leading to the living creatures of today.

Instead, YECs reject this scenario and claim that fossils were deposited, not over time, but during the mass kill-off by Noah’s flood; animals were quickly buried by the sediments from the flood. But they cannot explain why we always find the same fossils in the same discrete rock layers and in development order from the oldest species to the most recent ones. If they were deposited by the flood, fossils would be mixed all over the earth and they are not.

The claim that fossils were deposited by the worldwide flood instead of over time is invalid.

4. Species Do Not Evolve from Simple Lifeforms but from Created ‘Kinds’

As a YEC from way back I believed that each species (kind) was created individually and that there was no development from one species to another. But YECs began to realize that there was no way all species today could fit within the dimensions of the ark. So they contrived a new concept to account for that: micro-evolution.

YEC now teaches that species do evolve from other species but this is micro-evolution not macro-evolution. For example, all cat-like animals—lions, cheetahs, house cats, and jaguars—evolved from a pair of proto-cats on the ark, in the space of 4,350 years since the flood, through genetic mutation. This is not only evolution but rapid, breath-taking evolution.

This is ‘different’ from the scientific evolutionary model of mutations creating new genetic features. YECs claim that mutations can only represent a LOSS of genetic function and that the animals on the ark all had unimaginably rich genetic complexity. This is nothing more than wishful speculation, with no support whatsoever, to salvage YEC commitment to a literal and inerrant reading of the Genesis creation and worldwide flood stories.

When I first read this as a YEC, it was clear to me that this was nothing less than evolution—the evolution we had firmly rejected for years. It did not work for me and was instrumental, among other things, in my abandonment of anti-evolutionary YEC views.

The claim that species do not evolve from simple lifeforms is invalid.

If you want more detailed, devastating responses to YEC, my favorite evolutionary scientist blogs at Naturalis Historia. You can also find many articles by me, him (Natural Historian), and others on my resource page for Young Earth Creationism and Evolution.

Articles in this series: Evolution and Fundamentalism

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30 Responses to Evolution and Young Earth Creationism (YEC): 4 Invalid YEC Claims Against Evolutionary Science

  1. newtonfinn says:

    Tim, I assume that you are not discounting the criticisms of evolution from scientists and philosophers, who, for example, question the sufficiency of natural selection to explain all aspects of evolutionary change. I am in full agreement that the fact of evolution has been established, and that natural selection plays a large part in the process. The theory of evolution is the framework for much of our understanding of the world, and it is a fruitful model that lends itself to the conceptualization of all sorts of phenomena. But isn’t there also a potential problem here, in that we begin to see human history itself, for example, in all of its manifestations and on every scale, as a purely natural process of development, in which humanity is swept along by forces far beyond its control or influence? Does this view not dovetail with the TINA mindset (there is no alternative) which tends to dampen our sense of possibility and hope for a better world that we can help bring about? I know you believe, like I do, that there is fundamental difference between evolution as a scientific theory and Evolution as an ideology or idol. I fear that the YEC advocates inadvertently create a barrier to what should be a genuine and mutually-beneficial dialogue between science and faith. Thanks for the work you do in removing that barrier and inviting that more serious discussion, which must go beyond a “god of the gaps” position and explore the deeper questions about the tentativeness and incompleteness of knowledge, both scientific and religious, and the inadequacy of knowledge as a firm ground of meaning and purpose. Again, let me point to William James’ “The Will To Believe,” free on the net, as an excellent vehicle for engaging in this rewarding intellectual adventure. I’d also like to recommend to your readers the fascinating work of biologist Rupert Sheldrake, an Anglican Christian and cutting-edge thinker, whose website is well worth exploring.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Newton, you raise a good point about criticisms from scientists and philosophers who question the sufficiency of natural selection to explain all aspects of evolutionary change. For example, I am quite aware of the many theistic evolutionists who, while believing in evolution, understand the evolutionary process as guided to some greater or lesser extent by God. A lot of them hang out at BioLogos, including geneticist Dr. Francis Collins who led the team that mapped the human genome.
      http://biologos.org/

      Some secular evolutionary scientists are now considering that species might actually respond to their environment with genetic changes rather than just benefitting from random changes. This is an interesting development.

      I am not sure if these groups are among those to which you refer. Off the top of my head I do not recall any of the philosophers you mention. Perhaps you can refer me to some of them. While I don’t see any of these modifications to evolutionary theory necessary, I have no difficulty with any of them at all. I checked out the website of Rupert Sheldrake and will read some of it later; do you have recommendations on where I should start?

      You mention the problem of being swept along by a ‘there is no alternative’ mindset. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I think mankind has reached the stage where we can participate in our own development in very significant ways.

      Like

      • newtonfinn says:

        Tim, my computer caught a bug and has been down. Now that it’s back up, I’ll try to respond to your questions as soon as time permits. There are some interesting challenges to the traditional evolutionary scenario coming from probability/chaos theory, involving, among other things, a shortage of time for natural selection to have accomplished what it is credited with. I came across this stuff a while back on the net and will try to find again at least a couple of the articles. As for Sheldrake’s website, I’ll point to a couple of pertinent audios or videos that lay out his concepts of morphic resonance and morphic fields, which are fascinating in their own right and, if true to some degree, would contribute to the panoply of forces that shape evolutionary change. Your blog becomes more lively as each day goes by, and that is indeed a blessing to all of us who so enjoy and benefit from it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Newton, I am sorry you have had computer problems; hope it is okay now. I look forward to the articles you intend to share.

          Like

          • newtonfinn says:

            I spent some time yesterday trying to find a couple of the articles I mentioned concerning challenges to traditional evolutionary theory from the fields of science, mathematics, and philosophy. Unfortunately, most of what I found this time around came from Intelligent Design websites, the best of which do reference non-religious scientists but all of which raise red flags from a purely scientific standpoint. I did, however, manage to find some scattered material (not of the quality of the articles I read before), and those links follow, along with links to two of my favorite pieces on the Sheldrake website. I also happened to run across positive reviews of two books which seem to offer thoughtful challenges to status quo evolutionary theory: “Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis” by Michael Denton; and “The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism” by Michael Behe. I hope that this stuff allows those who are interested to pursue further research of this fascinating topic.

            http://www.equip.org/article/non-religious-skeptics-darwinian-evolution-proponents-intelligent-design/

            http://discovermagazine.com/2014/march/12-mutation-not-natural-selection-drives-evolution

            https://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/mar/19/evolution-darwin-natural-selection-genes-wrong

            http://www.sheldrake.org/videos/challenging-dogmas-in-science

            http://www.sheldrake.org/videos/a-quest-beyond-the-limits-of-the-ordinary-a-dialogue-with-bruce-lipton

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Thanks, Newton. I will share my observations to each source separately, beginning with equip.org. I did not notice until I finished reading it that this article is from CRI, yet it sounded all along like it was written by a Young Earth Creationist (YEC). Many of the arguments were very familiar, but I was not familiar with all the non-believers cited.

            While Intelligent Design (ID) claims not to be religiously based, the very term implies an intelligent designer. YECs, who invented the idea of ID assume that the designer is God. My question is what non-religious advocates of ID think the designer is.

            The first book using the term ID (in response to a ruling against teaching creationism in public schools) simply substituted ID terms for creationist terms:

            “Of Pandas and People went through multiple drafts before publication. In the draft revision from just after the Edwards v. Aguillard ruling against creationism in public schools, creationist terms were systematically changed: ‘creationism’ became ‘intelligent design’, ‘creationists’ became ‘design proponents’, and ‘intelligent creator’ became ‘intelligent agency’. A humorous result was an error that preserved parts of the old term (creationists) to read ‘cdesign proponentsists’.”
            https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/the-intelligent-design-flaw/

            The article says, “Although random mutations influenced the course of evolution, their influence was mainly by loss, alteration, and refinement.” This is an argument YECs introduced a few decades ago when it became very apparent that all the species living today could not possible fit into the Ark, and so they adopted a new concept of micro-evolution. There is no foundation for the claim other than a commitment to the Genesis creations stories.

            Though I accept Darwin’s explanation random mutations, I am not tied to it. Recently evolutionary scientists have found that mutations can be a response to the environment rather than just random. Evolutionary scientists are constantly revising the detail of evolution as new discoveries are made.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Masatoshi Nei: “But any time a scientific theory is treated like dogma, you have to question it. The dogma of natural selection has existed a long time. Most people have not questioned it. Most textbooks still state this is so. Most students are educated with these books.”

            This is an interesting article. However, all it questions is the relative role of natural selection in the evolutionary process; it totally supports evolution–a YEC would not approve this article.

            Again, I am not tied to the standard view of natural selection, but I do believe in evolution. What I oppose is the YEC insistence that the Genesis creation stories are historical and that God separately created (in one day) both Adam and the various ‘kinds’ of animals, such as a proto-cat or a proto-ungulate.

            I agree that scientific ideas can sometimes become like dogma because they have reached a level of general acceptance. On the other hand, every field of science becomes refined as new discoveries are made, but it doesn’t happen at once–a new discovery must go through a period of testing before it becomes accepted. This is a good thing as new ideas must be proven rather than eagerly embraced. But once it is confirmed, it becomes widely accepted; and this process happens all the time.

            This type of change in detail does not affect the general Theory of Evolution.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            The Guardian. Another interesting article challenging the commonly accepted role of natural selection.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Newton, I did not have time to watch the lengthy Sheldrake videos. Can you share his main points?

            Like

  2. Doug Mackey says:

    As someone who taught Archaeology and Evolution at College level for many years – I can add/address a few items you might find helpful. – First responding to your commentator newtonfinn – It is important to recognize that Natural Selection is only one of the four major forces of evolution. A full description of the evolutionary process also needs to include mutations (how they occur to be selected for or against in the first place, what the rate of mutations is normally and at what level a mutation becomes prevalent enough to have a real effect); Gene Flow (the way that diverse populations that may look different interact with each other – and how that works to both spread traits (alleles) that may have developed in one more isolated population to others. We see modern examples of Gene Flow in humans today as folks from different parts of the world interact and mate – creating “mixed” offspring – which exhibit traits from both parents and therefore create new combinations of genes); and finally – Genetic Drift – which can be understood as random chance. For example, when two parents with mixed alleles (say a trait with dominant A and recessive a expressions – so both parents are Aa) mate – math tells us there is a 1 in four chance of the offspring being AA, or aa and a 50% chance of being Aa. However that is not set in stone and it is possible to have all AA offspring, which would remove the -a- expression from that family line. If by chance this happened often enough, the -a- trait might cease to exist. It is easy to see how Genetic Drift might have a larger effect in smaller – isolated mating populations – which is why we sometimes find small groups that are very homogeneous. The effect of genetic drift is lessened as more “events” (births) occur – an effect that can be illustrated by flipping a coin. Randomly – there is 50/50 chance of heads or tails, yet in 10 flips one may find an actual ration of 20/80, 40/60 or 80/20 – very different outcomes – the more times the coin is flipped – the more likely to approach he expected 50/50 split. For a full understanding of evolution and how it actually works, it is important to be aware of all four forces and how they interact with each other.

    Regarding the “Radiocarbon dating is not Reliable” argument. In some sense that is true. The relatively short half life of the carbon isotope decay (C14>C12) that allows radiocarbon to be so useful to archaeologists – means that by 50,000 years ago, there is not enough C14 left for very accurate dating – so its great up to that point – however, there are many other dating techniques that extend our ability to date relatively accurately back millions of years – including Potassium -Argon dating (K-Ar), Ar40-Ar39 Dating, Fission Track Dating, Thermoluminescence dating, paleomagnetic dating, and more. The full suite of dating techniques helps in our efforts, and makes the “unreliability” of radiocarbon -even beyond 50,000 years ago, a non issue.

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Doug, I really appreciate your contributing all this fantastic information and detail! It is so rich and helpful! I had planned in the article to note the time-limitations of carbon dating and also introduce longer term radiometric datings, but I had word-count restraints.

      However, I am sure YECs would reject the effectiveness of any of these tools as not necessarily decaying at a steady rate.

      Thanks again for sharing!

      Like

  3. Susan Jackson says:

    Tim,

    Is it possible to opt out of the arguments with the bigoted right wing people who claim to be Christian?? I am so sick of stating my convictions, which I KNOW to be true and valid, only to be told by them that I am promoting evil. I am sickened by people saying that homosexuality is chosen and not assigned and that “homosexuality” is THE only unforgiveable sin. I am contributing to threads on Premier UK and the vitriol I am receiving from so-called “real Christians” is beyond belief. I know I should just walk away and continue with the truth that Jesus has revealed to me – the simplest form of love – not rocket science and non-judgemental BUT, these people are so loud and so aggressive. It breaks my heart. I’m 58 years of age and I still, naively, believe that people will be reasonable. When so-called Christians are the most unreasonable of all, it blows my mind. I’m heterosexual, by the way, but have a married daughter, one gay son and another who I believe may be gay. I’d rather be in hell with my children than in heaven with the right wing “Christian” bigots. However, Jesus is NOT telling me that my sons are bound for hell just because of their assigned sexuality. Have you any wisdom for me?

    Yours,

    Sue

    Sue Jackson

    God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

    ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Sue, I know what you mean. What you describe is very common among fundamentalists and other conservative believers. I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you how I usually respond.

      I will interact with some conservatives, even though they are naturally a bit aggressive and so ‘certain’ they are right. I don’t mind a little conversation–especially online like this because I can control how far they can go. However, I have no objective to try to convince them of my perspective; I know I will NOT convince them with any possible argument–their mind is set.

      For those who are more aggressive and/or abusive, I simply tell them that I do not agree with their assessment (of course they will usually keep pushing), and then tell them I am not interested in continuing the conversation. If they still persist I will ignore them or even delete them.

      It is quite different in person, but my action is pretty much the same. If the conversation gets too bad I will let them know I disagree and am not interested in discussing it further. They might continue to accuse and condemn me and tell me I am going to hell, but I won’t argue with them. Some will insist that I answer their accusations or ‘proofs’, but I am neither obligated to answer them or interested in taking the bait. They might think this means they have won–so let them think what they wish; I am not in an arguing contest.

      It is even tougher if it is people close to us, but I follow the same pattern as much as possible. One other thing, I have learned not to get emotional about it or to take it personally. Such people really believe what they are saying and are often on a mission. I can’t control what they think, but I can control how much I am willing to take.

      I don’t know if this helps any, but I hope you are able to control these situations better. And yes, it is “possible to opt out of the arguments with the bigoted right wing people who claim to be Christian”. Just refuse to take the bait, and if it gets to be too much just leave if you can.

      Good lick and feel free to continue this conversation.

      Like

      • Alan C says:

        Tim, I assume you meant “Good luck” but that typo made me laugh.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Alan, you are correct of course. I usually edit errors when I become aware of them; but in this case I am leaving it as is because it made you laugh!

          Like

      • newtonfinn says:

        Susan, you might try praying for them (to see His light, not necessarily your light) as you engage with them. Many of us encounter these kinds of unpleasant and debilitating situations, and my suggestion is easier said than done. There is also a time, as Jesus counseled, to simply shake the dust off your feet and move on to another “village.”

        Liked by 1 person

    • quadratus says:

      Bigotry abounds on THE LEFT as well as the Right, and ‘religious bigotry’ is as old as religion. Every person has a unique internal complexity, and compassion and understanding can go a long way, even in a seemingly one-sided dialogue.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. fiddlrts says:

    A couple of other resources which were very helpful to me in my journey away from the YEC (or at least anti-evolution – I was never sold on the young earth) are these:

    1. This extended reference regarding false claims of the YEC movement, with links (or at least citations to scientific journals you can access elsewhere) really has served me well in discussions about specifics. http://chem.tufts.edu/science/Geology/OEC-refutes-YEC.htm

    2. Astronomy professor at Bakersfield College (and devout Christian and all around good guy) Nick Strobel has a series of notes on Astronomy, including this one on ID, which I think addresses both the science and the religion well. http://www.astronomynotes.com/why-not-ID.htm
    The whole series is worth reading, in my opinion.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Fiddlrts, thanks so much for sharing these links. I spent WAY too much time working through them this morning. Lots of great information.

      Like

  5. Bill Ectric says:

    YECs also like to point out that a live mollusk was once carbon dated and it showed the mollusk thousands of years old. They use this event to show carbon dating is unreliable. What they don’t understand is that some mollusks absorb ancient carbon from the environment they live in, causing a reading much older than the mollusk itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tim, reminds me of a class I had in seminary. It was on science and religion and we talked about the different ways of looking at evolution – all the way from the scientism way in which science has all the answers and religion and faith are completely worthless, to young earth creationism, which is essentially the same thing, but switch sides. I found myself in the middle. Science has a role to play and helps us understand things about creation. And so does faith. Often I can see that they explain two different things, and often I can see how they can work together. We see this with the efforts of environmental stewardship – the combination of good science with good theology. This is such a great topic and there are so many road that it can go down. I hope you have more on this coming up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thanks Luther. As it happens, this is the last in my current series on evolution; however, I am sure I will return to the topic at another time. I, too, am in the middle on these discussions, but I am no longer even close to YEC.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. newtonfinn says:

    Tim, rather than attempt to summarize Rupert Sheldrake’s interesting views, and not do him justice, let me link to a much shorter piece on his website: his famously-banned TED talk. It runs only about 18 minutes and is worth watching not only for its content, but also for the opportunity to scratch one’s head about what invisible line it crossed.

    http://www.sheldrake.org/reactions/tedx-whitechapel-the-banned-talk

    Liked by 2 people

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