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
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
- Evolution and Inerrancy: Confusing Other Genres with History in Genesis (part 1)
- Evolution, Eden, and the Flood: Confusing Other Genres with History in Genesis (part 2)
- Evolution and Original Sin: How Calvin’s TULIP Falls Apart
- Evolution and Imago Dei: What, Whence, and When the Image of God?
- Evolution and Homophobia: How We Are ‘Created’ LGBT and Straight