Sometimes we atheists are requested, especially by concerned family members, to read Christian propaganda. I was given a copy of a book criticizing evolutionary science entitled Darwin’s Demise. It is not an especially great representative of creationist literature, but I regard it as sufficiently representative to warrant a response. I hate propaganda, so I began it warily. My comments are merely a set of first reactions, since I do not regard the book as worthy of careful study. Indeed, it doesn’t present any hard evidence, rather it reports a series of favorable conclusions from fellow creationists. To sum up the creationist position as presented in this book, we have this picture:
God created the world about 6,000 years ago. He created the different kinds of animals by saying “let them be,” creating Adam and Eve on the last day of Creation by making them out of clay. All animals were created perfect since God says of them that they are “very good.” Initially, all are herbivores (Genesis 1:30), and remained so until after the Flood (Gen. 9:2-3)–when some of them became carnivores, omnivores, parasites, etc., to form the violent food chain that we see nowadays.
We know that God created life by miracle because the first organism would have been far too complex to ever arise by random chance; nor can random mutation improve a species, though “microevolution” was designed by God to let each type adapt to its environment.
God decided to flood the earth because humankind was too violent and therefore deserved to be destroyed, but he saved a few righteous humans whom he put on the Ark, along with two of every kind of animal on earth. He used the Ark in order to preserve all the species of animals. He did not create a new animal kingdom after the Flood.
No animal has had enough time–nor even the mathematical probability–to evolve into a new “kind.” Nor can organs such as eyes, ears, etc., evolve; they are “irreducibly complex,” meaning that they could only be useful fully evolved; they would serve no adaptive bonus in an intermediate form.
In all this, I think Dr. Joe represents the conclusions shared by most creationists, especially “young-earth” creationists (those who regard the earth as being created by God within the last 10,000 years). He states that life arose either by random chance, or else by means of an omnipotent creator who intelligently designed it. Many times he says “these are the only alternatives. None other is conceivable.” How untrue! One possibility: the universe itself might be sentient and creative, without anything like a “God” existing.
But even if the universe isn’t intelligent it need not resemble the alternative creationists suggest: a dead corpse governed only be random chance in which life happens only by beating incredible odds. It seems much more likely to me that life is likely to arise on many planets through a set of laws that we are yet to discover. Why should the arising of life be unnatural or improbable? Why not probable? These are questions that science is still answering, yet this hypothesis seem much more “likely” than a warrior God floating above an ocean and saying “let there be fishes.”
The guiding method Dr. Joe uses to establish creationism as a science is to take some nonthreatening scientific views that have become established and to pretend that Genesis predicted them. For instance, we now know that similar looking animals share similarities between their DNA. Dr. Joe claims that the Bible predicts this because God is a designer, and a designer works from a blueprint, using a good creative idea again and again on different animals. This doesn’t follow. Why would God, the omniscient, the omnipotent, need to follow a blueprint? As if he needed a way to make things easier on himself! It would make more sense to me that, if God were infinite, he would use an absolutely original DNA sequence for each species, a unique DNA for every “kind” that in no way resembled any other. If each of the species were a “kind” then there would be a unique DNA perfect for it but for no other species. Therefore, when Dr. Joe says “we would expect this,” he really means, “we find this, and we can rationalize that God intended it.”
“Similarities indicate a common designer” is meant to show why animals seem to genealogically resemble each other. In fact, if God were really creative, he would mix in oddballs that had no connection whatsoever with the rest, such as when a man at work breaks his serious demeanor by suddenly telling an off-the-wall joke. Let me see an animal that could not possibly have evolved from anything else, something completely alien. Or are there limits to God’s creativity? Must he create all animals from a single blueprint? Why not have animals that don’t even use DNA? Why not be truly creative instead of endlessly repetitive? Dr. Joe doesn’t consider these ideas. Instead, he misquotes scientists. He claims that Louis Pasteur “proved experimentally over a century ago that nonlife cannot create life.” This was my first clue that the author had no respect for my intelligence. As I recall, Pasteur found that bacteria did not spontaneously jump out of pasteurized milk or, say, out of a test tube full of drinking water in the course of a three week experiment. What in the world has this to do with microscopic protolife arising out of an ancient chemical pool? As if we could derive a “law” from ordinary water, about the origin of life billions of years ago. They are unrelated. Since he pretends that they are analogous, he seems to be playing us for chumps.
He then uses twelve illustrated statistical quotes about how unlikely it is that life would start on earth. He uses images of trillions of ping pong balls, Rubic’s Cubes, typewriters, and tornadoes in junkyards–yes, just a bunch of images of the unlikely–without any connection to how these figures were reached, or how they relate to life There is no science or math in this mess, just a bunch of quotes. He graces us with no context.
But I doubt that even the scientists who dabble in such statistics know what they are talking about. Indeed, we have no idea what the first protolife forms looked like, nor what were the conditions of early earth. Since we have no idea how life could have emerged, how in the world can we predict the chances of its happening? Such statistics are meaningless.
Nor is a single evolutionist quoted with his side of the story. Dr. Joe tells us that if you want to know the true explanation of biology, history, and geology, consider the Flood of Genesis! The Bible continues the tradition started in Gilgamesh that the world suffered a worldwide, completely destructive flood. Because mankind had become violent, God decided to violently murder all of mankind. But he spared Noah and his family, due to Noah’s righteousness. God concludes after the Flood that mankind is still evil, that the Flood had improved nothing. He then decides not to flood the world ever again, and then causes the first rainbow in history to appear as a reminder of his promise.
Noah brought two of every animal on his ark. Though over 99% of the species known to man are now extinct, we are told that they all existed alongside man from the very beginning, 6000 years ago, that they were all herbivores till after the Flood, and that the many that became extinct did so only after the Flood. God preserved two of every animal species because he wanted them all to continue. Nevertheless, most of them have become extinct–even before anyone recorded stories about them. The dinosaurs, we are told, couldn’t survive the post-Flood atmosphere that had turned colder. Evidently God didn’t see this coming. Dr. Joe makes no comment on the divine logic behind this.
The story of the Flood is supposed to be an explanatory model of how the billions of fossilized lifeforms found around the earth got that way. How did we get so many billions of fossils, if not from a worldwide flood? The Flood explains how they were all fossilized at once, and why they were so well-preserved. It explains how seashells got on mountaintops, how the continents got pushed apart, why so many cultures have flood stories, why radiometric dating is inaccurate, what God feels about sin (in others than himself), how the geological time table in the rocks got made in less than a year.
But this is a failure because the Bible says the entire world was vegetarian until after the Flood (as interpret Genesis 9:2-3 is interpreted). But we have fossils of hundreds of thousands of carnivores, sometimes with fossilized prey in their belly, sometimes with fossilized prey in their mouth. Inconsistencies are obvious. Dr. Joe says that if geologic science claims the world is over 6,000 years old, it is because science has not properly considered the worldwide flood.
“The world is young, and if radiometric dating claims otherwise, it is because it is unreliable.” How unreliable? If it claims that this rock is carbon dated at 500 million years old, and that one 20 million, they are so unreliable as to mistake the fact that all rocks are in fact under 6,000 years! We have coral reefs that are hundreds of thousands of years old, even when we consider them as growing as fast as recorded coral can grow, but in fact, they are under 6,000 years. Someday, the flood will explain this too.
Another proof is that, logically, if the world were millions of years old, “there would have to be 10^2100 people on earth right now, assuming our current growth rates.” Okay, when somebody looks me face to face and spits directly in my eye, I must say: liar! You are deceiving me or you are self-deceived. You would say anything, to pretend you are believed.
And of course, they have an “explanation” for how we can see stars that are millions of light years away. They are in fact less then six thousand years old, and God just stretched out space, making them seem farther away. Yes, and when we see through our telescopes some of these stars blowing up, we must conclude that these stars are blowing up after a mere 6,000 years. Hmm!
If we look at the geological column, in which older sediment is lower, and newer sediment is higher, we find that the simplest organisms are the oldest at the bottom, and the most sophisticated are the youngest on top. This isn’t disputed. Nor does Dr. Joe mention it. He seems most impressed that the Cambrian layers have “complete jellyfish, trilobites, urchins, sponges” appearing “spontaneously out of nowhere.” What he should have predicted was that there would be human beings and pterodactyls mixed in there. Why does the Cambrian layer have such simple critters in it? According to Dr. Joe, creationism “predicts” that “the fossil record would show a sudden and explosive appearance of very diverse and highly complex forms of life.”
Such a lie! The creation model claims that we were all created in the first week of the universe. What Dr. Joe should predict is not a “sudden appearance” but that all our fossils are mixed together at once from the very beginning. Evolutionism does a good job of explaining the world of biology around us. Creationism claims that it explains more. Though evolutionary theory gives birth to new views on animal life, population growth, organ function, etc., we are asked to believe that creationism explains all this, and more, even better. Dr. Joe even claims that evolutionary science is “sterile” and has offered no new understanding to mankind. If only science would be open-minded, he laments. But he claims that the Bible is a scientific book, and its most scientifically interesting moment comes right after the verses about when the angels come down and have sex with human women to produce mythical superheroes, at which point God comes to lament what he must have foreseen would happen, and he prepares to kill everyone in existence, young and old alike. Well what can this “scientific” book explain? Let’s see if creationism can explain one of Darwin’s simple observations: the struggle for existence.
Since these creationists argue that complex organs cannot evolve, and considering that all carnivores have complex killing organs, we must assume that either God created stingers, venom, scales, camaflouge, infections, spider webs, viruses, all in the very beginning in the first week, when the world was “good” in his eyes–which the creationists know that he didn’t, since “animals were vegetarians at the beginning”–or we must assume that, strangely, God magically implanted all these killing devices onto the animals collected into the ark, after it landed. Huh? That the peace-loving scorpion walked off the ark, and God screwed in a stinger above his butt, and put some nasty pincers on his hands? That he stuck some venom up the wasp? And of course that he specially designed all the nasty bacteria and viruses? That he put killer teeth in the Great White Shark? That he put the meat-digesting enzigms directly into millions of predators? What? That he taught the parasites how to live inside a host (by example, no doubt)? They were vegetarians before. He had to show them how to kill. And again, all these murderous organs he sewed onto the animals as they stepped off the ark.
Not only that, but all the clever devices the herbivores have to avoid these nasty predators: their tricks of hiding in trees, playing dead, wearing camaflouge, fighting off brutes, or fleeing quickly, these all were taped onto their old DNA–yes!–taped on with duct tape, since they could not have evolved. Microevolution could never explain the necessary immediary steps. Creationists say it themselves! The entire food chain, we are told, did not exist at the beginning. There was no need for fight or defense in the beginning. All these protective systems–assaulting organs, violent behaviors, protective genes–were added on to the animals in the ark! This is creationist science. Let us teach it in the schools. Not only did many of the animals suddenly become carnivorous, but they also waited many generations to eat, because, of course, there were only two of each vegetarian animal, and if the carnivores ate as many of them as they do today, the carnivores would have eaten all the herbivores within less then twenty years.
Since, in the beginning, no bacteria were carnivorous, no viruses virulent, the human beings had to be granted a new immune system. God waved a magic wand, so that after the Flood, man was immune. And not only man: every single animal on the earth has behaviors, organs, genes, of “irreducible complexity,” merely for the art of avoiding being murdered and eaten. But these could not possibly have evolved, nor where they part of God’s creation! They were handed out by God as the animals got off the ark, and they “plugged and played” these parts like a PC computer. Without evolution! Without creation! And with a five generation delay so that all the animals could get established before the entire food-chain thing got started.
For God did not create new animals after the Flood, but he put two of each into the ark in order to save them (see Gen. 6:20). Alas, it makes no sense. But the creationists still believe. A new interpretation always comes out.
But what gets me the most is that God had two of every animal enter the ark. Yes, because it was so important to him that his precious creation should survive his “justified” wrath. And so he has two of “every” animal hop onboard. And yet, we find that all the dinosaurs died off after they become carnivorous, but before any human beings wrote about them in ancient times; further, we find that most species of animals are now extinct, yet they were not killed by the Flood, for “two of every animal came to the ark,” and “there were no carnivores before the Flood.” All these myriads of animals died after the Flood.
This is presented as science. There is no method to it. There is no predictivity, no falsifiability, no plausibility, no consistency. It is not science. It is not a philosophy. It is not even a theology. It is a waste of my time.