Darwin was wrong (even though he was right)

In response to a recent proposal to have February 12 recognized nationally as “Darwin Day,” Ken Ham has issued a counter-call for that date to be hailed as “Darwin Was Wrong Day.” Ironically but perhaps not surprisingly, the AiG web site demonstrates that Darwin’s most famous contributions—natural selection and new species arising by descent with variation from common ancestors—are not only correct, but are necessary prerequisites even for creationist “biology.”

According to an article on the AiG web site, all species alive today are descended from at most only a few thousand pairs of what creationists call “kinds” or “baramins” (after the Hebrew word for “kinds”).

According to a recent study, there may be only 137 different mammalian kinds alive today. Add those to the now-extinct kinds, the bird kinds, the reptile kinds, and the amphibian kinds, there may have been fewer than 1,000 Ark kinds. The most-recent research indicates that Noah only needed maybe 2,000-3,000 animals.

Notice that’s “up to 3,000 animals,” meaning up to about 1,500 breeding pairs. There are an estimated 1.5 million different species on earth, most of which are invertebrates, so maybe they don’t count or something. But even if you take away the plants and invertebrates, you have to get about 30,000 species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals from at-most 1,500 “kinds”. In other words, according to AiG, at least 95% of all species in existence today arose by descent, with variation, from common ancestors, just like Darwin said. And that’s not even counting all the species that have gone extinct!

Amusingly, AiG “science” not only makes evolution necessarily true, it requires evolution to operate under some rather peculiar constraints.

The formation of new species always comes about by a rearrangement—or often a loss—of genetic information. In order for a creature to develop from one kind to another, it would be necessary for there to be an increase in new genetic information. Such increases in information are not observed, and, in fact, Dr. Werner Gitt’s work on information science would suggest that these theoretical increases in new information are not possible…

So each of the new species that arises has to do so exclusively by re-arranging or removing genetic “information” from its genome (whatever “information” means—creationists are reluctant to give the term a precise, measurable definition). That means that the original 5% of species that were on board the ark must have contained the full genetic potential for the other 95%. One out of every 20 species ought to contain the full genetic information for 19 other species. No novel or innovative features can arise because God couldn’t figure out how to do “descent with variation” in a way that was capable of innovation and novelty. Scientists can come up with a bunch of ways for this to happen, but God just isn’t that good at biology. Best He could manage was to maintain or lose information. No wonder something as powerful as evolution really ticks off creationists.

Not only did at least 95% of all species arise by descent with variation from common ancestors even by creationist standards, but Darwin was also right about the at least some of the  mechanisms by which new species arise, including that old creationist bugaboo, natural selection. And AiG knows it.

Natural selection, as has been stated, is operational science. It is observed. Therefore it would be erroneous to claim that God had created every single species in exactly the form we now see them. Most creationists (including those at AiG) make no such claim.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that they won’t use natural selection as an excuse to try and blame the Holocaust on Darwin, but I digress. They know that Darwin’s theory on the origin of species is accurate, and they know that natural selection, as proposed by Darwin, is at least one of the mechanisms by which new species arise. How, then, do they justify declaring that Darwin was wrong when his two most famous contributions are, even by creationist standards, undeniably true?

The Charles Darwin Day statement from the Delaware governor calls evolution “the foundation of modern biology, an essential tool in understanding the development of life on earth.” But, in reality, biological evolution goes directly against what we know from studying observational science.

The Law of Biogenesis states that life only comes from other life; life never arises from non-life. There are no known exceptions to this law…

There never was a time when life arose from non-life because life came directly from the Life-giver, our Creator God, just as it says in Genesis.

Step One, put words in Darwin’s mouth that Darwin never said. Darwin’s theory of evolution is new species arising by descent with variation from common ancestors. This presumes that the common ancestors are already alive and reproducing. It says nothing about the origin of life from non-life.

Step Two, make up a “law” and capitalize the words in the name. There is no law that says “life only arises from life,” if for no better reason than that it’s difficult to quantify precisely what “life” is. We have a conventional definition of life that involves consuming and excreting and reproducing and so on, but that’s somewhat arbitrary, and the boundaries are fuzzy. Are viruses alive? Are prions? The parts of a cell? Yes, we observe that, under present conditions, living organisms seem to arise only from pre-existing organisms, but there is no law that prevents some form of primitive life from arising under different conditions.

Step Three, appeal to superstition. The difference between superstition and a scientific explanation is that a genuine explanation describes verifiable chains of causality, such that we can confirm or disconfirm the explanation by experimentation and/or observation. Superstition provides no such verifiable description; it merely attributes some observed phenomenon to some arbitrarily-chosen, putative, magical cause, just as Ham does by simply giving God credit for magically creating life.

But really, it’s all just standard creationist misdirection and dishonesty. They know Darwin is right, and they hate that, because Darwin’s system is way more ingenious and sophisticated than anything a bunch of Bronze Age mythologizers could have come up with. So they lie and declare that Darwin was wrong, even though they know he was actually right, and even when they have admitted as much in their own publicity.


  1. Nemo says

    I think the only reason they cling to “information can’t be created” is that they know if they concede that point, they’ve conceded everything. There’s no actual logic to it — although it does, also, go hand in hand with their view of the world as being in constant decay since The Fall.

    Ironically, they could make things much simpler for themselves if they just discarded the most ridiculous story in the entire Bible, Noah’s Flood. But that would mean discarding literalism, so instead, they twist themselves in knots, adopting half of Darwin, and speeding it up beyond the wildest dreams of real biologists.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      …speeding it up beyond the wildest dreams of real biologists.

      That’s a good point. Creationist “biology” not only requires that evolution is true, it also requires evolution to be capable of producing at least 95% of the world’s species in only a few thousands of years or less, mostly by means of degradation of the genome. Considering that most species in the world today have been around for at least most of recorded history (i.e. most of the time since the Flood, according to Ham’s chronology), the actual limit is probably more on the order of centuries or even decades for evolution to produce everything.

  2. david says

    “The Law of Biogenesis states that life only comes from other life; life never arises from non-life. There are no known exceptions to this law”

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. For life to arise from non-living organic molecules requires an earth-sized reaction vessel and hundreds of millions of years of reaction time. Even if new life arose today, it would be eaten up by existing organisms almost immediately. So it’s not surprising that it hasn’t been observed.

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