I’ve decided to do a periodic series on “arguments creationists shouldn’t use.” One such argument I hear from creationists periodically is that “evolution is just a theory, so I don’t have to accept it.” This argument reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of science and inspires some of the evolutionary mockeries that are regularly hurled at creationists. This article will explain why this is a poor argument and attempt to equip you to make a better one.
In order to understand why this argument is poor, we need to step back and discuss how science works. Theory to a scientific layman has a different meaning than it does to a scientist. To the average person, a theory just means a speculative guess, perhaps incidentally supported by some fragmentary piece of evidence. Conspiracy theory is a good example of how this works. A few pieces of evidence might, in the mind of the formulator, point towards a less than an accurate conclusion, but the formulator will often refer to this as his “theory”. When a scientist says “theory” he does not mean this kind of theory. The scientist means something that has repeatedly been tested and verified using the scientific method. I would argue that evolution fails this test but the evolutionary dominated scientific community controls the terminology so it is unlikely to change soon.
In science, there are three “levels” of ideas. The first is that of the hypothesis. A hypothesis is more along the lines of what the scientific layman thinks of as a theory. It’s basically a guess, based on some observations and research. After some testing, a hypothesis can, over time and with verification, become a theory. A theory then will undergo even more testing and, after going through what sometimes is generations of research and testing, it can become law. A law is the highest level of scientific idea. It is something that has been verified many times and over extended periods of times. Examples of scientific laws include the Laws of Thermodynamics, the Law of Biogenesis, and the Law of Universal Gravitation.
How then do these ideas undergo testing? Scientist use something called the scientific method to test whether a hypothesis works or not. While the actual steps will vary considerably based on what is being tested (ie cosmological experiments are performed with math and telescopes, while biology ones are performed with living tissue in laboratories or the field), the general overall process remains the same. The first major step in the process is Observation. Here is where scientists look at something in the world around them and wonder about it. Perhaps they want to know how it works, or how it affects something else. In making observations, they formulate a hypothesis about what is going on. However, a guess is not good enough. Curiosity prompts the next step which is to perform Tests. How these tests are performed is dependent on the field. Once the tests are complete, scientists must look at their results and see if they match their original hypothesis. If the results do not match, then a new hypothesis is needed. If they do match, the scientists should (they don’t always ) try to repeat the tests to ensure they did their tests correctly. If they can repeat the tests, scientists will then draw up a paper to communicate their results. In that paper, it is expected that the scientist will make predictions or draw conclusions based on his research which can then be proved right or wrong. This is the final step, called Falsifiability. If any of these steps is missing, then the outcome is not scientific.
So is evolution a theory based on what we have written above? Well, think about it. Can we observe molecules to man evolution? No. Can we observe the origin of life, in defiance of the Law of Biogenesis which we can observe (ie life only comes from preexisting life)? No. Evolution falls at the first hurdle. It has three others to climb. Remember, any one of these failing removes evolution from the realm of science. Can evolution be tested? Well, some aspects of it can. You can attempt to make life in the laboratory from non-life, and in fact many have. However, there is no way to test the “Big Bang” aspect of evolutionary dogma. Can evolution be repeated? No, it cannot. Repetition implies a successful test. There have been no successful tests of evolution, anywhere, performed by anyone, at least in the molecules to man or origin of life sense, which are really the only testable aspects of the dogma. Lastly, can evolution be falsified? Well, the obvious answer is yes but that requires accepting that scientists are willing to abandon it if it makes enough faulty prediction. Spoiler, they aren’t. Evolution can be stretched to fit any new discovery, no matter how damaging it should be to their theory. They do this repeatedly with every new fossil find or every new DNA sequence that challenges their dogma.
In summary then, rather than objecting to evolution because it is just a theory, object to it because it is not science. It cannot be observed, has failed every test ever run attempting to prove it, and thus cannot be repeated, and scientists will not permit it to be falsified, regardless of the evidence against it. That is not science, that is a religion. For all their bluster about there being no evidence for a God, evolutionists are, in fact, more deeply religious than most Christians. They worship their dogma as a god, and Darwin is its prophet.
excellent article, shared.
Is Flood Geology a theory then? Can it be repeated? I would argue that is is a hypothesis that can be tested but it would appear that you might not think so. If one hypothesizes that vast areas of sandstone in the west were the product of a global flood can one only be sure this is true by a successful test of redoing the Flood and showing it made those deposits? I don’t think so. Surely we can convict a person of murder without repeating a murder to test our hypothesis that the observations we make fit our prediction that a murder has taken place.
You raise a fair point, but both evolution and your hypothetical murder are outside the realm of pure science. We cannot directly observe the past, we can merely draw inferences from evidence in the present. This is more history than science. Some people call it historical science. If you want to call it historical science, that’s fine, I’d be amenable to that, but it certainly is not empirical in any way which is what I was driving at
I can go with that. Just a minor quibble since you are being fairly technical with your definitions. You say we cannot directly observe the past. Yes and no. Everything you see is from the past. Light takes time to reach your eye and so what you see if not what is happening the present so in a way we are always observing the past. But you are correct that this observation requires inference from evidence in the present. When I see something like the sun the photon in my eye are in the present (except that I still have to process them which takes time and so me seeing it in my head is still looking at the past though very minutely in the past) but I have to infer that the light came from the sun in the past. Through various forms of measurements we can infer that the sun we are seeing existed 8 minutes ago and we trust that our inference in this case. Seeing pluto in a telescope is inferring its existence further into the past. Seeing a close start is inferring several years into the past. Where it gets interesting is when you see a more distant star and infer that you seeing 7000 years into the past. Why is that inference wrong when inferring a star is 6000 years away is right? Point is that we all live and exist every moment in our lives relying on inferences from observations from the past and most of the time that works pretty well.
Yeah, typed a bit too quickly on that last reply and my fingers added some extra words that my brain didn’t think of:-)