Anticreationist debate tactics
Anticreationists debate tactics have proven to be seriously flawed in many ways.These arguments are earmarked by tremendous gaps in logic and a misunderstanding of the positions Creationists actually embrace.
Skeptical arguments can be separated into three major categories: arguments attacking the scientific validity of Creation, arguments directed at the accuracy of the Bible, and personal attacks leveled at Creationists. The charge that Creation is unscientific has little to do with defending science and more to do with defending a materialistic understanding of the world. Anticreationist arguments against the Bible's validity highlight how misinformed skeptics are about history and theology, though they make authoritative statements about both. Personal attacks against Creationists reflect poorly on those who engage in them and demonstrate how weak the case for evolution really is.
All three debate tactics are illogical, uninformed, and easily refuted. This article will summarize and refute some of the more popular tactics commonly pursued by evolution apologists.
- 1 Attacking Creation Theory
- 2 Attacking the Bible's validity
- 3 Personal Attacks
- 4 Forum Tactics
- 5 Notes
- 6 External links
- 7 See also
Attacking Creation Theory
Creation is Unscientific
Anticreationists often claim that Creation is unscientific; and attempt to support this assertion with disingenuous arguments about the scientific method and the testability of Creation Science. The most popular version of this claim seeks to define science as a purely naturalistic enterprise, thereby excluding Creation from the realm of examination from the beginning of the debate. This tactic's weakness is revealed when one recognizes that the 'science is naturalistic' definition actually redefines the word. Science is merely a method of testing a hypothesis against the available evidence. There is nothing inherent in scientific inquiry that restricts it to materialistic causes.
Nonetheless, even by the subjective standard of many evolution apologists, Creation does make testable, falsifiable claims about the natural world. The skeptics do recognize this: "Some forms of creationism (especially Young Earth Creationism) do make falsifiable predictions that natural events record in some holy work (e.g. The Bible) did occur. The occurrence of a natural event in the past is testable, so does fall under the category of science."  While anticreationists may disagree with these Young Earth predictions, they are no less scientific as a result.
God of the Gaps
A common anticreationist debate tactic is to label any design hypothesis a god of the gaps argument. This response is often invoked to avoid addressing the substance of a creationist argument that repudiates the materialistic assumptions of Darwinian Evolution. Dr. Michael Shermer, a vocal opponent of Creation Science, employs the skeptical tactic this way:
[...]creationists are doing nothing more than saying “then a miracle occurs.” This is the “god of the gaps” argument—wherever an apparent gap exists in scientific knowledge, this is where God interjects a miracle
The God of the Gaps response has a number of deficiencies. Firstly, it assumes what is at issue, naturalism. Secondly, arguments for design are often based on positive scientific evidence and not merely incredulity.  The most significant deficiency, however, is that the God of the Gaps response is inapplicable to Young Earth Creationism. Under a Young Earth paradigm, God's intervention in the world is not contingent upon a naturalistic explanation of a particular phenomenon. God intervenes where he said he would in scripture. 
Creationists don't conduct research
This argument, frequently utilized in public debates, accuses Creationists of only attempting to find holes in the current understanding of evolution. Creationists spend most of their time sifting through the scientific literature, so the argument goes, attempting to find flaws in Darwinian theory while doing very little scientific research.
Almost all their "research" is done in libraries, not laboratories, and all their "evidence" for creation is really nothing more than intentionally or unintentionally garbled evidence against evolution - as if they could prove the Genesis mythology by disproving Darwin!
The skeptics have failed to do any research themselves in this case. Had they done so, they may have discovered that Creationists are continually involved in scientific research. The RATE Group, for example, is a team of Creation Scientists who have taken up the effort to explain rock formation under a Young Earth paradigm. Other research efforts, like the Baraminology Study Group, conducts research on the taxonomic category baramin, mentioned in Genesis. This is an organized effort to explain all of the biological diversity we see from a Young Earth perspective.
Beyond these highly specialized projects, several peer-reviewed creationist journals have been in publication for decades now. These quarterly journals contain thousands of scientific research articles written in support of Young Earth Creation. Many articles written from the creationist perspective have been published in the secular literature as well.
An extension of the God of the Gaps argument is the poor design argument. When responding to creationist claims about evidence for design in nature, skeptics will often to point biological and natural structures that they allege are poorly designed.
why not tally all those things whose design is so clunky, goofy, impractical, or unworkable that they reflect the absence of intelligence? Take the human form. We eat, drink, and breathe through the same hole in the head[...]choking is the fourth leading cause of "unintentional injury death" in the United States
While seemingly clever upon first examination, this argument is fatally flawed. The first issue is one of logical inconsistency. Skeptics are highly critical of design arguments because such arguments assume there is not a Darwinian explanation for the designed feature. Yet, when evolutionists cite poorly designed structures as evidence for evolution they are making the same error they criticize creationists for making: They assume there is not a design explanation for the clumsy structure.
There seems to be some good biological reasons why poorly designed features exist. Dr. Jerry Bergman points out that "life must have built-in limits to insure that natural balance is maintained and that one animal does not become too successful numerically[...]‘Poor design’ features are a result of design limitations necessitated by the need for a balanced ecology[...]"
Another inherent flaw in the poor design argument is that pointing to badly designed structures does not refute the examples of well designed structures that allude a Darwinian explanation. As Michael Behe pointed out in response to critics of Darwin's Black Box: "If I say a mousetrap is irreducibly complex, and someone replies that a hammer is not irreducibly complex, how has that answered my point? If I write about problems with purine biosynthesis, it is no answer to say that other pathways might have developed gradually. Parts of life may have required intentional design, other parts maybe not. To answer that question you have to deal with the hardest examples, not the easier ones."
The Meaning of EvolutionIn Creation-Evolution debates, anticreationists will commonly define evolution as 'change in gene frequencies' or 'speciation' even though they are arguing in favor of a much broader concept: The General Theory of Evolution. This is the hypothesis that "[...]all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form." Mark Isaak illustrates this debate tactic in his article "Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution":
Biologists define evolution as a change in the gene pool of a population over time. One example is insects developing a resistance to pesticides over the period of a few years. Even most Creationists recognize that evolution at this level is a fact[...]But, as Walter Remine correctly points out, "In creation-evolution debates, “evolution” isn’t mere ‘change in gene frequencies.’ Unless context indicates otherwise, it refers, ultimately, to naturalistic molecules-to-man transformation – anything less involves creation[...]"
Isaak's argument misses the point. Biologists may define evolution as a change in the gene pool over time, but this doesn't prove his central claim that all life arose from a single source. This argument amounts to nothing more than equivocation. It seeks to further distort a debate which is focused on origins and not mere changes in gene frequency.
All of science is wrong
In a debate with Kent Hovind, Dr. Michael Shermer made the following assertion:
[...]if Young Earth Creationists like him are right, then all of science goes out the window, not just evolutionary biology. If the earth is only 6,000 years old, then most of cosmology, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, geology, paleontology, archaeology, genetics, etc. are wrong.Hovind satirically responded, "the sky is falling!"
The argument implies that if the evolutionary timescale is disbelieved all the scientific achievements reached since the introduction of Darwin's theory will be forever lost. This is foolish at best. Our ability to conduct research in any of the fields Dr. Shermer mentions will not be hindered by acceptance of Creation. Acceptance of long ages is not necessarily connected to our abilities to conduct operational, repeatable science. Dr. Jerry Bergman adds that "Although Darwinists often talk about the central importance of “evolution” in gaining a basic understanding of the natural world, my research reveals that in the daily work of both scientific education and scientific research, evolution is rarely mentioned (or even a concern)."
Creationists invented micro and macro evolution
Some evolution apologists have claimed that creationists invented the terms micro and macro evolution. The scientific community doesn't use these terms, say some skeptics, they are used only by creationists in anti-evolution literature. According to Jonathan Wells,
In 2005, Darwinist Gary Hurd claimed that the distinction between microevolution and macroevolution was just a creationist fabrication. … Hurd wrote to the Kansas State Board of Education: “…‘macro’ and ‘micro’ evolution ... have no meaning outside of creationist polemics. 
It is completely false to claim that creationists have invented these terms. As Wells argues in The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, 'micro' and 'macro' evolution have been used in the scientific literature for decades (55-56).
What's more, young earth creationists have argued for years that the distinction between small and large changes is not their focus. Instead, most young earth creationists emphasize that mutations and natural selection are incapable of adding new information to the genome. CMI summarizes this point:
|“||These terms, which focus on ‘small’ v. ‘large’ changes, distract from the key issue of information. That is, particles-to-people evolution requires changes that increase genetic information, but all we observe is sorting and loss of information. We have yet to see even a ‘micro’ increase in information, although such changes should be frequent if evolution were true. Conversely, we do observe quite ‘macro’ changes that involve no new information, e.g. when a control gene is switched on or off.||”|
Attacking the Bible's validity
The Creation narrative is allegorical
A significant portion of the skeptical effort to refute Creation Science is focused on undermining the historicity of the Creation narrative in Genesis. Anticreationists will typically argue that Genesis 1 should be read allegorically; emphasizing that the Bible was not intended to be a science textbook. The National Center for Science Education summarizes the argument:
Contrary to what biblical literalists argue, the Bible was not intended by its authors to teach us about science[...]The Bible does not teach us the literal truths that the earth is flat, or that a global flood once covered Mt. Everest, or that we inhabit a geocentric cosmos, or that the world was created as we now observe it in six solar days, or that species were specially created in their present form and have not changed since the days of creation. Rather, the Bible can be read as a record of one particular people's developing moral relationship with the God in whom they placed their trust. As such, it enshrines timeless ideals about the integrity of creation and human responsibility within that creation. For biblical believers, part of that responsibility is using the gift of human rationality to discover the exciting story of how life ― including human life ― has developed on the earth.
While making authoritative statements about what the Bible was intended to teach, this argument ignores significant textual evidence that Genesis 1 was intended as a historical narrative. For example, Hebrew has special grammatical forms used for recording history which are used in Genesis 1. These grammatical forms are used to indicate historicity elsewhere in the Bible where the meaning of the text is uncontroversial. Furthermore, the word used in Genesis 1 that translates as "day" in English is used with a number. This usage indicates a day that is twenty-four hours long. Based on the textual evidence, Genesis is written as a historical narrative. Although the Bible doesn't teach that the global flood covered Mt. Everest, nor that species haven't changed since the creation week; nor does it teach that the earth is flat. These are mischaracterizations of the views Young Earth Creationists espouse.
Bible contains false scientific claims
Because Creation Science is based on the idea that the Bible makes accurate statements about the natural world, Anticreationists will often argue that the Bible is full of false and erroneous scientific claims.
[...]many critics believe the Bible is its own worst enemy. From this perspective there are more than enough statements contained therein to forestall any claims to scientific precision. Indeed, many statements clearly belong in the realm of mythology and folklore, while others are simply false.
There are two parts to this argument. The first attempts to prove the Bible makes false claims about observable phenomena. The examples provided to support this charge are long refuted misinterpretations of biblical text: The Bibles teaches a flat earth,1 Kings 7:23 gets the value of pi wrong, the Bible refers to unicorns, etc. These are all fallacious examples and they highlight the biblical ignorance of most skeptics who claim to know the Bible is inaccurate.
The second part of the argument focuses on examples where a Biblical passage disagrees with the materialist dogma. If the Bible contradicts the scientific community's consensus on an issue, the text is wrong. This line of reasoning typically calls upon the self serving definition of science to exclude anything beyond naturalist, materialist causes. Anything supernatural is necessarily excluded because "Believers in miracles can never produce a supernatural event when asked to do so. Challenges are invariably left unanswered." This is a false statement, arguments against the plausibility of miracles have been thoroughly refuted. Furthermore, if skeptics really had a logical objection to events that cannot be reproduced, theories about abiogenesis would have been discarded long ago.
Bible not textually reliable
This argument seeks to undermine the Bible's historicity. According to most skeptics, the Biblical manuscripts that remain are not textually reliable. Thus we cannot accept the Bible's account of historical events (creation narrative, global flood, etc.). The following is often used to give this argument some semblance of accuracy:
No original [Bible] manuscripts exist. There is probably not one book which survives in anything like its original form. There are hundreds of differences between the oldest manuscripts of any one book. These differences indicate that numerous additions and alterations, some accidental and some purposeful, were made to the originals by various authors, editors, and copyists.
This looks to be a substantive objection, but further examination reveals its flaws. While it is true that no original manuscripts of the Bible remain, this doesn't carry the weight skeptics think it does. For example, there are no surviving autographs of Tacitus' works, yet historians don't question the historicity of The Annals. Most likely, neither does this skeptical author.
It is also true that textual variants exist in the surviving manuscripts, but this is insignificant. The real question is, to what extent do these variations affect the meaning of the text? The answers is: to a very small extent. Many of the changes made to the text of the Old Testament, for example, are thought to have been made primarily to clarify the meaning of a verse. There is little evidence to suggest that the variations in the surviving manuscripts distort the original meaning of the text.
Creationists want to destroy science
In response to the question, "Why do creationists want to destroy science?" Robert Carroll, Professor of Philosophy at Sacramento City College said:
Why do they want to destroy modern science? They want to destroy modern science because they believe it has given rise to materialistic atheism, which they believe is really the source of all the sins and evil and wickedness in the Universe.
This is an example of a logical fallacy called a loaded question-it presupposes something about creationists' motivations. Creationists do not want to abolish the scientific method, or destroy scientific data. Rather, Creationists simply disagree with evolutionary interpretations of that data, namely materialistic and naturalistic, also pointing out that modern scientific advancements are not the result of evolutionary theory.
Dr. Jonathan Sarfati points out:
|“||This fails to note the distinction between normal (operational) science, and origins or historical science. Normal (operational) science deals only with repeatable observable processes in the present, while origins science helps us to make educated guesses about origins in the past. Operational science has indeed been very successful in understanding the world, and has led to many improvements in the quality of life, e.g., putting men on the moon and curing diseases. ||”|
While Carroll attempts to compare creationists to conspiracy theorists for believing that evolution has serious moral implications, he has failed to realize that other vocal anticreationists agree with this assertion. For example, William Provine said;
|“||Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear … There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either. ||”|
Young Earth Creation causes loss of faith
what [young Christians] were taught is that either you accept a young earth as the only valid position, or you don't (and thus, you don't believe the Bible). When they learned from science that the earth was old, they had no choice but to abandon the Bible...after all, they were taught that both could not be right.
A better explanation, however, is that many Christians today are not prepared to defend their faith against skeptical objections. Perhaps if church leaders had a better understanding of creation, they could give their congregations the answers to the obvious contradiction between Genesis and evolution. This claim is also a straw man argument, as most young earth creationists do not assert that salvation requires a literal reading of Genesis.
While compromising Christians argue that harmonizing the Bible and evolution can prevent loss of faith, it is this compromise that raises doubts about the Bible's validity. If Christians choose to reject the historicity of some events in the Bible to accommodate evolution, why not reject other events in scripture in favor of a natural explanation? As Duane Gish explains, "The theistic evolutionist, biblically, has placed himself in an untenable position. How does one decide which portions of the Bible should be taken literally and which should be brushed aside as devoid of historical and scientific significance? The Virgin birth of Jesus Christ, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, the changing of water into wine all were miraculous events. None can be explained biologically. All involved instantaneous acts of divine creation[...]Are individual Christians at liberty to pick and choose which portions of Scripture describe real events and to which portions may be ascribed only spiritual significance?"
By ignoring the context and compromising the meaning of particular Biblical passages, theistic evolutionists and old earth creationists are undermining the authority of all the scriptures.
Lack of scientific credentials
When all else fails, anticreationists resort to Ad hominem insults in attempt to undermine creationist credibility. This includes the baseless claim that creationists don't possess valid scientific credentials:
Creation “scientists” have more need than most of us to parade their degrees and qualifications, but it pays to look closely at the institutions that awarded them and the subjects in which they were taken. Those vaunted Ph.D.s tend to be in subjects such as marine engineering or gas kinetics rather than in relevant disciplines like zoology or geology. And often they are earned not at real universities, but at little-known Bible colleges deep in Bush country.
This claim is entirely false and has been refuted elsewhere on this site.
Creationists can't think freely
Anticreationists often argue that creationists are not capable of "free thought." Thinking freely requires applying critical scrutiny to one's own beliefs. Since creationists take the authority of the Bible on faith, they are not capable of "free thought." Jeffery Lowder, writing for infidels.org argues:
Anyone who attempts to obey Biblical passages such as these [Proverbs 3:5] cannot be a freethinker, though a person as a freethinker could become an Evangelical Christian (and, ironically, cease to be a freethinker)[...] Freethought is an epistemology, one that is incompatible with an Evangelical worldview
Besides taking scripture verses out of context, this example, like most, is devoid of any justification. There is nothing inherently close minded about accepting the authority of scripture. Especially if the acceptance is the result of honest inquiry. It is possible to subject the Bible to historical and scientific criticism and reach conclusions without taking the Bible on faith, as defined by the skeptics.
"Free thinkers," like Lowder, take issue with verses such as Proverbs 3:5 and 2 Cor. 10:5 because they teach that Christians must ultimately put their trust in Christ and reject worldly wisdom. But, these verses don't encourage blind faith. Keeping in mind how the Bible uses the word "faith," Christians were to trust in Christ based on the evidence provided by the miracles he performed. Today we have an historical account of those miracles in the Bible, which we can examine for its accuracy. In the Biblical sense, being obedient to Christ is not the same as blindly accepting unreasonable supernatural claims.
- Main Article: Anticreationist forum debate tactics
Creation vs. evolution forums provide opportunities for debate and involve and number of tactics prompted by internet anonymity. Many find that members of Christian forum who disagree with evolution, will be browbeaten (badgered) by anticreationists. This environment plants bad seeds in those who are weak in the faith, resulting in a loss of faith in the literal word of God. Forum tactics often involve tag-teaming, cloak and dagger techniques, and frequent mocking.
- EvoWiki:Creationism, EvoWiki, 18 Nov. 2007. 05 Dec. 2008. Permanent link
- Rennie, John. "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense." Scientific American July 2002: 78-85.
- EvoWiki:Why is Creationism not a Scientific Theory?#Common_Tricks_used_by_Pseudo-scientists, EvoWiki, 04 Dec. 2007. 05 Dec. 2008 Permanent link
- Then a Miracle Occurs by Michael Shermer. eSkeptic. May 10th, 2004.
- Weinberger, Lael. "Whose God? A Theological Response to the god-of-the-gaps." Journal of Creation 22 (2008): 124
- Dembski, William. The Design Revolution. Grove, IL: Intervarsity P, 2004. 116-26.
- Plantinga, A. "Methodological Naturalism?" Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 49 (1997): 148-49.
- William, Anthony G. "Creationists launch new attacks on Evoltuion." Weblog post. Science Fiction & Fantasy. 05 Dec. 2008. 06 Dec. 2008 <http://sciencefictionfantasy.blogspot.com/2008/12/creationists-launch-new-attacks-on.html>.
- Zindler, Frank R. "Creation Science and the fact of Evolution." Oct. 1987. American Atheists. 06 Dec. 2008 <http://www.atheists.org/evolution/creationscience.html>.
- Tyson, Neil D. "The Perimeter of Ignorance." Nov. 2005. 07 Dec. 2008 <http://research.amnh.org/users/tyson/18magazines_perimeter.php>.
- Bergman, Jerry. "Why the ‘poor design’ argument against intelligent design is unsound." Journal of Creation 17 (2003). 2003. 08 Dec. 2008 <http://creationontheweb.com/images/pdfs/tj/j17_3/j17_3_113-118.pdf>.
- Behe, Michael J. "Darwin's Black Box." True Origins. 1997. 07 Dec. 2008 <http://www.trueorigin.org/behe01.asp>.
- G.A. Kerkut, Implications of Evolution (Oxford, UK: Pergamon, 1960), p. 157.
- Isaak, Mark. "Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution." Talk Origins. 01 Oct. 2003. 10 Dec. 2008 <http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-misconceptions.html>.
- Bergman, Jerry. "The “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution” Myth:An Empirical Study and Evaluation." True Origins. 2006. 10 Dec. 2008 http://www.trueorigin.org/biologymyth.asp.
- Hess, Peter. "How Do I read the Bible? Let me count the ways." Religious perspectives. 17 Oct. 2008. National Center for Science Education. 06 Dec. 2008 <http://ncseweb.org/religion/how-do-i-read-bible-let-me-count-ways>
- Catchpoole, David, Jonathan Sarfati, Carl Wieland, and Don Batten. The Creation Answers book. Creation Book, LLC. 1-26. 06 Dec. 2008 <http://creationontheweb.com/images/pdfs/cabook/chapter2.pdf>.
- Koehler, K. and Baumgartner, W. (Eds.), Richardson, M.E.J., (trans.) 2002. Hebrew- Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament.
- "The Bible and Science." Freethoughtpedia. 30 Apr. 2008. 09 Dec. 2008 <http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/the_bible_and_science>.
- "Countering the critics: Bible contradictions and errors." Creation on the Web. CMI. 09 Dec. 2008 <http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/3057/>.
- Miller, Glen. "What about "The Fivefold Challenge"?" Christian ThinkTank. 15 Mar. 1998. 09 Dec. 2008 <http://www.christian-thinktank.com/5felled.html>.
- Morgan, Donald. "Introduction to the Bible and Biblical problems." Infidels.org. 10 Dec. 2008 <http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/intro.html
- Holding, J.P. "Copyist Errors and Estimations." Tektonics.org. 10. Dec. 2008 http://www.tektonics.org/af/copyisterrors.html
- Holding, J.P. "Miscellaneous Questions on the Text of the Old Testament." Tektonics.org. 10. Dec. 2008 http://www.tektonics.org/lp/ottextcrit.html
- Sarfati, Jonathan. "Creationism is religion, not science." CMI. 11 Dec. 2008 http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/3256/
- Provine, W.B., Origins Research 16(1), p.9, 1994.
- http: Neyman, Greg. "About AIC." Answers in Creation. 16. Dec. 2008 //www.answersincreation.org/about_aic.htm
- Gish, Duane. "Is it possible to be a Christian and an evolutionist?" CMI. 15. Dec 2008.http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/1304/
- Dawkins, Richard. "Sadly, an Honest Creationist." Council for Secular Humanism. 16. Dec. 2008. http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/dawkins_21_4.html
- Lowder, Jeffery "Is "Freethinker" Synonymous with Nontheist?." Infidels.org. 16. Dec. 2008 http://www.tektonics.orghttp://www.infidels.org/library/modern/features/2000/lowder1.html
- Talk Origins
- National Center for Science education Their sole purpose is to keep creation out of schools. For further details, see here. For an example of their distorted view of creationist efforts, see Phelps, Daniel, "The Anti-Museum: an Overview and Review of the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum," NCSE, acc. 28 Oct 2007, and CreationWiki's response.
- No Answers in Genesis
- Bad Astronomy
- Pandas Thumb
- New Science
Examples of anticreationist hate
- Rational Response Squad blasphemy challenge
- Rational Response Squad home page
- God is imaginary
- FSTDT.com pictures page one
Side note: Most atheist-evolutionists cannot own up to their own actions when exposed. When you link to a site page that exposes their deeds for what they are, they will often move the page so that it will no longer work. As done with the FSTDT link above. It shows the evil has to hide in the darkness, and when exposed will attempt to hide again. It's part of the cloak and dagger game mentioned above.
Videos of anticreationist bigotry
- Blasphemy on Nightline Eliminating Christian thinking in 10 years (this video was moved, this is another example of the side note above. Link was fixed).
- Richard Dawkins being interviewed on the Rational Response Squad
- Bill Maher making fun of Jerry Falwell's death
External support sites
- Creation vs. evolution
- Arguments against theistic evolution
- Sceptic arguments
- YouTube participant advice