Sunday, April 11, 2010

Creationism Weakness

Throughout out the book, Coyne lists many different points that creationists have brought up when refuting the theory of evolution. He also, after stating them, provides evidence for why their argument is not true. Do you feel that he adequately shut down all of the creationists points? Are there any other arguments that creationists have against evolution that he may have missed? If so, what are they and is there any evolutionary evidence that proves it to be wrong? With all of the evidence against the creationist theory, why are there still so many people attached to it?


  1. I feel that Mr. Jerry Coyne did not adequately shut down all of the creationist points. However, that is not what Coyne sought out to do. After all the title of his book is “Why Evolution Is True” instead of “Why Creationism Isn’t True”. Quite frankly it says on the back cover that Coyne “does not aim to prove creationism wrong. Rather, by using irrefutable evidence, he sets out to prove evolution right” (Coyne, Back Cover).

    Creationists believe that all living organisms, including the Earth itself, are the direct result of the creation of some supernatural form, usually a type of deity or god ( In proving evolution is true, he is indirectly proving that creationism is wrong. Coyne uses “the tangible historical evidence for evolution: the fossil record,” (Coyne 20), in order to prove that evolution is in fact true.

    One example of Coyne’s use of the fossil record, and perhaps the most impactful, is the mentioning of the discovery of his colleague Neil Shubin. Shubin discovered the Tiktaalik roseae which he unveiled in 2006 ( This is a very important discovery as it represents the missing link between fish and amphibians. The transition from one species to an entirely new species is called macroevolution, which creationists don’t believe in. Instead, they believe in microevolution which refers to changes in the gene pool of a populatin which, over time, results in relatively small changes to the organisms within the given populations; in this case a new, different species is not formed ( Thus, by providing factual evidence that macroevolution has occurred by using the fossil record, Coyne is indirectly proving creationists wrong as they only believe in microevolution.

    The importance of the creationist opposition to evolution cannot be overlooked. On page 16 Coyne says that “A theory becomes a fact when so much evidence has accumulated in its favor…that virtually all reasonable people will accept it” (Coyne, 16). Notice the last part of that quotation about all reasonable people accepting the theory. Because creationists do not accept evolution, and have a significant amount of supporters, the theory of evolution cannot graduate to a fact.

    In response to the part of the question as to why so many people feel attached to creationism despite all the evidence against it, I believe it is mostly religious. While researching the creationism viewpoint I came across the website and the first thing I saw (on the front of the home page) was a quote of the bible “Genesis 1:1 ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’” Most of the support for creationism is rooted in religious scriptures, specifically the Bible. The creationists follow strictly what is said and believe it to be fact. To the creationist defense, though, they believe that the evolutionists are very similar to them. Creationists say “God said it. That settles it” Evolutionists say “Scientists said it. That settles it” (

  2. Well one argument brought up in my recent post is that of chemical of evolution. Conye fails to mentions the creationist argument of chemical evolution in his book. Creationist believe (this is accredited to Mr. Roys who got it from a book by Michle Behe) that the math of chemical evolution doesn't add up. For the smallest living cell to be formed purely from random association of amino acids the probability is so that they claim it is not physically possible. The problem with these arguments are twofold: firstly, they are too many variables not taken into account. For example, most creationists claim that given the conditions of early earth and given the approximate amount of time that earth has been around it is physically impossible to form teh right combinations, yet they fail to take into account the fact that there were many such planets with earth like conditions increasing the probability exponentially. There are many other such issues with they're theory similar to this one. What it comes down to is that there are to many variables to make such a claim. One not counted variable could change the theory either way. As Mr. Erdmann said, math can be used to prove many things true or untrue its simply a matter of how they are phrased.

  3. As Buxbaum said in his post, people justify belief in creationism because “it is mostly religious”. However, what is religion? Is it the same thing as creationism? Come to think of it, this is a question that has not been answered since the beginning of the blog! I’m going to say something that is tricky to explain: it is possible to be religious and reject creationism at the same time. How can that be? Creationism is a theory that “holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection” (Discovery Institute), literally meaning that an intelligent being created everything that is. On the other hand, we also know that Darwinism is the theory that the book defends and is solely based on “the theory of evolution by natural selection” (Coyne 3). However, religion is something much more fickle than that. Religion is not, in fact, the belief in an all-powerful being that controls one’s destiny and created all that there is. Instead, it is one’s ASSOCIATION with past culture, be it Muslim, Judaism, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, or what have you, that implies a belief in a creator god (but not always, in the case of Buddhism for example) and following the beliefs of that particular culture. THAT is religion.

    Take humanistic Judaism for example: a religion in every sense of the word, yet not based on worship of a creator god. In fact, zero prayer is involved in humanistic Judaism! Instead, this movement is established on the notion that “humanistic and Secular Jews understand Judaism as the human-centered history, culture, civilization, ethical values, and shared experience of the Jewish people” (IFSHJ) rather than belief in a god. This serves as a reminder that religion and creationism are not the same thing, and it is wrong to group them in under the same umbrella. One can be religious and noncreationist at the same time.

    In this regard, it is impossible to “shut down” all of the points of creationism. Because creationism takes many forms, from early Earth advocates to the minimalist view of the agnostic, the faith that these people have in their belief will always find some void to fill in that evolution does not yet have the answers to. So then, the question should not be how much the scientists have missed, but how much they have not proven yet. Because there will always be those pockets of ignorance, the argument of creationism versus evolution will always be present.

    Page 3 of the book

  4. I absolutely agree with Mike. Actually, at one Truthseekers meeting, we decided that the definition of religion we would use for the day is just a personal world belief, which includes believing in evolution. However, this is not normally how the word is used. Also, you can be religious and evolutionist even in the common sense of "religion," such as how Francis Collins (the guy who did the Human Genome Project) delineates his belief in theistic evolution in his book The Language of God. In fact, I am surprised Coyne does not mention theistic evolution in his book, seeing as Collins' book was written about forty years earlier, and he did not even come up with the idea of theistic evolution himself; it has been around for a long time.

    In response to Mehul's post, macroevolution having occurred does not necessitate chemical evolution. The book does not provide support for the origin of life, but rather the origin of life as it is today. It could be that Mr. Roys is right, that the laws of nature without an intelligent designer could not give rise to the first life-forms because "the math of chemical evolution doesn't add up." That is a different matter, and if you want to research chemical evolution, there is plenty on that as well. Many people believe it probably happened, but it is not accepted as truly "fact" as is evolution. Coyne says on page 3 that "[The modern theory of evolution] can be summarized in a single (albeit slightly long) sentence: Life on earth evolved gradually beginning with one primitive species--perhaps a self-replicating molecule--that lived more than 3.5 billion years ago; it then branched out over time, throwing off many new and diverse species; and the mechanism for most (but not all) of evolutionary change is natural selection." Notice that he said "perhaps," and also that he does not say how the first species came about, only when.

  5. People will always be attached to the creationist theory because it is so deeply ingrained in our religious scriptures. After all, "And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so." (Book of Genesis) Convincing someone to believe otherwise after they have believed this their entire life is almost futile. Yet it gets them thinking....
    Coyne brings up points in almost every one of his chapters that sound like "why would a creator use exactly the same bones in flying and flightless wings, including the wings of swimming penguins?" (58) Coyne constantly questions the motives of "a creator", yet a fundamental belief of the creator (if there is one) is that our puny human minds wouldn't be able to comprehend his/her/its motives. Therefore, Coyne somewhat damages his credibility whenever he assumes that a creator would go about creating species as a human would. He shouldn't be putting a human's mind and logic into "creator's shoes." Coyne later says "Tiny, nonfunctional wings, a dangerous appendix, eyes that can't see, and silly ear muscles simply don't make sense if you think that species were specially created."(64) He once again is putting his decision making in the creator's shoes. The only time that he redeems himself is when he admits that if indeed the entire world of life was "created", then the creator succeeded in making the illusion of evolution look so logical in our eyes. Perhaps this is to cover up his/her/its tracks. There are also some mathematical issues that come into play. For instance, "The probability of life originating from accident is comparable to the probability of the Unabridged Dictionary resulting from an explosion in a printing shop." (Conklin) Although the chances of this biological world occurring are miniscule, they still exist. Yet creationists believe that this world's creation has such a low chance of occurring that it must have been the act of a creator. The fact that the Earth has been around for 4.6 billion years just isn't long enough for life to occur by chance, according to naysayers.


    Why Evolution is True

    The Bible

  6. Coyne did not shut down all arguments against creationism/intelligent design. As Ryan stated, it wasn't his purpose. On the other hand, he mentioned very few of the arguments that ID proponents make, because the purpose of his book was an "overkill" approach, where he presents a ton of evidence to make his point of view seem true, indirectly weakening the other side.

    One of the main arguments he does not address is the idea of chemical evolution. While he does mention that the field of abiogenesis is new and there isn't much information regarding it, (Coyne, P.236) he claims that it isn't the job of evolutionary theory to address the origin of life. However, many ID proponents believe that for a theory to properly explain how life functions, it must adequately explain how life began, because we can't fully understand why something happens the way it does, or how it works, if we don't know where it originates from. Here's an analogy:

    In school, we are taught tolerance of other cultures. In the past, those who were intolerant branded "strangers" as odd, and thus evil because they didn't understand their culture. They saw how these different people acted, and postulated that others were below them because of their misjudgment. However, once the origins of various cultures was studied and in turn taught, people began to understand each other, and treat each other more humanely.

    So, if this in fact is what we are taught in school, shouldn't we take this approach towards all areas of study? Therefore, the idea is (as I have stated earlier), how can evolution and natural selection properly explain how life functions if it does not explain to us how it originated?

    Scientists have discovered something called: protobionts (1), which they believe to be the evolutionary precursor to prokaryotic cells. However, there is little known about them, so as evidence, they aren't exactly valid to proving the case for evolution, yet.

    Also, I would like to point out that there IS a difference between intelligent design and creationism. ID proponents accept evidence that supports evolution, but look for fallacies in the logic of evolution/find evidence supporting the idea that an intelligent agent controls evolution and, in general, everything else. The reason CREATIONISTS hold on to their theory with an iron grip is because they blindly believe in the creation of existence by God. They refuse to see it any other way, so evidence means naught to them. If people refuse to accept absolute fact (for example, that radioactive dating proves the world to be billions of years old, or that fossils from hundreds of millions of years ago give us proof of incredible creatures not written about in their religious texts), then there is not much that evolutionary theory can do to change their point of view.

    There are many other arguments that Creationists/ID proponents have, but because they become more mathematically based, and deviate from the point of this blog, I won't mention them.