By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Here are some of the arguments that creationists make to counter the theory of evolution, along with their scientific counter arguments:
Biological structures are too complex to have arisen by chance.
"Chance plays a part in evolution (for example, in the random mutations that can give rise to new traits), but evolution does not depend on chance to create organisms, proteins or other entities. Quite the opposite: Natural selection, the principal known mechanism of evolution, harnesses nonrandom change by preserving 'desirable' (adaptive) features and eliminating 'undesirable' (nonadaptive) ones. As long as the forces of selection stay constant, natural selection can push evolution in one direction and produce sophisticated structures in surprisingly short times."
—Scientific American, "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense," July 2002
Random mutations can only eliminate traits; they cannot create new ones.
"Most mutations are neutral, some are harmful, but you do have those that are beneficial, and those are the ones that will eventually become the dominant ones in the populations. In other words, the individuals with those genes will become the dominant ones in the population."
—Kevin Fisher, science curriculum director at the Lewisville Independent School District
The Cambrian explosion, which scientists believe occurred 500 million years ago, actually happened in an instant, in which all the major phyla appeared at once.
"The Cambrian Era was 22 million years long. One of the things they bring out that is wrong about Cambrian Era is that all major animals appeared, which is not true. Mammals, fish, birds, reptiles and fish did not appear in Cambrian Era."
The study of peppered moths, which showed changes in coloration linked to environment that support the idea of natural selection, was false.
"While the experiments were not perfect (moths were released during the day, for example, when it would have been more natural to release them at night), they were not fatally flawed, and even without them the peppered moth story has been well established. Peppered moth melanism has both risen and fallen with pollution levels, and they have done so in many sites on two continents."
Haekel's Embryo, drawings of human embryos that purported to support evolution, were faked.
"Haekel basically faked his drawings, which was known. It's been decades since his drawings have appeared in any biology textbooks. People don't use them anymore. And the point [Ernst Haekel] was trying to make—that the human embryo goes through different evolutionary stages—that was refuted years ago. Even his original point is not valid anymore. No one uses that."
Lucy, the supposed "missing link," was more plaster of Paris than actual skeleton.
"It's true that they only found 45 percent of the skeleton, but they have enough to know that it is a transitional species." The skeleton is currently on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, marking the first time that it has been outside of Ethiopia. It will be there until April 27.
Life is "irreducibly complex"— if you take away one part of even a simple biological structure, like bacteria flagellum, the entire thing will not work, therefore it could not have arisen without a creator.
This argument forms the backbone of the most recent attacks on evolution and is at the basis of the intelligent design theory. But it is also one of the oldest, going back to the infamous "watchmaker" analogy theologian William Paley wrote about in 1802. If one finds a watch in a field, Paley argued, the most reasonable conclusion, based on its complex parts, is that someone created it. The same could be said of all living structures.
Scientific American, in its "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense" article said, "Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species as an answer to Paley: He explained how natural forces of selection, acting on inherited features, could gradually shape the evolution of ornate organic structures.
"Generations of creationists have tried to counter Darwin by citing the example of the eye as a structure that could not have evolved. The eye's ability to provide vision depends on the perfect arrangement of its parts, these critics say. Natural selection could thus never favor the transitional forms needed during the eye's evolution—what good is half an eye? Anticipating this criticism, Darwin suggested that even 'incomplete' eyes might confer benefits (such as helping creatures orient toward light) and thereby survive for further evolutionary refinement. Biology has vindicated Darwin: Researchers have identified primitive eyes and light-sensing organs throughout the animal kingdom and have even tracked the evolutionary history of eyes through comparative genetics. (It now appears that in various families of organisms, eyes have evolved independently.)"