Misconceptions about Creationism

Wayne Spencer

What follows is a series of common misconceptions and criticisms of creationism.  These ideas are often believed by individuals such as practicing scientists, college professors in the sciences, and others who strongly believe evolution.  Some of these ideas are unfair and are false characterizations of creationism.  On the other hand, some of these criticisms of creationism are true for some Christians and even of some leaders in the creation movement, but they do not represent what the creationist view is in general.  I have had some contact with creationist leaders from across the United States and from other countries.  The comments that follow represent my perspective.  My views here are based on what I see is the consensus among creationist Christians who have degrees in the sciences and who are in some way active promoting creationism.  These are the people who are writing and speaking on the subject, and who often are leaders of creation ministries.  Note also that by “creationism” I refer to views that hold to Genesis chapters 1-11 being literal history and that reject biological macroevolution.  Defined this way, “creationism” includes more than just the young-age creation viewpoint.  I am firmly committed to the young-age creation view, including a literal six days in Genesis 1, a literal world-wide Flood, that “molecules to man” evolution did not happen, and that the Earth and the universe are less than ten thousand years in age.  
The average Christian, though they may be a creationist, may not be a good representative of what the creationist view is on any given issue.  I offer the following in hopes that it may help readers to be more effective communicating with individuals who believe evolution.  Christians who believe Biblical creation often have misconceptions about evolutionists as well, but this article will address the reverse, misconceptions evolutionists often have about creation.  

1.  Creationists are irrational.  They are unintelligent, unread, with little education.

Individuals with a high level of education in the sciences, such as practicing scientists and professors often take this attitude toward creationism.  There are now many individuals with graduate degrees in the sciences who hold to the young-age creation position.  There are a fair number of them who have multiple graduate level degrees.  The number of individuals with these type of qualifications would probably be a few thousand, even not considering those in the United States.  It is often thought that people believe in creation without real reason, that it is a blind unintelligent type of faith.  But this is not what Christian faith is supposed to be at all and it is not what young-age creationism is either.

Many leading creationists used to believe and teach evolution but they changed their view.  There are many individuals who once seriously promoted evolution but changed from evolution to young-age creationism because of the scientific evidence.  But there are very very few who actively promoted young-age creationism and changed to the evolution view because of the evidence.  Creationists are not perfect and there is always room for improved scholarship on various issues.  But it is unreasonable to just dismiss Biblical creationism.  It is actually evolution that is usually believed in a totally irrational way because many people have not seriously looked into creation at all, they just believe evolution because it’s all they’ve ever heard and they don’t think that the whole scientific community could be wrong.    

2.  Creationists believe that species are immutable.  Creationists do not believe in microevolution, variation, or speciation.

This is an issue about how creationists understand Genesis chapter one, where it says God created animals to reproduce “according to their kind.”  Creationists today always allow for animals and plants to be able to change to some degree so they can adapt to a changing environment.  This explains how many varieties of living things came about.  For example, God did not create a special fox in the beginning that we now call the “Arctic Fox.”  The Arctic Fox descended from other more “average” foxes and became very specialized due to how it adapted to an arctic climate over several generations.  This does not mean the arctic fox could evolve into anything other than a fox.  But it is still a common misconception that evolutionists think creationists believe that every creature now considered a species  was created in the beginning as we see them today.  This was addressed in detail in previous issues of this newsletter in Parts 1 and 2 of Introduction to Creation Biology.

3.  Creationists do not believe that dinosaurs ever existed. 

Sometimes Christians are so concerned about the problems with evolution in education that they reject even that dinosaurs ever existed.  Some Christians have a great distrust of science which goes overboard.  Evolutionists sometimes hear this from certain Christians and then think that this is what all creationists believe.  The problems with evolution are serious but they do not mean we throw out everything we learn from science about the past.  We have dinosaur bones in the many dinosaur skeletons in museums and fossil collections.  Though there are things about museum displays, the media, and about science textbooks that can be misleading, there is still sound evidence for the existence of many animals in the past that no longer exist today, including dinosaurs.  This is not contrary to the Bible, rather it is because of how God’s judgement in the Noahic Flood changed the Earth.  Many animals could not survive after the global Flood because the world was a harsher place.  At any rate, no knowledgeable creationist would deny that dinosaurs existed.  There are a number of creationist books available on dinosaurs that address how to understand dinosaurs from a creation viewpoint.

4.  Creationists want to replace science in public education with a literal reading of the Bible. 

Though there was a time when reading the Bible was not uncommon in public schools in the United States, and though I personally do not believe this should be considered unconstitutional, I am not aware of any leading creationists who have wanted to see this done in today’s public schools (including myself).  On the other hand, many parent groups and concerned Christian citizens who are not actively involved in promoting creationism have worked to change how origins science is taught in public schools.  These efforts have taken many different forms in various parts of the United States, sometimes on the local school district level and sometimes on the state level.  It is parent groups and certain Christians elected to public office who have sought to change how evolution is handled in science classes in public schools.  Creation organizations have only become involved in these political battles when they have been asked to.  The concern is mainly to allow public school students to get a more complete picture of the facts, instead of just getting exposed to a very one-sided evolutionary view in a dogmatic manner.  Freedom of speech and religious expression are also at issue in how origins is handled in public school classrooms.  Parents and Christian citizens have every right to work for change in public schools on these issues.  But it is not that creation organizations or leading creationists have political agendas.  This has been seriously misunderstood by many people.

5.  Creationists are anti-science.  No real scientist could possibly be a creationist. 

This idea could not be further from the truth.  If creationists were anti-science, why would there be so many creationists with degrees in the sciences.  And, there are “real scientists” who are young-age creationists, though they are a minority in the scientific community.  There are a number of well-known scientists of the past who took a creationist view also.  Related to this is the misconception that creationists never publish in accepted scientific journals.  There are plenty of examples of Creationists who have published in scientific journals.  Often though, the topics they have published on in scientific journals do not relate to origins issues.

6.  Creationists believe in a god-of-the-gaps.   And, Creationists never change or refine their ideas. 

This is a misconception that creationists arbitrarily assume God intervenes with miracles to explain everything we see in nature, without seriously looking into the science involved.  It is basically making God a cop-out answer to avoid thoroughly studying the issues.  This is an impression that creationists do not do serious study and research of the complex issues involved in origins questions.  But there are several technical level creationist publications where serious research papers are published and subjected to peer-review and critique.  There is also a lot of discussion between creationists by e-mail.  There is much being done today by creationists to refine their thinking.  It is important to learn what some of the best sources are to get information on creation.  

7.  Creationists are incapable of establishing scientific truth about creation WITHOUT referencing the Bible. 

This has been thoroughly demonstrated to be incorrect by many creationists.  This is a matter of choosing your sources well.  Some creationists are better at this than others.  But to say this as a blanket statement is very unfair to all the creationists with degrees in the sciences who work very hard at making a scientific case.  In fact, I have noticed that in secular non-religious settings, if the creationist avoids any mention of the Bible, a nonchristian or evolutionist present is very likely to ask a Bible related question.  So, it is often the evolutionists who bring up the Bible in origins discussions, because of the implications of the scientific evidence for creation.    

8.  All creationists think alike. 

Among creationists, there are variations of opinion on many details about the science of origins and about how the Bible should be interpreted on origins.  There are some areas of fundamental agreement, but all creationists certainly do not think alike.  There is much discussion and critique between creationists of different viewpoints on many detailed questions.  Though all these various opinions are not necessarily equally valid, the friendly debate about various theories is a healthy thing in the  creation movement.  It is a natural part of refining our thinking that there be healthy debate of different explanations.  Evolutionists tend to stereotype creationists and not realize the amount of serious debate of the issues actually takes place among creationists.