Introduction

"Any philosophy that can be 'put in a nutshell' belongs there."
Sydney J. Harris, American journalist (1917-1986)

1. An Introduction to the Evolution vs Creation Debate

Evolution is complicated. Of the many people who pontificate on it, either for or against, only a tiny minority have actually bothered to study it in any detail. Call it the progression of simple to complex organisms, and a biologist will tell you that's not exactly true. Call it survival of the fittest, and a biologist will tell you that this is only one of several mechanisms. Say it's a fact, and a biologist will point out that it's also a theory. Say it's a theory, and a biologist will point out that it's also a fact. One might be forgiven for throwing up one's hands and asking why there isn't a simple explanation, were it not for the fact that a scientific explanation can only be as simple as Nature allows, and should not cater to the uneducated man's desire for a 5 second sound-bite. The same must be said of the scientific method and philosophy.

Creationism, by comparison, is disarmingly and seductively simple: "God did it". And its chief philosophical argument is, much like Pablum, easy to digest for even the smallest children: "You can't prove there's no God". Those who (ironically) oversimplify the idea of Occam's Razor believe this to be an advantage. As per Sydney J. Harris, creationism can very easily be put in a nutshell, but because it has no substance whatsoever, that's also where it belongs. Not in school classrooms, not in science textbooks, and not in the lexicon of any scientifically literate person on this planet.

Now, before we begin, I must point out that this article (and website) is intended to give people a brief overview of the most important points of dispute in the evolution vs creation debate, as well as tools necessary for discussing and debating the subject with others. Like the vast majority of websites on the Internet, this site is not an authoritative scientific publication, and should not be cited as such. For authoritative scientific publications, I would strongly suggest that you bypass websites and mass-market books entirely, and look at biology textbooks and scientific journal articles (both of which you can access at a university library). This website is also not intended to be the most comprehensive website available on such matters. For that, I suggest you check talkorigins.org and talkdesign.org, but be aware that they contain far too much content for you to digest in one sitting. The purpose of this site is to help you understand, without either drowning you in a deluge of information or oversimplifying ideas into slogans.

At this point, it may be instructive to go over the basic background of the entire debate. As you probably know, Charles Darwin came up with the theory of evolution in the mid 19th century, and after a period of intense scientific debate, it was accepted by all major scientific bodies. The creationists, having been defeated in the scientific forum, went to the legal forum next. Once again, after a period of intense debate, they found themselves defeated there as well. Finally, the creationists went to the venue which has the least rigorous standards of any debate forum: politics. This is where they have found their greatest success, which quite frankly speaks volumes about the quality of their argument. Ask yourself what it means when a "scientific" argument is most successful in politics and least successful among scientists, and the answer is clear.


Continue to 2. How Successful is Creationism?

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