Bait and Switch Science

Have you ever been victimized by the old "bait and switch" tactic? You see an ad for product "X" on television, you go to the store to buy it, but the manager tells you they're all sold out—and offers you product "Y" instead—which is more expensive. Bait and switch tactics are unethical in business. But some scientists do it, too. And one way you can catch them doing this is when you ask them to define the word evolution. As Phillip Johnson points out in his new book, Defeating Darwinism, the meaning of the word evolution is vitally important, and yet it has a way of changing without notice. The first thing we must learn to do is to distinguish microevolution from macroevolution. Microevolution is cyclical variation within the type. For example, on the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific, finches exhibit shifts in the size and shape of their beaks in response to environmental conditions. In England some species of birds have learned how to pick the foil cap from bottles of fresh milk left by the door. These and thousands of other cases of adaptation are largely uncontroversial. But, is this evolution? This is where the problem arises. If finch beak variation or birds stealing caps from bottles is what biologists mean by evolution, then call me an evolutionist. But of course, that's not the only meaning. There's another meaning for the term, one that's much more controversial. Macroevolution is a process that supposedly creates innovations, such as new complex organs or new body parts. Darwinists typically "claim that macroevolution is just microevolution continued over a very long time through a mechanism called natural selection," Johnson says. The claim is highly controversial, because the "mechanism of macroevolution has to be able to design and build very complex structures like wings and eyes and brains"—and "it has to have done this reliably again and again." The trouble is, plenty of experiments have been done that show small changes do not accumulate to make large changes. So what Darwinists need is a new mechanism—yet there is no new mechanism on the horizon. This, Johnson says, is why Darwinists are reluctant to make a clear distinction between microevolution and macroevolution. They have evidence for a mechanism for minor variation, as with finches' beaks, but he adds, they have no distinct mechanism for the really creative kind of evolution—the kind that builds new body plans and new complex organisms. As a result, macroevolution is nothing more than a mysterious process with no known mechanism. "A process like that isn't all that different from a God-guided process," Johnson notes, "and it certainly would not support those expansive philosophical statements about evolution being purposeless and undirected." So if someone asks, "Do you believe in evolution?" the right reply is not "Yes" or "No." It is: "Precisely what do you mean by evolution?" Don't be taken in by "bait and switch" tactics, whereby an evolutionist asks you to agree with an innocuous definition of evolution and then quietly switches to another definition—one that denies the very possibility of a Creator.


Chuck Colson



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