In 2009 YouTube channel ‘The thinking atheist’ published a video titled:
In the video with the generic ‘mr clever scientist’ voiceover, they go through ten arguments commonly used by creationists and offer a short response to each about why they are wrong and basically why Christians are silly people desperately clutching to a belief in the magical sky daddy.
A while back I published an article 10 signs you’re an unquestioning Christian (Debunked). I thought it was time I did some more house cleaning.
I like the channel’s title actually, ‘the thinking atheist’.
Is he implying that he is the rare exception? I’m just wondering!
Anyway, for this post, I use the ‘creation argument’ in the video as the subheading for each section.
So to avoid confusion, the format is as follows:
“Supposedly common creationist argument”
“The thinking atheists rebuttal of this argument”
“My response to the thinking atheist”
Before we get into the specifics I want to first of all clarify that these are definitely not the ‘top ten creationist arguments’. That is, they are not the Top ten most powerful and convincing arguments creationists use to argue for the Bible. I can assure you that they are not. Many of the points raised in the video are not even considered arguments by informed creationists. Some are flat-out wrong.
In the video, the authors clearly state that these arguments are the ones that they hear the most often. Which is completely different.
1. Carbon dating isn’t accurate
Creationists claim “carbon dating isn’t accurate”, which is responded to by explaining that carbon dating is not the ‘preferred’ dating method, giving examples such as various methods of radiometric dating.
Right off the bat, this is not a ‘popular creationist argument’. At worst, this is a common argument by well-meaning Christians who have heard in passing that ‘dating methods are flawed’, which is true, but they haven’t quite put it exactly right.
Let me explain.
Carbon dating is one of a number of dating methods. Another example is potassium-argon dating.
Carbon dating is actually a reasonably good method for dating materials that are within its scope to date. Carbon dating measures the ratio of the isotopes carbon 14 to carbon 12 and 13 in organic matter and is most useful for dating materials that are less than 24,000 years old, because of the half-life of carbon 14. This means that in the great creation-evolution debate carbon dating is not high on the priority list.
The limitations of carbon dating, as with any dating method, is that it relies on specific assumptions. Anyone who tries to tell you that carbon dating, or other dating methods don’t have assumptions, is lying.
Now assumptions are actually an important part of science. Every scientific theory ever conceived relies on some assumptions. Often these assumptions are made to simplify the mathematical and statistical models.
But assumptions are still assumptions, and they should be tested whenever possible. The main thrust of the creationist argument is that many of the assumptions that regard most dating methods are untestable, because they require knowledge of the initial conditions that the materials (like fossils and trees) were laid down in. This is especially true of something like potassium argon dating which is used more often to date materials that are (according to secular earth scientists) very old.
Without knowledge of these initial conditions (or good justification for accepting the assumptions as valid) the best that carbon dating can do is place an upper boundary on the age of certain materials.
Indeed, there are many examples where rocks have been laid down within our lifetime, and thus we have a unique opportunity to test these methods, using rocks and materials where we do know the initial conditions, and they very often date these materials incorrectly.
2. Evolution cannot be proven
Creationists claim that “evolution cannot be proven”, to which they respond, that genetics has unlocked the secret to evolution and that it is an ‘observable’, ’provable’, ’fact’.
This is one of those tired, old, never-ending back and forth’s between creationists and evolutionists that really bores me. ‘evolution is false’ ‘no it’s true’ ‘no it’s false’… ad infinitum.
You see, in they eyes of the evolutionist, the kind of genetic changes and adaptations we see in the lab, in nature, in DNA testing, in human genetic ancestry research and all that… is all ‘evolution’. When any scientist is studying genetics, adaptation, mutations, they believe they are studying ‘evolution’. It’s all the same to them. It’s all ‘observable’, ‘provable’, ‘fact’…
Honestly. This whole thing is so stupid it makes me want to stick my finger into my eye, push it up inside my brain, and swirl it around.
Atheists know that Christians reject the claim that ‘observable natural processes like natural selection and mutations give rise to all of life from a single common ancestor’… they know this.
The heart of this issue, is that the atheist has no answer… absolutely no convincing, ‘observable’, ‘provable’ mechanism to demonstrate the enormous increases in complexity from genetically simpler organisms, to genetically more complex organisms other than the minuscule and inefficient processes of mutations and natural selection. They literally have ‘blind faith’ that mutations and natural selection are all that is required for all of life to evolve from an ancient, single common ancestor.
Evolution needs to explain how bacteria, which do not have chromosomes, can eventually evolve into organisms with chromosomes… fundamentally different and massively more complex genetic structures by comparison.
FYI: bacteria are not slouches in the complexity department either. Despite being microscopic and ‘less complex than higher animals’, they are still damn complicated, more complicated than evolution can explain.
This requires meaningful changes and increases in the ‘information’ contained in the genetics.
Evolution needs to explain how asexual organisms evolved into sexual organisms (it really needs to be able to explain how, and why, and offer up at least some evidence.)
Natural selection and mutations (as they are typically observed) are completely at a loss to explain this.
Finally, creationists know that organisms can change and adapt to their environment to a limited extent. Creationists even acknowledge that natural selection does occasionally give rise to new species. However, it’s important to note a few things here.
- ‘species’ is not the same as the ‘kinds’ described in the first chapter of genesis
- there is a lot of nuance to natural selection and what is observed in nature, and it requires more than simple selection pressures
No. Evolution is absolutely not an ‘observable’, ‘provable’, ‘fact’. More importantly, I think there is more than enough evidence to utterly falsify evolution. The claim that ‘all of life that exists evolved from a single common ancestor billions of years ago’, is false.
3. If man evolved from Monkeys, why are there still Monkey’s?
Creationists question why monkeys, or apes, still exist if humans evolved from monkeys or apes, to which they respond that monkey’s (apes) did not evolve into humans; instead humans and apes share a common ancestor, some ‘ape-like’ animal.
If this really were a ‘top creationist argument’ the thinking atheist might have a point, but it’s not.
Informed creationists would never use this argument. Informed creationists don’t ever use this argument.
Full disclosure… I myself in fact used this argument once… back when I was one of the most uninformed creationists alive… I wasn’t even a creationist, I wasn’t even a Christian actually when I used the argument. It was long before that one night that changed my life forever.
When I see this being paraded as one of the ‘top ten creationist arguments’ the only thing I am convinced of is that the thinking atheist… is kind of a dick.
For the record. Creation Ministries International over a decade ago now actually published an article titled “Arguments Creationists Should Not Use“. One of those arguments is this one.
This is published, freely available proof that the ‘thinking’ atheist is nothing but a cold, callous liar.
For the record, evolution does not claim that ‘monkeys evolved into humans, so that all the monkeys should be extinct’. Evolution claims that apes and humans share a common ancestor. There was some ‘ape like creature’. At some point in time this species diverged into two separate species, and eventually gave rise to both apes and humans. Which is still impossible anyway.
4. The eye is too complex to have evolved
Creationists claim that, “the eye is too complex to have evolved”, to which they respond, the human eye is not as complex as the eyes of other species of animals in the animal kingdom, and that there are varying degrees of visual acuity in the animal world.
Oh this is too perfect.
So, the very valid argument that the human eye is irreducibly complex, is some how refuted by arguing that… it’s not even the most complex eye in the animal kingdom.
Well stone the flamin crows.
They also mention that there are some eyes which are less complex. Kind of like how a commercial airplane is less complex than the international space station, so obviously creationists are stupid for thinking they’re designed.
OK, maybe what they are really trying to say is that because some eyes are more complex, and some less so, then it’s plausible to imagine eyes evolving over time from simpler ones into more complex eye structures like the human eye, and other more complex eye structures, therefore evolution.
This is laughable. There is not a shred of evidence of evidence that any one of these different types of eyes share a common ancestor. This is pure hyperbole; a phylogenetic fantasy.
Note: ‘irreducible complexity’ means that something is built in such a way that if one single part of it breaks, then the whole thing will not function correctly. Some parts are essential for it to function. Which means that realistically, it cannot have ‘evolved’ in a stepwise fashion, because there is no simpler form it can take that would be useful.
The human eye is irreducibly complex. Other eyes are irreducibly complex. They are not related, they were created separately by God ‘according to their kind’.
5. Atheism is a religion
Creationists claim that, “atheism is a religion”, to which they respond, “this is like saying, NOT smoking.. is a habit”.
I’m not sure why this is on a ‘top ten creationists’ list. It’s really got nothing to do with creation, and creationists are not even the only ones who say it.
I’ll be honest this one irks me a bit. So many Christians are adamant that ‘Christianity is not a religion’, because I dunno, something about Jesus and relationships or whatever… yet these same Christians will assert with confidence that ‘atheism is totally just another religion’… What?
Look, atheism has many, many obvious philosophical, logistical and empirical problems. Squabbling about the semantics of what constitutes a religion is not in my mind a productive conversation. Not in the context of apologetics anyway.
I think this is probably just the thinking atheists attempt to draw attention to non-essential issues, and give them an opportunity to deride Christians with an oversimplified reductio ad-absurdum, because it sounds clever and makes Christians look silly… to the simple-minded at least.
6. Scientist “X” believes in God
Creationists claim that many scientists also believe in God, to this they respond by throwing a few examples of historical scientists who believed in God, then claim that because they were amazing scientists who also believe in God, somehow discredits them… Then purport to show that because a large percentage of scientific establishments reject intelligent design, this somehow refutes the argument that some scientists still do.
This point seemed fairly incoherent on the whole. I’m not even sure what the thinking atheist is getting at in this one. He almost sounds as if he’s mocking the intelligence of some of the most powerfully intelligent men in the history of science because they also happened to be religious, or went along with some of the stranger beliefs of their day.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the thinking atheists arrogance was not below mocking some of the greatest scientific minds in history, just because they were also bible believing Christians.
He makes a quip about Isaac Newton being an alchemist, and gives an off-hand comment about ‘magically’ changing certain metals into gold.
He seems to be saying that they made brilliant scientific discoveries, but that doesn’t mean everything they did and believe was rational and informed, because they also believed in things like alchemy.
So I guess what he’s saying is, just being a scientists does not guarantee one is totally objective in every area of their life… I guess I couldn’t agree more.
I think there is one important to make which is that for a great many of the early scientists who were indeed Christians and theologians, it was because of their Christianity that they did science and trusted reason and logic. They believed as Newton says that they were ‘discovering God’s handiwork after Him’. So to try argue that these men compartmentalized their faith and their science is ludicrous.
Finally he argues that, like totally, 97% of scientists reject a belief in God. What he’s clearly implying here is that these scientists reject religious belief because of their science. This is not necessarily true.
It’s also possible (and I think more likely) that most of these individuals embrace science because of their unbelief. Atheists need a reason to justify their lack of belief. Devoid of any purpose or meaning, atheism is forced to assert its rational superiority by claiming science as its own… because without it, atheism is screwed.
Atheists have no choice, but to cling desperately (religiously?) to evolution and the Big Bang, because without them, they have nothing, no alternative explanation.
The Christian by contrast, is motivated to study science because they see the majesty and the creative handiwork of a logical, ordered God in creation. Christians can do science, because they believe that the universe is governed by reliable laws of physics and chemistry which are the handiwork of a reliable and trustworthy law-maker, which is perhaps the best reason I can think of to do science.
7. You’re saying that everything happened by “chance”?
Creationists claim that evolution is entirely random chance processes. To which they respond, no. They claim that evolution is a series of deliberately chosen desirable traits, which took millions or billions of years.
This is just ridiculous word play and nonsense.
In a very simplistic and general sense, if evolution was true, everything more or less had to happen by chance (despite the fact that the majority of ‘chance’ events required are mathematically impossible anyway).
Natural selection can be thought of as a ‘guiding principle’ of sorts, but that does not mean that organisms were ‘deliberately chosen’. Natural selection requires variation in a population, in order for those creatures better able to survive and reproduce to increase. Variation is only achieved through ‘chance’ variation in the genetic makeup of living creatures.
More importantly, ‘deliberately chosen desirable traits’ is just a smoke screen. Evolutionists have to acknowledge the fact that for all practical purposes, living systems look designed. So they have to spin their fairy tale in such a way as to take that into account.
In other words, they have to make evolution sound like a mechanism which would give rise to organisms that look designed even if they weren’t. So they have to come up with tripe about how evolution ‘designs’ organisms, by favouring the fittest.
It’s just a joke, honestly it’s a joke.
8. America is a Christian nation
Creationists claim that America was founded as a Christian nation. To which they respond that the Constitution never mentions God, and the first amendment separates Church and state, then explain that many founding American fathers were impartial toward the Christian Lord.
I’m not an American historian, but I’m pretty sure neither is the thinking atheist. I’m not sure what relevance this argument has to do with creationism either?
Anyway. Without knowing much at all about American history I would imagine with a degree of confidence that, actually the founding fathers were mostly religious and mostly identified with Christianity and/or Roman Catholicism, given that most people were Christians back then. If America was not literally founded as a Christian nation, then it was most certainly inspired by very strong principles of Christian ethics and virtue.
Indeed, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, this non-Christian website and this anti-Christian website, there’s no denying a very strong Christian basis of life and philosophy for the majority of the American founding fathers.
Does that mean America was ‘founded as a Christian nation’? Not necessarily, but it does mean that strong Christian virtues and philosophy definitely influenced the beginnings of American society, politics etc. Even basic things like liberty, freedom, intrinsic human worth are intrinsically Christian.
For what it’s worth ‘separation of Church and State’ does not mean religion has no say in politics, it basically means that the State is not a theocracy, i.e. the church is not the law.
9. The second law of thermodynamics
Creationists argue the second law of thermodynamics refutes the secular cosmological, chemical and biological evolutionary requirement for matter to spontaneously increase in complexity. To which they respond this comes from a lack of understanding of the second law of thermodynamics, they then explain that this only applied in a closed system, and that earth is not a closed system. They then offer a counter argument, that when presented with the argument for the second law of thermodynamics, they then counter ask, “what are the other 3 Laws?”
OK, so an extremely crude and simplistic understanding of the second law of thermodynamics, is that in general, the matter and energy in the universe tends to move from a state of order, to disorder. This is described as increasing entropy.
The thinking atheist gets really condescending here, which is convenient and satisfying for me, because he’s very wrong.
He’s wrong that ‘earth is not a closed system’, it is. He’s also wrong about what a closed system is.
As far the the laws of thermodynamics are concerned, there are three systems. The open system, the closed system and the isolated system.
- The open system is a system where energy and mass can readily pass across the boundary of that system.
- The closed system is a system where only energy can pass across the boundary of that system.
- The isolated system is a system where there is no transfer of either mass or energy across the boundary of that system.
Earth is not, strictly speaking, a closed system. Theoretically mass can transfer across earth’s boundary (atmosphere). However, earth is generally considered a closed system and can be thought of as a closed system because of its size. The earth readily receives heat energy from the sun and emits small amounts of radiation. However, because earth is so large, any occasional transfer of mass across the boundary is trivial by comparison so practically speaking earth is a closed system.
This is also not complicated science either. The fact that the ‘thinking’ atheist can put all that effort into a professional-ish looking YouTube video, and overlook such a simple detail is telling I think.
So what about the creationist claim?
Well, I’m not sure what relevance this really has to thermodynamics (maybe at the chemical level), but it is in general a fundamental thrust of creationism that the energy and probability requirements needed to get from simple ‘pre-biotic’ chemicals in a primordial pond to a mind bogglingly sophisticated, structured, self-replicating life form with meaningful genetic information, makes the whole concept utterly laughable. The reality is, it takes more than just energy from the sun to arrange simple molecules in a soup, into an ordered, functional cell that can regulate its own temperature, exchange chemicals across a membrane, and reproduce.
For the record, this is not a god-of-the-gaps argument.
No one is saying that “it’s too complicated for us to understand, therefore god did it”.
The argument is “this is massively complex, and what we do understand is that systems of this kind of specified complexity, always require a designer”
You see… it’s not on the basis of what we don’t know that leads us to belief in God, it’s on the basis of what we do know.
10. Hitler was an atheist
Christians are adamant that Hitler was an atheist. The video explains that whether or not Hitler was Christian or atheist is an open question. He explains that this is some kind of a ploy, to distract from the actual facts that ‘oh evolution is obviously a fact’
And here we arrive at our last point.
For every Christian out there who claims that Hitler was an atheist, there is an atheist claiming that Hitler was a Christian. For the record, yes Hitler made references to god in his speeches and references to Christianity in particular. But this doesn’t mean anything.
It is as easy to believe that this was all political propaganda and rhetoric. I don’t know if it was or not. I agree with the unthinking atheist that the matter is likely not settled.
I agree that this argument is irrelevant.
The fact is that atheism ultimately claims that humans have no intrinsic worth or value. Humanity is the product of billions of years of evolution, which may be awe-inspiring but it is not purpose making. If everything came from nothing, and there is no God, and we are all here, just aimlessly evolving in the universe until everything eventually dies, then nothing we do really counts for anything.
Life has no purpose other than whatever purpose we give it ourselves, but evolution cannot even explain why humans should feel the need to give their life purpose.
I do believe that atheism has no basis to claim absolute ethical values. But I don’t believe that ‘atheism is more dangerous than Christianity‘.
I believe that humans who have the capacity for evil and have no conscience can commit horrendous acts of violence and atrocity. I believe that they can do it in the name of any religion that they want.
The truth is, even if Hitler considered himself a Christian, everything that Hitler did and stood for is fundamentally at odds with Christianity, with the Bible and with the Gospel message. There is not a shred of evidence in the Bible to justify anti-Semitism. Anti Semitism was resolutely condemned by religious authorities during the Crusades, just as it was during WWII.
I could make one final quip about how, whether Hitler was an atheist or not, it doesn’t change the fact that atheism provides no grounds to condemn what Hitler did… but that would just be mean wouldn’t it?
Thanks so much again for reading. I hope you enjoyed this slightly-less-longer-than-usual post. I’m quite surprised at how many of the ‘top ten creationist’ arguments have nothing to do with creationism, and are not all exclusive to creationists.
Anyway, I hope you found it informative, entertaining and beneficial.
Remember guys, don’t fear the critics. Even popular, somewhat important sounding skeptics like the thinking atheist rely mostly on marginalizing Christian and creationist beliefs. They deliberately choose the weak links, like many of the arguments used above.
The Bible is true and trustworthy, from cover to cover, and you do not have to be afraid to defend it; you need to be equipped to defend it.
Which exactly what I’m here to help you with.
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Until next time.