Answers in Genesis on Natural Selection: Not Helpful

At Creation Reformation we have shown that natural selection does nothing for all adapted and fit organisms that arrive on earth due to descent with modification (e.g., genetic mutations).


In a post that has received many thousands of hits, The Natural Selection Paradox, we have shown that natural selection explains nothing about human origins or existence. And despite an invitation, we have received zero rebuttals.

Nothing. Natural selection does nothing for all adapted and fit organisms, which includes every organism in the ancestral lineage of every living being on earth today (if evolution is true).

And showing that natural selection does (and did) nothing to explain all of current life forms is easy; no advanced science degrees are necessary.

So why does not every organization promoting creationism simply state the facts of natural selection plainly, without employing words of volition in an explanation of natural selection’s limitations?

For example, we recently came across the “Natural Selection” page of the (excellent) creationist organization Answers in Genesis (AiG). Despite our respect for AiG, we found their views on natural selection unhelpful, and potentially harmful to the cause of truth, for the following reasons.

To set the context, we must realize that in the minds of most people natural selection holds the place of solid fact. Darwinism itself evolved to become “Evolution by natural selection.” And we are told that natural selection holds the key to the entire process of evolution, a notion not easily shaken from an unsympathetic mind.

If natural selection can be shown to be impotent, then it must be done so in no uncertain terms. And it must be done so for those not in the “choir” of creationism.

The way Answers in Genesis deals with natural selection strikes us as preaching to the choir; their treatment will likely never change the mind of an evolutionist. Let us explain.

Answers in Genesis starts with the first heading: “Natural Selection Is Not Evolution!” Why this heading? No one that we are aware of believes that natural selection is evolution. The very name of the theory “Evolution by Natural Selection” makes clear that natural selection is not evolution, but part of the process of evolution. The complete quote under this heading is as follows (bold emphasis added):

The supposed vehicles of evolution are mutations, natural selection, and other mechanisms that—when combined with that pixie dust of time—allegedly led to the development of all life forms present today. However, natural selection merely redistributes or reduces preexisting genetic information, and mutations often corrupt the information.

Mutations and natural selection are not the “supposed” vehicles of evolution. They are the vehicles of evolution; and they serve to give a basis to critique the explanatory power of evolution. Mutations are real, as is natural selection insofar as it can be characterized as an explanation for the death of existing, unfit organisms.

Our strongest objection lies with the last sentence of the quote above. To say that natural selection “merely” does something leaves a reasonable evolutionist with the idea that natural selection, despite any flaws, does something productive. Most evolutionists are evolutionists because that is what they were told to be, and they have never given the theory much thought. Phrases like “merely redistributes . . . genetic information” give such people the idea that natural selection–despite creationists’ views–nevertheless does something in nature toward some kind of evolution of new life forms.

Under the second heading entitled “Natural Selection and Creationists” we read the following complete quote (again, bold emphasis added):

The creationist view of natural selection is supported biblically and scientifically. Natural selection is a God-ordained process that allows organisms to survive. It is an observable reality that occurs in the present and takes advantage of the variations within the kinds and works to preserve the genetic viability of the kinds.

Is natural selection supported biblically and scientifically? Maybe so, but in what capacity and to what ends? Making this statement, as with the others in the AiG post, cements in the mind of an evolutionist that natural selection is a real and productive–even biblical–force of evolution to make new living beings on earth. But whether it is God-ordained or not is irrelevant to the issue of its scientific validity in the minds of evolutionists.

But the greatest flaw in Answers in Genesis’ explanation can be found in the statement that natural selection “allows organisms to survive.” Really? How? What does it look like in nature for a natural process to “allow” an organism to survive? What if natural selection were not there to “allow” survival, then what?

To say that natural selection “allows organisms to survive” is to say that natural selection does nothing. Why not say such a truth clearly?

Think about it: What if natural selection did not exist. Wouldn’t the “surviving” organism survive nonetheless? And wouldn’t it survive in exactly the same condition to reproduce as it survives if natural selection “allows” it?

Darwin used the term “preserves” where Answers in Genesis uses “allows” as a function of natural selection. But whether natural selection “preserves” an organism to reproduce unchanged from how it was born, or “allows” it, the same truth applies: In the case of every surviving organism natural selection plays/played absolutely no role in its origin, existence, or reproduction.

The origin of every organism that appears on earth is due solely to what Darwin called “descent with modification.” Today we understand that most of the modification occurs due to genetic variation, including mutation. But, importantly, natural selection plays no role in the arrival of new life forms on earth.

The continued existence of every life form that arrives on earth is likewise unaffected by natural selection. In a sense, if an organism continues to exist, including to reproduce, then by definition natural selection did nothing. As we stated above, such existence and reproduction would occur if natural selection were not there to “allow” it (as AiG states) or to “preserve” it (as Darwin stated).

Thus, to state the case as Darwin and Answers in Genesis does, that is, using words of volition to describe natural selection, simply underscores the thought in most people’s minds: natural selection does something to make evolution work. Creationists may minimize the extent of natural selection’s working. But the fact that natural selection serves a “gate-keeping” function to “allow” certain organisms to survive is enough of an active, volitional function for most evolutionists to move on, their minds unchanged.

It’s time for plain language when discussing natural selection. If natural selection can be shown to “do” nothing for every current living being, then the “theory of evolution” can no longer be “by natural selection.”

It’s time to stop giving the lie of natural selection any safe harbor by attributing any words of volition like “allows,” or “redistributes,” (or “filters,” see here) and the like.

Such terms are unhelpful in shedding any light on the true nature of natural selection, letting it maintain the status of important when it should be rendered impotent.

Think about it.

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