You are here

The Pillars of Creationism

Although creationist movements differ in some of the details of their positions, they all rely on three main claims which are used over and over again. These claims can be very appealing and effective to people who are not well-informed about evolution. It is useful to be ready with some responses to these claims.

Standard Creationist Claim 1: Evolution is a "theory in crisis"

Creationists have been making this claim for more than a hundred years. The incorrect idea that evolution is shaky science is constantly spread to the general public in creationist websites, in letters to the editor, in media presentations, and in popular books. In reality, evolutionary science is a robust and dynamic field which continues to expand its already strong base of evidence.

Standard Creationist Claim 2: Evolution equates to atheism

This claim is frequently used to imply that religious faith and acceptance of evolutionary science are incompatible. As has been shown again and again, it is fully possible to be religious and to accept the scientific evidence for evolution. Even so, this fear drives much of the opposition to evolution and is well-worth defusing, especially in local controversies. See the relevant section below for resources on this issue.

Standard Creationist Claim 3: It is only fair to teach "both sides"

This claim can sound appealing at first because it invokes fairness, a cherished American cultural value. It has been used since the 1920's in efforts to insert the teaching of creationism into public school science curricula. In reality, there are many faith positions on evolution, so it is not fair at all to give creationism special treatment. Further, the courts have held over and over that creationism is a particular religious belief and cannot be promoted in the public schools. Nonetheless, this claim is still frequently made. It is sometimes expressed as "teach both sides and let the students decide," or as "teach the controversy." Obviously, following these slogans would harm science education.