The evolution vs creationism quibble has been a particular favorite area of debate for me for about five years now. During this time, I always had a sense of something being wrong - something more fundamental (excuse the pun) than the ideas being discussed. There was something very strange about the creationist argument, and it wasn't until recently that I finally realized what it was.
I've never heard a creationist argument. Never. Not once.
Not one article I've read by a creationist, not one creationist I've spoken with, has ever come forth with an argument in favor of their position; rather, they focus entirely on knocking down evolution. Instead of pro-Creation arguments, they offer only anti-evolution arguments. When we get down to it, the only argument is "I believe in Creationism because evolution is wrong about this, this, and that."
Ladies and gentlemen, I find this to be unacceptable.
The evolution theory - whether or not you agree with it - stands completely on its own and is utterly self-contained; it does not rely on the discredit of another "theory" to be understood.
Creationism, on the other hand, seems to rely soley on "disproving" evolution. It offers no positive arguments for itself, only negative arguments for the opposition.
The concept of evolution is not "Creationism is wrong", so why is the Creationist argument nothing more than "Evolution is wrong"?
After some research online, I was humbled - but not surprised - that I was, of course, not the first person to observe this. I stumbled across this radio debate in 1990 between a Frank Zindler, atheist and former professor of both biology and geology, and Duane Gish, noted Creationist and vice president of the Institute for Creation Science, and moderated by the host of the talk show, Jim Bleikamp. Gish himself was unable to support creationism. A few interesting quotes:
Zindler: Yeah, wait a minute, I'm afraid Dr Gish has strayed off into the wrong debate. ...Instead of defending creationism he tries to attack evolution.
Bleikamp: I must say as the moderator of this program, so far I haven't heard any evidence for defense of creationism. Let's hear it.
Bleikamp: We'll go to the calls shortly. Duane Gish, I must say twenty-six minutes or so into the program and after repeated invitations to do so, I'm still waiting to hear some kind of a defense of creationism.
That's right. Half an hour of debate, and the vice president of arguably the most prestigious "creation science" institution couldn't construct an argument for his own position.
And so, my challenge to you:
Under the following rules, construct a positive argument in defense of creationism.
1. Construct your argument as positive statements for creationism, not negative statements against evolution.
Science freely admits there are problems with the evolutionary model. This is why there are evolutionary scientists that continue to study the phenomenon.
Off the top of my head, I could write pages about evolution without once saying "and therefore creationism is wrong" (or like-minded phrases), but I won't, because literally hundreds of people more educated than I have done so in the past 100+ years. Can you do the same with creationism?
2. No attacking Charles Darwin.
Many creationists go after Darwin like a drowning man goes after air. Darwin was not the be-all and end-all of evolutionary science. He merely laid out some of the groundwork, and since then, there has been over a century of supporting evidence discovered and literature published, and still the study continues.
Attacking evolution (which creationists shouldn't be doing in the first place) by picking holes in Darwin's ideas is like deciding a building is ugly by standing in the basement.
(Some people are apparently also unaware that Alfred Wallace - on the other side of the planet and fully independant of Darwin - had simultaneously come to the same conclusions of evolution and natural selection.)
3. References to faith are not fair game.
If your listeners are not already convinced, a faith argument is useless. One must already have faith in order for a faith argument to mean anything.
4. It is for you to provide evidence for your argument, not for your listener to disprove it.
A favorite tactic of creationists is to say, "you can't prove I'm wrong, therefore my theory is just as good as yours."
The burden of proof always lies on the postulant, not on the listener. I can make any outlandish claim I like - say, magic invisbile noncorporeal elves that cause rain. Will you accept this as a reasonable alternative to observed facts merely because my claim can't actually be disproven? Do you believe elves exist simply because you can't prove that they don't exist?
That's it. I feel that these criteria are fair - the evolutionary argument has no problem with these, so I don't see that it is asking too much of creationists to adhere to these stipulations as well.
I look forward to seeing the results.
I blame my past transgressions on Eminem's music. Reform number five is currently in progress.