Schools often give students the false impression that Creationists believe living things do not change over time.1 This makes Creationists look foolish because in the same classes students are shown undisputed examples where life does indeed change over time (bacteria, peppered moths, fruit flies, etc.). In my lectures I counter this false claim about Creationists with the following statement:
“Look around the room to see if you can find someone who looks different than you.”
This simple statement reminds the audience that Creationists believe that all races are descended from the same two people. Therefore, not only do Creationists believe that living things change over time, they believed it before the Theory of Evolution was even proposed.
So how do Creationists and Evolutionists differ in their beliefs about the fact that life forms change? They differ by the amount of change that each believe is possible:
Evolution Scientists believe there is no limit to change. With unlimited time, they believe unlimited change can take place. As an illustration, consider the fact that most Evolution Scientists believe that at one time the most complex life on Earth was a single microscopic bacterium. Then over the next four billion years they believe this bacterium gradually changed into all other life on Earth. Hence, they believe that a single bacterium was the great, great, …, great grandparent of everything living today, including insects, trees, and people.
Creation Scientists, however, point out what they believe are obvious genetic limits2 that prevent bacteria from changing into insects, trees, and people. They believe that the genetic evidence is clear that bacteria can only change into other bacteria, and that people can only change into different races of people. They also believe that these same genetic limits only allow fruit flies to change into different species of fruit flies, and finches into different species of finches, etc.
To summarize: Both Creation Scientists and Evolution Scientists believe living things change over time, but they disagree in how much change is possible.
References and Notes for Chapter 1:
1. Below are several examples from my collection of biology textbooks. In each case the author is telling students what Creationists supposedly believe:
a) “…each species of plant and animal was created separately and remained unchanged thereafter.” (Noland, General Biology, Tenth Edition, 1979, pp. 613-614.)
b) “…all modern organisms are essentially unchanged descendants of [their created] ancestors.” (Audesirk, Biology, Prentice Hall, 1996, p. 303.)
c) “…unchanging forms of life… individually made by the Creator” (Campbell, Biology, Benjamin/Cummings, 1993, p. 421.)
d) “…living things didn’t change through time.” (Biggs et al, Biology, Merrill, 1991, p. 199.)
e) “…each species…separately created and, once formed, did not change from one generation to the next.” (Clark, Contemporary Biology, Saunders Co, 1979, pp. 613-614.)
The Evolution Scientists who authored these textbooks likely knew better, but apparently their strategy was to convince students that only Evolutionists believe living things change. That allowed them to present any example of change, no matter how small, as evidence in favor of Evolution over Creation. Hence, biology textbooks often give examples of minor changes (peppered moths, fruit flies, guppies, etc.) as “evidence” for Evolution.
However, the truth is this: Minor changes resulting from variations being accumulated by selection are part of both the Creation Theory and the Evolution Theory. Therefore, such examples should never be presented as evidence in favor of one theory over the other.
2. The genetic limits that are claimed by Creation Scientists are discussed in several chapters in this e-book.