by Patrick R. Briney, Ph.D.
Much of the debate between creationists and evolutionists fails because the definition of evolution keeps changing even in a single conversation. I know this from personal experience in talking with evolutionists. In one case, a zoologist asked me whether I believed that organisms change from generation to generation. I said of course. And she said that is all evolution is. But, of course, this is dishonest or at least very naive.
One definition for evolution in the dictionary is change. Rivers change, gardens change, automobiles change. Everything changes. But if you were to survey anyone on the street, almost all would tell you that evolution describes how man evolved from ape like creatures, and reptiles from amphibians, and all life forms ultimately from a single cell. Many will refer to the big bang for the origin and evolution of the universe.
Why would this be the response of most if evolution ‘simply’ means change? Because we have been indoctrinated since elementary school with the general theory of evolution.
The general theory of evolution is sometimes referred to as descent with modification. This is commonly depicted as the evolutionary tree of life that is in biology textbooks. It proposes that chemicals organized themselves to produce the earliest ancestral life forms on earth from which all other life forms are descendants. The claim is that the variety of life that exists is the result of modification and preservation of the genetic code.
A third definition of evolution encompasses the whole scope of existence from the big bang of the universe, to life, to man. So, to say that evolution simple means change is disingenuous. It more commonly refers to the general theory of evolution.
Prior to Charles Darwin publishing his book, the idea of godless origins for life and species existed but lacked credibility. Darwin gave atheists and secularists an explanation for evolution in his famous book titled in full as, “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races In the Struggle for Life.” Philosophers and others like Thomas Huxley applied the idea of change to all areas of life from politics to economics. Karl Marx and Joseph Lenin applied the concept of change to socio-economic evolution. Adolph Hitler put into practice the idea of controlling human evolution by eliminating what he deemed as inferior humans from the population.
In contrast to evolution, intelligent design, creation science, and Bible science propose that the universe, life, and the diverse archetypes of organisms originated by design and a creation event of an intelligent designer. An archetype refers to an original body plan or first of its kind.
Having multiple definitions of the word evolution is convenient for evolutionists. They can say that evolution is a fact without clarifying what they mean. In my discussion with the zoologist, mentioned earlier, we were obviously in discussion about the general theory of evolution. But when she defined the word, she did not refer to descent with modification. She said it was simply change. This is called moving the goalpost. And when an evolutionist changes the definition during conversation, it allows them to change the target of debate, which makes the conversation unpleasantly meaningless. Until evolutionists are willing to accept responsibility to be honest in conversation and debate the real issues of the general theory of evolution, no progress will be made to resolve the debate.