The blog Gizmodo recently ran an infographic by Caleb Trujillo on the "top five misconceptions about evolution according to science". Trujillo gets off to a bad start by anthropomorphizing science in the title at the top of his chart. In fact, it is the creationist side who gets the science right.
Let's examine these misconception claims one-by-one:
Misconception #1. It is just a theory
It is common for laypeople -- evolutionists and creationists alike -- to misconstrue what is meant by the word "theory". However, the well-informed on both sides will understand the term.
Creationists strive to help others become well-informed. That's why Evolution is true science, not 'Just a Theory' (creation.com) explains that a theory is a "well-substantiated explanation of data". And Evolution: Not Even a Theory (AnswersInGenesis.org) makes clear that "over time, if a hypothesis continues to stand up to scrutiny and many different experiments, the scientific community may begin referring to it as a 'theory.'"
Verdict: True for believers in evolution and creation alike. Well-informed creationists understand the term perfectly well.
Misconception #2: Survival of the Fittest
Creationists led the way in understanding natural selection. Read Natural selection ≠ evolution to learn that it was the creationist zoologist Edward Blythe (1810-1873) who published on natural selection some 25 years ahead of Charles Darwin. (We were first!) Blythe considered "this remarkable phenomenon [of natural selection] as arising from the providence of the all-wise, all-knowing, ingenious Creator God."
Creationists also understand the logical fallacy of equivocation. Trujillo's chart illustrates how existing traits in a population can be winnowed out due to survival pressures. This much is fine, but Trujillo goes on to pull a bait-and-switch by trotting out the comment that "evolution will occur". It is clear from the context that Trujillo means a different type of evolution than is illustrated by his chart.
Tas Walker's article Don't fall for the bait and switch helps you spot the equivocation. Natural selection is about eliminating traits that already exist in a population. New functionality requires new programming in the DNA, and eliminating genes from the gene pool will never result in the creation of any new programming. That takes intelligence.
Verdict: Creationists have a good grasp of the issues surrounding natural selection. Trujillo's chart demonstrates the equivocation fallacy.
Misconception #3: Humans Descend from Chimps
This misconception is common amongst believers in evolution too. Blame the Ascent of Man graphics that are so often used in textbooks and articles, like the one used to illustrate the ABC News article Evolution: Sugar Helped Separate Human Ancestors From Apes. This linked-to image begins with an animal that can easily be construed to be a chimp.
Evolutionist-created Ascent of Man diagrams are actually in the same vein as the two examples given in Trujillo's diagram that are meant to illustrate the misconception. Ascent of Man diagrams show a left-to-right progression just like Trujillo's two examples introduced by the words "This is NOT..." Furthermore, Jerry Bergman shows how these sort of diagrams have been fraudulent from the very first.
Trujillo goes on to claim in this part of his infographic that humans and chimps share 90-99% of their DNA. Yet the genetic situation is really too complex to be reduced to a single percentage. In her article Chimp-human DNA Similarity: What Does It Really Mean?, Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell points out that in many comparison studies:
- repeated sequences are ignored
- only sections that “align naturally” are compared,
- and the only differences noted are single base-pair substitutions
She goes on to refer to an article by Jeffrey Tompkins that shows a similarity of 70% or less. Even then it's too simplistic to reduce the results to a single number.
Verdict: Evolutionists themselves are to blame for the misconception of man descending from chimps. The given range of 90-99% similarity between human and chimp DNA is misleading. The 70% number from Tompkins gives a truer picture of just how far apart are the two genomes.
Misconception #4: No one was there & It cannot be proven
Trujillo makes the argument that "scientists operate like detectives." Creationists agree. Scientists who investigate the past are acting as detectives by interpreting forensic clues. Just a simple Google search will show how such an approach is fraught with trouble and potential error from making initial assumptions that later turn out to be wrong. See my article on Historical Science for more on this issue.
Genesis provides a reliable, eye-witness account. Throwing out the reliable history that's been preserved so carefully for dozens of hundreds of years is foolishness. Doing so puts creation deniers into the same camp as other groups like moon-landing deniers and holocaust deniers who also dismiss the written and eye-witness histories of their respective events.
By the way, there is the claim that "journals publish evidence". Don't fall for that one. Journals rarely publish evidence per se. Journals typically publish results, which are interpretations of evidence.
Verdict: Not a misconception, but truth!. Examples abound of cases in which forensic interpretation of evidence is later found to be wrong due to erroneous assumptions.
Misconception #5: Darwin was wrong
Yes, he was.