Matt Slick Anti-Evolution Apologetic: An Introduction

I spent a few hours today going through our joint book col­lec­tion, mak­ing deci­sions about what we should keep, and which books we’d try to sell at yard sale before tak­ing them to a book store or donat­ing them to Goodwill.

Among my library of Chris­t­ian books was a binder con­tain­ing the Apolo­get­ics Note­book com­piled by Matt Slick, M. Div., of CARM. That’s him in the portrait.

Dur­ing my ear­ly years as a Chris­t­ian, CARM was a major resource for me. Most top­ics relat­ed to the­ol­o­gy were new to me, so i relied upon CARM to guide me in form­ing coher­ent argu­ments against the so-called cults which threat­ened the church (e.g., the Mormons).

The Apolo­get­ics Note­book com­piles numer­ous out­lines, essays, and oth­er infor­ma­tion on a vari­ety of top­ics, and when i found the note­book for the first time in years ear­li­er today, i first checked its table of con­tents for any­thing relat­ed to athe­ism. Noth­ing was list­ed for it (unless i’m seri­ous­ly just that blind), but a sec­tion on evo­lu­tion cap­tured my attention. 

Evo­lu­tion is one of those things that is very prob­lem­at­ic for old-school Chris­tian­i­ty, or that stream of Chris­tian­i­ty which main­tains that the Bible (par­tic­u­lar­ly the Cre­ation account of the first few chap­ters) is a lit­er­al account of real events, that our world and the var­i­ous types of life which inhab­it it were cre­at­ed in a com­plet­ed state over the course of six days by God. Much of their belief requires that these events be fac­tu­al — if you can’t trust the first few chap­ters of the Bible, then there is no basis to trust the rest of it, after all.

So sci­en­tists — espe­cial­ly those who are experts in biol­o­gy — going around teach­ing that human­i­ty evolved from prim­i­tive man which evolved from ani­mals? God forbid!

How­ev­er, the prob­lem is that Chris­tian­i­ty does­n’t real­ly have peer-reviewed experts in biol­o­gy com­ing for­ward with real sci­ence to the con­trary. No real sci­ence has ever found evi­dence that God sim­ply must have cre­at­ed us. That, how­ev­er, does not stop a vast num­ber of Chris­tians from believ­ing in an instant cre­ation of man and that evo­lu­tion is sim­ply for fools.

As exhib­it “A,” i offer this intro­duc­to­ry excerpt (empha­sis mine) from the Apolo­get­ics Note­book (p. 190), clear­ly estab­lish­ing Slick as a per­pi­lo­cu­tion­ist for the rest of his sec­tion on evolution.

First of all, I’d like to state that my train­ing is not in sci­ence, but in the­ol­o­gy. I am hard­ly qual­i­fied to give defin­i­tive answers on the bio­log­i­cal aspects of the evo­lu­tion­ary the­o­ry. At best, I can read argu­ments, pro and con, and present what I find here. When I was younger, I believed in evo­lu­tion. But after I start­ed read­ing the oth­er side of the argu­ment — the stuff they don’t tell you in school — I had strong doubts. Once I became a Chris­t­ian, it was easy to dis­miss the the­o­ry as noth­ing more than that, a the­o­ry.

I’ll give Slick cred­it here: he at least admits he is not a sci­en­tist, nor does he pre­tend to be an expert in the field of evo­lu­tion­ary stud­ies. He fur­ther goes on to say that his train­ing is in the­ol­o­gy.

For all sci­en­tif­ic intents and pur­pos­es, the­ol­o­gy is use­less. It is the attempt to under­stand more about an unfal­si­fi­able, untouch­able, untestable, invis­i­ble, non-cor­po­re­al con­struct called God. It has absolute­ly noth­ing to do with sci­ence, its tenets being main­tained by faith and not by evidence.

Slick con­tin­ues on by say­ing he’s done his home­work, read­ing both “pro and con.” Fair enough. I, too, have read the “cons.” I spent years argu­ing very strong­ly against evo­lu­tion, includ­ing par­tic­i­pat­ing in sev­er­al online debates against Michael Wong, the gen­tle­man behind CreationTheory.org. My research con­sist­ed of hav­ing read just about the entire Answers in Gen­e­sis web­site, near­ly a dozen Answers in Gen­e­sis pub­li­ca­tions, the entire­ty of Kent Hov­in­d’s web­site, view­ing a few cre­ation­ist “doc­u­men­taries,” and read­ing a vari­ety of works by Hen­ry Mor­ris. At the time i had­n’t read much at all in favor of evo­lu­tion — no Dar­win, no Sagan, no noth­ing oth­er than the pass­ing ref­er­ences to evo­lu­tion that may have been men­tioned by my favorite physi­cist authors. All of that to say, i’m very well acquaint­ed with the argu­ments used by cre­ation­ists, but the fact of the mat­ter is that evo­lu­tion has both evi­dence & argu­ments based upon that evi­dence; cre­ation­ism has sim­ply belief with argu­ments formed therefrom.

Next, Slick says that when he was younger, he “believed in evo­lu­tion.” This belies a mis­un­der­stand­ing of what evo­lu­tion actu­al­ly is, as it is not some­thing to “believe in.” The Tooth Fairy, San­ta, Thor, Zeus, and God… Those are things to “believe in,” things which have no proof.*

I don’t believe in evo­lu­tion just like i don’t believe in grav­i­ty. I know that both exist.

Con­tin­u­ing on, Slick says that he began to read “the stuff they don’t tell you in schools,” which lead to his hav­ing doubts about evo­lu­tion. I’m going to assume that the extent of Slick­’s sci­ence edu­ca­tion comes from high school or before as i doubt he delved much into the nat­ur­al sci­ences while study­ing social sci­ence & divin­i­ty.

If that’s the case, then i am not sur­prised at all that Slick would come to accept the argu­ments put forth by cre­ation­ists, for two rea­sons. First, if his high school years were any­thing like mine, evo­lu­tion was like­ly bare­ly men­tioned. I took a sci­ence-heavy route through high school: three years of biol­o­gy, two of chem­istry, two of physics, one of astron­o­my, one of psy­chol­o­gy, and one of soci­ol­o­gy. Despite that, evo­lu­tion was bare­ly men­tioned. As far as how it works, i did­n’t start learn­ing about evo­lu­tion in earnest til i had evo­lu­tion­ists try to con­vince me of the errors of cre­ation­ism in the first few years after high school.

Sec­ond, Slick, like myself of ten years ago, also demon­strates a predilec­tion toward belief in the super­nat­ur­al. So again, his anti-evo­lu­tion stance comes as no surprise.

The last thing Slick says in this intro­duc­to­ry para­graph is that his accep­tance of Chris­tian­i­ty helped him to affirm that evo­lu­tion was “just a theory.”

Just a the­o­ry. For many peo­ple, “the­o­ry” is syn­ony­mous with “idea” or “hypoth­e­sis.” In every­day par­lance, that’s just fine. How­ev­er, in sci­en­tif­ic usage, “the­o­ry” takes on much more weight and is gen­er­al­ly not a word sci­en­tists just throw around. In sci­ence, you begin with a hypoth­e­sis — an idea or assump­tion about how things work; if that hypoth­e­sis is sup­port­ed by evi­dence, then the hypoth­e­sis becomes a the­o­ry. No mat­ter how much evi­dence is found to sup­port the the­o­ry, it’ll stay a the­o­ry. That’s why after hun­dreds of years, we still have the “the­o­ry of grav­i­ty.” And as is true in all sci­ences, if there was evi­dence to the con­trary, the the­o­ry of evo­lu­tion can be dis­card­ed. Sci­ence, unlike dog­mat­ic reli­gions, is always evolving.

I’ll look at more of what Slick has to say about evo­lu­tion in the future, but his open­ing para­graph on the mat­ter sure packs a punch. In it, he reveals a fun­da­men­tal mis­un­der­stand­ing of the sci­en­tif­ic method, where­in hypothe­ses become the­o­ries (and not the­o­ries becom­ing laws, or what­ev­er sys­tem he was using in which “just a the­o­ry” means “just an idea”). Fail­ing to under­stand the foun­da­tion­al method of sci­en­tif­ic inquiry, Slick con­tin­ues for sev­er­al pages explain­ing why the lead­ing sci­en­tists in the world are dead wrong on one of sci­ence’s most impor­tant, most scru­ti­nized theories.

I should hope any­one read­ing this, even the most staunch cre­ation­ists among you, can see just what is wrong with that scenario.

Now, all the above hav­ing been said, if you would like to see one sci­en­tist’s take on Matt Slick­’s anti-evo­lu­tion “research,” i invite you to do so.

* The author of Hebrews, in the absence of any real evi­dence for “things not seen,” says that faith is evi­dence of such things (Hebrews 11:1). To put this in per­spec­tive, accord­ing to the author of Hebrews, if you have faith in the Tooth Fairy, then that is evi­dence that the Tooth Fairy exists. To believe in God is to have evi­dence that he is real. That makes no real sense, whol­ly bely­ing the def­i­n­i­tion of “evi­dence.”

2 thoughts on “Matt Slick Anti-Evolution Apologetic: An Introduction”

  1. I agree with you on many of your points… I ful­ly agree when you say “For all sci­en­tific intents & pur­poses, the­ol­ogy is use­less.”, but not nec­es­sar­i­ly that “its tenets being main­tained by faith and not by evi­dence”. There is plen­ty of evi­dence for peo­ple and events in the bible, both archae­o­log­i­cal and in oth­er his­tor­i­cal writ­ings (although not for cre­ation­ism; I don’t think the start of Gen­e­sis should be read literally—there are many dif­fer­ent forms of writ­ing in the bible).

    No mat­ter how much evi­dence is found to sup­port the the­ory, it’ll stay a theory.

    I’m not sure that is entire­ly true, in that some the­o­ries when able to be prac­ti­cal­ly test­ed move to theorems.

    1. The­o­ries are prac­ti­cal­ly test­ed in that they are fal­si­fi­able: exper­i­men­tal & obser­va­tion­al evi­dence sup­ports them, and they are such that it is pos­si­ble to observe evi­dence which fal­si­fies them. (As an exam­ple to the con­trary, the con­cept of God can nev­er move into the realm of sci­ence because the idea of an invis­i­ble being exist­ing out­side of both space & time is unfalsifiable.)

      I do agree that there are his­tor­i­cal facts men­tioned in the Bible; how­ev­er, no Chris­t­ian would say some­thing to the effect that King Herod exist­ing is one of the tenets of the Chris­t­ian faith. When i speak of the Bible’s tenets, i mean those things which make it into the creeds, cat­e­chisms, and faith state­ments of the church­es, because those are the things which must be upheld by faith, apart from phys­i­cal evidence.

      Also, the dif­fer­ence between the­o­rems & the­o­ries is big­ger than that. The­o­ries don’t move on to become the­o­rems; the­o­ries are unprov­able yet fal­si­fi­able expla­na­tions of the nat­ur­al world, while the­o­rems are prov­able with­in the realm of mathematics.

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Rick Beckman