Evolution predicts that the laws of nature should evolve; creationism predicts that they should remain fixed.
I. No commitments before the first replicator
Evolution can take place only after the origin of the first replicator; therefore, the truth of evolution entails nothing about the stability or variability of the laws of nature prior to that origin. The assertion under investigation is an example of the unfortunate tendency of creationists to conflate evolution with some comprehensive view of things that is easier to attack.
II. Commitment to approximate stability after the first replicator
After the first replicator arose, evolution would have been able to work only against a backdrop of at least approximately stable laws of nature; had the laws of nature changed dramatically sometime later, that change probably would have wiped out all life.
III. Self-contradiction by young-earth creationists
Michael Ruse notes that the young-earth creationists who typically make this claim contradict themselves: they elsewhere argue that the natural laws governing the rates of radioactive decay and sedimentation were different in the past, since this is the only way they can save their beliefs from falsification by multiple convergent lines of evidence (Ruse 1982:305). Some creationists likewise argue that the speed of light was different in the past, or that the second law of thermodynamics was not in effect until God cursed all of creation in a fit of anger at Adam and Eve.
IV. Insincerity of the creationist assertion
Some legitimate scientists actually do argue that there is evidence that the laws of nature have changed very slightly over time. If it were proved that this was the case, do you think creationists would take this to confirm evolution and falsify creationism? Of course they would not: the assertion under analysis clearly just is an instance of creationists looking for anything they feel secure about, and trying to shoehorn its denial into evolutionary theory. One can be sure that if it were conclusively demonstrated that the laws of nature have changed, creationists would suddenly turn around and say that this is precisely what creationism predicted, and precisely the opposite of what evolutionary theory predicts. They surely know that the stability or variability of the laws of nature are, in fact, equally compatible with creationism and evolution.
Ruse M. 1982. Darwinism Defended: A Guide to the Evolution Controversies. London: Addison-Wesley.
Last updated: 19 Jan 2016
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