Reading Response: Del Ratzsch

Creationist Theory: Popular Evolutionist Misunderstandings

Throughout this piece, Ratzsch attempts to explain the true beliefs of creationists in the face of “evolutionist misunderstandings.” His writing does little to clear the air, and in fact raises as many serious questions as it answers — partly due to Ratzsch’s particular failings as a writer, philosopher, and scientist; partly due to the flaws inherent in the creationist belief system. Anybody seeking to understand how somebody could be so profoundly confused as Ratzsch evidently is should realize two things: Del Ratzsch is a professor of philosophy at Calvin College (Calvin as in Calvinism), and the book he is writing in is published by InterVarsity Press, part of the well-meaning but doctrinally conservative InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

The essence of Del Ratzsch’s argument is that many of the arguments between creationists and evolutionists are caused by misunderstandings, and he sets out to correct these. Unfortunately, his corrections reveal the problem with creationism: its adherents largely misunderstand the arguments proposed by the movement’s scientific leaders, and so “evolutionists” debunk the bad science held by creation adherents. But the leading minds of creationism apparently also disagree on many points.

Additionally, the “corrections” Del Ratzsch offers reveal the fundamental problems with creationism itself. By accepting the distinction between macroevolution and microevolution he misunderstands the fundamental nature of evolution. He offers the weak justification that we have never seen “macroevolution” evidenced, because any change in species evidenced or observed by science is not a change in the absolutely arbitrarily-defined “kind” that the animal is! And his explanation of the creationist’s issue with the Second Law of Thermodynamics reveals the creationist fundamental misunderstanding of that law. The Second Law states that within any closed system, the total entropy must rise. Creationists take that to mean that entropy must rise over any subsection of that system, and they are absolutely wrong. Entropy can drop within portions of the system as long as it continues to rise overall. The creation of planets or the organization necessary for life does not violate the second law by decreasing entropy, so long as there is an “other” in the same closed system that has a correspondingly-large increase in entropy.

Basically, it’s another sad attempt to justify an objection to science based on religious beliefs and fundamentally misunderstands the science involved — along with science itself. Since Del Ratzsch is not a scientist but a philosophy professor at a Christian school, this should not be surprising.