Browse Search Feedback Other Links Home Home The Talk.Origins Archive: Exploring the Creation/Evolution Controversy

Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2005
Previous Claim: CA211.1   |   List of Claims   |   Next Claim: CA215

Claim CA212:

Evolution is defined ambiguously, and claims that it is fact are based on the ambiguity. It is usually defined as "change in heritable characteristics in a population over time" (often expressed as "change in allele frequencies"), which everyone accepts as fact, but that does not mean that macroevolution or common descent are fact.


POSH (Parents for Objective Science and History), n.d. Biology text review.


  1. Language tends to be ambiguous at times (e.g., the entry for the word "set" covers more than twenty-two pages of the original Oxford English Dictionary.) The word "evolution" is an unfortunate instance of that ambiguity; it is used for the fact of biological change over time; as shorthand for the theory of evolution, which encompasses a much broader range of observations and ideas; and for change generally, in any realm. The ambiguity can usually be resolved by the context in which the word is used, at least by people who know something about biological evolution.

    Mixing contexts is indeed improper, and the fact of allele frequency change, by itself, does not establish the theory of evolution.

  2. The soundness of the theory of evolution does not rest on ambiguity. On the contrary, scientific papers are written so other scientists can tell what the authors are talking about; they must be as unambiguous as possible. The evidence is overwhelming: evolution is not only a theory; major aspects of it, such as common descent, are also facts.

  3. Creationists sometimes misuse the ambiguity to their own advantage, trying, for example, to include cosmological change as part of the theory of evolution (Hovind n.d.). This is gross ignorance, deliberate dishonesty, or both.


  1. Hovind, Kent. n.d. Dr. Hovind's $250,000 offer.

Further Reading:

Wilkins, John. 2001. Defining evolution. Reports of the National Center for Science Education 21(1-2): 29-37.

Gould, Stephen J. 2002. "What does the dreaded 'E' word mean anyway?" In: I Have Landed, New York: Harmony, pp. 241-256.
Previous Claim: CA211.1   |   List of Claims   |   Next Claim: CA215

created 2003-9-1