One of the most widely circulated anti-creationist articles to appear in many years was recently published in the New York Times Magazine. There was nothing new or significant in the article, but it has nevertheless been reprinted in whole or in part, under various titles, in newspapers from coast to coast and overseas, and has probably turned many people against creationism.
The reason for its impact is certainly not its contents, which feature the usual evolutionary distortions and pseudo-logic. However, the author is Dr. Isaac Asimov, the most prolific and widely read science writer of our generation, and this fact has assured a wide audience for his opinions. He is the author of over 230 books on all kinds of scientific subjects, including even a few books on the Bible, and many people consider him an authority on anything he chooses to write about.
Asimov does, indeed have impressive academic credentials and is a brilliant writer. It is, however, impossible for any scientist to be a real "authority" on anything outside his own limited field of special study and research (which, in Isaac Asimov's case, consists of certain aspects of enzyme chemistry), so that he owes his reputation more to his exceptional ability in the techniques of exposition than to his accomplishments in scientific research.
Furthermore, Dr. Asimov has his own religious axe to grind. He was one of the signers of the infamous Humanist Manifesto II, promulgated by the American Humanist Association in 1973. Among other statements, this Manifesto includes the following anti-theistic affirmations:
"As in 1933, humanists still believe that traditional theism, especially faith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to love and care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and to be able to do something about them, is an unproved and outmoded faith."
"As nontheists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity."
"No deity will save us; we must save ourselves."
Asimov and other humanists decry the teaching of creationism as "religious" while, at the same time their Manifesto proclaims their own set of beliefs to be a living and growing faith."
The quasi-scientific basis of their humanistic faith, of course, is evolution. Humanist Manifesto I (published first in 1933) made this clear. Its first four tenets were as follows:
"First: Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.
Second: Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as the result of a continuous process.
Third: Holding an organic view of life, humanists find that the traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected.
Fourth: Humanism recognizes that man's religious culture and civilization, as clearly depicted by anthropology and history, are the product of a gradual development due to his interaction with his natural environment.…"
It is significant that Asimov, in his anti-creationist harangue, does not attempt to offer even one slight scientific evidence for evolution. Nevertheless he proclaims: "To those who are trained in science, creationism seems like a bad dream, a sudden reliving of a nightmare, a renewed march of an army of the night risen to challenge free thought and enlightenment." Asimov, as a prize-winning writer of science fiction, is a master at the use of emotional rhetoric to intimidate and frighten, and this essay is a skillful masterpiece of alarmist propaganda. He warns about those previous "societies in which the armies of the night have ridden triumphantly over minorities in order to establish a powerful orthodoxy which dictates official thought." He concludes with an Asimovian prophecy: "With creationism in the saddle, American science will wither.... We will inevitably recede into the backwater of civilization …" The "prophet" Isaac never mentions the fact that most of the great founding fathers of modern science (e.g., Newton, Pascal, Kelvin, Faraday, Galileo, Kepler, etc.) were theistic creationists, nor that thousands of fully qualified scientists today have repudiated the evolutionary indoctrination of their school days in favor of the much stronger scientific evidences for creation.
Although Asimov gives no arguments or evidences for evolution, he does attempt to identify and refute what he thinks are the seven most important arguments for creation. These he denotes as follows:
(1) The Argument from Analogy. Since no one would question that the existence of a watch implies an intelligent watchmaker, by analogy the much more intricate and complex universe implies an intelligent universe-maker. Asimov makes no attempt to answer this unanswerable argument, except to say that "to surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature." Such an answer is foolishness. The principles of mathematical probability and scientific causality certainly do not constitute a "surrender to ignorance," but provide a compelling demonstration that complex systems do not originate out of chaotic systems by random processes.
(2) The Argument from General Consent. By this term, Asimov means the widespread belief among all peoples that the world must have been brought into its present form by some god or gods. Asimov maintains that the "Hebrew myths" of creation are no more credible than all these other beliefs and that "such general consent proves nothing." Actually this so-called "argument from general consent" is rarely, if ever, used by creationists. However, it is almost always used by evolutionists to prove evolution! That is, since they can cite no scientific evidences for evolution, they use the argument that "all scientists believe evolution" as the main proof of evolution.
(3) The Argument from Belittlement. Here Asimov incorrectly accuses creationists of failing to understand scientific terminology and of belittling evolution as "only a scientific theory." As a matter of fact, creationists maintain that real "vertical" evolution is not even a scientific theory, since it is not testable. There is no scientific experiment which, even in imagination, could suffice either to confirm or to falsify, either macro-evolution or creation. The proper term to use is not "scientific theory" or even "scientific hypothesis," but "scientific model" or paradigm," or some such title. The creation model can be used far more effectively than the evolution model in predicting and correlating scientific data (the laws of thermodynamics, the character of the fossil record, etc.).
(4) The Argument from Imperfection. Creationists are often accused of mistaking disagreements among evolutionists as evidence that evolution itself is false. Actually, all creationists are well aware of this distinction but it does seem odd, if evolution is a sure fact of science, that it is so difficult to describe how it works! How does it happen that, if evolution is such a common process in nature, its mechanics remain so obscure? Yet, as Asimov says: "However much scientists argue their differing beliefs in details of evolutionary theory, or in the interpretation of the necessarily imperfect fossil record, they firmly accept the evolutionary process itself." Evolutionists walk by faith, not by sight!
(5) The Argument from Distorted Science. One of the main creationist arguments against evolution is its apparent conflict with the second law of thermodynamics, but Asimov says this argument is "distorted science," since it ignores the fact that the earth is an open system. Of course, it does not ignore the fact that the earth is an open system; evolutionists such as Asimov seem to have a strange blind spot at this point, perversely continuing to ignore the fact that this naive charge has been repeatedly answered and refuted. Asimov should know, as a chemist, that the mere influx of external heat into an open system (such as solar energy entering the earth-system) would not increase the order (or "complexity" or "information") in that system, but would actually increase its entropy (or "disorder" or "randomness") more rapidly than if it were a closed system! If "order" or "complexity" is actually to increase in any open system, the latter must first be programmed to utilize the incoming energy in some organizing fashion and then be provided also with a complex energy storage-and-conservation mechanism to transform the raw heat influx into the specific useful work of increasing the organized complexity of the system. Since the imaginary evolutionary process on the earth possesses neither such a directing program nor organizing mechanism, the second law of thermodynamics does indeed conflict with it and, to all intents and purposes, renders it impossible.
Asimov also makes the arrogant charge that creationist scientists "have not made any mark as scientists." The fact is that a cross-section of the records of the scientists on the ICR staff, for example, or of the Creation Research Society, would compare quite favorably with those of most secular colleges and universities (including Asimov's own record).
(6) The Argument from Irrelevance. This criticism is merely a caricature of the concept of a completed creation, which Asimov thinks would be "deceptive." The fact is that a genuine creation would necessarily require creation of "apparent age," the only alternative being eternal matter and no true creation. There is no deception involved at all. As a matter of fact, the world does not even look old, except to the distorted vision of an evolutionist. The fossil record by its very nature speaks clearly of a recent worldwide cataclysm, and there are far more physical processes which yield a young age for the earth than the handful of processes which, through arbitrary and unreasonable assumptions, can be forced to yield an old age.
(7) The Argument from Authority. Asimov insists, as do so many other evolutionists, that the only real evidence for creationism is from the book of Genesis. The Bible does, indeed, teach creation and its literal authority was accepted by most of the founding fathers of our country and by our country's first schools. That ought to count for something, especially with those who deliberately chose to come to this country from other countries (Asimov came with his parents as immigrants from Russia in 1923). As a matter of fact, however, creationists are quite content to let the scientific evidence speak for itself in the public schools, with no reference whatever to the Bible. Many of us, in fact, are quite insistent on this point, appalled at the prospect of a humanist teacher such as Asimov teaching the Bible to a class of impressionable young people.
Dr. Asimov opposes creationism in the schools with the following astounding concluding argument: "It is only in school that American youngsters in general are ever likely to hear any reasoned exposition of the evolutionary viewpoint. They might find such a viewpoint in books, magazines, newspapers or even on occasion, on television. But church and family can easily censor printed matter or television. Only the school is beyond their control."
Unfortunately, his last statement is mostly correct. Parents have indeed largely yielded control of their tax-supported schools to the educational establishment and its de facto religion of evolutionary humanism. However, the increasing incidence of such tirades as this from Dr. Asimov indicates that the creation movement has become a serious threat to this powerful and pervasive system.
*Dr. Henry M. Morris is the Founder and President Emeritus of ICR.
Cite this article: Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. 1981. An Answer for Asimov. Acts & Facts. 10 (9).