|This FAQ is intended as a reference to address common points of contention over how certain terms are defined in the origins debate. In some cases this FAQ calls out equivocal arguments that are not allowed in the forum. This FAQ should help us avoid rehashing certain arguments ad nauseam. If you have any suggestions/comments, please send me a PM.|
What is evolution? Ã¢â‚¬â€œ When the word evolution is used in this forum, it can refer to chemical, cosmic, or biological evolution. By chemical evolution, we mean either the origin of the elements, or abiogenesis (life from non-life). By cosmic evolution we mean the origin of the universe, galaxies, stars, planets, etc. By biological evolution, we mean the origin of species from a common ancestor (all life from a single cell). We do not debate small-scale change and adaptation (termed micro-evolution by evolutionists, which sometimes includes speciation), on this forum since both sides agree it occurs. It is also disingenuous to claim macro-evolution proves evolution since this term now encapsulates speciation, which itself is a loose categorization where organisms can be reclassified as different species merely because of geographic isolation and change in mating habits (see bullet item below on What is Species/Speciation). It is intellectually dishonest to claim that since micro-evolution is true, or that speciation occurs, then large-scale, molecules-to-man evolution must also be true, or the canard that evolution is simply a shift in allele frequencies (even my college Biology book refrains from using this as a global definition of evolution, but instead refers to this as micro-evolution). An example that occurred on this forum was the fallacious claim that "Domesticated animals are a perfectly valid example of evolution at work." Anyone who continues to use such equivocal arguments for evolution after being referred to this FAQ will be banned from the forum. For more on this equivocation, see my article The Evolution Definition Shell Game.
What is information? Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The kind of information we should debate on this forum should be of the type that is sufficient to communicate enough data to build some object, such as a car, a computer, or in the case of the origins debate, an organism. To that end, I hereby offer coded information as the type of information to debate on this forum. By coded information I mean any type of information that is a language, as described by symbols, syntax, and semantics. These three components encompass three of the five elements of Gitt information (I submit the other two components of Gitt information, pragmatics and apobetics, are somewhat inherent and natural extensions of the first three; these later two are open to discussion but not required). Examples of coded information include the English language (or any foreign language), Morse code, C++, etc. By requiring our definition of information to be that which is sufficient to build something should rule out anecdotal musings such as tree rings and redshifts. Other types or descriptions of information, such as Shannon information at the lowest level, to Dembski's complex specified information, to Algorithmic information theory, to Gitt information at the highest level, are welcome for discussion provided it is in the spirit of understanding the proposed description/type of information. We encourage however that members use the working definition of coded information given above when debating information and its role in creation or evolution. Arguments deemed unacceptable for this forum include spurious claims such as "tree rings and redshifts prove that information can originate naturalistically", "ripples in the sand represent information", etc. Such arguments do nothing to establish the kind of information required by evolution to produce all life over time from a common ancestor.
What is "Science"? Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The word science has it's origins in the Latin word scientia, for knowledge. Webster's first listed definition states: "1 - the state of knowing: knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding". There are many ways to gain knowledge, ranging from forensic science (ie arson investigation, SETI), to historical science (ie geology, paleontology, written records), to operational science (scientific method). Evolutionists have attempted to re-define science to be only operational science, and more specifically that which is naturalistic-only. Thus they can declare by default that they are the only ones using science, and by extension the only legitimate scientists. This non-sequitur is easily exposed by the fact that virtually all of the great scientists of the past, who laid the foundation of all the major branches of science, were creation scientists. The long list includes Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Kelvin, Pasteur, Pascal, Faraday, Von Braun, etc. This naturalistic-only view of science also limits the amount of knowledge obtainable, and therefore subverts the true meaning of science. Consider arson investigation or the SETI project Ã¢â‚¬â€œ both have rightly been called scientific, and are used to determine if there is an intelligent source connected to the evidence gathered. It is a double standard to agree this is scientific, yet on the other hand deny that the same principles do not apply to origins and the question of intelligent design. The word science should also not be watered down to such an extent that it embraces speculation. Bottom line: Do not pigeonhole the word science into the naturalistic-only box.
What is Species/Speciation? Ã¢â‚¬â€œ It is widely known that the term species is highly controversial and there is no consensus among scientists of what constitutes a species. The term was invented by the famous creationist Carolus Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, as the lowest taxonomic rank in his classification system (Linnaean classification). Up until the early nineteenth century, 'species' and the biblical 'kind' were considered the same. However as biology progressed and variations were noted, the two definitions drifted apart. For example, populations that diverged after geographic isolation and developed different mating habits/traits are often classified as separate species (called allopatric speciation), even though the species may be capable of interbreeding. Creationists agree that this type of speciation, as it is currently defined, occurs. However, the fact certain varieties may not readily interbreed does not mean they are incapable of doing so. For example, it is now fairly well known that Darwin's finches can and do interbreed, yet they remain separate species, probably because the finch is such a darling of evolution that the evolutionists are not compelled to correct the classification. With such a loose interpretation of what constitutes a species, one could argue that different varieties of dog that don't readily interbreed could be classified into separate species (such as the St Bernard and Chihuahua). The muddy waters are further exacerbated by the evidences we've uncovered for rapid speciation, which is counter to Neo-Darwinian style evolution since it is mathematically impossible for random mutation(s) to become fixed in the populations cited in the link in only a few generations. Given that the definition of species has become loose and wide, we believe claims that speciation proves evolution is equivocation and intellectually dishonest. Many evolutionists have also failed to recognize the difference between species and kind (baramin), which has invariably led to the remarkably common strawman argument that "Noah could not have possibly fitted millions of species on the ark" (Noah could have easily fit all the required kinds of animals on the ark to populate the earth after the flood Ã¢â‚¬â€œ link). In short, discussion on speciation when debating creation vs. evolution should be used with caution and not in the equivocal or strawman manner previously described. Generally speaking, we encourage debating change at the family taxonomic rank or higher, which more closely fits the Biblical kind (baramin). Debating sympatric speciation is also acceptable.
 - Campbell, Reece, Mitchell, Biology 5th Edition, 1999, p. 432  - See Wikipedia article on Species