Barnes: The Arguments for Creationism and the Arguments for Evolution

Very interesting article from @TSZ.

There are several lessons to be learned from this analysis. It is well known that creation “scientists” do not gather and publish empirical evidence in the same way that mainstream scientists do. Now we see that they don’t generate or use persuasive arguments in the same way that scientists do. Those arguing for creationism differ from those arguing for a scientific position in terms of both the types and topics of their arguments. In terms of types of arguments, scientists overwhelmingly rely on appeals to positive empirical evidence. In contrast, ID creationists tend to rely on appeals to reason, while other creationists rely on a wide range of appeals to support their claims.

In other words if creationism did even better arguments we would be gaining vicyory even faster
With all the supeior argument capability of evolutionists etc they still are losing ground.
I think its the quality of the arguments that matters.
The historic BETTER ARGUMENT prevails against the weaker.
I need to check a primary source for this!

That’s one way to look at it, I suppose. I don’t see any support for it, however.

What makes you say that “evolutionists etc” are losing ground?

I agree 100%.

If only you were so diligent in all of your arguments.


I actually agree with the first part of Byers’s statement. The problem is, creatonist arguments can’t be better.

I was bothered by the portion of the graph that reveals an unexpectedly high percentage of individuals that believe the “Presence of Empirical Evidence” supports “Creationism”. I assume that most of those identified as “Creationist” would be YEC, but I’m not certain.

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The study was on the the number and types of arguments on websites, not a poll of individuals. YEC does a lot more with empirical stuff than ID does. It seems to me that YEC says the science is wrong, ID says the science isn’t being interpreted correctly, hence the empirical vs reason split.


Ah, thanks for explaining, that makes a lot of sense.

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What is this victory that you speak of? Victory of what?

Well, they can be better rhetorically, and often are better rhetorically.

Moreover, we should be cautious about this word “creationist”, which really means “anti-evolution” in context. Maybe God created us through evolution.

Moreover, sometimes (even often) arguments for evolution can be quite bad, and even rooted in factual errors.


Robert, I am not sure you are doing a fair job summarizing my research (I am one of the 3 authors of the original article).

Our article is not an attack on any of the three points of view discusses (creationism, ID, evolution). My co-authors and I simply selected 72 commonly visited websites focused on origins, and identified the arguments in each website. We then identified the data and claim of each argument, and then used a rubric to identify the particular types of data and claim that were used. The results of this frequency count then served as the basis of our results section. My coauthors and I were not motivated to insult (or aid) individuals on any side of the debate. We merely noted that no one had every done the boring work of analyzing the arguments on each side of the debate to see if those representing different sides of the debate employed different argumentation strategies.

So take the article for what it is. If a person is curious about whether-or-not people on different sides of the debate argue in the same or different ways, then the results of our research will be illuminating. Those that don’t care about that issue, will find no reason to read the original paper (or the summary in Skeptic).


I am one of the original authors of the study summarized in the Skeptic article. If anyone here would like a copy of the original article (which contains more details regarding method and results than the summary in Skeptic), please email me. I would be happy to oblige. my email:

If anyone has any questions about the research, just let me know.


Thank you for joining us. I have many questions for you. Please do send me a copy. My email is easy to find online.

any analysis of the quality of arguments would mean to point to a conclusion this or that side is doing a inferior job relative to standards and the others.
however the neutrality it would not end up neutral.
in these matters one hardly ever finds neutrality as its so important.
i accept your word of coarse.
Argument in science is not like other things. Science starts with a hypothesis/hunch before it starts with already known data.
Independent thinkers , with the insights that move science along, by definition do not/don’t need pthers help. A insight or insightful criticism.
its the old guard, fixed in error, that would have loads of support of their ideas die to history.
The american revolutions ideas on unique democratic government would not have the scholarship of ancient monarchy etc because its novel.
any hypothesis or criticism is novel and its the old school that has the supplies backing up wrong ideas.
anyways a welcome investigation in these matters.

Déjà-vu all over again!

Robert, putting one’s self in a neutral position after having adopted a position is certainly difficult. I, however, hadn’t the fainted idea what my study would turn up when I began the study and I would have been happy to publish the results (regardless of where they would have taken me). Unlike some researchers who dislike the null hypothesis, I would have been quite happy to publish the results, even if what I found was that there was no difference between the three groups. Luckily, a number of Open Access journals exist that will publish null results. It turns out, our results were interesting enough that a more traditional journal was happy to publish them.


@Ralph_Barnes. I had a couple questions, because some of your coding doesn’t make much sense to me.

  1. Did you include this website? (ENV):

How would you code these recent posts from ENV?

  1. From Swamidass on Chloroquine Resistance, a Response that Doesn’t Respond | Evolution News

  2. A Dentist in the Sahara: Doug Axe on the Rarity of Proteins Is Decisively Confirmed | Evolution News (from @bjmiller)

  3. Coyne and Polar Bears: Why You Should Never Rely on Incompetent Reviewers | Evolution News (from Behe)

I’m asking because it does seem that they are frequently relying on the empirical presence of evidence. I’m not sure how you were able to code ID the way you did. What am I missing?

Joshua, I did not include that website among those we studied. We were particularly looking for websites that were argumentative/persuasive in terms of their primary goals, and we wanted to select for websites that listed arguments for their main claim. News websites, neutral websites, and many other websites related to origins in one way or another would have been excluded from our sample.

I also looked at your 2 thru 4 posts, and those also would not have been included in our analysis. Most likely, I search terms would not have even located those (but if they had, they would have been rejected for not meeting other criteria that we stated in our method section). Basically we were looking for sites created by people or organizations with a clear agenda (e.g. to show that creationism is true, to show that evolution is true) and we wanted sites in which the author of the site presented a list of arguments/evidences/facts in support of that main conclusion.

Origin-related websites that were dealing with narrowly defined issued underneath the greater origins umbrella were not included in our analysis.

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Got it.

So…ENV is the main website for the Discovery Institute, which is the flagship promoter of Intelligent design. Did you not know this? What am I missing? They are not dealing with narrow defined issues as far as I know. This is the ID juggernaught.

It would be interesting to do a study that samples some articles from ENV. I’ve been thinking of doing my own textual analysis of their work too. If that is interesting to you, I could use a sociologist collaborator on it.

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Was AIGs website included?

@Ralph_Barnes, does your original article list the sites that you used for the research?