Standards of Proof

Posted by on Nov 5, 2010 in Articles | 0 comments

In the midst of the creation/evolution debate, it’s helpful to step back from the evidence and consider the issue of proof standards.  Legal procedure generally recognizes two levels of proof.

The first is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”It is the highest proof standard, and is considered necessary in order to deprive a person of life or liberty. It essentially means that guilt for a crime must be proved to the point that there is no other reasonable possibility.

The second (and lesser) proof standard is “preponderance of evidence.” This is the usual standard for civil trials involving money or property disputes.  A civil litigant usually does not have to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt; it only has to be shown that most of the evidence is on his side.

These proof standards have analogies in medical science.  A disease-causing microbe may be identified presumptively or positively. If identified presumptively, then the organism is probably the suspected one, but other possibilities exist. If identified positively, no other possibility should exist.

These may seem like fine shades of meaning, but they are very important in practice.  There is a big difference between 90% sure and 100% sure.

This is an important concept because proof standards are not usually defined openly in the creation/evolution debate, although they are often implied. Evolution is usually presented as though it is proved by the highest standard, or “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This alone should cause skepticism and concern; such a high degree of certainty involving macroevolution that’s never been witnessed or duplicated seems inappropriate.

Creationists, on the other hand, often use the lower proof standard, claiming that real scientific data is “consistent with” Biblical creation, rather than absolutely proving it. This is much more appropriate when investigating past events beyond human observation.  Creationists openly admit that they have faith in a Supreme Being who claims absolute knowledge in his Word, the Bible. They only seek to show that theirs is a “reasonable” faith; that it is “consistent with” the facts of science. Accordingly, theirs is a more appropriate and attainable proof standard.

However, as the creationist position grows in strength, (the) evolutionary arrogance is beginning to backfire. By binding themselves so strongly to the highest possible proof standard, evolutionists are making their utter failure to meet it more obvious. That is why we see such energetic opposition to even the bland notion of teaching “intelligent design.” In view of all this, let’s keep on calling attention to, not only the “preponderance of evidence” for creation, but also to the highly exaggerated nature of the evolutionary proof claims.


By Dr. David Demick (Guest Writer)

Originally published in the July/Aug 2006 issue of Think and Believe.

Product Recommendation:

Creation: Facts of Life by Gary Parker

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