[ Taken from Answers in Genesis‘ article “What Are Some Good Questions to Ask an Evolutionist?” ]
These questions are used to help explain the meaning of words or terms. A definition in science needs to be clear and precise. It should include all the attributes that distinguish it from all other entities. If any of these attributes are missing, then the definition becomes ambiguous.
- What do you mean by evolution?
- What do you mean by theory?
- What is meant by a fact in science?
Let’s examine some examples of the importance of establishing definitions.
“Evolution is change over time.” This is not a legitimate definition because it includes everything in the universe.
“Evolution is genetic change in a species over time.” While this may be one definition of “evolution,” it is not the claim at issue in the origins debate. Such a definition includes all forms of change, including changes that both creationists and evolutionists believe in (e.g., information-decreasing mutations). Therefore, this does not adequately define the type of evolution relevant to origins; that is, Neo-Darwinian evolution that suggests that an amoeba can change into a man over millions of years.
“Evolution means both micro and macro changes.” This is a common use of evolution in textbooks. Dog varieties or different beak sizes of finches thus become examples of evolution. This definition includes both variety within the kinds and Neo-Darwinian evolution (molecules to man). The definition tacitly implies that small observed changes, sometimes referred to as microevolution, will lead to large unobserved changes (macroevolution), which begs the question at issue.
From these examples we see that it is important to establish definitions of terms prior to any discussion.