The Importance of Being Earnest
I said I wasn’t going to turn this blog into a pseudo-forum discussion and I’m not. But anyone who knows me, knows that I will bull-dog the opposition when the topic is important for some reason.
Evolution as it is now used in our culture is important to the Christian. Not the least, for the reason that so many use it to promote misunderstandings of Christians. Note I said it is used -not is. Subjects can be used for purposes totally outside their intended and proper use. More on that later.
And so, rather than drag out the discussion in the earlier format (although I can do that if I get my back up;)…. I thought I would use it to take a look at how logical fallacies are often put into play in the cultural agendas out and about the sphere of public discussion.
I am using Ed’s 2nd response to me as the basis of illustration.
Most seasoned pundits in these discussions are going to steer clear of outright ad hominems. They aren’t going to go straight for the jugular and call you a fool. But there will be a bit of a dance around it, a chisel here and there. The first paragraph laid a thin layer that gets built upon as the post goes on. It is subtle in a couple of ways, with bits of red herring and appeals to authority thrown in.
Theory, Hypothesis, Smokescreen Scientific Method
Let’s see how this works:
“she has a very shallow understanding of the scientific method”.
Now, is that depth of understanding necessary in the case of the argument at hand? While there is some circular reasoning later on, in citing science that heavily relies on the evolution theory itself, (such as geology and paleontology for examples of science which uses observation and theorizing in lieu of replicated experiments), what is the real purpose of this statement?
It is to throw doubt on the ability of the opposition to make the statements they do. Does one need a high level of expertise to make an observation that evolution is mainly conjecture? One might look at statements by the scientists themselves, as they piece together their (ever-changing) theory.
When this essay was first written the idea of Neanderthal man was limited to a sort of low intelligence “Ape-man”. With modern discoveries including DNA research, the picture of this in the evolutionary story has changed. This is happening all the time to many scientific theories.
In building Ed’s sort of circumstantial ad hominem, the validity of the opponent’s claim is not disputed, but a diminishing of their understanding becomes the case at hand in the argument. This is then built upon throughout the argument. The “eighth grade” modifier is used (in the later comments) to underscore the point, yet perhaps that is exactly where one should start in explaining the overwhelming argument for the certainty of evolutionists claims. Or just admit that evolution has problems.
You know black holes are theory, too, but no one makes this the monolith of information on space. It is important theory… but it isn’t adhered to with religious fervor. Evolution as information is adhered to in that way, it is considered heresy to entertain the ID theory.
Statements like “the ID crowd has yet to produce anything like a testable hypothesis…. and “the model offered by YECs has been falsified over and over again and fails to explain the data entirely”.
Wait. Does evolution “explain the data entirely”, has it ever “been falsified “?
The Bad Reasons Fallacy is worth looking at here. Maybe the ID guys haven’t come up with the best model, but does that mean evolution is fact and that it is true?
So we get to the “burden of proof”. Is it up to ID theorists to provide an air-tight model, when evolution can’t do that? Can both be used as theories? No one is saying that evolution theory be completely replaced. It’s tenuous hold on fact status ought to be admitted.
One thing that Ed has done in his posts, which is common enough, is ignore the most pointed difficulty. When we talk about evolution we are talking about two separate definitions sharing the same word, and some of the concepts.
Organisms do modify, they do hybridize often. We just don’t see much in the way of “transformations”. Why is that part of evolution so hard for the proponents to put in perspective?
I think because it is part of a desire to believe, rather than the conviction of proof.
And that is where I would like to see honesty.
Logical Fallacies Employed
It is in this vested interest that many of the ad hominems and appeals to ridicule, etc. come about.
Then a straw man makes his appearance.
“Science does not “prove facts”. Science explains facts”
And how does science explain facts except by proving their validity through the scientific method? Science explains the “what is there” … but it has to determine whether what is seen is in truth what is.
So “empirical” is both observation and experiential experiments. It does involve that part of method called “replication”.
but what does this have to do with the price of eggs? Or more importantly, on what basis does the the flat statement “And humans evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered.” get its support, its facts?
Why, upon, the strawman argument, “Evolution is not a “proven fact” because A) nothing in science is ever “proven”.
Now we are in a universe where nothing is ever proven …… a state of mind familiar to the philosopher, aka syncreticism. Evolution of the mind, I suppose we could call it.
We don’t know where it comes from, and we don’t know where it ends up, but we sure do know what we know we are saying right now. Work with that.
No wonder origin questions are thrown out the window, that is where philosophy is, basically, right now. The big questions get thrown out the window, so we can get on with the details.
And this sort of thinking always ends up in materialism. The material universe is all there is…because that is all we can handle. Prove. Whatever word you want to use.
It is no longer an idea of what is proven or what is true…. not in philosophy or in scientific pursuit, but what best suits us.
I would pose this question in light of this type of discussion:
How can we expect to make real progress in science with this sort of viewpoint?
How do we ascertain whether information is accurate when there is no “proven fact” and all is weighted in what is presented as the going thing in the “experts opinion”?
Well, back to more illustration of false logic.
Ed said “Facts are the world’s data.
Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go
away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein’s theory of
gravitation replaced Newton’s, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air,
pending the outcome. And humans evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered.”
The apple ideas are using replicable evidence. Apples fall downward. There are different explanations for why or how. But evolution? how is this comparable in replication?
ummm. I think I choose ‘commuting the conditionals’ because the condition of two different theories for the replication of the apple falling downwards is then given to the unreplicated ideas of evolution. Voila… evolution gets the identification with apples falling downwards and ID proponents get the alternative of apples rising on the ‘morrow. And wham!…. appeal to ridicule for anyone having the audacity to question the evolution theory.
I am getting tired now… I felt there was lots of manipulated thinking, but I didn’t realize how much til getting into it here….
all for questioning that evolution theory is unquestionable fact.
For the rest of it:
Ed:”which is what I presume Ilona means by “materialism””
I can only guess that it was an exercise in futility to post those references to “materialism” and “naturalism” in a previous post.
I will save this for another post; along with “If it’s not a given
to Ilona, then perhaps we could discuss what she DOES believe about the designer. I know of no one who advocates ID or conventional creationism who argues that God was not omnipotent.”
I do believe God is omnipotent, but I have been in this sort of discussion also, and the God of the Bible is not the same as the hypothetical “unrestrained” being of many in the public forum.