Godspell Follies

Refuting the illogic of "intelligent design" and creationism. An illustrated guide to fallacies of logic.


Fallacious Appeal to Authority, Misuse of Authority, Irrelevant Authority, Questionable Authority, Inappropriate Authority, Ad Verecundiam

Proids employ this fallacy in more than one way:

1. Individual scientists, most of who are not qualified in molecular genetics, have signed a document declaring that they do not believe that misrepresented Darwinian explanations explain biological evolution. Even those signatories who are qualified in molecular genetics render their own opinions suspect according to point 4 of the qualifications of acceptable authority below.

2. The theories of peer-reviewed scientists are dismissed, amongst other criticisms, as being biased in favor of an atheistic position, or as ambitious self-promotion, or as propaganda, or as being suspect because examples of scientific fraud have been uncovered in the past. Obviously, such attacks on the credibility of accredited experts qualify as ad hominem fallacies.

Credible experts possess the following attributes:
1. sufficient expertise in the subject matter in question.
2. claims made are within area(s) of expertise
3. adequate degree of agreement among the other experts in the subject in question
4. not significantly biased by subjective motivations or prejudices
5. expertise within a legitimate area or discipline (related to the subject matter)
6. the authority must be identified

Possession of higher academic qualifications alone does not qualify engineers or geologists, for example, to claim authority concerning biological evolution, which is outside their area of expertise (1, 2, 5). This is not to say that those with qualifications in engineering or geology could not have attained considerable knowledge concerning biology, molecular genetics, or biological evolution. However, it is reasonable to expect that such knowledge expressed by engineers or biologists would reflect agreement with, rather than run completely counter to, the opinions of experts in these areas (3). When the opinion of supposed authorities, particularly those whose academic qualifications lie outside the area (here, biology), express opinions directly counter to those of experts in the field, then the supposed authority is rightly suspected of prejudice (4) or ignorance of the particular area (1).

By the argument above, it matters not whether 100, or over 500 doctoral scientists, or any number of persons with a Ph.D. have signed a document expressing doubts concerning evolution. The signed statement reads: "We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged."

This statement misrepresents modern understanding of the mechanisms of biological evolution in that modern geneticists and evolutionary biologists do not claim that random mutation and natural selection alone account for the complexity of life. Darwin lived, wrote, and died before the discoveries of genetics, so Darwinian theory has already been examined by scientists and passed over in favor of the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory. However, Darwin's mechanism of natural selection is one of the recognized mechanisms affecting the frequency of alternative genes (alleles). The doctoral signatories have misrepresented the current understanding of the mechanisms of evolution.

It might be reasonable to say that a full exposition of molecular genetics and population are genetics are beyond the high school science curriculum, but it is not reasonable to conclude that students not yet capable of comprehending these concepts should be further confused by teaching 'id' theory (religion) alongside their simplified introduction to the fact of biological evolution. Religious teachings are readily available at the Church of each student's choice, and many websites are devoted to 'id', to creationism (c), and to debate of creationism vs evolution (Y).

The "Discovery Institute" and the "Center for Science & Culture" first published its Scientific Dissent From Darwinism list in 2001, purportedly "to challenge "false statements" about Darwinian evolution made in promoting PBS's "Evolution" series."

"Darwinist efforts to use the courts, the media and academic tenure committees to suppress dissent and stifle discussion are in fact fueling even more dissent and inspiring more scientists to ask to be added to the list." [s]

Considering the promises made in The Wedge Document, this statement is glaring example of a tu quoque fallacy -- a "you too!" fallacy.

The fact remains that as an argument for insertion of idism alongside evolution in science classrooms, the Scientific Dissent From Darwinism list remains an example of fallacious appeal to authority.

Index Refuting ID

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comment section will be used as a glossary, obviating some of the need to move around the site. If the website’s name shows as blue, you can return to the main page by clicking on “Godspell Follies” or “Home”.

idism = intelligent design theory
idist = intelligent design proponent, for example Behe or Dembski
fodi = fellow of the Discovery Institute, one of the organizations set up for the purpose of promoting intelligent design theory
proid = advocate of intelligent design theory, often an Internet debater

For a full explanation of these terms, see the Illogical Deceit Theory post at: http://refutingid.blogspot.com/2007/12/illogical-deceit-theory.html

7:07 PM  

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