Godspell Follies

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

Creationism vs Evolution

Does modern science disprove God? Not really, though the anti-science panic of creationists lends credit to this notion. The truth lies within only one of the following possibilities:

It could be that we have abiogenesis and biological evolution and that there is no supernatural deity.

It is also possible that the physicochemical mechanisms that demonstrably govern the natural world, and which brought about abiogenesis and biological evolution, could themselves have come about through some supernatural agency. (This is the reason that some creationists focus their attacks on the Big Bang - otherwise recognized as the expansion of space-time that left its traces in microwave background radiation).

It is equally possible that the physicochemical mechanisms that underlay abiogenesis operated independently of a supernatural agency that does operate postmortem. The emotional advantages of believing in salvation and eternal life are so obvious as to obviate discussion.

Equally obvious is the impossibility, by definition, of temporal acquaintance with the reality or unreality of any form of life after death. Unless, that is, one insists upon the possibility of equally unsubstantiable claims of reincarnation.

Regardless of unlikelihoods, it is not outside the laws of logic to accept the fact of biological evolution while holding emotionally-attractive religious beliefs. It is outside the laws of logic, however, to believe that discrediting evolutionary theory (if such were possible by such arguments) could prove the existence of a Christian, or any other, deity. To believe so is to embrace the fallacious argument of 'false dichotomy' since, as addressed above, there are more than two possible explanations for the natural world.

Examining the question of God versus modern science, there are several possible alternatives and more gradations between the alternatives:
1. God is the Creator, and, like Descartes' demon or the Piltdown perpetrator, He planted fossil evidence, and biological evolution does not occur,
2. God exists, created the physicochemical laws that led to abiogenesis and biological evolution, yet modern science is incorrect in its formulations,
3. God exists, created the physicochemical laws that led to abiogenesis and biological evolution, and modern science is a) approaching understanding, or b) correct in its formulations, or c) totally incorrect in its formulations,
4. God exists, did not create the physicochemical laws that led to abiogenesis and biological evolution, and modern science is a) approaching understanding, or b) correct in its formulations, or c) totally incorrect in its formulations,
5. God does not exist, physicochemical laws that led to abiogenesis and biological evolution, and modern science is a) approaching understanding, or b) correct in its formulations, or c) totally incorrect in its formulations.

The point is that to believe that attacking the content of scientific understanding – modern formulations of theories of biological evolution – is to create a false dichotomy, a black-white, right-wrong argument that does not recognize all the logical alternative explanations. However, the task of science is to explain the operations of the physical world. Religion posits a non-testable connection between the supernatural and the physical.

The discoveries of science are more difficult to comprehend than the simplistic explanation of creation by a supernatural agent, and this may underlie some of the obvious connection between religiosity and lack of scientific education.

While many scientists do not believe in God, many scientists do hold religious beliefs, and neither of these facts is an argument against or for the existence of God. It is not within the mandates of science, which examines the physical world, to determine the existence or non-existence of a supernatural deity. While creationists do take the versus evolution position, science cannot disprove the existence of the supernatural, it can merely make supernatural interpretations appear the least likely explanation for the observable.

The most reasonable interpretation of the observed facts of biological evolution and of the myth laden history of Christian thought leads to the obvious conclusion that humans are not a special creation and that Genesis is merely another anthropogenic creation myth – this is a version of 5a.


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2 Comments:

Blogger qtr 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

3:33 PM  
Blogger qtr said...

Glossary of terms: classification systems and population mechanisms in speciation:

Allopatric speciation occurs when a geographical barrier sub-divides a parent species, resulting in geographic and reproductive isolation such that the descendent species can no longer interbreed upon removal of the barrier.

Anagenesis differs from cladogenesis in that one species progressively transforms into a replacement species when sufficient gene mutations fix in the descendant population. At this point, the ancestral species has become extinct. This mechanism is distinct from the increase in numbers of species generated by cladogenetic branching events.

Cladogenesis is the mechanism of speciation in which one or more lineages (clades) arise from an ancestral line. Such speciation events increase the variety of plants or animals through branching of the phylogenetic tree. Cladogenesis is differentiated from anagenesis, which is the in toto replacement of one species by an anatomically distinct species.

Monophyletic taxon or clade: an accurate grouping of only (opp. polyphyletic) and all (opp. paraphyletic) descendents of a shared common ancestor. A monopyletic group is genetically homogeneous and reflects evolutionary relationships.

Paraphyletic taxon or clade: a monophyletic group that excludes one or more discrete groups descended from the most recent common ancestral species of the entire group. Other descendent species of the most recent common ancestor have been excluded from the paraphyletic taxon, usually because of morphologic distinctiveness.

Phenetic system: groupings of organisms based on mutual similarity of phenotypic (physical and chemical) characteristics. Phenetic groupings may or may not correlate with evolutionary relationships.

Phylogenetic system: groups organisms based on shared evolutionary heritage. DNA and RNA sequencing techniques are considered to give the most meaningful phylogenies.

Phylogenetic separation into evolutionary relationships (clades), based on comparison of genomes is likely to supplant phenotypical (phenetic) taxonomies of the prokaryotes.

Peripatry (paripatry) is a subset of allopatry in which an isolated group has a smaller population than the parent group. Ernst Mayr introduced the term. Peripatric speciation occurs when the smaller sub-group of a species enters a novel niche within the range of the parent species, becoming geographically and reproductively isolated. Peripatric speciation (paripatric) is distinguished from allopatric speciation by the smaller size of the isolate group, and from sympatric speciation, which involves no barrier to breeding.

Polyphyletic taxon: opposite to monophyletic taxon: A polyphyletic group is mistakenly or improperly erected on the basis of homoplasy — characteristics that have arisen despite not sharing a common ancestor. Homoplasy arises because of convergent evolution, parallelism, evolutionary reversals, horizontal gene transfer, or gene duplications. Polyphyletic taxa are genetically heterogeneous because members do not share a common ancestor.

Neontology is a branch of biology that emphasizes the study of modern biota (living or recent organisms) rather than fossilized organisms (paleontology).

Numerical Taxonomies are a common approach to phenetic taxonomy that employ a number of phenotypic characteristics to generate similarity coefficients that may be mapped in dendrograms. Groupings based on numerical taxonomy may or may not correlate with evolutionary relationships.

Taxonomies aim to group organisms according to shared characteristics against the background of biological diversity.

Sympatry involves no geographical separation of sub-populations of individuals. Sympatric speciation events occur most often in plants by the mechanism of polyploidy in which the number of chromosomes is doubled or tripled. John Maynard Smith proposed a model called disruptive speciation, in which homozygotes might have greater fitness than heterozygotes under some environmental conditions.

10:37 PM  

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