Godspell Follies

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

Fallacies of Logic

Below in this section will be posted examples of the fallacious arguments to which creationists, 'intelligent design' proponents, and pro-'intelligent design' debaters resort in their attempt to prove their point. Because idism appeals to the pseudo-intellectual fundamentalist Christian, most examples will be pulled from 'intelligent design' arguments.

This is not to say that evolutionists do not make the occassional logical blooper. Perhaps the commonest is the circular argument. It should be noted that explanations can also appear circular, but this is not a problem of logic because explanations are not arguments.

See 'comments' or Illogical Deceit Theory post for explanation of terms.

Index of fallacies discussed:
* ad hominem * authority * composing problems * circular argument * denial * deliberate ambiguities * fallatio * huff & puff * incredulity * proof-disproof muddles * red herrings * shifting the burden of proof * tu quoque

key elements of fallacy
accident : appeal to authority : attack : authority : begging the question : circularity : co-incidence : composition : denial : disbelief : distraction : doublespeak : equivocation : fallacy of four terms : false dichotomy : false dichotomy radio-dating : generalization : huff & puff : incredulity : ignorance - ignorantium : individuals to group : inappropriate authority : irrelevant authority : members to whole : misuse of authority : parts to whole : personal attack : proof-disproof : prove it! : questionable authority : red herring : smoke screen : straw man : over-extrapolating over-generalization : unsupported conclusion : wild goose chase : you also, you're another, you too :

common names of fallacy
against the man : appeal to authority : argument from ignorance : argument from incredulity : begging the question : circular argument : composition : denial : disbelief : doublespeak : equivocation : fallacy of four terms : fallacious appeal to authority : fallacy of accident : inappropriate authority : incredulity : irrelevant authority : misuse of authority : questionable authority : red herring : smoke screen : special pleading : straw man : sweeping generalization : unsupported conclusion : wild goose chase : you also, you're another, you too

Latin names for fallacy
ad hominem : ad verecundiam : ad verecundiam fallacy : argumentum ad ignorantiam : argumentum ad verecundiam : dicto simplicter : ignoratio elenchi : petitio principii : tu quoque : verecundiam :

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Fallacy of accident, sweeping generalization, dicto simpliciter

As applied to idism* claims this fallacious argument runs “we observe the products of (human) intelligence, so complex functionality implies intelligent design – biological life is complex and functional – therefore life must have been created by an intelligent designer.” This is the idism reworking of Paley's "Blind Watchmaker" argument (1802) argument.

The illogical difficulty with this argument lies in the fallacious generalization from our observation that human intelligence creates complex and functional objects (watches, computers, airplanes) to the unfounded conclusion that something that ‘accidentally’ shares only the features of functionality and complexity – biological life – must have arisen by the same mechanism, namely application of intelligence. This fallacious argument could also be regarded as a false analogy. In general, analogies are useful for the purposes of explanation, but they are risky endeavors in arguments. The idism platform, due to its lack of factual or experimental basis, consists almost entirely of analogies. That is idism is 'clearly religious and indubitably not science'.

A clear example of this fallacy: "We observe that tomatoes grow on plants, so the existence of round red fruit implies tomato plants – an apple is a round red fruit – therefore an apple must be the product of a tomato plant." True premises have been over-extrapolated to an incorrect conclusion.

If the complex object in question shares more relevant features with the observed object, then the conclusion may be true. “We observe that electronic devices are the products of human intelligence, so the existence of an electronic device implies human intelligent design – a television is an electronic device – therefore a television must be the product of human intelligence.”

* see 'comments' or the Illogical Deceit Theory post

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ad hominem

"Against" the man, To the man, Argumentum ad hominem

This is probably the commonest fallacious argument of all in debates about emotion-laden issues – attacking the messenger.

Addressing the qualities or qualifications of "the man" might not be fallacious if "the man" clearly displays prejudices in his/her opinion. The possibility always remains that the conclusion drawn by a highly biased debater may be the correct conclusion. However, arguments that display prejudices are automatically suspect.

Equally, the conclusions of an arguer who is not an expert in the area under discussion may be correct, but such an arguer would need to make the premises and logic of his/her argument quite clear in order to compensate for the possibility that his/her argument is not authoritative. Nevertheless, to question the messenger's expertise is not necessarily an ad hominem fallacy, though it is an ad hominem - a legitimate ad hominem.

On the other hand, tTo call the opposing debater 'an ignorant idiot' might feel justified in view of one's frustration with his obdurate denial of one's own version of reality, but it is not a good argument against his or her argument, or his or her conclusion. He or she might be correct, or you might both be mistaken. However, such an assessment ought to be based on the merits of his or her, or your argument.

Fallacious ad hominems employ a variety of attacks: directly abusive, circumstantial, and accusations of "poisoning the well".

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ad nauseam

Ad nauseam arguments rely upon the tactic of stating and restating a claim until all opponents have tired of refuting it. This is akin to a verbal war of attrition.

It is necessary to resort to ad nauseam arguments when their is little or no logical or empirical support for a position. However, repeating the truth of accurate premises, established facts, or well-supported theories in answer to ad nauseam nonsense does not constitute fallacious ad nauseam.

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association fallacies

Association fallacies rely upon the negative implications of "guilt by association" or the positive implications of "honor by association."

These fallacies are based upon the implication that a claim is false or true based upon beliefs held by, or attributed to, the people or organizations that hold the belief.

Creationists, in line with the emotional basis for their claims, all too often resort to association fallacies. One example of the "honor by association" fallacy is to point out that scientists and Nobel Prize winners have signed a document against Darwinian theories, as though this lends credence to 'id' pseudoscience. Godwin's Law and Desperate Attacks on Darwinism provides an example of unfounded accusations that Darwin's ideas inevitable led to Nazi atrocities, as though this would demote evolution from fact (argumentum ad nazium, reductio ad Hitlerum).

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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.

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composing problems

Composition, Fallacy of composition

Fallacy of composition arguments hinge upon an artificial and inappropriate extrapolation from members of group to the whole group, or parts of an object to the whole object.

Attempts to discredit modern theory by citing past theories discredited by modern science fail on the grounds that they are fallacies of composition. The fact that some earlier scientific theories have been discarded does not mean that current theories ought necessarily to be discarded. Equally, the fact that some scientists have made fraudulent claims, or that some evidence has been faked does not mean that all scientists make fraudulent claims or that all evidence has been faked.

The history of science suggests that some current hypotheses and theories will be supplanted by better explanations, just as some earlier hypotheses have been revised. Such revisions are within the nature of science and will be based upon new empirical or experimental evidence* and not upon the unfounded criticisms of creationists unless creationist or idists present new evidence or valid experimental results.

Creationists, idists, and fodis do not yet have a falsifiable hypothesis for idism, have not yet conducted scientific experiments on idism, and have not yet** published any peer-reviewed scientific papers on idism, so it is extremely unlikely that any revisions of scientific hypotheses or theories will ever result from creationists' fallacies of composition.

*Recently discovered exceptions to the central dogma of genetics are an example of this revision – the concepts within the "dogma" have been repeatedly verified, but experimentally discovered exceptions have led to an expansion of understanding to include the newly discovered mechanisms of genetic expression.
** as of June, '06

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Denial is an a la Freud defense mechanism – something that we sometimes do when confronted with an emotionally unwelcome fact. Denying a fact of reality does not alter or eliminate that fact, it merely affords us emotional comfort.

Denial is the most unfounded – hence the weakest – of any argument made against evidence. Professional creationists such as fodis*, those who earn a living through their assertions on behalf of creationism, typically do not make this blunder, rather they resort to fancier fallacies of logic.

Denial is, however, a common last resort for proids and is often the first verbal argument of biblical literalists, though it may be phrased more reasonably as, "I don't believe in evolution". Disbelief is a more reasonable position since we have the personal prerogative of picking and choosing our beliefs, though incredulity remains a fatally weak argument against physical facts. However, personal disbelief alone is not a good argument against that which is disputed.

Young Earth Creationists (YEC), with a position rejected even by mainstream creationists, deny the scientifically established age of the earth.

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deliberate ambiguities

eEquivocation, Doublespeak, (subtype of Ambiguity), Fallacy of four terms

When one term is used with more than one meaning, the fallacy of equivocation has been committed. Such ambiguities may be deliberate, or they may result from ignorance of more specific meanings of the term.

"Science is dogma", "evolution is just a theory, so 'id' theory is science and is equally valid", "science is just a matter of faith". These are tu quoques because evolutionists state that religion beliefs are expressed in dogma, idism is not a scientific theory, and religion truly is expected to be a matter of Faith.

"Science is dogma" is a deliberate or ignorant misrepresentation of the nature of science. It could reasonably be argued that some scientific theories are so central and so well established that they have become part of the foundation of understanding of particular scientific principles. The central dogma of genetics is an example of inappropriate use of the term 'dogma'. This important concept has been confirmed almost without exception, yet a few important exceptions to the rule have been found by scientists.

"Evolution is just a theory, so 'id' theory is science and is equally valid". Such a statement misrepresents evolution, theory, idism, and science.

Biological evolution, change in the genome between parental and descendent generations is an observable fact. Evolutionary processes have been demonstrated to be operating in our own species, in bacteria, and in cichlid fish, to name but three examples. Evolution (biological) is not a theory, it is a fact. Evolutionary theories do not claim to be facts, they are formulations that seek to explain, on the basis of empirical observation and experimental testing, mechanisms that have generated the fact of biological evolution.

In vernacular usage, the term theory refers to everyday notions and to cognitive formulations that have not been subjected to any experimental testing. Scientific theories, on the other hand, are the descendents of scientific hypotheses that have withstood falsification testing. A scientific theory is much, much better established than a vernacular-terminology theory.

Despite the books written about "intelligent design theory" it is a religiously motivated philosophy that has not been subjected to any scientific testing, and, as such idism is not science. The content of idism consists only of numbers games and attacks on science (more to follow).

In the vernacular, faith can be defined as aceptance of ideals and beliefs that are not necessarily demonstrable through experimentation or reason. Within Christianity, Faith (uppercase deliberate) is a very important principle in which the Believer is expected to accept God into his or her heart expressly without any direct, irrefutable, tangible evidence for the existence or actions of God. Modern philosophers of religion acknowledge that philosophical attempts to prove the existence of God have failed, and philosophy of religion has fallen back on fideism. Since much of the benefit of belief in religion comes through the emotional components of belief, the principle of basing belief solely on Faith has considerable merit.

Science, on the other hand is not a matter of faith because acceptance of scientific principles is based upon empirical and experimental evidence that has been independently examined or replicated experimentally and thus has survived the scrutiny of accredited experts in the field.

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

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Excuse the pun!

Argumentum ad Logicam : Fallacist's Fallacy : Fallacy Fallacy

In creating a site about fallacies of logic inherent in creationist arguments, the author realizes that pointing out fallacies alone does not render the opponents' conclusions incorrect. Demonstration of the falsity of creationists' claims does require scientific exposition, but that is not the primary purpose of this blog.

It is theoretically possible, on grounds of logic, that creationists' and idists' attacks on science could be well founded. In so far as scientists usually admit that their hypothesis or theory will be subject to subsequent revision, creationists and idists are correct that gaps exist in scientific knowledge. Scientists regularly admit that science has unanswered questions. This is one of the features that makes the study of science interesting. The nature 0f scientific investigation is to incrementally refine the body of understanding. Rarely do scientific discoveries completely overturn previous paradigms.

In this regard, though, it is an argument from ignorance, or thinking from ignorance, to believe that disproving scientific explanations is even possible by idist means, let alone that it could prove the existence of God. Just as a single exposure of a fallacious argument does not overturn creationist arguments, a single gap in scientific knowledge does not discredit the broad subject of scientific understanding. This is a fallacy of composition – extrapolating from a part to the whole. In thinking that attacking elements of science could disprove biological evolution, creationists and idists are themselves committing the argumentam ad logicam fallacy.

Creationist and idist arguments, though often implied rather than being spelled out fully, do not constitute a body of argument remotely as strong as empirical scientific evidence and scientific hypotheses and theories. So, exposure of all or many of the fallacies in creationist and idist arguments is not to commit the fallacist's fallacy.

"It is reasonable to, at least provisionally, reject an improbable proposition for which no adequate evidence has been presented. So, if you can show that all of the common arguments for a certain proposition are fallacious, and the burden of proof is on the proposition's proponents, then you do not commit this fallacy by rejecting that proposition. Rather, the fallacy is committed when you jump to the conclusion that just because one argument for it is fallacious, no cogent argument for it can exist." Fallacy Fallacy

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Godwin's Law

"As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one. There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress. Godwin's Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups."[def] Technically, Godwin's Law relates not to the fallacious employment of argumentum ad nazium or reductio ad Hitlerum (association fallacies), but to the contention that such arguments immediately render a debate concluded (and lost).

Of course, debaters frequently fail to acknowledge that they have technically lost an argument by resorting to irrelevant attacks or that they have resorted to irrelevant attacks because they have already lost the argument by failing to logically support their claims.

In the simplest analysis, inappropriate comparisons of whatever is under debate to Nazism or Hitler fall into the categories of irrelevant and biased guilty-by-implied-association attacks. Obviously if the debate is actually about the Third Reich, eugenics, the holocaust, or the phenomenon of scapegoating, then mention of the National Socialist Party or bad old Adolf would be relevant.

Godwin's Law and Desperate Attacks on Darwinism provides an example of biased, unfounded, emotional resort to unfounded analogies that are aimed at defaming scientific theories of evolution with the implicit counterclaim that God is the Creator. Needless to say, Godwin's Law will not be applied and Creationists will continue to make illogical, ad nauseam arguments, implicit or explicit, for Special Creation.

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Argument from incredulity, God of the Gaps

The argument, "I don't believe that ..." is particularly common amongst creationists and proids.

This is a form of argument from ignorance in which the incredulous debater refuses to believe in a particular line of evidence (denial), or an interpretation of evidence that supports an alternate conclusion to that which the debater favors. The argument from incredulity essentially takes the position that personal reluctance to believe that something is true (or false) is a good reason for insisting that it is not true (or false). The fallacy lies in the segue from opinion to justification. The fact remains that while incredulity may be justified in that disbelief may have good grounds, it also may not be justified. The problem is simply that incredulity alone is not sufficient argument for or against a fact or interpretation.

In the history of human attempts to understand their universe, supernatural explanations – Gods of the Gaps – provided a framework for interpretation in the absense of scientific comprehension.

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Irrelevance crops up in many arguments:

When the argument itself seems logical, yet the conclusion is not relevant to or supported by the line of argument, then the fallacy is ignoratio elenchi (ignorance of the issue). Such problems may occur when the arguer is not responding to the actual question posed.

When the line of argument is off-target for the topic under discussion and distracts from the real topic, then the arguer has tossed a red herring into debate in order to create a smokescreen.

Irrelevant attacks on the arguer or cited authority are ad hominem fallacies. However, if the "authority" who/that has been cited fails as a legitimate authority on one or more grounds, then disputing the expertise or credibility of that person/reference is not an ad hominem fallacy.

Logic and emotion are often at odds. When irrelevant appeals to emotion are incorporated into arguments, then the conclusions drawn by that argument become suspect if the emotion is not specifically related to the topic. To argue that a person will probably enjoy eating chocolate is not necessarily unfounded, though it would not be relevant to discussion about chicken pot pie.

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proof-disproof muddles

Argument from Ignorance, or argumentum ad ignorantiam:

This fallacy muddles the true-false dichotomy with the question of proof or disproof, and as such is a form of false dilemma where only two options are presented when several options exist. The ignored options include false claim-not disproven, and true claim-not proven, while the implied dichotomy confines options to false claim-disproven or true claim-proven. If only the world of thought were so simple.

Fallacious arguments from ignorance erroneously claim either that lack of proof must render a claim false, or that lack of disproof must render a claim true.

An Illogical Deceit example of this argument is embodied in the “irreducible complexity” claim that if evolutionary biologists cannot provide an explanation for “specified complexity”, then evolutionary theory fails, implying that biological evolution is not a fact, and hence implying that God (aka the ‘intelligent designer’) must be responsible for whatever biological mechanism is under debate.

The more careful claim of a pro-id debater would be that ‘id’ theory ought to be taught alongside science in the classroom. This is not a substantiable claim because nothing about 'id' theory qualifies it to be regarded as science. Merely disputing the content of science does not qualify as being science. While many proids appear not to understand the true nature of science, idists and fodis are mostly well enough educated that they ought to understand the advantages and limitations of scientific investigation.

Many creationism and ‘id’ debaters who display the argumentam ad ignorantiam logical fallacy do not make their reasoning explicit, such that the conclusion of truth or falsehood is merely implied, or the actual argument is buried in the wordiness typical of idist authors. Because idist authors write for a readership that is typically not well versed in science, idist writings necessarily contain very lengthy explanations. However, wordiness can also be a technique of verbal obfuscation wherein an argument – and its inherent deficiencies of logic – are obscured by rhetoric.

When the reader is not well versed with the topic under discussion, he or she will have more difficulty in determining whether or not the writer has provided an accurate, authoritative, and complete account of the topic. When the conclusions drawn by the writer fit with the reader's preconceived notions or feelings about the topic, then the reader is at risk of being misled. Knowledge of the fallacies of logic can provide a short-cut to determining the difficulties with an argument. A single fallacy of logic does not necessarily render the conclusions suspect. However, a plethora of fallacies do indicate that the argument, and hence the conclusions drawn, are fatally flawed.

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red herrings

Red Herring, Smoke Screen, Wild Goose Chase

The red herring is a diversionary tactic that distracts the opponent away from the real point under discussion. Red herring topics are irrelevant to the point under discussion, and serve to take the heat off an already weak argument.

Because creationists and advocates of intelligent design theory are arguing for a discredited, untenable position, they must resort to debating tactics such as the red herring.

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shifting the burden of proof

Shifting the burden of proof

The burden of proof is always on the arguer, creationist or evolutionist, who is making an assertion. The difficulty for creationists lies in making logical arguments against evidence, and for evolutionists in sifting through voluminous evidence for a pertinent example to illustrate their point.

The construction of a cogent deductive argument begins with acceptable premises (supported by evidence) and proceeds according to the laws of deductive reasoning to a conclusion supported by the premises.

Shifting the burden of proof is a subtype of the argument from ignorance fallacy that shifts the burden of proof onto the person whose argument is attacked. This is the "prove it, or I am correct!" challenge that underlies many creationist taunts.

The source of the fallacy is the assumption that something is true unless proven otherwise. The implied conclusion of creationist demands is that unless the evolutionist can provide an adequate explanation for specifically selected creationist questions, then evolutionary theory is false, biological evolution is no longer a fact, and the existence of God is proven (at another level of implication).

If one follows creation vs evolution debates, one will quickly observe that creationists do mention God, while evolutionists do not attempt to disprove the existence of God. Evolutionists typically defend the experimental justifications of evolutionary theory.

On the other hand, scientists defend, to other scientists, their conclusions based upon experimental results. Scientific reports follow a format of introduction to ideas based upon past research, the question to be addressed, experimental methods, experimental results, and conclusions based upon both current scientific understanding and their experimental results. Science proceeds by incremental gains in understanding. It is the very nature of science that conclusions are acknowledged not to be the final word upon explanation, and that, once a scientific theory is widely accepted, research will move on to yet unanswered questions. Creationists utilize, in their religiously-motivated attacks on science, one of the chief virtues of science – the reluctance of the community of scientists to accept any hypothesis or theory until burden of proof moves to the level of general acceptance.

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huff & puff

Straw man

Creationists, idists, and proids frequently create straw man arguments, and then huff and puff and blow the straw man down. The frequency of this argument within creationist propaganda is a reaction to the much stronger argument presented by evidential and experimental science. Confronted with the facts of scientific knowledge, creationists and proids typically retreat into denial or arguments from incredulity. For this reason, I believe that there is often little point in explaining the facts of science to those who have a strong emotional need to believe in some form of creationism.

The point mutation is one tool of the fallacious straw man argument – creationists argue that mutations at a single locus (position) within a chromosome could not be responsible for macroevolution. The argument is fallacious because evolutionary biologists do not claim that point mutations are responsible for biological evolution, whether microevolution or macroevolution, rather they have demonstrated that other sources of genetic variation are far more important. It is meaningless to attack science through an argument that is already established within science – there simply ceases to be an argument, except with the erroneous conclusions drawn by creationists.

In their fallacious straw man arguments, creationists and idists huff and puff against a weakened version of science, and hence a weakened version of the natural world. Creationists ignore the facts in order to support their arguments against the fact of biological evolution, and no argument can be considered cogent when it deliberately, or ignorantly, misrepresents facts. The argument may have emotional appeal to those who are committed to a belief in the Special Creation of Genesis, but the argument does not achieve its ends within the realm of logic.

The Straw Man Fallacy "Straw Man is one of the commonest of fallacies. It is endemic in public debates on politics, ethics, and religion. . . . The Straw Man is a type of Red Herring because the arguer is attempting to refute his opponent's position, and in the context is required to do so, but instead attacks a position—the "straw man"—not held by his opponent." :

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tu quoque

Tu quoque, You too, You also, You're another

An arguer commits a tu quoque fallacy when, in the context of an attack within an argument, the arguer contends that the opponent is behaving is some way in which the arguer is also behaving and it is implied or explicitly stated that the opponent is incorrect to do so.

The tu quoque fallacy is a form of argumentum ad verecundiam combined with the two wrongs make a right fallacy:

Common creationist and proid tu quoque fallacies also involve equivocation, which takes advantage of the ambiguities of vernacular terminology:

"Science is dogma", "evolution is just a theory, so 'id' theory is science and is equally valid", "science is just a matter of faith". These are tu quoques because evolutionists state that religion beliefs are expressed in dogma, idism is not a scientific theory, and religion truly is expected to be a matter of Faith. Such arguments are often employed to divert discussion away from the real point of discussion – they are red herrings. These tu quoques will be addressed in the deliberate ambiguities post.

"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 statement was made by Dr. John G. West, associate director of Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture as justification for the fallacious appeal to authority made in compiling and publishing the Scientific Dissent From Darwinism list.

"According to West, it was the fast growing number of scientific dissenters which encouraged the Institute to launch a website -- http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/ -- to give the list a permanent home." [s]

This may, or may not be the reason for the website. It could equally be that scientists known to have strong religious convictions were approached by the DI, and that the website was launched to advertise the list. Such behavior would be well within the rights of those wishing to promote the 'id' platform. The point is that the list was compiled specifically to sway public and school board opinion, and the statement was made to the media, so the statement is a tu quoque.

Tu quoque statements are along the lines of an abusive husband's saying that he would not have beaten his wife if she had not burnt the toast. Equally, if the wife said that she would burn the toast again because her husband had beaten her, she would be committing a less egregious tu quoque action.

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Godwin's Law and Desperate Attacks on Darwinism

"Author and Christian broadcaster Dr. D. James Kennedy connects the dots between Charles Darwin and Adolf Hitler in Darwin’s Deadly Legacy, a groundbreaking inquiry into Darwin’s chilling social impact.

The program features 14 scholars, scientists, and authors who outline the grim consequences of Darwin’s theory of evolution and show how his theory fueled Hitler’s ovens. " Reported on ChristianNewsWire, Aug. 18, 2006.

"Chilling social impact" and "fueled Hitler’s ovens"?!

Charles Darwin was a natural historian who carefully examined the fossil evidence and formulated a mechanism to explain the observed temporal alteration in life forms. Darwin also correctly predicted that his formulations would excite the ire of fellow scientists of religious persuasion. Within a decade, almost all European scientists had accepted Darwin's ideas.

Not so in segments of American society, where attacks on any evidence counter to dogmatic belief in Biblical literacy not only flourish, but are given undeserved media attention. Such illogical and emotion-driven attempts to discredit Darwin reflect back upon the accusers, drawing attention to the weakness of their arguments and their lack of genuine grounds for criticism of the modern synthesis of evolutionary theories.

"“The legacy of Charles Darwin,” said Dr. Kennedy, is “millions of deaths, the destruction of those deemed ‘inferior,’ the devaluing of human life, and increasing hopelessness. Darwin’s legacy has been deadly indeed.”"

Power-mongering based on emotional thinking – Aryans are superior, die Juden are to blame – was responsible for eugenics-as-conducted-in-das-Reich and the holocaust. Distorting history in order to defame the first reasonable scientific explanation for the fact of biological evolution is yet another example of emotional thinking because it is clearly biased and irrelevant. Such association fallacies as these run counter to educated understanding of sociopolitical and psychological mechanisms.

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The Wedge Document

The New Yorker: PRINTABLES:
"In 1999, a document from the Discovery Institute was posted, anonymously, on the Internet. This Wedge Document, as it came to be called, described not only the institute’s long-term goals but its strategies for accomplishing them. The document begins by labelling the idea that human beings are created in the image of God “one of the bedrock principles on which Western civilization was built.” It goes on to decry the catastrophic legacy of Darwin, Marx, and Freud—the alleged fathers of a “materialistic conception of reality” that eventually “infected virtually every area of our culture.” The mission of the Discovery Institute’s scientific wing is then spelled out: “nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies.” It seems fair to conclude that the Discovery Institute has set its sights a bit higher than, say, reconstructing the origins of the bacterial flagellum."
See the original at: The Wedge Strategy

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Keeping up with the Jones decision

Evolution wins Pennsylvania trial-Judge declares intelligent design is creationism in disguise:
A federal judge has ruled that teaching intelligent design in US public high schools is unconstitutional.

On 20 December, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Judge John Jones issued a scathing opinion in which he described a local school board's efforts to promote intelligent design as 'breathtaking inanity'.

Rather than just throwing out the policy because of the religious motivations of the school board members who instituted it, Jones went on to state that intelligent design was clearly religious and indubitably not science.

"We conclude that the religious nature of intelligent design would be readily apparent to an objective observer, adult or child," he writes.

In his 139-page opinion, Jones reviews the history of intelligent design. He declares: "The overwhelming evidence at trial established that intelligent design is a religious view, a mere re-labelling of creationism, and not a scientific theory."

The decision will not have legal precedence for similar cases in other districts, but because of the thoroughness of the opinion, it may have what lawyers term "persuasive authority". The ruling bans the reading of the Dover statement, which was due to go ahead next month at the beginning of the ninth-grade evolution unit.

The school board that wrote the policy has since been voted out, and their replacements are unlikely to appeal.

Biologists who testified in the case were even more ecstatic. "I think it is everything we could have hoped for," says Kenneth Miller, a biologist at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. "The opinion is splendid. What is very clear is that the judge worked hard, diligently followed the scientific arguments, and understood them thoroughly."

"The whole place here is saying that this is beyond our wildest dreams," says Kevin Padian, a palaeontologist and trial witness from the University of California, Berkeley, speaking from Harrisburg. "This means that as science, intelligent design is effectively dead."

Nick Matzke of the National Center for Science Education, a non-profit organization in California that guards the teaching of evolution in public schools, says that intelligent design, under any name, is hard to squelch. "The history of creationism is that it doesn't go extinct... it evolves," he says. "We fully expect that they will come up with a new strategy.""

Full text of Judge Jones' Opinion

eSkeptic Kitzmiller et al versus Dover Area School District
"This is a stunning blow against Intelligent Design and creationism, but we are not surprised by it given how the trial unfolded."

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On the teaching of Pseudoscience

SCIENCE POLICY: ON THE TEACHING OF PSEUDOSCIENCE: "To understand why intelligent design constitutes an insidious menace to medicine, it is helpful to trace its roots. In part, it evolved from creationism, which takes the Genesis story of creation literally. Creationism has been discredited, however, by indisputable physical evidence -- carbon dating, for example. In 1987, the teaching of creationism in public schools was forbidden by the US Supreme Court (Edwards v. Aguillard). Still, a large part of the public believes in creationism and yearns for a return to God in public schools. At its root, intelligent design is a medieval theological proposition that is based on faith, not logic, and certainly not science. It is theology dressed up as science, but it cannot be easily dismissed."

A large part of the ~American~ public believes in creationism – the public in other Western nations is less indoctrinated to believe in creationism.

The so-called "intelligent designer" is merely God in a not-so cunning disguise. When proponents of ID claim that they do not speculate on the identity of the designer they are prevaricating, or, to put it bluntly, outright lying. The designer is supposedly the creator of life's complexity = Creator of Life = God. Apparently prevarication is not regarded as a sin when the purpose is to defy the separation of church and state.

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Contradictions within idism

The New Yorker: PRINTABLES:
"Dembski's views on the history of life contradict Behe's. Dembski believes that Darwinism is incapable of building anything interesting; Behe seems to believe that, given a cell, Darwinism might well have built you and me. Although proponents of I.D. routinely inflate the significance of minor squabbles among evolutionary biologists (did the peppered moth evolve dark color as a defense against birds or for other reasons?), they seldom acknowledge their own, often major differences of opinion. In the end, it's hard to view intelligent design as a coherent movement in any but a political sense.

It's also hard to view it as a real research program. Though people often picture science as a collection of clever theories, scientists are generally staunch pragmatists: to scientists, a good theory is one that inspires new experiments and provides unexpected insights into familiar phenomena. By this standard, Darwinism is one of the best theories in the history of science: it has produced countless important experiments (let's re-create a natural species in the lab - yes, that's been done) and sudden insight into once puzzling patterns (that's why there are no native land mammals on oceanic islands). In the nearly ten years since the publication of Behe's book, by contrast, I.D. has inspired no nontrivial experiments and has provided no surprising insights into biology. As the years pass, intelligent design looks less and less like the science it claimed to be and more and more like an extended exercise in polemics."

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Scripture vs Scholarship

10.05.2005 - In the matter of Scripture v. scholarship:
"The public debate over the relationship between religion and science in the classroom figures prominently in a lawsuit against the University of California filed recently on behalf of applicants for admission from Christian high schools. Filed in federal court in Los Angeles on Aug. 25, the complaint claims that UC violated the First Amendment rights (specifically those guaranteeing freedom of speech and religion) of some Christian schools and that it practiced 'viewpoint discrimination' against their students by finding that some of the schools' courses do not meet UC requirements for college preparation.

The plaintiffs are the Association of Christian Schools International, the Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta, Calif., and six Calvary Chapel students (or their parents on their behalf).

At issue in the lawsuit are academic standards for admission to the university, specifically UC's process for assessing high-school courses to verify that they meet the system's college-preparatory course requirements (known as the a-g requirements). For a new or substantially revised course to be approved for the a-g list, a high school must submit a request, listing the course curriculum, textbook information, and supplemental materials, to UC for approval. Staff at UCOP review such applications to make sure that courses meet UC academic standards established by the systemwide Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS).

UC also disallows science courses that rely solely on BJU and A Beka Books textbooks. At issue, the fact sheet says, "is not whether they have religious content, but whether they provide a comprehensive view of the relevant subject matter...." In the BJU Press and A Beka Books science textbooks, it goes on, "the publishers themselves acknowledge that the primary goal is to teach religious doctrine rather than the scholarship that is generally accepted in the relevant fields of study."

The introduction to Biology for Christian Schools (2nd Edition, BJU Press) clearly states, for instance, that students' conclusions must conform to the Bible and that scientific material and methods are secondary: "The people who have prepared this book have tried consistently to put the Word of God first and science second. To the best of the author's knowledge, the conclusions drawn from observable facts that are presented in this book agree with the Scriptures. If a mistake has been made (which is probable since this book was prepared by humans) and at any point God's Word is not put first, the author apologizes.""

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Answers to Creationist Nonsense

15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense
Science & Technology at Scientific American.com: 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense -- Opponents of evolution want to make a place for creationism by tearing down real science, but their arguments don't hold up: "Embarrassingly, in the 21st century, in the most scientifically advanced nation the world has ever known, creationists can still persuade politicians, judges and ordinary citizens that evolution is a flawed, poorly supported fantasy. They lobby for creationist ideas such as 'intelligent design' to be taught as alternatives to evolution in science classrooms. "

Comment: In this Scientific American article, the author contends that evolutionists ought to counter creationist claims with scientific facts. While this is good advice, many creationists simply refuse to acknowldge the empirical evidence provided by science. I contend that evolutionists can also specifically refute the illogical arguments of creationists and id-ists by calling attention to the glaring fallacies of logic inherent in those arguments.

See Fallacies of Logic.

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Creationist and ID confusion about Entropy

Creationist and "Intelligent Design" confusion about Entropy
The Woodstock of Evolution -- The World Summit on Evolution (ScientificAmerican.com): "Creationists and Intelligent Design theorists like to inquire how information can increase in a world filled with entropy and the decay of information. "

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