What is more important is how the supernaturalists employ these very same logical fallacies in almost every argument. To demonstrate this point I will use a few arguments from creationism.
Creationists don’t seem to care about logical fallacies. They use them freely and then demand absolute perfection in the arguments from the other side. It is frustrating that a supernatural point of view normally gets a pass on the application of the rules of debate. However, this merely illustrates how faulted their position is. Lets take a look at some of the most popular creationist arguments:
Claim: Evolution is only a theory. It is not a fact.
Logical Fallacies: False Major Premise, Strawman
- The word theory, in the context of science, does not imply uncertainty. It means “a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena” (Barnhart 1948). In the case of the theory of evolution, the following are some of the phenomena involved. All are facts:
- Life appeared on earth more than two billion years ago;
- Life forms have changed and diversified over life’s history;
- Species are related via common descent from one or a few common ancestors;
- Natural selection is a significant factor affecting how species change.
Many other facts are explained by the theory of evolution as well.
- The theory of evolution has proved itself in practice. It has useful applications in epidemiology, pest control, drug discovery, and other areas (Bull and Wichman 2001; Eisen and Wu 2002; Searls 2003).
- Besides the theory, there is the fact of evolution, the observation that life has changed greatly over time. The fact of evolution was recognized even before Darwin’s theory. The theory of evolution explains the fact.
- If “only a theory” were a real objection, creationists would also be issuing disclaimers complaining about the theory of gravity, atomic theory, the germ theory of disease, and the theory of limits (on which calculus is based). The theory of evolution is no less valid than any of these. Even the theory of gravity still receives serious challenges (Milgrom 2002). Yet the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is still a fact.
- Creationism is neither theory nor fact; it is, at best, only an opinion. Since it explains nothing, it is scientifically useless.
Claim: No case of macroevolution has ever been documented.
Logical Fallacies: False major premise (Some people call this a lie), Strawman
- We would not expect to observe large changes directly. Evolution consists mainly of the accumulation of small changes over large periods of time. If we saw something like a fish turning into a frog in just a couple generations, we would have good evidence against evolution.
- The evidence for evolution does not depend, even a little, on observing macroevolution directly. There is a very great deal of other evidence (Theobald 2004; see alsoevolution proof.
- As biologists use the term, macroevolution means evolution at or above the species level. Speciation has been observed and documented.
- Microevolution has been observed and is taken for granted even by creationists. And because there is no known barrier to large change and because we can expect small changes to accumulate into large changes, microevolution implies macroevolution. Small changes to developmental genes or their regulation can cause relatively large changes in the adult organism (Shapiro et al. 2004).
- There are many transitional forms that show that macroevolution has occurred
Claim: Evolution is the foundation of an immoral worldview, therefore you should believe in creationism.
Logical Fallacies: False major premise, Non-Sequitur, and Strawman
- Evolution is descriptive. It can be immoral only if attempting to accurately describe nature is immoral.
- Any morals derived from evolution would have to recognize the fact that humans have evolved to be social animals. In a social setting, cooperation and even altruism lead to better fitness (Wedekind and Milinski 2000). The process of evolution leads naturally to social animals such as humans developing ethical principles such as the Golden Rule.
- morals, such as eugenics and social Darwinism, are based on misunderstandings of evolution. Therefore, it is important that evolution be taught well to negate such misunderstandings.
- Despite claims otherwise, creationism has its own problems. For one thing, it is founded on religious bigotry, so the foundation of creationism, by most standards, is immoral.
- Probably the most effective weapon against bad morals is exposure and publicity. Evolution (and science in general) is based on a culture of making information public.
- Scientists are their own harshest critics. They have developed codes of ethical behavior for several circumstances, and they have begun to talk about a general ethics (Rotblat 1999). Creationists have nothing similar.
- Some people feel better about themselves by demonizing others. Those people who are truly interested in morals begin by looking for immorality within themselves, not others.
J.H. Chrestos is the pen name of the creator of Christ Plagiarized.