googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: A Case Study in Bad Arguments

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Case Study in Bad Arguments

Over my last few blogs, I’ve talked about the logical fallacies and weak arguments often used by critics of God’s creation - arguments like false premise, equivocation, and ad hominem. Well, lo and behold, I’ve been fortunate enough to find a recent editorial that shows all of these arguments – and even a few others – being used in a single article. So here we have a case study of bad arguments for your consideration.

I refer to the piece, “Is creationism museum good for kids?” written by James K. Willmot, in the Louisville, KY newspaper, the Courier-Journal. You can click on the link and read the entire article for yourself, but I’d like to pull out a few quotes for the purpose of demonstration. Mr. Willmot's quotes are in red and are italicized.

“There is a great educational injustice being inflicted upon thousands of children in this country.” Immediately we see an appeal to emotion, in this case fear. A favorite tactic of liberals, whenever they discuss any topic, is to make it “about the children”: the museum is a terrible place that harms children. Give me a break.

“Answers in Genesis… [is] throwing away reason and 500 years of scientific inquiry and replacing it with ignorant dogma.” Here is the logical fallacy of equivocation. I discussed this very thing in my post, “I Don’t Hate Science.” Evolutionists continually equate evolution and science as though they are the same thing. They’re not. Just because a Christian might disagree with the Theory of Evolution (ToE), it does not at all mean he has anything against science. Indeed, many scientific discoveries were made by Christians like Newton, Pasteur, and Kepler.

“If adults want to believe in a 6,000-year-old Earth… then they have the right to do so. What I object to is that thousands of children, particularly the growing number of Christian home-schooled children in this country, are visiting the museum in droves, much to the delight of the museum's founder, Ken Hamm.” (BTW, for being a former science teacher, Mr. Willmot’s analytical skills are somewhat lacking; He misspelled Ken Ham’s name.) Perhaps this isn’t a formal logical fallacy, but what Mr. Willmot displays here is a blatant case of snobbery. If we ignorant Christians want to believe the Bible, I guess he'll put up with that (like he could do anything about it anyway) but he draws the line at telling our kids the Bible is true!! See my post on the new bigotry

“These kids are learning that despite a fossil record that clearly shows a progression of simple life forms becoming more complex life forms over billions of years…” Mr. Willmot’s fact-checking skills continue to fail him – he’s probably the product of a public-school education [sorry, I couldn’t resist]. Darwin noticed a conspicuous LACK of progression in the fossil record and even commented on this in his [infamous] book, The Origin of Species: “Why is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain, and this perhaps is the greatest objection which can be urged against my theory.” He believed these “missing links” would be found as the then new discipline of paleontology matured. But even today we still have huge gaps in the fossil record while paleontologists hold out only a handful of questionable examples of transitional forms.

“What is particularly sad about this ministry is that because they are so fervent in their mission to get people to believe (or rather make believe) in their simplistic world view, many Christian scientists and secular scientists are playing catch-up to counter the damage they are doing.” The litany of pejoratives not withstanding, this is actually encouraging news. The shrill rhetoric by Mr. Willmot and groups like DefCon are evidence of the effectiveness of groups like AiG. I guess any time someone sees his side losing, he’s “sad” about it.

“Last month in England, I toured the Natural History Museum in London… They too have animatronic dinosaurs. However, that's where the similarity between this "real" museum and the AIG's creation museum ends.” Here is a textbook example of the no-true-Scotsman argument. The blatant implication is that only those museums presenting an evolutionary history are “real” museums.

“Is there not something wrong when thousands of people are flocking to Northern Kentucky and paying $20 a pop to see a Flintstones-like interpretation of pre-history…?” This is a straw-man argument. The creation museum has a lot of evidence they believe supports a young earth. Mr. Willmot doesn't rebut any of the evidence, instead he makes a caricature of creationism by calling it a “Flintstones-like interpretation of pre-history.” After all, it's a lot easier to poke fun at a cartoon than to address the evidence itself. This is a meritless argument. I could say that evolutionism is nothing more than a “Littlefoot-like interpretation of pre-history.”

“If a student is never taught the scientific method and how science is the best method we humans have of collecting unbiased, factual information about the natural world… how can this child ever expect to make informed, science-based decisions as an adult? These statues should be changed so that science education, real science education, is a requirement in all home schools.” Mr. Willmot makes the mistake of a false premise by implying home-schooled students aren’t taught the scientific method. Notice he also makes another appeal to emotion with some equivocation and no-true-Scotsman thrown in for good measure.

“AIG also believes in a literal interpretation of the Book of Revelation.” I’m curious why Mr. Willmot would mention this since it does not relate directly to the creation v. evolution debate. Perhaps this betrays the contempt Mr. Willmot holds for the Bible? In any case, it is a red herring that is, bringing up facts not relevant to the issue in an attempt to obfuscate.

One thing lacking in Mr. Willmot’s entire rant is any substance or actual evidence against a divine creation. He uses words like “3,800 millions of years,” "10 million species ," “the sciences of paleontology, evolutionary biology, astronomy, geology, physics, etc.,” and “generations of truth-seeking scientists” as though just by invoking these terms he’s making an argument. He doesn’t, for example, explain how physics might rebut divine creation. This tactic is formerly known as argumentum verbosium or, more simply, elephant hurling.

I could go on but I’ve already made this post too long. In summary, Mr. Willmot’s editorial is nothing more than an 1,000 word temper tantrum over AiG’s success in the arena of ideas. I’d like to thank him, though, for the best example of “every weak argument evolutionists make” I could have asked for. Now, here's a little reading exercise to see what we've learned. Read the feedback posted by the evolutionists at the end of the article and see how many of these same arguments you can spot.

1 comment:

Todd Williams said...

I actually want to visit this museum when I get a chance. I lean towards old-earth, but am always open to being wrong about what I believe. This guy is a real piece of work. Looks like somebody is feeling really defensive about the way he's living his life.