googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Do Creationists Deny These Things?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Do Creationists Deny These Things?

There's a video on YouTube called, “What Every Creationist Must DENY” (note the use of capital letters in 'DENY' - how petty). I've seen the video before and briefly referred to it at least once on my blog but I never really made an effort to respond to it because, frankly, there's no substance to it. It's an empty argument. A while back, though, in another discussion I was having online, I heard an evo making remarks that I immediately recognized as being from this video. When I looked up the video again, I noticed that it's had over 313K views with a very high approval rating. Regardless of whether it has any good points, 313K views is substantial enough that I should respond to it.

The premise of the video is that evolution is supported by an overwhelming mountain of facts and if anyone denies evolution, he must also deny all of the facts that support it. The video then proceeds to trot out a long list of the things which creationists supposedly “must deny.”

It's ironic that the list begins with “logic” since the video is a case study in logical fallacies. As I said, there's not a substantial argument found anywhere so I'm not sure exactly how I should respond. I suppose I'll simply highlight a few of the logical fallacies committed in the video in order to demonstrate how it completely lacks an argument. There are a few specific items mentioned in the video that I could discuss but I'll save them for future posts. The items I cite now will only be for the purpose of demonstrating some fallacy.

By the way, the music in this video is the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. By happy coincidence, thisis the same music Warner Brothers used for their “Daffy Duck's Rhapsody,” so while I was watching the amateurish arguments raised by the video, I kept hearing Daffy Duck singing in my head. Oh, the justice of it!

First, this video is about the best example of argumentum verbosium that I think I've ever seen. Because the list of terms given in the video is so long, it's apparently intended to give the impression there's an impressive amount of “evidence” for evolution. But they're just terms! None of them is an argument. One term listed, for example, is dendrochronology. Really? Creationists “MUST”deny dendrochronology? Dendrochronology is a method of dating by using tree rings. It's a scientific discipline. It's not “evidence” for evolution any more than theology is evidence for God. Other items mentioned include gravity, weak nuclear force, and trigonometry. All of them are just empty terms.

Another fallacy committed by the video is the bald assertion. At no time during the long list of terms did the makers of the video attempt to explain why any of these things must be denied by creationists. Admittedly, the makers did say at one point there was another video to explain why creationists must deny gravity but here they suggest nary a reason. This video might have been a little more substantial if it had only about 1/3 of the terms but each was accompanied by at least some explanation. As it stands now, the video is about as persuasive as a 2nd grade bully who says, “Johnny is a poopy-head!”

Because the video lacks any attempt to justify the items on its list, many of the items sound non sequitur, See what you think: “Because you believe in creation, you deny gravity.” How does that follow? It doesn't.

This brings us to the fallacy of the straw man. Creationists obviously don't deny gravity, trigonometry, the speed of light, natural selection, or Neaderthal DNA. To suggest that we do or to insist that we “MUST” deny these things is to misrepresent what creationists believe. It's a text book example of a straw man.

Also included in the video are a couple of appeals to authority. At one point it says that creationists must deny “200,000 peer reviewed papers.” At another point it says that evolution is supported by “hundreds of scientific techniques, used by thousands of scientists.” Scientists and papers aren't evidence in themselves. Scientists study evidence and write papers about their studies and conclusions. Also, scientific techniques aren't evidence but are methods of gathering or studying evidence.

There are so many other fallacies committed in the video that we can't possibly get to them all. It commits a sweeping generalization by suggesting all creationists believe the same thing. It commits conflation by equating scientific disciplines and techniques with evidence. I could go on and on but I'll start wrapping up.

Near the end, the video makes an ad hominem attack. Quoting the video: “People who are able to deny millions of facts, and believe in things that don't exist including global conspiracies are called PARANOID DELUSIONAL” (capitalization in original). This is a consequence of the straw man argument set up earlier in the video. That is, creationists must deny things like gravity, they must believe in a global, scientific conspiracy, therefore they must be delusional. It's easy to knock down a straw man, isn't it?

Finally, the video ends with this appeal: “One can only hope that by showing people how silly their denial makes them look, they will open their eyes and begin to... think about it” (ellipsis in original). It's rather optimistic of them to believe that such lazy arguments will open anyone's eyes. But then again, 6,000 people “liked” the video so at least some people think it's compelling. I guess it shows how irrational people can be charmed by foolish arguments.

Let me just say in closing that the Bible is very clear about the origin of the universe and the creation of man. Since evolutionists reject the true account of creation given in Scripture, we can only conclude one thing: every evolutionist must deny reading!

Further reading:

1 comment:

Steven J. said...

I agree with you; it's not a very good video and some of its bold statements (e.g. that creationists must deny beneficial mutations) would come as a surprise to, e.g. Answers in Genesis.

On the other hand, it does seem to me that creationists tend to downplay many things that, if pushed into a corner, they admit exist: I've seen too many creationists discussions of mutation (e.g. far more are harmful than beneficial) that act as if they've never heard of natural selection, and too many discussions of natural selection (e.g. it can only select from what already exists) that try very hard to ignore natural selection. And just about every creationist, sooner or later, will tell you that human reason cannot be trusted when it goes against what that particular creationist regards as "God's word." So the video exaggerates and paints in broad, careless strokes, but the phenomenon it decries is not wholly imaginary.

And some of those terms the video just tosses out seem to imply pretty clear arguments if you have a little background knowledge (and you seem to). For example, only young-earth creationists need to deny dendrochronology, since counting and comparing tree rings implies, even allowing for a few years when multiple rings are laid down, that trees have been growing continually since well before the ca. 4500 BC date that most YECs these days prefer for Noah's Flood. Radiometric dating likewise implies that many fossils and sediment layers are much more than 6000 years old. So while you don't have to deny that these methods exist, you must, to be consistent, deny that they are in fact methods of actually dating anything real.

Likewise, the scientific method is indeed a method, not a thing. But it is a method whose results you feel free to reject whenever they contradict your theological conclusions. And arguing that one can, e.g. equally validly conclude that the Earth is 6000 years old, or 4.55 billion years old, depending on which purely faith-based assumptions one brings to the question, implies basically that science doesn't really yield answers and the evidence is irrelevant. That comes remarkably close to a denial of the scientific method.

On the other hand, there were a few substantial (if very sketchily stated) arguments in there; you could, e.g. discuss the creationist explanation for, e.g. shared pseudogenes or endogenous retroviruses in homologous loci in different "kinds." Or you could explain how creationism accounts for homology, especially in light of parahomologous structures (e.g. similar structures with different functions; this includes vestigial organs) and analogous structures (dissimilar structures with similar functions: e.g. the panda's thumb and primate's thumb).

One further point: an insult, however unwarranted, is not automatically an argumentum ad hominem. The statement that creationists are paranoid and delusional is a conclusion, however weakly supported, and is not used to support any further conclusion. An argumentum ad hominem is an implicit premise in an argument: "You ought to reject such-and-such an argument not on its merits but because the specific person advancing it is ugly/politically undesirable/insane/etc." I don't think the video is actually advancing such an argument.