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The dishonesty of creationists' arguments

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  • Todd S. Greene
    Below is my response to a reply made by young earth creationist Arv Edgeworth to an article here: Creationists arguments against evolution, for intelligent
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 30, 2009
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      Below is my response to a reply made by young earth creationist Arv Edgeworth to an article here:

      Creationists' arguments against evolution, for intelligent design show dishonesty
      by Jason Hoskin
      (The Daily Toreador, 4/27/2009)
      http://www.dailytoreador.com/home/news/2009/04/27/Opinions/Creationists.Arguments.Against.Evolution.For.Intelligent.Design.Show.Dishonesty-3726554.shtml
      [link is probably line-wrapped]

      Bear in mind that young earth creationists *fill* their rhetoric with all kinds of pretensions regarding truth and honesty, promoting the idea that professional scientists and pro-science critics of creationist propaganda are the ones engaging in a dishonest conspiracy to put one over on people about evolution. Of course, it is exactly the rhetoric that creationists themselves use that demonstrates that it is they themselves who show (much) less than zero interest in truth and honesty, because they are the ones pushing their particular *religious* agenda on the basis of their particular religious concerns, based on which they generate all sorts of anti-science and pseudoscience propaganda. It is their own pervasive and flagrant use of deceitful rhetorical trickery that shows the sheer hypocrisy that is an integral aspect of the creationist attitude today. Whenever creationists proclaim or insinuate that scientists and pro-science critics of creationism pseudoscience and rhetoric are the ones being dishonest, one should always immediately point out the facts, delineate exactly how creationists are misrepresenting matters, and set the record straight - and then throw their claims of dishonesty right back in their faces. There certainly are ethical standards of truth-seeking and honesty, and creationists are so far below the bar they're not even in competition. These days creationists - but especially young earth creationists - have earned themselves a strong reputation for dishonesty.

      By the way, I didn't mention this in my response to the Edgeworth's reply because it wasn't relevant to me dealing with his nonsense rhetoric, but the man parades himself as "Dr." Arv Edgeworth. After writing my response I learned that he uses the "Dr." title purely for bogus credibility (isn't it bizarre how these guys pretend to be so concerned about truth and honesty, yet we see them engaging in all sorts of these little deceptive tricks like this?) - it's nothing more than an honorary degree in Divinity (and it's hard to tell what organization even gave him the honorary degree, because he keeps that under wraps), and so not only has absolutely nothing to do with science but also does not even signify any kind of record of accredited academic achievement. These are the slimy ways of the young earth creationists.

      - Todd Greene

      ================================================================

      | Dr. Arv Edgeworth
      | [April 27, 2009]
      |
      | Mr. Hoskin is not being honest in his attempt at showing
      | that creationists are being dishonest. First, he says:
      | "Fortunately, the pro-science advocates were successful
      | in preventing the adoption of the "strengths and
      | weaknesses" clause with respect to the theory of
      | evolution." The "strengths and weaknesses" clause had
      | already been in there for twenty years. They did not
      | prevent anything from being added, they actually removed
      | wording which could do great harm to scientific inquiry.

      Well, actually, it has been widely reported in the media - incorrectly, as Arv Edgeworth points out - that creationists were trying to add the phraseology. So it's true that Jason Hoskin screwed up in not getting the details right, but hardly dishonest.

      | Discussing strengths and weaknesses is at the heart of
      | the scientific method.

      Discussing *genuinely scientific* strengths and weaknesses is at the heart of the scientific method. Using rhetorical trickery to throw in unscientific anti-evolution arguments based on religious motivations and pseudoscientific canards creationists have used for decades that have been refuted a hundred times over is not at the heart of the scientific method, and indeed has nothing to do with science. And it's dishonest to pretend that it is.

      | These are not "pro-science" advocates, they are
      | "pro-evolution" advocates that may bring great harm to
      | real science.

      Evolution is part of modern science, just like meteorology, or chemistry, or astronomy, or other fields of science. Those who respect science are focusing on issues regarding evolution, precisely because that is the field of science being attacked by creationists.

      Duh.

      You also have to laugh at the irony of a creationist mouthing concern about bringing harm to real science, since that is exactly what creationists deliberately try to do.

      | Secondly, Mr. Hoskin says: "This clause falsely implies
      | there is scientific evidence in favor of intelligent
      | design creationism or against evolution." How does
      | examining the strengths or weaknesses of a theory, which
      | has been a part of science from the very beginning, imply
      | there is evidence for or against anything? Mr. Hoskin is
      | blowing smoke and not being honest about the issues.

      In fact, it is Edgeworth and other creationists who are blowing smoke with their "strengths and weaknesses" rhetoric. This is because the "strengths and weaknesses" phrase is used by creationists to refer to their long-refuted pseudoscientific anti-evolution arguments, and not to genuinely scientific controversies that are being dealt with in the professional science literature. So we know who it really is who is not being honest about the issues, which is why their using rhetorical trickery.

      | Mr. Hoskin is also not being honest by saying if you
      | "teach the controversy" you would have to allow for all
      | the minor myths about creation to be taught. The fact
      | they are called "minor myths" should settle that issue.
      | When over 50% of the population in America believes man
      | was created and did not evolve, I would say that is a
      | controversy.

      Of course, that doesn't mean it's a scientific controversy, which is, after all, the whole point. And it's not being honest to pretend otherwise. Scientific exploration, experimentation, analysis, and discovery is not a matter of public opinion. The determination of scientific facts is not a matter of popular opinion. It's dishonest, and scientifically illiterate, to pretend otherwise.

      | Mr. Hoskin, and others like him, do not want students to
      | know a controversy exists, and that is being dishonest.

      What is dishonest is engaging in false pretensions to try to fool children in public school science classes that something is a *scientific* controversy when not only is it based on religious motivations but is also based on pseudoscience arguments creationists have used for decades which have been refuted at least a hundred times over. Indeed, as we saw most recently in the Tammy Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District in Pennsylvania in 2005, it is well known that creationists use this specific strategy of trying to pretend that their religious concerns are "science" for the specific purpose of trying to get around the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment so that they can do this. The depths of the dishonesty that creationists engage in to do this is quite audacious.

      | He also clearly has a pre-conceived bias in this issue by
      | declaring creation to be a myth.

      Oh, well gee, we're talking about people whose ideas are based on a story in the book of Genesis in the Bible, which *is* a religious myth. It's a religious story told in mythological language related in a religious book. For example, it tells about God creating a firmament in the sky, separating the water on the planet by putting some of the water above the firmament, and placing the sun, moon, and stars *in* the firmament. There's a supernaturally created Adam and Eve formed out of the dirt, a talking serpent, miracle fruit from a Tree of Life (like the Fountain of Youth), and an Angel with a Flaming Sword keeping people out of the Garden of Eden.

      I don't know about you, but I haven't heard about any scientific discovery of an angel with a flaming sword keeping people away from a garden lately. In fact, I've never heard of any such discovery at all. I'll bet you haven't either. So, yep, that's religious mythology all right.

      Duh.

      I also laugh at the irony when creationists start making complaints about other people having a "preconceived bias", when in fact we all know that it is creationists themselves who possess the preconceived bias of their particular religious beliefs which lead them to attack scientific results they don't like to try to prop up their religious beliefs. The young earth creationists in particular are most notorious for this, denying not just evolutionary science, but also denying geological science and astronomical science, as well as denying related areas of chemical science and physics. (And note that the Discovery Institute works hand in glove with young earth creationists - indeed, many of the Fellows of the Discovery Institute are explicitly young earth creationists.) So it's pretty dishonest for creationists to pretend that it is anyone other than they themselves who possess the problem of preconceived bias.

      | The common claim by evolutionists is: "There is no
      | scientific evidence for intelligent design." When the
      | smallest cell is more complex than a space shuttle, the
      | most complex machine ever designed by man, I would
      | challenge Mr. Hoskin to point to "anything" in the world
      | around us that is not evidence of intelligent design.

      Complexity doesn't imply design. We know that Edgeworth, a creationist, can repeat all sorts of creationist canards, but the fact of the matter is that none of these creationist arguments are found in the professional science literature. This is because bad arguments and bad data tend to die out rather quickly under the withering scrutiny of detailed logical and scientific analysis.

      Besides, I never have yet seen a space shuttle get pregnant and lay eggs or give birth to baby space shuttles. (The point being that Edgeworth is, with this argument, precisely ignoring evolution - ignoring natural selection - and it certainly isn't scientific to deliberately ignore the scientific facts that contradict your argument. No, in science you take the scientific facts into account, and if your idea has been falsified, then - if you're concerns are genuinely scientific rather than religious - you'll move on from your bad data and bad arguments and modify your ideas accordingly. Something creationists don't do, which is why they're still throwing out these old anti-evolution arguments that have been refuted over a hundred times.)

      | Some humans at times may not use a lot of intelligence in
      | the conclusions they arrive at, but that does not mean
      | they were not intelligently designed.

      This is an argument?

      Some humans at times may not use a lot of intelligence in the conclusions they arrive at, and that means their conclusions are unjustified, which Edgeworth is good at demonstrating for us, as so many creationists are.

      | Thirdly, Mr. Hoskin says: "Clearly, the "teach the
      | controversy" refrain takes as its premise that all ideas
      | and belief systems are equally valid in a sense, so long
      | as there are people endorse them." The whole basis for
      | his support of evolution is because the majority of
      | scientists endorses it.

      Nope. The whole basis for his support of evolution is because the *scientific discoveries and results* support it. The fact that the (vast) majority of the scientists who work in the relevant fields of science that due to their very professional they would be most knowledgeable about the relevant details, and they accept that evolution is correct because of this, is just a secondary indicator.

      By the way, it's dishonest to pretend that the scientific research and results don't exist and that scientists merely took a vote.

      | But the fact is, not all scientists do endorse it.
      | Thousands of scientists from reputable universities with
      | advanced degrees in science believe that Darwinian
      | evolution is so flawed it cannot be repaired. But if
      | someone doubts evolution, the evolutionists try to claim
      | they are not really scientists. That is being dishonest.

      Actually, what is being dishonest is to first argue that it's wrong to think that things are based on a vote, and then to turn right around and make an argument based on a vote - and a vote by creationists who have never published any scientific research on the subject no less!

      It's also dishonest to pretend that the personal opinion of some guy who is a hydraulic engineer and who has never in his life conducted or published a single piece of scientific research in the professional science literature relevant to the subject in the first place, and whose opinion is based on the preconceived bias of his religious beliefs, and not on scientific research, is relevant to science.

      Evolutionists - i.e., everyone who is not a creationist and who respects genuine science - do not claim they are not really scientists. They simply point out the fact that the personal opinions that scientists have, that are not based on the results from the kinds of scientific research that they themselves actually conduct and thus work with on a genuinely scientific basis, are not science.

      And "thousands", huh? Well, first of all, young earth creationists simply don't count. Any scientist, even a scientist who is a psychologist, or food biology researcher, or cancer researcher, or perfume chemist, who believes that the universe and the earth did not exist more than about 6,000 years ago, by that very act proves that the preconceived biases of his religious beliefs have made his personal opinions incompetently irrational when it comes to dealing with scientific subjects that contradict his religious beliefs. So when it comes to their anti-evolution, their opinions are utterly irrelevant, precisely because they are not over genuinely *scientific* about evolution (their concerns derive from their religious beliefs and are thus scientifically irrelevant).

      Creationists such as Edgeworth can play rhetorical games all day long, every day for the next hundred years, just like they've done for the last hundred years, pretending that "evolution is so flawed it cannot be repaired", but the fact of the matter is that they cannot produce the scientific research in the professional science literature that backs up their assertion. (And, yes, creationists really have been proclaiming the imminent scientific demise of evolution for over a hundred years, which is another example of the lack of credibility of the rhetoric they like to use.)

      So all this nonsense about "thousands of scientists" is, again, just another example of the kind of dishonest rhetorical trickery that creationists love to use, just another smokescreen.

      | The most dishonest thing about this whole issue is
      | evolutionists stating that evolution is science, and
      | creation is just a belief system. They claim they have
      | the scientific evidence, and creationists just have
      | faith. That is not only dishonest, it is an absolute lie.

      Indeed.

      The fact of the matter is that in the professional science literature there are literally hundreds of research articles about all kinds of different aspects of evolution published each and every year. Therefore, one of the most dishonest "arguments" creationists love to make is falsely pretending that this scientific research doesn't exist and thus absolutely lying that evolution is not science.

      | Both groups are looking at the exact same evidence. Both
      | creation and evolution are an interpretation of evidence,
      | not the evidence itself.

      And thus does Edgeworth give us yet another example of the dishonesty of creationist rhetoric. Just as one example, we have hundreds of examples of transitional fossils in the fossil record showing the evolution of organisms over time, yet in their rhetoric creationists are frequently found to be making the false claim that "there are no transitional fossils". There is also the simple fact that when we're talking about science, then we're talking about *scientific* interpretations of the evidence based on rational, scientific analysis, not unscientific mythological elements dreamed up in the religious imagination. But obviously Edgeworth wants us to ignore the distinction.

      When a creationist starts talking about the dishonesty of his pro-science critics, you know the irony has only just begun.

      - Todd Greene
      (April 28, 2009)
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