When Darwin, evolution, intelligent design and creation are discussed, strong emotions may be aroused and angry and offensive statements can be made by either side.
Debate about scientific matters
should surely be conducted in a calm, measured and objective way, letting
and logic speak for themselves. However, we are all human, with our
zones, red lines and emotional baggage, and we feel threatened if our world view is
Remember Muslims rioting over cartoons of Mohammed-buildings were
burned, at least 139 people were killed and our right to free speech was further
People get angry when they feel insecure or threatened.
Debating evolution versus intelligent
design/creation (IDC) is not the
same as debating who should manage the England football team, whether
Vai or Joe Satriani is the better guitarist, or what the right
are for authentic Thai green curry or cassoulet de Castelnaudary. This
is about origins, and destiny, and both sides NEED
to be right.
To be blunt, if I as a Christian have molecules to
man evolution by natural selection acting on random mutations PROVEN to me, my faith in the Bible and understanding of
who I am and where I'm going is massively undermined. I have to downgrade my view of the Bible as revealed truth and revise or even abandon my faith.
If an atheist has evolution PROVED WRONG to him, he must then
face the possibility of a God to whom he is
answerable. His precious autonomy is gone and he may have to sumbit to a world view he hates. He may have to consider converting to
Christianity (or for the sake of argument, Islam), is which probably the last
thing in the world he wants. So he resists. He actively DOES NOT WANT there to be a God, so therefore NEEDS a non-theistic explanation of origins. Dawkins perceived this when he wrote 'Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist'.
The argument becomes ugly and
offensive. Evolutionists and atheists often accuse Darwin dissenters of being stupid, superstitious and ignorant, asserting that many of the
world's ills are due to religion. Christian creationists
assert that Darwinism is based on false and misrepresented evidence, has contributed to a deterioration of morals, and that Marxism and Nazism both received philosophically support from Darwinism. Naturally this is all hotly contested.
These charges are certain to cause offence, both ways. None of us is comfortable when presented with a new set of facts that may unravel the world view with which we are comfortable, so our defence mechanisms kick to maintain our internal status quo.
Perhaps the hardest thing in the world is admitting you are wrong. My Amzon Kindle e-book 'Three Men in a Hut and Other Essays' is based on this idea-we all tend to resist evidence and argument that will overturn our settled world view, even if it is true. True science and true Christianity both assert that it is right, and in our own best interest, to be always open to the possibility of discovering that you have been mistaken, so there should not be a problem for either side in accepting 'new' truth even if it means we need a new world view. Nevertheless, each side thinks the other is deeply and dangerously wrong. Dawkins has said that a universe made by a God would be an entirely different universe to one without a God. How right he is about that.
I intend to showcase some of the most commonly used
debating strategies. I admit a bias from the Intelligent Design/Creationist/Biblical Christianity side (the title of this site is not cryptic). IDC advocates can use poor arguments and inappropriate debating tactics too, but as believers in personal responsibility, truth and coming Judgement, we should not. I assert that the other side routinely misleads and is often viciously offensive, often using insult as a debating tactic. I think the atheists have become demonstrably more offensive and less civil since I started this project 5 years ago, probably following publication of that slogan mine 'The God Delusion'. The truly free thinking reader (if any) will have to make their mind up.
Some of the entries cover more than one debating tactic, this is hard to avoid as it mirrors real arguments I have been in where it is common to find appeals to authority, name calling, non sequiturs, downright lies and other tactics used in fewer words than it takes to enumerate them.
speculation as fact
personal insult/name calling
raising the temperature
go and read a book on evolution
who are you to have a view?
'peer reviewed journals'
change the subject
IDC advocates never do any original research, only criticise evolution
nit picking distraction
hands off our children
appeal to exalted personality
blind with science
'there is no debate'
non sequitur Non sequitur is Latin for 'it does not follow', and the phrase is used to describe a piece of fact or evidence used to prove or support a conclusion, when in fact the conclusion is not supported by the evidence. One of the most common rhetorical devices, like many of the others described here may be used without the debater realising as they have lived with error for so long that no longer question or think about it, if they ever did. The central non sequitur used by Darwin in Origin of Species is the assertion that since small changes can be observed within species as a result of intelligently directed breeding programmes, that there is no limit to how far these changes could go in nature and therefore all known life forms could reasonably be supposed to have originated from a common ancestor (which came into being somehow). This does not follow-the leap of faith is not supported by the evidence offered, neither in 1859 nor today. Dawkins in "The Blind Watchmaker" uses a spelling game and computer generated doodles he calls biomorphs, inviting us to imagine that since a spelling game can be set up so that it makes the phrase 'methinks it is like a weasel' and a computer can be set up so that it make symmetrical patterns, some of which look a bit like the outline of animals, crossed swords etc, then its only a short leap from there to imagine life in all it's organised complexity coming from non life without any design or creative input. A gigantic non sequitur. It is noteworthy that Dawkins in the ntroduction to this book admitted to his intention to 'use all the tricks of the trade' to make his case.
The non sequitur tactic is used in a refined way by associating a known fact of science with the philosophical speculation of evolution in such a way as the truth is associated with the error in the mind of the listener. If you want to pass a counterfeit £20 note, or sell a lie, bundle it in with as much of the real stuff as possible and you'll often get away with it. People are often thick enough to fall for it. Evolution is often associated with proven scientific laws like gravity or electricity and the statement is made that all are equally true and proven facts. Which isn't true.
Richard Dawkins on the Radio 4 'Sunday' religion programme on 24th September 2006, promoting his profitable book 'The God Delusion' stated that it was known that 'Evolution was a fact as surely as the earth is round and goes round the sun'. Of course this is an attempt to make anyone who questions the unproven hypothesis of Charles Darwin appear as mistaken as somone who doubts basic, repeatable astronomical observations. The earth can be shown to be round (spherical actually) by many repeatable proofs, including circumnavigation, photography from space and eclipses, besides which, knowing about gravity and the properties of mass, it could hardly be any other shape! (Google on 'flat + earth + slander for more on this commonly used atheist smear.) Evolution however, in the sense of life originating without a designer or builder and then one kind of creature turning into a different kind, has never been observed and conflicts with many scientific laws. Dawkins is an expert at using bombast, non-sequiturs, blinding with science, and it should be noted that he never appears on TV or radio with a scientific creationist or inteligent design advocate who can expose his tricks,answer his glib slogans and ask him science questions he can't answer.
Another non sequitur commonly employed is the appeal
exalted authorities, e.g. 'The National History Museum believes it,
so it must be true.' Not so, they are human and may have their
spots, peer pressure and conflicts of interest like you or I or anyone else. Read about their role in the Piltdown man fraud in Malcolm Bowden's book 'Rise of the Evolution Fraud'. Who says
the authority is always right? Certainly Darwin didn't. The Royal Society specifically states 'on the authority of no man'. Michael Reiss was hounded out of his position at the Royal Society on trumped up charges by bullying, hating atheists just because he said that Darwin dissent could be discussed if it came up in class, read about this on the Creation Science Movement web site.
non sequitu is 'The church persecuted Galileo therefore
is anti-science.' Setting aside the fact that Galileo was
by the Catholic state power of the time (not exactly the same thing as
'the church') together with the then scientific establishment (who were
jealous of him), Galileo made repeatable observations and calculations
which are perfectly consistent with the Bible. Darwin on the other hand
made some uncontroversial data based observations but then based
and unprovable speculations on them which completely upset the Biblical
view. Christianity is wholly consistent with observational and
science (once you deal with the unscientific atheistic/materialist
that the supernatural by definition must not exist, the doctrine of
and has supported science and education down the ages. To draw a
between Darwin dissent and Galileo persecution is a huge non sequitur,
perhaps intended to create an impression of an anti-science church,
is not supported by careful examination of the facts.
Another non sequitu is 'The church persecuted Galileo therefore Christianity is anti-science.' Setting aside the fact that Galileo was persecuted by the Catholic state power of the time (not exactly the same thing as 'the church') together with the then scientific establishment (who were jealous of him), Galileo made repeatable observations and calculations which are perfectly consistent with the Bible. Darwin on the other hand made some uncontroversial data based observations but then based gigantic and unprovable speculations on them which completely upset the Biblical view. Christianity is wholly consistent with observational and experimental science (once you deal with the unscientific atheistic/materialist insistence that the supernatural by definition must not exist, the doctrine of naturalism) and has supported science and education down the ages. To draw a parallel between Darwin dissent and Galileo persecution is a huge non sequitur, perhaps intended to create an impression of an anti-science church, which is not supported by careful examination of the facts.
Downright lies, or perhaps we should be charitable and say 'falsehoods' or even 'mistakes' since in the heat of argument any of us may assert something incorrect thinking it to be true without having thought it through or checked their facts. But some downright lies are knowingly told. For example, the statement frequently made by Darwinists that 'all scientists accept evolution'. This statement can be falsified by finding just one scientist who dissents! There are 2 lists on line, one at Answers in Genesis, the other at the Discovery Institute (see links)of dissenters, men and women with advanced science degrees who have been brave enough to put their name down as either being a creationist or simply expressing grave doubts about the science of Darwinism. I say 'brave' since there have been calls recently for anyone working in a university who doubts evolution to 'consider their position' i.e. resign. Some have said that creationists are not fit persons to become doctors. There are probably many more who actively disbelieve or have grave doubts but keep them to themselves for fear of ridicule or damage to their career, like Dr Richard Sternberg who tells of the persecution he suffered for daring to allow a paper to be published in a peer reviewed journal which questioned an aspect of Darwinism. For a more recent example (September 2008) closer to home, look up what happened to biology Professor and Royal Society spokesman Michael Reiss when he innocently offended some atheist bigots.
There are so many examples of deliberate fraud in the history if Darwinism that a section is necessary to document just a few of the bigger ones which have been discovered. The really worrying thing is that some of them are still used in textbooks and arguments despite being known to be frauds, e.g. Haeckel's fraudulent embryo drawings. Haeckel was a radical atheist who desperately wanted Darwin to be right. Realising how short of evidence Darwin was, Haeckel made some up. When exposed, he said 'everyone does it'. These lies are still geting into new biology books, and were recently promoted at no less an institution than the British Science Museum. Richard Dawkins has said his militant atheism flows from his 'passion for truth', but I have never heard him object to the inclusion of the Haeckel embryo 'embryology recapitulated phylogeny' lie in modern evolutionary textbooks, so perhaps some lies are OK if they support evolutionism. Darwin dissenters are accused of believing in a flat earth, or being anti-science, of denying the moon landings, asserting that the Devil or gnomes made the dinosaur fossils, of wanting to suppress teaching about evolution etc, all of which are lies. All they are doing is asking awkward questions Darwinists can't answer and pointing to scientific facts and laws which inconveniently contradict the evolutionary story. All these accusations and many others are lies. Darwin dissidents are often accused of 'Telling lies for Jesus', hardly consistent since the Bible has hard things to say about habitial liars.
bold assertion for example 'Everyone knows that....' or 'There's no debate about this any more, anyone who has a brain knows that... Everyone knows that evolution is true.....The fossils prove evolution....DNA proves evolution' etc. etc. etc. Bold assertions are often made by people who don't have much science background, the more science you know the more you realise that things are rarely so simple they can be summed up in a short cliché. But then again, where evolutionary belief is concerned, normal scientific conventions do not apparently apply any more than does common civility and fairness. Read Darwin yourself to see how often he uses terms like 'May we not believe?....I have no difficulty in imagining....I can hardly doubt....may have....might have...must have...' etc as a substitute for presenting the evidence he did not have.
ridicule. (see insults
and name calling) examples could be multiplied, and while it does
on both sides of the debate, in my experience most of it comes from the
side whose world view depends on evolution and is
with it for philosophical reasons. So, typically, when a Darwin dissenter makes a point about, for
the overwhelmingly deleterious nature of phenotypic mutations, or calculations showing the extreme improbability of abiogenesis,
a 'snort and retort' reply comes which is calculated to offend rather than enlighten. Examples I have experienced
are 'Jesus wept-he spoke to a creationist!...there is no god,
over it....anyone with half a brain knows evolution is true...lunatics should not be listened to, they should be medicated....stop
that creationist crap and read some proper science....people like you
be allowed to use electricity or the internet since you don't believe
science...you want to drag us back to the dark ages....you want to
our children and turn them into suicide bombers...you want to bring
witch burning and the Inquisition... people like you stop scientific
etc., etc.... If you have an open mind and would like to try an experiment,
ANY unmoderated internet message forum with a serious question
questioning evolution, then stand back and wait for the abuse. You won't have to
long. Ridicule is intended to silence the questioner by making them feel uncomfortable. It's quite effective, especially when used against
people. People with no manners can quite easily silence those who hate unpleasantness in this way. Asked about respecting people whio disagreed with him. Richard Dawkins said last week (September 2008 as I write) 'I will not respect ignorance and stupidity.' This was after an honest and decent man, Michael Reiss, had been publicly kicked in the goolies by Dawkins and his chums for suggesting respectful engagement with schoolchildren whose parents had told them evolution was wrong. Should debates about scientific matters of great importance be
conducted in this atmosphere? Should someone with such views be called a 'Professor of the Public Understanding of Science'?
Speculation as fact for example 'birds descended from dinosaurs'. In the fossil record, there are bird fossils and dinosaur fossils, but no intermediate fossils. There are a small number of dinosaurs which are claimed to show some feathers, some are definite frauds created and sold for much money to a paleontological establishment which is desperate for the intermediate fossils Darwin predicted but which have not shown up, others which are disputed as possibly being impressions of frayed separated skin (ever seen a run over lizard?), and the famous Archaeopteryx (which is a bird with teeth and a slightly unusual tail, but still very much a bird). The difficulties involved in getting from a dinosaur to a bird require a chapter in a serious science book (recommended reading 'One small speck to man -the evolution myth' by Dr Vij Sodera). We would argue that although the evidence that birds evolved from dinosaurs is entirely lacking, evolutionists require it to be true, so it is assumed to be true, and supported by artist's impressions as in the poster recently produced in the Sunday Telegraph showing a fully feathered velociraptor. National Geographic was fooled by a fake fossil called 'Archaeoraptor' and made it a main feature. It was 2 fossils glued together to produce what looked like a 'missing link'. They nearly got away with it. This technique of supposing, proposing, assuming, believing, then defying anyone to prove beyond doubt that it cannot be so (see Martian teapot) then presenting it as a proven fact, is used extensively by Darwin in 'Origin of Species', as the open minded student may see for themselves.
Insults and name calling. (see ridicule) You don't need me to tell you that this is wrong, but it happens quite a lot on message boards as anyone can see for themselves. It is an effective tactic, especially when used against people who believe it is wrong to return insult for insult. It must be said that Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jones, prominent British atheists and evolutionists, indulge in this frequently. Dawkins has said, on the radio 4 Today programme, that people who want to 'teach creationism' to students are 'tantamount to child abusers', which is about the worst insult possible in British society today. Jones refers to creationists as 'fantasists', other insults often used are flat earthers, knuckle dragging, liars, rednecks, pea brained fundamentalists, ignorant, brainwashed, anti-science etc. Of course, if the person being insulted complains, they are then called a cry baby. This has been described as a form of intellectual terrorism. IDC arguments and enquiries, rather than being directly answered with science, often lead to aggressive diatribes which are calculated to raise the temperature and put pressure on.
One has to ask, since science is meant to be about exploring possibilities and verifying facts with reasoned arguments and investigation, and since true science requires us to be willing to follow the facts wherever they lead (as Professor Anthony Flew said when he acknowledged after a lifetime of aggressive atheism that the universe and life really were too complicated to have come into being by blind chance alone. For this humble act of honesty, he was accused of being demented, a charge he denied), then why should there be such strong emotion? Could it be that some directions the facts might point to are so terrifying and/or unacceptable that we must protect ourselves from them? That is called denial.
Raising the temperature Debate should be calm and considered, with respect for opponents even when disagreement is intense. When the temperature is raised by inflammatory language and false accusations, tempers flare, logic goes out the window and irrationality comes in. Michael Behe interviewed by Lee Strobel in his book 'The Case for a Creator') said the following
"Scientists propose hypotheses all the time. No big deal. But if I say, 'I don't think natural selection is the driving force for the development of life; I think it was intelligent design,' people don't just disagree; many of them jump up and down and get red in the face. When you talk to them about it, invariably they're not excited because they disagree with the science; it's because they see the extra-scientific implications of intelligent design and they don't like where it's leading.......I guess that's OK, these are important issues and people can get emotional about them. But we should not use what we want to be true to dismiss arguments or try to avoid them."
If you know that people are going to 'jump up and down and get red in the face' if you raise certain questions, you will perhaps prefer not to raise them, especially if you are a quiet person who dislikes unpleasantness. Again, is censorship by fear the right way to conduct scientific/rational debate?
Straw man. both sides in the controversy accuse each other of using straw man arguments. It basically means setting up a false version of your opponent's argument to make it easier to knock down, like a man made of straw which is easy to knock over as it can't fight back. Darwin set the ball rolling in Origin of Species by asserting that the creationist position was that every single sub species in every environmental niche (for example, Galapagos finches and tortoises which varied to some extent from island to island) had remained absolutely unchanged since creation, or by many successive acts of creation, without the slightest variation. To be fair, Paley had given some support to this view, although the idea of natural selection with variation had been, 'borrowed' by Darwin from the Christian creationist naturalist Edward Blyth who elucidated and wrote up the principle 23 years before Darwin This assertion is of course nonsense, as variation within species and natural selection can be observed and are in no way harmful to the Biblical young earth creationist view, let alone alternative creationist scenarios, but this straw man tactic served Darwin well and has been employed by his followers ever since. It was referenced, approvingly, by Dawkins on his recent Channel 4 series 'The Genius of Charles Darwin'.
IDC advocates are often accused of being anti science because they allegedly deny the evidence for variation and natural selection. This is untrue. This straw man tactic is a gross misrepresentation of the creationist position, since all creationist organisations and writers accept natural selection as an observable, verifiable explanation of limited variation within kinds (e.g.. dog, cat, carp, apple, human). Much variation and 'adaptation' exists within each kind, but one kind does not morph into another kind-a horse and a zebra may well have had a common ancestor, but not as far as we can see a frog and a snake or a mouse and a bat. Darwin's central argument was that as we could see natural selection (and, much more so, intelligent selection by humans as in plant and animal breeding) leading to variations within a species, (sometimes called micro evolution) it could be assumed that there were no limits to variation and that all life could have come by variation and natural selection from a supposed common ancestor. Darwin dissenters accept the first (proven) premise but dispute the second (speculative, unproven) premise. To accuse them of disbelieving in natural selection when a quick search of creationist material and web sites will show that this is not the case is to use a straw man tactic, not to say a downright lie. At the very least it is truly ignorant. Natural Selection exists, the debate is about whether we can believe that in the distant past it turned animals and plants into completely different kinds by the addition of new genetic information. It clearly does not do so today. A common tactic is to confuse the two things, admittedly this is probably more ignorance than malice, most advocates of evoltion on the message boards and other fora haven't read 'Origin' and aren't as clear about the arguments as they might be.
Intelligent Design Creationists (IDC) are often accused
of failing to understand evolutionary theory, then their supposed
are attacked. This is not to say that all criticism of evolution is
well informed or focussed, but the 'straw man, straw man!' cry
up so often when aspects of evolution are questioned or criticised, it
seems to be a Pavlovian response. Just like anti missile chaff thrown
by aircraft to confuse an attacker, it is intended to distract a well
attack on a vulnerable target. Evolutionists claim the intellectual and
scientific high ground and so require their IDC opponents to be
of science. If in fact we are not ignorant, it is necessary
portray us as such. The straw man tactic is very useful
here. Like most of the evolutionist tactics mentioned here, it is an intellectually economical tactic, requiring very little thought. To avoid facing discomforting questions about Darwinism, you just need to memorise a few slogans and throw them when required 'Straw man!' will do as well as most.
'Go read a book on evolution' It is remarkable how often this put-down is thrown at people who are making a point about something which came from- a book on evolution, which they had read! I once had 'Do you ever read any science journals?' thrown at me in a debate which was taking place in the online section of a SCIENCE JOURNAL!?!?!?! -illustrating how some people resort automatically to clichés with which their mind appears to be hard-wired, without stopping to think about the facts of the case in question. It is of course very condescending and an insult, as it asserts that you are ignorant, and speaking about things of which you know nothing. It implies that if you were to read a 'book on evolution' that would set you right. Occasionally the book is specified (often Dawkins' 'The Blind Watchmaker', less often the Origin of Species). (very few people have ever even started reading, let alone got to the end of, this dreary work of philosophy and imagination). The issue is that IDC advocates/Darwin dissenters HAVE read books on evolution and disagree with the arguments in them for reasons which as concerned, educated, rational beings they would like to discuss because they think it matters. Who knows, somebody might be able to put them right so they could gain a better understanding of reality and change their minds. I'd rather be playing my guitar than posting stuff I know people will hate me for. Throwing cheap, clichéd insults instead of engaging with the science point being made tends to confirm their view that evolution is NOT in fact a rational scientific theory which like other such theories is up for debate in the light of facts and reason, but a sacrosanct article of faith which is upheld by factors other than a disinterested search for truth. Evolutionists please note. If you must use the 'go and read a book on evolution' tactic, please specify the book you would like the dissenter to read and what specific points you claim it satisfactorily answers, the missing intermediate fossils, genetic entropy perhaps or irreducible complexity.
ad hominem Latin for 'against the man'. When the arguments themselves are a bit hard to attack, go for the person making them instead. For example, when I have quoted Saint Paul (you may accept the New Testament or you may not, but Paul is 'an authority' and like any authority may be cited for discussion even if disagreed with) the reply has come that he was a misogynist and supported slavery so nothing he wrote is worth reading. It is possible to respond satisfactorily to these attacks on Paul, but to attack the man rather than his arguments, or to attack you for citing him, is ad hominem. Creationists sometimes attack Darwin unfairly as a person, something I have tried to avoid here while criticising his arguments and mentioning that his ideas were not as original as has been claimed. Darwin has been accused of suffering from neurotic anxiety caused by knowing he was wrong (possible), of being a racist (debateable, irrelevant), of supporting genocide against native South Americans (false), and of enjoying killing animals (irrelevant). These ad hominem attacks are nothing to do with the arguments, just as irrelevant as the claim that during his last months he returned to the Christian faith and repudiated his theory of origins. Statements from his friends and family make it seem very unlikely that this happened, but even if proved, it would not change the arguments.
Interestingly, I have heard this latter point used
a straw man case against creationists, as in 'Creationists would
you believe that Darwin recanted on his death bed, that shows how
they are and what depths they sink to to try to prove their pathetic
etc. This goes to show that you can combine straw man, reverse
man, ignorance, non sequiteurs, ad hominem, personal insult and
lies together in a short tirade, using fewer words than it takes to
the tactics! No wonder so many initially open minded people are confused and withdraw from the
debate-leaving the field to those, filled with passionate intensity, who are happy using such tactics
of logic and science.
Martian teapot. The author of 'Origin of Species' frequently used expressions such as 'I have no difficulty in imagining', 'who can be so bold as to deny that this may have happened' etc. Present day evolutionists will often say (for example, in response to a question about the extreme improbability of a single protein molecule forming by chance, the lack of intermediate fossils, apparent fixity of species, etc) 'can you prove that this could not have happened?', 'Ah', says the evolutionist, 'you say it's very improbable, but can you PROVE it didn't happen?' One answer to this is to ask 'Can you PROVE that there isn't a teapot in orbit around the planet Mars?'
Of course, we all 'know' that there is no such teapot orbiting Mars, but how can we prove it? There might be a teapot there, it could have been placed there by aliens, or secretly by the USSR or NASA. Or the teapot might have formed itself in situ by the accidental movement of fragments of rock and dust which by blind chance arranged themselves into a teapot. Improbable, but given enough time, surely a teapot could form from space dust by innumerable gradual changes? If we sent a Mars mission to look for the teapot, or used a space telescope, the fact that it could not be found would not prove its absence. It might have been overlooked, or it might have moved, or perhaps it's a very shy teapot and doesn't want to be seen! Or again, our teapot may have developed an invisibility cloak, or hypnotised the observers. If this sounds ridiculous, compare these arguments with some of those used to explain how the first living cell formed itself from non-living chemicals by chance (see abiogenesis) or how proteins could have improved themselves by gradual accidental changes. I have heard educated people come out with drivel like the suggestion that polarising light from a passing comet could have arranged unusable right and left handed amino acids into only usable left handed forms, that iron oxide could have substituted for enzymes to catalyse protein forming reactions, that bubbles in rocks could have formed the first cell walls. I don't know what is more unbelievable, the nonsensical assertions or that educated people could come out them and exect to be taken seriously, rather than face the facts. It is very difficult, maybe impossible, to prove a negative beyond doubt, some would say we can never really 'prove' anything in science, only deal with lesser and greater levels of probability. Darwinists use this 'It's impossible to disprove, so given enough time, anything could have happened' tactic quite often. It is hard to answer. It's a very flexible strategy, so flexible it is in fact meaningless.
Consider the following four theoretical questions
Could a cow jump over the moon?
Could a man balance seven live eels perfectly upright on the end of his nose for an hour, while unicycling?
Could a blind, drunk man with no fingers make a perfect house of cards, from a shuffled pack, in perfect suits, on the deck of a ship, in a hurricane, without instructions?
Could a single celled life form begin by accident from ammonia, methane and water?
We would all unhesitatingly say 'NO' to the first three impossible propositions, but evolutionists are compelled to say 'YES' to the last, even though it is by far the most difficult of the four.
When questioned, they would say, 'Ah, it may be IMPROBABLE, but can you PROVE it's IMPOSSIBLE given enough time?' It is purely a philosophical speculation to say that 'anything could happen given enough time'. And what 'proof' would they accept? Let me give you a clue: 4 letter word, beginning with N and ending with ONE.
Some things are SO unlikely that a reasonable person should consider them impossible.
A cow can not jump over the moon
you can not balance even one live eel on the end of your nose
there is no teapot orbiting Mars
and life does not come
life by chance because it is not in it's nature to do so.
Who are you to have a view? The idea is often put forward that only people with advanced science degrees in a particular field have the right to say anything in the origins debate. This would of course have excluded Darwin since his only degree was in theology (he earlier dropped out of medical school). It's fundamentally a snobbish, lazy, elitist argument without integrity. Who was Darwin to put forward HIS views? Only a failed medic who took a theology degree he didn't believe in to stay in his father's good books (and funds), took a job on a boat round South America as it seemed a better idea than getting a proper job, made a few nature notes, and then lived off inherited wealth until circumstances and powerful friends forced him to publish the ideas he had shamelessly plagiarised off uncle Erasmus, Wallace and Blyth. If you want to put it that way. I'd prefer to discuss the facts and ideas rather than personalities.
Arguments and facts matter, not the status or history of the person putting them forward. I would rather hear an opinion on a biological matter from an astrophysicist who has researched and thought about it than hear from a biologist regurgitating the official line from his textbooks and professors. If for example I point out the difficulty of imagining a perfect DNA sequence for a complex protein coming about by chance, an opponent might retort 'And what do you know about it? Do you work in a genetics lab? NO? shut up then!' This is arrogant, bullying thought censorship of the same sort that Galileo's oppressors are accused of. Of course, if I DID work in a genetics lab and doubted Darwin, I would have to decide whether to keep my views quietly to myself or risk bullying, thought censorship or losing my job like Richard Sternberg.
Peer reviewed journals when authorities are cited who might have put forwards some evidence against evolution, it is commonly thrown at the citer 'And what has he/she published in peer reviewed journals?' the clear implication being that the truth only occurs in suitable 'peer reviewed journals'. Michael Behe has written about his experience around peer reviewed journals on his web site. Withholding names to protect the guilty, he published some correspondence which showed that he was denied right of reply to critics in a 'peer reviewed journal' since to have published his response would have perhaps meant denying space to an item 'advancing the paradigm', the paradigm of course being ATUBA. Agree with the received orthodoxy or we won't publish, but if you aren't published your views are worthless. Otherwise known as 'heads I win, tails you lose'. This is a clear case of bias, censorship and self fulfilling prophecies. Another specific example occurred at the Smithsonian institute (click on Richard Sternberg above) where an editor allowed an item to be published in a peer reviewed journal which suggested aspects of Darwinism might not be true. Although Dr Sternberg as he describes in his own words on his site followed the due peer review process, he was ostracised, humiliated and forced out of his job-for allowing open scientific debate. At the time of writing he was reported to be suing for discrimination on the grounds of 'perceived religion'. The Film 'Expelled-no Intelligence Allowed' deals with this and other examples of establishment thought police working to silence Darwin dissent by making examples of individuals who step out of line. The Michael Reiss affair has happened since the film was made. Self fulfilling prophecy. There are no Christians or Jews in Mecca, guess why?
With this background of fear, bias and censorship, the 'not in a peer reviewed journal, so not worth considering' and 'the whole of the scientific community believes evolution' become self fulfilling prophecies. Yet one more example of how Darwin and evolution enjoy a specially protected status more like that of a divinely revealed religion than science, which is supposed to rest on facts and to be falsifiable by counter arguments. It reminds me of Islam, where it is a major offence to 'insult the Prophet'.
Hurling elephants is a term used for throwing masses of assertions and questions quickly at the Darwin dissenter to put them off their guard, confuse them, and deny them the time and focus necessary to answer a precise point. A typical example, usually delivered loudly, shall we say in response to an assertion by a Darwin Dissenter about the true meaning of the pre-biotic soup experiments of Miller and Urey, might be 'You don't know any science, the fossil record has proven evolution, what about Galileo and the inquisition, surely in this day and age, what about Al Queda and the Taliban-they're all creationists, and anyway DNA has proved evolution, you're just superstitious and ignorant, nothing you say is worth listening to and people like you bomb abortion clinics!!!!!'
The question was actually about the unusable mix of laevo and dextro amino acids in pre-biotic soup experiments and their fatal implications for Neo-Darwinist origin of life theory. But evolutionists know very well they can't answer such questions, the science facts are all against them, so chuck in something to stop the discussion, a bit like a smoke or stink bomb.
It's hard to know what to counsel the honest seeker after truth when subject to elephant hurling, except to stand one's ground and re-ask the question politely but firmly. And of course, avoid the practice oneself. Bear in mind, you probably won't change the elephant hurler's mind, but someone else with an open mind might be on the edge of the discussion listening.
changing the subject is classic. Oddly enough, it very often happens in my experience when a Christian wants to talk about science but an atheist is more comfortable talking about religion. It is understandable from the embattled evolutionist's point of view, for example when asked to give account for the sudden appearance of multiple complicated life forms in the deepest fossil bearing rocks, followed by stasis and some extinctions, an observation which fits the young earth creation and global flood Biblical model better than the Darwin model. In the absence of a good answer to this particular problem which perplexed Darwin and is still unanswered, it is tempting to try to change the subject and talk instead about, for example, the role of religion in war. This is a very important issue which concerns us all and should be honestly debated. Creationist Christians are very willing to discuss the appalling wars and genocides of the 20th century, none of which was caused by Christianity. There was an extremely evil genocide in Turkey, 1.5 million ethnic Arminian Christians killed by Ottoman Muslim Turks, we don't hear so much about this today, not least because its still a crime to discuss it in Turkey. Many 20th century wars were due to nationalism, land and other resouce disputes and/or tribalism, the worst were caused by Nazi and Marxist national governments which were inspired in their political philosophies by Darwinism. It is true that perverted religion, included perversions of Christianity, have played a role in some conflicts too, although the briefest perusal of the words of Jesus will suggest that Christian belief is much more likely to stop or prevent wars.
We will not shy away from this miserable subject, but no atheist should be allowed to get away with accusing Christianity of being a cause of war without being confronted with the deeds of atheist evolutionists Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot etc or the pagan evolutionist Hitler, but at this moment the issue under discussion is the lack of support for evolution in the fossil record, and to change the subject is a trick to avoid facing up to the science which is against Darwin.
Changing the subject, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, suggests that the debater has no satisfactory answer to the point being made but does not wish to concede this. Again, both sides in the debate are capable of using this distraction tactic, but in this writer's experience it is used more often by Darwin defenders than Darwin dissenters.
Here is a composite example based on some of the many discussions I have engaged in
IDC Christian 'Are you really sure that the science supports life coming from non life? I understand that attempts to reproduce the supposed pre-biotic atmosphere and seas of the ancient earth have, despite many attempts to 'nudge' the experiment in the 'right' direction have only produced toxic sludge and a racemic (therefore useless) mixture of less than half of the necessary amino acids to make the simplest protein? And even then, amino acids don't form peptide bonds outside a cell, and if they did where does the information come from to form the correct amino acid sequence, and EVEN THEN what is a single strand of protein floating in a sea of poisonous anaerobic goo going to do with itself in the short time before UV light breaks it down?'
Atheist 'What was your so-called 'god' doing at Belsen, Krakatoa, and Hiroshima then? I don't know how you have the cheek to say anything, people like you had the Spanish Inquisition and will do so again if we let you!'
IDC Christian 'But what about mutations? Surely evolutionists agree that they are the only possible source of genotypic change and without thousands of sequentially beneficial mutations for each phenotypic change, never observed and highly unlikely to put it mildly, natural selection would have nothing to work with, and so have no effect beyond limited variation within species (which is what we see). But the mutations we find in nature and the laboratory are, apart from a few minor and disputed examples, all harmful. How therefore can you cite mutations as a positive force? You know there is no alternative to random mutations as a naturalistic mechanism to produce new genetic material, but since the mechanism manifestly doesn't work, what then?'
Atheist 'Faith schools divide communities and promote superstition. I don't want my tax pounds to support homophobia and flat earth views. Shame on you for trying to reduce the great wonder and variety of life to a crude misogynistic desert god religion. You hate science because you don't understand it. Your god is a big sky pixie you invented to comfort your feeble mind because you can't come to terms with reality.'
and so it goes.
If you think the above is exaggerated, try the experiment of putting IDC views/Darwin dissent questions (whether you believe them or not) on a message board to see what happens; the radio 4 Today message board used to be a good place to try since it was frequented by rude, aggressive atheists some of whom seem to have a lot of time on their hands, but (thank God) they closed it down recently as actually only a very few people were using it, and thereby hangs a tale. I used to post there regularly but I got tired of the ugly, vacuous abuse. I learned a lot for this page from the vicious radio 4 Today atheists.
Changing the subject from one you are not comfortable with to one you feel more confident about is of course a common social convention and it may be good manners to avoid difficult subjects so as not to offend company or guests, but in a science debate it should have no place. Answer the question if you can; if you can't, then say so. It's OK to ask for more time to think and research (while of course affording such courtesy to your opponent also) or 'phone a friend', maybe even consider that you might be mistaken, science is supposed to be like that-facts can change your mind. But routinely using the 'change the subject' tactic, especially from science to religion (when the issue is science), stereotypically indicates ignorance, weakness, anger or fear. Let the unbiased observer (if there is one) observe which side does this most often. I'm not saying IDC people don't do it, it is natural in a hotly contested debate to attack your opponent at his weakest point while trying to deflect attacks from your own, none of us has all the answers, and anyone can lose their cool when they feel pressured. But watch, listen, and try to make a fair judgement.
For example, if my wife criticises me for leaving my clothes lying around, I may well reply that I am a pretty good wage earner and have never cheated on her. Which, thankfully, is true. But it might be better if I listened, thought, and agreed with her when she is right (which she very often is) on the issue on question and picked up and tidied my clothes. The thing is, I can do that when it's not my whole world view and autonomy that's at stake. The committed believer, whether theist or atheist, faces a higher cost for rethinking, one which they may not be willing to pay. Which explains the strong defence mechanisms that come into play when our foundational beliefs are threatened.
'no original research, only criticism'. This is often used to criticise criticism. Of course science is all about asking questions, putting forwrd ideas, then trying to prove them wrong if you can, so making this criticism says more about the person criticising the critic than the validity of their argument. When, for example, biochemist professor Michael Behe (*) is cited, a common counter attack is 'what original research has he done?' Anyone who want to answer this question can look up Behe's web site, (and does anyone think he won a US professorship without publishing peer reviewed work?) besides which his 'Darwin's Black Box, and the follow up 'The Edge of Evolution' book are very original (and absolutely devastating for the only possible primary mechanism of evolution). But this question is in any event just a silly, and rather snobbish, distraction, since one of the main accepted methods of research is to look at the work of others and criticise it.
In medical science, the highest level of evidence in
today is something called a meta-analysis. This is a piece of
done with libraries and computers, it consists of systematically
the relevant published literature, checking the validity of trials
have been done in the relevant area (for example, heart attack
treatment of skin cancer, effects of smoking on lung function etc), and
then putting all the results together, harmonising them with a computer
and publishing them. The person doing the meta analysis is not doing
original research, but is researching the researches of others. The
however are rightly considered to be a high form of evidence. Since
approach is perfectly acceptable in medical research, why not in
the evolution controversy? Looking at the published work of others, if
it's done well, is research every bit as genuine as doing original
and may yield important results. incidentaly, more recent criticism of Behe hinges on the fact that he was made to look foolish (in some eyes) in an ill-advised court case in Dover, USA where he had been called as a witness concerning science lessons on a local school. This is plain silly-as if Richard Dawkins losing a court case would alter his arguments. Are you getting the picture by now? DON'T QUESTION DARWIN!!!
An good example of this is criticism of the iconic Miller Urey experiments which tried to show that amino acids could form in simulated supposed early-earth conditions. I was taught at school during zoology A level (and expected to regurgitate it for the exam) that these experiments had proved that life could begin from non life, and this assertion is widely taught as fact to this day. However, it's a lie. When the experimental results are re-evaluated with an open mind, it is seen that only a few mixed laevo and dextro (therefore unusable) amino acids plus a load of poisonous goo were made despite optimised conditions, a high energy input, many attempts and various adjustments to the experiment to try to get the desired result (very questionable scientifically). The experiments say more about how life CANNOT form by accident, than how it might form, therefore it has been wrongly interpreted and should be rejected as support for evolution. The response comes, 'How dare you criticise these great scientists! They were only trying to gain understanding of the world. What have YOU contributed to our understanding of life origins?'. This, again, is bluster, beside the point and a distraction. The FACTS of the Miller Urey experiment are what count. It doesn't matter how meticulous, devoted, hard working, sincere, high minded and honourable the experimenters may have been, their results are what matter. This would still be true if a drug dealer, a paedophile or Osama Bin Laden pointed it out-it is the facts that matter. And these results point most strongly against the possibility of life arising from non life without intelligent design and engineering. If pointing this out is a sin against science, then IDC advocates are in need of forgiveness, but if the Miller Urey results don't support abiogenesis, then it's right to (a) point this out, (b) ask why the results have been deliberately misrepresented in school text books, and (c) ask why the bringer of bad news (for Darwinism) should be criticised independently of the news itself.
True scientists do not object to their results being criticised. Criticism is an essential part of the search for truth through the due process of science. If a theory has been protected from due criticism because it is favoured by an influential elite who find it supports their world view, then those who drag the suppressed facts and arguments into the light are doing science the greatest possible service. Isn't that what Galileo did? Isn't that what Darwin claimed to do?
What the IDC advocate is trying to do in this context is to open people's minds to the fact that they may have been misled by an establishment that has a view about what they SHOULD believe. Of course, if experiments had shown that a full set of left handed amino acids could readily form without design, the IDC advocate would accept this and then move on to discuss the next impossible thing required by non-intelligent origin of life theory; enzymes and ribosomes to join the amino acids together, the cell wall, DNA/RNA carrying coherent and perfectly correct information, intracellular acid/base balance, intracellular energy management, active transport systems, osmotic homeostasis, etc. But they haven't, so origin of life questions don't get any farther. Unable to answer the IDC assertion with science fact, the debater (perhaps unconsciously) uses a distraction tactic in an attempt to change the subject, make the IDC advocate uncomfortable, and throw him off his guard so that he makes a mistake. The alternative, accept the fact that (sticking to this particular very significant example) the Miller Urey results tend to falsify evolution, is unacceptable. After all, evolution must be true or else there would be God, which is unthinkable.
(*) Behe is a biochemist and author of the book
black box' whose study of the world evolutionary literature in 1996
not one example of a proposed intermediate pathway whereby a
process could have evolved gradually by numerous small changes (a
of minor speculative examples e.g. some of the enzymes in Krebs
might have been borrowed from amino acid enzymes (although not proven,
and in any event where did they come from originally?) have since been
produced in response to his challenge, but it remains essentially
despite claims to the contrary. Evolutionists hate and despise Behe for
the same reasons that Galileo's scientific contemporaries hated him-for
the sin of drawing attention to facts which overturned the world view
which they were comfortable. His arguments remain intact despite high level attempots to falsify them and are amplified in his recent book 'The Edge of Evolution'.
circular reasoning perhaps the best example of this is 'the rocks date the fossils, and the fossils date the rocks'. Other examples could be provided such as 'The possibility of special supernatural creation cannot be investigated in a science lab, therefore it's possibility cannot be considered, therefore evolution must be true even if it runs counter to scientific laws and has not been observed'. Another example of circular reasoning already mentioned is the 'peer reviewed journal' thing- "Only scientific argument that has been published in peer reviewed journals can be considered valid, arguments critical of evolution is debarred from publication, therefore there is no valid scientific argument against evolution". Creation is barred from showing up and then loses by default, just like a superior athlete who is barred from competing in the Olympics as his visa has been wrongfully confiscated by authrities who have been bribed by an opponent.
truth reversal I'll offer an example of this from a message board debate I took part in recently. Someone made the bald assertion, as part of an anti-IDC jest, that dolphins had once been land animals and gone into the sea. I then made a post asking a number of questions about how so many parts of the dolphin's physiology (fins, dorsall nostril, echo location, etc) were perfect for its sea life and could hardly have all synchronously appeared by accident. The response came in the form of a personal insult and referral to a couple of web sites where I could have my ignorance corrected by the evidence for whale and dolphin evolution. I looked at the proferred ;'evidence', and on the first of these sites I found 2 statements of pure nonsense, asserting that dolphins 'decided' to become sea animals, and the other that their streamlined shape had appeared due to swimming. I copied and pasted these 2 pieces of nonsense into a new post and criticised both statements, pointing out that however evolution might supposedly have proceeded, it could not be a matter of an animal population 'deciding' to do something and that the idea that genetic change could occur as a result of usage was Lamarckism, which Darwinists reject. In other words, the person who had pointed this alleged evidence out to me either hadn't read it himself, or if he had, was ignorant of what evolution actually claims. HE probably needs to read some Darwin and/or Dawkins to remind himself of what he is supposed to believe.
The reply post was instructive, although not on the subject of supposed dolphin evolution. I was angrily accused of making a straw man argument, and of dishonest and ethically wrong behaviour in misrepresenting my opponent's position. In fact, far from misrepresenting his view, I had directly copied statements from the web site he had just pointed me to. So he was dishonestly accusing me of dishonesty, and accusing me of using a straw man argument by setting me up as a straw man. This is the intellectual equivalent of punching someone hard in the face and then blaming them for your hand hurting. With this level of emotional and irrational hostility so easily aroused, is it any wonder than honest Darwin doubters keep their thoughts to themselves?
The unifying theme in all these tactics is to put the IDC person who is asking awkward questions off their guard and make them feel embarrassed and uncomfortable.
The unbiased student should by now be asking the
what are they trying to avoid?
nit picking distraction This is quite common when someone makes a science point but also is incorrect in a minor detail or makes a spelling mistake, (speling miskate) something very easy to do in the hurly burly of a message board discussion. The major science point is ignored and attention is focussed on the trivial error. Actually, spelling mistakes are quite a good argument against evolution, since we make them even when we are trying hard not to and even the best spell checker isn't perfect. Isn't it marvellous that our DNA, which writes encyclopaedias of information every second, practically never makes a spelling mistake? If it did, life could not exist. It also has an associated spell check and self correcting mechanism to ensure true copying, which by the way tends to correct mutations, including any 'beneficial' ones which might occur, another 'organ which could not possibly have developed by numerous gradual changes'. Of course, nit picking, like all the other distraction and confusion creating tactics, can occur on both sides. Creationists are generally professed Christians so ought to follow the words of Jesus and behave charitably towards those who oppose us, so let's try to live up to those high standards even in the heat of debate and when people are trying to trip us up.
unfalsifiable Falsifiability is a very important concept in science (see no original research only criticism). Criticism is a word with negative associations in popular culture, but it is a good thing used properly. I want my work to be criticised fairly, if I am doing something wrong or there is an improvement I need to make, I want to know. It says in the Bible's book of proverbs that if you correct a wise man, he will thank you for it, only fools reject reproof and correction. One way of looking at the scientific process is that an idea or hypothesis is put forward, and then you try to disprove, or falsify it. To take a very simple, perhaps silly, example, I could argue that toasting pumpkin seeds prevents them germinating. This could be falsified if someone toasted a pumpkin seed and then it still germinated and grew. Lets say someone claimed to have done this, I wouldn't believe him and would ask him to repeat the experiment with witnesses. Of course he couldn't do this, since toasting a pumpkin seed really will devitalise it since the proteins cannot survive above a certain temperature. As a very simple example, this demonstrates that although the pumpkin proposition is true, it could in theory be shown false by a reasonable test which could easily be reproduced.
Is evolution falsifiable? believers say yes, critics say no. Who can decide between them? It's not as simple as the pumpkin proposition, but how difficult is it? When does the absence of evidence become evidence of absence?
The coelacanth was thought to be extinct because nobody had ever seen one, only fossils, but then they turned up alive in the depths of the Indian ocean. The supposed extinction of the coelacanth was falsifiable by finding live specimens, and it was falsified. But what of the overall concept of evolution? When the absence of living or fossil intermediate forms (beyond a tiny handful or disputed examples) is mentioned, the reply comes 'the animals must have existed, because evolution is true, but just weren't fossilized, or the fossils haven't yet been found.' Note-the finding of the requisite millions of intermediate forms predicted by Darwin's 'gradual changes over millions of years, scenario would (as Darwin hoped) falsify the belief in special creation but the acknowledged FAILURE to find them does not, it seems, falsify evolution. When it became clear during the 20th century that despite massive global efforts, the intermediate fossils predicted by Darwinism could not be found, Stephen Jay Gould the American evolutionist put forward the idea of 'punctuated equilibrium' in which it was suggested that species stood still for millennia, then rapidly evolved into other forms so quickly that no fossil evidence was left of the intermediate kinds. The only reason for putting this idea forward was the failure of the thousands of actively seeking geologists world wide to come up with the transitional fossils Darwinism needed. Paradigm busted? Gould adjusted! There is of course no evidence to support punctuated equilibrium, it is an example of confabulation.
Again, what of the biochemical evidence against molecules to man by millions of random DNA events? The components of a cell, including its many interlocking and interdependent biochemical processes, all have to be present and fully functional for the cell to exist at all. In Darwin's day almost nothing was known about the cell, today we realise it is fantastically complicated. The concept of irreducible complexity has been put forward by Michael Behe to argue that since all of the parts have to be present at once for a biological system to function, they could not have gradually come together, as, for example, carbohydrate metabolism cannot function without protein enzymes, protein based enzymes can't exist without DNA, DNA can't work without a pH balanced intracellular environment, a pH balanced intracellular environment can't exist without a cell wall, a cell wall can't exist without phospholipid synthesis....de hip bone's connected to de thigh bone...de thigh bone's connected to de shin bone...de shin bone's connected to de ankle bone....you get the picture. Behe found no example in the world evolutionary literature of a sequence whereby a single biochemical process (such as carbohydrate metabolism, protein synthesis, photosynthesis, osteogenesis etc. etc.) had been set out in model form. The importance of Behe's work is that while it is possible to use artist's impressions and cartoon morphing to purportedly show how for example a mouse gradually turned into a bat over millions of years, you can't fake the biochemistry in this way. We know what the chemicals are, so if there was a way that haemoglobin or chlorophyll or any one of the other indispensable and irreducibly complex biological chemical had arisen gradually through millions of changes, each one a little better than the last, it should be possible for a research biochemist to write down a theoretical sequence. Nobody has. As Behe states, 'the biochemical theory of evolution has not published, so it should perish'. Surely this falsifies evolution? Not a bit of it. They just won't have it. Behe's arguments have been criticised but not answered. He has to defend himself against attacks, which he is well able to do, on the Internet since he is denied access to per review journals, then criticised since he is not in peer reviewed journals!
For me, these examples underline the fact that evolution is 'unfalsifiable'. Whatever objection is made is side stepped and we are just told 'evolution is cleverer than you' 'evolution is true, as the sky is blue', 'evolution did it, dimbo' or some other such retort.
confabulation This term is used to describe what an alcoholic (or dope smoker) does when he is trying to explain where he was last weekend. He can't remember as he was stoned out of his mind for 72 hours, but won't admit it. He makes up a suitable story, when it is challenged, adds a bit more, when contradicted changes his story to accommodate the latest piece of information, making it all up as he goes along. Depending on how much of his intellect and dignity he has left, and how much alcohol or cannabis is still in his brain, at some stage he may stop and admit he doesn't know, but in extreme cases can go on for hours, contradicting himself, denying the contradiction, shamelessly changing the story, etc. I've seen people do this, stoned, drunk or just plain lying. Whatever happens, he just will not admit he was wrong. His story is, to his own mind, unfalsifiable.
Not only substance abusers behave like this. Either side in the Darwin/IDC debate is capable of it. It is much better when faced with a question one cannot answer satisfactorily, to say so. Some research can always be done, which could even lead the sincere seeker for truth to change their mind based on facts. A fool will lightly skip from one piece of nonsense to another, staying put in their comfort zone and never allowing themselves to imagine that their world view might be mistaken. But where alternative world views are in plain, irreconcilable opposition, surely someone must be mistaken? Better to go with the facts and admit you are wrong and make changes if this is the case than skip from fabrication to fabrication.
distraction in a sense, most of the above strategies are about distraction. If the matter in hand can be settled by pure reason and facts, there is no need for distraction. A very typical distraction tactic used by evolutionists is to change the subject from science to religion. If I ask a question or make a point about the Cambrian explosion (sudden appearance of all kinds of creatures fully formed without ancestors in the deepest fossil bearing rocks), my opponent may wish to talk instead about the fact that innocent children suffer as AIDS orphans, and what is God doing about that? The presence of suffering in the world is an issue which has occupied theologians and philosophers forever, and AIDS is a major global issue. As a concerned Christian I am willing to discuss both issues-but in this context the Darwin defender is raising them to distract us from talking about the issue I raised-one which raises major problems for the Darwin synthesis. Examples could be multiplied, just follow any on line message board discussion on the subject and watch for distraction tactics.
'hands off our children!' Evolutionists love to get 'righteously' angry, sometimes almost hysterical, about the idea that IDC advocates want to 'indoctrinate' their children. Does it ever occur to them that we might be unhappy about THEM indoctrinating OUR children? This is an emotive and misleading use of language. IDC advocates do not say that children should be 'taught creationism', but object to the teaching of evolution as unquestionable fact, with concerns and questions suppressed. Militant secularists paint a caricatured picture of what is actually happening in the few schools and colleges where both sides of the argument are taught. Creationists are happy to see students of all ages being taught true biology (protein synthesis, Krebs cycle, anatomy, physiology, photosynthesis etc), the CLAIMS and BELIEFS of evolution, the ACTUAL evidence, and the questions, problems and counterclaims. This is a good opportunity to introduce them to the concept of differences of opinion over evidence and teach them critical thinking. The real problem here is that when people hear about the frauds (almost unbelievably, the faked Haeckel embryo drawings are STILL finding their way into new textbooks to support the discredited recapitulation theory) the denied counter arguments, the false interpretation of data (as in the Miller Urey experiments) and the complexity of the cell as an example of irreducible complexity, some at least of the more critical ones will see that the theory of evolution is not supported by good evidence and will abandon it. So you can see why the passionately convinced atheist whose world view depends on evolution does not want young people to hear about the very real problems with his beliefs, just as the Roman Catholic power in the time of the Reformation did not want people to be able to read the Bible for themselves in case they came to inconvenient conclusions and challenged The Authority.
Could anything be more obvious than that evolution has to be constantly indoctrinated into children from the youngest age since it rests on weak evidence, goes against scientific laws and cannot be observed, and that the proponents of evolution require the evidence against it to be suppressed? Richard Dawkins said in an emotional voice on the Radio 4 Today programme in this context that 'teaching creationism' to children (by which he meant teaching evolution AND the evidence against it) was 'tantamount to child abuse'. He didn't on that occasion say 'child sex abuse' but having studied his skilled oratory tactics I suspect would have been happy for listeners to make that association, if he didn't intend it, which he probably did. So the teacher who says to a child 'Of course, the peppered moths are still peppered moths so no evolution has taken place' is morally equivalent to the stepfather who says 'We are going to the shed to play a special game that's a secret from mummy, if you don't tell I'll buy you a new playstation.' He should be shunned by honest scientists, even those who share his evolutionary and atheistic beliefs, for using such tactics.
Interestingly, schools such as the Vardy foundation school in Gateshead where children are allowed to hear arguments from both sides as opposed to pure didactic evolutionary teaching get good inspection results and are very popular with parents. Mr Vardy explicitly denied that he was a creationist on radio 4 when accused of being one when interviewed by 'Jim' Nauchtie, having denied it previously but still being accused of this heinous crime, so the outrage is somewhat feigned. Nauchtie had either forgotten or was being deliberately biased, either way he should have apologised for a glaring factual error. It goes without saying that he did not, he continues to use his priveliged position to attack Darwin dissent (Which he and the BBC always call 'creationism') on BBC radio's flagship news and current affairs programme, in hostile debates on creationism which NEVER include a creationist.
appeal to exalted personality Of course science, unlike art or sport, is not about the individual but the facts and arguments. As T H Huxley 'Darwin's bulldog' said 'science is about slaying a beautiful story with an ugly fact', in other words, if you don't like it, tough but fact are facts whether you like it or not and regardless of who brings them. Evolution is seen by many as a beautiful system of understanding the natural world and IDC arguments against it are seen as ugly, even disrespectful. If you go into the Natural History Museum in London (and you certainly should) you will see large marble statues of Darwin and Huxley, seated on throne-like chairs. Darwin particularly is held in very high esteem by many, his head is on the British £10 note and he was very nearly voted the man of the millennium in a recent BBC TV poll. He is described as a liberator of men's' minds and a great hero of science. Criticising Darwinism is seen by some as offensive, almost blasphemous, because it tarnishes the precious name of this exalted man. 'How dare you speak out against such a Great Scientist?'. The answer is of course, because regardless of how sincere, inspired, brilliant or hard working he was, he made speculations which were not supported by evidence even at the time and which in the light of new evidence are completely unsustainable.
Of course, both sides in any debate cite books, authorities, and arguments made by others. This is acceptable, it would be ridiculous to say that nobody could comment on a subject unless they had a higher degree or had done original work in it, or comment on geology unless they had personally dug up and classified hundreds of fossils, so of course we all quote books and authorities. But it is the arguments and facts that matters, not the status or personality of the group or individual who put them forward. Holding exalted personalities and their views in respectful awe may be justifiable, but should never hold back enquiry that might overthrow their views. Similarly, it does not matter a jot in this context who I am.
The facts and arguments matter.
blind with science Evolutionists often say in response to an argument about, say the impossibility of protein synthesis in a supposed 'pre-biotic soup', forgery and misrepresentation of fossils, the deleterious nature of phenotypic mutations, dishonesty of presenting peppered moths as an example of evolution when they clearly aren't, irreducible complexity etc., 'Ah yes, but if you understood XYZ you would know that this isn't a problem.' Asked to elaborate on this point, they will say 'go away and do an advanced degree in biology, or study the specimens in the university of Nebraska, then you will understand. Until then, don't bother me with your ignorance.' This of course is our old friend the distraction/evasion tactic, delivered with a generous twist of disdainful elitism. The point is, not that real science must always be easy, it isn't, but if they can prove evolution by the esoteric XYZ argument (which happens to be too clever for a thicko like you to understand) then why can't they prove it with the well known examples which are in all the books, were rammed down your throat at school, you have studied, understood and now in your adulthood disagree with, and want to talk about? After all, these were the examples which allegedly converted the world to Darwinism long before XYZ did his fabulous research which is so clever only biology pHDs can understand, or even have access to it?
Another example is the bold assertion that '97% (or whatever they say) of our DNA is the same as a chimpanzee'. This is likely to be very impressive to someone who doesn't know a lot of science and intimidate them into shutting up or even agreeing. Of course if they had time to stop and look things up, they would realise that we also share a large percentage of our DNA with mice, (and indeed rice) and that they are only measuring the DNA that codes for proteins, not the rest, the so-called 'junk DNA' which may be more important than is thought, perhaps as an operating system which rather than merely coding for the proteins tells them where to go and what to do. As many of our basic structures (bone, blood, skin, liver, neurones etc.) are the same, you would expect substantial DNA overlap under any system of origins. How many ways are there to make a red blood cell, or bone? This sort of 'factoid' is neither here nor there. It is blinding with science to throw this stuff at people.
Examples could be multiplied of people referring to an allegedly problem solving piece of evidence which is in a museum or university library somewhere it can't be examined. This is a difficult strategy to counter other than by asking for further explanation or time to look it up. This 'blind with science' approach commonly used to intimidate into silence rather than educate. As a doctor who spends a lot of his time trying to simplify and explain things to my patients most of whom know far less science than me but who are not too stupid to learn when someone takes time to explain, I find it a condescending and insulting approach which speaks badly of those who use it.
Evolutionists are very happy to simplify, indeed oversimplify, science when they are indoctrinating trusting young children. Why can't they simplify it when they are answering the questions of sceptical adults? The more they use demeaning, insulting and evasive tactics, the more they reinforce the sceptic's belief that they CANNOT explain to why they are wrong to doubt Darwin, because their objections are well founded.
'there is no debate' Another triumphalist lie. What evolutionists mean by this is that they like to believe that their side won hands down a long time ago and there is to be no rematch allowed, so critics and dissenters should just shut up. As readers may have noticed, some of us reject this arrogant, unscientific attitude. Regardless of whether or not prominent Darwinists refuse invitations to public debates with creationists (which as a rule, they do), the arguments have not gone away. The fossils Darwin believed would prove evolution have not been found, every new discovery about the cell shows it is even more complicated than we thought (therefore harder to suppose as arising by accident), the gradual stepwise incremental approach which Darwin proposed has been exposed by Behe and others as being incompatible with what we know about biochemistry, and the materialist secular humanism which is so largely founded on Darwin's world view may have freed people up to follow their sexual desires without restraint and give up Christianity, but has not made them happier. A new generation of scientifically literate people, mostly but not all Christians, are looking at the Darwinist synthesis and the science facts, rubbing their eyes and asking themselves how such stuff and nonsense came to be the basis of our world view. They are not prepared to be told by a mutually appointed 'scientific' priesthood that we must accept as fact the philosophical speculations of Darwinism, based on the lies, evasions, half-truths, misrepresentations and bullying documented in this site and the linked sites.
So there is a debate., deny it or engage
The above is not a complete list of the rhetorical and other devices and tactics used to respond to criticism of Darwin's theory. Some counter arguments are so convoluted as to defy description and new tactics are coming into play all the time. The old ones are still the best ones- the big lie, the speculation presented as fact, bullying, bluster, mockery, censorship, personal abuse and changing the subject. Sometimes half a dozen different strategies can occur in a couple of sentences, leaving the embattled dissenter so many tangled strands to unpick that he forgets the original question.
These strategies would be unnecessary if Darwin's theory were as well founded as we are told it is. It is not.
It is true that the greatest fool can ask a question
the wisest man cannot answer, but it is also true that a wise man may
a fool, or another wise man, a question which he could answer
does not want to, and therefore he changes the subject or uses some
other diversionary tactic. The honest enquirer can take note of the
they hear and read and hopefully make up their own mind based on reason
and logic rather than who shouts the loudest or uses the cleverest
tricks. Or go back to sleep if you'd prefer.
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