Evolution and Fallacies

Evolution and Fallacies

Because of my work in this blog, I talk to evolutionists a lot. Many of them strongly dislike me, while others are more open for a conversation.  Among those willing to at least yell at me rather than immediately tuning me out, many use similar arguments. Some of those arguments contain fairly obvious logical fallacies.  Don’t misunderstand me, not all evolutionists argue illogically, nor are all mean-spirited individuals who love to call creationists names. However, many do argue poorly and are angry people.  In this article, we will discuss a couple of fallacies I see regularly from evolutionists and explain why they are fallacies and how to respond to them.

One of the most common fallacies I see from evolutionists is what is called the “appeal to authority” fallacy. This fallacy basically says something along the lines of “So and So has a degree in this field and he says X about this topic.” This is a natural human line of logic. After all, if a person has a Ph.D. in genetics, it is natural to assume they are very knowledgeable about genetics. While this is true, it does not make them an expert in the entire field, nor does it make them infallible. Taking the above example of a person with a doctoral level degree in genetics.  The dissertation that earned them their degree was not a summary of the entire field of genetics. Instead, it was incredibly focused on one area that strongly interested them within that field, such as human genetics perhaps.  Further, it does not make them immune to error.  Every human makes mistakes.  Assuming someone is right because they are respected in their field is a significant risk.  Respond to this fallacy by presenting facts that disagree with the authority and be able to support your response.

A second fallacy that appears often in my discussions with evolutionists is what I have termed the “appeal to the consensus fallacy” though most logicians would know it as the “appeal to the majority” fallacy. This fallacy is usually stated as “there is a scientific consensus that X is true” with “X” generally being some part of the evolutionary theory.  The problem with this line of argument is that the majority is just as likely to be wrong as the minority.  The majority of scientists once believed that the sun revolved around the earth. This was later proved to be wrong and scientists today accept the idea that the earth revolves around the sun. Claiming a consensus on an issue is proof one way or the other is absurd. The majority can be wrong.

A common fallacy used in arguments is the “ad hominem” fallacy. This fallacy is seen as a personal attack substituted for solid reasonable arguments. It attempts to characterize the target in a negative light so people are less likely to listen to them. Politics is notorious for this. Usually, this line of attack comes from atheists on the internet but it has begun showing up in the public sphere as well with Christians being painted as anything from bigoted and hateful, to child abusers because of teaching their children creation. Unfortunately, while unethical and distasteful, this tactic has some success.  However, it is something of a double-edged sword because if it fails,  people tend to remember and dislike the person hurling the insults.  This style of argument is a fallacy because calling someone a name is not presenting a reasoned, logical argument. While an insult may make the person throwing it feel better about themselves, they have not won the argument by using it. Instead, they have simply revealed themselves to be either unable or unwilling to argue from facts.  Instead of responding in kind, repeat whatever argument prompted the ad hominem and ask for a response politely.

One final fallacy I see frequently from evolutionists is the straw man fallacy. This fallacy involves building a false position for an opponent, then destroying that position and claiming victory.  Generally, this will be something along the lines of “Creationists believe in a flat earth” or “Creationists deny that species change”  as examples, neither of which are creationist positions. By painting these as creationist positions and then demolishing them, evolutionists attempt to, by extension, destroy the remainder of the creationist positions. If not that, then they hope to at least discredit creationists in the eyes of the public. This one is common both on the internet and in evolutionary lectures.  However, it should go without saying that deliberately creating a straw man is both dishonest and unethical and has no place in a logical argument. Generally, a simple clarification about what creationists actually believe will suffice to correct this.

This article has been a bit different than my usual style but I want to equip people to recognize simple fallacies like these and be able to respond to them when confronted with them. Hopefully, this will enable you the reader to be able to answer challenges thrust upon you in this increasingly Godless world.

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