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The argument from personal credulity

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In response to “Much thanks to Nullasalus for “What should the ID proponent do with multiverse speculations?”, Ilion Troas writes to remind us of Richard Dawkins’ evasion of the mounting problems between Darwinian theory and evidence known as the “argument from personal incredulity.” The evasion is illustrated at Your Logical Fallacy Is … by:

Complex subjects like biological evolution through natural selection require some amount of understanding before one is able to make an informed judgement about the subject at hand; this fallacy is usually used in place of that understanding.

No suggestion is offered there that a great many intelligent observers have looked at the evidence and concluded—not that evolution does not happen—but that Darwin’s vaunted mechanism is a fraud. It isn’t even difficult to figure out that it is a fraud if one considers it carefully, absent threats and inducements.

But not everyone is in a position to do that. It’s relevant that the fraud is forced on education systems by the courts. Most people learn it, pass, and don’t ever think much about it again. But it helps to deform science up and down the line.

Put simply: Not every life form that comes into existence can survive (natural selection). Variations among them lead to differing survival/reproduction rates (random mutation). That state of affairs does not produce vast quantities of complex biological machinery, “given enough time.” It does not produce anything except a surviving population that is more likely to exhibit Feature A than Feature B from the genome.

Knowing that fact and keeping it in mind is a matter of experience and observation of the world around us. We would be living in a very different world if anything like Darwinian evolution were true. One where there was a free lunch and Boltzmann brains (or quite seriously, new types of life forms) would be taking shape around us; they never are.

Note that in the phrase “argument from personal incredulity,” it is the adjective, not the noun, that is doing the work. It implies that you have a personal quirk that causes you to notice how nature really works. Go with your quirk. It’s nature’s quirk too, as a matter of fact.

Ilion says that he responds by pointing out that Darwin’s followers offer an “argument from personal credulity.” Yes, and it often amounts to no more than this: They and a bunch of important people and people who can wreck your life believe it, so you better too.

As if.

See also: Self-organization theorist publishes new paper on non-Darwinian means of evolution

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One Reply to “The argument from personal credulity

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    We would be living in a very different world if anything like Darwinian evolution were true. One where there was a free lunch and Boltzmann brains (or quite seriously, new types of life forms) would be taking shape around us; they never are.

    Trying to imagine what the world would actually look like if multiverses. parrallel universes and Darwinism were true is disquieting to put it mildly:

    What Would The World Look Like If Atheism Were Actually True? – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5486757/

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