Science and scientists, especially in America, are wonderful. I am currently laying on my couch, playing music from my laptop, and will probably turn on my HDTV later on to just enjoy a nice relaxing evening. Without scientists none of this would be possible.
However, sometimes scientists need to “know their role.” What I mean by that is how whenever faced with a dissenting viewpoint, some scientists tend to produce massive arguments to discredit the dissenter; one of the problem with this, however, is their arguments are based upon logical fallacies. That might make for a good way to vent, but it doesn’t make it a good argument.
Take, for instance, Dawkins, Panda’s Thumb, et al, and their recent treatment of Dembski’s class curriculum. I could offer quotes, but I’m sure we’ve seen most of them. Rather, what I believe to be an adequate summary of the arguments against Dembski’s curriculum is as follows:
“Bill DUMzki r dum! LOL! Iz Xian + ID = soopid. Dawkins r in Demzkis boat, eatin all hiz cookies! LOL!!!!1111!!1!!11!!!1”
I wish I could say I were exaggerating, but unfortunately the only thing I changed was the composition of the words.
Regardless, everyone is attacking Bill, and subsequently the class and the seminary, for a few issues. Here is what they make fun of (note: they don’t offer a legitimate refutation against it, they merely mock it):
- Dembski wants students to actively engage anti-ID people by posting on anti-ID blogs. They [the critics] see this as trolling, rather than what it is; forcing a student out of the classroom and out of theory and putting what he has learned into practice (oh the horror!). So apparently forcing the student to engage the opposition (which, from an anti-ID point of view, opens the door to “convert” someone, for lack of a better term) is wrong? No wonder there is so much intellectual inbreeding occurring in American universities.
- At the PhD level, students are required to write a Sunday School lesson that teaches on ID. No matter what a person thinks about ID, such lessons would encourage people to go research the issue themselves. If ID is so weak then in their research they should learn of such weaknesses. Let’s just pray to science they never read about the Big Bang or how naturalism leads to an infinite regress!
- It’s William Dembski – need I say more?
So what is the problem with all of this? The problem is all of the attacks, all of the major arguments, are nothing more than logical fallacies! Even the pet names they have for those in the ID movement show the incapacity of the anti-ID movement to even move toward respectable rhetoric, much less actually research this issue. Think about the terms: Bill “Dumski,” Idiots, etc. It’s one thing to disagree with a position, it’s entirely another to result to childish tactics in order to prove one wrong.
The fallacies that are most often engaged in are:
Ad Hominem – I think the above insults should suffice as evidence. If you need more, simply go here or here. This is a fallacy because it could be that Dembski is actually dumb. It could be that everyone in the ID movement is an idiot. But none of that would adequately show that ID is false or that support for ID is false. Let’s face it, there’s a reason Dawkins doesn’t debate educated theists; he’d lose and he knows it. Imagine your entire argumentation and presentation relies upon logical fallacies, specifically ad hominem, and you’re going up against people who will exploit that, would you put yourself in that situation? Hence why Dawkins cowers when it comes to an actual debate with someone who is actually educated (though he has ventured out a few times – and lost each debate I might add).
Appeal to authority – My friend recently had Michael Dowd comment on his blog, attempting to defend his book (Thank God for Evolution) against the criticisms of my friend. His defense? “Lot’s of smart people liked my book!” Mazel Tov!…and? Now, I understand that this fallacy is mostly to keep in check false claims of authority, but regardless, when someone runs behind authority and leaves it at that, it proves nothing. Even if one is an authority on an issue, all that means is that person should be able to put together a better defense – simply being an authority doesn’t make your arguments valid or free from criticisms.
Appeal to ridicule – “Well he believes in ID and that’s just ridiculous, so why listen to what he has to say?” It might be ridiculous to you; but that you see it as ridiculous, or even if a majority of people see it as ridiculous, is completely irrelevant to the truth of ID.
Questionable Cause – “You believe in God, thus you have to believe in ID.” Okay; you believe in no God, thus you have to believe in naturalism. What of it? That says nothing to the truth of the situation. What if someone denied that 2+2=4 to a math teacher. The math teacher could present evidence, but what if the person said, “You’re only saying that 2+2=4 because you’re a math teacher.” Well, that’s true, being a math teacher means the person should know math. But at the same time, what the math teacher claims is still true, regardless of why he might be saying it. Likewise, someone might believe in God, but that belief in God doesn’t magically negate ID, no more than a belief in no God negates naturalism.
There are many more, but I think the point is made; we get it, you don’t like ID, but instead of sitting there like little children who just had the unpopular kid get into the sandbox with you, why don’t you actually offer up some civil rhetoric to explain why you object?