Fallacies of logic

[ratings]

THE theory of evolution is an elegant theory, but to really get at the nitty-gritty details takes some discipline and a head for new concepts. There is much excellent literature out there, and plenty online; my links under the title  “Free-thinking”, to the right, are as good a starting point as any.

If you are going to learn about evolution, or science as a whole, then you should hear it from scientists, or other communicators of science, and NOT at websites such as “allaboutscience.org“. With a little reading, you may spot that the site is actually hosted by “allaboutcreation.org“, and I can assure you of three things:

  • There are many such sites on the internet.
  • They use scientific sounding language, but in fact demonstrate complete and universal ignorance of the theory of evolution and of the method of science.
  • They can all be recognised because somewhere they will mention the words “creator” or “designer”; they can’t help themselves. They may also use the word “evolutionist” to describe one who accepts evolution, this is almost uniquely a creationist terminology.
  • Their websites will be based largely around the notion that evolution cannot explain the complexity that is seen in nature, or other notions that they have little comprehension of themselves. Their aim is to raise the more complex issues that they know the average person isn’t going to know about.

They are however flawed because they try to interpret scientific evidence using their own parochial world view, i.e. that we’ve only been here 6,000 years, and we all arrived here in more or less the same form as we are now. Thus they can never hope to understand the time-scales and gradual change through intermediate forms upon which evolution is based.

Here’s an example from the website I cited, on their section about evolution:

Evolution – The Evidence of Why Scientists Believe in Evolution
Evolution, in this context, can be defined as: the belief that all living things, including man, resulted by natural changes from lifeless matter, with no supernatural intervention involved. If life on earth really came to be in this manner, by chance and from lifeless matter, then why are there so many intelligent people — even PhD scientists — who reject the theory?

Well, seeing as this is the first paragraph of the page, one wonders what “context” exactly they’re talking about? Secondly, their definition of evolution is completely wrong; evolution has nothing to say about the origin of life from lifeless matter, this discipline is called Abiogenesis. The theory of evolution, as I’ve described before, explains the origin of species, how natural variation in a species can be acted upon by natural selection over time, resulting in a diversity of different species. By mis-defining evolution, they are attempting to set up a classic fallacy in logic known as a “Straw Man”; by distorting the original definition into something that it clearly doesn’t state, making it easier to defeat, e.g.:

  • Person A has position X.
  • Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X).
  • Person B attacks position Y.
  • Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.

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