[Note: I originally wrote the blog entry below so that it included a statement against atheist/agnostic Christopher Hitchens. I have just learned that he has been diagnosed with cancer which is apparently terminal. Out of respect, I have deleted the portion on Hitchens and I now join the call for prayer for this man, that he would come to a saving faith in Jesus before it is too late. Read more in the Aug 5 entry here:]
The whole topic of creation and evolution is very interesting to me as an apologist and aspiring philosopher, and from my work in communication. I find the debate interesting and, frankly, all the back and forth to be a bit amusing. Origins are ultimately of vital importance, which is why there is so much emotion on both sides. And make no mistake, there is indeed a lot of emotion on both sides. When people get so emotionally attached to an issue, it tends to violate their objectivity. From my chair, I see a lot of bias on both sides of the issue. For example, a good while back I read the Wikipedia article on William Dembski, a proponent of Intelligent Design. The article was mainly written by critics of Dembski, which is rather obvious from the biased tone of the sentences. As one example, one sentence says “After completing graduate school in 1996, Dembski was unable to secure a university position; from then until 1999 he received what he calls “a standard academic salary” of $40,000 a year as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (CSC).”
In a microcosm, this sentence demonstrates the bias and propaganda that is common in this debate. First, “completing graduate school in 1996” sounds so simple. For Dembski, it meant completing two PhDs and four master’s degrees, a total of somewhere around 250 graduate course hours plus two dissertations. Of course, all this is downplayed, which shades the truth. Second, phrases like “unable to secure a university position” ……well, how does this person know that? The implication is that Demski tried repeatedly to get one and could not. There is absolutely no way the person who wrote this could know how many times, if any, that Dembski applied for a teaching position. Third, by putting quotes around the idea of receiving a salary, the sentence tries to make it sound like this is some sort of untruth or abnormal statement, and by saying “what he calls” it makes it sound like this only existed in Dembski’s mind. How does anyone know whether Dembski even wanted a university position at that point in his life? Further, unless one happens to know the ratio of PhD applicants to open academic positions, one would not know that obtaining university positions is extremely competitive, to the point that large numbers of those completing graduate school do not obtain university positions. There are positions in industry for PhD’s, perhaps he wanted to go there. The bias of this sentence is obvious, yet many in the pro-evolution side would likely claim it was objective.
This is but one example; the popular literature in the creation/evolution debate is shot-through with such bias and persuasion techniques. Both sides of the debate argue like this, and the logical fallacies are very numerous. Both sides have their share of junk science, and the logical fallacies need to be examined. My biggest frustration is that the evolutionists claim they are objective, which they clearly aren’t. For example, the same article on Demski repeatedly decries his lack of peer-reviewed articles, yet what happens when professors submit such articles for review? They lose thier jobs, as was pointed out in the documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. With all the emotion and attack against Intelligent Design, what would happen to any university faculty or journal editor that published anything supporting it? I’ll give you one guess. The evolutionists have successfully eliminated all debate by labeling things with which they disagree with the C word…..creationist. All they have to do is label something creationist and all debate stops. So much for academic freedom.
Another example: The January 2009 issue of Scientific American focused on evolution. I will not comment on the technical aspects of most of the articles, for I am not qualified to do so, and there are already too many people running around commenting on these things when they don’t know what they’re talking about………the debate certainly doesn’t need me making it worse. However, my area of study is philosophy and communication, which I am quite capable of commenting on, thank you. In the magazine, there is an article by Glenn Branch and Eugenie C. Scott, who apparently spend their time fighting creationists. In the article, they decry a Louisiana law that is designed to promote objective review and analysis of science. In the name of evolution, Branch and Scott are fighting open discussion, the very criticism brought out in the Expelled film. I suppose we’re to the point where no one gives a pretense to allowing any questions.
Again, I claim no expertise in the hard sciences. But I do agree with Phillip Johnson in his book Darwin On Trial that even if we give the atheist materialists the raw facts, there is a lot of bias and conjecture between the raw facts and the conclusions. Just as it takes a stage magician to spot the fakery of the faith healers, it often takes a lawyer or a philosopher to spot the sleight-of-hand games played in the name of scientific conclusions.
From what I know about communication and perception, we have a debate in which both sides of the creation/evolution issue are fatally biased. They pre-determine the conclusions, look for what they expect to see, and by golly, they are finding it. And it’s proof for their theory, because if it weren’t true, they wouldn’t have found it. Petitio Prencipii.
Both sides have continued to give faulty evidence for their position. The creationists continue to claim there are human footprint fossils alongside dinosaur footprint fossisls at Glen Rose, Texas. Anyone who has been to Glen Rose will know the futility of this, for there are hundreds, if not thousands, of odd-shaped indentions in the rocks there, with a few clearly shaped dinasaur footprints. Getting a human footprint out of this doesn’t hold up. But likewise the evolutionists continue to use the embryo diagrams, the finch beaks, and the peppered moth as examples of evolution, when none of these support changes in species. The embryo diagrams are total junk science.
But I’ve already gone past my bounds, so I’ll stop. I leave you with this: whatever side you’re on, realize that both sides have an emotional bias, including yours. It impacts objectivity.