Fallacy Friday!

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Half Truth!

(Cherry-Picking, Card Stacking, Incomplete Information, Texas Sharpshooter, suppressed evidence, fallacy of incomplete evidence, argument ...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why you can't destroy evolution in 3 minutes: My response to the crappy video




When I first saw this video going around with a guy saying he can "destroy evolution in 3 minutes," I just about had a coronary. The vast majority of the arguments this guy makes are so full of holes that I could use it to drain spaghetti. So I've decided to address them here. As I listen to the video, I will explain every invalid point he makes. In previous posts, I've written several more in-depth explanations to some of the stuff he talks about, and I will link them as well.
  1. Evolution is a science. Evolution is defined as the change of populations over time. It has been documented in the field and in the lab. I have witnessed entire populations change myself through lab experiences. Evolution had been well-documented long before Charles Darwin came about. The big discussion in science was not if evolution occurred but the mechanism behind it. Darwin discovered that mechanism. The principle of evolution is what has allowed us to have computers, cell phones, antibiotics, food production, wildlife population control…. It is the foundational principle behind all of biology. 
  2. His basic understanding of what is science is flawed. Science doesn't mean “observed.” Science means the study of the natural world. We can study lots of things even if we weren't there to witness it. If I walk into my house, and my dog is covered in mud, and there is mud everywhere, I can draw conclusions as to what happened. If he’s right, then the entire science of forensics is invalid because the entire point of forensics is to determine what happened based on the clues that were left behind. Evolutionary science works the same way. We study the evidence that has been left behind, and this includes the fossil record, biogeography, comparative anatomy, and phylogenetics, among many other fields. Additionally, as I mentioned before, we have witnessed evolution in our lifetime. We've seen entire populations change; we’re fighting superbugs right now because we've misused antibiotics for so long that the bacteria have evolved to the point where they are resistant. It’s an evolutionary race for survival. 
  3. He also doesn't understand the definition of the word theory. Most people think “theory” means a “guess.” That is very incorrect. A “theory” is defined as an explanation, and in science, this explanation is developed based on all known evidence. Other theories include the theory of universal gravitation, the theory of electromagnetism, nuclear theory, the germ theory of disease…. Now, if he wants to jump off a building because he believes that gravity is only a “theory,” he’s welcome to, but he might want to re-examine his inaccurate definition first. People only criticize the word “theory” when they disagree with what that theory says. Most people think that a “fact” is the highest level in science that a piece of knowledge can attain, and this is also fundamentally false. In reality, “facts” are the lowest level, followed by hypotheses, followed by laws, and then followed by theories. Here’s my post on explaining facts, hypotheses, laws, and theories. 
  4. Additionally, it isn’t just “one man’s” theory. As I explained before, evolution was well known for a long time, as early as 600 BCE by Anaximander of Miletos. It was obvious from the fossils being discovered that changes had occurred. Since Darwin’s time, evolution has become the groundwork for all biology. As Theodosius Dobzhansky famously wrote, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” 
  5. The Big Bang is not the same thing as evolution. As I said before, evolution is defined as the change of a population over time. The Big Bang was actually first proposed by a Catholic Priest who thought that it would be proof of God. All of the energy and matter exploding out of a point smaller than the head of a pin, to him, sounded a lot like, “Let there be light.” It was later confirmed by Hubble and THEN rejected by Creationists as being “anti-God.” And yes, the evidence for the Big Bang is as overwhelming as it is for evolution. They are separate, but they both happened. 
  6. His condemnation of the idea that a single cell can diversify into the life we have now doesn't take into consideration what we know. We’re talking about 4.6 billion years here (he just says “years and years,” which seems to suggest a relatively short period of time). We've documented the creation of the first cell, of DNA, of how rapidly life can diversify. This is well-established in biology. I could post example after example of how all of this has been documented, but frankly, that would waste my time and probably your time. If you are really interested in this, please take a few biology classes. However, I have explained some of this before, so I’ll just post the links to them: How did the DNA code originate, How did life originate
  7. Science doesn't say anything about “willing” something to happen. I don’t know where he got that idea, but that is not science. It sounds more like mysticism to me. He’s mixing up science and non-science to an absurd degree. 
  8. It doesn't take faith to accept evolution if you've seen it with your own eyes. Remember, knowledge replaces faith. He doesn't study science, so of course, he doesn't have the knowledge. So instead, he thinks it is entirely based on faith. That is his lack of knowledge, his own ignorance, not the lack of any evidence. That’s a logical fallacy called the appeal to ignorance
  9. His understanding of the law(s) of thermodynamics is also incorrect. For one thing, there are actually FOUR laws of thermodynamics, but the one that he is referring to is called the second law of thermodynamics. But even that he has wrong because the law does not mean that chaos can never produce order. The second law of thermodynamics states that over time, in a closed system, entropy (chaos) will increase (and thus order decrease) (this is simplified considerably, mind you). And if earth were a closed system, that would be a valid point. But it isn't. We get energy from the sun. If you take the sun into consideration, the second law of thermodynamics is fulfilled. But of course, if you don’t understand basic science enough to know the definition of the law that is supposed to invalidate evolution, then you wouldn't know that. 
  10. His whole point about the order of the earth somehow disproving science and evolution on the basis of the word “accident” is a huge distortion. For one thing, science doesn't say that the universe was an accident. Science answers “how” something happened, not “who” did it. That’s religion. For another, much of how science works is not “accidental.” Atoms and molecules don’t bond accidentally. They bond according to energy states. Some molecules are much more likely to form than others, and it’s not an “accident.” It’s predictable, it works through physical laws, and it’s not random nor an accident. His whole rant about a tornado creating a Lamborghini is not something science would EVER predict. That is not what evolution says happens. His argument is very similar to the argument people make about mutations and DNA, and I have a post on that as well. 
  11. His whole argument claiming that the order and predictability of the earth must therefore be evidence for intelligent design is also flawed. I've been working on a post on this topic that will go live later this week, but I’ll summarize the salient points here: Just because something looks designed does not mean it was designed. Complexity does not equal design, and perfect from our viewpoint doesn't, either. The burden of proof in any argument lies with the individual making the claim. Therefore, to claim intelligent design, you have to prove that it couldn't have been made any other way. They use what they call “irreducibly complex systems.” Unfortunately for them, every single one of these systems has been explained scientifically and evolutionarily. There is no evidence for intelligent design. Now, I believe in God, and I believe he is the creator, but I believe that he used evolution to do it. 
There is a huge misconception that you have to reject God in order to accept evolution. That’s just not true. Evolution and creation exist on a continuum that ranges from flat-earth creationists to atheistic evolutionists. Most people are somewhere along that continuum. I am a theistic evolutionist. That means that I believe in God, and I believe that he created the universe, but I believe that he used science to do it.

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