Truth in Advertising: Damaging the Cause of Science-Part 2

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2000
“Poisoning the well” is a logical fallacy which means to attempt to refute an argument beforehand by discrediting the source of the evidence. In this article Drs. Ankerberg and Weldon give quotes from various sources that indicate this is a wide-spread practice among supporters of the evolutionary theory.

Truth In Advertising: Part Two

(from Darwin’s Leap of Faith, Harvest House, 1998)

Distortion Two: Poisoning the Well

Among the organizations quoted below are some of the most prestigious and respected in America. But note how the reader is prejudiced against creation beforehand by the terms and language used. Among logical fallacies, this is known as “poisoning the well”—the attempt to refute an argument beforehand by discrediting the source of the evidence for the argument: “Everyone knows creationists are pseudoscientific religionists, so why trust their arguments?”

The obvious bias against creationism can be seen in the following examples:

Society for Amateur Scientists: “SAS [Society for Amateur Scientists] will never participate in creationist research.”[1]
American Civil Liberties Union: “To reject creationism as science is to defend the most basic principles of academic integrity and religious liberty.”[2]
California Academy of Sciences: “The appropriate place in the science curriculum for the notion that organisms have been designed is the same as that for the notion that the earth is located at the center of the universe.”[3]
Utah Science Teachers Association: “[Teachers in the state of Utah should] help students understand that accepting the theory of evolution by natural selection need not compro­mise their religious beliefs…. [and] help students understand that creationism, as taught by prominent creationist organizations of the day, is pseudoscience and not science.”[4]

These are only a few of the declarations that could be cited. What’s worse, scientists who are creationists are actually regarded as incapable of understanding any of the sci­ences because the scientific disciplines can, supposedly, be understood only in terms of the theory of evolution. We find it incredible that respected scientific organizations would make these kinds of statements. Consider some examples (emphases added):

American Anthropological Association: “…evolutionary theory is the indispensable foundation for the understanding of physical anthropology and biology….”[5]
American Psychological Association: “Principles of evolution are an essential part of the knowledge base of psychology. Any attempt to limit or exclude the teaching of evolution from the science curriculum would deprive psychology students of a significant part of their education.[6]
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology: “[Besides paleontology and biology] evolution is equally basic to geology, because the patterns of rock formations, geomorphology, and fossil distributions in the world make no sense without the underlying process of change through time.”[7]
National Association of Biology Teachers: “Teaching biology in an effective and scientifi­cally honest manner requires classroom discussions and laboratory experiences of evolution…. Effective teaching of cellular and molecular biology requires inclusion of evolution.”[8]
Freedom From Religion Foundation: “Biology makes no sense without recognizing the fact [of evolution]. “[9]

In other words, none of the thousands of creationist or non-evolutionary scientists who reject evolution are considered capable of understanding scientific disciplines such as biology, anthropology, paleontology, geology, or molecular biology! But there’s more. Creationists and other non-evolutionary scientists aren’t considered able to understand any of the sciences. Indeed, creationists, etc., can’t even teach biology apart from evolution:

Georgia Citizens’ Educational Coalition: “It is no longer possible to teach biology without the study of the scientific theory of evolution, which has been universally accepted into mankind’s general body of knowledge, and stands today as the organizing principle of biology and the general theory of life.”[10]
Humanist Association of Canada: “A student cannot possibly understand any of the life sciences without understanding the process of evolution that is the foundation of these sciences.”[11]
Biological Sciences Curriculum Study: “It is no longer possible to give a complete or even a coherent account of living things without the story of evolution.”[12]
Society for Amateur Scientists: “Genetics, astronomy, geology, paleontology, biology, physiology, anatomy, and physics all speak with one voice…. The evidence [for evolution] is abundant and irrefutable.”[13]

In light of such statements, no wonder so many people think creation is pseudoscience and creationists scientific know-nothings. Sources quoted here and others liken creation­ism to such false ideas as a flat earth, astrology, the anti-germ theory, and even divination by goat entrails![14] No wonder the terms used in rejecting creation science are so adamant: “deplores and opposes,” “strongly opposed,” “strongly deplores,” “condemns,” “vigorously opposes,” etc.

In the introduction to Voices for Evolution, the late scientist Isaac Asimov calls creation, “nothing but a disgraceful imposture” pointing out that “creationists do not hesitate to distort scientific findings, to misquote scientists, and to play upon the emotions and prejudices of their unsophisticated followers.” Creation is regarded as “unscientific gibberish” because it believes the literal words of the Bible are true.[15] The Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism tells us that “biblical creationism is an ongoing and serious threat to science education, responsible research, critical thought, and free inquiry.”[16]

In light of this, it is hardly surprising that we find the following descriptions of creationists, creationism, and teaching creation in science classrooms. Some of the leading scientific, religious, and educational organizations in the country employ the following terms:

Creationist pseudoscience; bad science; the forces of unreason; counterfeiters; misleading to students; artificial; denigration of legitimate science; misnamed religious propaganda; myth; ignorance; bigotry; a threat to the very integrity of science.[17]

When modern science speaks in such a manner, it should not be surprised that tens of millions of Americans who are creationists would learn not to trust modern science. If science says that the scientific evidence for belief in a divine Creator is a horrible thing to allow in children’s science classrooms, scientists shouldn’t be surprised at the outcome.

Thankfully however, one can find rare glimpses of the truth. Consider again the West Virginia Academy of Science declaration that, “Dogmatic assertions are inconsistent with objective considerations of any subject. Science is always tentative and does not pretend to offer ultimate truth.”[18] The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Biologists says that biology teachers in Pennsylvania should teach the theory of evolution “not as absolute truth…” but as the most widely accepted scientific theory.[19] The Iowa Department of Public Instruction emphasizes that evolution should be taught as a well-supported scientific theory, “not a fact….”[20]

If science should not be dogmatic and evolution should not be presented as a fact, then all the “voices for evolution” must be wrong in dogmatically declaring it a fact.

Notes

  1. The National Center for Science Education, Inc., Voices for Evolution p. 74.
  2. Ibid., p. 160.
  3. Ibid., p. 41.
  4. Ibid., pp. 154-55.
  5. Ibid., p. 20.
  6. Ibid., p. 35.
  7. Ibid., p. 78.
  8. Ibid., pp. 140, 142.
  9. Ibid., p. 168.
  10. Ibid., p. 130.
  11. Ibid., p. 169.
  12. Ibid., p. 124.
  13. Ibid., p. 73.
  14. Ibid., p. 139; addendum, p. 4; see also Karl Wessel in Commentary, Sept. 1986, p. 11.
  15. The National Center for Science Education, Inc., Voices for Evolution, pp. ix, x.
  16. Ibid., p. 166.
  17. Ibid., pp. 40, 48, 73, 50, 51, 170, 172, 118 and addendum, p. 6.
  18. Ibid., p. 81.
  19. Ibid., p. 119.
  20. Ibid., p. 136.

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