False Start

Perhaps trying to ride the coattails of Expelled, the Restored Church of God sect — one of many predicting the end of the world in “a few short years” — has begun publishing a series on evolution at its sister site, The Real Truth. In an article entitled “Evolution Exposed: Deconstructing False Science“, Bradford G. Schleifer attempts to explain all the rational faults in the theory of evolution, deconstructing it in one blow. Rather, a series of them, for this is only part one.

We might begin by asking about Schleifer’s scientific creditials, but that would probably be going against the spirit of the article:

Review the evidence with an open mind. Do not allow any existing bias to blind you to this crucial understanding. The implications are much greater than you probably realize.

An open mind means a couple of things. For some readers, it means that Schleifer wants us to set aside any prejudices we might have against creationism. But why should this be the case? I have a prejudice against voodoo, but I think Schleifer would agree with me on that one. I have a prejudice against phrenology. What do voodoo and phrenology have in common, with each other and creationism? They’re not science. But I doubt Schleifer — as most creationists — understands what that means.

“An open mind” also means an empty mind — empty of all understanding of evolution. That way, Schliefer can create an evolutionary straw man (most creationists already have one firmly in place for evolution) that he can then demolish.

Schliefer quickly shows his ignorance, asking “Why is evolution cemented in the minds of many as fact, when it is nothing more than theory?”

Apparently, Schliefer either had awful science teachers in high school or didn’t pay attention in science class. To begin an article asking why it’s called a theory is to expose a depth of ignorance that is simply stunning. Gravity exists, but there is such a thing as gravitational theory, but that doesn’t mean that gravity is not a fact. This is a favorite straw man of creationists, though: create a false dichotomy between “fact” and “theory.”

Schliefer continues in the same, uneducated manner:

Certain aspects of evolution may be confusing and difficult to understand. Do not be surprised! The rationale invented to support evolution is bewildering and complicated. It is tiresome and boring. Certain facts are conveniently left behind, and tedious scholarly language is used to stop most people from examining the subject in detail. Left frustrated, most assume evolution to be fact.

Each sentence in this short passage is loaded beyond belief. What’s he really saying?

  • Certain aspects of evolution may be confusing and difficult to understand. “I’m assuming you’re a complete idiot and can’t understand ‘complicated’ things. Don’t worry — I’ll explain them all.”
  • The rationale invented to support evolution is bewildering and complicated. “Your small mind might be unable to understand these deep, convoluted secrets, but don’t worry — it doesn’t mean you’re stupid. It just means you’re stupid.”
  • It is tiresome and boring. “I slept through biology.”
  • Certain facts are conveniently left behind, and tedious scholarly language is used to stop most people from examining the subject in detail. “When I flipped through a few issues of Scientific American as part of the ‘research’ I did on this article, I didn’t understand much of what I read. Therefore, the authors must be conspiring to deceive me.”
  • Left frustrated, most assume evolution to be fact. “Unless you haven’t taken my advice — you haven’t approached the subject with an openness to be wrong — and you’ve been convinced for any period of time about creationism; then you’ll just assume evolution is wrong.”

Treating the reader with condescension is not the rhetorical technique I’ve ever seen, and usually it makes it difficult to continue reading. However, I read this and I’m hooked, just like the old SNL skit where everyone’s tasting the rancid milk and rubbing Chris Farley’s sweaty belly: just how bad can this get?

Schliefer increases the level of dolt rhetoric in the very next passage:

This series will demystify the subject. You will know if evolution is science fact or science fiction. Convoluted and illogical theories will be simplified in a way never before presented. While some sections are technical, the more detail given, the better you will be able to see through the theory’s “smoke and mirrors.” Clear and simple logic always destroys ill-conceived suppositions.

“Smoke and mirrors” — I’m immediately wondering if they’re going to be dealing with anything of any substance. For example, will he mention chromosomal fusion? Will he deal with comparative biology and embryology and how they provide evidence for evolution?

The old fact/theory “proof” is not the only worn out argument that Schliefer uses. He goes for the obvious: the Law of Entropy disproves evolution argument:

Linking cause and effect with another set of scientific laws—thermodynamics—makes the picture sharper. The word “thermodynamics” comes from the Greek words therme, meaning “heat or energy,” and dunamis, meaning “power.”

What the Greek roots have to do with anything is anyone’s guess. Could it be an attempt to seem erudite? Nah — that’s too blazingly obvious.

The entropy argument goes like this: all things are in a state of decay, based on the law of entropy. Therefore, if life had been evolving for billions of years, eventually entropy would have taken over and wound down everything that evolution wound up.

But it’s not so simple:

it is only the over-all entropy of a complete, or closed system that must increase when spontaneous change occurs. In the case of spontaneously interacting sub-systems of a closed system, some may gain entropy, while others may lose entropy. For example, it is a fundamental axiom of thermodynamics that when heat flows from subsystem A to subsystem B, the entropy of A decreases and the entropy of B increases. The statement that an increase in order can only occur as the result of a directional mechanism, program, or code is misleading. Any process that can be demonstrated to take place with an increase in order/decrease in entropy is arbitrarily deemed to be the consequence of an undefined “directional mechanism.” (TalkOrigins.org)

But that’s science. Schliefer is only interested in science insofar as it seems to back up creationism, such as a non-creationist expressing doubts about evolution, which proves that even the scientists themselves don’t believe it but go on with the great conspiracy of evolution.

I can’t wait to see what “Part 2” includes.

Evolution Exposed: Deconstructing False Science–Part 1

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4 thoughts on “False Start

  1. Thud says:

    For all the emphasis ID / creationists put on talking down science it’s amazing to me that they insist on maintaining the form, structure, and appearance of scientific argument. In fact, occasionally they can be seen to argue that *they* are the real, honest scientists.

    If they simply did the old-school thing and said “I know what science says, but scientists don’t know everything” — essentially my position — I’d have a lot more respect for them even if I continued to disagree with them. But these folks won’t do it. Instead they end up demonstrating the intellectual superiority of the scientific method — because they have to pretend to use it to make their beliefs palatable.

  2. G. Scott says:

    “If they simply did the old-school thing and said ‘I know what science says, but scientists don’t know everything’ — essentially my position — I’d have a lot more respect for them”

    I think this has something to do with the notion of creationists going on the offensive — going into battle, as some like to refer to it. There’s a perception — and with a lot of the books Dawkins and others are publishing, not unfounded — that those who support evolution are out to get creationists. I’m sure some are. I’m not. And I have no problem with it being taught in school — even in science class. As long as it’s not called science, and as long as students understand why it’s not science.

  3. Char says:

    I tend to agree with the first writer, Thud, but I’m curious. If you don’t think ID/creationism is a science, why do think it’s ok to teach it as part of a science class? Wouldn’t that just confuse students more about what science and the scientific method are?

  4. G. Scott says:

    On the one hand, the science classroom is the best place to deal with these claims. After all, where else would we talk about what’s science and what’s not science than in the science classroom? On the other hand, teachers have enough to cover without having to deal with pseudo-science.

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