Grey Thoughts
Cheap Rhetorical Tricks in Evolution
How many times have you heard that "Evolution is a fact" or that "Without evolution, nothing makes sense in biology"? How many times have you been taught or heard of others being taught about evolution with no doubt as to it's truth? For me, it is countless times.

The problem is, when a creationist responds to this rhetoric, you get smarmy little twits who trot out the old 'science is tentative' line. Let me state for the record. Science is tentative. Yet, why don't we see the media or other scientists berating the evolutionists' for their casting evolution as fact? Because they think it is true. Yet here we have another thinly veiled propaganda piece from the BBC.
The thought uppermost in my mind was how odd it is that non-scientists think of science as being about certainties and absolute truth. Whereas scientists are actually quite tentative - they simply try to arrive at the best fit between the experimental findings so far and a general principle....

Science, as I say, is not doctrinaire. Strongly held religious beliefs, however, are.

This week John Mackay from Queensland Australia, a passionate advocate of Creationism, has been touring halls and chapels in the UK attacking Darwin's theory that the human race has evolved gradually from the apes over millions of years.

Mackay maintains that Genesis is literally true, that the earth is only a few thousand years old and that the exquisite organisation of nature is clear proof that God's hand lies behind all of creation. Mackay had hoped to debate the matter here in Britain with leading scientists. If evolution is "true", the Creationist challenges - step up and prove it....

There is something rather attractive about absolute beliefs. We all find them comforting: give up chocolate for Lent and you are taking a small step towards God's approval. Uncertainty is much more unsettling.
Yep. John Mackay is 'Passionate' and seeking the attractive 'comforting' absolute belief. Unlike those objective, unbiased scientists. Of course, you would never see an article on the BBC criticising UK scientist Richard Dawkins when he goes on his anti-religious rants. This is just a cheap rhetorical trick. Cast those you disagree with as emotional and insecure.

The article continues...
It is a basic requirement of scientific method that a tentative explanation has to be tested against observation of the natural world. And from the very beginning scientists have been suspicious whenever the data fits the hoped-for results too closely.
Please show me how you can test whether a bacteria from 1 Billion years ago evolved into a person? Or how you can replicate the test so that the 'suspicious' scientists can verify the result? What predictions has it made so we can see how closely the data fits? Oh..that's right... there isn't really much at all.

The final dig in the article comes near the end though.
And Huygens was right to be sceptical. His pendulum clocks never did prove accurate enough at sea to solve the problem of finding longitude. A scrupulous scientist like Huygens would rather be disappointed, than accept dubious evidence to provide pat confirmation of a pet theory.

That continues to be true in all areas of scientific investigation today. Which is why no scientist will take up the creationist Mackay's challenge to "prove" the truth of Darwin's theory of evolution in a public debate. They know they cannot present a strongly held view based on a body of supporting evidence with the absolute certainty of a revealed truth....We cannot afford ourselves the luxury of waiting for evidence which clinches the theory.
Yep. Our historian writer here is giving an excuse about why 'scientists' are too scared to debate the creationists (Note the dichotomy she puts forward - creationist versus scientist, not evolutionists). It isn't because the creationists have stronger evidence, or that evolutionists are caught lying when they debate, it is because creationists are too certain of their views and scientists aren't. It is because creationists obviously don't understand what science really is.

Yep. What a load of rubbish. Creation scientists respond to claims of evolution as fact, and then biased historians like this come in and pretend that the creationists have no clue. And this is a history professor? I guess her history reading never touched on all the times evolutionists claimed their theory was true. The anti-religious propaganda continues.

Update: Just in case you think I am making it up that evolutionists claim evolution is a fact, another instance of the claim has just come up.
“If for some reason the Catholic Church gets on the wrong side of the science, then it’s going to in the long term do huge damage, just as it did when they went against Galileo,” said Lawrence M. Krauss, chairman of the physics department at Case Western Reserve University and a highly visible opponent of intelligent design. “It threatened their credibility.”

“Because like it or not,” he added, “evolution happened.”
Yep. No scientist would defend that claim. *roll*
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