Texas Creationism: The Infinite Slime Defense

YOU ARE ALL aware of the show-trial being conducted by the Texas Board of Education, chaired by creationist dentist Don McLeroy. The board is pretending to consider the testimony of experts before they reach what we suspect is a pre-arranged decision to keep the anti-science, anti-evolution, creationism-friendly “strengths and weaknesses” language in the state’s current standards for science education.

Meanwhile, the usual creationist websites are cranking out propaganda for the faithful, to support their bizarre demand that Noah’s Ark (and all the rest of it) belongs in science class as a scientific theory.

What can those adversaries of reason say, after scientific experts patiently explain what a theory is, and why creationism isn’t a theory? What can they say when scientists describe the mountains of evidence supporting evolution, compared to zero evidence contradicting it, and zero evidence supporting the “theory” of the creationists?

Here’s what the creationists are doing — They take all the rational arguments in favor of science and against creationism, and then they just flip them around! Really, that’s it. This amazingly brazen technique amounts to a child’s shout of: “I’m not a poop-head, you’re a poop-head! Nya, nya, nyaaaah!”

Your Curmudgeon has found an outstanding example of this argument style at the highly esteemed creationist website of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). We proudly bring to your attention: Texas ‘Freedom’ Network, UT Professor Oppose Academic Freedom in Public Schools. Excerpts, with bold added by us:

Some interest groups are outraged that certain individuals still do not believe that particles developed into people all by themselves, and they are gathering their arguments to influence the Board, whose decision will affect millions of schoolchildren’s science curricula.

That one is an older technique. What they’re doing in that paragraph is scornfully dismissing a phony description of evolution — beating up a strawman.

Then they mention a devastating poll conducted by the Texas Freedom Network (TFN), showing that virtually all the scientists in Texas support evolution and want the “strengths and weaknesses” language removed from the state’s curriculum standards. In response to the poll, they say:

TFN may consider the results to be definitive, but the implementation and presentation of the survey were wrapped in a host of false arguments that prop up the organization’s strong faith in unobservable macroevolution (e.g., fish changing into frogs).

Another strawman. No sane scientist claims that fish change into frogs. Continuing:

First, portraying a “crusade against evolution” as an “attempt to dumb down” science education is a baseless smear, committing the fallacy of “appeal to ridicule.”

Aha! Having just ridiculed their own distorted description of evolution, they then accuse the scientists of making an “appeal to ridicule.” See how it works? Here’s more:

The group’s mission to ensure evolutionary indoctrination in the schools belies the fact that evolution is not a scientific observation, but an abstract idea.

Yes, scientists have a “mission” to ensure “indoctrination,” even though — the creationists wrongly assert — there are no scientific observations supporting evolution. But of course, those creationists never bother to mention their own divine mission — bearing witness to the scriptural truth of Noah’s Ark, a charming and spiritually comforting tale for which there truly is no evidence. Moving along:

If macroevolution were demonstrable, then surely students could just see the evidence for themselves (such as they can with gravity and entropy and other scientifically observable realities). Instead, TFN chooses to use lobbying, campaigning, faulty reasoning, and other peer-pressure ridicule tactics to push its agenda.

But of course, evolution is demonstrable, both by the fossil record and DNA evidence. For example: 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution: The Scientific Case for Common Descent. As for “seeing” the evidence of gravity, no one ever “saw” any evidence that gravity affected the motions of the moon and the planets — not until Isaac Newton explained it. If the evidence were so readily “visible,” why didn’t anyone even suspect it before Newton?

One more excerpt, and then we’ll call it quits; but there’s lots more where our few quotations came from:

The mantra “evolution is science” is reiterated so often that many believe it simply by virtue of its repetition, but it amounts to the argumentum ad nauseum fallacy (a conclusion is true because it is often repeated).

That one really staggers us. All knowledgeable observers are aware that it’s the endlessly-rebutted creationist claims which are forever being recycled and repeated. For example: Index to Creationist Claims. But now they are accusing scientists of using precisely the tactics employed by creationists.

As we said, there’s more where that came from. Click over to ICR and see for yourself. But we can’t resist giving you the final sentence from their article:

TFN and the evolutionary establishment’s efforts show that in the absence of real scientific evidence, molecules-to-man evolution must be propped up by monopolistic bullying.

It’s amazing — every bit as stunning as if Bonnie and Clyde had defended themselves by blaming their bank robberies on the police.

Copyright © 2008. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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7 responses to “Texas Creationism: The Infinite Slime Defense

  1. Uh oh… somebody got his hands on a list of logical fallacies and is clumsily trying to apply them as magical argument-winners. As it happens, one of the usual creationists on Free Republic is doing the same thing. Suddenly his postings are dense lists of the logical fallacies supposedly committed by his evolutionist opponents. Is this a new Creationist tactic movement-wide or just something individuals have stumbled on separately, perhaps after getting tired of having their own fallacies thrown back at them by the rationals?

  2. “As it happens, one of the usual creationists on Free Republic is doing the same thing.”

    Free Republic? That tells me that this technique has filtered down to the very bottom level of participants — and that’s low indeed. It doesn’t matter. When a creationist claims that we’ve uttered a logical fallacy, it’s no different than if they cite the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. They’re just reciting some phrase they’ve heard somewhere.

  3. For the November 19 SBOE meeting, there are now audio files of the whole thing (in seven parts, coordinated with the TFN blog pages) posted at

    http://curricublog.org/2008/11/26/texas-sboe-evolution-2008nov19/

    with linked wiki pages for building up an annotated review of the proceedings, indexed by speaker.

  4. Thanks, Tony. That’s a useful resource.

  5. Appeal to emotion, that’s what it is, it’s all just an appeal to emotion.

    (I read that somewhere)

    Isn’t there a couple (formally or informally, who knows) of ladies at FR who have been throwing around ideas, including some obviously misunderstood fallacies, they have read somewhere (with apparently little understanding)? Isn’t that called regurgiposting?

  6. “Isn’t there a couple (formally or informally, who knows) of ladies at FR who have been throwing around ideas …”

    I seem to recall something like that. But it was so long ago that it doesn’t really matter.

  7. Maybe they multiplied?