Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Poor Argumentation in the Origins Debate

A week ago, Biologists from the University of Manchester issued a press release concerning the change in the breed of St. Bernards over time. Specifically, they observed quantifiable changes in the breadth of the skulls of St. Bernards, the angle between the nose and forehead and the acuteness of the ridge above the eyes. My observation scientifically is the same as that of Answers in Genesis. Namely, that their observations were primarily with respects to morphology, not genetic structure.

The interesting part to me, however, is not that the observations were made. I suppose someone could make them for some scientific reason. I don’t know what that reason would be. The thing is, the University biologists billed their find as a challenge to creationism. The study of morphology is no challenge to creationism. The only challenge is in answering the reporting of this press release as though the scientists had actually discovered something that put a nail in the coffin of creationism.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Biologists should know better than to think that slight changes in morphology or any phenotype indicate a change in genotype. What I’m saying is that different types of animals have different genes. For human beings, I have the same genotype as my wife. However, I am tall and have dark features. My wife is short and has light features. My kids have my olive skin, but their hair is closer to my wife’s color. We have produced offspring of the same genotype, but with phenotypical variations allowable within that genotype. No amount of selecting for variations within a genotype will ever change the genotype. Even evolutionary biologists know this. Evolutionary theory holds that changes in genotype occur not by selection, but by accident. It’s only by intentional misinformation given by evolutionary propagandists that have resulted in the false idea that selection for desirable phenotypes changes a population’s genotype.

Creationists believe in selection as being necessary for speciation within a family. That is, the genotypes remain the same, but marked differences in phenotype occur as undesirable variants are removed leaving only the desirable phenotypes within a relatively isolated population of that genotype. Therefore, this study poses no scientific challenge to creation science. Rather, it presents a serious flaw in the less-than-scientific press releases by evolutionary scientists. This is no isolated incident, but is typical of too many pseudo-scientific conclusions made by scientists. It should be alarming that many of these scientists are teaching such poor scientists to the next generation of scientists in our places of higher learning.

If you look in the comment thread of the article in that repeated the UM press release, you will find a discussion where theistic evolution is proposed. It is true that scientists with different philosophical presuppositions often arrive at different conclusions given the same empirical data. Theistic evolution is a result of presuppositional differentiation. However, the presuppositions are often different than those between earnest naturalists and consistent theists. The presuppositions that drive most theistic evolutionists is the desire either for the existence of God (or to allow them some compatibilistic means to be nonconfrontational toward theists) as well as the belief that such press releases as the one from UM in some way indicate proof that evolution is true.

These types of scientists and those who believe them may be earnest in their argumentation. Too often, I suspect that the conclusion was developed prior to the argument and the argument tailored to propagate the desired conclusion. Either way, such argumentation at this is poor and decidedly not scientific.

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