Type of argument we use against folks

James Mahaffy (mahaffy@dordt.edu)
Tue, 25 May 1999 14:42:28 -0500

Glenn R. Morton wrote:
> Of Phil Johnson's claim that rodents gave rise to whales John W.
> Burgeson wrote:
> Johnson really thinks rodents gave rise to whales. But then he learned
> his paleontology in law school and only read one 20 year old (at the
> time Darwin on trial was written) paleontology book. The 1985 date in
> DOT is because it is a Dover reprint reprinted in 1985. ONly the
> appendix was updated in 1984. The original was something like 1973 or
> 1974 and was very out of date by the late 1980s. But that doesn't matter
> to a really good Christian apologist. They simply ignore the fact that
> their sources are outdated and pretend that modern science never
> changes. Why? Because this apologist isn't a scientist at all.
> My criticism may seem harsh, but I have tried to get Johnson to change
> these ridiculous claims for years. All these claims do is show his
> ignorance. Like young-earth creationists, he won't change either. This
> is why I told James that the ID group needs to cease behaving like YECs
> who think they can't ever be wrong on anything and certainly never have
> to change any of the divinely inspired words they commit to paper.
> --
> glenn


I hate answering because it will appear to you that I am defending
Johnson's getting a paleontological fact wrong and I assume in this case
that you are right Glenn. But I really don't like the argument you are
suing. Is it really fair to dismiss Johnson on the basis of an error
that he does not acknowledge to you, or to use that to categorize him in
a camp with some admittedly sloppy YEC folks (not all are sloppy).
Glenn, I could dismiss you because you had a bad error in Pennsylvanian
paleobotany (my area of expertise), but I do not because you are usually
very careful to try and be accurate and, in fact are very well read in
some areas. But by a similar token, when I first read Johnson's Darwin
on trial, I was impressed that he had done his homework and was well
acquantained with good secondary sources. If he had not been he would
easily have been completely dismissed by the academic scientific
community because he had not done his homework.

All this is not to say that the thrust of his argument may not have some
strong weaknesses. In fact I think ID is too empirical and does not
give enough credit to the power of the paradigms we start with. But
unless the errors are systematic enough to indicate he basically was
sloppy, lets focus on what is wrong or right about the thrust of his
argument if we are going to argue.

I once posted a long time ago that the non scientists that works within
the framework of existing science probably know no more about science
than the lay person that wants to account for geology by the flood. The
YEC is classified as ignorant but it does not mean that he is any more
ignorance, it just shows up a lot more because he follows folks who have
a different paradigm. Which of course is not to say that the paradigm
he is following may not work on rocks out there in the field.

James Mahaffy (mahaffy@dordt.edu)      Phone: 712 722-6279
Biology Department                     FAX :  712 722-1198
Dordt College, Sioux Center IA 51250