Re: Type of argument we use against folks

Glenn R. Morton (
Sat, 29 May 1999 07:30:58 -0500

James Mahaffy wrote:

>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).

No it is not right to dismiss someone because they get something wrong.
It IS right to dismiss someone when they get something wrong, have it
pointed out to them repeatedly and then they still refuse to change or
admit that they might be wrong.

I know you don't want to defend the right of an apologist to teach error
in the face of many attempts at correction, do you? That is the
argument I am using against folks.

>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.

If I recall the episode you speak of, I did what should be done, admit
that I was wrong, and bow to your better knowledge of Pennsylvanian
paleobotany. Ask David Bowman how many times I have had to admit that I
was wrong about some area of physics. It is not error that is the
problem it is the refusal to acknowledge that something we write might
be erroneous. What I see happening too often is apologists continuing
to teach that which they have been told is false. No change occurs
whatsoever in the content of the message because the correction is never
heeded. Is that what you want to defend?

>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.

20 year old and out dated secondary sources. In my opinion, using stuff
as old (and often rebutted--like the Zuckerman stuff in Darwin on Trial
p.84) is really sloppy. Unfortunately, most people can't recognize slop
when they see it. Like rodents evolving into bats and whales which they
didn't do but Johnson claims.

>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.

OK, exactly what is Phillip Johnson's vision of Earth History? Where
does he tell us in a positive fashion what happened? He spends a lot of
time saying what he beleives didn't happen, but no time explaining what
did happen. He fails to explain why animals appear to be transitional to
everyone except him? He simply states that there really are no
transitional forms. He doesn't discuss the details of anatomy to back
up his claim except in the most superficial manner. Where does he
explain the place of fossil man? He says Australopithecus was an ape
but never tells us what to do with H. rudolfensis, habilis, or erectus
who all look very much like us from the neck down. The major
differences between us and them are in the skull. All he says is that
they are not in the ancestral chain. And he mis-represents what
anthropologists say about habilis. He does not tell us why God created
beings so similar to us yet left them out of the ancestral chain. And he
gives so little information or detail it is really hard to say he has
advanced an argument.

James, Why can't apologists be more careful and exacting when working
for the Lord?


Foundation, Fall and Flood Adam, Apes and Anthropology