Groups that support evolutionism will often make a claim similar to ‘Creationists deny science’. What usually follows such a statement is a number of logical fallacies which misrepresent both creation and evolution. This misrepresentation hinders the scientific process and the ability to truly learn about the universe, our world, and life itself.
The most common fallacy is to compare the Theory of Evolution (a scientific model) with creationism (a worldview belief). This is an unfair tactic. The scientific Theory of Evolution should be compared to the scientific Theory of Creation and the beliefs of evolutionism should be compared with the beliefs of creationism. This maintains a fair comparison and separation of both science and belief.
A second fallacy often made is to equate the Theory of Evolution with science itself. Under this false assumption, challenging evolution becomes a challenge against science. However, you do not need evolution (an idea) to do science (a process of testing ideas and following evidence). Both the theories of Creation and Evolution are ideas that can be tested within the structure of science.
A third fallacy is made when svolution advocates state the the Theory of Creation has no evidence. To the contrary, both evolution and creation have exactly the same research and evidence available to examine. Creationists do not deny science or challenge scientific data. What they do challenge is evolutionary interpretations of the scientific data.
Creationists are not against science. In reality, Creationists like science, find the scientific method useful, and have contributed to the scientific knowledge of our world.
Is it War Then?
The March 2015 edition of National Geographic has an article entitled ‘The Age of Disbelief’ and shows a cover mixing science, religion, and conspiracy theories. The article inside reads like someone on a rant. It contains logical fallacies. It uses fictional books and movies from popular culture as examples to prove a point.
The article seems to equate the Theory of Evolution (and other topics) with science itself. Under this false assumption, challenging evolution becomes a challenge against science. However, you do not need evolution (an idea) to do science (a process of testing ideas and following evidence). Both the theories of Creation and Evolution are ideas that can be tested within the structure of science. The article goes on to accuse groups of problems like confirmation bias and viewing data through a ‘filter’, but seems to miss or neglect that evolutionists can be guilty of the same problem.
The cover of the magazine, by itself, demonstrates they are not truly talking about science. It states that genetically modified organisms are evil … ummm, excuse me, but ‘evil’ is not a scientific term—this is a moral or theological judgment. For that matter, genetically modified organisms are not ‘science’ either; be it good or bad, they are a result of knowledge gained from science. The mention of the moon landing and vaccinations are also things achieved with knowledge gained from science, but they are not science themselves. Evolution and climate change are interpretations of data which might be disputed, but again they are ideas and interpretations and not the scientific process itself.
Science refers to the knowledge gained from observation and experimentation or the process by which we gain that information. There is no war against science itself. I will admit that there is disagreement with evolutionary interpretations of scientific data. I will also admit there is a distrust of large organizations that state their own product is safe. But neither of these is a war on science or the scientific process. This is a healthy level of skepticism which produces checks and balances in society. If a concept cannot be questioned it is not science. If an organization cannot be questioned, then it is a system ripe for abuse.
The article talks of rationalists, intellectual acceptance, and similar terms which place reason above all else. Rationalism is a philosophy that states reason is itself is a source of knowledge and superior to sensory perceptions, experience, authority, or spiritual revelation.
What does rationalism in use look like?
What if a company decided to build a nuclear power plant outside of your town; they can say that with the latest safety techniques and controls the likelihood of a meltdown, serious incident, or even a small release of radiation is extremely small. This rationalization might allow them to build. Yet how many people would really want such building nearby? Do their ‘acceptable risk’ estimates really consider the consequences if something were to go wrong?
Experience (considered below reason by rationalists) tells us that mistakes and unexpected events happen; that one cannot genuinely prepare for every contingency. Every couple of decades or so, a major event has happened at nuclear power plants, including Three Mile Island, Chernobyl (caused by workers trying an experiment during a regular shutdown of the plant which went awry), and most recently the ongoing Fukushima disaster caused by a large natural disaster. We know human error happens and this produces fallacies in reasoning.
National Geographic is known as a pro-evolution magazine. I expect that viewpoint in their articles. However, this article meets a much lower standard than usual. The ‘Age of Disbelief’ applies much better to the veracity of the projects being undertaken than it does to the people’s acceptance of science.