Dr. Young Addresses The Big Question

Chapter 7: Analysis of Counterarguments

Why and how do so many brilliant people argue against a six-day creation?

If one looks at the Torah and then follows history in timeline fashion from the ancient past to the present, one can discern a repeated theme, not only in the first five books but also in the rest of the Bible — Old and New Testaments — and in history — even history from “secular” sources. The apostle Paul summarizes this theme the best, in my opinion:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them 36.

I believe an appropriate summary of the above would be:

  1. God showed Himself to men, both personally and through His creative work.
  2. Men turned away from God, choosing to worship the created work (particularly the work of their own hands) rather than the Creator Himself.
  3. God allowed it. As a result, the understanding of men became darkened because they chose to believe a lie rather than the truth.
  4. Their darkened understanding resulted in throwing away any restraint and giving in to their own passions and lusts.
  5. All the while, those who engage in these acts figure out ways to support one another even though they know that what they do is condemned.

One does not have to be much of a student of history or the Bible to see this played out over and over again. Man turning away from God to a worship of idols, developing a darkened understanding, and suffering the horrific consequences for that darkened understanding occurred over and over again throughout history. Even the Jews were enslaved by Egypt, by Assyria, by Babylon, by Medo-Persia, by Greece, and by Rome through much of their history as a result of disobedience and a darkened understanding 37.

In more recent times, following the preaching of the Christian gospel throughout the western world, men who believed fell away from the truth they learned. Political aspirations overtook spiritual ones. The Church became a political body seeking for ways to obtain power. Church leaders amalgamated elements of pagan worship with Jewish and Christian traditions as a means of winning greater influence among a wider swath of people. Eventually, in order to maintain power, teachings in the form of dogma became trenchant and opponents of dogma were put down and eliminated. A knowledge of God disappeared and men’s minds became darkened during the Middle Ages.

This darkened state of affairs remained for several centuries, but as is true for all totalitarian enterprises, cracks eventually developed in the carefully crafted facade. A few men studied the biblical account and realized that they were being scammed. This resulted in the Protestant Reformation. Also during the same period, many people who had been denied a knowledge of God did not become any wiser about God during the long centuries of darkness. Instead, they used the political weakness of the Church to free themselves from unpalatable dogmatic teachings that men had endured for centuries. This resulted in the “Enlightenment;” however, rather than truly becoming “enlightened,” they chose to arrive at “knowledge” in a different way. Bereft of an appreciation for the historical and biblical account, many men began to affirm the consequent about their nature, their purpose, and their existence. Several philosophers speculated about the human condition, looking into their own darkened hearts and relying on their own darkened understanding of the cosmos to find answers within themselves and from what they could observe. Some of these men remained “theists” (they believed in a personal god) but others became “deists” (they believed in an impersonal god who “wound up the watch” so to speak and walked away) and “atheists” (they did not believe in any god but believed instead that the cosmos spontaneously generated).

The popularity of atheism became a new phenomenon. Prior to the eighteenth century, the term, “atheist,” was an insult. During the eighteenth century, it became a popular concept among intellectual elites. The power of all of these ideas — as confused as they were — grew to such a great extent that it finally erupted in Europe in the form of the French Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century. Out of resentment for the Church, both deists and atheists conspired to eliminate church clerics and the aristocracy and to destroy the Bible — something that both deists and atheists also greatly resented. Although the Revolution was ultimately unsuccessful, the ideas that resulted from it continued among the elites and the chattering classes of later times. The concept of Darwinian evolution favored by atheists (deism greatly declined in popularity after 1800) provided an explanation among these supposedly learned but biblically ignorant people for how life came to be without God.

One of several important philosophers to emerge toward the end of the nineteenth century was a man named Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). He was an unhappy man who ended life with a mental breakdown; nevertheless, he had the capacity to say what others (particularly those who wanted to remain employed) feared to say. He was the one who declared “God is dead.” This statement, though misunderstood, was true: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob no longer existed in the minds of many of the people he encountered, even though that God had existed in the minds of many for thousands of years before. As such, God was essentially “dead.”

Nietzsche had another idea that also carried the ring of truth. Although biologists and other scientists claimed that the driving force of humanity was the “will to survive,” he believed it instead to be the “will to power.” He believed that the will to power better explained human behavior than the will to survive — that people crave to have power over others and to maintain that power even more than a desire to survive. I believe there is sufficient evidence in history to support that idea. Look at all the wars that have been fought for so long. They were not fought for survival but to control others.

With the Church no longer so prominent as a spiritual and political force, other groups had a “will to power” — aspiring to gain control over the thoughts and consciences of people. One of those groups consists of secular intellectuals who claim Science as their doctrine and catechism. To assert control over the minds of others, they have to create their own cosmogeny — their explanation for “what happened” and “who is responsible for what happened” at the beginning of time. This is not a conspiracy, but frequently many with similar aspirations and goals will unite in common cause to meet common ends. To do what they intend to do, they have to fool a lot of people.

It is impossible for people to create their own cosmogeny and to have it make sense in its entirety. People who propose that there is no God and that Darwinian Evolution and the Big Bang explain everything have to figure out ways for people to accept it, even though most people intuitively sense that what they are being told is wrong. Educated and brilliant men who occupy prominent positions in academic institutions have to employ logical fallacies to do this.

You do not believe me? Well, consider the example to follow.

Bertrand Russell, a prominent and brilliant atheistic philosopher delivered a speech in 1927, entitled Why I Am Not A Christian 38. Russell had a brilliant mind, and this speech demonstrates his brilliant mind. What is brilliant about this speech, however, is not the truth it proposes: it is how it artfully tricks and confuses the listener, making his arguments seem plausible even though they are not. This can be discovered through an understanding of logical fallacies.

I have mentioned the fallacy of affirming the consequent multiple times. That is a formal fallacy. There are however a number of informal fallacies in Russell’s talk. They are fallacies not because the argument form is invalid but because the premises are mistaken and mistakenly applied to the argument.

One such informal fallacy is the fallacy of equivocation. Often a word will have multiple meanings. If the meaning of a word is switched in the middle of an argument, the listener will be confused and tricked into thinking he or she has followed the logic.

Consider, for example, his “First-cause Argument.”

Perhaps the simplest and easiest to understand is the argument of the First Cause. It is maintained that everything we see in this world has a cause, and as you go back in the chain of causes further and further you must come to a First Cause, and to that First Cause you give the name of God. That argument, I suppose, does not carry very much weight nowadays, because, in the first place, cause is not quite what it used to be. The philosophers and the men of science have got going on cause, and it has not anything like the vitality that it used to have; but apart from that, you can see that the argument that there must be a First Cause is one that cannot have any validity. I may say that when I was a young man, and was debating these questions very seriously in my mind, I for a long time accepted the argument of the First Cause, until one day, at the age of eighteen, I read John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography, and I there found this sentence: “My father taught me that the question, Who made me? cannot be answered, since it immediately suggests the further question, Who made God?” That very simple sentence showed me, as I still think, the fallacy in the argument of the First Cause. If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument. It is exactly of the same nature as the Hindu’s view, that the world rested upon an elephant, and the elephant rested upon a tortoise; and when they said, “How about the tortoise?” the Indian said, “Suppose we change the subject.” The argument is really no better than that. There is no reason why the world could not have come into being without a cause; nor, on the other hand, is there any reason why it should not have always existed. There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all. The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our imagination. Therefore, perhaps, I need not waste any more time upon the argument about the First Cause.

Russell said, “It is maintained that everything we see in this world has a cause.” He argued that if everything has a cause, then something must have caused God. “If there can be anything without a cause,” he continued, “it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument.”

What is artful about the argument is the equivocation. “Everything” can be understood as all items in the universe, which, of course, includes God. “Everything” can also be understood as all things that were made. No one in any usual sense considers a creator as something that was created, but Russell did this through equivocation in order to confuse the listener.

Russell also employed equivocation for other words. “Fiat” for example:

Kant [referring to Immanuel Kant], as I say, invented a new moral argument for the existence of God, and that in varying forms was extremely popular during the nineteenth century. It has all sorts of forms. One form is to say that there would be no right and wrong unless God existed. I am not for the moment concerned with whether there is a difference between right and wrong, or whether there is not: that is another question. The point I am concerned with is that, if you are quite sure there is a difference between right and wrong, then you are then in this situation: is that difference due to God’s fiat or is it not? If it is due to God’s fiat, then for God himself there is no difference between right and wrong, and it is no longer a significant statement to say that God is good. If you are going to say, as theologians do, that God is good, you must then say that right and wrong have some meaning which is independent of God’s fiat, because God’s fiats are good and not bad independently of the mere fact that he made them. If you are going to say that, you will then have to say that it is not only through God that right and wrong came into being, but that they are in their essence logically anterior to God. You could, of course, if you liked, say that there was a superior deity who gave orders to the God who made this world, or could take up the line that some of the agnostics [“Gnostics” — CW] took up — a line which I often thought was a very plausible one — that as a matter of fact this world that we know was made by the Devil at a moment when God was not looking. There is a good deal to be said for that, and I am not concerned to refute it.

“Fiat” is ambiguous. It can be defined as both “a formal authorization or proposition; a decree” or “an arbitrary order” 4. The ambiguity of the definition of the word confuses the listener when according to Russell, “The point I am concerned with is that, if you are quite sure there is a difference between right and wrong, then you are then in this situation: is that difference due to God’s fiat or is it not? If it is due to God’s fiat, then for God himself there is no difference between right and wrong, and it is no longer a significant statement to say that God is good.” He switched the definition from “decree” to “an arbitrary order.”

Look now at the “Natural-law Argument.”

Then there is a very common argument from Natural Law. That was a favorite argument all through the eighteenth century, especially under the influence of Sir Isaac Newton and his cosmogony. People observed the planets going around the sun according to the law of gravitation, and they thought that God had given a behest to these planets to move in that particular fashion, and that was why they did so. That was, of course, a convenient and simple explanation that saved them the trouble of looking any further for any explanation of the law of gravitation. Nowadays we explain the law of gravitation in a somewhat complicated fashion that Einstein has introduced. I do not propose to give you a lecture on the law of gravitation, as interpreted by Einstein, because that again would take some time; at any rate, you no longer have the sort of Natural Law that you had in the Newtonian system, where, for some reason that nobody could understand, nature behaved in a uniform fashion. We now find that a great many things we thought were Natural Laws are really human conventions. You know that even in the remotest depth of stellar space there are still three feet to a yard. That is, no doubt, a very remarkable fact, but you would hardly call it a law of nature. And a great many things that have been regarded as laws of nature are of that kind. On the other hand, where you can get down to any knowledge of what atoms actually do, you will find that they are much less subject to law than people thought, and that the laws at which you arrive are statistical averages of just the sort that would emerge from chance. There is, as we all know, a law that if you throw dice you will get double sixes only about once in thirty-six times, and we do not regard that as evidence that the fall of the dice is regulated by design; on the contrary, if the double sixes came every time we should think that there was design. The laws of nature are of that sort as regards to a great many of them. They are statistical averages such as would emerge from the laws of chance; and that makes the whole business of natural law much less impressive than it formerly was. Quite apart from that, which represents the momentary state of science that may change tomorrow, the whole idea that natural laws imply a law-giver is due to a confusion between natural and human laws. Human laws are behests commanding you to behave a certain way, in which way you may choose to behave, or you may choose not to behave; but natural laws are a description of how things do in fact behave, and, being a mere description of what they in fact do, you cannot argue that there must be somebody who told them to do that, because even supposing that there were you are then faced with the question, Why did God issue just those natural laws and no others? If you say that he did it simply from his own good pleasure, and without any reason, you then find that there is something which is not subject to law, and so your train of natural law is interrupted. If you say, as more orthodox theologians do, that in all the laws which God issues he had a reason for giving those laws rather than others — the reason, of course, being to create the best universe, although you would never think it to look at it — if there was a reason for the laws which God gave, then God himself was subject to law, and therefore you do not get any advantage by introducing God as an intermediary. You really have a law outside and anterior to the divine edicts, and God does not serve your purpose, because he is not the ultimate law-giver. In short, this whole argument from natural law no longer has anything like the strength that it used to have. I am traveling on in time in my review of these arguments. The arguments that are used for the existence of God change their character as time goes on. They were at first hard intellectual arguments embodying certain quite definite fallacies. As we come to modern times they become less respectable intellectually and more and more affected by a kind of moralizing vagueness.

Russell used equivocation to confuse the definitions of “law” in the minds of the listeners. Law can mean “the system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and may enforce by the imposition of penalties,” or it can mean “a statement of fact, deduced from observation, to the effect that a particular natural or scientific phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions are present” 4. He also used something else: an informal fallacy known as ignoratio elenchi or a “red herring” fallacy. A person using this offers a chain of reasoning that may seem plausible to the listener, but the arguer draws conclusions that are irrelevant to the argument. The argument “jumps the tracks” and ends up somewhere else. A funny example of ignoratio elenchi is the Chewbacca Defense 39.

Consider my summary of the beginning of Russell’s rebuttal of the “Natural-law Argument”:

  1. People thought the law of gravitation explained planets orbiting the sun.
  2. Then Einstein changed our understanding of the law of gravitation, though Russell declines to explain that further.
  3. So now we don’t have the same law that we had in the Newtonian system, where we believed that nature behaved in a uniform fashion (Einstein rewrote the law?).
  4. So many things we thought were natural laws are really human conventions. After all, there are three feet in a yard even in remote space (Huh?) — a “remarkable fact, but you would hardly call it a law of nature” (Huh??).
  5. “And a great many things that have been regarded as laws of nature are of that kind” (What kind?).
  6. “On the other hand, where you can get down to any knowledge of what atoms actually do (we have gone from gravity to atoms), you will find they are much less subject to law than people thought (Are atoms refusing to be law-abiding? And what does it matter what people think?), and that the laws at which you arrive are statistical averages of just the sort that would emerge from chance” (from gravity to atoms to rolling dice).
  7. “There is, as we all know (“ladies and gentlemen of the supposed jury” 39), a law that if you throw dice you will get double sixes only about once in thirty-six times (What law is that? When did calculations of probability become “laws”?), and we do not regard that as evidence that the fall of the dice is regulated by design; on the contrary, if the double sixes came every time we should think that there was design.”

You can follow the rest of the argument and see one irrelevant premise following another. This is brilliant sophistry. The listener is led to think that design means “double sixes coming up every time,” distracting him or her about the intelligence required to sustain life and the universe.

Russell also employed petitio principii or circular argumentation. A circular argument — also known as “begging the question” — occurs when one uses the conclusion of an argument as a premise to arrive at the conclusion of an argument. He stated:

… because since the time of Darwin we understand much better why living creatures are adapted to their environment. It is not that their environment was made to be suitable to them but that they grew to be suitable to it, and that is the basis of adaptation. There is no evidence of design about it.

If one tries to argue that there is no God and that there is Darwinism instead, he cannot use Darwinism as a premise for an argument against the existence of God!

Here is another similar circular argument:

When you come to look into this argument from design, it is a most astonishing thing that people can believe that this world, with all the things that are in it, with all its defects, should be the best that omnipotence and omniscience have been able to produce in millions of years. I really cannot believe it.

Those who argue publicly against the existence of God are highly intelligent and very artful. Furthermore, they employ ad hominem arguments. Personal attacks constitute abusive ad hominem (You and your Bible-thumping friends are idiots!). More charitable arguments — where that ignorant dunce who is your opponent cannot help himself — constitute circumstantial ad hominem (Immanuel Kant, according to Russell, “believed implicitly in the maxims that he had imbibed at his mother’s knee”). Also, some may argue against the existence of God by pointing out the hypocrisy of His followers — a form of ad hominem known as tu quoque. Such arguments, often accompanied by an arrogant sneer, are designed to keep the listener off balance, distracting one from the major issues.

Numerous scientists who espouse Darwinism and Neo-Darwinism also commonly employ three more fallacies: the straw man fallacy, moving the goalposts, and the Texas sharpshooter fallacy.

The straw man fallacy involves the misrepresentation of the position of one’s opponent, followed by an attack of the misrepresentation. The attack of the misrepresentation makes the listener think that the true position was successfully attacked. Russell did this repeatedly with the statements of Jesus (I will not further reproduce his arguments, but feel free to look them up). It is usually charitable for one when engaged in an argument to make sure that he or she thoroughly understands and states the opponent’s position before attacking it. A brilliant man like Russell understood this, but rather than analyzing the historical and linguistic context of several statements made by Jesus and explaining those to the listener, he chose instead to attack straw man caricatures of those statements. Scientists frequently use similar methods to attack arguments made by people of faith.

Many scientists also frequently move the goalposts. Imagine playing on a football team. Your team scores a touchdown, but your opponent approaches the referee and argues that the goalposts should be moved outside of the stadium and down the block. This illustrates an absurdity employed by these scientists. The opposing argument is never sufficient, regardless of the cogency or the soundness of the argument (a cogent argument is a strong inductive argument with true premises, just as a sound argument is a valid deductive argument with true premises 3).

Scientists also use numerical and other empirical data to commit the Texas sharpshooter fallacy. Consider the story of the “Texas sharpshooter.” While randomly shooting at the siding of his barn one day, it occurred to a farmer to draw targets around the clusters formed from his randomly placed shots. After doing that, he invited his friends to look at his barn as he exclaimed, “Lookee here! I’m a Texas sharpshooter!”

Analyzing and perceiving patterns in physical data are often ways scientists use to surmise past events. The patterns are then frequently formalized. Such constructs include conclusions from radiometric dating 40 and index fossils 41. The clusters of data allow these detailed categorizations, and the data points outside of these targets? — well, they are simply “outliers” (the statistical definition of an outlier is: “a data point on a graph or in a set of results that is very much bigger or smaller than the next nearest data point” 3). Such detailed categorizations may be useful as hypotheses, but hypotheses need to be tested. Unfortunately, past events can never be tested because they are in the past and not accessible to testing.

If I were one of the friends of the “Texas sharpshooter,” I might consider his “hypothesis” to be “interesting” but I would want to take the farmer to a target range to test independently how well he shoots before drawing any certain conclusions about his prowess. Such testing cannot be done with radiometric dating or index fossils because the events occurred in the past, and the past no longer exists in a real sense.

But of all fallacies offered by scientists and philosophers, there is no greater fallacy than…wait for it…wait for it…wait for it…

The fallacy of affirming the consequent for complex past events.

This fallacy is modern science’s greatest downfall. Natural and physical scientists may criticize forensic scientists for how they do science 5, but in truth, organizations of natural and physical scientists perpetuate the problems. They are the source of the “voodoo science” for past events that we see perpetrated by forensic pathologists, child abuse pediatricians, and other forensic scientists and medical practitioners. It is high time that modern scientists got their act together and learned a little logic!

This treatise has been lengthy, but thank you for continuing to read. After summarizing and making one more final point in the Epilogue, I will conclude my argument.

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