Biochemical Soul Musings on Nature, Science, Evolution, Biology, and Education

11Sep/08Off

Doctrine: the Antithesis of Evolution and All Science

Dr. Jim West has implicitly claimed that because evolutionists often defend the theory of evolution so passionately and vociferously (or as he puts it, with "religious zeal"), then that must mean that evolution is "doctrine" [1. in this argument, I am only referring to the common usage of doctrine meaning "dogmatic system of beliefs" as opposed to the more innocuous "codified system of teachings". Of course evolution is a codified system of teachings. But it is a system that inherently acknowledges its own fallibility and tenuous nature]. (his post title: If It’s Not A Doctrine, Why Are People So Defensive?).

I hear this argument all the time, in multiple variations - claiming that because we defend evolution passionately, that means that evolution is "dogmatic" or "religious."

This is specious logic at best. I originally responded to his post in his own comment section, and I reproduce my thoughts here:

1) Just because someone is vociferous and passionate with any sort of claim, defense, proclamation, or simple statement, that does not have any bearing on its “religiosity”. Calling a passionate response “religious zeal” is simply an attempt to obfuscate the language and warp the debate.

2) Equating the passionate nature of a subject’s defense with anything concerning the nature of that subject is simple fallacious logic (i.e. what the hell does passion of a response have to do with whether or not it is doctrine?)

I will agree with the philosophical premise that ALL scientific knowledge is predicated on the prime assumption that sense relates to reality. Thankfully, simple pragmatism allows us to build science from the fact that it seems to work.

However, neither science nor evolution can be considered “doctrine” for the simple inherent acknowedgement within the scientific epistomology that it will always be possible that the prime assumption might be false. This is why science “fact” isn’t based on provability, but by falsifiability. Even the falsification of any scientific hypothesis is always considered inherently tentative. You cannot call something doctrine if that doctrine implicitly acknowledges its own fallibility.

(note: obviously in this argument, I am only referring to the common usage of doctrine meaning “dogmatic system of beliefs” as opposed to the more innocuous “codified system of teachings”. Of course evolution is a codified system of teachings. But it is a system that inherently acknowledges its own fallibility and tenuous nature.)

(Update: he has deleted my comments multiple times - maybe the word "hell" offended him? Or perhaps he couldn't argue?

Update 2: now they are online - apparently he doesn't like people to use pseudonyms. I guess I could have made up a name, but oh well - My name is easy enough to find.)

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  1. Thank you. I have never heard such a succinct rebuttal of the religious zeal argument!

  2. Glad to be of service.

    I hate it when obvious non sequiturs are used in arguments against science (or any argument for that matter). It seems like such an obvious logical fallacy, yet so many are pulled in with them.

    C’est la vie


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