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.)
The first time I died, I was sitting in a black robe on a brown aluminum chair, waiting for my row to be ushered to the stage. I felt my heart beating faster as the line of whispering graduates in front of me rose amidst the rustle of gowns. They made their way across the football field and I watched as the usher held a hand out to the boy at the end of my row. We were next. My face felt flushed and hot. My chest tightened. The lights seemed to dim before me, though the sun was beating down hot and bright. I felt my gown sticking to the back of my sweaty arms and I glanced toward the bleachers. I couldn’t see dad anywhere among the thousand or so proud faces. Not that I was surprised. He had probably passed out hours ago. I shook my head in an attempt to shake the feeling of vertigo growing in my ears and brain. The chair in front of me lurched toward my face, bringing a plane of green grass along with it. I felt a tugging on my robe, but the force was insubstantial - ethereal - like the distant ringing of an alarm clock. An iris of darkness closed around me as a blurry pain blossomed across my forehead. Even now, I can still remember that last thought – my parting words to my first life: “Oh shit!”
Strength to Psythid
Fein Renji Zoar, leader of the Psythe and Commander of the Psythid war fleet, gazed at the screen before him, his eyes steaming with pleasure. The air sac below his three blue eyes expanded, drawing in a healthy breath of the acrid smoke drifting lazily through the room. The black star-studded depths of outer space covered the cabin’s screen, and a charred hunk of metal floated across it, as a million similar pieces lay scattered throughout the distance beyond. Though Zoar could not read it, he clearly saw the symbols printed onto the side of the chunk of spaceship as it meandered through the empty space outside. Most of the primitive language had been blasted away. Only the symbols “...nited Stat...” lie stenciled across the gray metal amid a patch of smeared red, white, and blue paint.
Fein Zoar croaked, “I’m surprised the puny creatures managed to lift this thing through their atmosphere, much less get it to fly through space. I feel like we’ve done nothing more than step on a harmless Garlack. What did they expect to do in this heap? Escape? I doubt they could have made it farther than a couple of planets out. They certainly couldn’t have traveled across the galaxy.”
Fein Zoar’s rumbling voice emerged like a can of rocks rolling across the ground. But to Fin Ilzeko, Fein Zoar’s Overseer and second in command, he sounded ecstatic. Zoar rapped Ilzeko’s shelled back with a long whip-like tentacle in a sign of camaraderie.
“You have done well, Fin Ilzeko, and you will most certainly be rewarded for it,” said Fein Zoar through a muscular slit running upward between two of his three eyes.
“Yes, my Fein. The prisoner is well secured, and it seems that he may have useful intelligence.”
Zoar’s air sac collapsed into a mass of wrinkled folds, sending out a jet of smoke through the vertical slit mouth. “And what of the expendables? Have they been eliminated?”
“Yes, my Fein. They have been jettisoned out through the air lock. There,” said Ilzeko waving his whip toward the screen, “you can see one of them now.”
A white space suit spun helplessly in the distance, its arms and legs waving madly to no avail.
“Filthy creatures, polluting our sweet air,” muttered Zoar, taking in another large breath of smoke.
“I can’t imagine that we’ll find anything useful from this forsaken planet, which is fine by me. I can almost smell its stench from out here.”
“I know what you mean, my Fein. I have to close my bulbs every time I get near the prisoner. His odors seem to penetrate straight through my containment suit. And I hate having to wear that thing.”
Fein Zoar scratched at the soft brown fur protruding from his underbelly as he watched two hunks of the obliterated spaceship collide into one another beyond the window.
“Fear not, Fin Ilzeko. As soon as you have gathered everything you can from him, you may reunite him with his frozen companions in oblivion. Tell me, what has your crew been able to gather from the pink one?”
One of Fin Ilzeko’s eyes telescoped inward into his face, rewetting itself. “Well, my Fein, he is definitely acquainted with his region’s military. The prisoner has not yet revealed any details, but he will surely break soon. The difficult part is trying not to kill him. Theirs is a squishy race, easily punctured and broken. Their bodies tend to leak red fluid every time you touch them.”
“No matter. If that junk out there is any indication of their technological abilities, we could probably toss down a few furry Garlacks and kill everything on the planet. I almost feel sorry for them. But orders are orders, and we will do whatever is handed down to us.”
“My Fein, do you think the small one, the youngling, will be of any use?”
“Probably not, Fin Ilzeko, probably not. He seemed much too scared and feeble to accomplish anything, though the boy may yet surprise us. At the very least, however, that escape pod and shaken youngling will certainly serve as an excellent warning to Dralahn Las. And they will still have no idea what’s coming.”
Fein Zoar’s slit clapped open and shut, sending puffs of smoke and grunts into the air. Ilzeko joined in his superior’s laughter, but then trailed off.
“My Fein, may I be so bold as to ask you a question?”
Zoar tilted his wrinkled purple head forward, looking at Ilzeko through the bright blue third eye above his mouth. “You may ask two questions, Fin Ilzeko, and I am counting that one as your first. What is your second question?”
Ilzeko grunted at his leader’s attempt at humor, if that is what it was. “Well, my Fein, do we really know what’s coming?”
Zoar’s slit narrowed as his air sac deflated. He tilted his head back again, now glaring at the soldier through all three eyes, and spoke seriously. “Fin Ilzeko, it does not matter what we do or do not know about the Kre’losth. All we need to know is that they are coming, and that we will be going the way of the Earthlings if we do not obey orders. Understand?”
Ilzeko brought his hulking body into rigid formation, both whips lying flat against his back and hi arms akimbo. “Yes, my Fein. Strength to Psythid,” said Ilzeko raising his tentacles into a figure eight.
“Good. You may be excused.”
Ilzeko exited the bridge, leaving Fein Renji Zoar to survey the Earth ship’s remains tumbling into the cold blackness of space.
It is too late for us to turn back now, Ilzeko my friend. We have built our nest and now we must lie in it. The deal has been made, for good or ill, and we can only hope that the Kre’losth are good to their word. All else is doom.
Fein Zoar rolled back into his cushion, gulping a massive breath of the life-giving smoke, and hoped that his trust was right. In his hearts, however, he knew that it was probably wrong. Dead wrong.
You may notice a complete dearth of activity in this blog throughout 2007. This is because I spent most of the entire year working on my first novel:
The Sil'thurian Threads
Secrets of the Psythe
Look for it on bookshelves...oh...maybe never. Or maybe when I can get a publishable draft done.
At least I finished it though. I spent about 30 minutes to 1.5 hours a day during lunch for about twelve months, with occasional weekend/night writing.
Now it needs some good hack and slash work. Right now, in standard manuscript format, it is about 133,000 words and 550 pages. Too long....