In the discussion of controversial matters, most thinking people believe they are open-minded to the facts and logical in their conclusions. University courses in critical thinking skills exist (or at least used to exist) to help students understand fair-mindedness, intellectual humility, and intellectual integrity as they ponder tough life subjects and concepts.
All thinkers should indeed develop, and then improve, their critical thinking skills. It is my observation that in the evolution versus creation argument, there can be some on both sides who lack this particular skill. But, as I follow the vehement anti-creationist arguments in the scientific literature and in the general secular media, I am astounded at the lack of critical thinking displayed therein. There are at least six popular distortion techniques commonly used by evolutionists that Christians must be keenly aware of to be able to defend the faith (1 Peter 3:15 and Jude 3) and understand the truth regarding scientific evidence in the origins debate. The six distortion techniques are:
1. THE BLIND APPEAL TO AUTHORITY:
This technique is usually the first used to discredit creation science and creation scientists. In this technique, the creation science position is dismissed with a wave of the hand by statements such as “no real scientist believes…” or “all experts are in accord that…” A very common example of this technique is where an evolutionary proponent will say that evolution is a proven scientific fact and anyone who does not believe this is ignorant or an idiot.
A look at history reveals that most major breakthroughs in science occurred because some researcher probed outside the prevailing opinion. A critical thinker will always agree with the statement that “truth is not determined by majority opinion.”
2. AD HOMINEM ATTACKS:
This technique is often used by anti-creationists against creation scientists and other creation proponents. Ad hominem is Latin and means “to the man.” In other words, the attack used in this technique is in the form of personal attacks or insults that have nothing to do with the evidence. It is not surprising that this technique is so popular among anti-creationists since the evidence for macroevolution is so weak. And the weaker the evidence is, the louder the personal attacks and insults usually are by those who use ad hominem attacks.
3. SELECTIVE USE OF EVIDENCE:
People will believe anything. This is because men have learned to find ways to concoct evidence to support any position, no matter how ridiculous. If one uses critical thinking skills in an attempt to find truth, then all of the relevant evidence must be examined.
For example, the largest gap between evolutionists and creationists in the study of the fossils in the rock record is a result of the refusal by evolutionists to consider the possibility that the fossils are the result of a worldwide Flood. On the other hand, creationists must continually examine the evolutionary view since the vast majority of geology, biology, and paleontology is reported using that view. But evolutionists never consider the biblical view. They are examining the evidence while refusing to consider all presuppositions and possibilities. This is one result of their blind faith acceptance of the presuppositions required for methodological naturalism.
4. THE STRAW MAN:
The entire creation vs. evolution debate concerns determination of truth about the past. So it is more a matter of disagreements about history than about science.
When someone distorts a position, and then attacks the distorted position, it is called “attacking a straw man.” Anti-creationists constantly set up a straw man attacks by trying to make the controversy an issue of religion vs. science. Of course they define creationism as religion and evolutionism as science.
The current state of public schools in the United States is that the religion of Christianity has indeed been taken out and has been replaced with the religion of Secular Humanism, which has naturalism and evolution as its foundation. This outcome was the result of anti-Christians using the straw man attack against the teaching of valid anti-evolutionist ideas in public schools. The bogus argument often successfully used to this end is church and state must be separated in public institutions.
5. BEGGING THE QUESTION:
When someone “begs the question” it means that they have already assumed an answer. Anti-creationists presuppose that there is no God (atheism) or that God is irrelevant (deism), that evolution is true, that homology proves evolution, that creation is a myth, and that there never has been a worldwide Flood. In other words, they presuppose all of these things.
By defining science to exclude God and the Bible evolutionists have begged the question before even starting the debate; therefore there can be no possibility for honest debate on the question or for any real search for truth; and no possibility for dialogue!
6. THE TESTABLE CONCLUSION:
When someone makes a statement that cannot be scientifically tested, it is at most an interpretation or statement of faith, not a fact. All of our secular museums, our national monuments, and our national parks provide us with interpretations of the earth’s past based on the naturalistic worldview (evolution and deep time). All interpretations are based on presuppositions that may or may not be true. It is important to determine the presuppositions for all of these interpretations presented as facts.
Famous atheist astronomer Carl Sagan said, “The Cosmos is all there is, or ever was, or ever will be.” He stated this as a fact, but this was really just his opinion, which he had taken on faith. This statement is not science since it cannot be scientifically tested. All people must be ever vigilant of statements presented as facts that are only interpetations or opinions. This vigilance is a mark of a person who uses developed critical thinking skills.
The foregoing was adapted from The Creation Dialogues – 2nd Edition, by J.D. Mitchell, CEC Publications, © 2014.