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Feedback archiveFeedback 2005

Hypocritical … dishonest … fallacious? CMI?

5 September 2005

“Here’s how some scientists think some eyes may have evolved: The simple light-sensitive spot on the skin of some ancestral creature gave it some tiny survival advantage, perhaps allowing it to evade a predator. Random changes then created a depression in the light-sensitive patch, a deepening pit that made “vision” a little sharper. At the same time, the pit’s opening gradually narrowed, so light entered through a small aperture, like a pinhole camera.

“Every change had to confer a survival advantage, no matter how slight. Eventually, the light-sensitive spot evolved into a retina, the layer of cells and pigment at the back of the human eye. Over time a lens formed at the front of the eye. It could have arisen as a double-layered transparent tissue containing increasing amounts of liquid that gave it the convex curvature of the human eye.

“In fact, eyes corresponding to every stage in this sequence have been found in existing living species. The existence of this range of less complex light-sensitive structures supports scientists’ hypotheses about how complex eyes like ours could evolve. The first animals with anything resembling an eye lived about 550 million years ago. And, according to one scientist’s calculations, only 364,000 years would have been needed for a camera-like eye to evolve from a light-sensitive patch.”

When you provide a single source as evidence, you lie to your audience. You deny the possiblity that the single source could be wrong. This is both a false dichotomy and an appeal to authority.

In the following article: An eye for creation

You use one man’s opinion as scientific Gospel. If you are going to use a logical fallacy, at least appeal to the authoritative word of the scientific masses—not a single individual.

It’s funny how [CMI] suggests not to use Darwin’s untruthful deathbed comment as an argument in favour of creationism. First because he never said evolution was wrong while dying. Second because even if he did, it does not refute all the evidence mounted in evolution’s favour.

Then [CMI] turns around and quotes a single, fallable, man; proffering his opinion of the eye’s complexity as further evidence of creationism.

You simply cannot have it both ways. An appeal to authority is wrong. Period.

In all honesty, you should either pull the page from your site, note that it is an appeal to authority, make a public apology, note that the eye could have developed by means of natural selection alone (i.e., evolution), or otherwise make amends for being dishonest.

Sincerely,

Richard Flynn
USA


“Here’s how some scientists think some eyes may have evolved: The simple light-sensitive spot on the skin of some ancestral creature gave it some tiny survival advantage, perhaps allowing it to evade a predator. Random changes then created a depression in the light-sensitive patch, a deepening pit that made “vision” a little sharper. At the same time, the pit’s opening gradually narrowed, so light entered through a small aperture, like a pinhole camera.

“Every change had to confer a survival advantage, no matter how slight. Eventually, the light-sensitive spot evolved into a retina, the layer of cells and pigment at the back of the human eye. Over time a lens formed at the front of the eye. It could have arisen as a double-layered transparent tissue containing increasing amounts of liquid that gave it the convex curvature of the human eye.”

In fact, eyes corresponding to every stage in this sequence have been found in existing living species. The existence of this range of less complex light-sensitive structures supports scientists’ hypotheses about how complex eyes like ours could evolve. The first animals with anything resembling an eye lived about 550 million years ago. And, according to one scientist’s calculations, only 364,000 years would have been needed for a camera-like eye to evolve from a light-sensitive patch.”

Here is a case of a complainant having not read thoroughly what we have already published on our website. These evolutionary claims were dealt with in Dr Sarfati’s review of Dawkins’ Climbing Mount Improbable.

[Salutation],

I read with amusement the guest column in the Cincinnati Enquirer regarding Mt St. Helens and Dr Whitmore’s response posted June 28, 2005. As a resident of Oregon I remember watching the huge column of ash rising into the sky on May 18, 1980 and the devastation that occurred down the Toutle River. The guest columnist had no idea what he was talking about. I would also like to mention another evidence for the tremendous force and power of floodwaters that is present here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. On the surrounding hillsides of the valley there are boulders that were carried from Montana and Eastern Washingon during the same flood that carved the Scablands. These boulders weigh many tons and would require heavy equipment to move yet they were carried hundreds of miles downstream and deposited high on hillsides in the valley. A pressure washer couldn’t move these boulders an inch. I am no geologist, but I imagine that the hydraulic power of the floodwaters would be greatly augmented by such debris, similar to the way pumice in soap does wonders for scouring dirty hands.

Thank you so much for your ministry. Your information has deeply strengthed my confidence in sharing my faith. No longer do I have to avoid the tough questions — now I have the answers, in Genesis!

God Bless,

Harold Hayward III
USA

Note that evolutionists cannot demonstrate a phylogenetic progression from simple to complex eyes, which would be necessary to authenticate the claim that complex eyes have arisen from less complex ones. Rather, faced with the lack of evidence for this and the evidence of disparate designs of eyes that could not be derived from other eyes, they claim that the eye has evolved independently many times! So the evolutionists’ claims above are nothing but an empty polemical trick; an argument motivated by the desire to sell the story, rather than based in fact, ignoring all the insurmountable problems with the story. For example, after studying just some arthropod eyes, Oakley et al. commented:

‘These results illustrate exactly why arthropod compound eye evolution has remained controversial, because one of two seemingly very unlikely evolutionary histories must be true. Either compound eyes with detailed similarities evolved multiple times in different arthropod groups or compound eyes have been lost in a seemingly inordinate number of arthropod lineages.’ (Oakley, T.H. and Cunningham, C.W., Molecular phylogenetic evidence for the independent evolutionary origin of an arthropod compound eye, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 99(3):1426–1430, 5 February 2002.)

According to evolutionary dating, trilobites were some of the oldest multi-cellular organisms, but phacopid trilobite eyes were anything but simple. These eyes are far more complex than something a step or two removed from your putative simple light-sensitive spot (which is incredibly complex at the biochemical level anyway, as explained in the review above) that hardly pre-dated the trilobites. As evolutionist Levi-Setti remarked:

‘Trilobites had solved a very elegant physical problem and apparently knew about Fermat’s principle, Abbé’s sine law, Snell’s laws of refraction and the optics of birefringent crystals …’

When you provide a single source as evidence, you lie to your audience.

Only if the source is inaccurate and we knowingly publish it; neither is true. The brilliant creationist physicist, Isaac Newton, was the single source for the Laws of Motion, but that does not mean they were or are false. You have to demonstrate that we have knowingly published false information to justify your charge. Your post seems like a smokescreen attempting to cover your inability to refute a true expert’s demolition of a favorite evolutionary canard (invariably advanced by those with no qualifications in ophthalmology such as Richard Dawkins, Massimo Pigliucci, Daniel Dennett, Kenneth Miller, Jared Diamond, to give some names).

You deny the possiblity that the single source could be wrong.

We made no such denial, but we checked to make sure that Dr Marshall was correct anyway, so it is highly unlikely that what he said was incorrect, especially considering his specialist knowledge of the subject. And neither you, nor anyone else, have demonstrated that what he said is incorrect in any way.

This is both a false dichotomy and an appeal to authority.

In the following article: An eye for creation

You use one man’s opinion as scientific Gospel.

If you are going to use a logical fallacy, at least appeal to the authoritative word of the scientific masses — not a single individual.

If we were guilty of this ‘sin’, it is not a fallacy of formal logic, as you falsely imply, but an example of an informal fallacy. But there are legitimate grounds for appealing to authority that do not constitute any sort of fallacy. The informal fallacy of appealing to authority applies when someone is held up as an authority just because they are an authority figure. For example, suppose you had a doctorate in education and a friend was having an argument about the evolution of the eye and the friend appealed to you for your opinion and you agreed with your friend. And then your friend triumphantly announced, ‘There, I told you so, Richard, who has a doctorate, agrees with me, so you’re wrong.’ That is an example of a fallacious appeal to authority, because Richard Flynn is not an expert on eyes. However, if the person is an expert on the subject, it is not a fallacy to appeal to that authority.

Indeed, in your line of reasoning, ‘the word of the scientific masses’, is an appeal to authority (not to mention argumentum ad numerum or bandwagon fallacy).  That is, just because most scientists might agree with your point of view does not give it credibility because most scientists know little about the subject in question.  That is because evolution has no practical value to real scientific research, as we have already pointed outIndeed, Philip Skell, Emeritus Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, wrote (‘Why Do We Invoke Darwin?’, The Scientist, 19(16):10, 29 August 2005):

‘Certainly, my own research with antibiotics during World War II received no guidance from insights provided by Darwinian evolution. Nor did Alexander Fleming's discovery of bacterial inhibition by penicillin. … I also examined the outstanding biodiscoveries of the past century: the discovery of the double helix; the characterization of the ribosome; the mapping of genomes; research on medications and drug reactions; improvements in food production and sanitation; the development of new surgeries; and others. I even queried biologists working in areas where one would expect the Darwinian paradigm to have most benefited research, such as the emergence of resistance to antibiotics and pesticides. Here, as elsewhere, I found that Darwin’s theory had provided no discernible guidance, but was brought in, after the breakthroughs, as an interesting narrative gloss.

‘… Darwinian explanations … are often too supple: Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive—except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed—except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.’

Dr George Marshall has a PhD in ophthalmology and is the Jules Thorn Lecturer in Ophthalmic Science at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. Another expert in eyes, Dr Peter Gurney, has written at a technical level about the nonsense promulgated by Dawkins (who is not an eye expert) that the human eye is wired ‘backwards’ and also agrees that eyes could not have evolved. See Is our “inverted” retina really “bad design”? TJ 13(1):37–44, 1999.

In fact, this is another major problem with the just-so story you told above.  The hypothetical ancestor starts with the nerve behind the light-sensitive spot.  The vertebrate eye has the nerves in front of the photoreceptors, which as Drs Marshall and Gurney show from their in-depth knowledge of the eye is a superior design to the Dawkins proposal.  Yet the evolutionary just-so story provides no transitions from behind to front, with all the other complex coordinated changes that would have to occur as well.

It’s funny how [CMI] suggests not to use Darwin’s untruthful deathbed comment as an argument in favour of creationism. First because he never said evolution was wrong while dying. Second because even if he did, it does not refute all the evidence mounted in evolution’s favour.

Then [CMI] turns around and quotes a single, fallable, man; proffering his opinion of the eye’s complexity as further evidence of creationism.

There is an incredible confusion of categories here: comparing apples with oranges. And we did not say that the story of Darwin’s deathbed change of heart should not be used because even if it were true ‘it does not refute all the evidence mounted in evolution’s favour’. Here is what we said on our Arguments we think creationists should NOT use page:

Darwin recanted on his deathbed’. Many people use this story, originally from a Lady Hope. However, it is almost certainly not true, and there is no corroboration from those who were closest to him, even from Darwin’s wife Emma, who never liked evolutionary ideas. Also, even if true, so what? If Ken Ham recanted Creation, would that disprove it? There is no value to this argument whatever.’

Since you have grossly distorted what we said, your charge of being inconsistent is baseless.

And you have not demonstrated that Dr Marshall has erred in the material we have published; so you have not even demonstrated that Dr Marshall is fallible in the subject matter at hand (although undoubtedly he is ‘fallible’, as all scientists are, but that does not mean that fallible scientists cannot discover the truth).

You simply cannot have it both ways. An appeal to authority is wrong. Period.

As explained above, what we published was not a fallacious appeal to authority at all.

In all honesty, you should either pull the page from your site, note that it is an appeal to authority, make a public apology, note that the eye could have developed by means of natural selection alone (i.e., evolution), or otherwise make amends for being dishonest.

Perhaps, rather you should apologize for making baseless allegations. You have provided no evidence to back up your charges.

Sincerely,

Richard Flynn
USA

Sincerely,

Don Batten
CMI–Australia

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