This Scarecrow Has a Brain
by Melissa Travis
Opponents of the intelligent design (ID) argument often claim that it’s nothing more than re-vamped creationism devised to evade the law prohibiting the teaching of creation science in public school classrooms. At the mention of ID, detractors retort with something like, “Religion has no place in the classroom. We have separation of church and state for a reason. Besides, modern science has repeatedly shown that the earth is much older than 6,000 years. It’s all a bunch of fundamentalist, superstitious nonsense.”
This is a fine example of what is known as a straw man fallacy. Imagine a champion boxer coming into the ring for a fight, and instead of another boxer waiting for him, there’s a straw-stuffed scarecrow. Exactly how impressive would it be for this highly-skilled fighter to knock this opponent down for the count? Not at all, right? It’s the same with the straw man fallacy.
You can think of it this way:
Scientist 1 endorses X
Scientist 2 makes an argument for Y, then proceeds to tear down Y
Scientist 2 then claims he has defeated the argument for X
Notice that Scientist 2 has not defeated X, he has only defeated his distorted version of X. This is fallacious. My point here is: ID and creationism are two completely separate concepts; when opponents of ID argue against it by equating it with creationism, they’re committing the straw man fallacy. (ID is, however, COMPATIBLE with Christianity and other theistic faiths.)
So, if ID is not the idea that the Judeo-Christian God created the world and everything in it in six literal days approximately 6,000 years ago (young-earth creationism), what is it?
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|Recommended Resources: Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design | Unlocking the Mystery of Life (dvd)|