I was reading a recent blog post by Dinesh D’Souza in which he manages two such flagrantly appalling misapplications of logic, that I feel compelled to review them…
The first is an example of the backwards Appeal to Nature fallacy that I pointed out the other day. I think I will start referring to this as the “Unappeal of Nature” fallacy. The typical Appeal to Nature fallacy is usually employed to make moral judgments about acts based on their natural- or unnatural-ness. That which occurs in nature is considered “good” and that which does not is “bad.” When it comes to evolution, however, the fallacy is twisted in an odd way.
As an argument against the acceptance of evolution D’Souza states:
Nazis repeatedly invoked Darwinian evolution and that Nazi doctrine used “survival of the fittest” as a virtual recruiting phrase.
Linking evolution to Nazis is a fairly common technique of creationists. The general argument follows these lines:
- Evolutionary theory asserts that competition in nature accounts for the “passing-on” of certain traits by individuals who are more successful or better adapted to their environment.
- Less successful Individuals die-off in the continuous competition for food and resources.
- Since this competition occurs in nature, it must be “good” and therefore “right” to copy in human society (this is known as Social Darwinism).
- As it turns out Social Darwinism is not very good for our society, and it has been used by some very bad people as justification for their own narrow goals (e.g. Nazis).
- Therefore evolution must be wrong.
Clever, huh? The odd twist is the assertion that evolution must be wrong because applying what is “natural” blindly is not good for us. Maybe the problem is that the argument is built on a FALLACY? I mean, this logic is about as bad as it comes — it’s like saying, “If we copy something from nature and it turns out to be bad for us, then it doesn’t really happen in nature”… what?
Okay, that was just the first insult to logic — the next one is even insultier.
You may have heard of the “Cosmological Argument” for God. It asserts that since every effect has a cause, a First Cause is required to get everything started — the First Cause is God.
D’Souza finds this argument endlessly compelling. Richard Dawkins, on the other hand, doesn’t think too much of it. He argues that God’s existence, an existence more complex than the universe, an existence that can step in an out of space and/or time, that can create everything, keep an eye on it, tweak it now and again, and generally be everything to everyone forever and for always — that explaining how such a being came into existence is far harder than positing a simple solution like evolution to account for life as we know it today.
In a fine example of theo-illogical doublespeak D’Souza replies:
But consider the argument itself more closely. Is it really true that Complex Explanation A [God] for Complex Phenomenon B [modern life] only works if we can give a full account of A? Actually it is not true. Gravity may account for why objects fall at a certain pace, but this does not require that we give an account for where gravity comes from or why it exists in the first place. If we find various signs of intelligent life on another planet we can conclude that there are aliens on that planet without having any idea of who created them or where they came from. In summary, the best explanation for something does not require that we also provide an explanation for the explanation.
Did you get that?! Let me rephrase it for you: God requires no explanation because God is the explanation!
It must really be gratifying to operate inside the theo-illogical mind; it is so easily satisfied by its own circularity, credulity, and laziness… If gravity exists, it is because gravity exists! Done… no further explanation required.
The beauty of evolution is that such a simple theory can explain so much. And yes, it also raises some deep and interesting questions such as: “Where does the compulsion to replicate come from — and how did it get started?” But unlike the explanation “God did it,” these are questions for which we can attempt to find answers, and science is pursuing those answers.
D’Souza already has all the answers he needs — now his efforts are merely to shutdown the questions.