Comparison and contrast in debate methods

Christopher Flickinger provides a good example of what is troublesome in the evolution debate in Biology Prof: Evolution Isn’t Theory, it’s Fact [Human Events 05ag17]. A contrast is provided by the Onion in Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New ‘Intelligent Falling’ Theory.

Flickinger exhibits snark in his ad hominem arguments and false presumptions and assumptions. He tries satire but misses by sacrificing truth to his agenda.

Did you hear the news? Evolution is no longer a theory. It’s a fact! I know, I can’t believe it either. Wait, you haven’t heard about this breakthrough discovery? Well, you might want to check with Professor Colin Purrington, an evolutionary biologist who teaches at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Professor Purrington says, “Evolution is a ‘theory’ like gravity is a ‘theory.’”

Students deserve to hear both sides of the debate. If not, how else are aspiring evolutionists going to realize they’re wrong?

Uh, evolution is observed. It is observed by those who breed living things. Itis observed in the geological record. It is observed in laboratory experiment. The so-called debate is an artificial construct created not to resolve what is seen and observed but rather to try to refute logical inference and rational thinking.

On the other hand, the Onion uses satire to expose the anti-evolution argument fallacies through exageration and contrast.

“Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, ‘I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.’ Of course, he is alluding to a higher power.”

Flickinger’s attempt using satire directed at a particular individual falls flat unless you are an adherent to his thesis. The more you know about the argument and the people involved, the more vacant his satire becomes. The Onion’s attempt uses humor to impugn the argument and not the person and becomes even more humorous the more you know about the physics of gravity and the arguments of the anti-evolutionists.

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