Science in Christian Perspective

 

Evolutionís Fatal Flaw

John A. McIntyre*

Physics Department
jmcintyre@phys.tamu.edu

Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-4242

 

Character of the Flaw

A fatal flaw lies at the heart of the theory of biological evolution. The flaw is a logical fallacy, i.e. a logical argument that appears to be conclusive.See e.g., H. W. B. Joseph, An Introduction to Logic (Oxford: 1916), 566.

It is fatal because a logical error in any system of knowledge destroys the logical coherence of the system. In this respect, a logical error is like an arithmetical error such as 2 + 2 = 5. If such an arithmetical error is incorporated into a calculation, conclusions of the calculation cannot be trusted. Correspondingly, with a logical fallacy incorporated into the theory of evolution, conclusions drawn from it cannot be trusted. If conclusions from the theory of evolution cannot be trusted, then the theory of evolution is worthlessó indeed, a fatal flaw.

Identification of the Flaw

So, where is this fatal flaw, this logical fallacy, in evolution? The fallacy appears in the evolutionistsí understanding of evolution itself. This understanding is expressed, for example, in the popular description of evolution by George Gaylord Simpson:

The meaning of evolution is that man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind.G. G. Simpson, The Meaning of Evolution (New York, New American Library Mentor Book, 1953), 179.

Here, the logical fallacy reveals itself immediately. Evolution is said to be a purposeless and materialistic process. Indisputably, evolution is a materialistic process since materialistic instruments (electrical measurements, microscopes, chemical tests) are used to investigate evolution. But these materialistic measurements can tell us nothing about the purpose behind evolution, since "purpose" lies outside the materialistic world. Furthermore, by introducing "purpose," Simpson necessarily introduces an agent exercising purpose. Thus, Simpson draws the conclusion that there is no agent (God) exercising purpose outside the materialistic universe from information gained inside the materialistic universe. It is as though Hamlet concluded that there were no Shakespeare because he could not find Shakespeare within the confines of the play.

Of course, such an obvious logical fallacy has long been known to philosophers. Aristotle (circa 350 BC) identified this particular logical fallacy in the following Latin and English terms:

A dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter

"From a statement under a condition to a statement simply, or without that condition"See e.g., Joseph, 589.

In modern terms, Aristotle says that if a conclusion is reached from a premise under a restrictive condition, then it is fallacious to reach the same conclusion when the condition on the premise is removed. Yet this is just what Simpson does in his description of evolution. He begins with the premise of a materialistic universe and reaches the conclusion of the absence of purpose in this universe. (He can describe evolution in the materialistic universe without using the concept of purpose.) However, Simpson then removes the restriction of a materialistic universe and proceeds to reach the conclusion of the absence of purpose outside the materialistic universe. He, thus, uses the fallacious argument of Aristotle.

Description of the Flaw

What kind of mistake is made by committing this fallacy? This question can be answered with precision by casting the fallacy into an argument form that can be analyzed by the use of symbolic logic. (Symbolic logic is a systematic way to deal with logical statements just as arithmetic is a systematic way to deal with numbers.) We begin with Simpsonís description of evolution:

The meaning of evolution is that man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind.

We then cast Simpsonís description into an argument with a premise and a conclusion:

Since evolution proceeds through a materialistic process, there is no God to provide a purpose for the process.

This argument can be analyzed through the use of symbolic logic and is found to be an invalid argument (see Appendix A). The use of Aristotleís fallacy a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter leads, then, to an invalid argument. Since the characteristic of an invalid argument is that its conclusion may be false, the conclusion that evolution is purposeless is worthless.

The flaw in the description of evolution is the incorporation of an invalid argument into the description.

The Christian Response to the Flaw

Since a logically invalid argument must be used in order to proceed from the materialistic content of evolution to the conclusion that there is no Maker of heaven and earth who has a purpose for his creation, Christians, then, should recognize that no conclusions about purpose or design in the universe can be based on a materialistic description of the universe. Beliefs, such as those in the Apostlesí Creed: "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth," are thus secure from the conclusions of any argument based on the materialistic content of evolution.

No longer do Christians need to be concerned about the content of materialistic evolution, since conclusions about religious beliefs can be drawn from this content only through the use of a logically invalid argument. Consequently, when Christian students are told today by their George Gaylord Simpson-parroting teachers that "the meaning of evolution is that man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind," the students should simply respond, "a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter." If the teachers hear these words often enough, maybe they will stop using this logical fallacy.

The Consensus of Evolutionists and the Flaw

Simpson is not the only evolutionist to use the logical fallacy, a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter. For example, Jacques Monod, French Nobel Laureate; Douglas Futuyma, college textbook writer; and Richard Dawkins, author of The Blind Watchmaker, also use the fallacy in their descriptions of evolution:

The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universeís unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance.Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity (New York: Random House, 1972), 180.

 

Some shrink from the conclusion that the human species was not designed, has no purpose, and is the product of mere mechanical mechanismsóbut this seems to be the message of evolution.D. J. Futuyma, Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution (Pantheon, 1983), 12ń3.

The evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design.Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design (New York: Norton, 1986), from the title of the book.

The logical fallacy of these arguments becomes apparent when they are rephrased as premises (under the condition) and conclusions (without the condition). Writing the word since before the premise and there is before the conclusion, the three arguments become:

Since man has emerged through random processes (by chance), there is no God (man is alone).

Since man evolved through a mechanical process, there is no God (designer) to give purpose to the process.

Since evolution proceeds through a materialistic process, there is no God (designer) behind the process.

In every case, a conclusion is drawn about God (or a designer) based on a premise concerning materialistic processes. However, the absence of the designer within the materialistic universe (under the condition) cannot logically lead to a conclusion that there is no designer outside the materialistic universe (without the condition).

A consensus, then, appears to have developed among the leaders of evolution to use the logical fallacy a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter in their description of evolution.

 

This description of evolution, incorporating the logical flaw, should thus be considered to be authoritative.

A Curious Phenomenon

We have witnessed the appearance of a curious phenomenon during our discussion of the logical fallacy used by the evolutionists. The phenomenon is the spectacle of the leaders of a scientific discipline repeatedly using a logical fallacy with its associated invalid argument. And, this use is always associated with the concept of purpose. In contrast, when discussing the weather, which is certainly as random as evolution in its processes, meteorologists do not feel compelled to say that the weather has no purpose. Neither do historians of the Roman Empire say that "the history of Rome is the result of a purposeless and secular process that did not have the Romans in mind." Yet, in speaking of the pre- recorded history of humanity, George Gaylord Simpson says that "the evolution of man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind." Why this fixation on purpose?

The explanation for this opposition to purpose is supplied by the evolutionists themselves. In a well-known remark, Richard Dawkins has said that evolution has made the world safe for atheists.Ibid., 6.

There is a compulsion, then, for such evolutionists to use evolution to attack God. And when they do this they run into the buzz saw described by St Paul:

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (1 Corin. 1:20).

This foolishness of the world when challenging God has been exhibited repeatedly throughout history. At the beginning of the Enlightenment, when the intelligentsia in France were beginning to abandon their religious beliefs, the great physicist Blaise Pascal observed this foolishness and wrote:

In truth, it is the glory of religion to have for enemies men so unreasonable; and their opposition to it is so little dangerous that it serves on the contrary to establish its truths.Blaise Pascal, Pensees (New York: Modern Library, 1941), No. 194.

A millennium before Christ, the psalmist exulted:

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?

The one enthroned in the heavens laughs; the Lord scoffs at them (Ps. 2:1,4).

Even Sophocles, without the revelation of the Bible, had a sense of the danger of opposing the supernatural when he wrote:

Whom Zeus would destroy, he first makes mad.Sophocles, Antigone.

And finally today, we have a public demonstration of the foolishness that comes over people when they oppose Godóas we observe evolutionists repeatedly using a logically invalid argument to attack the God of purpose and design.

How the mighty have fallen! Since the Scopes trial in 1927, the public has been told that the imperial science of evolution has triumphed over the Bible. Today, however, this imperial science must incorporate a logically invalid argument to attack the Bible and its purposeful God. The time has come for the public to recognize that this emperor of science has no clothes.®

©1999

Notes

Appendix A

 

Symbolic Logic Representation of Aristotleís fallacy:

a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter

"From a statement under a condition to a statement simply, or without that condition"

In modern terms, Aristotle says that if a conclusion is reached from a premise under a restrictive condition, then it is fallacious to reach the same conclusion when the condition on the premise is removed. To analyze this fallacy using symbolic logic, we represent the premises and conclusions of the arguments with symbols: p, q, and r. Thus,

p = premise under the restrictive condition

q = conclusion under the restrictive condition

r = premise without the restrictive condition

Now, by definition, p implies q for a premise p and a conclusion q. Thus, under the restrictive condition,

p implies q

(Restrictive condition)

Aristotleís fallacy then states that the same conclusion q is reached when the restriction on the premise is removed,

r implies q

(Restriction removed)

Aristotleís fallacy further asserts that the truth of the restrictive statement implies the truth of the statement with the restriction removed. Thus,

(p implies q) implies Ć implies q)

In less stilted language, we can write, if p implies q, then r implies q. Summarizing,

Symbolic Logic Expression for a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter is

if p implies q, then r implies q

With the argument form a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter expressed in symbolic logic terms, we can now apply the procedures of symbolic logic in Appendix B to test the validity of this argument form. Referring to Appendix B, we see that this argument form appears in Expression 10. But Expression 10 is demonstrated in Appendix B, by symbolic logic analysis, to be an invalid argument form. Thus, we have

if p implies q, then r implies q

(invalid argument form)

a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter

(invalid argument form)

Appendix B

Symbolic Logic

 

I. Statements

A statement is a verbal formulation affirming or denying that something is the case. If we are interested in the form of a logic operation, and not specific statements, we use lower case variables: p, q, etc. to represent the statement.1

II. Connectives

A statement connective is a word, phrase, or symbol that, when attached to one or more statements, creates a new statement.2

 

NEGATION [ - ]. If p is true, then -p is false. The truth table exhibits the truth or falsity of p and -p as the truth T and falsity F of p is changed over all combinations.

   

p

-p

     
 

(1)

T

F

   

[T1]

 

(2)

F

T

     

An important consequence of the negation operation is that if a statement is not false, it is true (line 2). This is the Principle of the Excluded Third, i.e.,

 

p = -(-p)

(2)

EQUAL [ = ]. The statement p EQUALS q is written as

 

p = q

(3)

Letting p and q range over all possibilities of truth and falsity, the truth table is

   

p

q

p = q

   
 

(1)

T

T

T

   
 

(2)

T

F

F

 

[T3]

 

(3)

F

T

F

   
 

(4)

F

F

T

   

OR [ V ]. The V is used to replace the word OR. Thus, the statement p OR q OR both is written as

p V q

(4)

The truth table is

   

p

q

p V q

   
 

(1)

T

T

T

   
 

(2)

T

F

T

 

[T4]

 

(3)

F

T

T

   
 

(4)

F

F

F

   

AND [ ]. The dot is used to replace the word, AND. Thus, the statement p AND q is written as

 

p … q

(5)

The truth table exhibits the truth or falsity of p … q as the truth T and falsity F of p and q are changed over all combinations.

   

p

q

p … q

   
 

(1)

T

T

T

   
 

(2)

T

F

F

 

[T5]

 

(3)

F

T

F

   
 

(4)

F

F

F

   

The truth table shows the AND character of p … q. If both p and q are true, then p … q is true. If p and q are not both true then p … q is false.

IMPLICATION [ ý ]. The statement

p ý q

(6)

is read: if p, then q; or it can be read: p implies q. The truth table is:

   

p

q

p ý q

   
 

(1)

T

T

T

   
 

(2)

T

F

F

 

[T6]

 

(3)

F

T

T

   
 

(4)

F

F

T

   

The first two lines of the truth table are transparent. In the first line, if p is true, and q is true, then p implies q and p ý q is true. In the second line, if p is true and q is false, then p does not imply q and p ý q is false. In the third and fourth lines, however, p is false. But, the implication restricts q only when p is true. Thus, when p is false, it is not false for q to be either true or false. Thus, since the implication is not false, the implication is true (Eq. 2) and we have the third and fourth lines of the truth table.

III. Tautologies

A tautology is a compound statement that is "necessarily true," i.e. it is true under all possible combinations of truth values for its component statements.3 An example of a tautology is p V -p where, for example, p = "it is raining" so that p V -p = "it is raining or it is not raining." Clearly, this compound statement is always true as can be demonstrated by a truth table:

   

p

-p

p V -p [T4]

   
 

(1)

T

F

T

   
 

(2)

F

T

T

 

[T7]

 

IV. Logical Argument Forms

In an argument, some statement or statements (the premise or premises) provides evidence for the truth of some other statement (the conclusion).4

Valid argument forms. Validity concerns only the form of an argument, not its content. A valid argument is such that the conclusion necessarily follows from (is logically implied by) the premises. To say that an argument is valid is to say that if the premises are true, then the conclusion must also be true. Such an argument is said to instantiate (that is, be an instance of) a valid argument form.5

Testing for the validity of an argument form. From the definition of a valid argument above, the validity of an argument form can be demonstrated by showing that the conclusion necessarily follows from the premise(s). Using the implication logic symbol, ý, a valid argument form is defined by the Validity Condition:

Premise of the argument form ý Conclusion of the argument form is a tautology.

(7)

The demonstration of the validity of an argument is achieved, then, by using truth tables to show that, for all possible true or false component statements in the argument, the Validity Condition (7) is true.6

V. Testing for the validity of several useful argument forms.

We now test for the validity of several useful argument forms:

(1) If p implies q, and p is the case, then q is the case (Modus Ponens).

The premise P is: P = [p ý q] … p

while the Conclusion C is: C = q

We now use a truth table to test whether the Validity Condition (7) above is always true for this Premise and Conclusion, i.e. whether P ý C.

     

C

   

P

 

P ý C

   
   

p

q

p ý q [T6]

 

[p ý q] … p [T5]

 

[T6]

   
 

(1)

T

T

T

 

T

 

T

   
 

(2)

T

F

F

 

F

 

T

 

[T8]

 

(3)

F

T

T

 

F

 

T

   
 

(4)

F

F

T

 

F

 

T

   

The last column in the truth table shows that P ý C is always true. Thus, the argument form is valid:

If p implies q, and p is the case, then q is the case (valid)

(8)

(2) If p implies q, and q is the case, then p is the case.

 

The Premise P is: P = [p ý q] … q

while the Conclusion C is: C = p

The argument will again be tested for its validity with a truth table to show whether it is always true that P ý C.

   

C

     

P

 

P ý C

   
   

p

q

p ý q [T6]

 

[p ý q] … q [T5]

 

[T6]

   
 

(1)

T

T

T

 

T

 

T

   
 

(2)

T

F

F

 

F

 

T

 

[T9]

 

(3)

F

T

T

 

T

 

F

   
 

(4)

F

F

T

 

F

 

T

   

The truth table shows that P ý C is not always true. In particular, the argument is invalid when p is false and q is true (line 3). Thus,

If p implies q, and q is the case, then p is the case (invalid)

(9)

 

Note the asymmetry in the implication operation. If the premise p is the case, then the conclusion q is also the case (Eq. 8). However, if the conclusion q is the case, then the premise p is undefined (Eq. 9). This situation is easily understood by means of an example. Consider the specific argument, corresponding to the logical argument in Eq. 8:If it is raining, then I will stay at home. But, it is raining. Therefore, I will stay at home.

Here, p = "it is raining," q = "I will stay at home," and p is the case. Clearly, the argument is valid. Now, consider the same specific argument, corresponding to the logical argument in Eq. 9: If it is raining, then I will stay at home. But, I am staying at home. Therefore, it is raining.

Again, p = "it is raining" and q = "I will stay at home." But this time q is the case. Clearly, the argument is invalid. My staying at home has nothing to do with whether it is raining or not.

(3) If p ý q, then r ý q.

Here, the Premise P is: P = p ý q

while the Conclusion C is: C = r ý q

We now test the argument form for its validity with a truth table to determine whether it is always true that P ý C.

         

P

 

C

 

P ý C

   
   

p

q

r

p ý q [T6]

 

r ý q [T6]

 

[T6]

   
 

(1)

T

T

T

T

 

T

 

T

   
 

(2)

T

F

T

F

 

F

 

T

 

[T10]

 

(3)

F

T

T

T

 

T

 

T

   
 

(4)

F

F

T

T

 

F

 

F

   
 

(5)

T

T

F

T

 

T

 

T

   
 

(6)

T

F

F

F

 

T

 

T

   
 

(7)

F

T

F

T

 

T

 

T

   
 

(8)

F

F

F

T

 

T

 

T

   

The truth table shows that P ý C is not always true. Therefore, the argument form is invalid.

If p implies q, then r implies q (invalid)

(10)

 

References

1See W. H. Halverson, A Concise Logic (New York, Random House, 1984), 4, 155ń7.

2Ibid., 157ń65.

3Ibid., 175.

4Ibid., 5.

5Ibid., 110.

6Ibid., 185.