Games evolutionists play: The Name Game

The Name Game

The Name Game: Evolutionists define “evolution” at least 6 different ways.


In order to avoid having evolution shown to be unobservable and unscientific, evolutionists resort to games when discussing it.

What do Captain Kirk’s solution to the Kobayashi Maru test, certain YouTube “prank” videos and a common defense of evolution made by evolutionists have in common? Keep reading.

Perhaps you’ve seen the YouTube videos where young ladies are “pranked” (read “tricked”) into giving the prankster a kiss. It’s a simple trick. The prankster (read trickster) gets the young ladies to agree to give him a kiss if he wins a coin toss. The trickster then pulls out a coin and says “Heads I win, tails you lose.”  The trickster of course wins the coin toss, and the young lady, aware she’s been tricked somehow, but not quite able to put her finger on how, keeps up her end of the bargain and provides a quick peck.

If it’s not immediately obvious the trick the prankster played, here’s the trick broken down. It has nothing to do with the coin. It’s all about how you define what constitutes a win:

A fair coin toss is setup as follows. Heads one person wins, tails the other person wins. In a chart it looks like this:

Heads Tails
I Win You Win

But here’s how the huckster setup the coin toss:

Heads Tails
I Win You Lose = I Win

The huckster keeps the I – You structure of a proper setup, but has created a no-lose situation for himself by changing the second term to make it appear that he has setup a fair coin toss. But actually, he has set it up so that in both cases, he wins. Specifically he changed the second term under the “Tails” side of the chart. He changed  “You Win” to “You Lose”.  This of course changes the whole dynamic of the coin toss making it impossible for him to lose, and impossible for the target of his prank to win – if she doesn’t detect his switch.

What does that have to do with Kirk and evolution? The prankster has basically done what Kirk did – provide for himself a no-lose scenario.  For the non-Trekkies out there, a little background. In Star Trek II – The Wrath of Kahn, the Kobayashi Maru is a test scenario, named after a star ship freighter in the scenario which is in distress. The scenario is intentionally designed to be a no-win situation to test the character of the candidates who take the test. Kirk however, ever seeing himself as the winner and never wanting to lose creates a unique solution to the test: he cheats. He reprograms the no-win scenario so he can win.

That essentially is what the prankster does, and that essentially is what evolutionists commonly do when trying to have a discussion about evolution. Here’s how some evolutionists will use this tactic to try to convince you that evolution is true.

Evolutionist Argument 1: Evolution is true and has been observed.

I call this one the “Name Game.”  The argument typically goes something like this. A creationist will say something like particles to people evolution has never been observed, and so not only is it not true, it’s not even science. An evolutionist will say words to the effect, do you even know what evolution is? Evolution is a change in allele frequency in a gene pool, and that has been observed.  Thinking he’s won the discussion, if the discussion happens in the blogosphere, an evolutionist might throw in a snarky remark like “Evolution is true. Get over it.”

Technically, the evolutionist is right – that is one definition of evolution. And changes in allele frequency in gene pools have been observed, and so he thinks he has proved his point and validated evolution. But has he? If you were paying attention you’ll note he pulled the same trick that the “heads I win, tails you loose” trickster pulled. He did what Kirk did – he has changed the parameters of the discussion (effectively cheating) by changing the definition of evolution from what was being discussed by the creationist. Here’s how it looks in the chart:

Creationist: Evolution is theory of molecules to man origin of humans Never Observed
Evolutionist: Evolution is Changes in the frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population. Has been observed

The evolutionist has changed the type of evolution being discussed from molecules to man evolution to “changes in allele frequency” and thus has committed the fallacy of equivocation, “the illegitimate switching of the meaning of a term during the reasoning.”[1]

Allele’s are specific portions of genes that control specific traits such as blood types. So by changing a blood type in a population an evolutionist could claim evolution has occurred. But obviously that is not the type of evolution under consideration. The creationist is speaking of particles to people evolutionary theory. By making the change, like Kirk – who didn’t allow himself to face the no-win death scenario – the evolutionist refuses to face the no-win scenario for evolution because:

  • Particles to people evolution has, in fact, never been observed
  • Particles to people evolution cannot be observed, so it cannot be tested, thus it cannot be falsified and so it’s not real science that involves observation, tests and falsification
  • Evolution does not even have an answer to how the first living creatures came about, so it has no answer to the origins of life.
  • Without an origin to the first reproducing creatures, they have no scenario under which natural selection can work to change the second generation. Natural selection requires 2 reproducing members of a species to even have a possibility of being a factor in evolution, so without a first generation, you obviously will have nothing to “select” to modify a second generation.

So while the evolutionist is technically correct about his definition of evolution, he is not speaking about the same thing that the creationist is. Thus as Kirk claimed a win over the Kobayashi Maru scenario by cheating; evolutionists are fond of claiming a win by changing the definition of evolution and claiming a win. But the very fact that evolutionists often refuse to face these facts shows it’s a no-win proposition for them, so instead of an honest discussion, like Kirk they cheat. And they have a number of definitions to choose from when they do so.

Philosopher of science Stephen C. Meyer and Mike Keas identify 6 different ways evolutionist use the term evolution[2] depicted in the “evolution meaning of fortune” graphic above.

While they’ll use which ever definition is expedient, take note that none of the definitions include the concept that creationists refer to: the theory that non-living molecules can become living creatures and evolve to be humans – or molecules to man evolution.  From my experience, they particularly like the “change in allele frequency” definition apparently because they think it is both scientific and confusing to creationists. Even if they were correct on both accounts, the problem is in the context of the above discussion, they have equivocated on the term “evolution” and thus are not speaking of the same type of  evolution. So while they believe in their mind they have “won” the argument, they have actually argued fallaciously and thus have proved nothing about evolution – except perhaps that evolutionists tend to use fallacious arguments.

In passing, note that the Creationist is also correct. Molecules to man evolution has never been observed, and cannot be observed, and thus is not science as normally understood. Theories that can neither be observed, nor tested nor reproduced nor falsified are not science. Like Darwinian evolution, they maybe philosophical presuppositions, but they are not science. More on that in argument 3.

Evolutionist Argument 2: Natural Selection has been observed and proves evolution is true

If the last one was the name game, this could be considered the synonymous game and shows the one espousing it is either ignorant about what evolution is, and how it allegedly operates, or is intentionally misrepresenting it. This can be seen by simply looking at the definition. Philosopher of science Paul Nelson provides a “textbook” definition of Neo-Darwinism:

“the common descent of all life on earth from a single ancestor via undirected mutation and natural selection”[3]

You can see from this definition of Neo Darwinism[4] that natural selection is not synonymous with evolution; natural selection is one of the mechanisms that supposedly allows evolution to occur. By the way, creationists don’t deny natural selection per se. Natural selection does occur. Consider the two hares below. The artic hare (left) has a thicker white coat than the hare, an adaptation that helps it survive the artic temperatures while the color improves camouflage. Note also the smaller ears which lose less heat than the larger ears of the hare, another advantage. These types of advantages would make the artic hare better able to survive in an artic climate and thus natural selection would indeed favor artic hares over regular hares in such an environment thus giving rise to the two populations of hares exhibiting these differences. But the thing to notice is that they’re both still hares. They have not changed to another type of animal like a kangaroo or a rat. Natural selection operates on the information and variation built in by God to allow creatures to adapt to different types of environments.


The thicker, white fur and shorter ears of the Artic hare (left)
over the hare (right) are adaptations possible by genetic  information built in by God.

What creationists deny is that natural selection is a mechanism that can lead to a new kind of animal. [5]  That has never been observed. Furthermore, what is needed for a new kind from an existing kind is new, additional information. Natural selection removes genetic information, so natural selection is doing the exact opposite of what is needed to create a new kind of creature. As one population geneticist put it:

“Well Darwin assumed that the increase of information comes from natural selection. But natural selection reduces genetic information. And we know this from all the genetic operation studies that we have.” [6]

So while natural selection is a valid, recognized process, it is not synonymous with evolution, and it is not capable of creating new kinds.

Evolutionist Argument 3: Evolution is Science just like physics and chemistry

Finally, the “me too” game. Evolutionists like to bolster support for evolution by trying to have it viewed and treated like the hard sciences of physics or chemistry, thus adding the benefit of making it appear that those who are against evolution are against science. A prominent user of this tactic is Bill Nye (the science guy). Having debated Ken Ham who consistently makes the case that evolution is a historical, forensic science; not an operational, testable science like physics or chemistry, it’s not surprising that Nye feels the need to try to counter that message. Indeed, not only does Nye try to make you believe that “our understanding of evolution came to us by exactly the same method of scientific discovery that led to printing presses, polio vaccines and smartphones,”[7] he also throws in scare tactics, trying to make you believe a rejection of evolution is a rejection of all science and an attack on reason:

“Inherent in this rejection of evolution is the idea that your curiosity about the world is misplaced and our common sense is wrong. This attack on reason is an attack on all of us. Children who accept this ludicrous perspective will find themselves opposed to progress. … Not only that these kids will never feel the joy of discovery that science brings.”[8]

Nye, who takes the atheist weak position – he doesn’t believe in God, but since he can’t prove God doesn’t exist, considers himself an agnostic –  conveniently ignores the fact that many famous scientists like Copernicus, Kepler and Newton who arrived at foundational principles and laws of science were all theists if not Christians. Additionally they did not believe in Darwinian evolution since they lived long before Darwin was born.  Like modern creationists, their lack of belief in Darwinian evolution didn’t quench their thirst for science or knowledge. Nye also ignores (hides possibly?)  the fact that evolution is not needed to do real science. In fact many researchers totally ignore the theory.

Philip Skell, Emeritus Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University states:

“I recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin’s theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No.”[9]

This means that Darwinian theory is having absolutely no impact on the research of those 70 eminent researchers, and removing it would not impede research. So let’s summarize:

  • Both scientist who knew nothing about Darwin’s theory, and scientist who know about Darwin’s theory either a) didn’t use it (past tense) or b) don’t use Darwin’s theory (present tense) for their research.

  • Darwinian theory is not the impetus for scientific curiosity, progress or success; such things proceed unabated without it.

  • Darwinian theory has nothing to do with the “joy of discovery that science brings” There are plenty of scientists and non-scientists alike who experience the “joy of discovery that science brings” who don’t believe in Darwinian evolution.

Let me re-emphasize this point since it’s an important one: Evolution is not a hard science like physics or chemistry; it’s a forensic science – it’s subject matter is principally what happened in the unobservable past. With regard to research – the particles to people type of evolution that creationists reference (as untrue) – present researchers cannot:

  • Witness particles to people evolution
  • Reproduce it
  • Send it to a different lab to verify it
  • Test it
  • Verify or falsify it

It is clear that it cannot be operationally tested as scientists test rockets and vaccines.  Thus Nye’s claim that molecules to man evolutionary theory came via the same method of  “scientific discovery that led to printing presses, polio vaccines and smartphones,” is simply false. Unless of course he plays the name game and cheats by redefining his terms to make his statements true. If that’s the case you are now able to easily spot that “bait and switch” tactic.[10] And you’ll recognize it for what it is: a sorry, desperate, failing attempt to make the merit-less theory of particles to people evolution appear to be true.

Duane Caldwell | posted 1/19/2016 | printer friendly version


Notes

  1. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Fallacies – http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#Equivocation back

 2.  From a chapter in the Stephen C. Meyer and Mike Keas. book:
Darwinism, Design, and Public Education, Michigan State University Press, 2003(http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/filesDB-download.php?id=305)

Principal Meanings of Evolution in Biology Textbooks

1. Change over time; history of nature; any sequence of events in nature.
2. Changes in the frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population.
3. Limited common descent: the idea that particular groups of organisms have descended from a common ancestor
4. The mechanisms responsible for the change required to produce limited descent with modification, chiefly natural selection acting on random variations or mutations.
5. Universal common descent: the idea that all organisms have descended from a single common ancestor.
6. “Blind watchmaker” thesis: the idea that all organisms have descended from common ancestors solely through an unguided, unintelligent, purposeless, material processes such as natural selection acting on random variations or mutations; that the mechanisms of natural selection, random variation and mutation, and perhaps other similarly naturalistic mechanisms, are completely sufficient to account for the appearance of design in living organisms.

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 3. Paul Nelson, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Documentary 2008
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 4.  Neo-Darwinism differs from classical Darwinism primarily by the addition of genetic processes like mutations as a mechanism for change. Darwin knew nothing about genetics.
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 5. “Kind” is the biblical term. (Gen 1.24)  Evolutionists would likely use the term “genus.” back

 6. Dr. Marciej Giertych, Population Geneticist – European Union, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Documentary 2008
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 7. Nye, Bill, Undeniable, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 2014, p. 4
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 8.  Nye, Undeniable, p. 10
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 9. Skell, Philip S. Why Do We Invoke Darwin?, 29 Aug, 2005, http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/16649/title/Why-Do-We-Invoke-Darwin-/
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 10. “Bait and switch” is how the tactic is described by Jonathan Sarfarti when responding to Richard Dawkins on evolution in his book: Sarfati, Jonathan The Greatest Hoax on Earth? Refuting Dawkins on Evolution, Atlanta: Creation Book Publishers, 2010, p. 23
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 Images:
Arctic Hare 1” by Steve Sayles – originally posted to Flickr as Arctic_Hare.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons

Hare – public domain