Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Monday, June 13, 2005

A Quick Note on Creationism

While I generally try to avoid substantive religious discussion on my blog, I want to make one quick point about this Jim Pinkerton column. He argues that "it's a fallacy to argue that just because one person -- or even all the people of an era -- can't figure out how something works, therefore such mysterious workings are beyond any human comprehension, ever. ...And so it is with science: eventually, some scientist will figure out how the 'trick' of the bacteria's flagellum is done."

I noticed the identical argument when I read the incredibly boring-yet-important-because-seminal Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, best known for having a prestigious award named after him. The argument is that hey, just because scientists don't know all the answers now doesn't mean they won't eventually figure them out. Just as Pinkerton asserts - with all the unshakeable faith of any religious person I've ever met - that one day a given biological mystery will be understood by science, so did Darwin assert with unshakeable faith that the limited geological record of his day would one day become complete.

Well, with that kind of faith, Pinkerton and Darwin don't need to waste time in a church, do they?

Yes, it is a fallacy to argue that just because something isn't known now, it can never be known. But it is also a fallacy to argue that just because we've figured things out in the past, all things must eventually be figured out. Both are non sequitur arguments. And both require a tremendous amount of faith.