In mid August of this year an ABC television camera caught a mother coaching her child to ask a republican presidential hopeful (who is also a Christian) a series of questions beginning with a question about the age of the earth, and culminating with this one, “Ask him why he doesn’t believe in science.”
The question itself is actually a logical fallacy known as a complex question. That is, the arguer assumes something that is not true. In this case, the arguer assumes that the candidate (a Christian) does not believe in science. There are really two questions that should be asked. First, do you believe in science? If not, why? Once the first question is answered, the second one becomes unnecessary because, of course, Christians do believe in the concept of science.
Why do evolutionists pose these types of questions to Christians? Because most Christians are unable to answer them and many fail to recognize fallacious assertions or questions. The arguer above could also be guilty of the fallacy of equivocation. According to Dr. Jason Lile’s book, [i]Discerning Truth, when someone shifts from one meaning of a word to another, he or she has committed the fallacy of equivocation.
Since the arguer above began with a question regarding the age of the earth, we know his question relates directly to historical science and not observational science. Observational science is science based on what we can observe, test, and repeat using the scientific method. It’s the kind of science that allows us to build space shuttles, automobiles, and laptop computers like the one I’m using now. Historical science, on the other hand, is a conclusion about the past based on what we observe today. Since the arguer began with questions about historical science and concluded with a question that includes observational science, he has shifted the meaning of the word science and is guilty of the fallacy of equivocation.
How we interpret scientific evidence is usually greatly influenced by our worldview. Most evolutionists believe in uniformitarianism, that is, that processes we can observe have always been the same in the past as they are today. For example, radiometric dating assumes decay rates for various isotopes have always been the same. Even with these assumptions, radiometric dating methods often yield varied results. So, even with uniformitarian assumptions, none of the results are conclusive. You can find a short video from the Answers in Genesis web-site that gives an excellent explanation of historical and observational science below.
The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 that we should always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. Therefore, as Christians we need to do a couple of things. First, we need to equip ourselves by reading books and articles by trusted teachers like the one referenced above. Once equipped we will have the confidence to; secondly, break the spiral of silence by talking to our friends and neighbors about the truth without the fear of a negative social judgment as described in Chuck Colson’s recent Breakpoint blog, [ii]The Emperor’s New Clothes.
Finally, as Christians, we need to understand that the Bible is trustworthy and true. We should never accept man’s fallible ideas over the truth of God’s Word, the Bible.
On the resources page you will find powerpoint presentations on equivocation and complex question fallacies.