Emotional Appeals

Ben Stein tells us that evolution leads to genocide. It leads to atheism (which is implicitly bad, apparently). Chaos, murder, cancer, and sad puppies will infest the world if evolution is embraced. It only makes sense then that we should necessarily reject evolution if we want to live in a world of peace and goodness.

Of course, that all sounds utterly silly. But it’s the argument being put forth by Christians all the time (if not in form, then principle): because X leads to something bad, it should be rejected. It is an appeal to emotion. No one wants something bad to be true, so claiming a falsehood on that thing can bring some sort of sense of mind. These people are not ones with which to be reasoned easily.

Emotional appeals are useless in determining what is true. It is the simple truth of something which is important to me. I do not accept or reject evolution based upon an philosophical underpinings or relations. To do so is to make my acceptance or rejection irrelevant and meaningless. If evolution somehow automatically leads to the philosophy of Hitler, that’s unfortunate. That, however, has zero bearing on the truth of evolutionary theory. Either life evolved through small, gradual steps over billions of years of common descent or it didn’t. Nothing Hitler ever thought can change that.

It should not be acceptable for a person to make an emotional appeal on an issue of truth. Save that for the subjectivity of a relationship. We should believe not based upon what we want to believe, but based instead upon evidence. It is evidence which holds so much importance to our lives and to our ability to discern what is true and what is not. Our emotions have no influence over truth.

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7 Responses

  1. Even though it led to the development of nuclear weapons, few if any creationists deny the theory of relativity. So their argument that evolution is wrong because it led to the Holocaust is a strawman.

  2. As much a I agree with you, I figured out one thing about us humans, mainly *because* of the epic creation-evolution debate:

    People do not care what is true, and this is true for everyone, not just creationists. People care about what makes them feel good. This is the ultimate, primary and foremost concern for every member of the human species. You and I just happen to be most happy and content with observed, objective reality. But if someone finds that utter, immovable peace in fantasy and make-believe, then using evidence to change his mind is barking at the wrong tree.

    The only way to change the way people think about evolution is by understanding what makes them tick. What makes creationists tick is not evidence. They need to feel secure, their fantasy makes them secure, and the truth doesn’t. What could you and I possibly do to overcome this obstacle?

  3. “It should not be acceptable for a person to make an emotional appeal on an issue of truth. Save that for the subjectivity of a relationship.”

    You are right that it is a poor practice, but nonetheless it is very common and extremely effective.

    The problem here is that only a minority of people in technical fields deal directly with factual truths; the vast majority are far removed from these details and only encounter “truths” which are rooted in social consensus.

    These “truths” have only limited intersubjectivity, but are good enough for in-group dynamics.

    As long as they believe what everyone around them also believe, they can form a tightly knit network and live a long, happy life.

    Social groups which have lots of adherents and tonnes of money can bulldoze and deny their way over most factual truths (maybe excluding nuclear physics or evolving pathogens).

  4. It’s The AAAS That Promotes Religion In Science And In Law
    Whereas Religion Is But A Legitimate Virtual Reality Tool

    A. “Protest Louisiana creationism law”

    http://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/69.page

    B. From a Dec 03 2008 posting

    http://www.the-scientist.com/community/posts/list/80/122.page#1136

    “If “god” is defined/understood to be a human artifact – regardless of reasons, purposes, implications, consequences – the subject “god-science” is scientifically discussable.

    If “god” is not defined/understood to be a human artifact, its concept is a human virtual reality artifact experienced only through sensory stimuli, and “god-science” is not scientifically discussable. Furthermore, in this case preoccupation with this subject within a scientific frameworks contributes to corrosion and corruption of science and scientism by manifesting or implying acceptance of virtual reality as reality.”

    C. It’s The AAAS That Promotes Religion In Science And In Law

    The AAAS and its affiliates and equivalent organizations, i.e. all the Science Establishment Guilds, loudly and pseudoscientifically promote and “profoundly respect” the “spiritual religious domain” as A REAL domain, a domain separate from the REAL, science, domain. They do this both because, unbelievably, they actually believe it and as a politically powerful tool in promoting their power and state-public support.

    Dov Henis

    (Comments From The 22nd Century)

    http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-P81pQcU1dLBbHgtjQjxG_Q–?cq=1

  5. I charge you to provide an example of a creationist using an appeal to emotion as an argument for why evolution is wrong.

    Don’t just insist that they do .. back it up with links and quotes.

  6. You are responding to an example. But here is a link for you.

  7. Uh .. so when I ask for a creationist doing what you’re accusing him of you’re just going to accuse him more?

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