Saturday, October 5, 2019

#2249: Scott Shifferd

Scott Shifferd, jr. is the minister of Dean Road Church of Christ in Jacksonville, and a creationist. Like most creationists, Shifferd doesn’t remotely understand evolution. Rather he regurgitates talking points from young-earth creationists who really, really don’t understand evolution either. The results are dismal. Shifferd’s top ten reasons “why evolution is false” read like a series of self-parodying jokes; but then Shifferd never cared about reasons. He cares about the Bible. For instance, one reason for why “evolution is false” is the “Pagan Origins of Evolution: Evolution emerged from pagan mythology and was promoted among Greek philosophers like Anaximander […]”; indeed, apparently (ostensibly according to 1st century BC sources) “one of the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians was that evolution was the origin of life describing swamps and marches being impregnated with life and the early beastial life of men living in caves, gathering food, discovering fire, and developing unintelligible sounds into languages.” This is … not the theory of evolution, and his “reason” would of course not have been a reason, but a familiar fallacy, even if it were. Then (after a couple of other, similar non-sequiturs) we get the familiar ones: did you know that “[e]volution rests on refuted conjectures and frauds.” Why? Because all “missing link[s]” (no, he doesn’t know anything about evolution) have turned out to be hoaxes, like the Piltdown man. And Haeckel’s embryos. And so on. It doesn’t matter that the claims have been refuted a thousand times already. This was never about accuracy, truth or honest assessment.

Elsewhere Shifferd has argued that atheism is false because evolution cannot explain morality. We can probably safely conclude that Shifferd has taken as few (philosophical) ethics classes as (science-based) biology classes. 

Of course, Shifferd wouldn’t know what “science-based” means: “Atheists uses pseudo-science to support their assertions. Science is observable and testable, but the evolution of many kinds and life arising naturally from non-living material is not observable or testable.” This, of course, is not remotely how it works. Science is based on hypotheses being tested against the observable data the hypothesis predicts, not that the contents of the hypotheses are observable – that’s sort of the whole point of science, to learn something about stuff that go beyond direct observation from the testable consequences of claims about such stuff. And “the evolution of many kinds” is, indeed, very much testable. (Abiogenesis, of course, is not part of the theory of evolution.)

Diagnosis: Ok, so this is probably just another village idiot speaking to his congregation, and he probably doesn’t really care about understanding the stuff he is talking about. It is still nonsense though, and he deserves to be called out on it.

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