Appeal to authority
Appeal to authority
Sources of authority

Letter to the editor - Memphis Commercial Appeal, Dec 26, 2010
Your Dec. 19 article "Christian faith cost him job, scientist alleges" reminds us that science and religion are uncomfortable bedfellows. Traditionally held to have been written about 1446 BCE, nearly 3,446 years ago, Genesis contains much of what the recently urbanized nomads of Palestine believed about the origins of the universe, which was the science of their day. It is always fascinating to interpret ancient texts against modern astronomical understanding, but creationism wants just the reverse, to interpret modern astronomical understanding by the authority of sacred texts. This reversal engages in "magical thinking" quite antithetical to "critical thinking" which subsumes modern scientific problem solving.

Case in point: The creationist museum in Kentucky shoehorns dinosaurs and humans into the same chronology so that the designers of the Noah exhibit have dinosaurs two by two walking onto the ark. Such illogic is unacceptable in professional scientific circles, particularly in a position where the scientist in question is to be engaged by the University of Kentucky in "public outreach," by which I take it to mean that he will be giving lectures on astronomy to students and the general public.

While the creationist's ploy may be comforting to modern believers trying to sustain the authority of ancient texts in the face of conflicting modern scientific evidence, it is a classic example of the logical fallacy, the appeal to authority. Logical fallacies are and should be anathema to the practice of modern scientific problem solving. People who regularly engage in such illogic as part of their scientific publication and teaching disqualify themselves from respectable academic scientific positions.

Roger R. Easson