“Evolution is the Scientific Consensus—So You Should Believe It!”


Logical fallacies

Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

“Everybody’s doin’ it. So, you should, too,” the little boy’s classmate says. After giving in and engaging in the inappropriate behavior and getting caught, what does the little boy’s mother say? “If everybody jumps off a cliff, are you going to jump with them?” We’ve all likely heard sound reasoning like that from an authority, and yet the truth of such logic must not have “sunk in” with many in the evolutionary community.

Recently, we received an e-mail at Apologetics Press responding to an article we posted a few weeks back titled, “Bill Nye: The (Pseudo-)Science Guy” (Miller, 2012a). The gentleman’s comments were not atypical of many of the comments we receive from the evolutionary community, but one line of reasoning, in particular, is representative of the mindset of many. Thus, we felt it was worth a formal, public response. The argument this individual based his contention on was that the scientific consensus on a subject—whatever it may be—should be ultimately accepted (i.e., considered as “gospel”), and any further scientific investigation and/or discovery should be viewed in light of the veracity of the scientific consensus on that subject. Specifically, he applied the concept to the idea that belief in Darwinian evolution is the scientific consensus today and therefore, should be accepted—not resisted, as we do at Apologetics Press. This gentleman is hardly the only one who espouses such a view. So, it is worthy of consideration to see if it holds up under scrutiny.

Perhaps the first objection one should have to such a mindset is that it falls into the category of logical fallacies known as Argumentum ad Populum—appeal to the majority (Archie, 2012). The variation of this fallacy known as “Bandwagon,” is the idea in which someone attempts to “prove a conclusion on the grounds that all or most people think or believe it is true” (Archie). In other words, just because a lot of people believe in something (like macroevolution), that does not make it true—and the number of people who believe in it should not be cited as evidence in support of the proposition. Just because bloodletting was “the most common procedure performed by surgeons for almost two thousand years,” that should not have made it an acceptable idea, though it carried the weight of consensus behind it (“Bloodletting,” 2012). Just because the consensus in medicine in the recent past, before the discovery of germs, was not to worry about cleanliness in operating rooms, that does not mean that such entrenched practices should not be questioned…


image credit: Han Min T