Credentials? Really?

Earlier today I posted an article and video about a non-Christian scientist who finds some problems with Darwinian Evolution.  I also posted a link to my article on a Facebook discussion, where the following noteworthy discussion ensued between a friend of a friend and me. I have added blue color highlights here and there to what the statements I found most worthy of comment, and have made my own comment in red for clarification.

Tony:  His [the scientist who disagrees with Darwin] background is mathematics and he’s never practiced in the biological sciences other than some post-doc work. Not exactly the right person to criticize evolution. He’s also very careful to say “Darwinism” which is an older version of evolutionary theory. Stephen J. Gould’s work on punctuated equilibrium is perhaps the best known recent work, but other mechanisms for evolution besides the gradualism advocated by Darwin (which is generally absent from the fossil record) are also viable. In the real world, evolution is at play, regardless of the actual mechanism, from antibiotic-resistant bacteria to insects resistant to pesticides to the breeds of dog developed by man. What mechanism God uses to create life is entirely up to Him; arguing about it isn’t going to change the reality around us.


Jack:  Tony, you suggest a fallacy when you suggest that only those with scientific credentials in evolution are qualified to criticize it. Indeed, are only those with scientific credentials in evolution qualified to be PROPONENTS of it? Or are only those with seminary credentials qualified to criticize the work of ordained ministers?

No, fact is fact, and logic is logic, and one need not necessarily have a career or credentials in a field to correctly identify errors in fact and logic pertinent to that field.

This error, however, represents a widespread (though unfounded) expert-bias in our culture.


Tony:  Nonsense. Any damn fool can talk on a subject, but if the guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he deserves to be called on it. And this guy is very careful to limit his comments in such a way that would fool anyone who doesn’t really know the subject. Otherwise, you end up with fools like Rosie O’Donnell opining about how 9/11 was an inside job and how fire doesn’t melt steel. Sure, she’s welcome to her opinion but it doesn’t mean she knows what she’s talking about. Same principle here–if he doesn’t have the credentials, he’d better actually know what he’s talking about. He just limits it in such a way to ignore other evidence. How convenient.


Jack:  Tony, in your response, you mention the following topics, whether implicitly or explicitly:

1. Rhetoric/Logic
2. 9/11
3. Rosie O’Donnell

4. Physics–specifically the strengths of materials under various conditions

Please include a full listing of any credentials you have on these topics so I can know whether to summarily dismiss everything you are saying, or to listen with rapt attention, as if to an infallible being.  (From what I gather in your writing, these seem to be the only two possibilities.)

Oh, and please list your credentials in evolutionary science, too, as this will instruct me on how to view your previous post. Oh, dang. I just forgot, I’ll need your credentials in mathematics, too, so as to know whether you have any way of knowing whether a mathematician could possibly discern any error in evolutionary theory.

Sorry this is so arduous, but we can’t go around taking the word of people who are not qualified to be speaking, now, can we?


After an hour of waiting for a reply, I looked on “Tony’s” Facebook page and saw that he studied psychology at a university.  Hmmm.  Maybe that’s why he didn’t reply immediately.

I believe, of course, that I have forced him into a position from which he is forced to admit that it is not necessary to have a credential a subject in order to posit a valid opinion on that subject.

In the mean time, however, I’m quite unsettled with each passing year in which I hear similar opinions to Tony’s voiced across America.  We love our “experts”, it seems.  And even though we do not have the credentials to know whether our “experts” are “full of it” or not, we pipe up in grand approval of what they tell us!

A credential is as close to meaningless as possible.  Many of the “experts” I have witnessed in my life have proven this to my full satisfaction.


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