In the November 16, 2005 edition of the Albuquerque Journal, University of New Mexico Law School Professor Sergio Pareja wrote an editorial entitled "ID Adopts Oldest Trick in Lawyers' Book ". Professor Pareja asserts that Intelligent Design is a tactic being used by the "creationists" to move the teaching of creationism into the public schools. Professor Pareja's Op-Ed demonstrates why some law professors should stick to teaching Civil Procedure and not use their degree or position to falsely add a sense of authority to their fallacious reasoning.
Professor Pareja's Op-Ed begins by trying to paint Intelligent Design as an argument from ignorance. He states:
ID takes advantage of the fact that scientists have not proved every detail about how life evolved. Specifically, ID aims to find failings and gaps in evolutionary theory. It asserts that the only explanation for these gaps is some supernatural occurrence or, in other words, an action by God.
Since I have already dealt with this argument in my blog entitled "The Loch Ness Monster, the Appeal to Ignorance and Intelligent Design", I will not comment further on the problems with this portion of Prof. Pareja's argument here other than to say that not only has science not proven "every detail about how life evolved", there is serious doubt that they have made any headway at all in the area or the origin of life itself.
The central premise of Prof. Pareja's Op-Ed is that the advocates of Intelligent Design (ID) are using the "slippery slope trick" to bring the teaching of young earth creationism into the schools. He states:
So what is the legal strategy of the ID proponents? Strict creationists are using the same tactic that lawyers and law professors have used for ages; that is, they are aiming to get society to accept the principle that we have scientific evidence that everything we see may be the result of a series of miracles. This is the slippery slope trick.
After the principal is accepted, even on a very small scale, then they can push people to believe that science supports the view that all creation could be one big six-day miracle.
For example, if high school students accept the "scientific" theory that the creation of the human little toe is a miracle, then it is only a small step to convince them that God could have miraculously placed fossilized dinosaur bones around the world to make the world appear to be billions of years old.
Suddenly, creation four thousand years ago in six 24-hour days is equally as plausible from a "scientific" standpoint as evolution. That goal, I believe, is what is really driving the ID movement.
A person commits the slippery slope fallacy when she argues "If X, then Y will follow" where "Y" is something disfavored. In addition, the slippery slope fallacy requires that there be insufficient reason to believe that "Y" will actually follow from "X". The argument "if you drive drunk then you will go to jail" does not commit this fallacy because, while it is in the form of "if X, then Y will follow", there is sufficient reason to believe that "you will go to jail" if you drive drunk.
Prof. Pareja argues that if we permit the teaching of ID, then the ID proponents will push for a view that "all creation could be a six-day miracle", and then creation in "six twenty-four hour days" becomes acceptable science. What evidence does Prof. Pareja provide for these assertions? None. Moreover, if he had bothered to scan the literature supporting ID, he would have seen that virtually every ID proponent accepts the view that the earth is approximately four and one-half billion years old, and so his argument seems based more on fantasy than fact.
In sum, Prof. Pareja is arguing "If X, then Y will follow", with "Y" being the disfavored view of "strict creationism" while providing no sufficient reason that "Y" will indeed follow from "X". Ironically, Prof. Parejo’s Op-Ed commits the very fallacy that he accuses ID of committing, i.e., the slippery slope. As such, his argument is self-referentially absurd.
There may be reasons that ID should not be taught in schools, but Prof. Pareja's Op-Ed illustrates that not every argument against ID – even those coming from people with law degrees – should be seen as substantive.
Cross-blogged at Apologia Christi.