Darwinism, dichotomies and democracy: the rhetoric of intelligent design creationism

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jeremy P Smyczek (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site: http://library.uncw.edu/
Diana Ashe

Abstract: The Intelligent Design creationist movement seems to capture the interest of those who study rhetoric as a means to address one principal question: How can an argument so factually bankrupt as the neo-creationist narrative persuade so many people? This thesis is not an attempt to offer a comprehensive answer to this query, but instead to explore one of the many rhetorical devices employed by the Intelligent Design advocates themselves: the appeal to the either-or fallacy that suggests that all evidence against the position they seek to call into question (biological evolution) necessarily supports Intelligent Design. Logically, this argument can only claim cogency if there exist only two argumentative alternatives. As this is not the case (any number of alternatives besides Darwinian evolution and biblical creationism, or “Intelligent Design,” as it is now known, could be considered), Intelligent Design advocates simply structure their arguments to represent the idea that it is, in fact, the case; that rather than a range of possible explanations for the existence and diversity of life, the individual must choose between the present scientific explanations and the biblical explanation. This misrepresentation is disingenuous and deceptive, but it is also highly effective. Why? I will argue that the two-party democratic tradition in which the American citizen is raised trains her to see that: 1) There are two rather than many sides to a discussion; 2) The two positions are of relatively equal merit; and 3) Evidence against one position supports the other. The natural extension of this is that Intelligent Design creationists can win a debate simply by taking advantage of terms that present their arguments in a more favorable light than that for which there is factual warrant.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Creationism, Intelligent Design (Teleology)

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