http://creation.com/arguments-we-think-creationists-should-not-use "..... ‘Natural selection as tautology.’ Natural selection is in one sense a tautology (i.e., Who are the fittest? Those who survive/leave the most offspring. Who survive/leave the most offspring? The fittest.). But a lot of this is semantic word-play, and depends on how the matter is defined, and for what purpose the definition is raised. There are many areas of life in which circularity and truth go hand in hand (e.g. What is electric charge? That quality of matter on which an electric field acts. What is an electric field? A region in space that exerts a force on electric charge. But no one would claim that the theory of electricity is thereby invalid and can’t explain how motors work.) — it is only that circularity cannot be used as independent proof of something....."
Circular reasoning is assuming the conclusion in the premise it isn't a tautology. I know this because Wilkins had to explain the difference to me.
- ".......To harp on the issue of tautology can become misleading, if the impression is given that something tautological therefore doesn’t happen...."
Confuses a logical validity - Tautology1 with a rhetorical tautology3. "What happens , happens" is a logical validity, our entire existence is based on assuming it is true, it can't be refuted but neither verified. But "what happens, happens and therefore my mommy had long teeth and a tail" is a rhetorical tautology,the conclusion is a non-sequitur. You say that ".....To harp on the issue of tautology can become misleading...", this could be seen as self-serving. AIG has a $22mil dinosaur adventure land, conferences, discussions etc... that just never ends. This whole "refuting evolution" business has become a money making cottage industry from the the YEC, ID and Atheist side. For all we know the leading authors could all be getting together and have a good laugh at their YEC, ID and atheist readers: The only God they worship is mammon. Not recognizing a fatal flaw like a rhetorical tautology in an argument, means the person could be kept busy for eternity trying to make sense of the argument. Which if one is holding conferences and selling books around the controversy generated by it, to make money, wouldn't be a fact such authors would want to have known.
- "...(e.g. What is electric charge? That quality of matter on which an electric field acts. What is an electric field? A region in space that exerts a force on electric charge. But no one would claim that the theory of electricity is thereby invalid and can’t explain how motors work.)....."
Fallacy of innocence by association , not comprehending the difference between the diffferent types of tautologies.
- ".....Of course the environment can ‘select’, just as human breeders select....."
Pattern or design? I might as well be reading http://www.evolvingthoughts.net/. If the creationists start sounding like atheists then our society is in really big trouble , our mental health is under attack.
- ".... Of course demonstrating this doesn’t mean that fish could turn into philosophers by this means — the real issue is the nature of the variation, the information problem....."
Aristotle's original Tautology3 which darwin reformulated had nothing to do with cybernetic abstractions per se, it was a generalized tautology crafted in such a manner that it could explain everything, past present and future as in the ".... the good algorithm outwitted the bad one......" We can see this in patent filings today where natural selection is dragged into the outline.
- ".... Arguments about tautology distract attention from the real weakness of neo-Darwinism — the source of the new information required...."
I would beg to differ, any argument that contains a rhetorical tautology is logically flawed, the conclusion might be correct but doesn't follow logically from the argument. We are dealing primarily with the logical fallacious way Aristotle managed to explain the past, present and future(genes) and how his rhetorical tautological narrative was reformulated by Darwin and expressed using the symbol natural selection. Once we understand where our thinking went wrong we can interpret new information or whatever latest invention in its propper context. The perceived brilliance of Aristotle and Aquinas attempt at reconciling his indisputable propositions with Christianity is the same mistake the modern day mainstream ID and YEC such as Dembski, Ken Ham are making. Obviously it is impossible that new information could happen by chance, but this isn't where the main problem lies. It lies with ".... the truth of these propositions cannot be disputed...." the unfalsifiable way in which Darwin formulated his views from which any conclusion (divine intervention or chance, space aliens etc.) would be a non-sequitur. The same tautological argumentation scheme is used today by Aristotelians with many of them insisting that Darwin was wrong , species didn't happen by chance, commiting the No true Scotsman fallacy" in the process as well - Naming Conventions.
- ".... Given an appropriate source of variation (for example, an abundance of created genetic information with the capacity for Mendelian recombination), replicating populations of organisms would be expected to be capable of some adaptation to a given environment, and this has been demonstrated amply in practice...."
You are not adapted to your environment or condition of existence, but only express your attributes - Adaptation, Polar bear not adapted to anything, Ken Ham. Tautology1(logical validity) is a logical form. Describing an electric charge as a quality of matter on which an electric field acts is a narrative schematic that enables one to grasp electricity theory at a higher layer of abstraction. An electric field is a region in space that exerts a force on electric charge, is a verbal schematic that is part of wider theory of electricity and as such is a stepping stone to understanding the deeper concepts of the theory.
Ohms law V=Ir , like Newton's F = ma isn't a tautology as current varies proportional to the voltage for a given resistance. By generating a table of entries ,one can therefore predict what the current will be for a given voltage etc.
Using these logical forms as stepping stones should be seen in the same light as children doing the three R's , a process of automating low level concepts, in which logical validity's will be repeated for their pedagogical effect. The sentence "...an electric charge is a quality of matter on which an electric field acts..." by itself would be meaningless, it is only valid as part of a mathematical proposition , V=Ir, in the same way that axioms such as 1=1 should be seen as the logical basis of all we do and say. Gilson From Aristotle to Darwin