Today, I am going to talk about a sham question that is more often used by non-christians — well, these days, anyway. I see it most often in the context of the evolution dispute. A dissenter will be dismessed as “not having any credentials.” This is a sham because it is intended to suppress all dissent. In order to proceed int the studies required to obtain these “credential,” one must first agree without thought or question that evolution is “obviously true” and the sole explanation for the diversity of life. Granted, as far as I know, one does not have to sign a document stating that that is the case (like creationist groups do) but anyone attepting to gain credentials without first taking the unquestioning position will still find all efforts stymied.
Well, I don’t see evolution as “obviously true.” It may be true. But it is not obviously so. The requirements of the “gatekeepers” lead to a condition of confirmation-bias. If, somehow, ESP researchers were to be in a similar power position, ESP would be taken as “obviously true.” It’s not falsifiable. You can’t really test it. Its supporters can come up with “positive results.” But there is no real testing.
In the context of the question of evolution, asking for someone’s “credentials” is nothing more than telling him he must get on the bandwagon and agree not to engage in any dissent before he will be allowed to dissent. It is not reasonable. It is not honest. And, quite frankly, it tends to cloud over the very real deceptions and ulterior motives so often practiced by creationists. In attempting to deny people an audience, you give them a better argument for credibility. They can argue that the power-that-be are actively suppressing them and trying to silence their voice. And, in this, they are right.