Author's Note:

I know that the branch of science called archaeology is not a pseudoscience, but to poke fun of irrational criticisms of intelligent design theory (the theory that intelligent causes are necessary to create Earth-type life) I play the devil’s advocate in this article to claim that archaeology uses flawed reasoning and is not legitimately scientific. Intelligent design theory may well be mistaken, but I believe that some unfortunately popular objections like those parodied here are not successful.

Although this is chiefly about irrational criticisms of biological intelligent design, I have inserted a paragraph spoofing rebuttals against the creation and intelligent design of the universe (see if you can spot it!).



The Pseudoscience of Archaeology



There is a group of people who have shifted from the well-supported science of geology and formed a branch of “science” called archaeology, when in fact it is purely pseudoscience. They claim that some things found in nature (like Stonehenge and the Rosetta Stone) were artificially created by humans of the past, instead of accepting the real scientific explanation that such things were formed naturally. These allegedly artificially created objects are sometimes called “artifacts,” and I will use this word to refer to these supposedly intelligently designed objects of ancient times. Archaeology clearly departs from the philosophy of naturalism that all real scientists have come to accept.

What is naturalism? Naturalism is the philosophy that says, “The universe can be described and explained solely in terms of empirical evidence, natural processes, and natural laws.” This is exactly what science tries to do. Our best understanding of the universe is ultimately based on this philosophy. It doesn’t matter whether or not naturalism is absolutely true, however. Science rejects the notion of absolute truth in favor of approximate truth. This is far more successful and intellectually satisfying than introducing the realm of artificial creations being formed far back in the past. This realm of “artifacts,” if it exists, cannot be examined or tested by science, so it is irrelevant to science. It is impossible to use scientific and critical thinking to possess reliable knowledge about artifacts. Individuals who claim to have knowledge about these so-called artifacts do not possess this knowledge by the use of scientific and critical thinking, but by pseudoscientific methods of acquiring knowledge.

Why do they believe things like the Rosetta Stone were artificially created? Their reasoning is essentially this, “I don’t know how nature could have produced these objects, and therefore, it didn’t.” This is a common logical fallacy called scribe-of-the-gaps—a standard technique among archaeological pseudoscientists. In these types of cases, the workings of a “scribe” can supposedly be seen in those things which science cannot explain. This absurd remark ignores the obvious fact that there is a natural explanation for these things; it’s just that scientists haven’t discovered it yet. In contrast, archaeologists say that science should just “give up” trying to figure out how so-called artifacts could be made without artificial intervention. That's just plain intellectual laziness, and very much like saying that science should stop trying to find explanations for things. Science should never give up on naturalistic explanations. This is because abandoning naturalistic explanations is simply anti-intellectual, especially when we invoke the concept of intelligent design instead. Archaeologists use the concept of intelligent design (by referring to “scribes” and other highly speculative people of the past) to plug in gaps in our current scientific knowledge of natural processes. As a result, archaeologists have clearly put forth an argument from ignorance. Archaeologists fail to understand that statements of personal incredulity are not evidence. “I don’t know how it could have happened” doesn’t equal “It couldn’t have happened.”

In spite of this, archaeologists claim that natural processes are incapable of organizing these objects. Some of them claim that designing these objects goes against the currents of nature. In real life, systems can be pushed “against the currents” in non-equilibrium thermodynamics (just because a process in unlikely under some situations certainly doesn’t imply it isn't likely under all situations). Furthermore, chaos and complexity theory have confirmed the existence of self-organizing events. The theory says that there are situations in which order spontaneously appears as a result of complex interactions among the parts of a system. And this class of phenomena, far from being only a figment of mathematical imagination as archaeologists maintain, are real. For example, certain meteorological phenomena (like tornados) are the result of naturally occurring, self-ordering processes. Anyone who sees snowflakes form can see that nature is often self-organizing.

A related (but flawed) archaeological argument is that nature creating the alleged artifacts is not technically impossible, but that it is very improbable. One analogy is that a tornado ripping through a junkyard could produce an airplane, but it is very, very unlikely. Even if the odds against naturalistic formation for a given artifact were a zillion to one as archaeologists seem to think, the conclusion of intelligent design does not logically follow. People win the lottery all the time purely by chance even when the odds are monumentally stacked against them. Also, perhaps there are an infinite number of universes in reality. As a result, it is extremely probable that at least one will form these will produce one of these artifact objects. Or perhaps these objects began to exist without a cause. Some archaeologists think that something popping into existence without a cause is self-evidently false, but they are obviously wrong. I don’t think it’s self-evident. Whether the alleged artifacts come about by a fantastic stroke of luck, an infinite number of universes, or the artifacts beginning to existence without a cause, all these are certainly rational arguments when it comes to rejecting something as designed, especially when they are necessary to salvage the philosophy of naturalism that is so crucial to science and rationality.

One thing that archaeology often fails to deal with is who made these things? Take Stonehenge for example. Who are the people that made it? Archaeologists claim they don’t know exactly who built them, saying that we can still determine if something was designed even if we don’t know who designed it. Besides, they say, the origins of these designers (the “ancient humans”) lie outside the realm of archaeology and instead belong to the realm of biology. The fact that archaeology does not explain the origin of the designers is nothing but cowardice on their part. Whether these pseudoscientists like it or not, their “designers” are a part of their explanation, and as a result those designers need a separate explanation for their existence. Consequently, if a theory does not explain the origin of the designer, then such a theory is vacuous. It explains nothing. There is another problem also. Archaeologists claim that, even if we didn’t know that the designers were human, we would still rationally conclude that these “artifacts” were designed. According to archaeology, if we found, say, a Rosetta Stone or an obelisk on Pluto, the “rational” conclusion is that they were designed. In this case, archaeologists still have the problem of who designed the designer, and they cannot appeal to known biology to explain where the designers came from. Who designed the designer in this case? The archaeologists would have no answer, only speculations. Because the fundamental principles of archaeology demand that the alleged artifacts were intelligently designed even when we don’t know who the designers are, it is clear that such principles are flawed.

Another pseudoscientific argument to support the archaeological position is the use of analogies. They claim that we determine if things were designed or not all the time. We can tell that computers and radios were designed, so similarly we can tell that the alleged artifacts were designed also. The problem with this argument is that it is a false analogy. There are many more differences than there are similarities. Computers and radios have traits that nature doesn’t have, like electronic circuits, plastics, buttons, switches, and so forth. Alleged artifacts like the Rosetta Stone don’t have any of those things.

Other archaeological pseudoscientists point out that there are already branches of science that deal with artificial intervention. Forensic science, for example, can help determine if a person’s death was the result of natural causes, planned murder, or some sort of accident. The forensic example shows that, if there is something unnatural about someone's death, then their death was the result of artificial intervention (murder). To determine that some things in nature were intelligently designed (like Stonehenge), you would have to show that nature exhibits unnatural traits, but this is logically impossible. Also, this sort of “design” found in murders is vastly different from those alleged artifacts found in archaeology, which means this is just another false analogy.

Science is making progress on how things in nature are being formed. In addition to the observed fact of self-organization in nature, there are known processes that explain the existence of some things that have the superficial appearance of design (like the “boot” shape of Italy). Things like the Rosetta Stone are made of material that responds to known geological processes that form its shape. Archaeologists object, saying that these arguments involving geological processes and so forth do not go into enough detail on how the artifacts could have been formed. However, the level of detail needed to satisfy these archaeologists is impossible to obtain. We can’t go back in time to find out how exactly geological processes formed them can we? Besides this, archaeology has similar problems in figuring out how things were made. How were the pyramids and obelisks of Egypt constructed? Archaeologists don’t know, they can only speculate.

Clearly, there is no good evidence for archaeology. There are only arguments from ignorance and emotional appeals. How do we know that things were formed naturally? All one has to do is look at nature and these alleged artifacts. There are undeniable similarities between Stonehenge and other things and nature. For example, they are both made of stone. The same can be said with the Rosetta Stone (anyone who thinks that the Rosetta Stone is not made of stone is just being stupid). As was mentioned before, these “artifacts” are composed of material that responds to recognized geological processes that form its shape. These similarities prove that they were formed naturally.

Why is archaeology so popular? The answer is simple; it’s because of religious motives. The Bible speaks of cities like “Babylon” and “Nineveh” and other ancient things. To support their religious belief, archaeologists pathetically search nature to find things they think were artificially created. Not only that, but the very concept of intelligent design is an inherently religious belief. The end result is a clear pseudoscientific dogma.