How does someone determine the meaning of a word? I guess one could consult a dictionary but I think we usually learn new words by hearing how they are used by others. When you think about it, dictionaries only describes how the word is commonly used. It’s not a rule book. Dictionaries don’t write languages, languages write dictionaries. After all, there is no transcendent, immutable meaning of any word that has been carved in stone somewhere. There is no “word czar” who has sole authority to judge what is the correct meaning of a word. The reality is that meaning of any word is transitory and it can mean whatever the majority of the populace thinks it means. Consider the word, “gay,” for example; it was during my lifetime that the word went from meaning, “happy” to meaning, “homosexual.” The dictionaries have changed their definitions to reflect this.
Of course, nearly every profession uses certain words that have specialized meanings. We usually call such words, “jargon.” The word “load” for example, will mean something different to an engineer than it does to a truck driver. There’s nothing wrong with using jargon. However, an industry specific meaning of a word shouldn’t change the way that same word is used by the public at large, right? Well, I don’t think a reasonable person would expect it to but many evolutionists aren’t reasonable. They want to foist their jargon upon us!
Here’s a quote from the rabidly pro-evolution website, Talk Origins:
“Recently I read a statement from a creationist who claimed that scientists are being dishonest when they talk about evolution. This person believed that evolution was being misrepresented to the public. The real problem is that the public, and creationists, do not understand what evolution is all about. This person’s definition of evolution was very different from the common scientific definition and as a consequence he was unable to understand what evolutionary biology really meant.
In the creation v. evolution debate, there’s some controversy over the meaning of the word, “evolution.” There shouldn’t be. When we’re talking about evolution, we’re talking about the idea that dinosaurs became birds or, more specifically, that apes became people. When a creationist says he doesn’t believe in “evolution,” that is the point of contention – not the amount of change in the light/dark ratio of peppered moths.
Evolutionists, on the other hand, have their own definitions of the word, “evolution.” The most common definition is “any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next.” Again, it’s fine when one profession assigns a special meaning to an otherwise, ordinary word. However, when evolutionists engage in debate with the lay public, there’s no rule that compels us lay-folk to use words the same way the evolutionists do.
In the above quote, I suspect the unnamed creationist understood very well what “evolution” means to evolutionary biologists. I also suspect that Mr. Moran knows very well what the creationist means by the word, “evolution.” Any “confusion” that occurs is only on the part of evolutionists who intentionally conflate the term to include both the minor, observed changes (like the peppered moths) and the unobserved evolution of molecules-to-man. In the creation v. evolution debate, the dispute is not over wolf-to-dog type evolution but over fish-to-frog, dino-to-bird, or ape-to-man.
For some reason, evolutionists think they have the right to monopolize words. Just like Humpty Dumpty in, Through the Looking Glass, when they use a word, it means just what they choose it to mean. When a creationist says he doesn’t believe in “evolution,” the evolutionist knows precisely what is being said. It’s the evolutionist who muddies the waters by recklessly citing examples of “evolution” like the peppered moth and dino-to-bird as though they are the same thing.
There is no communication problem in the creation v. evolution debate. There are only evolutionists complaining that we don’t use their jargon. In real fields of science, scientists are careful to use words with precise meanings but evolutionists aren’t. They’re happy to abuse the language in order to deceive a lay public. Conflate, confuse, and obfuscate – that’s the tactic of evolutionists.
I got a little chuckle at Mr. Moran’s closing quote:
Scientists such as myself must share the blame for the lack of public understanding of science. We need to work harder to convey the correct information. Sometimes we don’t succeed very well but that does not mean that we are dishonest. On the other hand, the general public, and creationists in particular, need to also work a little harder in order to understand science. Reading a textbook would help. ”
Really, Mr. Moran? Your solution to the imagined problem is that creationists read a book? I suggest you climb out of your ivory tower and begin learning how real people talk.