Robinson on Dawkins

Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Marilynne Robinson wrote this lengthy review of The God Delusion for Harpers Magazine. She was unimpressed.

The review weighs in at 4599 words, but you’ll find yourself almost a thousand words in before hitting anything substantive about Dawkins’ book. Prior to that it’s just a lot of snideness about how seriously Dawkins takes himself, about how he’s preaching to the choir, and about what a crazed Darwinian fundamentalist he is. In this portion of the review, Robinson seems more interested in showing off how well she writes than in making actual points. For example, here’s her opening paragraph:

Richard Dawkins is an Oxford professor and the author of a series of best-selling books that popularize a version of evolutionary theory. According to Dawkins, evolution is driven by “replicators”–genes, and also “memes,” viruses of the mind that spread and persist in human populations. Those genes and memes that replicate most effectively become dominant, with every consequence for the natural world and for civilization and history. The usefulness of this notion, which does have the virtue of simplicity, is a question obscured by the demands Dawkins has placed on it. By his lights this is the universal etiology, a fully sufficient refutation of religion in every form and the basis for a new view of humankind. Under the name of Darwinism it has been thrown into the rhetorical wars that seem, to the combatants, to pit science against religion. As argument it has taken on the character of this environment, getting lost in the miasma of its own supposed implications.


Dawkins, of course, has written several books establishing the usefulness of his view of evolution. That notwithstanding, Robinson tells us that the demands Dawkins has placed on his ideas have somehow obscured the question of their usefulness. What does that mean? How could expecting your view of evolution to explain many things make it unclear whether that view is useful? And I can’t make heads or tails out of that last sentence. “…lost in the miasma of its own supposed implications”? Whatever.

Dawkins, incidentally, obviously does not believe that Darwinian evolution is a fully sufficient refutation of religion in every form. If he did, there would have been no reason for him to write this book. Most of The God Delusion does not deal with evolution, after all.

Robinson natters on like this for a while, interrupting her admiration of her own prose just long enough to exaggerate Dawkins views. She then launches into a discussion of how it is poor form for Dawkins to discuss all of the evil done in the name of religion without also discussing evil done in the name of science. In the interest of keeping this entry to a reasonable length, I will not discuss this part of Robinson’s review. She makes some reasonable points, but many more unreasonable ones.

Instead, let us fast forward to the 2700 word mark. That is where we find this:

Evolution is the creature of time. And, as Dawkins notes, modern cosmologies generally suggest that time and the universe as a whole came into being together. So a creator cannot very well be thought of as having attained complexity through a process of evolution. That is to say, theists need find no anomaly in a divine “complexity” over against the “simplicity” that is presumed to characterize the universe at its origin. (I use these terms not because I find them appropriate to the question but because Dawkins uses them, and my point is to demonstrate the flaws in his reasoning.) In this context, Dawkins cannot concede, even hypothetically, a reality that is not time-bound, that does not conform to Darwinism as he understands it. Yet in an earlier book, Unweaving the Rainbow, Dawkins remarks that “further developments of the [big bang] theory, supported by all available evidence, suggest that time itself began in this mother of all cataclysms. You probably don’t understand, and I certainly don’t, what it can possibly mean to say that time itself began at a particular moment. But once again that is a limitation of our minds.. . .”

That God exists outside time as its creator is an ancient given of theology. The faithful are accustomed to expressions like “from everlasting to everlasting” in reference to God, language that the positivists would surely have considered nonsense but that does indeed express the intuition that time is an aspect of the created order. Again, I do not wish to abuse either theology or scientific theory by implying that either can be used as evidence in support of the other; I mean only that the big bang in fact provides a metaphor that might help Dawkins understand why his grand assault on the “God Hypothesis” has failed to impress the theists.

This refers to Dawkins “Ultimate 747” argument, and is the main point I wish to discuss. A lot of people have criticized this argument, but I believe nearly all of them are misconstruing Dawkins’ intention. Not because Dawkins was unclear, mind you, but rather because it is easier to refute a caricature than to discuss the real thing.

Let us begin with the observation that this argument appears in a chapter entitled “Why There Almost Certainly is No God.” So whatever Dawkins is about to argue, it is not that it is logically certain that God does not exist. Next, this comes after a chapter in which Dawkins considers, and refutes, most of the major arguments for God’s existence that have been offered over the years. The one he left out is the argument from design, and that is the subject of the present chapter.

So what is Dawkins’ argument? We needn’t guess, since he was kind enough to lay it out in a series of numbered points at the end of the chapter. He begins by pointing out that superficially one of the most compelling reasons for believing in God is the complexity of the universe as a whole, and also of its component parts (like living organisms). In everyday life, a purposeful arrangement of parts strongly suggests an intelligent designer. So when we see a purposeful arrangement of parts in living organisms, it is natural to think it a straightforward extrapolation to infer a designer for them as well. And that brings us to point number three, which I now reproduce:

The temptation is a false one, because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer. The whole problem we started out with was the problem of explaining statistical improbability. It is obviously no solution to postulate something even more improbable. We need a ‘crane’ not a ‘skyhook’, for only a crane can do the business of working up gradually and plausibly from simplicity to otherwise improbable complexity.

The point is that every intelligent agent we know about is highly complex. Yet, the designer of the universe is being imbued with powers that are orders of magnitude greater than anything known intelligent agents are capable of. If we were simply drawing an inference from the intelligent agents we know about, we would have to conclude that such an entity is itself highly complex. But if it is the complexity of the universe that led us to hypothesize such an entity in the first place, than the greater complexity of the designer likewise needs to be explained. This leads to an infinite regress of desginers, each one invoked to explain the one before it.

And this is where many of the critics go wrong. They think they have refuted Dawkins by pointing to logically possible scenarios in which God does not himself require an explanation. We can follow Robinson by declaring God to be eternal, for example. Or we can follow the example of one of my fellow Panda’s Thumbers, who recently suggested to me that God could be the creator of the universe, but nonetheless be very simple.

Indeed we can. But in each case we are simply imbuing God with precisely the properties He needs to have to be sheilded from rational inquiry. What we manifestly are not doing is making a simple extrapolation from the existence and actions of known intelligent agents, to the existence and actions of a designer for the universe. By conceding that the only way to avoid an infinite regress of designers is by assuming that God is not just different from known intelligent agents, but has properties that flatly contradict everything we know about intelligence, we are robbing the design argument of all its force. What started as a perfectly rational explanation for the complexity of nature, ends up being something that can only be propped up via hand waving and special pleading.

But that is not the end of the argument. Dawkins would agree that despite the huge conceptual problems inherent in invoking a supernatural agent as an explanation for the universe, we might nonetheless be driven to that conlcusion by the facts of nature. That is, nature might present us with phenomena that stand in such stark defiance of what natural causes can explain, that we would be stuck with the design hypothesis despite the even greater mysteries that hypothesis presents.

Actually, though, nature doesn’t do that. Darwinian evoution shows how the complexity of living organisms can be explained without reference to a designer. Cosmology, meanwhile, has not yet reached a definitive conclusion on questions like “fine-tuning,” but even what we know at this point is enough to make a naturalistic explanation seem far more plausible than a supernaturalistic one.

And that brings us back to Robinson. Dawkins would agree completely that no principle of logic is violated by observing the complexity of nature and concluding that it was created by an eternally existing supernatural entity of unfathomable power who inhabits a realm where our Earth logic does not apply. Just don’t claim that you have explained anything in this way, because all you have really done is create mysteries far greater than what we started with. And don’t claim that your conclusion is based on a rational contemplation of the facts of nature, because it is not.

To put it another way, you don’t have to be a positivist to find Robinson’s explanation nonsensical. Despite her protestations about human intuition, she can’t really imagine what it means to say that God exists in a realm outside time. No one can really imagine an entity that on the one hand is capable of first conceptualizing and then creating the universe, but on the other hand is so simple that we do not legitimately wonder where He came from. Arguing in this way is a concession of Dawkins’ point, not a refutation of it.

The remainder of Robinson’s review does manage to make a few good points (though her 500 word digression meant to show that T. H. Huxley was a moral cretin is a bit bizarre). She is right when she argues that Dawkins is a bit selective in the ways he quotes the Bible. She is also right in challenging Dawkins’ assertions about whether atheism can lead to violence in much the same way that religion does. This is one place where I think Dawkins genuinely dropped the ball. He does tend to lapse into an overly simplistic “Atheism good; Religion bad,” sort of mentality.

But that’s not really the correct dichotomy. Really it’s “Critical thinking, evidence based arguments good; Allegiance to a holy book, supreme confidence about the fate of unbelievers in the afterlife, bad.” The former tends to lead to atheism, while the latter is more associated with theism. I think Sam Harris makes this point very well in Letter to a Christian Nation:

Auschwitz, the Soviet gulags, and the killing fields of Cambodia are not examples of what happens to people when they become too reasonable. To the contrary, these horrors testify to the dangers of political or racial dogmatism. It is time that Christians like yourself stop pretending that a rational rejection of your faith entails the blind embrace of atheism as a dogma. One need not accept anything on insufficient evidence to find the virign birth of Jesus to be a preposterous idea. The problem with religion – as with Nazism, Stalinism, or any other totalitarian mythology – is the problem of dogma itself. I know of no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too desirous of evidence in support of their core beliefs. (pp. 42-43)

So it is comforting that in a 4500+ word essay Robinson did manage to make a few good points. She does, at least, show evidence of having read the book. But it’s not much of a defense of religion to argue that if we scour history we can find some bad atheists, or that science can be directed towards evil ends just as surely as religion. And on the central question of the book, namely whether relgiious belief is something that can be defended rationally, Robinson misses the point completely.

Comments

  1. #1 matthew
    October 31, 2006

    Great job with these reviews of reviews, thank you.

  2. #2 Joe
    October 31, 2006

    I expect Heddle to show-up any time now wagging his tongue.

  3. #3 Scott Belyea
    October 31, 2006

    Robinson seems more interested in showing off how well she writes than in making actual points. … And I can’t make heads or tails out of that last sentence. �…lost in the miasma of its own supposed implications�? Whatever. … Robinson natters on like this for a while, interrupting her admiration of her own prose just long enough to exaggerate Dawkins views. … So it is comforting that in a 4500+ word essay Robinson did manage to make a few good points. She does, at least, show evidence of having read the book.

    In reading various critiques of negative reviews, I’m struck by how many of those writing the critiques can’t resist being just as snide and snotty as they seem to believe the reviewers have been.

  4. #4 Blake Stacey
    October 31, 2006

    Does anybody else find it horribly dishonest to mash up evolutionary biology and memetics under the label “Darwinism”? Never mind that “Darwinism” is a codeword invented by creationists to make science sound like dogma; never mind that scientists use the word in a restricted, historical sense. Robinson seems to be claiming that memetics is a science on equal par with biology, and even more — that it is an essential part of our scientific understanding, joined to biological evolution at the hip.

    Does anyone actually give memetics that much credit — even Dawkins? Yes, it’s part-and-parcel of Internet culture to say that memes exist, but blogging about Snakes on a Plane is several orders of magnitude less rigorous than genetics.

  5. #5 Scott Belyea
    October 31, 2006

    …whether relgiious belief is something that can be defended rationally,..

    I’m somewhat baffled by this formulation, and by how insistently those on the “science” side want to say things like, “Show me the evidence!” and “That’s just not rational!”.

    Can I show rationally or with evidence why person A loves B rather than C? After all, C is (by any rational standard) more physically attractive, a better conversationalist, better in bed, and has more income potential. Can I present evidence and rational arguments to someone who’s just done their “Friday top 10″ list from their iPod that Bach’s St. Matthew Passion is a greater artistic accomplishment than the total contents of their iPod put together?

    I’m not sure that I could “win” either debate. I’m not even sure it’s a reasonable debate to have. And I feel somewhat the same about the demands on religion.

    Mind you, I’m about as convinced an atheist as you’ll find, but I have trouble seeing the evidence-based approach being of much use in discussing religion.

  6. #6 Tyler DiPietro
    October 31, 2006

    Scott Belyea,

    That sort of reasoning does not work for two reasons,

    1. Love is a physical thing, not ethereal or supernatural. It’s a concoction of chemicals in the brain that induce a subjective experience. “Love”, and emotion in general, are things that are explicable through physical science. We can demonstrate their existence through neuroscience, fMRI, etc. Not the same with God.

    2. Religious people aren’t making a claim to simple subjective experiences, they are making claims about things that happened in the real world that, if true, should be detectable by modern scientific methods. If prayer works, baptism is efficacious, someone was born of a virgin, someone can come back from the dead, people have ghostly souls, etc., these are things that we should be able to test. And furthermore, they are existential claims. Putting them on a similar level to subjective experiences is nothing but a fallacy of equivocation.

  7. #7 grayman
    October 31, 2006

    Scott, it’s not that tough. When you speak of persons A, B and C it may not be possible to construct a rational argument as to why A chooses B over C (although a determined determinist would disagree), but it is certainly possible to construct a rational argument for the existence or non-existence of these three persons. Similarly, a debate about the artistic achievement represented by the St. Matthew Passion is possible only because you are quite certain, on a purely rational basis, that the piece exists. If a theist could meet even this first hurdle, then religion would be worth discussing in something other than literary and anthropological terms.

  8. #8 Koray Can
    October 31, 2006

    She says:

    The gravest questions about the institutions of contemporary science seem never to be posed, though we know the terrors of all-out conflict between civilizations would include innovations, notably those dread weapons of mass destruction, being made by scientists for any country with access to their skills.

    What are those gravest questions? Btw, scientists don’t make weapons; engineers do. She repeatedly refers to science as if it’s something we make decisions with:

    …This is not to single out science as exceptionally inclined to do harm, though its capacity for doing harm is by now unequaled…

    Nonsense. Science doesn’t tell anyone whether it’s right or wrong to build bombs using physics and kill people. Science only tells that a bomb can be built.

    Regarding the complex universe created by a complex creator, I fully agree with you. I don’t know for sure whether the creator of a complex universe must be even more complex. I just find the theological assertion too strong. I just can’t say that “There exists an entity for which there need not be an explanation, who created another entity which must be explained.”

    Perhaps my biggest problem with this is the concept of existence. I’ve never known anything in this universe that sprung into existence or was created (or ceased to exist). Everybody is so eager to accept that things can be created. Even religious people agree that ‘nothing’ could have been created for thousands (or more) years. I can’t think of another widely accepted claim that has not been verified for thousands of years.

    (PS: I also don’t know what ‘exists’ means for things. If I am looking at you, and suddenly I can’t see you and I can’t even count for the atoms of your body, does that mean that you ceased to exist? Why? How do I know how to count for the atoms anyway?)

  9. #9 Federico Contreras
    October 31, 2006

    /*
    Can I present evidence and rational arguments to someone who’s just done their “Friday top 10″ list from their iPod that Bach’s St. Matthew Passion is a greater artistic accomplishment than the total contents of their iPod put together?
    */

    This is a misrepresentation of what we mean when we say show me the evidence. Generally, I trot out the “show me the evidence” card when a religionist makes an idiotic claim about the nature of god or the state / nature of the world.

    ex: You think the world was created in 6 literal days? Show me the evidence.

    See? A rational person could certainly “win” that debate.

  10. #10 Living Image
    October 31, 2006

    Hello. I am new to this blog and finding it very interesting, especially as I am just starting my own. I am a creationist because I believe evolution is unscientific and illogical. Those are strong claims, I know. I lay out the reasoning behind them on my blog: http://case4creationism.blogspot.com

  11. #11 Robert O'Brien
    October 31, 2006

    Uh-oh! Blood in the water!

  12. #12 Phil
    October 31, 2006

    Living Image -

    It’s not evolution, but your so-called reasoning that’s illogical and unscientific. Perhaps if you had taken a biology class when you were in college you would understand why this is so. It’s obvious from your blog that you know absolutely nothing about the subject of evolution, genetics or natural selection. All of your arguments are regurgitations of hackneyed creationist objections that have been refuted, discredited and dismissed many times over. Why don’t you go to http://www.talkorigins.org and learn something instead of polluting a useful discussion board with such sophomoric tripe?

  13. #13 Robert O'Brien
    October 31, 2006

    Phil:

    Perhaps if you had spent a little more time reading his(?) blog before you banged out your choleric response you would have noticed he(?) is currently a college freshman.

  14. #14 Shaun
    October 31, 2006

    Living Image,

    I took a moment to comment on your blog, in reply to your claim that evolution has never been observed. I noticed that you are studying Communication Arts and are working on your blog for your Introduction to Mass Media class. I am studying Arts/Science and have taken 2 semesters of first year biology (exams in a week). I hope that in light of specific examples of evolution in action through natural selection, you may realise that evolution is indeed observable and scientifically based.

    During my highschool days, I received religious education in a Catholic school, which included anti-evolution arguments, similar to the ones which you are using. I encourage you to read the ruling of Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District by Judge Jones (a Lutheran) where creationists (I recognise Intelligent Design as the Teleological Argument by theologians such as William Pailey and St. Thomas Aquinas) were presented with evidence of evolution and its scientific validity in a Court setting.

    http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/kitzmiller/kitzmiller_342.pdf

    As someone with a better than average education in theology (not hard, since the average is quite low) as well as a basic understanding of evolution, I see no incompatibility between the belief that God Created and the Life evolved. (As an aside, it can be shown and was shown that the basic molecules of life; amino acids, nucleotides etc, can be formed spontaneously in what are believed to be primordial conditions in which life developed.) Who are we to say that God could not be behind evolution?

    I hope you choose to publish my comment the next time you moderate your blog.

  15. #15 Phil
    October 31, 2006

    Robert O’Brien

    I don’t feel compelled to coddle people of any age who want to brag about their ignorance in public. And I really don’t care if you think that’s too choleric.

  16. #16 Kevin from NYC
    October 31, 2006

    “When I talk about “evolution,” I am referring to macroevolution, a naturally occurring, beneficial change which produces increasing complexity.”

    well if you want to talk about something that no scientist talks about and call it evolution you go right ahead!

  17. #17 mtraven
    October 31, 2006

    Not that this really has much to do with anything, but

    scientists don’t make weapons; engineers do.

    Who do you think led the Manhattan Project and proclaimed himself “death, the destroyer of worlds?” Hint–it wasn’t an engineer.

    I thought Robinson’s point that it’s unfair to compare the worst of religion with the best of science was rather good. Both are complex social processes with good and bad consequences.

  18. #18 Koray
    October 31, 2006

    mtraven, scientists are quite capable of functioning as engineers and many are hired as such in the industry. They’re not practicing science when they’re working on a product. They’re just using scientific knowledge.

  19. #19 mtraven
    October 31, 2006

    Why does everyone seem to think that religion is nothing more a bad version of science? The point of religion is not “rational explanation of the universe”, although certainly people have tried to shoehorn these together. Religion provides community, comfort, ritual, and a way of dealing with the inexpressible nature of being. This is not something science is set up to do.

    If we take Robinson’s point that God (whatever it is) is eternal and outside of time, then obviously “God created the universe” has to be at best a metaphor. It can’t mean, “first there was God, and then one day he decided to create the universe”. It’s not clear that it does mean anything, but it definitely doesn’t have the dumb sort of literal interpretation that fundamentalists and atheists looking to score cheap points give it.

    One of Robinson’s points was that you should argue with the best of religion, not the worst. And this doesn’t apply just to the social consequences, but the actual intellectual frameworks. There are ideas in religion that are not stupid and are worth engaging with.

    It falls neither within the predicate of nonbeing nor of being. Existing beings do not know it as it actually is and it does not know them as they are. There is no speaking of it, nor name nor knowledge of it. Darkness and light, error and truthit is none of these. It is beyond assertion and denial. We make assertions and denials of what is next to it, but never of it, for it is both beyond every assertion, being the perfect and unique cause of all things, and, by virtue of its preeminently simple and absolute nature, free of every limitation, beyond every limitation; it is also beyond every denial.

    — Pseudo-Dionysius, The Mystical Theology

  20. #20 Fred
    October 31, 2006

    LivingImage: On your blog, your #1 reason to reject evolution is that it has never been observed. Has creation been observed? By whom? Just wondering.

  21. #21 johnc
    November 1, 2006

    First of, I find more than a tinge of middle-brow anti-intellectualism in sniping comments such as “seems more interested in showing off how well she writes”. What sort of criticism is it that says someone writes too well?

    Her essay is an attempt to seriously engage some underlying ideas in TGD. Most interestingly, it is clearly untenable to hold religion responsible for all the evil done in its name while simultaneously absolving science of it social responsibilities. Political historians would reject the former, while serious historians of science the latter. In which light her discussion of T.H. Huxley’s retrograde racism at a crucial historical juncture is certainly not “bizarre”. Dawkins’ positivist and Whiggish cast of mind has been criticised by many people, including Gould, and surely introduce serious weaknesses into TGD.

    On the other side of the ledger I am surprised no-one picked up on the fact that Robinson’s defence of the Amish blithely ignores the cesspool of rape and incest that has been uncovered in recent court cases. If there is prime example to support Dawkins’ point about child abuse then the Amish are it, and Robinson is dead wrong.

  22. #22 AJS
    November 1, 2006

    Living Image,

    Saying that you don’t believe in “macroevolution” (because you don’t think you’ve seen it) but you do believe in “microevolution” (because it’s happening right infrontof your eyes; ever heard of MRSA?) is a bit like saying you believe in millimetres and centimetres (which you can fit into your head), but not in kilometres and megametres (which you can’t). And just about as sensible.

  23. #23 truth machine
    November 1, 2006

    Who do you think led the Manhattan Project

    The Manahattan Project was formally known as the “Manhattan Engineering District (MED)”, and was under the control of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, administered by General Leslie R. Groves.

    and proclaimed himself “death, the destroyer of worlds?”

    Oppenheimer directed scientific research, he didn’t lead the project. And he did not “proclaim himself” anything; he said that the line from the Bhagavad Gita, “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one…” came to him upon witnessing the explosion, and years later he said that another line had come to him at the time, that of “death, the destroyer of worlds”. The fact is that quite a few scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project dropped out of nuclear physics — they were not enamored of the power of destruction, quite the opposite. Oppenheimer himself became a critic of the arms race, was stripped of his security clearance, and died a broken man.

    I thought Robinson’s point that it’s unfair to compare the worst of religion with the best of science was rather good. Both are complex social processes with good and bad consequences.

    Robinson, like you, is a liar and a distorter, and you both seem unable to make your arguments without such.

  24. #24 truth machine
    November 1, 2006

    First of, I find more than a tinge of middle-brow anti-intellectualism in sniping comments such as “seems more interested in showing off how well she writes”. What sort of criticism is it that says someone writes too well?

    It’s telling that you left off the rest of the statement: “than in making actual points”. Telling that you’re dishonest.

  25. #25 truth machine
    November 1, 2006

    Marilynne Robinson is a novelist with a PhD in English; what’s she doing writing a review of Dawkins’s book — or rather, why is Harper’s publishing her review? I think the extent of her expertise in regard to Dawkins’s book is captured by this snide comment in her second paragraph: “all his verbal skills as well, and his humane learning, too, which is capacious enough to include some deeply minor poetry”. What an utter ass. She doesn’t deserve the credence conferred by reviewing her review.

  26. #26 Haniff Murray
    November 1, 2006

    I think Dawkins is overreaching, and I believe I can show this by asking a simple question. However, I have to set up some background first.

    Some of you may be familiar with the argument that we are might be simulations in a powerful computer. If you are not, it’s not as wildy far-fetched as it seems at first blush.

    Essentially, the argument goes as follows:

    1) Computers are getting exponentially more powerful

    2) Some future civilization may decide to undertake simulations of its past (i.e., 20th century man).

    3) The objects of this simulation must, to exhibit any fidelity at all, behave as if they are self-aware. Note that this doesn’t mean they “really are” self-aware.

    3a) A corollary of this is that the objects of the simulation would not know they were in a simulation. Their sensory experience would be consistent with them NOT being simulated.

    4) Once such a scenario occurred, from then on, simulated 20th Century Americas would outnumber the “real” 20th Century America by any number you care to name. Limited, of course, by the cultural lifetime of said future civilizations, their interest in our particular time period, and their available computing power.

    5) From a purely probabilistic standpoint, it would be more likely that we are simulated, than that we are real.

    I’m certainly butchering what is actally an elegant argument, and I apologize. However, even such a crude framework suffices for my actual question:

    Given that a simulated Dawkins made the exact same argument the “real” one is making, would it have any weight?

    Certainly, from the viewpoint of a simulated person, their simulator can be classified as “a” God, if not “The” God. Therefore, from the perspective of a sim-person, the answer to “is there a God” is yes.

    And yet, since it’s the same argument, the sim-Dawkins would conclude that the answer is “no”.

    Let’s further make the condition that if any sim-Dawkins reaches the correct, “yes there is a God” conclusion, we will *alter the simulation* until his conclusion is again “no”. Remember, the sims must never be aware that they are sims.

    Therefore, at least for the simulated states, his arguments are insufficiently powerful to reach their intended conclusion. In fact, no argument by any “mind” in the simulation may be able to reach the correct answer.

    Of course, you could say that since simulation of a world is impossible even in principle, this supposed flaw is meaningless. However, you’d also have to assert that there is no *real* God that serves as our Universe’s “simulator operator”.

    In order to remove this potential flaw in his “there is no God” argument, you’d have to presuppose that there was no God. His conclusion is a required axiom of his argument.

    Therefore his argument is flawed.

  27. #27 truth machine
    November 1, 2006

    In order to remove this potential flaw in his “there is no God” argument

    He doesn’t make a “there is no God” argument, he makes a “there almost certainly is no God” argument, as Jason pointed out up front; sheesh, can’t you read? And a careful probabilistic analysis of the simulation argument (there was one published in Skeptical Inquirer, IIRC) shows that, contrary to your point 5, it is extremely unlikely that we are simulated.

  28. #28 LuisGarcia
    November 1, 2006

    Haniff, have you read the book? At no point does Dawkins argue “there is no God”. He argues that “given what we know about the world, there is no rational reason for believing there is a God, and, also given what we know about the world, there is a rational reason for concluding the probability of the existence of God is tiny”. Other than that, a beautifully constructed straw man. Well done

  29. #29 Ruth
    November 1, 2006

    “Certainly, from the viewpoint of a simulated person, their simulator can be classified as “a” God, if not “The” God. Therefore, from the perspective of a sim-person, the answer to “is there a God” is yes.”

    Depends what you mean by ‘a’ God. The whole definition of ‘God’ that is refuted in ‘The God Delusion’, is that of a being who created everything that exists. The simulator that you describe would clearly not qualify as this kind of God, since he/she/it clearly did NOT create everything that there is.

    Also, most people’s personal definition of God, and their justification for following his/her/its supposed commands, includes that said God has our best interests as his/her/its primary concern. There is no reason to suppose that your hypothetical simulator would have this property, either.

    True, your hypothetical simulator would have seemingly infinite power, which in past centuries would have been enough to qualify as ‘God’; reference the self-centered, murderous tyrant of the old testament. However, most modern believers demand a little more of their God. Just as most modern women demand a little more of a potential husband than simply that he gives them no choice but to obey him.

  30. #30 heddle
    November 1, 2006

    I have a simple and serious question–so if you are inclined to give a snide answer by all means feel free to waste your time.

    I never understand any variant of “then who designed the designer?” argument. I acknowledge that Dawkins is a smart guy, and he must have a simple answer to the question (below), but I’ve never had the opportunity to ask him personally, and every time I ask it on some place like PT all I ever got were insults or unsatisfying metaphysical responses. But it is a simple question for a simple claim (the necessity of an infinite regress of designers) so I don’t see why it doesn’t have a simple physical answer. If it does, please provide it. Or, let me know how I am misunderstanding the claim.

    Not that it matters, but I don’t believe any of the scenario I’m about to describe.

    I’ll base the scenario on the design of terrestrial life, but I could have just as easily formed one that addresses the design of the universe.

    Suppose that nearby in our galaxy there is a planet very much like earth, but a billion years older. From purely naturalistic processes, intelligent life arose and thrived for hundreds of millions of years. During that period, they learned how to cultivate amino acids, how to make designer proteins, and how to build nano machines and storage devices and factories (in the form of cells and microbes) from those proteins. For what ever reason, they decided to send a supply of these designed cells to the lifeless earth. The great diversity of life on earth arose from these designer components.

    So the question is, why is this impossible? Somehow I must be missing the boat. Would we not have a case where life on earth was complex and designed while the designer was even more complex yet not designed?

    I admit that knockdown arguments are almost always wrong–but I don’t see what is wrong with this simple rebuttal. Does Dawkins answer it in any of his books?

    Here is one metaphysical argument I hear to address this question: the evolved “designers” were merely carrying out natural processes already in motion when they designed cells and microbes for earth. Thus, taken as a whole, even the process of their so-called design is predetermined by the initial conditions of the universe.

    But if that argument is the response, then of course it leads to the conclusion that nothing is designed, not even Mt. Rushmore. I don’t think that is the point Dawkins is trying to make.

  31. #31 JY
    November 1, 2006

    I don’t think this is really a rebuttal to the ‘infinite regress’ argument. The ‘infinite regress’ argument is saying that if complex things must be designed, and that is why there must be a God, it can be pointed out that God must be complex, and therefore must also be designed (leading to infinite regress). But if you allow (as you do in your rebuttal) for the possibility of complexity arising without design (as the alien race supposedly did), then the complexity of life is not reason to suggest that there must be a God. Anywhere you see complexity, it could have arisen naturalistically, or could have been designed by something that arose naturalistically.

    I think that biologists admit that the idea that life as we know it is designed isn’t inherently unscientific, just not as plausible as the notion that life arose here, on earth, without design. The idea that life on earth was designed by a natural designer (i.e. an alien race) admits scientific inquiry. We can ask questions about how this race got the first life here, look for evidence they left of being here, and so forth. But, of course, we’d still need to explain how naturalistic processes gave rise to the alien life form, so the abiogenesis issue is still out there to be solved. Based on the state of knowledge about the earliest period on earth, it seems more parsimonious, for now, to assume that life started on its own here and led to us, than to assume that life started on its own somewhere far away, led to an intelligent life form, which then came here, designed us, and left.

  32. #32 Haniff Murray
    November 1, 2006

    truth machine:
    let me clear up front. I understand completely that Dawkins is not making an absolute argument. However, it’s very difficult to refute something essentially phrased as “but I might be wrong”, and I will assume that readers insert the appropriate caveats in my own response. When I say “Dawkins is wrong”, please read “He has inverted the probabilities of his argument, and his conclusion is in fact highly unlikely”.

    You will note that nothing changes in my argument. I would, however, like a reference to your rebuttal of my point 5.

    LucasGarcia:
    Essentially the same response applies.

    Ruth:
    Thank you for your response. I understand what you’re saying, and perhaps Dawkins would agree with you. I have essentially switched the definition of “God” which his arguments are based on.

    However, isn’t it fair to ask, if his refutation (understanding that it is incomplete and probabilistic *sigh*) only works for ONE “version” of god, isn’t it a rather meager way to address such a vast and multifacted concept?

    I realize that the popularized image of God is essentially an ultrapowerful Santa Claus, but there is no reason to believe only that particular Western mythos. Suppose there is no Jolly SuperSanta…does Dawkins rebuttal apply to the concept of Karma? Karma could certainly serve many of the functions of a god (retribution and reward), so is it irrelevant to God Delusions?

    If Karma doesn’t exist, do we debate Synchronicity? And so on and so on. I believe, perhaps unfairly, that even a thorough debunking of one type of god does not debunk other types.

    A longer response than I had planned, but your objection was a good one, and I wanted my response to be clear.

  33. #33 johnc
    November 1, 2006

    “truth machine”,

    I was not being “dishonest” or misrepresenting Jason, who repeats the sentiment a little further on (“interrupting her admiration of her own prose just long enough to exaggerate Dawkins views”). I stand by the fact that I find the criticism sniping, and smacking of a disdain for the intellectuals who are not scientists.

    For the record I am 100pc nearer to Dawkins than Robinson on most of the questions under discussion, but that does not mean I closed down my mind when reading her essay. She is not just a novelist, but has published numerous essays (with which I largely disagree) on these topics, including the collection Death of Adam in 1999. Robinson has been an eloquent voice for the “moral emptiness” of scientism, and it seems to me that if we are to counter such claims then we need dialogue not denunciation with the best representatives of the position. We may even learn something along the way.

  34. #34 Jon S
    November 1, 2006

    Koray Can says “I can’t think of another widely accepted claim that has not been verified for thousands of years.”

    Evolutionists (for hundreds of years)have widely accepted (by faith) the claim that life can come from non-life, even though it has never been verified. In fact, science has demonstrated that life only comes from life.

    Phil, try to be a little more welcoming and a little more constructive to newcomers. Some of what you say can be applied to you too. Creationists consider your reasoning illogical and unscientific. I did take biology in college, and understood it quite well (at least from my perspective). When the class started studying DNA I tried demonstrating to the professor just how complicated a single strand of DNA is, but her only defense was that “it’s not that complicated”. I’m not sure how to argue against an illogical defense like that. When I look at a strand and DNA and see how complex it is, am I supposed to think “Gee, I suppose that could happen all by itself given enough time.”? That would take a lot of faith. I’d rather put my faith in a living God.

  35. #35 Blake Stacey
    November 1, 2006

    Quoth Jon S.:

    In fact, science has demonstrated that life only comes from life.

    . . . Except that part of science which constitutes the thriving field of abiogenesis, where we learn an awful lot about how the natural processes of chemistry can bring about living things.

    Sigh.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the question I asked in the third comment, way back up there?

  36. #36 Blake Stacey
    November 1, 2006

    Oops. By “third comment”, I really meant fourth comment. It’s still awfully early in the morning for me. . . .

  37. #37 David Harmon
    November 1, 2006

    Joe: Yep, there’s Heddle, pulling out a standard “deferral to aliens”.

    Scott Belyea: I suspect an implicit “argument from consequences” here, but heck, I’ll take a shot anyway. You seem to be mixing different types of argument — exactly what are you seeking when you try to “show rationally or with evidence why person A loves B rather than C”?

    Certainly, you can demonstrate by evidence and reference to definitions, that A loves B, and not C (i.e, “A kicked C out of A’s home, and proposed marriage to B”.)

    If you want to determine the cause of this state of affairs (ouch), you need to analyze past events, some of which may be unavailable, and/or very subtle. Even so, “in principle”, the task might be possible, yielding a narrative such as: “C acted exploitatively enough to disrupt the A/C relationship, then B encountered A ‘on the rebound’, while also possessing a suitable set of pheromones, personality elements, etc. Note that ideas about “soulmates” are not particularly supported by the evidence, nor are most rules claiming to prove that A “should” be in love with one or the other.

    If you want to examine why people happen to fall in love to begin with, then you can note that evolution can “accidentally” create telelogical impetus. Skipping many details, I’ll just note that pair-bonding is successful enough to be widespread among the animal kingdom, with many variations. The word “love” represents the human “implementation”, of a fundamental committment to the welfare of another person. Note that it applies not only to co-parents, but also our offspring, other kin, and even non-kin “allies”. This is a classic example of how, once developed, any given feature can be turned to a variety of purposes.

  38. #38 JY
    November 1, 2006

    Jon S. says:

    Evolutionists (for hundreds of years)have widely accepted (by faith) the claim that life can come from non-life, even though it has never been verified. In fact, science has demonstrated that life only comes from life.

    ‘Evolutionists’, including Darwin himself, allow for the logical possibility that a creator ‘breathed life’ into a single form of life, from which the resulting diversity of life developed. Darwin said so himself. Now, I’d guess that most biologist think that the first life form probably came about by natural processes, and not a direct intervention of God, but they don’t take it on faith. If scientists took it on faith, they wouldn’t be trying to figure out how life might have arisen spontaneously.

    Further, both ‘evolutionists’ and creationists believe that biological life came from non-biological-life at some point in the history of the universe. At this point, only the creationists claim to know how.

  39. #39 David Heddle
    November 1, 2006

    David Harmon,JY,

    Thanks for the reply.

    That makes more sense, if I understand you correctly:

    a) if anything complex is necessarily designed then

    b) we get an infinite regress of designers (which must continue even if we reach God)

    Two follow up questions.

    First–is that an accurate representation of what Dawkins claims? Though very clear, that does not sound exactly like either Jason described it or how I heard it described elsewhere (even in Dawkins writings).

    Second, who claims that “everything complex must be designed?” Not even Dembski, as far as I know. His claim (at least as far as the design inference goes–and I’m playing devil’s advocate here) is that something that exhibits CSI is designed (aside: which he doesn’t and cannot prove), and that terrestrial life exhibits CSI (aside: which he doesn’t and cannot prove), therefore terrestrial life is designed. But again, even according to WD’s ID, there could be complex life that doesn’t exhibit CSI.

    So, while I understand your representation better, it still seems to me that it doesn’t prove what it claims.

  40. #40 Phil
    November 1, 2006

    Jon S

    I do not visit creationist discussion boards and lay down challenges to their beliefs. If I did, I would expect a strong response. Living Image did not post a message asking for an explanation of why those of us who accept evolution as scientfically valid do so. Instead, he directly stated that he found the reasoning supporting evolution to be “illogical and unscientific”. On what basis does a presumptuous twit of a college freshman, who is not even a science major, make such a pronouncement?

    It was obvious from the drivel on his embarrasingly sophomoric blog that everything he “knows” about the subjects of evolution, genetics, natural selection and any other topic in biology is a result of indoctrination with standard issue creationist dogma. Such dogma is at variance with the established body of knowledge in those fields that has been compiled by legitimate academic researchers over the last century and a half! Furthermore, it has all been convincingly debunked, discredited and disposed of in more ways than one can imagine. I provided Living Image with a link to a web site that contains the completely logical and scientific refutations of everything he stated on his blog. It’s not my personal reasoning or evidence that’s at issue.

    Yet you expect me to treat Living Image’s claim as a legitimate alternative point of view? You’re more daft than he is! This is NOT a he-said, she-said issue. That’s one of the major issues that Richard Dawkins is bringing out, that religionists cannot expect to get a free pass behind a cover of polite intellectual tolerance when they make scientific claims. And Living Image’s post WAS a scientific claim. As such, it is subject to being smacked down by those who actually have studied the subject matter. I’m no more impressed that he (or your) would consider my reasoning “illogical and unscientific” than I would by someone defending astrology, alchemy, geocentrism or the stork theory of birth making such a claim.

    As for your story about DNA, you’re just illustrating the use of a common logical fallacy – an argument from personal incredulity – on your part to avoid a challenge to your preconceived notions. Your professor was right – DNA, in and of itself is not that complicated – it’s has only four individual components and forms a regular, repeating strucutre that can be accounted for by the chemical and physical properties of the components and principles such as the minimization of free energy. The most parsimonious epxplanation for its structure is self-organization – design is netither implied nor required to explain the data. What you see as “complex” factors of DNA’s functions (replication, information storage and transfer) are all derived from its essential properties and structure, which are (if you understand the biochemistry) not all that complicated.

    Just because YOU find the existence and function of DNA too complex to understand without the intervention of a superfluous, supernatural being (which we have no more evidence for than we do for the existence of Santa Claus or leprechauns) doesn’t mean that the concept is intrinsically wrong.

    So, feel free to put your “faith” (a rather dubious intellectual concept to begin with) in whatever you want. Just don’t expect to be taken seriously by those who can see past the frailties of your parochical way of thinking.

  41. #41 JY
    November 1, 2006

    David,

    I think Dawkins claims that God-the-designer must be complex if he is himself to be an explanation for complexity. I haven’t read his book (TGD), but I have heard him say something to that effect. And then I think he infers improbability from that complexity. But, as I say, I’m not 100% sure.

    Yes, the formulation of ‘complex’ is an oversimplification of what people who push biological ID actually say. Although I do think they imply that complex life that doesn’t exhibit CSI couldn’t design complex life that does exhibit CSI. So if we exhibit CSI, then an alien life form that designed us must also exhibit CSI, and their CSI must have come from somewhere, so you eventually get to a “first cause” of CSI (i.e. God). That’s my understanding of (at least) Dembski’s logic.

    I don’t think the infinite regress argument really proves anything, except that the argument from design is not convincing. (By that I mean, if you present the argument from design to a non-theist, you haven’t really provided a rationally convincing argument for the non-theist to change his mind. It doesn’t prove that the Universe isn’t designed). And I guess Dawkins doesn’t think it proves anything either, but thinks it does allow one to make a case for the probability of God, in some sort of Bayesian sense. I don’t think you can make a case for the “probability of God”, but I haven’t given it a ton of thought.

  42. #42 Richard
    November 1, 2006

    JohnC,

    I think it a considerable overstatement to suggest that that Jason is expressing “disdain for the intellectuals who are not scientists”. He is not attacking her whole oeuvre. Her poor arguments and supercilious style in this review deserve to be criticized, as did Eagleton’s in his. It is not anti-intellectualism to do so. As this seems to be a running theme in your posts, I’m not sure what kind of criticism of these author’s reviews would be acceptable to you. If reviewers like Robinson and Eagleton are patronizing and haughty, and if they want to indulge in snide remarks and put-downs (which you don’t object to, for some reason) they should expect somewhat acidic response.

  43. #43 gmanedit
    November 1, 2006

    If I were religious and had faith, the evidence of things unseen, I would have no problem at all with a God who was supernatural and outside the realm of science. God can do anything, even create a rock too heavy for Him to lift. We’re not talking human limitations here; God has no limitations.

  44. #44 Fred
    November 1, 2006

    David Heddle– One of the ID assertions is that complexity can not arise naturally; that order can not arise from chaos. This means that evolution is not possible. And that’s just *one* of the ways that they say that evolution is not possible. So they are automatically saying “God did it,” because their hypothesis (it’s not a theory) allows for no other explanation.

    Some other ID ramblings while they’re on my mind:
    Here’s a big problem I have with ID, and why I think it’s anti-science and anti-advancement: All of the research I’ve read about is an attempt to show how organisms could not have evolved naturally. Besides the fact that this does not prove ID (at best it could only disprove evolution), it is completely unproductive. Heck, I can tell you a thousand ways that mankind didn’t get here. Does that help anyone? Does it really answer any questions? What would the world be like today if the Wright brothers spent their time trying to prove that man COULDN’T fly, rather than by trying to fly?

    Where would we be today if the goal of science was only to prove what couldn’t be?

    Since ID can not (according to them) make any assertions about the designer or his methods, what science is there for ID?

    Lastly, if the designer merely designed, who did the creating? For ID folks to say they’re not creationists is wrong, because someone still needs to create. The designer could also do the creating, but that still means he’s the “creator,” and that ID is creationism.

  45. #45 David Heddle
    November 1, 2006

    Fred,

    You make some valid points, but my question/comment was not about what ID says, but about what Dawkins says. Is his comment aimed at a specific form of ID, say Dembski’s, or is he, as I have always read it, stating someting more general–that design always has the “who designed the designer” problem. If it’s this latter general statement that he is trying to make, then I think he is wrong. If he is arguing about some specific ID “theory” such as CSI, then maybe he is right, but he needs to be more specific and detailed.

  46. #46 Koray Can
    November 1, 2006

    Heddle,

    In my first post, I expressed that it is not necessarily true that there cannot be a creator who wasnt created by another, especially since theres a lot of smoke around the definition of creation.

    However, this doesnt lead to an explanation, either. You can have one alien nation creating us, or you can have two alien nations creating us together, three alien nations creating each other and the last one creating us, etc. Its all arbitrary and should be equally plausible to a lot of people. The fallacy is to assume that one of these possibilities makes so much sense while the others dont.

  47. #47 Sastra
    November 1, 2006

    Haniif:
    A couple points:

    Your thought experiment seems to be another version of the brain-in-a-vat scenario (which is usually expressed today as “what-if we’re really in the Matrix?”) Brain in a Vat/Matrix is usually eliminated from rational consideration by Occam’s Razor. ALL the brain in a vat possibilities eliminated at once. I’m not particularly good with statistics, but I don’t think you can just go ahead and take the billion billion billion ways we could be simulations and put them up in a cumulative block against the single alternative that we are not, and then say the probability now is that we ARE simulations. My guess is something’s fishy with the math.

    As for whether or not Dawkins’ argument would apply to other forms of the supernatural, I think it would. Keep in mind that, while Karma and Syncronicity are not actual persons, they are “forces” or cosmic tendencies which consist of qualities which are associated with personhood. Not mind itself, but the *products of mind* — values, meaning, good and evil — exist purely, separate from matter, prior to matter, and/or capable of acting upon matter, under-girdling reality. In these non-theistic versions of supernaturalism the universe is still fundamentally mental and anthropocentric.

    If Dawkins contention is that science demonstrates that the richness of personhood and mind is the result of a gradual, incremental growth from non-personal, non-mental sources — and therefore it is illegitimate to assume we can start everything out with personhood and mind — then I think views of reality which are based on purely mental properties would be included in the general argument.

  48. #48 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    November 1, 2006

    I’m somewhat baffled by this formulation, and by how insistently those on the “science” side want to say things like, “Show me the evidence!” and “That’s just not rational!”.

    Can I show rationally or with evidence why person A loves B rather than C?

    It’s very simple: one question concerns epistemology; a question of truth. The other concerns aesthetics. Consult any intro philosophy textbook for the distinction.

  49. #49 Jon S
    November 1, 2006

    Blake Stacey says “Except that part of science which constitutes the thriving field of abiogenesis, where we learn an awful lot about how the natural processes of chemistry can bring about living things.”

    I read the link, but I’m not impressed. It didn’t say anything I didn’t already know. It basically says that abiogenesis isn’t as improbable as creationists make it out to be, and that life could be created in a lab. So what? It still remains that no scientist has ever observed life arise spontaneously, which is exactly what evolution would require. But evolutionists believe, by faith, that it MUST have happened at least once in the past because of their prior commitment to naturalism. Further, creating life in a lab would only prove that it couldn’t happen without an intelligent agent creating it, which would support ID and creationism.

    JY says “‘Evolutionists’, including Darwin himself, allow for the logical possibility that a creator ‘breathed life’ into a single form of life, from which the resulting diversity of life developed. Darwin said so himself.”

    That doesn’t give me much comfort or faith in evolution. Quite frankly, evolution, as pointed out by Darwin and others on this blog, is very atheistic, and is an attempt to show that God is unnecessary, and, in fact, evil if he does exist. You won’t see this in textbooks, but that’s exactly what evolution is if you listen long enough and close enough.

    JY says “Now, I’d guess that most biologist think that the first life form probably came about by natural processes, and not a direct intervention of God, but they don’t take it on faith. If scientists took it on faith, they wouldn’t be trying to figure out how life might have arisen spontaneously.”

    Not true. Of course it’s by faith. Has anyone ever observed, confirmed, or verified the claim or belief that life arose spontaneously? Does it happen today? Or do they believe by faith that the earth’s early atmosphere was just right to allow an organism to come to life by pure chance? If it’s never been observed, then they believe something that contradicts everything we have observed, namely that life only comes from life. They don’t believe this on what has been observed, but by what they already believe by faith according to their worldview.

    JY says “Further, both ‘evolutionists’ and creationists believe that biological life came from non-biological-life at some point in the history of the universe. At this point, only the creationists claim to know how.”

    Right, that’s because we accept scripture as God’s revelation to man.

  50. #50 Jon S
    November 1, 2006

    Phil says “On what basis does a presumptuous twit of a college freshman, who is not even a science major, make such a pronouncement?”

    I think it’s called the constitution. Both he, you, and I have a right to free speech, which allows us to say what we wish to say, with certain limits. Of course the moderator can decide to censor certain speech as well.

    Phil says “It was obvious from the drivel on his embarrasingly sophomoric blog that everything he “knows” about the subjects of evolution, genetics, natural selection and any other topic in biology is a result of indoctrination with standard issue creationist dogma.”

    But don’t you believe all the evolutionist dogma that was crammed down your throat in a state supported school system and then college as a result of their indoctrination? Were you even allowed to hear the criticisms of evolution, or was that forbidden and censored? Certainly you’re not suggesting that public school systems and colleges don’t try to indoctrinate students to believe evolution through their own propaganda machines?

    Phil says “Such dogma is at variance with the established body of knowledge in those fields that has been compiled by legitimate academic researchers over the last century and a half!”

    So evolution is true because the majority of people in power say it is? Wow, what an admission. I didn’t know that’s how truth is determined.

    “Furthermore, it has all been convincingly debunked, discredited and disposed of in more ways than one can imagine.”

    Debunked by who? Atheists that don’t believe in God? Is that why we should give up our faith? Because atheists tell us they don’t believe what we believe, and because what they believe is believed by a lot of scientists that are in power, which makes what they believe right? As a matter of fact creation scientists have convincingly debunked, discredited, and disposed of many evolutionist myths, but that doesn’t seem to convince atheists to seek God. So why should creationists believe the atheists have interpreted the evidence more accurately, and that it’s not the atheists who have flaws in their science?

    Phil says “Yet you expect me to treat Living Image’s claim as a legitimate alternative point of view? You’re more daft than he is!”

    Perhaps from your perspective.

    Phil says “I’m no more impressed that he (or your) would consider my reasoning “illogical and unscientific” than I would by someone defending astrology, alchemy, geocentrism or the stork theory of birth making such a claim.”

    Exactly. If you disagree with me, or I disagree with you, then we each find the other’s reasoning illogical and unscientific. Which is why we need more open debate and discussion on these topics.

    Phil says “Your professor was right – DNA, in and of itself is not that complicated.”

    And you think I’m being illogical? Sorry, but DNA is a very complex code, and waiving a magic wand won’t create a strand of selfsustaining DNA.

    Phil says “Just because YOU find the existence and function of DNA too complex to understand without the intervention of a superfluous, supernatural being (which we have no more evidence for than we do for the existence of Santa Claus or leprechauns) doesn’t mean that the concept is intrinsically wrong.”

    A lot of scientists consider DNA very complex… not too complex to understand, but too complex to have come about by random chance. And yes there is evidence to support the existence of God, if you choose to do some honest investigation.

    Phil says “So, feel free to put your “faith” (a rather dubious intellectual concept to begin with) in whatever you want. Just don’t expect to be taken seriously by those who can see past the frailties of your parochical way of thinking.”

    I do expect creationists to be taken seriously, because the rest of the world is starting to see through the evolutionary indoctrination they’re being fed.

  51. #51 Fred
    November 2, 2006

    Jon S: Hate to break it to you, but evolution does NOT depend on life arising spontaneously. Evolution and origin are two different things.

    I’m very interested to hear what this “evidence to support the existence of God” is though.

    And as for this little gem: “I do expect creationists to be taken seriously, because the rest of the world is starting to see through the evolutionary indoctrination they’re being fed.

    Well, first of all, since when does it matter how many people believe in creation? That has no bearing at all on whether it’s true or not. Everyone used to believe the earth was flat too. Second, if you want to talk indoctrination, how about starting with religion, where you’re indoctrinated practically from birth (baptism, Sunday school, etc.). No wonder people have a hard time giving up their belief in God, it was imprinted on them from a very young age. And, of course, it was without being exposed to any alternate theories or any criticisms of creation. What’s the Church so afraid of?

  52. #52 JohnnieCanuck
    November 2, 2006

    Jon S says “Sorry, but DNA is a very complex code, and waiving a magic wand won’t create a strand of selfsustaining DNA.”

    This is illogical. You claim a supernatural being created all life, then you say a particular supernatural method won’t create DNA. Do you have information as to exactly what actions or tools were used by Him during his supernatural creative act?

    I expect creationists to be taken seriously, too. Whenever they attempt to degrade the education of other people’s children, they should be dealt with as seriously and severely as possible.

    How you can frequent blogs such as this one and not note the tremendous advances being made by biologists in many separate areas, all informed by the framework of evolution, is beyond rational explanation.

    Medical science has in the past and to an even greater extent in the future, will benefit you and your children through advances that depend on knowledge gained from an understanding of evolution. Are creationists supposed to opt out of evolution based benefits?

    Do you stop taking antibiotics as soon as the symptoms lessen?

  53. #53 Ruth
    November 2, 2006

    -So the question is, why is this impossible? Somehow I must be missing the boat. Would we not have a case where life on earth was complex and designed while the designer was even more complex yet not designed?-

    The argument is not that this would be impossible, but that such beings would not be ‘God’. In the first place, there would clearly be more than one of them, so the whole assumption of monotheism would go out of the window.

    If we turn out to have been deliberately created by intelligent aliens, does that mean that we would be morally obliged to follow the commands of those aliens, regardless of our own needs and desires? And, since there would be more than one of these beings, what if one tells us to do something, and another tells us not to do it?

  54. #54 Ruth
    November 2, 2006

    -However, isn’t it fair to ask, if his refutation (understanding that it is incomplete and probabilistic *sigh*) only works for ONE “version” of god, isn’t it a rather meager way to address such a vast and multifacted concept?-

    The refutation works for THE KIND OF GOD THAT MATTERS. i.e. the kind that has to be followed or obeyed. If the definition of ‘God’ is of something that is unknowable and undetectable, then such a God could have no relevance to our lives, since we would have no way of knowing WHAT relevance it SHOULD have to our lives. How can you follow something if it is impossible to know what ‘following’ is?

  55. #55 Phil
    November 2, 2006

    Jon S

    Initially it’s satisfying to debate someone with your obvious educational deficiencies and intellectual limitations because you’ve essentially brought a knife to a gun fight. On the other hand, after a round or two it becomes about as exciting as shooting fish in a barrel. Why do you even bother to post on this site?

    Clearly, you’ve chosen to be deliberately ignorant about biology, genetics, evolution and, I strongly suspect, any other field in science that has produced legitmate knowledge that makes belief in supernatural entities (such as your God) superfluous to the the understanding of nature. That being the case, why would you even bother to argue against people who, lacking your self-imposed cognitive biases, have made the effort to learn about and understand these fields. Whom are you trying to impress? Does it make you feel good to, in essence, shout “I’m an idiot and I don’t care who knows it!”? in a public forum?

    Yes, creationist drivel is Constitutionally protected speech – so what? That doesn’t make it any less nonsensical than proclaimations that the Earth is flat and at the center of the Universe, or that lightning bolts are hurled by Zeus from the peak of Mount Olympus. It is entirely presumptuous for someone who has not even made the slightest effort to learn about and understand a scientific field, by, oh, I don’t know, maybe TAKING AN INTRODUCTORY SURVEY CLASS, to pronounce the reasoning behind the unifying concept in that field is “illogical and unscientific”.

    If the only evidence offered for such a proclaimation consists of a series of recycled logical fallacies, strawman arguments and misconceptions that have obviously been taken directly from ideological propaganda distributed by groups opposed to any intellectual advance since the Iron Age, well, let’s just say that most people will not take such a proclaimation seriously.

    You confuse my reference to the body of knowledge in the biological sciences (and other sciences supporting evolution) as an argument from authority. It is not. If you were acquainted at all with science you would know that it is much more than a body of knowledge – it is a process (the scientific method) for discovering truth, to the best of our abilities. While it is as imperfect as all human fields of endeavor are, the scientific method has a remarkable and unparalled record of success.

    That is precisely why I have confidence in the body of knowledge that I cited – because of the process used to compile it. It’s not a matter of how many people “believe” in it – it’s matter of how long it has survived a meritocratic process of verification without being disproven. There is literlly no evidence, in any legitimate scientific field, that contradicts Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Furthermore, predictions made by the theory of evolution by natural selection have been consistently proven to be successful in explaining new discoveries. That’s also a hallmark of a successful scientifc theory. In this respect, Darwin’s theory is one of the most successful scientific theories ever.

    Incidentally, the reason I have confidence in the scientific method is also why “defenders of the faith” such as yourself, despise science and close their minds to it – because it subjects the poetic myths of their “holy” books and doctrines to critical examination and finds them to be rubbish. This was true in the days of Copernicus and Galileo and, thanks to folks like you, it’s still true today.

    The intellectual limitations of religion, which pretends to be a science, but has consistently proven to be a failure at discovering truth, are that it is ultimately an authoritarian system for maintaining the status quo rather than one that can successfully ask and answer questions and enlighten us. That’s why religion depends on revealed knowledge and belief on the basis of blind faith and reseves its severest punishments for those who dare deviate from the dictates of its authorities. Religion is the ultimate argument from authority. It’s intersting to note, that like all bullies, religion is ultimately a coward, because, unlike science, it’s unwilling to risk being proved wrong. This is the root of the conflict between religion and science. Religion is willing to sacrifice anything that might be gained through enlightenment if such gains would present any risk at all to its authority or any challenge to its beliefs. It must oppose any such efforts irrespective of truth or justice. This makes religion a reactionary, retrograde force that does much to retard intellectual progress. You are a perfect example.

    Science, in contrast, recognizes that, at best, it can only produce the closest approximation to the truth that can be gained through the skill and ingenuity of its practitioners and the limits of our senses and technology. All scientific knowledge will eventually be superceded by better knowledge. The difference is that science welcomes this, indeed, it depends on it. That’s why it is a superior to religion as a belief system and has been repsonsible for much the progress made by civilization. Sure, such progress comes with a price and scientific knowledge has been misused to the detriment of civilization. However, those are issues of technology, politics and social organization that are outside the boundaries of the argument of how best to understand the world we live in.

    You’re perfectly welcome to cling to 2000-year-old tribal superstitions and myths as the basis for your outlook. I really don’t care. If, as you say, the numbers of folks who “think” (I’m not sure that’s the apporpriate word) like you is increasing, that is indeed sad commentary on our society. However, you should keep in mind that bad ideas subscribed to by millions of people are still bad ideas.

  56. #56 Fred
    November 2, 2006

    I’ve always found it funny that religious people today think they’re so much more advanced scientifically and in terms of tolerance because they think the Church was ignorant and so plainly wrong to denounce the findings of Copernicus and Galileo. They say “well, that was a different time and they just didn’t know any better, but I wouldn’t have done that.” Then, of course, they turn right around and do the same thing with evolution– “It’s against the Bible!” “It’s against God!” “You’re wrong because this ancient anthology of stories says you are!” “You’re going to burn in hell for your beliefs!”

    What’s even funnier though is that these religious folks insist they’d have acted differently towards the findings of Galileo and Copernicus even though they were just individuals and their discoveries were new, whereas evolution has 150 years of research, mountains of evidence, thousands of scientists and support from virtually all other branches of science.

    I can understand why Darwin himself would meet with objections, because most of the underlying science (like DNA) had not been discovered yet. But today there’s absolutely no reason to object to evolution. Sure there’s still a lot to learn, but– and this is significant– so far all new discoveries have supported evolution. If you think you’re smart and tolerant and would have instantly seen the validity in Copernicus and Galileo’s findings, then you should offer no objection to evolution, which is far more scientifically supported today than those guys were at the time.

  57. #57 Jon S
    November 2, 2006

    Fred says “Hate to break it to you, but evolution does NOT depend on life arising spontaneously. Evolution and origin are two different things.”

    I’ve heard this lecture before, but they’re very much connected, just as there’s a connection with the origin of the universe and the Big Bang. None of it can be verified scientifically. It’s all a bunch of unverified claims.

    Fred says “I’m very interested to hear what this “evidence to support the existence of God” is though.”

    There’s archaeological evidence, geologic, genetic, embryology, astronomical, etc. Where’d you like to start? The entire geologic record is consistent with a worldwide flood. That’s pretty good evidence.

    Fred says “since when does it matter how many people believe in creation? That has no bearing at all on whether it’s true or not.”

    That’s exactly the point I’m trying to make! Thank you for understanding. Most evolutionists try to use the argument ‘the vast majority of the scientific community believes in evolution’. Of course such a statement has no bearing on whether it’s true or not.

    Fed says “Everyone used to believe the earth was flat too.”

    No, that’s just a myth that evolutionists like to use to discredit religion. The Bible teaches a round earth (Isaiah 40:22) suspended by nothing (Job 26:7). Even the Greeks around 150 BC believed in a round earth. It was only a handful of so-called intellectual scholars throughout the centuries, claiming to represent the Church, who held to a flat Earth. Most of these were ignored by the Church.

    Fred says “Second, if you want to talk indoctrination, how about starting with religion, where you’re indoctrinated practically from birth (baptism, Sunday school, etc.). No wonder people have a hard time giving up their belief in God, it was imprinted on them from a very young age. And, of course, it was without being exposed to any alternate theories or any criticisms of creation. What’s the Church so afraid of?”

    The church shouldn’t be afraid of anything; God has already won. It would be wrong if the church were to indoctrinate anyone. Teaching others how to become saved and love the Lord doesn’t work if we’re trying to indoctrinate anyone. Instead it’s what God does in each person’s heart. Of course the Bible does instruct parents to bring their children up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:2) So if you want to accuse God of indoctrination, that’s another story.

    Johnnie Canuck says “You claim a supernatural being created all life, then you say a particular supernatural method won’t create DNA. Do you have information as to exactly what actions or tools were used by Him during his supernatural creative act?”

    The Bible tells us God spoke, and it was so.

    Johnnie Canuck says “I expect creationists to be taken seriously, too. Whenever they attempt to degrade the education of other people’s children, they should be dealt with as seriously and severely as possible.”

    An interesting admission. And what about atheists that attempt to degrade the education of other people’s children? Should they be dealt with as seriously and severely as possible? Do you favor communism? I think you’ve demonstrated why atheism and evolution is a threat to our nation and our children, and why it needs to be combated.

    Johnnie Canuck says “How you can frequent blogs such as this one and not note the tremendous advances being made by biologists in many separate areas, all informed by the framework of evolution, is beyond rational explanation.”

    I do note the advances made by biologists, many of whom are Christian and creationists, and even many atheists, all without mention of evolution (but how can that be?!?). Many scientists will admit that evolution has no relevance in their work, except maybe as an afterthought.

    Johnnie Canuck says “Medical science has in the past and to an even greater extent in the future, will benefit you and your children through advances that depend on knowledge gained from an understanding of evolution.”

    This is an old evolutionist canard that keeps popping up that has no validity whatsoever (anyone for whack-a-mole?). Understanding evolution has nothing to do with medicine or science. If it’s true, then no creationist should ever be able to do science or practice medicine, but the fact that they’ve been doing it all throughout history, today, and in the future disproves this myth. There are plenty of books that list dozens of such scientists and doctors from all fields and their accomplishments.

    Johnnie Canuck says “Do you stop taking antibiotics as soon as the symptoms lessen?”

    Did you know that some bacteria revived after being frozen before antibiotics were developed were already resistant?

  58. #58 Jon S
    November 2, 2006

    Phil says “Initially it’s satisfying to debate someone with your obvious educational deficiencies and intellectual limitations because you’ve essentially brought a knife to a gun fight.”

    Ah, the usual insults coming from a human being of superior intellect. I’m sure you remember that David brought a stone and slingshot against Goliath. I’m sure you don’t believe in that story, but the point is that God is on my side, so your gun is meaningless. I’ll never need to use the knife.

    Phil says “On the other hand, after a round or two it becomes about as exciting as shooting fish in a barrel. Why do you even bother to post on this site?”

    Good question. Several reasons: it’s challenging, educational, enlightening, etc. I also like to keep informed of what the dark side is thinking and try to understand them. I hope that if I can understand evolutionists and atheists better and know what they believe then maybe I’ll be more effective and be able to challenge them better. It keeps me on my toes, and sometimes it’s even amusing. Perhaps maybe even a few readers will see the light and come to know Christ as their Lord and savior.

    Phil says “Clearly, you’ve chosen to be deliberately ignorant about biology, genetics, evolution and, I strongly suspect, any other field in science that has produced legitmate knowledge that makes belief in supernatural entities (such as your God) superfluous to the the understanding of nature.”

    Come now Phil, be reasonable. That’s a false accusation. I took several biology classes in a secular high school and college as well as anthropology, so if I don’t understand it then it’s because it was taught by evolutionists that failed to indoctrinate me. I also keep picking up the latest evolutionist propaganda from the book store and read it, so I must be learning something about science. Sure, I may not have studied as much as you have, but even so, then why don’t you educate me?

    Phil says “Whom are you trying to impress? Does it make you feel good to, in essence, shout “I’m an idiot and I don’t care who knows it!”? in a public forum?”

    No, I honestly don’t care if I impress anyone. Even if everyone thinks the worst of me, that’s okay, because my identity is not in my intellect, but in the Lord. How about you? Where does your identity lie? Of course it would be nice to convince an atheist that there is a God who cares about us and have them come to know the Lord, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Phil says “It is entirely presumptuous for someone who has not even made the slightest effort to learn about and understand a scientific field, by, oh, I don’t know, maybe TAKING AN INTRODUCTORY SURVEY CLASS, to pronounce the reasoning behind the unifying concept in that field is “illogical and unscientific”.

    Sorry Phil, but when I say that it’s you that’s illogical and unscientific, it’s not from my own authority, but from other scientists. Is that okay, or am I not allowed to accept scientific advice from real scientists?

    Phil says “If you were acquainted at all with science you would know that it is much more than a body of knowledge – it is a process (the scientific method) for discovering truth, to the best of our abilities.”

    Interesting. Does science seek truth or not? It depends on which scientist you ask. Someone on this site told me science isn’t about discovering truth. Perhaps they didn’t know what they were talking about.

    Phil says “While it is as imperfect as all human fields of endeavor are, the scientific method has a remarkable and unparalled record of success.”

    Yes, and many creationists in the past and present have been part of that success, all without believing in evolution. The scientific method, in fact, was founded by creationist scientist Francis Bacon.

    Phil says “There is literlly no evidence, in any legitimate scientific field, that contradicts Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Furthermore, predictions made by the theory of evolution by natural selection have been consistently proven to be successful in explaining new discoveries. That’s also a hallmark of a successful scientifc theory. In this respect, Darwin’s theory is one of the most successful scientific theories ever.”

    Firstly, there are many scientists that disagree with your assertion. Your being in the majority doesn’t make your assertions true. But I would like to find out just how many successful predictions have been made in the name of evolution before the fact. If you think Darwin’s theory was successful, I say it’s simply because of your worldview, not because it’s true.

    Phil says “Incidentally, the reason I have confidence in the scientific method is also why “defenders of the faith” such as yourself, despise science and close their minds to it…”

    Stop making false assumptions. People like me don’t despise science no matter how loud you proclaim it. That’s another evolutionist myth used to attack creationists.

    Phil says “It’s intersting to note, that like all bullies, religion is ultimately a coward, because, unlike science, it’s unwilling to risk being proved wrong.”

    Wow, I think it’s evolutionists that are the bullies and unwilling to be proven wrong. That’s why atheists try really, really hard to keep creationism out of schools and colleges. They bully the courts and schools so that anything critical of evolution is censored and so that the evolutionary propaganda machine works on impressionable students.

    Phil says “This is the root of the conflict between religion and science. Religion is willing to sacrifice anything that might be gained through enlightenment…”

    Wrong. Science is not in conflict with religion. It’s impossible. God organized a rational universe that could be understood through observation.

    Phil says “Science, in contrast, recognizes that, at best, it can only produce the closest approximation to the truth that can be gained through the skill and ingenuity of its practitioners and the limits of our senses and technology.”

    There we go. Now you admit that science can only come close to the truth. But I don’t want an approximation of the truth; I want the TRUTH, which can only be found in Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

  59. #59 Fred
    November 3, 2006

    Jon,
    Virtually all religious people I know say that God gives them their reason for living, or, to put it another way, life without God would be sad and meaningless. If this is true, that without the love of God there is no meaning, then how does God manage? He has no one to look up to, no one to watch over him and love him, no one to help him, no one to give his life meaning, and nothing to look forward to. God must be really sad, lonely and depressed. And no, the love of a bunch of humans would mean nothing to him; no more than if you created a robot and programmed it to say “I love you.”

    And by the way, your answer to my comment about origin and evolution being different is just plain wrong. The Theory of Evolution is not about origin, it’s about what happened next. Obviously life had to arise somehow, but that’s not what evolution is. Also, you’re right that the origin of life, the Big Bang, etc. have never been observed. But neither was creation or anything else in the Bible (you can’t use the Bible as evidence, because it’s a conflict of interest). What non-Bible evidence is there for Jesus walking on water? What non-Bible evidence is there for the story of Adam and Eve? If you renounce science because of a lack of evidence, then you must renounce the Bible too. If not, why not?

    Also, just to comment on one of your ill-informed notions, there’s no geologic evidence for a flood. Yes, I know that there are some poor deluded folks who think there is such evidence, but well, that’s where the “poor deluded” part comes in.

    Lastly, with regard to the Church indoctrinating people practically from birth, which you say they don’t do (helloooo denial!), try this experiment: Raise two children. For one of them, do the usual, baptism, Sunday school, Church every Sunday, etc. For the other one, don’t expose it to religion. When the latter kid is about 13 or so, tell him about religion. Which kid will be religious for life? Face it: when you’re raised from birth to believe in God, it’s almost impossible to shake that belief. It becomes as much a part of you as knowing mommy and daddy. But ANYTHING taught to kids that young will become part of their life. Raise them to worship Satan and they’ll find it just as hard to drop that as it is for you to drop God.

  60. #60 Phil
    November 3, 2006

    Hi Fred,

    Needless to say, I agree wholeheatedly with your posts (and ripostes to Jon S!). I would differ with your most recent post in only one respect. It’s not impossible to shake a belief (such as God) that you’ve been indoctrinated with since birth. I know, because I received the standard Roman Catholic idoctrination and look how I turned out :-).

    The key point is having a skeptical nature and the willingness (OK, compulsion) to question authority. Those are the qualities that I believe led me to see through the facade of religion. By the time I stopped attending church in my mid-teens I had only been going out of some sense of obligation for several years. I never really bought into the mythology, found the whole Jesus story untenable and disliked that none of it was open to question.

    In fairness, I didn’t face any family or peer pressure to keep up with religion. Those factors may set up conflicts for folks who might otherwise ditch religion. I suspect there’s a sizeable fraction of the “believing” population who are outwardly religious for the sake of appearances and social standing but who privately think the God concept and religion are pure, unadulterated BS.

  61. #61 Fred
    November 3, 2006

    Phil, I said “almost impossible.” And I really meant the “almost” part. I know one or two other people who were raised with religion who managed to shake it, but then again they weren’t raised very strictly. Still though, one of the guys, while he’s no longer religious, and even fully accepts evolution, still sometimes gets this nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, there is a God who plays some part in it all.

    It’s hard, but not impossible, to shake it, and different people can shake it more fully than others. It’s hard to fully unprogram yourself, especially given the tenacity of the Church and the dire consequences it says non-believers will suffer.

  62. #62 Phil
    November 3, 2006

    Jon S,

    Dude, what else can I say? Do you really believe what you’re writing or are you actually a Stephen Colbert type of character? If it’s the former – seek some professional help, if it’s the latter – hire an agent and contact Comedy Central ASAP (you’re that good!).

    Assuming you are for real (there goes your TV career), I will respond to some of your most recent post:

    1. Taking classes does not preclude being deliberately ignorant about the subject matter of those classes. Translation: It doesn’t count if you’re not open to learning! One of the big shots of the Creationist lecture circuit (I think it’s Jonathan Wells) actually obtained a Ph.D. in molecular biology just so he could have more credibility as an evolution denier. In other words, he subverted the entire purpose of education (as any reasonable person would see it) to serve his ideological agenda. That’s deliberate ignorance in my book because he chose to be impervious to any ideas that would contradict his preconceived notions.

    2. Just to clarfy, the point about presumptuousness was directed at Living Image’s original post, your defense of which spawned this thread. You’re certainly welcome to make
    any claim you want about anything based on anything. It’s a free market place of ideas. That doesn’t mean that what you say or write will be immune from criticism from those who
    know better.

    Like most religious adherents you seem to have this sense of entitlement that your ideas should be above any critical examination and anyone who dares point out contradictory evidence isn’t being fair. When evidence is available, arguments are no longer matters of opinion. If the only evidence supporting your argument comes from those who share the same rigid ideological convictions and is in direct conflict with a voluminous body of evidence compiled in an objective manner by competent folks representative of the ENTIRE ideological spectrum, then you can’t really argue that you have an alternative viewpoint that’s worthy of being given equal weight.

    Example: No one arguing for an Earth-centered universe (yes, they’re still around) or the scientific validity of astrology or alchemy would be given equal consideration as
    alternative scientific points of view. Certainly, no one (OK, maybe there are some uber wingnuts who would) would be agitating for disclaimers on high-school science textbooks
    that chemistry and astronomy are “controversial” because they fail to give equal time to those points of view.

    No one arguing that their religious belief that lightning bolts are hurled by Zeus or that Thunder is caused by Thor’s hammer would be taken seriously or considered to be deserving of equal time. You merely fail to see that the Biblical accounts of creation and the origin of the species are in the same category. By the way, why is it only that specific creation myth and not those of the Norse, Hopis, Navajos or Hindus that you think should be considered as alternatives to evolution by natural selection and modern cosmology?

    As to your “scientists”, I’m sure they’re all affiliated with the Discovery Institute or other bastions of pseudoscience and all are Christian ideologues. I’m not impressed. If you’re willing to accept those folks as authorities, then how do you account for Ken Miller or Francis Collins, both of whom are highly respected scientists and devoted Christians and both of whom recognize evolution by natural selection as the best explanation for the origin and diversity of the species? Why don’t you try your DNA argument on Dr. Collins who merely headed the Human Genome project?

    3. I’m shocked, shocked to find that there is gambling going on in here!. Wait! Wrong blog. What I’m facetiously shocked at is that you would pounce on my observation that science can only produce the best approximation of the truth. I believe you commented that you want “the TRUTH” which you claim can only be found through Christian ideology. What an
    utter lack of humility (I thought that was a Christian virtue). Science may only be able to approximate the truth but that’s orders of magnitude closer than anything revealed
    knowledge based on millenias old tribal superstitions and mythology has ever produced.

    Look at the track record: Earth-centered universe – WRONG!, age of the Earth (4-10K yrs) – WRONG!, worldwide flood – WRONG!, movement of the planets – WRONG!, and so on and so on. And again, why is it only the Christian ideology that you think can produce “the TRUTH”? What about the other religious ideologies with competing claims? Are they all wrong? If so, what makes Christianity right?

    Finally, I leave you (and this thread) with this link to consider:

    http://www.butler.edu/clergyproject/religion_science_collaboration.htm

    I don’t really agree in the least with the religious sentiments in the letter but it really sets up a conundrum for folks like you.

  63. #63 David D.G.
    November 3, 2006

    I have a few points of rebuttal for Jon S, in response to his responses to a few others’ points:

    [Fred says "Hate to break it to you, but evolution does NOT depend on life arising spontaneously. Evolution and origin are two different things."

    I've heard this lecture before, but they're very much connected, just as there's a connection with the origin of the universe and the Big Bang. None of it can be verified scientifically. It's all a bunch of unverified claims.]

    Jon, saying NUH UH! IS NOT! is not considered a valid argument. The scientists make a very clear distinction between abiogenesis and evolution. The fact that you WANT to connect them does not make them connected; if you want to attack abiogenesis, go ahead and attack that — but evolution is simple fact, verified thousands of times over, and to rail against its veracity makes no more sense than to claim that atoms cannot be split, when millions of people get their electricity from nuclear power plants. To say that none of it can be verified scientifically is simply not true, because a great deal of it has been — otherwise, people might still widely believe, for example, that a global flood actually happened. (And, no, “in the Bible Belt” doesn’t count as “widely” on a global scale.)

    [Fred says "I'm very interested to hear what this "evidence to support the existence of God" is though."

    There's archaeological evidence, geologic, genetic, embryology, astronomical, etc. Where'd you like to start? The entire geologic record is consistent with a worldwide flood. That's pretty good evidence.]

    In what universe? Every single type of evidence you just mentioned IS good evidence — for the naturalist view, not the creationist one. The entire geological record (not to mention physics and archaeology) is completely INconsistent with a worldwide flood; that is why the notion of a global flood was finally dropped by science after centuries of assuming that it was true. The evidence didnt just fail to support the flood theory; it actively debunked it, relegating it once and for all to its proper status as a myth.

    [Fred says "since when does it matter how many people believe in creation? That has no bearing at all on whether it's true or not."

    That's exactly the point I'm trying to make! Thank you for understanding. Most evolutionists try to use the argument 'the vast majority of the scientific community believes in evolution'. Of course such a statement has no bearing on whether it's true or not.]

    Now here, you have a valid point — almost. You are correct that the number of people believing something has no bearing on whether it is true. HOWEVER, the number of times something has been supported by evidence DOES have a bearing on its acceptance as true, and that is how science works. Evolution has been repeatedly supported by many different kinds of evidence, including the fossil record, discoveries of transitional forms previously unknown but predicted, and the observed dynamics and results of natural selection in action. Therefore, the vast majority of scientists (and other thinking people) accept these findings of evolution as fact. So evolution is not accepted as fact because it is a popular idea, but is a popular idea because evidence has caused it to be accepted as fact.

    [Phil says "It is entirely presumptuous for someone who has not even made the slightest effort to learn about and understand a scientific field, by, oh, I don't know, maybe TAKING AN INTRODUCTORY SURVEY CLASS, to pronounce the reasoning behind the unifying concept in that field is "illogical and unscientific".

    Sorry Phil, but when I say that it's you that's illogical and unscientific, it's not from my own authority, but from other scientists. Is that okay, or am I not allowed to accept scientific advice from real scientists?]

    Scientists are people too, and sometimes they make mistakes; and, being human, they sometimes are reluctant to acknowledge those mistakes, particularly if they made them very publicly and have invested a lot of their careers in the mistaken idea. But eventually, science weeds out the bad ideas, or even stops them before they get very far; remember cold fusion? Also, humans being humans, there are always a few people who become wedded to a particular worldview, who try to fit science to that worldview no matter how much it refuses to match; they might get science degrees and publish books, and even claim to be scientists, but what theyre doing isnt science, but merely the demogogic propagation of dogma and delusion. This applies to astrologers, numerologists, UFO/alien abduction/ancient astronaut buffs, Velikovskian catastrophists, flat Earthers, and creationists. They are, to coin a phrase, reality challenged. For such people, NO amount of evidence that disproves their worldview will be accepted, and that means that they have no right to claim themselves as scientists. If you have been duped by them, you have lots of company, but thats no excuse for preferring the writings of a few crackpots over the collective opinion of the scientific community. If a maverick opinion turns out to have merit (e.g., heliocentrism, gravity, germ theory of disease, evolution, plate tectonics), it will eventually be accepted; that is how science works. That is how science ALWAYS works. Until such an idea with merit is accepted, however, backing an idea that runs counter to our entire collective knowledge concerning the physical universe seems rather packed with hubris, in my opinion.

    [Phil says "There is literlly no evidence, in any legitimate scientific field, that contradicts Darwin's theory of natural selection. Furthermore, predictions made by the theory of evolution by natural selection have been consistently proven to be successful in explaining new discoveries. That's also a hallmark of a successful scientifc theory. In this respect, Darwin's theory is one of the most successful scientific theories ever."

    Firstly, there are many scientists that disagree with your assertion. Your being in the majority doesn't make your assertions true. But I would like to find out just how many successful predictions have been made in the name of evolution before the fact. If you think Darwin's theory was successful, I say it's simply because of your worldview, not because it's true.]

    The question shouldnt be just how many successful predictions have been made, but also how many have been shown to be wrong. It takes just ONE piece of evidence completely at odds with a given theory to falsify it (e.g., a human skeleton fossil among dinosaur bones). No such evidence has been found to falsify evolution; on the contrary, literally millions of pieces of evidence have done nothing but support the concept. Working out the exact mechanics of it is the only element of mystery.

    [Phil says "It's intersting to note, that like all bullies, religion is ultimately a coward, because, unlike science, it's unwilling to risk being proved wrong."

    Wow, I think it's evolutionists that are the bullies and unwilling to be proven wrong. That's why atheists try really, really hard to keep creationism out of schools and colleges. They bully the courts and schools so that anything critical of evolution is censored and so that the evolutionary propaganda machine works on impressionable students.]

    Oh, please, Jon. Thats like claiming that the police are bullies because they try really, really hard to keep criminals from helping themselves to all the money in banks and bully the courts to keep them in jail when theyve tried to take that money. Religion has NO place in a science class, especially in a nation that prides itself on proper separation of church and state, and you should bloody well know it, even if you don’t like it. The evolutionary propaganda machine, as you call it, is called education. Dont knock it. The only reason people have had to appeal to the courts is that you religious types are trying to insert religion into science education in tax-funded public schools ILLEGALLY. What other recourse is there? When someone tries to run over your rights, you do the same thing — fight to maintain your rights. Thats what sensible, freethinking people are doing: Fighting to keep people like you from bullying their way into a place and situation where they and their dogma do not belong. Teach your myths in church; you have tax-free status to do so, which many countries do not provide. To claim grounds for doing so in tax-SUPPORTED public schools, and in science class yet, is quite beyond the pale, and to claim that those who are just defending their proper rights are “bullies” for doing so is foully disingenuous. It sets logic completely on its head; you might as well claim that a woman is a bully for trying to defend herself against rape.

    [Phil says "Science, in contrast, recognizes that, at best, it can only produce the closest approximation to the truth that can be gained through the skill and ingenuity of its practitioners and the limits of our senses and technology."

    There we go. Now you admit that science can only come close to the truth. But I don't want an approximation of the truth; I want the TRUTH, which can only be found in Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).]

    No, Jon, I dont think youre the least bit interested in truth. What you want is CERTAINTY, which is altogether different. To bring out a cool-sounding quote, You cant handle the truth! The truth is that certainty is impossible. Science wont give you that, and it doesnt pretend to do so; its truth is always provisional, because science is about always improving knowledge, learning more, and it accepts that there can be no final truth because there is always more to learn. What science does give, though, is rationality and a system for LEARNING the truth, bit by bit. Keep your certainty, if you like — but dont for a moment think that it qualifies as truth, especially just because it came from a book centuries old; that aspect does nothing to validate it as a source of truth (especially scientific truth), and in fact it goes a very long way toward discrediting it as such.

    Someone once asked me, in a pitched debate, Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy? My answer was that, first, these two options are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and second, that being right often DOES make me happy — certainly happier than I would be if I were wrong and were trying, frustratedly, to deal with reality while hampered by a delusion. If you have made your choice to be happy because you dont care about whats actually proven right, well, thats your choice — but dont complain if reality fails to match up with your expectations. Reality isn’t obligated to match delusions.

    ~David D.G.

  64. #64 Phil
    November 3, 2006

    Jon S,

    Dude, what else can I say? Do you really believe what you’re writing or are you actually a Stephen Colbert type of character? If it’s the former – seek some professional help, if it’s the latter – hire an agent and contact Comedy Central ASAP (you’re that good!).

    Assuming you are for real (there goes your TV career), I will respond to some of your most recent post:

    1. Taking classes does not preclude being deliberately ignorant about the subject matter of those classes. Translation: It doesn’t count if you’re not open to learning! One of the big shots of the Creationist lecture circuit (I think it’s Jonathan Wells) actually obtained a Ph.D. in molecular biology just so he could have more credibility as an evolution denier. In other words, he subverted the entire purpose of education (as any reasonable person would see it) to serve his ideological agenda. That’s deliberate ignorance in my book because he chose to be impervious to any ideas that would contradict his preconceived notions.

    2. Just to clarfy, the point about presumptuousness was directed at Living Image’s original post, your defense of which spawned this thread. You’re certainly welcome to make any claim you want about anything based on anything. It’s a free market place of ideas. That doesn’t mean that what you say or write will be immune from criticism from those who know better.

    Like most religious adherents you seem to have this sense of entitlement that your ideas should be above any critical examination and anyone who dares point out contradictory evidence isn’t being fair. When evidence is available, arguments are no longer matters of opinion. If the only evidence supporting your argument comes from those who share the same rigid ideological convictions and is in direct conflict with a voluminous body of evidence compiled in an objective manner by competent folks representative of the ENTIRE ideological spectrum, then you can’t really argue that you have an alternative viewpoint that’s worthy of being given equal weight.

    Example: No one arguing for an Earth-centered universe (yes, they’re still around) or the scientific validity of astrology or alchemy would be given equal consideration as alternative scientific points of view. Certainly, no one (OK, maybe there are some uber wingnuts who would) would be agitating for disclaimers on high-school science textbooks that chemistry and astronomy are “controversial” because they fail to give equal time to those points of view.

    No one arguing that their religious belief that lightning bolts are hurled by Zeus or that Thunder is caused by Thor’s hammer would be taken seriously or considered to be deserving of equal time. You merely fail to see that the Biblical accounts of creation and the origin of the species are in the same category. By the way, why is it only that specific creation myth and not those of the Norse, Hopis, Navajos or Hindus that you think should be considered as alternatives to evolution by natural selection and modern cosmology?

    As to your “scientists”, I’m sure they’re all affiliated with the Discovery Institute or other bastions of pseudoscience and all are Christian ideologues. I’m not impressed. If you’re willing to accept those folks as authorities, then how do you account for Ken Miller or Francis Collins, both of whom are highly respected scientists and devoted Christians and both of whom recognize evolution by natural selection as the best explanation for the origin and diversity of the species? Why don’t you try your DNA argument on Dr. Collins who merely headed the Human Genome project?

    3. I’m shocked, shocked to find that there is gambling going on in here!. Wait! Wrong blog. What I’m facetiously shocked at is that you would pounce on my observation that science can only produce the best approximation of the truth. I believe you commented that you want “the TRUTH” which you claim can only be found through Christian ideology. What an utter lack of humility (I thought that was a Christian virtue). Science may only be able to approximate the truth but that’s orders of magnitude closer than anything revealed knowledge based on millenias old tribal superstitions and mythology has ever produced. Look at the track record: Earth-centered universe – WRONG!, age of the Earth (4-10K yrs) – WRONG!, worldwide flood – WRONG!, movement of the planets – WRONG!, and so on and so on. And again, why is it only the Christian ideology that you think can produce “the TRUTH”? What about the other religious ideologies with competing claims? Are they all wrong? If so, what makes Christianity right?

    Finally, I leave you (and this thread) with this link to consider:

    http://www.butler.edu/clergyproject/religion_science_collaboration.htm

    I don’t really agree in the least with the religious sentiments in the letter but it really sets up a conundrum for folks like you.

  65. #65 Jon S
    November 4, 2006

    Fred says “God must be really sad, lonely and depressed. And no, the love of a bunch of humans would mean nothing to him”

    You’re mistaken about God. Atheists love to try and apply human characteristics to God for some reason. Of course God does not need man, but he chose to create man for his own pleasure, and then to glorify those that love him, and share eternity and paradise with them. This isn’t some invention of man, as you’ve been led to believe, but of a real, living God that will be just fine without you, but would welcome you into his kingdom if you were to genuinely confess your sins before him.

    Fred says “And by the way, your answer to my comment about origin and evolution being different is just plain wrong.

    I think you misunderstood what I wrote. I never denied that evolution and origins are different. I said that they’re very much connected, which is true. If you don’t have a Big Bang, then you don’t have a universe, if you don’t have a universe, then you don’t have an earth, and if you don’t have an earth, then you don’t have chemicals blindly arranging themselves into a complex structure that can sustain itself and also multiply and eventually begin to evolve into more and more complex structures all by its lonesome. Creationists take the stand that the Big Bang, the origins of the first organism, and evolution are all a bunch of baloney, and I’m challenging all of it, right down to your very core beliefs.

    Fred says “Also, you’re right that the origin of life, the Big Bang, etc. have never been observed. But neither was creation or anything else in the Bible (you can’t use the Bible as evidence, because it’s a conflict of interest).”

    Yes! Someone on this site thinks I said something right! But once again you’re missing the obvious. The creation event, and everything else in the bible has, indeed, been observed. That’s why we have Genesis and the other books of the Bible. God was there at the beginning of creation and told us who we are and where we came from. I know atheists hate it when we use the Bible to support itself, but then why don’t you support what you believe without any reference to anything written in your sacred books. You can’t use anything written by Darwin, Gould, Dawkins, Hawkings, or anyone else, because they’re just people who don’t know any better. But, if we can prove that what the Bible says is accurate, true, and authoritative, then using the Bible to support itself is valid. Atheists and unbelievers have been trying since the beginning to discredit the Bible and have failed to do so. Is there anything in the Bible that you can scientifically prove to be false? There is much evidence, however, to demonstrate the Bible is true. The geologic and fossil record is evidence for a worldwide flood, which is why we see massive dinosaur graveyards, and fossils all over the earth, sorted according to their kinds, and even on mountaintops. There’s nothing about the fossil record and geologic column that is out of line with a global flood. There are also flood stories from just about every nation, which also supports the Bible’s claim. Or do you think that a global flood is absolutely impossible? And do you believe scientists who say that a flood of biblical proportions happened on Mars? There were many eye witnesses who saw Jesus die on the cross, and saw him after he rose from the dead. People saw him perform many miracles, including raising others from the dead, give sight to the blind, and hearing to the deaf. People hated him and demanded that he leave after casting a demon out of a man that went into a heard of pigs. Many biblical passages were written while these eye witnesses were still alive, yet they were never refuted.

    Fred says “Also, just to comment on one of your ill-informed notions, there’s no geologic evidence for a flood. Yes, I know that there are some poor deluded folks who think there is such evidence, but well, that’s where the “poor deluded” part comes in.”

    Any evidence you’d care to share with the rest of the world, or is this just an ill-informed claim? Those people who actually study floods and volcanic action can observe what happens afterwards, and a global flood does not contradict what is observed in the fossil record. In fact a global flood fits the evidence much better than a slow process over millions and billions of years. Polystrate fossils and paraconformities are actually evidence against the current theories behind the fossil record.

    Fred says “Lastly, with regard to the Church indoctrinating people practically from birth, which you say they don’t do (helloooo denial!),”

    Again you didn’t read what I wrote. I didn’t deny that it happens, I just said that would be wrong, just as it’s wrong for evolutionists to indoctrinate these same children with YOUR beliefs, and impose YOUR worldview on them.

    Fred says “Face it: when you’re raised from birth to believe in God, it’s almost impossible to shake that belief.”

    We already have much evidence to the contrary. I know many people in my church (even practicing scientists and doctors) that were raised without God and were self professed atheists that came to know Jesus as their Lord and savior. And I’ve seen children raised in the same church who went to college and became atheists (due to its indoctrination). There are many other factors that determine one’s beliefs than how they were raised. And this is why I have a problem with only evolution being taught in public schools at the tax payers expense. Many intelligent people can come to their own conclusions based on the evidence, but when that evidence is suppressed by militant atheists that can’t see beyond their own biased worldview, then we have deep problems.

  66. #66 Jon S
    November 4, 2006

    Davd DG says “but evolution is simple fact, verified thousands of times over… To say that ‘none of it can be verified scientifically’ is simply not true.”

    Ok, I’ll call you on that. Perhaps you can present some verifiable facts, or even just one verifiable fact to support evolution. I don’t want assumptions, just facts that have been verified and confirmed.

    David DG says “Evolution has been repeatedly supported by many different kinds of evidence, including the fossil record, discoveries of transitional forms previously unknown but predicted, and the observed dynamics and results of natural selection in action… So evolution is not accepted as fact because it is a popular idea, but is a popular idea because evidence has caused it to be accepted as fact.”

    The evidence better supports a young earth than it does an old earth. As I previously indicated the fossil record better supports a global flood, and the transitional forms you speak of are only a handful of supposed transitions, highly dubious, and those claims can be disputed.

    David DG says “Also, humans being humans, there are always a few people who become wedded to a particular worldview, who try to fit science to that worldview no matter how much it refuses to match; they might get science degrees and publish books, and even claim to be scientists, but what they’re doing isn’t science, but merely the demogogic propagation of dogma and delusion.”

    Yes, that’s exactly how I feel about evolutionists… you hit the nail on the head!

    David DG says “This applies to astrologers, numerologists, UFO/alien abduction/ancient astronaut buffs, Velikovskian catastrophists, flat Earthers, and creationists. They are, to coin a phrase, ‘reality challenged.’

    Hmmm, I’d be willing to bet that most people who believe in astrology, UFO’s and aliens also believe in evolution, and don’t believe in God. I would also wager that there are few Bible believing Christians who believe in those things as opposed to unbelievers.

    David DG says “For such people, NO amount of evidence that disproves their worldview will be accepted, and that means that they have no right to claim themselves as scientists.”

    That’s exactly how I see evolutionists. No amount of counter evidence can disprove their worldview.

    David DG says “The question shouldn’t be just how many successful predictions have been made, but also how many have been shown to be wrong. It takes just ONE piece of evidence completely at odds with a given theory to falsify it (e.g., a human skeleton fossil among dinosaur bones). No such evidence has been found to falsify evolution; on the contrary, literally millions of pieces of evidence have done nothing but support the concept. Working out the exact mechanics of it is the only element of mystery.”

    Creationists wouldn’t expect a human skeleton to be fossilized among dinosaur bones, just as we wouldn’t expect human skeletons to be fossilized next to hippopotamus bones. Not that it’s impossible, it’s just that humans, dinosaurs, and hippos don’t usually live side by side. Of course I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of such a discovery. But a lack of evidence doesn’t necessarily mean it never happened. Afterall that’s what evolutionists tell creationists when there’s a lack of evidence to support certain theories… that future research will fill in the blanks. And that applies here too. But there is much overwhelming evidence that humans and dinosaurs lived together. There are many drawings and paintings of dinosaurs that have been discovered before the first fossilized dinosaur bones were ever discovered. Even today there are claims of people seeing living dinosaurs in South America and Africa. We also find living fossils around us all the time. To cover up all this mess, evolutionists must live in denial and make up stories in order to uphold their beliefs. There are unsubstantiated claims of dinosaur and human footprints together, but I realize those are cases that can’t be confirmed. The point is that there is evidence, it’s just that you choose not to accept them based on your worldview and the worldview of others who choose not to accept them.

    David DG says “The question shouldn’t be just how many successful predictions have been made, but also how many have been shown to be wrong. It takes just ONE piece of evidence completely at odds with a given theory to falsify it (e.g., a human skeleton fossil among dinosaur bones). No such evidence has been found to falsify evolution.”

    I disagree. Polystrate fossils and paraconformities prove the fossil record and geologic column have been misinterpreted. It’s long been known that radiocarbon keeps popping up reliably in samples of coal, oil and gas, which would be impossible if the world were billions of years old. There are many scientific problems with an ancient earth. Soft tissue and blood cells being found in fossilized dinosaur bones, supposedly 65 million years old. Research on radiohalos, helium in zircons, salt in the oceans all prove a young earth. I think evolution can be finally dismissed since it has been falsified. And to rail against it makes no more sense than to claim that atoms cannot be split, when millions of people get their electricity from nuclear power plants, or for you to claim that the earth is flat, or to suggest that there’s an Easter bunny.

    David DG says “No, Jon, I don’t think you’re the least bit interested in truth. What you want is CERTAINTY, which is altogether different… The truth is that certainty is impossible.”

    David, are you certain of that? How can you be certain of what truth is if you’re an atheist? And yes, I can assure you that I am interested in truth, just not your version of the truth.

    David DG says “Science won’t give you that, and it doesn’t pretend to do so; its ‘truth’ is always provisional, because science is about always improving knowledge, learning more, and it accepts that there can be no ‘final truth’ because there is always more to learn.”

    Then tell your fellow atheistic scientists to stop telling the public that science is about discovering truth when it’s not. It’s only about truth when it suits you for political and religious purposes. And stop pretending that there’s no room for opposing views and criticism of evolution in public schools. I’m not supporting the teaching of religion in science classes, but I do believe that in tax supported schools there should be an arena of discussion and debate with evolution and origins that allows for criticism, as well as evidence for a young earth and universe. Let the students decide for themselves what the truth is, rather than stuffing your worldview and beliefs down their throats. If evolution is true, then what are you afraid of? Do you think students will reject evolution at a greater rate? Let’s allow academic freedom and open debate in the classroom and we’ll see that science and scientific discoveries in the future will advance quickly, and there will be much less hostility in the realm of science. Right now there’s so much hostility mostly because atheists refuse to relinquish their chokehold on science. If we could loosen that then great advances will happen in science. Amen.

  67. #67 Fred
    November 5, 2006

    Jon S.:

    Verifiable fact #1: Man and chimps share about 98% of their DNA, something which Darwin (and evolution theory) predicted.

    Verifiable fact #2: Organisms change (dare I say evolve?) over time. This has been witnessed by people who are even still alive today.

    Others will pipe in with a ton of other stuff.

    Anyway, “nuh uh” is not a valid refutation. It’s not even worth discussing it with you if your reply to everything we say is just going to be “nuh uh, you’re wrong and I’m right.” The fact is that there’s no evidence to support a young earth. None at all. Zero. Zip. Zilch. You want proof? The Grand Canyon. If you disagree, I’d like to know exactly why, and what specific facts lead you to say so. I’d also like to know of all the third-party corroboration for the Bible is; for example, other than what’s in the Bible, what evidence is there that Jesus walked on water, or that he rose again.

    That’s exactly how I see evolutionists. No amount of counter evidence can disprove their worldview.

    Jon, now you’re just being stupid for no reason. DG gave you a very VERY specific example of evidence that would cause every evolutionist to give up, yet you still say that no amount of counter evidence would disprove it. Besides, what counter evidence is there right now? Can you please, for crying out loud, give ONE SPECIFIC VERIFIABLE EXAMPLE????????

    Next you say: “There are many drawings and paintings of dinosaurs that have been discovered before the first fossilized dinosaur bones were ever discovered.

    Who says those are dinosaurs? They do not match any known dinosaur. It’s called “art.” We have art today too, and we have imaginations. Please point me to a cave painting of a dinosaur. Regardless, even if there WERE cave paintings of dinosaurs, it wouldn’t change anything. It would just mean that some dinosaur species lived longer than we thought. Now, if the cave paintings were 60 million years old, that would be important and would change things.

    Even today there are claims of people seeing living dinosaurs in South America and Africa. We also find living fossils around us all the time. To cover up all this mess, evolutionists must live in denial and make up stories in order to uphold their beliefs.

    “Claims” is not evidence Jon. Sorry to break it to you. (And the Bible is just a long claim, by the way.) People claim lots of things but that doesn’t make them real. Still, even if we found T-Rexes walking around on some remote island that still wouldn’t disprove evolution, because surviving species is totally irrelevant. Think of it this way: If T-Rexes were found to not have died out, why would you think that should invalidate evolution? Would it have some bearing on how the T-Rexes came into being? Would it have any bearing on how mammals evolved? No, it would have no impact on evolution. It would simply mean that they didn’t die out when we thought they did. And it would be really cool, and would be WELCOMED by ALL scientists.

    Or think of it this way: Would a living T-Rex found in South America prove Creation? If so, how?

    What’s funny about the rest of your post is that you find that one needle-in-the-haystack “scientist” who supports your view, then act like because this guy says something you agree with, that he’s PROVEN all 10,000 other scientists wrong. Of course, what you fail to take into consideration is that the work of all those other scientists supports each other, whereas the guy who YOU believe stands alone and his findings don’t hold up universally. And how do you explain that there are many scientists studying evolution who are also religious, yet have proven things like, for example, that the earth is not young? What’s their agenda? They’re religious, just like you, but you still say they are wrong, dishonest and have a religious agenda? Are all 10,000 scientists so evil or vain that they’re in denial over the one or two guys who dissent? Or are all 10,000 scientists so incredibly stupid that they don’t realize that their countless research, experiments and study for the past 150 years has all been completely wrong? (By the way, before you question it, the “10,000″ number is just something I made up, figuring that it’s probably accurate enough to cover the past 150 years. Maybe it’s even too low.)

    Your view of religion vs. evolution would be correct if evolution science was created and studied as a way to destroy religion, but from the beginning (Darwin) it’s been developed by many religious people. It’s time you started accepting that scientists are trying to solve mysteries, learn things, and help mankind, rather than that they’re just out to push atheism on people.

    Lastly, I ask you this: How many alternate theories should the students be exposed to? Should the schools be forced to allow any and every theory that someone manages to scribble down into the schools? If not, what criteria should be met? School, by the way, is not a place where students are exposed to all points of view on ANY subject, and it never has been. What makes evolution different? Students are learning far too little as it is, let alone if we had to teach LESS in order to fit in all of the “opposing theories.” And why should students decide? You think that a superficial little high school biology class (which most students don’t even do well in) will give them enough info for them to make any kind of informed decision? And, to be honest, facts are not something you get to decide about. The origin of man and the species isn’t something that you just decide on, like what your favorite color is. A theory is either right or wrong. Do students also get to decide whether they like it that 1+1=2? I very much prefer 1+1 to equal 3.

    Should we teach that the Holocaust didn’t happen, because there are a few folks who think it’s a lie?

    Why does the origin of man matter? What does it really matter in our day-to-day lives that it’s soooooo important that high school kids are exposed to all possible hypotheses? Other than to scientists studying it, what role does a knowledge of man’s origin play? WHO CARES? Answer: Religious people who don’t want religion questioned, and who want to force their way into the curriculum. I say don’t worry about it. Schools are obviously doing such an awful job at teaching evolution that it’s not going to change the mind of any believer.

  68. #68 Jon S
    November 9, 2006

    Fred says “Verifiable fact #1: Man and chimps share about 98% of their DNA, something which Darwin (and evolution theory) predicted.”

    This isn’t a very impressive argument. Since we have many physical similarities and bodily functions as chimps, I’m not sure how this prediction confirms evolution. Similarity in DNA would, of course, be expected. But I’ve also heard claims of 96% similarity, so were those who claimed 98% wrong? What percentage of similarity would be necessary for their prediction to have failed? Even if there is a 2% difference, do you realize how great a difference that is? 1.23% of the differences are single base pair substitutions, which is over 35 million mutations! Also, there are over 40 million bases present in humans and missing from chimps, as well as about the same number present in chimps that is absent from man. This puts the total number of DNA differences at about 125 million. However, since the insertions can be more than one nucleotide long, there are about 40 million separate mutation events that would separate the two species and would have had to take place and become fixed in the population in about 300,000 generations (see Haldane’s dilemma). There are other problems with this as well. Most of the DNA sequence performs an unknown function and has been largely dismissed as “junk DNA”. Increasing evidence, however, supports the view that junk DNA performs an important role. The point is that your 98% is misleading.

    Fred says “Verifiable fact #2: Organisms change (dare I say evolve?) over time. This has been witnessed by people who are even still alive today.”

    This is another weak argument that doesn’t prove evolution. We know organisms change. The type of change is the issue. If a fruit fly changes, it’s still a fruit fly. If bacteria changes, it’s still bacteria. There’s nothing new. And if the organism has less genetic information, then the change is going in the wrong direction and isn’t the type of change that would turn a dinosaur into a bird, or an ape into a man. What is required is an increase in genetic material; specifically a type of increase that allows for new and original functions, such as feathers, eyes, skin, blood, etc. in organisms that never had such features. All the examples anyone has ever provided me are never the type necessary to prove evolution. Also, humans have known that organisms change long before evolution was ever thought of, so your verifiable fact # 2 is meaningless and is not a prediction of evolution. People didn’t need evolution to breed animals.

    Fred says “Others will pipe in with a ton of other stuff.”

    I can’t wait.

    Fred says “Anyway, “nuh uh” is not a valid refutation.”

    Then why do you use this refutation if it’s not valid?

    Fred says “The fact is that there’s no evidence to support a young earth. None at all. Zero. Zip. Zilch. You want proof? The Grand Canyon. If you disagree, I’d like to know exactly why, and what specific facts lead you to say so.”

    Didn’t you say ‘nuh uh’ isn’t a valid refutation. Anyway, the Grand Canyon is great example of a young earth and a global flood. The tilted Precambrian rocks were sheared off in virtually a straight line by the first flood current, producing an angular unconformity. This couldn’t have happened slowly, otherwise it would be gone and leave valleys. Huge boulders were carried miles away. No flood ever witnessed has ever done anything of this magnitude. Once the Flood started, it began to deposit rock layers deep and wide and full of fossils on a scale far greater than anything recorded by human observers. Further, if the Grand Canyon is assumed to represent stages in evolution, where are the Ordovician, Silurian, and Devonian? The Redwall/Muav (Mississippian/ Cambrian) contact has hundreds of miles of exposure in and out of various side canyons, and the two rock layers are in smooth, horizontal contact. There is no evidence for 150 million years of erosion (disconformity). Instead the evidence suggests a smooth, continuous deposition with little time break. This is a paraconformity. Flood geologists accept the evidence as it stands: no 150 million years. But evolution requires 150 million years at that point. And there’s much more evidence the Grand Canyon gives us for a young earth.

    Fred says “I’d also like to know of all the third-party corroboration for the Bible is; for example, other than what’s in the Bible, what evidence is there that Jesus walked on water, or that he rose again.”

    I’ll have to research that for you at a later time. But for now I’ll stick with the Bible. There were eyewitnesses, such as Matthew, Peter, and Jesus other disciples. They saw Jesus walk on water. Of course you’d have to claim they lied or were deceived. Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies, written hundreds of years before his birth, which should be convincing proof. Other people witnessed his miracles as well, including his death and resurrection. In Matthew 27:62-65, and chapter 28 we see that Pilate made the tomb as secure as possible. But Jesus still rose from the dead. In fact Jesus predicted his own death and resurrection, which is precisely why the tomb was made secure. He also appeared to many people over a 40 day period. You can deny the biblical account, but it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. It makes more sense that Jesus is exactly who he claimed to be… Lord, savior, and God.

    Fred says “DG gave you a very VERY specific example of evidence that would cause every evolutionist to give up, yet you still say that no amount of counter evidence would disprove it. Besides, what counter evidence is there right now? Can you please, for crying out loud, give ONE SPECIFIC VERIFIABLE EXAMPLE????????�

    How about the stone carvings of dinosaurs in Ta Prohm, Camboida, or Dinosaur art from ancient tombs in Nasca Peru?

    Fred says “Who says those are dinosaurs? They do not match any known dinosaur. It’s called “art.” We have art today too, and we have imaginations. Please point me to a cave painting of a dinosaur. Regardless, even if there WERE cave paintings of dinosaurs, it wouldn’t change anything. It would just mean that some dinosaur species lived longer than we thought. Now, if the cave paintings were 60 million years old, that would be important and would change things.�
    Like I said Fred, no amount of evidence would cause you or any other evolutionist to change your mind. Making excuses as to why they can’t be authentic artwork of living dinosaurs as seen by man is expected from evolutionists who deny that man and dinosaurs lived together. This would prove that creationists are right and evolutionists are wrong. If dinosaurs didn’t become extinct 65 million years ago as evolutionists dogmatically proclaim, and were (or are) in fact alive and well until recently, then that changes a lot.

    Fred says “And how do you explain that there are many scientists studying evolution who are also religious, yet have proven things like, for example, that the earth is not young?”

    I say that they’re not consistent with their faith and have compromised their faith in an effort to remain respectable in the eyes of mainstream scientists. They fear being criticized or ostracized for not accepting an old earth or evolution. Or they’ve simply been successfully brainwashed by the evolutionary indoctrination they received since childhood. They may sincerely believe in evolution, but they’re sincerely wrong too.

    Fred says “Lastly, I ask you this: How many alternate theories should the students be exposed to? Should the schools be forced to allow any and every theory that someone manages to scribble down into the schools? If not, what criteria should be met?”

    Just one alternate theory would suffice. Is the universe 13.5 billion years old, or about 6,000 years old? Did evolution happen or not? If we teach evolution, we should be able to present criticisms of it. There’s no need to present any or every religion in science classes. Scientific data regarding the above would be enough to satisfy most religions. The point is either everything happened by chance, or it happened by purpose. Let the scientific evidence speak for itself, and allow students academic freedom, critical thinking, and open debate. That’s what spurs real education; not imposing atheistic beliefs on students at the tax payers expense.

    Fred says “School, by the way, is not a place where students are exposed to all points of view on ANY subject, and it never has been. What makes evolution different?”

    You’re right. Let’s stop teaching evolutionary fairy tales in science class. If you want, teach it at some college in their modern day mythology course.

    Fred asks “And why should students decide?”

    Because it’s a free country and that’s what Americans want. Besides, it’s wrong for atheists to indoctrinate students as they’ve been doing for years. Wouldn’t you like the freedom of deciding what you believe, or do you think schools are there to tell people what to think? True education teaches students how to think, and how to think critically, not what to think. Withholding the truth from them, however much atheists despise it, is wrong.

    Fred says “And, to be honest, facts are not something you get to decide about.”

    So who decides what the facts are? Atheists? I thought we lived in a free society. Since when did we start living in a communist nation where we have no choice but to accept false facts in the guise of science? I think you need to study the history of education and see what types of education have been most successful in the past. What you’re promoting is something for Americans to be fearful of. Atheism is dangerous.

    Fred says “Why does the origin of man matter? What does it really matter in our day-to-day lives that it’s soooooo important that high school kids are exposed to all possible hypotheses? Other than to scientists studying it, what role does a knowledge of man’s origin play? WHO CARES?”

    People who value freedom, Fred. If God created man as revealed in scripture, then that matters, because we’re special, and God cares for us. But if we’re the product of some thoughtless evolutionary process, then life is meaningless and has no purpose. God gives us hope, purpose, and life through his son Jesus Christ. However, I’m not advocating religion be taught in schools. Only scientific evidences for a young earth, as well as evidence critical of evolution. Let the students form their own opinions. Then watch science in America prosper as never before!

  69. #69 Shoop da whoop
    December 8, 2006

    A bit late to the party, but I’d like to point out one thing…

    Nonsense. Science doesn’t tell anyone whether it’s right or wrong to build bombs using physics and kill people. Science only tells that a bomb can be built.

    Well, first off, you’d be surprised at the extent to which scientists have used the bare physical phenomena they research as a basis for morality. See “Beyondism: Religion from Science:”

    http://www.amazon.com/Beyondism-Religion-Raymond-B-Cattell/dp/0275924319

    Perhaps more distressing, depending on your political bent, would be Frank Salter’s theory of Ethnic Genetic Interests:

    http://www.transactionpub.com/on-genetic-interests-paper-1-6

    His basic point alone is not particularly noteworthy–human beings, being organisms like all others who want to propagate their genes as much as possible, have a vested interest in the well-being of their kin and relations, who share some of their genes. Salter’s proscriptive judgments based on this fact, though, may seem to be somewhat strange to some folks here. To quite the linked article,

    “Salter argues that all humans have a vital interest in genetic continuity that is threatened by mass migration. Salter advocates non-aggressive ?universal nationalism? as part of a balanced ?fitness portfolio? that includes investments in three levels of genetic interests?family, ethny, and the species as a whole.

    Now, perhaps that doesn’t sound too bad (although personally, from what I’ve actually read of the book, ‘ethnic genetic interests’ seem more of a convenient way to justify curtailing immigration from ‘non-white’ countries; an attitude that has been out of vogue since the sixties), but the point is, Salter is taking what he has discovered about shared genes within kinship groups and using them to create proscriptive system of values–his “fitness portfolio.” Therefore, it seems to me that while ‘science’ may not tell anyone how or why to do anything, there are a few scientists who seem to have taken it that way.

    Aside from that, though, I think some of you may be missing the fact that Ms. Robinson actually addressed that point in the review itself. To quote from it,

    “The gravest questions about the institutions of contemporary science seem never to be posed, though we know the terrors of all-out conflict between civilizations would include innovations, notably those dread weapons of mass destruction, being made by scientists for any country with access to their skills.

    Yes, science only tells us that a bomb can be built, not whether or not it should be built–and that is precisely why its “capacity to do harm is by now unequalled.” A scientist’s job–in respects to weapons of mass destruction, I should be more specific, so I will say a physicist’s or biologist’s job–is simply to describe how to build exotic nuclear or biological weapons. They are not supposed to be concerned about the ethical implications of whether the weapons they build should be used. Fortunately, some are, but many are not, which explains how nations like Pakistan have acquired nuclear power, and how nations like Iran could possibly do so.

    This, I suppose, is an irony lost on Dawkins. Religion is a vacuous, oftentimes outrightly silly collection of ridiculous 2000 year old tribal superstitions which the more intelligent members of society should ostensibly abandon if they already have not, yet at the same time, it is a sinister, insidious, and pervasive threat to worldwide peace and prosperity, threatening violence on an ever-escalating scale and coming dangerously close to foiling the best efforts of man’s brightest and most dedicated progressives. The connection Dawkins seems to miss is that ‘science’ has played a large part in making these “superstitions” so dangerous. Were it not for the (primarily atheist, according to Dawkins) scientists enabling the believers to build and use incredibly devastating weapons, wouldn’t the adherents of these stone age tribal superstitions be reduced to killing each other with sticks and stones rather than threatening the enlightened world with nuclear annihilation? If a scientist wishes to claim that religion makes the world a more dangerous place, it seems he also ought to turn a harsh eye towards his fellow scientists for enabling it to do so.

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