Tuesday, March 10, 2009

There must be 50 ways to be a creationist?

Here’s 50 reasons you shouldn't believe in evolutionPZ Myers at Pharyngula (who gets the world’s classiest hate mail) reckons “the list pretty well covers all the real reasons people are creationists.”

If you can laugh at the list, then you’re gonna love Vincent Gray’s round-up of how the idea of evolution changed the world -- it’s coming in the next Free Radical magazine, out soon, and it’s bound to infuriate everyone: even evolutionists!

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56 Comments:

Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

On a more serious note, check out "10 Reasons why the majority of scientists believe in Evolution". You'll find they are quite similar reasons to why so many people believe in global warming.

3/10/2009 09:14:00 am  
Blogger libertyscott said...

Mr Dennis going through yours:
1. Many scientists have never studied biology and don’t understand evolutionary claims (ditto creationists, who are mostly not scientists at all).
2. Evolutionary convictions are often based on educational indoctrination, not independent thought (No evidence for this, whereas religious convictions are about faith, not thought).
3. Theories of origins are deeply embedded as a foundation of a person’s world view (so what? Proves lack of independent thought).
4. Evolution is the only naturalistic explanation for origins (whereas creationism ditto for Christians).
5. Many believe that to doubt evolution means you must become religious (no evidence and so what? So those who believe do so out of fear??)
6. Many scientists are unable or unwilling to distinguish between their philosophy of science and their science, and between historical and empirical data (No evidence, and religion relies on none)
7. Many scientists have an entire lifetime of work and ego investment in evolution (Unlike of course those working in religion, quid pro quo).
8.Many scientists are not independent thinkers, and fear rejection and reprisals (No evidence, and at least as applicable to the religious, particularly in conservative communities).
9. Many scientists fail to evaluate the difference between a theory in flux and one that is actually false (Many? Evidence? When is religion treated as a theory by believers?)
10. The fallen nature of man wants to deny God, and is blinded both by it’s own sinfulness and the spiritually dark forces of this world (it is meant to be a "reason" not some religious belief - by such a statement it effectively concedes defeat. This statement is utter nonsense and meaningless unless one believes in a specific religion).

Sorry Mr Dennis, that list was truly quite pathetic (although I acknowledge the one on the post is part humour).

3/10/2009 10:26:00 am  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

The biggest issue to bear in mind when considering evolution is the difference between empirical data and the interpretation of that data (point 6).

You can only study the present through science. You can only observe the present, run experiments in the present, and study historical things like fossils in the present. In the present we can do real, solid science - building computers, sending people to the moon, breeding better crops etc.

However the moment you attempt to say what happened in the past from science, whether you are proposing either creation or evolution, you are now on much shakier ground. The evidence you look at in the present can be interpreted in many different ways, depending on your presuppositions. And there is NO way of proving who is right or wrong - because you cannot test the past. You can only judge which appears most plausible based on the evidence, and that assessment will change as new evidence is collected.

A major error is to place historical "science" (evolution or creation) on the same level as empirical science (science that works in the present for the betterment of mankind), and think whatever a scientist says is just as true whatever their subject.

In historical science, since you can never be disproved, your presuppositions have a major influence on your outcome. If you believe there is no God, you will interpret the data to explain it without God - and probably explain it through evolution. If you believe God exists, you will interpret the data based on Him having some influence - and end up with either Creation or some form of directed evolution. And no-one can ever prove you wrong.

Thus macroevolution is not a proven fact, just one interpretation of the evidence - a poor one based on my knowledge of biology, but you are free to disagree if you like as you cannot be proved wrong!

You can have faith that nothing became something which exploded and became everything if you like and trust science to one day figure out how it happened. I'd prefer to put my faith in God than in chance, but it is a free world.

Ultimately all theories of origins are a matter of faith - and you must choose which faith appears more reasonable in your mind.

Take all historical claims with a pinch of salt.

3/10/2009 10:52:00 am  
Blogger libertyscott said...

"You can only study the present through science" literally untrue, most astronomy is about observing the past. The past leaves many records, for example in history, only a charlatan would deny the Holocaust.

You forget science is self correcting, it is always striving for truth, it isn't bound by ANY theory or collection of translated writings from the distant past.

The burden of proof for the existence of anything has to be on the person asserting its existence. No one has proved the existence of any supernatural being (Judeo-Christian-Islamic God being one concept of this), and don't play the counterfactual - I can't prove there isn't a tribe on elephants living on a planet in the Andromeda galaxy either, but I'm not basing a system of ethics on that.

That DNA is a self replicating molecule is fact, that such molecules replicated into slightly different combinations of each others and this formed the basis for life is remarkably elegant, beautiful and logical.

Religion has over the past few hundreds years had the range of phenomena it can try to explain ever reduced. Once it was thought to explain when the rain fell, why people got sick and why human beings couldn't fly (except of course they can now), it is reduced to sputtering attempts to explain the origin of time and space, when there may not be an origin at all (but then those of religion find it hard to think of time outside everyday experience), or to say spontaneous generation is more credible than evolution. It sells snakeoil like "intelligent design" when a rudimentary look at the "design" demonstrates many appalling incompetent flaws.

3/10/2009 11:36:00 am  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

"most astronomy is about observing the past"
No, astonomy observes light that arrives here in the present. It just happened to be sent in the past.

"The past leaves many records, for example in history, only a charlatan would deny the Holocaust."
Historical records are when someone living in the present records what they see in the present - and we still have those records today, many years later. There is a big difference between historical records written at the time, and the speculation of scientists today. I would trust historical records over speculation any day.

Which is incidentally why I trust the Bible and other historical records more than present-day speculation, because the Bible is one example of a document that in the most part was written by people who were there and saw it happen.

I am glad we can agree on something!

"The burden of proof for the existence of anything has to be on the person asserting its existence."
Absolutely. If you assert that there is some way that matter can organise itself over time to become more complex, in defiance of the laws of thermodynamics (as required by both Evolution and the Big Bang) the burden of proof is on you. I would prefer to believe solid, present-day science (thermodynamics) that on the contrary says things gradually decay over time.

I am not attempting to prove God's existence to you in this one discussion, as I have already said that is a matter of faith. I am trying to show you that your own position is also a matter of faith.

3/10/2009 11:58:00 am  
Anonymous twr said...

The law of thermodynamics argument is often trotted out by creationists as an excuse for evolution not being true, however those who know better (presumably such as yourself, who seems a lot more informed than most creationists) are being disingenuous by using it. The obvious response to your argument is that the law as stated only applies to a closed system, which the earth is not, and over time, which of course we haven't finished experiencing yet.
If your argument was valid, then you could not explain a baby coming into existence essentially from food consumed by a mother, as the baby is a more organised form than a bunch of mush. You couldn't explain any ordered combination of atoms at all.

3/10/2009 12:20:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

"That DNA is a self replicating molecule is fact"
Wrong. DNA is not self replicating - it can however be replicated by complex cellular machinery. It does contain the information for that machinery.

A book containing the instructions to build a printing press is not self-replicating. But it contains the information needed to replicate itself. There is a big difference.

If you managed in some primordial soup to get a few DNA molecules, they would not self-replicate. You need a fully-functioning cell AND DNA containing the full instructions for replication before DNA can be replicated.

There is no feasible naturalistic explanation for life to get over this massive hurdle and arise by chance. On the contrary modern chemistry shows that the DNA molecule would rapidly degrade.

You may have faith that one day present-day chemistry and thermodynamics will be shown to be wrong and science will come up with a naturalistic explanation. Or you may have faith that an outside influence (God) created the first cell. BOTH views involve faith.

3/10/2009 12:23:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

twr:
You are correct that the earth is not a closed system. Most scientists (from either viewpoint) assume that the universe is a closed system, with interference from outside the universe if it does occur being not natural, ie supernatural.

Taking the universe as a closed system, the big bang proposes a massive explosion of matter, ie a massive expenditure of energy and an increase in entropy (disorder). Following this explosion the universe became more organised, into planets, stars, and ultimately life. This is contrary to thermodynamics.

The primordial soup example I used above would not be a closed system, there may be inputs of energy (sunlight and heat) and chemicals into the soup. But there is no known process by which such inputs could allow dead chemicals to cross the barrier into life - although the internet is full of wild speculation! On the contrary, the input of heat or light will according to chemistry simply hasten the breakdown of any organic molecules that did happen to exist.

3/10/2009 12:33:00 pm  
Anonymous twr said...

That's where the "over time" part of it comes in. Entropy is not (or at least does not *need* to be, linear). Therefore entropy can decrease (particularly in a subset of a closed system), while over time and ultimately it increases. Take a balloon full of gas, which is one of the more often used examples of the law of thermodynamics. If by chance, during the increase of entropy, you happen to experience 1000 molecules in a straight line for a split second, does that disprove the law? No, it's a co-incidence. If the sun burned out, then everything on the earth would die and decay. Overall, within the universe, this will probably eventually happen, and molecular chaos will finally win out, but right now, a very small percentage of the way along the timeline to that final end, some parts of the universe have become more ordered, temporarily.

As far as your DNA arguments go, I'm not well enough informed to be comfortable trying to make a cogent point, however I do know that DNA was preceeded by RNA, and presumably by something simpler still prior to that. I subscribe to the Occam's razor theory, and find it a lot easier to believe that it did in fact happen naturally, rather than say "I don't know so therefore it must have been God", which is patently a much less realistic alternative (without going anywhere near the questions about where did God come from, etc).

3/10/2009 01:05:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

twr: You are correct about entropy increasing and decreasing in different places, although I don't know about over different times. Note that it is theorised that DNA was preceded by RNA (not known) because it makes the process slightly simpler, although still incredibly complex. The basic logic I am using still applies.

It may be more appropriate to use a specific example. It is impossible to achieve any truly closed system, but that does not mean thermodynamics is useless - otherwise no engineer could use it. We must just take account of the inputs and outputs.

The earth receives inputs of radiation, mainly from the sun, and small quantities of matter as meteorites and dust.

Say we assume that by some fantastic miracle, we got a puddle on the early earth that contained all the building blocks of life - DNA, RNA, protein, lipids etc. We can replicate this by taking a plant and putting it through a blender.

If we leave our blended plant for a while, will we get life forming in this soup? No, the chemicals in it will all break down over time following the laws of chemistry (which are ultimately the laws of thermodynamics).

If we put this soup in the sun for a while, giving it the input of energy, will we get life? No, the chemicals will just break down faster. The added energy simply speeds up the processes that must happen according to chemistry/thermodynamics. Entropy increases faster. We will get cooked soup. If we are lucky it may be tasty.

Considering the soup as an open system doesn't change a thing.

On the other hand, if we put the plant in the sun - exactly the same molecules, just organised into a complex structure - it will use the same energy through photosynthesis to grow. Now entropy reduces for the plant, while increasing elsewhere to compensate of course as every chemical reaction even in living cells will only occur if it increases entropy, as I am sure you are aware.

So with a pre-organised system such as the plant, the energy input from the sun can be harnessed to create further order. However the disorganised soup will only become less ordered. There is no known scientific way to get over the hurdle from high-entropy soup to low-entropy living tissue, even if you did get a soup of all the right chemicals - which is in itself a chemical impossibility.

3/10/2009 01:33:00 pm  
Anonymous twr said...

I'm not sure you wouldn't get life if you left your blender long enough. Obviously, over the kind of time scales that humans are comfortable with, it's unlikely that the plant will grow back out of its constituent molecules. However, we don't know what might happen over hundreds of millions of years, with the addition of random other dust, lightning strikes, etc.

The best evidence we have however says that over that timescale, given the right ingredients, life can arise, because it did arise.

3/10/2009 01:51:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

"I'm not sure you wouldn't get life if you left your blender long enough. ... However, we don't know what might happen over hundreds of millions of years, with the addition of random other dust, lightning strikes, etc."

See, that is what I mean by your perspective coming back to faith. Despite all we know about chemistry and thermodynamics, which clearly states that the molecules in that soup would break down over time (they would actually react with each other and break each other down by the way), you are willing to disregard science and believe that somehow, something happened that science says is completely impossible.

That is not rational, scientific logic. That is faith.

"The best evidence we have however says that over that timescale, given the right ingredients, life can arise, because it did arise."

Only if that was the only possible explanation - in other words, if you have excluded the possibility of their being a God before even starting to think about it.

If you don't assume this at the start, and think God may or may not exist, lets look at the science and see what is most likely, you end up with an entirely different explanation.

I see that science clearly states life cannot result from non-life. Lous Pasteur showed this centuries ago, and the more we understand about biochemistry the more his early logic is confirmed. I therefore conclude scientifically that life must come from life, and therefore the life we have today must have originated from another life.

This is rational. This is logical. This is consistent with the science. I then believe through faith that original life was God.

You on the other hand must have faith that our current science is COMPLETELY WRONG! You are not following the science, but rejecting it in favour of some fairytale you hope will be shown in future to be true. All so you can believe your presupposition that there is no God.

That is a leap of faith I am unwilling to take, but I firmly support your right to believe it if you like.

3/10/2009 02:15:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Mr. Dennis,

Do you believe that consciousness is something that originates from God? Which means that it is something that it will never be known/understood to/by man or be reproduced by man via machines ?

3/10/2009 03:12:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

Yes, I do - but that is something I believe through faith, not something I can justify through science. Why do you ask?

3/10/2009 03:17:00 pm  
Anonymous twr said...

You say "Despite all we know about chemistry and thermodynamics, which clearly states that the molecules in that soup would break down over time (they would actually react with each other and break each other down by the way), you are willing to disregard science and believe that somehow, something happened that science says is completely impossible."

That's not correct at all. You are saying that over time all molecules break down, presumably into their constituent atoms. But all the evidence around you proves that wrong. Virtually everything you touch every day is made from molecules, not atoms. There is not a linear deterioration from one to the other. Some molecules break down, but for the most part, they recombine to form other substances. If they didn't the universe would be made entirely of elements, and we wouldn't have things like custard and towels and digital watches.

I have personally excluded the possibility of there being a god due to the complete lack of evidence for one, just as I have discounted the existence of a cookie monster and any sensible policy from the Green party. You can't just substitute something you make up for something you don't know about, and I certainly can discount what passed for science 2000 years ago for explaining life.

All the evidence we do have points towards life arising naturally, and none points towards a superior power. No explanation we have so far covers every facet of the start of life, but one of them is orders of magnitude more likely than the other.

3/10/2009 03:22:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

I did not say all molecules break down. I am saying that the complex organic molecules required for life (DNA, proteins etc) will decay if not protected in a living cell. This is absolutely correct. You see it every day. If something dies, it breaks down.

If you have a mixture of DNA, amino acids etc they will react with each other and break down into smaller molecules. This will happen very rapidly. There is no way your puddle could sit for hundreds of millions of years waiting for a lightning strike, you'd be lucky to get a few hours before the molecules had degraded.

3/10/2009 04:13:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

By the way, lightning doesn't start life like in Frankenstein. It just adds more energy, that will break your molecules down faster... That's the difference between science and science fiction.

3/10/2009 04:15:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Why do you ask?

I think consciousness is something that can be reproduced, perhaps not in our lifetime but in the next generations. Is it possible that the future generations will build machines that achieve independent conscious minds that they can self-replicate, ie, those machines will build other machines of their kind? Something similar to the scifi movie Terminator or Matrix?

Based on current research & technology that is available today, I can foresee the future generations will have intelligent machines (such as those in IRobot movie) that would become part of human civilization itself.

When such time arrives, people will realize that consciousness is not something that originated from outside the material world, but indeed it is an emergent behaviour of the collections of the parts (ie, interactions amongst a collections of neurons). Again, in such a time, all the populations of the earth will be atheists, since the mystery of consciousness is solved then and its got nothing to do with an omnipotent creator.

BTW, there have been recent experimental robots being developed at IBM and other research centers which hinted that these robots do show a sign of consciousness. This is still experimental and the research domain is still in its infancy, but judging from human experience in technological revolutions & evolutions, the technology will get better and better over time.

In more than 3 decades ago, when speech technology was in its infancy (at the time when "2001: A Space Odyssey" was produced), many people thought that machines can never be able to recognize human speeches. A few commercial vendors started developing these applications early on back then, where the error rate was quite high upto a stage where its commercial release was with hold because of its inaccuracy. Today, speech technology has tremendously improved compared to when it first started more than 3 decades ago.

So, the future generations will have intelligent conscious machines walking around their midst. They may be man's best friends or they may be trying to dominate man, who knows. The only sure outcome of this at such time, is that the belief in God & mysticism would be out the window.

3/10/2009 04:16:00 pm  
Anonymous David S. said...

One does not require faith to assert that natural selection is the most likely explanation for the formation of life. Although Darwin's theory of evolution was formed to explain the diversity of life, Natural selection can be described as a mathmatical principle, a kind of statistical inevibility. Although the exact mechanics behind biogenesis may not have been determined, "Survival of the fittest" is a natural law that more than adequatly explains the increasing levels of organisation observed.

3/10/2009 04:24:00 pm  
Anonymous David S. said...

^
That was suppose to read as "Statistical inevitability"

3/10/2009 04:26:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

Falafulu Fisi:
I believe consciousness comes from God simply because that makes sense to me, but this is not essential at all for Christianity. So should someone manage to make a conscious robot, good on them, I'm happy to be wrong if I can get a robotic servant out of it! It wouldn't shake my faith in the least, as it has little to do with Christianity.

3/10/2009 04:28:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

David S:
We definitely do get natural selection among living things, even creationists accept that. Note that natural selection is not evolution.

Non-living chemicals are an entirely different matter, they are governed by chemical and thermodynamic laws which do not allow life to originate spontaneously.

3/10/2009 04:33:00 pm  
Anonymous twr said...

Energy does not only cause deterioration in organic objects. It is also required for cells to divide, etc, so adding more energy does not automatically mean more decay. I saw a doco the other day where a test was conducted and amino acids appeared quite quickly from a soup of chemicals and some added energy. My comment about lightning was probably too flippant for this thread, however it is one of several possible sources of energy that modify chemicals in a way that sitting in a blender for millenia with no external influence would not do. Replace that with volcanic fissures under the sea, or solar wind, or sunlight, or whatever. Without energy, life dies. With it, all sorts of things can happen.

3/10/2009 04:36:00 pm  
Anonymous twr said...

"Note that natural selection is not evolution. "
Natural selection categorically and by definition is evolution. Evolution does not however attempt to explain the origin of life. That's a different thing.

3/10/2009 04:38:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

"Energy does not only cause deterioration in organic objects. It is also required for cells to divide, etc, so adding more energy does not automatically mean more decay."
When you have a pre-existing cell that can use that energy, that is true - I illustrated this earlier with my plant analogy. However when there is no cell yet, just a soup of organic molecules, the energy will just speed up the reactions that are occurring - reactions which are breaking down the molecules.

"I saw a doco the other day where a test was conducted and amino acids appeared quite quickly from a soup of chemicals and some added energy."
Very simple old-fashioned experiment, you could do it yourself. Amino acids are very simple molecules. In that experiment you get a 50/50 mixture of so-called "left" and "right"-handed amino acids. You must have only one type to form a protein (forget which off the top of my head), one with the wrong alignment will stuff it completely. These amino acids will not form a protein naturally, and even if they did, you'd only have one protein that would break down again rapidly. That experiment doesn't even come close to showing life can come about by chance.

"Natural selection categorically and by definition is evolution."
No. Natural selection is one natural process which, along with others such as mutation, are brought together in the theory of evolution. It is a common fallacy that if you prove natural selection occurs you have proved evolution, but you may as well say if you prove live people exist you have proved Elvis is alive.

"Evolution does not however attempt to explain the origin of life. That's a different thing."
Correct. I am not discussing evolution at the moment, rather the origin of life. Which is a necessary prerequisite to atheistic evolution.

3/10/2009 05:07:00 pm  
Anonymous David S. said...

"Non-living chemicals are an entirely different matter, they are governed by chemical and thermodynamic laws which do not allow life to originate spontaneously."

No, it isn't an, "entirely different matter". Natural selection applies to all avenues of science, biology, chemistry, physics, sociology. As I said, it's a statistical principle.

The separation between biology and chemistry is conceptual, as is the separation between all sciences. The subject of biogenesis has caused much confusion, as it has been built up around the view that the transition of life from lifelessness is a material transformation, rather than a conceptual transformation. Materially, there is no such deviding line between what is organic and what is inorganic. Just as there is no deviding line between intellegent life, and unintellegent life. All matter is organised according to natural selection and other applicable laws, what you view as "Intellegence" is simply an approximation, an internal replication of our environment.

3/10/2009 06:04:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

David, what you fail to take into account is that left to their own devices large organic molecules in a "primordial soup" will degrade over time. Thus you cannot wait round and have "natural selection" acting on molecules selecting the better ones - they are all just falling apart.

Natural selection works on living organisms in competition with each other. It works in businesses in competition with each other. It works in countries in competition with each other. The key word here is "competition".

Molecules don't compete. They just are, or they react to make a different molecule. And thermodynamically they will generally react to break down into smaller ones. That's chemistry. Natural selection doesn't come into it at all.

3/10/2009 06:51:00 pm  
Anonymous David S. said...

"Molecules don't compete. They just are, or they react to make a different molecule. "

Translation: They don't compete, unless they do compete. Really, using thermodynamics to dispute evolution didn't work for A. E. Wilder-Smith, or any other creationist, it's an incredibly flimsy argument.

3/10/2009 07:41:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

David, chemical reactions are not competition.

3/10/2009 07:54:00 pm  
Blogger Berend de Boer said...

Life comes from life. That's verified by experiment. We have no other experiment that shows this is not true.

3/10/2009 11:22:00 pm  
Blogger libertyscott said...

The funny reduction ad absurdum of the creationist argument is their own - who created the creator. The answer is blankout - was already there. You're arguing for spontaneous generation which is an incredible notion.

The lines between biology, chemistry and physics are artificial and are a matter of complexity only. We are all made up of quarks and electrons, which together make up atoms, then molecules and then ourselves. Given the efforts of modern physics to identify elementary particles, wonder why none have been found for the supernatural?

Mr Dennis you and a rock are just made up of a bunch of quarks and electrons, just different levels of complication.

A virus for example is not life, but in certain circumstances replicates, but does not consist of cells. It is DNA or RNA coated in protein.

3/11/2009 12:45:00 am  
Anonymous LGM said...

Over thirty contributions and this thread is still going strong!

The debate between creationism and evolution at base is one between blind unwavering faith in an arbitrary idea and the logical application of the human attribute of reason to entities existing in reality.

At heart, this debate rests on the substantive question of whether a God exists or not. So, that is what needs to be addressed.

The situation is that a sub-group of God believers, known as Christians, concentrate much of their efforts on opposing a branch of science known as Theory of Evolution. They do this because portions of this theory directly oppose their cherished faith in a God-Creator of the Universe. Let's assume they were able to show that the Theory of Evolution was incorrect, false, contradicted by evidence of reality (that's a wild assumption and it hasn't been done, but bear with me for a moment). The elimination of that theory is not sufficient to allow for a God-Creator to be accepted as real or for said entity's existence to be accepted as fact.

So, the state of play is this. Those with a faith in the existence of God posit that such an entity exists and created everything that now exists. Since it is they who claim the positive (God exists etc.), it is they who MUST produce the clear evidence in order to prove their claim. This requirement falls upon said believers regardless of the state of the Theory of Evolution.

In conclusion, unless the believers produce proof for the existence of God their claim remains arbitrary and hence without basis in fact. As an arbitrary it should be dismissed as unworthy of further consideration.

LGM

3/11/2009 08:00:00 am  
Anonymous Marcus said...

What I don't understand is why Creationists can't believe in evolution as well - if they believe God created life, why do they have to believe that he created life exactly as it is now?

3/11/2009 08:27:00 am  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

libertyscott:
You are correct that the divisions between different branches of science are arbritary. In the end all science comes back to physics - ultimately to thermodynamics. That is precisely where I have been arguing from all along.

LGM:
Any belief in origins requires faith. As I have said previously, I am not out to prove God's existence or my viewpoint here. All I want to show is that the atheist needs as much faith, if not more, than the theist.

The atheist must have faith that science is wrong and there is some way for chemistry and thermodynamics to work backwards in nature. Science says clearly that life comes from life. The atheist must believe this is wrong.

The theist must have faith that God exists. It is up to you to decide which is most reasonable.

3/11/2009 09:29:00 am  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

Marcus:
No serious creationist believes God created life just as it is now. Creationists accept natural selection, mutation etc as these are processes observed in nature.

However the creationist also accepts that there are limits to what can happen through natural processes. Life cannot come from non-life for example.

When you breed organisms (natural or artificial selection) you select between pre-existing traits. Therefore you can breed wolves to get miniature poodles, or Great Danes. In so doing you are selecting for the genes for small size or large size. But you cannot breed miniature poodles to get Great Danes, because the genes for large size have been bred out of the population. You would have to crossbreed with a larger dog to get the size to increase much again. Basic high-school Mendelian genetics. The selection process has a limit as to how far it can change an animal.

Mutations add some more variability that can be selected from. But in general they damage features, causing the loss of information. You may get a mutation causing a fish to have no eyes, which is a selection advantage in a dark cave as eyes are just prone to injury, but is a loss of information, not "onward and upward" progress. A mutation in bacteria can cause them to overproduce the penicillinase enzyme, giving them penicillin resistance - but making them less likely to survive in most circumstances as they are wasting energy producing so much penicillinase.

The creationist therefore believes animals were created in distinct "kinds" - dogs, cats, sheep, parrots etc - and selection and mutation has given us the variation within those kinds.

The atheist must follow their faith to the end, however illogical their ideas become (such as "the lightning hit the soup and it came to life!"), while the theist is free to follow the science.

3/11/2009 09:45:00 am  
Anonymous twr said...

How much less illogical is "the lightning hit the soup and it came to life!" than "A guy shaped like a man decided to create everything as it is one day, and then to put people off the track, embedded fossils in the ground, designed bits of animals to look just like they have evolved from something else, started light half way through its trip from distant stars, started chemical decay half way through it's life cycle, etc).

Yes, it's ludicrous, it's outdated based on everything we know about all branches of science these days, and it's just plain wrong, no matter how hard you argue the minutae of the details of the alternative theories.

3/11/2009 11:56:00 am  
Anonymous LGM said...

Mr Dennis

You're presenting purile bullshit in an attempt to avoid dealing with the substantive.

The substantive is your assumption that God exists. You need to provide proof for that. In the absence of that proof your entire position is philosophically bankrupt. It's not even false. It's less than that; it's arbitrary and hence not worthy of consideration. Now you can duck and dive and rationalise all you like but that is and remains the position.

---

The notion that an atheist requires "faith" to not believe in the existence of a God is silliness. What you are attempting to do is invert the burden of proof, requiring a proof of the negative. That's invalid and irrational. Athieism is nothing more than a person taking the position that theism does not correspond with reality as there is not proof. That does not require faith. It's a simple observation.

I read an analogy a while back and it goes something like this. A man claims that fairies and pixies exist at the bottom of the garden. He proclaims their existence to anyone who'll listen. He's seen them and they talk to him, or so he claims. They have supernatural powers and perform miracles, so he says. Most people he approaches refuse to accept his claims. Some quietly go along with the idea while in his presence, as they hope to keep on his good side. Some ignore him. Some say nothing out of a sense of misguided politeness. Then there are those who challenge him for proof. "Show us your fairies", they challenge. He responds by claiming they require greater faith then he since they can't prove that his fairies do not exist. Note that he has done nothing to show that what he claims is true. In the absence of any evidenial proof his position remains an arbitrary nonsense.

He can't provide proof of existence, so he evades it by attempting to denegrate those who do not share his belief, reducing them to his own level. That strategy does nothing to support his position. It merely demonstrates an intellectual dishonesty- evasion of the substantive.

---


Regarding science.

Science is the study of aspects of reality. Entities are identified, as are their attributes. They are studied to learn what they are, how they behave and what they do. Laws and theories developed by scientists are simply a means of recording and summing up what has been learned about reality by studying aspects of reality. There is no place in this for blind faith or arbitrary assaertions.

Your comment, "The atheist must have faith that science is wrong and there is some way for chemistry and thermodynamics to work backwards in nature" is false. For a start it demonstrates that you do not understand the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In essence this says that for a closed system the total entropy increases over a suitably selected period of time. First point for you to understand is that there are some premise that must be made BEFORE attempting to apply the Second Law to a thermodynamic system. You must understand what a closed thermodynamic system actually is and what it is not. The system under consideration must be closed. The Earth certainly isn't that. Secondly, while some people take the term "disorder" as equivalent with entropy, it isn't the same thing all. Beware of making that error. There's more, but that'll suffice to let it be known that you sure do not understand thermodynamics, let alone chemistry. They do not "work backwards" just because entities in reality do not behave according to your arbitrary assertions. Nor do they "go backwards" because you fail to understand their basis or assumptions, derivations, application and meaning.

---

This one is really a dozer:- "Science says clearly that life comes from life."

Arbitrary assertion again; that's a bad habit you need to kick sometime soon. Where is your evidence for this latest assertion?

What you are really saying is that you, personally, do not know how life is generated. That's fine, but do not be attempting to hijack the entire field of scientific endeavour to bolster your silly position.

---

Final point, it is not reasonable to make up arbitrary beliefs in order to explain that which you do not possess knowledge about. You are being unreasonable by doing it.




LGM

3/11/2009 12:12:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Atheism is the absence of faith in theism. A person does not have faith in not having faith.

3/11/2009 05:16:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

twr:
Your illustration of Christianity is one long line of straw men. Christians do not believe that God put fossils in the ground to deceive people, nor that he designed animals to look like they had evolved, nor that he started chemical decay early or any other nonsense. These beliefs would all be absurd and well worth criticising.

3/12/2009 10:07:00 am  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

LGM:
Christians have faith that God exists. Certainly - because that is reasonable. As Francis Bacon (the founder of the modern scientific method) stated:
"A little philosophy inclineth man's heart to atheism, but depth in philosophy inclineth man's heart to religion".

The deeper I study science, the more I see that it could not happen by chance, even when on the surface it appears like it may. It is easy to believe in evolution when you know little about cellular functions (Darwin knew little). It becomes harder the more you learn about the complexity of life.

Science is the study of nature, the physical. The Christian postulates that the supernatural exists. You wish for proof of God. It is possible to provide rational arguments that will prove his existence for many. But you would only accept scientific proof. By definition, science only studies the natural, not the supernatural. It is impossible to study God through science, so we are at a stalemate there unless you wish to study philosophy and theology.

As an example, miracles could be used to prove God's existence. A miracle is by definition something that occurs that is contrary to the laws of nature. Science only studies the laws of nature. A miracle cannot therefore be tested scientifically - you cannot run a trial on miracles - so cannot be proved by science. I could give you a list of people who claim to have been miraculously healed, and even have doctors accounts to back them up, but you would want a medical trial - which is impossible on once-off events. So you will never get the "proof" that you want handed to you.

"Science says clearly that life comes from life."
What's wrong with that? All our current scientific knowledge shows that life only comes from life. It would only take ONE observed instance of spontaneous generation to disprove that. Find me ONE example and I'll accept that I was wrong. Until that, I'll keep believing the science.

"Final point, it is not reasonable to make up arbitrary beliefs in order to explain that which you do not possess knowledge about. You are being unreasonable by doing it."
I am not doing that. I believe that there is a historical record (the Bible) that explains life far better than the modern theories of man. The more I study science, the more science fits in with the Bible. Therefore I do not make up some arbritary belief, but rather accept the historical account.

The atheist rejects this historical account as untrue and makes up their own arbitrary belief (spontaneous generation and associated ideas) in order to explain life without God. As I stated earlier, I trust historical writings more than the speculations of people today. Maybe it is unreasonable to accept historical writings and I should ignore the historical accounts of the holocaust and other controversial events too.

3/12/2009 10:25:00 am  
Anonymous twr said...

And yet they have all been used in debates with me by Christians in support of arguments about why the physical evidence doesn't match what the bible says. That and "I don't believe in carbon dating", etc.

3/12/2009 11:15:00 am  
Anonymous twr said...

"The more I study science, the more science fits in with the Bible." ...unless it doesn't fit, in which case you have "A miracle is by definition something that occurs that is contrary to the laws of nature. ". So you've pretty much covered your bases there, using logic when it suits you, and miracles to account for the huge swathes of the bible that are completely contrary to accepted scientific fact.

"Maybe it is unreasonable to accept historical writings and I should ignore the historical accounts of the holocaust and other controversial events too." There is plenty of supporting physical evidence for the holocaust, whereas there is none for the events described in the bible that can't be explained better another way. Furthermore, the bible contradicts *itself* in numerous passages. It is fanciful to compare the documenting 18-30 centuries ago of urban legends describing events that had happened anywhere between decades and hundreds of years before, with live eyewitness accounts, photographs, and physical evidence such as graves presented in support of the holocaust.

Rather than using miracles to prove God exists, if he's so fundamental to the existence of the universe, you'd think that there would be some pretty obvious, completely irrefutable proof, especially if he expects us to spend so much of our life kowtowing to him.

3/12/2009 11:26:00 am  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

twr:
I am sorry to hear that Christians have presented such foolish arguments to you on the Creation / Evolution issue. I understand now why you have little respect for my point of view - no wonder when you have been told such nonsense in the past.

3/12/2009 01:53:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

"Rather than using miracles to prove God exists, if he's so fundamental to the existence of the universe, you'd think that there would be some pretty obvious, completely irrefutable proof, especially if he expects us to spend so much of our life kowtowing to him."

As science shows life only comes from life (a fact until you can find ONE example refuting it), the very existence of life is solid evidence for a Creator. What more solid evidence do you want?

Romans 1:19-20: "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse."

3/12/2009 02:00:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Denis said...
science only studies the natural, not the supernatural.

Nonsense. Science studies the natural which exists. You may want to read up on meta-physics in the following link and try to understand the concept of existence, before you delve into the non-existence of supernatural:

Importance of Philosophy

Dennis said...
As an example, miracles could be used to prove God's existence.

Do you have an example?

Dennis said...

A miracle is by definition something that occurs that is contrary to the laws of nature.


Yes, but these contradictions of the laws of Physics has never been observed, let alone repeatable. Perhaps you're talking about the miracles in the Bible, where Jesus was claimed to walk on the surface of the water without sinking in defiance of the law of gravity. That biblical historical was completely bullshit, there was no evidence that Jesus did that or the laws of gravity was suspended while Jesus performed his miracle.

Dennis said...
I believe that there is a historical record (the Bible) that explains life far better than the modern theories of man.

You should have seen a documentary on Sky (Documentary Channel) with title "The real Jesus". There were many scholars in theology, ancient history, etc, who appeared in the show, and it was obvious that Jesus, wasn't what the bible made him out to be as the son of God. Jesus's wife was Mary Magdalene and Joseph was indeed his real father and not God, so Mary the mother wasn't virgin after all. Jesus was born in Nazareth and not Bethlehem. Bethlehem was written by some of his followers as a birth place of Jesus after his death was just to made it fit in with the prophecy in the old testament, which predicted that the King of the Jews would be born in Bethlehem.

Dennis said...
The more I study science, the more science fits in with the Bible.

For example? You mean that Jesus walked on the surface of the water, or when he fed thousands over the mountain after his service with 5 loaf of bread and 2 fish, and a few baskets of food leftover? Man this likes a violation of the conservation laws of Physics and science. Mass (food) just seemed to appeared from nowhere to feed 5 thousand people. The 5 loaf of bread and 2 fish just seemed to multiply or grow out of thin air. You should check your premise then Mr. Dennis.

Dennis said...

Therefore I do not make up some arbritary belief, but rather accept the historical account.


No, that is exactly what you have described in all your posts here.

3/12/2009 02:01:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

"You should have seen a documentary on Sky" Yes, I believe everything I watch on TV too.

""As an example, miracles could be used to prove God's existence."
Do you have an example?"
Just as I don't believe you just because you saw something on TV, you won't believe me if I refer you to a website of testimonies of healing. We're at a bit of a stalemate!

3/12/2009 02:55:00 pm  
Anonymous twr said...

"As science shows life only comes from life (a fact until you can find ONE example refuting it), the very existence of life is solid evidence for a Creator. What more solid evidence do you want?"

Well, the one obvious example is all the life we see around us. It proves that life can come from non life. If you'd like an example that assumes God exists, then God presumably came from nothing as well, and then he created everything.

The existence of life is no more evidence of your God than it is evidence of someone else's god or a cookie monster. Just because science can't prove the start of life from non life by demonstrating it happening in a lab, doesn't mean a random alternative hypothesis is proved.

And when I say there needs to be proper proof of God for him to be taken seriously, I mean we need to know where he lives, or see him walking around, or see words in the sky or something, not a bunch of intangible crap that can be explained other ways and that any God worth his salt should be ashamed of.

3/12/2009 03:29:00 pm  
Anonymous twr said...

...There must be 50 comments to make on being a creationist...

3/12/2009 03:30:00 pm  
Blogger PC said...

Be my guest, sir. :-)

(That was 49.)

3/12/2009 03:53:00 pm  
Anonymous David S. said...

"Christians have faith that God exists. Certainly - because that is reasonable."

No, it isn't

"It is easy to believe in evolution when you know little about cellular functions (Darwin knew little). It becomes harder the more you learn about the complexity of life."

So all the biologists who know a lot about cell functions also believe in a creator? unlikely.

Your arguments are becoming even weaker the more you post.

Basically, Mr Dennis, your arguement comes down to, "This subject is too complicated for me to think about rationally, I don't know how life has come to exist, therefore god did it".

My argument comes down to the fact that evolution is the most likely explanation available (Once again, using thermodynamics to disprove the possibility of biogenesis is a very old, very stupid idea). It isn't absolute proof, but there are no absolutes in science, hence why there is no faith involved in accepting it. I accept it's not absolute in it's findings, but that does not make it inferior to faith, because it's honest, and far more useful than reading chicken entrails, or the stars, or the book of genesis. A lack of absolute proof on either side does not make these views equal.

I think you've probably been the victim of creationist propaganda, you've probably either read books by the late A.E Wilder Smith and his cohorts, or watched "documentaries" about "irriducibly complexity" and other such bullshit. But then, isn't that what religeon is? Propaganda? I think it is.

3/12/2009 04:25:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

50th comment.

Dennis said...
believe me if I refer you to a website of testimonies of healing.

This is your fundamental error here. Faith healing has got nothing to do with the laws of Physics. I could give some cancer sufferers out there, some grass juice to drink and there will be a non-zero chance that they could heal. A faith healer could do the same and pray for the patient, and again there is a chance that he/she could heal.

The question is, if those patients are healed with my grass juice or the preacher's praying, then can you tell me what exactly the physical laws that were contradicted? None at all.

The proof of miracles that contradicted the physical laws should be something demonstrable, as those described in the bible. Can you get a preacher to walk on the surface of water? Can you get a church minister to change water into blood? These examples are physics and these examples are what needed for the theists to demonstrate in front of everyone else in order to claim that it is the power of God and God exists? Can you do that? I bet not. Why? Because you will fall back to faith healing as some sort of proof which has got nothing to do with physical laws.

Show us something definitive as I have mentioned above. Show us that the existence of God can be demonstrated by some priests out there who can levitate, or he can change a material object such as a TV into a car, etc,... Why can't you do those things which those examples are littered in the bible.

I know the reason. It is because the law of Physics is clear cut, you either have the capability (omnipotent power) to change a TV into a car or not. It is either or, there is no middle ground. Religious people always fall back to the fuzzy example, such as faith healing in order to claim the validity of the existence of an omnipotent power. Such examples are no different from claims made by psychics.

Show us something why God exists and where is the proof?

3/12/2009 04:36:00 pm  
Anonymous Mr Dennis said...

This is a good long conversation, should keep your blog up in the Tumeke rankings PC!

At this point I must reiterate what I said right back at the start:
"I am not attempting to prove God's existence to you in this one discussion, as I have already said that is a matter of faith. I am trying to show you that your own position is also a matter of faith."

twr: "Well, the one obvious example is all the life we see around us. It proves that life can come from non life. If you'd like an example that assumes God exists, then God presumably came from nothing as well, and then he created everything."
My original statement should have read "life cannot come from non-life through natural processes", so yes, my original statement was incorrect.

The Christian position is that time and space had a defined beginning, while God exists outside of time and therefore by definition has no "beginning" or "end", because such concepts only apply to the material world we live in today. Of course you'll reject that as a load of nonsense, because you believe that the material world is all there is. We are coming from starkly different presuppositions and cannot really meet on common ground.

The Christian must have faith that God exists - which I cannot prove in any way that you would accept. The atheist must have faith that life can arise from non-life naturally somehow, despite this being contrary to what modern science can teach - and you cannot prove this faith is reasonable to me either, frankly I think it's ridiculous, but that's my opinion.

Both points of view involve faith, which is why neither side in this debate is getting anywhere near changing the view of the other.

3/12/2009 09:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Falafulu Fisi said...

Mr. Dennis, what is the difference between:

#1) the claim that Maui, fish out the whole of NZ north island.

#2) claim by christians that Jesus, was the son of God based on biblical stories, where he could perform miracles such as turning water into blood for examples.

#3) the claim by scientists that humans evolve from Monkey, where eventually all living things started out from a primitive organic soup?

Can you explain the differences here. Give us a clear differentiations between the 3 historical examples ?

If you can't then I think that you're evading, because to dismiss one or 2 of them must lead to the dismissal of all. The fact is , you can't dismiss all. There is one example there that you can't dismiss, while 2 can be dismissed easily, based on facts.

I am keen to see your respond here.

3/12/2009 10:07:00 pm  
Anonymous David S. said...

"The atheist must have faith that life can arise from non-life naturally somehow"

Nope. It's just the most likely explanation. I don't claim absolute knowledge, I am an athiest.

You have this warped idea that to be an athiest is to claim an absolute lack of doubt in what we consider to be scientific fact. A view which obviously points to the fact that you haven't bothered to listen to any of the more thoughtful athiests around.

Dawkins said that if you were to rate his certainty that god does not exist between 1 and 7, he would be a 6, and then went on to change that to a 6.9 out of 7, a rating which he then applied to Santa Claus, fairys, and the holy teapot that circles the sun. To be a scientist, and to be an athiest, is to be a sceptic, it does not require faith.

This is not to say that I am entirely lacking in faith. It would be impossible to live as a complete nihilist. All of us believe things from time to time. It may just be believing a friend or family member, without checking the details of their account. When it concerns the nature of the universe however, I view it as an evil thing.

"despite this being contrary to what modern science can teach - and you cannot prove this faith is reasonable to me either, frankly I think it's ridiculous, but that's my opinion."

An opinion based in ignorance.

I do see some athiests take the extreme point of view that god does not exist, that there is no possibility of him/her/it existing; but considering the complete lack if evidence for a god, the lack of requirement for god in our existence, and the extreme unlikelyhood that the gods talked about by the major religions are real, it's not really a statement I would bother refuting personally.

3/12/2009 10:49:00 pm  
Anonymous twr said...

"The Christian position is that time and space had a defined beginning, while God exists outside of time and therefore by definition has no "beginning" or "end", because such concepts only apply to the material world we live in today".

Isn't this a cop out? It's a non-explanation to say something exists "outside of time". What evidence do you have for this? How did you arrive at this conclusion, and what does it actually mean?

3/12/2009 11:37:00 pm  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

Isn't this a cop out? It's a non-explanation to say something exists "outside of time".

No, this is the direction science is heading too, with speculation of other "universes" and variations on string theory and 11 dimensions to attempt to explain things we do not yet understand.

An interesting example (sort of) of this was from a guy who wondered if this universe and its contents was simply a computer simulation running an AI program of an entire universe, from boot time (the big bang) to now.

All it's inhabitants think there can be nothing outside of the program they are running in, but they are wrong. And in that sense a programmer can load new modules and pan through the simulation in seconds or millions of years as they require.

Just because we don't think it worth discussing "well who invented the programmer then" doesn't mean you aren't just a subroutine with a few bugs....

4/08/2009 01:01:00 pm  

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