11/14/09

PZ Myers Responds in a Self-Interested Way to Local Conditions

What else could he do? He is bound by Darwinism to do so and so he does so.

At least celebrity atheists agree and are consistent.

I love it when Darwinism is applied to anything and everything because there is absolutely nothing that cannot be “explained” by stating evolutiondidit. Morality? Evolutiondidit. Immorality? Evolutiondidit. Good? Evolutiondidit. Evil? Evolutiondidit. “A” and not “B”? Evolutiondidit. Oh, its actually “B” and not “A”? Evolutiondidit. The universe? Evolutiondidit. Life? Evolutiondidit. Monogamy? Evolutiondidit. Promiscuity? Evolutiondidit. Rape? Evolutiondidit. Theism? Evolutiondidit. Atheism? Well…sure why not? Evolutiondidit. It is just great; the story telling possibilities are endless.

This time PZ Myers sat his adherents down and told them a story about morality in Morality doesn't equal God:

…First, there is no moral law: the universe is a nasty, heartless place where most things wouldn't mind killing you if you let them.
No one is compelled to be nice; you or anyone could go on a murder spree, and all that is stopping you is your self-interest (it is very destructive to your personal bliss to knock down your social support system) and the self-interest of others, who would try to stop you.
There is nothing 'out there' that imposes morality on you, other than local, temporary conditions, a lot of social enculturation, and probably a bit of genetic hardwiring that you've inherited from ancestors who lived under similar conditions.

This is what happens when a biologist makes the mistake of speaking on subjects which have nothing to do with his field of research.
First, there is no moral law and apparently the evidence is that the universe is a nasty, heartless place where most things wouldn't mind killing you if you let them:
I am not certain to which theology, epistemology or for that matter biology or cosmology he is appealing in order to draw a correlation from a “moral law” to an application of it to the universe and “most things.” The concept of a “moral law” does not take into consideration the explosion of supernovae, hurricanes, parasitic wasps, infectious bacteria, etc. They apply, by definition, to moral agents who have the capability to choose for or against.
Fine, let us restate the thought thusly, there is no moral law and apparently the evidence is that some human personages wouldn't mind killing you if you let them. Yet, this would say nothing about a moral law except that it functions according to free will; that people break the law does not mean that there is no law—is there no law against drunk driving simple because people do it anyway?



No one is compelled to be nice:
Yet, a law does not compel (to force) rather, a law prescribes. A law represents letters written upon a spirit—the spirit of the law is the parchment upon which the letter of the law is written.

you or anyone could go on a murder spree, and all that is stopping you is your self-interest (it is very destructive to your personal bliss to knock down your social support system) and the self-interest of others, who would try to stop you:
This is a, no less than frightening, window into the heart, mind, soul and worldview of PZ Myers. He has determined that there are two reasons that “you or anyone” (meaning all human beings) do not “go on a murder spree” as “all that is stopping you” is; 1) it would be like a major bummer dude, it would like totally destroy “your personal bliss” maaaaaaan and 2) someone might attempt to stop you which apparently implies that you could be hurt of incarcerated. Note that 1) assumes that I have a social support system or that I have one that I want to keep. In fact, many gangbangers commit murder in order to gain or replace a social support system—their gang.

This is a classic false dichotomy whereby the question would be posed “Why are you not going on a murder spree? Because your self-interest or your self-interest in not wanting to get hurt or caught?”

Sir, please speak for yourself. I do not go on a murder spree because 1) I do not want to murder anyone, 2) because I love people and empathize with even the most difficult of them, 3) because if I murder someone for something there surely are other doing the same and so murder does not solve anything, 4) because people need education and love more than they need to be murdered, 5) because they were created in God’s image, 6) because God loves them, etc.
Now, of course, while I would not murder anyone I would kill someone at the drop of a self-defense hat whilst protecting my family, for example.

It is shocking to learn that the only two reasons that PZ Myers is not going on murder sprees is because he is blissful and is afraid that he would get caught. What if, God forbid, he someday finds that his bliss has dulled, his social support system waned and he no longer cares about getting caught? In such a case 1) there is no moral law, 2) the universe is a nasty, heartless place, 3) no one is compelled to be nice, 4) you or anyone could go on a murder spree and 5) there is nothing “out there” that imposes morality on you but some abstract arbitrary social constructs based upon our ancestors figuring out at whom to fling their fecal excreta.

If you do good for good reason then when you do not do good you are violating the very premise upon which you base the very concept of goodness in the first place.
If you do good for no good reason then when you do not do good you are violating nothing at all.

PZ Myers withholds from murder for reasons that are arbitrary and tentative therefore…one shutters to think. More troubling still is that he takes a myopically parochial view of why he, personally, withholds from going on a murder sprees and applies it to “you or anyone” and it is because his atheistic-Darwinian-Myersian worldview calls for no other option.



Now, keep in mind what some of us have known all along when we grant such a view. PZ Myers states something to the likes of,
Christians have advocated slavery, have murdered people for the awful crime of miscegenation, have decreed that people who don’t have the kind of sex they prefer are second-class citizens. Christians are thieves, murderers, rapists, and jay-walkers…

What he is stating, at the very most, is that according to his self-interest which is the apparent bliss which he feels by besmirching Christians is based on local, temporary conditions, a lot of social enculturation, and probably a bit of genetic hardwiring that he inherited from his ancestors who lived under similar conditions.
Thus, the cosmically insignificant bio-organism known as “PZ Myers” has determined that his particular bio-chemically educed thought processes have lead him to personally prefer to call such actions “evil,” “wrong,” etc. and nothing more—nothing at all.
Do not think that he is joking when he, in part, describes his writings on his blog as “random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal.” Here ejaculations is employed according to the definition of a sudden short exclamation. He recognizes that he is merely a bio-organism responding in a self-interested way to local conditions and giving voice to bio-chemically induced collocations of matter.

Of course, this lack of murder due to self-interest makes perfect sense as per according to PZ Myer’s worldview the only option is Darwinian survival which amounts to self interest. But what is Darwinian-self-interest? What′a′ya′got?
Morality? Darwinian-self-interest. Immorality? Darwinian-self-interest. Good? Darwinian-self-interest. Evil? Darwinian-self-interest. “A” and not “B”? Darwinian-self-interest. Oh, now its “B” and not “A”? Darwinian-self-interest. Monogamy? Darwinian-self-interest. Promiscuity? Darwinian-self-interest. Rape? Darwinian-self-interest.
You name it.
Reciprocally and altruistically getting along with your neighbors? Darwinian-self-interest. Going on a murder spree, eating your neighbors and taking what they have? Darwinian-self-interest.

At least celebrity atheists agree and are consistent:
Richard Dawkins,
nature is not cruel, only pitilessly indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous—indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose.[1]

…evil and suffering don’t count for anything, one way or the other, in the calculus of gene survival. Nevertheless, we do need to consider the problem of pain. Where, on the evolutionary view, does it come from? Pain, like everything else in life, we presume, is a Darwinian device, which functions to improve the sufferer’s survival.[2]

No wonder that when told (by Justin Brierley), “Ultimately, your belief that rape is wrong is as arbitrary as the fact that we've evolved five fingers rather than six.” Richard Dawkins answered, “You could say that, yeah.”

Dan Barker,
There is no moral interpreter in the cosmos, nothing cares and nobody cares...what happens to me or a piece of broccoli, it won’t [matter]. The Sun is going to explode, we’re all gonna be gone. No one’s gonna care.[3]

Since he believes that,
there are no action in and of themselves are always absolutely right or wrong. It depends on the context. You cannot name an action that is always, absolutely right or wrong, I can think of an exception in any case.[4]

He argues that even rape is not absolutely immoral.
He also states “Darwin has bequeathed what is good,” “abortion is a blessing” and that Jesus was “a moral monster.”

William Provine,
there is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans either.

And oh, by the way, don’t forget to me “nice” because they say so (in the manner of a non-sequitur).

[1] Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden – A Darwinian View of Life (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1995), p. 96
[2] Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth (New York, NY: Free Press, 2009), p. 393
[3] During his debate with Paul Manata
[4] During his debate with Peter Payne

50 comments:

  1. Myers is such a joke. Despite all his claims about there being no true morality, like most atheists he can't go a paragraph without a moral claim.

    Notice his outrage over Christians labeling homosexual behavior as a sin. Well, if there is no real morality saying it is sinful then there is also no real morality saying that it is wrong to call it a sin. It is so ironic that they can't see their hypocrisy.

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  2. Meyers is just another online atheist with tons of unmerited Hubris. He basks in the back-patting and 'atta boys' he gets from the online atheist crowd. And he's just another evolutionist that takes the unbacked leap from micro to macroevolution.

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  3. "And he's just another evolutionist that takes the unbacked leap from micro to macroevolution."

    All biologists accept what you call macroevolution because of massive evidence that you don't even know about because you're an uneducated hick.

    It's interesting that brain-dead anti-science creationists think they know more about biology than all the biologists in the world, when they really don't even know what science is. Then these flat-earthers wonder why everyone laughs at them.

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  4. "Atheism is dead" is an interesting name for a blog.

    So not believing in your magic fairy is a dead idea? A billion atheists disagree and our numbers are growing rapidly as science education improves.

    Perhaps you god-soaked idiots would like to provide some real evidence for your magic man. Unfortunately all you got is your wishful thinking and your childish fantasies.

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  5. The phrases micro and macro evolution are meaningless. Evolutionists believe that millions of micro changes add up to macro evolution. So when a Christian says they believe in micro evolution, the evolutionist says "me too!"

    Instead, one should focus on the direction of the change, not the size. ALL observational science shows mutations duplicate or eliminate genetic data. This is the opposite of what Darwinism says happens.

    http://creation.com/the-evolution-trains-a-comin

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  6. How come that majority of popular atheists, usually scientists, become such inconsistent and illogical when it comes to ethics?

    BTW. I used to poke at Pharyngula from time to time - reading comments there is really painful for me. So much hatred, prejudice and plain boorishness towards thinking differently.

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  7. All biologists accept what you call macroevolution because of massive evidence that you don't even know about because you're an uneducated hick.

    So start showing us this evidence that isn't universally accepted natural selection within a kind. Show us a case where a kind evolves so much that it can no longer procreate with others. I'm open to seeing it. The support put forward for neo-Darwinism is sparse and unconvincing. The logical leap from this evidence is unwarranted. The Theses of Common Descent and Random Mutation and Natural Selection as the means of evolutionary development stem from enormous extrapolations from very limited evidence.

    It's interesting that brain-dead anti-science creationists think they know more about biology than all the biologists in the world

    Even the ones who question the modern neo-evolutionary paradigm? And I always love to point out this argumentum ad populum.

    when they really don't even know what science is.

    Somebody is awful presumptuous.

    The phrases micro and macro evolution are meaningless.

    Chad, I disagree. It's a quick way to differentiate between the sacred cow of Darwinian evolution and the actual natural selection that is observable. But semantics aside, you do make a good point otherwise.

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  8. bob:

    A quick question, where did you get the statistic of 1 billion atheists? The last time I checked a survey done (Encyclopedia Britannica World Alminac 2009) There were only 150 million people who identified themselves as atheist representing 0.5 of the worlds population.

    signed "that anonymous troll" ;)

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  9. you wont get any bossmanham just a barrage of ridicule if you pose a question.

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  10. Hi bossmanham,

    Show us a case where a kind evolves so much that it can no longer procreate with others.

    I'm sure which part of evolutionary theory you don't buy: common descent or natural selection, so I'll cover both.

    If we assume that universal common descent is true, then any two species: humans & chimps, leopards & tulips, etc. are all examples of divergence of a single species into multiple species that can no longer reproduce. So your demand boils down to: convince me of common descent. The explanation requires more than a comment box, but it's basically because the data fit a family tree model so well, and fit the "special creation with modification" model so poorly. The fossil record, DNA, biogeography, skeletal homology, etc. are all best explained by a family tree. The really cool thing is these independent sources of evidence point to the same tree. That's some seriously compelling evidence and it's the reason that the biologists, and even Intelligent Design proponents like Michael Behe, accept it.

    But maybe you accept the tree of life as the family tree it is, but you just think that natural processes couldn't produce that tree--God had to get involved. The evidence for this aspect of evolution is more difficult to summarize quickly, but basically artificial selection is powerful enough to change one "kind" into another, and we understand how nature can fill the role of the breeder. In the case of sexual selection, the members of one gender in the species act as the breeder. In Dawkins' new book he has a neat section on gradations between artificial and natural selection and how the difference isn't as clear-cut as you might think. If you'll be convinced by nothing short of seeing a multi-million year process happen before your eyes, Dawkins' chapter, "Before our eyes", has some examples, including Lenski's amazing experiments with E. Coli.

    It's way too difficult to explain 150 years of research in a few paragraphs. I just hope that I haven't done more harm than good.

    If you're truly open to the evidence, as you say you are, it's readily available. But from the vocabulary you used, "macroevolution", "extrapolation", "kind", etc., it seems like you're getting your evolution education from people invested in denying it. Do yourself a favor and study what real biologists have to say.

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  11. Christians shouldn't buy into the Atheist Meme that Evolution is against Religion or the Bible. If only because you shouldn't leave the Atheists any ground to flee too.

    Indeed from a Thomistic perspective Evolution slightly helps Aquinas' Five Ways with it's implicit endorsement of Final Causes.

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  12. LearningIsFun,

    I asked for evidence, yet all you've given is a lot of assertions. As I said, The Theses of Common Descent and Random Mutation and Natural Selection as the means of evolutionary development stem from enormous extrapolations from very limited evidence.

    The fossil record is the biggest weakness of neo-Darwinism. As University of Chicago Professor of geology David Raup says: "we are now about 120 years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil records has been greatly expanded. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn’t changed much. The record of evolution is still surprisingly jerky and, ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin’s time."

    but it's basically because the data fit a family tree model so well

    Actually it doesn't. For example, for a bat and a whale to have a common ancestor there should be literally millions of transitional forms, which are not there in the fossil record. What we see in the fossil record is an explosion in new phyla. I find it strange that there are fewer, not more, phyla today. Mark Hartwig points out: "According to Darwinism, new phyla are produced by the gradual divergence of species. As species split off from each other over time, they eventually become so dissimilar as to constitute a whole new body plan. Therefore, we should see new species slowly appearing over time, followed by the much slower appearance of new phyla – what Harvard palaeontologist Stephen Jay Gould called a ‘cone of increasing diversity.’ Instead, the cone is upside down."

    Here's some more for you:

    I should have guessed someone would bring up the finches :). Speciation is entirely observable and not the issue. It's probably accurate that the finches came from an original pair, but that pair was still a couple of finches. Different dog breeds probably came from a pair of wolves. Not the issue.

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  13. Hi bossmanham,

    Now I understand that you do not accept common descent, but your statements still leave me perplexed as to exactly which part you don't accept. I have trouble resolving the conflict between two of your statements:

    Show us a case where a kind evolves so much that it can no longer procreate with others.

    and

    Speciation is entirely observable and not the issue.

    The earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old, according to many different converging dating techniques. Is it your assertion that an initial batch of "kinds" has always been around and just modified slightly during that time? Or do you think that new kinds have spontaneously appeared at strategic points along to way to appear as if evolution were true?

    If your definition of "kind" is broad enough to lump wolves and pugs together, then how different do two things need to be before they are considered different "kinds"? From one of your statements, it sounds like you need to see a complete change in "body plan". But we (humans) share the same body plan with bats, just with some bones larger and some smaller. Are we the same "kind" as bats or not? The point is that this idea of a "kind" is based on outdated essentialist philosophy that does not make sense in an evolutionary context.

    I'm surprised that you brought up the example of whales, considering the abundance of transitional fossils for whale evolution, but more importantly, if common descent were wrong, you wouldn't notice it by "gaps" in the fossil record. You'd notice it because you'd find things that don't belong. Yet no one has ever found fossil evidence incompatible with common descent. No bunny rabbits in the pre-Cambrian layers.

    And that brings me to your main issue with evolution--that it is overly aggressive extrapolation. But models that extrapolate too far are the easiest to falsify. If you can find even one example of an organism that doesn't fit into the family tree of life, then common descent would be rejected. Here is just one of the many ways you could approach falsifying common descent.

    If you won't listen to atheists like me, or theistic evolutionists like Ken Miller, at least listen to hard core Intelligent Design proponents like Michael Behe who have every reason to reject common descent but don't.

    To respond to your points, your first quotation is a common creationist one--a canned argument, deserving of a canned response.

    I noticed that you gave the first fella's credentials, but not the second. Is that because Mark Hartwig's background is in educational psychology and not biology? His quote is in reference to the Cambrian explosion. While creationists can provide no explanation beyond goddidit, many researchers spend their days conducting real research into understanding the mechanisms behind this event.

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  14. The earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old, according to many different converging dating techniques.

    Not the issue. Also, the cambrian explosion happened 530 MYA, so most life didn't exist till then.

    Is it your assertion that an initial batch of "kinds" has always been around and just modified slightly during that time?

    Looks like it from the evidence.

    Or do you think that new kinds have spontaneously appeared at strategic points along to way to appear as if evolution were true?

    According to the evidence, both fossil and otherwise, it doesn't appear as if neo-Darwinism (if that's what you mean by evolution) is true at all, unless you harbor an a priori that it has to be.

    If your definition of "kind" is broad enough to lump wolves and pugs together, then how different do two things need to be before they are considered different "kinds"?

    I believe pugs and wolves can create offspring. This is the issue with the modern taxonomy paradigm. Highly subjective and not agreed upon.

    From one of your statements, it sounds like you need to see a complete change in "body plan"

    I didn't say that.

    But we (humans) share the same body plan with bats, just with some bones larger and some smaller.

    We're vertebrates and mammals both. But does that mean we have a common ancestor, or a common designer? There's no more evidence for the former. The homology argument is based on the philosophical presuppositions of evolutionists. Saying that two homologous bones are similar because they are commonly 'derived from the same ancestral bones' is not based on direct evidence but instead on a priori conclusions demanded by neo-Darwinism.

    The point is that this idea of a "kind" is based on outdated essentialist philosophy that does not make sense in an evolutionary context.

    Whatever. That's not even the point. The point is the lack of evidence for the neo-Darwinian conclusions. They aren't based on observed evidence, but on assumptions held by scientists.

    I'm surprised that you brought up the example of whales,

    I didn't bring up whales...

    considering the abundance of transitional fossils for whale evolution

    The Overselling Of Whale Evolution

    but more importantly, if common descent were wrong, you wouldn't notice it by "gaps" in the fossil record. You'd notice it because you'd find things that don't belong

    Wow, nice way to move the goalposts neo-Darwinists! So you don't think the sudden appearance of numerous phyla is finding something that doesn't belong? Who determines what doesn't belong? How do you know if it doesn't belong? Pretty sure Darwin saw the lack of transitional fossils as a problem. We haven't found any conclusively since.

    No bunny rabbits in the pre-Cambrian layers

    Maybe that's because pre-Cambrian, there were not many forms of life around.

    But models that extrapolate too far are the easiest to falsify

    Unless the goalposts keep moving.

    many researchers spend their days conducting real research into understanding the mechanisms behind this event.

    With a naturalistic a priori. Not hard to interpret evidence the way you want to when it's as vague as it is.

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  15. Oh and I want to point out we still haven't seen any evidence for common descent; just a bunch of assertions.

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  16. Hi bossmanham,

    If you search for the word "whale" on this page, you'll see that your comment was the first to mention them. I'm not bringing it up because I'm obsessed with winning--I just want you to know that I'm reading your comments carefully and I have no desire to misquote or misunderstand you.

    It was my mistake to say that your definition of "kind" had to do with body plans rather than ability to reproduce offspring. I agree with you that taxonomy is clunky and not that helpful, so let's make our disagreement precise.

    Let's take a specific example, since my descriptions of the broad classes of evidence don't seem to meet your requirements. You're looking for specifics. Fine. Let's talk about chimpanzees and humans. Because the two groups cannot reproduce, I assume that you believe that they could not have come from a common ancestor.

    If you believe that we do not share a common ancestor with chimpanzees, but were instead created as separate "kinds", then there is some evidence that will be very difficult for you to explain.

    1) There are at least seven instances of common Endogenous Retrovirus sequences found in the same sites in the human and chimp genomes. The odds of this happening without a common ancestor are staggeringly small. And here is a rebuttal to common creationist responses to ERVs.

    2) Human chromosome #2 shows all the signs of having been fused from two chromosomes that are found in chimpanzees. A perfect opportunity to falsify common ancestry that failed.

    If this doesn't qualify as evidence, then you're going to have to really spell out exactly what you're looking for. It's anything but vague. In light of this evidence, we're left with two possibilities. Humans and chimpanzees shared a common ancestor OR an intelligent designer made it look like that's what happened. Science can't distinguish between those two possibilities, but your theology would have to be pretty warped to accept the latter.

    To answer your question about who decides when a theory is falsified, science is conducted through a process of peer review. If you have a viable alternative explanation for ERVs, you should publish it.

    My statement about fossils was not an attempt to move the goal posts. In fact, we have founds lots and lots of transitional fossils. (My statement is an assertion; the link contains evidence). It's just plain creationist propaganda to say that there aren't transitional fossils. But the difficulty of finding fossils will always be the best explanation for why we haven't found a particular one. Isn't it absolutely incredible that if common descent is false, we haven't found a single fossil that contradicts the theory? No Homo Erectus before Australopithecus. No fossils of humans and dinosaurs together. (I don't know how ridiculous my examples are to you because I'm still having trouble piecing together your precise proposal for an alternative history).

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  17. There are at least seven instances of common Endogenous Retrovirus sequences found in the same sites in the human and chimp genomes. The odds of this happening without a common ancestor are staggeringly small.

    B/c we were able to read the nonexistent Designer's mind and know that he wouldn't've put them in similar positions!

    So, so stupid. Learning is fun? Evolution is funny.

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  18. Hi Rhology,

    This video does a great job of explaining why we are very confident that the gene insertions are retroviral in origin. If you don't have the patience for the video, the gist is that ERVs have many signature components found only in viral genomes. If a designer put these sequences in chimps and humans separately, then he went out of his way to make it look like they were the result of ERVs. If you want to believe in a deceptive God, there's nothing science can say about it, but if you ask me, that's "so, so stupid".

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  19. Thanks, but I don't see why an equally plausible proposition is that God just liked the way the code was, and reused it.

    Yes, science can say nothing about that. Therefore, science is totally unable to make a judgment between evol and ID. But that's directly counter to what modern Darwinists and atheists say. So it's quite a conundrum you have on your hands. I'm glad I'm not in your shoes.

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  20. Hi Rhology,

    The reason why your explanation is implausible is because out of the astronomically large number of ways that God could have reused genetic code, he chose the very specific reuse that is consistent with retroviral insertion in a common ancestor. If he had deviated from that choice just slightly, common descent would be falsified. God seems to be making it very clear that he wants you to believe in evolution. If you haven't watched the video, I highly encourage you to do so, because it directly addresses your point.

    To respond to the latter part of your comment, let me try to explain it this way.

    Me: The evidence is consistent with common descent.
    Bossmanham: The evidence is inconsistent with common descent.
    Rhology: The evidence is consistent with an intelligent designer that made it look like common descent.

    Now, bossmanham's position is a scientific one, so I can present evidence to falsify it, as I believe I have done. Your position, however, is not scientific because it cannot be falsified with evidence. And that is why almost all scientists (atheist or theist) do not consider ID science.

    I'm not sure why you don't envy my position. The evidence is on my side, while the only consistent alternative is to believe in a designer that made it look like evolution happened. At that point, you're not very far from the position that God didin't fake it, but actually used evolution as the creation process. That is the position of many theists. I'll leave it to you theists to work out between yourselves whether or not you think that God is deceptive.

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  21. If he had deviated from that choice just slightly, common descent would be falsified.

    Since there's so little going for it, I'm not concerned about that.
    And if He hadn't, my explanation is still equally plausible.


    Rhology: The evidence is consistent with an intelligent designer that made it look like common descent.

    Whaaa? No, not even close. The evidence DOESN'T look like common descent. He used sthg that you think gives evidence for CD, but you've in fact offered no argument why we should think that your option is better than mine.


    Your position, however, is not scientific because it cannot be falsified with evidence.

    I'm much less concerned with "scientific" than whether it's true.


    The evidence is on my side

    Um, like what?


    Peace,
    Rhology

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  22. Hi Rhology,

    Fact #1: The common gene sequences found in both chimpanzees and humans contain not just one, but a whole host of indicators that they were inserted by retroviruses, including multiple constituents in a particular order. We know the functions of these constituent gene sequences in the reproduction of retroviruses. Also, we can observe similar ERV insertions today.

    Fact #2: If a retrovirus inserts its genetic code into a sperm or egg cell, it will be passed on to its offspring. This is directly observable. If chimps and humans share an ancestor, we will have those retroviral chunks of DNA in common.

    Fact #3: The probability of the same ERVs inserting themselves in humans and chimpanzees separately is extremely small, considering the number of common sequences and the number of alternative insertion sites that were not chosen. Therefore, we can rule out coincidence or chance.

    Which of the above facts DOESN'T look like common descent?

    I understand that you care what's true rather than what's scientific. No problem there. However, my point was that evidence is irrelevant to our disagreement if your position cannot be falsified by evidence. You're left supporting a theological position that God created life not just by reusing designs, but by doing so in a way that is indicative of common descent. For seemingly no reason, God chose to stick virus reproduction code into two of his designs, while at the same time creating retroviruses that can do the very same insertion according to natural processes. Theistic evolution seems like much better theology, but hey, I'm an atheist. What do I know about theology?

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  23. Fact 1 - Now prove that there's good reason to think a designer, God, wouldn't have done it that way and you'll have the beginnings of a case. Right now you're just assuming what you need to prove.

    Fact 2 - We will also have those retroviral chunks of DNA in common if the designer liked the way that whole coding thing went in the one organism and decided to reuse his design. So...your point?

    Fact 3 - The probability of life arising by chance is far, far smaller, but you don't seem to think that's a problem.
    The probability that all life began last Tuesday is also pretty small, but so what? You're apparently into small probabilities, so I assume you'll buy into that idea too, right?

    So, none of the facts above look like CD any more than they look like ID. And there are many more facts that look even less like CD.


    You're left supporting a theological position that God created life not just by reusing designs, but by doing so in a way that is indicative of common descent.

    Assuming what you need to prove. Again.


    I'm an atheist. What do I know about theology?

    In my experience, it means you know next to nothing. No offense intended to you personally.

    So... I think I missed your actual evidence for evolution. Mind sharing sthg that actually advances your argument?

    Peace,
    Rhology

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  24. Hi Rhology,

    When I encounter a creationist, it's always hard to know where to find common ground since there is so much variety of belief. Young earth, old earth, common descent, no common descent.

    After our conversation here, and after reading your blog post, I've determined that you're of the "God can do it anyway he wants" variety, willing to accept even that God might have created the world to have the illusion of looking old.

    Our epistemological differences are too vast for us to have a fruitful conversation about this topic. To converse about anything in detail would require us to first take about ten steps back and talk about some very fundamental philosophy.

    The types of arguments that I've presented are clearly not going to gain any traction with you. But I learned some things in the process, so thanks.

    Take care.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi LiF,

    Yes, there are alot of ppl out there. I'm a YEC, Calvinist Baptist, inerrantist. Hope that helps you know where I'm coming from!

    You correctly characterise my argument but have not dealt with my rebuttals of your critiques thereof. I'll be waiting whenever you decide to do so.
    If you think our epistem divide is great, maybe you could provide an epistem justification of your view, whatever it is. How do you know what is true and how do you know you can access it?

    Peace,
    Rhology

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi Rhology,

    I have a close friend who is a member of the CRC and starting as a professor at Calvin College in the spring. She's also the person I get most of my info on evolutionary phylogenetics from. It appears that Calvinism is a large enough umbrella to include a theistic evolutionist like her and a YEC like you.

    In response to my evidence of the falsifiable theory of common descent, you present an unfalsifiable hypothesis that is also consistent with the evidence. Presenting more consistent evidence to support my case would be futile. Instead, I would have to convince you of the importance of falsifiability.

    I could attempt to defend my epistemology and maybe even try to demonstrate that your worldview results in solipsism. But it has been a while since I've had the patience for navel gazing conversations like that. If you present a falsifiable alternative to common descent, then we can talk about the compatibility of evidence, but otherwise, that conversation is pointless. Sorry if I'm disappointing you.

    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  27. LiF,

    Wow, very interesting about your friend. And don't get me wrong, I'd agree with what you said about the "umbrella"; just b/c of that I don't know anyone who'd say she's a heretic or anythg. Unfortunately, it's my experience that USUALLY a position like theistic evolution means that the authority and inerrancy of Scripture suffer at the hands of the person's (unnecessary and wrongheaded) compromise with the scientific fads of the day. Hopefully that's not the case with her.


    In response to my evidence of the falsifiable theory of common descent, you present an unfalsifiable hypothesis that is also consistent with the evidence.

    1) Surely you mean falsifiED theory of CD. There's almost no evidence for it, and plenty against. In fact, pretty much any experiment you run is evidence for intelligent design, which is a big problem for you.
    2) Plenty of things are true that are unfalsifiable, like the laws of logic.
    3) The principle of falsifiability is itself unfalsifiable.
    4) And my position is plenty falsifiable. Find the body of Christ. Provide a self-consistent and rational account for reason and intelligibility, given atheism. Prove a contradiction in the Bible that's a real one. Etc.


    your worldview results in solipsism.

    Mine? Haha, please. My worldview is based on the promises of God who lives and speaks. What's yours based on? What you think your senses are telling you? "Evidence"? Fine, give me evidence you're not a brain in a vat. THAT'S solipsism. Believe me, you don't want to go there.


    Peace,
    Rhology

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi Rhology,

    ...USUALLY a position like theistic evolution means that the authority and inerrancy of Scripture suffer...

    She'd probably say that she believes in the authority and inerrancy of the bible, but that she interprets some parts of the bible to be figurative whereas others interpret it literally, such as the 6-day creation.

    1) For CD to be falsifiED, there would have to be empirical evidence that is incompatible with what the theory predicts. I know of no such evidence. Please provide some. Evidence consistent with Intelligent Design does not automatically falsify CD, because it's possible for the evidence to be compatible with both.

    2) Agreed.
    3) Agreed, I think.

    4) I wasn't talking about the falsifiability of Christianity, theism, or the inerrancy of the bible. I was talking about the falsifiability of Intelligent Design. If I concede the truth of Christianity, I still don't know if God created life in a continuous tree (common descent) or if he did it by creating organisms in their present forms at various times in the past. If God used CD, then this hypothesis is falsifiable because there is a great amount of hypothetical evidence that would be inconsistent with it. For example, if a bat and a bird shared an ERV, but that ERV wasn't found in humans, then common descent is wrong. I can't think of a similar kind of experiment that would disprove the series-of-miracles explanation. I can imagine versions of Intelligent Design that would make sufficiently specific claims to be falsifiable by evidence, but the vague versions presented thus far cannot be falsified.

    I'm not up for defending falsifiability. If the principle of falsifiability is not something you're willing to concede, then feel free to run victory laps around me. You have vanquished me! If, on the other hand, you recognize the value of falsifiability (whether or not you think an atheist can defend it), then we can concede that point and start talking about evidence and rival theories.

    ReplyDelete
  29. 1) No, you're mistaking me. It's falsified just like the hypothesis that my stapler is responsible for the Black Plague is falsified. So I probably used the wrong word; let's just say I am asking for some actual evidence of it. Facts that it alone explains, that some other competing worldview does NOT explain. That's just a start. I'm also going to need some evidence that God, Who was there, after all, is mistaken in how it all went down, but we can tell b/c we can infer from rocks we've found.
    Let me say it this way:
    You have a witness to an accident who has an excellent track record of telling the truth and is of impeccable moral character. He sees an accident in the full light of day, was not impaired, stuck around 2 hours before and 2 hours after making sure he examined everything that happened.
    Now, you bring out a CSI team 1 year later to examine the scene and try to determine what happened. Or you could just ask the witness.

    4) I can't think of a similar kind of experiment that would disprove the series-of-miracles explanation.

    Probably b/c "experiment" is not the right kind of avenue for such a falsification. Science can't do everything, you know. It can't even do all that many things. Does some things well and in many, many others it is powerless.


    If the principle of falsifiability is not something you're willing to concede

    YOU were the one who set it up as one of your standards for truth. I agree it's generally useful, but it has its limitations. I just want you to acknowledge the obvious about it.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi Rhology,

    Oops. I said "concede" when I meant "grant" or "stipulate". Yes, falsifiability is required for my worldview to make sense of questions about the natural world, such as origins. That's why I brought it up. And that's why I cannot have a conversation with you about the evidence for common descent without you granting it. I understand the limitations of falsifiability: It is unnecessary for logical or mathematical claims that we can evaluate with certainty. I also recognize that it may produce false negatives, because true claims may not not be falsifiable. However, it is the only method I know of that has demonstrated its utility at keeping false positives under control.

    Here's a quote I like about falsifiability:
    "Intellectual honesty does not consist in trying to entrench, or establish one's position by proving (or 'probabilifying') it—intellectual honesty consists rather in specifying precisely the conditions under which one is willing to give up one's position." - Imre Lakatos.

    I recognize that science can't do everything, but Biology is clearly within its purview. When we apply the tools of science to the question of origins, we get common descent. It didn't have to be that way. Science could have given us lots of different answers, but the one it gave us was common descent.

    Facts that it alone explains, that some other competing worldview does NOT explain.

    No scientific theory meets your standard. Gravity cannot explain anything that Intelligent Falling cannot explain. Should we doubt gravity as a result? Likewise, wouldn't we also have to eliminate Intelligent Falling by your standard? I think you overestimate the difficulty of coming up with an explanation to match the evidence. Either my trash can stays put or it is kidnapped by aliens when I leave and returned when I come back.

    The reason that the scientific method is valuable is because it eliminates the untestable explanations that would not provide us with any useful predictions.

    It's interesting that you bring up the CSI vs. eye witness question, because Richard Dawkins uses that exact analogy in his latest book. He talks about how eyewitness testimony is unreliable, and uses this fun video as an illustration. But sure, if God is the witness then yeah, he's perfect, and can be trusted. But if Genesis 1 is supposed to be his eyewitness testimony, it's really vague. Perhaps it was intentionally vague to encourage scientific inquiry.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Yes, falsifiability is required for my worldview to make sense of questions about the natural world, such as origins. That's why I brought it up.

    Then the unfalsifiability of the p.o.f. is evidence of the incoherency of your worldview.


    However, it is the only method I know of that has demonstrated its utility at keeping false positives under control.

    I'm fond of logic and internal critiques, myself.


    but Biology is clearly within its purview.

    CD is not accessible by biology, however. It's an HISTORICAL question.


    When we apply the tools of science to the question of origins, we get common descent.

    Sorry, you're idolising science and have thus made a false statement. You ASSUME common descent. Give me evidence.


    Gravity cannot explain anything that Intelligent Falling cannot explain.

    True, and it just so happens that I'm a Christian. God has ordained EVERYthing that comes to pass, so it's no surprise that your statement is accurate. It's right in line with my worldview. But not in yours. I suggest you swap out, repent of your sins, and come to the Cross.


    He talks about how eyewitness testimony is unreliable, and uses this fun video as an illustration. But sure, if God is the witness then yeah, he's perfect, and can be trusted.

    So, what's your point?
    (And don't bring up Dawkins. Seriously. The only time you should ever cite him is in his field of expertise. When he steps outside it, virtually everythg he says is idiotic.)


    But if Genesis 1 is supposed to be his eyewitness testimony, it's really vague.

    How do you figure that?

    ReplyDelete
  32. Falsifiability is a property of explanations of fact. Because the p.o.f. is a principle, and not an explanation of fact, it is not self-referential, and therefore not self-refuting.

    As I said, I can evaluate purely logical claims based on logic, but I can only evaluate the soundness of explanations of fact if they are falsifiable. The claim that life originated by a series of miraculous creations is an explanation of the facts of our current existence, the fossil record, etc. If no evidence could ever show me that it is incorrect, then it is useless as an explanation.

    I think that you missed the point of my Intelligent Falling example. According to you, an explanation of fact should only be accepted if it is the only one consistent with the facts. I was demonstrating the absurdity of this assertion by showing you that this entails that anytime we can come up with more than one explanation for something, it renders all explanations false, since they are no longer unique.

    For example, consider the following:

    Fact: a light bulb turns on when I flip a switch.

    Explanation #1: the switch connects a circuit that allows current to flow to the bulb.

    Explanation #2: the switch connects a circuit that allows current to flow to the bulb only when you attempt to measure the current, otherwise the bulb is lit by an alien through telepathy.

    According to your method of theory selection, I would have to reject both explanations, because they are both consistent with the facts.

    According to my method of theory selection, I would have to throw out explanation #2 outright, because it is not falsifiable. I would then accept #1 tentatively, and continue to attempt to falsify it with various experiments. If I ever found a new fact incompatible with #1, I would reject is as well.

    Isn't it clear from my example that your method of theory selection, based on uniqueness, is not a very good way at arriving at the truth? If I'm misunderstanding your uniqueness requirement, please clarify why you think that Common Descent has already been falsified.

    I guess that I feel that Genesis 1 is vague testimony, because if I were the officer taking the statement, I would have asked a whole lot more questions.

    And I'll cite Dawkins anytime I please! :-P In addition to being an expert in Biology, he's also a great teacher and popularizer of science. He puts a lot of thought into developing good analogies to understand scientific ideas. My point in bringing it up was just to say that both you and Dawkins agree that the CSI analogy is a helpful teaching tool for understanding the differing approaches to explaining origins. You and Dawkins just came to different conclusions about which source is more reliable. His defense of the CSI approach addresses the point you raise about origins being a historical rather than a scientific question. I would say that it's both.

    My wife happens to be a DNA analyst at a crime lab, and I'm glad that we don't consider past crimes to be outside the purview of scientific investigation just because crimes happened in the past. DNA evidence is still considered the best way to put murderers and rapists behind bars. I can't imagine what law enforcement would be like if we kicked out all the lab geeks and replaced them with history professors.

    ReplyDelete
  33. LIF,

    You live in a different reality than I do to think that you have said anything worth convincing anyone of CD, but I guess that's the nature of the theory. I am surprised that there are still people who say that something must be falsifiable in order to be a fact. Can you falsify that statement? Is that statement fact? Your non-statement about it notwithstanding, it is a self refuting position.

    Furthermore, it is a position that would nullify other aspects of science, as there are many things that scientists assume that they cannot falsify. For instance, they assume the speed of light has remained constant, but there is no test that could confirm or deny this.

    ReplyDelete
  34. bossmanham,

    Show me where I said that something must be falsifiable in order to be a fact, and you might have a point. Otherwise, you're just looking for an easy way out of having to confront the evidence that you asked for and I provided.

    And no, I don't think I convinced anyone of CD, because you and Rhology have made it clear that evidence is irrelevant to what you believe. If evidence mattered to you, then you would understand why a theory must be testable and therefore falsifiable.

    If you think that the rules of science are too restrictive, then fine, present your own method of theory selection. Rhology presented an approach that demands of the theory "Facts that it alone explains, that some other competing worldview does NOT explain." I showed the absurdity of this approach, because you could toss out any explanation by simply dreaming up some wild competing explanation like alien telepathy. That approach just isn't going to work.

    Now if your theory of origins is based on testable evidence, then you will see why ERVs present such compelling evidence for CD. If you find just one common ERV in lemurs and squirrels, but not in gorillas, then common descent is wrong. If you find just one common ERV in snakes and mice, but not in turtles, then common descent is wrong. Common descent is so easily falsifiable yet no one has been able to find evidence that contradicts the theory. Why do you think that is? According to you, common descent is dead wrong, and easy to falsify, yet you can't provide any evidence inconsistent with it. Strange, don't you think?

    ReplyDelete
  35. LiF,

    It's all about worldview and presuppositions. Naturalism is irrational, so using it as a presupp makes no sense.
    Because the p.o.f. is a principle, and not an explanation of fact, it is not self-referential, and therefore not self-refuting.

    Special pleading. So the pof is good for everything, except when you say it's not good. Gotcha.
    I say, let's examine questions based on their explanatory power and their reliance on which worldview, and whether that worldview is rational. Pof is merely part of that, but not the end-all.


    The claim that life originated by a series of miraculous creations is an explanation of the facts of our current existence, the fossil record, etc.

    What I'm trying to say is that you need to take another route if you want to falsify that claim. Like show that the God of the Bible is irrational or sthg of that nature.


    an explanation of fact should only be accepted if it is the only one consistent with the facts. I was demonstrating the absurdity of this assertion by showing you that this entails that anytime we can come up with more than one explanation for something, it renders all explanations false, since they are no longer unique.

    Well, if there's only 1 step involved, but that's not what I'm proposing. With your alien telepathy example, now I want to ask all sorts of questions about the aliens. It's exactly what I do when confronted with the Flying Spaghetti Monster idiocy. Who are these aliens? How do you know about them? how do you know they act? How do you know your senses can properly and reliably detect them and their activity? Etc. If you have no good answers, then that's just as easily another way I can know that explanation is no good.


    please clarify why you think that Common Descent has already been falsified.

    1) Naturalism is irrational, and CD is based thereon.
    2) The God of the Bible is the only rational worldview foundation, and He already told us how it all went down at the beginning - He created.


    because if I were the officer taking the statement, I would have asked a whole lot more questions.

    I'm glad to know that's how you feel. Now, please tell me why it's vague.


    And I'll cite Dawkins anytime I please!

    You do so at the peril of your credibility.


    he's also a great teacher and popularizer of science.

    But not PHILOSOPHY of science. Or philosophy. Or religion. Or gov't. But these days he mostly sticks to those, to his detriment.


    His defense of the CSI approach addresses the point you raise about origins being a historical rather than a scientific question.

    Apparently you missed the part about the PERFECT eyewitness who doesn't lie.


    If you find just one common ERV in lemurs and squirrels, but not in gorillas, then common descent is wrong.

    A generous statement, but there are of course many others ways to argue against it. Like saying that the facts that purportedly support it are just as easily supportive of a competing explanation. How is it helpful to argue against ID with facts that also support ID?
    See, it comes back to philosophy, presuppositions, not "evidence".


    According to you, common descent is dead wrong, and easy to falsify, yet you can't provide any evidence inconsistent with it.

    Let's say I can't. You can't provide any inconsistent with creationism. Strange, don't you think? I guess we should by default be creationists.

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  36. Rhology,

    You and bossmanham clearly think that I'm making a stronger claim about falsifiability than I am. I never said that something needs to be falsifiable to be true. Go back and read what I wrote.

    What I said was that your hypothesis must be testable and therefore falsifiable IF evidence is to be relevant to your case. I don't claim that falsifiability itself is supported by evidence, so that's why it's not self-referential. 2+2=4 is also not evidence-based, so it is true without being falsifiable by evidence. This is not special pleading. It's a very clear category of statements I'm talking about: those that claim to be supported by evidence.

    And I'm not deciding for you whether your claim is evidence-based or not. If your explanation of origins is based on evidence, then please show me how we could determine if you're wrong. If it's not, and you support it by something like first principles as you would 2+2=4, then just embrace that you accept it for some reason other than evidence and stop screaming "Show me the evidence of common descent!" Evidence is irrelevant in that case.

    (I'll address your statements about "show me jesus' body, etc. below)

    Apparently you missed the part about the PERFECT eyewitness who doesn't lie.

    C'mon, Rhology. Now, you're just not paying attention. Here's what I said:

    But sure, if God is the witness then yeah, he's perfect, and can be trusted.

    Anyway, we can avoid getting distracted by naturalism, etc. if I just make concessions that are irrelevant to my point. Here we go:

    The God of the bible exists. Jesus rose from the dead. The bible is the inerrant, authoritative word of God. God created the world in six "days", including seeding the first life on earth and designing all of the body plans of the Cambrian from scratch.

    Now the question is, how did God bring about the species that we find on the planet today? Did he create them through a continuous chain of ancestry from the early Cambrian organisms?

    If he did, then we should expect the fossil record to look a certain way, and genomes to look a certain way. This hypothesis makes predictions that we can test. And so far, no one has found evidence that contradicts the predictions of this theory.

    Now do you have an alternative idea of how God created things? Does that alternative predict things about what we will find in the fossil record or genomes or biogeography that differ from the explanation above? If so, please describe what we should expect to find. If not, then our conversation is over. That's fine. You believe something on faith. Have a great time with that. Just don't pretend like you base your stance on science.

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  37. I never said that something needs to be falsifiable to be true.

    It was one element of your truth-finding framework.
    But cool, I'll be sure to keep that in mind. My guess is I'll have to quote that back to you before we're done talking.


    If your explanation of origins is based on evidence, then please show me how we could determine if you're wrong.

    You could start by proving my worldview wrong. I just told you.


    how did God bring about the species that we find on the planet today?

    Glad you asked. By creation at the creation event, the Ark, and MICROevolution thru natural selection and mutation since then.


    Did he create them through a continuous chain of ancestry from the early Cambrian organisms?

    I don't see how saying "Cambrian" fits into the scenario you're using here.


    If he did, then we should expect the fossil record to look a certain way, and genomes to look a certain way.

    Sure, I guess, but there are a lot of problems with that. The fossil "record" is highly subjective and requires serious interpretative license to structure the various things that have been found. And I've yet to see any genome-related fact that couldn't just as well be explained by creationism as by evolution from CD.


    Does that alternative predict things about what we will find in the fossil record or genomes or biogeography that differ from the explanation above?

    I'm not particularly interested in the theory's predictive power, to be honest. I'm much more interested in what happenED and the explanatory power of the theory.


    You believe something on faith. Have a great time with that. Just don't pretend like you base your stance on science.

    Ooh, look who's all high-minded now. HISTORICAL questions don't have to have any "predictive power" to be true. Sheesh.
    Besides, I've asked you for evidence for your hypothesis, and all you've given me so far is stuff that is just as easily explained by my worldview. Yet you BELIEVE your position. You believe something on faith. Have a great time with that. Just don't pretend like you base your stance on science.

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  38. And I've yet to see any genome-related fact that couldn't just as well be explained by creationism as by evolution from CD.

    I wonder if that has something to do with creationism not being falsifiable by evidence. Hmmm.

    We're back to where we started. Honestly, I'm not interested in continuing this conversation. I could explain how we know the age of the earth from many convergent dating methods. I could explain why the biogeography predictions of Noah's ark are completely inconsistent with what we find in the fossil record and in modern species. But none of that would matter to you, because God can make anything appear like anything else.

    90% of the disagreements you have with me, you also have with the Discovery Institute, bossmanham, and most Christians I know. I'll let them explain these things to you, because I'm done. I'd rather spend my time talking about the other 10%, where there is at least some room for rational discussion.

    And yes, I guess I am high-minded now. We're not talking about subjective claims of morality, ice cream flavors, or vagueness. We're talking about whether the earth has been around for more than a few thousand years. That is a question about objective reality. On this matter, I am right and you are wrong. I can support my position with mountains of evidence. You have a book that you have chosen to believe literally, despite its conflicts with every branch of science from geology to astronomy to physics to chemistry.

    You are the scientific equivalent of the moral psychopaths we have been discussing in our other thread. You discard so much of reality, that there is not enough common ground for us to have a rational discussion. And so, I'm done.

    I haven't given up on you, though, bossmanham. You at least accept the age of the earth, based on scientific evidence. If you'd like to discuss where the evidence leads, starting from the concessions in my last message, I'd be happy to discuss that with you.

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  39. I could explain how we know the age of the earth from many convergent dating methods

    1) Thus reducing back to naturalism. That's why I bring it up over and over.
    2) CSI methods vs infallible witness.
    3) Which methods are notoriously easy to contaminate and make way-out, fantastic errors.
    4) Which methods assume w/o evidence a given level of decay originally present at the beginning.
    5) Which methods appeal to strata, which appeal to the dating methods, which appeal to strata...
    6) Which methods are attempting to make use of things that are not meant for dating, much like considering a rooster an alarm clock.

    Yes, please explain away.


    I could explain why the biogeography predictions of Noah's ark are completely inconsistent with what we find in the fossil record and in modern species.

    Oh, you have some knowledge about what land passages were available to animals at Noah's time? Where did you get your time machine?


    But none of that would matter to you, because God can make anything appear like anything else.

    Rather, b/c I don't assume naturalism, b/c God's communication is a higher standard of evidence than this weak tripe you're throwing out.


    90% of the disagreements you have with me, you also have with the Discovery Institute, bossmanham, and most Christians I know.

    Perhaps. And?


    I'd rather spend my time talking about the other 10%, where there is at least some room for rational discussion.

    You're after rational discussion? You've fastidiously told me that presuppositions are unimportant and sidestepped your own claims w.r.t. the p.o.f. and I'M the one avoiding rational discussion? OK.


    I can support my position with mountains of evidence.

    So do it. You say you have evidence, bring it forward.

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  40. 90% of the disagreements you have with me, you also have with the Discovery Institute, bossmanham, and most Christians I know.

    I actually don't see much I'm disagreeing with him on. Could you be more specific?

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  41. bossmanham,

    You appeared to accept that an event called the Cambrian explosion happened ~530 million years ago. Rhology doesn't think that anything happened before ~6000 years ago. So, Rhology is off by at least ~10,000,000 percent. I'd call that a big difference.

    Do you think that Noah's ark literally happened like Rhology does?

    Maybe I'm giving you too much credit, but then again, maybe you need to give yourself more credit.

    Cheers.

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  42. I'm pretty agnostic on the age of the earth. I was an old-earther, then a young-earther, and now I'm agnostic (on the earth's age). I've seen decent arguments, both scientific and theological, on both sides.

    Yes I do believe Noah's ark was a literal event.

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  43. When molten rocks cool, they contain radioactive potassium isotopes that decay with a predictable half-life into argon. By measuring the ratio of these elements in rocks brought back from the moon, we get ratios corresponding to ~4.5 billion years of decay, based on the half-life of the radioactive decay that can be measured directly and was established prior to the moon rock experiment.

    The sun is constantly converting hydrogen into helium in a fusion reaction that consumes its hydrogen fuel at a predictable rate. When measuring the helium/hydrogen ratio of the sun, we again get an age for the solar system of around 4.5 billion years.

    So here we have two measurements based on completely different principles: one on radioactive decay, and another on fusion reactions. What are the chances that both methodologies would be flawed in the exact same way as to give us the same wrong answer? And these are just two "clocks". There are many others that corroborate these dates within a small margin of error. How can you be agnostic on this point? How can you say that the age of the earth is unknowable?

    Anyway, I'm probably wasting my breath, because if you can believe in the literal truth of something as absurd as Noah's ark, then you can believe anything. I just can't stop imagining your god in heaven right now screaming at you, "Hey! They're just stories. I gave you a brain. Use it."

    All the best, bossmanham. I'm out.

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  44. By measuring the ratio of these elements in rocks brought back from the moon

    And assuming an arbitrary amount of decay already-present at the "beginning"...
    etc. You're supposed to be providing evidence, not assumptions. Thanks.

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  45. The amount of decay already-present at the beginning is ZERO, not some arbitrary amount. This is because at the temperature of molten rock, argon-40 is gaseous and released from the sample. Once the rock cools, the clock starts, as the argon-40 resulting from decay is now trapped in the rock.

    Any other ideas for how two completely independent clocks give us the same wrong answer to a high degree of precision, while being off from the "truth" by 100 million percent error?

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  46. Ah, zero is a non-arbitrary amount. B/c you were there, you know.

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  47. I'm probably wasting my breath, because if you can believe in the literal truth of something as absurd as Noah's ark, then you can believe anything

    What is inherrently absurd about this story? It contains no logical contradictions. Everything about it is logically possible. So what's the problem? If the Bible, as it says, is inerrant, then there's no reason for me to think a story inteded as an historical account means anything other than what it says.

    I can't believe anything. I can't believe in logically contradictory things, like a square circle or something.

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  48. Hello Boosmanham, Rhology, and Learningisfun,

    As an agnostic (read "someone who truly wants to be a christian and was looking for evidence"), I have to say, this back and forth between you three has been enlightening.

    Its more apparent to me then ever that I am not going to find my answers in Christianity. Learningisfun was respectful and thoroughly explained is point of view, including both logical and illogical presuppositions he holds in order to come to the conclusion he has.

    Rhology and Bossmanham on the other hand came off as arrogant and really seemed to be talking AT the commentators, not WITH them.

    I respect Learningisfun's stance that you must come to the best conclusion with the best evidence available. You may be wrong or you may be right. This is juxtaposed against the Christian view of inerrancy at all costs.

    I am not trying to be rude but if Rhology or Bossmanham read this, please know that your words have done more to sway me further to the side of Atheism then anything the actual Atheists have said, not that they aren't convincing in their own right.

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  49. I am of course sorry to hear that, but the Holy Spirit is the one responsible for convicting any man of his sin and bringing him to repentance, not any poor arguments we can muster.

    At the same time, you say we came across as arrogant and talking AT ppl; I ask this with all honesty, have you ever read ANY PZ Myers? Believe me, if you want Tone Police, you need to take a hard look at both sides.

    Besides, "the best evidence" takes for granted that there is any such thing as evidence. LiF's view reduces any notion of evidence to wishful thinking and rational cognitive processes to absurdity. To say his arguments were convincing demonstrates you don't really get where Bossmanham and I are coming from.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

    Peace,
    Rhology

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