Wednesday, June 13, 2007

God vs. Evo Part II

I just realized something last night. I really should have asked these people if I could put the communications I have had with Lael and Don up on my blog. It never occurred to me till now to do that, and for that I do apologize, but seeing as it's a bit of a fait accompli....

One thing you will clearly notice with creationists in general is the selective change in standards of evidence used for and against anything related to religion and its war on Science. For instance, yesterday my comments about the complete and utter lack of evidence for the biblical Jesus. There are no contemporary sources accounting Jesus' life (Josephus wasn't even born yet and there are major problems with using Tacitus, since it is likely that not only did he NOT write anything about Jesus, that the writing was done much later and someone attempted to attribute the authorship to him), no corroboration of the 'historical' account (there was no census taken at the time of Jesus' birth, except one that was NOT done by Pontius Pilate, and that one some time prior to even the earliest possible birth date, no Massacre of the Innocents is recorded anywhere but the Bible, no accounts outside of biblical codices of even his existence). With Caesar, we have the man's own words, the dedications to him and an unbroken history of political rulership which includes him. We have none of this with Jesus.

I mentioned yesterday that Don keeps demanding hard scientific evidence to refute the at-first-glance impressive odds against life-by-natural causes, while thinking that anecdotal evidence of people saying they saw something that might be Noah's Ark is the motherload of proof! What's needed in any discussion like this is an evidentiary standard that encompasses both positions. A good start would be a framework that has already shown itself to work, so let's try the legal framework. Jesus: No substantiation or corroborating evidence, no eyewitness accounts, no physical evidence. In short nothing. Noah, Moses and David fall short as well. Evo, on the other hand, has comparative morphology, paleontology and molecular genetic evidence all corroborating each other under one framework theory. Kind of tough to dispute it, but Don tries. He mentions the finding of a fossil fish that pushes back the earliest date of this form of complex life and claims that by altering our timeline as we must do in this situation makes Evo unfalsifiable. Sorry, but that's bullshit. I did know of this recent finding. Was I worried? No, because even though it did indeed change the timeline, but IT DID NOT FORCE AN OUT-OF-ORDER SEQUENCE. If you find a fossil rabbit in the Cambrian, then we've got a problem and ToE is falsified. Not only is Science not dogma, it continually works towards divesting itself of dogma.

Don mentions Simon Greenleaf's conclusion after viewing all the evidence that the Ascention actually occurred is hardly impressive in the light that he came from a very religious family (that all the family members had biblical names was a bit of a clue) and his standard of evidence was likely to have lowered in favor of inclusion rather than exclusion of questionable sources. Kinda like Don...

On to Part II....

(Continuing from "Don attempts to tell me...")

that Christians were the founders of Science. Baloney! Ask Galileo (persecuted for scientific conclusions not held by the Church), Descartes (forced into fleeing to the Netherlands by religious authority), Hypatia (murdered by a Christian mob incited by "Saint" Bernard) and others what religion thought of their scientific advances. Early scientists professed their Christianity, therefore Christianity was responsible for the invention of modern Science?!? This is spurious logic. We don't know how many of them were actually atheists. Those that professed their disbelief had a nasty tendency to be murdered by religious authority. These men were thinkers in spite of religion, NOT because of it, and it was Christianity that tried to suppress their work and do them bodily harm. Hypatia (from what little we know of her she was a remarkable woman) was flayed alive with abalone shells by a Christian mob! Christianity has an uninterrupted history of suppressing knowledge. For instance, the church even attempted to suppress the invention of the printing press! Far be it for the church to allow the common man to read the scriptures! They might start thinking about it for themselves! For once they were right. The Bible has turned more people to atheism than anything else. Besides, it was the ancient Greeks, not Christians, which started the modern process of Science. Islam had at one time a much better record than Christianity for fostering modern scientific thought. The word 'algebra' and most star names are of Arabic origin, and we use Arabic numerals.;

that there are real prophecies in the bible even though every last one is either self-fulfilling or fulfilled within the biblical text. Sam Harris has likened the latter are much like prophecies made in The Fellowship of the Ring coming to fruition in The Return of the King! C'mon, every generation since the beginning of Christianity thought that the prophecies were being fulfilled and that they were in the End Times! They aren't at all specific and require 'interpretation', just like Nostradamus'. Let's put this claim that all these prophecies have come to fruition to the test. Remember, I only need to show one failure. How about Ezekiel's Tyre prophecy (Ezek. 26: 1-11; 29:17-20)? Tyre was supposed to have been destroyed. A quick look at a map will show where Tyre still stands. He also predicts that Babylon would conquer Egypt. I don't think that one will ever be fulfilled for some reason... As a prophet, Ezekiel, well, sucked. Utterly. And forget the Book of Daniel prophecies, since scholars agree that it was written in ca. 165 BCE and not 6th cent. BCE that it claims, and thus simply wrote prophecy through the eyes of then recent history. Looked good while the fraud lasted, though. The list just goes on and on and on. A full (and very long) list of failed prophecies is available at The Skeptic's Bible. I'd like to see one, just one so-called prophecy that wasn't self-fulfilling, unambiguous, doesn't require 'interpretation' and wasn't made after the event actually took place. Just one.

implying that Einstein was correct when he said God does not play dice when time has shown us that Bohr was correct and God does indeed gamble. I'm not sure where Don is going with this quote, other than continuing his disingenuous quote mining. Einstein's 'god' has absolutely no relation to an Abrahamic god, or any personal god. He was quite clear on that subject. In 1935 Einstein, Rosen and Podolsky proposed an experiment called the 'EPR paradox' in a vain attempt to refute Quantum Mechanics, the results of which they thought were impossible. It's unfortunate that Einstein never lived to see the results of the actual experiment, for which Einstein's 'impossible' outcome was indeed observed. I like to think that he would have dropped his objections to QM having seen the results.;

that because we have so few transitional fossils that Evo is discredited (without accounting for the actual many transitional forms that have been found. Can anyone say bird? horse? whale? etc.?). I'm not a big fan of Stephen Gould (the more I learn about him the less I like him), but he may have been correct about punctuated equilibrium (the debate goes on). However, this was so obviously a quote mine. Gould may very well have said "We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life's history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.", yet he remained a scientist staunchly committed to the study Evolution right through to his death. I frown greatly upon quote mining, and Don does this all over the place.;

that there is some sort of crisis in biology over Evo (You have GOT to be kidding me. I'm in the field and have never heard one peep about it till now...). I think I saw that book in a store last summer and on the jacket the promo started with 'There is a quiet controversy…', at which I started laughing [you might remember that incident in McNally-Robinson, Boomer]. It's so quiet it's silent.;

that "Christ commanded Christians to be witnesses not coercive." WHAT!?!?!? Coercion doesn't have to involve putting someone to torture. It means attempting to subvert them to your belief in any way, INCLUDING 'WITNESSING'! There is a double standard here. When Believers 'witness' it is not only acceptable, but many think it is commanded by their god. When atheists try to reason with Believers about the illogical nature of their (blind) faith, whoa, Nelly! That's evil! The only thing that atheists have ever wanted was to have a level playing field. Even most of the militant ones. Why do you think they went militant? If theists respected nontheists (or believers in religions other than their own) they would see how their views of how things should work impinge on them. Putting the Ten Commandments in a secular building is favoritism towards a group, in this case the Christians (the Ten Commandments were indeed NOT the basis for the legal system, but rather has Hammurabi to thank for its basis.) Let's face it. It is the Christian right that is doing all the trampling, NOT atheists.

"Atheists don't want minority rights, they want minority rule." Bullshit. The way I see it, the Christian right wants a theocracy, and all others (including, but not limited to, atheists) are simply fighting for their survival. Debbie Schlussel believes that freedom of religion does not include freedom from religion, something I doubt the Founding Fathers intended the First Ammendment to mean. Ann Coulter- well, no one gives a hoot what that guy thinks. Doesn't anybody see the danger inherent in this kind of intolerance? Such a slippery slope leads to the logical conclusion of returning to the days where nonbelievers, or believers in other religions, were oppressed. What Don mistakes for an attempt at 'minority rule' is simply the inevitable (and well-deserved) backlash of those that the religious right has wronged. The religious right has had it coming for some time now.

I talk a bit about our significantly more secular (for now) society, whether or not Science is about Truth and comment on the 'impossible' complexity of the brain in Part III.

No comments: