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Author Topic:   Books By Creationists?
Tram law
Member (Idle past 3043 days)
Posts: 283
From: Weed, California, USA
Joined: 08-15-2010


Message 136 of 142 (613699)
04-26-2011 7:34 PM
Reply to: Message 133 by slevesque
04-26-2011 5:58 PM


Re: Evidence
slevesque writes:

Exactly. An atheist could believe that evolution as it is understood today is correct as far as it goes, but that it's also insufficient as a complete explanation for the diversity of life. Similarly, a physicist in the the 19th century may have affirmed that Newton's theory of gravitation was correct to a certain extent, but that it was also insufficient to explain the natural phenomena that it addressed. As in fact Einstein did indeed do. We could be awaiting the Einstein of biology.

Or an atheist would be perfectly self-consistent to say that he simply didn't know enough about biology to say whether or not ToE was "true," but that he did know enough about how the world works to be fairly certain that a supernatural explanation was not going to be satisfactory.

I believe that a proper scientific attitude toward ToE is to say that it appears to be correct as far as it goes, but it can always be modified to account for as yet undiscovered facts.

When I say evolution here, I am talking about the fact of evolution, not the mechanism of evolution. (when I want to talk about the mechanism, I usually say Neo-Darwinian evolution)


So when I say a complete atheistic worldview must include evolution, I am meaning that the atheist must believe in the fact of evolution. ''biological complexity evolved from simpler forms with time''.


The distinction is important: some atheists do in fact question the mechanism, but I have not yet seen an atheist question if evolution happened at all. In his worldview, evolution must have happened, it is just a matter of knowing why.

An example of this would be Fred Hoyle. He wasn't an anti-evolutionists, he was an anti Neo-Darwinian (and even that I am unsure. I always thought he was simply against chemical evolution ie abiogenesis)

I am responding to the bolded part.

Except that there are atheists who do believe in supernatural without believing in God, thus, you premise is completely wrong.

Buffy Summers, from Buffy The vampire Slayer is a great example of this kind of belief. Even though she is a fictional character, she is still a great example. because no matter that she sees crosses burning vampires and all kinds of supernatural beings, she still doesn't believe in God.

There are atheists who do believe this way. That, they believe that belief in the supernatural is not dependent upon the belief in the existence of God.

And furthermore, you're generalizing again. There are many different flavors and reasons for atheism as there are sects of Christianity. What you are doing is lumping all atheists into one single category and creating what is called a false dichotomy.

And I've already told you, I am an atheist who doesn't fully understand the mechanisms of evolution, so I question it.

But I have also told you that it is not a requirement to be an atheist to believe in evolution.

I haven't made up my mind yet on the issue, but I do defer to the experts on it rather than those who have an agenda to push to keep it out of schools and such.

And even if I did make up mind where I didn't believe in it, I still would not believe in God.

And that alone shows you to be wrong.

Being an atheist is not dependent upon the belief in evolution. Regardless of how you insist it must as well as you trying to mislead people into thinking it must.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 133 by slevesque, posted 04-26-2011 5:58 PM slevesque has not yet responded

  
Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16107
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 8.3


Message 137 of 142 (613702)
04-26-2011 7:51 PM
Reply to: Message 133 by slevesque
04-26-2011 5:58 PM


Re: Evidence
The distinction is important: some atheists do in fact question the mechanism, but I have not yet seen an atheist question if evolution happened at all.

I've never seen an atheist question the existence of gravity --- unlike certain Christian fundamentalists (I stumbled across an old file of those yesterday, oh my word, those guys can deny anything.)

So when I say a complete atheistic worldview must include evolution, I am meaning that the atheist must believe in the fact of evolution.

And yet demonstrably some of 'em didn't.

Atheists pretty much have to believe in evolution now, 'cos of, y'know, all the proof that it happened. And so do theists, unless they're unfamiliar with the proof.

---

Your point, so far as it goes, is about as valid and relevant as saying that someone who doesn't believe in fairies must believe that flowers get their colors from naturally occurring anthocyanins instead of from fairies painting them with tiny paintbrushes.

In the first place, it is not necessary to reach the anthocyanin conclusion from the afairist premise (as illustrated by the people who disbelieved in fairies but knew nothing of anthocyanins); in the second place it is not possible to deduce the conclusion from the premise; in the third place the conclusion would be reached by someone who studied flowers even if he did believe in fairies.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 133 by slevesque, posted 04-26-2011 5:58 PM slevesque has not yet responded

  
Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16107
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 8.3


Message 138 of 142 (613712)
04-26-2011 8:45 PM
Reply to: Message 130 by slevesque
04-26-2011 5:31 PM


Re: Evidence
Of course, if my worldview was only based around a belief that biological complexity came from a supernatural creationin a godidit way, I would agree that it wouldn't really be fulfilling.

But my worldview is christianity. It is the christian worldview in it's entirety that I think is a complete and fulfilling worldview. ANd it is much more than a simple Goddidit

Well, when it comes to biology you don't seem to have got much further. I have asked you, and other creationists, for explanations of various features of nature (all of which fit perfectly into evolutionary thought) and the best I can seem to get out of you is: "Goddidit ... for a good reason ... which we don't know ... 'cos of not being God."

As a substitute for actual science, this is a stone when we asked for bread.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 130 by slevesque, posted 04-26-2011 5:31 PM slevesque has not yet responded

  
dwise1
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Posts: 3867
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 139 of 142 (613726)
04-26-2011 10:16 PM
Reply to: Message 130 by slevesque
04-26-2011 5:31 PM


Re: Evidence
You are replying to message no84, and I acknowledge in Message 92 that complete/incomplete were closer to meaning I intended when I was saying consistent/inconsistent

But an atheist who does not accept evolution is just as consistently an atheist as one who does accept it. Atheism is defined by not believing in the gods; acceptance of any of various scientific ideas is a side-issue.

But I did not say a atheist had to believe in evolution. I said an atheist with a complete worldview, had to answer the question of origins, and that answer for atheism has to be evolution.

First, nobody can have a complete world view. Everybody's world view will have holes in it.

Second, you say you "did not say a atheist had to believe in evolution."? Au contraire!

Message 57

... and because evolution is a requirement for atheism, ...

Message 64

Well, no, since I said that an evolution is a requirement for atheism. Not agnosticism.

Message 78

I am just pointing out that there exists a causal relationship between atheism and evolutionism, and that because evolution is such an important underpinning to an atheists worldview, that the ''worldview bias'' (if you could call it that way) is just as present in an atheist then in a theist when taling about theories of origins.

And third, in seeking possible answers to how the universe, life, etc, have come to be as they are, it is true that supernaturalistic explanations would not be open to consistent atheists (though could be to inconsistent atheists). So an atheist would be left with naturalistic explanations. The best source for him to draw from would be the natural sciences, in which evolution is currently the best explanation for life being as we find it. Of course, something else could replace it in the future, which would render your statement false.

And I fully agree, Hume's answer to the question of origins in the same as Dr.A's 13th century atheist: it is a none-answer.

No, it is not a non-answer. Hume's answer was that Argument from Design was not positive evidence for the existence of God. That is not by any measure a non-answer! All that was lacking was an alternative. But since when was demonstrating something wrong negated by not also demonstrating the right answer?

But my worldview is christianity. It is the christian worldview in it's entirety that I think is a complete and fulfilling worldview. ANd it is much more than a simple Goddidit

So then how does Christianity explain the fossil record, including its order? How does Christianity explain any of the myriad ecosystems we find? How does Christianity explain how the sun "burns"? How does Christianity the universe?

We already know that answer, don't we? goddiddit! goddiddit! goddiddit! goddiddit!

You only think that it completes your worldview because you allow yourself to become like those others: "those who don't think a lot have no problem living with an incomplete worldview." You have forgotten to keep asking the questions. You have stopped wondering how God did it, substituting it with goddiddit instead.

from Message 57

I would probably be in the same mold as Dr. Berlinski. An agnostic highly skeptical of evolution, and that is because of the evidence.

I read several years ago what Berlinski had to say. His skepticism is not because of the evidence, but rather because of his own misunderstanding of evolution. To evaluate something from the evidence, you must first know something about that which you are evaluating. If you misunderstand evolution, then of course the evidence will disprove, not evolution, but rather your own misunderstanding of evolution. To give a very crude example, if you thought that evolution meant that there would be no more monkeys after Man evolved, then the continued existence of monkeys would lead you to say that evolution is wrong.

As I have been telling creationists for decades: if you want to oppose evolution, then do so. But address evolution itself, not the distorted misrepresentation taught to you by "creation science".

Edited by Adminnemooseus, : "msg" changed to "mid" in message link code in quote box.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 130 by slevesque, posted 04-26-2011 5:31 PM slevesque has not yet responded

  
Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16107
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 8.3


Message 140 of 142 (613762)
04-27-2011 1:57 AM


Before Evolution
Here's a sample of pre-evolutionary views on biology which were affirmed or at least entertained by atheists. I make no claim to completeness.

---

(1) The eternal universe. In this view, the biological world has been (so to speak) an endless succession of alternating chickens and eggs, each egg explaining the subsequent chicken, each chicken explaining the subsequent egg.

A variant was to have time be cyclic, so that there were only a finite number of chickens and eggs before you go round again.

This is broadly consistent with superficial observation. After all, every hen's egg is produced by a hen, which hatched out of an egg, which was laid by a hen. We need a good reason to suppose that this law was ever broken.

Being based on the observation of actual processes, and insofar as it didn't involve the activities of a being known not to exist, this was obviously superior to creationism. However, it has no more predictive power than creationism and so is inferior to evolution.

We, of course, know arguments against this view --- but if it came to it, an adherent of that view even today would have less to explain away than a YEC does. Arguably, then, it is, for all its flaws, still superior to creationism.

(2) Elan vital. According to this view, back in the early history of the earth, when it was bubbling over with elan vital, this caused the spontaneous generation of numerous organisms. Since elan vital is a natural substance and not at all smart, most of these organisms were doubtless complete cock-ups. These did not survive. The process is rather like that by which the reactive immune system works: lots of randomness followed by a selective sweep.

This seems implausible to us, but this was back in the day when people would tell you that fossils grew in rocks as a result of astrological influences. They just weren't very good at science.

This hypothesis explains the fitness of organisms to their environment. It also explains the appearance of undesign, since there is no necessity for the elan vital to produce the most perfect conceivable organisms, just organisms that could survive. Egregious blunders in biology could be more easily attributed to this process than to a supposedly omniscient creator; just as the cruelty of nature is more easily attributed to this process than to a supposedly omnibeneficient creator --- existence in this view being contingent on chance and survival rather than decisions made by a being of whom the Bible asserts that he "is love".

Of course this leaves many questions unanswered that evolution answers. Homology, for example, is unexplained --- but that is not to say that it would have seemed in principle inexplicable. Crystals will spontaneously form into just a few crystal habits; why not organisms? Clearly more research was needed ...

(3) The Epicurean Solution*. According to this view, everything is composed of combinations of immutable atoms, the action of which is unguided and random. In a universe infinite in extent, or duration, or both, the random action will as a statistical inevitabilty form "islands" of stability and persistence, and by appeal to the Weak Anthropic Principle it's obvious that we're going to be living in one of them.

Similar remarks could be made of this view as of the previous one.

* Epicurus himself was not actually an atheist, rather he was a sort of ultra-Deist who believed that God was too perfect to ever be bothered to do anything.

(4) The demiurge. Just because there's no God, that doesn't imply that there aren't magical beings that are stupid, malevolent, and cruel. Oviously holding them responsible for creation makes more sense than theistic creation, if we're going to drag magical beings into our explanation at all.

Homology could be attributed to their stullifying lack of imagination; biogeography to the idea that their were a number of them in different locales; undesign to their ineptitude; the cruelty of nature to their malevolence ...

Of course, under this hypothesis the existence of these beings is not itself explained, but then you could say the same of God. This hypothesis is therefore clearly superior to theistic creationism, and would be preferable if there was the slightest evidence that there had ever been any magical intervention in biology.

(5) The argument from ontogeny. Human design is certainly one analogy for the production of fitness for purpose and complexity. But biology itself provides another. A bird produces an egg which produces a bird without taking the least thought; without understanding the procedure in the slightest. The egg is produced, the limbs and organs form, all without divine intervention (as the theists admit) nor anything resembling intelligence.

Why, then, should our universe not be, as it were, the egg of some Cosmic Bird, in which plants and animals form as naturally (yet mysteriously) as the parts of a bird do during ontogeny?

This is an apt answer to William Paley and his like, since it has the same strengths, and the same weaknesses, as the argument from design:

* It has little or no predictive power.
* It rests on an uncertain analogy.
* It requires the hypothesis of a being the existence of which is not itself explained.

Its advantage over creationism is that it doesn't involve the notion of an omnibeneficient origin for the universe. The chick does not hatch from the egg in order to be happy; if the universe was produced by a similar process, we should not necessarily expect all to be well within it.

(6) The confession of ignorance. Contrary to what slevesque claims, it is neither logically nor emotionally necessary for an atheist to have an answer to everything. I don't, and while I should like to it doesn't bother me qua atheist. (By analogy, I can dismiss the hypothesis that a unicorn ate my dahlias without knowing what did or taking more than a passing interest in the question.)

Our thirteenth century atheist might (just prior to being tortured and murdered) have addressed a theist as follows: "You yourself admit that (for example) the growth of an oak tree from an acorn is a perfectly natural process not requiring any divine intervention. And yet you are not capable of telling me the slightest detail about the mechanism by which it occurs. How very ignorant we all are of biology, to be sure! Very well then, all I claim is the same indulgence with respect to the question of how oak trees could arise naturally in the first place. Let us therefore turn from your unevidenced hypothesis that their origin involved divine intervention and instead look at the excellent reasons why we know that there is no God."

---

It is obvious, then, that what constrains scientifically literate atheists and theists alike to believe in evolution are the facts, rather than their disparate and irreconcilable religious views. It is not that evolution is the only view that can be reconciled with not being a believer, or with not being a fundamentalist, but that it's the only view that is well-substantiated by the evidence.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


  
Granny Magda
Member
Posts: 2381
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


(1)
Message 141 of 142 (613795)
04-27-2011 12:14 PM
Reply to: Message 132 by slevesque
04-26-2011 5:51 PM


Re: Evidence
But I find it so bizarre that although we agree that in science, hyper-skepticism should be the norm, and that nothing should be beyond questioning, and yet we have constructed a system in which we have so much incentives to not do those things that are crucial to science.

I think that there are several factors in play here.

Firstly, you have to realise that most scientists regard creationism as foolishness. You see it as being reasonable, viable... you have a very different view to most scientifically literate people. Whilst it is a good thing to question dogma, some ideas are just so damn well evidenced that there is nothing to be gained from doubting them. Evolution is one example, an old Earth/universe is another. They are simply so well supported that challenging them comes across as insanity. You might as well claim to be Napoleon and then demand that everyone take your claim seriously. They will not, and to be honest, that is how things should be. Creationism is treated as insanity for a good reason.

Secondly, science is, much of the time, a zero-sum game. A school can only teach for so many hours before the term is over. Add in an hour of creationism and that's an hour of real science that has to be lost. A college can only spend so much money on employing tenured professors. If they employ one who is dead set on proving the Earth to be 6000 years old (an error of a factor of over 2 million) they will have wasted their investment. A scientific research organisation can only give out so many grants. For every one that it grants to the lunatic fringe, they will be forced to miss out on the opportunity to grant that money to someone who might actually achieve something. Creationism has never taught us anything. That makes it bad science, a bad investment and a general waste of time.

Also, there is a difference between what is logical and what is practical in the real world. If someone claims to be Napoleon, it might be logical to approach their claim with a completely open mind. It might be logical to thoroughly investigate their claim to be Napoleon. It might be logical to assess the evidence. It would not be practical. Let's be honest, it would be an insane act to credit that kind of insanity with enough respect to take it that seriously.

It's just the same with creationism. By promoting creationist thinking, would-be scientists mark themselves out as being credulous, biased and even borderline insane and moronic, all rather unfortunate traits in a scientist. You may not like that, but that's the world we live in.

Then again, as a quote from a local mayor that I always liked: ''Only dead fish follow the current''

You don't think that the fact that creationists are forced to constantly swim against the current means that they're going in the wrong direction?

I didn't realize that I had to come up with a list.

Fair enough. Just give it some thought though.

There are many creationists out there; all religious, bar a tiny handful of contrarians and nutters (like the Raelians for example).

There are almost no evolution critics who are atheistic or agnostic.

There are a great many pro-evolution scientists out there and they come from all walks of life; atheists, theists and agnostics. They range from those who don't really care enough about religion to take a position all the way through to committed Christians.

Now I am saying that there is a reason for this and it isn't the pro-evolution bias of atheists as you seem to think. Why, after all, would that lead so many theist scientists to embrace evolution? And why the wide-spread agreement on neo-Darwinian evolution exactly? Why not Lamarckism? If it was only about plugging up a hole in atheist dogma, why wouldn't Lamarckism do the job?

I can already say that if there is maybe on fact or group of fact I am denying (in a loose sense of the word) it is the dating methods, because although the RATe group has produced some results, it is far from being satisfying.

I'd say that's going to be one of the more problematic areas for someone with a professional interest in physics, yeah.

I would also suggest that the correlation between the dating methods and the story told by the fossil record is an area that you might want to address. You can talk about "interpretation" all you like, but the fossil record practically screams "EVOLUTION!", whilst no alternative scenario has been put forward that makes the slightest bit of sense.

I think that this is the problem with most creationist: they don't understand all these aspects, and end up misunderstandings the arguments, the facts, the theories and the philosophical aspects of it all at once.

Sadly, this is often because the average creationist (in my experience) has been led astray by the pro-creationist churches and groups like AiG and your precious CMI. These groups promote and false idea of what evolution actually is, they spread falsehoods and they promote ignorance and wrong-headedness of all kinds.

Mutate and Survive


On two occasions I have been asked, – "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" ... I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. - Charles Babbage

This message is a reply to:
 Message 132 by slevesque, posted 04-26-2011 5:51 PM slevesque has not yet responded

  
dwise1
Member
Posts: 3867
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 142 of 142 (613820)
04-27-2011 3:55 PM
Reply to: Message 130 by slevesque
04-26-2011 5:31 PM


Re: Evidence
Of course, if my worldview was only based around a belief that biological complexity came from a supernatural creationin a godidit way, I would agree that it wouldn't really be fulfilling.

But my worldview is christianity. It is the christian worldview in it's entirety that I think is a complete and fulfilling worldview. ANd it is much more than a simple Goddidit

Let me describe an all-too-common experience that I and many others have had, but from which you as a professing Christian and creationist would have been spared. While "creation science" started out as a deliberate deception to circumvent the court system in the wake of the striking down of the "monkey laws", its false claim of having scientific evidences for creation has led to it spreading out into other uses * such that it now permeates fundamentalist/evangelical/conservative Christianity.

{* FOOTNOTE:
Other uses such as:
1. to be used personally by creationists to "disprove" those parts of science that they don't like or are afraid of,
2. to "protect" their children from the harmful effects of "atheistic science" (even though that ends up causing about 80% of those children to leave the faith, often to become atheists, when they learn the truth),
3. to provide "ammo" in their efforts to proselytize to non-believers.
}

It is that third item in the footnote of which I speak. Over and over again we have seen creationists enter into a forum or email discussion professing an open-minded search for the truth, only to end up demonstrating that their only purpose is to convert us. We've seen that so many times that we can smell it coming from a mile away even if we have the severest possible head cold. I am not accusing you of that; from what I have seen of you here, that is not what you are trying to do. But your statement that I quoted alludes to a very common tactic/argument that they use.

That common tactic is to inundate their intended victim with "unanswerable" questions, such as Dr Adequate's "growth of an oak tree from an acorn" (in Message 140) or a creationist favorite of describing in complete detail the evolution of bacteria into blue whales. If the victim is able to cogently respond to one question, the creationist just hits him with another one, and another and another, until he has worn his victim down. Whereupon the victim asks what the creationist's answer to those questions are and the creationist responds: Jesus Christ is the answer. Just as you yourself just told us. Which is the non-answer of goddiddit.

Not that "Jesus Christ" is always a non-answer; that depends entirely on the question. As Brother Orson Scott Card taught in his Secular Humanist Revival Meeting, speaking "as one who loves the Bible better than his best friend": "The Bible does not contain any answers ... until you ask the question!" Or as Douglas Adams taught us after revealing that the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42: "Now you know the answer ... all you need to do now is find out what the Ultimate Question is."

Answers are meaningless outside the context of their questions. The question that you expect atheists to answer is explaining how the natural world is as we find it to be. The best answer is to accept the system and body of knowledge of the human endeavor that has the best track record for learning about the natural universe: science. Not just evolution, mind you, but science, which includes evolution as its current best explanation of biodiversity and of what we know of the history of life on earth. That is a meaningful answer to that question.

However, your answer to that same question is "Jesus Christ". Which to this question is just goddiddit, a non-answer, indeed one of the worst non-answers possible. However, if the question were about Man's relationship with God, the "Jesus Christ" would be a very appropriate answer. But if you were to pose that same question to an atheist, his very appropriate answer would be that the entire question is moot, since God doesn't exist.

Remember again, the question that Dawkins was writing about that Darwin provided an answer to was how to explain biodiversity. Evolution is a proper answer to that question, whereas goddiddit is not. Before you go comparing answers, you need to ensure that the questions remain constant.

Other examples of goddiddit apply to physics. How do the planets move? The goddiddit answer that we used to use was that angels move them. How do bullets and cannonballs move to their targets? The goddiddit answer that we used to use was that each bullet had a devil or demon riding on it that directed its motion. But now, through science, we know about universal gravitation, astrodynamics, and ballistics. The answer to those questions could not be found in goddiddit, but rather in science.

But science cannot answer all forms of questions. Religious questions, especially the most fundamental one, "How then are we to live our lives?", do not lend themselves to the scientific method. Those questions are much more the domain of philosophy and/or theology.

To be intellectually fulfilled, one needs to be able to deal with all forms of questions. Theists also need to deal with scientific questions that arise, as atheists need to deal with philosophical, moral, and ethical questions that arise.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 130 by slevesque, posted 04-26-2011 5:31 PM slevesque has not yet responded

  
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