Friday, January 25, 2008

Why don't Christian apologists use Google?

I recently came across this article by someone called “Mal Fletcher”, it so expertly summarised the ignorance of Christian apologetics and faith oriented criticism of Atheism in general, that I felt I had to share it, my comments are offered below each quote (in italics) from his article. There is nothing new here, all his points are easily refuted by a quick Google and a bit of research, so why didn't he use it?

"There are no easy answers to this conundrum. However, it is worth noting that atheism offers us no explanation for the presence of evil in the world or any hope for the eventual redemption and restoration of the natural order - both of which Christianity does."

Unlike Christianity, atheism does not claim to offer “explanation” of anything because it is not a dogmatic belief system; atheism is simply a lack of belief in any God or Gods, full stop, that’s it. Anything else attributed to Atheism by this Author exists only in his head! My question would be, so what does Christianity “explain” exactly?

IMO Christianity “explains” precisely nothing, it simply states without evidence that “(our) god did it all”, in what way is that a satisfying explanation to anything in the same way that “science” explains “you need antibiotics to cure the bacterial infection that is killing your new born baby”.

Google "definition of atheism"

"However, as I once respectfully pointed out to the then head of BBC Religion (TV), Sir David constantly presents a world-view which assumes that there is little place for Christian faith in the world of reliable science."

So could the author explain what the Christian faith materially provides to the world other than a delusion that makes it’s followers “feel better”?, oh and before someone says “ah but what about all the charitable works”, you don’t need to be Christian to do good things, so what is their motivation? Think about it.

Google "atheism morality"

"The inference for the audience is that the natural world, when viewed with an informed eye, speaks against religious faith - especially the Christian faith."

No, “reality” more often than not turns out to be different from the various “holy books” and teachings of the Abrahamic religions, pretty much every major advance in science over the last 400 years has been fought for in the teeth of Religious opposition, from Galileo onwards.

The natural world reveals itself to operate without the need for divine intervention. Christians hate that like small children hate being told they can’t have a sweetie. Get over it Mal, reality isn’t like TV where you can simply switch channel if you don’t like what’s on, its the believer’s problem to "explain" how their belief is true, not the scientists. Science progresses based on evidence and peer reviewed, repeatable experimentation which validates behavioural predictions about how the "real" world operates, Christians are stuck with a 2000 year old desert dogma no matter how they try to spin it.

Google "scientific errors bible"

"For a sizeable body of scientists today, the incredible complexity of our universe suggests the work of a creator of some kind. They reject the idea, softly "preached" by people like Sir David, that the intricacy of nature and its finely tuned balances can be attributed simply to random chance."

What “sizeable body”, please provide evidence. It is fact that 98% of the members of the academy of science (the elite science body in the USA) are atheists, which alone speaks volumes.

Not a single (serious) scientist says that the diversity and sophistication of nature is due to “random chance” this is simply an ignorant and stupid thing to say and reveals a total lack of understanding of evolution and how it works. The author should read a few books and educate himself; evolution is the opposite of “random” it is utterly guided by the strongest force in nature, natural selection, i.e. you survive and pass on your genes or you die, nothing random about that.

Google "Atheism leading scientists"

"Darwinism can offer no credible theory for how life could have emerged naturally from nonliving chemicals. Earth's early atmosphere would have blocked the development of the building blocks of life, and assembling even the most primitive living matter would be so outrageously difficult that it absolutely could not have been the product of unguided or random processes. On the contrary, the vast amount of specific information contained inside every living cell - encoded in the four-letter chemical alphabet of DNA - strongly confirms the existence of an Intelligent Designer who was behind the miraculous creation of life." Indeed, Darwin himself was a theist when published the first edition of "The Origin of Species" was published. He later changed his mind, of course."

Well indeed, “Darwinism” (a ridiculously "made up" word BTW) does not make any predictions about how life emerged as it is a theory of evolution, not instantiation. That branch of science is called “Abiogenesis” and has its own theories (read a few books for pity sake!). Again, the author is revealing his complete ignorance of this subject.

Google "Abiogenesis"

"Yet it was not hard physical evidence from his much-touted fossil record that led Darwin away from religious faith; it was the personal pain of losing a much loved daughter and failing to find any comfort in institutional religion."

In the early 19th century pretty well everyone in the UK was a Christian, that doesn’t mean Christianity was any more or less “true” then than now, the fact that Darwin was a Christian is utterly predictable and totally irrelevant, the author is trying to make a misleading association between the “idea” and the “person” a classic straw man tactic that is without merit.

Google "Darwin faith"

"The point is that Darwin's rejection of faith was down to subjective factors, rather than pure science. Like the rest of us, scientists base their views not just on the facts before them, but on the assumptions they make about the facts; assumptions which will be coloured to some degree by emotion and personal bias."

That is why science has a peer review process which eliminates bias; again illustrating a childish understanding of the process the author is trying to fit science into a “faith based” world view and thinks he has achieved something interesting when he discovers it doesn’t.

Google "scientific process"

"Hoyle wrote a book entitled "The Intelligent Universe", in which he said that the idea that life originated through some random arrangement of molecules is, "as ridiculous and improbable as the proposition that a tornado blowing through a junkyard may assemble a Boeing 747." One of the world's greatest cosmologists, Hoyle started out as an atheist, but became a Christian."

The Boeing 747 argument was blown out of the water years ago, to see it being used here is kind of "quaint" but on the other hand pathetic, evolution simply doesn’t work like this; in any case attempting to explain life using something even more unlikely and improbable (i.e. a sky-fairy God) is logically laughable. This is just the "evolution is random" argument re-packaged to be more poetic, it's still wrong, clearly Hoyle understood bugger all about evolutionary Biology.

Google "747 argument"

"Albert Einstein, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1921, and by no means a Christian, wrote: "Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe - a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we must feel humble." Einstein believed, he said, in a "God who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists."

Einstein was a Deist as are many leading scientists, this is well documented. This well trodden piece of “quote mining” is futile, Einstein also said he didn’t believe in a “God” that interferes in the affairs of man, and that his “God” was the “God” of Spinoza i.e. simply a label he gave to “nature” nothing to do with Christianity, again.

Google Spinoza!

"A growing number of modern scientists are coming to share this belief. In fact, in just about every major discipline of science, there is solid support for a theistic view of the origins of the universe."

“A growing number” – please provide evidence, the author is simply making this up! Of course, there is the “discovery institute” a Christian funded pseudo-scientific organisation that attempts to promote something called “intelligent design”, this nonsense has been literally thrown out of court (Dover trial) in the USA, it is not science, it is religion re-packaged as science in order to deliberately confuse people, and I thought Christians were supposed to be moral?

Google "Dover Trial"

"Catholic writer George Sim Johnson notes that: "Human DNA contains more organized information than the Encyclopaedia Britannica. If the full text of the encyclopaedia were to arrive in computer code from outer space, most people would regard this as proof of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. But when seen in nature, it is explained as the workings of random forces."

Rubbish, DNA is a digital code based on a quadnary system of chemical bases, the encyclopaedia Britannica is not and is entirely different, the two cannot be compared directly this is a false analogy.

Google "DNA information"

"Many of science's most revered pioneers went further than adopting a general theistic view. They specifically believed in the God of the Bible. They took the Christian Scriptures seriously."

Mainly because the faith-heads would burn them alive if they didn’t – convincing argument hey?

Google "Spanish Inquisition"

"Among them were such notables as Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Linnaeus, Faraday, Kelvin, Lister, Mendel and many others. And there is a strong Christian presence within the scientific community today: more than a few scientists have come to faith because of their study of the natural order. Indeed, one can argue that modern Western science was born out of a Judeao-Christian world-view, three centuries before the rise of Darwinism."

Oh please, not the “random” thing again. Does it really surprise anyone that scientists living 200-300 years ago were (supposedly) Christian?, is the author forgetting that “Blasphemy” was a crime punishable by prison and in some cases death in those days, what a pathetic argument. Actually, Newton was also into Alchemy, does that mean Alchemy must be right as well? Again, the author is confusing the ideas with the people, classic straw man tactic.

First of all this Author is attempting to trash science and scientists, now he’s trying to take credit for it; please, make your mind up! Any scholar knows that “Science” was born in ancient Greece, long before the “desert religions” were invented by men. It seems to be characteristic of faith-heads that the more outrageously infeasible a claim is (like God) the more they believe it – strange that.

Google "origin of science"

"As C. S. Lewis observed, people only became scientific because they expected law in nature, and they expected law because they believed in a lawmaker. Getting back to Sir David's comments: I do not for a moment believe that television, or any publicly funded medium, should become a pulpit for preaching. He is, of course, entitled to his views. Yet there appears to be very little attempt on the part of mainstream broadcasters to offer any countervailing viewpoint."

So what exactly is the countervailing viewpoint? “God did it” – that would be a very short program wouldn’t it?

"There should be a place where supposedly "mainstream" scientific ideas (which are not always as mainstream, or as up-to-date as they make out) can be challenged and opposing viewpoints given a fair hearing. Sir David is being given £800,000 to make each episode of a new series entitled "Life in Cold Blood". No doubt, for their portrayal of life in the wild they will be brilliant, even exhilarating; filmed in exotic locations, they will be shot and edited using the very latest production equipment and a production team featuring some very committed and creative people. Meanwhile, theistic and Christian voices are only ever heard in more sterile, studio-based, debate-style situations that are made on a shoestring budget. Not surprisingly, given their budgets and promotion, they're watched by relatively few."

If this article is indicative of the Christian viewpoint then clearly Christians have absolutely nothing new or interesting to say, just the same old ignorance, error and prejudice. Is the author seriously suggesting that “the church” (say for example the Roman Catholic Church) is not wealthy enough to make a simple television program?, why not?, perhaps they should sell a palace or two and get cracking, I always enjoy a good comedy!