The happy folks over at Voice in the Wilderness Ministries have written an article containing 100 questions directed at atheists, and one amusing photoshopped picture of Dawkins with what appear to be feathers. He has quite a fabulous plumage:
Click the Be-feathered Biologist to view the questions list!
You look resplendent, Richard. Anyway, the questions are supposed to be very difficult for atheists to answer, demonstrating their obvious and massive failings to be rational.
Now, you’ve probably seen such lists debunked before, and many have been very successfully, but most of those have been a little different from this list, for one very important reason: The questions I am responding to do not seem to come from a genuine lack of understanding, they are almost all deliberately subversive, most if not all are loaded and misleading, and seem to be attempts to trick less experienced atheists with some apparent inconsistencies in their beliefs.
They didn’t fool this atheist, though.
I’m going to demolish these questions, while hopefully informing people of all faiths or none at all who are paying attention.
Quote from the questions site:
This article will be divided into 3 categories: Logic, morality and science.
I will be following their indexing scheme.
I will also quote anything I respond to, so that you don’t have to read two articles at once.
There are typos littered throughout the article, I don’t intend to point them out (though they may well be visible in the quotes). The only times I will point out spelling and grammar errors is when they seem to make a difference to the meaning of a sentence… or if they’re funny.
Their ‘Opening Statement’
There are however, a couple of questions that will stop the discussion before it begins. They are: Isn’t science something that can be observed and repeated? Then within that framework, what evidence is there for Marco Evolution? I’m not talking about adaptation (small changes within a species), but for one species becoming another? If Macro Evolution is true, there should be thousands of intermediate life forms all around us! Can you show me just one example?
The fact is, there is NO observable evidence for Macro Evolution, therefore it is not science; it requires blind faith, which makes it a religion for the foolish (Psalm 14:1).
The argument being made here, in a very long-winded, condescending, and posturing fashion, is “there’s no evidence for macro-evolution.”
Hate to break it to you, friend, but yes there absolutely is. That’s a long, multi-sectioned article which details probably all of the evidence for macro-evolution.
The terms micro-evolution and macro-evolution are regularly misused by evolution-deniers (as Strawman Fallacies). Sometimes they are used to refer to a physical scale, and sometimes they are used in conjunction with a nonsense term ‘kinds’, which is a non-defined non-scientific taxonomic category, used deliberately to allow the evolution-denier to employ the Moving the Goalposts Fallacy as much as they like. If they are willing to admit that Micro-evolution happens, (for which there is plentiful observational evidence), then macro-evolution is practically necessary. There is no border or limit to evolutionary change, except for the laws of physics, available material, and time.
None of this evidence is observed live, for one simple reason: the changes we’re looking for by definition take thousands or millions of years to happen. Asking to see visual evidence of it happening is like disbelieving that trees grow because you can’t see the change in growth over several seconds.
And another thing… they asked for intermediate life-forms, well all life-forms are intermediate, is that good enough? All species have evolved to their current state, and all species will evolve further, if unimpeded.
The distinction between species is purely for the purposes of easy categorisation. There is no biological border to change between species, just the distinctions brought about by physical separation and the resulting divergent evolution. An animal becomes categorised as a different species from another when it cannot breed with it. Every child is the same species as its parent’s generation, but may not be with the generation that existed a thousand years before.
From here, for a little while, the writer goes on about how the laws of logic require (or at least suggest) a God:
In order to have a rationale discussion with someone we must begin by thinking logically and rationally. The Christian can be as confident as a lion, because God’s laws of logic, nature, and morality are self-evident. Let’s look at what these laws are and then, (God willing) we will see the insurmountable problems they pose for the unbeliever.
Thank you, writer, for that perfect demonstration of how to deep-throat a deity. (and its followers)
If you think this through carefully, only the biblical worldview can account for these laws.
Logic, like purpose, exists only in minds (or similar systems). It is not inherent to the universe, and is a concept generated in response to the universe. Logic is derived from the universe, the same way mathematics is, and can then be used to represent or better understand the universe.
Understanding of logic is an evolved trait, in the same way that understanding of mathematics is.
Prove God first, then you can posit him as the origin of logic.
There’s also a Bible quote in this section, which I could criticise a lot, but it’s just there to stress the same obviously nonsensical point, so I’ll move on.
Section 1: Logic
1. If I prove the Bible is true and God exists, would you want to become a Christian?
A. If they say, “No.” Then you ask, “Why not?”
B. Then, you’re not interested in truth?
C. What are some of the obvious implications of your answer?
D. Then, isn’t your real problem a matter of the will and not the intellect?
The Bible can’t be logically true, as it is internally and externally contradictory (it contradicts itself and known science.)
If you could prove that some of its claims are true (i.e. Jesus performed miracles and a plausible god exists who sent him), then I would of course believe what the proof indicated.
That’s one of the most compelling differences between scientific thought and religious thought. We will accept proof, if you provide it. Our beliefs are based exclusively on the content of reality, so it’s only natural to do so. There just isn’t any.
However, depending on what parts of the Bible were proven true, I would revile this new-found god. This is the God who supposedly drowned 2 billion people (and many more other animals) because they weren’t voluntarily enslaving themselves to him, despite the fact that he had never asked them to or given them any reason to. He killed a woman in his service for turning around, once. This is a god who does not condemn slavery, rape, subjugation of women, war-mongering, torture, etcetera.
Would I follow this god? No, I would rebel against him, and I would be morally right to do so. My personal morality is vastly superior to his, and that alone sort of disproves him.
There’s also the fact that the God of the Bible is logically impossible, but apologists can create any number of extra-spatial realms of reality into which God can retreat from reason, so it’s a chase not worth pursuing intently.
2. So, you believe that nobody, plus nothing, equals everything?
It did once, at least.
There’s excellent work going on in physics that suggests that the total energy of the universe may be zero. Think on the implications of that. The existence of the universe does not have to violate the First Law of Thermodynamics.
I’m not a Quantum Physicist (though neither is the writer of the article), so I can’t go into details, but there’s certainly a lot to be said for the idea of a Universe from Nothing.
On a separate note, how does positing a creator god make this problem any less complex? There’s a well-known philosophical concept of the Infinite Regress, which is what you get when you try to posit God as a cause: “well, where did God come from?”. The most often-used response is “God doesn’t need to be caused”, or some variant such as “God is eternal”, “God has always been”, “God is the prime mover”.
Then why can’t the universe also be uncaused? The argument itself is an example of the Special Pleading Fallacy, basically to say “my argument can have special additions, but yours can’t.”
There is other good reasoning against the argument this question is making, here’s a summary:
3. Which is more complex, the worlds fastest super-computer, the worlds most advanced robotic system, the Space Shuttle, or, an Earthworm?
Answer: The earthworm. Nobody knows how to make an earthworm. The DNA and its reproductive system is beyond anything ever created by man.
a. How much more complex is a human compared to an earthworm?
b. What would you think of me if I firmly believed that the Space Shuttle, the super computer and the most advanced robotic system was the result of random mindless chance rather than an intelligent designer?
Depends how you define ‘complexity’.
If your measure involves humanity’s ability to produce something, then naturally, the worm is the answer, but that’s not necessarily ‘complexity’.
While the worm has more physical detail (with millions of minute animal cells), if we look at functionality, the earthworm is exactly as far behind as you’d expect. For all its detail, it can’t go to space, it can’t perform calculations, it can’t do any of the things those other examples can do.
And actually, I think the Internet is probably more complex by ANY measure than an earthworm. Think of the untold number of bytes of data that exists in the world, and how much of it is active (being used by a program).
But, it’s a stupid question. The two groups of things are not comparable by any useful metric, and this would have no impact on the God / Evolution question anyway.
Earthworms are complex because they are the product of about 4 billion years of evolution, same as humans. In 4 billion years, humanity might become more complex and powerful than any modern human is capable of imagining.
Edit: I think parts A and B of this question do deserve separate responses, so I’m adding them in:
A human is far more complex than an earthworm by just about any measure, but it’s well understood how different organisms can have divergent evolutionary paths.
To believe that man-made things are the product of non-human natural processes would indeed be absurd. To think this has any relation to the question of evolution would be to abandon the concept of distinction. It is well understood how both of these categories of things came to be, and it was by two completely different types of process. The two things are not the same, not analogous, and so, unfit for analogy.
What this boils down to is “isn’t it ridiculous to think that complexity just forms naturally?”, which is not an argument at all; it is in fact a fallacy: Personal Incredulity. The writer thinks evolution is impossible because they are not able to believe it is true. Independent thought is all well and good, but when faced with evidence, the only rational position is to believe according to it.
A person from even as little as 50 years ago would have been personally incredulous to the idea that modern mobile phones would exist within their life time, and yet it has happened. There is no truth to be gained from incredulity.
4. Of all the knowledge contained in the 70 million books and articles (much of it written by scholars and experts in their fields) found in the Library of Congress, and of all the knowledge yet to be discovered, what percentage of that knowledge do you think you possess? (My thanks to Ray Comfort for that one).
a. What percentage of the universe have you explored?
b. For someone to say that God does not exist, wouldn’t they need to be omniscient?
c. Since you are not omniscient, what evidence can you offer that God does not exist?
d. Since you cannot do that, doesn’t that make you an agnostic rather than an atheist?
e. So, then, wouldn’t you agree that there is no such thing as an atheist?
If this argument was logical, then everyone would necessarily have to believe in every possible thing that cannot be disproved.
Edit: For clarification, here’s a quick list of things that would be logical to believe in, if this question was rational:
- Father Santa Christmas Claus (or your regional equivalent)
- Every version of fairies ever conceived
- The Flying Spaghetti Monster
- Blargaxx of Quinton
Think of something random off the top of your head. By the logic of this question, it’s right that you whole-heartedly believe it exists.
So no, it’s not logical; and that’s not surprising considering that Ray Comfort himself is credited with this abortion of a question.
The question makes the fundamental and very common misrepresentation that all atheists believe that there are no gods. This is not the case.
Here are the modern definitions of the words. Note that agnosticism and atheism have meant different things in the past, which is possibly where this question has made an honest mistake.
Agnostic Atheism: Lack of belief in any god or gods
Gnostic Atheism: Belief in the lack of any god or gods
Atheism: Either of the above
I fall into the first category, though only formally. I live life as a gnostic atheist, because it would be impractical to do otherwise.
I do not claim to be able to disprove any gods, though I will claim that the God of the Bible is logically impossible for several different reasons.
5. Do you believe there is bias in the media? Could there also be bias in laboratories and college classrooms?
Sure. Prove it.
In order for evolution to be false, there would have to be a global conspiracy in not just science, but many other related fields. It would involve tens or hundreds of millions of people.
What’s more, the evidence is almost all made public. The only exclusions to this would be evidence that hasn’t been confirmed yet, or perhaps for legal reasons in some extremely rare cases.
The scientific community is one of constant internal competition. You’ll get as much credit for proving something wrong as you will for proving something right.
6. Did you know that many prominent atheistic scientists admit to believing evolution even though they know it’s not true?
I did not know this, but that’s probably because it isn’t true.
Even if it was, this is an Appeal to Authority. You can’t prove things true by saying “but this guy said it’s true!”.
Show us proof that evolution is false, and stop trying to discredit and misrepresent geniuses.
Here’s the quote they’ve used:
Prominent evolutionist George Wald, biochemist and Nobel Laureate from Harvard University admits he believes and teaches a lie,
“When it comes to the origin of life, we have only two possibilities as to how life arose. One is spontaneous generation arising to evolution; the other is a supernatural creative act of God. There is no third possibility…Spontaneous generation was scientifically disproved one hundred years ago by Louis Pasteur, Spellanzani, Reddy and others. That leads us scientifically to only one possible conclusion—that life arose as a supernatural creative act of God…I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore, I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible, spontaneous generation arising to evolution.”
The quote is fake.
If it had been real, I would have disagreed with this person, and the evidence would be on my side.
(Note also that “spontaneous generation” refers to a very old hypothesis. It is not involved with evolution, or abiogenesis (the origin of life on earth))
Read about the real George Wald, and his achievements (for which he was indeed awarded a Nobel Prize).
Edit: The quote also says that George Wald was an “evolutionist”, which is another nonsense term invented by evolution-deniers. Let’s assume for a moment that our opponent was sane and had written “evolutionary biologist” instead; that would still be wrong. George Wald was a biologist, more specifically a neurobiologist, whose most profound work was in studying the human eye. We already knew the quote was fake, but even the attribution of the quote was fake.
They also mention that he is from Harvard University, this at least is not untrue, but his association with the university started in 1934. World War 2 had not yet happened.
George Wald died 18 years ago, in 1997, at the age of 90. His contributions to science are a legacy to be proud of.
The writer of this article is lying about a genius who has been dead for 18 years. They are using a dead man as a puppet to spread their anti-knowledge message that he never espoused.
This is detestable to a degree I’ve never even encountered in my intellectual pursuits.
George Wald, Nobel Prize winner. (1906-1997)
Questions 7 and 8 are in reference to this fabricated quote, and so they are not relevant.
End of Part 1
I’m partitioning this for the sake of relative brevity, I want to fully address each question and provide the humiliating destruction that each so clearly deserves.
So, we’re ending on a note of lies, misrepresentation, and ignorance on the part of our opponents.
Do not expect those themes to recede in later parts.
Thanks for reading.