The ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of the Creation-Abiogensis/Big Bang ‘Debate’

Hello there, all my moral, just, secular people,

Today’s post was inspired by a television show which aired on the ABC (Australia) entitled Q&A, which every week presents a handful of politicians, public figures, theologians and atheists, for an open discussion and Questions from the live and internet audiences, hence the name Q&A. This weeks program was a special program, because it put forward only two panelists, along with the host, and these where the Atheist Richard Dawkins, and Catholic priest George Pell. Richard Dawkins has made appearances on the show before, but this was the first time he went ‘head-to-head’ with only a Christian joining him on the panel. The show has made quite and impact in the media, with a lot of discussion about it going on even on the radio the next morning. The show can be viewed in full right here at this link here -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xi1EDDuMksw. I will surely be making my comments on the show over the next few days, but here is today’s rant.

During the show, this oft quoted argument was brought up by George Pell, he said (not an exact quote) “Science can tell us a lot about the ‘how’, with evolution and the big bang, but it doesn’t tell us a lot about they ‘why.'” This argument is talked about by Roy Williams in his book I am reading at the moment, and I have heard it from others too. This whole argument is both a red-herring and a non-sequiter, and Richard Dawkins summarized it very well, “That’s just not a valid question.” The whole question of ‘why’ does the universe exist, is not relevant, its like asking why unicorns aren’t very good at snooker. In that way it is a non-sequiter.

Even if you do grant that ‘why’ is a valid question, it is not a question for the science, nor is it a question which could change the fact that the big bang or abiogenesis happened. The question is for philosophers and humanists.

The ‘Why’ question, “Why are we here.” Is also a good example of the unstated major premace fallacy, the question just assumes that there must be some meaning for our existence, when it is quite plausible that we could have no purpose to exist.

This question is also a red herring because it side-steps the real question of the ‘how’. This is the whole problem with Roy Williams’ book, at the start he asks the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ question, and he says, “Science knows the how, but not the why, I’ll write a book about the why.” In this way he can write a whole book without having to address a single question about ‘how’.
It is a really annoying question, because to people who are not aware of the fact that ‘why’ is not a logical question, the argument can have some weight. Most people like to have a purpose for their life, and this is where they get all caught up. The miss the point that Atheism has a point too, “We only live for 80 or so years, and we have no afterlife to look forward too, so lets just make the world as good as possible in this short time.”

I will leave you with my favourite quote from the entire evening where George Pell accidentally walks all over his own argument to try to just contradict Richard Dawkins on everything,
“Dawkins: the only thing that might convince me that Christianity is true is if a 700 ft Jesus walked into the room and said ‘I exist’, and I’m not even sure if that would convince me.
Pell: I’d say ‘you are hallucinating’.”

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Is skepticism a religion?

Hello to all of my skeptical fellows,

I was recently addressed with a point from my father, it is one of his main attacks on scientific skepticism and atheism, and I have heard it from others. He stated that skepticism is a religion and it is no different from any other ideology (ideologies are different to religion, but this is what my father said, not me). I think this is an interesting misconception and I will be talking about it in today’s post. There are dozens of differences between skepticism and religions, and I will only touch on a few today, but I may do some more at a later date.

One of the main reasons why the world view which is scientific skepticism is different to different world views such as Christianity or Marxism is that skepticism is the only ideology which has any tangible relationship with reality, and is willing to change its ideas to fit the evidence. Scientific skepticism is the only ideology which will change any of its views when it has definitively been proved to be incorrect. You may say that the Catholics are able to be swayed by the evidence too, and I agree that the Catholic church has done well to support evolution and an old-earth theory of the world, but they will only do it to the extent that it does not go against their main base ideology that god exists and Jesus rose after three days.

Scientific skepticism is also unlike religions in that they do not worship, nor acknowledge the existence of a supernatural or supreme deity. Of course, if it is proven that such a supreme being does exist, then we will change our views to say that there is a supreme deity, but most scientific, skeptical, agnostic atheists are pretty sure that that will never happen.

Scientific Skepticism is also the only ideology which does not have any preconceived notions about the universe which we live in. It is happy for the science and the evidence to show the way they should think about the world. No other ideology has started with no predisposed beliefs and let the evidence take them where it takes them.

Scientific skepticism is the only ideology which, upon there not currently being any evidence about the subject, will simply say “We don’t know what is going on here.” This is unlike all other religions and ideologies which will fill this gap in their knowledge with whatever predetermined beliefs they have about the universe.

That is all for me today, I will be posting about this again soon. I will leave you with a quote from Mark Twain, ” When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself.” Mark Twain, an author and humorist of some note.

I am going to be adding a question to the each post from now on, and you can give your answers in the comments or by emailing me. Today’s question is ‘How many DNA base pairs are there in the human genome?”