Bad Argument Against God

Hello there skeptics,

On the Bus yesterday, I was sitting down, doing my merry thing (playing logosquiz) when somebody asks somebody behind me “Do you believe in god?”. Never mind how rude I think this personal question is, but he asked everybody around him this question, and then he backed up his atheism with some logic. I will give you his logic now.

“How can animals have been just dropped straight into their environment, they have to adapt to the environment, evolution, otherwise they won’t survive. Therefore, evolution is real and god is not.” In a nutshell.

There was one thing which struck me about this argument, first of all, this is an argument for Evolution, not for atheism. Evolution and belief in a god are incompatible, but that’s another day. This is possibly one of the worst arguments for evolution I have heard in a long time. Here’s why:-

This argument is wrong in its stipulation that animals cannot have just been dropped into their environment and told to survive. The story of creation in the bible goes that the animals were created to suit their environments, and visa versa. If god were to have created the earth in six days 6000 years ago, he would have made sure that the animals where good in their environment.

The reason why I rebut this argument is for one simple reason, which can be summed up with a quot from Christopher Hitchens, “It’s not what you think, its how you think”, And that is how I live my life. This person on the bus’ final conclusion, I agree with, but his thought process is completely wrong, and it needs to be corrected.

Lets think for a moment what happens when this person on the bus (named Shaun from now on, and to protect the innocent), goes to their ethics and faith class in a few days, he will probably take this argument to fr. Iain and have it rebutted all the way over the pickets for 6 (cricket). This may convince Shaun of God, and that’s not what I want. I need to get to him while he is in this critical thinking and questioning mode, and get the bad arguments out of him, and the good arguments in to him.

He may take this argument to a prolific Christian debater, and this Christian will go to town on it, and this Christian will be able to add a tick to his bucket list of Atheists arguments to rebut. He can put it on his resume.

That’s all for today, I will leave you with a quote from Christopher Hitchens, “What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.” Christopher Hitchens, and Atheist, Author, Journalist, Skeptic, and essayist of some note.

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The Myth of the Evolutionary Ladder

Hello there free-thinkers,

Today I am going to be blogging about the so-called evolutionary ladder, and the myths which surround it. The evolutionary ladder is an image which appears in most high-school textbooks, supposedly showing how biological life evolves into the top of the line humans which are around today, and that all other animals are below us. It often looks something like this:-

Early biology often surrounded this concept of humans as the peak of the animal kingdom

It starts with the lowest-of-the-low, the plants, because they are dumb and don’t have a brain. Then the jellyfish, because they are the combination of a lot of smaller animals, and they have a sense of being alive. Next comes the insects, because they are small and aren’t smart. Onto fish, they are bigger than insects, so they take a higher position. Reptiles next, because at least they live on land, that makes them better than all the other animals so far. Birds come next, because they are war-blooded, just like humans. Mammals come next, because they are the last step before becoming the best organism ever, the human.

This is a very arrogant way to think about the world around you, and it is also factually false, for a few reasons.

This ladder does not show a path of evolutionary change, the world did not start out with only plants, and then evolve up the ladder, it is best to describe evolution as a tree, with all of these animals, the ones around us at the moment, as the leaves of this tree.

It is also untrue that humans are the best when it comes to evolution. All of these animals are around today because they are good at evolution. If this ladder were true, we would expect to see a lot less trees than we do humans, but we don’t, there are a whole lot more trees and plants on this planet than there are humans. All of the organisms alive today are the best at what they do, that’s why they thrive.

It is very arrogant to assume that humans are the best evolutionary creatures on this planet, and it is probably true that humans are actually very bad from an evolution standpoint. It was Charles Darwin himself who once stated, “In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.”, and this quote is true. The fittest organism is not the strongest or the fastest animal, it is the animal which is best able to adapt to its environment. If this is true, then bacteria should take the top of the ladder, and humans right down the bottom. Humans are very slow in their evolution because we have a very slow reproduction rate, meaning that they cannot adapt very quickly, meaning that they are not fit. However, most bacteria can reproduce at a rate of knots, meaning that they are very fit. Humans are not really very good from an evolution viewpoint, which is why the evolutionary ladder should be either turned upside down, or morph into a branching tree, with each of today’s organism perched at the top of the tree.

That’s all for today, I’ll leave you with a quote from Steven Novella, “Evolution is a messy branching bush, and we’re just finding more and more twigs all over the place”, Steven Novella, A neurologist and skeptic of some note.

Another Roy Williams example of idiocy

Hello there, skeptical friends,

Lets all guess what I’m going to be blogging about today? That’s right, I’m sure you all guessed it, I’m going to be continuing my constant crusade against Roy Williams and his idiotic arguments, which seem alright on the surface, but soon seem not so alright when you actually look at them deeply. Today’s post is about an argument which was used by Williams to demonstrate the ‘deep, designed plan’ of the universe. Williams has made the claim that the fact that the moon lines up nicely with the sun, points towards the fact that there is design in the universe.

But unlike ‘the other creationists’, who say that the moon, with its protecting of the earth from asteroids and things, shows that god is looking out for us, Williams makes the claim that the fact that there is a solar eclipse shows proof of a god. This allows for things like the first proof of relativity, (with the measuring of the lensing of the stars) to occur. This is all part of Williams’ “God designed the universe to allow humans to figure out its inner workings.” Idea. I have some rebuttals for this argument.

The first point is that our moon is not that special. The fact that the moon eclipses the sun perfectly once in human history is not a big deal. There are a couple of factors which make this occurrence not all that rare. The distance from the earth to the moon is changing quite a lot, meaning that the size of the moon in the sky changes a lot. This means that sometimes the moon is a bit big for the sun, and sometimes the moon is not big enough to cover the sun completely, this is why you should never look directly at an eclipse. This means that there is a big variance and this leaves a big window.

The other thing that varies a lot in the sun, moon, earth system is the distance from the sun to the earth. This means that the size of the sun in the sky varies a lot. So this opens the window even more. The last thing that would change this is the fact that the moon is getting further and further away from us all the time. This means that at one time in early history, very early history, the moon appeared very large in the sky, and in a few more years, the moon will be very small in the sky, and it will not cover the sun at any time.

The second point against this argument is this. There are a lot of things that could be a certain way, but aren’t, why doesn’t god make them line up nice and pretty?

The last argument I will use is this. The eclipse of 1919 is not the only proof of relativity, there have been thousands of since proofs of relativity, and the only reason why this eclipse is still remembered is because it was the first one.

I will leave you with a humorous quote from Brian Greene, “No matter how hard you try to teach your cat general relativity, you’re going to fail”, If you don’t get it, get of my blog, or read my Quantum Mechanics posts. Brian Greene, A theoretical physicist of some note.

 

Roy Williams Is at it Again

Hello… there,

That’s right, you guessed it, Roy Williams is at it again with his constant crusade of logical fallacies with yet another Seemingly intelligent argument, which, upon some investigation, turns out to be of no particular interest or value. In his most recent hashing of facts and evidence, Roy Williams has made the claim that humans’ ability to articulate the underlying laws of physics is proof of god. He says that there is no evolutionary advantage to us being able to understand, “The deep underlying reason why the apple fell to the ground” as opposed to, “Oh look, the apple fell towards the ground.” In today’s post, I am going to be showing how, 1. We aren’t actually very good with the understanding of the things, 2. We need a lot of help to try to understand the things, and 3. Evolution accounts for our apparent ability to understand the things.

First of all, the fact that we aren’t actually very good at maths. Here is a little thought experiment. Take a dozen or so coins, and ask somebody to be a volunteer for your experiment. Tell them that they are to tell you how many coins are in your hand, without using any sort of counting system. if they played by the rules, they will be clueless as to how many coins you are holding. This is because humans are not very good at counting, believe it or not, humans suck at math. Everything we know about maths, had to be learnt. Humans are good at the talking and the language and the problem solving, but not the math.

That brings me to my second point, If we never taught ourselves a number system to count things, we would be clueless. If you are counting things past about ten, then when you are counting it, you won’t be thinking about the actual amount of things, you are thinking about how many times you have counted one unit. We say, “I counted 43 sheep”, but really we are just adding one more to the clicker, we don’t actually know how much that 43 is.

On to my next and final point, Evolution accounts for our ability to discover the maths of black holes, and the big bang. We are humans, and humans, face it, are not very strong. We are very weak, and we are very slow, so we must have something to survive with, that is our humongous brains. So obviously, it benefits us to be able to problem solve, and communicate, and count things to a small degree. When we learnt how to count up to the number of appendages on the ends of our arms, we had to be able to describe it to people, so we gave all the appendages on our arms names, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. With this we had maths, from there, everything flowed, because our problem solving ability leads us to question things, and so we used math to figure out those questions. Then the human condition of curiosity took over, looking into the world around us. It is possible to explain our maths ability through evolution.

I will leave you with a quote from Richard Dawkins, “Bertrand Russell used a hypothetical teapot in orbit about Mars for the same didactic purpose. You have to be agnostic about the teapot, but that doesn’t mean you treat the likelihood of its existence as being on all fours with its non-existence.” Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist, writer and atheist of some note.

‘And God Created’ Running Theme in the Bible

Hello there, half-banana men,

Today I am going to be talking (well, writing actually, but you get what I mean) about an argument used by my chaplain at school to show that god created the universe. But first I will say how proud I am to have a RE teacher like him, because he is the sorta guy who says, “Yes, evolution happened, and it was probably natural, but god set it all up at the start with the big bang.” I like those sorts of religious people, he even reckons that bio-genesis could  have occurred naturally. I almost have to put him as a non-creationist, but he did put forth an argument a few weeks ago which I think is logically invalid.

He first showed us a video, created by some young-earth, AiG supporting, genesis-is-true video company, about Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden, the story of Genesis visually. After that he proceeded to tell us, “I don’t believe that is true, I don’t think the earth is 6 000 years old, it is best to be just treated as a metaphor.” He then showed to us an outline of the story of Genesis. Here it is,
“God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1.
He then showed us the pattern of the story of Genesis.
God created…
God created…
God created…
God created…
etc.
He then told us this:-
The story of Genesis is a story that was passed down from generation to generation through the ages, and this means that some of the details of the story were a bit off, but the main pattern of the story still holds, “God created…” The story of Genesis is not literal, but it shows us one key thing, god created the heavens and the earth.

I am going to advance my reasons for why this argument is invalid. First of all, I agree with one of his first major premaces, that stories change  over time, but I don’t think he has taken it to its full extent. He says that the big pattern of a story will always hold, but almost all scientific studies done on memory show that the details are not all that memory malleability keeps itself too. It can change almost anything in the story, from the timing of things or the emotions or the exact way your mother’s face looked when you smashed her vase, all the way to things like who was in the room, which vase you broke, how big the vase was, whether it was intentional or accidental, whether you used a baseball bat or a golf club. Any of those things can be changed over time with a memory.

My second objection to this argument is a logical one. My question for him was, “How was the story kick-started, who got the inside scoop that ‘goddidit’? Nobody would have been around before big bang to witness god write the rules and light the match. This question, he had no answer too because the bell was 10 minutes away and he decided it was time to pack up.

I will leave you with a quote from Josh Thomas, “As an atheist, having a Christian threaten me with hell is like having a hippy threaten to punch me in my aura.” Josh Thomas, An Australian Comedian of some note.

Legacy – the only immortality for a skeptic

Hello there fellow bloggers, readers and browsers,

I was recently reading through my issue of Scientific American (which I subscribe to), and I came to the columns in the back of the magazine, and the one written by Michael Shermer really appealed to me. It is entitled ‘Climbing Mount Immortality’. The whole topic of the column was to discuss mortality and how it shaped our civilizations., but what really appealed to me was the topic of immortality itself. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all spiritual-after-life crazy on you, I want to discuss the concept of Legacy.

Legacy is the only immortality a skeptic can subscribe to. Albeit a very partial immortality, it is the only one there is. If one believes that there is no afterlife, then the only way in which that person can survive in the minds of those around him, is by doing something to remember him for.

This concept is very readily visible for Alfred Nobel. You will be aware of the Nobel prize. If you are, (you should, or you should stop looking at my blog right now) then you will know that it is an award given to scientists, essayists and peace activists for showing exemplary skills in their area, and making great discoveries.
Seeing that 99% of people know about the Nobel prize, Alfred Nobel could say that he is a success.

What most people don’t know about Alfred Nobel is that he was actually the inventor of dynamite. He created this lethal weapon off war in the hope that ‘war would become so bad, that it would be done by nobody’. But this did not happen, wars just became bloodier and more violent, and you must feel for Nobel for having his invention turn into such a disaster in his mind. This is what inspired him to set up the Nobel prize.

He was worried that all of the world would see him as an evil man for thousands of years to come. So what he did was posthumously donate all his money to set up the Nobel prize. this has worked because now, instead of everybody seeing Alfred Nobel as a villainous person with sinister intentions, we see him as the most famous and prestigious prizes handed out to scientists.

The idea of legacy has an impact on me, I want people to remember me after I die, not just by my family for being a brother or a son or a husband or a father, but by the world as a person who changed a field for ever, like Einstein, Hawking or Nobel. This is the only way for me to stick around after my death, I wont be able to experience it, but my family will be proud, and so will I on my deathbed, knowing that I can be content with what I have done with my life.

I will leave you with a quote from Amanda from Saw II, “The answer is immortality. By creating a legacy, by living a life worth remembering, you become immortal.”

Why is heaven not that appealing to me?

Hello there skeptical people all over the world,

Today I am going to be blogging about the prospect of heaven, and how, if it is how the bible sets it out to be, it probably wouldn’t be such a nice place to live in.

In the bible, heaven is defined as the place where god dwells. Obviously, this is not the only place god in present, remember, god is everywhere, and in everything. But heaven is the place where he is the ruling spirit, and the devil is not allowed to come into. This also means that there is no sin in heaven, and it is supposedly the happiest place that could ever exist. Imagine the greatest place you could be in, well, heaven would be better than that.

Now, hell is not mentioned in the bible as much as heaven is, but according to most Christians, we can get a pretty good idea of what it would be like. Apparently, People who say to god, “I don’t want to have you in my life”, god says to them, “OK, here is your wish, you can live without me, for the rest of eternity”, This would be a place full of only sin and torture and the devil and a lot of bad things. Quite a lot of bad things.
If you stopped reading here, it would sound like a very simple choice, to go with heaven, but I don’t think it is quite that simple.

Think of the whole idea of the church, to stop people from sinning. Sin is not a very good thing to do, and without it we would all live sinful lives. It also seems that a lot of very enjoyable things in life are sinful. Adultery, being proud, blasphemy and over-indulgence are all considered sins. So it also follows that if heaven is a sinless place, then there would be a lot of things that you would miss out on. Hell would be a place with all of these things still included. So a place which is sinless might not be all that much of a hoot.

Lets also consider the people who would be dwelling in these two places. In heaven you have people like
your local pastor (mine freaks me out), your mother-in-law, your neighbor, your religious ex, Hitler and Benny Hill. Also consider the fact that if somebody like me makes it into heaven, they will be pointing at me and saying, “I told you so!”
Lets consider the sort of people who you would be expecting to be in hell. Most good comedians, your atheist friends and Christopher Hitchens. I would much rather be sitting around with those guys for eternity than Benny Hill.

I will leave you with a quote from Christopher Hitchens, “By trying to adjust to the findings that it once tried so viciously to ban and repress, religion has only succeeded in restating the same questions that undermined it in earlier epochs. What kind of designer or creator is so wasteful and capricious and approximate? What kind of designer or creator is so cruel and indifferent? And—most of all—what kind of designer or creator only chooses to “reveal” himself to semi-stupefied peasants in desert regions?” Christopher Hitchens, a famous atheist and author of some note.

Red Flags to watch out for

I am going to start blogging every now and then on some red flags you can find to help you distinguish a pseudoscience from a real science. These are very important to learn and can help you to make a quick judgement on the reliability of websites or books or articles, without having to do a big scientific study or finding one that had been done to assess the validity of people’s claims.

I will start out by making a clarifying statement. Just because an article or ‘scientist’ displays some red flags in his reasoning, logic and evidence, does not make that argument false. The same goes for a logical fallacy. An argument can never be proven to be wrong, but if the only evidence for it is illogical and suspicious, then it should be disregarded.

The red flag I will be discussing today is one which is as much a difference between science and pseudoscience as it is a red flag. It is the hyping up of very flimsy evidence to prove ones case. This is what distinguishes the scientists from the cranks. I will give some examples.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about a great new battery technology which is able to generate power from the ambient heat from a person’s body, or a light, or the sun, or just heat which exists around us. Now this is a pretty amazing application of technology, but the scientists who were behind it played it down quite a lot. The same things happen with all of the great new discoveries in the search for the god particle, the Higgs  Boson. At one stage, late last year, there were a series of big steps made towards finally finding this elusive particle, and I was getting very exited about it, because they were very close to uncovering the particle. That was the opinion of most of the scientific and skeptical blogging community, and I got the feeling that the discovery was right around the corner.
But there were the scientists behind the discovery, just saying, “You know what, we are getting close, but we haven’t found it yet, lets just keep low and celebrate and dance when we finally uncover it.”
This is very humble of them, and it is very telling.

Could you imagine if a perpetual motion crank got a hold of evidence 1% as much of a breakthrough as that of the new battery? It would be all over the news, they would be asking for Nobel prizes, holding press conferences and they would probably be set for life.

This is a big red flag, if somebody is holding up their entire medical practice or ideology on one or two flimsy testimonials, and they are drumming them up like when man landed on the moon, then you should be suspicious. If somebody, however, is playing down a big scientific discovery, then you can probably lend credit to the reliability of the website.

I will leave you with a quote from Xi Zhi, “Large skepticism leads to large understanding. Small skepticism leads to small understanding. No skepticism leads to no understanding.” Xi Zhi, A Chinese Calligrapher of some note.

Nuclear Power: Why it’s great

Greetings skeptics, and fellow internet users.

Here in Australia there has been a lot of discussion about nuclear power, both political, and scientific, so I am going to add my voice to the talk with some points in both science and politics.
It’s a relevent discussion for a few important reasons.  One is the fact that the earth is warming and caused by man, and something had to be done about it. We are also eventually going to run out of oil, and we need something to replace it.

The first point I am going to make is that nuclear power is extremely environmentally friendly. There are no carbon dioxides emitted in the process. The only greenhouse gases emmited when creating nuclear power is what is used when the big machinery hauls the uranium out of the ground. This should sent the environmental nuts crazy, but apparently not. The only way to make them happy is to live in caves, liking lichen of the walls for food.

Apparently, if one blows up, then it will cause a huge amount of damage to the environment around it. Come on, in Australia, about 95% of the population lives on about 5% of our land mass, and the other 95% doesn’t have much other life on it either. If we plonk our nuclear power plants out in the middle of the Australian desert, then nothing will be harmed except sand and rocks.

Come on, surely we can find SOMEWHERE to put a nuclear power plant!

The next question raised by greenies (to use the conservative, outback term) is, “Where do we put all the waste from the plant?” I think this is another simply answered question. All of the places where we mine our Uranium is in the middle of no-where, if we put the power plant next to the uranium mine, then its a short trip, it goes from the hole in the ground to the power plant, it goes through the power plant, and then it goes back in the hole. It can’t really be that hard. Again, we have a huge amount of land that we don’t use for anything, this is a prime candidate for the dumping of our nuclear waste.

The last topic I will discuss here is the idea that nuclear power is dangerous, “look at what happened in Japan” They say. Well, they are all forgetting the point that this event happened on an Island about the size 1 twentieth the size of Australia, You could throw a stone from one side to the other. Even if one did blow up, it would endanger the lives of the workers there, and that’s it. These workers could be easily evacuated and the whole problem would be over with.

That’s all for today, I have a feeling I will be blogging about this sometime in the near future as the election comes up and this discussion looms, I will leave you with a quote from Ronald Reagan, “All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk.” Ronald Reagan, a politician of some note.

The Holy Trinity and Mary

Hello there,

I had an Ethics and Faith lesson today. We were circling around the theme of Easter, seeing it was our last lesson before Easter holidays, and we were set the task of finding specific bible passages and how they relate to the time after Jesus’ birth, death and Resurrection.
We were then told to write a mock interview of a new testament character and write it up in a newspaper article for ‘Jerusalem Today’. The first question I was asked by my skeptical friend was, “Who’s your daddy?”, and I thought it would be a good idea to try to sum up some of the holy trinity there. Today’s post will be a transcript of my answer to that question.

*deep breath*

You are asking me about me and my father. Well, I was conceived through Mary and god, so he is my father. The Holy Trinity also states that I am God, so I am also my own father. But that means that I am my own father and God is his own father, as well as us being our own sons. We are also each others and our own grandsons and grandfathers. But then the holy spirit comes into play.

*breathe*

He is also God, and he is also me, and we are both him, and together we are one. So the Holy Spirit conceived me, and he conceived god, and he conceived himself, but he also conceived me, and I conceived my father, so both him and me conceived our own fathers, and each other. God conceived the holy spirit and me, which makes us brothers. This means that god, the son of Jesus, and god the son of the holy spirit, are cousins, so god is his own cousin, which means we are all our own cousins. We were conceived through our cousins. which is a bit weird, to have a baby with your cousin, and the baby turns out to be yourself, and your cousin, and your cousin turns out to be you too, which makes the family tree very complicated.

*breathe*

But Mary my mother is also considered holy, and is my mum. That means that she is also my father’s mother, which means that Mary impregnated her son, through his father, who also impregnated another son, the holy spirit, who impregnated his own father. Mary is the husband of her own son, and conceived her son through her son, as well as giving birth to her husband through her sons brother and her son, and his father, and his cousins, grandparents and grandsons.

*breathe*

God is god, and god is Jesus, and god is the holy spirit, except when god is not Jesus, or the holy spirit, then he is just god. Jesus is Jesus, and Jesus is god, and Jesus is the holy spirit, except when he is neither god or the holy spirit. The holy spirit is the holy spirit, the holy spirit is god, the holy spirit is Jesus, except when he is not god or Jesus, then he is just the holy spirit.
*breathe*
Makes sense?

To which my friend replied, “You have to put that on your blog tonight.” So I did, here it is. That’s it. I will leave you with a quote from Voltaire, “As long as we believe in absurdities we shall continue to commit atrocities.” Voltaire, a French writer and Philosopher of some note.