22 Creationist Questions Translated

You know those 22 questions that people were photographed holding at the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham? There have already been several different responses (see for instance those by Aubrey HirschPhil Plait, Hemant Mehta, Ethan Siegel), but one that seems worth sharing translates each question into other words. I have included one example below. Click through to see the rest.

 

  • Heyzeus14

    In many cases the translations are worse than the original questions. Here’s the comment I left on this guy’s wall:

    1) You suggest that the idea of nature created in an already developed state implies that God is a liar who fakes evidence. But there are many mundane examples of structures designed to give the appearance of development which were actually created very recently for specific purposes. For example, a film set might include buildings that are supposed to look several centuries old, but were actually put together in a workshop. Does that make the filmmakers liars who fake evidence?

    2) Your translation of “God said it” is “The only way I can explain a complex universe is by imagining an even more complex God who can’t be explained.” This shows you are completely ignorant of the concept of God in classical theism. In that tradition, unlike the composite, contingent objects that make up the material world, God is absolutely simple, without any separable parts whatsoever. If He did have separable parts, there would have to be an explanation of how those parts came together, in which case God would not be the ultimate explanation of the world he has been imagined to be since the time of the pre-Socratic scientists. You complain that God can’t be explained. But that’s just what it is to be an ultimate explanation. If the answer to why the material world exists and has the form it does is not to be “just ’cause” (what a cop out), the explanatory chain must stop somewhere, and the point at which it stops must have quite different features from the things it is supposed to explain. Again, this has been known since the time of the pre-Socratics. Read Lloyd P. Gerson’s “God and Greek Philosophy.”

    3) You translate the ‘evolution is just a theory’ challenge as “I have no idea that gravity, atoms and germs are also considered as theories in science.” Um, no, they’re not. Gravity is an observable phenomenon for which explanatory theories have been proposed. Newton’s Law of Gravity is just a generalization of how massive objects are observed to behave. He himself famously said that he did not frame any hypotheses (theories) for how gravity actually worked. Einstein did come up with a theory of gravity, which explains it as space-time curvature. Similarly, atoms and germs are not theories. They are objects which have an explanatory role in theories, they are not theories themselves. Have you studied any philosophy of science?

    4) You bring up things like leukemia and parasitic wasp larvae as evidence against the universe being the design of an intelligent mind. But you seem to be equating the idea of design with the idea of benevolent design. Just because certain natural phenomena make you go ‘ick’ doesn’t mean they aren’t perfectly good examples of design. You may be repulsed by the idea of unmanned drones, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t impressive products of brilliant engineering. At best, your point casts doubt on the idea that the cosmic designer is benevolent, but not on the idea that there is a designer.

    5) In a couple translations you use the fact that technology works as evidence that science is more than guesswork and scientists are ‘right’. But you seem unaware that false theories can in fact lead to predictive and manipulative success. For example, plenty of progress was made in electrical technology by positing that electric current was some sort of fluid. You need to read up on the history of science.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I’m not convinced. Your first one simply begs the question. A film set is precisely an attempt to create a false impression of where things are taking place. But why should we think that our universe is a film set?

      Your third one is off target as well. We can observe evolution, genetic similarity, and other phenomena, just as we can observe gravity as a phenomenon. But the attempt to make sense of it and connect it with other knowledge is far less robust than evolutionary theory is in biology.

      Since I have yet to see someone who supports Intelligent Design or young-earth creationism as evidence for a malevolent designer, I don’t think your fourth objection accomplishes much either.

      Certainly there are criticisms that one can offer of the translations; but the translations are problematic in the first instance because of the problems with young-earth creationism.

      • Heyzeus14

        “Your first one simply begs the question. A film set is precisely an attempt to create a false impression of where things are taking place. But why should we think that our universe is a film set?”

        First of all, that’s a pretty blunt, uncharitable understanding of filmmaking, that the goal is to create a false impression. The goal is to create an immersive environment in service of a good story. Why wouldn’t that be true of creation in the Bible? In fact, it’s true of all acts of creation. A novelist creates characters and settings with all sorts of implied backstory, without that backstory actually being tediously recounted in prior chapters.

        But the point is not so much to argue for mature creation (I myself do not hold to it), as to note that there are situations in which structures give the appearance of development, without us inferring that the creator is a liar who fakes evidence. Therefore, it is not a valid criticism of mature creation that it makes God out to be a liar or deceptive.

        “We can observe evolution, genetic similarity, and other phenomena, just as we can observe gravity as a phenomenon. But the attempt to make sense of it and connect it with other knowledge is far less robust than evolutionary theory is in biology.”

        I’m not sure how this response connects with my criticism. I was clarifying what gets called a theory in science, because the original responder to the creationist questions called gravity, for example, a theory, when it is not. Gravity is a phenomenon of nature, for which explanatory theories are proposed. But I certainly wasn’t endorsing the ‘evolution is only a theory’ objection. I am well aware of how integral evolutionary theory is in biology. That does not change the fact that the responder was mistaken about what gets called a theory in science.

        “Since I have yet to see someone who supports Intelligent Design or young-earth creationism as evidence for a malevolent designer, I don’t think your fourth objection accomplishes much either.”

        It accomplishes the necessary task of distinguishing between evidence for design full-stop and evidence for benevolent design. Recall that the original creationist question was how one can look at the world and not infer that it was a product of intelligent design. It was NOT how one can look at the world and not infer that it was a product of benevolent design. Now, would a creationist asking this question also believe that the design in question is benevolent? Certainly. But that is irrelevant when it comes to responding to the question as stated. You can’t refute a design inference by producing evidence that the design in question apparently has malicious intent. You can only refute a design inference by producing evidence that the design in question is not a design at all, lacking any underlying intent, malicious or otherwise.

        “Certainly there are criticisms that one can offer of the translations; but the translations are problematic in the first instance because of the problems with young-earth creationism.”

        No, the bad translations don’t get off the hook because of the problems with the original questions. Maybe it would have been more charitable and scholarly not to produce mocking translations at all, and instead try to tease out the underlying concerns of such questions and respond to them carefully and rigorously.

        • stuart32

          There may be some cases where a misleading appearance of age is unavoidable, tree rings for example, but in other cases the appearance of age starts to look downright dishonest. We know that it takes light billions of years to reach us from the most distant galaxies. To solve this problem you must either assume that streams of photons were created between us and those objects to allow us to see them, in which case we aren’t actually seeing them because the light we see never actually came from those objects, or propose some mechanism by which light could be speeded up. No such mechanism is known, and even if such a thing were possible it would still seem to be an unnecessary deception.

          Also, we know that it takes stars millions of years at the very least to age to the point where they explode as supernovae. If the Universe was created 6000 years ago the stars that we see going supernova must have been created almost at the point of death. Again, this seems like an unnecessary appearance of age.

          Another example is the cratering that we see on the moon and other bodies that don’t have geological processes to erode the craters. These are the result of countless asteroid impacts from the debris leftover from the birth of the solar system. If the solar system was created instantaneously, and not as the result of a long evolutionary process, there shouldn’t be any impact craters.

          You say that you can’t refute the inference of design by showing evidence of malicious intent but that isn’t true. If suffering is improbable on the hypothesis of design but not on the hypothesis of natural processes then it clearly counts against the hypothesis of design.

    • Jesse Dhillon

      “Does that make the filmmakers liars who fake evidence?”

      WTF is this even a real question? Have you ever seen a filmmaker come and present their fictional, staged film as the factual truth? If so, then yes, they are a liar who is faking evidence.

      Otherwise they are telling a story, which has the implicit and informed consent of the listener. If you turned on the news and they began telling you staged fiction in such a manner that it could be mistaken for fact, even on very close investigation — if the newscasters don’t tell you that they are giving a fictional account then yes, they are lying.

      I don’t think that comparison does many favors for your argument.

      • Heyzeus14

        “Have you ever seen a filmmaker come and present their fictional, staged film as the factual truth? If so, then yes, they are a liar who is faking evidence.
        Otherwise they are telling a story, which has the implicit and informed consent of the listener.”So it’s not misleading for something to give the appearance of development if there is a broader context in which it is implicitly understood that this is what’s going on. But the Christian tradition provides just such a context. If you take seriously the idea that God is Creator of everything, then the standard for what counts as factual has to begin with that truth. Creation is a story told by God, and that story can have as much or as little depth of context as is deemed appropriate, just like a novelist can leave much character development to the imagination, without having to tediously recount backstory down to the smallest detail.Again, I should mention that I don’t hold to mature creation myself. But I don’t think it implicates God in deception.

        • Jesse Dhillon

          “So it’s not misleading for something to give the appearance of development if there is a broader context in which it is implicitly understood that this is what’s going on. But the Christian tradition provides just such a context.”

          No. You are conflating two separate concepts.

          The Christian tradition begins an investigation with a presupposed conclusion — that whatever we find in the world, ultimately it must be compatible with the explanation that God is the creator of the universe.

          The storyteller begins with a contract about how true what you will find is (i.e., not at all), and sometimes, but not necessarily about *what* you will find. In order for what you said to be true, every story would need to have a title like “John Dies At The End” — where you the viewer have an understanding that no matter what you find in the story, John will die at the end.

          The latter works *because* the story is understood to be fictional, owing to the first agreement. It is not a factual account of how the world works. If you enter a storytelling experience as an audience participant, without the understand that it is fictional, but *with* the understanding that you know the ending already, then you have religion. You are discarding the fundamental principles of science, that the evidence will lead you to whatever conclusion is rational.

          Instead, you are saying that no evidence will ever be able to sway you from your conclusion that God did it. Which means that you actually do not need to find evidence for your conclusion.

    • Jesse Dhillon

      “If the answer to why the material world exists and has the form it does is not to be “just ’cause” (what a cop out),”

      That’s what your explanation is! You just finished saying that, at the bottom of it all is the most simple thing which cannot be reduced. So evidently, any sufficiently long chain of “why?” questions will terminate with “Because God.”

      Moreover, the point of the translation is using complexity in a completely different sense than the one you implied. Do you really think that someone who adheres to a bumper-sticker-slogan-sized understanding of physics, astronomy, biology and geology is thinking “unlike the composite, contingent objects that make up the material world, God is absolutely simple, without any separable parts whatsoever.”

      You are welcome to believe that if you wish. I have seen and met many, many people who have the t-shirt or bumper sticker which bears the slogan in the image (“God said it and BANG it happened.”) In my experience it is absolutely used as a reason to not even attempt an understanding of how deep and broad the body of scientific knowledge is.

      The point of the translation was to say exactly this — instead of even making a cursory attempt at critical thinking and scientific education, I’d rather accept a one sentence answer which absolves me of the intellectual responsibility incumbent upon me as a rational agent expressing an opinion.

      • Heyzeus14

        “That’s what your explanation is! You just finished saying that, at the bottom of it all is the most simple thing which cannot be reduced. So evidently, any sufficiently long chain of “why?” questions will terminate with “Because God.””Which is of course the diametric opposite of terminating a chain of why questions with “Just because.” Appealing to an ultimate explanation is not a cop-out, it is logically required if a chain of questions is not to peter out in absurdity or an infinite regress.”Do you really think that someone who adheres to a bumper-sticker-slogan-sized understanding of physics, astronomy, biology and geology is thinking “unlike the composite, contingent objects that make up the material world, God is absolutely simple, without any separable parts whatsoever.””Nope. But I’m not defending the original questions. I’m criticizing the translations on their own merits.

        • Jesse Dhillon

          “But I’m not defending the original questions. I’m criticizing the translations on their own merits.”

          The “translation on its on merit” is a ridiculous idea. It’s like examining the phenomenon of clapping by only looking at the motion one’s left hand. Moreover, the point of the translation is clearly not saying what you think it is saying. This appears to be a recurring theme in your analysis.

          How exactly you think an appeal to a prime mover/cause is different from saying “just because,” I don’t know. Most likely you would suggest that they differ in some fundamental but irrelevant way, but truly they are the same thing — they both abandon the explanatory process at some step and surrender whatever is beyond to an inexplicable “other.”

          • Heyzeus14

            “Moreover, the point of the translation is clearly not saying what you think it is saying. This appears to be a recurring theme in your analysis.”I’m not responding to what I think the translations are saying. I’m responding to what they are actually saying. If the translations need so much clarification they should probably have been rewritten to better resemble the clarifications. If each time you have to respond to my critique with “the point of the translation actually is…” there is a problematic disconnect between the literal sense of the text and what the author intended.”How exactly you think an appeal to a prime mover/cause is different from saying “just because,” I don’t know.”Take the analogy of a chandelier hanging from a cable. The cable is holding the chandelier up in the air, but the cable itself needs to be held up by the ceiling, which is held up by the walls, which are held up by the house’s foundation. What holds up the foundation? The ground, which does not itself need to be held up. But that is not a cop out, it is not abandoning the explanatory process, it is the logical ultimate explanation of how the chandelier is being held up. What would be a cop-out is to stop at the walls holding up the ceiling and insisting that the walls hold up “just because.” THAT is giving up.Ultimate explanations are explanatory, even though they are ultimate. They are the stopping point of inquiry, but not arbitrarily. If that idea doesn’t make sense to you, I can’t help you out until you do some more reading in the history of science and philosophy.

            • Jesse Dhillon

              “I can’t help you out until you do some more reading in the history of science and philosophy.”

              Hah. It’s amazing how sure you are that you’re the only person on this thread to have read any philosophy or science. You may want to read up on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Na%C3%AFve_realism_(psychology)

              “The ground, which does not itself need to be held up.”

              How you have not anticipated the obvious objection to this line, the question “why does the ground not need to be held up?”, really shows how truly shallow that learning which you are quick to flaunt is. What is your answer then? Because the ground is defined as that which holds things up?

              You must necessarily provide a tautological explanation like the one above — just the same as the simple god explanation that God is defined as the explanation to why. And then if someone asks why about that arbitrary definition of the ground, what then?

              (I mean, you literally could not have picked a better analogy to demonstrate how arbitrary this method is, as a question about why the ground holds things up easily segues into a discussion about gravity and mass.)

              • Heyzeus14

                Wikipedia? Really? That totally increases my confidence that you’ve read philosophy and science. “How you have not anticipated the obvious objection to this line, the question “why does the ground not need to be held up?”, really shows how truly shallow that learning which you are quick to flaunt is. What is your answer then? Because the ground is defined as that which holds things up?”You’re completely missing the point, as usual. The point of the analogy is that an ultimate explanation cannot be in terms of that which it is supposed to explain. This is not about definitions, but about the requirements of a good explanation. I notice you do not ask “What holds the ground up?” as that is a nonsensical question, given what the ground is. Rather your question is “Why does the ground not need to be held up?” Well, fine. There is an explanation of why God does not need to be caused, and it is found in God’s own nature, just like the reason why the ground does not need to be held up is found in what the ground is. But that does not negate the fact that the ultimate explanation of a chandelier’s being held up in the air must be in terms of something that does not need to be held up, whatever the reason for that may be.

                • Jesse Dhillon

                  Did you read the Wikipedia article, or even click it?

                  It’s a critique about your mind and mental process, not science at large. I don’t need your confidence, as it neither changes any facts, nor as far as I can tell carries any value in any way that I would care.

                  I mean, you have been making obliquely personal references all over the place but let’s just state it. At the end of the day, for all of your smug professions of superiority and learnedness — you wake up early on Monday so you can go teach 8th grade math and science.

                  You literally have no ability to make anyone with a remotely healthy level of self-confidence feel bad about themselves, so I would suggest you confine your comments strictly to the facts of the matter.

                  “…must be in terms of something that does not need to be held up, whatever the reason for that may be.”

                  The rest of your response is expressed in unqualified, bald-faced assertions. It’s remarkably self-referential, which coincides well with my earlier suggestion that you might spend some time considering whether or not you subscribe to a naively realistic worldview.

                  Why would I assume that the actual explanation does not have a mutually recursive form, instead of that of an absolutely terminating causal chain?

                  • Heyzeus14

                    “Why would I assume that the actual explanation does not have a mutually recursive form, instead of that of an absolutely terminating causal chain?”Recursion is primarily a concept of mathematics and computer science, of doubtful applicability to questions of existence.

    • Jesse Dhillon

      “They are objects which have an explanatory role in theories, they are not theories themselves.”

      My god, this is the most inane and pedantic point of your rant. Are you seriously criticizing someone fake-writing on a notepad-sized sheet of paper for not including the word “theory” beside each item in a list? E.g. “germ theory,” “atomic theory,” “theory of gravity” etc.

      Jesus. I can’t believe you even bothered to object on this basis, as it’s quite clear that the point of the translation is to say that if you hold the theory of evolution in low regard because it “just a theory” then you have to hold the theory of gravity, germ theory, and atomic theory (and many others) in similar disdain for being “just” theories.

      I am sure you knew this already, unless this is the first time you have encountered this debate.

      • Heyzeus14

        “Are you seriously criticizing someone fake-writing on a notepad-sized sheet of paper for not including the word “theory” beside each item in a list? E.g. “germ theory,” “atomic theory,” “theory of gravity” etc.”You’ve completely missed the point, and appear to be just as confused as the author of the translations about what a theory is in science. I’m not criticizing the author for not including the word ‘theory’ in front of each of those terms. I’m criticizing him for calling something like ‘gravity’ a theory when the word properly refers to a phenomenon for which explanatory theories are proposed. Gravity is not a theory, it is the observed phenomenon of how interacting massive objects behave. Theory would enter in the attempt, not to describe how the massive objects behave, but to explain why they behave the way they do.In case it needs explaining, people objecting to evolution because it’s “just a theory” are equally misinformed about the place of theory in scientific investigation. But one kind of misinformation does not excuse another, especially since the translator is supposedly on the side of science against anti-science creationism.

        • Jesse Dhillon

          The only point you seem to be making is that “gravity” is a concept which purportedly exists outside of the theory of gravity, and that said theory attempts to model the behavior of that phenomenon. To which I would ask, so what?

          That does not at all negate the point of the translation, which is *solely* that the term “theory” does not imply that the level of knowledge is on the matter is only some sort of unsubstantiated supposition. Your point is entirely a) pedantic, and b) irrelevant. The point is that the theory of gravity successfully produces testable explanations despite being “just a theory.” As do the germ theory, atomic theory, and the theory of evolution.

          I literally have no idea why you think it matters that the terms germ, theory and atom refer also to natural phenomenon which are the subject of those theories.

          • Heyzeus14

            Let’s recall the original translation: “I have no idea that gravity, atoms and germs are also considered as theories in science.”This statement is literally false. Gravity, atoms and germs are NOT considered to be theories in science. Yes, I agree that the author was trying to undermine the equation of ‘just a theory’ with ‘unsubstantiated supposition’ but in so doing he introduced a confusion of his own about what ‘theory’ refers to in science. One confusion does not justify another. “C’mon, you know what I meant” is not a valid defense here. Even within the confines of the format of the original questions it is possible to respond in a way that does not mangle the ideas you are supposed to be defending.

            • Jesse Dhillon

              I really just am not getting what you think is the point here. English is not even my first language and I can decide this just fine — I actually do not even see any room for your interpretation, except as a grammatical objection.

              • Heyzeus14

                This deliberate obfuscation is getting tiresome. Claim: “Gravity, atoms and germs are considered theories in science.” Problem: gravity, atoms and germs are NOT considered theories in science. This is all too typical of apologists (of whatever stripe, atheist or religious): when problems are raised with the literal interpretation of claim, insist that the author actually meant something else.

                • Jesse Dhillon

                  Okay, so we agree then that your objection is that improper grammar was used.

                  Secondarily, without getting too deep into any of the issues around the philosophy of language, your insistence that you alone are in possession of the correct interpretation of the language is ridiculous. All communication relies on context and familiarity in order to convey an idea successfully.

                  If you don’t accept this, then you should be objecting that literally every word in that translation is underspecified. Instead, you are putting forward an interpretation which you believe to be most correct and demanding that others a) accept your interpretation as the correct one, and b) disregard the common sense, well-understood meaning of the phrase. Your interpretation relies solely on rejecting the well-known context surrounding the idea communicated.

                  Literally, you are refusing to accept/argue the content because you are objecting over the container in which it was delivered. This smells to me like a bad faith objection, as unless you have no friends, I find it difficult to believe that you apply this standard for clarity of communication consistently.

                  • Heyzeus14

                    So the common-sense, well-understood meaning of the phrase “Gravity, atoms and germs are theories” is not that “Gravity, atoms and germs are theories?”Different communicative contexts have different standards for what can be taken for granted or underspecified. In a casual, conversational context between friends a lot can be taken for granted, although even then I would probably ask my friends to clarify if they said something that didn’t sound right. But in an educational or polemical context, in which you are trying to persuade others of the falsity of a position or the truth of your position, much less can be taken for granted. You must anticipate objections to your phrasing and make what you are trying to say absolutely clear, ensuring that you are using words according to their standard meanings and representing a field of inquiry accurately.

                    • Jesse Dhillon

                      Given that the medium of expression is a placard, a message about the length of a tweet, I am comfortable saying that appropriate compromises were made without reducing the legibility of the message. Given the context of the conversation, no your meaning is not the well-understood one. Persons familiar with the debate, from either side, understand that what is being referenced in a shorthand manner are the theories governing the phenomenon and not the objects themselves.

                      Also, you have placed an undue burden on the participants of the conversation, as these images fall clearly in the realm of cheerleading. Not “an educational or polemical context, in which you are trying to persuade others of the falsity of a position or the truth of your position…”

                      I think most people can plainly see that this is a parody, not a debate.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Perhaps if they wrote smaller they could have indicated that evolution is both a fact and a theory, depending on what one is referring to, and that the same could be said about gravity and many other subjects?

                    • Derp

                      I enjoyed reading this as much as you enjoyed typing it.

    • Jesse Dhillon

      “But you seem to be equating the idea of design with the idea of benevolent design.”

      Oh, or maybe the designer is actually an insectoid overlord — and therefore actually very benevolent, but not to us? Or it is a massive amoeba perhaps!

      “At best, your point casts doubt on the idea that the cosmic designer is benevolent, but not on the idea that there is a designer.”

      The supposition of intelligent design adds nothing in the way of observable, testable predictions. There is no reason to attempt to falsify it, as it cannot even make claims to be tested.

      As long as the intelligent design proponent accepts the conclusions of the scientific method, it doesn’t matter if someone wants to extrapolate beyond those limits to answer questions which are not answerable by science.

      Yes, it might be possible that the universe exists in the discarded fecal matter of a malevolent or negligent higher-dimensional entity.

      • Heyzeus14

        “Oh, or maybe the designer is actually an insectoid overlord — and therefore actually very benevolent, but not to us? Or it is a massive amoeba perhaps!…Yes, it might be possible that the universe exists in the discarded fecal matter of a malevolent or negligent higher-dimensional entity.”The inevitable response when you don’t actually have substantive criticisms to offer: resort to wild, fanciful, incoherent ‘possibilities’ supposedly analogous to the claims you can’t refute responsibly.OK, on the assumption that the reason why your ‘possibilities’ do not amount to a coherent response eludes you, creatures like the ones you mention could not possibly be candidates for the designing intelligence that created the universe, since all are material, finite beings and therefore products of the very universe they are supposed to have created. “The supposition of intelligent design adds nothing in the way of observable, testable predictions. There is no reason to attempt to falsify it, as it cannot even make claims to be tested.”Really? The supposition of intelligent design makes no difference to how you would attempt to figure out how an iPhone works, for example? That the way the parts fit together has nothing to do with its purpose?

        • Jesse Dhillon

          “Really? The supposition of intelligent design makes no difference to how you would attempt to figure out how an iPhone works, for example? That the way the parts fit together has nothing to do with its purpose?”

          Once again, you are conflating — this time you’re conflating “what” with “why”. Could we decipher the function of an object which we know to be communications device, without knowing that a specific person designed it or why? Yes, absolutely.

          I suppose that, if you did believe that an organism was designed, you would make certain assumptions and expectations about what you will find when you investigate, e.g. an iPhone. Having seen the inside of a human and many other animals, I’m not sure what theory of a designer would explain the haphazard way things are jammed in there like a sausage. But sure, point conceded, ID can make testable predictions.

          That is exactly how the field of biology has progressed so far — we know this animal has a vision organ. Who put it there and why has never needed to be known, only what it does. We have many times discovered how without needing to know who and why. And yes,

          “The inevitable response when you don’t actually have substantive criticisms to offer: resort to wild, fanciful, incoherent ‘possibilities’ supposedly analogous to the claims you can’t refute responsibly.”

          Unfortunately there is no responsible refutation to the question of “is our designer benevolent or malevolent” as you first need to demonstrate a) that there is a designer, and b) that this question is decidable. Otherwise, it is exactly as knowable as “is the designer an insect overlord” and “does he/she have a dog?”

          • Heyzeus14

            “Once again, you are conflating — this time you’re conflating “what” with “why”.”Actually, it is you who are confused once again. When it comes to design, what and why are inextricably linked. To identify something as a communication device (what) is also to identify its purpose (why). You may know very little about the designer, but you know by the fact that it has a purpose that it has a designer.”Having seen the inside of a human and many other animals, I’m not sure what theory of a designer would explain the haphazard way things are jammed in there like a sausage.”It’s called ‘trade-offs’. Look it up. And no, that doesn’t compromise God’s omnipotence. God can only do what it is logically coherent to do, so if maximization of two different traits is logically incoherent, then those traits will not be maximized.”Unfortunately there is no responsible refutation to the question of “is our designer benevolent or malevolent” as you first need to demonstrate a) that there is a designer, and b) that this question is decidable. Otherwise, it is exactly as knowable as “is the designer an insect overlord” and “does he/she have a dog?””Even if we have not determined conclusively that the universe is a design, we can still rule out some possibilities for the designer. I already explained how, I don’t feel like repeating myself.

            • Jesse Dhillon

              “And no, that doesn’t compromise God’s omnipotence. God can only do what it is logically coherent to do, so if maximization of two different traits is logically incoherent, then those traits will not be maximized.”

              Such an interpretation absolutely compromises God’s omnipotence. God is in no way required to obey logic, he can certainly involve himself in a logical contradiction if he is omnipotent. He must be able to both create a weight so massive that he cannot lift it, *and* lift that weight.

              “It’s called ‘trade-offs’. Look it up.”

              This design theory is converging suspiciously well on the principles of natural selection.

              • Heyzeus14

                “That absolutely compromises God’s omnipotence. God is in no way required to obey logic, he can involve himself in a logical contradiction.”No, not according to any widely accepted, philosophically worked out understanding of divine omnipotence. You just don’t know what you are talking about.”This design theory is converging suspiciously well on the principles of natural selection.”Natural selection and design are not incompatible. In fact, natural selection is a great way to explore the possibility space of biological organisms.

                • Jesse Dhillon

                  The “best” (if you mean, perhaps most widely accepted in some circles) understanding of God and logic is that logic flows from God’s nature. If we restrict ourselves to western traditions, and FFS it should be noted that this is now an exercise in counting the angels on the head of a pin.

                  That only shifts the burden of explaining things to now explaining why God’s nature requires that things be designed as they are. The suspicion I referred to earlier is that this is converging to the explanation of a natural phenomenon which requires no designer to explain properly. Design is not incompatible with selection, because it says nothing of importance — no testable predictions — about the phenomenon.

                  Natural selection has explanations for why these tradeoffs need to occur. The best that a design explanation can add is to say, Oh, and God is the one who made those constraints when he conceived of the universe but then set into motion a series of events which we have observed and explained through the various scientific disciplines. Such a statement, again, is immaterial.

                  • Heyzeus14

                    It’s not limited to just Western traditions. Look up Ramanuja and the Madhva school of Hindu theology. And it’s not nitpicking to worry about the consequences of asserting that omnipotence entails being able to defy logic. Serious thinkers want their beliefs to be logically consistent.I’m no longer interested in carrying on this exchange. A piece of advice: instead of angrily defending a bunch of poorly worded, confused, condescending ‘translations’ of creationist confusions, why don’t you come up with your own reasoned replies that show you care more about clarifying and enlightening rather than ridiculing the ignorance of others.

                    • Jesse Dhillon

                      Nothing I could spend my time creating would exceed the extant body of work on this matter.

    • Jesse Dhillon

      “You need to read up on the history of science.”

      This is the best part. The contrast between how smugly your present your ideas, and how completely insipid and pedestrian they are.

      • Heyzeus14

        Well apparently not that pedestrian, since so many people still have these elementary confusions.

        • Jesse Dhillon

          Premise presupposes what must be shown — that you are the one in possession of clear insight, and others are confused. To my mind you have not made that case.

  • plectrophenax

    The trouble is, they are not genuine questions, at least they don’t strike me that way. They are more like exclamations. “There must be a God if there is a sunset”, or “how on earth can you possibly not believe in God.”

    So they don’t really initiate a genuine discussion, as far as I can see. But I suppose placards are not exactly part of a conversation.

    I also thought they were spoofs at first.

  • PorlockJunior

    If we came from British people, why are there still British people?

    from the comments to the translations page. I like it.

  • http://talk.faseidl.com/ F. Andy Seidl

    I also took a stab at responding to the 22 creationist questions/comments.
    http://talk.faseidl.com/religion/2014/02/09/response-to-22-creationists/


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