Frank Turek’s Criminally Bad C.R.I.M.E.S. Argument: Reason

Frank Turek’s Criminally Bad C.R.I.M.E.S. Argument: Reason November 15, 2016

This is a continuation of a critique of Frank Turek’s arguments in favor of Christianity made in his latest book. See the beginning of the discussion here.

The R in CRIMES is Reason

Turek said, “If you’re an atheist, you can’t justify reason.” He said that Darwin knew this, referring to this statement from Darwin: “Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” If our minds are just the end result of a long series of evolutionary steps, why trust them?

First, who cares what Darwin said? If the subject is History of Science, that’s interesting. If it’s simply what evolution or physiology say today, we’re not bound by what Darwin says. No one consults Darwin’s writings to ensure that the latest findings don’t contradict the great man.

The fallible human brain

Second, I agree that our brains are quite fallible. Who would disagree? This passage from my book Future Hype (2006) summarizes some of our blind spots.

Ongoing risks with a track record (such as the number of deaths per year) are easy to compare with each other. Nevertheless, most people weigh risks poorly. The average American is much likelier to die in a car accident than a plane crash, much likelier to die from lightning than fireworks, and much likelier to die from influenza than anthrax. You’re less likely to win the jackpot in a major lottery than to die in an accident while driving to buy the ticket. The likeliest calamity that could happen to a traveler to another country is not terrorism or kidnapping, but a car accident. Tornadoes and hurricanes combined aren’t as deadly as heat waves; heroin and cocaine combined aren’t as deadly as alcohol. Risk experts say that nuclear power is quite safe and swimming is not, while most people feel the opposite. Money spent on disease research is only vaguely proportional to each disease’s impact. We worry about cell phones and brain cancer when we should be worried about cell phones and driving. The public’s ranking of fears doesn’t match up with the real risks, and a technology with the same death rate as a natural risk is perceived as more dangerous.

Here are more examples of the fallibility of our brains.

  • Our brains play tricks on us: consider placebos, psychosomatic illnesses, and phantom limb pain.
  • We can be fooled by optical and auditory illusions. Pareidolia is seeing patterns where none exist—a message in a song played backwards or the face of Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich, for example. Coincidences can seem meaningful even when random.
  • We confuse confidence with accuracy when we overestimate how reliable our memories are. Richard Wiseman’s awesome color-changing card trick shows that your skills at observation may not be as good as you might think.
  • We’re poor at weighing harm. The Discovery television channel had a Shark Week, but based on how many people are actually killed, Cow Week would make more sense. That’s right—cows kill more people than sharks. Psychic numbing is a related problem. This is the observation, “One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.”
  • A popular misconception in South Korea is that electric fans in closed rooms can be deadly, but we Americans shouldn’t get too cocky, because we have our own blind spots. In a 2013 poll of Americans, 21% say a UFO crashed in Roswell, 28% believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 terrorist attack, 20% believe there is a link between childhood vaccines and autism, 7% think the moon landing was faked, 13% think Barack Obama is the anti-Christ, 14% say the CIA created the crack epidemic, 9% think the government adds fluoride to our water supply for sinister reasons, 4% believe lizard people control our societies, and 11% believe the US government allowed 9/11 to happen.
  • We know how crop circles are made, and yet some people are determined to see them as the work of extraterrestrials. Most of us have probably used Snopes to investigate a suspicious story passed along by email, and yet urban legends continue to deceive.
  • We’re surrounded by simple instances of probability, and yet we’re terrible at it. If you want to see how good your instincts are, give the Monty Hall problem a try.
  • We have cognitive biases such as confirmation bias, where we focus on evidence that confirms our thinking and ignore evidence that refutes it. The backfire effect is what happens when you correct an error in someone’s mind, but they retrench and believe the misinformation more strongly.
  • The weighty Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists hundreds of kinds of mental illness.

Now that we’re on the same page that the human brain is imperfect, how do the atheist and theist proceed from here? Let’s return to Turek’s claim, “If you’re an atheist, you can’t justify reason.” So therefore the Christian can?

This is just another argument of the form “Ooh! Ooh! I know! It was God!” No—your unsupported dogma isn’t even in the running. Show us the evidence, or remain at the children’s table.

And yes, actually atheists can justify reason. Evolution selected for animals that had a good understanding of reality. Those that didn’t—those whose senses gave unreliable information or whose brains evaluated the information poorly—became lunch. (I respond to Alvin Plantinga’s similar Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism here.)

The human mind is indeed unreliable for finding absolute truth. The best we can hope for are good approximations. If Turek can access absolute and immutable truth, he needs to share that marvelous fact with the rest of us.

If we agree that the human brain is imperfect, why does the Christian trust it when it makes the incredibly outrageous claim that God exists? Apparently Turek thinks that atheists can’t rely on God’s imperfect gift but Christians can.

Continue to I = Information.

Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully 
as when they do it for religious convictions. 
— Blaise Pascal

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 08/05/13.)

Image credit: Ryan Cadby, flickr, CC

 

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  • Joe

    If our minds are just the end result of a long series of evolutionary steps, why trust them?

    Because every step was successful?

    I’ve never fully understood this argument from theists. It’s more an appeal to consequences than anything else. Id rather trust a ‘monkey’s brain’ than have my thoughts underpinned by a more powerful being in any case. How do they know it’s not the devil controlling their thoughts? How do they know their God isn’t deceiving them?

    • kraut2

      “Because every step was successful?”

      No. Those steps that did not lead of a good assessment of reality did result in the demise of the individual.

      Today those individuals are protected by the society they live in and find support in things like Mufon, various religions, Rense etc….

      • Joe

        I could have written it better. What I meant was ‘successful steps were selected for, and unsuccessful ones were not’.

        • Kodie

          Good enough steps were selected for. Being wrong isn’t even fatal with any reliability. Being dumb, making bad decisions, being selfish, etc., is no reliable impediment to making it to reproductive age and being attractive enough to someone to reproduce. Religions like to advance the idea that humans are highly rational and intelligent, and we’re mostly not. We need school, we take a long time to learn about how to navigate. Mostly, we are thinkers, but that doesn’t mean our thoughts are worthwhile. I mean, how often are you totally blank of thought? It turns up something unusual or random like a childhood memory, and sometimes useful that you forget before you have a chance to write it down.

          We need the thinking aspect and the social aspect of our evolution to spitball all the shitty inconsequential thoughts we collectively have and sift out the best ones that can be thought to further us as a species, the technological advances and cultural advances. You can’t just think to yourself, hey slavery seems like it’s wrong, you have to communicate effectively and start a whole movement. Maybe your thought was dumb, but you had to share it. Didn’t it ever occur to anyone before? Was it an emerging type of thought, something cultural shifted to expose something to thousands of people simultaneously who started a buzz? I mean, how does that work? It wasn’t just one smart forward-thinking person who incited a movement, was it? Lots of people make observations and start movements that are dumb. We really don’t notice things until we notice them, and then we really don’t know what to do about a lot of things until we attract enough attention to our idea to get cooperative action on it, and of course, some people are resistant, suspicious, tired of hearing about it already, etc.

          Anyway, this system isn’t perfect, but it’s the one that survived evolution.

    • The Christians who hate that man evolved from goo have no problem with man being created by God from dirt.

  • Michael Neville

    I think Turek’s argument is that God is the source of logic and knowledge so without God there can be no logic and knowledge. It’s one of Sye Ten B’s favorite arguments. It’s been refuted innumerable times but that doesn’t stop fundamentalists from trying to push it.

    • Kevin K

      Circular argument is circular.

      • Kodie

        Toilet argument is toilet.

    • Kind of circular reasoning, it seems to me.

  • Mark Dowd

    Let me see if I got this right.

    Humans are irrational, so believe this group of people that talk to an invisible sky fairy, and ignore those other people that talk to a different invisible sky fairy. They’re wrong, and I’m correct.

  • MNb

    “If you’re an atheist, you can’t justify reason.”
    Define justify. I suspect Turek defines “justify” as “grounded in God” which of course results in circularity.

    • Herald Newman

      I don’t think so. The way most apologists frame the statement, and related questions, they’re asking us to explain why reasoning works, and how it can work with just materialism. They boldly assert that because we cannot explain X, therefore God must be the answer.

      Now, while I can’t really explain how my brain works based just on materialism (I’m not an expert in such things), it’s rather irrelevant, because invoking the supernatural doesn’t help us, and to argue for a God because somebody can’t explain to a layman how the brain works is an argument from ignorance, or an argument from incredulity.

  • JBSchmidt

    “Evolution selected for animals that had a good understanding of reality.”

    What is reality?

    “Those that didn’t—those whose senses gave unreliable information or whose brains evaluated the information poorly—became lunch.”

    What unreliable information?

    If a scientist, evolved at the same level as its subjects, concludes that the subjects brain has evolved to a ‘good understanding of reality’; what is his standard for good understanding? Since the scientist can’t exist outside the world of his subjects, how can they be sure the study is accurate to the all the possibilities?

    “If we agree that the human brain is imperfect, why does the Christian trust it when it makes the incredibly outrageous claim that God exists?”

    That sword cuts both ways. How can you trust the conclusion of science if the scientist’s reasoning is fallible?

    • Herald Newman

      Science itself does not claim to be able to access truth, rather it claims to be the current best approximation to whatever truth we’re trying to ascertain about the natural world.

      A single scientist, making a set of observations, and proposing a theory to explain those observations, still needs to go through rigorous peer review in an effort to eliminate biases. As more experts review findings, and are unable to falsify previous findings, we can have more confidence that previous findings are indeed correct. That’s why science is reliable, even if the scientists themselves may not be.

      • JBSchmidt

        That would make the notion of ‘reality’ that the author used to rebuff Christianity, merely an philosophical exercise, correct? Meaning, we must assume with faith that the truth science currently ascertains is reliable?

        • Herald Newman

          Do you understand empiricism, and the usefulness of predictive power? If not, this discussion is going to be meaningless.

          Fuck man, better yet, go take a philosophy of science class, so that you understand this shit…

        • JBSchmidt

          Do they make this discussion less philosophical?

        • Kevin K

          Science is the philosophy of model-dependent realism.

          Religion is the philosophy of making shit up.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I see you’ve met Smiffy….prepare to lose your hair…if ya have any.

        • Herald Newman

          I’ve pretty much given up on this. I have little interest in spending the amount of energy necessary to try and get somebody to understand why science works when there are a vast number of useful references on the interwebz.
          I really wish that some basic epistemology classes were mandatory for all high school students.

        • Michael Neville

          Science isn’t about faith, it’s about faith’s opposite, evidence. Religion isn’t about evidence, it’s about faith.

        • Joe

          Meaning, we must assume with faith that the truth science currently ascertains is reliable?

          Yes, but it’s not a great leap of faith to assume gravity will still behave in the same way tomorrow, for example.

    • RichardSRussell

      Three million years ago, the australopithecines Lug and Wug are walking across the African veldt when there’s a rustling in the tall grass. Lug thinks “it’s a lion” and runs off screaming. Wug thinks “it’s the wind” and laffs at Lug. Same thing happens another 98 times. Then, on the 100th occasion, it really IS a lion. Wug (whose skepticism has been absolutely justified so far) becomes lunch, but Lug gets to pass his pattern-recognition gene on to the next generation, along with a dread-inspiring cautionary tale.

      Thus our predisposition to see things, patterns, and especially living beings that aren’t really there.* In more dangerous ancient times it was better to be safe than sorry, and that’s the biology we organic humans have inherited.**

      –––––
      *Scientific terms for this are apophenia and pareidolia.
      **It may take awhile for our cybernetic offspring to catch up.

    • RichardSRussell

      what is [the scientific] standard for good understanding?

      (1) Is it testable at all?
      (2) If it’s testable, is it measurable?
      (3) If lots of different people test and measure it, do they get consistent results?
      (4) Does it accurately predict what’ll happen under similar circumstances in the future?

      There are no conclusions, only best current approximations. Science proceeds not so much by revolutions as by refinements.

      Newton’s Laws of Motion and Gravitation were really very, very good and for centuries covered every situation observed on Earth to within the margin of error of our measuring devices. But they were a teensy bit off when it came to really fast things and really heavy things. It took Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity (special → speed) to refine the former and his General Theory of Relativity (general → gravity) to refine the latter so we can now describe unEarthly phenomena as well. And physicists everywhere can independently confirm the revised laws. And have.

      The takeaway point, tho, is that it was science that did the refining, based on the findings generated by (ta da) science. Prayer, revelation, inspiration, holy books, ancient traditions, prophecies, and the like — let alone personal visits from actual supernatural beings — produced precisely squat. If we relied on religion for knowledge, we’d still be living like Lug and Wug.

      • JBSchmidt

        “If we relied on religion for knowledge, we’d still be living like Lug and Wug.”

        More than anything Richard, I love how well you look done your nose at the religious.

        Is it your claim that Isaac Newton’s belief is God held him back? Or that he lived like Lug and Wug?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Is it your claim that Isaac Newton’s belief is God held him back? Or that he lived like Lug and Wug?

          Reading for comprehension really isn’t one of your strong points, is it?

          “If we relied on religion for knowledge, we’d still be living like Lug and Wug.”

          I’ve underlined the bit ya need to focus upon.

        • RichardSRussell

          Yeah, I think Newton’s penchant for woo-woo stuff really did hold him back. Nobody pays any attention any more to his dabblings in alchemy and the occult, because they couldn’t stand up under the tests I mentioned above. But his monumental curiosity led him down many roads, some of which proved to be blind alleys. Too bad he wasn’t able to devote all of that fabulous brain to science all the time.

          As to living like Lug and Wug, of course not. Newton had the benefit of the ratchet effect. Things that work get preserved and promoted, and future generations can benefit from them. We in the 21st Century have even more ratchet teeth behind us, because we’ve got even better record-preservation and data-communication techniques going for us.

          Religion, of course, would have us cling fervently to the folk “wisdom” of several millennia ago, under the laffably pretentious cover story of being “revealed knowledge”. Much of this crap would be hilarious if it weren’t taken so seriously by its adherents as to be sinister.

          Incidentally, you are mistaken when you think I have disdain for “the religious”. Pity for them, for the most part; anger at the ones who try to force others to conform to their beliefs; but not contempt. I reserve that not for people but for faith, the world’s worst method of arriving at decisions, a process which has burdened humanity not only with religion and its attendant evils but also quackery, superstition, conspiracy theories, creationism, gambling addictions, and Donald Trump.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Newton had the benefit of the ratchet effect. Things that work get preserved and promoted, and future generations can benefit from them. We in the 21st Century have even more ratchet teeth behind us, because we’ve got even better record-preservation and data-communication techniques going for us.

          Or as Newton himself put it….

          http://speedendurance.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/quote-if-i-have-seen-further-than-others-it-is-by-standing-upon-the-shoulders-of-giants-isaac-newton-135288.jpg

        • JBSchmidt

          You make a lot of assumptions.

          1) To assume that religion held back Newton, you would need to prove that scientists with a non-religious worldviews make predictions at a more accurate rate than those that hold a religious world view or prove that Newton would have come upon his theory of gravity had he not believed in God. Can you do either?

          2) Many religious scientists, like Newton, have faith in God because of evidence they see in science, not in spite of it. Most ID scientists (religious and non-religious) use the same scientific method that Newton and all others used to support their conclusions. Their faith is not blind, but rather acknowledges the plausible inability of a random combination of natural processes to create life and the universe we see. Not based on a #Goddidit mindset, but through the scientific method and an analysis of results.

          3) Finally, as you denigrate faith as a great societal ill, it strikes me that science today lives by the creed #Goddidn’tdoit and therefore either defends questionable hypothesis or searches those that don’t exist (dark matter). If a Christian says I disagree with science simply because ‘God’, they are wrong. If non-religious person disagrees with ID simply because ‘Science’, they are wrong as well. To claim one has faith and the other doesn’t is false. We all put faith in our worldview and use it interpret results and since we have fallible minds, neither one is 100% accurate.

        • RichardSRussell

          Here’s the way you phrased the question to which I was responding:

          Is it your claim that Isaac Newton’s belief is God held him back? Or that he lived like Lug and Wug?

          Even tho the structure of your question made it sound like an either/or proposition, I responded to each question independently. You asked “Is it your claim”, and I told you what I thot. Now you’re saying “you would need to prove”. I don’t need to prove a damn thing, JB. You asked what I thot, and I told you. Feel free to disagree if you wish; it’s a matter of opinion, after all.

          Faith is a great societal ill! Suppose Scientist X says “It rains because of elves. I have faith.” and Scientist Y says “It rains because of fairies. I have faith.” Neither one of them has evidence, tho, so their opinions are worthless. Besides, if faith can be used to arrive at diametrically opposed conclusions — so that the only way of settling the issue is to kill off everyone who disagrees with you — isn’t that prima facie evidence that it’s worthless and its adherents are deluded fools?

        • JBSchmidt

          1) You, in the previous post made the statement, “If we relied on religion for knowledge, we’d still be living like Lug and Wug” Oddly enough while promoting a scientific theory made by a scientists that believed in God. (seems self refuting, but I digress.). Did you really think I would take Richard’s words as scripture and that you wouldn’t need to defend them with evidence? It was you who made the statement, don’t blame me if you are expected to prove that statement.

          2) You continue to assume that a) the secular scientist doesn’t put faith in a worldview, and b) there is no evidence for ID. I think that only,makes you closed minded. Further, when you look at the scientific community today, the only people who believe the “only way of settling the issue is to kill off everyone who disagrees with you” is the secular scientist and those that put their faith in his work. The anti-Trump protests and other protests that work to ban conservative and Christian thought on campus stand as an example to this.

        • Herald Newman

          > 2) You continue to assume that[…] b) there is no evidence
          > for ID

          Oh, please, name me some empirical observations that are BEST explained by ID, and tell me why you think those are best explained by ID?

          Until somebody can present me with a scientific case for ID, I’ve very justified in assuming ID is bullshit, given the historical track record of the field! There’s a very good reason why almost the entire field of biology rejects ID, and it’s not because of a grand conspiracy against it.

        • MNb

          “there is no evidence for ID”
          As long as you don’t tell us which procedures the IDer followed and which means he used there is no evidence indeed, only wishful thinking.
          I have told you before and I’ll tell you again. IDiocy contains exactly three elements.
          1. Evolution Theory is wrong (often that includes abiogenesis and Big Bang, because creacrappers are so stupid and dishonest that they don’t distinguish between three completely different theories).
          2. God of the Gaps (like science can’t explain the origin of life, hence God – the creacrapper never takes the effort to make clear how God explains anything).
          3. Paley’s False Watchmaker Analogy (something material of which we pretty well know which procedures and means were necessary is designed by a material designer like a watchmaker hence something in nature that looks designed to the creacrapper must be designed by an immaterial designer without having any clue which procedures and means that immaterial designer used).
          Literally everything you write falls in one of those three categories. There is one exception, when you started to use arguments you stole from theistic evolution. Of course when I pointed that out to you you didn’t know how fast you should withdraw them.

        • RichardSRussell

          (1) Please, by all means, please do not, not now, not ever take my words as scripture. That’s a terrible way of arriving at opinions, leading to the sort of massive errors characterized by major institutions that have fallen into the same pit.

          Instead, apply a little introspection. Suppose I were to ask you “What’s your favorite color?” You could answer anything you like, but let’s say you chose blue. Then I say “Prove it.” How would you go about it? Because that’s what you’re asking of me, and I’m curious what sort of techniques you think would be viable.

          (2) the only people who believe the “only way of settling the issue is to kill off everyone who disagrees with you” is the secular scientist

          If you have access to a computer and even a passing acquaintance with search engines such as Google, I suggest you acquire some pleasant bedtime reading based on what you find under the key words “ISIS”, “Holocaust”, “Crusades”, and “Inquisition”. Perhaps throw in a little Arnaud Amalric as an aperitif.

        • JBSchmidt

          I didn’t ask you anything about yourself. You made a statement about a third party. ie “Isaac Newton’s favorite color was ______.” While, yes, that could be your opinion based on any number of factors, it is is not outside my line of questioning to ask you to prove the statement. If you have no evidence for this opinion it because not only worthless, but it is also slander.

          “If you have access to a computer and even a passing acquaintance with search engines such as Google”

          While you look down your nose at me with your straw man argument, maybe you would have noticed that I speaking of the present. However, I am sure this was simply an opinion and therefore my challenge to actual evidence is invalid.

        • Michael Neville

          the only people who believe the “only way of settling the issue is to kill off everyone who disagrees with you” is the secular scientist

          Obviously the word “Inquisition” and the phrase “burning at the stake” are foreign to you. I suggest you learn what these mean before you continue making this argument.

          protests that work to ban conservative and Christian thought on campus

          You can always trust a Christian, particularly a conservative Christian, to claim, in the face of reality, that persecuted Christians are being fed to the lions as we speak.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s a special kind of asinine theist that has been pitching up around here lately. Did you not read the tagline at the end of the OP or do you not know who the author of the comment, Blaise Pascal, actually is?

          Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully
          as when they do it for religious convictions.
          — Blaise Pascal

          Further, when you look at the scientific community today, the only people who believe the “only way of settling the issue is to kill off everyone who disagrees with you” is the secular scientist and those that put their faith in his work.

          Did you keep a straight face when you wrote that?

          What minuscule amount of credibility you may have had just went down the toilet.

          From your not-so-good-book, both bits, littered with religious persecution by your heroes YahwehJesus to Moses to David to Paul, the only way of settling the issue is to kill off everyone who disagrees with you. That extends right throughout human history right through to today. It is how religions have operated on the whole.

          It is central to fucked-up-in-the-head Islamic fundies following the lead of their hero such as IS, the Taliban, Boko Harum, etc., but there are plenty of Christian fuckwits on board with the same tactics. Not least in the U.S. and not just at the redneck knuckle dragging level, but sitting in government.

          http://religionnews.com/2016/05/27/gop-congressman-cites-bible-verses-calling-gays-worthy-of-death/

          That is not an isolated example either. I don’t even need to dig up evidence of those medical folk murdered by Christians because of their pro choice stance on abortion, it is common knowledge.

          I have my sneaking suspicions on your own views on what should be done to dissenters to your particular set of beliefs too btw. Your statements and opinions, dumb as fuck as they are, give the game away.

        • Herald Newman

          > If non-religious person disagrees with ID simply
          > because ‘Science’, they are wrong as well.

          I disagree with ID because for many reason reasons:
          1. It’s not science!
          2. Nobody has demonstrated that life is actually designed
          3. Nobody has demonstrated that intelligence is necessary for life
          4. Science has given us a pretty good explanation for the complexity of life, and no god’s are currently necessary
          5. We have a pretty good hypothesis for how life started, and no god’s are involved there either
          6. Supernatural causation CANNOT be established, therefore it is always completely unjustified to attribute supernatural causes to anything!

        • JBSchmidt

          That works well in atheist circles in which you all share faith in a common worldview.

          1) To say its not science, is philosophical and not scientific.
          2) Nobody has seen life arise outside a designed lab experiment.
          3) Again, outside the intelligence of the scientist, nobody has shown that the encoded information within DNA has ever spontaneously appeared.
          4) Explanation without evidence is Faith.
          5) Explanation without evidence is Faith.
          6) In the stories of secular history, there are unobservable events whose causation cannot be established or remain only theoretical (faith based). Are they completely unjustified?

        • MNb

          1) Wrong. It’s a matter of definition. Science by definition says nothing about the supposed supernatural reality. IDiocy does. Hence IDiocy is not science. The Wedge Document, written by IDiots, admits it openly.
          @4 and @5: you’re lying as usual. Ao I have given all kinds of evidence. You just reject it. That’s actually OK, but sayhing “without evidence” remains a lie. The honest formulation (I know, nearly impossible for any creacrapper) would be “explanation without evidence that’s acceptable to me is Faith – but that sounds awfully silly, as you no doubt realize. Hence you rather lie.

        • Herald Newman

          1. When talking about methods of gaining knowledge, particularly about the natural work, philosophy is exactly the tool that should be used! Seriously, I told you yesterday to study a little bit about the philosophy of science, but clearly you aren’t interested. If you want me to accept a different methodology for investigation, you NEED to demonstrate that this other methodology is reliable.
          2. So what? Argument from ignorance. Demonstrate that life is actually designed. Nobody expects life to spontaneously arise every day, except the creatards who don’t understand science.
          3. Again, argument from ignorance. Demonstrate that intelligence is necessary for life, otherwise this is simply an assertion.
          4. Seriously, go study a little bit. There really is plenty of evidence, and no faith is required. It’s not my job to do your studying for you.
          5. Abiogenesis is still a hypothesis, but it has pretty good support behind it. We have a very plausible explanation, but it still needs work to be completed.
          6. Don’t know what you’re talking about. Can you give an example?

        • JBSchmidt

          1) To claim that something is ‘not science’ is a philosophical statement based on your faith that the unanswered questions will be answered in a way favorable to your worldview.
          2 & 3) I see, you can make arguments from ignorance, but I can’t. Convenient. Oddly enough, there is mountains of evidence showing life is created when designed, but known to the opposite. Which by its nature would point to intelligence required for life. However, you have the right to put your faith in your stories.
          4) Actually, that’s not true. As we learn more, evolutionary scientists need to continue to back pedal their previous erroneous predictions to make the new information fit. The clearer answer, assuming you can set aside your faith, is that complexity doesn’t have a clear evolutionary explanation/path.
          5) It is untestable. Science doesn’t know where life started (pool of mud or ocean vent), can’t witness it happening today and the designed lab experiments use the intelligence of scientist to create perfect situations for specific molecular formations (of course minus those natural factors that would have degraded those same formations had it happened outside the lab).
          6) Multiverse, inflation, big bang, abiogenesis, natural selection causing the wide variety of animal life, etc.

        • Herald Newman

          1. No, to claim that something is “not science” is a claim that it doesn’t follow the established methodology!

          2&3. What exactly is the argument from ignorance in science? There is NO evidence that life is “designed”, and experts don’t accept your conclusion.

          4. You’re out to lunch, and are just lying! The experts disagree with you.

          5. We may never know how life started exactly, given that the direct evidence for it is gone, but we can come up with plausible natural explanations that can explain how it could have happened.
          6. Inflation, big bang, and natural selection are well established science, and accepted as truth by the vast majority of experts in relevant fields. Multiverse is a prediction of inflation. Abiogenesis is not a theory, but still a hypothesis.

          I grow tired of trying to argue with somebody who doesn’t understand a fucking lick about science. Enjoy your ignorance!

        • Pofarmer

          The problems isn’t that people like this enjoy their ignorance. The problem is that they spread it.

        • JBSchmidt

          1) What in ID doesn’t follow established methodology?

          2 & 3) Which experts? The one with your world view? Or are we back to the notion of consensus=truth? You stated that ID was wrong because it lacked evidence to prove it was true. That is an argument from ignorance.

          4) Ok. Didn’t mean to insult your bedtime stories.

          5) Faith? We ‘may never know’ ‘direct evidence is gone’ ‘come up with plausible’ ‘how it could’. So what you are saying is that science doesn’t even know exactly what it is searching for, yet if an intelligent scientist can design a lab experiment that must prove this whole system of life started completely at random. No faith needed there! Now I understand your defensiveness in #4.

          6)The belief in inflation requires an acceptance of dark matter that can’t found through any experiment and the fluctuation in background microwaves measured on earth that when investigated in space turned out to be cosmic dust. Again, natural selection fails when science tries to make it happen (see fruit flies and e.coli).

          “I grow tired of trying to argue with somebody who doesn’t understand a fucking lick about science. Enjoy your ignorance!

          That is a typical response when those holding to a secular world view are forced to explain a story written with no evidence but only ever increasing layers of assumptions.

        • Herald Newman

          > 2 & 3) Which experts? The one with your world view?
          > Or are we back to the notion of consensus=truth?

          Fuck, have you not taken your philosophy of science class yet? It’s pretty obvious that you haven’t.

          The consensus of experts, in the field, doesn’t tell us that the theories are definitely true, but it does give us the best approximation of truth that we can have.

        • JBSchmidt

          “[Expletive Deleted], have you not taken your philosophy of science class yet? It’s pretty obvious that you haven’t.”

          Not unlike Richard, it warms my heart to see anti-religious people look down on the religious with such disdain. Such blind confidence that your ‘best approximation of truth’ is actually real.

          “The consensus of experts, in the field, doesn’t tell us that the theories are definitely true, but it does give us the best approximation of truth that we can have.”

          No kidding! Yet they are defended with religious fervor even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Rather than be opened minded, and do actual science, humanists in the science world, as yourself, leave science in a ditch as you defend your world view, not science, against any attempt to consider ID. ID if honestly examined does no harm to science; however, it could cause great harm to the humanist world view.

        • kraut2

          “ID if honestly examined does no harm to science; however, it could cause great harm to the humanist world view”

          No, but it can harm science education in schools and therefore was denied inclusion in the science curriculum as it is nothing but creationism with a pseudo scientific veneer.

          “A final indicator of how ID has failed to demonstrate scientific warrant is the complete absence of peer-reviewed publications supporting the theory. Expert
          testimony revealed that the peer review process is “exquisitely important” in the scientific process. It is a way for scientists to write up their empirical research and
          to share the work with fellow experts in the field, opening up the hypotheses to study, testing, and criticism.”

          “On cross-examination, Professor Behe admitted that: “There are no peer reviewed articles by anyone advocating for intelligent design supported by pertinent experiments or calculations which provide detailed rigorous accounts of how intelligent design of any biological system occurred.”

          https://ncse.com/files/pub/legal/kitzmiller/highlights/2005-12-20_Kitzmiller_decision.pdf

          http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/design.htm
          ” I have argued that Intelligent Design is a philosophical and theological hypothesis, not a scientific one. As long as people continue to ignore this essential distinction, this controversy will continue with negative consequences for our cultural stability and the integrity of science education in this country.”

        • MNb

          “it warms my heart to see anti-religious people look down on the religious with such disdain.”
          And it warms my heart to see that creationists keep on lying.
          We don’t look down on you because you’re religious.
          We look down on you because you are anti-science, are ignorant about what you claim and keep on lying.
          At the other hand we have the greatest respect for the work of scientists like Kenneth Miller, Francis Collins, Max Planck and Werner Heisenberg. All four are religious. None of them are creationists, ie none of them are as stupid as you.

        • Herald Newman

          > Such blind confidence that your ‘best approximation of
          > truth’ is actually real.

          It works, and produces real results! Again, philosophy of science would help you understand that, but you don’t seem to care. You’re more interested in remaining in ignorance, and spreading outright lies.

          > Yet they are defended with religious fervor even in the
          > face of evidence to the contrary

          Bullshit! You’re effectively claiming that there’s a conspiracy against the truth to prop up evolution. This is beyond absurd!

          > Rather than be opened minded, and do actual science,
          > humanists in the science world, as yourself, leave
          > science in a ditch as you defend your world view, not
          > science, against any attempt to consider ID

          Oh that’s fucking rich coming from somebody who cherry picks the science he likes, and throws away the science he does, when it becomes too inconvenient. I’ve considered ID, and I’m going with the experts who reject it as nothing more than pseudo-science to push their religious agenda. We all know that the designer they want to push is the Christian God.

          > ID if honestly examined does no harm to science

          If “honesty” was involved, the ID proponents would admit that they’re trying to do an end-run around science, and subvert the process. If anything, creeps like Dembski, Meyer, and Behe, can’t do real science, and run to the likes of the Discovery Institute which supports they’re attempts to hack at science.

          > however, it could cause great harm to the humanist
          > world view.

          Actually, even if there was demonstrated to be a designer, humanism would still be just as applicable as it is today. Humanism works whether there is a designer or not.

        • MNb

          1) When a hypothesis “derived” from ID it isn’t dropped, it’s reformulated that it becomes unfalsifiable. Just a few years ago a main ID argument was “life cannot come from non-life”. Now IDiots have noticed – including you – that on short term life will come from non-life in labs they have changed the argument – and raised the bar.
          The same with irreducible complexity. IDiots predicted that the mousetrap was irreducible complex; when this was falsified they didn’t drop it.
          Also like every single creacrapper you dishonestly want to discuss scientific theories while rejecting scientific terminology. When I point at observed speciation you reply with the totally irrelevant “but flies remain flies” – rejecting the biological definition of species. You seem to do this in this very comment; see underneath.

          2&3) The ones who actually have studied Evolution Theory and do research on it.

          6) “dark matter that can’t found through any experiment”
          Prove that it never will be found. It can’t be found right now, but that’s nothing special. When Einstein predicted deflection of light by large masses it couldn’t be found either.
          Btw must I conclude that you reject quarks as well because they can’t be found? If yes you are well on your way to rejecting all natural science of the last 100 years. If no your argument is just another example of special pleading. In both cases my congratulations.
          What do you mean with “natural selection” fails? It totally has been observed to cause speciation.
          Oh wait – you’re referring to something like “cats turning into dogs” blooper. See 1).

        • MNb

          “To claim that something is ‘not science’ is a philosophical statement”
          From ignorance to willful ignorance to lying, that’s the comfortable wide road JBS prefers.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2016/11/frank-tureks-criminally-bad-c-r-i-m-e-s-argument-reason-2/#comment-3006858595

          It’s not anymore a philosophical statement than the claim that something ‘is not a chair’.

        • kraut2

          “To claim that something is ‘not science’ is a philosophical statement
          based on your faith that the unanswered questions will be answered in a
          way favorable to your worldview”

          I still trying to make sense of this sentence.

          Science is first and foremost a process to investigate natural phenomena, that follows certain rules of gathering evidence, creating a hypothesis and testing that hypothesis by trying to falsify it

          The methodologies involved are varied depending which branch is investigating and tested but also are continously being refined.

          To claim something is not science then simply means the statements regarding some thing in the natural world is not based upon this process. Which applies to ID.

          Science is also an accumulation of knowledge gathered with the help of the scientific process, a body of work but this body of work still is contingent on improved methodologies that can overturn accepted theories.

          To claim something is not science can mean the claims made fall outside that body of knowledge. It is up to those who made the claim to come up with a falsifiable hypothesis and prove their claim has any value. ID also fails in that regard.

          “that the unanswered questions will be answered in a
          way favorable to your worldview”

          I still do not comprehend what this statement has to do with the claim that something is not science. There are still more unanswered question regarding the natural world than answers,and only a limited amount of scientists.

          There are unanswered question, and the eventual answer will be favourable to a naturalist worldview as the divine would only be falsifiable if it had an observable influence in the natural world – and observable would mean quantifiable and could be documented.

          No evidence exists for such an influence and no hypothesis ever was needed a divine force or influence as an explanation for any natural phenomenon.

        • MNb

          While I enjoyed your comment and totally agree (though I could add a few points) still one question bugs me: are you sure you wanted to reply to me iso JBS?

        • kraut2

          To JBS of course, your post was just conveniently placed…:-)

        • kraut2

          “Actually, that’s not true. As we learn more, evolutionary scientists need to continue to back pedal
          their previous erroneous predictions to make the new information fit.
          The clearer answer, assuming you can set aside your faith, is that
          complexity doesn’t have a clear evolutionary explanation/path”

          Lying much?

          What are the erroneous predictions? That all living organisms are related? That changes in the genome can cause changes in the phenotype? That natural selection acts on any organism? That evolution works either by natural or artificial selection?

          Backpedaling? to where? Back to Darwin or back to the bible? Sorry, now you are really lying.

          The literature on evolution is so vast now with new information that in no way leads to backpedaling, but to refinement of the theory and added confirmation of the correctness of the theory”

          “. Oddly enough, there is mountains of evidence showing life is created when designed, but known to the opposite.”

          What the fuck is that supposed to mean?

        • MNb

          “To assume that religion held back Newton, you would need to prove that scientists with a non-religious worldviews make predictions at a more accurate rate than those that hold a religious world view.”
          Nope.
          RR only needs to show that maintain that the quality of Newton’s scientific work is much higher than of his religious and superstitious work.
          That’s very, very easy.

          “Many religious scientists, like Newton, have faith in God because of evidence they see in science.”
          No matter how many, it remains a salto mortale from our concrete world to a supposed divine world.

          “Most ID scientists (religious and non-religious) use the same scientific method that Newton and all others used to support their conclusions.”
          And …. JBS starts lying again. There are no non-religious IDiots. I have spend time to look for them. None. Nada. Zilch. All IDiots are religious without any exception.
          And they don’t use the same scientific method that Newton and all others used to support their scientific conclusions. The Wedge Document, authored by IDiots, admits it openly in the introduction.

          “the plausible inability of a random combination of natural processes to create life and the universe we see.”
          That may or may not be the case, postulating supernatural processes by definition means not using the scientific method. The scientific method means methodological naturalism.
          You can infer your god where and whenever and as often as you want – it has nothing to do with science and hence cannot replace science, as all religious scientists of the last 150 years recognize.
          So referring to them is also a form of lying.

        • kraut2

          “it strikes me that science today lives by the creed #Goddidn’tdoit and
          therefore either defends questionable hypothesis or searches those that
          don’t exist (dark matter).”

          Science has no need to assume that a supernatural entity exists to explain any observable and observed phenomena. It is not a creed but the simple fact that evidence for divine interference in the natural world does not exist.

          “If non-religious person disagrees with ID simply because ‘Science’, they are wrong as well.”

          Ahh, the funny thing is that ID tries to harness their version of science (by distorting it into being unrecognizable).

          It is just their “science” tries to fit the data to their presuppositions of divine interference, while real science looks at the data and develops the theory from what the data and research point at …like an old age of earth and an older age of the Universe and either a beginning from a quantum fluctuation or an eternal state of being as in LQC.

          “We all put faith in our worldview and use it interpret results and since we have fallible minds, neither one is 100% accurate.”

          Maybe you do, I change my world view according to available evidence. I.e. I do not believe that we know which theory of the Universe is correct, lets see. I do not even believe we know yet if Trump really turns out to be an utter disaster for the US and the world or for the US alone or might actually achieve some beneficial things for both.
          The worldview based on religion has been refuted utterly, from the history of the Universe to the shape of the earth to any explanation of natural phenomena and natural history.

          Religion is an abject failure when it comes to grounding ones morality – especially Judaism, Christianity and Islam – on the teachings contained in their unholy books to grounding ones science on anything written there as well.

        • To assume that religion held back Newton

          Did the assumptions of alchemy hold him back? I realize that his alchemical work was great training, but suppose he’d approached the problem trying to disprove alchemy.

        • JBSchmidt

          It doesn’t take much time to show that Newton more likely fell pray to materialistic science while practicing alchemy, rather than a Christian desire. By this time Christianity had already taken a stand against alchemy. The stronger case could be made that had Newton stayed true to his religion, he would have attempted to disprove alchemy.

          However, you, like Richard, aren’t presenting any evidence for your claims. Just opinions that we are to accept as gospel.

        • By this time Christianity had already taken a stand against alchemy.

          What’s this mean? That Christianity has always been the champion of following scientific evidence, and we’re the ones to blame for not following its lead?

          I think we’re pretty far apart in this evaluation.

        • JBSchmidt

          I wasn’t aware we were discussing the totality of scientific reasoning. Here I thought we were talking about Isaac Newton and the false claims made by Richard which you apparently support.

          You, in support of Richard, attempted to insinuate that Isaac’s study of alchemy was associated with his religion. However, the Christian religion, which Isaac subscribed to in some manor, had already rejected the study of alchemy. So you, following in Richards footsteps, are wrong. In fact, it was secular or non-Christian religious science that was continuing to force the issue of alchemy. Rather than introducing a red herring to the argument, why not try to defend the statement you made.

        • Greg G.

          By this time Christianity had already taken a stand against alchemy.

          Has Christianity taken a stand against John 2:1-11 where Jesus turned water into wine? That would have to be alchemy.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Because Christians have never looked to the Bible as a source for alchemy inspiration….or have they?

          http://www.academia.edu/218755/_Alchemy_and_the_Bible_

        • JBSchmidt

          That link is the definition of confirmation bias.

        • kraut2

          Do you actually know what confirmation bias means? Did you actually read this article? How can a link be a confirmation bias? Which indicates that as per usual for ignoramuses like you you saw something that seems to violate your preconceived notions and decided it would be unwise to read past the link title.
          Or are you as usually just talking out of some excretory orifice?

          If you had actually read the article, you would have found that the bible was interpreted – the same way it is interpreted as a scientific text by creationists (regarding the age of the Universe, creation of species or kinds, a world wide flood etc) – from early on in Christianity as an allegorical text that hid the knowledge of transmutation that was known to the apostles. It was used by of course Christian alchemists (and Newton was a Christian) as a handbook …but if you really want to contribute anything worthwhile instead of a pile of bovine dung you have to read before you open your preferred orifices to release onto humanity what your fact free opinion.

        • MNb

          Upvoted because this time you did an extraordinary job making a total fool out of yourself.
          It would have been confirmation bias if IA had written something like “ALL Christians use the Bible as a source for alchemy inspiration.”
          Obviously he didn’t write that.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You are a funny guy Smiffy…a will give ya that.

        • kraut2

          You think mental deficiencies are funny?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I think stupidity is funny….as to mental diff’s, I’ll leave that to the experts.

        • kraut2
        • Kevin K

          Actually, Newton inserted god into his equations of planetary motion when he couldn’t get them to jibe with observations. And Laplace famously kicked god out of those equations.

          So…the answer to your question is “yes”. If Newton had been less eager to insert a god, Laplace would never have become famous.

          You really do need to be better informed about subjects before you embarrass yourself in this manner.

        • Rudy R

          I suspect the likes of a 21st century Newton wouldn’t have a reason to believe in a god, because his livelihood wouldn’t depend on it.

        • Joe

          Is it your claim that Isaac Newton’s belief is God held him back?

          Quite possibly. He certainly wasn’t very skeptical about supernatural ideas, which led to him wasting his time with alchemy.

    • Kevin K

      The bottom line is “you can’t.” And no scientist will declare otherwise. That’s why science is about verification. In the process of scientific discovery, more work goes into verifying observations by disinterested or even hostile third parties than in the initial observations. It’s the way you get around the “fooling yourself” problem Feynman warned against.

      Again, you have such limited knowledge of the processes of science, that I don’t think this a fruitful avenue for you to pursue.

      Besides which, even if science were proved 100% fallible, that does not make your woo woo correct. Some other woo woo could be better. That’s the old false dichotomy logical fallacy staring you in the face. So, your critical thinking skills seem to need a brush-up as well.

    • Michael Neville

      What is reality?

      “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” –Philip K. Dick

    • Joe

      What is reality?

      For me, it is what has consistently shown itself to exist. I trust you have a definition of your own.

      That sword cuts both ways. How can you trust the conclusion of science if the scientist’s reasoning is fallible?

      You can’t.

      • Ignorant Amos

        You can’t.

        Indeed. And a don’t think anyone is trying to make the claim ya can, so that’ll be another straw man fallacy chalked up to Smiffy.

        Which has been shown to be the case in the past and no doubt will be the case in the future. That’s one of the beauties of the method.

        And his “sword cuts both way” is a false equivalence.

        That science is still infinitely superior to any alternative that has ever been proposed, including god-did-it, seems to elude Smiffy. The ignorant dolts like Smiffy will never know this, because they prefer to wallow in religiously based asininity.

    • Zeta

      JBSchmidt: “How can you trust the conclusion of science if the scientist’s reasoning is fallible?

      Are you using products and technologies that result from the conclusions of science? Such as the computer, tablet, or smart phone that you are using to post your comments here. Maybe you post with Yahweh’s or Jesus’ miraculous help. Do you drive a car, travel in a jet, use GPS or visit any modern medical facility for treatments?

      You sorely need a proper science education.

  • Sophia Sadek

    The history of Christianity is a tale of the suppression of reason in favor of obedience to blind faith and its despotic authority. Reason has always contradicted Church doctrine.

    • TheNuszAbides

      cue interminable Thomist spin machine.

  • Kevin K

    Quote mining Darwin: The first refuge of a scoundrel, apparently.

  • Kevin K

    Psychic numbing is a related problem. This is the observation, “One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.”

    One e-mail scandal is a tragedy. A plethora of scandals gets you elected POTUS.

  • Jack Baynes

    So there’s no god, we can’t trust reason. We have to assume that God deliberately designed our brains so that reason would lead us to the conclusion that we have no evidence for his existence…..

    Once again, God’s a dick.

  • Jonathan Morgan

    I would tend to argue “reason may not be 100% perfect, but it is useful”. But I like your much more bold and direct approach.

    Can we use the free will defence here? i.e. Maybe reason requires God to exist, but if he created humans that were completely reasonable that would interfere with their free will to do unreasonable things. I’m sure you could extend the same to memory – a perfect and reliable memory might get in the way of free will.

  • Turek is just a pathetic debater. I want to see him debate Dillahunty, Aron Ra. I’d like to see him debate Carrier on historicity.

    • That would be interesting. But it does bring up the odd fact that no matter how bad an apologist does, it never seems to affect his reputation among his people.

      • That is a shame. No matter how bad Turek, or Ray Comfort, or David Wood, or any other apologist does in a debate, their stock value never seems to go down. They’d have to have a gay affair in order for that to happen. We atheists should not do that. Bad atheist debaters need to go – and quickly. I’m very dissatisfied with most of the crop.

        • They’d have to have a gay affair in order for that to happen.

          There’s always the tearful apology route back into Christians’ good graces. It usually works.

          Bad atheist debaters need to go – and quickly. I’m very dissatisfied with most of the crop.

          Have you seen the Sean Carroll/Wm. Lane Craig debate? Quite fun. I wrote about it in this blog.

        • Carroll is one of my favs. I think he’s one of the best advocates for atheism/naturalism out there today. Matt Dillahunty does a good job too, but the list of good atheist debaters is unfortunately short.

  • Sam

    What do you mean our societies aren’t run by lizard people?