When Christians observed the errors of skeptics

Mike Riddle recalled this exchange when presenting on creation at a secular university:

So finally, a student had a Bible there—not a Christian—and he read where people [were] living to be 900 years old, right from the Bible. And he said, “do you believe people really lived to be 900 years old?”…

And my response kind of stopped him for just a moment. And my response was, “yes, don’t you?”

A very simple answer, wasn’t it? And he responded, after it kind of dawned on him…

He said, “well no!” And I asked him, “well, why not?”

See, what I’m doing is not giving the evidence, I’m getting to the root of why he made that statement. That’s where you gotta get to. Why did they believe what they believe? If you pull that out, the evidence is a non-issue…

He said that “that’s never been observed!”

He just lost the argument, folks, because my next question was, “do you believe that life originated by naturalistic processes?”

He said, “yes.”

“May I ask, have you ever observed that?”

He knew he just got caught in his own contradiction, didn’t he? I showed him his worldview was inconsistent.

Quote Source

Riddle, M. (2015). Christian Education, Pass or Fail? Available https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m5PIOLro8M. Last accessed 8th Aug 2015.

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Scientism is weak on the origin of consciousness

This loaded statement came from RationalWiki:

We do not know why or even when consciousness evolved.

But that statement assumes that scientism and naturalism should be taken literally!

Now compare that with the following:

If we make a really conscious robot, if we ‘synthesize’ consciousness and the unity of consciousness from non-conscious materials, what we have done is to assemble components that form a unified physical thing at which consciousness is manifested.  But this neutral description of what we have done leaves open two possibilities:

  1. The one is that consciousness simply comes into existence without cause at that complex configuration of physical components but is in no way caused by or emergent from that complex configuration.  In this case we have not synthesized consciousness from nonconscious materials; we have simply brought together certain material components at which consciousness appears.
  2. The other possibility is that consciousness comes into manifestation at the complex configuration of physical components ab extra, from outside the natural sphere.  A crude theological way of thinking of this would be that a purely spiritual being, God, ‘implants’ consciousness in sufficiently complex physical systems.

On both (1) and (2), consciousness arises at a certain level of material complexity, but not from matter. On (1) it just arises as a matter of brute fact. On (2), consciousness comes from consciousness.  On neither does consciousness have a natural origin. On (1) consciousness does not originate from anything. On (2) it has a non-natural origin.

Quote sources

  1. RationalWiki (2014). Consciousness. Available http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Consciousness. Last accessed 1st Aug 2015.
  2. Vallicella, B. (2013). The Relevance of Conscious Robots for the Philosophy of Mind. Maverick Philosopher. Available http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2013/08/the-relevance-of-conscious-robots-for-the-philosophy-of-mind.html. Last accessed 1st Aug 2015.

Ken Ham outshines Bill Nye (and Paul Davies)

According to Paul Davies:

But suppose biologists tell us that living organisms are nothing but collections of molecules interacting in complicated ways, that there is nothing more to it than that…Surely, it is much better for us to behold the wonder and ingenuity of nature exposed by the spotlight of knowledge than for us to hide in the corner of ignorance?

But according to Ken Ham (recalling an encounter with Bill Nye):

Bill Nye said that…he ‘loves the joy of discovery’ that’s what it’s all about, this mystery of the joy of discovery.

One of the things I said to Bill Nye was this: You know, from your perspective, no God, we’re the result of natural processes, when you die, you cease to exist, so when you die, you won’t even know you ever existed, and when people who knew you die, they won’t know you existed, you won’t know they existed—what is the purpose of this ‘joy of discovery’?

Tell me, what’s the point? I mean from your perspective, life is meaningless and purposeless—and he gets his strength from that?

Well, I don’t. I get my strength from the Word of God. The eternal God. The infinite creator God, who knows all things, who’s given us his word, and who’s saved us for eternity in what he did on the cross at Calvary.

Quote source

  1. Davies, P. (1998). More Big Questions: Paul Davies in Conversation with Phillip Adams. ABC Books, Sydney, p. 16
  2. Ham, K. (2014). Where Do You Find Your Strength? Ken Ham Answers. Available http://youtu.be/yKABgSPGIYw. Last accessed 7th Feb 2014

Quantifying Paul Davies’ faith in naturalism

According to Paul Davies:

It’s a little bit like going for a walk in the countryside, coming across a pile of bricks and assuming that there will be a house around the corner…Some scientists say, just throw energy at it and it will happen spontaneously. That’s a little bit like saying: put a stick of dynamite under a pile of bricks, and bang, you’ve got a house! Of course you won’t have a house, you’ll just have a mess…You can say that if you replay the scenario often enough, sooner or later, just by chance, the right molecular combination will occur. The argument is absolutely correct. Chance will work miracles given enough time.

But when juxtaposed against the next quote, Davies’ faith claim is unconvincing:

As  [James] Coppedge (1973) notes, even:

  1. postulating a primordial sea with every single component necessary for life
  2. speeding up the bonding rate so as to form different chemical combinations a trillion times more rapidly than hypothesized to have occurred
  3. allowing for a 4.6 billion- year-old earth
  4. using all atoms on the earth,

still leaves the probability of a single protein molecule being arranged by chance is 1 in 10,261. Using the lowest estimate made before the discoveries of the past two decades raised the number several fold. Coppedge estimates the probability of 1 in 10119,879 is necessary to obtain the minimum set of the required estimate of 239 protein molecules for the smallest theoretical life form.

At this rate he estimates it would require 10119,831 years on the average to obtain a set of these proteins by naturalistic evolution (1973, pp. 110, 114).  The number he obtained is 10119,831 greater than the current estimate for the age of the earth (4.6 billion years). In other words, this event is outside the range of probability…

In spite of the overwhelming empirical and probabilistic evidence that life could not originate by natural processes, evolutionists possess an unwavering belief that some day they will have an answer to how life could spontaneously generate.

Quote source
  1. Davies, P. (1998). More Big Questions: Paul Davies in Conversation with Phillip Adams. ABC Books, Sydney, pp. 47-49
  2. Bergman, J. (2000). Why Abiogenesis is Impossible. The True.Origin Archive. Available http://www.trueorigin.org/abio.asp. Last accessed 31st Jan 2015.

The philosophy of science, through Christian eyes

The humanist believes this world is all there is. Life is defined chemically and physiologically, within totally naturalistic confines. They reason that if the reality of our world is entirely natural, then definition is relatively easy. Given enough time, all things can be defined after sufficient research, dissection, experimentation, or study. From a Christian perspective, this is not true. Leviticus 17:11 makes clear that life is “in the blood” but it is even more clear that life is not from the blood, but from God. (Genesis 2:7). To understand life we must look beyond life to God. Definition has to be more than naturalistic: it goes beyond us and our world, and is thus in essence impossible. For us, therefore, science is not definitive but descriptive and theological. Science will become more productive if it abandons its goal to define naturalistically (which leads to theoretical science) and limits itself to description in terms of theological premises.

Quote source

Rushdoony, R. J. (1984). A Christian Creationist View of Teaching Science. Answers in Genesis. Available. https://answersingenesis.org/creation-science/a-christian-creationist-view-of-teaching-science/. Last accessed 17th Jan 2015.

RationalWiki serves, backhanded by Bob Perry

RationalWiki offers this:

The basic assumption of theism, that God does exist, hasn’t been backed up with solid and universally convincing evidence – so arguing the finer points of the nature of God is quite pointless.

But Bob Perry has a better grasp on the situation:

But if science is the only appropriate defender of the Naturalistic worldview, it seems fair to ask how science can analyze things that, under the presuppositions of Naturalism, are not possible even in principle? How do the priests of scientism propose to explain away non-natural realities?

Take for instance the often-repeated declaration that “science has disproved God.” This is an odd claim to say the least. For one thing, it must simultaneously address the mutually exclusive truths that: 1) science is the study of the physical universe and, 2) no credible theist has ever claimed that God is part of the physical universe. This detail seems to be lost on the priests of scientism – especially on those who espouse their disbelief in the deity with a smug wave of the hand and a demand for “evidence.”

They insist that the Christian theist offer acceptable physical evidence for a non-physical entity that the scientific clergy has already dismissed by mere presupposition. Do they not see the circularity in their reasoning? Without it, the entire scaffolding of scientism collapses under the weight of its own criteria for identifying truth.

Quote sources

  1.  RationalWiki (2013). Atheism FAQ for the Newly Deconverted. Available http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/RationalWiki_Atheism_FAQ_for_the_Newly_Deconverted. Last accessed 31st Dec 2013.
  2. Perry, B. (2010). Defrocking the Priests of Scientism. Apologetics 315. Available http://www.apologetics315.com/2010/04/essay-defrocking-priests-of-scientism.html. Last accessed 17h Oct 2013.

Naturalism: a kite that goes through the motions?

I read this from the atheist Steven Pinker:

The facts of science, by exposing the absence of purpose in the laws governing the universe, force us to take responsibility for the welfare of ourselves, our species, and our planet.

But two hours beforehand, I read this from Bill Vallicella:

The truth may be this. People who hold a naturalistic view and deny any purpose beyond the purposes that we individually and collectively project, and yet experience their lives as meaningful and purposeful, may simply not appreciate the practical consequences of their own theory. It may be that they have not existentially appropriated or properly internalized their theory. They don’t appreciate that their doctrine implies that their lives are objectively meaningless, that their moral seriousness is misguided, that their values are without backing. They are running on the fumes of a moral tradition whose theoretical underpinning they have rejected.

If that is right, then their theory contradicts their practice, but since they either do not fully understand their theory, or do not try to live it, the contradiction remains hidden from them.

My two cents

Beautiful Morning Sunrise on Saturday, 17th Au...
Beautiful Morning Sunrise on Saturday, 17th August 2013 at 6:41 am (Photo credit: Nature Photographer 12)

With the first quote, I’m not sure if the conclusion follows neatly and logically from the premises. On first blush, there feels like a gap between the two—which makes for the reach at the end. Whatever reach is made, I gather it’s not then clutching at straws.

With the second quote, while written in a different context, is more logical and connected; the link between the premises and the conclusion are much stronger. If naturalism (in its scientific manifestation) happens to be true, then the kite of human existence is propelled by an indifferent and purposeless wind. So then, to what extent is naturalism an exercise in going through the motions?

The first quote comes from an article entitled Science is not your enemy; but can the same be said of naturalism?

Quote sources

  1. Pinker, S. (2013). Science is Not Your Enemy: An impassioned plea to neglected novelists, embattled professors, and tenure-less historians. Available: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114127/science-not-enemy-humanities. Last accessed 7th Nov 2013.
  2. Vallicella, B. (2013). Would Naturalism Make Life Easier?. Available: http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2013/08/would-naturalism-make-life-easier.html. Last accessed 7th Nov 2013.