The moneymaking trope held by evolutionists

According to RationalWiki:

However, the modern-day conception of this dispute [science vs. religion/creationism] is mostly due to creationists framing it as a question of evolution theory versus Christianity, the better to pry cash out of the faithful of the world.

RationalWiki’s utterance reminded me of this:

You might be a fundamentalist atheist if:

303. You believe any person who writes a book critical of Christianity is doing it for “education” purposes. Conversely, you believe that any person who writes a book defending Christianity is “just in it to make money.”

Quote sources

  1. RationalWiki (2015). 12 Arguments Evolutionists Should Avoid. Available Last accessed 13th Sep 2015.
  2. GakuesiDon (n.d.). You Might be a Fundamentalist Atheist if…Available Last accessed 13th Sep 2015

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 Last accessed 1st Aug 2015.
  2. Vallicella, B. (2013). The Relevance of Conscious Robots for the Philosophy of Mind. Maverick Philosopher. Available Last accessed 1st Aug 2015.

The Gospel according to RationalWiki

According to RationalWiki:

The Gospels — the most direct and contemporaneous biographical material of Jesus known — were…picked out of a much greater number of books by a Catholic bishop named Eusebius around 250 years later.

But that’s a ham-fisted effort by RW. A much more nuanced understanding of canonicity comes from Richard Bauckham:

…The term canon means that there are four and only four authentic and authoritative Gospels. We find an unequivocal expression of that latter view for the first time in Irenaeus of Lyons, the great theologian who was writing around the end of the second century. We find Irenaeus defending the view that there are four authentic Gospels, no fewer and no more, against proposals that the church should only use one Gospel as well as against advocates of many Gospels besides the four…

So how did the four Gospel canon come about? The first thing to say is that we have to admit that there’s a great deal we don’t know. I think the reason for that is that the actual process of canonization, the discernment and decision about the status of various Gospel writings, was primarily a grassroots process. It took place at the level of local Christian communities. Some such process had to happen in local Christian communities at a very early stage, because, from an early stage, in Christian worship, there were readings from the Old Testament scriptures and also from Christian writings, and no doubt there was often exposition of both. Any church had to decide which Christian writings were suitable for reading alongside the Old Testament, which must have meant pretty much scriptural status. We can imagine a process by which a degree of consensus would have spread, as one community heard what other communities were reading as scripture. An informal consensus would have grown up, at least about some groups, though it will never have been a complete consensus. But the fact is that we have limited evidence of how that happened.

Quote sources

  1. RationalWiki (2013). RationalWiki Atheism FAQ for the Newly Deconverted.  Available Last accessed 31st Dec 2013.
  2. Bauckham, R. (n.d.) The Canonicity of the Four Gospels [sermon]. Available Last accessed 8th Jun 2015.

Religion precedes politics, not vice versa

According to RationalWiki:

What about politics? How should I vote? Follow the issues and vote as your conscience tells you, of course…Politics is the sort of complex issue that should not be decided on a single factor, whether it be your religion, race or sexuality.

But RationalWiki wasn’t very convincing. Now compare that with R.J. Rushdoony’s more grounded view:

Behind all this is the question of authority: is it from God, or from man? If God is the sovereign authority over all things, then His law-word alone can govern all things. Religion, politics, economics, science, education, law and all things else must be under God, or they are in revolt!…

Contrary to the humanistic, democratic mood in religious thought today, Christianity is an authoritative faith. It is held, throughout all Scripture, that all human authority is derived or conferred (or falsely claimed) and is always subject to the sovereign and absolute authority of God and is always subject to the terms of His law-word.

Quote sources

  1. RationalWiki (2015). RationalWiki Atheism FAQ for the Newly Deconverted. Available Last accessed 9th May 2015.
  2. Rushdoony, R.J. (n.d.) The Heresy of Democracy with God. Chalcdeon Position Paper No. 6. Available Last accessed 9th May 2015.

RationalWiki deflecting attention away from its shaky foundations

According to RationalWiki:

When theologians demand that critics of religion first immerse themselves in apologetics before addressing any arguments, they are employing a special tactic known as the Courtier’s Reply. This can either be to quash dissent, or stave off embarrassment, by deflecting attention away from their shaky and uncertain foundations and towards the supposed sophistication and detail of deeper theological arguments. Atheists and agnostics will tend to agree that discussions about the nature of God are moot until the existence of God is established.

But that sounds like RationalWiki deflecting attention away from its shaky and uncertain foundations—when compared to the views of Antony Flew:

As an atheist, Flew struggled with the idea of an invisible, omnipresent Person, and how such a person could be identified (p. 148). However, Flew was making embodiment part of his definition of a person, which isn’t justified. Philosopher Thomas Tracy defined persons simply as agents that are capable of acting intentionally (pp. 149–150). Although human persons are embodied, embodiment is not a necessary component for personhood. Flew admits that ‘At the very least, the studies of Tracy and Leftow show that the idea of an omnipotent Spirit is not intrinsically incoherent if we see such a Spirit as outside space and time that uniquely executes its intentions in the spatio-temporal continuum’ (pp. 153–154).

Flew identifies his god as the god of Aristotle, with the attributes of ‘immutability, immateriality, omnipotence, omniscience, oneness or indivisibility, perfect goodness and necessary existence’ (p. 92). He is adamant that his conversion to theism does not represent a paradigm shift, because his paradigm remains simply to follow the argument where it leads (p. 89).

Quote sources

  1. RationalWiki (2014). RationalWiki Atheism FAQ for the Newly Deconverted. Available Last accessed 31st Jan 2015.
  2. Cosner, L. (2008). “Former Leading Atheist Argues for the Existence of God” in Journal of Creation, 22(3) pp. 21-24. Available Last accessed 31st Jan 2015.

Reason flies like a turkey; faith like an eagle

RationalWiki wrote a sometimes dubious FAQ for people who have converted to atheism. An excerpt reads:

If you found this article, you very well might have recently lost faith in your god or particular religious teaching. Some people have been raised to think that life without religion is utterly unthinkable, so a loss of faith can be difficult and trying, especially when deeply ingrained in our thoughts…

Well, how did things come to be? What was before the Big Bang? If God didn’t create the universe, how did it happen?

Apart from “there is no before” as time did not exist, the only answer is “we don’t know.” Is that so terrible? We’re trying to work it out though, which is better than accepting the unsupported claims of ancient writers.

Regarding the “unsupported claims of ancient writers” line, it sounds authoritative on the surface, but it’s a loaded statement that carries epistemological baggage. A more transcendent view is this:

What did make itself clear to me was that reason is limited by its own experience, whereas the universe is far vaster than the mind of man. Moreover, God’s realm which transcends man’s narrow vision is far greater than man’s mind can comprehend. The rationalist limits understanding to reason; faith is for him a blind belief, whereas the Bible tells us, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3). Faith is thus a higher form of understanding, one which does not limit its perspective to the scope of man’s mind.

Quote sources

  1. RationalWiki (2013). RationalWiki Atheism FAQ for the Newly Deconverted. Available Last accessed 24th Jan 2015.
  2. Rushdoony, R. J. (2013) Van Til and the Limits of Reason. (Ebook). Ross House Books. Location 935-939.

The pretended neutrality fallacy made by RationalWiki

According to RationalWiki:

Also, the idea that there is no “neutral” choice between creationism and evolution is absurd; AiG [Answers in Genesis] admits that they start with the assumption that the Bible is literally true. Clearly, not starting with locked-in beliefs about the world is the neutral starting point.

But RationalWiki starts with locked-in beliefs about epistemology—and then pretends to have a neutral starting point on origins. This is an example of the pretended neutrality fallacy. As explained by Jason Lisle:

But anyway, a lot of Christians are fooled by this, they think, “Well yeah, we have to leave the Bible out of the discussion, just stick to science, because that’s all he believes in, let’s meet on neutral ground.”

The problem is there is no neutral ground. The Bible makes that clear. Jesus says “who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”

You’re with Christ or you’re against him, you see.

And, “the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God.” It’s not neutral toward God, it’s hostile toward God. Do you know that friendship toward the world is? What, neutrality toward God? No, it’s hostility toward God.

Get the picture? You’re God’s friend or his enemy. You’re with or against him; You’re gathering or you’re scattering. There is no neutral.

And so Dr [Greg] Bahnsen liked to call that the pretended neutrality fallacy, the idea that we can sort of pretend to be neutral. But the Bible says there’s no such thing.

And so, the claim of neutrality is itself unbiblical—because it contradicts Scripture.

See, the Bible says there’s no neutral when it comes to an ultimate standard.

And if you say “oh yes, there is neutral and I’m neutral,” well you’ve just said the Bible’s wrong. In which case, you’re not being neutral; you’ve taken a position.

Quote sources

  1. RationalWiki (2014). 12 Arguments Evolutionists Should Avoid. Available Last accessed 1st Jan 2015.
  2. Lisle, J. (2013). The Ultimate Proof of Creation – Dr. Jason Lisle. Available Last accessed 1st Jan 2015.