Creationism – further comments
Here’s a quick-ish response to some of author@ptgbook’s (a creationist, if a slightly unorthodox one) comments on my preceding post.
1. EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE FOR/AGAINST THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
First, author suggests that the supernatural/God is not something that science can address.
Yet he or she suggests that, actually, there could be empirical evidence for God’s existence. Indeed, he/she cites the truth of prophecies, the fine-tuned character of the laws of nature, etc., and suggest there might also be evidence for ID.
Well, good, so we agree that there can be empirical evidence for, and thus also against, God’s existence.
Let’s look at some of author’s alleged evidence supporting belief in God (which is threefold, thus far: fine-tuning, ID and truth of Biblical prophecies).
Actually, fine-tuning and ID-type evidence are evidence, at best, for some sort of intelligence working behind the universe. It’s a huge further, unwarranted leap to conclude this intelligence is all-powerful and supremely benevolent, rather than, say, morally neutral. So it’s a huge further, unwarranted leap to the conclusion that the intelligence is the author’s God.
Second, there’s fantastically good empirical evidence (whether or not you call it “scientific”) against the existence of an all-powerful and supremely benevolent being such as that believed in by author. I am referring to the sheer quantity of suffering unleashed upon humanity, and of course the other countless other sentient creatures with whom we share this planet, suffering taking place not just now, but stretching back over millions of years. Surely such a being would not inflict such literally unimaginable amounts of horror, often on the most innocent?
Quick summary. The evidence offered for the author’s God is very weak. We have, in addition, fantastically good evidence that there’s no such being.
Conclusion: A quick survey of the alleged “evidence” suggests that what author believes is highly irrational (not withstanding his/her evidence from “prophecies”, which to me seems comical, frankly – but perhaps s/he’d like to defend a particular example? In fact, I’d like them to – be a good discussion, I think.)
On author’s comments on the whole creationism/evolution issue (he/she defends a form of creationism on which humankind and all currently existing species were created as described by Genesis about 6k years ago, but the universe itself is much older, the Earth previously being populated with dinosaurs etc.), I have not much to add to what others have already said, other than to point out (as does Steelman and others) that author does pretty much exactly what I described in my essay.
That’s to say, he/she tries to show that what they believe is consistent with the fossil record E.g. There’s evidence of an ancient Earth with dinosaurs etc. developing over millions of years; the Bible doesn’t explicitly deny this (if we suppose this all took place before day 1 of Genesis); therefore the author’s Biblical theory “fits” the evidence too! Of course this move raises all sorts of other problems, but I don’t doubt that, just like the lunatic who believes dogs are spies from Venus [see my essay below], author can and will continue to come up with further explanations that make his theory “fit”.
Scientists, by contrast, have repeatedly strongly confirmed the theory that current species have gradually developed from simple life forms over millions/billions of years, by natural selection, etc.
Author objects to the latter theory being taught as “fact” in schools because, for example, it is not “proved” that God didn’t intervene on occasion.
But as others have pointed out, there’s no good evidence that he did intervene, and, moreover, the naturalistic explanation offered by science seems to do the job of explaining the emergence of new species, etc. without any supernatural help.
So, to insist that the above naturalistic theory not be taught as “fact” is akin to insisting that children should not be taught how plants function by photosynthesis as scientists have not proved that, say, invisible, intangible fairies are not somehow also sometimes involved in the process (for how could scientists “prove” that?).
But bear in mind, in any case, that even if there were evidence for an “intelligent designer”, there’s also abundant evidence that the designer in question is not author’s God.
POST SCRIPT. I am pleased that author is contributing as it’s fascinating debating with someone with such a bizarre belief system.
But I wouldn’t want anyone, including the author, to go away thinking that this debate – and the way it tends to go on and on – shows there must, then, be at least something to creationism after all. It doesn’t (anymore than the fact that my debate with a schizophrenic who thinks dogs are Venusian spies goes on and on shows that there must be something to what they believe).
The interminable character of the debate is not evidence that it cannot be rationally settled (it can) – rather, it shows that, by adopting a certain sort of strategy, any theory, no matter how ridiculous, can be defended ad nauseum.
What most interests me is the question: how do we reach author? I know he/she will find this terribly patronizing – and I guess it is – but he/she has locked themselves inside a bizarre and seemingly impenetrable bubble of belief which leaves us scratching our heads as to how anyone could believe such patent cobblers (to me, author really does seem very much like the lunatic who thinks dogs are spies from Venus), and leaves him/her convinced that we are part of some global conspiracy against THE TRUTH (and perhaps also the agents of Satan).
My essay suggests that it’s the overall patterns of thought exhibited by creationists like author that we need to expose. I guess I want to ask him/her: why do you think you’re not like someone who believes that dogs are spies from the planet Venus? After all, they can make their beliefs “fit” the evidence too. And by much the same means!