Monday, November 22, 2010

God Needs A Quality Control Department 2.3

This is Part III of my thoughts on the debate between Christopher Hitchens and William Dembski on November 18, 2010, in Plano, Texas. The focus of the debate is this question: does a good god exist? In this clip I'll continue reviewing Dembski's opening remarks (I've linked to Dembski's prepared comments here).

<Clip 02 - 14.11 - 14.14 - Creation Story>

This is a rather strange assertion. It's true that all cultures throughout history have invented creation stories. Does it follow that everyone needs a creation story? I don't think so. And if such a need did exist, what relevance would that have to the existence of a god, which Dembski has said he intends to address?

As an aside, the Big Bang Theory sucks as a creation story anyway. It's just a description of what appears to have happened after the beginning. It tells us nothing at all about the beginning itself, about the really important questions like, "Why does anything exist at all?" and "What is all this, really?" My apologies to my hero Dr Hawking, but your answers leave me cold. But I've read your book only once, and it takes me about ten reads on average even to get a glimmer of understanding of your work, so maybe there's still hope. Back to Dembski:

<Clip 02 - 14.14 - 14.18 - NS has to be true>

He really should not make such a claim. It's far too deep to be trotting out in this debate, especially without any elaboration. For all we know, we're all a computer simulation that was started five minutes ago, with all of our memories fabricated. I can't even convince myself that you guys watching this exist apart from my brain, no matter how you might protest. I can't even convince myself that I have a brain. Have fun with that one.

<Clip 02 - 14.18 - 14.23 - Lecture on Evolution>

Another brazen lie. See, it's this sort of thing that would make me a terrible debater. Dembski keeps making outrageous claim after outrageous claim, slapping his audience in the face with his obvious disregard for truth or any kind of honest discussion. I'd end up losing my cool--people like this really bother me. And of course, in a debate, it's not the truth that matters; it's who looks the best at the end of the debate. I'd lose for sure. Let's allow Dembski his jab; Hitchens lectures his readers. Is the lecture about "proofs of evolution"? Absolutely not. Again, in this chapter, entitled "Arguments From Design," Hitchens refutes the claims that the illusion of design is anything more than an illusion. Even where Hitchens actually uses the phrase, "proof of evolution," referring to the vertebrate eye, his point is to show that if it is in fact designed, then it is designed rather ineptly.

<Clip 02 - 14.23 - 14.29 - Junk DNA>
<Clip 02 - 14.44 - 14.52 - Junk DNA2>

"Much of this so-called junk DNA"? That's true, but so what? Is he showing that Hitchens is incorrect? No. We know that there is useless DNA, such as our broken vitamin C gene. Most mammals make their own vitamin C, but primates don't. We have the same genes for this as other mammals, but one of these genes is broken in primates. The point that Hitchens is making, that we have DNA that is clearly left over from our ancestors, is valid. Dembski knows all of this. He is deliberately misleading his audience, bringing up a point that has absolutely no relevance as though it means something.

<Clip 03 - 00.11 - 00.13 - Cambrian Explosion>
<Clip 03 - 00.25 - 00.31 - Peter Ward>
<Clip 03 - 00.49 - 00.59 - Ward Quote>
<Clip 03 - 01.03 - 01.06 - Soften>

Ward "tries to soften it," does he? Let's hear the softening, which for obvious reasons, Dembski doesn't quote, and judge for ourselves. I don't have the book myself but you can have a look at it online.
Until almost 1950...it did indeed look as if larger creatures had arisen with a swiftness that made a mockery of Darwin's theory of evolution. This notion was finally put to rest...the larger skeletonized fossils..that supposedly appeared so suddenly were in fact preceded by skeletonized forms so small as to be easily overlooked by the pioneering geologists...The long-acepted theory of the sudden appearance of skeletal metazoans at the base of the Cambrian was incorrect."
So we discovered 60 years ago that the idea of a sudden appearance was incorrect. We call that "softening," now, do we? Worse, Dembski is once again deliberately attempting to deceive. His remarks concerning Ward are from an essay that Dembski wrote in 2005, hypocritically titled, "Quoting, Misquoting, Quote-Mining," which has been refuted numerous times since then.

Dembski has ten minutes to present his opening remarks. He's been talking for three minutes. We have a reasonable expectation, given his own words, that he address the existence of a god. Has he done so? Even if four of his main points so far weren't based on lies and deliberate deceit, nothing he's said so far has applied at all to his stated intention: to address the existence of a god.

That's part II(d). Thanks for watching.

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