Saturday, December 11, 2010

God's Quality Control 3.3

Here I continue my review of the discussion guide published by the Prestonwood Christian Academy as a companion to the Hitchens-Dembski debate on November 18, 2010. We've just begun to take a look at the essay written by Steve Lee, instructor of theology and philosophy at the Academy, purportedly a summary of the primary arguments for the existence of Yahweh.
  • p.8 "With the publication of The Origins of the Species by Charles Darwin, the concept that something other than [Yahweh] played a role in the “creation” and development of humanity took root." A lie. There were countless creation stories before this Palestinian desert specter was invented.
  • p.8 "there is no need for a creative God – something else is creative…the Universe itself...the Universe has to be the creative force". A dirty trick: slip in the concept of "creation" but quickly distract your victims from the flaw by introducing an idea that will surely sound preposterous: the universe itself is the creator. If Mr. Lee wanted you to think critically, he'd first have you think about this idea of "creation". Who says that anything created the universe? How could we possibly know whether something created the universe? Why would we assume it? No human knows of any good reason to assume it. And be careful when your so-called teachers start tossing around words like "create" and "creation". These words can be used metaphorically to trip you up. For example, someone like Ray Comfort might say, "We often refer to the universe as 'all of creation'. Doesn't that prove that we know in our hearts that the universe was created?" Don't let them trick you.
  • p.8 Knocking Carl Sagan. I have too much to say in response. I'll truncate it: let's say that everything you insinuate about Sagan is true. Let's pile it on: say he was an alcoholic pedophile, and used his cell phone in movie theaters. Now, go back to all the things Carl Sagan said and ask yourself, "Was he incorrect?" Throw out every incorrect assertion he ever made, and ignore any that are obviously "religious" in nature. How much is left? A lot. Superstitionists don't seem to understand this concept, because their religion is foundationally dependent on the moral character of its purported founder. If he ever even glanced at a woman's butt, the entire religion collapses. Truth doesn't care about character. Personally attack Darwin, Sagan, Dawkins, whomever you like. It's well known that Isaac Newton was an obnoxious crackpot. The truth is not affected.
  • p.8 Mr. Lee says, "There are basically three explanations for the origin of humanity," then he makes three statements that are not explanations of anything and are not even remotely related to the origin of humanity. Rather, they're a woefully short list of grossly oversimplified possibilities concerning the nature of reality.
  • p.8 The first possibility suggested is that "There was nothing, then there was something." Mr. Lee tells us, "Obviously [this] has problems. It’s been said that something doesn’t come from nothing. Something had to exist prior – in a sense, something has to be eternal and beyond our present reality." Obviously? How? It's been said? By whom? Based on what factual knowledge? Or based on common sense, maybe, like the common sense that told humans for thousands of years that the earth is flat. If you're teaching kids to think critically, you should have them think long and hard about your claim that something has to be beyond our present reality. You simply don't know that, and you have no basis to claim it.
  • p.8 "[The something beyond our present reality] would seem, by definition, to be God". William Lane Craig played this same silly trick in his debate with Shabir Ali, which I reviewed in Part I of this collection. You guys try to play the philosophy card and say that this ineffable something, whatever it is, due to being "the greatest conceivable being," is "god". That works great when you're talking about abstract philosophy or perhaps deism. But you guys claim to know Yahweh personally. To you, Yahweh is a specific person, a being with a personality, with specific attributes like jealousy and a short temper. A deist can get away with it: imagine the greatest conceivable being, and that's god. Oh, but I just thought of a being even greater than the one I just called god, so that first one isn't god, and the new one is. I guess that first one doesn't even exist. A Yahwhist can't do it, at least not with a clear conscience: imagine the greatest conceivable being, and that's Yahweh. Yahweh, I worship you and know you personally, and I love you with all my heart. Oh, but I just thought of a being even greater than the one I've been having a relationship with. So the one I was having a relationship with and worshiping...I guess it doesn't really exist. I'd better introduce myself to the real Yahweh. Hope I never think of anything greater than this Yahweh. How can you claim this mentality and simultaneously claim to know Yahweh personally? You guys lie even to yourselves.
  • p.8 "The universe is eternal – has always been." A lie. The well known, widely publicized consensus among qualified students of cosmology is that the universe is just under 14 billion years old. Back in the day there were some theories that involved an eternal universe, but we have a lot more facts now than we did sixty years ago, facts that rule out the idea of an eternal universe.
That's 3.3. Thanks for watching.

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