Monday, December 13, 2010

God's Quality Control 3.5

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. Note that I made a mistake of attribution concerning the part of the study guide we're currently reviewing: this is not the part written by Steve Lee, or at least this part doesn't have his name on it. His essay comes later. I can't tell who wrote this first part. I'm sure that this author will prefer to remain anonymous.

My apologies to Mr Lee. I want make it very clear that I'm apologizing for the misattribution and absolutely nothing else that I've said. This document is full of blatant lies and inexcusable fallacy, and Mr Lee, although he presumably did not write the part that I've reviewed so far, did see fit to contribute to the document. My various insinuations and aspersions concerning Mr Lee's character still stand.

Today's honorary author of the guide is Larry Taylor, the Head of School at Prestonwood. I know that some of you have contacted Mr Taylor to complain of his abuse of copyright law to censor me. I appreciate that, but please note that what Mr Taylor has done to an auditorium full of children is far, far worse than anything he ever did to me. If you are inclined to complain, please complain on behalf of all those kids who are being deliberately misled for the sake of filling Mr Taylor's pockets.
  • p.10 "Legos are probably our first adventure into understanding that complexity and creativity are two very separate concepts." Really? Maybe for well-fed Westerners in the 20th and 21st centuries. All of you guys not fortunate enough to have been born in a moderately affluent society, you who never played with Legos, you'll never understand the difference between complexity and creativity, so don't trouble yourselves over it. You may want to skip this video entirely, since it will serve only to make you feel inadequate.
  • p.10 Snapping together endless blocks of Legos "may give the idea of complexity." What? This is nonsense. A random jumble of snapped-together Legos may give the idea of complexity? I give up. Let's move ahead and see if we can interpret in the light of the next sentence. "[O]nly when those blocks are arranged in a manner that gives understanding is the idea of creativity brought forth." What? This is nonsense too. What is "arranged in a manner that gives understanding" supposed to mean? I can see that the author is attempting to stress the difference between complexity and creativity. Let's ignore the garbage and hang onto this distinction; we'll see where it gets us. Let's read on: "So, too, goes the argument for the concept of creativity being at the core of our understanding of a force in creation that is more than just “complex,” but also bears the mark of creativity." What the hell? What a train wreck of a sentence. The concept of creativity is at the core of our understanding of a force that bears the mark of creativity. Dear Author, did they actually pay you to write this? There are two more paragraphs in the section on creativity, but they don't say anything meaningful. This entire section is a waste of time.
  • p.11 The author objects to Christopher Hitchens' assertion that "religion teaches people that...the cosmos was created with them specifically in mind." Unfortunately, in his objection, he fails to address the actual point. Instead, he says that "the creation story actually places GOD Himself at the center." But the fact remains that humans play a starring role in Prestonwood's reality.
  • p.11 "This, of course, begs the question--where does the theory of evolution place mankind?" This is entirely false. No question is begged here; the relationship of humankind to the universe has nothing to do with whether there are any gods. But it gets worse: if we're a "cosmic accident," then we have no basis for ethics and morality; we have no justification for holding men accountable for their actions. This is a ridiculous claim. "Do unto others" is an excellent rule no matter how we got here. We don't need a god to tell us how to get along. In fact, there's an awful lot of division among Yahweh's followers, even violent division. The guide finishes off this section of the essay with yet another straw man: "If one views mankind as the highest apex of the evolutionary process..." The only people who have such a view are the ill-informed. Most of us know that humans are just another kind of animal, that evolution doesn't have a predetermined direction or apex. If you could rewind the Earth back to the origin of life and let events play out again, the odds of humans appearing are practically zero. We are here due to a long string of events that could be considered coincidental, events that did not have to occur. as they did.
  • p.11 The next section of the essay appears to be titled "Big Bang - evidence for?" But then there's a subsection title: "Organic and Inorganic matter – how did we get both?" The two paragraphs that follow these headings don't address either question. Dear Author, is it possible that Prestonwood published your notes, or an early draft, rather than your finished product?
  • p.11 If there is no supernatural, then "how do I explain the difference between a rock and a rose, between the living and the dead?" Well, you could have simply asked the question without bringing in the supernatural overtones. It's an excellent question that even scientists ask. Unfortunately, it seems that this section of the essay is the author's junk pile, where he wrote down thoughts that he later decided not to discuss. This is just a random question, all by itself.
That's 3.5. Thanks for watching.

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