Sunday, January 2, 2011

God's Quality Control 4.0

Here I address the science/evolution video shared with me by YouTuber TrustinJC, aka LaVern. LaVern and I have had a couple of video conversations and a few comment/PM conversations on these matters. Of late, LaVern has adopted ad hominem and the straw man as part of his arsenal, causing me to be less inclined to talk to him. However, this video he has sent me leaves out the cheating, and brings up some good points that seem to be good material for discussion.

"Science, including evolution, is not in conflict with God and Scripture."

Let's just make sure that no one is confused by your use of the word "scripture." You are talking about documents that were written thousands of years ago. These documents are full of stories depicting various phenomena that, according to well understood scientific principles, should have left behind some kind of sign of their occurrence. A worldwide flood that lasted months and killed everything except the passengers of a single wooden ship. A massive exodus of Israelites from ancient Egypt. The sun and moon stopping dead in their tracks for a whole day. Numerous dead people simultaneously walking out of their graves alive and presenting themselves to the living. There are many such events described in these ancient writings, and there is no reason for us to believe that any of them really happened. No sign at all. Not any reliable written record, not any reliable archaeological traces.

Your argument is that because some very small fraction, some carefully picked passages, in these ancient writings can be interpreted in such a way as to suggest a humanly impossible prescience, we should study these writings in detail and apply all kinds of scholarship to the idea that they still have something to say to us, even after all these centuries. Please help me to understand why you don't apply the same reasoning to the writings of Nostradamus, which have been similarly stretched to appear prophetic. Please help me to understand why you don't charge a-Nostradamus-ists with failing to recognize the significance of his writings?

As I explained in "God's Quality Control" 3.9, science and miracles are fundamentally incompatible. You cannot allow for both to exist in the same reality. Briefly, the reason is that if miracles are possible, you can never eliminate certain unknown factors that might influence the outcome of any experiment, in particular the possibility that Jesus has interfered without your knowledge.

One question that always comes to mind when I hear you guys presenting these fringe ideas is this: how have you convinced yourself that you, of all people, have discovered a secret that has gone right over the heads of thousands of well educated, highly trained, engaged experts? Why are there no serious students of the Book of Enoch becoming famous for showing definitively that there are good reasons to consider its wild claims more valid than those in any other ancient writing? What are your qualifications for doing this sort of study? Which experts have peer-reviewed your work? In what scientific journals have you published? Why should we listen to you?

"The earth was able to support life when there wasn't enough energy being created from the sun to do it."

Let's say that we ignore an entire community of trained experts who spend a lot of time double-checking each others' ideas. Let's say that we do have some reason to listen to you instead of to them. Let's accept your wild claim: the sun wasn't producing enough energy to enable life on Earth. You might not know it, but there are indeed life forms on Earth that don't need the sun. There are entire ecosystems surrounding hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, where no sunlight ever reaches. You say that the earth was encased in ice, but you seem to think that this means that there would be no liquid water. It sort of looks like there's liquid water on Europa, the ice-encased moon of Jupiter. Why is it that even when a layperson can think of obvious plausible possibilities off the cuff, you ignore all the science and assume that the answers lie buried in an ancient manuscript that you must assume to be written in code because when taken at face value it makes absolutely no sense?

You say that in the early days of the earth, there was a light source other than the sun, by which you seem to mean that because the universe was smaller in those days, we must have been close to another star. What scientific research have you read that suggests any such thing? Or, let's assume that you have some secret knowledge, unavailable to anyone in the scientific community, and accept your hypothesis. Does it fit with observation? Can you show any evidence in support of your idea? Evidence that would stand up to peer-review? And do you not realize that the expansion of the universe in the last three billion years would have a negligible expansive effect (if any!) on our galaxy? The fact that the universe is less crowded now in no way implies that the Milky Way itself is less crowded.

Finally, even if we were to assume that you of all people have found the truth: that these ancient writings are all correct, and you somehow know how to decode the parts that correspond to legitimate science. There is still the problem of Yahweh being a bloodthirsty, backward, ignorant, homophobic, misguided, baby-murdering, baby-torturing monster.

Oh, one last thing, some sad news: I just discovered that my cat is a creationist. He tells me that if evolution were true, humans would be able to lick their own privates.

That's 4.0. Thanks for watching.

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