Monday, February 17, 2014

God's QC 11.7: Nye - Ham: Hijacked

Here I continue my thoughts on the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham on Feb 4 2014 at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. In this video I'll consider some more examples of superstitionists hijacking terminology. Let's start with one of my personal favorites:

“ aren't being taught to think critically...we're teaching people to think critically...”

One aspect of critical thinking involves asking questions. For example, questions like, “What does that have to do with anything?” When Bill Nye said that we have ice cores representing winter/summer cycles going back 680k years, Ham's response was that some 50-year-old airplanes were once found in Greenland under 250 feet of ice. But what does that have to do with what Nye said? Nothing. If Ham had said something about 250 winter/summer cycles forming in 50 years, that would have been news. But he didn't say that; he said 250 feet. He didn't say a word about whether anyone, qualified or otherwise, had taken a core sample to learn about the nature of the ice and how it came to bury the planes.

Another question useful in critical thinking is whether consistent reasoning is being applied.

“observe...we observe things in the present...what we observe...”

Ham drills the necessity of direct observation into our heads, but he accepts speciation among finches, dogs, cats, elephants. Has anyone ever directly observed speciation in birds or mammals? Ham uses a video of the spinning Earth shot from space. He accepts this as evidence of the earth being spherical. But did he observe the Galileo spacecraft shooting this video? He accepts that Charles Darwin kept notes on evolutionary theory that are available for us to review – and misrepresent – today. But did he observe Charles Darwin writing out his thoughts? Ken, were you there?

See if you can spot the word Ham has hijacked here.

“ don't observe that; that's belief...what you believe about the past...we're willing to admit our beliefs about the indoctrinate students to accept evolutionary belief...”

If you come home from a long vacation and find that your refrigerator has failed, you could be said to believe that some of your food has spoiled. But note that your experience with food spoiling when it's not refrigerated properly could be considered a scientific law, that is, observational science, and your inference that the food will have spoiled is historical science at its best. Your inference can rightly be called a belief, but it can also rightly be called knowledge – your knowledge that the earth is spherical is in the same category, being based on experience and inference, and best of all, open to correction when faced with conflicting evidence. This belief is not the same as a belief that leads you to eat the food because you found a note on your front door assuring you that a deranged leprechaun has watched over your refrigerator in your absence. This kind of belief would be more accurately called superstition. It is also not the same as a belief in which you vehemently assert that the food is edible because you've been told that if you don't “confess with your mouth...and believe in your heart” that the food is edible, you will be punished. Eternally. In fire. This is the superstitionists' ultimate hijacking of the word belief, which they use when they really mean to say obedience.

That's 11.7. Thanks for watching.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

God's QC 11.6: Nye - Ham: Projection

Here I continue my thoughts on the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham on Feb 4 2014 at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. In this video I'll begin to address some of Ken Ham's comments.

It's interesting to note that in both formal and informal debates on this and related topics, the superstitionists often engage in outrageous projection. They accuse the asuperstitionists of making unsupportable assumptions, being inconsistent, being biased, and employing unethical debating techniques, all the while doing exactly those things themselves. I'm beginning to think that in fact superstitionists – at least the real ones – are not being hypocritical, but instead are exhibiting unavoidable symptoms of extreme cognitive dissonance. Note that I say real superstitionists – Ken Ham and his co-charlatans such as Dembski, Comfort, and Craig don't believe a single word of what they're saying – they use projection as a debating tactic, not to mention a tactic for confusing their audience in order to fleece them.

Let's consider some examples of Ken Ham using this tactic.

“I believe it's all a part of secularists hijacking the word science...not only has the word science been hijacked by secularists...the word evolution has been hijacked using a bait-and-switch...the hijacking of the word science and the hijacking of the word evolution in a bait-and-switch.”

What was this entire event if not a bait-and-switch? The debate topic, posted on the Answers In Genesis website and articulated multiple times by both debaters, was “Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern, scientific era?” Ken Ham had the floor for a total of one hour and eight minutes. After 25 minutes or so of nonsense, he finally began to discuss his creation “model” by producing a list of six so-called predictions “based on the bible”. He talked about two of the six for a grand total of three minutes. The topic was the bait, and the remaining hour and five minutes of Ham's address was the switch.

As an aside, I actually laughed out loud when he concluded his three-minute mini-speech with this comment: “There's much more that could be said on each of these topics. Obviously you can't do that in a short time like this.”

Returning to the projection tactic, note Ham's emphasis on the hijacking of words, while he has completely hijacked the term historical science. He claims that it simply refers to knowledge about the past, which, although grossly oversimplified, is a sort-of-ok description. But it becomes clear over the course of the debate that he doesn't really mean “knowledge about the past”. What he really means is that he starts with his interpretation of the allegedly historical account of creation in Genesis, fabricates some vague predictions based on his interpretation, and then twists present-day observations to allegedly confirm the predictions. This is not historical science. It is not science.

Ham takes great pains to point out that superstitionists can practice legitimate science. He's right, of course. In fact, Ham himself engaged in excellent science when, based on solid, present-day observations, he predicted that the Creation Museum would be an excellent source of income.

That's 11.6. Thanks for watching.

Friday, February 7, 2014

God's QC 11.5: Nye - Ham: Patriotism

Here I continue my thoughts on the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham on Feb 4 2014, at the Creation Museum in Petersburg Kentucky. In this video I'll begin discussing my thoughts on the debate event itself.

Before I start, I will note that due to some of the things I have to say, I expect to lose a few of you as subscribers. To prevent you wasting your time watching the rest of the series, I'll get it over with in this video. I will be sad to see you go, but to tell the truth, 6000 subscribers is too many, as it tends to inflate my ego, and I have trouble getting in and out of my apartment because my head is too big to fit through the front door. Thank you all for being part of the conversation, and I wish you all the best.

I begin this portion of the series, with a criticism for Bill Nye concerning his emphasis on American supremacy, which he mentioned many times during interviews leading up to the debate, and five more times during the debate event.

The issue of superstitious nonsense being forced on society is not about the US; it's not about supremacy. It's about laws that prevent homosexuals who love each other from receiving the same legal recognition as heterosexuals. It's about children being emotionally abused by being taught that they are evil and broken, that they will likely suffer eternal agony. It's about the unfairness of superstitious institutions making vast amounts of money and never having to pay any taxes. It's about taxpayer subsidies to ridiculous projects such as Ken Ham's proposed full-scale model of Noah's ark. It's about women and girls being denied access to abortion, contraception, and vaccinations against cancer-inducing viruses. It's about the AIDS virus spreading because superstitious institutions with power teach people that it's immoral to use condoms. It's about stem-cell research. It's about public policy concerning human-induced climate change. And it's about teaching children to think critically.

It's not about the United States. It's about all of us. We are all in this together, and we will sink or swim together. The human beings in the US are no more valuable, no more deserving to live in the wealthiest nation in the world, than the human beings everywhere else. Nye's attitude is a form of us-and-them-ism, one of the most poisonous attitudes ever known, an attitude perpetuated by the Abrahamic superstitions. It's time we ended us-and-them-ism, no matter what nice-sounding name you want to give to it.

Note that I am not judging Bill Nye, not saying that he is a bad person to be condemned. I offer this as constructive criticism, an invitation to him to re-think his position. Patriotism, at least in the sense that Nye uses it here, is simply racism in different clothing.

That's 11.5. Thanks for watching.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

God's QC 11.4: Nye - Ham: Creation Theory

Here I continue my thoughts on the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham on Feb 4, 2014 at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. In this video I'll address the topic of the debate as stated on the Answers In Genesis website: "Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?"

Unfortunately, this question, like the bible, is so open to interpretation as to be meaningless. In order to have any meaningful discussion on the topic, we'll have to rephrase the question: Does Ken Ham's interpretation of the book of Genesis suggest a viable theoretical model for present-day observations that can be applied to either the origin of the cosmos or the origin of life on Earth?

Note that I say for present-day observations. Ken Ham might not like this qualifier, because he wants to say that his ideas are part of a branch of science that can't be tested because they apply only to the past. But a theoretical model that can't, at least in principle, be tested isn't a model at all and therefore isn't science. Ham claims that evolutionary theory can't be tested for the same reasons. But even if that claim were true, many corollaries of evolutionary theory can be tested, and if any of them turned out to be false, evolutionary theory would be called into question--either the unsupportable corollaries must be adequately explained, or the theory must be modified or perhaps even scrapped. Let's consider some of the corollaries of Ham's theoretical model that demand explanation.

Genesis 1:1-3 tells us that the earth and water existed before light. What does light mean here? Presumably, given that Genesis was written by a camel herder, only light that is visible to humans. But there are other wavelengths of light that are not visible to humans, such as infrared and ultraviolet. There are other wavelengths far longer than infrared and far shorter than ultraviolet. We don't call them light, but they're exactly the same thing as visible light. Some common examples are microwaves, radio waves, and x-rays. The formal term for light across the spectrum of wavelengths is electromagnetic radiation. Your body produces ER in vast quantities, because it's warm. So does the bag of chips you just devoured. So does liquid water. This is testable. It has been observed.

An explanation is needed. If "Let there be light" called the electromagnetic force into existence, then how was there liquid water before the magic incantation was uttered? Alternatively, if the electromagnetic force existed before the spell was cast, how is it that this tiny sliver, the human-visible portion of the spectrum was missing?

Ham tells us that there was no death before the Fall, and according to him, a corollary of this claim is that all animals were vegetarians. But when you eat a plant, death occurs. Even if you don't kill the whole plant, you're killing living cells. Now if you dig around on Answers In Genesis here and here, you'll find the claim that plant-cell death isn't really death, because plants aren't really alive, because they don't have the “breath of life” in them. But plants do breathe--they use oxygen to process their food in the same way that animals do. No, they don't have lungs, but neither do insects and most fish. Would Ken Ham claim that fish and insects aren't alive?

If I get a chance, maybe I'll post these questions to the Answers In Genesis website and report back the preposterous answers, if any are forthcoming. That's 11.4. Thanks for watching.