Thursday, February 23, 2012

Arguing With A Creationist...

Normally, I take the view that arguing with a creationist is like shooting the ocean. Anyone can do it multiple times, but the ocean won't know it just got shot. You could shoot holes in it all the live-long day but it wouldn't see the error of its ways. I normally just say "go to talkorigins.org and look up your argument, it's been refuted by people who know what they're talking about." However, because of one creationist named "Question Evolution", I am going to break my one rule just to show how bloody easy it is to beat down creation "science", after the jump.


Now, I agree with that creationist's website title. "Question Evolution"? Yes. Question everything. But question it in a way that makes sense. If someone who was acting plainly out of character said they were "fine", I'd question how fine they were, but I wouldn't say "clearly he was replaced by an evil robot clone." Likewise, I wouldn't say "I doubt this scientific principle, therefore, god did it." I also wouldn't say use arguments that are known to be faulty. And yet, that was the first article I saw on questionevolution.org (top left article on the home page). The amazing eye is a well known (and quite stupid) creationist argument. Hell, Darwin himself anticipated and refuted this line of argumentation:
Organs of extreme perfection and complication. To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree. Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real. How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself first originated; but I may remark that several facts make me suspect that any sensitive nerve may be rendered sensitive to light, and likewise to those coarser vibrations of the air which produce sound.


You can read the whole thing in context here. I also recommend you watch/listen to this humourous video which properly uses the eye to defeat the idea of intelligent design. Now, to be fair, the post does bring up some counter arguments, and it makes more arguments than just "hey, the eye is really nice, it must have been designed." Regarding the multitudinous questions asked on that blog post, as I value my time, on this point I will simply say "read an actual textbook on human evolution, since everything you could ever ask about the concept should be found there." However, I will address the counter arguments quickly. The first counter is the "poor design" argument. I will note quickly that what this section of the article did would be called "plagiarism" in any serious academic circles, since the "Question Evolution" post lifts directly from the Johnathan Safarti article it cites without directly quoting it. It isn't what I'd call a serious breach of ethics, but it should tell you something. Either way, the creationist argument is simply that we were designed that way and we need to have our backwards-seeing eyes see things backwards, and that's that. Except they're proclaiming that the most powerful, brilliant and competent being in the universe did this, and simply couldn't design it properly. If we can make cameras smaller than our eyes that see just well as our eyes, if not better, why can't your god?
The other counter argument is an argument from incredulity from a guy named Dr George Marshall, who was also quoted in Safarti's argument. I don't know how credible Marshall is, since I can't find him anywhere, aside from one 1996 interview in Creation Magazine that most creationists talking about how eyes were created seem to cite. That interview is here, and it's literally all I could find of his writings. It doesn't help that there are literally eleven more famous Geoge Marshalls, but either way, all it says is "I don't know how this could have been done without god, therefore, god did it."

The other article I'll refute is this one. As the title implies, it seems to think that math destroys atheism. It's yet another misuse of probability, something common amongst creationists. Now, the blog I linked doesn't refute this argument, but it does close off another hatch. See, creationists are all about escape hatches. Prove that new species emerge via evolution and they shift to saying "micro-evolution happens" and that they're still the same "kind". Show that stars are billions of light years away and they'll say that the speed of light slowed down at some point. Find a "missing link" and they'll ask about the "missing link" between us and the newly-found link. Completely eradicate an entire argument and they'll move to the next one. It's like a child playing the "why?" game sometimes. Either way, I'd like to illustrate an issue raised here. The author says of Dr. Fred Hoyle's hypothesis of Panspermia that:

Hoyle believed that ‘life began in space, spreading through the universe’ and eventually coming to earth.. but isn’t that just passing the problem to another place? At some point life had to come from non living material and we know that scenario is an impossibility since the so called ‘simple’ living cell is more complex than a city!


Yeah, it does pass the problem to another place, just like creationism. I mean, if god created everything, who created god? Fortunately, we've shown that life can emerge from raw materials present at the beginning of our planet. Firstly, we did it through the famous Miller-Urey experiment, then a few years ago, this happened. Go read it, dear creationist. We have an explanation for how life emerged.

BUT WAIT! The probability of the universe supporting life is astronomical! Well, yeah. That's why, of all the billions of planets, only one (that we know of) has life. Look at it this way: I have six six-sided die. Imagine I roll them all six times. What are the odds I'll get all ones, all twos, all threes, etc. all the way to all sixes? Exactly the same as the odds I'll get any other result, really, but for the sake of this argument, they're absolutely astronomical. Now imagine I just keep rolling, every few seconds without a break until the end of this year (just over 10 months). The chances that six consecutive rolls will all be the same number, and would "count up", are much better at this point. Now imagine that I just keep rolling forever. I have the end of time to roll six ones, then six twos, six threes, six fours, six fives and six sixes, counting up in that way. The odds that I'll eventually roll that sequence if I never stop rolling are 1:1. From the beginning of the universe (the "Big Bang") until now, there were about 14 billion years for the right circumstances for some form of life to develop, and had no life developed by this point, we'd have until the heat death of the universe for life to emerge. And of course, the entire argument is based on the fallacious idea that the only possible life forms are the ones that we know about. How do we know that all life forms in this universe are carbon based? We do not. How do we know that some form of life can't survive or thrive in a differently arranged universe? On this very planet, we have species that breathe underwater and some that breathe our atmosphere, some that thrive in tropical areas that wouldn't be able to survive in the arctic, and vice versa. The fact is, that when calculating the probability of the emergence of life without a god (a useless endeavour because we already know life exists, and I have proven, twice, that there is no god) it would be considerably closer to 1:1 than 1:10 229.

Anyway, there's your refutation.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the reply.. where is the refutation? haha

    1. You say that the design argument has been refuted and to prove that you quote Darwin imagining how the eye could have evolved..

    2. I did cite the article in the references at the bottom..

    3. That WE can make cameras doesn't help your 'evolution did it' argument in anyway. Whether any camera is better than a human eye is another debate but I highly doubt any camera is better than the human vision system.

    4. Regarding the 'backward design' argument.. I will take the word of qualified ophthalmologists over Dawkins any day.. and they say that the eye is actually a better design the way it is!

    5. Who created God? STRAWMAN.. Christians believe in an eternal God.

    6. Problems with abiogenesis http://creation.com/loopholes-in-the-evolutionary-theory-of-the-origin-of-life-summary

    7. Check the videos on this page http://questionevolution.org/dna/ .. you must have a ton of faith to believe that those machines are the product of evolution.

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    Replies
    1. I pointed out the whole thing is based on logical fallacies, falsehoods and misunderstanding. That's the refutation you deserve.

      1: Yes, it has been. Read an actual science textbook.
      2: You cited one article, it in turn cited an interview with a guy giving his opinion.
      3: You didn't understand my camera angle. (So punny!) I meant that if we can make a device that's better than the eye, then how come god couldn't do better? And yes, many cameras are better than our eyes. The lens is more durable, our eyes can't zoom in or magnify like decent cameras can, can't see in the dark (most digital cameras have night vision capabilities) amongst other things. So why didn't your god do it better?
      4: ...what? I didn't cite Dawkins at all. And this guy is an opthamologist, not an evolutionary biologist. Almost every other opthamologist (and most christians) accept the theory of evolution.
      5: Yeah, I believe in an eternal universe. Either we`re both idiots because everything has to have been created including your god, or we have an adequate solution to "who created the universe" that makes as much sense as your god doing it.
      6: Yeah, what I cited demolished that article.
      7: I have no faith at all, we have all the evidence.

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