Posts Tagged 'Intelligent Design'

The Discovery Institute Asks New Atheists What They Believe

In case you haven’t heard of them, the Discovery Institute is an organization that pushes the idea of intelligent design creationism. They have a blog and it’s pretty hilarious to read…anyways today they had an article that caught my eye called “What Do New Atheists Actually Believe?” I’m always interested to see what theists are telling us we believe, because sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised to see myself accurately represented by somebody who doesn’t agree with me.

Well in this case the author of the article (Michael Egnor), instead of telling people what New Atheists believe, decided to ask us instead! I think that’s a great approach, although I’m suspicious of its sincerity, coming from the Discovery Institute. Nonetheless I think It’ll be fun to answer the questions, so here goes! You can read the article here to get some context for why he’s asking these questions.

Egnor says:

I want to learn more about what New Atheists really believe. So I’m asking Moran a few questions, although other atheists (Myers, Coyne, Novella, Shallit, etc**) are invited to reply on their blogs, and I will answer.

**etc, that’s me!

And he has some rules for the answers:

1) Answers can’t be limited to the shortcomings of theism (e.g. ‘So who caused God?’). I’m looking for an exposition of New Atheist belief, not a criticism of theist belief. Mutual criticism will come once all beliefs are on the table. If New Atheist belief can only be expressed by negation of the beliefs of others, just say so.
2) Myers’ “Courtier’s Reply” gambit is fine. If you think that a question is nonsense, say so.
3) No changing the subject. New questions are welcome, once the old questions are addressed.
4) The Law of Snark Conservation applies; thoughtful courteous answers get thoughtful courteous replies.

Number 1 is just silly, Egnor must know that atheism is entirely a response to theism, it’s not a belief system. To try to stay within this rule I’ll just talk about what I believe, but I’m not going to pretend that I’m speaking for New Atheist beliefs, because there’s no such thing. Number 2, I don’t know what the Courtier’s Reply is so I’ll just ignore that one…and 3 and 4 sound fine. Now, on to the questions:

1) Why is there anything? *shrug* dunno. Does there have to be a reason? I’m just glad I’m here!

2) What caused the Universe? Good question…I’m sure it was some kind of quantum something or other.

3) Why is there regularity (Law) in nature? I don’t know the answer to this one either, but I assume that if there weren’t regularity in our universe, we wouldn’t be around to ask the question.

4) Of the Four Causes in nature proposed by Aristotle (material, formal, efficient, and final), which of them are real? Do final causes exist? I had to go on Wikipedia for this one and they all seem alright to me, but I’m not so sure about the final cause. I don’t really see the point of it, as it’s pretty subjective and there isn’t even a final cause for everything…I don’t understand what it’s supposed to imply, but I only spent 5 minutes on Wikipedia reading over the description.

5) Why do we have subjective experience, and not merely objective existence? I’m not sure I get the question, but I suppose it may be because there are so many variables that we’re faced with every day that it’s not possible to be completely objective. We have to form opinions and biases to survive otherwise we’d be paralyzed with indecision. (I have a feeling that question went right over my head, but whatever).

6) Why is the human mind intentional, in the technical philosophical sense of aboutness, which is the referral to something besides itself? How can mental states be about something? Huh? Is this asking why do humans have intentions? I guess because it makes us more likely to survive…I have no idea what this is supposed to be asking…philosophy mumbo-jumbo just does not penetrate my thick skull. Why is this relevant to atheism anyways?

7) Does Moral Law exist in itself, or is it an artifact of nature (natural selection, etc.) There’s no such thing as “Moral Law”, but I think that morality is an artifact of nature – humans are social beings, and because we live in groups and cooperate it has made us a very successful species. We need our social ties, so it makes more sense for us to be good to each other. Our sense of right and wrong would have arisen through natural selection, because anti-social behaviours would lead to someone being less likely to reproduce. That’s how my simple mind sums it up, but there are some fantastic books out there about  evolution and morality. I just finished Born to be Good by Dacher Keltner, I recommend that one.

8) Why is there evil? Because there’s no benevolent god out there keeping us from harm.

None of those questions addressed the difference between the “old atheists” and the “new atheists.” All atheists don’t believe in god, but the new atheists feel like atheism is something worth sharing. The above questions have nothing to do with atheism, they just strike me as an attempt to bait atheists into answering in the wrong way so that Egnor can come back with “that’s where god fits in.”

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A Chart Explaining Intelligent Design

Cracked.com has a funny article about intelligent design logic, I especially love this chart:

Atheist (and Science) Expelled from Creation Museum

Ben Stein brought the word “expelled” into the Intelligent Design vs. real science debate in 2008 with his horrendous movie in which he sanctimoniously blamed evolution for the holocaust. The premise behind Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed was that ID proponents were being expelled from academics for their beliefs.

The truth was that Stein and the filmmakers had to resort to deception and lies in order to make their case, and their dishonesty was exposed by the NCSE soon after the film came out. The ID movement is a reaction to science explaining more and more of what was previously attributed to god. They want to discredit science and to replace it with religion in the classroom, and Expelled is just one example of how they attempt to do so.

Because Intelligent Design is no more than religion dressed up as science, censorship is a key ingredient so that they can brainwash more people and keep criticism out. And this was demonstrated beautifully when an atheist was expelled from the Creation Museum yesterday.

Ken Ham’s Creation Museum is a shining example of religion dressed up as science. The $27 million monstronsity built in 2007 is 49 acres of Biblical literalism. Exhibits use quotes from the Bible and science-y sounding “facts” to convince visitors that the world is 6,000 years old.

Biologist and outspoken, godless science-blogger PZ Myers was in the area, and decided to make a trek to the museum along with about 300 other atheists in order to see for themselves what kind of information the Creation Museum were promoting.

Continue reading ‘Atheist (and Science) Expelled from Creation Museum’

Creation or Evolution…the Logical Fallacies

Some interesting advertisements have been showing up on scienceblogs lately:

 Pharyngula Creation Evolution

Is evolution true? The mounds of evidence show that yes, it is. But The Good News Magazine (“A Magazine of Understanding”…claiming understanding and actual understanding are not the same thing) is taking advantage of the economic downturn:

 “There are a couple of things to know about this. One is that the economy sucks, and the media, in particular are struggling. Science media especially are suffering, so everyone is scrambling to scrape up whatever revenues they can. The other thing to notice is that in a down economy, faith-based lies and wishful thinking are cheap to produce and continue to sell, so that’s what’s happening.” – PZ Myers, Pharyngula

Rather than pouting about it, PZ Myers has called for bloggers everywhere to order their free creationist literature (they’ll ship to any country), and critically dissect them on their blogs. This way, when someone googles the organization, they’ll get a long list of reasons not to buy into the bullshit they’re peddling.

So like the good little minion that I am, I’ve put in an order for their “Creation or Evolution” booklet. While I’m waiting to get it in the mail, I’ve downloaded the free copy of that they have on their website and written up my own dissection (below the fold). I’m not an evolutionary biologist so I’ll leave it to people more educated than myself to deal with the nitty-gritty of the booklet. Rather, I’ll be picking out the logical fallacies to point out how intellectually dishonest these people have to be to get people to think they actually have a valid position.

Continue reading ‘Creation or Evolution…the Logical Fallacies’


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