Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dogfight #5: PZ Got Mail From This Nut

PZ gets more entertaining mail than I do. It's a long one, and I'm feeling masochistic enough to take on each little bit. I'm feeling generous, too, so I'm giving this person much more than a troll deserves. Maybe I'll pick up a troll in the process. Here comes the fold for those at the front page:

It is easy to prove to yourself that God is real. .the evidence is all around you. Here are 50 simple proofs:
Whilst agreeing that random patterns occur naturally by chance, DNA however, consists of code, which requires a designer.

How exactly do they know a designer is required, and not merely sufficient? We've got computer analogs that can generate DNA-like behavior. Also, who's more reliant on chance? Non-random natural selection is a very powerful force in evolution. Randomness just provides more raw material to work with.

How do you explain the paranormal, such as people witnessing positive or negative sightings, like ghosts or angels? I saw a ghost with a friend of mine - I am not a liar, an attention seeker. Neither was I overtired when this happened.

Oh, gee, we explain the "paranormal" all the time. We've done it so much that paranormalists are running out of ideas.
More points: 1: Even if we lack an explanation, that isn't proof. It's your job to prove it's paranormal. 2: How exactly are these proof of gods?

Try praying. What good is it when a mind is set to coincidence & disbelief regarding the positive outcome?

Ah, yes. You demand that we lower the standards of proof and act like it's a bad thing we're open-minded towards other explanations. We've done one better than what you've proposed and looked at larger prayer studies. It doesn't work.

The law of cause & effect - in order to have an effect, there has to be a cause. Everything is caused by something.

Turtles all the way down, huh? We can go all the way back to early moments of the Big Bang and say, "We don't know yet, but here are a few ideas we can try to test." We're honest that way. Creationists like you tend very heavily to label any hole in your knowledge "God". Just like your ancestors did with lightning. And worse, you strike me as exactly the type who would label something impossible and then claim your deity isn't subject to that rule.

Anyway, it may not be comfortable with the idea, but I'm not one to say that acausal events are impossible by fiat. Be really frustrating to prove it, though.

Mindless nothing cannot be responsible for complex something.

Another declaration by fiat. Hubris, much? I find the hypocrisy especially delicious in this case since it's the Creationists who typically advocate complex entities arising from nothingness. Evolution is about somethings giving rise to occasionally slightly more complex other things. The process just builds up over time.

Science can only be the detector of certain things. You cannot scientifically detect emotion, memory, thoughts etc., though scientifically we must.. These things which do not consist of matter are beyond the detection of science.

Oh, funny. More baseless assertion. Apparently this troll is utterly unaware of the field of neurology, and the nature of science. We can detect emotion, memory, and thoughts by watching behavior, for one. It's not perfect, but we can do it, and we do it every day, though a little sloppier than a scientist would in an experiment. Science isn't just a collection of scanners, despite what Hollywood will tell you.

Also, if you want to convince me that all those things are non-physical, you'll have to be the one to provide evidence.

Evolution has never been proved, which is why we call it the 'theory of evolution'. It's a fairy tale for grown ups!

Well, looks like this has likely moved into open dishonesty. Do they really think playing around with the English language instead of the evidence will make them look better? No wonder Creationism has become synonymous with dishonesty.

Atheism is a faith in that which has not been proved. The disbelievers have not witnessed anything to not believe in, whereas the believers believe because they have witnessed. There is no 'good news' to preach in atheism.

Ah, yes, the hubris of claiming personal infallibility in witnessing. Of course, atheism is about not having a belief in deities. Not witnessing deities at work is what atheism predicts. No deities means nothing to witness. Creationists, however, have to get pretty creative to explain contradicting experiences from other religions. We've already got explanations: People are fallible.

How much of the atheist's faith relies on anger with God as opposed to genuine disbelief in God?

Classic subjectivist newage (rhymes with sewage) hippieshit psychobabble. That's popular with the corporate masters at Hollywood. Does this person ever leave the basement?

Why do many atheists shake their fists & spend so much time ranting & raving about something they don't believe in? If they are no more than a fizzled out battery at the end of the day, then why don't they spend their lives partying, or getting a hobby?! Why don't they leave this 'God nonsense' alone?

Because vile people like you use religion as a tool to inflict evil on the world. Would you have us tolerate evil and spend our time on a selfish hobby instead? Heck, we're often victims ourselves. We've got both selfish and altruistic reasons to stand against you.

Knowledge gained by science is one of the best tools we have for making the world a better place and more specifically for countering your vileness.

What created God? What came first, the chicken or the egg? I am not going to deny the existence of the chicken or the egg, merely because I don't understand or know what came first. I don't care - they both exist!

Hey, you're the one positing the god hypothesis. It's your job to flesh it out and prove it.

Improbability is not the same as impossibility. You only have to look at life itself for that backup of proof.

Yup. I believe something was said about that in "Climbing Mount Improbable." Of course, you're the only one here declaring anything utterly impossible. Woos just love that word.

How could the complexity of human life possibly evolve on its own accord out of mindless cells?

Introduce random mutation. Natural selection non-randomly picks out those that do the stuff that helps them reproduce more. Rinse and repeat for illions of years.

How could the complexity of the human mind possibly evolve on its own accord out of mindless cells? Where does our consciousness come from?

Duh. Interactions of nerve cells. If you want to show it's something spooky, you'll have to prove it.

What/who knew that our hunger & thirst had to be catered for by the food & drink which we're supplied with?

Unconscious tendencies covered that before the sensations of hunger and thirst existed. Sensory input from your innards when they're running low and a triggered foraging instinct are a good combo. Creatures with a system that triggered appropriate behavior were more likely to survive. It's pretty simple.

Most of us are born with the five senses to detect our surroundings, which we're provided with.

Way more than five senses. And yeah, being able to detect the world around us is an advantage that'd be selected for. What's so weird about that?

What/who knew that had Earth been set nearer to the sun, we would burn up?

Hey, if it wasn't Earth, we'd be on some other planet Omicron Persei VIII, wondering much the same deal. You're working backwards.

What/who knew that had Earth been set any further from the sun, we would freeze up?

Hey, if it wasn't Earth, we'd be on some other planet Omicron Persei VIII, wondering much the same deal. You're working backwards.

What/who knew that had Earth been built larger or smaller, its atmosphere would be one where it would not be possible for us to breathe?

Because we evolved to live on a planet with this gravity. If the planet was bigger or smaller within tolerances for abiogenesis, the entirely different critters born/hatched/spawned there would have appropriate methods to breathe.

What/who knew that we require the oxygen of plants, just as plants require the carbon dioxide of us?

No one knew. It's just a matter of adapting and forming a symbiotic relationship.

The concept that life came about through sheer chance is as absurd & improbable as a tornado blowing through a junk yard, consequently assembling a Boeing 747!

Exactly why I find the whole deity concept silly. Life formed through non-random natural selection acting on replicators with some random mutations. Try reading up on it. It's called evolution, and its stochastic process involves far less randomness than spontaneous generation of supernatural entities.

We are willing to believe in physically unseen waves that exist through the air, operating physical forces & appliances to work, yet not supernatural God forces being responsible for the same.

More word games. "Supernatural" is meaningless. We can see and predict the effects of the invisible. Those invisible waves act according to solid rules and behave very reliably. There's no rhyme or reason behind allegedly supernatural happenings. That's why religious predictions are all over the board and no one is consistently accurate. Prove me wrong by winning a JREF-esque challenge.

Matter cannot organise itself. An uneaten tomato will not progress on its own accord to form a perfect pineapple. It will transform into mould, into disorganisation. The laws of evolution fall flat.

You think mold is disorganized? Mold is a living thing that eats the tomato to decrease its entropy and reproduce. The mold is organizing itself, even if it's not on a level not pleasing to your hubris-filled sense of aesthetics. A tomato turning into a pineapple is the sort of absurdity one would expect from a world filled with the random supernatural effects you describe.

Besides, ever watched crystalline formation? That looks like a share of self-organization to me.

Our 'inventor' of evolution, Mr. Charles Darwin had this to say to Lady Hope when he was almost bedridden for 3 months before he died; "I was a young man with unfathomed ideas. I threw out queries, suggestions. wondering all the time over everything, and to my astonishment the ideas took like wildfire - people made a religion of them." Darwin then asked Lady Hope to speak to neighbours the next day. "What shall I speak about?" She asked. He replied; "Christ Jesus and his salvation. Is that not the best theme?"

1. Lady Hope was lying.
2. Science doesn't care about who came up with the theories. Darwin was no infallible god-king making unquestionable decrees. What matters is the evidence. The universe itself cries out in favor of evolution whenever we look. Your projection of your blind obedience to authority onto us is noted.
3. Darwin is dead, and to me he's just a celebrated footnote in the history of science. He has no practical importance to research, and he's very well outdated since we've refined his theory.

Where do our moral values held within our conscience come from? If the atheist is right, why then would we care about what we did?! If there is no God, then we've no-one to be accountable to.

Except each other. Hurting people makes me feel bad because it means people might hurt me back, or withhold help. Human beings care about each other because we need each other to survive. Altruism is our survival strategy, and it's worked very, very well. Besides, I have the ability to put myself in another person's place, and I wouldn't want to be hurt by me, either.

If man has evolved from an animal, why doesn't he behave like an animal? Yet man is civilised.

Animals are very diverse entities with very diverse behaviors. Civilization is one of those behaviors because it's a very, very effective survival strategy.

'Chance' isn't the cause of something. It just describes what we can't find a reason for.

Yup. Can't really argue with that. We don't know everything, but certain things follow the laws of probability. We just can't seem to get to the bottom of everything to find out why. Some people like you, however, like to pretend that they've already solved it.

Science & logic do not hold all the answers - many people are aware of forces at work which we have no understanding of & no control over.

Exactly. That's why you're so arrogant to think you have answers without evidence. You place yourself above everyone else by doing that.

Look at the date/year on our calender - 2000 years ago since what? Our historical records (other than the Bible) record evidence of Jesus' existence.

Evidence such as?

Many people have died for their faith. Would they be prepared to do this for a lie?!

If they believed the lie, yes. There are atheists out there with the same passion necessary to die for their ideals. Better to die for that, than some concept of personal infallibility at the core of "Faith".

Much of the Bible deals with eyewitness accounts, written only 40 years after Jesus died. When the books in the New Testament were first around, there would have been confusion & anger if the books were not true.

1. Eyewitness accounts rank very low on the scale of evidence.
2. There was confusion and anger. It continues to this very day. Such is the way with any religion.

From as early as 2000 BC, there is archaological evidence to confirm many details we're provided with in the Bible.

Evidence such as?

Not one single Biblical prediction can be shown as false, and the Bible contains hundreds.

Oh, really? You haven't done much reading, have you?

The evidence from liturature & historical studies claim that Biblical statements are reliable details of genuine events.

What historical studies?

From the birth of science through to today, there is no evidence to claim that Christianity & science are in opposition. Many first scientists were Christians; Francis Bacon, Issaac Newton, Robert Boyle, to name a few, along with the many who stand by their work & faith today.

And yet, there are still Christians who claim disease is caused by evil spirits. The science of medicine is in contradiction with this. Not to mention so many other fields of science that Christians typically reject. As for the other scientists, well, it's entirely possible to be a part-time woo and still contribute to science.

Science can explain 'how' something works, but not 'why' something works.

Newage (rhymes with sewage) word games.

Science is constantly recorrecting its findings. Past theories contradict certain beliefs which are held today. Our present 'discoveries' may change again in the future to rediscover how we originally came into existence.

Yup. Because we're fallible, we recognize the need for correction. Somehow, though, I doubt germs will suddenly stop causing disease when we discover evil spirits. We've been wrong before, but science is a process of becoming less wrong as time goes on. The world isn't flat, and it isn't a sphere. That doesn't mean a person who says it's a sphere is exactly as wrong as a Flat Earther.

Evolution describes the way life possibly started, yet doesn't explain what made life start & why. Scientific questions fail to do that. Even if evolution were proved, it would still not disprove God.

1. Evolution is what life does. Abiogenesis takes over, and it's a growing field.
2. For the illionth time: IT'S YOUR JOB TO PROVE GOD! It's not our job to disprove every unicorn, fairy, werewolf, and other miscellaneous supernatural entities.

The two people who discovered Jesus' empty tomb were women. Women were so low on the social scale in first century Palestine, so in order to make the story fit, it would have made far more sense to claim that it were male disciples who had entered the tomb. But it wasn't - we're left with the historical & Biblical truth.

1. It depends on which version of the story you're reading.
2. I'm not one to claim it's a deliberate hoax. Kind of pointless to make this argument to someone who has a hard time believing any detail of the event happened. To me, the whole thing spawns in the way that urban legends spawn about purely fictional events.

Think about Near Death Experiences. It's naive to believe that they all are induced by chemicals or drugs. How do we account for a blind person having this experience, coming back to describe what they had never before seen, a person telling the Doctor that there is a blue paperclip on top of the high cabinet, which they couldn't have otherwise known, an african man being dead in his coffin for 3 days, coming back to life to tell of much the same events which took place as those of many others? We never hear of the witnesses describing "a dream". We're not silly - we know the difference between even the most vivid of dreams to that of reality.

1. Why's it naive? Consciousness itself is induced through electrochemical signals.
2. Show me evidence of these tales, and urban legend chain emails don't count. We don't need to explain events if they never happened.
3. There goes that hubris again, thinking you've got an infallible sense of reality. Stop worshiping yourself and these alleged people. It's embarrassing.

There are many skeptics who didn't believe in Jesus before his crucifixion, and who were opposed to Christianity, yet turned to the Christian faith after the death of Jesus. Just as the many who continue to do so today.

Yeah, and there are many Christians who turn into skeptics. Why should I believe the word of an alleged ex-skeptic without evidence? It's meaningless to talk of conversions of others. Show us the evidence.

Albert Einstein said; "A legitimate conflict between science & religion cannot exist. Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind".

Einstein didn't use conventional definitions for "religion" and "god". Chances are, he'd call you childish and egotistical.

A speaker in Hyde Park who was attacking belief in God, claimed that the world just happened. As he spoke, a soft tomato was thrown at him. "Who threw that?" He said angrily. A cockney from the back of the crowd replied; "No-one threw it - it threw itself!"

More urban legendry combined with straw men. You don't get out much, do you?

It is easier to believe that God created something out of nothing than it is to believe that nothing created something out of nothing.

There's not a lot of difference from what I can see. You'd have to believe that nothing can create God from nothing for the former. I don't see much reason to believe in creation ex nihilo. The way I see it: Somethings came together and interacted to create new somethings, which created more somethings and so on. There's never a nothing involved, except for possibly virtual particles and such. I'll consult my QM friends if it gets down to that.

Stephen Hawkins has admitted; "Science may solve the problem of how the universe began, but it cannot answer the question: why does the universe bother to exist?"

Namedropping without any explanation. I find the latter question meaningless.

We cannot confuse God with man. With God in the equation, all things, including miracles are possible. If God is God, he is Creator of all, inclusive of scientific law. He is Creator of matter & spirit.

Convenient for you to define him as such. Must be nice to prove something by definition, rather than collection of evidence.

If we are the product of evolution - by sheer accident, chance, then we are still evolving. Does it just so happen that we exist here today with everything so finely tuned for our living. as we now have it?

Chance didn't have all that much to do with it, remember? Non-random natural selection, remember? The critters who couldn't make it in this world died off while the ones who had the upper hand flourished.

Could it possibly be that the missing link does not exist?!

Which missing links, where? We don't need a complete record of every critter who had offspring to make inferences. You're asking us to go against common sense and take it on your word that some critters similar to earlier critters just popped into existence.

God has proved himself to us in numerous ways, all around us. The atheist needs to put his glasses on. What more can God possibly do if man has shut his eyes to him?

Right. Declare victory by claiming it's already proven without specifying a single proof or even methods of proof. You've done nothing to show your work, and most of your arguments rely on the assumption that you and the names you drop are perfect.

Jesus Christ is either who he says he is, or he is the biggest con man history has ever known.

It's my current opinion that if anything, Jesus was a typical deluded cult leader who just happened to be successful for the same reasons urban legends are successful memes.

I have no trouble imagining him pulling off an L. Ron Hubbard, though. Humans are fallible and easily fooled. Unlike you, I recognize my shortcomings and put up the safeguards of science. Hubris and blind trust such as yours allows superstitions to perpetuate.


I don't think it takes a genius to know what I've decided. When you feel like coming out of the cookie-cutter mold all the other woos, psychics, alties, IDiots, Scientologists, etcetera, try emailing me something that hasn't been addressed over a century ago.


MWchase said...

Thought on the evolution/abiogenesis distinction: while conflating them is a non-sequitur, there should be a better retort than "The theory of gravity doesn't explain disease."

I'm thinking something like "The theory of gravity explains why apples fall, but not where they come from." Much better parallel structure to the fallacy.

Rhoadan said...

Why do many atheists shake their fists & spend so much time ranting & raving about something they don't believe in?

Aww, gee, I had the impression that most atheists spend a lot of lot time ranting & raving about theists and their total lack of rationality. That's a whole different problem.