Monday, April 14, 2008

God and Science and Why I Feel Like Stabbing; Jazzhands Edition

Alright...I've come across what I originally supposed to be a relatively well-informed site that contains actually good, coherent arguments in favor of religious beliefs and Christianity specifically. That site is Needless to say...I was disappointed. Despite being very verbiose and having a solid backing in science (hence the site name), the arguments are relatively weak. I'll go through a few of them here and give you an idea of what passes as support for some of the (admittedly difficult) subjects.

First off, we have this blatant and dishonest attempt at portraying atheists as less "moral" than theists. His assertion is effectively:
"The teachings of the Bible emphasize values such as honesty, love, forgiveness, patience, and generosity. Many of these values are not emphasized in social circles dominated by atheists." And how does he plan on proving this?
With "A survey of 1,600 Canadians asked them what were their beliefs about God and what moral values they considered to be 'very important.'"
It's far from a comprehensive argument, since it only references a single study, but that is hardly something worth nitpicking. My problem with it is that he is misrepresenting what the study actually was. This is a but of a bizarre ploy, but the original survey did not use the word "moral value", but rather the more religious term "virtue" instead.

That's right. This poll was asking a group of Christians and atheists whether a compilation of Christian "virtues" were important. Not whether there is such a thing as a virtue, not whether they were important relative to anything else, or whether it was admirable to have such a trait in certain circumstances. So, newsflash, atheists were worse than Christians in recognizing the merits of Christian "virtues", which are arbitrary and ineffectual in many circumstances, not to mention being incredibly vague (for instance, "family life", "politeness", and "patience").

So, atheists fail at being Christians? Fantastic. Since when were things "honesty" and "being loved" the sole indicator of actual moral behavior? Especially when you are simply asking people what they deem to be important, not what standards they actually live by. All this proves is that Christians have a higher "moral" standard than atheists, not they live by it. And, of course, we already know that you have higher moral's why their abortion clinic protestors, and homophobes aplenty.

Here he claims that the Bible does not say that God is omnipotent, to which I respond:

"Rev 19:6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."

Of course, I do admit that there is impressive lack of any mention of God being omnipotent, all powerful, or any variation thereof. Guess that explains a lot about the world, eh? If we admit that God may not be omnipotent, then suddenly the idea becomes more coherent. Too bad it begins the slow process of no longer resembling the Stern Magical Judge/Daddy figure that many believers have etched into their minds. But, a little heartening.

He utters this rather classy statement in a section focused on addressing the Uncaused cause dilemma:
"Many other religions have claimed that gods beget other gods. Of course the problem with this idea is how did the first god get here? This problem of infinite regression invalidates such religions. Christianity claims that God has always existed."
Alright...I don't see how this a problem at all if you grant the first god that sires the others is, just like your God, beyond the limitations of our puny mortal space-time. This is fairly poor attempt at getting a jab at a strawman version of other supposed religions, when, in reality, the Christian idea of a god beyond the confines of our reality is not incredibly rare, since that is effectively what gods are supposed to be: beyond our reality.
Next up!

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1)
This verse tells us that God was acting before time when He created the universe"

*bitchslap* That passage does not BEFORE the beginning. I cannot help but say that you reading in to this far too much...since it does not say anything about God being there prior to the beginning of the universe. You are assuming that it is implying that God existed before the beginning because it does not mention him coming into being. But does not mean that He always was...he may have come into existence just before creation. It says nothing about the beginning being a reference to the beginning of time itself, much less that God was actually "acting" before then.

"Before time began, etc. etc."

It could not possibly be the case that, given the context (yes, that old apologist chestnut) of the quotes that the phrase "before the beginning of time" and so forth are not simply figures of speech? You know...basically saying "before time as we know it", or in times during which we have no historical accounts or knowledge of? Before the beginning of history, rather than of existence?

"Without the dimension of time, there is no cause and effect, and all things that could exist in such a realm would have no need of being caused, but would have always existed"

And without matter, there is no time or cause and effect for the Big Bang theory, are we?

"However, two dimensions of time form a plane of time, which has no beginning and no end and is not restricted to any single direction. A being that exists in at least two dimension of time can travel anywhere in time and yet never had a beginning, since a plane of time has no starting point"

Not only does that sound like an utter crock, but I am also of the impression that this serves to better support an infinitely extradimensionally oscillating eternal universe than it does extradimensional superbeings. Of course this leads into the inevitable assertion that the universe cannot be eternal due to time and the universe beginning with the Big Bang, which is thereotically true, but it demands on what the definition of universe and time is...since the matter used in the Big Bang was composed of the matter that made up the universe, and it existed, even if the universe, in a technical sense, did not. As for time....time simply was at a near-zero, to complete zero state according to relativity, when there was Big Bang singularity formed. However, this does not mean that time proceeded in a linear fashion from that zero point (that is to argue, that time existed before time began...strange as that sounds). There are a number of feasible ways that the universe could have come to be beyond the Big Bang being the end-all-be-all of origins. But, of course, I am rationalizing. Even if the universe isn't eternal, and did need a first cause beyond space and time, that is hardly evidence for white robes, long-beard, judging you for your sex life, God.

Well, anyway, that's enough wading through this crap for one day. He makes a few good points, I'll admit. Unfortunately, that makes his weaker arguments that much more infuriating.

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