Tuesday, December 23, 2008

5 Questions that I will waste my time answering.

Here is a youtube video I found somehow titled "5 Questions every intelligent atheist must answer". He's lucky I am in an obedient mood right now.

Question the First: "Aren't you using 'chance' in the exact same way in which you accuse Christians of using 'God of the gaps'?"
Yes (for all I know). There's just one key difference: "chance" can be observed and is consistent with extrapolation based on what we know of the underlying chemical and biological processes of life, whereas "God of the gaps" is using a unknown, unknowable entity as an explanation for the same thing based upon the fact that we don't know how else it could have happened. Saying that something was arrived at by "chance" isn't just a last refuge and stock conclusion that has no rational basis and that is jumped to whenever people run into a dead end. It is, in some cases, the only rational conclusion, since pretty much every process we can currently observe is directed by probabilistic factors and confined "chance".

Question Deux: "Why should there be something instead of nothing?"
Shoot me now.
There is something instead of nothing because we are something, and if there was nothing, there would not be something, and we would not be there to contemplate the nothingness. Basically, a non-existent person tells no tales, and a non-existent universe has no tales told about it. If you want me to go into the "how" of this, beyond the scope of the Big Bang Theory, then I can offer nothing but speculation. And just because your speculation comes pre-packaged with a church's stamp of approval doesn't make it hold more water.
Also: WTF is "moral order"?

Question Tres: "Where do you get your morals from?"
Same place as everyone else: conscience, upbringing, culture, and a dash of rational assessment of consequences for certain behavior. The morality definition offered up at the beginning of that section from an evolutionary perspective is actually quite good. Unfortunately, it seems that he is looking for that nice old "objective morality". He can keep on looking, because changing moral zeitgeists in countries that remained predominantly Christian for centuries gives us a good indication of just how immutable their objective moral codes are.

Question Quadrilateral [I believe that that is "four" in Portuguese]: "How did morals evolve?"
When humans started interacting with one another in order to survive, and personality traits and behavioral patterns that helped facilitate and stabilize group function became increasingly favored over "immoral" behavior that does neither, or the opposite.
No, no self-consciousness or awareness of the evolutionary processes behind it is necessary. Natural psychopaths will lose out to a naturally helpful, kind, and industrious individual in ideal social settings every time (with the possible exceptions of warrior cultures).
He mentions that a caveman would not feel guilty for killing a human in a neighboring group. This much is true. That's what happens when you get into groups that are competing against each other for survival. And it has been something that has been true even under religious codes against it (or that cleverly support such things as war and killing in self defense, while simultaneously condemning killing of any other kind). It hasn't been until relatively recently, in increasingly stable and open societies, that we have started moving away from those sentiments, and seeing all of our species as a unified group. But, we still have our hatreds and divisions nonetheless.

Question Five: "Can nature generate complex organisms, in the sense of originating, when previously there was none?"
Wow. You sure have a hard-on for abiogenesis. Okay, first off, we don't know. Second off, the fact that life hasn't come about on the select few planets we can observe isn't really a point against abiogenesis, so much as consistent with the fact that life came about in a chance process, and Earth just happened to be the rock in the right position to let life come about. And then he starts to babble on about "design", comparing a woodcut to nature. Why do those evil atheists stubbornly refuse to merge the concepts of natural and artificial together in order to haphazardly argue for the existence of a celestial blacksmith? WHY!?

The thing that was most remarkable about these questions is that they had little, if anything, to do with atheism. No questions about gods (or lack thereof) at all. It was all about clumsy attempts to find holes in non-creationist science, and trying to wrap his head around secular morality. It's a real shame. But, I guess they feel better about ranting about how the world had to have been "designed" because it looks "designy" rather than talking about whether there is any intellectual integrity in positing a "designer" due to that, or at all.


pboyfloyd said...

If I'm listening to this guy 'correctly', he's not denying that there is such a thing as chance.

God must be a terrible designer, designing so much chance into his work.

If there were no 'chance' or 'chance' is an illusion then we ought to see that those close to the designer, close to God, just 'knowing' how the design is unfolding and life 'working out better for them'.

We never hear of designers BRAGGING that they have built chance into their designs but 'right-out-of-the-starting-gate', we hear that God made the Garden of Eden with two sacred trees, two humans and a talking evil snake.

Where was the morality in that? That's like leaving your kids in the care of a crack addict that you know HATES you.

YES, there's a CHANCE that the kids wouldn't 'go along' with the evil baby-sitter, but the situation hasn't really been DESIGNED for a good outcome.

Stacy said...

"5 Questions that I will waste my time answering."

How many brain cells did u just kill?? ;-)

mac said...

Just 5 little questions ?
He can't come up with any better questions? I mean, if these are his only concerns, is he trying to find an excuse to abandon his beliefs ?

I like this funny girl a lot...she has such a raw energy and poses silly questions back to the religionists.


I've watched most of her vids...she's funny and angry and just a bit cute :-)

Asylum Seeker said...

"We never hear of designers BRAGGING that they have built chance into their designs but 'right-out-of-the-starting-gate', we hear that God made the Garden of Eden with two sacred trees, two humans and a talking evil snake."

And then punishing us for going along with that design. He is truly skilled at planning everything, that God.

"That's like leaving your kids in the care of a crack addict that you know HATES you."

Oh, but keep in mind that it is also a crack addict that you personally designed to be a crack addict who hates you. Again...the battle of free will versus benevolent design rages on, with no one really caring because they will believe this crap regardless.

"How many brain cells did u just kill??"

The Christmas music has pre-killed all brain cells for me. In fairness, there weren't many left.

"He can't come up with any better questions?"

Possibly. He must see glorified arguments from design as the only good argument (that he can understand) for believing in a god. Why he thinks his particular religion has the image of a creative god that we inevitably be led to by failing to rebut his assertions, I have not a clue. But that is the mystery of the creationist.

And, I will check out the videos of the person that you speak of. Though I doubt I can hold interest in anything that doesn't fill me with indignant rage.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

Nature lacks a designer but has one hell-of-a Q/A department. Mutations appear to be quite random but Natural selection is not at all random. It is relentless in its ability to cull suboptimal configurations from the tree of life. Add to that the fact that the criteria which natural selection brings to bear and it's fairly easy to see how such splendid adaptive complexity has evolved over the eons in order to survive. ptheinb

mac said...

I just noticed the intelligent atheist part....that kind of leaves me out of the loop. I don't have to answer his silly questions :-)

pboyfloyd said...

Definition of Biblical 'literalist'.

Someone who will look you straight in the eye and tell you, "Yea right, the snake wasn't REALLY a snake, it was SATAN, you fool!"

pboyfloyd said...

I think that religious philosophy IS TO solving a system of differential equations that describe the forces acting on the ball while it is in the air and then run to the place at which the ball is predicted to hit the ground AS 'believing' IS TO moving in such a fashion that assures that the ball will hit the catcher.

What I mean is that religious philosophers don't describe what believers are believing.

Asylum Seeker said...

"ptheinb" is an awesome abbreviation of your name, Pliny. And, of course, we are in agreement about how natural selection is an elegant explanation for the existence of the apparent complexity of life.

"I just noticed the intelligent atheist part....that kind of leaves me out of the loop. "

Gaaah. You found the way out! Without having to deal with the horrors contained within that video. Oh, and without falling into a potential trap about being accused of being called "arrogant" (but, then again, the title was based on Ed Current's video "10 questions every intelligent Christian must answer", so I doubt that it was meant to be such a ploy).

Bible literalist: "Someone who will look you straight in the eye and tell you, "Yea right, the snake wasn't REALLY a snake, it was SATAN, you fool!"

Good one, pboy! That is one of the stranger interpretations that Christianity takes for granted. Especially since "Satan" isn't really even portrayed as evil in his brief appearances in the Old Testament, and the accounts about the snake and its role to Satan vary from demonic possession to just being a form that Satan can take. It is hilarious because they really have no basis for this interpretation, but I guess this shouldn't surprise me.

And, I am not quite sure I follow the analogy fully, but I get the jist, and agree with your summary: very few believers have beliefs that are accurately represented by the theologians, apologists, and religious philosophers they hide behind.

Stacy said...

Mac said:

"I just noticed the intelligent atheist part....that kind of leaves me out of the loop."

Ahem - you are not alone. ;-)

GearHedEd said...

Dang it! I missed the latest poll. And even though I would have had to answer that I was a toadstool, I at least wanted a fair shot at it.

Asylum Seeker said...

Sorry Ed. There'll always be another poll. At some point. As son I drop out of my holiday stupor.

GearHedEd said...


I finally got enough time to look at the youtube thingy at the top.

Jeezus tap-dancing Christ, what a knucklehead that guy is....

Mandar Malum said...

I watched the video, and got quite annoyed. At first I thought it was going to be a good atheist video and then I realized quite soon after that he was a douche...

Stacy said...

Happy New Year! :-)

Saint Brian the Godless said...

Great post!!! I enjoyed reading that.

I envy your clarity of thought.

Asylum Seeker said...

And belated Happy New Year to you too, Stacy. And to all else.

I'm glad that I wasn't the only one who felt mild nausea while watching the video.

And thanks for the compliments Brian! I honestly think that you seem to have more clarity of thought than I have. But, honestly, it is hard to say, since I feel perpetually befuddled myself.

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