meester_bond (meester_bond) wrote,

The Reliability of the Bible Saga: Part 12

So when we last left off, I was exposing the sheer weight of misunderstandings Scott held in truly epic fashion, going through 11 parts to correct his woefully wrong positions. Let's get one thing straight first off. Scott NEVER ANSWERED ALL 11 PARTS. Instead, it took some extreme negotiation for me to even get him to address ONE part. And even then he never properly tackled my subsequent response. In the meantime, he kept calling me childish because I used a few naughty words and treated his views with exactly the respect they deserved: namely as being overly-repeated claptrap that got debunked years ago but which still gets attempted to be forced into the science classroom. In other words, zero.

So let's start with Robert Webb, another apologist, spreading bullshit about the Dover Trial:

Me vs Robert Webb:

And you can add the Dover trial claim of yours that I will be refuting as well. The trial actually is beneficial to ID because the judge's bias and extreme inaccuracies have been exposed, he used the ACLU brief as the template for writing his decision copying word for word absurdly inaccurate and false twists of the actual trial testimony in it that the actual trial record exposes.

So let's tackle this. Firstly, this is hardly an original accusation. The creationists have criticised Jones for supposedly copying something like "90%" of what he said from the ACLU brief, but an actual statistical analysis puts it at more like 35%: . Nonetheless, close examining of the similarities reveals that only the "findings of fact" in the opinion were thus transcribed, not the entire opinion as the Discovery Institute misrepresents. It should be noted that incorporation of a brief in an opinion's findings of fact is standard and appropriate, and is often used by the court to avoid a duplication of effort where the argument coincides with judicial opinion, which is also explained in the link.

And I've asked this question several times and only gotten vague answers. What precisely did the "Dover" side's lawyers expose about the witnesses testifying against Dover that the Kitzmiller lawyers managed to expose so very well about Michael Behe and Alan Bonsell (who offered testimony so suspicious and facetious that the judge took the prerogative to examine the witness himself). Allow me to remind you of what was admitted by the most key ID supporter Behe on the stand:

- That no peer-reviewed scientific journal has published research supportive of intelligent design's claims.
- That Behe's own book was not, as he had claimed, peer reviewed.
- That Behe himself criticizes the science presented as supporting intelligent design in instructional material created for that purpose.
- That intelligent design seems plausible and reasonable to inquirers in direct proportion to their belief or nonbelief in God.
- That the basic arguments for evidence of purposeful design in nature are essentially the same as those adduced by the Christian apologist Rev. William Paley (1743–1805) in his 1802 Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected From the Appearances of Nature, where he sums up his observations of the complexity of life in the ringing words, "The marks of design are too strong to be got over. Design must have had a designer. That designer must have been a person. That person is GOD."
- That the definition of "theory" supplied by the US National Academy of Sciences did not encompass ID, and that his broader definition would allow astrology to be included as a scientific theory.
- That he had claimed in his book that evolution could not explain immunology without even investigating the subject. He was presented with 58 peer reviewed articles, nine books, and several textbook chapters on the subject; he insisted they were "not good enough."

Jones himself concluded rather aptly:

"One consistency among the Dover School Board members' testimony, which was marked by selective memories and outright lies under oath, as will be discussed in more detail below, is that they did not think they needed to be knowledgeable about ID… We disagree."

Another theist had a different appeal to a different law:

Josh Rayburn:

The law they passed that so long as a teacher presents the required material for the state testing then that teacher can also supplement whatever material they want to present to the children as well.


The Louisiana law, as well as the one in Tennessee, are lawsuits waiting to happen. Especially since the part of the text includes the sentence: "[...]including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning." - all things, which not so coincidentally, are, of course, all targets of the right's War on Science. The last one - human cloning - is also out of place here as it isn't even a 'theory'.

The bill also allows the use of "supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials" for the above purpose by teachers, "unless otherwise prohibited" by the board. This could mean, for example, that the SBOE would have to explicitly ban a given creationist textbook to prevent a teacher from utilising it to teach creationism in the guise of "promote[ing] students' critical thinking skills". A whole bunch of Nobel Laureates have criticised it, and when both Lousiana and Tennessee get subject to the lawsuits they'll eventually get, they'll go exactly the same way as Kitzmiller v Dover.

Finally, after educating Scott on exactly what a tone troll is, and negotiating to address just one part, he responded with this:

Scott Rachui:

With regards to "1.", which “studies” would those be? More details about the specifics of your claim would be very helpful

I am not relying on any Christian apologets source for this, Jon. What I rely on is the work done by John Barrow and Frank Tipler in their book "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle". You're welcome to pick that book up and read it, but here is a summary statement I put together from the book that explains this:

Frank Tipler is a professor of Mathematical Physics at Tulane University and John Barrow is a professor of Astronomy at Sussex. They are both well-respected scientists and are not writing as Christians, but as scientists.

In their book "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle" (pp. 562-564), they note the vast improbability of life developing anywhere in the universe. They list 10 crucial ingredients that must be present for life to develop. Interestingly, each of these are so improbable and would take so much time to develop through blind evolutionary processes alone that before they occurred (and we're talking each of these processes independently...not all 10 of them happening together), our sun would have ceased to be a main sequence star and would have burned up the earth!

Here are the 10 steps (EACH OF WHICH is highly improbable):
1. The development of the DNA-based genetic code
2. The invention of aerobic respiration
3. The invention of glucose fermentation to pyruvic acid
4. The origin of autotropic photosynthesis
5. The origin of mitochondria
6. The formation of the centriole/kinetosome/undulipodia complex
7. The evolution of an eye precursor
8. The development of endoskeleton
9. The development of chordates
10. The evolution of Homo Sapiens in the chordate lineage

On your "2.", if you’re referring to the fact that abiogenesis is a topic for which we don’t have all the answers, then yeah, you’re right: We *don’t* have all the answers.

That is what I'm referring to, Jon. But it's more than just not having the answers. It's this untenable faith commitment that life can spring from non-life. Every attempt at an explanation has failed. Every experiment (even the Miller-Urey experiment) has not met the necessary standard. Couple this with the fact that we DO have reasonable answers when reasoning to the origin of life from the existence of a necessary being that is himself the first cause, though He is uncaused (he exists by the necessity of his own being) and you have a good reason to doubt naturalistic explanations.


This is the problem, Jon. Your view requires FAR more faith than I'm able to muster. You leverage a naturalism of the gaps (a true argument from ignorance) to reach your conclusions. You conclude that even though we have no explanation (and no hope for an explanation) for how life spontaneously appeared from non-life, it MUST be a natural explanation. So you've conveniently wedged "unknown natural cause" into that gap. I can't leverage 'gaps' arguments and I can't argue from ignorance. I don't have enough faith to do that.

I don’t quite see how you get from “I don’t know” to “therefore, God”, but if that’s what makes you happy, go for it.

Then let me help you...we don't say "they can't explain the origin of life, so God must have done it". No, we have positive arguments for God's existence, which are scientific, logical and philosophical in origin. And with this evidence we are able to use that evidence to conclude that God is the best explanation for everything. Thus, we don't rely on your lack of ability to get the answer. We rely on our evidence to conclude that God is the source of everything. We just recognize that abiogenesis is a profound gap that you guys can't cross (and will never be able to cross, in my view).

I just hope you recognise that this argument-from-ignorance doesn't fit well school curricula, okay?

I agree completely. This is why you should stop saying that evolution (without the guidance of an intelligence) is a decided fact. It isn't. And when you claim it is, you're arguing from ignorance.

If you are, instead, arguing that we have *absolutely no clue whatsoever* about abiogenesis, well, that’s just wrong. We *know* that mindless, undirected chemistry is perfectly capable of generating amino acids without any need for a Designer’s intervention; we *know* that random concatenations of amino acids *can and do* have biologically-relevant chemical properties. Both of these facts being the case, it’s pretty clear that we have *more* than just a clue about abiogenesis

Let me offer an analogy on this, Jon.

Suppose that you decide you're going to study the origin of rain. And before you get started, you determine that rain cannot come from clouds (because maybe you don't believe in clouds, or whatever). You spend a significant amount of time and get some tantalizing details (rain comes down, not tends to occur when there is thunder and wind...the ground is typically wet during a rainstorm, etc.). And you say "we're closing in on the source! Look how much we know about rain!"

Suppose then that I come to you and say "sure, you've got some interesting data. But it does not explain the source of rain. And it never will because you reject the idea that rain comes from clouds." Your response is "you are just arguing from ignorance when you say that since I haven't proven the source of rain, it must be clouds."

I then proceed to offer you the evidence that rain does come from clouds (to demonstrate that I'm not arguing from ignorance, but have good reasons to believe rain comes from clouds).

This is what's happening here, Jon. You've got some interesting information. But you'll never explain the origin of life because you reject the source of the origin of life. And I don't say that as an argument from ignorance. I have the evidence which leads me to the conclusion that God is the source of all things. This is why I believe. It's a deductive conclusion. Yours, however (the belief that life sprang into being purely through natural means) IS an argument from ignorance, and it's a 'gaps' argument as I've already explained.

The two that spring to mind are: An unidentified ‘intelligent designer’ doesn’t lead to the conclusion of ‘therefore, God’ – which is often how ID is used to justify the belief in God, despite the fact that there could be any other number or kinds of ‘intelligent designer’ that would not be considered deities – particularly when we allow for unknowable unknowns.

I actually agree with this statement, Jon. ID is a good discipline and it has given us some very interesting information. I believe a designer is behind everything, but I agree with you that some people try to do more with it than is justified by the science. And I also agree that knowing there is an intelligent designer does not mean it's the God of scripture.

Having said that, there are certain things we can know about the designer just from observing the design (and I'm using 'He' here for convenience):

- He exists
- He is immaterial and timeless (because material and time are part of the creation)
- He is quite powerful
- He is incredibly intelligence
- He is a creator that values order
- He is interested in being known by His creations
- He is not dependant on the universe (in other words, He is not a component of His creation)

There are other things we could deduce, but this gives you a sense of it. We certainly can't know everything about the creator from knowing that He exists and created all things. But there are certain things we can know for sure.

The problem with this is that in order to prove that a thing demonstrates specified complexity, the argue-er must first demonstrate that it is both complex and designed.

I don't think that's what they do, and I don't think it falls prey to the trap you've set. I think people like Stephen Meyer would say that things like cells demonstrate design and from this we can infer a designer (this is certainly the view I take). For me Paley's watch argument is quite convincing. I know that there has been an attempt by atheists to discredit it, but no one will ever be able to convince me that someone stumbling upon a watch lying in the grass (even for someone who was unfamiliar with watches and time-keeping) would not lead them to conclude that someone designed the watch. It's simply never going to happen no matter how many times that scenario plays out.

Carl Sagan even proved my point for me in his book 'Contact'. In there, Elle determined that radio signals from outer space had an intelligent origin because they were transmitted in a specified pattern (prime numbers). So she heard the information, recognized the pattern, understood design, and concluded a designer.

She didn't fall into your trap (though she certainly was an advocate of ID when it came to those signals) and the ID movement doesn't either, in my view.

I'll agree with you that some take ID and use it to say "the God of scripture is real" without any additional reasoning. But it's not wrong to take the findings of science and conclude there is a designer of some sort. And that's all this argument is intended to do...lead to the conclusion of a designer.

These two fatal flaws in ways that Intelligent Design is commonly used to justify belief in a cosmic designer are, well… fatal

They really aren't, Jon. Partially because they don't do what you claim they do.

All the same, given that you are an advocate of Intelligent Design, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on my critique of ID//

I think you've attacked a straw man

I’ve presented these problems that I have with ID to other ID proponents and been met with silence or a change in topic. You’re under no obligation to do so, of course. I’m just curious as to what you think.

One thing I don't do is simply go silent or try to change the subject. I am interested primarily in truth. I will follow it where it leads. Thus far, the quest for truth has led me to conclude that God exists, that Jesus lived and taught and died and rose again, and that the Christian worldview is true.

What I won't do is engage with someone who liked to throw insults and speak derisively. It's a waste of my time. But I do appreciate your attempt to be more civil this time.The two that spring to mind are: An unidentified ‘intelligent designer’ doesn’t lead to the conclusion of ‘therefore, God’ – which is often how ID is used to justify the belief in God, despite the fact that there could be any other number or kinds of ‘intelligent designer’ that would not be considered deities – particularly when we allow for unknowable unknowns.

I'm leaving it here, for space reasons. Don't worry, my full rebuttal comes in the next post.
Tags: reliability bible
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic