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Suggested for Reading:

The True Believer, Eric Hoffer

The Science of Good & Evil, Michael Shermer

How We Believe, Michael Shermer

The End of Faith, Sam Harris

Tower of Babel, Robert T. Pennock

Freedom Evolves, Daniel C. Dennett

more…

Articles :: Archival (the tombs)

Deflating Creationism (archives)

We don’t need to take these people seriously.

Creationists argue that many of our human parts are so extremely complex they could not possibly have developed through the step by step process of natural evolution. Articulated by philosopher William Paley in his Natural Theology, the ‘theory’ went something like this: if you found a watch on the ground, and opened it and observed its mechanism, you’d know there must have been a watchmaker to invent it. Applying this reasoning to humans, you are supposed to deduce that (like the watch’s mechanical innards) our bodies are so marvelously intricate there must have been a “divine watchmaker” (i.e., god) to create us.

Acceptance of Darwin’s theory of evolution, as a result of proof found in the fossil record and by valid research, had mostly swept away these divine watchmaker arguments. But some cherished ideas, no matter how worthless, just refuse to die. Like parched weeds finding a new source of water, they spring up again. What comes to mind is the Eagles singing in Hotel California, “they stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast.” The newest fuel came from Lehigh University creationist and biochemist Michael Behe, who wrote a book called Darwin’s Black Box, wherein he went beyond focusing upon the intricacies of the human eyeball, and argued that microscopic entities such as the human blood clotting mechanism, which involves over a dozen proteins, could not have been built one protein at a time and could not have emerged in a single mutation, since without any one protein it would be useless. Viola! Welcome back, divine watchmaker.

Instead of using the old terminology though, Behe dubbed his so-called theory “irreducibly complexity.” And off they go again, these creationists and “new agers,” with Behe at their head, zealously trying to discredit the theory of evolution with regard to the eye and the other complex organs. Where they are unable to readily dismiss the proven parts of the theory of evolution, he and some other modern creationists in scientific fields are trying to hitch their intelligent design argument to Darwin’s provable hypotheses by arguing for an external input that goes way back in time, as if their ideas can gain scientific credibility that way. This is the worst sort of intellectual deception. Tunku Varadarajan, in referring to another empty vessel given to making unsubstantiated proclamations, said in a Wall Street Journal commentary “What if [we] weren’t supposed to believe in this man?” Well, what if we weren’t supposed to believe scientists who instead of taking up that calling with an objective desire to find the truth, come to scientific research with an agenda they are out to prove? Several other scientists have already refuted Behe’s arguments by showing that other independent uses for the individual proteins exist. But still, Behe’s arguments are being touted seriously as if they merit real consideration.

Look at it from a different angle. Any student of logic should be able to dispose of the intelligent design argument as employing flawed reasoning. But let’s allow creationists, intelligent design boosters, or whatever they want to call themselves, to require that god must exist because how else to explain the origin of certain human complexities? Shouldn’t they have to apply that same argument to their god? After all, were we not, according to the Adam and Eve myth, supposedly created in god’s image? So let us atheists for a moment suppose that god exists. Even though we can’t get a physical hold of the creationists’ god in the form of a corporate body (or whatever he or she is supposedly made of) to examine for ourselves, we can draw a reasonable assumption of his or her presumed complexity based on the qualities ascribed to him or her. To be able to create everything in the heavens and on earth, including we humans, it seems reasonable to assume that god is, at minimum, of an impressively superior intellect and complexity him- or herself. In which case, how did this god get to be? How did this god acquire the necessary knowledge and intellect to form everything? The only reasonable conclusion to draw using the creationists’ own rules, is that such a god must have been invented or created also.

In which case, who created god? And so on. It leads to a pointlessly endless cycle of asking who created the creator of god, the creator of the creator of god, ad infinitum. And still you would be left with the ultimate question of the origin of that remotest and most wonderful original god. It is such an illogical premise, it simply collapses under its own weight.

So where do creationists claim their version of god originated, given their argument that humans could not simply have evolved without godly intervention, without some external push of some kind? They have been coy about that, but AB.net wonders if their god - dare I say it - just came to be! Evolved, perhaps? Because if so, how do they explain why we, with all of our intricate processes, could not have just evolved too? You don’t get to apply certain rules for one, and a different set for the other, just to accommodate your own theory du jour.

AB.net doubts that reason will get any creationists to see the flaws in their arguments, no matter what. To quote Gray, a philosopher, in his On a Distant Prospect of Eton College : “Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.” And follow up with the observation of Eric Hoffer in The True Believer : “The true believer cannot be convinced, only converted.” The hard core, committed, fundamentalist faithful out there have probably closed their minds to all reason, so they can only be converted (how about some of you committed atheists out there working on a program for that)!.

There ARE, however, reasonable religious people out there who have questions and who seek helpful knowledge to decide these issues for themselves. AB.net wants them at least to find better rationales than the ones offered by the creationist camp. We shouldn’t take those people seriously at all. Not for even a moment.

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