Monday, February 24, 2014

Answering Kirk Hastings: Ninth Question for Darwinists

This post is part of the ongoing saga to answer the questions asked by Kirk Hastings of the defunct Evidence 4 Faith podcast. This post addresses the fifth question of Kirk's "Top Ten Questions for Darwinists."

9) If the whole "point" of Darwinian evolution is increased complexity, reproduction and continued survival, then why do all living things slowly wear out, die, and disappear after a relatively short period of time? This makes evolution pointless, because it is seriously failing to achieve its goal (survival).
There are points where I wonder if Kirk is intentionally lying, or willfully ignorant. This question represents one of those times. Fortunately the fundamental flaws in this question make it trivial to answer. Kirk writes, "If the whole "point" of Darwinian evolution is increased complexity..."
I'm going to stop right there. The rest of Kirk's question is predicated upon the assumption that evolution has a point other than survival, and that point is increasing complexity. A more complex animal is not necessarily the best adapted to its environment and is therefore not necessarily more likely to survive. Kirk seems to be laboring under the precious delusion that humans somehow represent the end game for evolution. This absurdity was inherited from religion, which often places humanity at a corporeal pinnacle as a way of explaining a deity caring about us at all.
The simple fact if the matter is that we're not that special. Given the catastrophic damage we've done to the environment and the speed with which we make areas uninhabitable for our own kind it could be argued that we are in fact pretty poorly adapted for long term survival, an evolutionary dead end that will sort itself out in another 50,000 years or so.
There are plenty of examples of less complex animals being replaced by simpler ones. Remember, the point is survival, not some abstract concept of "complexity." Modern whales are less complicated that their predecessors that could walk on land. When the dinosaurs went extinct in a massive asteroid strike the small, simpler mammals were better suited to survive in the new environment. Cockroaches have changed little in millions of years largely because few mutations have arisen that gave the new cockroaches a reproductive advantage over their peers. Sharks are relatively simple creatures compared to younger aquatic species yes they persist with minimal variation.
The rest of Kirk's question is nonsense because it depends upon nonsense. You might as well ask Kirk how Jesus can be the Jewish messiah if he was a sentient badger. When a question is based upon a patently absurd base assumption, Jesus was a badger and the "point" of evolution is complexity, the rest of the question is moot.

Return to the Index
Tenth Question for Darwinists

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Lump mode engaged

Clifford knows how to spend Saturday afternoon. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

That's My Boy!

I recently picked up a copy of "Cards Against Humanity." My five and a half year old son saw it on the table and asked about it. I explained, "It's card game for grown-ups with themes you're too young for. By the time you're old enough to play it, you'll probably want to play it with your friends and not your parents."

"OK Daddy," he said, before moving on to something else.

The next morning I took him to school. He and a classmate charged into the room to grab a pack of playing cards with dinosaurs on them. This is apparently their favorite thing to pay with together. My son said to his friend, "Since people are made of meat, these are cards that eat Humanity!"

He then looked at me with a big, goofy grin on his face and I replied, while chuckling, "Good one. Well played son, well played."

Monday, February 17, 2014

Answering Kirk Hastings: Eighth Question for Darwinists

This post is part of the ongoing saga to answer the questions asked by Kirk Hastings of the defunct Evidence 4 Faith podcast. This post addresses the fifth question of Kirk's "Top Ten Questions for Darwinists."

8) If life DID "evolve", then why did it ever evolve beyond weeds, ants and cockroaches, which are much better equipped for reproduction and survival than we are?
Kirk seems unaware of the fact that human beings have decimated such creatures with agriculture, our control of fire, and the chemistry of insecticides and herbicides. It remains to be seen if our larger brains and complex thought processes will let us adapt faster than the organisms Kirk is implying are superior to us.
We are the sum result of the random mutations that gave our ancestors advantages over the competition. If humans change the environment enough that we are no longer the best adapted species, we will suffer as a result. Evolutionary "dead ends" are ultimately species that lost the battle for survival. If insects and weeds really are better adapted than we are, we'll die out in the end while they survive.


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Continue to the Ninth Question for Darwinsists

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lie like an Editor

Despite the fact that the Evidence 4 Faith podcast is on hiatus, the site’s Facebook page is alive and well. I was recently directed to a post containing the following graphic.

Avoid Debates. If your local campus Christian fellowship asks you to ‘defend evolution,’ please decline. … you probably will get beaten.

If you have trouble reading the text, it says:
Avoid Debates. If your local campus Christian fellowship asks you to ‘defend evolution,’ please decline. … you probably will get beaten.
That’s quite a statement from the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). It sounds like an open admission of some rather significant flaws in evolutionary theory. The tenor changes a bit when you read the full quote.
"*Avoid Debates*. If your local campus Christian fellowship asks you to "defend evolution," please decline. Public debates rarely change many minds; creationists stage them mainly in the hope of drawing large sympathetic audiences. Have you ever watched the Harlem Globetrotters play the Washington Federals? The Federals get off some good shots, but who remembers them? The purpose of the game is to see the Globetrotters beat the other team. And you probably will get beaten. In such a forum, scientific experts often try to pack a semester-long course into an hour, hoping to convey the huge sweep of evolution, the towering importance of its ideas, the masses of evidence in its favor. Creationist debaters know better. They come well prepared with an arsenal of crisp, clear, superficially attractive anti-evolutionary arguments--fallacious ones, yes, but far too many for you to answer in the time provided. Even if you win the debate in some technical sense, most of the audience will still walk away from it convinced that your opponent has a great new science that the schools should hear about. Teachers have enough problems. Above all else, do no harm."
I’ve bolded the portions that were cut out of the cute creationist graphic. Notice how the meaning changes dramatically when you look at the rest of the quote. Far from admitting any factual failings, it makes some rather insightful and unflattering observations about how Creationists tend to debate. Having been a Creationist when I was younger, I’m quite familiar with the tactics she’s discussing.
The graphic is a spectacular example of how to lie through editing. The true genius of this form of deception is that the people defending the graphic can use the technical fact that these were her words, moving the goalposts away from the fact that they were edited to radically change their original meaning.
Despite my moral objection to lying, I have to confess the person who edited the quote as it appears in the graphic is a master of deception. Satan would be proud of how they’ve created a half-truth.
I tried discussing my concerns with the folks at Evidence 4 Faith, but they deleted my comments and banned me from their page. Frankly, I’m not surprised. Kirk Hastings is among their number, and he does have a tendency to do just that whenever he’s confronted with a question he can’t answer or a criticism that’s over his head.

Not long after my comments were deleted, Freedom From Atheistic Scientism made the following post:
It's the original quote with some commentary added by an individual assumed to be Kirk Hastings. The additions are bolded below:
Freedom From Atheistic Scientism wrote: "Of course, now atheists are falsely claiming posting the quote above is "quote mining". Here is the full quote by Scott: "Avoid Debates. If your local campus Christian fellowship asks you to 'defend evolution,' please decline. Public debates rarely change many minds; creationists stage them mainly in the hope of drawing large sympathetic audiences (NOTE: AND ATHEISTS WOULDN'T DO THIS IF THEY COULD?). Have you ever watched the Harlem Globetrotters play the Washington Federals? The Federals get off some good shots, but who remembers them? The purpose of the game is to see the Globetrotters beat the other team (ISN'T THAT THE POINT OF MOST DEBATES?). And you probably will get beaten (RIGHT!). In such a forum, scientific experts often try to pack a semester-long course into an hour, hoping to convey the huge sweep of evolution, the towering importance of its ideas, the masses of evidence in its favor (THIS IS ALL TOTAL BIASED B.S.!). Creationist debaters know better. They come well prepared with an arsenal of crisp, clear, superficially attractive anti-evolutionary arguments (RIGHT!)--fallacious ones, yes (NO--ANOTHER FALSE, TOTALLY BIASED STATEMENT), but far too many for you to answer in the time provided (LIKE ATHEISTS NEVER TRY TO DO THE SAME THING?). Even if you win the debate in some technical sense (WHICH EVOLUTIONISTS NEVER DO), most of the audience will still walk away from it convinced that your opponent has a great new science that the schools should hear about (BECAUSE CREATIONIST ARGUMENTS MAKE SENSE AND ARE COHERENT AND SCIENTIFIC!). Teachers have enough problems (SO WHAT?). Above all else, do no harm (RIGHT--THAT'S WHY EVOLUTIONISTS SHOULD NOT DEBATE; THEY CAUSE TOO MUCH INTELLECTUAL HARM).""

Let's take a closer look at each of these rants.
Of course, now atheists are falsely claiming posting the quote above is "quote mining". Here is the full quote by Scott:
The first thing I noticed was, aside from the claim that the accusations of quote-mining were false, there's nothing in the rant that attempts to refute the accusation of quote-mining.

There's nothing false about the accusation. It is quote-mining. As an aside, I was one of the people making the accusation but I'm not an atheist. Kirk Hastings seems to have trouble comprehending the fact that there are people who disagree with him who do not conform to the straw man image he has of his opponents.

(NOTE: AND ATHEISTS WOULDN'T DO THIS IF THEY COULD?)
It's sad to see a grown adult using the "Well, I think they're doing it so I can too!" defense, formally known as the tu quoque logical fallacy. If you're going to claim a moral high ground, an ethical superiority over your opponents, as Kirk tries to do in his "Questions to Darwinists," you should actually hold yourself to a higher moral standard. With a single line, Kirk is admitting he lacks any kind of moral high ground over the people he's attacking. "I have become what I beheld and I am content that I have done right!" may be a fine line for a movie about Prohibition-era mob crime, but it's not a moral standard for an alleged apologist supposedly trying to engage in evangelism. Admitting you're willing to engage in a Pious Fraud if your opponent does the same is stooping to their level, not the act of a righteous man.

Just because your opponent is willing to do it is no reason to do it yourself, especially if you claim to have  a moral high ground against that opponent.

ISN'T THAT THE POINT OF MOST DEBATES?
This is a fascinating line, because it tells us how Kirk sees debates. To him, it appears to be not about laying out the facts, but defeating his opponent. There's no indication of a willingness or desire to learn on his part. By this point in his mini-rant, he has admitted he not only has an agenda but he's willing to do anything he thinks his opponent is doing in order to achieve it. This extreme moral flexibility is even more alarming given the complete failure of Kirk Hastings to understand science or his critics,

RIGHT!
This is probably the most innocuous line in his mini-rant, because all he's really doing is agreeing with Ms. Scott. They of course have very different reasons for this moment of agreement, but that's to be expected given their opposing viewpoints.
THIS IS ALL TOTAL BIASED B.S.!
It's important to note what, specifically, Kirk is calling B.S. here.

In such a forum, scientific experts often try to pack a semester-long course into an hour, hoping to convey the huge sweep of evolution, the towering importance of its ideas, the masses of evidence in its favor - Eugenie Scott
As illustrated numerous times in my series of articles responding to Kirk's "Ten Questions for Darwinists" he simply does not understand the science he's trying to use against the theory of Evolution. It is therefore unsurprising that he lacks the self-awareness necessary to realize the need to educate an audience to help them see the flaws in Creationist responses to Evolution. It's unsurprising that someone using a profound misunderstanding of science to argue science would consider the education needed to understand science to be "B.S."

RIGHT!
Another moment of agreement.
 NO--ANOTHER FALSE, TOTALLY BIASED STATEMENT
It's not surprising Kirk is getting ruffled by his arguments being called "fallacious." This is the kind of willful ignorance and refusal to learn he demonstrated in his replies to Charles Morrison's review of Kirk's "What is Truth." his replies were, frankly, an embarrassment. Charles gave thoughtful, articulate criticisms of specific statements from Kirk's book. Kirk's replies, particularly on the topics of Thermodynamics and Statistics, gave the impression of not only an unwillingness to learn and improve, but a flat out refusal to even try. Read the exchanges for yourself and be amazed.

LIKE ATHEISTS NEVER TRY TO DO THE SAME THING?
Again, a return to the grotesquely immoral "Well, they do it too!" defense. I'm disgusted to see such willful debasement of morality from a man who claims to be religious. This is the same justification used when Americans used torture as an interrogation tactic during George W. Bush's presidency. How, exactly, does Kirk Hastings expect to be blessed by God if he's willing to jettison objective morality so easily and completely?

The specific behavior Hastings is trying to defend is the Gish Gallop, named for its creator, creationist Duane Gish
...the debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood in real time. The term was coined by Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education. Sam Harris describes the technique as "starting 10 fires in 10 minutes."
The formal debating term for this is spreading.[1][2] It arose as a way to throw as much rubbish into five minutes as possible. In response, some debate judges now limit number of arguments as well as time. However, in places where debating judges aren't there to call bullshit on the practice (like the Internet) such techniques are remarkably common.Gish Gallop
The Gish Gallop is one reason I don't do live debates myself. I prefer the opportunity to take my time and address each of my opponent's arguments, instead of letting them gain an rhetorical edge by being able to lie faster than I can tell the truth. Since Hastings has already admitted he's happy to use whatever tactics he believes his opponents to be using and he's accused others of using the same tactic, it's quite clear that he can't be trusted to avoid the tactic in his own debates.

WHICH EVOLUTIONISTS NEVER DO
Sadly for Kirk, Evolutions do win debates with Creationists.

Even A Christian Website Poll Says Bill Nye Pummeled Ken Ham In The Creation Debate

BECAUSE CREATIONIST ARGUMENTS MAKE SENSE AND ARE COHERENT AND SCIENTIFIC!
A fascinating claim from a man who, as evidenced by his own words in the content linked to form this post, does not understand science in any meaningful way. He is in no position to judge the coherence of Creationism, because he himself does not understand the science he is trying to argue against.

SO WHAT?
The callous disregard for his fellow human beings is sickening. He is very vocal about admitting he does not care that "Teachers have enough problems." Who cares if you make a teacher's job harder by engaging in a fruitless debate about if religious dogma belongs in science class? I care, you may care, but according to his own words, Kirk Hastings does not.

Naturally, Scott cares, because she is an educator, speaking about the problems of educators.

RIGHT--THAT'S WHY EVOLUTIONISTS SHOULD NOT DEBATE; THEY CAUSE TOO MUCH INTELLECTUAL HARM
I'd already long believed that Kirk Hastings wishes to silence debate instead of engage in it. His responses to the criticism from Charles Morrison provides evidence of this tendency, as does his habit of banning  people from the assorted pages he creates on Facebook.
The overall moral picture offered by the Kirk's mini-rant is not a flattering one. We see a complete disregard for the open exchange of ideas, hostility towards divergent viewpoints, and a refusal to learn, all combined with gleefully bragging about his lack of objective morality. He succinctly mirrors the behavior an attitudes he accuses "Darwinsists" of having, apparently oblivious to his hypocrisy.
Kirk presumably set out to defend himself from accusations of quote-mining, but ended up giving us rationalizations to justify the very quote-mining he denies. He is, in essence, declaring, "I didn't do it, but I was right to do it and there was nothing wrong with doing it."

Parenting Win

Last might I decided to kill some time before a social event by browsing a bit at Microcenter. I passed a father and his daughter. The daughter looked about 14.  The father was very focused on picking out case fans when the daughter asked him a question. 

"That's a cute little fan. What's it for? A laptop?"

"Hmmm? Oh. That. No, it goes on a CPU heat sync for active cooling. Give me a minute and I'll show you the case fans. Go see if they have the video card you wanted while I do this."

The daughter then happily skipped off to the video card section, referencing a piece of crumpled, smudged notebook paper.

Later on I saw the two of them heading to the checkout. The daughter was giddy with glee at the pile of parts before her and her father was reminding her she'd have to wait until the weekend for them to put it together. They were going to build the computer together. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Answering Kirk Hastings: Seventh Question for Darwinists

This post is part of the ongoing saga to answer the questions asked by Kirk Hastings of the defunct Evidence 4 Faith podcast. This post addresses the fifth question of Kirk's "Top Ten Questions for Darwinists."

7) If Darwinian evolution is true, then why did life ever evolve at all? Simple matter and energy have no need of it in order to continue to persist and function, and all living things only live a relatively short period of time, die, and then cease to exist. According to the rules of evolution, this is highly inefficient, and totally unnecessary to the continued existence of the universe. In the end, complexity only serves to complicate "survival". Then why does evolution seek this kind of complexity at all?


Yet again, Kirk is anthropomorphizing and assuming an agenda where none exists. Why would a volcano “bother” to erupt if the magma will merely cool into rock on the surface? The answer is that the volcano never “bothered” to do anything, it is merely the end result of natural phenomena that had no special agenda in and of itself.


“Simple matter and energy have no need of it in order to continue to persist and function,”


Rock has no special need of being melted, yet that’s exactly what happens under the surface of the Earth. Kirk is doggedly insisting that there’s an agenda implied by science where none exists. To answer his question however, it’s being theorized that life arose because it was an efficient means of heat dissipation. This theory, one of many, speculates that non-living matter was organized into the first self-replicating chemicals as a result of the action of heat dissipation. To call back to Kirk’s question about the second law of Thermodynamics, this supposed “Got-ya!” law of physics may in fact be the explanation for the origin of life itself.
As Derek Lowe wrote in the excellent blog post Thermodynamics of Life
...the development of self-organizing and replicating systems would be "baked in" to thermodynamics under the right conditions. Combine that with the organic chemistry that seems to obtain under astrophysical conditions, and we should, in theory, not be a bit surprised to find living creatures hopping around, full of amino acids and carbohydrates, using sunlight and chemical energy to do their thing.


The lack of a “why” to the existence of life is frustrating to be sure, but the universe does not owe us a purpose or meaning. The fact that rocks don’t “need” life around is irrelevant.


“all living things only live a relatively short period of time, die, and then cease to exist”


Again, this is a non-argument. It basically boils down to Kirk whining “I’m not immortal so God must exist!” which is an absurd apologetic at best. If life exists as a consequence of thermodynamics, there’s no particular reason for an individual organism to have a prolonged life, because the dead matter is simply food for other organisms. The process of thermodynamic heat transfer is still happening, regardless of if a particular organism is alive and doing the work itself, or dead and being consumed by other organisms.


If life is not a natural consequence of thermodynamics, there’s still no particular reason for a particular organism to have a long life or a short life.


“In the end, complexity only serves to complicate "survival".”


That portion of the question is entirely too vague to be of any value. What “complexity” that supposedly complicates survival is Kirk referring too? A weed is more complex than a bacterium, and the weed will typically live longer than an individual bacterium. It can also sustain more damage in relation to biomass than the bacterium. Eat a dandelion leaves and the root will still grow. Eat the top half of a bacteria, and the bottom half won’t do anything other than die.


“Then why does evolution seek this kind of complexity at all?”

It doesn’t. Complexity arises from random genetic mutations. Sometimes that complexity gives an organism and advantage over others. Most of the time it does not. Kirk is insisting upon a decision process, a logic, a driving force that does not exist and is neither implied nor required by evolutionary theory. Rhetorical anthropomorphization sounds good when speaking to people who already agree with you, but in an actual discussion about the topics at hand, it just reveals that Kirk simply does not understand the theory of Evolution in any way, shape or form. He opposes that which he does not understand. In the end his arguments against Evolution are as absurd and ill-informed as the Romans who executed Christians because they thought taking Communion was an act of cannibalism.

Return to the Index
Eighth Question for Darwinists

Friday, February 7, 2014

It seems the Snooze Button is evil

Let me get this straight.

When my wife and I joke about needing to "boot up" in the morning we're actually describing the process of waking up fairly accurately.

Hitting the "Snooze" button is a bit like turning off a computer while it's booting up, which any computer tech worth their salt will tell you can cause a host of problems.

I'm now very glad I almost never use the snooze button.




Snoozers Are, in Fact, Losers

Answering Kirk Hastings: A brief interlude

I'm more than halfway done posting my answers to the ten questions of Kirk Hastings. I have some tidying up to do on the unpublished entries and I really should revisit question 4 to flesh it out a bit, but that's about it.

I'm not sure I'm going to dedicate much more effort to responding to Kirk Hastings. I have other projects to work on and, to be honest, Kirk just keeps repeating the same ignorant garbage again and again. It gets repetitive and boring to constantly respond to the same debunked arguments. More to the point, Not many people are interested in a response to Kirk Hastings. His inner circle at Evidence 4 Faith will probably just ignore or dismiss anything I say. He really isn't well known enough for there to be any kind of an audience for content blasting his "arguments" to atoms.

If he were more interesting or capable of actually responding to criticism, it would at least be fun to debate him, even if it isn't profitable. Sadly, the intellectual limits of his "replies" have been insults better suited to the school yard than an exchange between middle-aged adults.

It taxes neither my mind nor my research skills to rebut him. He'll no doubt consider this a "victory" in his own mind, but after trying to have intellectual discussions with him on Facebook, I'm finding it very difficult to care what he has to say. There are only so many times a man can echo the insults of a pre-teen before you dismiss him once and for all.

Answering Kirk Hastings: Sixth Question for Darwinists

This post is part of the ongoing saga to answer the questions asked by Kirk Hastings of the defunct Evidence 4 Faith podcast. This post addresses the fifth question of Kirk's "Top Ten Questions for Darwinists."

6) According to Darwinian evolution there is no Creator God (i.e., no ultimate authority in the universe). Then ultimately there is really nothing more than survival, self-interest, and self-centered personal opinion. There can be no such a thing as moral "right" or "wrong", and there can be no such thing as "justice" and/or "fairness" either, because things either just are, or they aren't. According to Darwinism, all moral standards must be, in the end, nothing more than philosophical junk. We should have the right to do anything we can (rape, murder, lying, stealing, bullying, etc.) in order to survive and reproduce. Why don't we openly admit this?
I’ve always found this “argument” gave me more insight into the morals of the person asking the question then the question itself. It’s disturbing just how many people seem to brag that they refrain from raping, stealing and murdering their way through life largely because they fear a cosmic daddy figure will spank them for all eternity if they do.
This question gets at a fundamental claim the religious use against atheists, that without God you cannot have morality. The problem is, most Christians don’t even get their morals from God. If we really got our morals from the Bible, Christians would be executing non-christians left and right. Ultimately, atheists get their morality from the same place as the religious, from our culture and society. Most human beings have a capacity for empathy and an inherent sense of justice. The religious might argue that God put it there, but our prosperity as a species would suggest that such a capacity is beneficial in and of itself.
This is yet another place where most Creationists fundamentally misunderstand natural selection. Yes, it is a competition for survival, but for tribal animals such as humans, being able to survive as a group has proven a key advantage. Someone who runs around murdering, killing and raping often ends up imprisoned or dead. Dying is the opposite of surviving, and dying before passing on your genetic legacy means your maladaptive, antisocial behavior has been selected against.
Kirk claims that “According to Darwinism, all moral standards must be, in the end, nothing more than philosophical junk.” In saying this, he has lied about Darwinian Evolution. Moral standards are themselves an evolutionary advantage, not philosophical junk. A functional tribe can work together to prepare for the winter and to ward off invaders. Our modern civilization with its social safety net and complex economy can support scientific advances in agriculture, food distribution and medicine that has greatly enhanced the success of the human species. Kirk Hastings sees no value in morality beyond a deity because he fails to see the numerous ways in which morality is beneficial to the tribe.
Kirk makes another error with the line, “We should have the right to do anything we can (rape, murder, lying, stealing, bullying, etc.) in order to survive and reproduce.” such an argument may be true of solitary species who birth their young and abandon them, but it’s not the case with human beings. Squid get along just fine indiscriminately raping everything they can get their tentacles on, but it takes close to two decades to raise a human offspring to adulthood. For human beings to survive, we need the support of the tribe. A nursing mother recovering from a difficult birth cannot hunt down a caribou, but if she’s part of a tribe that’s supporting her, others can take over the duties of procuring food and water while she focuses on raising the next generation.
Kirk’s entire premise, that without God humanity should devolve into barbarism, ignores the fact that a society that dissolves into brutal chaos collapses and dies. Descending into amoral barbarism as he suggests would result in the people who do the descending being at a substantial reproductive and survival disadvantage to those who remain organized and cooperative.
We should have the right to do anything we can (rape, murder, lying, stealing, bullying, etc.) in order to survive and reproduce. Why don't we openly admit this?
We don’t “openly admit this” Kirk, because it’s not true. Humanity as a whole is not dependant upon fear of cosmic judgement to behave. If we were, then Christianity, with it’s blanket forgiveness after a simple prayer, would have resulted in endless carnage from almost every church member. To highlight this, let’s rephrase Kirk’s question in light of the ease with which Christians receive absolution for God.
According to Christianity, there is no punishment if you ask forgiveness (i.e., no ultimate consequences as long as you accept Jesus). Then ultimately there is really nothing more than survival, self-interest, and self-centered personal opinion. There can be no such a thing as moral "right" or "wrong", and there can be no such thing as "justice" and/or "fairness" either, because no matter what you do, God will forgive you as long as you accept Christ into your heart. According to Christianity, all moral standards must be, in the end, nothing more than philosophical junk, because God forgives you for everything. We should have the right to do anything we can (rape, murder, lying, stealing, bullying, etc.) in order to spread the Gospel, survive and reproduce. Why don't we openly admit this?
If you’re a Christian, do you find the above reworded question to be absurd? Do you find it to be a childish slam that glosses over major aspects of forgiveness? Do you think the way it completely ignores not only the existence of, but the necessity for, repentance to be a fatal flaw in the question? Do you find it so far divorced from reality that the question is too stupid to answer it?
Congratulations. You’ve just seen the reworked question the same way an atheist will see Kirk’s original. Both versions are a pack of nonsense that makes irrational and unfair assumptions about the targeted ideas. Kirk’s question has to lie about the morality of atheists and the reworked question has to lie about the nature of Christian redemption theology to make its case.

Return to the Index
Seventh Question for Darwinists

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Answering Kirk Hastings: Fifth Question for Darwinists

This post is part of the ongoing saga to answer the questions asked by Kirk Hastings of the defunct Evidence 4 Faith podcast. This post addresses the fifth question of Kirk's "Top Ten Questions for Darwinists."

5) Why did such a complex thing as higher individual rational consciousness ever bother to "evolve" anyway? Lower animals, plants, insects, bacteria and other microbes survive and reproduce quite well without it!
Here Kirk is confused by the frequent anthropomorphizing of evolution and natural selection in textbooks and popular media. The phrase “ever bother to "evolve" anyway” implies a decision that simply was not made.
The driving engine of evolution is very simple. DNA changes over time. Errors occur when it’s copied, Germ DNA is damaged by environmental factors, viruses embed themselves in the genetic code, causing unpredictable changes. Most of these random changes are going to be detrimental. Most forms of cancer are the result of genetic damage. Many birth defects are the result of mutations or genetic damage. Sometimes however, an inheritable mutation occurs that increases an organism’s chances of reproducing.
The specific example of higher consciousness was something that happened long after complex animals had evolved.
Yet again, we see one of Kirk’s questions, being based upon a fundamental misunderstanding of science, is unanswerable. I might as well ask Kirk Hastings when he stopped beating his wife and demand a specific date as an answer. Such a question assumes Kirk not only once beat his wife, but stopped doing so. The question “When Did Kirk Hastings stop beating his wife?” is therefore fundamentally flawed because it is based upon an unproven major premise.
A rational consciousness never “bothered” to evolve, because the process of evolution does not plan ahead the way Kirk seems to think it has to. The human mind evolved because of a series of random changes that survived natural selection. Our ancestors who evolved bigger brains had a reproductive and survival advantage over those who did not. Our ancestors that evolved better communication and planning capabilities were more effective hunters than their peers. Trade, commerce and the formation of civilization all gave our ancestors an advantage over the competition. There was no mysterious force that planned ahead, that “bothered” to evolve. There was just a series of random changes that were culled over time.

Return to the Index
Continue to the Sixth Question for Darwinists 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Answering Kirk Hastings: Fourth Question for Darwinists

This post is part of the ongoing saga to answer the questions asked by Kirk Hastings of the defunct Evidence 4 Faith podcast. This post addresses the fourth question of Kirk's "Top Ten Questions for Darwinists."

4) If, according to Darwinism, we are nothing but an arbitrary combination of matter, energy, and random processes with no intelligence, direction, or purpose behind it, and our brains are nothing more than a physical organ that randomly evolved from non-living matter, and our thoughts are nothing more than random electrical and/or chemical processes that came about by sheer chance, then how can anyone trust their own so-called "rational" thoughts to accurately tell them the real truth about anything?
Kirk's major problem in this question is his misunderstanding of the role of random change. The question as written has what's called a "major unstated premise."  That premise is that evolution asserts that everything is the result of nothing but random chance. The question restates the old "tornado in a junkyard" metaphor. Imagine for a moment a tornado touches down in an automobile junkyard, throwing every hunk of detritus around and slamming the parts into one another at high speed. The argument goes that human beings evolving from simpler organisms would be tantamount to the tornado assembling a working 747 airliner from the assorted auto parts in the junkyard.
Both the metaphor and Kirk's question are fundamentally dishonest. Both ignore the role of natural selection, the process by which random changes are filtered so only the advantageous ones survive. Inspired by nature, the power of random change, combined with natural selection, is being used today in software development. Genetic algorithms are processes that are modified randomly over time, just as our DNA is randomly changes from one generation to the next. Those random changes are then tested against an external criteria, just as our genetic changes are tested against the environment. The best known example of genetic algorithms is in stock trading.