Tough Questions Answered

A Christian Apologetics Blog

Is There Ever Enough Evidence for the Hyper-Skeptic? #7 Post of 2012

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Recently I was listening to the Unbelievable podcast and heard something telling from atheist James Croft.  As he was discussing the historical, eyewitness evidence of Jesus’s resurrection with Christian Chris Sinkinson, he said the following (this is a paraphrase of what he said):

The amount of eyewitness testimony of the death and resurrection of Jesus can never be enough to convince me, and it shouldn’t be enough to convince any reasonable person.  I would never accept any amount of testimony as evidence of the resurrection.  The only way I would accept the death and resurrection of anyone is if there were detailed medical records, and there were medical professionals there to verify the death, and I could stand beside the corpse myself, watching what happened.

Croft, therefore, would never accept any testimony of any resurrection from the dead unless he saw it for himself and there were medical professionals there to certify all the facts.  But, of course, this means that he has conveniently set the bar so high that no resurrection claim from history could ever be believed.

By setting this impossibly high standard, Croft has to do no work, no investigation, no research, no thinking, no considering of the central claim of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus.  For him, this would all be a colossal waste of time, because he has decided, based on his atheistic presuppositions, that resurrections don’t happen.

Croft is a classic example of the hyper-skeptic.  Anybody who would say that no amount of eyewitness testimony from the past should ever convince anyone that a person came back from the dead is arguing not from a position of neutrality, but from an extreme philosophical skepticism in the tradition of David Hume.

Of course, the typical hyper-skeptic has no problem believing highly fantastical things such as the assembly of the first self-replicating organism by pure chance 4 billion years ago, even though the hyper-skeptic wasn’t there to see it, there were no scientific experts standing around watching it, and there are no written records from that time that we can examine.

Intelligent Design proponent Bill Dembski once asked hyper-skeptic Michael Shermer if Shermer would allow Dembski to write skeptical articles about Darwinian evolution in Shermer’s Skeptic magazine.  Shermer declined.  It seems that Skeptic magazine isn’t skeptical about everything.

The critical point to take home is this: hyper-skeptics are usually only skeptical about a small number of select topics, and are thus hopelessly inconsistent in their skepticism.  Their skepticism is, in most cases, just a philosophical cover for being anti-whatever-they-don’t-like.


About The Author

Comments

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    It is interesting that Croft added, “and I could stand beside the corpse myself, watching what happened.” Why is the testimony of medical professionals not sufficient?

    In this world, is not possible to be the expert in everything. In most things, we take the testimony of experts that we accept their credentials on. Granted there are experts that we might be skeptical of because their statements don’t coincide with other things we accept. That is the case on both side of the theistic debate. But I find it ridiculous for Croft to insist that he also had to be there to see the corpse for himself. I’m not saying he wouldn’t want to see this incredible event, but why even have medical professionals present if he has to be there too? In this kind of thinking, no one should trust Croft’s testimony at all if he did manage to be there and the multitude of all people would require seeing with their own eyes – a real impossibility.

    I do find it interesting that he uses the term “corpse” for a resurrected person. Such a person is no longer a corpse. And even then, I would think he would have to visit the tomb itself to verify no corpse is still there. How could he be sure the “resurrected” man was the same man? And even seeing an empty tomb, he still couldn’t be 100% sure that someone didn’t steal the body and someone who looked like the dead man in every way was not an imposter. And further, how would he know he was dreaming? Maybe he was having a hallucination! So, the point is that skepticism can go to an extreme that makes knowing anything impossible.

    Given the definition of knowledge at “justified true belief,” what justifies the statement that a crucified man is no longer dead? How solid does the testimony have to be to be considered reasonable? Obviously Crofts requirement is unreasonable. But for something that happened 2000 years ago, what IS reasonable, in other words, what is sufficient?

    By the way, Happy Good Friday everybody! Not only is it good for me because I’ve been released from the bondage of sin, but I had two disks removed from my neck yesterday and I am feeling pretty good this morning. I expected to be totally out of it. What would it take to justify to the skeptic that I truly feel good after a surgery that rips my neck apart?

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    What Croft is saying is that eye witness testimony alone is insufficient evidence to overturn the laws of nature. This is why he offers the kind of evidence needed for him to seriously consider such an unlikely event.

    You try to paint this as some kind of unreasonable ‘hyper-skepticism’ but is this true?

    Well, in court cases it is common practice to classify even first person eye-witness testimony to be the very weakest kind of evidence because we have a very large body of evidence to show that such skepticism is, in fact, fully justified because the evidence really is highly unreliable. In other words, it’s not at all unreasonable to doubt an eye-witness account but standard practice in law… and for good reason. And this standard of recognizing eye-witness testimony to be unreliable is very reasonable because this kind of testimony really is often factually wrong. Remember, relying on this tendency to fool ourselves is how magicians make their living: getting audiences into believing what they know isn’t true but appears to be so. As the physicist Richard Feynman said, “The first principle (of finding out what’s true) is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Recognizing the wisdom of this observation is not ‘hyper-skepticism’ at all but an essential piece of critical thinking, that we really do fool ourselves all the time because we are human and it’s a very human thing to do.

    As soon as eye-witness testimony becomes second- or third-hand, we find the evidence that much weaker. And it is foolish to take the very weakest kind of evidence like this – evidence we know is the most unreliable kind wherever else it is used as evidence – and infuse with our belief that it is reliable enough in this case and on its own merit to overturn the laws of nature we know work for everyone everywhere all the time. If one seriously wishes to call anyone who points out this willingness and ability to fool ourselves by believing eye-witness accounts that are extraordinarily unlikely to be true to be ‘hyper-skeptical’, then that person should be prepared to receive the same in return, an accurate accusation of being ‘hyper-gullible’ when we already know how unreliable eye-witness testimony is in fact.

  • Ggodat

    He therefore should not accept his existence because he was not there standing beside the hospital bed when he was born to verify his birth. Therefore, we should ignore everything this non-existant person says (or does not say…)

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ VinnyJH

    Every month or two I read an article about a man being released from prison because DNA testing that was not available at the time of his trial proves that he didn’t commit the crime for which he was convicted. Often, if not usually, the conviction was obtained with eyewitness testimony. Nevertheless, as Tildeb noted, the court always goes with the science over the eyewitnesses.

    Imagine you are sitting on a jury where three eyewitnesses have testified that they saw the defendant shoot the victim, but ballistics testing shows that the bullets didn’t come from the defendants gun. They came from a gun that was in the hands of another man. Would you vote to convict? Would you consider the possibility that the bullets had been supernaturally altered between the time they were fired and the time they were tested so that they only seemed like they had been fired by the other gun? The hypothetical is moot because no prosecutor is ever going to bring a case based on eyewitness testimony if the scientific evidence exonerates the accused.

    In thinking about the past, we can only reason about unknowns using knowns. Among the knowns are the laws of science and the propensity of eyewitnesses to make mistakes. Among the knowns when it comes to tales of supernatural events are human foibles such as prevarication, gullibility, superstition, wishful thinking and ignorance. If Jesus were to appear to me personally, that would provide a known which might enable me to reach a different conclusion, but short of that, I cannot see any way that 2000 year old supernatural stories that were recorded decades after the fact by unknown authors based on unknown sources could ever outweigh everything knowledge and experience tell me about the way the world works.

    That’s not hyper-skepticism. It’s critical thinking.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    I’m just saying, that him being there doesn’t do anymore for him. How does he not know he is not fooling himself? He would never ever be 100% certain, so how much is reasonable? His requiring his own presence (unless he is a doctor himself), just leads down the path of hyper skepticism.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    That is where hyper skepticism leads. Crazy isn’t it.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Critical thinking is thinking critically about statements and arguments – what we should be doing in these dialogue, not requiring himself to be present himself. All I’m saying is that if he himself has to be present, then all people have to be present and he still wouldn’t be sure. It lead down the path of hyper skepticism. I’m not questioning is suspicions, but his requirements.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ VinnyJH

    I’m not sure. A person rising from the dead is so contrary to all our knowns that if one is thinking critically, I’m not sure that it would be reasonable to believe it on any second hand account, even that of a medical professional. It may lead down the path of hyper-skepticism, but I think it still has to go a ways to get there.

  • DonS

    I have friends like that and none of the evidence and logic penetrates their Darwinian worldview. I’ve given up on them as hopeless.

  • Hiero5ant

    “Intelligent Design proponent Bill Dembski once asked hyper-skeptic Michael Shermer if Shermer would allow Dembski to write skeptical articles about Darwinian evolution in Shermer’s Skeptic magazine. Shermer declined. It seems that Skeptic magazine isn’t skeptical about everything.

    The critical point to take home is this: hyper-skeptics are usually only skeptical about a small number of select topics, and are thus hopelessly inconsistent in their skepticism. Their skepticism is, in most cases, just a philosophical cover for being anti-whatever-they-don’t-like.”

    I’m sorry but this passage above betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of how thinking works.

    To put it bluntly, it is not inconsistent to treat different things differently. In fact it is inconsistent to treat them similarly. Note also the utter inability to distinguish between a process (skepticism) and the results of that process (disbelief).

    Every scientific article which makes a testable prediction on the topic is “skeptical of evolution” simply in virtue of the fact that it is putting it to the test. The fact that so many tens of thousands of experiments over so many hundred years have evolution passing with flying colors is exactly why disbelief is irrational.

    Skeptical, scientific reasoning just is the refusal to endorse an extension of belief into the unknown without properly leveraging the risks of errors against what is already known. At one point in time, it was merely a very promising hypothesis about the Unknown that moths might change their pigmentation in response to a changing environment. Then, through a series of careful, systematic, small observations of individual moths — a series of tiny additions to the Known — we can now say conclusively that the Darwinian explanation for the phenomenon is correct. It is now Known. Any new Unknown hypothesis that says Darwin was wrong, in order to earn its keep, is now going to have to take into account our systematic observations as part of the Known, to be further elaborated on.

    Here is a thing that is known: corpses do not reanimate three days after their death. Sorry, kids. Any explanation of the events described in the Gospels (assuming for the sake of argument they are actual “events”) must be leveraged against the Known facts of how corpses behave. And that body of knowledge – including but not limited to universal experience, cellular biology, and the laws of thermodynamics – is a mighty, mighty boulder. You would need to stand very far from the fulcrum indeed to give sufficient force to move it. Certainly much farther away than the eyewitness testimony of anonymous nonexperts.

    Look, if Christianity wanted its story to constitute a reasonable extension from the Known to the Unknown, God could have 1) made the resurrection of corpses a routine occurrence, hence part of the Known, or 2) dropped the resurrection. Our experience of Known corpse behavior could have been different. Then and only then could the charge of inconsistent hyperskepticism not be so woefully misconceived.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Hiro5ant,

    You said, “The fact that so many tens of thousands of experiments over so many hundred years have evolution passing with flying colors is exactly why disbelief is irrational. Skeptical, scientific reasoning just is the refusal to endorse an extension of belief into the unknown without properly leveraging the risks of errors against what is already known. At one point in time, it was merely a very promising hypothesis about the Unknown that moths might change their pigmentation in response to a changing environment. Then, through a series of careful, systematic, small observations of individual moths — a series of tiny additions to the Known — we can now say conclusively that the Darwinian explanation for the phenomenon is correct. It is now Known.”

    How does changes or adaption of a species to its environment prove Darwinian evolution? It seems to me all it proved is that a species can adapt to its environment, not that a species can transition into another species. Can you cite an experiment that actually proves evolution from one species to another? Even Darwin’s data shows changes in species and it was a hunch that that could continue until a new species appeared. I do not discount the value of evolutionary theory in understanding biology of a species, but I have not seen any proof of Darwin’s extended evolution (which is what is usually meant when someone brings up Darwin’s name). As best as I can see it, it is assumed that these changes continue to happen until a new species develops without taking into account the corrective mechanisms that prevent gross changes. In other words, I am skeptical about macroevolution because I have never observed and do not know of any experiments that prove it. But despite my skepticism, if one were to show me a verifiable experiment, I would evaluate the experiment and if convinced by it, I wouldn’t have to visit the lab of the folks who did the experiment, except that I would be intrigued enough I might want to visit them and talk about it more. Nevertheless, there is a level where my skepticism can be reduced because of reasonable evidence by qualified experts. Not seeing any such evidence, I believe evolution into new species is just as unlikely as raising a crucified man from the dead.

    You also proposed, “God could have 1) made the resurrection of corpses a routine occurrence, hence part of the Known, or 2) dropped the resurrection. ”

    This shows a major misunderstanding of the purpose of the resurrection of Jesus. If corpses came back to life routinely, Jesus’ resurrection would not have been unique and would have meant nothing. If God would have dropped the resurrection, then the claim that He would have redeemed people to Himself would not have been possible. It is not ridiculous to claim you need more to overcome the fact that dead people don’t rise. But, your proposal is not reasonable in light of the purpose of the resurrection. The only way I know to overcome the obstacle of proof here is to either, 1) show from a larger data set of knowledge with noise included that the resurrection is the best explanation – I’ve been working on that using methods from target recognition and image processing. It looks like I will get a good amount of time during the summer to make major progress on that task; or 2) ask God, which most skeptics are not willing to do because they don’t believe it from the start and it seems do not want to believe it and resist asking. I already did the second and He actually answered. But many question my testimony. So, I now am resorting to the first one to show the skeptic that belief in Jesus actually is reasonable as the best answer to the world we live in.

  • Andrew Ryan

    I guess neither of you ever heard of ‘Cogito ergo sum’ then…

    Anyway, Ggodat, you’re the one who can be shown thousands of fossils in a museum and still come out claiming they don’t actually exist. That makes you worse than the hyper-skeptic, so by your logic that means we should ignore everything YOU say. Though we knew that already.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “Not seeing any such evidence, I believe evolution into new species is just as unlikely as raising a crucified man from the dead.”

    Walt, I have to ask how hard you’ve actually LOOKED for such evidence.

    Speciation has been observed. Just google your way to examples. A good place to start, though, is the TalkOrigins website.

    In addition, look up ‘ring species’.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    I’ve know the phrase. What does it have to do with hyper skepticism? Hume would fit that category better than Descartes. And, Descartes was a rationalist and it seems everyone of the skeptics on this site are only empiricists.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Andrew,

    All that is known from ring species is that some of a species have diverged from another enough that they can’t interbred. I’m not sure much is known about what the starting population was. Was it one breed that diverged into two directions, or a number of similar breeds that caused convergence between areas and divergence in others? What are the reasons they can’t interbred? In some cases it is because their breeding preferences have changed. This causes you to ask, what is a species? Why is a gull a gull, a salamander and salamander, and so on? How much does something have to change through adaption to say it is an entirely different thing? When is a gull no longer a gull?

    I don’t see this as proof at the same level as being asked by the skeptic of the resurrection. The ring species is interpreted from the theory and there is much that is not known. The dots are being connected by induction, which may or may not be true. In other words, there is not enough known by first hand empirical observation to say that macro evolution is true based on these ring species.

  • Hiero5ant

    How does changes or adaption of a species to its environment prove Darwinian evolution? It seems to me all it proved is that a species can adapt to its environment, not that a species can transition into another species.
    I never said that it demonstrated speciation. I said there was a phenomenon (“moths used to be this color, but nowadays they’re this different color — what’s up with that?”), a Darwinian mechanism proposed which would generate the phenomenon given anterior conditions (differential predation on melanic variants), and then a systematic and robust series of observations (when the soot went away, the frequencies changed), tiny bricks which add up to a bridge from the Known to the Unknown. Before these experiments were done, skepticism of the specific hypothesis could have been considered plausible. But now that the data are in, the explanation is Known. If someone doubts that the allele frequencies changed because it’s harder for birds to catch the one rather than the other, they are not being “consistent” or “an evenhanded skeptic”. They are either maintaining a willful ignorance of science, are grinding an ideological axe, or lying.
    Can you cite an experiment that actually proves evolution from one species to another?
    Not that this has anything to do with anything, but the knowledge you seek is here.

    Nevertheless, there is a level where my skepticism can be reduced because of reasonable evidence by qualified experts. Not seeing any such evidence, I believe evolution into new species is just as unlikely as raising a crucified man from the dead.
    That is the difference between our approaches to knowledge. I take what is Known (observed) about what happens to dead bodies and why as my knowledge base for hypothesizing what might have happened to Jesus’s body, and I equally take what is Known (observed) about how species change over time as my knowledge base for evaluating whether this or that hypothesis is plausible. Whereas you take what you and I both agree is Known about corpse-behavior and chuck it out the window when comparing it against the plausibility that witnesses could have been lying or simply mistaken, and refuse to even look at what is Known about how species change over time as a factor in analysis (I don’t feel good typing that, but honestly “I’ve never seen any evidence of speciation” on an apologetics blog is simply not something other people can credit as the result of a diligent and sincere inquiry).
    You also proposed, “God could have 1) made the resurrection of corpses a routine occurrence, hence part of the Known, or 2) dropped the resurrection. ”
    This shows a major misunderstanding of the purpose of the resurrection of Jesus. If corpses came back to life routinely, Jesus’ resurrection would not have been unique and would have meant nothing.

    This line of response 1) is something you just made up, 2) contradicts your own bible, and 3) is utterly irrelevant to the topic at hand, which is whether alleged “hyper-skeptics” are being unreasonable or inconsistent.
    1) No theory of the Atonement of which I am aware has “uniqueness” as a necessary component. Your assertion that Yahweh wants resurrection itself to be unique is drawn from a source of knowledge barred to the rest of us.
    2) er, Lazarus? The widow’s son in 1 Kings 17? All those zombie saints walking around Jerusalem? Seriously, this “unique” thing is not going to work out and should just be droped.
    3) even given that Yahweh “wanted it to be unique”, this is neither here nor there with respect to whether believing it solely on the basis of eyewitness testimony is reasonable. Plenty of true things present themselves to us through the medium of terrible evidence.
    It is not ridiculous to claim you need more to overcome the fact that dead people don’t rise. But, your proposal is not reasonable in light of the purpose of the resurrection.
    Does the phrase “begging the question” mean anything at all to you? You admit that the evidence doesn’t support the proposition that X happened, and then call others unreasonable for not only not accepting X, but not accepting Y, your elaborate yet unevidenced theory for why the evidence is so bad! First determine whether X happened at all, then come to me with possible explanations for it.
    The only way I know to overcome the obstacle of proof here is to either, 1) show from a larger data set of knowledge with noise included that the resurrection is the best explanation – I’ve been working on that using methods from target recognition and image processing. It looks like I will get a good amount of time during the summer to make major progress on that task; or 2) ask God, which most skeptics are not willing to do because they don’t believe it from the start and it seems do not want to believe it and resist asking.
    As someone who spent over a decade of his life as a born again christian, I cannot begin to tell you how empty, condescending, and insulting these kinds of accusations come across. I never talked to God? I never invited him to explain himself? I never struggled, spiritually, intellectually, with difficult questions because of my intransigent skepticism? The next time someone observes that recent deconverts are often very emotional, angry, and hostile, try to remember the times when they were accused of being narrow-minded dogmatists or “naturalists” or whatever.
    I already did the second and He actually answered. But many question my testimony. So, I now am resorting to the first one to show the skeptic that belief in Jesus actually is reasonable as the best answer to the world we live in.
    I question your testimony, but there is a very simple and straightforward way of resolving my doubts that you are in communication with a source of knowledge unknown to myself. Ask him what my checking account number was from 2002-2008.
    See how this works? First you establish the Known, then you move on to speculate about the unknown. Until that time, I am entirely within my epistemic rights to doubt that the subjective sensation of inner peace someone gets when singing Amazing Grace constitutes a reliable source of information on the behavior of corpses in 1st century Palestine.

  • Hiero5ant

    Yuck. My paragraph breaks were much better in my txt file.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Walt writes, there is not enough known by first hand empirical observation to say that macro evolution is true based on these ring species. No, Walt, you’re being intentionally dishonest here. You try to equate the explanation for a single evolution in two species with a common ancestor to be adequate for evolution into all species requiring first hand witnessing and find it wanting. But what you’re not doing is accumulating ALL the evidence and accounting for it. Evolution does. If you were to multiply this particular evidence by tens of thousands in multiple lines of inquiry – when NONE need to follow the same explanatory path and yet they do – you’ll only then just BEGIN to understand why evolution is not subject to your favour but is endorsed by reality everywhere you look. Every time. In all cases. Without exception. To hold up all of this and find it wanting is not just UNreasonable – to discard this mountain of accumulated and sympathetic evidence with a wave of the belief card without explaining why it is this way when it simply makes no sense with ANY other explanation involving POOF!ism – with the tiny understanding you bring to it. Because let’s be honest: it is you who reveal the feeble scope of your knowledge about evolution here and not any weakness in the explanation itself borne out consistently and reliably enough in practice to base modern technologies and therapies on it that work for everyone everywhere all the time. That’s no small achievement and modern biology is now fully based on it. You may as well disagree that, although some micro gravity seems to be in play, macro-gravity is just too darn inductive to think it’s real. It’s an absurd position and intellectually dishonest.

    Speciation is not open to this false dividing line of macro and micro evolution religious apologists and creationists try to make real by repetition alone; there is only evolution. Either accept it or reject it but don’t pretend there is some middle ground to provide room for UNnatural as well as natural selection… without any evidence to back up this vacuous suggestion for UNnatural selection whatsoever.

    And the reason Shermer rejected Dembski’s offer is because the offer provided not skepticism but was peddled creationist belief in POOF!ism called Intelligent Design.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Walt writes, If corpses came back to life routinely, Jesus’ resurrection would not have been unique and would have meant nothing.

    Uh oh. Gird your loins, Walt. Prepare the fabric to be torn and the teeth to be gnashed and perhaps find a soundtrack with the wailing of women. Ya dun stepped in it now.

    Matthew 27:50-53
    And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

    And you swing on by here to see just how common the claim is.

    So I guess it means nothing, hey?

  • Tom Rafferty

    My, my. Now was have a word to go with “scientism” — “Hyper-skepticism.” Nice try, Bill.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Yeah, formatting gets bad on here sometimes. It was hard to separate out sections.

    Anyway, I understand the difficulty of giving up the faith as I know several who have gone through that. But, your statements were not consistent with the gospel. I don’t know what denomination you were part of and what they teach, but Jesus’ resurrection is indeed unique. Sighting Lazarus and zombies is not a good comparison if you understood the gospel. In these days of biblical and theological illiteracy, many born again folks don’t know the gospel. It is obvious from what is said whether a person understands the gospel of not. Many people have religious experiences and call that being born again. But a true born again experience is undeniable, and while doubts can come and go, the belief cannot be relinquished. It would be like me telling my wife I was never married to her. Those who know Christ cannot deny Him anymore than I can tell my wife I was never married to her. For a long time if I was asked whether I was a Christian, I would have said yes. I could have given a presentation on the gospel, but reality is that I didn’t really believe it. When challenged on those beliefs, I called out to God and He actually answered my prayer – not that instant, but eventually. That does not mean I can know your checking account number. But I once was blind and didn’t know it, and know that I can see, I know what I couldn’t see before. The reality was the science was my savior before as it was my occupation and everything I lived for. That has obviously changed.

    I’ll look over the supposed proofs at your link. If I find anything that actually is proof beyond simple adaptation within a group that leads to whole new species of a major type, I’ll let you know I found it. If so, the best that would happen is that I would become a theistic evolutionist. I don’t hinge my faith on evolution as some do. But, I have not seen convincing proof todate that there is anything beyond adaptation in species in the supposed proofs of Darwinianism.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Funny tildeb, you are asking me to do exactly what I have been saying needs to be done to understand the core of the Christian faith is true. Look at all the evidence together.

    Believe me, I am not trying to be intentionally dishonest. I am trying to be as honest as possible and not be fooled into thinking more than is in the facts. I understand there is no real dividing line if species can become entirely new species by gradual change. But believing that is a leap of faith because there is no absolute proof that it extends that far. In most sciences new areas of inquiry have to be investigated because most theories do not extrapolate far from where the data set observed established the models. Evolution does not follow that as it is extrapolated into an unknown and untestable region.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    yeah, in what way is that the same as Jesus’ resurrection? Maybe this is why you guys aren’t believers. If you don’t understand how Jesus’ resurrection is unique, then you can’t understand why He is the Savior and not the zombies.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    But there IS compelling evidence. Asking for proof is something you do in logic and math because there are axioms. Science is a method that depends on evidence to formulate explanations verified by what works; faith is a method that depends on assumptions of truth and fails to address contrary evidence. But you KNOW this and continue to ignore what it means, thus conflating the two methods to be similar when they are not. You intimate as much when you write But believing that (evolution on a large scale) is a leap of faith because there is no absolute proof that it extends that far. This is dishonest; you know perfectly well that it is compelling evidence and not ‘faith’ that shows us at every turn that common decent is the best explanation for what we find in reality. This is why Project Steve from National Center for Science Education (NCSE) asks scientists named Steve to sign this document that states:

    Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence.

    Your understanding of evolution to be equivalent to faith is ill-informed.

  • https://profiles.google.com/112423227583853344835 L

    So, I see where you’re going with this comment:

    “By setting this impossibly high standard, Croft has to do no work, no investigation, no research, no thinking, no considering of the central claim of Christianity, the resurrection of Jesus. For him, this would all be a colossal waste of time, because he has decided, based on his atheistic presuppositions, that resurrections don’t happen.”

    I can’t speak for Croft – only for myself – but I believe I would be safe in assuming his and my thinking on this topic are similar. Let me lay it out in detail.

    I have reached the conclusion that Jesus was not resurrected. Why not? Because I haven’t encountered any convincing evidence that Jesus was not a human being with regular physiology; moreover, I have encountered an enormous amount of convincing evidence that suggests when human beings with regular physiology die, they stay dead. It’s not “atheistic presupposition” – it’s reasoning based on evidence. What evidence? Current medicine, my personal experience, and the experience of billions of people on this planet put the balance of evidence against Jesus’ resurrection. Therefore the burden of proof regarding the resurrection lies with you; however, it is unlikely that you will be able to provide the type of evidence that I would find convincing – medical records, DNA samples, etc. Eyewitness testimony is inherently flawed, and that is why skeptics generally disregard it. (I recommend you read the popular books “The Invisible Gorilla” and “Thinking, Fast and Slow” to learn more about this topic.)

    I cannot say with 100% certainty that the Resurrection did not happen. But, in my view, that’s akin to saying that I cannot say with 100% certainty that my dog isn’t sleeping in the next room. In both cases, I feel reasonably confident in my conclusions.

    Secondly, this quote:
    “Of course, the typical hyper-skeptic has no problem believing highly fantastical things such as the assembly of the first self-replicating organism by pure chance 4 billion years ago, even though the hyper-skeptic wasn’t there to see it, there were no scientific experts standing around watching it, and there are no written records from that time that we can examine.”

    See, when I read statements like this, I just can’t help but think that you don’t understand math, and that you haven’t studied the history of biological studies at all. The origin of life on this – or any planet – comes down to these three simple points:

    1) The chemical building blocks of life are fairly simple and easy to create. Shoot, after investing a few hundred dollars in equipment, I could probably do it in my kitchen.
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/do53am.html
    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/news/releases/2002/02_33AR.html

    2) Living organisms self-organize to continue their own survival. Think of technology as an example. Of course the iPhone 4S didn’t just pop out of nowhere; thousands of years of increasingly complex human technological advancement led up to its creation. Now, extrapolate our recent innovations out a thousand years – can you imagine what kind of technology we’ll be creating then?
    3) Now extrapolate to BILLIONS of years. Billions of years is a long time – easily enough time to account for the level of biological complexity we currently observe on our planet. Easily. 4 billion is that big of a number. We can’t really comprehend numbers on this scale, but here’s a URL that might help get the point across:

    http://scaleofuniverse.com/

    On a personal note, it’s concepts like the one illustrated in scaleofuniverse.com that have truly made me a skeptic and agnost (I’m also Taoist, FYI). The concept of God described in the Bible – which I have read – is simply not enough to account for my daily experiences.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Wait a minute – you asked for speciation. As soon as I offer it, you change it to speciation ‘of a major type’. You’ve already shifted the goal posts! What exactly are you looking for, Walt? Please give me’ an example. You mean like a crocodile turning into a duck?

  • Andrew Ryan

    The definition of species is that the critters can breed to produce fertile offspring.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Why should guys named Steve have to sign a document to confirm what is so obvious? Looks more like a testimonial to say, “hey folks, all the scientists named Steve know its true, so you should too.” Sounds like a faith creed to me for the purpose of manipulating kids it is true. Why did the NCSE feel they needed to to this? Maybe because it IS a leap of faith and they are using expert testimony as a way to convince rather than actual proof?

    And you know that I know very well what science is. I am not speaking from ignorance. As someone else here said, it is critical thinking.

    I’ll always grant that there is empirical data that shows adaptation and it can be done in a lab. That is science. But there is a rule that you are not on firm ground when you extrapolate your findings to a area where you can’t validate.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    “overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry.”

    Doesn’t that prove my point? Why say it the way you did? Because it is an extrapolated hunch, not a fact, and you know it. I believe you are being honest when you say that.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Well Andrew, I made a mistake of using the word species, when it isn’t even clearly defined in biology. Have the same kind of thing unable to breed doesn’t quite prove that evolution can go the distance that Darwin claims. A gull is still a gull, just a different type of gull. So while I’m not saying a crocodile into a duck, if such evidence was around, you’d have the absolute proof you need as long as their is a continuous trail from the one to the other. I had mentioned a gull becoming a finch would be sufficient.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    L, claiming that people stay dead as the general rule does not disprove Jesus rose. The claim is that extraordinary evidence is required for an extraordinary event. I can understand that. But to say Jesus didn’t rise because the overwhelming evidence is against people rising from the dead is to not understand Jesus’ rising. The claim is that it was not a natural event. Naturally people don’t rise. Jesus was a unique situation. Beyond that, I understand the need for many for extraordinary evidence to support the biblical claim. But at least let’s understand it is a unique case and all the norms don’t disprove it. (As you said, you can’t 100% say it didn’t happen.)

    Mixing chemical in a flask does not prove that higher life forms can continue that process. As a matter of fact, so many do not think life came from mixing chemicals in the early days on the earth that they now resort to the proper seed biomaterials having come from outer space.

    “self-organization” and “pure chance” are contrary concepts. Either organisms came about by self-organization or by pure chance. Since chance is not a cause, but a statistical result, life could not have come about by pure chance. So, that leaves self-organization. Self-organization has not been shown to evolve into higher forms. And even if it did, the chemistry would have to be just right, as by design, to do so. Billions of years of chance wouldn’t do it. The tendency is for things to decay, not accumulate. But once you resort to self-organization, and if that is how life actually came to be, you have to wonder how a process with intentionality like that came about?

    Lastly, the iPhone example only leads to showing the development of life is analogous to intelligent design.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    “The concept of God described in the Bible – which I have read – is simply not enough to account for my daily experiences.”

    Many here misunderstand the God of the Bible. Is it possible you do to? I would say that God does account for my daily experiences. So, there is a disconnect there.

  • Andrew Ryan

    It means ‘I think therefore I am’. In other words you don’t need to have witnessed your own birth to confirm your own existence. Come on Walt, google is your friend!

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Andrew, Didn’t I say I know the phrase? (looks like I had a typo, though) Why did you tell me what it means and to use google? Reread what I wrote. I said more.

    I may know some sort of “I’ exists, but I don’t know that I am not dreaming. Especially right now given I had two disks removed from my neck on Thursday and the pain pills have me half knocked out.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    And now Walt adds “as long as there is a continuous trail from one to the other” to keep those goalposts moving!

    But what’s clear is the evidence he adds for deep confusion about what evolution by natural selection means: “a gull becoming a finch would be sufficient.”

    That wouldn’t be evolution, Walt. That would be some kind of transmutation… like wafers turning into flesh. And we know how silly THAT notion is.

    The way to think of it, Walt, is by asking the right kinds of questions, as in, “What kind of evidence is needed to show both the gull and the finch share a common ancestor? What kind of evidence would be contrary to the hypothesis?”

    Now if you were to go forth and actually spend a lifetime like so many thousands og biologists have done accumulating this information about all kinds of life on earth you would find that at every turn there is exactly the evidence you would expect to find from every avenue of inquiry available that directly supports common ancestry between species. All species. You and a carrot, for example. Standing against this accumulated evidence you would find… nothing… nothing, that is, except intransigent creationist belief held by religious people – who, when challenged by evidence from reality contrary to this belief, call those who do not share their faith-based belief in some kind of POOF!ism ‘hyper-skeptical’.

    This accumulated and consistent evidence is why evolution is true. Your beliefs do not in any way adversely affect the positive evidence for it nor add anything to the lack of evidence against it. Your faitheist position simply stands alone from reality.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    From Richard Feynman about chance:

    “You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight. I was coming here, on the way to the lecture, and I came in through the parking lot. And you won’t believe what happened. I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing!”

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    No, Walt, it’s not a leap of faith no matter how often you accuse those who respect reality enough to be skeptical of claims that stand contrary to it of holding an equivalent faith. I’ve explained the difference already.

    You could have easily answered your own question about Project Steve with a quick Google search before jumping to your ill-founded conclusions, which no doubt you now believe to be an adequate stand in for what is true, so I’ll quote directly from the NSCE source:

    NCSE’s “Project Steve” is a tongue-in-cheek parody of a long-standing creationist tradition of amassing lists of “scientists who doubt evolution” or “scientists who dissent from Darwinism.”

    Creationists draw up these lists to try to convince the public that evolution is somehow being rejected by scientists, that it is a “theory in crisis.” Not everyone realizes that this claim is unfounded. NCSE has been asked numerous times to compile a list of thousands of scientists affirming the validity of the theory of evolution. Although we easily could have done so, we have resisted. We did not wish to mislead the public into thinking that scientific issues are decided by who has the longer list of scientists!

    Project Steve pokes fun at this practice and, because “Steves” are only about 1% of scientists, it also makes the point that tens of thousands of scientists support evolution. And it honors the late Stephen Jay Gould, evolutionary biologist, NCSE supporter, and friend.”

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,

    What is the point of Feynman’s quote to the discussion? The license plate didn’t just happen with no cause did it? No, somebody made the plate and somebody put it on the car. The car was parked in the lot by somebody who might have been there to hear him speak.

    The quote agrees with my understanding of chance – it is a statistical outcome, not a cause. But, I have to say I missed the punch line. Was there a significance the the letters and numbers?

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    “overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry.”

    Doesn’t that prove my point?

    No, it doesn’t, if you actually understand how scientific consensus is formed. To then describe this long painstaking process dealing with every criticism imaginable to reach the point of an explanatory consensus is not equivalent to promoting a ‘hunch’. This is a vast misrepresentation, a gross distortion, an intentional misleading equivalency. Scientific theories are not equivalent to ‘hunches’ and any real scientist knows this fact.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    I love that link! Well done.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    tildeb,

    “‘a gull becoming a finch would be sufficient.’ That wouldn’t be evolution, Walt. That would be some kind of transmutation… like wafers turning into flesh. And we know how silly THAT notion is.”

    I don’t see how one animal becoming another is like water turning into flesh. Isn’t the idea behind Darwin’s theory that one animal over many many generations evolves into another that doesn’t look anything like the previous? And I don’t mean discrete jumps, but continuous. Why do you say that would not be evolution?

    I agree my beliefs make no difference on what is true about biology. I’d say that is the same for everybody. Biology is what it is. The same is the case with the resurrection of Jesus. What you or I believe about doesn’t change what actually happened. Your belief in evolution is based on extrapolation of evidences through inductive thinking that you yourself probably have not been involved in collecting (I’m assuming you are not a biologist). My belief in the resurrection is based on inductive thinking from testimonies that I have good reason to believe. I think many biologists have been hoodwinked into thinking their extrapolation is correct just as you think I have been hoodwinked into thinking the resurrection of Jesus is true.

    I will say, and I know you’ll jump all over this, but I would say that the extrapolation of biological adaptation into the full blown theory of evolution
    has to be true if there is no God. There is absolutely no other way to explain the data. But, that is NOT saying that I use God as the god of the gaps. No, because I didn’t always believe what I believe today. I was an advocate for evolution for a long time, even during my first several years as a true believer. But I wasn’t thinking about it critically at that time. I accepted what I was told without evaluating things for myself. I first came to believe in God and Jesus, and then I see that evolution is assumed, and I can have no problem with that given that their is a God. What is ironic is that some come to believe in evolution and then lose their faith in God. Even if God had used evolution to create, I don’t see why anyone has to give up a belief in God just because they came to believe in evolution. And some don’t, like Francis Collins. They only reason I can see that people drop their theistic beliefs because of evolution is because someone wrongly told them they could not hold both beliefs. But even though I think it is possible to hold both beliefs, I have come to see that evolution may not be true in its full extension.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    You know, the Pharisees and Scribes who saw Jesus do miracles still didn’t believe. They wanted Him to do something that absolutely proved He was of God. He had been doing what they needed but they refused to see it for what it was. He then said the only sign they will receive (after accusing Him of doing His miracles by the power of Satan) was that of the resurrection (Jonah). They admitted that He was doing miracles, but still denied Him.

    My point with that is going back to the original comment of Croft, even if he was there, he would not likely believe.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Walt, you have indeed COMPLETELY missed the point, and yet you still tried to critique it! There’s no significance in the letters and the numbers. The whole point is that they have no significance. If you go out now and not the first number plate you see, in retrospect you can say that the chances of seeing THAT particular plate were millions to one. Similarly, if you shuffle a deck of cards and then deal the top ten cards, that chances of getting any particular ten cards in any particular order are billions to one. But that doesn’t mean something preposterously unlikely just happened.

    “so many do not think life came from mixing chemicals in the early days on the earth that they now resort to the proper seed biomaterials having come from outer space.”

    Who are the ‘many’ that you are talking about here?

    ” Since chance is not a cause, but a statistical result, life could not have come about by pure chance”

    That makes no sense. Unlikely events happen all the time. Putting aside whether or not life arising was unlikely or not, you could replace ‘life’ in your sentence with any unlikely event, and ‘prove’ that the event could not have come about by pure chance. Things happen by ‘pure chance’ all the time. It is the ‘sharpshooter fallacy’ to claim after the fact that it must have been by design.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Walt, you can’t even define properly what you’d want scientists to demonstrate. One couldn’t breed a gull into a finch – the latter didn’t originally evolve from the former. Say scientists took wolves and bred them and bred them and bred them… at what point would you say: “Right, they’re not wolves any more”.

    You’ve already rejected “Not being able to breed with the original animal”. Just appearance isn’t enough either – ants and termites belong to completely difference genus – way beyond being separate species – and yet they look superficially fairly similar.

    Look at the diversity among dogs – all bred from wolves just a few thousand years ago. You can say “They’re all still dogs”, but the lable ‘dog’ is completely man-made anyway.

    And it’s a common creationist canard to say “Ok, species can evolve, but different KINDS cannot”. Kinds is an even more ill-defined label than species. Plus, given the enormous difference between, say, a sheep and a whale, with one taking many millions of years to evolve into the other, how on earth could one ever produce such a change through breeding alone in a lab?

    And even if one did, some creationist wag would simply say, “It could only be done in a lab, by the guiding hand of an intelligent third party, it doesn’t prove it could happen naturally!”.

    To sum up, the title of this blog actually applies much more aptly to creationists – no amount of evidence would ever be enough.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Dreaming or not, you can still safely reject Ggodat’s question: “He therefore should not accept his existence”.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “Didn’t I say I know the phrase? (looks like I had a typo, though) Why did you tell me what it means and to use google?”

    Sorry – it read to me (and still does) like you were saying you’ve come across the Latin phrase, but you didn’t actually necessarily know what it meant, and you certainly couldn’t fathom a possible significance of it either way to our discussion.

    At any rate, it’s a fairly facile argument to say that one should doubt one’s own existence simply because one cannot recall one’s own birth. And it is even more facile to relate this to doubting the resurrection of Jesus. Births of humans are very common. Resurrections not so. The latter requires a bit more evidence. Even if I cannot prove that you were born, I wouldn’t ask you to prove it to me – I take it as read that if you are here, at some point you were born.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Okay, so it is statistically a low probability that the license plate would have been that particular one, but I am missing the connection. So what?

    Francis Crick is one who believes in extraterrestial seeding. You hear about it all the time. I should know better to say “many” when you almost always ask for “who”s while I don’t collect a list of every time I hear about something of who said it. It seems to be wide spread and if you say it isn’t, then I am quite surprised again.

    I said, “Since chance is not a cause, but a statistical result, life could not have come about by pure chance” you said, “That makes no sense. … Things happen by ‘pure chance’ all the time.”

    What is one thing that happens where chance is the cause, not the statistical result? As far as I know every feature in this universe has a cause. We may not always know the cause, but there is one. Chance comes from probabilities related to not knowing all of conditions precise enough that produce a cause. For example, a coin toss is affected by many factors, but if we able to quantify each of those factors, we could predict with certainty the result of the toss.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    “‘they’re not wolves any more’.”
    When they are no longer obviously wolves.

    The gull to finch was an example. I’m saying that in particular has to be done. It ought to obvious what I’m asking for – enough difference that you can say the thing has truly created a new species. I read the link on speciation and see that it indeed is not clear to define what a species is. It seems that interbreeding is not sufficient. It might be relative to classifying critters and plants, but not for saying that evolution can actually create entirely new critters many generations later.

    “To sum up, the title of this blog actually applies much more aptly to creationists – no amount of evidence would ever be enough.”

    Which is my point. Thank you. No evidence would be enough because there isn’t any. And you all say the same thing about the resurrection! I’m trying to show the double standard.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    “Sorry – it read to me (and still does) like you were saying you’ve come across the Latin phrase, but you didn’t actually necessarily know what it meant, and you certainly couldn’t fathom a possible significance of it either way to our discussion.”

    ??? I guess you are confusing me with Ggodat, because I thought the English minus the typo was pretty simple. I had no part in that statement about being born and didn’t realize you were going off that. I have to let Ggodat speak for himself on that statement. (I think he was exaggerating.)

  • Andrew Ryan

    ” I had no part in that statement about being born and didn’t realize you were going off that.”

    Walt, I’m beginning to think you’re being deliberately obtuse. For a start, you can’t say you had ‘no part in the statement’, when you replied to Gogodat, clearly backing him up and agreeing with him with the sentence: “That is where hyper skepticism leads. Crazy isn’t it.”

    For a second, you had no idea that I was ‘going off that’? We were replying to Gogodat’s post! I clearly said “I guess NEITHER OF YOU ever heard of…”

    I was obviously referring there to Gogodat’s claim – and yours, since you agreed with him – that that is ‘where hyper sketpicism leads’. You now say you have to let him speak for himself, but you clearly agreed with him. My reply was aimed principally at him, but I included you too. If you’ve now changed your mind and separate yourself from his claim, then fine. If not, then my point still stands.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “It ought to obvious what I’m asking for – enough difference that you can say the thing has truly created a new species.”

    …which we’ve done. And then you moved the goalposts, but you cannot actually articulate what you mean by ‘truly a new species’.

    Walt: “No evidence would be enough because there isn’t any.”

    Good grief Walt! There are shelves groaning with books referencing all the evidence for evolution! Try Dawkins’ book, read Jerry Coyne’s book “Why evolution is true”. Compare that evidence to what is offered in favour of the resurrection. There is no comparison. I’ve just looked on Frank Turek’s site, read a new blog called “The five evidences for Jesus being alive”. They include “criterion of embarrassment”, that the details of the bible would be embarrassing for the apostles, so are unlikely to be made up. You think weak ‘evidence’ like that is in any way similar to the Geological Column?

  • Andrew Ryan

    ” I should know better to say “many” when you almost always ask for …”

    I ask for examples because the claims I’m given for what atheists or scientists say or believe so often turns out to be based on misinterpretations.

    For example, a creationist might tell me “Atheist Biologists say that life on earth was designed by aliens”. Then, when I press them, I find out they’re misquoting Richard Dawkins being asked by Ben Stein if there’s any scenario he could HYPERTHETICALLY imagine whereby life on earth was designed. And Dawkins replied that HYPERTHETICALLY he supposed that alien life forms could have designed original life forms on earth, but that they in turn would then need THEIR origins explained.

    “As far as I know every feature in this universe has a cause. ”

    Sure, and a natural one in every case ever discovered. But the question is whether the cause was a deliberate one, whether it had intelligence behind it. If you’re arguing that life happening on earth had to be deliberate (and indeed perhaps also supernatural), you need to provide evidence for that.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Well I plead absent mindedness then. I had surgery on Thursday removing two disks from my neck and am half a sleep. I had NO IDEA you were responding to Ggodat. I am often claimed of being intentionally obtuse and such and such, even without surgery, by you guys and I ABSOLUTELY ASSURE YOU I IN NO WAY AM INTENTIONALLY DOING ANYTHING BUT TRYING TO MAKE MY POINT. It can get confusing when one has other things going on and trying to respond in the middle of those other things to three of four other folks all at the same time. I don’t remember who said what half the time.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Andrew, I’ve read those books. There absolutely is no conclusive evidence that does not already assume extended evolution to interpret it. Dots are being connected with a picture already in the head of the one connecting the dots. Remember, I am a scientist myself and I have always had a problem with historical type sciences that project theories into a region where they can’t be tested and then assume they are true.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Walt writes, Isn’t the idea behind Darwin’s theory that one animal over many many generations evolves into another that doesn’t look anything like the previous?

    *sigh*

    Probably the simplest definition is: “Evolution is a process that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many generations.”

    A very typical creationist misunderstand is the idea of heritable changes over time (often measured by allele frequencies in a population) means monkeys becoming human, leaving the kind of Kurt Cameron question you sort of alluded to, that if humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys? Put another way to show the kind of thinking involved, if Adam was created from dirt, why is there still dirt?

    These are the face-palm moments.

    Heritable change is a natural process easily understood. You are not a clone of any one of your parents but a combination of them on a genetic level then subject to change over time because of your interaction with your environment. There is no evidence for any intervention by any divine agency anywhere in this natural process for it to be understood and tested for reliability. In addition, we can show our understanding of this full reproductive cycle by successfully predicting what will happen when a human sperm meets a human egg and successfully begins the chemical process of replication. (We don’t need to maintain ‘academic freedom’ by allowing any serious discussion of Stork Theory here.)

    We also know that small changes can occur to the genetic makeup anywhere in this process… sometimes leading to understanding why heritable diseases appear within one lineage but are notably lacking in another. This is what we would expect to find if heritability was true. (Note that Stork Theory does no account for this.)

    What occurs at the genetic level and successfully passes on to successive generations over time ends up appearing at the population level. Small heritable changes that add to the fitness of a critter successfully reproducing is the process by which – given enough time – speciation occurs. We see this small and incremental (usually) transition of beneficial heritable changes everywhere we look in large populations, while heritable changes that reduce a population’s reproductive ability dwindle and die out. And we should expect to find exactly this natural process hard at work in populations that reproduce at much faster rates.

    We do. Populations like bacteria and viruses evolve all the time. And they evolve into new species of bacteria and viruses. We have many, many examples of evolution that occur within our very brief lifespan. But what of changes in species over much larger periods of time? We should exect to find evidence for this slow transition from one kind of critter into a different kind of critter but with heritable evidence for common ancestry.

    We do. All the time. Whales with vestigable hip bones. Birds with finger bones in their wings. Humans with ancesteral fur (which we shed in utero). Fossils that show transitional features of bones growing longer (bat fingers) or shorter (horse hooves). And so on. When we look at genetic evidence, we find simian viruses ‘trapped’ in our own DNA. Everywhere we look we find compellign evidence we would expect to find if evolution through natural selection were true. What we do NOT find is sudden appearances of brand new features unrelated to old ones or a stable, static and unique feature that has no related history of common ancestry. This is what we should find if design by any exterior agency were true. But it is lacking across the pectrum of life and this is an important absence in the cumulative evidence. That’s why I continue to point out that what we’re looking at is evidence in support of, and no evidence in conflict with, evolution.

    The bottom line is that sometimes we find religion without creationism but we always find creationism linked to religion. This is the source of POOF!ism – not the world we inhabit that offers us all kinds of reasonable evidence for evolution by natural selection. And the key word here is natural. No divine designing agency is necessary or needed.

    Evolution is true. That there remain people who feel comfortable and confident dismissing EVERYTHING reality has to offer us about the truth of evolution because of some religious belief is not evidence that POOF!ism is a legitimate alternative. It isn’t. There simply is no evidence for it. None. What such people reveal is ample evidence that there is a sad lack of understanding about this remarkable science that informs our knowledge of the world we inhabit, knowledge (not hunches) that produces reliable and consistent technologies and therapies we often need to survive. That religious folk think themselves justified to impede this passing on of knowledge – especially through interferring with the education of the next generation – reveals a depth and scope of ignorance that is astounding for its arrogance in the face of a reality all of us inhabit. From the religious side that continues to promote POOF!ism in all its forms comes not any knowledge whatsoever. No practical applications. No reliable technologies. No efficacious therapies. No knowledge whatsoever but a set of superstitious beliefs that stand in conflict with what is true. And proudly so, apparently. This is the cost of piousness paid for only by rejecting or ignoring knowledge. It’s too steep a price for any of us to pay to maintain a belief we know to be factually wrong, and it cannot be used to justify keeping it from our children.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    If I hit a cue ball at a rack of balls they appear to move in random directions, but every one moves according to many details that originated with my first shot. How far do you have to back up to say something was intentional or deliberate? It is accidental that the earth rotates around the sun? Or is there a prescribed influence via gravity that makes it intentional? That people do die, is that accidental or intentional? Is there a purpose behind it? Darwin would say there is. But is his purpose right? If he is, there is a designed purpose for death in evolution. If evolution is true, then self-organization must be occurring. Is that a freak accident, or by design? It is difficult to answer that question of whether something is intentional or not. As I see it, the position of every particle in this universe is intentional and purposeful. And as such, if evolution is true, then it is not due to pure chance, but by design.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Walt, you are confusing natural (what many creationists call ‘materialistic’) cause and and effect with purposeful cause and effect. For your billiard ball analogy to hold up, you have to show how the natural can be altered to reveal this mystical purpose that influences where the balls go that is somehow quantitatively different than the purposeful direction they go.

    Just like evolution by the process of natural selection, you have to show change over time by this purposeful selection you believe in.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Now you change ‘natural’ to mean ‘accidental’ and then try to use a low probability to show unlikelihood, which Bill assumes evidence for unreasonable hyper-skepticism. This is why I showed the Feynman quote: unlikelihood and low probability events happen ALL THE TIME. In your terminology, accidents from random chance events can be found all the time.

    Putting together all the chemical requirements and energy for self-regulating life to occur and adding much time is a very reasonable explanation for the origin of life. This, after all, is where the evidence leads us. Presuming life on earth was seeded by extraterrestrial life is another possibility, but that seeding would have to be of the most basic building blocks. Remember, we are talking about abiogenesis that is light years from the story of an original couple like Adam and Eve (which, thanks to genetics, we know is not true).

    Either way, evolution by natural selection remains true far into earth’s deep time and the kind of ancient creationism that is equivalent to a bacterial seeding so far removed from the present as to be irrelevant in our considerations about natural selection (or, in your terminology, accidental selection)… a consideration that it in no way constitutes a serious avenue of inquiry for determining the all too common assumptions about divine purpose and intentions that go hand in hand with creationism in all its forms.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    I wrote you have to show how the natural can be altered to reveal this mystical purpose that influences where the balls go that is somehow quantitatively different than the purposeful direction they go.

    The highlighted word should read natural.

    Sorry. My bad.

  • jflcroft

    Hi Bill, everybody,

    I thought I’d step in since, well, this post is about me!

    First, I’d like to suggest that offering a rough paraphrase of a speaker in order to make your point is unwise. Your paraphrase removes a lot of important context and skips over some conditionals which make my position slightly different to that which is suggested by the paraphrase. If you want to listen to the podcast to hear what I actually said, listen from 1:03:05. Here’s a transcript:

    “I would have to see detailed medical records. I would probably have to be in the room with the corpse on the slab – I would have to be observing it all the time. I would have to be surrounded by medical professionals. That’s the sort of evidence that I’m talking about that would convince me of an extraordinary claim of that sort. Whether that has supernatural or faith implications we can discuss after we’ve established the truth of the actual event, but there’s nothing like that sort of evidence to support the claim that Christ was resurrected. And, frankly, even a very large number of testimonies to the fact that it happened would not, and does not, convince me and should not convince any reasonable person.”

    I then go on to make the observations that there are many millions of Mormons who believe a whole lot of stuff on the basis of “eyewitness testimony” which most Christians themselves do not believe.

    So, I did not say that “The amount of eyewitness testimony of the death and resurrection of Jesus can never be enough to convince me”, nor did I say for certain that I would have to be there (that’s the importance of the “probably”). I’m unclear in my own mind as to whether I would have to be there. These differences are significant, and I consider it a basic component of intellectual honesty to try to quote people accurately.

    My point here was an important one, and one I think those advocating the reasonable position should make more often: even if you grant that the testimony of the so-called eyewitnesses was genuine, does that give us good grounds to believe them? Now, as all responsible biblical scholars note, there is no sense in which this is actually “eyewitness testimony” – this is all anonymous, late scribbling by God knows who ( ;) ). But what if you grant that it’s all legit? Does that make the case for Jesus’ Resurrection? And is to ask this question and establish standards of evidence “hyper skepticisom”?

    Well, tildeb, L and Hiero5ant have made a strong case for me: this is no more than the request for reliable evidence to ground our beliefs.

    As we all should know, eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. There are numerous examples of situations in which large numbers of people have individually presented eyewitness testimony which has later turned out to be false (UFO sightings are a case in point). Numerous trial convictions hinging on eyewitness testimony have been shown to be wrong when the evidence is analyzed more fully. There are numerous religions based in some way on eyewitness testimony to an extraordinary claim, and Christians reject them all. The claims in the Bible are no different – they just happened through a stroke of historical fortune to become significant.

    Even if all the eyewitness accounts are reliable in themselves, they make a shoddy foundation for a life stance. Why build your life on sand? Their are firmer foundations if you are willing to be brave and take an honest look.

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    James,
    Thanks for chiming in. Even after your clarifications, I think that I paraphrased you quite well. In fact, reading the rest of your coment, you seem to mostly agree with my paraphrase!

    In any case, we simply disagree about whether we should trust testimony about something like a resurrection. You basically believe that this kind of evidence (testimony) is untrustworthy and should be disregarded; this view allows you to avoid doing any investigation of the evidence offered. That makes you a hyper-skeptic, in my book.

    There is no point in giving someone like you any historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus because you have simply ruled it out based on your atheistic worldview. Not sure why you kept asking Chris Sinkinson to present historical evidence, knowing that you think all of it is irrelevant.

    And, by the way, there is no belief system that requires more bravery and honesty than Christianity. You have it exactly backwards, my friend.

  • jflcroft

    Interesting – you reply to a request for accurate transcription of my words with a refusal to provide one and a claim that it doesn’t really matter since the paraphrase is “quite” good. “Quite” good means “in some senses inaccurate”, and since by actually typing out what I said you could have made it “entirely accurate” it seems to me rather shifty on your part to do what you have now done twice, and settle for inaccuracy.

    As for the rest of your reply, it seems impossible to me that you could have read what I wrote or understood it. You are in no position to “simply disagree” about something as routinely demonstrated and experimentally validated as the reliability of eyewitness testimony. The unreliability of eyewitness testimony is a brute fact that any honest investigator simply must contend with. You cannot wish away reality.

    But taking this position is not the same as taking the position that all historical evidence is irrelevant, and I’m not sure where you get that idea from. It’s a mischaracterization of my view.

  • Hiero5ant

    You basically believe that this kind of evidence (testimony) is untrustworthy and should be disregarded; this view allows you to avoid doing any investigation of the evidence offered.

    You operate under an alien notion of “mostly agreeing with a paraphrase”. It is obvious both from the actual transcript, James’s post above, and the extended arguments given by myself and others here, that this is a clear strawman, and you’d do well to disown it.

    No one believes “this kind of evidence (testimony) is untrustworthy and should be disregarded” and no one is “[allowed] to avoid doing any investigation of the evidence offered”. It’s that simple.

    The point is not that ALL testimony is unreliable. We each and every one of us rely on it every single day. The point is that it is NOT RELIABLE ENOUGH IN PROPORTION TO THE MAGNITUDE OF THE CLAIM. Duct tape is generally reliable for sticking two things together — does this mean James is being a “hyper-skeptic” when he declines to board an airplane held together with duct tape? That this view entails that no duct tape should ever be relied on for anything?

    As far as refusing to investigate, this is just the same confusion between a process and its conclusion. Just because you personally don’t like the conclusion of my investigation doesn’t mean I didn’t investigate!

  • Hiero5ant

    I should really add a note here to forestall a predictable misreading.

    The religious mindset is one of absolutes and black-and-white thinking. So an action is either absolutely good or absolutely evil. Something is known with absolute certainty or it is not known at all. A style of evidence is absolutely reliable or it is not reliable at all.

    Lots of people in my generation were strongarmed into becoming born again with the admonition “sure, you believe in God and go to church, but do you *KNOW*(TM) that you are saved? Because if you don’t *KNOW*(TM) that you are saved, then you aren’t saved!”

    And so this whole enterprise of using secular, scientific historical methods to evaluate the Bible is revealed as a sham. Because genuine inquiry can only deliver results of the form “very probably this, but possibly that”, and “tentatively X, but there’s more to be known”. This is anathema to the fundamentalist mindset which cannot tolerate any degree of certainty short of Full Inerrancy. After all, if you can’t *KNOW*(TM) that Jesus was resurrected, then you can’t *KNOW*(TM) that you’re saved.

    The fundamentalist simply lacks the conceptual apparatus to see that there is no contradiction between regularly relying on eyewitness testimony and proclaiming that eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable when people are using equivocal notions of “reliable”. The skeptic is simply suggesting we use the same notion of reliability — proportionality to the magnitude of the claim, not the binary “it’s all true or none of it is — that the apologist uses in every other area of life except her private religious beliefs.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Yes, I find it hard to see how Bill got from the views you state in your first post to his interpretation of that post in his reply. Saying: “you have simply ruled it out based on your atheistic worldview” reveals Bill’s prejudice, not yours, especially when you well explained your reasoning, none of which involved starting with and atheistic worldview. One’s atheistic worldview is a result of not being convinced by claims for a deity, not the other way round. “You have it exactly backwards” – quite.

  • Hiero5ant

    I was working on a response to your reply to me, but when I saw this I abandoned it. You’re not even going through the motions of engaging the arguments people are presenting, and now you’re just giving sermons and going all fox-and-the-grapes on the project of convincing nonbelievers.

    I am a bit dismayed that no theist piped in to correct or otherwise disown some of the obvious errors like “no new species”, but probably not as dismayed as the theist lurker who is sincerely looking for good defenses of the faith but knows enough not to make snopes.com-level anti-scientific conspiracy claims. Obviously no one is obligated to correct every logical error or factual mistake by some poster on “their” side, but there is undeniably a threshold beyond which the silence of the apologetic community in the face of florid denialism speaks much louder than their words.

  • Andrew Ryan

    ” I had NO IDEA you were responding to Ggodat.”

    Fair enough Walt, I hope you get better soon. I’m sometimes posting with a 3-month old balanced on my knee.

    I said obtuse because I couldn’t conceive of any alternative way the post order could be interpreted, and as a sub-editor it’s my job to see alternative meanings in everything.

    The posts thread clearly went like this:
    1) Ggodat’s post, with it’s claim about the implications of ‘hyper-skepticism’.
    2) Your reply, apparently agreeing with him – ‘That’s where it leads’.
    3) My reply, addressed to ‘both of you’.
    Even if you thought I was only addressing you, the only thing I could possibly have been addressing was your agreement with Ggodat’s post.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    Andrew, I see the confusion. I wasn’t paying full attention on that discussion. I took Ggodat’s comment as a joke only half reading it and then only read the first sentence of your response. From there I was already off the track. Again, my apologies for not paying attention.

    I’m not feeling much better today, but at least I know I need to read all of a post between nod offs.

  • http://walttuckerministry.shutterfly.com Walt Tucker

    The sermonette was meant to show that even if religious folks who accept miracles will deny evidence that is before them, then a non-religious person is just as likely, if not more so, to reject a resurrection they witness with their own eyes. Thus, one who wants to see a risen person for themselves as proof is still most likely going to keep wanting more evidence to the point of hyperskepticism – my original point.

    What is the obvious error with “no new species” other than that the word “species” is a flaky term? I am not sure what to call something that has evolved to something else to the extent of say a cow becoming a whale. Species seemed like the proper word, but it is apparent that it is too fuzzy and not sufficient. Since most of the evidence has to do with things that are still similar to another group with the only barrier being breeding, then asking for proof of speciation alone is not sufficient to show that an animal can descend from another to the extent of a cow becoming a whale.

    I believe I have interacted with what I have been given. I looked over the links. There was nothing there that shows large scale evolution has definitely been observed. There are small scale changes that are assumed to result in larger scale changes by extrapolation (not by observation), and there are discrete changes with no proof that there was a continuum between them. All of the “proofs” assume evolution in the interpretation of the data.

  • Ggodat

    I was not there to unearth them so clearly i should be ever skeptical of them. I am also unable to validate your birth so….

  • Ggodat

    You should let your 3mo old take over your posting.

  • Ggodat

    Hiero,

    Your claim

    “The fact that so many tens of thousands of experiments over so many hundred years have evolution passing with flying colors is exactly why disbelief is irrational.”

    is completely irrational. Where are the experiments that prove evolution is true? Is it the Cambrian Explosion? Is it the complete lack of transitional fossil records? Is it the fact that you cannot observe or repeat anything in macro-evolution even if it were true? Please, you can’t even get out of the corner that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics paints the atheist/evolutionist (or maybe I should say illusionist) in.

    You have no evidence. If you did 90% of the worlds population wouldn’t believe in a creator.

  • Andrew Ryan

    So your choices are:
    1) I was born, but you can’t validate it, or
    2) I exist WITHOUT having been born.
    3) My posts are the product of your imagination.

    The skeptical position would be to say the first position is overwhelmingly the more likely one, as a person existing without having been born would be an extraordinary event requiring extraordinary evidence.

    So far you’ve not managed to produce a ‘reductio absurdem’ – you’ve only shown that the skeptical position is the more rational one.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “You should let your 3mo old take over your posting.”

    Right Ggodat – because then you’d be able to read posts that are on YOUR intelligence level.

    Zing – boom, roasted!

  • Andrew Ryan

    “Is it the complete lack of transitional fossil records?”

    Duh, you’ve been told where to find transitional fossils so many times, we can only now assume you are deliberately being dense or trolling.

    Eusthenopteron, Panderichthys, Tiktaalik, Ventastega, Acanthostega, Ichthyostega, Pederpes, Anchiornis, Archaeopteryx, Confuciusornis, Sinornis, Vorona, Ichthyornis, Archaeothyris, Dimetrodon, Lycaenops, Thrinaxodon, Probainognathus…

    Want more? I’ve got hundreds.

    “Please, you can’t even get out of the corner that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics”

    You’ll have to expand on that, oh physics genius. If you think things evolving defies the 2nd Law, explain how a fertilised egg – a single celled organism – turning into a vastly more organised adult human doesn’t also defy it by the same logic.

  • Ggodat

    Andy,

    You must start at the beginning (just like the Sound of Music) and if you believe that the entire universe and everything in it is just an effect of pure chance then YOU need to explain how the universe came into existence without anything acting to create it or explain how the 2nd Law doesn’t apply to the universe, because if it wasn’t created by an intelligent being it has to be eternally existent.

    All boom roasting aside, I have a serious question for you and would genuinely appreciate a non-sarcastic answer. When you look at a watch you intuitively know that an intelligent being designed it and created it. When you look at a billboard full of letters arranged to form words you intuitively know that someone designed and created it. When you look at a freshly cut lawn that has stripes going in opposite directions you intuitively know that someone acted upon it using a machine that was designed and created by an intelligent being. How is it then that when you look at the infinitely complex mechanisms that make up the universe you throw all logic out the window and assume it is a circumstance of chance? How is it that if you understand anything about blood clotting, the human eye, the human respiratory system (none of which had any possibility of evolution because if not comprised of the exact elements we have today none would function at all) you can completely ignore the irreducible complexity of these systems and throw all logic out the window and assume they are circumstances of chance?

    Sadly you know the truth but you choose to deny God. You cannot use anything scientific to explain to me how the universe came into existence without there being a creator. Where NOTHING existed, NOTHING can come from it on its own accord! This is just 3yr old simple logic. I know we have had heated arguments in the past but I am saddened by your blatant denial of God.

    I think your god said it best:

    The impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God.”

    Charles Darwin- founder of the Theory of Evolution

  • Andrew Ryan

    “none of which had any possibility of evolution because if not comprised of the exact elements we have today none would function at all!”

    This is false. You can take away many parts of the eye and it still functions and gives one an advantage of a creature with no eyes at all. And this is clearly illustrated by the fact that you see vastly varying strengths of eyesight in the population – some people’s eyesight works far better than others.

    So you can lose peripheral vision, you can lose focusing, you can lose colour perception, depth perception, and still be able to see. It is certainly NOT a case of ‘one part stops working leaves you completely blind’.

    As for your questions about the start of the universe, that’s a completely separate issue to that of evolution – the majority of those who accept evolution are theists. You’re now arguing that you’ve got a problem for non-theists regarding the start of the universe – completely different from saying the 2nd LofTD is a problem for those accepting evolution.

    Finally, if energy can neither be created nor destroyed, then an eternal universe does not contradict the 2nd law, as an eternal universe involves neither the creation nor the destruction of energy.

  • Andrew Ryan

    A bit dishonest of you (quel surprise!) not to include the entire sentence that that quote is drawn from. You ended it on a full stop, rather than dot dot dot, so the unwary reader wouldn’t even know that you’d cut off the last few words.

    Here’s the full sentence:

    “But I may say that the impossibility of conceiving that this grand and wondrous universe, with our conscious selves, arose through chance, seems to me the chief argument for the existence of God; but whether this is an argument of real value, I have never been able to decide.”

    He then goes on to explain his reasoning, ultimately concluding:

    “The safest conclusion seems to be that the whole subject is beyond the scope of man’s intellect; but man can do his duty.”

  • Ggodat

    You are so dumb it sincerely amazes me. The parts of the eye all must be there to work. Not that one can be color blind or lose night vision. How about blood clotting, genius? Without any one of the 60+ amino acids you would either immediately clot to death or bleed to death. There is no room for evolution there! And seriously, if the universe is eternal then again explain how the 2nd Law doesn’t completely obliterate that concept?? As for your unsupported vomitus claim that most theists support evolution, please show me some actual evidence. You cannot! You talk in circles because you either have no answers or know the answers do not support your misguided beliefs.

    I pity you above all fools.

  • Ggodat

    Also, the 2nd Law applies to all energy in the universe and states that it is ALL in a state of entropy and if it were eternal it would have already moved to an unusable state and the universe would be at absolute zero and none of us would exist. You understand nothing of Physics. This is stuff that is taught in the 10th grade. Take a refresher course!

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Ggodat writes, I have a serious question for you and would genuinely appreciate a non-sarcastic answer.

    Of course, this cannot possibly be shown in return; instead, we have the ever-so-typical special pleading by the religious in full view.

    Thanks, Ggodat. You want the question respected but don’t want to respect the answer. All you want is respect for your beliefs that you assume are true but, when reality shows differently, think the problem lies with others.

    It doesn’t.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    A safe conclusion like, Therefore Oogity Boogity? Who could have any problem with that? And, sadly, the quote mining is Creationism 101. Hardly a surprise.

    Ah, I shouldn’t pick on Ggodat; at least he hasn’t thrown bible verse at you… yet. When he does, you’ll be toast!

  • Andrew Ryan

    Ggodat, words almost fail me. You continually post like a drunk frat boy, so I generally figure you just treat these threads as low-brow entertainment, not really understanding any of the arguments. Then you make a plea for a respectful, non sarcastic answer. I take the time to give you one, and you come back with the same insulting frat boy nonsense. Well done, for a few minutes you fooled me into thinking you actually took something seriously. Go look up what actual physicists say about the subjects you’re discussing. It’s not what you think. And I already answered your point about the eye. A system isn’t irreducibly complex if you can remove many parts and still have it function. The eye demonstrably is an example of that. Now back to your beer keg.

  • Boz2012

    I expect what James Croft would say is that the strength of the evidence needs to overcome the prior probability of the event in question. Magic is uncommon, so the evidence needs to be strong. That seems reasonably uncontroversial.

    Bill Pratt, what would you estimate the prior probability of a magical ressurection to be? That is, the probability of an unknown person, of unknown age, of unknown nationality, of unknown gender; the probability that a living person chosen at random has been magically ressurected in their lifetime?

    This is an ‘uninformative prior’, the start of a bayesian analysis.

  • Ggodat

    and yet, you still have no answer for how the universe can exist without being created and how if not created the 2nd Law doesn’t apply to all energy inside of it? Me thinks you are the one holding the keg hose….

    Oh, and i guess you dont care to address blood clotting… no i guess not.

  • Ggodat

    Let me get this straight, you as an atheist you believe that there is nothing after life on this earth. When we die we will go back into the earth and decay and everything that was Andy will cease to exist. This being the case, I am totally dumbfounded as to why such a brilliant minded person such as Andy would waste even a precious second of his short time on earth getting abused by lesser minded Christians. Clearly you must make the most of the time you have and should be doing whatever atheists deem a valuable use of time. It seems ridiculous that you spend time on this blog arguing with us “brick walls”. Don’t you realize your time is running out and you should be doing something more constructive?

    Given your belief system, I personally think it borders on insanity to spend any time at all on this blog. I don’t believe in unicorns or vampires and spend zero time on unicorn and vampire blogs arguing against their existence. I can only hope one day to be a smart as you….

  • Disciple of Andy or “DOA”

    Yea, i agree with Andrew. He’s always correct.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Ggodat, you’ve got a nerve whining that I’ve not addressed every point you’ve Gish Galloped at me when you’ve already made it clear you’re just trolling. You beg me to answer one of your questions seriously with respect, then in reply you just troll out a load of insults.

    Try apologising for your rudeness first, or don’t expect me to waste my time replying. In the meantime, google is your friend regarding blood clotting and its evolution. But seeing as you let my point regarding eyes whoosh over your head…

  • Ggodat

    seeing is how you let my questions about the origins of the universe whoosh over your head……

  • Ggodat

    BTW, you just wasted another 3 minutes of your precious life on this blog…. You really should take up a hobby or something that provides you joy.

  • Disciple of Andy – DOA

    Yea, you tell him Andy! We all know that evolution created everything. It probably even created evolution. I have no issues believing that even though my science has no explanation for how the universe originated, that something can come from nothing and that evolution can be its own cause. I’m smart like you!

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    Evolution is a natural process like erosion. No one is saying that one either believes in a creative god or erosion. No one is suggesting that erosion caused the Big Bang. These equivalent arguments are silly when seen without the invested belief many have regarding creationism versus evolution.

    But there is a serious discrepancy between the truth claim that god POOF!ed human life into being and the overwhelming evidence from reality that we share common ancestry with all other life on the planet. These two truth claims about the reality we share are incompatible, meaning they cannot both be true.

    But only the evolution explanation fits the evidence offered up not by me or Andrew or others who respect what’s true about reality but from those who respect reality’s role to arbitrate what is true about it; instead, you would have us respect what is believed about reality based on no evidence at all but full of religious and pious self-supporting, self-sustaining faith. Without this faith, there is no support at all for creationism.

    It is unreasonable to suggest that people should respect brain-dependent belief devoid of any compelling exterior evidence over reality-dependent explanation backed up by overwhelming and overlapping evidence that is compelling. All snide comments aside, this is the fundamental issue about creationism and its pernicious effects on people who then try their best to demean and reject a method of inquiry that works for everyone everywhere all the time, that produces practical, reliable, consistent applications, technologies, and therapies that work, that furthers our understanding about reality upon which tremendous leaps of knowledge can be accumulated and then passed on to the next generation for them to build upon, that offers humanity the stable basis on which to address and develop improvements for issues about our well-being, and that teaches us better stewardship of our planet.

    This is not a trivial issue.

  • Disciple of Andy – DOA

    I agree (even though there is no explanation from evolution for the existence of anything) blind-heartedly with you. You are really smart.

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    I don’t care if you agree with me; figure out for yourself why the method of science deserves our respect over and above contrary superstitious nonsense and you’ll gain something much more valuable than anything religious faith can offer: intellectual integrity and knowledge gained from honest inquiry. For that you need submit to no supernatural authority filled with internal contradictions and contrary truth claims to how the world really is. You will own this knowledge for yourself. And that would be an excellent first step to help make the part of the world you inhabit just that much more illuminated a place.

  • http://noapologiesallowed.wordpress.com/ Noapologiesallowed

    Enjoyed this post, Bill! I’d have to agree with you, although I thought James was a step up from most skeptical atheists I’ve encountered.

    I don’t think the problem is with the evidence that exists, but skeptics refusal to either: 1) acknowledge that the evidence exists; 2) look at it; 3) both (1) and (2).

    It’s the experience that you detailed so concisely that inspired this cartoon about a year ago:

    http://noapologiesallowed.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/another-piece-of-hyper-skeptic-paraphernalia/

  • http://toughquestionsanswered.com Bill Pratt

    Love the cartoon!

  • http://questionablemotives.wordpress.com/ tildeb

    1) not true, and
    2) what is presented as evidence is insufficient for many excellent reasons.

    Your 3rd point is just silly.

    If you went up the thread, NAA, you might want to actually read James’ response, which is not at all unusual from not only atheists but most religious people who are not christians. They, too, find the evidence insufficient to change beliefs.

    Of course, this discomfort to you and your esteemed opinion about atheists and the unreasonable skepticism they hold towards all claims of woo will never be adequately addressed because it would cause you too much cognitive dissonance to figure out that maybe, just maybe, you’ve confused what you believe to be true with what is true.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ Bob Seidensticker

    “Croft, therefore, would never accept any testimony of any
    resurrection from the dead unless he saw it for himself and there were medical professionals there to certify all the facts.”

    You act like your standards are different. You just accept
    the miracle claims from other religions at face value? Or are you (dare I say it?) skeptical?

    “he has decided, based on his atheistic presuppositions,
    that resurrections don’t happen.”

    I listened to that interview. Croft was thoughtful and
    responsible. No presuppositions here, just the conclusion after sufficient deliberation.

    “Anybody who would say that no amount of eyewitness
    testimony from the past should ever convince anyone that a person came back from the dead is arguing not from a position of neutrality”

    Oh? Tell me what it would get to convince you that Shiva or
    Quetzalcoatl had raised someone from the dead. I suspect that your standards would be very similar to Croft’s.

    “highly fantastical things such as the assembly of the first
    self-replicating organism by pure chance 4 billion years ago”

    Y’know, you could go do some reading into what is the
    scientific consensus. You look foolish setting yourself up as Judge of Science when you’re not educated on the subject.

    “hyper-skeptics are usually only skeptical about a small number of select topics, and are thus hopelessly inconsistent in their skepticism.”

    Wrong again. They’re not just trying to be mean to you,
    though apparently it seems like it, but are following the facts where it leads. That Christianity is left a smoldering heap on the floor is simply an unintentional side effect.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/

  • http://twitter.com/joesw0rld Joe’s World.

    How many skeptics argue over the existence of China? Or sunrises? Or sandwiches? Not many, as these things appear to exist.

    But when we have people claiming things that appear exactly not to exist (like gods) actually do, it’s best to be a little skeptical.

  • BF

    It’s fine to doubt things: Descartes doubted the existence of the external world, for example. But eventually one has to set aside such skepticism, if one is to lead a normal life in the world (real or imaginary). You are quite right to observe that this is a rather weak argument, locally applied to something its originator simply doesn’t like. I could use similar reasoning to argue against the existence of, well, anything (or, perhaps, *everything*).

  • Pingback: Is There Ever Enough Evidence for the Hyper-Skeptic? | THINKAPOLOGETICS.COM()

  • Alden Smith

    Croft does realize that Doctors by today standard didn’t exist then and that medical records also didn’t exist? Croft is just being silly.

SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline