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Dawkins vs God
Entry 1274, on 2011-03-03 at 21:09:13 (Rating 4, Religion)
Yesterday I received an email from one of my creationist friends which he presumably thought would finally convince me that his worldview was correct and mine was false. Of course his worldview is based on superstition and self-deception so it was always going to be unlikely that he would succeed and, needless to say, he didn't.
The email contained a copy and pasted page from the "creation" web site. Most creationists seem to be incapable of thinking for themselves so simply parroting the nonsense contained in sites like these is fairly standard practice for them. Anyway, the article claimed that the existence of god was better proved than the existence of Richard Dawkins, and it contained some interesting claims which I want to discuss here...
The article started: "Do you believe in Richard Dawkins? If your answer was yes, why? Most of us have assumed Dawkins' existence based on very little evidence. I for one have never met him. And though I've seen a couple of pieces of video footage, a few pictures and his name as author on a number of books, when you think about it, it's not that substantial. I've seen video clips and pictures of 'Santa Claus', too."
So this person has really seen pictures of Santa? Not just someone dressed up to look like him? Wow, that must be two mythological figures they believe in. Ever caught up with the Easter bunny as well? Anyway, all fun aside, I agree that I have also never met Dawkins but many people have (although no one I have met directly). Sure, his existence could be one big fabrication but let's look at the evidence which does exist and compare it with the evidence for God.
First, Dawkins has written books. God hasn't - at least not directly - and even the indirect writing (through prophets, etc) is highly doubtful. Dawkins has also done lectures, podcasts, radio shows, appeared on tv, and engaged in other media events. Has God done any of those things? No, he hasn't.
Second, let's look at the prior probability. Dawkins is a skeptical atheistic biologist. I know plenty of people who are very similar to that so nothing there is worthy of any real doubt. But what about God? Oh, he's an eternal, omnipotent, supernatural entity. There's not a lot of other examples of those around so the claim of his existence quite rightly is open to considerably more skepticism.
Third, If I wanted to go to the trouble I could find records of Dawkins' existence in news articles, employers' web sites, tax records, educational records, census data, academic papers, surveys, and many other locations. When was the last time God filled in a tax form or any other piece of everyday paper work?
Finally, what would be the motivation behind creating the two characters? Dawkins is just one of many skeptical figures. If I wanted to debate religion with someone I would publish under my own name. Why make one up? God, on the other hand is a powerful figurehead for the biggest and most deadly organisation the world has ever known. There's an obvious advantage to the church in creating a fictional figure like that just to maintain its power. God is also a traditional mythological figure for people who don't like change.
So clearly the evidence for Dawkins is considerably better than the evidence for God. In fact the difference is so overwhelming that it makes a real mockery of the initial claim. Instead of making God more real it has made him (and his followers) a bit of a joke!
There is the occasional comment in the article with some element of truth though. It goes on to say "nothing in this world can be scientifically proven with 100% certainty". That is sort of true, although certain mathematical and logical propositions can be proven within their own systems. But fundamentally we can never really be sure of anything. That shouldn't stop us from accepting ideas which have very high levels of supporting evidence though. And it shouldn't stop us from rejecting those with little or no evidence. Of course we should always be prepared to change if new evidence appears. Can creationists honestly claim they use those principles?
Here are some further quotes from the article: "It's why I've come to believe that I am surrounded in air, even though I can't see it. And it's why I believe that there is a country called Uzbekistan, thousands of kilometres away from my home, even though I've never been there."
These are not faith beliefs though, they are confidence beliefs. Faith involves believing something even though the evidence is weak or non-existent. Confidence involves believing something when the evidence is good, even if it's not perfect. Anyone who puts belief in air and belief in God in the same category really does live in a strange world of delusion.
Then we get to the old favourite: "God cannot be directly measured or detected by scientific means..." Oh really? Why not? He allegedly interacts with the real world. He allegedly created it. Even if he can't be detected directly there would be many indirect lines of evidence. So where are they?
One scientist has said "even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic". Many people (including me) would disagree. Any phenomenon which affects the real world can be measured by science, even if it's only indirectly. Maybe this quote refers to a god with absolutely no influence on the world at all.
Things go down hill from there: "Most evolutionists believe that the matter and energy in the entire universe, and the laws of physics themselves, ultimately appeared from nothing...". How many times do we have to say that evolution has nothing to do with the origin of the universe. Evolutionists have no expertise in this area. They may believe that (and it's not as ridiculous as it sounds) but it's not really relevant.
Next we get to the old selective presentation of evidence: "Michael Behe, associate professor of biochemistry from Lehigh University, studied the cell and many biochemical systems in extensive detail. He concluded from his studies that many of these remarkably systems displayed a complexity that was irreducible..."
Very few scientists agree and ID has been rejected by science, not because it contradicts evolution, or it suggests a creator, or they have political or religious objections. They reject it because it doesn't work. Many examples of ID have been found to have a reasonable evolutionary pathway. The science and maths of ID is flawed. Unless something really unexpected and new comes along ID is rejected just like other disproved theories such as geocentrism.
And then we get this: "God has placed enough evidence in the world around us to convict us of a Creator (Romans 1:20)." So a Bible quote is supposed to convince us of God's existence. Is that it? Is that really the evidence? And it's circular reasoning!
Finally this: "Evolutionists claim that 'goo-to-you' evolution is possible by means of mutations and natural selection, however, mutations are usually harmful and even those that can be beneficial are virtually always degenerative - i.e. they involve a loss of information. Natural selection is a process that occurs in nature, favouring species that are better adapted to their environment, however, natural selection is not evolution. It is a culling process that decreases genetic variation rather than increases it. Without evolution to explain the existence of the complex organisms we see today, a Creator God is the only logical explanation."
That's all either misleading or wrong and anyone doing some reasonable basic research would soon find out that it is nonsense. But it doesn't matter how many times you correct these idiots, they keep repeating the same old lies, over and over.
There are more lies regarding the alleged lack of transitional fossils, etc, but I want to finish with the conclusion. Here it is: "The evidence for the existence of God is far more conclusive than the evidence that I have personally seen for the existence of Richard Dawkins. To be honest, I'm pretty sure Dawkins exists too. But I'm even surer of the existence of God."
Well you're an idiot then.
Comment 1 (2871) by Anonymous on 2011-03-27 at 14:07:00:
You will never convince these people that they are wrong. Their beliefs are based on an emotional response to the world not a rational one. To debate them effectively you need to make a more appealing emotional argument than they can. But I don't think you can.
Comment 2 (2872) by OJB on 2011-03-27 at 20:04:22:
You're right, people who have convinced themselves that their silly beliefs are true are beyond reasoning. All I want to do is introduce a little bit of uncertainty into their delusions, even though I don't think it will change their minds. Also any other people involved in the discussion sometimes see my side and realise my opposition really has no credibility. It is also a chance to check my beliefs, because maybe they won't stand up to scrutiny and maybe I'm wrong! Finally, I just enjoy debating with people, although I admit I do find it frustrating debating people with childishly ridiculous views.
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