Friday, February 14, 2014

If This is How You Question Darwin...

After the Bill Nye-Ken Ham debate that showed just how clearly Ham has no hope of ever being considered scientifically-minded to any degree, there's been a lot of stressing the point.  All over the web, there's a lot of harping about the most important moments of the debate, and most of all, the Q&A where Bill gives examples of evidence that would change his position, while Ken Ham says flatly that nothing would ever change his mind.  The biggest thing about this is that it completely shatters Ham's contention that science is closed-minded and locked on to philosophical naturalism, while simultaneously showing that it is he who is indisputably closed-minded.  It's amazing how clear-cut he makes it for us.

Well, not long afterwards, HBO aired a documentary that featured Ham as well as plenty more incredibly closed-minded people who think...  uuhhh...  well, maybe "think" is the wrong word...  approach reality with the same fractured intellectual modality as Ken Ham and his ilk.  Doing the rounds through the atheist blogosphere are clips from the film, specifically of die-hard creationists and fideists who make even Chuck Missler (Mr. "Comets-aren't-made-of-ice-because-ice-cubes-don't-form-a-tail!") look almost sane.

See the video on Gawker for yourself, and read my thoughts below the jump --

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Transcendental Mental Masturbation

People who straddle their primitive belief system with all that science and engineering and logic have put forth have always put up a sort of wall between the reasoning skills that guide them towards acceptance of scientific facts and the shameless elimination of reason that guides them to believe in the supernatural.  Without some sort of barrier, you end up with a sort of universal cognitive dissonance.  Often times, it's the margins of scientific knowledge that give one room to erect a barrier, but this is also the route that creates a lot of dishonesty.  If your god exists in the margins of science, you end up with a need to make those margins appear wide, and whatever inane mental gymnastics you do to convince yourself of that only means you're sabotaging your capacity to think.

So another avenue you've probably all heard is this whole "transcendence" bollocks.  This tries to erect the mental barrier between brilliance and bullshit by creating this alternative context that is largely unexplored by any rational system of thought because it isn't rational in the first place.  This is exemplified by the quote posted here in the G+ Anti-theists community --

I should add that the original poster is merely quoting someone else and asking us how we'd respond to a thesis like that.  Below the jump is my response.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bill Nye vs Ken Ham : Post-Debate Review

So I, like many of you out there in the atheist blogosphere, watched the big debate between Bill Nye the Science Guy and Answers in Genesis' Ken Ham.  Going into it, I was expecting not too much from Bill and pretty much the same old same old from Ken Ham.  Mainly why I wasn't expecting much from Bill had not to do with his scientific understanding (which is quite considerable), but because of tactical practices that are part of the process of formal debate. The problem with the practice of debate with its rules put in force is that it is less about what is true and more about who argues well, and how you lay traps and keep someone from really being able to make the actual point.  Simultaneously, if you can get someone into a trap, you never have to actually make a point of your own or provide any real reason for your position.  This is why people like Duane Gish or William Lane Craig are generally successful in debates.

WLC likes to strawman and lie about his opponent's positions and lie about science.  The lies about science are obscure enough that it would take some serious effort or existing knowledge of a subject in order to uncover them.  The lies about the opponent's position are designed to rouse ire and goad the opponent into wasting time reprimanding WLC for his crime.  Gish, on the other hand, takes the tactic of rapid-fire switching between subtopics, ensuring that people can only really respond to a fraction of the questions posed (note that because creationists set up this false dichotomy, they assume that if a given question isn't adequately answered by their adversary, they win by default).  This latter is the primary tactic that Ken Ham used in his opening statement.  From there on, it was a lot of the usual fallacies of "historical science vs. experimental science" and a lot of "you weren't there" and "the Bible is automatically true" bullcrap.  The most cringeworthy example of this for me was during the Q&A where Bill was asked about the origin of matter, and in Ham's response to Bill's answer, he said "there's a book out there that actually tells us where matter came from."  Ugh...  right, the book says so, therefore it's the right answer.  He did it again with the "where did consciousness come from" question as well.  I really felt like wringing Ken Ham's neck right there.