Monday, June 15, 2009

Atheists start their own religion.


Article synopsis: The author draws comparisons between religion and evolution. He does this by making the claim that evolution has rituals, (specifically holidays) icons, (referring to some of Darwin's hair on display at the Natural History Museum, London.) and dogma.

Evolution is not a religion. Websters defines religion as
“1. The service and worship of God or the supernatural
2. A personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.”

Religion deals with the supernatural, religion is not science.

Evolution is based on the Scientific Method. It has been validated by hundreds of years of empirical evidence as well as peer review. Accurate predictions have been made based off the theory of evolution and its processes and effects are visible today. Its evidence originates from a myriad of biological disciplines and all of those disciplines independently and unanimously confirm the theory.

Evolution is a valid scientific theory, it does not require faith to “believe in” and it has never invoked a supernatural explanation for any of its components. Evolution is science. No more discussion should be required on this subject.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The God of the Atheist


Article synopsis:

Some people's idea of god is different than the Author's. That is to say, some people have an idea of god that does not include the bit about a benevolent father figure doling out eternal torture. Those people are committing idolatry. Atheists do the same thing except their model of god is malevolent, they then reject that god.

It should be pointed out that there are a lot of reasons why different atheists are atheists. One, for instance, may reject a personal god for the want of any evidence of that god. Or perhaps one simply disagrees with the tenets of every major religion. Perhaps another does not care about the existence of god. At any rate, trying to pigeon-hole an entire theological philosophy into one specific stereotype is a bit silly.

Personally, I do find the god of the Abrahamic religions to be malevolent. Considering the constant threat of eternal damnation and the specific acts of genocide carried out in his name. How does one rationalize genocide? It is malevolent. Even if you you spent your entire life doing good, wiping out an entire race of people is evil. That is just one example of the evil committed by the god of the bible. Even if the rest of the sixty six books contained nothing but love and mercy, genocide is well worth rejecting the god of the bible.

This argument is irrelevant however, considering that atheists typically do not affirm the existence of a personal god. It would probably behoove the author to establish the existence of god before we concern ourselves about his moral character.

An instance of genocide in the bible.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Atheist's problem with females.

Article synopsis: The author restates his earlier argument, and inability to comprehend basic evolutionary theory, by claiming that females evolved independently of males in any specific species. He asks "Why did all these animals evolve females?" He asserts that the ideas of creationism and evolution are similar in that they are miraculous and require faith to believe in. He then goes on to talk about the moral pejorative his god gives humanity and makes the claim that atheists support evolution because they do not want to behave morally. He ends his post with his own allusion to Pascal's wager.

We have already looked at the argument about females within a species but, for the sake of education, let's look at the other relevant question. "Why do species evolve genders?" The short answer is because it is conducive to survival to do so. An example of an advantage of genders (which is ultimately the advantage of sexual reproduction) is the variety of genetic material that becomes available to a population. If a population is able to mix its genetic heritage, then it becomes more resistant to certain types of organisms that may become specialised at attacking specific genetic sequences. It is able to do this because its genetic sequences change from generation to generation. Genetic variation also allows a species to be more responsive to other changes in its environment.$=relatedarticles&logdbfrom=pubmed

Addressing the claim that evolution and creationism require faith and are both the product of a miracle, one only has to point out the obvious. Evolution has hundreds of years of empirical, physical evidence. Its predictions are vindicated in the practices of biology and medicine. Its predictions are fulfilled in the study of taxonomy, geology, palaeontology, embryology, genetics and molecular biology. It has been observed not only in the laboratory but in the geological record as well. It is based on the scientific method, a process which not only requires NO faith, it demands that faith does not enter into the equation at all. Every thing it has to offer is subjected to peer review, is constantly scrutinized by the scientific community for any error and has stood that test for the better part of two hundred years. Compare that to the idea of creationism which is not supported by any evidence, often has to deny science, and cannot stand up to any scrutiny whatsoever. It is evident that only one of these ideas requires any faith and it clear which idea that is.

The moral argument is a poor one. The idea that god and the threat of eternal punishment are required for morality to exist is, I must admit, depressing to me. If you require the constant threat of brutal torture to compel you to behave morally then perhaps you should re-examine your moral code. There are other (I would argue; better) ways to derive your morality. Morality from sympathy for instance. (I don't want to have bad things happen to me so I won't do bad things to others.) The idea that an atheist only wants to deny god because he wants to act immorally is just silly. There are plenty of examples of religious people acting immorally by their own standards and atheistic people acting morally.
As for Pascal's wager, the severity of punishment for the adoption of an incorrect position on any specific theory does not validate or invalidate that theory. In other words, let's prove that our god exists before we propagate his cosmic threat of violence.

An instance of evolution observed in the laboratory
. (Its a PDF)
An instance of evolution observed in the geological record
The Atheist's creation problem.


Article synopsis: The same straw-man as before. Atheists believe nothing created everything.

This has become tedious to write about. You can read some of my earlier posts about this informal fallacy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Atheist and the first dog.

Article synopsis: The author demonstrates his appalling lack of knowledge on the subject of evolution. He does this by making a series of fantastic errors while speculating about the evolution of the dog. He was also somewhat rude. Let's correct his mistakes shall we?

Error one: 'Evolution claims that the dog's eye is complex and evolved instantly after millions of years of blindness.'
Well that isn't an accurate portrayal of the evolution of the eye is it? A more accurate reflection of reality would be to state that the eye evolved gradually from a series of useful "sight" organs which were selected for by the environment the organism lived in. Combined with beneficial mutation, this selective pressure caused the existing organs to become more and more useful until the modern eye resulted. It is interesting to note that the eye in general is still responding to environmental pressure and the accumulation of beneficial mutations. Tetrachromats, for instance, can see wavelengths that are imperceivable to the standard human eye. At any rate, here is a link that explains the likely evolution of the eye. (It's a PDF)

Error two: 'Evolution claims that genders evolved separately within a species and that these separate evolutionary processes occurred at the exact time to allow the propagation of the species.' This either demonstrates dishonesty or extreme ignorance on the part of the author. Given his predilection towards straw-man arguments, safe money would be on the former. Obviously, if a species was evolving, both genders would be evolving at the same time. Members of a species with compatible sexual organs that have a lineage that is responsive to change will continue to survive and evolve. Genders existed well before the first "dog" was around. So the intended question of "Where did genders come from?" is really a question of "where did sex come from?" Unfortunately, I do not know of a quick down-and-dirty web based resource to cite that would adequately answer this question but, Lynn Marqulis and Dorion Sagan's wrote a book on the subject called "Origins of sex" It's a good read.

After this point, the article digresses into pointless douchebaggery. The Author spends the next two paragraphs belittling an anonymous atheist on "an atheist blog." for explaining a benefit of sexual reproduction.
An Atheist's Challenge

Article synopsis- “I've challenged you repeatedly to cite even a single instance of an atheist stating that nothing created everything, and have been met with silence every single time. Every time.” - C. Howdy

A quote mine is the process of taking a quote from an individual out of context in order to misrepresent that individual's position on a particular subject. In this case, the author of the article wants to make it appear that there are Atheists claiming that the universe came from nothing. Implying that every scientist studying the origins of the universe is an atheist. He does this by taking scientific papers or popular articles on the subject of the origins of the universe out of context. Some of his attempts are outrageous, some are downright dishonest.
To avoid confusion, the "Nothing" the author is constantly describing is better refered to as "non existence." As opposed to the "nothing" some of the sources cited refer to, which can be described as "the non existence of matter." Or "the non existence of the space-time continuum." An idea that usually involves the transformation of the universe from one state to another. For example the transformation of a quantum singularity via a big bang to a continuum of four major and seven minor dimensions. This will become relevant later.

The first quote mine: “It is now becoming clear that everything can—and probably did—come from nothing.”
- Robert A. J. Matthews, physicist, Aston University, England.
The reference is Reading the reference it becomes clear that Mr. Matthews is talking about quantum vacuums. It's bit of a complicated read, but I sincerely doubt that the Mr. Matthews is making the claim that everything magically appeared from non-existence.

The second: “Space and time both started at the Big Bang and therefore there was nothing before it.”
- Cornell University "Ask an Astronomer.” Again, the reference suggests the article is about the nature of the knowable universe, the astronomer is not suggesting the universe poofed into being.

The third: "Some physicists believe our universe was created by colliding with another, but Kaku [a theoretical physicist at City University of New York] says it also may have sprung from nothing." Reading the quote in context, it would seem the the individual in question is talking about the relation of the four observable dimensions and the matter contained within as it relates to the other seven theoretical dimensions.

The fourth: “Even if we don't have a precise idea of exactly what took place at the beginning, we can at least see that the origin of the universe from nothing need not be unlawful or unnatural or unscientific.” Again, quantum physics is being discussed. The author of the source argues that if quantum particles flit in and out of existence (and it has been demonstrated that they do) and the space time continuum was at one time compressed into a quantum singularity, then it would be effected by the laws of quantum physics. I highly recommend reading this article to understand more in this line of reasoning. At any rate, nobody has yet to make the claim that non existence is responsible for existence.

The Fifth: “Assuming the universe came from nothing, it is empty to begin with . . . Only by the constant action of an agent outside the universe, such as God, could a state of nothingness be maintained. The fact that we have something is just what we would expect if there is no God.” This is the most dishonest quote mine in the whole bunch. The author takes segments of several sentences and strings them together to make a statement which did not exist in the original argument. If you want to know what the original source is about you will just have to read it. Its a PDF and a but long but an interesting argument all the same.

The Sixth: “Few people are aware of the fact that many modern physicists claim that things—perhaps even the entire universe—can indeed arise from nothing via natural processes." Again, read the whole article in context, the source even goes so far as to state: "In modern physics, there is no such thing as "nothing." Even in a perfect vacuum, pairs of virtual particles are constantly being created and destroyed. The existence of these particles is no mathematical fiction. Though they cannot be directly observed, the effects they create are quite real. The assumption that they exist leads to predictions that have been confirmed by experiment to a high degree of accuracy. (Morris, 1990, 25) .

Monday, March 2, 2009

Atheism: The intellectual embarrassment


Article synopsis: The author quotes Mr. Robert Madwell who said, “Just because a few atheists believe that everything came from nothing doesn't mean that all atheists believe that.” Then, completely ignoring the point the individual was trying to make, the author asserts his favorite straw-man "Atheists believe nothing made everything." claiming again that every atheist MUST believe this. He rationalities this by stating of a Ford Expedition "If you have no belief that there was a maker, then you think that nothing made it. It just happened. You have defined yourself as having that mentality." He goes on to assert that this is a logical fallacy and a idea that holds no merit.

I have already outlined the straw man in an earlier post but I will do it again here: Atheism does not maintain that everything came from nothing. There are many competing theories and hypotheses on the nature of the origins of the universe, a lack in the belief of a god does not definitively assert that "nothing came from everything" This is not a commonly held belief among atheists. It is pointless to refute it because, while doing so, you have not addressed your opponet's actual argument.

The analogy of the Ford is a false one. There is evidence that the Ford was made by people. One can actually watch it happen if one is so inclined. (But its really boring and they make you wear glasses that smell funny.) Again, who would maintain this belief? There is no evidence to suggest that Fords miraculously appear out of thin air. Just as there is no evidence to suggest the universe had a sentient creator. This does not mean that the universe poofed into existence from nothing. There are actual scientific processes that go into discovering our universe's origins, processes that the author ignores to assert his straw man.

One extraneous note: If you are going to quote a person, you should cite a source for your quote. Who the hell is Robert Madewell?