Category: apologetics

The Theist Paradox

Every now and again you get a theist who touts his love for philosophy whilst simultaneously making apparent his disdain for truth. Theists are often occupied with the question of whether it is reasonable to believe in god. The philosophical question would instead focus on whether a claim or set of claims is true. So any lover of philosophy would ask whether theism is true rather than whether one is, colloquially speaking, justified in believing in god. Justified, in the sense in which it was just used, isn’t meant to invoke philosophical justification. It’s more to invoke the sense of whether someone has the right to believe in god. Of course one has the right and is therefore, justified in that sense, but one will never find philosophical justification.

Theism is simply false. The theist claims to love philosophy, but shuns truth for sake of belief or they pretend as though what they believe is true. Yet they don’t concern themselves with grounds for this truth claim. Truth claims rest on knowledge and therefore, one has to show that theism is ceteris paribus justified true belief. Unfortunately, this can’t be demonstrated. Theists have misused philosophy to try to offer so-called logical proofs, but a logical proof isn’t axiomatic. It doesn’t, in other words, stand on its own. An argument can be valid but not sound; never mind the false assumption that we can leap from conception to reality, i.e., that just because we can conceive of the greatest conceivable being, it necessarily exists. Theism is an exercise in creating one’s own reasonability. There’s no philosophical concern with whether its a reasonability that can withstand scrutiny. 

The reasonability is often one that is found adequate by the in-group, namely the theists. They’re not concerned with whether outsiders find their belief reasonable. Reasonability, philosophically speaking, would most certainly impose such concern. When I express a view, I’m not worried about whether the group I identify with finds my view reasonable. In fact, I want my view to be considered reasonable by people who don’t agree with me. I want the panpsychist to approach my physicalist philosophy of mind and find it reasonable – reasonable enough to subscribe to. This is precisely the issue with theism, especially Christianity.

Christianity has underhandedly divorced itself from the supposedly rich philosophical tradition its adherents boast about. It has removed itself from talk of truth claims and reasonability proper and justification. It has taken the form of what it was originally intended to be: faith, blind adherence. Objective reasonability and truth was never its primary concern. Its concern was in-group reasonability and the semblance of or passing off as truth.Therein lies the paradox, a theist who claims to love philosophy actually despises the enterprise. If truth were truly his concern, he would attend to Christianity in the manner in which he attends to any other claim or set of claims. He wouldn’t treat it with undue favoritism.

I read through your posts, and I came to the r…

I read through your posts, and I came to the realization that a lot of your "unanswerable" questions have actually already been addressed. Particularly in the works of St. Augustine, St. Thomas, and even by C.S. Lewis. I know that a lot of the answers that you have gotten from random Christians have been weak, but what did you expect from laymen? Please, at least read "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. At the very least, it will give you less repetitive ammo to throw at us. Please message back.

I have no idea what you’re talking about as I am familiar with Augustine, Aquinas, and especially the philosophically inept C.S. Lewis. They definitely don’t help make a case for Christianity. In fact, I address Aquinas and Lewis’ best arguments in my book; I mention Lewis as an example of what one should do if their argument is defeated, but the thrust is that his argument against naturalism was most certainly defeated by Elizabeth Anscombe.

Apologetics is pseudo-philosophy and makes the Christian feel that his religion is more ironclad than it is. Every argument you can mention has received sufficient reply on more than one occasion. Christianity is plain and simply false.

And about evolution and Catholicism; so what? I never said that all Christians were creationists, but some Christians are exegetically thin as they overlook Romans 5:12-23 and 1 Corinthians 15:45. Go ahead and try to square that with evolution. Spoiler alert: you can’t!

In any case, get with the times. I’m in a post-theistic phase. I really have no interest in discussing stupid, redundant apologetic arguments. If you weren’t so busy indulging your confirmation bias, you would know about J.L. Mackie, Kai Nielsen, A.C. Grayling, Graham Oppy, Michael Martin, and plenty of other atheists and qualified philosophers who have destroyed the arguments you put so much stock in. It’s clear to me given your reading recommendations that you are unfamiliar with those people. You can’t even pretend there’s a case for Christianity if all you’ve done is weigh your favored side of the debate. The debate has been over! All that’s left are the superior arguments and retorts of atheists and the obstinacy of Christians. Christianity rests on the obduracy of believers, believers who continue to claim, despite the evidence, that their religion is true. It’s not! Make nice with that conclusion because it’s a truth you won’t escape.

Philosophical Atheism is On Sale!

Given that my new book, Ending the Abortion Debate: On the Issues That Truly Matter is imminent, I have permanently lowered the price of my first book Philosophical Atheism: Counter Apologetics and Arguments For Atheism. The print copy is now at $9.99 and the Kindle copy $7.99, and just in time for the holiday season. Get yourself a copy if you haven’t already or buy one for a friend! Happy reading!

Refuting Plantinga’s “Victorious” Ontological Argument

Refuting Plantinga’s “Victorious” Ontological Argument:

As sort of a reply to the article I posted earlier, I have decided to present Chapter 4 of my book Philosophical Atheism in full. Plantinga’s version of the Ontological Argument is seen as the most updated and formidable. It also makes use of the clause in Nagasawa’s article, namely that since it’s possible that god is necessary, it follows that he is necessary. In my book I explain why I’m extremely skeptical of that clause because I see the leap from logically conceivable to logically possible as flawed; moreover, I see the jump from logically possible to logically probable as flawed, and therefore, see the leap from logically probable to actual as flawed. Never mind that the necessity of such a being is without warrant. Despite the supposed strength of Plantinga’s argument, it is irreparably more flawed than its predecessors. Please read below to find out why.

Continue Reading

Thank you to everyone who bought a copy of my book in September….

Thank you to everyone who bought a copy of my book in September. I didn’t expect to sell as many printed copies of the book almost about a year after it was published. I am grateful to you all. If you haven’t purchased a copy, please do so here!

What Game of Thrones Taught Me About GodBy R.N. CarmonaBefore I…

What Game of Thrones Taught Me About God

By R.N. Carmona

Before I express my most current thoughts about the idea of god and where I now stand, it is important to go over exactly what relation the Game of Thrones character Bran Stark has to a common concept of god. Bran Stark, who is currently an entity known as the Three-Eyed Raven, has omniscience as it concerns people and events. It has been shown that he can be touched in the future (when the Night’s King grabbed his arm), manipulate the present (by employing his warg ability), and influence the past (as shown when he called out to a younger version of his father Ned and when young Hodor heard Meera in the present telling present-day Hodor to hold the door). Yet despite his omniscience, he is powerless to prevent the war between the living and the dead, the armies of men and the Night’s King and his army of White Walkers and wights.

In fact, many theories concerning Bran have been circulated. One theory says that Bran Stark is Bran the builder. Bran the builder, legend has it, built the Wall where Jon Snow completed his watch and also Winterfell. Another postulates that Bran is the Lord of Light, the god of the Red Priestesses who reveals future events in fires. According to such theories, Bran reincarnates and lives forever in a repeating loop or he’s ascended to the role of an all-knowing god. Game of Thrones could be a literal time loop in where Bran is trying to prevent a number of catastrophic events like the creation of White Walkers by the Children of the Forest, the Mad King’s holocaust of Westerosi citizens, and the events that have yet to transpire – which may include the deaths of Daenerys and Jon, not to mention every person in Westeros. 

Game of Thrones could literally be a story about an omniscient and all-powerful or nigh-all-powerful mystic or god being rendered powerless by chaos theory. In other words, per Littlefinger: “Chaos is a ladder” and only that ladder is real. All else is illusion. In trying to prevent the creation of the White Walkers or the Mad King’s holocaust, Bran unintentionally sets off other horrific events. The prevention of one bad outcome or consequence results in the emergence of a new bad outcome or consequence. Thinking about Bran’s predicament got me thinking about the idea of an omniscient being.

God’s predicament, should one exist, wouldn’t be any different. Preventing a murder on one side of the world only ensures the emergence of a new, unintended one on the other side of the world. If the flapping of a butterfly’s wings results in a derailed train that kills dozens, a god might reason to prevent the flapping of the wings, but in doing so, an unintended volcanic eruption wipes out dozens in a separate location. The idea of omniscience along with omnipotence would ensure that such a being is rendered powerless! Westeros may not work very much like our world; there is after all magic, undead, dragons, and voices speaking from fires. Chaos theory might not feature in Westeros, but it certainly features in our world. A being like the Three-Eyed Raven would have incredible power, but will resign himself to inactivity.

God, should one exist, might have realized this long ago and has thus resigned himself to inactivity and indifference. Omniscience entails foresight and omnipotence entails prevention of what one foresees, but the two powers together would inevitably result in voluntarily powerlessness. In a world of chaos, an order that prevents all evil and all suffering is simply not possible; it is unachievable. Should there be a god, Nietzsche might be best read literally. God is effectively dead. He is a celestial vegetable, eternally inactive upon realizing that he could never achieve a perfect world. I am firmly a post-theist in that I am beyond entertaining the ideas of religion and writing extensively and frequently about such topics. But should there be a god, I would approach it with compassion and pity because despite having all that power, it’s as though it has no power. 

A simply corollary might make things clearer. Humans are no doubt limited and finite in their power to prevent unappealing outcomes and consequences. They are equally limited in their capacity to formulate and execute contingency plans. Yet even when one succeeds at preventing one’s business from failure by taking out a sizable loan, there’s now the unintended consequence of realizing several months down the line that an extensive layoff is necessary to turn enough profit to pay off the debt and continue to operate the business. Preventing one bad outcome seems to ensure the emergence of another. Though some regard this study as debunked, the jury is still out on whether extensive gene editing results in hundreds of potentially harmful mutations. 

It could be that chaos requires a balancing of the scales and it is only in that balance that order is achieved. God might have done all he could to prevent the abusive childhood of one person only to ensure the emergence of another person’s abusive childhood. The Three-Eyed Raven’s predicament might not be any different from what a god’s would be if it existed. Joan Osborne’s song comes to mind in thinking that perhaps god is essentially one of us. The poor bastard has all that power and can do absolutely nothing with it.

On The “Science” of Apologetics

As I’ve stated many times in recent memory, I have zero interest in apologetics. Apologetics is simply a distortion of philosophical tools. It can also be pseudoscience, specifically when apologists try to discuss evolution, abiogenesis, and cosmology; they like to pretend they have competing scientific theories that suggest there’s a designer when in reality, their religiously-based opinions are not scientific theories and aren’t written about as such nor tested as such.

There is, however, a blogger going by the blog name “thescienceofapologetics” who has become a target of mine. I’m not targeting him/her individually nor am I suggesting that s/he is evil. What I am suggesting is that this person is intentionally misleading, going so far as to blatantly omit facts, alternative points of views, and worthwhile rebuttals like this one and this one. Like many wannabe apologists before him/her, s/he publishes the anons who are rude and curse and name call to make it appear as though there are no worthwhile challenges being brought forth. The narrative is that “fact over fabrication” is taken so seriously that all non-believers and non-Christians can do is throw tantrums and attack this individual’s character. 

I can assess character insofar as traits are obviously present. This individual is deceitful, intellectually dishonest, ignorant, pretentious, and interested not in fact, but rather in fabrication. The entire blog is oxymoronic in that it purports an interest in “fact over fabrication” and yet consistently defends fabrication over fact. Christianity isn’t the fact; the claims of Christianity aren’t facts. Christianity is the fabrication and its claims are, each and every single one, gross fabrications, embellishments, and falsehoods. I showed that in both responses, which didn’t and probably won’t receive reply, especially given the private message that said “I don’t want to fight you.” No one said anything about a “fight,” but if that’s how one wants to see it, it’s a “fight” this person can’t win. The truth is undefeated. Conspiracy theories, religion, and all manner of human deceit have tasted the sour taste of defeat more times than anyone can count. 

The problem with a religion like Christianity is that despite such defeats, it persists as though it hasn’t been utterly brought down by the advancements of science, philosophy, history, and other disciplines. The same, tired arguments for god are trotted out again and again and again as though no one has ever addressed them. What’s more is that they’re brought out like corpses on a puppeteer’s strings, without amendments or substantial revisions of the sort we would expect severely wounded arguments to have! This doesn’t say anything more about defeated arguments, but it definitely says a lot about the mentality of people like this blogger. 

The blogger may try to get off the hook by citing the length of my responses, but the length of my responses are not intended to intimidate; nor am I trying to prove by verbosity because that being the case, I can Gish Gallup my way around with so many facts, germane or not. Yet I don’t do that. I stick to the topic and elaborate wherever necessary. The fact of the matter is that elaboration is often needed because prior to facts being stated, distortions have to be addressed. I spoke on my method in an earlier post.

First I want you to realize that I’ve listened carefully. Then I want you to realize that I’ve listened so intently that I can understand your argument or defense, and even enhance it. Then I want you to see that despite that, your point of view is demonstrably wrong. Then I explain exactly why that’s the case and if required, I present conclusive evidence or a cogent argument. Then all there’s left to do is show you why the fact of the matter serves better, especially as it relates to filling any gaps left by the belief in question. This is what makes my responses as long as they are. 

They could be more concise some may argue, but on topics like these, that will only serve to take away rather than add value. Aside from that, rather than prove my own authority, what I intend to show people is that I’ve read authorities on the topics apologists like to talk about. In fact, I still read about all of these topics though I have no interest in apologetics; the reason for that is because these topics involve science, philosophy, and history, and the practitioners of these fields are, for the most part, interested in discovering the truth, the fact of the matter. Apologetics is a pseudo-scholarly discipline in that it violates this; it’s not seeking the fact of the matter, but rather purports to have already discovered it and this is far from curious because Christians claim to have found the truth though they never sought it. It’s a discipline crafted in their own, intellectually dishonest image.

This is an open notice to anyone following this blogger. S/he’s lying deliberately; this is chicanery at its finest. S/he’s is distorting facts and omitting evidence and effectively silencing opponents by refusing to publish anything worth his/her attention. S/he’s more interesting in pushing the narrative that atheists and non-Christians more generally are just an angry bunch because they have no way to address the “truth.” “Fact over fabrication” is a facade because every post is actually a defense of fabrication over fact; this person isn’t interested in facts on any front and given these two responses, that’s conclusive and absolutely demonstrable. 

I seek to educate rather than indoctrinate. I’d rather know than to believe. My allegiance is to truth and facts and not the sanctity of opinion. Given that, this wannabe apologist has two choices: 1) start valuing fact over fabrication for real this time or 2) face the consequences in the form of a relentless, knowledgeable opponent who has vast experience in doing precisely this sort of thing. Looking directly at you now: you’re not the first and unfortunately won’t be the last wannabe apologist, but you’ll certainly prove to be anything but the finest among them because you’re all the same: desperate to believe and lead others to believe even if it means deliberately lying, omitting evidence, distorting facts, and manipulating people. That stops now!

The bible is incredibly edited. If it fits together, which is heavily does not, it’s because someone arranged it to be that way. Books that didn’t match up were discarded. It’s nothing more than a collection of short stories, cultivated in a vain attempt to convince generations of people to pass judgement on others. There’s not a shred of evidence a word of it is anything more than personal delusion. Believing is just buying into that delusion.

Actually, the Bible is the most authenticated ancient text known to man. What does that mean? A lot of things actually…

The Bible has the smallest time gap between the time it was first written and the earliest manuscripts we have. That is VERY important when we are dealing with ancient documents because it greatly increases probability of reliability. We are going to take a few moments to compare the New Testament to other ancient historical accounts that are considered trustworthy and reliable.
I usually just link to this whole video but I felt like throwing in pictures this time because I’m Extra like that

By historical comparison, the earliest manuscripts we have of the New Testament were written in a shockingly short time span from when the original document was penned – a mere 50 years. But there is so much more…

Every single manuscript out of the 24,633 we have of the New Testament alone matches up virtually perfectly, which means they were copied, not edited. They were not perpetuated like a game of telephone, they are true to their original content. How does that compare to the works of other ancient text? Look how many we have of Caesar, Plato, and Tacitus in comparison to the New Testament:

The next closest in regards to the number of manuscripts we have would be Homer’s Iliad with a total of 643 manuscripts

That still leaves the Bible leading by 23,990 manuscripts.

The foundational points of Caesar’s life, the preservation of the Iliad, and the reliability of Tacitus’ writings are considered rock solid. We believe those events happened, we believe the stories told are ones the authors wrote. So why do we doubt the Bible which is FAR more trustworthy than anything else we have? 643 x 38.31 to be exact.

So internally it’s accurate, but what about externally? How do we know it is not simply the writers perpetuating a lie? Glad you asked! Next slide…

Apart from the Bible, we have 9 non-Christian outside sources and 33 Christian outside sources. That brings us to a total of 42 outside sources affirming the events and authenticity of the Bible. Compare that to the second place who would be Caesar of which we only have ten outside sources documenting his life.

We don’t doubt the events of Caesar’s life, we don’t say that there is no evidence to prove the words about him are true, we don’t claim that these other books are so heavily edited that we can no longer believe anything they say is accurate. So why do we doubt the Bible is true?

The Bible blows everything else away. It passes every test of authenticity by a massive amount. If we disregard the validity of the Bible, we have to discard everything we claim to know about ancient history because the Bible is the absolute highest standard for historical accuracy. That’s a fact. (You can watch the whole video including why the four eye-witness gospel accounts are important here)

Another Evolution Denier

godlike-and-cowering:

1) Darwin defined the mechanism of evolution as decent with modification, and what he hypothesized was a trend in the fossil record showing small changes into speciation. We don’t see that. Archeologists don’t see that. Paleontologists don’t see that. We see punctuated equilibrium. That’s the notion that species arise abruptly at sporadic points in time. Almost as if they might have been placed here? Ponder

I’ll set aside all of the Deepak Chopra-esque woo woo you talked about in our chat and focus on your egregious ignorance on evolution. Descent with modification is precisely what we see. It’s fine to be ignorant of the fossil record, but gradual changes do result in macroevolutionary speciation stemming beyond beak length and girth, fur pigmentation, neck size, and so on; I’ll go over this in detail later. I already discussed whale evolution and human evolution in a previous response. I briefly mentioned horse evolution, but that’s another marquee example of macroevolution:

image

This isn’t an example of punctuated equilibrium, which you misdefine as species arising abruptly because “they might have been placed there” – so I’ll return to that in a bit; this is an example of evolutionary modification over long periods of time resulting in speciation. Paleontologists have certainly seen what you said they don’t see. If not for being able to see what you’re claiming they’re blind to, we wouldn’t have such clear examples in the fossil record.

Before I go on, punctuated equilibrium is a hypothesis put forward by Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldridge, which states that even over a period of millions of years, species are stable. This much more gradual change is then punctuated by rapid changes resulting in new species. This change is then followed by further stability. Bryozoan have been stable for roughly 140 million years and their fossil record appears to confirm Gould and Eldridge’s hypothesis. As Berkley’s Evolution page tells us, however, punctuated equilibrium doesn’t:

– Suggest that Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is wrong.
– Mean that the central conclusion of evolutionary theory, that life is old and – organisms share a common ancestor, no longer holds.
– Negate previous work on how evolution by natural selection works.
– Imply that evolution only happens in rapid bursts.

Punctuated equilibrium isn’t a challenge to natural selection. It’s simply another evolutionary model and it isn’t at all clear that punctuated equilibrium occurs most frequently or that it is the dominant evolutionary model. That debate rages on, but there are of course cases that show it to be less prevalent. In fact, homologies and atavisms may show that punctuated equilibrium is uncommon. As Jerry Coyne explains:

The most striking atavism in our own species is called the “coccygeal projection,” better known as the human tail. As we’ll learn shortly, early in development human embryos have a sizable fishlike tail which begins to disappear about seven weeks into development (its bones and tissues are simply reabsorbed by the body). Rarely, however, it doesn’t regress completely, and a baby is born with a tail projecting from the base of its spine (figure 14). The tails vary tremendously:  some are “soft.” without bone, while others contain vertebrae — the same vertebrae normally fused together in our tailbone. Some tails are an inch long, others nearly a foot. And they aren’t just simple flaps of skin, but can have hair, muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. Some can even wiggle! Fortunately, these awkward protrusions are easily removed by surgeons.

What can this mean, other than that we still carry a developmental program for making tails? Indeed, recent genetic work has shown that we carry exactly the same genes that make tails in animals like mice, but these genes are normally deactivated in human fetuses. Tails appear to be true atavisms.

Coyne, Jerry A. Why evolution is true. Oxford: Oxford U Press, 2010. 65-66 Print.

What you miss and clearly didn’t anticipate as a part of my response is the genetic component. All phenotypical traits have corresponding genotypes. A phenotypical trait is what’s observed when genes are expressed whilst the genotype is what results in such traits. Without a clear understanding of the genotype-phenotype distinction, natural selection can’t be understood. I must add that while there is a clear distinction between the two, there’s also a clear causal connection and this is precisely what Coyne points out. We have tail-making genes, but generally speaking, humans don’t develop tails. That’s because the tail-making genes do not express themselves, hence there’s no corresponding phenotypical trait. When they do happen to express themselves, there’s a corresponding phenotypical trait.

For anyone who might be confused, an atavism is not a vestigial trait. The human tail is sometimes erroneously considered a vestigial trait, but it isn’t because it’s not a non-functioning version of a tail. In other words, if all humans were born with tails that don’t wiggle, wag, and so on, then it would be a lot more like an ostrich’s wings. The ostrich has repurposed its wing to help it maintain balance and to add thrust when it runs, but an ostrich notably doesn’t and cannot fly. Their wings are vestigial structures. 

Atavisms, on the other hand, are phenotypical traits that reappear in a modern individual or even within a genomic lineage but not in a population. It is entirely possible for a grandparent, parent, and child to have been born with a tail; this is an example of an atavism reappearing in a lineage. Though that’s possible, there are no observed instances of any large portion of the human population being born with tails. In any case, the tail, unlike the human appendix, is not a repurposed structure and thus, isn’t a vestigial trait.

Homologies may appear to show a so-called body plan by a designer in the minds of some, but homologies, if that view is to be taken seriously, show only a severe lack of imagination. As Francois Jacobs noted, evolution is a tinkerer. It isn’t at all like a designer and this is precisely why this apparent lack of imagination is widespread. As Prothero explains:

For example, the basic vertebrate forelimb has the same basic elements: a single large bone (the humerus), a pair of two long bones in the forearm (the radius and ulna), a number of wrist bones (carpals and metacarpals), and multiple bones (phalanges) support five digits (fingers). But look at the wide array of ways that some animals use this basic body plan! Whales have modified them into a flipper, while bats have extended the fingers out to support a wing membrane. Birds also developed a wing, but in an entirely different way, with most of the hand and wrist bones reduced or fused together, and feather shafts providing the wing support instead of fingers bones. Horses have lost their side toes and walk on one large finger, the middle finger. None of this makes any sense unless these animals inherited a standard body plan in place from their distinct ancestors and had to modify it to suit their present-day function and ecology. These common elements (bones, muscles, nerves) that serve different functions despite being built from the same basic parts are known as homologous structures. For example, the finger bones of a bat wing are homologous with our finger bones, and so on. 

Prothero, Donald R., and Carl Dennis. Buell. Evolution: what the fossils say and why it matters. New York: Columbia U Press, 2007. 105-106. Print.

He goes on to explain that an “intelligent designer” wouldn’t jury-rig these structures using the bones that these individuals inherited from their ancestors. Indeed a perfect and infinitely intelligent designer would design wings in the best way possible. Whale flippers wouldn’t have differed in their bone configuration compared to the flippers of fish and marine reptiles. Though all of these structures have the same function, all of them are configured differently, and though they’re configured differently, they are inherited from the organism’s ancestors. 

While you’re looking for justification in the fact that species arise rapidly “as though they were put there” or created from scratch, you’re paying attention to what’s on the surface. In other words, punctuated equilibrium cannot and doesn’t attempt to disprove the notion that structures like wings, flippers, and hands evolved, and that they evolved from ancestral bones. Speciation isn’t the only evidence we have; genotypes resulting in phenotypical traits aren’t the only evidence we have; we also have evidence of ancestral bone structures being reconfigured to suit modern purposes. If punctuated equilibrium were a challenge to natural selection, atavisms and homologies would be explained alternatively and better, or be explained away entirely; punctuated equilibrium doesn’t accomplish that.

2) two scientists tried and failed to propose a start to the central dogma of biology which is DNA -> RNA -> PROTEINS
Even using ribozymes with amino acids and lighting in a shallow bed couldn’t assemble the right order or even close to a viable RNA transcript that could also self replicate. Even under water under pressures and thermal heat, still the same outcome. It’s a “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” Type of equation that still baffles EVERY BIOLOGIST TODAY. You need critical proteins to replicate or transcribe DNA or RNA, and those critical proteins are encoded in the RNA, which is encoded in the DNA. If this isn’t clear please let me know because I want to make sure you understand that this isn’t something any scientist can sidestep. Not now, so let future generations that have better answers use biology to undermine a common architect.

This is a classic example of an argument from ignorance or alternatively, an argument from personal incredulity. Falling short of saying your argument fails because it’s fallacious, which would constitute a fallacy on its own, namely fallacy fallacy, I’m going to point out that your whole argument is a fallacy. It’s as good as Hoyle’s Fallacy. You’re basically concluding that since past and modern scientists haven’t established abiogenesis, that future scientists can’t. That’s a fallacious inductive argument stemming from your desperate need to believe in a creator. There’s that and having the sequence entirely wrong. RNA World actually posits RNA (ribozymes) –> DNA –> Proteins. Ribozymes catalyzed chemical reactions in the earliest lifeforms. These reactions eventually resulted in DNA and more complex protein synthesis. 

Aside from that, you act as though abiogenesis is limited to RNA World. You say nothing of panspermia or what the Uray-Miller Experiment attempted to show, namely that life started with an electric spark. You also say nothing of the prevalence of hydrothermal vents in the oceans of ancient Earth, a place where chemosynthetic organisms are known to thrive. Panspermia is especially enticing given that the building blocks of life have been found on meteorites and that, in fact, the building blocks are ubiquitous not only in our solar system, but in the universe. Life here might have been seeded from elsewhere and far from pushing the buck back, it’s a matter of probability. 

What’s more probable – an invisible, incompetent designer making life from scratch or organic matter arising from inorganic matter? What’s more probable – an incompetent designer using organic matter to animate life or organic matter going through gradual chemical evolution and eventually resulting in life? The probability favors the idea that well-established inorganic to organic reactions eventually resulted in organic compounds resulting in life. RNA World is simply one way that might have happened, but certainly not the only way that’s been proposed. 

In any case, god used to be the widespread explanation for everything from storms to earthquakes to volcanic eruptions. Since these have been thoroughly explained without requiring supernatural agency, what’s next is to relegate god to what remains of human ignorance. Specifically, since we don’t yet know in full detail how the universe and life came to be, god is the placeholder explanation. Given your penchant for inductive arguments (faulty ones at that), I’ll present a much more compelling and likely inductive argument. 

image

This is where you point and laugh and say the predictable: “taking notes from a comedian…LOLz.” Well, it’s quite telling that a comedian, not a scientist, has a better grasp of reality than you do. His makes a valid point anyway and pointing out that he’s a comedian is ad hominem. Philosophy is a human endeavor and as such, everyone has the potential to do good philosophy – and here, Minchin is presenting a solid inductive argument and thus, doing good philosophy.

God or supernatural agents used to be a primary mode of explanation. That simply isn’t the case anymore. People like yourself have relegated god to the posts of our ignorance, but as history has shown time and again, the god explanation will be decisively supplanted by a better, more objective explanation. Moreover, that explanation will be replicable and falsifiable. The god explanation obviously lacks basic scientific criteria in that it isn’t replicable; it’s merely false consensus. It also isn’t falsifiable because apparently, even the notion of a multiverse doesn’t cancel out the god explanation for some believers. Believers don’t allow the god explanation to go away because they’re intransigent individuals who have a desperate, deeply rooted need to believe. 

They have projected their ego and psychological fragility onto the whole of the universe in stating that the creator must look like and favor them. Aside from that, the god explanation has been regressive and stagnating rather than progressive. The god explanation leads to no proliferation of knowledge, breakthroughs, and solutions. It leaves us completely and utterly without sound explanation for our current ignorance. There once existed a woo woo believer like you that said that scientists and natural philosophers will never figure out x or y; once they did figure out x or y, the matter became a and b; then they figured out a and b, and so the matter became w and x, and so on. “God is the ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance”, as Neil deGrasse Tyson so wonderfully put it.

3) you must be thinking of micro evolution because that is something that biologists do all agree on. This is the notion that evolutionary changes can occur selectively within a species especially over a short period of time. This is the example of Darwin’s finches, and the break of the polar bears, all these examples I’m sure you would have hoped to fuck me with. Especially changes within the gene pool. But you would see that even polar bears and grizzleys would have a viable cub. You would see that darwin’s finches would be in fact fertile and viable. They’re the same species. There’s no speciation. What defines speciation across the board is the ability for two organisms to provide a viable fertile offspring. Would you call every dog a different species? When we can cross breed every one like we have for centuries? See, evolution is one species giving rise to many. We don’t even have a clean example of a definitive species giving rise to another completely. That’s macroevolution. That’s something the scientists of tomorrow also need to investigate to substantiate your take on evolution. So until then, hold those arguments also.

My “take” on evolution has already been firmly substantiated. Apart from the two fossil records I summarized in my response to that other evolution denier, I briefly went over another one above. Aside from that, I went over evolution at the genetic and phenotypical level, something you failed to anticipate. What’s more is that we do have clean examples of one species, over a long period of time, giving rise to a completely different species. In fact, the emergence of polar bears is a macroevolutionary example! All you show here is a misapprehension of evolution.

You don’t understand macroevolution. You’re not thinking one species branching off into two or more distinct species. You’re thinking pokemon; you’re thinking Dratini becoming Dragonite with one intermediary barely explaining how the thing went from a sea dragon to a bipedal dragon with wings! That’s not macroevolution. Dogs are, first and foremost, the product of mostly artificial selection and any difference in breeds is selected, directly or indirectly, by humans.

Macroevolution, on the other hand, has been observed repeatedly. You gave an example in the emergence of polar bears. There’s also the example of homo antercessor splitting into homo neaderthalensis and homo sapien, and perhaps even Denisovans, homo floresiensis and homo naledi. Whales, dolphins, and porpoises are cetaceans with a common ancestor and apart from the many distinct whale, dolphin, and porpoise species we have today, there are many that have gone extinct. Again (!), we have plenty of fossils. So pronounced is this macroevolutionary change, that the criterion of interbreeding is no longer met. A blue whale wouldn’t even attempt to breed with a say, an hourglass dolphin or a clymene. Heck, it wouldn’t even attempt breeding with a humpback or beluga. 

The issue with what you’re saying narrows down to scientific illiteracy. You limit speciation to sympatric speciation and utterly ignore allopatric speciation. What you describe, namely two species that are geographically close enough to interbreed, is sympatric speciation. What you don’t even mention is allopatric speciation, which occurs when species sharing a common ancestor are geographically isolated or vicariant and therefore, can’t breed. Vicariance prevents gene flow and therefore, interbreeding. As PBS explains:

An example of vicariance is the separation of marine creatures on either side of Central America when the Isthmus of Panama closed about 3 million years ago, creating a land bridge between North and South America. Nancy Knowlton of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama has been studying this geological event and its effects on populations of snapping shrimp. She and her colleagues found that shrimp on one side of the isthmus appeared almost identical to those on the other side – having once been members of the same population.

But when she put males and females from different sides of the isthmus together, they snapped aggressively instead of courting. They had become separate species, just as the theory would predict.

You also didn’t mention parapatric speciation. Though it occurs a much lesser frequency, it has been observed. Parapatric speciation is being observed, in real time, in Anthoxanthum odoratum. A portion of the species lives in contaminated soil and have developed tolerance for heavy metals whilst another portion lives in the same soil and has not developed this tolerance. The tolerant plants and intolerant plants are geographically near to one another and yet, they don’t fertilize with one another because their flowering times differ. We are observing, in real time, the permanent end to gene flow within a continuous population.

I strongly suggest that you get a handle on what you’re looking to deny before speaking on the matter. I promised not only to put your ignorance on display, but also to correct it – not so much for you, but for people who share your views. It is a known fact that the person receiving correction tends to double down. It is also known that minds are changed indirectly and in private. I’m not so much concerned about you correcting your ignorance; I don’t see that happening anytime soon because it appears your need to believe is tied to psychological changes resulting from frequent narcotics (ab)use. 

Exchanges like this do present good opportunity to communicate to them who are currently ignorant but have no stake in this particular game. My point isn’t to demean them, but rather to get them to understand that they don’t actually understand what they purport to understand and that, in fact, they lack even a perfunctory grasp of the topic. You don’t get evolution and that much is clear by a failure to understand the genotype-phenotype distinction and connection, the micro-macro distinction, and the types of speciation there are. Apart from that, you lack a basic comprehension of what constitutes a scientific theory, which explains why you think the god explanation holds water. You also show a lack of depth in the topic of abiogenesis, pretending to debase merely one theory (RNA World) whilst also demonstrating a poor understanding of the theory. 

Read more; take some courses; use the internet; most importantly, stay far away from pseudoscientific, apologetic sites defending creationism and intelligent design. One thing is clear, if one wants to give a designer credit for the diversity of life on this planet, they credit a demonstrably incompetent designer that repurposes existing material in a haphazard way – the same process that can be achieved by blind chance. The evolution of life on this planet is a statistical process, a process of trial and error that doesn’t present to us any opportunity to give credit to or cast blame on a designer.

I appreciate your works cited and attributed sources. Are there any written works or periodicals you would recommend?

Scientific American and Smithsonian are good magazines too keep up with work in evolutionary biology, paleontology, and genetics. Scientific American is broader and so is Smithsonian for that matter, but from having subscribed to both in the past, Smithsonian does a better job of keeping up with current research. My evolution tag has many articles and my evolution page has plenty more resources, even an advanced lecture course from Yale. As for papers, many of them are unfortunately behind paywalls; they’re also quite dense as experts usually communicate to one another rather than interested laymen. They unfortunately don’t spend much time “dumbing down” the subject matter, so it’s harder work to understand even a section of their paper, let alone the entire paper. That’s why I prefer articles from sites and magazines that communicate science to the public and make it more comprehensible.

More generally, I’d say the same about philosophy and history journals. That’s why I prefer articles, magazines, and books written by experts capable of communicating the work they do to the public. Richard Carrier, Bart Ehrman, Robert Price, and Robert Spencer have done tedious, esoteric work in their fields, but they are also gifted public teachers. I have a lot of their books on my history page along with articles they wrote about the historicity of Jesus and Muhammad, the reliability of the Gospels and the hadith, and other topics. All of my recommendations and sites to keep up with are scattered across my pages. Go to my blog domain and under the brain icon, you’ll see Historicity, Evolution, Abiogenesis, etc. I have resources there for your consideration.

Ultimately, those pages are products of a different time in my life. Like I said in that reblog earlier, it’s a been there, done that sort of thing for me. I have moved on from so-called counter-apologetics and addressing religious claims. My interests are far broader and in many ways grander. I’m actually interested in challenging myself, so I plan on seeing if I have any potential to grapple with quantum mechanics; I’ll be getting a few textbooks recommended by a friend who’s a physicist. I am also interested in the philosophy of mind and of time. I also have an interest in bioethics and ethics in general, hence my plans on writing a short book on abortion with the hopes of ending the abortion debate. I hope to finish that before the year is up. I’m also interested in economics, specifically in finding a model that succeeds where capitalism has failed. 

With that in mind, I have all but cancelled plans to write a polemical book against religion; like I said, I’m more a post-theist now. I will still contribute to the steady decline of Christianity in the world and Christian influence in my country; I will contribute to the decline of religious extremism, fundamentalism, and science denial. I will not, however, act as though the entirety of my academic passions revolve around religion. I’ve done my fair share to address religious claims, all culminating in a short, accessible read