Friday, 23 January 2009

A Suggestion For Where Comfort Can Stick His Banana...

Yesterday I made mention of Ray Comfort's new site attacking atheism, and specifically address the 2 of 10 points he had listed on that site: atheists believe something came from nothing and that Darwin is the atheist equivalent of God. There are 8 other short articles on the site, all of which keep up that straw-man attack on atheism. He's obsessed with creation, reading the rest of the articles I was surprised how many he dismissed on the notion that something can't come from nothing. Even so, there are a few more nuggets of creationist "wisdom" that show just where Comfort has been sticking his banana.

The faith of science
Ex-atheist, Lee Strobel said, "Essentially, I realized that to stay an atheist, I would have to believe that nothing produces everything; non-life produces life; randomness produces fine-tuning; chaos produces information; unconsciousness produces consciousness; and non-reason produces reason. Those leaps of faith were simply too big for me to take . . ."
It's hard to keep pretending that this is an attack on atheists, it's an attack on science and a misrepresentation of science at that. As I argued yesterday, everything doesn't have to come from nothing, everything could be universal and it's the processes in between that are an alteration of infinity. But as for the other comments...

Non-life to life is a big unanswered question in science, but the absence of an answer doesn't mean that it didn't happen. We've been able to create the building blocks of life through certain processes, and observe building blocks as remnants of other processes. As for randomness produces fine-tuning, it's again a misrepresentation of the process of evolution. Evolution is not random, selection acts on random events meaning that the process is guided by account on what is advantageous.

Where Strobel makes his mistake is making a dichotomy between God and randomness. On this account randomness would seem absurd to account for what we can see in nature. But it's not either God or randomness, there are set processes by which the universe works and those processes can account for all that we see. Evolution can account for fine-tuning, reason and the onset of consciousness in certain animals. Chemical reactions can account for the origin of life, though what those reactions were is yet unknown. The fundamental forces account for patterns and information in what looks a chaotic existence. Scientists aren't saying it's random, far from it. Scientists are saying there are guiding forces to the universe, it's just that the forces aren't a magic sky daddy. Some believe that the Magic Sky Daddy is responsible for those forces to begin with, but that's another story. The point is humans didn't pop into existence out of pure chance, they are a product of billions of years of mutation and selection.

Human testimony
This was possibly the only thing on the site I could agree with Comfort on:
Was the recovery a miracle? Perhaps. Then again, perhaps it wasn’t. Only God knows. The fact is that we have no idea what happened. However, one thing we do know is that answered or unanswered prayer has nothing to do with God’s existence.
If the bible was not an account of God, then it doesn't stop God from existing. Likewise if God doesn't heal amputees or lets a faithful die because they chose prayer instead of medical treatment, that doesn't stop God from existing. Where the contention lies is the kinds of evidence for God. The testament of prayer is one that is often used as evidence for God, another is how faith is rewarded. Pointing out that these occurrences are inconsistent is not alone enough to prevent the existence of God.

God’s existence isn’t dependent on the Bible or its authenticity, the existence of the Church, the prophets, or even creation. God existed before the Scriptures were penned, before creation came into existence, and even if the Bible was proved to be fraudulent, God would still exist.
Without the bible, the prophets or the Church, how would people know of God? It may be that without any of those God still does indeed exists, but what those elements have been throughout history is the carrier of the meme that is Christianity. People have learnt of God through the teachings of the bible, through the church, through prophets and through their own reasoning; if you take those away then the reasons to believe are taken away as well. To mute them would be to cast doubt on how people came to know God in the first place.

But I'm in general agreement with Comfort on this, whether God exists or not is not dependant on any holy text or prophet. Either God exists or God doesn't exist. But the way we know of God and what is ascribed to God comes down to those aforementioned means. Take away the bible, take away the prophets, and there's nothing left of which to know God by. The path to salvation, heaven and hell, the very nature of God is handed down through generations by this means. By taking away the sources of knowledge, it brings any statement on God into the realms of speculation. It could be that the sources where speculation to begin with, but those are the foundational grounds of knowledge.

So when an atheist asks why won't god heal amputees, it's a question on why prayer is not as revelatory as some make it out to be. Likewise a contradiction in the bible or a history of the prophets is to cast doubt on those divine sources of knowledge that are at the base of Christianity. And without that foundation of knowledge, there's nothing that makes God distinguishable from something that is made up. It may be that God exists without human knowledge of God, but without reason to believe that God came down to earth in man form and died on the cross to redeem sin as the accounts of the bible testify, why believe in Jesus as God in the first place?


Danny said...

--but without reason to believe that God came down to earth in man form and died on the cross to redeem sin as the accounts of the bible testify, why believe in Jesus as God in the first place?--
It just seems like the coolest account for God I have heard. If God does love us, then that is a pretty good testement of it-cause we don't have to 'earn' our salvation like other people think they do. Like, I don't have to worry about going to hell because I stole something and died before I can make it right, because Jesus is my sacrifice.
If it were true that God existed, but he did not love us, then screw it. I mean why care, cause even if you served God and loved God with all your heart, one day God would get pissed at you and look out. So, if I thought that the only way God could exist is if he didn't love us, then I would also be an atheist.
I just believe it. I tried not to but just couldn't get away from it. Probably like you tried to believe in God but couldn't maybe.

Kel said...

I never really tried to believe in God, or any other deity. I didn't grow up in a religious household, so when I got to primary school and was put in scripture it was a shock. Apparently one day I came home upset and said to my mother "they tried to tell me God made me, so I told them my mum and dad made me." Couldn't put anything past this 5 year old.

I've outlined why I have a problem with the idea of redemption through faith here. Redemption through faith is one of the worst ideas I've ever heard in religion. On pure appeal, the doctrine of Buddhism seems a far more just cause. My favourite version of the afterlife is the Norse version: scantily-clad valkyrie maiden carry you to the halls of Odin where you dine and feast on wild boar until the end of time. Now that sounds awesome! (I was also obsessed with mythology as a child)

Danny said...

Wild hogs are always the best.