Friday, February 27, 2009

Bad Evolutionary Arguments Refuted 1

(What is BEAR?)
I've been mulling over this topic for a few weeks now, so I'll go ahead and get started on what will be a series of posts. Note the nearly infinitely-clever acronym title and writhe in your pathetic not-cleverness.

Anyway, today's bad evolutionary argument to refute goes something like:
"If you have something to offer that has predictive and informative value, then produce it."

This statement was directed at Intelligent Design. I'm a creationist, which is a position that has certain overlap with ID, but is typically more specific than ID and certainly not identical to it, sharing only a few characteristics such as the position that an intelligent and powerful agent is responsible for life.
The point of the question is that science can make predictions of future events and future behavior based on observation of what has gone before, and the questioner does not believe that ID can. I am not sure I agree with that, but defending ID doesn't put meat on the table for me and I haven't thought a great deal about that since I'm not an expert on the run-of-the-mill ID arguments.

However, if Christian creationism is true, we'd expect to see all sorts of things:
-The universe would carry an appearance of design (since it was in fact designed).
-Rival worldviews would be irrational.
-The God-man would resurrect from the dead in a unique fashion, when He said He would.
-God would change lives like He said He would.
-Formerly twisted and immoral people (like myself) would end up living sanctified lives.
-Most people would not have saving faith in God.
-Quite a few even would mock God.
-People would have innate ideas of right/wrong and fair play.
-Evidence would be a good way to discover truth.
-The world would operate virtually all the time according to regular laws.
-Yet occasionally God would perform a miracle, for a specific purpose or set of purposes.

...just to name a few.

Let me call attention to the last 2. Skeptics tend to misunderstand Christianity and claim that we think that everything is God's hand working all the time. To some extent that's true, but that does not make God the direct cause of everything. Virtually all events in the world take place according to the natural processes that God has already put in place.

Ephesians 1:11 - In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will...

God has ordained everything that comes to pass. He has defined that these natural processes will pertain on the Earth and in the universe until the Eschaton, at which point we won't need to worry about it anymore anyway. On naturalism or some similar worldview, one can only study data going back some decades to know whether the processes in place today are similar or identical to those in place a short time ago (an infinitesimally short time on the view of current conceptions of naturalism). So one uses inductive reasoning to say that such processes have generally been the case before so they will overwhelmingly probably be the case one second from now, one minute from now, one year from now. Problem with induction is that it just takes one example to knock down from a good inference from what has always been to what is in doubt.
There is no security in these processes on naturalism, neither in the unobservable past nor in the future, whether immediate or long-term.

Further, on Christianity there is plenty of reason to think that a person's cognitive faculties are reliably aimed at producing true beliefs. On naturalism or some similar worldview, nothing popped into everything, and was organised by no one so that some impersonal "process" is responsible for there being order instead of total chaos in the universe. Atoms coalesced into molecules, into larger clumps of matter. Rocks became amino acids became proteins became unicellular organisms became bananas, platypuses, humans. Bananas don't think. Neither do cans of Dr Pepper. Why assume that another lump of matter (arbitrarily and customarily called a "brain") can "think"? A can of Dr Pepper, when shaken, produces fizz. The liver secretes bile when called upon to do so. The brain secretes brain fizz when called upon to do so. And the brain is somehow special?
Also see Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism.
The point is that, on naturalism, there are no predictions to be made at all, no matter how you want to dress it up with a pretty label like "science".

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What is BEAR?

I am beginning a series called Bad Evolutionary Arguments Refuted. The acronym BEAR is sufficiently awesome that it requires no further fanfare.

This is the explanation post for the series. Every post will examine a different bad evolutionary argument, mostly from the standpoint of naturalism. That is, I will grant most of the time the presupposition of naturalism, thereby granting huge swaths of rhetorical ground that I don't in reality grant at all and thereby tying both hands and one foot behind my back to see how the evolutionary position fares when everything is going its way. The BEAR series is a mostly an internal critique of naturalism.

All BEAR posts will be under the label BEAR, and all of them can be organised into an exclusive view here.

I of course welcome all interaction, but evolutionists - you do yourself few favors trying to defend these bad arguments. I recommend you come up with better ones.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

freelunch is an emptyheaded troll

freelunch said:
There are no laws of logic.

Needless to say, I won't be wasting my time talking to freelunch anymore.

Bahnsen on the skeptic's worldview

I'd like to excerpt here from a book I recently read. Let "unbeliever" here mean "vaguely naturalistic skeptic".

But standing on the unbeliever's worldview quickly demonstrates internal problems. B/c of his opposition to the absolute God of Scripture, he must account for reality in some other way than by a personal, rational, sovereign Creator. In discounting an absolute mind creating and controlling the universe, in the final analysis he is committed to chance. In his view of origins, the material universe sprang into being from nothing and under not rational oversight. The rational, then, is built upon the irrational.

This view of origins produces insurmountable rational problems, for such a chance-based worldview can have no laws, no necessity, no logical principles, but only randomness. According to cosmic evolutionary theory all is ultimately subject to random change and is in a constant state of flux. But our very rationality requires laws so that things may be distinguished, classified, organized, and explained. Rational comprehension and explanation demand principles of order and unity in order to relate truths and events to one another. Consequently, on the basis of the non-believer's worldview rationality itself has no foundation.

The unblvr may attempt to acct for rationality by asserting that man's mind imposes order so that rationality results. If he does so, then his view of reality becomes subjective rather than objective (Rhology comments: like here). But even this attempt is impossible, for how can the mind impose order on a chaotic universe?

And what if your friend denounces your Christian worldview for its being governed by "faith" as over against "reason"? What if he argues that you are naïve in not employing his scientific method?

Point out to him the futility in his argument. The scientific method proceeds on the basis of observation thru the senses. As the Humanist Manifesto III (1993) expressed it: "Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies."

This method holds, then, that knowledge must be limited to observation and sense perception. Once your unblving friend has committed to this procedure, demonstrate his epistemological self-contradiction: If all knowledge is governed by observation, then how did he come to know that? That is, how did he come to know that "all knowledge is governed by observation"? Did he observe that in the lab? Did he measure, weigh, or count it? Did he detect that conceptual limitation by exploring nature? And furthermore, does he observe that this principle is a universal limitation on knowledge in all places and at all times so that he can confidently trust it?

If he attempts to use the laws of logic in reasoning with you, ask him where in nature he has seen the laws of logic? Show him that you can't use the sci method to prove the laws of logic, for you can't observe, taste, or feel them since they are not material entities extended in space. How then can he justify logic? Or the sci method of empiricism?

But with the blvr's worldview, a personal, absolute Creator God accts for the rational, coherent, law-ordered reality that you and the unblvr both experience and depend upon. In God's sovereign revelation to man (Scripture) we learn that He spoke , "And it was so" (Gen 1:7, 9; Ps 33:6; 2 Cor 4:6; Heb 11:3). Not only do we discover order and harmony throughout the narrative of creation (days 1 thru 6 following logically one after the other), but the very idea of God's speaking reality into existence itself requires rationality. The universe is ultimately rational because the rational, law-ordaining God of Scr created it thus. Man is a rational being b/c he is created in the image of God, who is the standard of rationality. In Eden, God commands him thru verbal communication (Gen 2:16-17); Adam authoritatively speaks (2:19-20); God reasons with him (3:1-19).


Empirical (observational, sense-based) scientific investigation is also called for in the Christian worldview b/c God created an objective, material universe, governs it by predictable laws (Gen 1:14-19, 8:22; Job 38:31-33; Ps 8:6, 115:16). Furthermore, God created man as a sensate, physical being, for "the hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made both of them" (Prov 20:12)...

The unblvr's problem only gets worse when he demands that we provide proof for the existence of God...Ask your friend: "Why do you require that I give you a reason proving God's existence? After all, on your view there is no reason for reason itself." (p. 152-155).

When modern man commits exclusively to the sci method, then he has committed to empiricism. Empiricism is the view that all human knowledge ultimately derives thru the senses and thru experience. We discover laws of physics, for instance, by observing, measuring, counting, and analysing the behavior of things around us.

The unblving empiricist cannot acct for the laws of logic which regulate human reasoning. The laws of logic are not physical objects existing a a part of the sense world. They are not the result of observable behavior of material objects or physical actions. Do the laws of logic exist in the natural world so that they can be empirically examined? If we are materialists, then only that which is objective in the realm of sense experience is real. What sense do the laws of logic make for unblvrs? What are the laws of logic? If they are just the firing of nerve endings in the neural synapses, then logic differs from person to person and therefore its laws are not laws at all. The inherent materialism in the modern world cannot acct for laws of logic.

Furthermore, since the laws of logic are universals, invariant, abstract, eternal truths, how do they continually apply inn our changing world of experience? How do we get those laws from "above" down into the historical process?

...When unblvlrs talk of concepts, they need a worldview to make them meaningful. (p. 204-205)

Source: Pushing the Antithesis: The Apologetic Methodology of Greg L. Bahnsen, Gary DeMar, editor. 2007, American Vision, Inc.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The "no presuppositions" fantasy

Paul C said:
I'm not operating out of any "worldview" because the concept as used by presuppositionalists is meaningless. I don't have any "presuppositions" because the concept as used by presuppositionalists is meaningless. Neither of these points are relevant to this discussion - they are merely diversionary tactics used by presuppositionalists to divert attention from the failure of their arguments.

No presuppositions, eh? None? No fundamental axiom? This is simply ridiculous.
How do you prove that evidence is evidential?
That you are not a brain in a vat?
That evidence is a good way to discover truth?
How do you know that you know anything?
That your cognitive faculties are properly aimed at forming true beliefs?
How do you prove that the laws of logic are useful?

Anwer any of these without appealing to a fundamental axiomatic statement, and you will be begging the question. Such as:
"I know that evidence is a good way to discover truth because I use it every day to live my life."
You're begging the question - I simply ask how you know:
1) that you use it every day
2) that you are living your life
3) that it's good rather than bad for that purpose
4) that you actually arrived at truth.

And on and on.

How warm a welcome would Paul give to a statement like "God just is. That's it"? He'd call it circular. Indeed, and the same goes for his statements. The difference is that appealing to "God just is" is not viciously circular because the God of the Bible is self-justifying; He is where the buck stops. On Paul C's worldview (which he claims he doesn't have), the buck never stops, and that's a problem.

Here is a related post, and my long interaction with the Jolly Nihilist is instructive too. At any rate, Paul talks big and is obviously a sharp fellow, but sometimes he says amazingly poorly-thought-out things.

Got my own thread

At ERV. \/\/007.

As I said there, however, it's kind of low of her to claim to my face on Friday that her blog isn't moderated and then to restrict me to one thread just 4 days later, but then again her hypocrisy isn't exactly a secret.

ID and magic

I've been enjoying my time over at ERV recently. Here is the long thread in which I've been first involved.
One interesting question was raised by the eminent commenter Albatrossity, who 17 months ago revealed to me his actual identity, biology prof at a major state university in the Midwest. I would ordinarily think that he has given over responsibility for posting his comments to some student of his, or even that he's just lying about his identity, given:
1) the general tenor, mood, and abusive nature of this commenter's posts,
2) the poor reasoning exhibited, and
3) the fact that he comments a lot at a blog such as ERV, which is not what you would call a hang-out for refined intelligentsia as no doubt a major univ biology professor must be.

However, I'd hate to charge the man with dishonesty or inflation of his credentials, especially given that his histrionics pale in comparison to those of one Professor Emeritus Vic Hutchinson (edited out my misspelling) of OU and one PZ Myers of the Univ of Minnesota. So, sadly, it is at least very possible that this man represents some of the best and brightest of American universities.

Given the fairly broad nature of my initial comments, one might expect the good Professor to respond to some of them, but such has not been the case. Indeed, he exhibits a pattern of leaving scads of questions hanging, which is disappointing. And he wasn't the first to raise the question, but it has become his mantra.
So, first off, "minimalist" said:
(Rhology said) "It's completely valid to say that if science can't explain something, then therefore MAGIC!"
I responded:
So, to you, any non-naturalist force in action is "magic"? There's no other name for it?
If so, how precisely does this argue for naturalism? Just calling the other side names doesn't mean your side is correct, as I'm sure you realise in your calmer, more sober times of reflection.
Albatrossity eventually jumped in:
Rho, can you tell us a single objective parameter that distinguishes ID from magic? Quoting your magic book doesn't count. What I want to know is how would an objective person be able to tell if something happened via ID or via magic?
My reply:
Sure. Magic is an incantation calling on the power of some mystical, barely-defined cosmic principle or power, performed out of an irrational worldview by a non-omnipotent agent, also frequently accomplishing said incantation pretty quickly. Intelligent Design is, at its base, the understanding that the characteristics of life in nature show evidence of design by an intelligent and otherwise unidentified agent, probably over the course of many hundreds of millions of years, though not necessarily. It's only in the strawman of ID that you find the major parallels to ID. A major college prof like you should know better than that. Why not just deal with ID as it is? It cracks me up to see well-established minds like you burn strawmen all over the place. Makes me think you don't have a leg to stand on and some part of you knows it.

His reply:
I think you missed the point. I didn't ask for definitions of magic and ID, I asked for objective distinctions between that two that would enable an objective observer to distinguish between them as causes of any event.

Well, let's see. I would probably look at whether said occurrence were the result of an incantation calling on the power of some mystical, barely-defined cosmic principle or power, performed out of an irrational worldview by a non-omnipotent agent, also frequently accomplishing said incantation pretty quickly.
But of course, this doesn't matter. If the evidence is that it was NOT due to an unguided process working on random mutations, then the answer lies in somewhere other than Darwinian mechanisms. If you don't like the answer or where the evidence leads, that's no one's problem but yours.

Him (#60, I'm tired of linking):
Tell me HOW you would "look at whether said occurrence were the result of an incantation calling on the power of some mystical, barely-defined cosmic principle or power, performed out of an irrational worldview by a non-omnipotent agent, also frequently accomplishing said incantation pretty quickly." That's quite a mouthful of stuff, but nothing in there tells me HOW you would show me any difference between that sort of cause, and the think-poof causality that underlies ID. How, exactly, do the results of incantations look any different from the invisible hands that ID requires? Causes leave fingerprints; different causes should leave different fingerprints.

nothing in there tells me HOW you would show me any difference

Take Scenario X on a case-by-case basis and apply those criteria. Not that hard, though it might require a bit of logical and philosophical rigor, which I've not come to expect from most Darwinians, especially not most in academia, whose writings are often rife with unaccounted-for and unjustified assumptions.

why did you argue with commenters above when someone suggested that ID = magic?

B/c "magic" carries quite a pejorative connotation. I dispute that connotation.
And again, the bare assumption of naturalism (especially ontological, and yes, I know the difference) is not convincing, if it's unargued-for. Argue for it. Start by answering my above questions (and you'll reveal it's a faith-based position or an infinite regress, the former of which is the same thing you accuse the hated creationists of, the latter of which is clearly irrational). If "magic" is the way things are, where the evidence leads, what merit is there in clinging to Darwinian-style naturalistic processes as the way things are? That's the stuff of cults.

the appearance of drug resistance in Plasmodium falciparum was due to magic. You claim that the same phenomenon was due to an intelligent designer.

But this is not a good experiment, as it is a false dilemma for my position; I don't contend that the evolution of drug resistance is an example of ID "at work", but rather natural, microevolutionary forces. Who's denying that? I'm more interested in your evidence for, say, unicellular organisms developing into giraffes, etc. Things that are under dispute. I don't see why engaging the topics actually under dispute is too much to ask.
Further, please explain how naturalistic mechanisms to which you'd appeal to explain this change in the organism is distinguishable from, say, karma. Thanks.

More amusingly, you ask how this naturalistic explanation for malarial drug resistance is different from karma. That's pretty easy. It is explainable by purely natural mechanisms (changes in bases in DNA resulting in changes enzyme structure resulting in changes in enzyme function resulting in changes in drug metabolism), which can replicated in other organisms by other scientists. That's the definition of objective, in case you didn't understand that word either. Let me know when you figure out a way that ID think-poofing can be replicated or explained by natural mechanisms.

OK, and how does magic operate, exactly? Give me some info about it.
Out of what worldview are you operating? What are your presuppositions? On what power does this magic draw?
...I'll explain my 'karmic' worldview if you explain your magic one.

Him, throwing in the towel:
(Albatrossity asked) Why would it be impossible for magic to leave "evidence of design"?
(Rhology answered) It wouldn't be impossible.
makes my point for me, thanks. Magic cannot be distinguished from ID.

Him, later:
The onus is on YOU, not me, to show that magic can be distinguished, as a cause, from ID. You have evaded that responsibility from the beginning. I have repeatedly asked for evidence of design that could be distinguished from evidence of magic.

We've been over this. Feel free to address what I've already said, particularly on the question of karma and on the worldview underpinnings of "magic".

you have yet to give me even ONE criteria by which an objective observer could distinguish magic from ID.

And you haven't answered my setup questions that would show that you even have any idea what groundwork is necessary before answering such a question. Get on it.
You also haven't responded to my request that you show the ways in which your precious Darwinian processes are distinguishable from karma. It's all out there.

That's pretty much where it ended. Let the reader judge who left the questions out on the table.
The point is that Albatrossity is fixated on his buzzwords and Darwinian talking points, much like the former Pres of CFI in my previous post, namely: "Peer-reviewed journal!!!!!!! AAAHHHHH!!!" For Albatrossity, he has his talking point, maybe from PZ Myers or someone like that, and it's never occurred to think it through. It's kind of sad, but it helps one understand how grown-ups can desire and act to squelch dissent in universities with respect to these questions. Take Albatrossity, PZ Myers, and Hutchinson (edited out my misspelling) as your models and you'll find it's quite believable. It is apparently too much to ask that they back up their arguments.
"Magic" isn't just an amorphous mass that one can pluck out the air and then apply, in a serious debate. You have to define your terms and show me precisely what you mean. Absent that, it's a double-edged sword, as my karma example shows. I can just apply something that sounds pejorative to ANYTHING, refuse to define it, and I'll have just as much justification as he does. So I did, with my karma example. Maybe we'll actually get a response, but I doubt it, as he's had lots of chances.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My first encounter with ERV, or lemmmMMMEEEE talk, lulz!

This past Friday night, the evil young-earth creationist society-in-disguise, the IDEA club at the University of Oklahoma, opponent of all things scholarly and scientific, invited two lecturers who are, as I understand it (being no great expert in things satanic, least of all in Discovery Institute treachery) affiliated with the Discovery Inst, a leading Intelligent Design thinktank. One John West was called to speak on "7 myths of Darwinian evolution" or something similar, and Casey Luskin to speak on Academic Freedom and the Kitzmiller vs Dover trial.

Before I begin my synopsis of the night's events, the blogger known as ERV apparently believes that my church is a cult. I stand firmly opposed to such an appellation. Just because we believe that my pastor is the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, just because we are flogged in the baptistry for questioning him, just because we believe that everyone except for members in good standing (and who give at least 23.4% of their annual income to the church) are on their way to Hell, just because leaving the church whether for conscience' sake or because one's job was transferred out of town (or because one's parents were transferred out of town) means a death sentence to be carried out as soon as possible in the dead of night with a solid silver crucifix, just because most of our church's budget is spent towards stockpiling assault weapons and most of our Sunday School curriculum deals with proper utilisation of high explosives, just because we believe that Charles Darwin was THE Antichrist, in the flesh, and that Richard Dawkins is the Beast, doesn't mean we're a cult. So, I'm only too happy to sort that all out.

Anyway, I'd estimate the audience at around 120, probably a bare majority of whom were sympathetic to ID. After John West's opening lecture, which I found to be pretty good, actually, if a tad repetitive, ERV approached the mic to ask a few questions. She engaged in a several minute long debate with West about some alleged misrepresentation, and I, to be honest, lost track of the topic, partly b/c I was myself waiting in line to ask a question and was fairly nervous (as I usually get before asking questions in front of an audience). I don't think anyone begrudged her the lengthy amount of time she took to interact with West, though I do think most were disappointed that the organisers only thought they could allow time for 4 questions. I didn't get to ask mine but instead ceded my place in line for last question to someone who would challenge West, since I was going to ask a sympathetic question. It turned out that questioner had failed to understand what I thought was a fairly elementary point from West but stubbornly would not let it go that perhaps HE was the one who was confused, not West.

I talked briefly to Ms. Smith in person during the intermission. She was cordial enough and we agreed that non-moderated blogs are more fun and valuable. Like so many bloggers (not excluding myself), her online persona is quite a bit more strident than her real-life character, and like so many (excluding myself), the former is more profane than the latter.

Luskin stirred the pot when he was speaking on academic freedom. His session was also quite interesting and valuable, I thought. Then near the end he brought up, almost as an aside, ERV's blog as an example of the kind of "welcome" that ID receives in the scholarly/academic arena. He pointed out the treatment of a commenter on ERV's blog who apparently was treated with sexual discrimination (see here ERV's admission thereof as well as numerous commenters expressing their salacious approval) (sexual discrimination b/c, as my best friend the BlackBlogger pointed out, neither she nor her commenters posted a request for above-the-waist nudity to any male commenter) after what I guess was a substantial period of time spent commenting at ERV's blog and annoying her and her commenters. I thought Luskin's presentation was strong in most of its parts except this part. This part was unnecessary and weak for a few reasons, including the following:
1) I don't have a beef with ERV moderating her comments, actually, and no one should. If someone wants to cut off someone they consider a troll, it's their blog. Maybe said commenter should get their own blog (and in this case, I believe the commenter does). Shoot, I myself was notified of my being banned from an atheist blog just a few weeks ago. You don't see me crying about it, do you? Stuff happens.
2) ERV is not exactly a scholarly arena, so I didn't really see the relevance. ERV's reasoning is very often sloppy, she makes clumsy unsupported assertions when the whim strikes, and she links to irrelevant essays in answer to challenges, and she often stretches the limits of what can fairly be described as literacy in the English language, among other things (such as flipping Casey Luskin off when they dare ask her to step down off the mic - see further down). Further, I was recently told that some of her commenters are "practicing scientists", and at least one (Albatrossity) is a biology professor at a major state university in the Midwest, yet they can barely be troubled to engage elementary questions such as these or to answer other challenges closer to their fields of study/research with much more than invective and argumenta ad incredulum. Point is, Luskin could have easily found evidence of this kind of suppression over at Pharyngula or something else, plus (though it may seem difficult at first) even more outlandish and boorish behavior.
3) He seemed to be trying to throw a bone to OU students and/or take a swipe at a local Darwinian interest. I guess I can understand that, but as the extracurricular discussions afterwards showed, it's not like their side is all that skilled in arguing for their side anyway, which is not to say they're not good at childish insults.

Anyway, when Luskin's talk was complete, ERV got up first to take the first question. I wished I had jumped up there more quickly, but I was a little hesitant because I was obviously a sympathetic questioner rather than an opponent. The problem was that when ERV got up, she decided to make the entire question period about her and defending her actions on her blog. I wonder why bother, though? Was she unwilling to let her actions stand on their own? Was she desirous of taking up the entire time so that no more nefarious and evil ID information could be distributed to the hapless cultists of Trinity Baptist or the unwashed hoi polloi of the unconvinced that were there? Only God and ERV know. Once it became obvious that she wanted to dominate the entire Q&A session, of which time was obviously limited b/c the moderator had made it clear, the eminent BlackBlogger, who was standing directly behind ERV in line for the mic, decided to speak up. He asked, in order to be heard throughout the auditorium "Could we please let someone else ask a question?" The moderator also tried to intervene but was far too gentle, actually, to dissuade her, and she argued continually for around 90 more seconds, so that the talking ranged between Luskin's wanting to answer her challenge, ERV's insistence on more time to herself on the mic, the BlackBlogger's (and to a lesser extent, my) requests for her to step down, and the moderator becoming more and more stern. He finally did win out in the contest, but by no means did he, the BlackBlogger, or I ever "scream", as ERV would later put it.

As ERV returned to her seat, disgusted, my face was turned toward the stage, but after a wave of muttering, turned again to look at her, as Luskin said something like "Did she just flip me off? She did, she flipped me off. Well, OK." I don't know what else there is to say when such a high scholarly authority as ERV resorts to 3rd-grade expressions of disapproval. Luskin was mortally wounded, of course. Crowd opinion, which had been against her b/c of its high concentration of Trinity Baptist cultists and the skilled presentations by West and Luskin, was turned immediately! From then on, everyone was hostile to ID and clamored to join the nearest secular humanist and Darwinian campus organisation, so powerful was the rebuttal from ERV's single finger!

My turn was next, actually, and I prefaced my question by stating that I have been on her blog for a few weeks commenting and have not been moderated. ERV and her commenters have stated they consider that I acted honorably in this. I would agree and appreciate that statement, and at the same time I failed to mention pertinent information, and in this I regret that I unintentionally turned the tables on Luskin, who I thought had done a fine job. I should have said something more like, "I've been commenting on her blog for a couple of weeks and ERV has never moderated any of my comments. I have, however, been treated with gratuitous and fairly powerful derision, irrelevant and prejudicial insult, and abundant profanity while there." This would have been a fuller statement of the actual fact of my interaction there, and I apologise openly to Mr. Luskin for my less than fair statement, which served to obscure the actual issues at hand and to, as it were, throw him under the bus on account of a minor, peripheral part of his presentation which ERV hubristically inflated and in which inflation I unwittingly assisted.

After a few more unremarkable questions, we adjourned and security asked us to leave the building but that we could stand around outside the front door for awhile if we wished. My friends and I gathered there, and later ERV and a group of her friends arrived. I, not wishing to lose the opportunity to discuss, walked over to a few of them as they were discussing the Wedge document. I later had the opportunity to talk with Aseem, the President of the Center For Inquiry, and Scott, the VP. Both were very cordial, but neither equipped to deal with the questions we were asking. For example, I asked them to provide their strongest general line of evidence that the variety of life that we see today is best explained by unguided nat sel working on random mutations from one or a few common ancestors. Scott responded "the fossil record". I asked him about the arguments that Henry Gee has recently forwarded, to which he had no answer, and then explained the massive assumptions that must be brought to bear in the case of EACH AND EVERY fossil. It's not evidence at all. We discussed the nature of evidence, the impossibility that naturalism is true, and how we as Christians can know that other religions are false (ie, via internal critique). Aseem, for whatever reason, didn't stick around for the pummeling his worldview was taking, but Scott exhibited an astonishing (for a college-age Darwinian proponent) level of intellectual honesty and stuck around.

Meanwhile, the BlackBlogger (as he told me on the phone the next day) had asked one of ERV's friends, who apparently is a past President of the CFI, to define the steps of the scientific method, which had actually appeared on the screen during the presentations that night. Said gentlemen responded with "first you make a hypothesis, then you perform an experiment, then you submit it to a peer-reviewed journal". Wrong answer. The BlackBlogger rightly and patronisingly patted him on the shoulder with a "OK, maybe I should go find someone who knows what they're talking about", went to ERV and said something to the effect of "I think you should educate your betas about what the scientific method is". "Betas" meaning "beta males", as opposed to alpha males. Not a really nice thing to say, but that's sure how her posse looked to us, and I don't know too many who'd accuse ERV of excessive niceness. BB and ERV then began what looked to me to be a fairly heated antagonistic conversation, part of which she has apparently chronicled here (he's the "creationist law student" she refers to). Among other things, he asked her to name "the 5 amino acids". What he meant to request, and misspoke, was the 5 nucleotides. He also asked a few other fairly elementary (for a grad-level student in the sciences) questions. The reason for this was the astonishing ignorance of one of her fanboys about the basic scientific method; he had heard a little about ERV but found it hard to believe that she could actually be a real scientist, given her inability during the Q&A period to engage questions asked of her and her penchant rather to mock the speakers and defend her blogging. I later recommended that he *ask* such a person about their positions before engaging them, since you don't always know what you're going to get, and he agreed.

Overall, a good evening for ID and a just short of embarrassing performance on the part of campus Darwinians. One hopes for a more honest and better-equipped showing at the upcoming Dembski-Ruse debate.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The many witticisms of ERV

I am considering applying for a master's degree program in Communications and English. I already have a great idea for my thesis - to analyse the numerous examples of profound, stoically objective, and grammatically and orthographically flawless expressions of the blogger known as ERV. The raw material is staggering, given her paper trail. I will share with you a few examples of what I have to work with.

LOL eeeeeeeeeeew!


Its not about being right. It was never about being right. Its about winning. AAAAAAAAAAHAHAHA!

as much as I would love to throw up at the sight of dinosaur fossils molested by a filthy Creationist (please, baby jesus, let his 'fossils' be fake)



Boy, no wonder her comboxes are full of sycophantic tools! The withering barrage of rhetorical .50-caliber slugs of prosaic tours de force would be too much for any mere mortal to withstand.

Only sometimes

I find it ironic that on the one hand, atheists will tell you that while there is no grand Meaning in the universe, we can still enjoy our lives. We can still create our own meaning, for ourselves and by ourselves, generally within ourselves. This is simply another example of atheists believing in creating something out of nothing. Then many (though I doubt it's all) of the same atheists will then turn around and bemoan the large carbon footprint that a given human produces. Consider this quote from the TimesOnline of the soon-to-be United Kaliphate:

"Each baby born in Britain will, during his or her lifetime, burn carbon roughly equivalent to 2½ acres of old-growth oak woodland - an area the size of Trafalgar Square."

Let's say that humanity does 'succeed' in burning down all the pretty forests and 'ruining' all the lovely ecosystems that we'd otherwise enjoy as tourists, with the cool and rare animals, etc. Why not just create new meaning for ourselves out of burned-out wasteland? Is it that these people are just not as strong in the create-your-own-meaning Force? Maybe their midichlorian counts are low. "The Force is not strong with this one."

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I don't get $93,803 for no work

What a great story!

Summary - a Native American man sues the state, who employs him, for some kind of discrimination, gets transferred to another dept, and now draws $93K a year for doing literally nothing.
Let me say first off that I would love this situation. What is this guy, a complete idiot?
He says: "I don't know how I could get through the day without my iPod."

I do - get a master's degree! Get a seminary degree! Read through Calvin's Institutes, Schaff's History of the Christian Church, Plantinga's Warrant series! Spend an hour in the Bible and an hour in prayer every day! Go to night school, get a 2nd job, and catch up on sleep during the day job! Dang, the possibilities are nearly endless. And he has the gall to say: "Every day it's a struggle for me to bring in something I haven't read or listened to."
Awww, did he read through all the Dean Koontz and Dan Brown novels in the bookstore? Is he on his 15th listen-thru of the latest Justin Timberlake album? Sheesh.

It's so funny how the grass is always greener on the other side. This would be a dream "job" for me. If I were in that position, though, and I were chafing at the confinement, I'd make it a big public deal about my job. YouTube - a video of "The way I spend my time at work every day." A blog that I'd set up to make the same entry every day, to which I'd point all the time, just for the cheekiness and PR of it.

The article says: A member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe in Maine, he said he is being discriminated against because of his national origin and retaliated against for having sued the state.

You know, in the gud ol' days, them Injuns would know whut it is to be diskrmn...decrimina...oppressed because they'd be half-dead ever' night on account 'a' 18 hourz o' manyool labor.
Anyway, seriously, you're going to sue because the state pays you nearly 100 fazoozas a year to do nothing? And you're working for the state? What, you think you'd crack the 200G ceiling if you had an actual job where you actually work?

Hinton wants to be director of investigations for real investigating insurance fraud for the Insurance Fund. He said that responsibility was given to a GOP appointee, a white male, who is paid $140,800 a year, according to state records. Or, he said, he would be a good director of internal controls, a newly established job also given to a white male in October. The Insurance Fund is paying the newcomer $82,363.

So he could maybe get 140 a year, but he'd have to work. Or, he could get less money per year and have to work. Boy, does this guy have his priorities in order!

"He has nothing to do and has had nothing to do for the last two and a half years and what he had to do before that was relatively insignificant," said Obertubbesing. "It's an unfortunate situation."

All you working stiffs out there, like me, join me in a brief chorus: 'Lucky bum!'

Now, the irony meter spikes: He said Hinton thought things would improve when Eliot Spitzer became governor

Snicker, chortle, smirk. What a naïf.

"I'm ashamed of my situation. I'm embarrassed. Nobody cares. They don't care about Indians."

Presumably he has evidence of another "Indian" who is paid a medium-high salary by the state gov't to do nothing, which would add the plural "s" to "they don't care about Indians".
Seems to me they're treating him pretty darn well.