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  • OMG SOMEONE ALWAYS HAS TO BE RIGHT

    Posted on April 26th, 2008 theath2 No comments

    I realized a while ago that if you argue in the context of a specific religion, you’re conceding a lot that can’t be compensated. If you stop arguing for the existence of a god and start debating a specific god – say, Jesus – you’re done. The other guy, granted he has an efficient handle of logic, will argue you into a corner, because you’ve conceded so much.

    The same goes for arguing in the context of science. If you try to prove a god’s existence in science, you have to play by the same rules as everybody else. This means following the scientific method. This means that claims must be testable, and falsifiable (intelligent design is *not* science).

    If you want to argue for a god, it’s also important to avoid arguments from final consequences (e.g.: Hitler believed in non-natural selection because he bought into Darwin’s ideas, therefore Darwin is bad; “I believed in God and I came into money!”).

    Anyways, here’s a list of common arguments, taken from blogs around the internets, against scientific theories (note, please, that “theory” doesn’t mean “just an idea,” but actually means more like “shown to provide answers that are verifiable and has no obvious flaws”):

    1. First law of thermodynamics (matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed): First off, let’s not get sidetracked here by semantics between “law” and “theory.” As far as science is concerned, they’re the same. “Theory of gravity” and “law of gravity” mean the same thing. Second, this is an argument from ignorance. Nobody knows how matter came to be, but that doesn’t necessitate that a god did it. It could have just as easily been a gigantic Logitech Harmony Remote. We wouldn’t know a difference. See? Arguments from ignorance provide no value to a debate. [1]
    2. Second law of thermodynamics (depending on how you learned it, either “you can’t break event” or “energy is lost and is unrecoverable from any reaction”): This is used to claim that nothing more complex can come from something less complex. It also requires a closed system of life on the Earth – which it isn’t. We have energy coming from external sources, and send energy to other sources. If we’re to take the law and apply it how this argument is applied, it’s impossible for a person to grow out of an embryo. [1]
    3. There is no anecdotal proof of evolution: This is an interesting argument, since requiring a tangible proof of evolution would require in several cases *lots* of time, but lucky us, we indeed *do* have a few cases (yay!). First, there’s the case of bacteria adapting to antibiotics. That’s a case on a small level, where organisms can adapt quickly over relatively short periods of time. Another more appreciable example of evolution can be found here, where a lizard’s digestive system changes significantly in under 30 years in response to a new environment.
    4. There are no transitional fossils: It’s absurd that this argument is still circulated, but it’s found on nearly every creationist page. There’s 2 problems with this claim. First, it’s a moving goal post. Every time a transitional fossil is found, creationists can just ask for the fossils in the middle of those two transitions. This can go on ad nauseam. Second, there *are* transitional fossil records. For a more detailed answer, check here.
    5. Darwinism couldn’t possible create complicated life as we know it: This is a little bit of an annoying argument, because it clearly causes changes over time, but it also makes the error of equating natural selection (aka “Darwinism”) to evolution. There are several mechanisms by which evolution occurs. To mention a few (not all): genetic drift, genetic variation and kin selection. None of those require that a species be better equipped to reproduce; it just demonstrates ways that gene pools can change and (tongue-in-cheek:) evolve over time.

    Further, evolution is an entirely falsifiable theory that makes predictions. A great article that talks about predictions of evolution can be found here. Further, evolution is entirely disprovable. If you find a goat or rabbit fossil in the Precambrian, evolution is wrong. There’s no other explanation to it. The theory is busted. It would be wrong to say that evolution is true *because* there have been no current animal fossils found from the Precambrian (hello, argument from ignorance!), and accordingly the reason scientists agree that evolution is true hinges more on current testable claims (e.g., that we will find more transitional fossils, that homologous features won’t be found in animals that don’t share a common ancestor).

    Now, notice how many metaphysical arguments I had here? None. That’s a whole different burrito, where things like social influence and morality can be brought into question. Metaphysics, I think, better determines if something should be believed/acted upon, instead of whether or not it is true. That’s an entirely different issue. I’d be stupid if I denied that believing in a god and praying hasn’t helped people in the past by realigning their values and such.

    I’m just not one of them.

    *I actually provided most references immediately next to their use, but this one didn’t fit well.
    [1] Four Bad Arguments Against Evolution

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