Medium, Message, and Intelligent Design

One of the topics creationists like to bring up is the idea that DNA molecules constitute some kind of “message” which we can use as the basis for concluding that intelligence was involved in its invention. We could, of course, point out that analogies between DNA and “words” are just that—analogies. We can use analogies to help our limited minds grasp the complexities involved, but in the end, saying that DNA is “like” a string of words only tells us how we perceive DNA, not necessarily anything about DNA’s origin. And if we think about what a message is, and what distinguishes a message from a natural configuration, we can demonstrate that there is an even better reason for rejecting the “DNA=words” argument.

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How to not learn from experience: the blame shifting game

Here’s an article at townhall.com that gives a good example of how you can avoid learning from your mistakes by shifting the blame for your failures onto someone or something else. Frank Pastore is interviewing Frank Wright (president of the National Association of Religious Broadcasters) on the subject of the “Evangelical Manifesto.” Wright gives us some background on the document.

50, 60 years ago the term “fundamentalist” in our cultures wasn’t a bad term. It described those people who were committed to the fundamental teaching of scripture, the fundamental articles of faith, the means of grace. “Fundamentalist” was once upon a time a good thing. Over time the culture sort of decomposed or destroyed that word, and gave it a very pejorative meaning.

Ah yes, “the culture” gave fundamentalism a bad name. It’s all their fault, right? Well, not exactly. Fundamentalists worked hard to give fundamentalism its eventual reputation by repeatedly associating the term with their own behavior, which was stereotypically intolerant, self-righteous, and invasive of other people’s rights and freedoms. It got so bad that even fundamentalists were ashamed to be associated with the term any longer. Rather than changing their behavior, however, they decided to blame the label, and to look for a new one. Hmm, that’ll work, right?

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XFiles Friday: Would a good book help?

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 8 )

One by one, Geisler and Turek have been dealing out the cards from their stacked deck in order to give themselves a hand that will allow them to declare that the Bible (and not any other Scripture) is a communication from God. Before we move on to the question of miracles (which G&T have cast in the role of “God’s Seal” on the Bible), I’d like to take a more in-depth look at the conclusion they reached last week:

Written language is a precise medium of communication that can easily be duplicated and passed on to succeeding generations, yet it also can be easily ignored by those who freely decide that they don’t want to be bothered with God.

So a book would work as a valid but not overpowering means of communication from God.

That’s the theory, anyway. In practice, a holy book would work as a subjective and superstitious means of communicating with a sock-puppet deity of one’s own imagining.

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Inspirational advertising

So I’m driving in to work this morning, and I pass by this church, and on the sign out front it says “God is like Alka-Seltzer: try Him, you’ll like Him.” And my first thought is, “Wait, that’s not right. ‘Try it, you’ll like it’ isn’t the Alka-Seltzer slogan.” But then I remember The Commercial. It was pretty popular a few years back (ok, maybe a few decades back), and it went something like this:

…So he says to me, “Try it, you’ll like it.” I says, “No thank you, I don’t wanna try it.”

So he says to me, “Try it, you’ll like it!” I says, “No thank you, I don’t wanna try it.”

So he says to me, “TRY it, you’ll LIKE it!” So I tried it.

I didn’t like it. It gave me acid indigestion and heartburn.

Yep, that’s God all right.

 
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Witches terrorize Christians in CAR

Mission Network News is reporting that Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) are being terrorized by witches.

Area witches reportedly have the power to kill and cause tremendous physical suffering, besides terrorizing the community. The government routinely imprisons accused witches, but prison walls cannot contain their power.

Witchcraft is common in the Central African Republic. According to the CIA, 25% of the population is Protestant and 25% is Roman Catholic, but the Christian population is heavily influenced by animistic religion.

Local officials have responded to this threat by “saturating” the region with the JESUS film, a particularly potent voodoo that has, in many cases, suppressed the free will of the witches to the point that they’ve magically transformed into Christians. Meanwhile, the government continues to imprison witches—in jails, not movie theatres. Because if you… I mean, when they… I mean, well heck, I don’t know why.

 
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TIA Tuesday: Natural wonders

When I was a teen, one of my chores was carrying the garbage cans down to the curbside every Tuesday and Friday so the trash collectors could pick it up. I’m not sure why I’m reminded of that when it’s time for another TIA Tuesday, but it’s probably just a coincidence. For today’s installment, we rejoin Vox Day as he attempts to prove that Richard Dawkins is wrong—wrong, I tell you—to suggest the opinion that Keats “might have been an even better poet if he had gone to science for some of his inspiration.”

Of course, this speculation is as improbable as it is untestable, given the centuries of evidence demonstrating that science is totally incapable of providing the inspiration for passable poetry, much less the sort of great art that religion has reliably inspired for millennia.

Well, ok, it’s true that, say, the ancient Greek myths have inspired more poetry, sculpture, and art than quantum physics has. And this proves…?

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The Undeniable Fact and its Inescapable Consequence

Vox Day has a question for atheists:

What is your primary reason or argument for asserting the nonexistence of God? Blackblade, for example, once mentioned the inferior design of the human body as being one reason for his doubts, which is a subject of some interest to me. I’m just curious about those that are outside of the eight general ones I addressed in TIA.

Technically speaking, I’m a pantheistic realist, but since my God is Reality itself, perhaps that’s close enough to atheism to make my response relevant. As a former Christian actively involved in studying, practicing, and sharing the Christian faith, I have given a great deal of thought to the question of what the evidence tells us about God. My conclusions can be stated in terms of one Undeniable Fact and its Inescapable Consequence, as understood in light of the fundamental principle that truth is consistent with itself.

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Southern Baptists object to equal rights

It’s Memorial Day here in the USA, a day when we honor those who died defending American freedoms. Sadly, a number of Christian groups are spending this holiday looking for ways they can exploit the democratic process in order to deny some Americans equal protection of their right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” just because they’re gay.

For example, here’s a story about a group of Southern Baptists trying to get the Southern Baptist Convention to officially condemn the state of California for granting gays students equal protection and equal access to the states educational resources:

A group of Southern Baptists are lining up behind a resolution condemning the California school system for what they claim is a recent “tolerance” campaign that blatantly endorses homosexuality.

The resolution, authored by Dr. Voddie Baucham, Jr., a preacher and lecturer in the Southern Baptist denomination, and Bruce N. Shortt, author of The Harsh Truth About Public Schools, is a response to the recent enactment of California Senate Bill 777.

Baucham and Shortt claim that SB 777 indoctrinates students “to believe that the homosexual, bisexual, and other sexually deviant lifestyles are normal, acceptable, and the moral equivalent of biblical heterosexuality.”

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Colson on gay marriage

Old news by now, but I thought it might be interesting to take a look at Chuck Colson’s reaction to the gay marriage verdict in California.

While the founders of this country wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men were created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” they never would have intended or imagined that those noble words would be used to support something like gay “marriage.”

Or like the Emancipation Proclamation, for that matter. And that’s just two of the ways we’ve progressed beyond the limits of 18th century society.

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XFiles Friday: Free will is inevitable.

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 8 )

When we left off last week, Geisler and Turek were saying,

[S]ince we know beyond reasonable doubt that God exists and that he has…characteristics that include design, purpose, justice and love…then we should expect him to reveal more of himself and his purpose for our lives. This would require that he communicate with us.

The fundamental and obvious problem is that God does not, in fact, show up in real life, as each of us can verify by direct observation. We hear rumors and hearsay and exaggerated claims—from other people—but we never observe God Himself putting in an appearance, holding a press conference, being interviewed on CNN, etc. The communication we need, that we ought to expect, and that by rights God ought to be eager to supply, does not happen. Quite a serious problem, and Geisler and Turek have no choice but to appeal to that fount of infallible wisdom…C. S. Lewis.

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