TIA Tuesday: Dawkins on morality, theocracy, and psychological abuse.

Last time we saw how Vox Day tried to take a gross failure to understand Dawkins’s point and use it as ammunition against Dawkins. His succeeding two arguments are even more superficial and shoddy, to the point that one gets the impression he’s anxious to finish this part and get it over with as quickly as possible. He makes only passing references to “Dawkins said so-and-so,” and gives out isolated quotes, which in typical Vox fashion, he deals with by assuming that Dawkins must have meant whatever peculiar straw-man interpretation suits Vox’s purposes at the moment. But then we get to point number four and the much more interesting topic of morality. He begins, once again, with some slanted statistics.

It has been established that Christians give three times more to charity and are less criminal than the broad spectrum of atheists; experiments at the Economic Science Laboratory suggest that this might be because they believe that their actions are known to God. In variations on an envelope experiment designed to test random charity on the part of a subject who was given ten dollars as well as the opportunity to share it anonymously, the knowledge that the experimenter was watching increased the subject’s likelihood of giving by 142 percent and the amount given by 146 percent.

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XFiles Friday: Sneaky summary

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 7)

I was going to move on to Chapter 8 this week, but I noticed a couple interesting things going on the the chapter summary that make it worth a little extra attention. In particular, Geisler and Turek use the summary to introduce new material, not previously discussed. As we shall see however, the new material fares no better than the bankrupt and superstitious morality that G&T did discuss in Chapter 7.

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XFiles Friday: Taking sides

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 7)

Mainstream scientists are working in many fields to improve our lives by finding practical applications for evolutionary theory, such as finding ways of increasing crop yields and disease resistance, developing new antibiotics, understanding genetic disorders, and so on. With so many highly-trained, experienced, and successful scientists to choose from, who do Geisler and Turek turn to as their preferred authority on the practical application of evolutionary theory? A biologist? A medical researcher? Someone who is, at the very least, a scientist?

Adolf Hitler used Darwin’s theory as philosophical justification for the Holocaust. In his 1924 book Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”), he wrote:

If nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such cases all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.

But such a preservation goes hand-in-hand with the inexorable law that it is the strongest and the best who must triumph and that they have the right to endure. He who would live must fight. He who does not wish to fight in this world, where permanent struggle is the law of life, has not the right to exist.

That’s right: with all the most brilliant minds of the past two centuries to choose from, Geisler and Turek choose Adolph Hitler, a non-scientist, as their preferred authority on the true meaning and application of evolutionary theory.

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XFiles Friday: What Apologists Don’t Know About Morality

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 7)

Having misunderstood, denied, distorted, and outright lied about the scientific evidence that something (or somethings) somewhere might somehow have done something no one saw that might in some way have resembled Genesis, Geisler and Turek are now ready to turn their attention to the question of morality, and how it can be exploited as a possible argument for the existence of some kind of deity.

[T]here is a prescription to do good that has been given to all of humanity.

Some call this moral prescription “conscience”; others call it “Natural Law”; still others (like our Founding Fathers) refer to it as “Nature’s Law.” We refer to it as “The Moral Law.” But whatever you call it, the fact that a moral standard has been prescribed on the minds of all human beings points to a Moral Law Prescriber. Every prescription has a prescriber. The Moral Law is no different. Someone must have given us these moral obligations.

This, obviously, is the superstitious approach to morality. We observe that morality exists, and instead of exploring the real-world factors that produce it, so as to better understand where it really comes from, we simply ascribe it to some magical, unobserved Moral Law Prescriber. Let’s contrast this approach with a more reality-based explanation of where morality comes from.

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TIA: Deeper into the conspiracy

Who are the Enlightenmenati, and what do they really want? As we continue in Chapter 4 of The Irrational Atheist, we see that these insidious infiltrators are not content with parasitizing America’s Christian moral values. They’re out to take over the world!

Based solely on their theoretical reasoning, the New Atheists declare that it should be the goal of all scientists, indeed, all rational thinkers, to bring peace and harmony to the world of men. They don’t declare this in a succinct or straightforward manner, they don’t even lay out their case in a coherent manner, but this is the only conclusion that can rationally be derived from their cumulative premises, logic, and stated goals. It is unclear why none of them are able to come out and state this clearly, but there are a number of possible explanations.

Three guesses whether any of these “possible explanations” acknowledge any kind of intelligence or competence on the part of the New Atheists.

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The abortion threshold

I was listening to Dobson’s “Focus on the Family” broadcast again, and this time he had a pre-recorded speaker (whose name I did not catch) making a–surprise!—evidence-based argument for the pro-life position. He was a lively and interesting speaker, and he raised some non-trivial arguments against abortion that I think are worth a discussion. His basic approach, couched in the form of an argument he once had on a plane, revolves around four points which he reduced to the acronym SLED. According to this fellow, “there are only four differences between a newborn and a fetus: Size, Level of development, Emergence from the womb (i.e. birth), and Degree of dependency. Do any of these give us a reason to say that the fetus is not a person?”

He then proceded to argue that, for example, size should not matter. After all, are the lives of tall people worth more than the lives of short people? Are tall people “persons” to a greater degree than short people are? What about level of development? Is a 24-year-old more human than a 14-year-old? or a 12-year-old than a 2-year old? Teenagers are not quite fully developed yet, let alone younger children. Does that make their lives less worthy than the lives of older, more developed folks? What about birth? Where you are doesn’t change who you are. Why would moving six inches down the birth canal transform you into a human being from…uh, whatever you were before? And what about level of dependency? Are diabetics less human because they depend on medication and/or insulin to stay alive?

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You want hypocrisy?

In an article reprinted from Prison Fellowship’s “Breakpoint” rag, Mark Earley does what he can to help satisfy global demand for hypocrisy.

With all the attention the atheist agenda is receiving, doesn’t it seem strange that most Americans find heroes among those who reflect a biblical worldview?

Those who reflect a biblical worldview, eh? Tell us more!

Earlier in 2007, CNN began polling people for a list of their heroes. As the results began rolling in, it became apparent that the frontrunners had something in common. Whether or not they professed belief in God, they all lived their lives in a way that would not make sense if He did not exist. [Emph. added]

You read that right. Earley is giving Christianity credit for the heroic deeds done by people who weren’t necessarily even Christian. Oh, sure, he would have liked to claim that the heroes were all Christians, and that non-Christians don’t have what it takes to be heroes. But the facts stubbornly refuse to back him up on that one. No matter, he’ll just “name it and claim it” for God anyway, by claiming that heroic behavior “would not make sense” unless God really exists.

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Horvath responds

Ah, it seems Mr. Horvath has taken an interest in this discussion after all.

Herr Professor has redeemed himself slightly in my eyes in his latest reply to one of my posts. He follows my blog very closely so no doubt he will discover this response to his so just a word of reminder to you, sir, that I do not use my blog for discussion and debate. Still, I think his post represents a good faith attempt to answer my question so I shall reply.

Ok, point noted: his blog is not for discussion and debate. Shall we proceed?

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Another believer carries out his programming

As predicted, the school shooting in Finland is producing robotic knee-jerks from believers. Heres one from the PaleoBlog:

“I’m a natural selector and will eliminate all those I see as unfit,” Sturmgeist89 wrote on You Tube recently.That’s Darwinism in a nutshell.

No, that’s the perverted Darwinism you get from a nut, with or without his shell. What is it with Christians and their sources of authority anyway? If you want to know what that lumpy dark thing growing on your arm is, do you go to a dermatologist to find out what he thinks, or do you go to the psych ward to find out what the patients think? If your car is making a funny noise, do you take it to a mechanic or a maniac? Let a legitimate scientist try to explain what evolution does and does not mean, and the faithful will just stare blankly. Let a psychopathic killer express some twisted misapplication of evolutionary theory, and they leap from their baths and run naked down the street crying “Eureka!!”

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One last note on the Manawatu Christian Apologetics Society

There was one point at the end of Mr. Admin’s last comment. It was a change of subject, so I’m putting it in a separate post, but I think it would be fun to respond to.

Returning finally to science — I note you didn’t answer or even engage with my points about science having no answers to the origin of life, or the universe, or morality, or human rights. This is why I am an ex-atheist — because atheism is bankrupt; it provides no answers.

He’s partially right. Biology and genetics, like mathematics, meteorology, chemistry, and other branches of natural science, do not provide moral guidance. Math, for example, will tell you how to add up the numbers on your tax forms, but math alone cannot make any recommendations as to whether or not you ought to cheat on your taxes. If you do decide to cheat, math will give you the knowledge you need in order to manufacture a set of numbers that adds up to the total you pick, but it won’t complain about your decision to do so. I guess in Mr. Admin’s book, that means that math is bankrupt and provides no answers, and ought to be abandoned by people of conscience. I wonder if his chequebook balances at the end of the month?

He’s wrong, of course, about science having no answers about the origin of life and of the cosmos. It’s not that science has no answers, it’s that science’s answers are currently incomplete and significant questions remain. Like so many other creationists, Mr. Admin sees the existence of the question as being proof that there is no answer. He does not (or cannot) see an open question as an opportunity to explore and investigate and find new answers that we didn’t know before. It’s a typical conservative Christian objection, and it’s worth mentioning as a real-life example of how Christianity promotes a mental environment that is hostile to scientific advancement.

 
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