Tonight is the much anticipated debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye. Ham is a prominent Christian pastor with a background in applied science and is a young earth creationist. Nye is an atheist and a purveyor of children's television programs with a background in engineering.
Atheists of course are in a tizzy about the debate, because anyone who knows Ham and Nye understands that Ham will mop the floor with Nye. Nye is not a particularly bright or charismatic guy (redundancy alert: he's an atheist), and Ham is a very intelligent and accomplished communicator and pastor and who understands more about science than Nye ever will.
Unfortunately, many of my ID and Thomist friends have dissed Ham as well as Nye. I take a very different view.
I am not a young earth creationist. I differ with Ham on Biblical exegesis: I don't think that a true interpretation of Scripture requires belief in a young earth. I follow the mundane scientific evidence on the age of the earth, which indicates an earth that is five billion years old. I point out that Ham and I differ on interpretation of scripture more than we differ on science. Ham believes that proper interpretation of scripture requires a young earth, and he does his science accordingly. I believe that proper interpretation of scripture requires the prudent squaring of reason with revelation, and I do my science accordingly.
Yet Ham and I agree on so much. We both believe in God, believe that He created the Universe ex-nihilo, sustains it in existence moment by moment, created man, sent His Son to die for our sins, and so much more. Ham and I agree that Darwinists are lying morons and materialism is a mortal threat to our civilization. Ham and I agree that atheism is a disease of the soul even before it is a disease of the intellect.
So I politely point out to my ID and Thomist friends who take Ham to task: reality is not a true or false question; it is an essay question, and there's lots of partial credit.
Ham gets a 95% on the question of science and human origins, in my book. That's a damn good score.
You go, Ken! Wipe the floor with Nye. I'll be watching and enjoying.
I don't know who this Ham guy is but I don't expect a young earth creationist to carry the day because, duh, the earth is older than ten thousand years. Personally, I think Nye chose to debate a young earth creationist because it will be easy to defeat him. A much better debate would be whether Darwinian evolution is true or not, against someone other than Ken Ham.ReplyDelete
Dr. Egnor, reality may not be a true or false question, but the question of the age of the earth is. If you say ten thousand years, that's false.
I agree that the earth is not ten thousand years old. I think Ham is wrong about that.
I don't know anybody who agrees with me about everything. The "young earth" thing seems to make people nuts, for reasons that I don't get.
Ham is right about the things that really matter- God exists, creates, saves, etc. Goodness gracious, give the guy the credit he deserves.
There is nothing more wrong-- nothing dumber-- than the assertion that the universe has no cause, no purpose, there is no objective moral law, etc.
Ham is a freakin' Einstein compared to Nye.
Egnor: The "young earth" thing seems to make people nuts, for reasons that I don't get.Delete
Because it's demonstrably wrong, that's why.
"Everything came from nothing" is demonstrably wronger, Hoo.Delete
I keep things in perspective. There's no stupid like atheist stupid.
"Everything came from nothing" is a meaningless phrase that you keep using.Delete
The age of the earth is a well-defined scientific question.
The age of the Universe is a well-defined scientific question.
Common descent is a well-defined scientific question.
Global flood is a well-defined scientific question.
YECs are demonstrably wrong on all of them.
["Everything came from nothing" is a meaningless phrase that you keep using.]Delete
"Everything came from nothing" is your creation myth, Hoo.
Provide a quote where I said anything of the sort, you fraud. Or retract the claim.Delete
I give Bill Nye some credit on this one. Leftists are much more inclined to shut down debate than to engage in it. They usually pound the table and shout at the tops of their lungs, the science is settled! The debate is over! Then they get that self-satisfied grin on their face because they think they've proved their case.ReplyDelete
Nye didn't agree to the debate for any noble cause, in my view. He's trying to establish himself as a player in the "four horseman" game. He wants to be a famous atheist, and he thinks this will get him there.Delete
Atheists debate or don't debate Christians based on what's in it for them. Nye doesn't have much to lose-- no one takes him seriously anyway-- so he thinks it's worth the try.
I suspect he'll run into a buzz saw.
I also disagree that atheism is a disease of the soul or of the intellect. Atheists are just people who disagree with us. I think it's our duty to try to win them over, by gentle persuasion of course. But I know that I won't succeed with all of them and I don't perceive them to be >>diseased<< in any way.ReplyDelete
Think of atheists as souls to be won. Some may never see things from your point of view, but don't doubt the ability of God to open eyes. I was never an atheist but there was a time in my life when I didn't give a hoot about God and I didn't think He gave a hoot about me. I changed my mind at one point, when I decided that the God my parents had tried to teach me about might really want to guide me out of the mess I'd made for myself.
I recognize and endorse your open attitude to atheists, but I respectfully take a different tack.
Atheism isn't merely a disease-- it is the disease. Evil (disease) is the privation of Good, and God is Good. All evil stems from atheism, broadly understood as man's defiance of God.
As a matter of tactics, I think atheism is treated with far too much respect in our society. It deserves to be shredded without mercy.
Atheists deserve our charity and respect. Atheism deserves nothing but scorn.
It's hard to call something a disease and then say that those who have it are not diseased.Delete
What you're doing is not gentle persuasion. You're just insulting atheists. Maybe you're just giving your most honest opinion as an ex-atheist yourself, but from where I'm sitting the rhetoric seems over the top, counterproductive, and insulting.
Persuading by insult is usually the method of the Left. They don't like your beliefs so they mock you, hoping you will abandon your belief if you are teased enough. >>You hate science!<< is a favorite one.
No one really likes being called a science hater so, at some point, people decide to just shut up about their beliefs. No one's mind is really changed this way. They just get sick of paying the social penalty. They are shamed into silence not persuaded.
Your tactic is similar.
Your points are well taken. I've thought about it a lot, along the lines you have suggested.
First, dealing politely with serious error is certainly not a Biblical theme. From the Prophets to Paul to Peter to the Lord Himself, the godless and other serious sinners-- especially those luxuriating in the sin of pride-- are denounced in ways that make me seem like Mother Theresa. One certainly does not get the sense that tact and gentle correction of serious error is Biblical. Just the opposite.
Second, my immediate goal is not to convert atheists. I would love to do that, of course, but that is not a job I am engaged in here. In addition, the atheists with whom I am dealing are not mainstream atheists-- they're not polite thoughtful folks who are struggling with the question of God's existence (as I was and as most atheists are). This crowd is nasty, vindictive, full of hate (just consider some of troy's vile spew against Christians and the Church).
My goal is not to convert them, as wonderful as that would be. My goal is to provide other Christians and sincere seekers of God (who may be atheist in this stage of their lives) with sharp clear refutations of atheist propaganda and lies. I hope to provide ammunition to Christians in what will be a very nasty struggle with atheism in our country in the next generation or two.
I deal with atheists like I would have dealt with Nazis and Communists when they were a threat to our civilization. My goal is to defeat them and shred their ideology.
After that, when they have no influence and no answers, then we can talk nice.
And regarding your point that I could make more headway with unerring courtesy etc, I tried that early in my blogging career. I tried to avoid anything stronger than mild sarcasm, and the stream of hate I received was something I never imagined possible. The stuff that was said about me and to me on blog after blog was remarkably vile-- and that was when I was being nice.
The tougher I got, the more reluctant they were to fight. It isn't as much fun when the target hits back. I didn't hit back with the same nasty stuff done to me, but I hit back hard. A lot of them came to understand that if they want to have a public debate on these issues, they're going to take casualties. The stuff they say is stupid and vile, and it needs to be called out.
As I said, I'm not doing it to convert the feral atheists. They often seem to be sociopaths that there's not much I can do to help. I'm trying to strengthen Christians and people on the fence who may be swayed by the loudness and vigor (but not by the logic) of the atheist argument.
I have been very inspired by Christians who are willing to strip the bark off of idiot atheist arguments (Feser and David Hart come to mind), and I hope I can be of help to other Christians.
In addition, the atheists with whom I am dealing are not mainstream atheists-- they're not polite thoughtful folks who are struggling with the question of God's existence (as I was and as most atheists are). This crowd is nasty, vindictive, full of hate (just consider some of troy's vile spew against Christians and the Church).Delete
What makes you think most atheists are struggling with the question of God's existence? It's certainly not true for the atheists I know. Perhaps the atheists you know are lapsed Christians who suffer from severed ties with relatives and friends. Most of the atheists I know were raised non-religiously. Religious kids went to different schools and you hardly met them.
Some are certainly bilious. Don't be like them.Delete
The hardcore atheists who hate Christianity are a subset of atheists. When you say that atheism is a disease you allow for no such differentiation. They're all in the same boat.
How would you conduct this blog? I'm serious. What tack do you believe I should take?
I know that they can be bilious. I see it on this blog every day.Delete
I think I've made my point. Persuasion can be hard work but it's worth it.
When you use rhetoric like >>disease<< to describe atheism, atheists think you're calling them diseased, and that's not such a bad inference. That doesn't persuade them that you're right but it does hurt. People can have different reactions to being hurt but changing their mind isn't usually one of them.
Like I said, think of atheists as souls to be won. Win them by gentle persuasion and nothing more.
Egnor: So I politely point out to my ID and Thomist friends who take Ham to task: reality is not a true or false question; it is an essay question, and there's lots of partial credit.ReplyDelete
That's the ticket. Ham says that 2+2=7. Maybe it's not a wrong answer. Perhaps it's a different answer.
You cdesgin proponentsists are totally into new math and deconstruction.
Atheism: 2+2=tangerine unicorns, and if you don't agree, you're going to the gulag.
And speaking of intellectual freedom, wasn't Dembski brow-beaten by his Southern Baptist superiors into renouncing his views expressed in The End of Christianity? That's some academic freedom!Delete
Egnor: Ham gets a 95% on the question of science and human origins, in my book. That's a damn good score.ReplyDelete
That's a juicy sound bite. It illustrates how much of an ideologue you are.
YECs are totally, laughably off their rocker about pretty darn everything. They deny the Big Bang, general and special relativity. They think the Earth is 6,000 years old. The believe in Teh Global Flood. They deny common descent (and not just of man and apes).
And yet in Egnor's book they got 95 percent of science right. Uh-uh.
Atheists deny that the universe has a Cause.Delete
That's a F to start with.
I remind you that the great scientists of the Scientific Enlightenment-- Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Kepler were YEC's more or less, and even Faraday and Maxwell were uncommonly fervent evangelicals (I don't know their views on the age of the earth, but they held to a very traditionalist conservative theology.)
Modern science was created by YEC's, ace.
There is a vast difference between the great scientists of the past and current YECs.Delete
The former did not have the means to find out the age of the earth and of the Universe. They couldn't know better.
The latter have every means at their disposal to find out how old the earth and the Universe are. They choose the Bible over science.
Oh, and how forgetful of me. I forgot to list Pasteur, Mendel and Lister, who were Creationists.Delete
So that's: heliocentrism, discovery in inertia and planetary science, Newtonian physics, planetary orbits, the germ theory of disease, genetics, and surgical antisepsis, and that's just an incomplete list.
Not bad for "Creation Science", eh?
My argument is straight-forward.
Being right about the age of the earth is not a prerequisite for doing excellent science.
So is mine. Denying the glaringly obvious damages one's credibility.Delete
Well, I'm most definitely not a YEC, but I suspect Ham is a better debater than Nye. Ham has a lot of experience because he's been in the hot lights on this issue for quite some time. Nye, on the other hand, is a geeky version of Pee-Wee Herman. I'm sure he's a nice guy, and well-informed, but you don't get much serious debate experience hosting a kiddie show.ReplyDelete
And debates are not about being "right". A quick glance at the Term Card for the world's greatest debating venue, the venerable Oxford Union, shows "This House believes Putin has been good for Russia" scheduled for Thursday. That is not a true or false question.
The value of this debate is not to "settle the question". Even if one of the debaters were perfectly correct, we'd never know for sure. The purpose is to let each side show its colors. And atheists almost always lose these debates because they, when challenged by a skilled opponent on the debate floor, resort to cheap ad hominem attacks, distractions, circular reasoning, and setting up strawmen. And on that basis, they lose.
I agree. I think that Nye will be a catastrophe for atheists. Ham is a much more capable guy than atheists realize.
But then again, I thought that Peyton Manning was going to pick the Seattle defense apart...
And then again, you confidently predicted a win for the Republicans in the 2012 elections.Delete
1 billion creationists cannot possibly be wrong.
And you declared a resounding victory for President Jeebus McLightworker when the government "shutdown" ended and the brilliant rollout of Obamacare was set in stone.Delete
President Barack Obama's job approval rating has sunk to the lowest levels of his presidency in a dramatic reversal of the commanding lead he held over Republicans in the wake of his re-election victory of just a year ago, a new poll has found.
--- WaPo (12/13/13)
Grandpa: The value of this debate is not to "settle the question". Even if one of the debaters were perfectly correct, we'd never know for sure.Delete
Right. We can't be 100 percent sure that the earth is 5 billion years old. It's possible that it was created last Thursday and all of our memories have been planted by the creator.
That's the ticket, Gramps. You go, girl.
You believe that the universe has no cause. So why does it have to have an age?
You believe that everything can just pop into existence without reason or logic of any sort.
Hoots: "We can't be 100 percent sure that the earth is 5 billion years old. It's possible that it was created last Thursday and all of our memories have been planted by the creator."Delete
As I said earlier, they resort to "resort to [...] setting up strawmen"
Thanks for your cooperation.
So you don't like last Thursdayism, Grandpa? That's what YEC boils down to. They literally believe that the world is 6,000 years old and that the light coming from distant stars is an illusion.Delete
Go and fuck yourself. Or your ugly wife.Delete
So you don't like the denial of Principle of Sufficient Reason, Hooter? That's what atheism boils down to. You literally believe that the world came from nothing and that the light coming from distant stars just happens for no reason.
There's stupid, and there's STUPID.
[Go and fuck yourself. Or your ugly wife.]
Looks like I hit a nerve. Heh.
You did hit a nerve. You ascribed to me views I don't hold. I consider that offensive.Delete
Does the universe have a cause?
I have responded to that.Delete
OT: "I follow the mundane scientific evidence on the age of the earth, which indicates an earth that is five billion years old."ReplyDelete
"Ham believes that proper interpretation of scripture requires a young earth, and he does his science accordingly. I believe that proper interpretation of scripture requires the prudent squaring of reason with revelation, and I do my science accordingly."
I'm a YEC by default. Like Ham, I believe that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, inerrent Word of God. Therefore, scientific findings either have to square with the Bible, or something is incomplete with either the findings or my understanding of what God has told us through the Bible. That's my starting axiom. Everyone has to start with a axiom. So far, my axiom has served me rather well. I see no need to cast it aside just because others believe in some other starting point.
When I look at the reasons people believe the earth is way old, versus what science actually tells us in observations and measurements, I don't see any evidence that can't be interpreted just as well with Biblical eyes as with the tradition of men's eyes. As the old saying goes: "If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!" Scientific findings says the glove don't fit. That's all Ham has to get across to win the debate.
You make an excellent point. The difference between YEC and old earth creationism (eg me) is one of theology, not really primarily a difference of science. We interpret the Bible differently.
If I believed in the literalist interpretation of the Bible, I'd be a YEC also. And if YEC's believed in a metaphorical interpretation of the Bible, they'd be Old Earth Creationists like me.
Our differences are theological, not primarily scientific.
And the reverse is true: the similarities are ideological, not primarily scientific. Both YECs and OECs deny science because they adhere to their religion.Delete
Hoots Toots: "OECs deny science because they adhere to their religion."Delete
First, I'm unconvinced there is a "they". Most people familiar with the subject acknowledge there are a number of religious and scientific viewpoints under the OEC umbrella.
But assuming you can identify a "they", what science, specifically, do "they" deny?
Even your Discovery Institute colleagues threw Ken Ham under the bus.
Klinghoffer wrote: "More seriously, I would like the world to get a good look at a genuine creationist: what he says, how he argues, what questions animate him. It's been among the more dishonest tactics of ID's critics to paint intelligent design as just another shade of "creationism." The more people watch Ham debate Nye, the better they will be able to appreciate the stark contrast between advocates of intelligent design and those of creationism."
Meyers said: "It would be really terrific if the proponents of the mainstream Darwinian view of origins engaged some of the other critics of their theory, who see evidence of design in nature but are not biblical fundamentalists."
You are alone defending Ham as an intellectual. It's not a battle you can win. Ham is the opposite of an intellectual. He is a fraud.
Ham has a couple of hundred million defenders (the American public).Delete
I disagree with my DI friends on this. I agree with their scientific views, but I play no part in fratricide. I respect YEC's immensely, because they are right about What's important. The age of the earth-- well, we'll laugh about it at the banquet in the next life.
Does the universe have a cause?
How the hell can I answer that question without fingering a specific cause? We don't know much about the birth of the Universe.ReplyDelete
You have a creation myth and you believe it. I don't have one.
So you are asserting that the universe doesn't necessarily have a cause?
I am asserting that I have not a foggiest idea about the origin of the Universe.ReplyDelete
Part of the difficulty with this question is that causality implies a temporal relationship. Cause A precedes effect B in time. There was no time "before" the origin of the Universe, so it's not even clear to me how one can speak of causation outside of time.
You can speculate about God being outside of time and causing the Universe to originate, but you have no idea what this means.
Causality does not imply a temporal relationship.ReplyDelete
In a series of accidental causes, there is a temporal relationship. (Grandfather begats father begats son...)
In a series of essential causes, there is not necessarily a temporal relationship. (in a stack of books, the position of the book at the top is caused by the books below it, which are below it simultaneously)
Final cause involves causes that are in the future.
Causality involving a cause that temporally precedes the effect is only one kind of cause. There are others.
My question was simple: do you assert that the universe does not necessarily have a cause?
You have a rather nonstandard view of causality. Maybe it was in vogue in the times of Aquinas, but it isn't now.ReplyDelete
The standard view in metaphysics (and the only one in physics) is that causality is temporal. That there will be a stack of books on my desk in the future in no way causes the one book on the desk now to levitate.
Causation by accidental and essential causal chains is elementary metaphysics, no less accepted today than in Aristotle's time.ReplyDelete
Final causation retains a central and respectable place in metaphysics today.
And physics most definitely embraces non-temporal causality, as demonstrated by quantum entanglement in which widely separated particles can take non-deterministic values without regard to relativistic constraints, which inherently places quantum entanglement outside of temporality.
You are making a very basic error, Michael. Quantum entanglement is an example of correlation, which, as we all know, does not equate with causation.ReplyDelete
To see how badly you are mistaken, consider a spin-0 state of two distant electrons (one in Alice's lab, the other in Bob's), a classic example of quantum entanglement.
If Alice and Bob simultaneously measure the projections of spins of their electrons onto the same axis, they will obtain random, but perfectly anticorrelated values. If Alice measures +1/2, Bob measures −1/2, and vice versa.
Is the result of Bob's measurement caused by Alice's? No. The situation is entirely symmetric. If B were caused by A, by symmetry A would be caused by B. That would be nonsense!
Instead we say that the two measurements are correlated with one another, but not caused by one another.
M.Egnor: "So I politely point out to my ID and Thomist friends who take Ham to task: reality is not a true or false question; it is an essay question, and there's lots of partial credit."ReplyDelete
It seems that the reason most non-YECs have such an opposite, hostile-and-unreasoning attitude toward YECs is because they, the anti-YECs, are just as caught up in scientism as the typical so-called atheist is.
Modern science does not concern itself with truth, and does not even contain the tools to distinguish truth from non-truth.ReplyDelete
Persons who will not understand that fact, and will not understand what it means, always end up shilling for scientism.
You're right. Scientism is very much a problem, not only for atheists, but for many Christians as well. I think that it has influenced some of the Thomist rejection of ID.
But I am not a YEC because I don't think the Bible should be interpreted that way. And that is the traditional view of the Church for a couple of millennia. YEC is a relatively new phenomenon, one which I respect, but it is not my view.
But then, you're not running around saying, "YECs are stupid, ignorant (possibly anti-Christian) hicks ... who give me a bad name with the Christ-haters ... because 'Science!'"Delete
You know what I'm talking about, and you're evading it. With collapse of the waveform at the moment of measurement, separated entangled particles have properties that are caused by the measurement but that are acquired without relativistic time intervals.ReplyDelete
That kind of causation is extra-temporal.
I do know what you are talking about, Michael, but what you are saying makes little sense. :)ReplyDelete
The collapse of the wavefunction is not a real thing because it concerns the wavefunction, which is not a physically meaningful quantity. The wavefunction cannot be measured, so its collapse happens in our heads, not in real life. Our description of the physical world relies on notions that are themselves unphysical. Predictions that come out at the end of a calculation concern physical, measurable quantities. The wavefunction itself is unphysical and its collapse is inconsequential.
Let's connect this to our Gedankenexperiment with Alice and Bob. They both measure the state of the spin. Which one of them causes the collapse of the wavefunction at the other end? Alice's measurement causes the collapse of the wavefunction of Bob's electron? Bob's measurement causes the collapse of the wavefunction of Alice's electron? It cannot be both. A cannot be cause of B if B is also cause of A. That's really what you are trying to suggest here.
Alice's and Bob's measurements exhibit a correlation, but they do not causally influence one another. You can't say that Bob's measurement is up because Alice's is down. It's a completely symmetric situation. You might as well say that Alice's measurement is down because Bob's is up. And you can't have both. :)
I'm referring to Bell's Theorem an the experiments of Aspect and others. Entangled particles have properties that are caused by the measurement of one particle that causes the entangled property to manifest in the entangled particle "instantaneously", regardless of the distance between the two particles. The concept of "causation in time" is meaningless with instantaneous appearance of a property in an entangled particle.ReplyDelete
I am talking about that very thing, Michael. I don't think you understand the topic well enough.ReplyDelete
I have explained why your suggestion that the measurement of one particle causes the entangled property to manifest in the entangled particle "instantaneously" is nonsense. In my example, both particles are measured at the same time. Which one causes the collapse of the other's wavefunction? The question cannot be answered either way.
The paradox illustrates that entanglement is an example of quantum correlations and not of causation.
You've read this a third time now, but I suspect that you still don't get my point. :)
M.Egnor: "How would you conduct this blog? I'm serious. What tack do you believe I should take?"ReplyDelete
JQ is either:
1) an atheist, trying to play the false "Jesus was a door-mat" card, with its corollary, "Therefore, you Christians have to be 'nice' and let those who want nothing but your extinction lie to your faces";
2) a 'dhimmi' to the atheists, someone suffering 'Stockholm Symdrome' with respect to atheism and atheists;
3) a "nice" person who imagines she is thereby a Christian -- and who has never actually read the Bible and thus has no idea what Jesus was really like, has no idea how God really deals with liars and hypocrites -- and who is going to throw a royal shit-fit whenever she encounters another person who claims the name of Christ but who isn't as "nice" as she is.