Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Richard Dawkins at KU, Part 1: Evening Lecture


Before I discuss Dawkins or his presentation, let me start by saying that, going into this, I was in no way a fan of Dawkins. I staunchly agreed with Ken Miller that science is silent in the areas of religion and that trying to twist science to comment on religion was an abuse of the powers and limitations of science. I absolutely still hold this position and in no way think that science disproves God. Thus, I was inclined to disagree with many of Dawkins’ underlying principles as I understood them.

So for those intending to read this assuming I am predisposed to support Dawkins as some sort of idol, I will say forthwith that you are sadly mistaken. However, I doubt that this warning will stop those predisposed to making such claims from doing so. After all, Judge Jones’ records and political affiliations have never stopped them from branding him an activist judge. But I have no interest in the opinions of such people as make their opinions in spite of the facts.

As has become usual, I intend to break this summary of Dawkins’ time at KU into several parts. The first, I expect, shall be the summary of his presentation with as little commentary as possible, followed when I have the time, by my summary of the Q&A session from the evening. Next should be a summary of his morning Q&A session, and lastly, my opinions on both.

Dawkins’ talk began with a reference to one of creationists favourite analogies that attempts to disprove evolution. This is, of course, Fred Hoyle’s famous quote about the likelihood of evolving humans randomly is like a tornado sweeping through a junkyard and assembling a 747.

But, he pointed out, this analogy is only used by those who have no clue how evolution really works. In reality, God is the ultimate 747 in that the likelihood of God existing is amazingly improbable.

This tactic of asking loaded questions with pithy catch phrases, he says, is the standard for Creationists. Evolutionists are frequently told to explain “information” or hounded with phrases like “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Yet, despite uninformed critiques, evolution through random mutations and natural selection is the only known theory that actually works.

God, meanwhile, is the ultimate free lunch.

Yet it’s held that God is somehow the natural alternative to chance. But natural selection is better. Claiming that the imagined failures of evolution supports creationism is the illogic of default. To illustrate this, Dawkins gave the basic formula that those in support of ID and creationism follow in this regard:

1. We have theories A and B
2. Theory A is supported by lots of evidence
3. Theory B has no evidence
4. Theory A can’t explain X.
5. Thus B is correct (regardless of whether or not it explains X)

This is the inherent problem with ID/Creationism. Both ignore the vast successes of Evolution to harp on imagined shortcomings, such as the origin of life, yet beg the same questions themselves: i.e., who designed the designer?

Meanwhile, evolution through natural selection is the only working solution.

This is because natural selection takes something that would otherwise be amazingly improbable (on the order of 1076 that John Calvert loves to cite), and breaks it into a series of manageable chunks. This power of chunking is conveniently ignored by creationists of all sorts.

Instead of relying on rational arguments, they focus on appeals to the public with slogans like “Teach the controversy.”

“What controversy?” Dawkins responds prompting a massive amount of applause.

This rhetorical device, while sounding nice is ultimately ridiculous. To illustrate this point, Dawkins showed a few slides:

It is this sort of thing, he argued, that teachers are forced to defend against. He said he empathized with teachers who are “in the front line trenches against the forces of darkness” and encouraged them to “fight the good fight.”

He declared that Creationism and Intelligent Design are “skyhooks” meaning that they fly in an explanation out of nowhere and don’t really explain anything except in terms of something larger, which is itself unexplained.

Meanwhile, evolution, was a “crane”, which is supported from the ground up by things that are well explained.

Dawkins then discussed other creationist tactics such as quote mining. In “Origin of Species,” Darwin noted that some systems, such as the eye, seem to cause difficulty for his theory. Creationists frequently cite this, but refuse to acknowledge that Darwin then addressed those difficulties in the next breath.

Dawkins also shared an experience in which he was quote mined saying that the Cambrian explosion presented an apparent problem with evolution. But, as we’d expect, the Creationists never quote the rest of the chapter, in which this apparent problem is resolved. But, as has been astutely pointed out, each missing link that is found, creates two new ones in the eyes of Creationists.

Instead, they bemoan the lack of fossils, which, Dawkins says, is ridiculous to expect. It would be like expecting someone to produce a full color video recording with no missing frames of a murder before being able to convict someone. This is ludicrous, and even without a comprehensive fossil record, there is still more than enough evidence from other methods to be sure, beyond a reasonable doubt, that evolution did indeed occur.

Another fallacy of Creationism and Intelligent Design is the God of the Gaps argument. Science, ultimately, thrives in gaps. Without them, there would be nothing to research. Creationism, by default, can only thrive in the supposed gaps left by science. However, unlike science, which attempts to fill the mystery with understanding, mystics like creationists want the mysterious to stay a mystery, lest they have no thing to exploit.

This is evidenced by the fondness of gaps such as the ones already mentioned in the fossil records. Yet, for all the supposed shortcomings in this area, not a single fossil has ever been found out of its chronological expectation; the “fossil rabbit in the Precambrian.”

Another favourite argument of Creationism is that of personal incredulity. If someone doesn’t personally understand something, that must somehow mean that no one does, and thus, God did it.

Dawkins has one word for this:


He summarized this Creationist vantage as saying “You don’t understand how the nerve impulse works? Gooood… Don’t squander precious ignorance by researching it away. We need those precious gaps as the last refuge of God.”

From there, Dawkins began discussing the events that are deemed highly unlikely in the origin of mankind.

Having already addressed how the supposedly impossibly improbable “chance” that evolution worked he first discussed the origin of life, saying that such a thing would indeed be a highly improbable event. However, unlike evolution, it only had to occur once.

This means that, given the sheer number of planets thought to exist in our galaxy, and even ignoring those that aren’t in the “goldilocks zone”, multiplied by all the galaxies in the known universe, even a conservative estimate would provide a highly likely chance that life would emerge somewhere.

On an even larger scale, it’s frequently stated that we’re somehow in a privileged universe with properties “just right” for life. Thus, by the same reasoning, and the anthropic principle, it’s reasonable to invoke the possibility of multiple universes to account for that apparent improbability.

Not wishing to spend much time defending this position claim (which is something many seem to be complaining about on other blogs) Dawkins instead said he discussed this point more in his book.

From there, he turned his attention towards religion itself as opposed to the pseudo-science it creates.

His first note was that almost all children tend to be the same religion as their parents and, very conveniently, it just happens to be the “right one.” Why is this? Indoctrination of course.

He argued that there was no such thing as a truly Christian child; Only children of religious parents. Forcing a child to adopt a religious label takes away the natural curiosity of children and, according to Dawkins, is a form of metal child abuse. While I fully expected this claim to be met with loud disapproval, it was instead met by a large amount of applause.

To support his claim of how ridiculous it was to label children, he showed an image that labeled three children as being of various religions. He then replaced the religions with political affiliations, and remarked that no one would argue that kids actually understood the labels that would be attached. Similarly, one cannot truly affix religious labels to children.

He then asked what would happen if science accepted the same poor standards as religion did. To illustrate his point, he presented an imaginary table of contents of the Quarterly Review of Biology.

Ultimately, he pointed out, we are all atheists to a large number of gods and would say that anyone believing in others is deluded. But why make an exception for the last one?

From there, Dawkins took a number of questions from the audience which I’ll address in my next post.

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

On an even larger scale, it’s frequently stated that we’re somehow in a privileged universe with properties “just right” for life. Thus, by the same reasoning, and the anthropic principle, it’s reasonable to invoke the possibility of multiple universes to account for that apparent improbability.

Not wishing to spend much time defending this position claim (which is something many seem to be complaining about on other blogs)


Ha!... no wonder. He makes himself appear to be an idiot when he tries to say that the most apparent implication of evidence doesn't supercede other possibilities in the order of scientific investigation.

This exempifies all that is wrong with neodarwinians' auto-denial reflex mechanism. It's highly reationary and non-scientific.

Dawkins instead said he discussed this point more in his book.

Cop-out. If Dawkins would get over the possiblity that we might not be here by accident because there is some real practical physical need for us to arrise, then he would not look so stupid when it comes to this subject.

The universe "appears designed", (his words)... doesn't first most obviously imply that there is no method to nature's madness... fool.

He thinks that string theory is the proven reality or some crap. I'll be he got that statement about the "appearance of design" straight from Lenny Susskind, who said that this "appearance of design... is undeniable!".

Course Lenny believes that he lives in a multiverse, so he is confident that he can lose the implied anthropic relevance in his "landscape"... but his "belief" is under serious attack right now from his peers.

James said...

I'm surprised he didn't mention Douglas Adams's excellent analogy on the anthropic principle, which he's discussed before in other places, including during his eulogy for Adams:

Imagine a puddle of water waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!'

Anonymous said...

You really think that this "analogy" comes anywhere close to being representative of the physics for the anthropic principle, huh?... *eyeroll*

Jon Voisey said...

You really think that this "analogy" of 747's, or catch phrases of "what good is half an eye" is representative of... well, anything, huh?... *eyeroll*

Anonymous said...

No, I'm not stupid enough to believe that the configuration of the universe could possibly be any different than it is, so it's probabilities that have absolutely nothing to do with anything.

Course, I'm doing physics when I say that, whereas you're just anti-worshiping god when you auto-deny the MOST APPARENT implication of evidence, simply because you are AFRAID that creationists will claim that this constitutes evidence for god. You are a believer, son, because you fear god to the point of fanatical willful ignorance... and for NO GOOD REASON.

Very specifically, what physics is it that you think that Richard Dawkins was talking about when he said that the universe "appears to be designed"... ?... and just exactly what physics do YOU think that he was referring to when he said that the forces of nature were "deployed in a very **special** way"... ???

I didn't ask for rationale, I asked you to identify what it is that makes your fanatical hero see "design".

I'll bet that I get the same non-answer that you gave me the first time that I put your ignorance on the line.

Jon Voisey said...

You say you don't believe that the universe could have been any different, yet don't bother to back up this assertation with anything other than belief. At least scientists can be honest enough to admit they don't know.

Dispite your claims, I'm have nothing against worshipping God. What I do have something against is the use of poor logic which is exemplified in religion and ever so candidly pointed out by Dawkins. There is no evidence beyond the fallacy of "It looks designed so it is designed." Things aren't always as they appear, which is why science keeps testing things instead of taking the simple answers.

But instead of seeing this rather simple point, theists insist that things somehow are exactly as they seem, dispite having been wrong about our place in the universe, the shape of the earth, etc... And while doing so, maintain that all Gods but theirs are wrong, for absolutely no logical reason.

What physics do I think Dawkins was talking about? Perhaps you fell asleep during the lecture. He rather explicitly outlined several of them: complexity of life, origin of life, apparent "fine-tuning" of the parameters of the universe...

And from there, Dawkins explained why each one is only an apparent flaw.

Anonymous said...

You say you don't believe that the universe could have been any different, yet don't bother to back up this assertation with anything other than belief.

Yuk-Yuk... the configuration of the universe WAS expected to follow the least action principle, but every last attempt to model turbulance driven structuring to derive the actual configuration that we ended up with has failed miserably to come anywhere close to the expectation.

It is this fact that makes Hoyel's statement valid, and it is the anthropic coincidences which lead PHYSICISTS to formalize the observtion as an "ecological correction" to the cosmological principle, which erroneously extends mediocrity where it does not apply.

Now, you didn't answer the question.

Things aren't always as they appear, which is why science keeps testing things instead of taking the simple answers.

That isn't an excuse for not giving equal time to the first most apparent imdication of the evidence with equal time... it is a cop-out on the evidence and it requrires an unfounded leap of faith that is NOT supported by the evidence.

And from there, Dawkins explained why each one is only an apparent flaw.

Really?... so you're a liar too?

Not wishing to spend much time defending this position claim, Dawkins instead (copped-out and) said he discussed this point more in his book.


Run and hide... little man. I'm the only one that's producing any science here.

Anonymous said...

Dawkins said:
On an even larger scale, it’s frequently stated that we’re somehow in a privileged universe with properties “just right” for life. Thus, by the same reasoning, and the anthropic principle, it’s reasonable to invoke the possibility of multiple universes to account for that apparent improbability.

So, if the multiverse fails, then Richard Dawkins is an IDist by rights, because he's too lame to realize that there is a perfectly natural explanation for this that doesn't require his leap of faith to unobserved "what-if's".

Jon Voisey said...

I'll ignore the first of your last two posts for two reasons:
1) Your understanding of modern phsyics is weak at best. Modeling of large scale structure has been, at least recently, largely successful.

2) You're resorting to ad hominems as opposed to supporting any of your claims.

As far as you second comment regarding the possible failure of the multiverse, this would still not imply that ID (which requires a supernatural creator at some point along the way) is correct. It seems you're apt to use the illogic of default Dawkins mentioned and I so freqently see used.

Furthermore, Dawkins did explain (which obviously you missed), why it is not a leap of faith to invoke the multiverse theory. While I would be the first to say that it lacks any and all empirical evidence, and I in fact questioned him on his acceptance of it during the moring Q&A, he clearly pointed out in the talk that, while it doesn't rest on empirical evidence, it does rest on good logic, which is far more than any IDist has ever put forth.

Anonymous said...

I'll ignore the first of your last two posts for two reasons:
1) Your understanding of modern phsyics is weak at best. Modeling of large scale structure has been, at least recently, largely successful.


HAHAHAHAHAHA... proof please... and you started the ad

and 2)

"I can't address your points"

Jon Voisey said...

proof please

Try starting with this journal article.

Anonymous said...

That's all just fine-n-dandy, but it doens't account for the vast multitude of anthropic balance points, so it's not a valid representation of the universe.

This is very typical of physicists that are only concentrating on one aspect of the physics, but these models never pan-out.

They'll be done as soon as someone calls them on it.

I thought that you said you had something... ;)

Jon Voisey said...

If you're looking for justification of anthropic balance points, then you need look no further than my previous posts. I've already addressed that point, but you seem intent on ignoring it in order to irrationally demand evidence in order to use the illogic of default Dawkins mentioned.

If that's all you're going to continue doing, I think we're done here.

Anonymous said...

While I would be the first to say that it lacks any and all empirical evidence, and I in fact questioned him on his acceptance of it during the moring Q&A, he clearly pointed out in the talk that, while it doesn't rest on empirical evidence, it does rest on good logic, which is far more than any IDist has ever put forth.


Tell it to these loop quantum gravity theorists

The anthropic string theory landscape seems to be having ever greater success in taking over fundamental physics and turning it into pseudo-science.

Anonymous said...

If you're looking for justification of anthropic balance points, then you need look no further than my previous posts.

Okay, show me what you said again, and I'll be more responsible, but don't pretend that you didn't deserve it by willfully ignoring the points that I've been making.

Anonymous said...

"i" wrote:
This is very typical of physicists that are only concentrating on one aspect of the physics, but these models never pan-out.

This is one example of what I mean by that statement from this interview with Burton Richter:

The cosmological anthropic principle says that since we exist, the universe must have evolved in a way that allows us to exist.

It is true, for example, that the fine structure constant α has to be close to 1/137 for carbon atoms to exist, and carbon atoms are required for us to be here writing about cosmology. However, these arguments have nothing to do with explaining what physical laws led to this particular value of α. An interesting relevant recent paper by Roni Harnik, Graham Kribs, and Gilad Perez demonstrates a universe with our values of the electromagnetic and strong coupling constants, but with a zero weak coupling constant. Their alternative universe has Big-Bang nucleosynthesis, carbon chemistry, stars that shine for billions of years, and the potential for sentient observers that ours has. Our universe is not the only one that can support life, and some constants are not anthropically essential.

We talk about the Big Bang, string theory, the number of dimensions of spacetime, dark energy, and more. All the anthropic principle says about those ideas is that as you make your theories you had better make sure that α can come out to be 1/137; that constraint has to be obeyed to allow theory to agree with experiment. I have a very hard time accepting the fact that some of our distinguished theorists do not understand the difference between observation and explanation, but it seems to be so.



Richter then referenced this paper to support his statements:

A Universe Without Weak Interactions
http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0604027

With full benefit of the doubt in place, I can only conclude that Burton Richter doesn't know how important it is to refrain from dissecting the complete anthropic statement:

Problems in a weakless universe
http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0609050

The fact that life has evolved in our universe constrains the laws of physics. The anthropic principle proposes that these constraints are sometimes very tight and can be used to explain in a sense the corresponding laws. Recently a "disproof" of the anthropic principle has been proposed in the form of a universe without weak interactions, but with other parameters suitably tuned to nevertheless allow life to develop. If a universe with such different physics from ours can generate life, the anthropic principle is undermined. We point out, however, that on closer examination the proposed "weakless" universe strongly inhibits the development of life in several different ways. One of the most critical barriers is that a weakless universe is unlikely to produce enough oxygen to support life. Since oxygen is an essential element in both water, the universal solvent needed for life, and in each of the four bases forming the DNA code for known living beings, we strongly question the hypothesis that a universe without weak interactions could generate life.

Jon Voisey said...

You just quoted my response, but appear to have ignored the meaning behind it.

I do not pretend in any way shape or form that string theory, nor multiverse theory is solid science. Neither have been able to be tested at the current time which makes them, for all intents and purposes, pseudo-science.

But both of these fields cling to the edge of real science from the simple fact that they are based in well understood science.

Thus, while neither of these can be tested with our current understanding, as we develop the hypothesies (I wouldn't begin to call them theories) of strings and multiverses, it is likely that there will come a time when our ever growing technology allows for tests to be performed.

ID, meanwhile, is so far over the edge of scientific bounds, that it will never be able to be tested because, at some level, it always invokes the supernatural.

Additionally, I've not ignored a single point you've made. Even when I said I was ignoring part, I still gave a response to the material that wasn't laced with ad hominems, which has led directly to this branch.

Anonymous said...

Look, I'm only saying that the first most obvious indication of evidence is not AUTOMATICALLY the last place that you look, and that is what is so wrong about all of this.

Jon Voisey said...

I'm only saying that the first most obvious indication of evidence is not AUTOMATICALLY the last place that you look, and that is what is so wrong about all of this.

You're absolutely right. But when that "first most obvious indication" invokes the supernatural, when doing science, you don't look there at all. It's beyond science's abilities.

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right. But when that "first most obvious indication" invokes the supernatural

It doesn't and can't without a leap of faith beyond the natural explanation that we are NECESSARY to the physical process.

Anonymous said...

... where necessity is the mother of invention... period.

Jon Voisey said...

It doesn't and can't without a leap of faith beyond the natural explanation that we are NECESSARY to the physical process.... where necessity is the mother of invention... period.

Necessary to what end? To fulfill the whims of a universe? A god? Or own egos?

Anonymous said...

Not that I can't answer, but that isn't what is in question. It's still the default avenue of investigation before you start looking elsewhere... OR at least given equal time.

You can't just say... "that's crazy" and call that a excuse not to look:

"The Energy of Space That Isn't Zero."
http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/krauss06/krauss06.2_index.html
In this article, Lawrence Krauss is quoted as follows:
"But when you look at CMB map, you also see that the structure that is observed, is in fact, in a weird way, correlated with the plane of the earth around the sun. Is this Copernicus coming back to haunt us? That's crazy. We're looking out at the whole universe. There's no way there should be a correlation of structure with our motion of the earth around the sun — the plane of the earth around the sun — the ecliptic. That would say we are truly the center of the universe."

TheBrummell said...

Jon, you contradict yourself.

Island said (early on): I didn't ask for rationale, I asked you to identify what it is that makes your fanatical hero see "design".

Jon said (in the post): So for those intending to read this assuming I am predisposed to support Dawkins as some sort of idol, I will say forthwith that you are sadly mistaken. However, I doubt that this warning will stop those predisposed to making such claims from doing so. After all, Judge Jones’ records and political affiliations have never stopped them from branding him an activist judge. But I have no interest in the opinions of such people as make their opinions in spite of the facts.

(bold emphasis added by me)

You have already stated that you do not suffer fools - good for you. Leave Island to his isolation, I say.

TheBrummell said...

On another topic, I'm looking forward to reading your reaction to Dawkins' talk. You stated right at the top that this post is just reporting the facts, i.e., the content of the talk, without your personal commentary. Good, I like being able to see the structure first, then the commentary on top. Thanks for posting this.

Anonymous said...

Wow, argument from pat on the back. You are a very impressive non-player. Do you do anything besides group-think?... lol

Jon Voisey said...

speaking of groupthink...

Anonymous said...

Yes, Bill Dembski is a dishonest loser... but I was speaking in terms of Paul Davies usage of the term to point out how sad that it is that this disease equally aflicts both ideologically motivated sides of the debate.

And uh, he's right about that too.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like Dawkins gave quite an interesting lecture, although I see he put in a plug for his book when talking about the anthropic principle.

I'm looking forward to seeing the question and answers bit, anyway.

Stephen said...

In SouthEast Michigan this past weekend, a tornado swept through a junkyard and only managed to assemble a Cessna 150. Theorists suggest that there just wasn't enough material for a full 747. Others claim that the 747 is an obsolete design. It is also possible that the tornado just wasn't big enough. However, Global Warming may increase the strength of tornados in the future.

Vocal critics of the tornado stated that additionally, the engine is clearly that of a four cylinder Volvo, which is hardly the specification engine.

The FAA will not allow it to be sold under any but Experimental status, due to the lack of any testing paperwork submitted.

Anonymous said...

Jon, I found this to be an honest review... or three, that was well researched by a guy that even went to Richard Dawkins house... called Davies on the phone... etc.

He also made the honest observation about the adverse affect of Dawkins antifanaticism on his ability to do honest science.

Davies approach gives you an idea of the kinds of scientific answers to the problem that can be investigated in an honest scientific context, but he too notes the same problems that plague the community as I have. I don't necessarily agree with Davies general approach unless it includes us into the path of least action, but it does give you an idea that there are valid scientific ways to approach this problem that have nothing to do with god, but do have everything to do with real purpose in nature.

Get a neodarwinian to use the word "arrogance" in context with the anthropic principle, and you will reveal their backasswards non-scientific approach, because they automatically assume that the universe is created for us... rather than the other way round, and NO fool would do that who was not predisposed to doing so from their experience with creationists.

TheBrummell said...

nothing to do with god, but do have everything to do with real purpose in nature.

I fail to see the distinction between "God" and "Purpose in Nature".

Anonymous said...

Right, you assume that an expression of what you perceive as human "intent" can be disassociated from any other form of natural bias.

You disassociate humans from nature, in other words, just like a creationist does, by allowing the "free-thinking" materialist to put human actions arbitrarily outside of the natural process, usually via "uncertainty, or some other similar cop-out on causality.

But tell me, Mr. "Free-Thinker"... do you honestly believe that humans can really do anything that can truly violate the local ecobalance for which we, **contributing members**, rose from... and BELONG TO???

Especially given that ecosystems are **self-regulating**, and yes, this running-balance between diametrically opposing runaway tendencies that defines our own ecobalance, does indeed define the physics for an anthropic coincidence... just like the "running-balance" that our near-perfectly-flat expanding universe is observed to maintain.

Another way to put it is that thermodynamic structuring that includes a real need for sentient and other carbon based life can be perpetually inherent to the energy of the universe, no mattter how many times that we have a big bang or whatever other grand form of deterministic quantum mechanics comes along to claim final causality.

But of course, that would have been the nice way, and it would have drawn a lot of crap about... huh?... what's that supposed to mean?

Now you don't need to ask... ;)

Anonymous said...

Audio of the 90-minute presentation can be heard here.

Ex Atheist said...

When someone classifies a group by the actions of some; i.e. Christians are like Fred Phelps and are all waiting for nuclear war, that is called, by definition bigotry.

That makes Darwin a bigot, as it does the people at SOMA and others who gave him a standing ovation.

Dawkins, like Phelps, was preaching hate.

Ex Atheist said...

Sorry, the reference to Darwin should be Dawkins.
However, I add that Darwin talked about "savage" races, the intellectual inferiority of women, and the great work of the Eugenicist Francis Galton.

So he was a Victorian Elitist Bigot as well.

Acteon said...

I would love to see somebody come up with a good theory of what God is and how he operates. Until we have a scientific hypothesis and something we could test, falsify, carry out some experiments under there is no point in bringing God into anything. Saying God did anything is just a cop out for those who are lazy. The whole argument that the universe is just right for human life and therefore must be designed... Come on...

The whole concept is ridiculous.

G. Tingey said...

Replying to acteon.....

No god is detectable ( even if that "god" exists )

And, therefore, we should not bother about any "god.

Of course, this is a testable, falsifyable proposition.

Anyone going to bite?

Flynmonkie said...

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

I wish everyone would quit trying to "prove" God and worry about what it seems the texts teach us. If we believe, have faith in God then we believe the texts to mean exactly what they say. It is God not us that deals with spiritual matters of the heart. Either we believe the Holy Spirit can and will work without us or we don't. Quit worrying about trying to control the world in these matters and worry about what we can and cannot control within ourselves. This is one Christian that would rather have a science book in the lab than the Bible. That and faith is all it takes. Faith in God to me is humility, not arrogance. A humility that I don’t know everything and I might not ever know much, but I can seek and ask questions without regret or guilt, and certainly not deny something that is evidenced. Key word here is evidenced.

I want to write a book titled "Get over it". To be honest…both sides of this argument are draining… Neither is completely evidenced, both are plausible it seems. We are not all ever going to think alike. ‘corse I am new to this racket, I knew nothing about Dawkins when I attended. I have stayed out of these discussions for years, even in the Christian realm; they seem to always be endless banter that accomplishes nothing but insults and hot tempers. My first reaction was in line with the idea that these lectures were to aim towards communication, there was quite a bit of snubbing and more book promotion than explanation. I am afraid several of the points I found validity in would be discarded by those it seems the message might have been sent to by the approach. It defeats the purpose, which I feel perpetuates the nonsense. As we were leaving, I wondered if the Phelps Clan had planned a special greeting for us all. I was surprised they did not.

BTW, I believe I sat behind you in the front section at the lecture, great overview! Thanks for posting! :)

Flynmonkie said...

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

I wish everyone would quit trying to "prove" God and worry about what it seems the texts teach us. If we believe, have faith in God then we believe the texts to mean exactly what they say. It is God not us that deals with spiritual matters of the heart. Either we believe the Holy Spirit can and will work without us or we don't. Quit worrying about trying to control the world in these matters and worry about what we can and cannot control within ourselves. This is one Christian that would rather have a science book in the lab than the Bible. That and faith is all it takes. Faith in God to me is humility, not arrogance. A humility that I don’t know everything and I might not ever know much, but I can seek and ask questions without regret or guilt, and certainly not deny something that is evidenced. Key word here is evidenced.

I want to write a book titled "Get over it". To be honest…both sides of this argument are draining… Neither is completely evidenced, both are plausible it seems. We are not all ever going to think alike. ‘corse I am new to this racket, I knew nothing about Dawkins when I attended. I have stayed out of these discussions for years, even in the Christian realm; they seem to always be endless banter that accomplishes nothing but insults and hot tempers. My first reaction was in line with the idea that these lectures were to aim towards communication, there was quite a bit of snubbing and more book promotion than explanation. I am afraid several of the points I found validity in would be discarded by those it seems the message might have been sent to by the approach. It defeats the purpose, which I feel perpetuates the nonsense. As we were leaving, I wondered if the Phelps Clan had planned a special greeting for us all. I was surprised they did not.

BTW, I believe I sat behind you in the front section at the lecture, great overview! Thanks for posting! :)

Acteon said...

I would love to see somebody come up with a good theory of what God is and how he operates. Until we have a scientific hypothesis and something we could test, falsify, carry out some experiments under there is no point in bringing God into anything. Saying God did anything is just a cop out for those who are lazy. The whole argument that the universe is just right for human life and therefore must be designed... Come on...

The whole concept is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Dawkins said:
On an even larger scale, it’s frequently stated that we’re somehow in a privileged universe with properties “just right” for life. Thus, by the same reasoning, and the anthropic principle, it’s reasonable to invoke the possibility of multiple universes to account for that apparent improbability.

So, if the multiverse fails, then Richard Dawkins is an IDist by rights, because he's too lame to realize that there is a perfectly natural explanation for this that doesn't require his leap of faith to unobserved "what-if's".

Jon Voisey said...

You say you don't believe that the universe could have been any different, yet don't bother to back up this assertation with anything other than belief. At least scientists can be honest enough to admit they don't know.

Dispite your claims, I'm have nothing against worshipping God. What I do have something against is the use of poor logic which is exemplified in religion and ever so candidly pointed out by Dawkins. There is no evidence beyond the fallacy of "It looks designed so it is designed." Things aren't always as they appear, which is why science keeps testing things instead of taking the simple answers.

But instead of seeing this rather simple point, theists insist that things somehow are exactly as they seem, dispite having been wrong about our place in the universe, the shape of the earth, etc... And while doing so, maintain that all Gods but theirs are wrong, for absolutely no logical reason.

What physics do I think Dawkins was talking about? Perhaps you fell asleep during the lecture. He rather explicitly outlined several of them: complexity of life, origin of life, apparent "fine-tuning" of the parameters of the universe...

And from there, Dawkins explained why each one is only an apparent flaw.

Anonymous said...

On an even larger scale, it’s frequently stated that we’re somehow in a privileged universe with properties “just right” for life. Thus, by the same reasoning, and the anthropic principle, it’s reasonable to invoke the possibility of multiple universes to account for that apparent improbability.

Not wishing to spend much time defending this position claim (which is something many seem to be complaining about on other blogs)


Ha!... no wonder. He makes himself appear to be an idiot when he tries to say that the most apparent implication of evidence doesn't supercede other possibilities in the order of scientific investigation.

This exempifies all that is wrong with neodarwinians' auto-denial reflex mechanism. It's highly reationary and non-scientific.

Dawkins instead said he discussed this point more in his book.

Cop-out. If Dawkins would get over the possiblity that we might not be here by accident because there is some real practical physical need for us to arrise, then he would not look so stupid when it comes to this subject.

The universe "appears designed", (his words)... doesn't first most obviously imply that there is no method to nature's madness... fool.

He thinks that string theory is the proven reality or some crap. I'll be he got that statement about the "appearance of design" straight from Lenny Susskind, who said that this "appearance of design... is undeniable!".

Course Lenny believes that he lives in a multiverse, so he is confident that he can lose the implied anthropic relevance in his "landscape"... but his "belief" is under serious attack right now from his peers.

Jon Voisey said...

I'll ignore the first of your last two posts for two reasons:
1) Your understanding of modern phsyics is weak at best. Modeling of large scale structure has been, at least recently, largely successful.

2) You're resorting to ad hominems as opposed to supporting any of your claims.

As far as you second comment regarding the possible failure of the multiverse, this would still not imply that ID (which requires a supernatural creator at some point along the way) is correct. It seems you're apt to use the illogic of default Dawkins mentioned and I so freqently see used.

Furthermore, Dawkins did explain (which obviously you missed), why it is not a leap of faith to invoke the multiverse theory. While I would be the first to say that it lacks any and all empirical evidence, and I in fact questioned him on his acceptance of it during the moring Q&A, he clearly pointed out in the talk that, while it doesn't rest on empirical evidence, it does rest on good logic, which is far more than any IDist has ever put forth.